By Dolores J. Nurss
Note: This glossary changes constantly, receiving new entries all
the time. Most of these words will not crop up in all stories. I have
not written down all of the unusual words and terms that I have buried
in my notes, but have concentrated mainly on those most pertinent to
finished novels (which is why you will at first see more notes on Til
Territories and the Charadoc than any other cultures) though I am
trying to include as much as I can on missions, cultures and lands not
yet formally written about--hundreds of cultures exist in my notes, and
they all have their peculiar terminology. Please notify me if you find
anything unfamiliar in my tales that I haven't yet catalogued for this
letter. Thank you.
-i: A plural suffix in tilianach and certain other languages of Novatierre.
I.D.: A Tili�n identification card serves not only to identify
the bearer, but is also the card which one punches into various
Archive-affiliated devices, such as creditors and security-locks, for
use and access. In addition to the basic Tili�n I.D., a number of
specialty I.D.s exist, such as juvenile I.D. (green, limited in access,
reporting transactions to legal guardians), reason-disabled I.D.
(reports transactions regarding unprescribed drugs and liquor,
transportation, or potentially dangerous materials to one's physicians
and/or guardians, formerly red but now white like basic I.D.s) and
agent I.D. (iridescent, gives free access to transportation, gives
access to security-clearance buildings and otherwise-contrabanded
weapons, makes some records of transactions inaccessible except to
other agents, law-enforcement and certain levels of government, all of
whom also carry agent I.D.,s though technically not agents.)
iguana: A semi-aquatic reptile, about the size of a cat, usually
in greens or beiges, some with stripes of blue, all of which have
frills about their necks. Widespread along the coasts of the Greater
Ocean; a variety also occupies the Bay of Byssinia. In colder regions
they appear quite plump, having an insulating layer of fat. In warmer
regions they become progressively more slender.
Illfighter: A member of the royal family of Oolang-Gyorny. The
Illfighters do not actually rule politically, but rather intercede for
the health and well-being of their people. This is a more than
ceremonial function. They are a “royal line” in the sense that they
have been bred for generations for a strong immune system. Whenever an
epidemic begins among the people (a common occurrence in this marshy,
tropical country) the Illfighters will deliberately infect themselves,
so as to develop a vaccine from their own blood.
illusion: 1) An appearance to one or more of the senses which
does not accurately represent reality. 2) Same as the above, except as
the deliberate and professional workmanship of an illusionist, as
created by the manipulation of psychic energy. An effective, though
unstable and therefore short-lived, phenomenon.
illusionist: One with the psychic gift of illusionism--that is,
the ability to make a thing appear to the senses like something else by
creation of a psychic overlay.
imager-point: an indentation at the base of a modern photo in
its two-dimensional state which, when pressed, activates a
three-dimensional depiction, turning a square into a cube which one can
turn and see from different angles.
A clear, waxy resin distilled from the sap of the imicylla tree, used
to seal the hulls of ships and boats. Penetration by barnacles or
other shellfish releases a mild toxin sufficient to cause them to
detach. However, most of the toxin remains sealed within the
structure of the resin, and the little that escapes quickly degrades in
A high-rooted marsh tree found in the swampy mouths of rivers and
streams throughout the tropics around the world. It has dark,
waxy, palmatisect leaves. it blossoms in long clusters of yellow-white
trumpet-shaped blossoms with a strong, sweet yet herbal scent, used in
The fruits resemble a cross between bananas and grapes, forming bunches
of long, translucent, purply pseudodrupes attached at the base, each
containing a single large seed. The unsweet flesh can be dried
and ground into a starchy flour. The thumb-sized seeds are flat,
oval, pale, hairy and very good at floating long distances before
finding a suitable place to plant itself.
The trunk of a single tree in fact consists of multiple trunks from a
common root system, grown together, twisting around each other and
grafting onto each other and then separating off again into
branches. This gives them a springiness that enables them to
withstand most hurricanes. The bark is gray and much-grooved and
fissured, often with clusters of resin in the fissures from which we
derive imicin, the tree's chief commercial use.
Imicyllas, though beautiful, do
not cultivate well in urban environments. They grow best in
brackish swamps where freshwater streams and rivers mingle with ocean,
in tropical climates. The rainwater that catches in the many
natural cups among their roots provide fresh drinking water for migrant
birds, as well as breeding-grounds for insects on which the birds
feed. Year-round lizards also take advantage of both these
features. Branches that periodically break off in storms have
become miniature rafts for such lizards, still cupping moisture in
their folds, and many have survived to spread throughout the world's
industrial-age folklore movement: A fashion in the late 26th and
early 27th centuries for motifs from the myths and folklore of the 19th
and 20th centuries, intermixed at times with period kitch and motifs of
historical incidents, particularly in useful objects such as
vampire-coffin beds, flying-saucer GEMS, tables sustained by bug-eyed
monsters, and Godzilla nutcrackers. This fashion to some extent
influenced the fine arts of the time, such as Monty Guererro's
controversial mural, "Elvis Giving Birth To Elvis", or Leonine Yu's
haunting masterpiece, "Night-Skirmish On Black Velvet".
inheritance law: That branch of law in Til Territories dedicated
to untangling the complexities of inheritance in a communal society. In
theory, the majority of a deceased person’s goods go back to the state,
with mementos passed on to family and friends according to will. In
practice, possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Initiation: That ordeal and ceremony by which a person becomes a
tilan. It occurs in two parts, not necessarily on the same day. The
first involves contact with the mind of an Alien, in order to erase any
sense of alienness from fellow human beings. The second involves an
individualized ceremony steeped in the candidates own religion or
tradition, wherein the new tilan recites the Lovequest Vow for the
first time in public. The Lovequest Cannon remains a popular venue for
making this vow.
Initiation may take place at any time in
a person's life, but for those actually raised by Til Institute it
generally occurs around the age of seven, or the nearest equivalent in
maturity-level, this being considered the threshold of reason and
interrogation drugs: A subcategory of depressants with psigenic
properties chemically tailored to repress the subject's ability to
consciously shield hir mind from telepathic probing, without deadening
the thoughts behind the shield. Only two or three fully effective
interrogation drugs exist.
interrogation, telepathic: Forcible telepathic inquiry into the
thoughts of another person, usually for military, forensic or
psychiatric purposes. Military interrogation may be freely engaged upon
an open enemy, but by international law requires special clearance when
used upon a civilian. Forensic interrogation always requires a warrant.
Psychiatric interrogation requires the consent of the patient given in
the presence of a panel of experts on psychiatric ethics.
In all three cases standard procedure involves the use of interrogation
drugs upon the subject, and the tandem-investigation of two
interrogation-trained telepaths, plus the presence of a third
non-telepathic observer, to prevent psychic entanglement with unstable
or hostile minds.
Due to the imprecise nature of the human mind and particularly the
inarticulate nature of the criminal or mentally ill mind, telepathic
interrogators will not communicate in the same words that the defendant
might have chosen to confess in. Rather, they will perforce speak in
symbols and metaphors which the court will then have the unhappy duty
of deciphering. Telepathic interrogation is not nearly as reliable as
the general populace would like to believe.
A tiny, barely habitable and intermittently inhabited island within
territory claimed by Toulin, not in sight of any other islands.
Throughout its history it has occasionally hosted hermits, prisoners,
poets, paranoiacs, misanthropes, contemplatives, recovering addicts or
alcoholics, artists, abuse victims, and others who value solitude,
sometimes for weeks or months, sometimes for a lifetime, with large
intervals between. Some have called the island haunted, but most
Toulinians don't believe in ghosts, and blame such rumors on the
effects of isolation.
island communities: Those communities located on islands around
the coast of Til Territories, which by contract determine independently
to what extent, if any, they conform to Tili�n law. This depends
largely on what services they want from the Tili�n.
island party: Tili�n who desire to escape the big-city bustle
with a handful of friends, or else desire to make a great deal of
commotion in their own right without disturbing the neighbors, often
will depart with said friends to one of the uninhabited islands along
the Altraus coast for parties lasting from an afternoon to a week.
Litterers and despoilers of nature, when apprehended, lose the legal
right to sail, either as passenger or sailor, for anywhere from three
months to three years, depending on the gravity of the offence, except
with regard to monitored employment or in emergency situations.
Partiers legally must register the dates and destinations of their
events with the coastal authorities for the enforcement of this rule,
though many don’t bother, and in truth Policia only gets strict about
enforcing this in the face of other violations. Forensic psychometrists
rarely have any trouble identifying miscreants.
Isle of Blessings: According to the followers of Alroy, a mundipresent paradise where Alroy resides with his chosen ones.
Isle of Curses: According to the followers of Alroy, a
mundipresent hell or place of torments, inhabited by those of Alroy's
fold who have most bitterly ndisappointed him, plus anyone else
unfortunate enough to have stumbled into the vicinity.
Istislan: Located in that peninsula which on Earth would've been
the isthmus of Central America, Istislan is one of three major
industrial nations in Novatierre, and seat of the Istislan Shuttle.
Known particularly for its aggressive but benign capitalism and its
peculiar architecture, it is in some ways more technically advanced
than Til, particularly in medicine and public transportation.
Originally colonized by the United States of America, as a project of
NASA, but with people of other nationalities involved in what was the
second largest and most sophisticated colonization effort in the Age of
Migration. (See entries on Al'Aalem, Abdul,)
Istislani have provided the world with great jazz (in their ten-note
scale) but also visual art of questionable value, prizing emotion over
execution, and expecting sublime subject-matter to make the art
wonderful all by itself.
Their chief exports include Istislan crystal, machinery and
manufactured goods, cinnamon, jojoba, rubber, tropical fruit (dried or
preserved) nutmeg, magentine, copper, corn, peppers, obsidian, sisal,
hemp, mescal, coral, pearls, sponge and amatahten. They import quite a
bit of steel. They also enjoy a major shipping industry.
The Istislanin surpass the Tili�n in much of their
technology. they have advanced particularly in Magentine technology and
in laboratory medicine. Their weak areas tend to lie in anything that
doesn't require a working-base of factories, organized power-sources or
support-structures. In this at least we remain their masters: one may
apply our discoveries anywhere, on any technobase.
Istislan Aboriginals: The name misleads, because in all
likelihood the original colony from which Istislan sprang predates this
primitive-seeming community. But they are a stone age culture that
lives in the rainforests of Istislan, between the cities. They speak
their own language and observe their own customs. No one knows when
they arrived, or what Earthian nations or cultures contributed to their
populace, or even whether they drifted into or deliberately chose their
primitive lifestyle in rejection of the catastrophic choices of the
Ancients. Whatever the case, the Istislan Aboriginals prefer their
lifestyle now, They leave the Istislanin alone, and the Istislanin
leave them alone, neither having anything that the other covets. They
do not consider themselves citizens of Istislan the Nation, nor does
anyone else. They have been called bees sharing the same yard as ants.
Istislan architecture and design: The unique architecture of
Istislan relies heavily on Istislan crystal, which they can make
transparent, translucent or frosted, tinted or clear. Citizens maintain
privacy through screens and drapes, rugs, curtain-walls, canopies, the
positions of furniture and indoor plants. Nonetheless, people of other
nationalities often find the degree of visibility disconcerting,
particularly in the floors. Despite which, none can entirely deny its
charms. Between reflection and transparency, Istislan crystal brings
the living jungle indoors, optically. One never strays far from the
flutter of leaves.
The connective bridges and staircases
between buildings resemble a kind of metallic lace, treated against the
humidity, sometimes simply gridwork, other times wrought iron of a
beauty and complexity reminiscent of vanished New Orleans. The
wroughtwork coils and curls in ways inspired by the vegetation around
The Istislanin of the Capital pay a portion of their taxes towards the
care and cultivation of the jungle. Although vigorous capitalists by
nature, they consider the privilege of living in a park well worth
maintaining. They claim that they breath the most oxygen-rich air of
any major city in the world (although some maintain that Donafloreta
surpasses it.) Other cities of Istislan the nation tend to leave the
jungle to nature and are not quite so lush.
Istislani architects tend to operate from the basic cube shape, but
stack and pile it into unexpected and sometimes precarious-seeming
arrangements, with overhangs and jagged clusters, often as not raised
up on girders with gardens and footpaths or wildness underneath. The
overall effect resembles gigantic crystal formations, strangely
weightless. The interconnection of buildings by The Grid further
enhance the airy beauty of Istislan Capitol.
note: The closest equivalent in the USA would be UCSD's Geisel Library,
but I dreamed of Istislan years before they built it in 1970, and in
any case the supporting concrete would seem clunky to the Istislanin.]
Istislan Capitol: Rather pragmatic name of the capitol of Istislan.
Istislan crystal: A virtually indestructible transparent
material much used in Istislan architecture, stronger than steel and
nonfrangible within life-range temperatures, considered rather too
disquieting and not nearly private enough by most other cultures. Often
employed in airy buildings of modular cubes built around, in and above
the jungles of Istislan, often raised on great pillars or beams with
Istislan, Gulf of: An appendix of the Lesser Ocean nestled into
the lower east coast of the Northwestern Continent. Only a small part
of it actually borders Istislan, but as this country has the most
political and economic power of those bordering it, the name stuck.
Strivanians call it the Gulf of Strivane.
Istislan improv: A form of Jazz played on the Istislan ten-note
scale (to the standard C scale add A# and F#.) It usually begins with
someone playing chords in a repetitive pattern, then other people
adding in their layers, instrument by instrument. With subtle signals,
the original player then starts to vary the pattern and the others must
keep up. Often this results in challenging musical contests, with
lesser musicians dropping out till only two match wits, to the cheers
of the crowd. In such contests the role of chord-setter can be taken
over by a skillful player.
Istislan impression paper: a type of paper that copies anything
written on the sheet of the same material above it, for legal purposes.
Once set for twenty-four hours after inscription, it does not tear and
resists burning. It can be stretched to illegibility, with difficulty,
but means exist to restore it.
Istislan Towers: A complex of business-establishments erected by
native-Istislani entrepeneurs out of Istislan Crystal and according to
their own architectural conventions, on Hernandez Island, for
conducting trade with the Tili�n.
Istislan trousers: A style of pants drawn in and buttoned at the
ankles, worn by both men and women, owing, no doubt, to the Istislani
penchant for transparent floors in their upper stories.
A potato-based liquor of 100 proof or higher, but not distilled in the
usual way. Istislan, in its early history, used to ban
distillation. To get around this, brewers used to thrice-filter
the fermented juice of potatoes, infuse it with blue nasturtium
blossoms (or sometimes with a variety of warm-colored nasturtium
blossoms and slivers of mildly hot pepper in the "fiery" variety) and
freeze it. They would then serve the unfrozen, now concentrated
portion with the lumps of ice still in it, maintaining that they did
not remove any water, and thereby satisfying the law. It still
has its aficionados, despite the relaxation of regulations.
Ivy Arches, The: A landmark in Til Institute, consisting of a
series of great arches covered with ivy, upholding an elevated
passageway connecting two buildings. Originally it consisted of three
arches, fell to an earthquake, and was subsequently rebuilt as two