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Wednesday 2 August 2000


Pic of the day: Book of the day. You may have seen me reading it, but here it is in all its glory. But should you run and buy it? "For the children"?

Depositurus Khornya

Last night I finished reading Acorna's People, the further adventures of the Unicorn Girl, by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. (Did they meet through the Coalition of Authors with Exotic Names?) Here's my judgement on the book. The spoiler level is quite moderate.

This is clearly a book for young girls. Quite young girls, I would say. I'm sorry to say that I was thwarted in my quest to find out how girls think - this book just tell them how they ought to think. The main character is strikingly simple, as in one-dimensional. She is pure good, lacking mostly the halo. The same goes for her surviving family. In the opposite corner, the evil adversaries. These are pure evil, lacking mainly the pitchfork; their delight is the torture of women, children, and any combination thereof.

But all is not lost. The supporting cast is quite a bit more lively. In particular the human males, who are a delight with their quirks and their slightly caricatured personalities. They also carry much of the story in this book, with little or no input from the supposed main character. And let us not forget the Makahomian temple defender cat.

If you are worried that your children may be corrupted by erotic literature, this one should be about as safe as they come. I'd place it on approximately the same level as Winnie the Pooh and less erotic than the Bible. The high point is one of the males being called "studmuffin" by his vacuous wife. Your children will still believe in the stork after reading this one. They will however be aware that adults have warm feelings and think erotic thoughts after a mass burial, because of the need to replenish the species. Further details are spared however by the timely arrival of a screaming human male.


In a twist of fate, the unicorns are generally acknowledged as erotic (or even sexual) symbols in our mythology. There is a nod to this in the books in that one of the evil overlords wants to hunt unicorns for their aphrodisiac properties, though of course this is a purely commercial interest on his part. (These guys get their jollies from torturing children, after all.)

Oh yes, and I almost laughed out loud when it was casually mentioned that after an extended bout of healing, some of the horns began to sag. Heh. I really doubt the prepubescent girls will catch that one, though.

Which leads me to my next topic. Evidently the humanoid unicorns speak an Indoeuropean language, because Acorna's name in their native tongue is Khornya, which is supposed to mean "one horn". (Yes - Khornya. As if Acorna wasn't corny enough.) The English (and Norwegian) word "horn" is a very ancient one, found across germanic languages. It is also strikingly similar to its latin counterpart. Which I happen to know because of the Norwegian (?) tradition of "russ".

"Russ" is not connected to Russia, but is a wild celebration of the end of high school. The entire spring, young girls and boys do various crazy stunts like stripping in the main street or sitting on a statue for half an hour or walking on all four along the main street biting people's legs. Heavy drinking and all that naturally follows is part of the tradition, though there are also christian or "credo" russ celebrating more soberly. Ironically, the name comes from the latin phrase "depositurus cornua", "laying off the horns".


Like the fabled equines, the unicorn people of the books have magical powers that are located mainly in their horns, which are said to be particularly rich in DNA. (Heh.) Acorna and her relatives can heal the wounded, perhaps even raise the very recently dead, and purify toxic air and water. When fully rested, their magic is nearly instant, while repeated performances take longer time. Ahem. Oh, and they are telepathic too. Which can be a bit embarassing if you are not used to it.

Speaking of horny people and telepathic high school girls, a funny thing happened on my way to work today. I passed by a shop and there was this ... what's the name? They're like small stairs in lightweight metal, or small self-supporting ladders. Used instead of chairs when you hang up curtains or paint ceiling or such. I can't remember ever having seen them mentioned in English. Wonder if they have those in English-speaking countries? Our name for them roughly translates as "curtain stairs".


In national news today: "The female students have a calming effect on the nerds" says the leader of a Norwegian IT college. Currently there are 38% of these calming students. Nothing was said about the effect of the nerds on the females.

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