The Gods Themselves

The Gods Themselves is a 1972 science fiction novel written by Isaac Asimov. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1972,[2] and the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1973.[3][4]

The book is divided into three main parts, which were first published in Galaxy Magazine and Worlds of If[5] as three consecutive stories.

The Gods Themselves
TheGodsThemselves(1stEd)
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
AuthorIsaac Asimov
Cover artistDavid November[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreScience fiction
PublisherDoubleday
Publication date
1972
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages288
AwardsLocus Award for Best Novel (1973)
ISBN0-385-02701-X

Plot summary

The book opens at chapter 6 to give context to the other chapters. Thus, the flow is Chapter 6 overview of Chapter 1, then Chapter 1. Next, is Chapter 6 overview of Chapter 2, then Chapter 2. So on and so forth. Chapter 6 then concludes, and the story proceeds with chapter 7.

The main plot-line is a project by those who inhabit a parallel universe (the para-Universe) with different physical laws from this one. By exchanging matter from their universe—para-Universe—with our universe, they seek to exploit the differences in physical laws. The exchange of matter provides an alternative source of energy to maintain their universe. However, the exchange will likely result in the collapse of the Earth's Sun into a supernova, and possibly even turning a large part of the Milky Way into a quasar. There is hope among those in the para-Universe that the energy explosion does happen in our universe.

The exact time when the novel occurs is not specified, but it is stated to be approximately two and a half centuries since the Opening of Japan and a century and a half since the discovery of quasars, suggesting early 22nd Century.

First part: Against Stupidity...

The first part takes place on Earth, almost a century after the "Great Crisis", where ecological and economic collapse reduced the world's population from six billion to two billion. Radiochemist Frederick Hallam discovers that a container's contents have been altered. He finds out that the sample, originally tungsten, has been transformed into plutonium 186—an isotope that cannot occur naturally in our universe. As this is investigated, Hallam gets the credit for suggesting that the matter has been exchanged by beings in a parallel universe; this leads to the development of a cheap, clean, and apparently endless source of energy: the "Pump", which transfers matter between our universe (where plutonium 186 decays into tungsten 186) and a parallel one governed by different physical laws (where tungsten 186 turns into plutonium 186), yielding a nuclear reaction in the process. The development process grants Hallam high position in public opinion; winning him power, position, and a Nobel Prize.

Physicist Peter Lamont, while writing a history of the Pump about thirty years later, comes to believe that the impetus of the Pump was the effort of the extraterrestrial "para-men". Lamont enlists the help of Myron "Mike" Bronowski, an archeologist and linguist known for translating ancient writings in the Etruscan language, to prove his claim by communicating with the parallel world. They inscribe symbols on strips of tungsten to establish a common written language as the strips are exchanged for ones made of plutonium-186. As Bronowski works, Lamont discovers that the Pump increases the strong nuclear force inside the sun, and thus threatens both universes by the explosion of Earth's sun and the cooling of that in the parallel universe. Bronowski receives an acknowledgment from the parallel universe that the Pump may be dangerous. Lamont attempts to demonstrate this to a politician and several members of the scientific community, but they refuse his request. Lamont decides to tell the para-men to stop the use of the Pump, but Bronowski reveals that they have been in contact not with the other side's authorities, but with dissidents unable to stop the Pump on their side. The last message was them begging Earth to stop.

Second part: ...The Gods Themselves...

The second part is set in the parallel universe where, because the nuclear force is stronger, stars are smaller and burn out faster than in our universe. It takes place on a world orbiting a sun that is dying. Because atoms behave differently in this universe, substances can move through each other and appear to occupy the same space. This gives the intelligent beings unique abilities. Time itself appears to flow differently in this universe: the events take place in an apparently short space of time in the lives of the inhabitants, while more than twenty years pass in our universe, and a long feeding break of one of the characters translates into a two-week gap on Lamont's side.

Like the first part of the novel, this section has an unusual chapter numbering. Each chapter except the last is in three parts, named "1a", "1b", and "1c". Each reflects the viewpoint of one of the three members of the "triad" central to the story's theme.

The inhabitants are divided into dominant "hard ones" and subject "soft ones". The latter have three sexes with fixed roles for each sex:

  • Rationals (or "lefts") are the logical and scientific sex; identified with masculine pronouns and producing a form of sperm. They have limited ability to pass through other bodies.
  • Emotionals (or "mids") are the intuitive sex; identified with the feminine pronouns and provide the energy needed for reproduction. Emotionals can pass freely in and out of solid material, including rock.
  • Parentals (or "rights") bear and raise the offspring, and are identified with masculine pronouns. Parentals have almost no ability to blend their bodies with others, except when helped by one or both of the other sexes.

All three 'genders' are embedded in sexual and social norms of expected and acceptable behavior. All three live by photosynthesis; whereas sexual intercourse is accomplished by bodily collapse into a single pool (known as 'melting'). Rationals and Parentals can do this independently, but in the presence of an Emotional, the "melt" becomes total, which causes orgasm and also results in a period of unconsciousness and memory loss. Only during such a total "melt" can the Rational "impregnate" the Parental, with the Emotional providing the energy. Normally, the triad produces three children; a Rational, a Parental and Emotional (in that order), after which they "pass on" and disappear forever. In the past, some triads have repeated the cycle of births (thus ensuring population growth), but the declining amount of solar radiation no longer allows that. "Stone-rubbing" is a practice of partially melting with solid objects like rocks, possible for Emotionals, but the other genders are only capable of it in a very limited form. It is an analogue of human masturbation and generally frowned upon. Dua, the Emotional who functions as protagonist of this section of the book, appears to be the only one who practices it while married.

The hard ones regulate much of soft one society, allocating one of each sex to a mating group called a "triad," and acting as mentors to the Rationals. Little is shown of "hard one" society; whereas Dua suspects that the "hard ones" are a dying race, retaining the "soft ones" as a replacement for their absent children. This is dismissed by Odeen, the Rational of Dua's triad. Having the most contact with the "hard ones," Odeen has heard them speak of a new "hard one" called Estwald, accounted of exceptional intelligence and the creator of the Pump.

Dua is an oddball Emotional who exhibits traits normally associated with Rationals, resulting in the nickname "left-em." While being taught by Odeen, she also discovers the supernova problem that Lamont uncovered in the first section. Outraged that the Pump is allowed to operate, she attempts to halt it but cannot persuade her own species to abandon the Pump. Given that their own sun and all the other stars in their universe can no longer provide the energy necessary for reproduction, they consider the possible destruction of Earth's sun worthwhile if it might provide a more reliable source of energy.

Driven by an innate desire to procreate, Tritt, the "Parental" of the triad, at first asks Odeen to persuade Dua to facilitate the production of their third child. When this fails, Tritt steals an energy-battery from the Pump and rigs it to feed Dua, which stimulates the triad into a total melt, resulting in conception. Dua discovers this betrayal and escapes to the caves of the hard ones, where she transmits the warning messages received by Lamont. This effort nearly exhausts her mortally before she is found by her triad. Here it is revealed that the hard ones are not a separate species, but the fully mature form that the triads eventually coalesce into permanently. Each melt briefly allows the triad to shift into its hard form during the period they can't later remember. Odeen convinces Dua that the hard one they will become will have influence with the others to stop the Pump; but as their final metamorphosis (the true meaning of "passing on") begins, Dua realizes (too late to prevent irreversible union) that her own triad's "hard" form is the scientist Estwald.

Third part: ...Contend in Vain?

The third part of the novel takes place on the Moon. Lunar society is diverging radically from that of Earth. The lower gravity has produced people with a very different physique. Their food supply is manufactured from algae and distasteful to inhabitants of Earth. They enjoy low-gravity sports that would be impossible on Earth, such as an acrobatic game like "tag" performed in a huge cylinder (these sports are vital to them, since their metabolism is still that of Earthmen, and proper strenuous exercise must be maintained for it to function properly). Some Lunarites want to further adapt their bodies to life on the Moon, but Earth has outlawed genetic engineering decades ago. Lunarites are beginning to see themselves as a separate race, although procreation between them and Earth people is quite common. Sex, however, is problematic, since an Earthborn person is likely to injure his or her partner due to loss of control. Sexual morals are loose, and nudity is not taboo.

The plot centers on a cynical middle-aged ex-physicist named Denison, briefly introduced in Part 1 as the colleague and rival of Hallam whose snide remark drove Hallam to investigate the change in his sample of tungsten and, eventually, develop the Pump. Finding his career blocked by Hallam, Denison leaves science and enters the business world, becoming a success.

Denison, independently of Lamont, deduced the danger in the Electron Pump. He visits the Moon colony hoping to work outside of Hallam's influence using technology that the Lunarites have developed. He is helped by a Lunarite tourist guide named Selene Lindstrom. She is secretly an Intuitionist (a genetically engineered human with superhuman intuition), who is working with her lover, Barron Neville. They are both part of a group of political agitators who want independence from Earth. The group particularly wants to be allowed to research ways to use the Electron Pump on the Moon. Although solar energy is plentiful enough to power their underground habitats, Neville wants to live entirely underground and never have to venture out on the surface. With the scientists' help, Denison gets access to the technology and proves that the strong force is indeed increasing, and will cause the Sun to explode.

Denison continues his work, tapping into a third parallel universe that is in a pre-big bang state (called "cosmic egg" or "cosmeg"), where physical laws are totally opposite to those of Dua's universe. Matter from the cosmeg starts with very weak nuclear force, and then spontaneously fuses as our universe's physical laws take over. The exchange with the second parallel universe both produces more energy at little or no cost, and balances the changes from the Electron Pump, resulting in a return to equilibrium. However, Selene clandestinely conducts another test showing that momentum can also be exchanged with the cosmeg. Denison catches her and forces her to admit her secret purpose: Neville thinks the momentum exchange can be used to move anything without using rockets, including the Moon itself. He wants to break away from Earth in the most complete way possible. Denison is appalled, although he sees the potential of the technology to make travel within the Solar System easier, and to the stars possible.

When Selene discusses Neville's plan with the rest of the group, most of them agree that moving the entire Moon will be meaningless, and building self-sufficient sublight starships will be better. A later public vote goes against Neville as well. Hallam is ruined by Denison's revelations. Selene and Denison become a couple. Having received permission to produce a second child, Selene requests Denison to become its father. The novel ends with them deciding to try working around the sexual incompatibility problem.

Asimov's relationship to the story

In a letter of February 12, 1982, Asimov identified this as his favorite science fiction novel.[6] Asimov's short story "Gold", one of the last he wrote in his life, describes the efforts of fictional computer animators to create a "compu-drama" from the novel's second section.

Asimov took the names of the immature aliens—Odeen, Dua, and Tritt—from the words One, Two, and Three in the language of his native Russia. (The original forms are odin, dva and tri).

Asimov's inspiration for the title of the book, and its three sections, was a quotation from the play The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller: "Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.", "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" (quoted in the book itself).

Asimov describes a conversation in January 1971 when Robert Silverberg had to refer to an isotope—just an arbitrary one—as an example. Silverberg said "plutonium-186". "There is no such isotope", said Asimov, "and such a one can't exist either". "So, what?", said Silverberg. Later Asimov figured out under what conditions plutonium-186 could exist, and what complications and consequences it might imply. Asimov reasoned that it must belong to another universe with other physical laws; specifically, different nuclear forces necessary to allow a Pu-186 nucleus to hold itself together. He wrote down these ideas, which gradually became the novel.

In his autobiography, Asimov stated that the novel, especially the second section, was the "biggest and most effective over-my-head writing [that I] ever produced".[7]

References to science

At the time of writing, quasars had been only recently discovered and were not well understood. In the story Lamont suggests that quasars are in fact parts of galaxies that have undergone sudden increase in the strength of the strong nuclear force, resulting in an explosion of fusion energy. It is not certain if Asimov took into account the nature of solar fusion, where the primary reaction rate is governed by the weak nuclear force, transforming protons into neutrons, while the strong force governs the amount of energy released during reactions.

The book mentions quarks, but confines its discussion of the strong force to pions, which are the carriers of the force that bind protons and neutrons together, while gluons bind quarks within protons and neutrons. At the time, gluons were only suspected to exist while particles thought to be quarks had been observed directly.

Similarly, the Etruscan language and particularly Etruscan writings had not been translated and remain enigmatic in reality. The language's possible relation to any known language remain unproven. The character Bronowski is imagined to have solved the puzzle by considering the Basque language, which is also unique in Europe, as a relative of ancient Etruscan. Bronowski decides to help Lamont when the president of the university refers to the language as "Itascan", confusing it with Lake Itasca. He resolves to do something that "even that idiot will remember".

References

  1. ^ First edition at ISFDB
  2. ^ "1972 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  3. ^ "1973 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2009-09-02.
  4. ^ Asimov (1975) Buy Jupiter and Other Stories, VGSF (1988 ed.) p. 174
  5. ^ "Bibliography: The Gods Themselves". Retrieved 2011-10-29.
  6. ^ "Yours, Isaac Asimov" page 225
  7. ^ I. Asimov: A Memoir. Isaac Asimov. Bantam Books. 1995. p. 251. ISBN 0-553-56997-X

External links

1972 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1972.

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia

An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia is a reference work written by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. It covers the life and work of American horror fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. First published in 2001 by Greenwood Publishing Group, it was reissued in a slightly revised paperback edition by Hippocampus Press.

The book provides entries on all of Lovecraft's stories, complete with synopses, publication history and word counts. People from Lovecraft's life, including selected writers who influenced his work, are also included.

Fictional characters from Lovecraft's work are given brief entries, but most Cthulhu Mythos-related subjects are not referenced. "The 'gods' themselves, with rare exceptions, do not figure as 'characters' in any meaningful sense in the tales, so there are no entries on them," the authors explain.

Baetylus

Baetylus (also Baetyl, Bethel, or Betyl, from Semitic bet el "house of god") is a word denoting sacred stones that were supposedly endowed with life. According to ancient sources, these objects of worship were meteorites, which were dedicated to the gods or revered as symbols of the gods themselves. A baetyl is also mentioned in the Bible at Bethel in the Book of Genesis in the story of Jacob's Ladder.In the Phoenician mythology related by Sanchuniathon, one of the sons of Uranus was named Baetylus. The worship of baetyls was widespread in the Phoenician colonies, including Carthage, even after the adoption of Christianity, and was denounced by Augustine of Hippo.

In ancient Greek religion and mythology, the term was specially applied to the Omphalos, the stone supposed to have been swallowed by Cronus (who feared misfortune from his own children) in mistake for his infant son Zeus, for whom it had been substituted by Gaea. This stone was carefully preserved at Delphi, anointed with oil every day and on festive occasions covered with raw wool.In Rome, there was the stone effigy of Cybele, called Mater Idaea Deum, that had been ceremoniously brought from Pessinus in Asia Minor in 204 BC. Another conical meteorite was enshrined in the Elagabalium to personify the Syrian deity Elagabalus.

In some cases an attempt was made to give a more regular form to the original shapeless stone: thus Apollo Agyieus was represented by a conical pillar with a pointed end, Zeus Meilichius in the form of a pyramid. Other famous baetylic idols were those in the temples of Zeus Casius at Seleucia Pieria, and of Zeus Teleios at Tegea. Even in the declining years of paganism, these idols still retained their significance, as is shown by the attacks upon them by ecclesiastical writers.A similar practice survives today with the Kaaba's Black Stone, which was worshiped by pre-Islamic polytheists.

Bjarkamál

Bjarkamál (Bjarkemål in modern Norwegian and Danish) is an Old Norse poem from around the year 1000. Only a few lines have survived in the Icelandic version, the rest is known from Saxo's version in Latin. The latter consists of 298 hexameters, and tells the tale of Rolf Krake's downfall at Lejre on the isle of Sjælland, described in a dialogue between two of Rolf Krake's twelve berserkers, Bodvar Bjarke (hence the name of the poem), the most famous warrior at the court of the legendary Danish king Rolf Krake, and Hjalte (= hilt). The poem opens with Hjalte waking up his fellow berserkers, having realized they are under attack. In 1030, King Olav had the bard Tormod Kolbrunarskald recite the Bjarkamál to rouse his outnumbered army in the morning before the start of the Battle of Stiklestad, according to Fóstbrœðra saga.

In Bjarkamál, Rolf Krake has subdued the Swedes enough to make them pay him tax. Instead, they destroy his court at Lejre with a trick reminding us of Homer's Trojan horse: The wagons, bringing the valuables to Lejre, are filled with hidden weapons instead. When the Swedes, led by Hjartvar, arrive at Lejre, they are invited to a party, but unlike the Danes, they make sure to stay sober. Saxo has combined motives from the original Danish poem with motives from the second song in the Æneid, known as the nyktomakhi, where Æneas tells Dido about the battle between the Greeks and the Trojans in Troy. The nyktomakhi is of about the same length as Bjarkamál, and containing the same elements: The Trojan horse/the smuggling of Swedish weapons; Danes/Trojans are sound asleep when Swedes/Greeks attack them; plus the climax: The goddess Venus informs Æneas that it is the will of the gods themselves (that is, Jupiter, Juno, Minerva and Neptune) that Troy shall fall, and so he can honourably flee. Correspondingly, Rolf Krake's sister Ruth shows Bjarke the war god Odin, albeit the sight of Odin constitutes the moment when Bjarke and Hjalte die.A well-known example of the old Norse faith in fylgjur, is Bjarke in Bjarkamál lying fast asleep in the hall, while his fylgja (doppelgänger in animal shape), the bear, is fighting on his behalf outside. When eventually Bjarke gets up and starts fighting, the bear has disappeared.The hymn "Sol er oppe" (= Sun is up) from 1817 is Grundtvig's version of the poem.

Book of Thoth

Book of Thoth is a name given to many ancient Egyptian texts supposed to have been written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of writing and knowledge. They include many texts that were claimed to exist by ancient authors, and a magical book that appears in an Egyptian work of fiction.

Dreamsnake

Dreamsnake is a 1978 science fiction novel by American writer Vonda N. McIntyre. It was well-received, winning the 1979 Hugo Award, the 1978 Nebula Award, and the 1979 Locus Award. The novel follows a healer on her quest to replace her "dreamsnake", a small snake whose venom is capable of inducing torpor and hallucinations in humans, akin to effects produced by drugs such as LSD or heroin. According to the author, the world is Earth, but in the post-apocalyptic future and thus scientifically and socially much different from the present: a nuclear war has left vast swathes of the planet too radioactive to support human life, biotechnology is far more advanced than in today's Earth—genetic manipulation of plants and animals is routine—and alternate sex patterns and other-worldly tribalism appear.

The novel is based upon McIntyre's 1973 novelette Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, for which she won her first Nebula Award.

Forever Peace

Forever Peace is a 1997 science fiction novel by Joe Haldeman. It won the Nebula Award, Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 1998.

Gateway (novel)

Gateway is a 1977 science fiction novel by American writer Frederik Pohl. It is the opening novel in the Heechee saga, with four sequels that followed (five books overall). Gateway won the 1978 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 1978 Locus Award for Best Novel, the 1977 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1978 John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The novel was adapted into a computer game in 1992.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer who wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.Asimov wrote hard science fiction. Along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the "Foundation" series; his other major series are the "Galactic Empire" series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, with Foundation and Earth (1986), he linked this distant future to the Robot stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall"; in 1964, it was voted the best short science fiction story of all time by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, history, and William Shakespeare's writings.

He was president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.

List of Dragonlance deities

The Dragonlance deities, also commonly referred to as gods, are the high powers of the fictional world of Krynn, where the Dragonlance campaign setting takes place. They differ from the gods of other Dungeons & Dragons campaign settings in that the gods themselves do not have d20 mechanics. However, their aspects, the way they manifest into the world, do. The gods of Krynn are formless, and represent a particular aspect of creation. They periodically send messengers, omens, visions, and their own aspects to the world. The gods of Krynn never bring their full essence into the world.The gods of Krynn are very active in the lives of the people of Krynn. They work to maintain the world, but all of them have different ways of going about it. For example, Takhisis, the major goddess of evil, believes in subjugating the world to bring order. Paladine, the major god of good, tries to educate the people to bring about order, and Gilean, the major god of neutrality believes that mortals have to be able to choose their own path to have order. The gods of the three alignments (Good, Evil, and Neutrality) form the Balance of Krynn. Clerics in the Dragonlance setting can serve any of the gods except Lunitari, Nuitari, and Solinari, who grant the arcane magic of wizardry rather than clerical power.There are two eras in the Dragonlance world when the gods were not active in the world: the majority of the Age of Despair (after the Cataclysm until the War of the Lance); and the early Age of Mortals (before the War of Souls).

Locus Award for Best Novel

Winners of the Locus Award for Best Novel, awarded by Locus magazine. Awards presented in a given year are for works published in the previous calendar year.

The award for Best Novel was presented from 1971 (when the awards began) to 1979. Since 1980, awards have been presented for Best SF Novel and Best Fantasy Novel.

Opet Festival

The Beautiful Feast of Opet (or Opet Festival) (Some spell it Ophet) was an Ancient Egyptian festival celebrated annually in Thebes (Luxor), during the New Kingdom and in later periods. The statues of the deities of the Theban Triad — Amun, Mut and their child Khonsu — were escorted in a joyous procession, though hidden from sight in a sacred barque, from the temple of Amun in Karnak, to the temple of Luxor, a journey of more than 1 mile (2 km), in a marital celebration. The highlight of the ritual is the meeting of Amun-Re of Karnak with the Amun of Luxor. Rebirth is a strong theme of Opet and there is usually a re-coronation ceremony of the pharaoh.In earlier celebrations of the Opet Festival, the statues of the god proceeded down the avenue of sphinxes that connect the two temples, stopping at specially constructed chapels en route. These shrines would have been filled with offerings, providing for the gods themselves and the attending priests. At the end of the ceremonies in the Luxor Temple, the barques journeyed back by boat to Karnak. In later celebrations, the statues would be transported both to and from Karnak/Luxor by boat. The festival was celebrated in the second month of Akhet, the season of the flooding of the Nile.

A royal barque also sailed with the gods' vessel, and the ceremonies in the "Chamber of the Divine King" would reenact the coronation ceremonies and thus confirm kingship.

Paladin of Souls

Paladin of Souls is a 2003 fantasy novel by Lois McMaster Bujold. It is a sequel to The Curse of Chalion, set some three years later.

Ringworld

Ringworld is a 1970 science fiction novel by Larry Niven, set in his Known Space universe and considered a classic of science fiction literature. Niven later added four sequels and four prequels. (The Fleet of Worlds series, co-written with Edward M. Lerner, provides the four prequels, as well as Fate of Worlds, the final sequel.) These books tie into numerous other books set in Known Space. Ringworld won the Nebula Award in 1970, as well as both the Hugo Award and Locus Award in 1971.

Sunda and Upasunda

Mythological characters from the great epic Mahabharata, Sunda (सुन्द) and Upasunda (उपसुन्‍द) were asura princes and brothers. Their father was Jambha. The brothers grew up to be very powerful and were always of one mind. Together, they embarked on a campaign of world domination that began with a program of extreme asceticism in the mountains. Their asceticism generated such extreme heat that the gods themselves became exceedingly alarmed. Unsuccessfully, the gods attempted to distract the brothers through the enticement of maidens and by means of disturbing illusions of rampaging Rakshasas. Finally, Brahma agreed to grant the brothers a boon, on condition that they desist from their asceticism. The brothers agreed to the condition, and received the boon of being completely invulnerable, except that they could be killed by each other. Leaving the mountains, Sunda and Upasunda returned home, mustered an army, and proceeded to conquer and to devastate the entire world. They even drove the gods from their celestial abode. Finally, Brahma was again moved to action. He created the beautiful apsara Tilottama and ordered her to cause dissent between the brothers. Tilottama found Sunda and Upasunda in the countryside with their retinue, drinking and celebrating their victories. Beholding Tilottama, they immediately fell to fighting over her, and ended up killing each other. Thus was the world order reestablished.

The Forever War

The Forever War (1974) is a military science fiction novel by American author Joe Haldeman, telling the contemplative story of soldiers fighting an interstellar war between Man and the Taurans. It won the Nebula Award in 1975 and the Hugo and the Locus awards in 1976. Forever Free (1999) and Forever Peace (1997) are respectively, direct and thematic sequel novels. The novella A Separate War (1999) is another sequel of sorts, occurring simultaneously to the final portion of The Forever War. Informally, the novels compose The Forever War series; the novel also inspired a comic book and a board game. The Forever War is the first title in the SF Masterworks series.

The Healer's War

The Healer's War is a 1988 science fiction novel by American writer Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1989.

The Maid of Orleans (play)

The Maid of Orleans (German: Die Jungfrau von Orleans) is a tragedy by Friedrich Schiller, written in 1801 in Leipzig. During his lifetime, it was one of Schiller's most frequently-performed pieces.

Xenia (Greek)

Xenia (Greek: ξενία, translit. xenía, meaning "guest-friendship") is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship. The rituals of hospitality created and expressed a reciprocal relationship between guest and host expressed in both material benefits (such as the giving of gifts to each party) as well as non-material ones (such as protection, shelter, favors, or certain normative rights).

The Greek god Zeus is sometimes called Zeus Xenios in his role as a protector of guests. He thus embodied the religious obligation to be hospitable to travelers. Theoxeny or theoxenia is a theme in Greek mythology in which human beings demonstrate their virtue or piety by extending hospitality to a humble stranger (xenos), who turns out to be a disguised deity (theos) with the capacity to bestow rewards. These stories caution mortals that any guest should be treated as if potentially a disguised divinity and help establish the idea of xenia as a fundamental Greek custom. The term theoxenia also covered entertaining among the gods themselves, a popular subject in classical art, which was revived at the Renaissance in works depicting a Feast of the Gods.

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