May 6th, 2008

ozarque figure

Short story; "Final Exam"; questions...

After I posted the list of Professions on Abba, akitrom commented with a set of questions that I'm going to try to answer. But before I do that, I have to tell you that I wouldn't be able to answer many -- perhaps most -- questions about Abba. The work I've done in that fictional universe ["For the Sake of Grace," At the Seventh Level, "Final Exam," and "Modulation in All Things"] has been focused mostly on a narrow segment of the society, and I've never worked out the rest of the culture in detail. There wasn't the sort of intricately fleshed-out backstory for Abba that I did for my later novels; I was a much younger and much less experienced writer then.

Now, to the questions...

1. What kind of crimes are legal, and what kinds are always illegal?

There are only two ways a crime can be illegal. One is if the Criminal fails to do the paperwork properly ... doesn't fill out some form, fills out some form incorrectly, fails to meet a deadline for filing some form, violates some obscure technicality ... that kind of thing. The other way is if the application for the crime is rejected by the administrators and the Criminal goes ahead with the crime in defiance of the rejection.


2. Can it be legal for criminals to impersonate members of other professions?

If the paperwork is done properly and the application for the impersonation is not rejected, it's a legal crime.


3. Do members of other professions who commit illegal acts become Criminals? Is that the Entrance Exam?

No; it's not like that. For one thing, in the Abban culture the idea of doing something outside the boundaries of your own Profession is horrifying and repulsive. For a Lawyer or a Scientist to do an act ordinarily reserved for Criminals would not be perceived as having committed a crime; only Criminals are qualified to commit crimes. The most likely outcome if someone other than a Criminal did something illegal would be a diagnosis of mental illness.


4. Why did Abba's founders think that it was important to have a recognized Criminal profession?

For Abbans, the most important thing of all, and the most desirable, is order. How could you have an orderly society if your Criminals could be just any old body?


5. Do you see something particularly "Male" to all this classification?

No. Not at all.


6. How do women function in this society? Every historical patriarchy with which I am familiar, whether they treat normal women as children or property, make room for the exceptional woman.

On Abba, anyone can apply to take the exams for any Profession, and any woman who was able to pass the qualifying exams for a Profession would have to be admitted to that Profession. [That's the core of the plot for the fiction I've done about Abba. The "what if" question was: "What if a young girl passed the qualifying exams for Poetry? Then what?"] But females in this culture are excluded all their lives long from almost every experience that would make them likely to be able to pass the exams.


7. But there have to be people who cannot pass exams, even Revolutionary ones. What happens to them?

People who fail all the other exams have no trouble passing the exams for the Profession of Service. Those exams are made so easy that it would be almost impossible to fail them. Especially if you are male, and have therefore been allowed to have a standard education.
ozarque figure

Short story; "Final Exam"; questions; correction...

About my response to Question #6, mamadeb commented:

"From what I gathered from "For the Sake of Grace" (a story I have read multiple times, but not in the last several years), the ONLY Profession a woman on Abba could apply to was Poetry - and the penalty for her failing was horrific."

Mercy. This is what happens when you don't go back and read fiction you wrote decades ago, and you just try to Wing It. mamadeb is absolutely right. And the reason is a matter of law, set out clearly in "For the Sake of Grace":

"The law provides that since the Profession of Poetry is a religious office, there must be a channel provided for the rare occasion when the Light might see fit to call a female to Its service."

I apologize. And my thanks to mamadeb for rescuing me....