Really, this is a very difficult book to explain. Well, it is not exactly that it is difficult to explain, but that it is difficult to believe. Decidedly difficult to believe. I suppose starting at the beginning is the best way to tell you about this book you now hold in your hands. (Aren’t hands marvelous things? What would we do without our hands! I sometimes spend minutes sitting and staring at my hands marveling at their usefulness. But just a moment, I wasn’t speaking about hands… oh yes.)
It was in the year 1912, in the country of Venezuela. I was there with a scientific group searching for a fallen stone, thought to have been chipped off of our moon by a collision with an asteroid some two weeks before. We found the moon rock, much to the delight of Bernard J. Alton. (A friend of mine from schooldays. We used to slip away from the mathematics class and go hide under our bunk, he with his books on astronomy, and I with my ancient texts for translating. At least we did until that rotten Smidge Miler caught us once and reported us. But dear me, I’ve done it again. Where was I? Oh yes, at the beginning.)
Alton was delighted with the rock. I thought it a fine find, and wished him many happy returns of his moon-rock day. But as he extricated the simple grey stone from the Venezuelan ground, it fell in two. And when it fell in two, a box fell out. Now this excited some bewilderment in my friend Bernard J. Alton, but it was the first thing of real interest that had happened to me that trip, asides from sitting upon the cowcatcher of the train pouring sand on the rails to act as brakes for the ancient railway engine. I immediately stepped forward and studied the object. It was a simple metal box of very shiny silver appearance, but was inordinately heavy. I was obliged to open it there as it was very difficult to move. And inside I found a collection of documents.
Perhaps you are beginning to understand why this is such a difficult introduction to write. This whole episode is a bit impossible to believe, really. And yet as firmly as (if you will pardon the expression) my name is A. Arthur Simpson, that box came from a rock hurtled from space, and inside it held documents from another planet. Documents, I might add, written upon another planet. Which of course meant someone must be there, living on that other planet, to do the writing. But before you begin to shout “aliens!” and close this volume as entirely irrelevant to anything resembling reality or even interest, let me assure you that as I knelt on the churned up bug-filled Venezuelan dirt glancing over the top page, my eye landed upon a word that I understood to be ‘beans.’ This led me to surmise the writer was of human origin. Recall we had to have the Rosetta Stone before we could even begin to understand some ancient writers of our own Earth’s history, and with these space texts, if you will, at the first cursory glance I recognized a word similar enough to ancient Hebrew I knew its meaning.
Alton would rather forget the box had come from the stone, as getting the scientific community to acknowledge a cosmic rock would be difficult enough without the problem of explaining a box of documents contained in the rock, and so I took the box home to Worcester, Massachusetts. (A wonderful town, you really ought to come and see it if you have not already. Though the name is a bit difficult for strangers to pronounce, and their attempts give those of us who live there great enjoyment and hilarity. Why, there was a couple just a week ago who… Wait, I was speaking of the documents.)
It took a good deal of work, for the language was not strictly Hebrew, or even greatly related. But it had enough clues, over a course of some years I managed to translate the pages into English. Despite the interruption of the Great War and the economic downturn of my nation. And really, I feel rather proud of myself at the effort. (Three cheers for myself!) But back to what was contained in the documents. They were a collection of historical writings about a planet named Planistah, whose people seem to have been distinctly worried about a catastrophic plague striking and wiping out the entire population, worried enough that one person compiled these pages and sent them out into the wide vastness of the universe.
Naturally, at this time you are shaking your head as you look down your nose at this page, or you are laughing so hysterically that someone is summoning an ambulance thinking you have gone off your head. But I assure you the documents are real. Allow me to explain briefly how this remarkable event came about.
We know very little of the ancient world of our own Earth. What we do know comes mainly from the documents recorded in our Bible, and there are chapters of genealogies in Genesis spanning, goodness, how many years! All we know of these ancient, ancient times is a few scattered names. We are told someone learned how to make music, someone made tents, another someone was a great hunter. And according to the documents that fell from the midst of Alton’s cosmic rock, a man built a spaceship and sailed off to see if he might colonize another place. And apparently he succeeded. I realize this sounds ridiculous to us in these modern times, conditioned as we have been to think of antediluvian man as uncultured idiots. (Conditioned, I must remember to send my grocers a list of toiletry items… Wait, where was I?)
Remember that the curse is taking its toll day by day, and it is a biblically and historically sound idea to assume those who walked the planet shortly after Adam and Eve were rather smarter than we are nowadays. And looking at mankind throughout the years you will see we have always been fascinated by the universe. People now are saying another war is brewing, and I have heard rumors from government friends of mine that a missile of drastic and unthinkably advanced capabilities is being considered. (If you are not cleared to know government secrets forget I mentioned that.) And after such an invention is realized, who can say? We might even set foot upon the great silver queen of the night one day. But whether you believe its story or not, the documents state categorically that Planistah was settled by an ancient race from Earth.
When I learned this it cleared up many questions I had about the texts. For example, I had wondered why such a foreign place would have people who seem so very similar to those wandering the streets of Worcester. But it was clear enough when I realized they descended from the same stock. And that also made me understand why the atmospheric conditions and ecosystems were so similar to our own; humans are quite fragile creatures, and the pilot of that remarkable ship would have sought out just the right sort of place to survive, a place very like our Earth. And the fact that dogs and tomatoes seem to be present was now acceptable; the settlers from Earth carried more than people when they went exploring among the stars. Another major question it explained for me, was how many of the words speak of ideas that were easily translatable into English. Take ‘dragons’ as an example. I have spent hours pondering over how these reptilian-like animals came to be called ‘dragons’ when so many other animals have names peculiar to Planistah (and truly untranslatable into English). My conclusion, after looking at the history of both planets, is that the settlers of Planistah had seen many similar animals upon Earth and the name carried over. This act of carrying over names for things which we know here on Earth, and which translate into English, may be seen fairly often in these texts. (Note the language of the texts is nothing like English, and the words do not express things as English does. [The grammar is really quite detestable compared to most languages that have developed upon Earth!] It is simply from my careful study and diligence that I am able to extract the ideas of the words and put them in an understandable form for those of us here on Earth. Words convey ideas, that is the essence of language; an idea for a solid item, such as a footstool, is stably factual and fairly easily translated no matter what language it is expressed in.) This similarity of items is seen, for instance, in the use of bows and arrows, cooks and inns, lanterns and suns, and throughout the work. And the descendants of the ancient people who walked after Adam and Eve walk the streets of Worcester and the soil of Planistah. Naturally their history is very different from ours. But the people are very similar. And so are their needs. Which means so are many of their developments. And it follows that many of the meanings of their words are also very similar.
I could tell you a number of things about Planistah and its peoples (the texts are many and varied delightfully, with legends and history and myths and songs and poems and… I think you understand, I will move on). But that would be to add work to my already prodigious and skilled work. Instead I present my translations of the original texts. There are a myriad of fascinating accounts in the documents from the box, in time I hope to publish them all. (I realize the remarkable nature of this work is going to make publishing difficult, and do not expect it to happen in my time. Perhaps in my son’s time. Or my grandson’s, perhaps then people will be willing to accept it.) But there is really only one full tale, the others are scraps of history, mostly burnt up by the heating of the box inside the cosmic rock as it flew through space and forced its way through Earth’s atmosphere. It seems to be a contemporary tale for the compiler of the notes, and I hope and pray the cataclysmic plague which is hinted at did not strike, for I have come to feel almost as if I know the authors of this text. It is this account, as the most interesting, the most complete, and (I think) the most heroic out of the documents that I now bring to you. I have striven to make my translations as clear as possible, and added in footnotes of my own to help explain the words peculiar to Planistah that could not be easily translated, and included a glossary in the back to allow you an easy way to access those words you desire to understand better. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are from a little book titled, A Collection of Wisdom, and will I hope give you a small flavor of that far off planet. The text labeled this account, The History of €hærlêm the Third, Dreaded King. I have somewhat shortened the title, and will present it to you in installments, as I complete the translations, since it is a long tale. But one that will, I hope, bring you great enjoyment.
[The text begins here.]