[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Sime~Gen Inc. Presents

Recommended Books

February 2002 

"The Lord of Shortened Force"


Jacqueline Lichtenberg


To send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, email jl@simegen.com for instructions.

Precursor by C. J. Cherryh DAW hc 1999

Defender by C. J. Cherryh DAW hc Nov 2001



"The Lord of Shortened Force" is the arcane title of the 8 of Swords. On the Tree of Life, 8 is Hod, associated with Mercury, with Hermes, with all things associated with thought, with science (organizing thought), and with ceremonial Magick (an applied science, a technology).

On the Tree of Life, Swords is usually attributed to Air and to actions, deeds, decisions, and implementations of the thinking process.

If your system does not place "Swords" as the third level down of Jacob's Ladder, then think here of whatever Suit of the Tarot that your system does place third, to represent Yetzirah, the World of Formation.

The function I'm discussing is represented in the deck designed by A. E. Waite and drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith as a woman standing arms bound tightly to her body, (so she lacks balance) eyes blindfolded, slippered feet amidst muddy puddles, surrounded by eight upright swords.

Blindfolded, her Imagination (the 7's of the Tarot) must supply her knowledge of whatever is around her. She imagines what to think about and thinks about what she imagines.

I usually explain this card, when doing a reading, as the "yes, but" mental state. It's a state of being unable to solve a problem by action because the problem is too well known, too well thought through.

This card also describes the Medical Student's Sophomore syndrome, a well documented phenomenon where the medical student studies a disease and then imagination focused through thought (7 to 8) produces psychosomatic symptoms of the disease.

This is a mental position where you can't act to solve your problems because of the damage you imagine you will sustain if you act -- no matter which way you turn, there is danger of damage to be sustained, and so you are caged by your own thought-process.

But like all Tarot Cards, like all positions on the Tree of Life, there is a difficult, tricky secret way of using the energy- a way that is usually opened up by "Initiation" (either ceremonial or in life itself) and which turns hopeless disaster into an opportunity for great benefit.

With the 8 of Swords, the secret is encoded into the arcane title, The Lord of Shortened Force. You might translate that into prudence.

Most people, when they break out of the 8 Swords position, go all the way over into sheer wrecklessness. Most people apply too much force fueled by too much fear-anguish-rage-hatred. Most people just get fed up with being in prison and hurl themselves at the electrified fences heedless of the damage to themselves. They break out of thinking too much by not thinking at all.

But some understand that their fears come from imagination, study their imagined situation carefully and contrive to short-circuit the electrified fence -- or in the image this card presents, to slog through the mud puddles sacrificing slippers but avoiding the swords.

They calculate (Mercury) and accept minimal damage for maximum results. This is the process of applying the minimum Force (the force of mind and imagination - the Force of Voice, of Word) necessary to achieve a carefully chosen objective.

Imagine yourself as a 90-lb-weakling trapped on a subway train with some disreputable looking, large and strong young men demanding your wallet. Imagine you have a loaded gun for protection. Surrounded, with no way out of their threatening circle, you shoot. Some fall down, others run. Now, you have the upper hand. What do you do?

The Lord of Shortened Force injures the fallen just enough to be sure they won't counter-attack, but does not kill. The uninitiated pours all the bullets into the fallen, venting fear and rage by pumping bullets into dead bodies.

Given Power -- how do you use it? Or does it use you? Are you a Lord of Shortened Force?

As I read it, the C. J. Cherryh title, Defender, fifth in her Foreigner series which I discussed in the December column, is about this particular Initiation.

The novel appears to be a bridge novel, not really complete in itself, between the end of Book IV, Precursor, and the beginning of the next novel in the series.

Precursor ends with the non-human atevi and the human colonists who live on the atevi world in an action scene where the atevi assert their treaty right to the space station and take control of it from the crew of the only human starship known to be in this area of space.

Defender opens some 6 years later, when the atevi have a good start on paying for the Station by building another starship in orbit. The atevi have also made a start at rebuilding the 200 year old station to support enough workers to build that starship.

As with most of the plot developments in this series, the main character, Bren Cameron, the chief translator between atevi and humans, has no clue what's going on. He's hedged around by other people's actions (Swords) and he imagines azards to world peace and the survival of humanity in this part of the galaxy.

He's not afraid to step in those mud-puddles, and by this 5th book, he's not afraid of the audacious actions of the World Leaders he works for - the swords surrounding him.

The book opens with the atevi world leader calling him down to the planet to attend a memorial service that doesn't seem to have any purpose. He spends the whole first half of the book trying to figure out what the atevi leader is up to now (having been a pawn in atevi affairs before).

We never do find out (in this book) which of Cameron's various theories is true, though Cameron himself is satisfied he's figured it out. (I'm not. We do know that the atevi leader has not been honest with Cameron.)

We discover that the Starship's Captain lied in the previous novels. It turns out that the other space station, built by this starship's crew, was not in fact totally destroyed by mysterious alien invaders. A part of it remains and about 300 crewmen were left to man that part and spy on the aliens. With no interstellar communications, nobody knows if they're still alive, but the objective now is to avoid an armed conflict with the aliens who did attack and destroy the Second Station -- to avoid leading them to the atevi homeworld.

The book ends with Cameron, a politically powerful atevi, and a representative of the human colonists aboard the one and only human starship headed back to the second station to pick up the stranded crew and return to the atevi homeworld, leaving no trace for the hostile aliens to follow.

The atevi onboard this starship are not getting along well with the Captain. Cameron has his doubts about the ability of the translator who now occupies his office on the space station to keep the peace between atevi and humans. His imagination is already supplying dangers ahead of him and behind him, as well as surrounding him.

We have seen that he habitually applies Force lightly, judiciously and minimally. And we have also seen that he's willing to take damage to himself, his mission, his integrity, his life, if there's a good chance of achieving his objective.

Consider now that I've been discussing Swords, and calling it "Action." Remember, "Swords" symbolizes the element Air. Consider that the application of The Voice to Vibrate a magical Word -- the Shout -- is an exercise in Air.

Bren Cameron is a translator -- he deals in the spoken (and written) word -- he is in a Mercury ruled profession. Every word he speaks shakes nations.

The symbolisms throughout this whole series of books -- the tight focus on this one character, Bren Cameron -- the entire situation in which he is embroiled, and the choices he's made to place himself there -- focuses the series into the 8 of Swords -- Bren Cameron is an adept, a Lord of Shortened Force.

By riding inside his mind through all the initiatory experiences he's had throughout this series, by letting yourself become Bren Cameron, you can gain an insight and understanding into the 8 of Swords and perhaps painlessly retrieve the wisdom gained in the initiation of the 8 of Swords in a prior lifetime.

I have never read a series of novels so long, so intricate, so well developed, and so precisely focused -- these novels are a brilliant work, beyond price and well worth re-reading several times.

Put "C. J. Cherryh" into the amazon.com search graphic below and you will find many great books to read.  

To send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg, email jl@simegen.com  for instructions.



To send books for review in this column email Jacqueline Lichtenberg, jl@simegen.com for snailing instructions or send an attached RTF file.  
Find these books.
Find TV fandoms online



Send books for review in this column to: Jacqueline Lichtenberg,


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Find these titles by using copy/paste (in MSIE use right mouse button to get the copy/paste menue to work inside text boxes) to insert them in the search slot below -- then click Book Search and you will find the page where you can discover more about that book, or even order it if you want to.   To find books by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, such as the new Biblical Tarot series, search "Jacqueline Lichtenberg" below. 


In Association with Amazon.com




Find out why we so vigorously support amazon.com 

In Association with Amazon.com

Sign up for PayPal and do business online safely and securely. Use PayPal at amazon.com auctions

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!

Visit our Keybooks Bookstore for a wider selection.  
Or find short stories by 
professional writers to read now.
Find longer works by professional writers.
Find the next step beyond the e-card -- the bookcard.  




SGcopyright.jpg (8983 bytes)

Top Page|1993 | 1994|1995|1996|1997|1998|1999 |2000|2001|2002|Star Trek Connection|

Find an error here?  Email:Webmaster Re-Readable Books

This Page Was Last Updated   02/15/02 12:54 PM EST (USA)

amzn-bmm-blk-assoc.gif (1970 bytes)Little Girl Reading a BookThe Re-Readable Collection  

Reviewed by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

SEARCH ENGINE for simegen.com : Find anything on simegen.com. 

Match: Format: Sort by: Search:

Submit Your Own Question

Register Today for the writing school Go To Writers Section and read stories. Explore Sime~Gen Fandom  

Read Sime~Gen Free 

Science Fiction Writers of America