Gloth – The Totally Unknown Planet
The unknown planet of Gloth is a miraculous planet totally oblivious to humans, yet it controls their very existence. Within the Glothic Tales, its history evolves through the experiences of February, HAL and Septimity. And now, the story of Gloth continues with a new book – March. If you haven’t read any of the Glothic Tales, here is a little introduction to Gloth and its history and customs.
The four Glothic Tales are stand-alone stories, so don’t panic if you mess up your arithmetic and read them in the wrong order, as all sense of time or logical sequence has been meticulously warped – for your reading convenience.
The Miraculous Unknown Planet – Gloth
At the very beginning there was absolutely nothing, except for an infinitely empty Universe, which although it may have been something, because it had a name, amounted to very little apart from, well, a vast amount of empty space, total darkness, and a sense of time that had no meaning. Nothingness was the rule of that timeless time, and it continued unabated. Not surprisingly, as the Universe amounted to nothing whatsoever, there was obviously nothing to measure the passing of time, so there is zero possibility now of knowing the amount of timeless time that passed between the very beginning and the precise moment when the first concept of measuring time came into existence. It was probably an awfully long time though.
Yet, on the initial stroke of the very first second of this totally new time-cum-clock concept, all of a sudden, a wondrous planet called Gloth miraculously came into real and immediate existence. Perhaps there was a light broth of accidental and invisible gasses, which the Universe may have been working on developing over billions of uncounted and untimed years, or an electrical short caused by friction between colliding layers of nothingness that enabled Gloth to burst into existence on the Universal scene so quickly. But this does not explain at all how, or why, the first Glothians instantly stood erect on two legs and possessed immediate intelligence, defying any concepts of evolution, or for that matter, creation, and could instinctively from that first tick of the clock in the new Universe of something, tell the time.
Over the following millions of years, hundreds of skilfully unproductive scholars and thousands of lavishly government funded researchers on Gloth studied this conundrum with zealous intensity, trying to discover why it was that Gloth was so uniquely more important than any other latter created heavenly body in the Universe, and why Glothians were clearly superior to any other form of living creature in the Cosmos. Even though this was all considered as a matter of fact, and therefore beyond any question whatsoever, the process of ongoing research into the blindingly obvious truth that Glothians were the most advanced and intelligent race in the entire Universe, kept a vast number of otherwise unproductive Glothian polymaths, occupied.
To ensure they kept their highly paid unproductive scholarships and fellowships, and their cushy full-time plus expenses government funded research posts, they all agreed, unanimously, that the reason Gloth was uniquely special had been scientifically proven beyond any skerrick of doubt. There was no debate to be had, as it was abundantly clear from all their ethnological research, scientific analysis and archaeological findings that Glothians were a whole lot smarter and therefore superior to any other life form on any planet in the entire Universe, because, well, they were. While their superlative filled reports to the Grand Council and the Supreme Potentate consisted of rational, scientific findings such as this, their jobs for life were safe. Gloth was obviously the first, the best, the smartest and by far the most very important planet in the entire Universe – because it was. As with any form of belief or faith based entirely on myth, the easiest way to prove its absolute validity is to ignore, deny and outlaw all contrary views, which because they question what has been firmly established as the undeniable truth, must be wrong, and therefore heretic, which of course is a crime and usually punishable by death. It is a tried and true recipe that has succeeded over millennia in ensuring that a convenient myth becomes the absolute truth.
It must be said however, that apart from all these official scientific findings, Gloth is by any measure of habitable planets, quite a nice place upon which to live. With beautiful, wide pink oceans, pleasantly complimented by pale mauve rivers running through its comfortably temperate continents, Gloth has a bit of everything for everybody. It has three moons, although one completely lost its ability to shine due to a mining project that went a little too far in the early days of rampant Glothic mineral exploitation. Luckily, mining was stopped on the second moon, due to a sudden downturn in the market price for Naepic-Silt, but not before it had lost most of its shine. However, the one moon that remained, which had the good fortune of being free of minerals of any value, shines nicely, giving the clear evening skies of Gloth a pleasant shade of pale magenta.
While its vegetation is verdant, abundant and often resplendent, Glothians spend little time admiring such wonders, as there are far more important matters than moons, rivers, oceans and plants. On Gloth, there are only two matters worthy of admiration – wealth and power. In these two respects, Gloth has exceeded any known measure of either, as through the savage prosecution of hundreds of victorious interplanetary and interstellar wars, the cunning use of graft, the installation of institutional corruption, clever intimidation and a total disdain for any other race of being, Gloth has always been the winner. Its power is infinitely absolute, as is its wealth.
Luckily however, Gloth’s impregnable power is limited to a tiny little area in the very far bottom left hand corner of a long outer spiral arm of a small galaxy called the Milky Way. Even though this infinitesimal patch of the Universe consists of Twelve Sun Systems, over which Gloth has total and absolute control of course, it is so far, far away from all the other inhabited galaxies, which are located in most part on the busier and more densely populated right hand side of the Universe, that the rest of the Universe is relatively, if not definitely, quite safe. Even with all its power and wealth, Gloth has not acquired the means to travel so far from home. Many empires in the galaxies on the right hand side do possibly have the means, but it would seem that if they indeed do, they really can’t be bothered using it to go all the way to Gloth. There are far more exciting places in the Universe to visit in their vastly more interesting and populated right hand side.
Gloth however, has plenty with which to occupy itself in its remote little territory of a mere Twelve Sun Systems, which consists of around one hundred inhabited planets, moons and asteroids. While all of the Sun Systems are secured under Gloth’s heavy-handed empirical control, there are always little problems that need attending to, and from time to time these annoyances require action from either Glothic High Command, which is in charge of scaring the masses by noisily blowing things up or shooting at people; or the Grand Council, which is the Glothic governing body of life appointed Glothic royalty and aristocrats, and has the sole task of sounding important. The Grand Council is also in charge of putting on extremely lavish dinners, mostly for themselves. If an annoying problem is troublesome enough though, and cannot be solved by an expensive dinner or a few loud explosions, it passes to the infinite wisdom of the Supreme Potentate of the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth to make a decision.
The history of the position of Supreme Potentate is a very long story, but in brief, the first one was called January the First. Perhaps it was because of the ability of Glothians to tell the time as soon as they came into existence that they also had a fascination with longer periods, other than simply seconds, minutes and hours. The recording of days and months created the need for an expanded system of measurement, and due to this, the calendar was invented. As it is recorded in ancient Glothic texts that January the First came to power within seconds of Gloth’s instant appearance in the Universe, and that the first month was named after him in his honour, it goes without saying that the concept of the calendar was not only important, but was also created quite quickly.
Glothic legend has it that after January was sworn in as the first Supreme Potentate of Gloth, his first decree was to restrict the use of the immediately revered names of the twelve months of the year to only his offspring and descendants, which became the Glothic royal family.
This reverence to the calendar however, became the cause of great angst over the proceeding millions of years, as there were only twelve names to choose from for those born into the royal family of Gloth, who were all of course direct descendants of the first Supreme Potentate, January.
The necessity to add ordinal numbers was the obvious solution, but only for male heirs, as Gloth, although quite forward looking and progressive on many fronts, has not looked that far forward as to consider that female members of the royal family could ever ascend to the position of Supreme Potentate. While unfair perhaps, sexist and hardly progressive, it meant that it was very hard to know whom all the Junes, Mays or Aprils were, unless there was a reference to the particular woman’s lineage. For the male members of the royal family however, it was simple. August the Tenth was to be followed by August the Eleventh and Twelfth and so on, but until they became Supreme Potentate of course, there was no ordinal number added to their name, so it was just as confusing for both genders. Perhaps it wasn’t quite so sexist after all.
Apart from the ongoing name confusion, there was a far more serious and embarrassing period in the history of the Glothic royal family, which is now rarely, if ever mentioned. Perhaps it was due to the veneration of the twelve months of the calendar, but Gloth got itself tied in a right royal knot after deciding to invest its energies into making a small and quite unremarkable blue planet, Erde, profitable. By taking a quick biological shortcut, it succeeded in turning the population of a large variety of ape based species on the planet Erde, into semi-intelligent humanoids. Unfortunately, the project turned into a financial disaster, and in a desperate move to try to cut their millions of years of losses, and finally wring a profit from the wreck, Gloth enlisted the services of an Erdean. Maybe it was because Pope Gregory shared a fascination with calendars that he was so easily accepted and invited to Gloth to advise on all matters Erdean.
However, it turned out to be a calamity for Gloth, as within his lifetime, Pope Gregory managed to infiltrate, overtake, marry into and then take for his own, the royal family of Gloth and he become the historically despised Supreme Potentate, December the Tenth. It would take more than a million years to rid the royal family of his much-loathed Erdean gene, and return Gloth to the rule of pure Glothic blood.
Now famed in Glothic history, it was Septimity Fish-Roe who led the Blood Brotherhood to victory by reinstalling pure Glothic blood to the royal family and Supreme Potentate of Gloth and ridding Gloth of the despised Erdean ape gene. However, after his success in returning pure Glothic blood to the Supreme Potentate, his plan to return all living carriers of the Erdean gene, including all the members of the Glothic royal family who carried Pope Gregory’s genes, back to the planet Erde, which was not far from Gloth in Sun System One, was thrown into chaos. Erde rather unexpectedly and inconveniently blew itself up just at the moment Septimity had assembled a fleet of ships, full of the Erdean gene pool, which he had painstakingly collected from Gloth and from throughout the Twelve Sun Systems.
A hasty plan was developed by Glothic High Command, with a little after dinner advice from the Grand Council, and within a few weeks, Septimity’s flotilla of Erdeans was on its way to a new destination in Sun System Five – an uninhabited little blue planet, not dissimilar in size and appearance to Erde. This planet was called, Earth.
This solution solved a lot of problems for Gloth in the short term, and with Earth totally isolated from the rest of the Twelve Sun Systems by a blanketing force field, there was a nice, quiet and uneventful period of stability, as the transported Erdeans battled away for a few thousand years, evolving and learning how to adapt to their new planet, and become Earthlings. However, there was work to be done yet, and it couldn’t wait forever. It was time for Earth to finally make a profit after the aforementioned failed Erdean years, and add to the infinite wealth and power of Gloth.
This task would fall upon a young member of the royal family of Gloth, who also sits on the Grand Council at the insistence of his father, February the Twenty-Ninth, the current Supreme Potentate of the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth. In a peculiar twist of Glothic history, his eldest son March Gregorian, the young man who would take charge of the Earth file, was unusually named, as there had never been a Supreme Potentate in the entire history of Gloth, who was called March. If he ever came to the throne, he would be the First.
With all that had happened, and the years of strife Pope Gregory had wrought on Gloth, for some very odd reason, the Glothic royal family retained the family name of Gregorian, which derived from Pope Gregory. Perhaps it was the ring that would have been missing if they had had to suffer names such as August Smith, September Green, or June Smumph that made them decide to keep the name. For whatever reason, the Gregorian name remained famed throughout the Twelve Sun Systems – as a name to be revered, and feared.
Travelling around the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth is a relatively simple every day occurrence. Glothic Cosmic Cruisers, which are huge shining balls of silver that can carry a population of passengers equal to that of a large city at multiple speeds of light, and offer the finest in passenger service and inter-planetary or inter-Sun System travelling comfort, fly between gigantic spaceports, which are liberally located in all of the Twelve Sun Systems. While famed for their speed, efficiency, reliability and comfort, even in Third Class Economy, for those in positions of power or who can afford it, Luxury Class aboard a Glothic Cosmic Cruiser is considered a must, as it is the only place in the entire Universe where one can be served, and savour the epicurean ecstasy of either the divine twice-baked Begrogol fillets, or the extraordinary Onglets of Tirdd with Yuretha Jus. Both sumptuous rarities are always served with frightfully expensive chilled Fozzoxly.
For those who may not be familiar with these culinary delights, Fozzoxly is akin to champagne, but it is made from the fermented liquid contents of the man eating Oxlypyriad flower that is found solely on the planet Sckidd. As the Oxlypyriad blooms only once every hundred years or so, and at last count, the last one hundred and twelve living plants we being kept alive on a modified diet of specially cloned non-intelligent headless humanoids, Fozzoxly is indeed an irresistible indulgence for those who can afford it.
The Begrogol is an elk like animal with six legs and when fully grown, are adorned with four-metre high, spiralled ivory horns, which are considered one of the most valuable materials in the Universe. It is a very rare, wild animal found only on Mengla-Coxa-Mingla, a small oddly oval shaped planet in the Seventh Sun System. Many have tried in vain to raise the Begrogol on other planets, but replicating the gravity and atmosphere of Mengla-Coxa-Mingla has proved impossible, as it is layered, which means that it changes in composition and density with each centimetre or so of height from the ground. While some had limited success in raising the Begrogol, the normal gravity of other planets acts very badly on the Begrogol’s horns, which, because of the drag of gravity, grow rapidly and vertically downwards, and as a result, push at the ground, tipping the Begrogol off its feet with every step its six legs take. There was little future to be had in Begrogol farming when the poor animal could not stand up after the age of three months. Hence the rarity of these delectable fillets.
The other choice on the menu is the only known three-legged bird in the whole Twelve Sun Systems. The Tirdd is a large flightless creature with a short stone like beak and dull grey plumage that has the feel of industrial-grade sandpaper. It is hardly a pretty bird, but it is found in reasonable numbers on three planets in the Twelfth Sun System. While its flesh is considered inedible due to the fact that no matter how it is cooked, it smells like raw sewerage and is as tender as concrete, there are quite remarkably, two very small parts of the fowl that are absolutely divine. The Onglets are two tiny muscle pillars that adjoin the diaphragm of the Tirdd. When sautéed gently, they are extremely tender and have a taste not dissimilar to chocolate chip cookies. These small delicacies are traditionally served with a jus, which is made by drying and then steeping, the small urinal tract from the bird for a twelve-month period in tepid Fozzoxly, and then the resulting curd is strained, reduced and slightly thickened before serving.
While the Glothic Cosmic Cruiser’s inter-stellar travelling comfort and convenience, or luxury, bordering on insanely expensive decadence for those who can afford it, is available to every living creature in the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth, it is completely unknown to a select minority. For the creatures of Erdean extraction, and who populate the planet Earth, there have no inkling whatsoever of Cosmic Cruisers or twice-baked Begrogol fillets. Due to the protective force field surrounding their little blue planet, they are completely cut off from any contact at all with outside worlds.
Time is a rather odd concept that can become a bit bendy, stretchy, twisty, slippery and wobbly, which gives those who play with atomic clocks or plan inter-planetary luxury class travel the real heebie jeebies. It’s all very well and good when you’re standing still in one stable and steady place, but as soon as you move you’re in real time trouble.
For those stuck in one place, country or planet, there are small complexities such as time zones, which are pretty easy to calculate if you can divide everywhere you are stuck upon into little chunks of distance and time. However one strange little planet dreamt up a very weird time concept they called daylight saving. For some reason, the planet Erde decided it could take away a unit of night time and add it to day time and give everyone extra long warm evenings to enjoy. There was a lot of arguing about the practicalities of this innovation and while most accepted the change, even given the fact of knowing it was a whole pile of hogwash, other more sensitive Erdeans were particularly concerned about the fact that their curtains were fading, their children were getting sunburnt and their dairy cows were getting awfully confused.
In other places however, there were much more important time issues to consider. When one runs twelve entire sun systems, time control can be a nightmare. With tricky time factors such as warping, twisting, wormholes, black holes, elliptical orbits and light years, regulating time needed extra specialist attention. Oddly enough it was an Erdean who solved the issue for the Glothic Empire – the empire in charge of the aforementioned Twelve Sun Systems. As time equals money in most civilisations, controlling it is an absolute economic imperative.
Pope Gregory the Thirteenth, a churchy sort of fellow from the planet Erde, or December the Tenth, Supreme Potentate of the Twelve Sun Systems of Gloth as he became known later in life, took it upon himself to solve the time problem once and for all. He simply applied his very own Gregorian calendar to the entire Twelve Sun Systems and that was the end of the argument. People with some inside knowledge knew that it was in fact a gentleman named Christopher Clavius who had really done all the hard work on developing this calendar and time concept, but Gregory took it as his own. Although a brilliantly simple solution, the use of the Gregorian calendar complete with its twenty-four hour days, seven day weeks, irregular months and of course the odd leap year thrown in for a little extra confusion, did cause a few problems in certain sun systems and particularly on a number of outer planets and moons. Namely that the periods of light and dark that usually defined a day, got all mixed up after applying the rather inapt twenty-four hour day and led to a lot of concern about fading of curtains, burnt children and very confused nasty nocturnal creatures. On some planets the incoherent new calendar had the bizarre effect of extending people’s lives by such an inordinate amount of time that cemeteries were lying idle and undertakers being sent bankrupt due to the fact that people stopped dying at an appropriate age and went on to live for literally thousands of years – or more.
Although some of these unforeseen side effects were brought to Gregory’s attention, he decided in his infinite wisdom to ignore them completely as he was in charge of everything and it was his calendar – end of discussion. As his lineage would become the Gregorian Royal Family of Gloth and rule for millions of years, there was little anyone could do about it.
From the Author
However, in the two years since I finished the last book, Septimity, in which the infamous planet, Erde, successfully destroyed itself, there has been a question and an inkling of an idea burning away in my mind. ‘Right, ok, so then what happened?’
I resisted the temptation for quite some time, but finally I had no choice other than to write a fourth book in the trilogy. My biggest problem though was in deciding whether to rename what would become a four-book trilogy by its correct name, a tetralogy. As it is such an unusual and rarely used word, I decided in the end to simply ignore all the mathematics and keep calling my Gloth Tales series a trilogy. I mean, readers are reading and not counting, are they?
So with that problem solved, I moved to my next dilemma, which was to decide on a new main character. This was easy, as since February the Fifth, I hadn’t used another month of the year. I chose March because my daughter’s birthday is on the first of March. This clever decision also opens the way for me to write more Glothic Tales, as I have ten months of the year left to choose from.