Authors: Sally Miller Gearhart
Sally Miller Gearhart
The Kanshou ©
2002 by Sally Miller Gearhart
All rights reserved
First edition published May 2002
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Gearhart, Sally Miller, 1931 –
The Kanshou / Sally Miller Gearhart – 1
p. cm – (Earthkeep; bk. 1)
I Women – Fiction. I title.
PS3557.E2 K36 2002
The Earthkeep Series is dedicated to
Dorothy A. Haecker and Jane Gurko,
sine qua non
In the years since 1987, the EARTHKEEP books,
have been given both substance and form within the network of my friends, enemies, lovers, colleagues, comrades, teachers, students, chance acquaintances, and animal companions. In addition to Jane Gurko and Dorothy A. Haecker, who shepherded the
material through its most major transformations, a number of people have generously blessed the books with their special abilities and their time.
I've had the good fortune to work with two fine editors. The first was my Intrepid Vicki P. McConnell, marvellously astute and skilled, who endowed the bulky manuscript with one of its first professional affirmations, and then streamlined it -- and my writing habits -- with a devotion far beyond any duty set upon her by Spinsters Ink. More recently I have been grateful for the guidance of Paulette Whitcomb, whose insight and keen sensitivities have enhanced the clarity, the exactness, and the spirit of
Elizabeth Saria, Karla McDermid, and Carla Blumberg educated me in crucial aspects of chemistry, zoology, medicine, virology, technology, and marine biology. I called upon Vivian Power for aid in Spanish, enhancement of my understanding of science, and audacious challenges to my utopian vision. Adrian Tinsley, ardent aficionada of fantasy and science fiction, refreshed both my memory and my imagination in her analysis of the manuscript. Moreover, I have been companioned throughout this literary journey by a task force of metaphysical gadflies, led at different times by Tamara Diaghilev, Mara, Ari Lacelle, Cynthia Secor, and Helen Stewart.
Frequently I have needed rescue from computer panic, and I've often lacked expertise in specific areas such as astrology, firearms, the geography of Los Angeles, how to play the violin, how to survive in the publishing world, Judaism, the Koran, Mandarin, medical terminology, police practices, and the scope of human sexuality. I thank the following people for coming to my aid in one or more of these matters: Bryce Travis, Carlin Diamond, Nancy Ellis, Esther Faber, Susan Feldman, Emmy Good, Dick Graham, Maggie Graham, Matthew Holtz, Tony King, Joann Lee, Lyndall MacCowan, Marilyn McNair, Jack Power, Teri Rogers, Sam Sapoznick, and Susan Smith.
As well, I offer a special thanks to all the anarchists, animal rights activists, capitalists, developers, environmentalists, hunters, loggers, militarists, pacifists, political radicals, ranchers, religious fundamentalists, and vegetarians who, in my ongoing dialogues with them, have toughened up my thought processes and deepened my appreciation of diversity.
I have lived surrounded by a community of women -- Peggy Cleveland, Morgaine Colston, Jean Crosby, Esther Faber, Bonnie Gordon, Jane Gurko, Susan Leo, Ana Mahoney, Carol Orton, Penny Sablove, Mary Anderson, and Diane Syrcle – which has provided the atmosphere of support and patient understanding that these books have required in order, at last, to be born.
The metaphysics ultimately embraced by the protagonists of the
books has its best articulation in the teachings of Abraham. Abraham teaches joy, and it is the gift of joy that I wish for all whom I here finally acknowledge with gratitude: the
, in Aristotle's terms the "final cause of" or "that for the sake of which" these books have been written.
. . .
such hands might carry out an unavoidable violence
with such restraint, with such a grasp
of the range and limits of violence
that violence ever after would be obsolete.”
Twenty-One Love Poems, VI
PROLOGUE - [2087 C.E.]
Four dynamic circumstances shaped the initial decades of the new millennium on the planet, Little Blue.
First, within a single forty-eight-hour period in 2021 of the Common Era (C.E.), every non-human animal on the planet died.
Humans handled the practical effects of this dramatic disinheritance with comparative ease: their loss of a source of food, fuel, and fertilizer; their need for marine-oil substitutes and for alternate methods of seed and pollen transportation. At a deeper emotional level, however, the human species suffered a profound and apparently incurable despair. Animals had provided many humans with the rare experience of unconditional love and, for the more globally-minded, animals had been the model for a life of harmony with the rest of Nature which humans had been unable to sustain.
Second, an escalating wave of natural disasters spiked global warming, drought, and other weather cataclysms.
Third, a global vaccination campaign against recurring epidemic diseases resulted -– by 2040 -- in women's reduced fertility as well as in the suppression of the Y chromosome in men. This plunged the human population to one sixth of its 1999 size and fixed the ratio of females to males at 12-to-1.
Fourth, a global spiral of social unrest sparked food riots and street wars, as well as disruptions in global systems of electrical power, transport, and communication.
As social, economic, military, and governmental power shifted from men to women, new values, structures, and processes emerged. By mid-century, nuclear families were comparatively rare. The most common living pattern was still that of the extended family, honoring traditional kinship bonds. Women in such families usually embraced men as full partners in the human experience.
Almost as common were the tribes, nations, or communities of women-only citizens who used ovular merging to produce girl-children among themselves or, alternatively, used men or semen banks for reproduction. Sexually, such women partnered with other women, sought solitary sexual gratification, or lived asexually. Some of them held to the belief that womanhood or manhood is self-identified, while others of them claimed biology as an immutable physical condition.
By 2060, the ascendancy of women had become the norm in all three of Little Blue's tri-satrapies or geo-political territories. Land, sea, and air divisions of the global peacekeeping force, called the Kanshoubu, were almost entirely female. Each Kanshou peacekeeper followed a code of conduct delineated in
The Labrys Manual,
and a large part of her responsibility was the confining of violent offenders ("habitantes") to the planet's 780 prisons ("bailiwicks").
Now, in 2087, a global movement has arisen in support of a law that would require the testing of habitantes in a
neurological search for the organic cause of human violence. If such a cause is found, protocols can then be initiated for the surgical removal of that cause. The controversy rages throughout Little Blue over Habitante Testing and the Anti-Violence Protocols.
Despite the Animal Exodus, the ecocide, the reduced human population, the decline in human males, and continuing social unrest, a miracle has occurred.
Without the aid of wings or motors, women can learn to fly.
1 - Asir-By-The-Sea - [2087 C.E.]
is that physical act which is
done against another's will.
is the physical result of violence.
Harm is harm, regardless of the intent
of the harmer, as when the boy throws
the stone in fun,
but the frog dies in earnest.
--The Labrys Manual
At Asir-By-The-Sea in the mountainous boot-heel of the Arabian Peninsula, Jezebel Stronglaces -- healer, seer, witch, and in the tales of Tibetan Yagri, a sacred shape-shifter -- woke to the touch of Bess Dicken, her lover. She laughed, then slipped one hand to the back of the big woman's neck, sending her fingers upward through the wiry hair. With a twist, she fitted their long bodies to the dimensions of the hard pallet, her other hand pressing intimacy into Dicken's back.
"Breath Of Astarte!" Dicken gasped. "Jezebel, thirty girls and three boys are waiting for us this minute, and you come along lighting these sacred flames--"
Jezebel smiled and melted into her lover's lax embrace, pulling Dicken to her. "Guess we'd better get to that class, then." She closed her eyes and began smoothing the heavy caftan that covered Dicken's torso.
Jez's unicorn earring caught Dicken's eye. It was tangled in her lover's brown hair. Dicken freed it. "Aba says that coming this time last week would sure enough have been a problem." She wrapped a lock of the shoulder-length hair around her forefinger. "One of the children died. Real sudden. Whole school was upset." She pushed the curled hair to the end of her finger where she willed it to spring off into a corkscrew. "But they’re back to normal now. So our visit is timed just right." The hair defied her efforts, falling back into a loose straight strand. Dicken sighed, conceding victory to the hair.
Reluctantly, Jez opened her eyes. She drew Dicken into a last long, voluptuous embrace. "So," she sighed, lightly slapping Dicken's back, "to work! Can these children handle the Standards?"
Dicken's lips had fallen into a concentrated grazing of Jez's collarbone. "All three," she mumbled. She frowned and cocked her head momentarily. "Well, English and Spanish at least." She began to nuzzle the hollow of Jez's throat.
Dicken's voice softened to a sensuous whisper. "The Mandarin's harder," she breathed, invitingly.
"Dicken!" Jez laughed. She took her lover's shoulders and held her at arm's length. "Bess Dicken, what language will we be speaking in this schoolroom today?"
Dicken looked hurt. "None of the Standards, my ladylove. Today we get to practice our Arabic!" She swept under Jez's arms and fell again to feasting on her lover's ear.
"Good!" As Jez lifted Dicken from her erotic concerns, her hand encountered the silver bangles circling the big woman's neck. "Look at this!" she teased, fingering the necklace. You've gone native! My Dicken will dance the nuba and pluck her pubic hair!"
"No time soon!" Dicken sighed, at last abandoning her amorous efforts and drawing Jezebel to a sitting position. "Asir's a wonderful place, no doubt about it. But just to visit," she added. "You notice? Everything is either real sticky, real sweet, or both."
Jez stretched. "So today's lesson is on 'sensing imbalance?'"
Dicken struggled to her feet. "That's it. And Aba says they have their hearts set on watching you demonstrate the belly antennae." She kissed a wisp of grey by Jez's temple and moved to the doorway where harsh sunlight framed her substantial body. "The schoolroom's a big pavilion, straight north," she said. Then she blew another kiss and disappeared.