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The Planet Zyem

(rhymes with "gem")

What is Zyem?

Why I Developed Zyem

What Is Zyem?

Physicists tell us that every quantum event creates a new reality, one in which the event occured, and one in which it did not occur. In most cases, the perceived differences in these realities are tiny, almost undetectable, but over time, the multiplication of quantum events leads to divergent timelines, some with histories similar to our own, some very different. The planet Zyem is our own Earth in one of these divergent timelines. (The name comes from the language Vogu, spoken by one of the peoples of Zyem, the Kadanë.)

Zyem exists in a timeline not very different from our own: Nature obeys the same laws there as here, the same stars shine in the sky, the topography of the land is the same. The divergence took place in the Late Ice Age, when the Neanderthal branch of humanity died out on our Earth, but remained on Zyem. They remain to this day, and are known as the Saambu.

No-one knows how our respective pre-histories differed, but from that pre-history emerged an entirely different mix of peoples, cultures and languages. The major ethnic groups of Zyem are the Kadanë , Thisbo, Dunnek , Ranamemi, Udank, and Saambu. Each people has its own history, customs, and language. As on our own world, there are many other ethnic groups besides these six, but they play a less significant role.

Zyem today is a mature world, generally at peace. Its climate is more moderate than ours, and so the extensive deserts found in our equatorial zones are absent or much less severe. Technologically, Zyem and Earth are at a similar level, but with odd differences in emphasis. For example, both the zipper and the button are little-used in clothing, although both are known. In its flora and fauna, Zyem is also similar to Earth, except that many of the borrowings of animals and foodstuffs, especially, made throughout history on Earth never occurred on Zyem, where other borrowings took place instead.

This Website is your source for all the facts about Zyem. For various reasons, the Kadanë are the group I've studied the most, and their language and religion are the most developed. But my studies of this world continue, and new information is always coming to light. I do tend to focus most on language, to a lesser extent on culture, but all topics about Zyem are of interest to me. I hope you will enjoy reading about Zyem as much as I've enjoyed studying it.

Why I Developed Zyem

Zyem had its genesis in a hotel, an old white Art Deco building from the age of grand hotels. Not that I've ever stayed there, but I could see it from the highway every time I drove downtown, its tall white, vaguely pyramidal shape rising in the distance above the trees. For some reason, I began to see it not as a building, but as a monumental object: an artificial mountain made of thousands of small structures piled on top of each other. I realized that the buildings were shrines, that at the base of the structure lay the burial mound of some god-king of the past, that the artificial mountain was in fact a temple. Its name, of course, was Mountain Temple.

Well, this image was too good to abandon, so I began to put it in some context. Mountain Temple was the religious center of a race called the Kadanë, and they lived right here in North America, in an alternate Universe. Mountain Temple, in fact, was right in the heart of North America, near the site of Peoria, Illinois, in our world. From this, I developed their religion. In the course of developing their religion, I had to give them a language, Vogu. Mountain Temple became Wawatranu.

I've always been interested in languages, both natural and constructed, and so I spent a lot of time developing Vogu. In order to create a convincing "natural" constructed language, I had to give it a history. To give it a history, I had to give its people a history. To give them a history, I had to invent the peoples they encountered and their histories, and so forth. Eventually, Zyem came into being.

It has always been my intention to create a plausible reality in Zyem. The languages I've created are intended to be "natural", with the peculiar usages, unusual etymologies and irregularities of real human speech. There is nothing fanciful in the history or culture of Zyem (no magic spells or fantastic beasts, for example); although it is different from our Earth, everything in it could have happened here, if history had turned out differently. I have become aware that so many aspects of our lives that we take for granted, that we assume must be the way they are, are simply historical accidents. Zyem is an attempt to build a world sui generis from the ground up. Of course, since it's my world and I wanted to have some fun with it, I have influenced its evolution, so that it's become a sort of ideal world for me, where everything I dislike about this world has been done right.

My viewpoint in exploring Zyem is that of the Kadanë, one of the races of Zyem. Placenames and other words are given in Vogu, for example, and history is written basically as it affected them. I continue to explore the other peoples of Zyem, but the Kadanë are my first love, and I've spent the most time on them. I hope you enjoy meeting these people.

© 1997, Terrence Donnelly

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