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Jun 02, 2020 3:45 AM
Bruce gets dropped in Gallia and is confused
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"...I think cyclopses understand what a role is," James says.

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"Well, they're fictional characters, right, so they understand whatever the author wanted them to understand. But I'm real, and from a planet that doesn't have roles, and I don't know anything about anything I haven't had experience with."

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James contemplates this. 

"...It would be better if your society had roles, though," he says. "You can't use sex for roles. What if a woman wants to run for the Assembly?"

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"Then she campaigns and maybe gets elected. Ideally, at least. Some people don't want women in government for stupid reasons, and they don't run as often as you'd think for a bunch of complicated reasons we don't totally understand, but in my country in theory any citizen who's old enough can run for Congress."

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"..............you let subs run for your Assembly?"

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"Well like I said, we don't have that division as clearly. Presumably people who hate having power don't run for elected office because it sounds unpleasant. It certainly does to me." Even if he could somehow get elected despite having zero of the relevant skills, having to have an opinion on every single political issue, with actual serious stakes if he had the wrong one, would be utterly dreadful.

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".........I suppose. But submissives do sometimes behave in an unsubmissive fashion. It wouldn't do to have people take up roles they are not suited for."

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"Things in my world tend to go better when we just let people do things with no criteria other than whether that particular person is good at that particular thing. But it's your government not mine." Uncomfortable shrug.

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"...I'm going to send Maturin a letter," James says decisively. "My apologies for my rudeness-- would you like more tea while you wait?"

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"I'm good on tea, thanks . . . but could I borrow a book, maybe one on recent history?"

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"I'm not sure that we have a recent history," James says. "People are not very interested in recent history, because they were usually alive during it."

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"What, they're not interested in the parts that were happening somewhere they weren't? Huh. Do you have a less-recent history? I could learn a lot from that too."

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"I have a copy of the History of Anglia. It goes up to the 1950s."

It is six volumes long. 

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Then he'll learn as much as he can from the first volume while James writes his letter! "This is great; thank you!" (Probably he would get a better sense of current events and technology by starting with the most recent volume, but the thought of starting a book in the middle itches.)

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Mostly what he learns from the first volume is that the history of this world matches up pretty well to the history of Rome in his timeline, except that way way way more prominent people are women and it's a submissive man who stabs himself in the gut due to the humiliation of being raped. The author is snarking about the fact that everyone agrees Lucretius stabbing himself is virtuous but no one does it today; it probably requires more cultural context than Bruce has to work out whether he thinks there should be more suicide or less valorization of Lucretius. 

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Man, if Bruce is hallucinating he is a way better fiction writer than he gave himself credit for. Also he wishes he had paid more attention to the humanities in school; he doesn't know his own history in anything like this level of detail.

He thinks it's actually pretty reasonable to find someone else's suicide sympathetic without wanting to kill yourself in the same circumstances, but also this particular suicide sounds like it was just tragic and awful.

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And not half an hour later a rather tall woman appears. 

"Good morning, James. You look well, considering."

"Good morning," James says.

"Now, what was so urgent that I had to rush here without delay?"

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"Hello. I'm Bruce Banner. I, um, appeared out of another reality yesterday and have been unintentionally making a nuisance of myself."

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"...That's a somewhat remarkable claim."

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"Yeah, I wouldn't believe me either. James saw me do it, though."

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"James is a very intelligent and credible person whose statements I would never question."

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Bruce looks at James like, come on, back me up here. Or don't and help him figure out what the differences are between consensus reality and his incoherent world model, that works too.

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"Have the gods marked you with some... sign of your crossing over from another world, perhaps?"

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"I've got an implausible device?" He shows her his smartphone. Even turned off it's pretty anachronistic, but he can turn it on briefly and spend some battery on additional evidence if she needs more convincing.

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"...the gods have given you a magical artifact."

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