Phaedra: Thank you for letting me use your symbol again, Quartz. I can’t tell you how excited our scribe and I are about Natasha Snow’s concept art she showed up…but it’s a bit early to reveal anything.
Quartz: Don’t worry about it. So picking up where we left off last Monday, let’s start with Agathea. She’s your host at this symposium, right?
Phaedra: Right. She’s one of the most powerful citizens in the Intergalactic Democracy. She owns most worlds’ rights to the image of Aphrodite.
Quartz: Aphrodite? The ancient goddess of love?
Phaedra: Currently being marketed and too often copyrighted over known space.
Quartz: Copyrighting a goddess…just what is your universe coming to?
Phaedra: Don’t worry. The Intergalactic Democracy isn’t a place most men care to visit. Those who are still left.
Quartz: I’m not exactly a man, at least not a human one, say, what’s this about those who are still left?
Phaedra: Most of the human men are dead or we haven’t heard from them in centuries. Much of what we know about them are legends. (looks a bit uncomfortable) Not very nice ones, I’m afraid.
Quartz: Eh, I don’t always care for human men myself. All height and no beard, ahem, let’s get back to this Agathea. To copyright a goddess’s image must be no mean feat. (mutters) I half expect said goddess will show up and strike this woman blind or something.
Phaedra: Actually I’m not sure if Agathea considers herself a woman. That’s an old-fashioned word. She may prefer the term life giver.
Quartz: Life giver? Ah, I see, because women give birth.
Phaedra: Well, actually a lot of life givers don’t. They just give their ova to a fetus creche. Scientists have created a substance called sohm, a substitute for the cloned sperm samples preserved from Ancient Earth. It used to be quite costly to reproduce, since there was so little, but since the invention of sohm, your daughters can be grown in a creche.
Quartz: Just daughters, eh? No sons?
Phaedra: Sons? (blinks) You mean male children? Oh, I never thought of that! I suppose you could have a son if you wanted one.
Quartz: Only most of your what was it? Intergalactic Democracy? I’m getting the impression they’re not interested in having sons.
Phaedra: I…I never thought about that. It’s just, well, most history about Ancient Earth is about men, all the terrible things they did to live givers when they were women. One of the reasons the first pioneers who settled planets in the Intergalactic Democracy was to get away from that planet where men ruled. We’re taught that the universe became a better place…once females outnumbered the males, goddess worship returned, and life givers had their own space apart from men. (looks embarassed) Once we were free from our roles as women.
Phaedra: I don’t know how much of this is true. I’m sorry. Pausania talks a lot about this, how terrible ancient times were when men ruled…but it’s not like she was there. She can’t know what it was like on Ancient Earth. I’ve, um, started questioning a lot of the old legends. This is what a lot of citizens believe.
Quartz: Eh, it’s all right. Male dominated worlds, female dominated universes, human foolishness, dwarven prejudice, goblin mischief…all of these seem to be based on putting someone down to make someone else superior. Got to wonder how accurate any of it is. (looks thoughtful)
Phaedra: Sokrat says it’s good to question everything. Not to make judgments until you’ve seen someone with your own eyes.
Quartz: Hah, well, Sokrat strikes me as being a sharp one. (nose turns red) We were talking about Agathea, though.
Phaedra: Yes. Anyway she owns entire planets and controls the advertising on countless others.
Quartz: Controls? All right, I’m from a fantasy world and a limited environment, only catching glimpses over the fourth wall at other characters’s realities, but this universe or part of the universe you live in, it’s a democracy, right? Isn’t one person controlling the advertising against the rules?
Phaedra: She’s not stopping anyone else from advertising, as long as they don’t use Aphrodite. I mean, it may be possible, but it’s legally questionable. Anyway, she’s not preventing other businesses from promoting their products on the airwaves or in the sky. She just has more money than most people, so hers are bigger, fancier, and command more attention. Agathea dominates three dimensional banners on top of a lot of major buildings. It’s impossible to ignore her face, her products, her image of Aphrodite, or her philosophy. They’re everywhere.
Quartz: Her philosophy?
Phaedra: Oh, yes. She’s figured out a way to market it, make it part of the Aphrodite image.
Quartz: What philosophy is this?
Phaedra: Wisdom without passion and style is meaningless.
Quartz: Meh, I have a feeling someone I detest would have loved that philosophy! (scowls, before his brow smooths out) At the same time, I can see the appeal. (strokes his beard)
Phaedra: Yes, but who decides what is stylish? What right do citizens have to look down on others for choosing a style different than their own?
Quartz: Huh, you have a point.
Phaedra: Sometimes I feel like Agathea is just looking down at us from her floating billboards, looming over the sky. She frightens me, even if she is awe inspiring. At the same time, she can open portals to unimaginable opportunity. This is why I really want to meet her.
Quartz: And she wants to meet you. Otherwise she wouldn’t invite you to this symposium of hers.
Phaedra: It really is an old fashioned word. It intrigues me. She intrigues me. Plus I’m curious. Why did she invite me? I’m really hoping I’ll find out.
Quartz: I’m sure you will. Let’s stop there and we’ll pick up next week, talk a little about, um, Sokrat.
Phaedra: You’re blushing. (grins)
Quartz: (mutters) No, I’m not.