On Speaking Flame Beast

I was once told it was possible to study Klingon as part of a language degree at a British university, though I can’t remember which particular institution was offering that module…I suppose that may have been an urban myth, but I do hope it was and is true.  There are so many ways of foolishly wasting time in this life – playing Spider Solitaire for instance! - that to devote several years to learning the language of the alien villains in Star Trek seems an eminently reasonable thing to do.

And recently, my wonderful copy editor at Orbit, Bella, has devoted some of her valuable time to creating a language for one of the species of aliens in Debatable Space, the flame beasts. In my MSS, I just used gibberish to indicate their dialogue – which is created by a series of flashing lights generated by their own bodies. (Since they are made of flame…)

Bella, with magnificent devotion to duty, has rendered the flame beasts’ dialogue intelligible by creating an entire alphabet out of non-standard icons.  And if you know the code and become fluent in flame beast lingo, you can read these sections and they will make sense. 

The ‘flame beast language’ is of course a human transliteration of the actual flashes of light.  But it occurs to me that it might be possible to have a laptop programmed to render the flame beasts words into two languages at once – into flashes of light, and into symbols that can be read. The symbols could also be given a phonetic value; and before you know where you are, we could be speaking flame beast!

Astronomers could then study pulsars and variable stars to see whether the patterns generated corresponded in any way to flame beast words.  Because, of course, it’s quite possible that the very stars speak flame beast…

Thanks, Bella, for your heroic efforts;  I fear however that I am not up to the task of writing an entire novel in the flame beast language….Klingon, yes, now that’s an easy task by comparison.

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