Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Teranesia 1 - Greg Egan

"he island was too small for human habitation, and too far from the commonly travelled sea routes to serve as a navigation point, so the people of the Kai and Tanimbar Islands had never had reason to name it. The Javanese and Sumatran rulers who'd claimed tributes from the Spice Islands would have been oblivious to its existence, and Prabir had been unable to locate it on any Dutch or Portuguese chart that had been scanned and placed on the net. To the current Indonesian authorities it was a speck on the map of Maluku propinsi, included for the sake of completeness along with a thousand other uninhabited rocks. Prabir had realised the opportunity he was facing even before they'd left Calcutta, and he'd begun compiling a list of possibilities immediately, but it wasn't a decision he could make lightly. He'd been on the island for more than a year before he finally settled on a name for it.

He tried out the word on his classmates and friends before slipping it into a conversation with his parents. His father had smiled approvingly, but then had second thoughts.

“Why Greek? If you're not going to use a local language ... why not Bengali?”

Prabir had gazed back at him, puzzled. Names sounded dull if you understood them too easily. Why make do with a lame Big River, when you could have a majestic Rio Grande? But surely his father knew that. It was his example Prabir was following.

“The same reason you named the butterfly in Latin.”

His mother had laughed. “He's got you there!” And his father had relented, hoisting Prabir up into the air to be spun and tickled. “All right, all right! Teranesia!”"

3.5 out of 5

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