The mnz Pattern

Sat Apr 2, 2005

At the end of The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel finds that Iucounu has undergone some changes. A creature from Achernar, kin to his own daimon Firx, has infected him. Now Firx, residing in Cugel’s liver or thereabouts, is unable to control Cugel’s behavior except by the negative reinforcement of internal excruciations. Iucounu, however, has managed to have the creature take over his nervous system.

The parasite uses his host to communicate with Cugel in some odd ways. “You will never learn to walk ceilings standing on your hands”; “You may now tender me the keys to the bread locker”; “I will pawn you my gold watch and chain”; “It is all one, and no longer of consequence, since all must now transpire in the ‘mnz’ pattern”; “the eluctance here is of a different order than of ‘sspntz’“; “much here puzzles me; it was never thus on Achernar” (280-282).

The consonant clusters are given in quotes and show the creature’s attempts to speak in his own tongue rather than translate his thoughts through the medium of Iucounu. Vance, in order to represent an alien mentality, shows Iucounu engaging in bizarre kinesthetic movements, but I’m more interested in the thought patterns. I’m curious what other fictional representations of alien mentality Vance might have drawn upon here.

Vance, Jack. Tales of the Dying Earth. 1966. New York: Tom Doherty, 2000.