Go East, Young Man, Go East!

27 August, 1868


My dear colleague Karl,

I read in the Posten that Odin’s Horsemen and the Bear-Sark Regiments are clearing the last of the skraeling Mohicans out of Nieuw Amsterdam Settlement, much to the delight of the Nederlanders (those smug barbarians out on the tip of Vinland with the rest of the criminals and crack-pots and confidence-men.)

From where I sit, it all looks like a big bloody battle between a bunch of people wearing masks. The Irrakwa guerillas have their scary False Faces they wear when they go out to die, and our own Wyks sport the regulation body-armour, long-rifle and visor.

Why do men not fight bare-knuckle, and face to face, as they did back home? Progress. Hmph. Mob Progress, if you ask me. I shudder to imagine what life must be like out there on the frontier.

It’s strange enough here in the Sovereign State of Siletz, at the fork of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, the settled lands, the Sovereign Kingdom of Vinland all the way south to the roaring Spaniard border-city of Yerba Buena.

King Roald is a doddering old figurehead they bring out for dinners of state. It’s Ibsen who really runs this country, him and the men under the Prime Minister. Very Modern. We have a General Assembly here, and a Fief Council.

We have traffic-sigils that turn white when you Go, blue when you Stop. We have an arc-lamp and a Temple at every corner. Our immigrants, our women, anyone who can work, is treated as an equal. We need no slaves to power our coal-fired longboats. Not any more.

But it is still strange, and men still find things to ruin. It is not home. Not the Vaderland, or even the home of our ancestral empire-builders, Leif and Erik and Rurik and all those other besotted old goats.

Nearly four hundred years ago, it is said, the forefathers built their meadhalls here, declared themselves lords here, and for what?

I’ll tell you what: The “Pharisees” (to use an Hebraic immigrant word) among our priestcraft, have resurrected Loki’s games, as well as the horrid traditions imputed upon the losing teams, and their families.

Only now the priests do it live over the wireless telegraph, and whip the masses into frenzies with promises of a day’s wages to ‘play ball.’ Shameful, verdammt.

The land has been plundered, from end to end. The Vinland-Yak have been driven north, or all but hunted down. The forests are a sad sight. I am afraid.

Women in Vinland, the further East you go, no longer run their households, and wife-beating has become legal again. To be sure, there is representative government, but even there we are taxed almost beyond endurance!

The feudal system is still very much in play, it has merely switched from a blood mandate to one of money. I will never be sorry I write these things, dear Karl who has fed me and given me tobacco and money and put me up so many times, on so many of both our travels, hiding on two continents as we are from two different types of snitchy soldier-louts who would shoot or stab us dead upon mere sight for the words in our throats, for the desire that all the gods’ creatures should stand upright, and be free?

But my critics matter little to me, Comrade Marx. The laws of Odin are higher than the laws of Man. For now, I bid you well, and beg to remain,


Friederich Wilhelm Nietzsche
General Delivery,
Willamette Valley Post


Edward Morris  Edward Morris's website is a 2005 BSFA and 2009 Rhysling nominee whose work has appeared in Murky Depths thrice, Interzone twice, and forty-six other markets in four languages and seven countries to date. My steampunk series There Was A Crooked Man just hit at Mercury Retrograde Press in Atlanta. This year, I will be a returning guest author at Orycon and the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.