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Teaser Tuesday: The Geography of Water

Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 07:50

There's a chapter where my central characters spend a day exploring the waterways of the city: the Rotein River itself, the new industrial transport channels, and the old chanulezes, which had their origins in domesticating the hydroscape of the city. Some of the chanulezes acted as a second set of roads, some as little more than drainage ditches, and some had long since been bricked over and forgotten...

It is, perhaps, a landscape that wouldn't entirely hold up to strict scrutiny, given the theoretical location of Rotenek. A landscape that requires something of a broad plain and a more fat and lazy river than the Rotein has a right to be. And--quite frankly--Rotenek is getting overdue for a significant urban renewal project that adds some broad avenues for better access, covers over the chanulezes entirely, and steps up the engineering of their flood control measures, as well as perhaps recognizing that shipping would be better moved entirely downriver to Iser. And perhaps much of that will be started in the aftermath of...ah, but that's all in the future and not our concern today.

Our characters have piled into Liv's boat and spent a day getting to better know the chanulezes and each other. And now Roz is reflecting on the experience from a tie-up on the south bank of the Rotein, from which the landscape of her life is spread out in a single view.

* * *

Looking at the Vezenaf from across the river was like layers in a pastry, with the gardens right by the water, then the great houses side by side nearly touching each other, and behind that a row of trees and bare rock slope that climbed up the other side to the upper town. The upper town wasn’t any higher than the tops of the great houses, but it was safe from anything the river might do.

Looking further downriver toward the Pont Vezzen where we’d started, the houses got smaller and even more crowded until you got to the broad street that led from the bridge up to the Plaiz. A public landing stood just above the bridge and the palace dock with stairs zigzagging up to the street, but without the gates and guards of the other one. I hadn’t noticed when we passed it before, but the brick river-wall behind it was built in broad low arches, like a bridge seen sideways. Most of them were filled in, but one just above the end of the landing was darker, like it was open.

Even the parts of the city I knew well were different from a boat. The chanulezes were easy to overlook if you didn’t travel on them all the time. Just a matter of knowing the streets where you had to go the long way to cross a bridge. I only really had to worry about that down near the Nikuleplaiz. But for Celeste it would be just the same as knowing the streets and alleyways.

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Publications: 
historical