The Publishers of The Beatings of His Wings are ordered by The International Court of Archaeological Artefacts to print this judgement on the first page of each copy.
Moderator Breffni Waltz 38th of Messidor in the year 143. 830
Summary of Preliminary Judgement dated Republican Era 143. 710 from The International Court of Archaeological Artefacts concerning The Left Hand of God Trilogy and administration of the so-called ‘Rubbish Tips of Paradise.’ These ‘Tips’ for the avoidance of doubt constitute the four square miles centred on the first discovery by Paul Fahrenheit of large amounts of printed paper dating from extreme antiquity My judgement is preliminary and subject to review in the first instance by the Court of Pleas. However, an immediate decision is required because of the claim by UNAS that irreplaceable documents and artefacts are being lost forever, citing the routine use of the contents of The Rubbish Tips of Paradise as toilet paper by the nomadic tribes that frequently pass through the site.
The facts of this case are not in dispute and are as follows:
This litigation has its origins in the first landing on the moon by Captain Victoria Ung Khanan some thirty years ago. That within days Captain Khanan discovered she had been beaten to this greatest of all firsts by some 165,000 years was as great a shock, perhaps, as has ever been delivered to WoMankind. The fragile remnants of what must have been an even more fragile spacecraft revealed that it had its origins in a vanished terrestrial civilisation we knew nothing about, a civilisation which soon became known as the Flag People, after the starred and striped insignia planted next to the craft. As a result The Unified Nations Archaeological Secretariat was founded with the sole purpose of searching for evidence of the Flag People on earth itself.
So far this search has proved fruitless and for one simple reason: ice. UNAS quickly discovered that 164,000 years ago a period of major glaciation now known as The Snowball covered nearly the entire planet, often to a depth of several miles. Ice that brings low vast mountain ranges has little problem removing the veneer of even the most complex civilisation – clearly only the smallest rump of the population could have survived. Further investigation, however, revealed a later and significant period of warming during The Snowball, which for fifteen thousand years caused the ice to retreat far enough and long enough for new civilisations to emerge before they in turn were swallowed up by the returning ice.
It is at this point in this frustrating story that Paul Fahrenheit emerged to criticise his colleagues, to put it at its mildest, for their obsession with technological solutions to this great problem. He pointed out that trying to find such whispery traces of the past was like ‘looking for hay in a haystack’ unless they used ‘some mechanism’ to guide the technology. The ‘mechanism’, he argued, likely to prove most effective in narrowing down the haystack was that of legend and folk story. He claimed that real historical events from the distant past could become embedded in what were apparently entirely imaginary stories of gods and monsters and other fantastical tales. His ideas were dismissed out of hand and the relationship between Fahrenheit and his colleagues and superiors at UNAS became what could only be called vituperative.
As a result, in the Ventose of Republican Era 139 Paul Fahrenheit left UNAS in pursuit of what to his colleagues was the very definition of a wild goose chase in search of what the isolated Habiru people called The Rubbish Tips of Paradise. It was here Mr Fahrenheit thought he might be able to find the first terrestrial evidence if not of the Flag People then of the civilisations that briefly followed.
Four years after Paul Fahrenheit’s disappearance the first volume of a ‘fantasy’ fiction trilogy entitled The Left Hand of God was published. It was widely translated into some twenty-six languages but its reception by both audiences and critics was highly contradictory: it was greatly admired by some but much loathed by others for its peculiar tone and odd approach to the art of storytelling. How are these two apparently unrelated events connected? It turns out that Mr Fahrenheit was behind the publication of The Left Hand of God and a subsequent volume, The Last Four Things which were very far from the contemporary works of escapist fantasy they were presented as. As it happens Fahrenheit’s belief in the potential of the Rubbish Tips of Paradise was entirely on the mark. To cut a long and bitter story short, Fahrenheit took it into his head not to tell his former employer of his discovery, as he was legally bound to do. Instead, he claimed UNAS would, and I quote, ‘smother the undoubted brilliance of what I have called The Left Hand of God Trilogy in a dreary academic translation worked over by an army of self-serving pedants who would bury its vitality under a layer of high-minded dullness, footnotes and incomprehensible and obscurantist analysis.’
Fahrenheit became obsessed with his belief that the modern world should confront these three books in something of the way they might have confronted their original audience. As a result he took it upon himself to translate them (a considerable intellectual feat recognised even by his detractors) and have them published under his mother’s family name as the above contemporary works of fiction. Who knows how long this curious subterfuge might have worked were it not for Mr Fahrenheit’s indiscreet pillow talk with a young woman, who it turned out was not as trustworthy as he believed and who promptly sold the story to a news tablet, which in turn led to UNAS applying to this court for an injunction putting The Rubbish Tips of Paradise under their legal control.
The Unified Nations Archaeological Secretariat is granted, as requested, complete but temporary control over the site.
However, its suit to prevent the publication of the final ‘novel’ in The Left Hand of God Trilogy, The Beating of His Wings, in a translation by Paul Fahrenheit is denied. Publication may proceed under the condition that the summary of this judgement is printed at the beginning of The Beating of His Wings. Both UNAS and Paul Fahrenheit are given leave to add an appendix at the conclusion of the work in which they may explain their positions.
Moderator Breffni Waltz Dated 38th of JULI AD 143. 820