That’s the planet Cornipean bunyips come from, right? So what do we know about it?
Located in the “other” galaxy (now identified as NGC598, the Triangulum galaxy) and some fifteen light years from the core world of Meridian, it’s the academic and cultural hub of the empire. Many of its cities are university towns, often specialising in just one or two fields, with students drawn from across the galaxy thanks to the generous scholarships established by Morgoth (himself a keen historian) in the early days of his rule.
There’s no mention of Cornipus in Barefoot Times, the first volume in the series, as Bluehaven and Meridian were the only extragalactic worlds visited in that story. It first rates a mention in the third chapter of Call of the Delphinidae when Brian tells Mary and Ron that he’s been accepted into the College of Law there. In the next chapter, we follow his less-than-pleasant journey to Shingle City and the college’s Billington Hall, where he meets his room-mate Joshua Franks (later to become the Chief Justice of Cornipus in The Mind of the Dolphins), who says he’s from Benzania on the other side of the planet. Given that Call of the Delphinidae was dedicated to my nephews Ben and Josh, it doesn’t take too much guesswork to figure out the origins of those names!
Later in that book, we see the representative of Cornipus on the newly-formed Galactic Council introducing an appropriation bill for the establishment of a wildlife sanctuary to protect the endangered red-bellied bunyip, continuing my bunyip lore that began with Ron recalling Mary, as a small child, wanting one as a pet.
Cornipus is again visited in The Mind of the Dolphins when Brian’s son Owen goes searching for Professor Harry Tibbits, a former lecturer in Delphinidae History at that world’s Washpool University. Alistair Blunt, the Cornipean candidate in the ballot for Supreme Councillor, also plays a role in both that book and Cry of the Bunyips.
Not unexpectedly, a lot of the action in Cry of the Bunyips is set on Cornipus, particularly in southern Benzania around the city of Longville, described in that book as the sleeze capital of the galaxy and home to the bunyip-baiting ring. There’s also a visit to the Great Library, a city of books ruled by hordes of neurotic librarians, and you can hear some of that in the recording at the bottom of the Book Launch page of this blog.
From all accounts Cornipus is a wet world, with rainfall prominent during many of our visits, and although there are arid regions just like any other world, it’s generally warmer and more humid than most. While the bulk of the galaxy’s foodstuffs come from the agricultural worlds of Amber and Sontar, there’s still farmland on Cornipus, as evidenced by the orchards Joel notes on their trip to Longville.
Cornipeans typically have dark hair and an olive complexion, setting them apart from the fair-skinned inhabitants of Bluehaven, although with over a million years of habitation and cross-fertilisation from other worlds there are some regional differences. Arrogance is a trait often associated with Cornipeans (“He’s Cornipean and they’re all like that,” said Lorina in The Mind of the Dolphins) but stereotypes are always dangerous, as Russell, our Cornipean hero, would be sure to point out in his own arrogant way. Perhaps, as the galaxy’s most prosperous world, they’ve earned that right, but try telling that to the peasants of Amber, Sontar and Ignus whose simmering resentment is growing close to flashpoint.
While students on Cornipus are universally barefoot and, in the warmer climates, wear little or no clothing, the native graduates have a penchant for extravogent dress, particularly in the societal professions of law, commerce and medicine. The legal profession in particular, with their purple gowns and pink mortar-board hats, often draw surprised looks from interplanetary visitors, but the grey business suit with polished leather shoes remains the hallmark of Cornipean professionals of most persuasions in spite of Mark the Bewildered‘s efforts to change that during his ten-year barefoot reign.
A quick guide to all twelve worlds of the Meridian empire is on the Planets page of the Call of the Delphinidae website. All four novels in the series to date are available from Zeus Publications in either A5 trade paperback or e-book formats.