As I had discussed in another post, my nickname, Mordanicus, is derived from a Dutch children’s book called The Ruler of Mordan by Dutch science fiction author Tais Teng. In the story two children (aged 10 to 12) go to the future in order to get help to get rid of a usurper, called Haldo, from the same future (the year 2107).
When they two children arrive on June 7, 2107, two men are waiting for them, thinking the children are the escaped dictator. Once the future men discover their mistake, one of them identifies himself as Ven. The man tells the kids then:
This country is the Republic of Mordan. In the past it was called the Netherlands. Or France, I do not know it precisely any more.
This raises the question, where is that country, Mordan, located? We could naively assume that Mordan is either located in what is currently the Netherlands or France. But since Ven does claim not to know it precisely, we can’t rule out the possibility that Mordan lies somewhere else.
One possible answer could be that Mordan does contain both France and the Netherlands, or parts of both countries. Only there’s one problem with this idea that France and the Netherlands don’t share a border. These two countries are separated by a third country, known as Belgium. If this theory holds, then Mordan should include (parts of) present-day Belgium. Hence, why does Ven not mention Belgium?
The cautious reader might remark, I am wrong when I state that France and the Netherlands do not share a common border, because the Caribbean Island of Saint Martin is divided into a French and a Dutch part. Though the French part is integral part of the French Republic, the Dutch part of the island is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. There’s a constitutional difference between the Netherlands and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Alongside with Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten, the Netherlands is an autonomous country of the Kingdom.
Though it’s technically incorrect to say that the Netherlands and France do share a common border, it might be the location of Mordan. The strongest argument in favour of this hypothesis, is linguistics. Linguists who study the etymology of words, of look at the radix of a word, that’s the consonants of a word. Both Maarten (Dutch) and Martin (French) can be written as m*rt*n, in which * represents a random vowel. Linguists also know that if letters of a word are replaced by others, they are usually replaced by letters of the same group. Both the /t/ and the /d/ are stop consonants.
According to this line of reasoning we should get (for instance) Martin => Mardin => … => Mordan. Only this sound more like pseudo-science, than on a solid argument that Mordan is actually the island of Saint Martin. It’s however possibly that during the next 93 years both parts of the island will separate from the French Republic respectively the Kingdom and the Netherlands, and that both territories will merge into a Republic of Saint Martin.
Given that the island is called Saint Martin since at least the mid-17th century, should made us wonder, why Saint Martin should become Mordan somewhere during the 21st century? Linguistics suggest that the more frequently a word is used, the less susceptible to change it will be. For instance, in almost every language the irregular verbs, are those which used most often.
Both the Belgium and the Saint Martin hypothesis, assume that Ven was giving an honest account of the Republic of Mordan. What I believe we have reason to doubt Ven’s honesty. In the following quote, Ven explains to the children why they aren’t allow to see the future:
“The future has to remain a secret,” the man earnestly says. “That is the law. Things from the future are too dangerously for your time.”
Not only do the Mordans have the scientific knowledge and technology to build a time machine, they also have felt the necessity to pass a law to protect the future from visitor from the past. This clearly demonstrates a certain interest in history for at least for some Mordans. It’s therefore strange that Ven supposedly does not know about the predecessor state(s) of his own country.
Further, Ven is not just some guy but a government official, and we can assume is has a high rank within his country’s administration since he was sent to wait for Haldo’s return. Also from the book we can estimate his age as between 35 and 45 years old. This gives his date of birth between 2062 and 2072, and suggests that his parents were born around 2030. His rank and his age, suggests that Ven should know much more about the predecessor state.
Though it’s very unlikely that Ven has told the truth, we still need a possible motive for not being honest. Fortunately the law he has cited, gives a strong motive. The future has to remain secret, and it would be strange that if the children aren’t allow to see the future, Ven would be allowed to tell them about the future. The fundamental concern of the law seems to be that people of past would have knowledge about the future. And the more Ven tells the children about the future, the more knowledge they will have.
It’s important to consider why knowledge about the future would be dangerous, as Ven asserts. First, we have to establish dangerous for whom? Given it’s the Mordan government has made that law, we can easily assume that travelling to the past is dangerous for the Mordan state. If people from the past might be able to steal future technology, or deduce this from the revelations of those who have visited the future, this might change the course of history and as a possible result Mordan will never be created.
A more serious problem for the Mordan state would be the following. Suppose that someone from our time, learns that, say, Belgium will be replaced by the Republic of Mordan, and pass that information to the government of Belgium. It would be quite likely that the Belgian government wouldn’t like that idea, and hence they will try to prevent this. They might identify the founders of Mordan and eliminate them in order to preserve Belgium.
By being vague about the history of Mordan, Ven protects the existence of the Mordan state. And since he has to deal with two school children from between 10 and 12, he can get away with this. The children are more concerned about getting help from the future than learning the entire history of Mordan.
Therefore we can’t take Ven’s words on face value. And since the mention of France and the Netherlands might only be an attempt to obscure the precise location of Mordan, we cannot even be sure that Mordan is actually on Earth. Which allows the possibility that Mordan is in fact a space colony.