Nice, but has brought to me a question... how do they write below water? There are several options - a special ink and paper that react together fast enough; acid or similar stuff; or simply etching into the recording item... bringing also the question what is "paper" in this case. A dead plant, or one still kept alive? A Living Library underwater could be an interesting setting, too. Go to Comment
I would think it is a parchment of some kind, made by a combination of static magics and good process. The parchment would be treated to respond to the pen (a treated stylus). It would be a binary response creating magic underwater printing. Go to Comment
CP- It does not have to be magic. You could go the tech route. Magic would just be easier (and depending on your world... more appropriate).
Scras- True, as far as that goes.
But these SeaFolk build buildings, stone buildings, which implies a more stationary existance. One does not build of stone (which requires quarrying, cutting, specialized skills, and record keeping) unless one has a more structured civilization.
I could very easily see them ranching fish, maintaining kelp forests (planting, harvesting, and harvesting co-inhabitants fish/ otters), ranching/ maintaining (we don't have a word for this) those reef ecologies for their own benefits, and so on. If you automatically think in 3D and don't have issues with aquatic existance being hostile, it should not be too hard to do these things. I mean we can do it with divers, bubble walls, kelp barriers/ nets, certainly they could.
Also: Nobody complains when Elves, who don't seemingly farm, have cities. Why would you complain about these folks having them?
Cultures with written languages have thrived and expanded beyond the "band" level. No culture with an exclusively verbal culture has expanded beyond the band level (which is neither inherently good nor bad). The problem with verbal loremasters is that with increasing complexity of contracts, with increased numbers, such systems tend to fail - promigating some form of tangible record keeping (writing, knotting, pictographs). All it takes is the wrong person (or three) to die, and entire "records" go away. This happened time and time again with Amarind cultures. One bad flu or an important plague or one battle and their history is mostly wiped out.
It also depends on their origin. If they are sunken cultures/ Atlanteans, they could of brought it with them. The writing could be their own cultural innovation, or they could of adapted it from Surface dwellers. Either way, a stationary society would have it.
If you can, check out Guns, Germs, and Steel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns,_Germs_and_Steel#Responses_to_criticisms_of_methodology Go to Comment
Writing is an arrogance of our agrarian, and sedentary lifestyle. The keeping of records and other boring information requires the skill of writing. Keeping the history and lore of a people, often in the form of oral epics is the place of the bard and loremaster. The merfolk arent farmers, they dont plant crops, dont till the undersea soil. They survive by hunting fish and gathering food from the coral reefs and such. Their language could be very large and intricate, with no written counterpart, and permanent messages recorded in stone in the form of pictographs, or in the borrowed tongue of some other aquatic race, or borrowed from us surface dwellers. Go to Comment
Up the Road a little way from Now, you will find a number of offramps for The City. In fact, you can see The City from the Road, even if you don't stop.
The Road is a central point on the Multiversal Web of HappenTracks and WorldLines. Some would call it Cynosure, while others would call it The Only City. From the City, you can travel to just about anysphere or realm in the 'Verse. Go to Comment
Aside from being The Attack of the Parentheses, this is a fairly nice submission. I like the road analogy for time traveling, though I must admit I've not read Amber or Zelazny so I'll have to take your word on it ;) Go to Comment