First published: March, 1992. First posted online: October 27, 2005.

In looking over this episode, it seems to be about the nature of storytelling. Stories, intrisically, cannot be secret. They can be the revelation of secrets (gossip, betrayal), or the recounting of events once secret (halfling burglary, acts of treason, etc.) but usually the only mystery is how the heroes will prevail, and the villans be punished. Stories are a series of connected events, presented dramatically. A successful story must neither reveal too much too soon, nor too little too late.

And it must never contradict itself on how events unfold.

Meanwhile, the press, in the United States at any rate, cannot be relied upon for objective accuracy any longer. Having been devoured by moneyed interests on the one side, and the entropy of infotainment on the other, the “stories” reporters now tell are pretty much just that: Fables. Myths that are very loosely based on some various events that may have actually occurred, but rearranged into a dramatic storyline. Criminals that pay their salaries are made to look boring and uninteresting while the cameras and the text editors focus on some salacious local murder, or show thrilling coming attractionsprophecy some phantom menace. Spin control is a function of any soap opera. This is sad enough, but there’s an additional downside to constant spinning.

Continuity errors.

It’s not just for SF or gamer geeks. You should hear soap fans natter on about mistakes in their stories. Bobby Ewing appearing alive in his shower is merely the most famous example.

So it’s a problem when a Jayson Blair or a Judith Miller writes something one month and contradicts themselves or the obvious truth the next. It’s a problem when Senator Hutchison declares that the perjury of one President would “would tear the whole structure down” of American justice, and the perjury of the next Administration a “technicality”– and then claims she was “miscontrued”. It’s a problem when someone tells a grand jury one thing, and then tells them something utterly incompatible with what they said before. The continuity errors build up, the suspension of disbelief vanishes… and the audience turns against you.

For even the Ministry of Truth cannot overcome… fandom. Because we’ll hash over mistakes until well after everyone who ever cared or lived to care about a story, has crumbled into dust.

So anyway, our continuity problem in this part of the series was that Yamara went from having a songbird attached to her pack to having a small pennant with her first initial on it, and back to the songbird (above).

Our theory? Jif the Songbird metamorphs into a flag from time to time. This is against his will, and it is not known what causes it. If he ever gets his own entry on our cast page, we’ll be sure to mention it.

Jif Conspiracy Theorists may study the following close-ups for additional clues:


Panel One (detail)

Panel Two (detail)

Panel Three (detail)

Panel Four (detail)