Dar Sai

Dar Sai

Dar Sai is a fictional planet referenced in author Jack Vance's fourth "Demon Princes" novel, The Face. It is a desert planet orbiting the fictional star Cora, with a single large natural satellite called Mirrasou.



Dar Sai is home to a race of humans known as Darsh, who take stubborn pride in their ability to endure their planet's inhospitable climate. They reside under enormous communal umbrellas called "shades" in order to escape the planet's murderous heat and glare, which would otherwise prove fatal in short order. When they have to leave the protection of the shades, they carry portable air conditioners. Darsh men are typically brave and tough - a writer asserts that "there are no Darsh cowards" - with plenty of public swagger, a quality called plambosh.

Food and drink

The food of Dar Sai is strongly spiced in order to make plain water seem more appealing by contrast; off-worlders generally find the taste and smell of such food revolting. Darsh who leave Dar Sai often face prejudice due to this smell, and their residences are sometimes restricted to certain neighborhoods (a characteristic they share with the Sanduskers, as mentioned in The Killing Machine). Dishes include pourrian, chatowsies and ahagaree. Darsh beer has been described as tasting as though a dog has been washed in it. At one hotel a variety of local cuisine, made more palatable to offworlders is served along with a variety of more palatable beverages.

Sex and relationships

Marriages are based on financial interests, not mutual affection. A man will judge a prospective wife on her domestic skills, while a woman will judge the man's earning potential. They often exchange disparaging remarks, and typically do not engage in sexual relations with each other, preferring to seek (often unwilling) sexual partners out on the desert sands at night under the full moon. Any party venturing into this area at that time is considered fair game (including unwary tourists). Older males seek younger females, known as kitchets, in their brief period of attractiveness before they typically grow unattractive moustaches and gain weight. Older females (vulgarly known as khoontzes), in turn, lie in wait, compelling kitchets to act as lures for unwary young males. They are typically well able to overpower these youths, which the men ruefully acknowledge in ribald songs.

Entertainment and culture

One of the primary entertainments of adult men is a kind of whip-dance in which a man with a whip puts a troupe of half-naked boys through a series of japes and stunts, typically striking paper targets affixed to the boys' buttocks. In Darsh taverns a form of juke box projecting holographs of these entertainments is available for customers.

A popular sport is hadaul, a kind of mass wrestling match with few rules, in which the objective is to be the last contestant in a playing field of three concentric rings. A competitor who has been removed from one of the inner rings may not re-enter it; one who has been forced out the outermost is eliminated from play. After the competition is concluded, a loser may challenge the victor to a duel if he is willing to put forward a stake equal to the winner's share of the purse. It is rare for off-worlders (iskish) to compete, and Kirth Gersen is the first known to have won.


Dar Sai is rich in "duodecimates", fictional stable transuranic elements with atomic numbers in the 120s. These are commonly found as "black sand" in the desert, and prospecting is a major part of the planet's industry. Weighed quantities of duodecimates are an accepted medium of exchange, as are Standard Value Units, the common currency of the Oikumene.

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