New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn. Plus, coming soon: e-books: Yvgenie, and books from Jane.



At Miscon 2013, around Memorial Day, Missoula MT, At SoonerCon, in OKC, around June 15, also Spokon in Spokane, in July/August, Beyond that, we aren't sure.
April 2014
« Mar    

Foreigner Series: Spoiler Alerts: Page 2

I’m giving the page a second section because page 1 was starting to behave oddly.

As always, wait at least 30 days from issue of the book before starting to discuss. And give our overseas friends some extra leeway: the distribution system doesn’t reach everywhere as fast!

809 comments to Foreigner Series: Spoiler Alerts: Page 2

  • CJ

    By lawsuit class action. These people are attacking the livelihoods and creative legacy of every writer and artist now and to come, and they ignore the courts: their lawyers fight a continual delaying action, and, like Amazon, they are so big the courts can’t get a grip on them.

  • CJ

    And thanks—the history happened, and I thought it was a good time to put it in. The book is a little shorter than usual, and the back-history I thought would be a good gift for my faithful readers who have asked questions about what-when-where…

    • Jcrow9

      Yes indeedy re: gifts for the faithful–and, infallibly, your synopses always have little bits and bobs that I had a) forgotten, b) had interpreted slightly differently, or c) missed completely. Or, of course, there’s d): All the above!

  • Good ending…..many, many questions have been answered, but I’m sure there will be many more. Unfortunately, I was just too sleepy to start Geigi’s history, but that’s tonight’s reading.
    I see where there are a couple of notes about errata on Jane’s page, not giving away any plot….I know you can’t fix them at DAW, but maybe letting DAW know about them would help, and of course, you can fix them on your own copies, too.

  • Rigeldeneb

    Just finished Peacemaker. CJ, I hope future books include more “history.” It is always wonderful to see a situation from both the atevi and the human point of view. Or perhaps you will give us The Very Secret Diaries of Kaplan and Polano!

    I have been moved again to haiku, since it is still too early to dive into discussion:

    Felicitous nine.
    Such a grand celebration.
    Don’t let Boji out.

    All the adults are
    Busy, busy with politics.
    (Sigh) Baji naji.

    “Gods less fortunate!
    One’s son, one’s grandmother and
    consort: All trouble!”

  • Loving the audio-book versions of the series on Audible! I was just trapsing around the internet and saw this:

    How much longer until we have our own Shai-Shan? Not long methinks…

  • Tommie

    Oh heavens’ mercy! Irene is going to hit puberty at the same time Cajieri does!

  • One is of the opinion that it’s usually puberty that hits one, rather than one hitting puberty. Heh. And the manner of the hit is not always as one might expect, either.

    If only one had known then what one knows now. Or had someone else who was of a mind to be helpful in such matters. Ah, well.

    One did eventually get through it.

  • Tommie

    I was rather thinking of it as hitting a brick wall face first. It was unfortunate that I did not have the traditional aunt/older sister around, but I think that I survived. I later performed the aunt/sister role for the friends’ daughter who did the same for my daughters. I can only imagine that males do the same type of thing for one another, since I am barred from that loop.
    Irene’s mother doesn’t even like her. Who will help our girl when she has to cope? One can not picture her approaching anyone whom we have met thus far.

    • nekokami

      Madam Saidin?

      Damiri? (eek!)

      I vote for Ginny, actually. Or possibly Sandra, since I believe she eventually got married and had kids… I like Ginny a lot, but I think she may have been even more married to her job than Bren was to his. But that would require Irene to go to Mospheira, rather than back to the station.

      I wasn’t kidding when I said I wanted to adopt Irene. (She’s younger than one I did adopt, in fact, who had an even worse track record with parents.)

    • nekokami

      Yikes, even Damiri might be a better choice….

      • Isharell

        Jase has a mother and younger sister. Maybe she could go to them. I would not advise her going to Yolanda.

        They also must have had friends/relatives among the rest of the stationers who survived, too.

        If nothing else, she might have a favorite teacher. I know a lot of the instruction could be done via computer, but there must be a human checking on the kid’s education.

    • nekokami

      Might as well recommend Jill (Toby’s first wife).

      Irene’s mother is alive and I think does care about her. She seems rather neurotic to some of us (no Peacemaker spoilers, this is based on info from the previous book), but probably has covered as much of the basics as would be normal in ship/station culture. If it’s anything like the cultures in the Alliance/Union universe, girls are responsible for their own fertility/kids, and marriage might be optional.

      But if I’m wishing for a good adult female (human) role model for a girl, I still stand by my suggestions of Ginny Kroger, Sandra (can’t remember her surname at the moment, the one with the plants), or Kate Shugart, from the Mospheiran side. Jase’s mom seemed to be ok, but the last time we saw her or Jase’s sister, they were about to be expelled from Phoenix and the station for standing by Jase, and weren’t taking it that calmly. Assuming they’ve gotten past that, Jase seems pretty level-headed, so they’re probably fairly sensible women, and maybe Irene would be somewhat likely to meet them, since she’s in Jase’s company so much on this trip. But they would be somewhat unlikely to interfere if Irene’s mother is around. The politics of a Phoenix captain’s family interfering between a Reunion mother and daughter could be explosive.

  • If she asked Aeryn Sun, Aeryn would probably tell her, “Shooting makes me feel better!” LOL.

    One wonders if it would occur to Irene to ask an atevi woman for advice on human female matters.

    However, aside from Jago or (gasp) the formidable Ilisidi, Madame Saidin seems, well, capable and approachable in other matters.

    Cajeiri’s fortunate to have a number of male figures he could ask if he had some personal question of a private nature. Whether it would occur to him to ask nand’ Bren, despite their good association, again because Bren is human, not atevi, would be a question.

    Strictly from my own past self, I would have been reluctant, shy of asking anyone regarding certain more personal matters relating to, ah, certain questions or difficulties common to adolescence. I would’ve been most likely to try to talk that over with peers, friends my own age plus or minus. But even then, in my case, I had trouble with some of that, because, well, there were feelings involved for the same sex, and I didn’t know who to confide in or ask things, except trying to edge around the subject with a best friend or two. (Results were inconclusive in one case, negative to inconclusive in another.)

    That particular set of issues or that mindset or personality aside, I would tend to expect a teen needing advice on teen concerns, body or health or relationship issues, would likely ask close age-mate friends or else their most trusted / friendly (associated) authority / hero figures. It would depend on the personalities involved, the teen seeking advice and the person they wanted to ask, and I’d expect social norms would play into that. That is, are some things OK to talk about, while others are not, within the culture, or between those two people, for whatever reasons? Bearing in mind, too, that ship-bred and Mospheiran humans have two distinctly different cultures, not our own, and atevi have (surely) a quite different (and varied) set of values / behaviors besides.

    One would note that yes, the girls and the boys alike would have their own sets of questions unique to each young person. Boys do have questions much like girls do, only slightly different questions, but similar issues. Sometimes rather different issues, either side.

    Cajeiri, for that matter, has the difficult position of being the heir apparent to the ruling aiji, and thus he (Cajeiri) has to be careful who he asks, what he asks, and so on.

    One doubts, though that it would be much more than a point between the lines, unless there were some reason why something would be a major issue to the story.

    It is, however, an interesting question, and a sympathetic, empathetic one. — Whew, imagine being a young person isolated from your peers or your own species, and you have questions that need good answers, and well, where do you turn, or do you have to solve it yourself with no clue what’s going on? …Probably an original book in itself, that.

  • nekokami

    No criticism to either Banichi or Jago, but Irene seems more like a future paidhi to me than a future assassin. ;) Jase’s sister might be a good choice, if she and Irene were to meet and become close enough.

    I should have suggested Kate Shugart. :) (I’m a little surprised we haven’t seen/heard more from her lately. With Deanna out of the picture long since, shouldn’t there be a designated paidhi-in-waiting? Or has the Mospheiran government given up on the institution completely?)

  • Hanneke

    1-Irene is 11 and small for her age, so hopefully she’s got another year, or two or three, before she gets into stuff like periods.
    2- That some of the biology is compatible doesn’t mean it all works the same way! There’s been no sign of Jago having periods, PMS or suchlike, so there is no reason to assume Atevi biology works the same as human, in these things. They might have something like a continuous pill, but biology and their internal medicine is one area where atevi were behind humans and haven’t progressed very far, both from lack of computers and an apparent disinclination to talk about such things. I can hope their biology is more efficiently organised than our monthly waste of resources.
    3- Irene knows to be very careful about what she says to atevi, and atevi do not discuss children, families, or their own growing up even with Bren: it is clearly a difficult, maybe taboo subject, as in fact were liaisons between guards and their aiji (both Cenedi and Jago), and most relationships. there is no way Irene could or would approach any ateva about this, unless blood on the sheets brings in either Madam Saidin or Bren and his guards. In that case, the ateva in question is most likely to take the problem to Bren, who at least knows the basics of human biology and would have to do his best to explain to both sides…
    4- I don’t see Irene or the other kids coming into contact with the people on Mospheira anytime soon. they will have to go back up to their parents pretty soon, when the shuttle returns. up there Irene does have a mother, even if she’s into troublesome politics, who can help her daughter with these sorts of things. so a Mospheiran mentor for any of them isn’t likely in the near future.
    5- Emotional upheavals and attachments – oh yes, those will be there, but not while the kids are on their best behaviour during their first state visit! And the atevi are used to relying on Bren to translate the volatiler human behaviour into sense; they do not seem to dispatch much advice themselves, at least not across the species borders, so far as I’ve seen. A very occasional word of advice to stop the paidhi worrying excessively, but nothing like counseling of youngsters to deal with the hormonal upheavels, apart from some understated advice from Banichi to Cajeiri.
    6- Banichi is the only parent, who’s shepherded a youngster through those times himself, and done so succesfully, in the close entourage; but madam saidin and the office manager and others have that experience too. i don’t see any of them offering advice, except perhaps a word from Banichi.

    Paidhi-in-waiting: aren’t Yolanda and Jase sort of fulfilling that role? And there was a whole university department, to support the paidhi and produce the next one as needed, just like happened with Bren himself.

    The rest has to wait for after Easter, when everyone has had a chance to read it.

    • nekokami

      I only suggested Ginny and Kate as potential mentors for Irene because either or both of them might be on the station at any given time. Ginny works with the space robots, and Kate may be part of the interface between the human and atevi station administration. (Actually, that may be why Kate isn’t mentioned as a potential paidhi-in-waiting– she’s busy. And yes, more specifics will have to wait until after Easter, but face it, Bren is *always* getting into Situations such that Tabini, Shawn, and anyone else who relies on there being a paidhi should be thinking of alternates. And Jase, as a ship-aiji, is probably no longer eligible to be a paidhi… and it would be better not to rely on Yolanda, who was never keen to be a paidhi in the first place.)

      Assuming Irene and the other two kids go back to the station on schedule, I could easily see them trying to stay involved with the human-atevi interface (Gene has already made his own attempts), so Irene encountering Kate could be quite likely.

      (Now I can’t remember the name of the young man who came up with Ginny and Tom way back when… Ben?)

      I imagine by now there are some atevi youngsters on the station. I wonder how well Geigi and the human administrators are able to keep the kids of the two species apart? Cajeiri can’t be the only atevi youngster curious about humans of the same age. ;)

      Remember back in book 1 when there was mention of an ill-fated atevi cultural immersion class for kids on Mospheira, and some graduate students got their funding cut? I wonder where those researchers are now?

      We like Bren being unique, and people with high linguistic and math skills aren’t going to be that common, but there are a bunch of people in the atevi studies program back on Mospheira that I wish we could hear more about. :)

      • Hanneke

        Yes, I certainly expect the kids, once back on the station, to try and remain in contact with the atevi-human interface. Ginny and geigi might work as contact points, because they knew Ginny on the ship, and Geigi carried the letter, but both are old (in the kids view), and busy and important, so won’t have much time for them.

        I don’t know if there would be atevi youngsters on station, it doesn’t seem likely to me. There have been human and atevi workers up there for only a few years (while reactivating the station and building the shuttles there was only Phoenix crew, then a short time while refueling Phoenix, the 2 years the ship was gone, and the year since they came back); all the atevi and Mospheirans up there were brought there by the shuttles for some sensible reason, and atevi are quite logically protective of their children from the little we’ve heard – it seems unlikely to bring kids along with the work crews, when apart from Geigi’s and Bren’s households there weren’t really any permanent households up there yet. I remember Bren thinking about that, and talking with his aishid about what kind of effects permanently living there would have on atevi associations with their downworld relations, before they went on Phoenix.
        And soon after the ship left, the shuttles were grounded by the coup, and the station went on tight rations and a race to develop their own food and water resources ; it seems very unlikely for people to start having kids under those circumstances, because of rationing.
        And since Phoenix’ return, they are still on rationing, so the rash of new babies born on Phoenix after the stationers were rescued has probably come to a temporary halt. Anyway, any kid born on the station would be too young for them to play with.

    • Hanneke

      I had to leave before finishing and editing the above, but walking home I remembered that even today sensible sex education isn’t always a standard part of the American curriculum.
      People living in the limited environment of a spaceship or station cannot ignore this. The chance of pregnancy was very tightly controlled on the station and the ship; they certainly wouldn’t risk youngsters becoming adventurous and becoming pregnant without knowing what they’re doing. As some youngsters already have had some experience at 12, I’m sure all the kids will have had the basic human puberty and sexuality explanations by age nine or ten, before puberty kicks in and may make the subject more frought. I rather expect this also to include a standard long-lasting contraceptive to be given as soon as menstruation starts; and that a woman would require permission from the captain or a ruling medical board or somesuch before discontinuing that, to avoid overpopulation but also so not all pilots will accidentally get pregnant at the same time…

      Considering the havoc that can be caused by breakups and relationship troubles, sometimes leading to aggression, I expect that in the closed environment of the ship some kind of mental relationship hygiene would also be taught, and probably counseling available.

      In conclusion, I don’t really expect that this will be something that would suddenly cause great upheavals to the human kids; much less defining than other possible choices and developments that might be coming up, and which I will have to wait for Easter to discuss.

      The one who doesn’t seem to know much about what he may be on the point of going through is Cajeiri (I seem to remember Ilisidi saying something once, about having tried to warn him about something of the kind once, but him not being very open to this at the time), and he at least has Banichi for a possible mentor: I agree with Paul that Banichi is a good person for that role, and we’ve already seen him taking on some of that, on the ship and during the happenings at Bren’s estate.
      And though Cajeiri has the example of Bren and Jago before him, with Irene being so small and childlike to atevi sensibilities, I don’t expect him to be interested in her that way. He’s shown no inkling of that in his thoughts, while his female bodyguard did get an interested look from him when some nighttime emergency (at Bren’s estate, I think it was) caused her to run out to him without her clothes on. With two fit and nice-looking young women of his own race always around, one of whom is less than ten years his senior, and not that long out of her own puberty at the time of their first meeting (remember aiji mature, or at least go through puberty, earlier than ordinary atevi), which might make the age gap mentally and physically a bit less than it might seem at first glance… if Cajeiri’s going to get those kinds of feelings for someone, or start experimenting, that would seem a much more likely direction.

      As for the human kids, ship kids in general seem very focussed on their studies, on training for a future crew posting (Bjorn is already on a command track study course, IIRC), and generally behaving sensibly, and mostly according to the rules – they know breaking some rules has serious consequences. Serious and studious kids quite often aren’t interested in romance until a lot later in their lives, more like at 18 (or later, sometimes much later) than at 14, and that’s years and years away yet. They’ve got more interesting things to occupy them!

      The atevi liked the idea of having three paidhiin, when Jase and Yolanda came down. At the time the idea was to have one for the atevi, one for Mospheira, and one for the ship. The sense of stability in there being three, even though Yolanda is not functioning well as such, still seems to be important to the atevi. Jase is captain, but also translates the atevi to the other captains, for the ship, and brings the ship’s expectations to Bren and the atevi; that part has worked out well, since his sojourn with Bren onworld. Bren is paidhi-aiji, for the atevi. But Yolanda as paidhi to translate the atevi *and* the ship to Mospheira, doesn’t seem to work well, and some of her slack seems to have been taken up by Toby with help from Shawn Tyers and probably the university department that the paidhi-candidates belong to.
      That leg of the paidhi-tripod seems to me to need some adjustment.

      These people are all around Tabini’s age, the paidhiin for his regime.
      Now there are three children, interested in all the things onworld, not yet committed to other shipboard career tracks, linked to Cajeiri and around his age, proving they can be polite and learn the basics of operating in the atevi culture, doing well for their age. In the book before Peacemaker, even Tatiseigi accepted their politeness, showed them his collection of things in the basement at Tirnamardi, and liked it that they appreciated everything, conservative anti-human politician as he was. Though it’s not stated anywhere, I think I can feel Tabini thinking about the future, switching from trying to break his son’s ties to these humans, to thinking this might be a way to ensure his son will have a paidhi-tripod to help support him when he has to take over at some time decades in the future.
      But on the ship, Bren thought these kids didn’t have enough grasp of maths to ever be good at speaking atev; maybe that was just because they hadn’t really studied it yet? Also, no idea what the kids might think of that plan, or what their parents and captains would think of it, or Bren…
      That is a line of thought I find very interesting, but the rest will really have to wait till after Easter.

  • chondrite

    Since an intuitive grasp of mathematics is almost a requirement for learning Ragi properly, are any of the kids adept at computer programming or learning astrogation (one forgets)? The mathematical grounding of either would seem helpful, and programming is just another language.

    • tulrose

      Since these are Reunion kids would they even be allowed to study at that level? I suspect it may depend on where their parents are in the Reunion hierarchy. I get the impression it is pretty stratified with not much movement up or down.

    • Hanneke

      Well, Gene (I think it was Gene) could get around some of the limits in the computers; Cajeiri picked some of that up from him. Bjorn was the one meant for a command or piloting track, and at 14 he’s started that training. He also was added to their shipboard group by Gene, and Cajeiri accepted him because of the numbers; he wasn’t one of Cajeiri’s first picks, and I don’t get the feel he’s missed from the group dynamics.
      It’s not clear to me how much math, astrogation, or programming ordinary crew-track kids get on the ship. Considering the historical track record for Phoenix leadership, trying to keep access to important knowledge limited to those in the upper echelons (and their kids as replacements) wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
      They’d see it as preventing a chance of mutiny, as the ordinary crew wouldn’t be able to fly the ship; exactly the same as keeping access to some knowledge only in the hands of the four captains – some redundancy in case of accidents, but still a very risky way of running things in my view.
      If Gene, Artur and Irene never did get much formal math or programming schooling, putting them in an intensive training course might pleasantly surprise Bren with the results. If Gene figured out a lot of computer savvy on his own that would indicate a certain aptitude, I’d think.
      Artur seems a bit more scientifically interested in the world around him, with an eye for the beauty of nature, and Irene a bit more of a diplomat, interested in the people, and communicating, and getting people to get along together; but of course that’s just my view on them, at present.

  • Tommie

    I am a relatively studious person, and was interested when I was about eleven and a half. I hit menarche before I was twelve and a half. I was rather ashamed not to be married before I was nineteen. I was an old maid in the culture in which I was reared.

    • Hanneke

      It seems likely that culture plays a part, as well as biology. Here, the high schools are divided into at least four different kinds, by levels of difficulty of book-learning, or at least by different learning types. The easier ones go from 12-16 years, and do a lot more practical stuff and rote learning, and those kids go on to a vocational college or sometimes apprenticeships, or work in retail and services. The highest last from 12 to 18-19, and prepare kids for study at universities. There is a big difference in the way the kids interact in these schools, even when physically the schools are located together in one big building.
      The vocational level kids are much more into boyfriends and such, at a much earlier age (as well as more bullying for kids who appear too studious or different). The on-track-to-university kids generally start that stuff several years later, and from what I’ve seen concentrate their energy less exclusively on the relationship stuff (and being studious is not something one gets bullied for in those schools).
      So that was my experience I was arguing from, and apparently not at all a universal human characteristic ;) Sorry!

  • Unfortunately, at least when I went to school a generation ago, US public schools, a student (child or teen) had to have signed permission from a parent to attend the sessions / classes on sex education, even in high school about to graduate.

    In fifth grade, age about 11, the boys and girls were separated and one class period (an hour) of Science class was spent with a short lecture and film or two, very childish and cartoonish, on the basic facts of puberty and reproduction. It should already have been more informative and less childish, babyish. But it got across the most essential basic facts. It was probably not news to most of the boys, but I’m sure many didn’t know all of it, or had been misinformed by hearsay on things. Despite that my parents were very education-positive, I got virtually no discussion at home with my dad. He grew up a farm boy, but talking about it or knowledge of the facts were apparently way outside his comfort zone. (This was a pattern all through my teen years and beyond.)

    In junior high, kids were required to change clothes and shower as part of P.E. Our first unit was swim class, as 6th graders, about 12. This was both wonderful (yay, we get to swim!) and troublesome (both changing and the swim briefs, for a very body-shy, religious boy who, ah, was very quickly discovering that other boys were somehow more interesting than he thought). — Swimming was great. Being so body-shy and discovering why was…hmm…problematic…and there was no one to talk to about it. (I had almost no clue and almost no experience.)

    I think around 7th grade was when, for two or three hours of health class, we got another few educational films, also below age/comprehension level, but somewhat better about information. Still, one of those tried to be poetic about it: “The Earth turns. The seasons change. The cycle of life goes on.” (This was in between discussing how fertilization leads to a developing pregnancy and childbirth, the other part of the female cycle.) … It helped, but it wasn’t enough.

    In high school Health class, our freshman year (9th grade) was the first real, comprehensive attempt toward education on this. Puberty, hygiene, reproduction, it was surprisingly, daringly, maybe, pretty informative. They even threw in discussion of the science in hormones. There was (oh my) an attempt to discuss contraception. … That was, unfortunately, more comedic than informative.

    It was also probably way too late for most of the students. — One young white girl in my class, shy and a bit plain, very sweet, very quiet, religious, country twang in her accent…did get support from her family and carried her baby to term and raised it.

    I had already had at least one big crush by then, on my best friend at the time, and was about to have another big crush. That it didn’t dawn on me until well into it that these were crushes…on boys instead of girls…was somehow news to me, despite that I’d had feelings like that since 11. (Uh, I must just be a late bloomer. I’m shy. I’ll meet the right girl and it’ll all click. If I pray really hard and I’m a really good guy, I’ll…be straight, won’t I? …Sigh… I did try to date a few girls, asked about three girls to the prom, went stag (solo) to my prom, got turned down by some very nice girls who probably knew me better than I did.) (I did have a couple of dates before, in college, I finally realized this really was not going to work out….)

    In our senior year, 12th grade, in Biology, we covered puberty and human reproduction again, in scientific detail, after having covered plant and animal reproduction. By then, we thought we knew it, except the scientific, technical aspects. But this was a class of smart kids, and it was interesting, both as science, and well, in human terms. — But it was strictly science in those lectures.

    When I went to school, there was discussion of abstinence. There was only once or twice discussion of contraception. Surrounding this were the religious moderates and ultra-conservatives and the more liberal folks. (My family were actually in the moderate-to-conservative camp, even though there was almost no discussion at home.)

    This was the late 70′s and early to mid ’80′s. The words gay or homosexual or sexual orientation did not appear anywhere in the student handbook, although a guarantee of fair and equal treatment for all students, the wording on equality for race, religion, sex/gender, age, physical abilities, was present. — The idea that any student might be gay was taboo. — It didn’t matter that several boys, including myself, were publicly accused of being gay, or harassed, or in at lesat one case, physically assaulted, and all of them but me transferred out. (Only one was supposedly out. The others, it was either hearsay or merely claimed. I had no idea if they were, though I had opinions. Three of them were friends of mine. And I got called out on it too. — I went to my favorite teacher, my French teacher, because one, the first male cheerleader at our high school, was continuing to get threats. …He could have been gay, but I wasn’t sure. I nearly came out, in talking to my teacher, and backpedalled something fierce…because I was worried my parents would somehow find out. …EVen though I don’t think my teacher would have broken confidence like that.)

    In the 2000′s, there was a court case, and Gay-Straight Student Alliances were allowed in high schools. There has been one at my old high school. … Even if there had been one when I went, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to set foot in the door. I could speak up, publicly, for those friends. I could not yet speak up for myself and say yes, I was.

    Unfortunately, my school district also had one nationally publicized case where a gay student committed suicide because he was bullied. — He was a middle school student. I could only think of my own questioning feelings, barely figuring it out at that age, and think, what a needless loss of a straight-A student, smiling in a class photo…and I knew the area, but not the new school nor the family.

    But that also ignores that the current system, by ignoring the problem, by not really educating enough, by presuming teens and yes, pre-teens, will not “do anything,” — instead, those kids do go out and do things, and they don’t know how to take care of themselves, the emotional aspects are not at all covered, nothing about same-sex issues are covered at all, and opposite-sex issues are not covered enough. — So there are problems like disease, unknown and untreated, because that’s too secret; or teen pregnancy, because it’s also too secret and they’re supposed to abstain or with or without contraception; and the problems of bullying and abuse, runaways, suicide, and life on the streets, that face some gay kids, if they don’t get the support they need.

    These are, so many of them, social ills, lack of education or miseducation, and too often, religious beliefs that ignore the realities of how people behave, regardless of how we might wish they could behave, or what someone might deem is moral or proper. (Or perhaps, evidence of the need to re-examine one’s beliefs to see what the creator really expects or wants, what he/she as creator might have built in as options, or as comfort, for support or bonding, as well as mere procreation.)

    But then, I’ve heard from local teachers who say, under current policies, the kids aren’t supposed to even hug (public display of affection) unless it’s an “A-frame” hug (shoulders are OK, the rest of the body, not); and that the teachers aren’t supposed to hug or show affection to the kids, for fear of impropriety. — And faced with that, I have to wonder if, in being so overly zealous against harm, our system isn’t going to create the very isolation and misinformation and desperation that leads to the social and personal maladjustments, and criminal behaviors, that we claim we want to stop. — That said, it has been rare that I’d get a hug, outside of family or church or close friends, and as my extended family are far away, and I no longer attend church regularly, because I didn’t get support when needed…well, I’m of the opinion people need natural, healthy affection between friends, such as hugs, at least.

    But more fundamentally, I think parents need to teach their kids at home, to answer questions and inform them, so they know how to be healthy, happy, safe, disease-free, clean, and how to have a good relationship, emotionally, and yes, physically…including what happens if it’s with someone of the same sex…and including what to do if there’s a problem in the relationship, how to stop that and how to talk to someone, to get support, to keep things good or to handle it if things go bad. — I think it’s a mistake to assume that pre-teens and teens are not going to experiment, play, or get serious about it. I think it’s a mistake not to prepare them for what can happen. And I think it’s a mistake for parents to presume that a boy-girl couple won’t do something that could lead to pregnancy; or that two friends of the same sex might not try something together. That is, I think it’s best not to put a label on it and presume a kid is straight or gay, but to say what could happen between friends, in case they do experiment; just as (presumably) parents (ought to) teach their kids what to do if a boy-girl date starts getting more serious and they experiment. …Or if it’s more than experimenting, either way. It would at least clear up a lot of anxiety and confusion for perfectly normal kids/teens, whatever their feelings are, whoever they’re really interested in being with. (I wish kids didn’t grow up internalizing that it’s not OK for them to like someone of the same sex, that it’s not even something they can tell their parents or best friends…I wish we could get past that, so kids don’t grow up feeling bad, shamed, or sinful, even into adulthood. It affects some percent of straight kids who experiment, and it affects gay kids and later gay adutls.)

    So…I really think our American attitudes towards education on things like that badly need to change, almost completely.

    I seem to have climbed up on a soapbox in the middle of all this. It’s something I feel very strongly about, precisely because I grew up largely without anyone I felt I could turn to when I really needed to talk and ask questions. And that was in a family, church, and school environments where I had otherwise pretty good support, information, and friendship and/or love. But I didn’t know, even in college, whom to confide in. (I did try talking to a couple of friends, but this didn’t help. And those other kids who might have been struggling like me, were at least as much silent about it as I was.)

    And there was more than one teen pregnancy at my high school, a nice, suburban school, with a very mixed ethnic and economic background.

    I’d say there need to be a lot of changes. I think we may be headed for severe social problems, because people seem to have turned even more conservative (and overly cautious or fearful) than when I went… even though on the other hand, there has been some progress. It’s a mess. … And it means the kids don’t get information. They get a lack of support, sometimes active intolerance, and instead of information, they get rumors from peers or whatever truth or nonsense they find in media, including online.

    So…I’ll try to climb down from my soapbox. I wish I knew the answers to solve things.

    • nekokami

      I just want to offer what comfort I can about this topic– my daughters have just finished high school (in the northeast US), and their experiences were very different than what you (and I) experienced around these issues a generation ago. Gay-Straight student alliances and similar organizations are making a difference, I think. Both of my daughters have close non-straight friends and are comfortable talking about these issues– they even find it surprising, sometimes, that this is an issue. My younger daughter describes herself as bisexual, though I think she hasn’t been in a serious relationship with either gender yet. My older daughter is straight, but as I said, has gay and lesbian friends (her best friend is gay and married, and she’s an honorary “aunt” for his kids). We’ve been pretty open, all along, about discussing reproductive health issues with our daughters, and while we can’t keep them out of every problematic relationship, I think they know we’re there when they need to talk about what hasn’t gone right– and what has. :) There’s more work to be done, but I think things are getting better in many places.

      To bring the discussion back to the books, the only indication we’ve ever had about same-sex relationships that I know of was when Banichi indicated that he hoped Bren wasn’t attracted to *him.* Since marriage in atevi (at least Ragi) culture seems to be pretty much contractual for the purpose of producing children, but other alliances are also quite obviously common, the question remains: do atevi accept feelings of attraction toward the same gender?

      And to make the question specific, is Geigi, perhaps, gay? Bren has mentioned noticing that Geigi doesn’t seem especially attracted to atevi females. Yes, he was married to a Samiusi woman at one point, but that doesn’t answer the question.

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