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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.

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!

1,220 comments to Foreigner Series: Spoiler Alerts: Page 2

  • sanford

    That was pretty much my thinking. But the issue of pair-bonding remains. That’s a very fundamental part of any psychology, so how did Atevi evolve a numerological system that is in contrast to their biology? That only odd numbers are felicitous, when their basic biology is two. I get the “marriage is for having offspring which make a third”, but that seems even more of a stretch than the absent extra to make the numbers wrk out. I realize that making the Atevi a three gendered species would have thrown everything off. But if much of Atevi psychology is biologically hard wired (e.g., manchi), and reproduction is the most basic of biological imperatives, why a distaste for even numbers? I suppose one could consider the human fascination with prime numbers and the multicultural “lucky 7”, and generalize that to Atevi. But it’s not quite fitting for me yet.

    I agree that Tabini and Damiri are both a Stability of One and so do not think of the numbers f their family. But despite the manchi that exists with Bren, I don’t think he’s considered part of the family.

  • scenario_dave

    The primary bond is the bond to the herd or clan, not the pair bond as it is in humans. Look at mecheiti in the wild. Two herds A and B have adjacent territory. At a certain time of the year all of the female mecheiti go into heat. There are several mating strategies here.

    Type A1, several males leave and join the other herd for a few weeks. The advantage of this is that the females and their genes remain in the original herd. The disadvantage is that the father of the young is not the highest status males who must remain with the herd.

    Type A2, the females join the new herd and choose to mate with the males in the new temporary herd that they find to be the most suitable, probably the highest ranking males. Then they return to their own herds.

    Type B gene distribution is where young males (or possibly females) in herds that have gotten too big are driven off. They wander hundreds of miles, in danger of being attacked by local herds the entire way until they find a herd that has too few members. Then they attempt to join. The males that succeed will be attractive to the females in the herd for a few years, until they have been there long enough for their own daughters to mature. The females that succeed will be able to mate within the herd for many years.

    Atevi do not pair bond. They bond within a clan. Most marriages are like type A1 and A2. There is a decision by both the individual and the clan as a whole that they want to have a child. They contact another clan and negotiate. In the modern world, the decision on which clan to mate with is made by the Aji and the clan as a whole, but which individuals to marry is the people involved. Once the offspring are produced the individual goes back to the original clan. There are situations where individuals form pairs outside of clan influence but they can be very unfortunate leading to both clans rejecting the new baby.

    Marriages like Tagini and Damiri are more like type B mating strategy. Damiri was not happy in either of the clans she could claim as her own. She decided to leave both clans and join an entirely new clan. But this is the least common choice partially because it is so difficult to leave and join a new clan. It goes against the nature of Atevi to leave their clans. That’s why Damiri is having difficulty truly joining her new clan. In the old days, she would have wandered so far from her old clan that she would never see them again and the attraction would fade. But in modern times, one of her old clans is just around the corner.

    All decisions are made by the clan as a whole. Usually the aji of the clan makes the decisions with the consent of the majority of the clan but if the clan as a whole object to the decision they can overrule it. However, if the aji is weak, say very young, very old or ill, the decision must be made by the group as a whole. Even numbers allow for an even split which could cause arguments within the clan. Since the basic social group is the clan, not the family as in humans, ongoing dissension within a clan is very serious. Always having odd numbers prevents an even split. There is always a way to make a firm decision, even when there is effectively no aji.

    That’s why the death of an Aji can be a very dangerous time for a clan if there is no clear consensus replacement. The clan now has even numbers and has to chose a new aji. It leaves open the possibility of a tie. This could result in the odd situation of a very young Atevi who just reached adulthood or a new member of the clan being the deciding vote on the new Aji.

    The idea of servants going into other households probably came from allied clans. If two clans ally, they need to have a way to trust the other clan. So each has a small group go and live with the other. They maintain manchi to their original clan but they form associations within the new clan. This allows each clan to have a larger structure. Having in effect spies in the other clans allows for a greater amount of trust between clans. If there is a project that would be beneficial to multiple clans which could not be built by a single clan, associated clans would be able to get together for a time to build it.

    • nekokami

      In general, I agree, but I think the gender distinctions may not hold on the Earth of the Atevi as strongly as they do on our Earth. Females and males may be equally likely to leave one herd/clan and try to join another. It is also not clear that only the highest-status males or females can breed, even among mecheiti. It may be true, however, that the highest-status males or females (aijiin) nearly always mate outside their own herd/clan.

      I think the books may be slightly inconsistent on the question of male/female roles, though. While there have been statements implying genderless politics, Illisidi is the only really successful Ragi female lord we’ve seen, and her power is often “unofficial.” The last three aijiin of the Western Association, at least, have all been male, and only a male (Murini) has successfully challenged the position, even temporarily. Direiso and Cosadi both came to bad ends relatively quickly. The Edi and the Gan stand out for venerating “grandmother stones” and being led by women, but are regarded as heretics. Illisidi and her cousin out East are not Ragi. After Tabini, the most powerful ateva we know of in the aishiditat is Geigi, and after that, Tatiseigi (and the two of them might flip-flop in position). After that, probably Machigi. Damiri doesn’t seem to have any position in the hasdrawad or tashrid. Members of the various committees almost all seem to be male (I can’t think of an exception offhand). I’ve never been sure whether this is intentional or a side-effect of the author living in a relatively sexist society and being immersed in examples that influence fictional choices unconsciously.

  • scenario_dave

    I was thinking that a male leaving to join a far distant clan is more likely because one male in a new tribe would be more successful in spreading his genes. The fact that they survived alone for what may be several years shows that the individual is strong and smart and a survivor. One male in a new herd may have several offspring every season from multiple mates. One female would only be able to have one or two offspring every year or two.

    I would think that all males and females can breed but I would think that the higher the status the more likely it would be. They might be like bonobo’s where everyone gets to breed but the higher status males get to do it more often with the higher status females and vice versa. Atevi are intelligent and can modify their natural instincts if they want.

    I agree that most of the higher offices tend to be male. Maybe it’s involved in birth order. Cajeiri was first born and is the heir. Maybe males tend to be born first and females second. Since males are the first born, they tend to be groomed for the leadership roles. Illisidi might have had an older brother who died young leaving her the heir as the now oldest child. Illisidi has real direct power in the east but not direct power in the west because she is an easterner, not because she is a woman.

    Cajeiri has two brother sister pairs in his household. I can’t remember who is the oldest in each pair. If the male is older in both cases it would tend to support my hypothesis.

    • tulrose

      I got the impression that of Cajeiri’s brother-sister pairs, the brother is the elder of the Taibeni and the sister the elder of the other.

      • Neco-ji

        I thought Antaro was older than Jegari (they’re 15or16 and 17or18 I think), but I’m not certain about who the older is of Vejico and Lucasi (they were 19 and 20 when they first showed up, but I was never clear on what age applied to whom).

        They seem very young for the incredible amount of responsibility they hold.

    • JLS

      According to “Deceiver” Lucasi has man’chi to his sister Veijico; I would think that that would have more importance within any atevi hierarchy than birth order. And man’chi doesn’t necessarily flow from youngest to oldest; Algini’s man’chi to Bren supposedly runs through Tano, who is quite a bit younger than him.

      • Xheralt

        Jico-ji and Casi-ji had family man’chi to each other, while they had failed to attach to Cajeiri (or anyone else). Once Jeri-ji proved he really was Boss, attachment began. The unconventional currents of cooperation between Bren’s household, Illisidi’s hosehold, and Tabini’s confused them.

        That’s an obsolete view of Algini’s man’chi, how it was in the beginning. He has since developed man’chi/attachment directly to Bren.

        • JLS

          The only two definite things I recall ever being said about Algini’s man’chi are his own addressing Bren as aiji-ma (which idicates that Bren is the person that his man’chi flows to be doesn’t tell us by what route or through how many people) and Banichi saying after that that Algini’s man’chi was through Tano (and I described that as “supposedly” only because while it’s unlikely Banichi was lying it’s very likely that he was only telling the minimum of truth rather than the whole truth). And those two moments were only a little over a year ago in the lives of the characters.

          So I’ve somehow managed to miss a major plot point somewhere that updates the above … would much appreciate muchly if you could let me know where (if you can’t recall the specific volume I can easily narrow it down from a scene description) so I can grab the appropriate book and do a little re-reading … thanks.

        • JLS

          The only two definite things I recall ever being said about Algini’s man’chi are his own addressing Bren as aiji-ma (which idicates that Bren is the person that his man’chi flows to be doesn’t tell us by what route or through how many people) and Banichi saying after that that Algini’s man’chi was through Tano (and I described that as “supposedly” only because while it’s unlikely Banichi was lying it’s very likely that he was only telling the minimum of truth rather than the whole truth). And those two moments were only a little over a year ago in the lives of the characters.

          So I’ve somehow managed to miss a major plot point somewhere that updates the above … would appreciate muchly if you could let me know where (if you can’t recall the specific volume I can easily narrow it down from a scene description) so I can grab the appropriate book and do a little re-reading … thanks.

  • Xheralt

    You’ve clearly remembered the scene where “my man’chi flowed to you through Tano” was said. But the very next line AFTER THAT was “…but no more”. It was there that direct man’chi was implied if not outright declared, IIRC. Also, while it was a sea change in the relationship, I wouldn’t exactly classify it as an earthshaking *plot* point.

  • drashizu

    Xheralt, I don’t think that conversation involves Algini directly; I think it’s Banichi explaining matters to Bren, and he says that Algini doesn’t (he actually says “can’t”) have man’chi within their household, but he has it through Tano. I’m talking about the scene at the end of Pretender – there might be another that I’m missing. Later on Jago mentions that after the special meeting of the Guild, they’ll resign any man’chi outside the household, but that’s not very conclusive: that could still describe a situation where Tano has man’chi to Bren and Algini’s man’chi flows through Tano.

    I couldn’t find the scene where Algini says that that line, but I might be looking in the wrong book.

    • Xheralt

      There was a bit of unexplained business with Algini returning from a visit to the Guild with a bandaged hand and a “satisfied look”. The wound, I’m guessing, was self-inflicted, as part of a ritual release from a blood oath. Formal release from a man’chi. At least, that’s how I read it, and I fully admit I am filling in a *lot* of blanks here.

  • JLS

    Thank you.
    Okay, I have my copy of “Pretender” sitting in front of me, open to the scene where Banichi has explained that Algini’s man’chi to Bren’s household is through Tano (as Algini never offered any further clarification at the time of the “Aiji-ma” thanks to Cajeiri’s interruption) and I’m not seeing “no more” or anything resembling it anywhere (I did go so far as to open up the ebook to run a phrase search … nada)

    What I am seeing is:

    “Algini and Tano have a strong man’chi within this house. Your bringing them back to the continent was a great favor to them.”

    “Algini is bound not to discuss it, but, Bren-ji, he and Tano are now free to continue assignment here. They wish to do so. They are not able to answer questions.”

    “Algini is required to be here. Technically, he cannot have man’chi within our household, but he holds it to Tano.”

    “Tano. Man’chi to Tano, you say.”
    That required some consideration on Banichi’s part, deep consideration. Finally: “Tano has become his partner.”
    “Become.”
    “They are old acquaintances, different in man’chi. They have acquired one, through Tano, to this house. They have become what they are, quite firmly so. One may have more than one man’chi, Bren-ji.”

    And, in the interests of thoroughness (because I am most curious about this), I’ve grabbed “Deliverer”, which contains the follow-up on this and in Algini’s own words:

    “It seems we are now without official employment, nandi. Tano suggests we would still be welcome here.”

    and

    “We are yours. We now have no other man’chi, and we are very content with that situation.”

    So no, not seeing anything that states or implies that the path of Algini’s man’chi shifted. The reason for my being puzzled and wanting to find what I’ve apparently missed (when I tend to pay quite close attention to who definitely has been established as having man’chi to who as opposed to Bren’s guessing without knowing for sure) is that a shift of this kind would alter quite a few of my perceptions of man’chi and the characters so I’d really like to know where my rethinking has to begin.

  • Rigeldeneb

    I am half way through Visitor. And the going so far is very very good! Politics and linguistics!! Regarding the cover–most eye-catching, love the shades of blue and purple. Bren, though. . .he should *not* wear that face into any negotiations! His expression reminds me of a poster I once had of a majestic bald eagle–same fierce frowning beaky glare. The poster’s caption said, “I AM smiling.”

  • scenario_dave

    Can we discuss Visitor now? Hey everyone, have you read it yet? πŸ™‚

  • Tommie

    Yup. In-ter-res-ting…

  • cherryhfan

    Wonderful book. I think it one of C. J.’s very best. I went around in a daze after finishing it.

  • scenario_dave

    Visitor got me thinking about what was the original mission. My thought was that Earth was gradually expanding by building stations. When Alpha got 5000 new colonists it was overloaded. So I guess its maximum capacity is around 15,000 to 25,000. It can be self sustaining but a population of around 20,000 is not sustainable long term. Stations should be energy self reliant, solar and fusion. They should also have abundant raw materials. Skills would be the limiting factor. Highly skilled people would need to train their replacements. You can only learn so much from books and videos. One station with multiple vital skills only known by one or two people each is very vulnerable. How many navigators are on the Phoenix? Say six. What if all six die? Where do you get a replacement?

    I think the original plan was for the Phoenix to build alpha station and then go back for more colonists. Then using alpha station as a base build new stations until the population was large enough to be self sustaining in the long term. Then the new system can found another station at the next system down the line.

    The Phoenix mission was to open up a new system but a malfunction ended up putting them much further away then expected. From past novels we know that the ship can travel for two years before it has to stop and refuel. It can refuel itself but it would take the ship a year or two to do it. The Phoenix ended up in a very hostile system and lost a lot of highly skilled people getting refueled and out. When the checked their position, they found themselves (50 years) away from the next humans. With refuel stops it would take over a hundred years to get back. Without a base for repairs, the Phoenix would almost certainly not make it home.

    Ship born people and station born people have different mindsets. Ships people expect to have one boss. Station people expect to have differing view and arguments are to be expected. The ships Captains really didn’t understand that discussions are a good thing. They expected that the colonists would argue to go back. So they lied and ordered the navigators to lie and say we don’t know where home is. They had the navigators erase or modify the records so that they couldn’t find their way home. Only the Captains and lead navigators knew the truth.

    When they founded the station, the station people expected that the station would be run by people experienced in running stations, them. From the ship peoples standpoint, there must be one ruler to be safe. Democracy equals chaos. The ship people on the station felt that they had to stay in power for the survival of the station, so they did everything they could to stay in power. The planet was dangerous. One lie led to another and another. Both sides hated and distrusted each other, totally convinced that if the other people stayed in power, they would all die.

    The ship people on the ship wanted nothing to do with the strange, unpredictable and dangerous station people so they decided to found a new station in a new system away from any livable planets which could cause problems. The ship stayed for many years in the new system building the new station. Probably most of the time they were away. They were probably hoping to have lots of children and expand quickly so that they would be big enough to build new stations in system in their children’s time and found in a new system in their grandchildren’s time but people didn’t have lots of children like they hoped and the population grew slowly.

    By the time they were ready to explore again, all of the original crew had long since died. They knew that alpha system was there but it was populated by station people who they didn’t understand or trust so they avoided it until they found the aliens.

    • Don’t forget, Alpha station as inhabited by the Atevi and Mospherians was not a fully functional station. They were still relying on supplies from the planet for food and rebuild and were working on repairs. The coup meant they had been without resupply for 8 months (I think that’s how long it had been) when Phoenix returned, so they were already seriously stressed when those 5000 extra mouths were dropped into the mix.

      I really think the station could hold a much larger long term sustainable population if it were fully functional. The Reunion station was pretty well demolished and was supporting that same 5000 mouths without any resupply, and they managed for 10 years before the ship returned!

      • scenario_dave

        True. I was thinking full capacity was more like 20,000. Stations like Downbelow or Mariner had over 100,000 people if I’m not mistaken. If the station could support 100,000 people the Atevi and Mospherians could just bring up a whole bunch of new people and outnumber the 5,000 once the station was fully repaired.

        Could a civilization have all the skills it needs with just 10,000 or 20,000 people? Even with machines. If you want a self supporting colony long term you need more than that.

  • Sapphire

    Just finished Visitor. Really good book, though I prefer it when there is more action, and when Bren is interacting more with his four Atevi and people like Tabini and Machigi. Ilisidi (and Cenedi) also didn’t play much of a part in this book – she is always an interesting character. Possibly, there was too much going over stuff one already knew in much of the book, until at least halfway into it. The four Guildspeople also promised to be interesting, but were little to be seen, and the same for Jase and Gin.

    And the Kif didn’t materialise. πŸ™ Which reminds me that I must re-read Chanur again before I embark on a reread of my old friends, the Foreigner books. I thank CJ so much for providing me with a very welcome relief from reality…

    • nekokami

      I actually liked the emphasis on negotiation rather than action in Visitor, but I felt a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more space devoted to Bren’s activities on the Kyo ship. That seemed to me to be a situation a lot like when Bren first had to negotiate with Machigi with only his aishid for backup, and I really enjoyed seeing him work through his strategy, make the best guesses he could, angst a bit, and then go for broke. My favorite bits of this series tend to be when Bren is overcoming his own trepidations to put everything on the line in the cause of peace. πŸ™‚ I liked the solution Bren decided on, but I guess I wanted to get a bit more of a view of him angsting over it and deciding what to do. And after all the struggles Bren had to help Jase become a paidhi, the process in this case felt a bit abrupt.

      And hopefully that is not enough to spoil the story, just in case anyone has not yet finished it. πŸ™‚

  • Sapphire

    Aargh – just remembered ‘spoiler issues’, so hope it was OK to post with info. about the book. It has been out for a while now…

  • Xheralt

    Just noticed a couple of “D’OH!” type editing glitches. HC page 225, Prakuyo is described as the largest of the kyo trio, but three pages later, p228, the military/bodyguard/martia-artist kyo is (not unreasonably) given that mantle instead.

    The other (and I don’t have the page numbers at my fingertips) is how a discussion of mining (as in: resource extraction) robots suddenly veers sideways into a discussion of mining (as in: laying stationary explosives to deny transit) in space. An artifact of dealing in the English language, Ragi and/or the in-universe Human Common Tongue may actually natively disambiguate the terms. Which brings up the question: Did Phoenix and/or Reunion in fact engage in minelaying, or was this just speculation on Bren’s part? Is minelaying in space even *feasible* as a tactic in the Foreigner-verse? Unless transit mechanics actually force one into well-defined and predictable channels, trying to cover the entire volume of a solar system is prohibitive, material-wise. Especially for a station just trying to repair and feed itself first and foremost!

    • I noticed the change of direction with the mining craft, also.
      I could see putting explosive mines in or along the traffic lanes, though you’d want them to have some kind of IFF capability – blowing up your own ships is Not A Good Thing.

  • scenario_dave

    Mine laying could work but only in some situations. Ships must have some kind of shields to prevent running into things. If a mine could be designed to ignore the shields and explode inside of them, it could work. They would need to be carefully placed.

  • scenario_dave

    I was wondering about the children.

    Illisidi realized Bren’s value very quickly. He is polite, articulate, speaks very formally and thinks very different than atevi do. He forces Illisidi to think on her feet like few people can. He keeps her sharp. He also can deal with humans much more efficiently than any atevi could. Her great grandson will need humans like Bren at his side when he is aji.

    She allowed her great grandson to interact with the human children because he is going to need human advisers and it is better to get them young. Illisidi, the aji and the heir are all very good at judging people. It is one of their greatest strengths as leaders. She decided that the four children the heir chose were suitable.

    Illisidi allowed and even encouraged the heir to let Irene stay in her apartment in the station. For political reasons Irene cannot stay permanently with either her or with the Aji. Irene has made it clear that manchi between her and her mother is permanently broken and she want to severe the tie.

    What if Bren adopts Irene? Her mother won’t stand in the way if Bren makes it worth her while in some way. He doesn’t have an heir. Look at what happened to Geigi by not having an heir. Most atevi wouldn’t be upset about a human lord adopting a human heir. Adopting into clans is not that unusual.

    She would be useful to him right away. She can act as the human translator when he is not available. She will learn to speak atevi fluently within months. She is a very driven girl and will absorb everything that they want to teach her. She and the heir will probably share a tutor and she might drive the heir to learn more by setting an example as a peer.

    Irene will be living in a closely associated home who will report on her to the aji and Illisidi regularly. When Bren is away Illisidi can invite Irene for tea since she is the heir of a close associate. She can carefully monitor Irene’s progress personally.

    Once Illisidi and the aji decide that she is suitable, she will get guild bodyguards like Bren and the heir have. This will allow her to travel without Bren. Illisidi can invite her to her home alone without Bren where she can teach and test Irene even more.

    Irene can keep in touch with the other children by traveling to Bren’s other house with or without Bren where Toby can bring the other children and their families.

    Bren adopting Irene would allow the heir to have a very similar relationship with a human that the Aji now has with Bren. She would be able to act as the Padhi in the same way Bren does. The other children will also be advisers in lesser roles, probably in space.

    • nekokami

      I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of books now, and I like the idea of Bren adopting Irene whether he makes her his heir or not. I wonder if Cajeiri would be jealous, though? I’m sure he wouldn’t want to be or mean to be, but he’s already rather possessive of Bren. Irene also quite evidently thinks quickly enough on her feet to have some potential as a paidhi. She’s coming along with the language. She might not have the strength of math that Bren has, but she’s young enough to work on developing that, and I’m pretty sure Bren isn’t a one-of-a-kind mathematical genius, even if he’s better at math (especially set theory and abstract algebra) than most humans.

      • scenario_dave

        Cajeiri might get jealous but I’d guess at the level that he get’s jealous of his sister. He would have one of his same age associates just down the hall. He could see her fairly regularly by inviting her over for tea. I’m sure that his parents would use this to get him to mind his lessons more. He’d know what they are doing but understand it.

        Not good at math is in many cases a myth. Most people can learn to be at least competent with it if they have the motivation. Practice makes perfect and a language that requires math would give you a lot of practice. Trying to learn the language as an adult would be difficult but she is 9 or 10. As a child she has at least 5 years before she has to attempt to speak the adult language in public.

  • brenna

    Regarding Irene – there’s a possible continuity error regarding her last name? Early on, when Bren is talking to Bjorn’s parents, Bjorn’s father says “Because Irene Wilson is a friend of his.” Later, in all references to Irene’s mother, the last name is Williams. Or is Irene’s last name actually different than her mother’s last name?

    • scenario_dave

      Probably a typo or spell check error. Wilson was Bren’s predecessor.

      Although Irene’s mother could have named her after her father for some reason. By all accounts, she never seemed to want Irene and maybe she planned to give her to her father. If I’m remembering correctly she was either pregnant or Irene was very small during the first attack. If the father was killed in the attack, she had to keep her.

  • Tommie

    People often overlook how much children take in. Irene was in central a whole lot. Thereby hangs an entirely different tale. I thought that Uncle Tati might decide to take her. Under the crust, he seems a kind old gent.

  • scenario_dave

    I think Barb would be too clingy rather than too distant like Ms. Williams. She might end up being too involved. Irene has pretty much raised herself with little input from parents. I think Toby and Bren would understand she needs some space but I’m not sure about Barb.

    I’m not sure if Irene should be raised with no other humans around.

    • Tommie

      I was thinking of her self-interest, and if Rene would come anywhere near first with her.

      • scenario_dave

        You might be right about Barb. But 3rd or 4th place would be a lot better than she’s got now. She’s very self reliant. Like every child she needs guidance but I think she would want to learn stuff on her own when possible.

        I would bet that Barb would alternate between smothering Irene and ignoring her. It would depend on her mood that day.

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