About the Foreigner series: Spoiler alerts

There is the general spoiler page for general questions.

I’m making this set of pages for more specific questions.

The rule is: do not ask or comment about a book until it has been at least a month in issue. I think that will make everybody happy re spoilers.


  1. brennan

    All this pother about fictional! characters is simply proof of the consummate mastery of our gracious hostess. Bren’s intimate group of Mospheirans provide a significant portion of the rocks and shoals that Bren is having to naviagate in both his personal and professional lives. I personally can’t see any other route to the denoument of the latest story. The pressures and nuances are so delicately balanced that any other candidate for the pickle would have been way too political and important, too closely related to Bren for him to maintain face with the Atevi if he just let it slide, or less symbolic of many of the multitudinous subtexts of the whole Atevi and human association. None of us have a magic wand by which we could dispense with interacting with family and associates who are insipid, passive-agressive, proof that common sense is uncommon, etc; any more than Bren and his character-driven story can.

  2. rollingstone

    It is certainly a testament to the author that all of these characters are so real for us. I love brensgirlfriday’s comment about how the writing ‘fires parts of my brain that never get fired otherwise.’ I’ve always felt that way about CJ’s stories and have never been let down. (Don’t be so hard on your writing skills, bgf! You have a way with a phrase…)

    Also love the idea of ‘the missing maid’ although I doubt she has or had much of a future after her betrayal of Ilisidi.

    My apologies to everyone also–I’m sure my own comments contributed to the furor! But I do love the discussion AND the fact that people are so emotionally committed. So I hope everyone doesn’t get too tame!

    • brensgirlfriday

      Yes, yes, exactly what oyu said!

      one is grateful. You are gracious, and one is bolstered by your generosity of phrase.

      -thank you.-

      YEs yes,one is in agreement of much furor and furvor of discussion! Of the good kind, please! let us continue to debate in such a disposable manner, that we may learn from every argument for our own betterment.
      (And when CJ dies we can secretly clone her, so all of us can have one and get all the unfinisheds on paper!)Of course we’d clone Miss Jane too, CJ. Mustn’t forget your lady-love!

      -slinks away-

      • brensgirlfriday

        oops; my bad- FERVOR. he hee

      • joekc6nlx

        You must be new here πŸ˜‰ …..Ilisidi has already revealed what CJ plans to do….”We plan to live forever.”

  3. Wepox

    Wow, leave for 24 hours and all heck breaks loose. I would like to stand up for Sapphire in one respect; her opinion has changed my viewpoint of the humans in Bren’s life. i really never looked at them very closely or paid much attention to their machinations. I for one am thankful for her spirited dialog on this and other subjects.
    ‘Nuff said.

    The Maid!! I too want to know what is going on with her.
    Another thought is what is Giegi’s real motivation to just hand over the ancestral estate to a subclan. Does this mean they get a seat and Giegi loses his?

  4. CJ

    If you use the <> with em in it, it will produce italics in anything that follows. To turn any HTML code off, insert / into the <> in front of the prior command. For an example I am going to write the italics command spaced out so it won’t do anything. Close up the spaces and it will italicize things for real. < e m > turns on italics. To turn it off, type < / e m >

  5. smartcat

    @ Sapphire…..did you put spaces between the brackets and the words? I did at first and it didn’t work. No space between open bracket and first word and no space after last word did the trick for me.

    There are lots of smilies you can do by fooling around a bit. 8)

  6. smartcat

    OOPS! The above got into the wrong reply space!

    • CJ

      THe page has started behaving oddly in that regard. THis may presage Bad THings with the program wigging out. If we’re hitting some sort of buffer limit, I’m going to put up a About the Foreigner Series: Spoiler Alerts (Page 2) that will let you go from that start. STand by.

      • Xheralt

        Speaking of presaging Bad Things, the comments on this (eleventh) page, even accounting for reply-tos and nesting, are being displayed in strange order, with first listed posts starting in the evening (5pm-ish EDT), proceeding up through my other comment (10PM EDT), then jumping back to CJ’s 10AM admonishment to play nice and resuming forward progress up to 8PM again!

  7. Xheralt

    If WP won’t do what is desired, browser extensions will, but individuals have to add it at their end, individually. I’ve used such in the Shejidan forum, and commended them to other Shejidanni, because the forum’s PHP code is older and doesn’t support bracketing highlighted phrases with beginning and ending tags. For Firefox 3.6 (being phased out) “BBCode” — also does HTML, waiting for it to be updated to 4.x. Firefox 4.x? “BBComposer” is an unknown quantity, but looks promising, WYSIWYG. For Google Chrome, “Chromitup” does basics. Haven’t found other Chrome blogging extensions I like yet. IE users are out of luck, unless M$ has done something different.

  8. Jane

    Not to raise, like, dead issues, but I just had some thoughts, reading the discussion on Bren’s family, which come at the question from what seems to me a somewhat different angle. I haven’t talked about this aspect of the book with CJ, so don’t think this reflects what she’s actually doing, just my take on the function of Bren’s family within the storyline.

    I’m not saying anyone has to agree with the importance of their inclusion, I’m not naysaying those who think the story would be “better” and “tighter” if the whole thread was left out…that’s truly a matter of taste and storytelling preference…just suggesting a different way of looking at why a writer might not consider them excess baggage.

    First of all, even as the position is described in Foreigner, strong/healthy human associations would tend to keep a potential paidi from willingly assuming the position, a job which, by its very nature, means relinquishing physical contact with your family for months or even years on end to immerse yourself with nonhumans which human history interprets as extremely volatile and dangerous and beyond human understanding.

    It’s a job for an emotional loner.

    So, the fact the Bren has no such ties is part of what makes him a prime candidate for the job. Why doesn’t he have strong ties? Because the women in his life are what they are. Because his brother is a pleasant but non-binding influence in his life…and because he has a singular talent for the Atevi language and mindset. In a way, his very brain architecture is probably already on the Atevi-side of the human physiological bell-curve. He’s immersed himself in the Atevi language for which he has a singular talent and is focused on a job he really wants. This has further alienated him from the “norm” of humanity.

    So…in order to establish his character, these clinging women were an important part of the equation. They explain very succinctly why he’s not particularly desperate to stick around the island. Once in the picture, they weren’t just going to go away…self-centered people like that don’t…and so they become an annoying and untimely distraction to his work. This is a very real part of life for anyone with an unusual job…ask any writer. There are inbuilt obligations humans grow up with…just as Atevi have their associations…and we’re programmed to behave in certain ways. When those associations simply have no concept of what you do, they can’t understand why you don’t behave in the socially-accepted manner. Neither can you quite relinquish the guilt over causing these individuals who helped create you distress.

    In this sense, the inclusion of Bren’s family highlights how Atevi associations are not all that fundamentally different from human instincts.

    As the series moves on, Bren’s family…at least Toby and Barb…is in a unique position to highlight the shift in Atevi attitudes…and this shift is extremely important as it is part and parcel of the obsolescence of the paidi, which is a primary theme that’s been developing throughout the series.

    The entire problem between Atevi and Humans began with misunderstandings which, from human terms, meant sudden, inexplicable warfare. Serious death. Reason enough to be just a bit scared of a race that already towers over them physically. Bren’s position exists to be a calm mediator…but he’s becoming less and less that and much more of a mediator within the Atevi ranks.

    But as has been pointed out, no one’s replaced him. Why? Perhaps because the Atevi are becoming fundamentally more tolerant. And not just B&J. This growing tolerance needs extreme human behavior to highlight. Barb is both the perfect extreme, and the only extreme human with the remotest excuse to come into contact with the Atevi.

    Do I like her? Heck no. I’m not supposed to. But the fact she’s still alive speaks volumes about how far the Atevi have come.

    • brensgirlfriday

      exactly. Thank you for saying that.

  9. rollingstone

    The following is an expression of sheer envy: When folks such as Xheralt and CJ discuss computers and software and such, the words blur and all I can hear is: “Johnny has six apples and the train is going 35 miles an hour . . . when will the train get to Pittsburgh?”

    Jane, thank you for your insight. Again, I’m blown away by another’s ability to so clearly state what come to me as vague thoughts when I consider this story. I’m especially intrigued by your suggestion that Bren’s brain has been altered by his absorbtion into Atevi language and culture. I had wondered about that, myself.

    This is a very humbling site. It amazes me that in 20+ years of reading CJ’s work, I’ve not found an outlet for my enthusiasm before this–all of my discussion has been internal. I knew about the site but mostly never used a computer outside of work; I used one all day and felt no further need. So it’s truly lovely to be chatting with all you beautiful people about stories that have affected me so much for so long.

    Responding to Wepox, I feel that Geigi is probably bored to tears being an estate lord, and would rather be on his station indulging in his love for gadgets of all kinds. Maybe his man’chi is moving now through (if I could figure out the italics thing, “through” would be italicized here–but please don’t advise me, anyone, because I tried to read it and I never could figure out why Johnny didn’t pack a peanut butter sandwich or something, and the boy will STARVE before I calculate his ETA and figure out why he’s going to Pittsburgh in the first place), repeat then, Geigi’s man’chi is moving THROUGH the station itself now, TO Tabini, and he really has more heavenly concerns, like a stationful of folk who are sick of eating space-goo. As to his “seat”, wouldn’t it just be handed to his appointee/successor?

    • brensgirlfriday

      Good gobstoppers, yes!
      BUt see, here’s the rub, one particular way I could state it. Of Course I could state it any number of ways, depending on waht mood I’m in but that’s not the point. ANYWAY – the thing is, in Atevi Culture, I am fairly confident (correct me if I’m wrong CJ) that there is always that element of subconscious fear, even for Bren, that Manchi will not fall as expected… and now that GEigi has no heir, it makes you wonder where his Manchi – so far as Bren still actively applies the human concepts of trustworthiness and loyalty- lies simply because of the illogical nature of the fact he has supposedly failed to get such affairs securely in order before such a crisis could arise in the first place. Although, as a writer you have to prod weak points otherwise you would have no tension. What say you?

      • brensgirlfriday

        ANd yes I know that leaders are biologically without MAnchi, but there IS a kind of manchi displayed in how well they regard and care for their association, and that -associative- relationship depends on whether or not the leader -cares- for his people and holdings, or will let them rot, as every -bad- leader does. am i stating this correctly?

  10. Rigeldeneb

    Re “Jane’s” discussion on how Bren’s human family’s part in the story: what food for thought! I always did see them as a contrast to his relationships with the atevi.

    Actually, it is not Bren’s dissociation from humanity that has interested me about this character. I have always seen Bren as a person who passionately attaches! In Foreigner, he tries so hard to explain to Jago and Banichi the human need to attach, and behaves in ways that seem crazy to them, like running to *their* rescue. He remains attached even though he is constantly worried that he has offended, misunderstood, or been betrayed by them, and despite the fact that both smack him upside the head for “crazy” behavior and call him a fool. Illisidi poisons him, and he falls in love. Later in the series, he makes a brother of Jason, a buddy of Geigi, and a surrogate son of Cajeiri.

    What is more, it seems to me that people attach to Bren. Ship crew trust him (and it’s more than the candies!), Tabini heaps him with honors (a perilous position to be in), and Illisidi and Cajeiri keep him close. All his servants serve him with zeal, including the ones whose man’chi is to another household, like Bindanda and Narani. Shawn Tyers and Ginny on Mospheira trust him, and Ginny seems to find him good company. Sandra Johnson sends him plants. Prakuyo (the Kyo) is moved to backslapping. I would not be too surprised if Bren makes a “salad” of Machigi and winds up with this character somehow in his train. Even Sabin, who likes nobody, respects Bren.

    In fact, Bren seems to get along with all sorts, except people who do not want him to be the paidhi. That covers Deanna Hanks, his mother, Barb, and assorted atevi inimical to Tabini’s and Bren’s agenda. If Bren did not have these difficulties, though, I think he’d come across as too saintly–and that wouldn’t be too good for the story.

    It has been interesting to see atevi and humans building trust, intermingling, and picking up bits of each other’s language. Is that why you say, Jane, that the position of paidhi is becoming obsolete?

    • Sapphire

      Thank you for that, Rigendeleb. Very good insights on Bren. Perhaps the atevi just suit his character better than humans, although he developed very good relationships with some, particularly Jase and Gin (the latter didn’t initially like him at all). He is also very clever, diplomatic, kind, good at thinking things through and seeing solutions very clearly.

      The position of paidhi may have become obsolete, since Bren is much more than that, and is absolutely unique, but there will always have to be an intermediary between the atevi and humans. This is because the two species CANNOT (italics) interact too closely or intermingle – this is what lead to the war between them and it must be avoided at all costs.

  11. HRHSpence

    I have some questions about Atevi singing. You’ve mentioned a children’s choir so it stands to reason that adults sing as well.

    Just guessing here, but I’d say that Atevi, being so large, have correspondingly larger vocal folds and therefore sing at a lower range than we smaller humans.

    I’d say that Algini would sing our bass and that Banichi would sing our basso profundo.

    I feel that Bren must be a true baritone, mid-range for human males, and would therefore be halfway between atevi male and female vocal ranges.

    But all that is just supposition. Am I close?

  12. erictg

    Just wanted to say that I really like these books. Some observations and questions I would share:

    1. Ateva are changing quickly. I believe the overall theme of the last trilogy is change. I believe Cajeiri’s introduction is proof of this. I think the re-link to the external universe is what is driving this change. Adding Bren into more and more situations lets Tabini control the rate of change. He appears to want that change to be very quick.

    2. I believe that Ateva manchi concept will have to change/evolve soon. The single mindedness of manchi will not function in the larger universe as a whole. Tabini must know this. He has cultivated Bren to be his middleman and is grooming Cajeiri to be more cosmopolitan. It will be too easy to have clouded manchi the farther away/more remote an ateva becomes from their homeworld or stations. This will have to happen if the Ateva are to survive as a species. It is like the Jewish diaspora; they dispersed throughout the world to ensure they couldnt be subject to genocide. I think Tabini knows that he is locked to one world right now and that is a position of weakness. Ateva are fighters/schemers and this would not be a good position for his species. So he is making manchi more malleable.

    3. Do you think a high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome person would be an ideal paidhi candidate? Hmm maybe not because then they couldnt represent the human side of things very well. I do not feel Bren is unique, but he is of a highly rare type. Perhaps very rare because of the limited population and stagnation of his people as they only have one land on an entire planet.

    4. My theory is the next set of books is going to have to start focusing on the alien influences. Can’t give them (Ateva/Mospheirans) too much time to prepare ;). Makes for better reading if there is a little bit of crisis.

    5. I think Bren and Jago should get married. Tabini would probably endorse this. He has to get his people to come to grips with other species. What better way to do that than to make a situation he can control? He knows/trusts Bren and knows Bren will do whatever it takes to make it work properly.

    Well enough blabbering.

    • Sapphire

      With regard to your point 2, I don’t think the man’chi ‘concept’ can change, because it is fundamental to the existence of the Atevi – it is not something that can be controlled or removed from the species’ basic make-up. I do agree with you that it may be inconvenient in some circumstances, in the same way that human emotions can be among humans, but they just have to work around such circumstances.

      Point 4: I hope Bren and his Atevi can get back to the Kyo situation, including Jase, Sabin, Kaplan, Gin, etc, out in space soon, hopefully with accompanying pops and bangs, though unfortunately no Nokhada :(. The whole issue with the Kyo (and the ‘Kif’ in the background) is unresolved and it will be fascinating to see what happens next. Tabini will have hopefully united and thus strengthened the Atevi by the end of the next book in preparation for this. Also, might we hope that Machigi may accompany Bren to the spaceship, if he can be assured that his territory will be safe while he is away? He expressed a keen interest in what was going on up above – intellectually, not in a predatory way, I would say. Another interesting character, that Machigi.

      Point 5: why on Earth should Bren and Jago get married??? They are perfectly happy as they are, and marrying each other would not bring anyone any benefits. (Atevi seem to marry when they are planning children, and/or perhaps to increase their power by joining houses, as far as I can tell from the books, which is a sensible idea.)

      • Sapphire

        Oops – is this the initial thread for Foreigner, rather than the second, newer one? Are we supposed to be posting here?

      • erictg

        Hello Sapphire.

        You say the concept of man’chi cannot change. I tend to disagree. It appears as if Cajeiri is the product of an evolving man’chi. The way man’chi is now it will kill the species in a greater universe, or they will have to go on the attack and force everyone to think their way. I don’t think the second option will work because they are too far behind. Evolve or die is the rule of the galaxy. They need allies and the allies do not think like they do. Ergo all the species will have to evolve to work together. Also Bren is getting an understanding of man’chi. It is ludicrous to believe that he is not influencing the ateva in a similar fashion. Know your enemies, but know your allies better.

        The story has to move to the greater universe because it has been introduced. Makes no sense to introduce these external forces if they are never to be seen again. Its messy packaging and Ms. Cherryh seems far from a messy packager.

        I think they can get married for that reason. It joins the House of Mospheira with the House of Ateva, its a marriage of supersets. Another reason why you would do it gives the author a reason to shake things up alot. All sorts of intrigue can happen at weddings and funerals ;). Are children impossible? Not sure. Who is to say with advanced microbiology you couldn’t do that? If not them then perhaps the Kyo? I don’t believe anything is impossible. You limit your view and you limit your outcomes.

        Which is another odd thing. Many authors seem to write towards a machine-based or biologically influenced future. I think it will be both. If I think about this the following could happen. In 10000 years humans have covered the galaxy. Along the way we have changed technology both machine and biological. Our species is not one human norm anymore, but a gamut of species. Adapted to live in new places or changed on a whim. In 100000 years perhaps they forget their origins and maybe a bunch of aliens actually all originated in one place.

        • Sapphire

          Man’chi is a basic instinct in the Atevi species, which cannot change and evolve, in the same way as human instincts have not changed and evolved over thousands of years (with our current veneer or ‘civilization’ in the West, we kid ourselves if we think they have). Cajeiri is becoming more Atevi as he grows up, with man’chi now developing in him whether he likes it or not – as for instance in his relationship with his bodyguards.

          Marriage between Bren and Jago would be ridiculous. Why on earth would they marry? Children are impossible – CJ has already said so. It would in any case be undesirable for there to be interbreeding between the species – the Atevi are a separate species, and should not be incorporated with humans. As stated before, Bren and Jago are perfectly happy as they are. There is absolutely no reasons for them to marry.

          You think like a Mospheiran, wanting to mould the Atevi into being human and taking on human ‘values’ (which is what caused the War of the Landing). They are not nor (I sincerely hope) ever will be.

          The scenario you pose in your final paragraph, of humans becoming dominant in the galaxy, is quite chilling. In fact, given the way the human species behaves towards other species (as well as its own) on its own planet, such a prospect would be deeply unpleasant.

          • erictg

            I understand what you say, but I do not think you give enough credence to the idea that the humans do not have to do all the bending to see things the Ateva way. The Ateva have to see things the human way also. And soon they have to see things the Kyo way, etc. If they cannot then they deal from a position of weakness.

            I don’t think like a Mospheiran. You assume I want to change the Ateva and make them human. I simply state that the Ateva will have to learn to adapt and understand others. You would have them unbending and unchanging when humans are capable of changing (Bren) and fitting into their society? I do not want to make them humans. I want them to learn perspective.

            Besides, obviously it is possible for humans to think like an Ateva or there wouldnt be these books. Or the fanbase that understands them. I do not believe that humans are the only creatures in the universe that can learn other species customs. Personally I do not think enough credit is given to Ateva to understand humans.

            The scenario I posed in the last paragraph has nothing to do with humans becoming the dominant species in the galaxy. It could be any species. It could be hundreds. The galaxy is rather large. Also you seem to paint a nice rosy picture of non-humans and a bad picture of humans. Ateva obviously have their own problems and are constantly at war. They dont have racism because they dont have any other races, but they are pretty much divided by region and association. They are just as dysfunctional as the human species and just as filled with promise.

            I do not know where it says in the books that they only marry for children. Can you show me where it states that? If it is true then they do not need to be married. I just think it would be a good way to shake things up both on the human and ateva sides. A sanctioned interspecies relationship. From what you write you seem to think anything that brings the two species closer together is a way to subjugate, or dilute, the Ateva. It works both ways. The melting pot theory where you gain some ideas from one culture and other ideas from another culture. Humans gain a better understanding of Ateva and vice versa. This is not bad… This is good.

            About interspecies children. I dont think that its a bad idea. Just like I dont mind interracial couples on Earth. I think it is good. Does that mean its going to happen. Probably no. Doesnt mean its technically impossible though. If you can create machines that allow you to fly across the galaxy then you probably can also mess with genetics enough to make a lot of things happen. Like I said too many authors focus on one aspect of technology moving forward. They all move forward. The Kyo may know something also.

    • brensgirlfriday

      Hello eric!

      1/2. True. But, entropy exists in every system, and indeed is an integral part of every system. sooner or later Manchi must evolve into a more elastic or daresay I more amorphic concept, or Atevi society will rot from within and collapse under its own weight. Venturing into conceptual space here, if we were to consider Atevi society as a real social organism, then we must also assume the natural laws are in play- meaning that massive change on the horizon WILL and NEEDS MUST come, whether or not Ateva society can maintain itself and/or survive. Consider Rand’s Objectivism in this, and the concept of a Stand Alone Complex as put forth in the sci-fi genre, philsophy-heavy anime Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and its relations. Not that I really know much, it’s just that I like to write poems and philosophis/ze about stuff, and collect tips of icebergs rather than whole oceans of knowledge base, because I’m better at dabbling than immersion! πŸ˜‰
      3. I am an aspie myself, not formally diagnosed but getting there, hopefully. But it depends on the KINd of aspie you ask. An aspie like Temple Grandin? Most assuredly not. Her window onto the world is too rigid and I can tell by the way she wrote the book ofhers that I have that she doesn’t yet have ( and maybe won’t ever have)the necessary emotional-adaptive joints. But someone with (probably) more microcolumns, like me or someone like me ( like me in that I am the more emotionally able type of aspie, better able to glimpse Gray Areas than the more black and white aspies)then yes, mainly because aspies, unless they are superbly affected in a certain way, are more likely to see both sides first, and THEN they analys/ze the emotions involved, like a scientist. At least that’s how it works for me. it’s almost like finally realising you have, say, Alexythemia or something markedly similar. Do you get me?

      4. Yeah- the next set almost HAS to. there’s no longer so much moving room for plot as there was, because the -cattle chute- is narrowing before the break out into space, as it were. Does anyone else see that?

      5. Hell yes. I want that SO BAD. We all do, I think.

      • erictg

        On 1/2. That is exactly what I was suggesting. They have to change. Law of the universe is evolve or die.

        On 3. I am not an expert on Aspergers, however it seems to me that man’chi is a form of hormonal logic. Since our hormones give us love perhaps theirs gives them man’chi. Man’chi is the way they form associations (relationships) and seems very logical. From what I understand most Aspergers folks are very good at logic and have issues with stronger emotions. I could very possibly be very wrong :).

        4. Nothing runs a story better than conflict. Things cannot remain status quo for long. I think the next set of books may take place when Cajeiri is a young adult, 19-20, and its a dual perspective book between Bren and Cajeiri. From the indicators the space program has ramped up so fast that there has to be a reason. Perhaps Tabini, Bren, and Cajeiri end up in space and we see Bren and Cajeiri’s perspectives as they deal with the ever enigmatic Tabini.

        5. I think it should happen. For many reasons. I look at books as a vehicle for nuggets of wisdom to apply into the everyday world. Joining of species could be a parallel to joining of races. Cooperation makes you stronger than division. If I think tactically and strategically what better way to pull Bren further into Tabini’s man’chi than to give him more of a stake in the ateva’s eventual future. He is already a Lord and has a house. It could also be interesting to see how the man’chi plays out with his bodyguards. Bren has always known Tabini is where their main man’chi lies. In the end I think Bren wants something like this.

        I love the series and have fun reading it. Books like this give me an idea of other peoples thought processes. With an open mind comes infinite perspective I think.

        • Tommie

          Viewpoints change, I doubt that instincts do. I cannot stop loving people, so why should an ateva be able to stop associating? There does not seem to have been huge amounts of unbridled warfare pre-landing. Why should it be terribly different post-space? As long as perceived needs are met, there is no good cause to break association.

          As to padhiin, the training of these rare folk could not be easy to centralize, since they truly need to live in multiple cultures. Will various lords foster their young with Bren? Perhaps. I think of Geigi, and the possibilities for his stored genetic contribution; a single life is a weak thread on which to hang an association. I also think of the fact that Toby’s sons are old eough to sire children, and that Barb seems to be kinless and not past the age of bearing. Possibilities abound in all senses.

  13. frank anello jr

    i’ve been reading the foreignewr series for a few months,just finished intruder. i can’t wait till the next book comes out but is tthe series ever going to end? each book seems to be just one big story and cj decides where it stops and the next book just picks up from there. keep writing cj love the series,

  14. Deesha

    Is it just me? or do the Atevi had a Samurai feel, both politically & culturally?

    • Tommie

      They both seem to be cultures which have lived on the sharp edge of survival, needing to make the most of what little they have. There was so little arable land in feudal Japan that waste was not an option, and a death was one less mouth to feed.

      • paul

        Oh no. Incorrect. The samurai culture was strongly rooted in Zen, just as Yoga is not primarily an exercise regimen.

        • Tommie

          I am thinking that perhaps Deesha mistakes the budo cult of the samurai for the Japanese culture at large…

  15. paul

    3. Interesting idea, but I think not. That’s exactly the point, we have to think about aspects of human behavior we cannot feel. Reasoning is an entirely different perspective. Sometimes it might provide objective insights; as it’s an observation “from the outside”, so to say. But it cannot account for illogical behavior with any certainty. A padhi should be able to interpret illogical behavior with some certainty; a certainty that comes from it being a native response, not foreign, as we’d likely see it.

    Besides, ASD has its own characteristics that would “get in the way”. For instance, a strong tendency to become “focused” on “trees” and not pay attention to the “forest”. (Apologies again to BCS-ji. πŸ™ )

    I’ve only been through the first two (waiting for Inheritor to come into my hands). So far it seems to me that the atevi have a bit of what a human might describe as emotional detachment, in the human sense, that may be somewhat familiar in ASD, but it’s “different”.

  16. BlueCatShip

    The atevi do make associations and they tend to have an urge to follow or serve a leader, or perhaps an equal, an urge to loyalty unless it threatens their own survival, and an urge to do right by those they lead. Their “man’chi” concept seems similar to our “like/love” concept, but there’s a qualitative difference. The motives and expression are enough different that neither side quite grasps the other’s full meaning. They seem to see similarities, though.

    Bren has a real need to attach, that’s sure, and he also is eager for belonging, inclusion, approval, and to be liked and loved. He’s honest and loyal and has a strong moral sense, but a realistic, pragmatic streak and a sense of fairness, give and take. He craves the foreign and exotic. He does tend to inspire some others to attach to him, loyalty. He has the natural talents of a linguist and anthropologist, as well as talents of a diplomat or mediator. He’s aware of and can function within, the realities of politics and intrigues. Somehow, he did not see himself as getting caught up in plots, as the target himself of assassination, and so on, however.

    Bren seems to be able to understand other people’s emotions, thinking, and motives pretty well, whether they’re atevi or humans. However, he has some emotional blind spots about his own emotional life, and these often surprise him or reach up to bite him. To be fair, some of the humans closest to him seem to have problems with relationships, so it’s not so much that Bren is bad with human behavior, as that the people he’s had in his life are the ones bad at relationships. This only intensifies Bren’s isolation from humans and pushes him towards the atevi side of things. It also means he longs for connection with anyone, atevi or human, because parts of his (emotional) life are really unfulfilled. He can’t help but be human, though he tries to be always aware of the difference between humans and atevi. For some reason, he doesn’t try to be simply a human in his patterns, accept his humanity, and approach things atevi from that viewpoint. Instead, he tries always to bridge the gap, to think like an ateva, to see it as much as he can from their viewpoint, and be mindful of the differences, in order to interpret back and forth. — Any good linguist has to be able to *think* in the language without translation, and Bren must be doing that, though it’s rarely stated so. That is, in fact, one of the differences of fluency. When first learning a language, one has to translate haltingly, back and forth between one’s native language and the new language. As one gains fluency, bits and pieces of the new language require less translation and eventually don’t require any translation. Fluency means one can think in the new language without translation, even to the point of unconscious code-switching or dreaming in the language. Truly bilingual people can switch back and forth mid-sentence without much awareness of it. On the fly, they choose the most appropriate fit to the idea they’re trying to get across. (Of course, they’re aware enough to do this among others who are also bilingual.)


    @ Paul — We just had a difference of opinion because we were coming at a subject from two very different angles and backgrounds. Yes, we both got aggravated with each other, but that’s temporary. I may be a little cautious, but I also don’t intend to have it come between us. It was a difference of opinion and approach. I think we were both partly wrong and partly right. But no need to let that come between us. πŸ™‚


    About Bren or atevi and Asperger’s? — My impression of any of the folks I’ve known online with Asperger’s is that they simply see things, filter things, a little differently. I know one guy who thought he *couldn’t* understand other people’s feelings/emotions, or that he didn’t have much emotions/feelings. But he did have both, he just had trouble interpreting others’ at times. He could also see some things quite clearly. Another young lady with Asperger’s doesn’t show it much that I can tell, but then, I’m not around her in person. Still, she has emotional depth, an emotional life, and cares about others a lot. There’s typically a facility with words and intellectual subjects. While other autism spectrum folks can have various complications with respect to face/expression recognition, emotional processing, and can be withdrawn, there’s still that core humanity. That’s a key.

    One Aspie said he thought, if anything, that I was somewhere on the other end, more sensitive or hyper-attuned, to emotions and feelings, and that frustrated him at times. He’d also said maybe there was a little something like Asperger’s to it. — I don’t know. (I’ve never been diagnosed as on the autism spectrum, but the idea it might extend over into neuro-typical and then hyper-sensitivity seems plenty valid.)

    In reading the Foreigner books, I’ve been very struck, several times, at similarities between my own character and Bren’s. Heheh, sometimes, the comparison’s been unflattering, and prompted an uncomfortable look at myself. Other times, they’re things I’d like to think are strengths.

    And of course, there are a few things about Bren that I don’t think would be true of me in the same situations. Two cases in point: First, how Bren deals with the interrogation in Book 1, and then doesn’t hold a grudge. But as a reader, Ilisidi is great. Second, Barb? Oh, I’d run the other way before ever getting involved with her. (Um, plus, I’m gay, not straight, but the point still holds.) (Not that I haven’t had dysfunctional relationships; I have, dang it.)

    As to the atevi mindset, how alien it is, and how sometimes it isn’t so alien:

    We’re dealing with two different species evolved from two entirely different planetary trees of life. There are similarities enough that there’s room for mutual understanding, and differences that lead to confusion and misunderstanding and gulfs of understanding. But the two species are relatable enough that it’s possible to have an interface, some degree of common ground, and the possibility of developing mutual understanding further, even though the instincts and emotions and thinking differ in important places.

    Other times, I think it’s more a qualitative difference in how each species sees itself and the other. There are times they’re almost the same…and then times when they’re alien to each other.

    It is, though, a better take on what it means to be truly alien, than some other series. Most video science fiction (not all) seems not to understand that really alien quality. Too often, video scifi has the aliens (and droids/cyborgs) as merely alien skin-deep, and too human underneath. Note I don’t say all video science fiction is like that, thankfully.

    The analogy I tend to use is that cats and dogs, other animals I’m very familiar with, do think and feel, but they don’t think and feel in quite the way humans do. That doesn’t mean they or we are any better or worse, just that we’re somewhat “alien” or “foreign” to each other. And in the case of cats and dogs, there’s a mutual fascination, between the humans and the cats or the dogs, right along with the bother that we have as much trouble communicating as we do success. Only cats and dogs are fellow mammals. At some point, there is commonality with any other mammal. But in the case of an extraterrestrial alien, that commonality isn’t guaranteed. Their physiology and psychology may be (and likely is) more fundamentally distant to ours than animals are to plants or fungi, let alone animals outside of mammalia. And yet, two intelligent species can learn over time, what they have in common. Humans and other complex animals (mammals, birds) do that in order to get along. Aliens and humans would learn about each other, even if they don’t want to get along. So there’s at least some room for analogy there.

    • paul

      Recent history suggests one could argue quite persuasively that something approaching half our population considers as completely preposterous the response, “I’m sorry, my brain just isn’t wired that way; the way yours is.” πŸ˜‰

  17. paul

    “He does tend to inspire some others to attach to him, loyalty.” Strangely, reading through that post brought to mind the mahendo’sat concept they tried to identify as “the person thing” at the culmination of “The Pride of Chanur”. One might wonder if a certain idea from the other series has returned, with a fuller development, more inherent to the characters. πŸ˜‰

    Somewhere online there is one of those dubious “tests”, on which “neurotypical” people tend to score 16, Asperger’s people 32. I scored 37, my sister (we siblings being the only “close” family we have) scored 7! Occasionally we’ve had our “difficulties”, but the Asperger’s attribution has given us a framework for understanding.

    If’n we can’t understand intelligence in our close relatives, what makes us think we can understand ET’s, as with SETI? It’s hard enough to understand how ASD changes cognition in our own species!

    • paul

      p.s. I meant to put in there that recently I came to understand the “OH so PC” term “differently abled”.

      With the grouping of Asperger’s into ASD, I don’t think the 1 in 88 we hear about in a TV “commercial”/”public service announcement” is so fantastic.

    • Tommie

      It may be more difficult, rather than less, to understand the intelligence of those with whom we have been intimate all of our lives.

  18. ericf

    Looks to me like the “CJ Cherryh Movie In Audio” project is no longer alive. No updates in 1 year equals nothing is going on for me?
    I’m wondering if there’s any point in waiting any longer because I was thinking of listening to the whole series in audiobook narated by Daniel Thomas May (Audible.com). He’s very good.

    • ericf

      Yep… Need an edit button, please.

  19. CJ

    I haven’t heard from them in some time, but the company is still active.

    • chondrite

      Are they proceeding in their own good time, or would a friendly nudge (“Hey, how are you coming on this project?”) be appropriate?

    • chondrite

      DH loves audiobooks, especially the type that become almost radio dramas, and I think this could be the Foreigner hook…

  20. BlueCatShip

    Months ago, when the project was active, I had emailed their company, replied back and forth once or twice, and then I sent another reply, or so I thought. I didn’t hear back and time passed. Then I discovered there had been a glitch and (apparently) my reply had not been sent, or else it didn’t get picked up. I was very embarrassed, because I thought I had dropped the ball and lost a chance at voice acting or some other possibility with them.

    At the time, I thought they had cast most of the voices and things were proceeding.

    It developed that many fans don’t use Facebook, myself included. I know Sable was active here and at Shejidan for a while, and then I haven’t seen anything in a long time. I hope things are proceeding and it hasn’t stalled out or ceased, but I don’t know anything.

    I can say that three long-running fan audio podcasts and a fourth production have drastically slowed or stopped, due to a lack of volunteers for audio production engineering, or the economy, or other difficulties. — One has since announced they are ending after this year’s run.

    Another, the main force there has had to slow because he did something called Graduate and Get a Job, and he seems to be getting back into the swing of things. Others with the project, adults and a couple of talented teens, are patiently waiting, because it’s worth the wait.

    This is by way of saying that Sable and company, like many others, pro and amateur, have been affected by the Unexpected and the Economy (Crunch), and so perhaps “They’re not dead yet, Jim.” Or so one hopes.

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