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. Neco-ji

    There is quite a lot of speculation going on about Banichi and Jago and their pasts and how they came to be before Bren entered their lives. I don’t suppose you have any plans on revealing anymore tidbits about them? 😛 (Our imaginations are getting quite the work out…)

  2. CJ

    😉 bits will come out now and again. OTOH, I could do a short story for Closed Circle.

    • Raesean

      Indeed, yes, you could do a Closed Circle short story!

  3. Neco-ji

    I think we would all be over the moon for both the tidbits AND a short story!

  4. Neco-ji

    Here’s a question from way back in Foreigner- the basement interrogation scene. Is the bar Bren was tied to meant to hold a person in a standing or kneeling position? I know he was unable to effectively support his weight, hence the reason his shoulders were injured.

    • Neco-ji

      Arg, I hit send before I was finished!

      Bren was expecting a working over of some kind (I assumed some form of beating)- was that just his terrified assumption of what would occur, or did they know from previous encounters with atevi that it was known to happen?

      Atevi seem to have a very er… refined?… notion of violence in their society. The assassinations are generally legal and done in a specific manner (except during Murini’s reign of course, where it all went a little crazy).

      Do atevi get into their own physical altercations, amongst the common folks? Is assault and battery a thing? Do they have martial arts or boxing equivalents? Am I too annoyingly interested in whether they get into totally improper fights? 😛

      I am forever intrigued by the little details provided about the lives of ordinary atevi, especially by the reference to them going to “races” (mecheiti, I’m sure) but do they have sports and racing the same way humans do?

      I feel like a short story just on the lives of common ordinary atevi would be wonderfully enlightening.

      I could just need a life, though. XD

  5. Neco-ji

    Are guild members allowed to engage in casual sexual relationships in their off hours? Not with the intention of marrying or having children, but merely to handle basic physical needs. Or do most choose to be celibate for simplicity’s sake?

    • P J Evans

      From what we’ve seen in various books, I think the answer is “both”.

  6. chesty

    Loved the last book! Thanks so much, CJ!

    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read Emergence. More than five, probably. I have so many questions, but most will likely be answered in the next book. In the meanwhile, I’ve been curious about a few non-plot related points. Mostly about the ocean and climate.

    I’ve been told that weather in the Pacific is mostly placid, except for the trade winds and the seasonal storms. A helicopter pilot who spotted for factory fishing ships told me that you only saw weather where there was something in the water, from big islands down to snags of wreckage or floating mats of weed. Even reefs that didn’t quite emerge from the water at low tide could generate a little weather by creating a difference in temperature from the surrounding ocean. Such things attracted fishes, which is what attracted him. I assume that the same would apply to the much larger ocean on the Atevi world, but a wider ocean actually means less weather, except for the seasonal storms. Would the doldrums be vaster, the trade winds faster? Can anyone say?

    Polar ice caps were mentioned somewhere, I do believe, but I can’t find the reference. Have there been any ice ages? If so, what caused them, and were any prehistoric people driven from ancient lands that slowly slipped below the sea? Might traces of lost civilizations be awaiting the notice of someone looking down from the station? When Ilisidi asked Bren about submarines, was there something she knew that we don’t? The curiosity, it burns.

    • Jcrow9

      I was once upon a time (long ago!) educated in meteorology, and I am a bit skeptical of your helo-pilot acquaintance’s weather observations (he’s a lot closer if you substitute the word “currents” for “weather”, actually, especially as applies to the presence or absence of fish).
      Long-term weather patterns such as doldrums exist due to vertical circulation patterns of the atmosphere. Check out the Wiki on the Horse Latitudes. The doldrums would often catch sailing ships which had cargoes of live horses. If a ship was becalmed for very long at all, potable water would run short and over the side go the ponies. These bands of doldrums are called the Horse Latitudes because of all the drowned horses. Also, ashore along these same lines of latitude (28-30 degrees north and south) tend to lie deserts, because the descending air warms and “gets thirsty” (is capable of holding more water).

      • paul

        “Hadley Cells” is another thing to look into.

      • chesty

        Well, he was no meteorologist, nor particularly well educated, but he spent years at sea and he was a keen observer. He was a gregarious Australian, as it happened, and he liked to tell stories about learning to fly, serving in Vietnam, and the kinds of jobs that could be done best by helicopters. He spent many years spotting for commercial fishing ships and flying tourists around the Hawaiian Islands. He may have exaggerated, here and there, but I never caught him saying anything that was clearly not true. He rarely had theories about why or how, but he was very reliable about the what. A good reporter, in my experience with him. For what that’s worth.

        Thank you for the references on doldrums and horse latitudes. Very interesting.

      • joekc6nlx

        When I took my Oceanography course about 25 years ago, we discussed weather patterns over the oceans. According to my instructor, the sun evaporates sea water at the equator, it rises, and is carried by the upper level winds further north (or south in the Southern Hemisphere), until it cools enough to condense and fall back to earth as rain. That happens to be above 30 degrees N or S latitudes, hence the presence of deserts on the continents at thirty degrees latitude.

        • Hanneke

          That explanation is correct, but too limited. Other things influence the circulation of water in air, and where the rain falls.
          Archeologists have found signs of human habitations and art in the Sahara desert. The art depicted animals living in a green area full of trees and plants. The idea at present is that there was an early human civilization flourishing in the Sahara desert area, before it became a desert, before the start of the Egyptian civilization that we know about.
          At that time Africa was already in the spot on the globe it now occupies, more or less, from what I know: I’m not sure about the dates for the filling of the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Aden and the Caspian Sea, but continental drift takes so long that Africa was mostly in place by the time human civilizations arose, I’d think?
          In that case the 30 degrees latitudes does not by itself explain how the Sahara could have rainfall and permanent greenery several thousand years ago, but not now. That physics of evaporation and cooling is fixed, as is the coriolis-driven circulation pattern, more or less, so something else has to have shifted the rainfall.
          I don’t know the answers, but find it very interesting!

    • P J Evans

      There’s quite a bit of weather in the Pacific – remember, it’s a very large ocean – and we couldn’t see much of it until we got satellites. But the 50-food surf that occurs south of San Francisco (“Maverick’s” is the usual location), and the waves and wind elsewhere along the coast from storms coming across the ocean, say that “pacific” is not a very good description.

      • Neco-ji

        Surf waves are more of an influence of the water reacting with the decreasing slope of the ocean floor beneath it. When the water is deep, it circulates in relatively small (relative to the ocean depth) currents just under the surface. As the ocean floor rises up to met the surface, those little circular currents change shape, becoming more and more elliptical as the water encounters higher ground beneath it, before the top of the ellipse finally “breaks” over and forms the crest, which then tumbles forward to create the familiar wave.

        • P J Evans

          There’s a lot less shallow water in that area that you’d expect; the CA coast north of Pt Concepcion tends to have a fast drop into deep water. (I’m not kidding about the 50-foot breakers, either. In good weather, they’re more reasonable in size – but the trans-Pac storms really get some push going.)

      • Hanneke

        I was taught in school that calling that ocean “pacific” was sort of like calling your nasty-tempered king George the Gentle: a hope for better behaviour in future, if you ascribe the attributes you wished they had. Is there a word for that? Wishful attribution?

        Or else it was in the long tradition of giving a nickname that’s the opposite of what/how a person is/behaves, like calling a chatterbox Lady Jersey the Silent, or Big Boy who’s the runt of the litter…

      • chesty

        No doubt. He taught me that weather is local. Sometimes extremely local.

  7. chesty

    Science note…

    There’s a metallic asteroid named Psyche, recently discovered, that was once the core of a planet. Rich in rare elements and relatively easy to mine, assuming we can get to it. Worth a fortune, assuming the market doesn’t collapse under the tonnage that will become available. Hundreds and thousands of tons of gold, platinum, and so on. Mind boggling.

  8. chesty

    Oh, and before I go, what about float planes for bush pilots and flying boats for the Atevi Navy? Their new satellite navigation and comm gear would allow them to easily rendezvous with ships at sea. Wouldn’t that be cool?

  9. CJ

    There is a notable ‘lost civilization’ on the Great Southern Island, which is sort of like Australia…it was the origin of the Marid peoples—much of it is inhospitable, and its culture was wiped out by tidal wave and earthquake.

    • chesty

      Tantalizing, but I’ll reserve all questions until I read the things you’ve hinted at that are coming soon.

  10. chondrite

    I wonder how far up the tech tree the atevi might feel inclined to go for ocean going vessels. Powered boats like fishing vessels, certainly, and definitely sailing vessels. Larger ships for passengers, like ferries? Hovercraft? Hydrofoils?

    Much of the Great Southern Continent might not be inhabited or inhabitable, but if the atevi start bopping around the surrounding ocean, I imagine there might be demand for an emergency harbor of sorts. Any port in a storm, etc.

    • joekc6nlx

      larger ships for ferries and passengers. Hovercraft might be feasible, but they’re frightfully noisy and wouldn’t carry as much as a larger ship. They might be usable as exploration vessels, since they can come in off the water and travel across a flat beach, negating the need for a pier. Hydrofoils require relatively calm waters, which would make them unusable in the Southern Ocean, I’m pretty sure.

    • chesty

      Good old British and French Navy cruisers, with high freeboard and flared bows, had legendary sea keeping. Maybe a combination of old hull designs and modern equipment?

      The Reunioners are supposed to be bringing advanced energy production technology to the world. If so, they could help not only ships at sea, but also every remote village that needs power? Clean power, one hopes.

  11. CJ

    I’ve ridden either the Swift or the Sure on the English Channel (maybe both: I went both ways)and it is impossible to see where you are: felt some bumps, but not sure how the sea was at the time. I hoped the pilots had really good windshield wipers.

    • joekc6nlx

      the U.S. Navy experimented with hydrofoils for a while, USS Pegasus (PHM-1), and her sister ships, but they really didn’t serve well in open ocean waters. Perhaps in the Gulf of Mexico, or the straits of Florida or the Moma Passage, where they could be used for interdiction, but definitely not going to work out in the middle of the ocean. Much too small, for one thing, not enough supplies on board to sustain the crew for very long, not to mention fuel consumption. It makes me wonder about the LCAC fleet we have (air cushion landing craft), how much more the Navy will want to use them. Well, after 19 years of being out of the Navy, it’s not like they’re going to ask my opinion or advice. 😀

      • chesty

        You squids got all the good toys. We didn’t have LCAC’s yet when I mustered out, but the prototypes were scooting around in Alaska, I think? They sure looked good, at the time.

  12. chesty

    You know, we’ve not seen much about Mospheiran ways, compared to Atevi and the Spacers. So the new tutors and their little secret society are one of the most intriguing things in the latest story line. It was also good to see Sandra Johnson again. If anyone can teach the kids some basic cooking and housekeeping, it would be Sandra. I’m looking forward to learning a little more about them and the domestic situation for the kids.

    Speaking of cooking, there’s something that I’m quite curious about. Tea cakes with icing are mentioned all the time, but what about frosting? Icing is powdered sugar and water, while frosting is powdered sugar and lard. Do Mospheirans use lard? Also, very important, can they make a decent meatloaf?

    • Neco-ji

      I would have have said frosting was sugar and butter, but then, I’ve been making buttercream frostings for years lol. What we do know is that they have dairy products- they can make cheese, and cream cheese, therefore butter must be common as well, which means buttercream is entirely possible. 😀 And is, apparently, according to all the human style layer cakes Bren’s atevi have been exposed to lately, lol.

      We do know that Bren’s mum made pancakes, donuts are apparently a thing (disappointingly, I thought, but oh well), Bren and Gin sat on the ship pining for roast something-or-other with gravy- brown gravy- and that Mospheirans seem to eat to a lot of fish (or maybe that was just my assumption from something said). They enjoy smoked fish, fruit and cheese. Early mention says Atevi found human food bland and too heavy on the sugar- which is hilarious, because atevi cooking seems laden with sugar these days- but perhaps that “bland” can be read as “simply prepared” which, when you think about it, could suggest that Mospheirans enjoy their food as close to it’s natural flavor as possible. For whatever reason, atevi like their foods heavily spiced.

      • Hanneke

        I thought the “bland” flavor of human cooking (for atevi) referred to the lack of alkaloid spices that the atevi like, and which are poisonous to humans.

        I remember reading about Mospheira eating a lot of fish because of 2 things: 1) the Ragi atevi’s rules about the seasonal consumption of meat (and disagreements about permissible ways of preserving meat, with the paidhi supposed to remonstrate against Mospheira’s imports of preserved meat from the south), and fish being always in season; and 2) the fact that Mospheira is an island, so there is plentiful access to fishing (and it’s a reliable source of protein, not dependent on commerce with the mainland).

        I’m not sure if all the alkaloids Bren has to be careful of are from spices and plants, or if some atevi food animals also accumulate them in their bodies. In any case the atevi eat animals which are not domesticated, so providing meat from those animals would require very large hunting ranges which I’m not sure Mospheira would have enough room for (large though it is, human population density tends higher than the impression I get from Atevi society).
        I’m also not sure how many kinds of human domesticated animals have been brought to Mospheira (nor how those would manage foraging on native grasses, which might contain those troublesome allaloids); considering their care about things like tomatoes and the Ragi abhorrence of farming animals I’d expect them to be very careful with introducing animals. So it’s not clear whether Mospheira could support a growing population if they insist on getting their protein from meat instead of fish.

        • P J Evans

          It isn’t stated anywhere, but with cheeses and knit socks and sweaters, they must have something equivalent to sheep for milk and wool.

      • chesty

        Respects, Neco-ji! Buttercream frosting is awesome, but relatively expensive. My paternal grandmother was a professional baker who made a lot of wedding cakes that featured frosting made with relatively cheap lard. These days, many of the big grocery store chains offer sheet cakes made with vegetable shortening frosting, and yes, I can taste the difference.

        Lard is a product of the meat industry, which Atevi clearly abhor. No slaughterhouses for them, but what about Mospheira? Do their grocery stores sell cuts of meat, or must people go to butcher shops for meat products? Do they even have butcher shops? I suspect that meatloaf may not be possible, but surely they can still do barbecue? I’m very curious about how ordinary Mospheirans live. And cook.

  13. Neco-ji

    Atevi are vague on the concept of dairy animals (and presumably fiber animals), as they are keeping their herds for the products they create, but not eating them- so they don’t fall under the realm of seasonal meat. It was mentioned in one of the earlier books. It doesn’t say what those animals were though. The peoples of Mospheira, before the landing, were herders. Well, some of them anyway.

  14. CJ

    They don’t have exactly the same critters doing the same thing. The eggs are reptilian-like. They don’t have birds. The fiber comes both from plants and from animals, and there are some ‘kept’ animals which are not eaten. Their ethic is to give dinner a sporting chance and preserve the huge hunting ranges. Leather, fur, and bone are all used in various ways, so nothing is wasted. Farming is small-scale and family-run, usually from garden-farms near the cities, and flour is actually produced mostly from orchards, though there is some grain and seed product. Their economy also depends on quality items passed down through generations, often repaired along the way, not so much in clothing, as in household furnishings, dishes, art objects, etc, so consumerism is not them. You inherit your stuff, you save up and acquire quality so it can be passed down. Families rarely exceed two children with any one marriage, but serial marriage is known, and goods pass down the legally contracted line. For instance, Damiri and Tabini do have a contract, even though it is a fairly rare permanent marriage: the first child is in his line, the second in hers.

    • P J Evans

      I could see fancy or high-end fabric being recycled as something like pieced quilts/garments/hangings, so even after the original is worn out, the good bits are still around.

    • Neco-ji

      So… flour is a product of fruit or nuts? Or the trees themselves somehow?

      • persistentoctopus

        Flour is a product of grains/grasses. Both wheat and rice are types of grass, botanically. The first book even mentioned there were domesticated edible grains.

        • Neco-ji

          Well, it mentioned the possibility that the grasses were domesticated- from the researchers point of view. We later read that atevi do grow grain, and have something like oatmeal or rice which they cook up and put toppings on (called goda). I was looking for a clarification on the comment “flour is actually produced mostly from orchards”.

          That could mean fruit or nuts- the later of which we can make flour from, such as chestnuts and almonds- or from the tree itself, such as the case of slippery elm (which can be powdered and made into a gruel or a tea) or yucca (which is a small tree/shrub cultivated for for its tubers).

          • P J Evans

            Yuca, the tuber, is not related to yucca, the shrub, even though it’s frequently spelled the same. It’s better known as cassava/manioc. It’s in the euphorbia family, where yucca is in the asparagus (lily?) family.

            • Neco-ji

              That’s…not actually the point.

              The point is, what part of the orchard are they using? Fruit? Nut? Bark? Tuber? Leaves (as in the moringa tree or tagasaste)? Something else we haven’t considered?

              Looking at my previous post, I see I did throw in an extra c in ‘yuca’. Typing too fast. Yuca (cassava) the root, is attached to a small tree or tall bush (depending on your perspective) that grows above ground in fields (“orchards”), cultivated for it’s food crop. I saw a documentary where it was being harvested- it looked tall enough to qualify as a small tree to me.

  15. CJ

    Kimono scraps are a case in point, after the garment has passed through generations. Or that African cloth, which has special meaning.

  16. Neco-ji

    Invader begins a day or two after Foreigner, if I recall correctly, which means Bren was accepted into a hospital and moved into surgery and out again within a matter of hours.

    It also means Banichi has had only a short time to get his broken ankle seen to as well, and yet-

    Banichi is walking on his injured leg while Bren can still barely stand up on his own at the beginning of the book. While it was clearly hurting him, he still walked on it all through the book, while Bren was much slower to recover.

    Do atevi heal faster, or was Banichi prone to loading up on painkillers and stimulants even then to get himself through major injury?

    • Hanneke

      I remember the dowager’s physician checking Banichi’s ankle after that incident when Bren ran to him, and have a vague memory that it was “either broken or a really bad sprain”, but I’m not at all sure of that! Anybody have the book to hand? If it was sprained, not broken, that would explain how he could walk around on it earlier than expected for a broken ankle, as long as it was well supported.

      • Raesean

        I just reread the (excellent and so well-paced) ending chapters of Foreigner and first 70 or so pages of Invader and it is unclear if Banichi badly sprained or broke his ankle. In the field, he refused to let Ilisidi’s physician take his boot off and check and, in the second book, he is in pain but walking on it. Bren suspected, in Foreigner, that it was broken but in my skimming, nothing definitive was stated.

        • Neco-ji

          I think it was mentioned that “the ankle didn’t rest straight”, which is why they thought it was broken. It was clearly excruciatingly painful- Banichi did *not* want to put any of his weight on that leg, and was not happy when it was suggested that they had to walk the last bit of their journey.

          Even bad sprains shouldn’t be walked on for the first few days.

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