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. sleo

    I haven’t been here in a while and I’m lost. Where are the old foreigner discussions and the whizmatron that said when the next one is coming out?

    • P J Evans

      Look in the sidebar on this page for the links to other threads.
      The whizmatron is on the front page.

  2. Neco-ji

    Are there Arctic dwelling atevi- like, native peoples? (Like Inuit on Earth).

  3. CJ

    No. The world is kind of like a Pangaea Earth, with most land gathered together in one spot—not as large as Pangaea, but with both poles bare of permanent ice. The exceptions are Mospheira and the Southern Island, the bottom of which does ice. But the extreme geologic violence that hits the rift between the Southern Island and the mainland did in the early civilization that arose on the Southern Island some 2000-3000 years ago. A tidal wave took out civilisation down there, and the refugees on the southern coast of the mainland gathered mostly in the Marid, which itself suffers occasional tremors. If a wave ever hit there, it would be very bad. But so far, most of the geological violence has been the uplift and fracture of the Southern Island.

    • Neco-ji

      Would you say that the super continent is in the process of breaking up like Pangaea did? Or is it more of the end result of separate continents recombining?

      It’s just total brain teasing speculation, but I’m interested in geology and geologic events.

  4. Neco-ji

    Bren and Toby: how old are they? Are they twins?

  5. cherryhfan

    By my reckoning, Bren should be about 37, or very nearly so, as he was almost 27 in the first book. Toby is the younger of the two, but looks a bit older than his brother due his life on the sea.

    • Neco-ji

      But does it actually say somewhere that Toby is the younger brother? Because I’m trying to figure out when a younger brother would have time to go through med school, start a family, buy a house on the north Coast and run a medical practice.

  6. Neco-ji

    Why *do* atevi keep their hair long? How long has that been a thing? I mean, everyone we’ve met seems to have long braided hair, usually displaying a ribbon of some type. Does having short hair mean something bad? Would cutting an ateva’s hair be used as a form of punishment? It’s never really mentioned in the books.

  7. CJ

    It would be a serious loss. Consider that most straight-hair cultures kept their hair long through most of history, except those that, like the Egyptians, shaved it off, and Alexander, for military reasons, wanted his troops barbered. Roman men gave up their locks, women didn’t, and northern Europe didn’t either, possibly for warmth. But shaving, braiding, even plastering with cremes and mud have served to tame the mess. It’s a means of self-decor, and the English/American, then European trend to drab dress and uniform looks for men have prevailed over much of the globe. Personally, I wish both genders would go for decorative, but here am I, jeans and tee-shirt, so I have no legit complaint.

  8. Anna

    All I want for cristmas is the new Foreiger book…..but I know thats not going to happen. So I hope for spring instead and my birthday (april)…..pleeease? 🙂

  9. Hanneke

    I recently read the book “A Memory called Empire” by a new author, Arkady Martine, that was very clearly much inspired by the Foreigner series.
    It doesn’t yet reach the level of CJ’s writing, but it shows promise, and might be enjoyable for others here who love the Foreigner books.

    It’s not a knock-off, but ms.Martine clearly loves the Foreigner books (she said something like that in an interview, which lead me to reading her book) and that echoes through this book. The idea of an ambassador far from their homeland adjusting to a culture they’ve studied and loved is familiar, as is some of the tension arc as they get enmeshed in politics that are dangerous for them personally as well as their home, and the building of bridges of trust with some key people (Nineteen Adze held some echoes of Illisidi for me, though their situations are not that similar).
    But the worldbuilding, the situation and the cultures are very different, and interesting – a star-spanning empire bent on conquests with an aging and infirm emperor, and an independent mining spacestation where important memory-lines are preserved.
    It’s supposed to be the first of a series, but like Foreigner itself it works well enough as a standalone book.

  10. cherryhfan

    Thank you for the book recommendation, Hanneke. I’ve put a hold on it at my library.

  11. chesty

    I’ve been reading the series from the beginning with an eye toward human foods that may show up in Sandra’s kitchen. Tomatoes and carrots are the only vegetables that are named for sure, but several others are strongly suggested by mention of certain dishes. Pizza sauce implies at least garlic and basil, and possibly mushrooms, to go with the tomatoes. Canned chili requires chili peppers and cumin, and may include beans and onions. Onions are also nearly indispensable for the meatloaf and ersatz meatloaf mentioned in the books. Hot dogs are mentioned, but their source seems to be native meat products.

    Not mentioned, somewhat to my surprise, is either cabbage or potatoes. No sauerkraut for the hot dogs, no mash with the meatloaf, and no chips with the fried fish that Tano enjoyed so much. I was also disappointed in my hunt for any mention of ginger, so far. No ginger snaps or ginger ale. Most tragically, without ginger, chili, and garlic to season your cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms, you really can’t make a decent pot sticker. #Sad

    This is a scanty pantry. If anyone else has found any human foods that made the journey to the Atevi world, would you please be so kind as to leave a reply here?

    • Hanneke

      Chesty, I’d written a long response but it disappeared before I could post it.
      It came down to: spices and herbs used in named dishes change over distance and time.
      Pizza sauce might be flavored with oregano instead of garlic and basilicum, and it would still smell ‘italian’ (at least it would to my family).
      If people lack an ingredient or cannot use it, they’ll leave it out or substitute another, and still call the dish by its original name.

      For instance, I cannot eat garlic or onions or spicy peppers, but I make variations on all the dishes you mention without those ingredients, and still call them by the same names. My homemade spaghetti/lasagna sauce is pure sieved tomatoes with lots of chopped vegetables (celery, carrot, leek and cauliflower) with only a little salt from the sieved tomatoes, and maybe (but not often) a pinch or oregano or lavas. It might not be very italian, but I prefer it, and still call the result lasagna or spaghetti (eaten with way less pasta and way more sauce than the original, too, and some grated cheese that does not have to be Parmesan).

      The original colonists probably ate the bland mass-produced stuff the Phoenix crew is used to, during the years travelling and building the station.
      Once on-planet, they’d have to re-invent cooking, based on the available (mostly local) resources and the recipes they’d brought with them.
      This could mean that any one-pot bean-based dish with a peppery flavoring gets called chili, regardless of what else goes in the pot and what exactly is used to impart the peppery seasoning – an equivalent to black pepper, cajun or chili pepper, or even peppermint (after decades or more of bland food they’d probably consider real chili peppers inedibly hot!).
      The beans too might be from a safe Atevi plant (non alkaloid), not a traditional human imported strain.

      So unless the books mention them by name I’d say its not sure any of the things you mention, based on the names of the dishes, are really in use and grown from human stock, or if they use Atevi-native alternatives.

      The original colonists did have seeds, but they didn’t want to upset the Atevi world’s ecology, so if there was a safe native alternative they might not have chosen to plant their earth-native version, as long as the human population could get a full nutritional diet without it.
      Or they might grow lots of things in sealed hydroponic greenhouses, avoiding the chance of contamination, and have a lot more human staples, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices in use on Mospheira than we’ve seen on the mainland…

      • chesty

        Thank you for the long reply, Hanneke. I did consider most of the things you pointed out, but I still found the mention of tomatoes and carrots, and only tomatoes and carrots, to be oddly specific. I still suspect that herself has deliberately been vague about the subject of human foods to allow room for later inclusion of items that serve the story telling. While I have no wish to hem her in, I did want to search out anything already mentioned to avoid conflict in future books. Since I could only find tomatoes and carrots, that part shouldn’t be a problem. Yet it does seem strange that only those two items survived the journey.

  12. BlueCatShip

    Oregano would also be wanted for the pizza and other Italian and Mediterranean foods.

    Aa wild guess: Hydroponics and soil-based gardens aboard Phoenix would likely be an easy source for fresh herbs and spices, and they could carry a seed bank as well, plus digital registers of genotypes of potentially thousands of examples of lifeforms. That is, thousands of examples per species. They could carry ova and sperm for multiple animal species as well as humans.

    If the humans from the ship landed with enough of these in sealed form, then created sealed biosphere domes (or similar) then they might have a way of keeping Earth-human food sources from contaminating the Atevi-Earth ecosystem.) Just a wild guess.

    Be t noted, in her (unrelated) Alliance/Union novels, stations and sometimes ships have gardens of some kind plus frozen foods, but also seafood is often mentioned as a basic food source. Presumably other protein and carbohydrate sources, vegetables, fungi, meat, poultry, etc. are available in the A/U universe, plus what’s grown on Pell and Cyteeeen, so comparing that with Foreigner, we can probably say they have a fairly reasonable food pantry selection.

    But now I wonder what CJ herself has to say about food sources the humans kept.
    Milk and dairy; bell peppers, celery, besides the onions and garlic and carrots and tomatoes; they’d want cheese and butter too, so milk and yeast for bread and some other fungi for cheese-making. — The more I think of all the products we typically use every day and what goes into making them, hmm, the humans would need a lot of Earth-native products, or they’d need human-safe atevi-/earth equivalents, substitutes.

    • P J Evans

      They have wine and brandy, and bread, so they probably have something like beer, and they’d definitely have a yeast-equivalent. (Yeast are pretty basic as animals go. Or as plants.) There are the orangelles, which apparently aren’t citrus in any sense we’d recognize. In the first book, the first scientists down were examining grasses that weren’t wild, so grains that are humanly recognizable exist. Pickling, so they have salt (and probably something like vinegar – that’s a micro-organism acting on wine).

      • chesty

        Oh, yeah! Thanks for the reminder about alcoholic beverages, P J Evans. Of course the ship humans found a way to make those. Vodka, for sure. Possibly whiskey? That might be a nice trade item, if it’s any good. As for the basic yeasts and stuff for food, I remember Dr. Kroger saying that they had better than just the paste and oil gunk they had to eat for a while. I’m no food scientist, but maybe someone else on this forum could tell us some of the possibilities in that direction? Anyone?

    • chesty

      Thanks for the response, BlueCatShip. Your mention of celery reminds me that celery, carrots, and onions are the basis for a long history of recipes from Europe. Sadly, I’ve tried Asian, Mexican, Indian and other cuisines, but the essentials for their recipes are outside my experience. Perhaps they could be summed up in a few vital ingredients too (assuming the colonists were international in nature), but I’ll have to ask for help on that. The variety of “must have” ingredients for all the ethnic foods out there could rapidly become unwieldy. I’m not sure about the hydroponics aboard the ship, but the colonists are/were another story. No telling what all they brought down. Well, except for tomatoes and carrots.

  13. chesty

    Another thing I recently read again made me curious. Tabini seemed interested in the subject of golf. Any chance a golf course might show up on the Atevi mainland? Also, considering the seafaring nature of the Marid, what about a regatta? Do they already have something like that? It occurred to me that Toby might be involved in that sort of thing, eventually. A seafaring community conspiracy?

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