krait: Ilisidi riding her mecheita (Foreigner - mecheita)
[personal profile] krait
Welcome to chapters 1 & 2!

Commence discussion, now that we've met our Actual Protagonist(s?) for this trip!

1. Impressions of Bren so far? (If you can make such quick judgments on only two chapters?)

2. Thoughts about or observations on what we've suddenly been introduced to regarding the aiji's court and (now technologically further advanced) atevi society? Unlike Ian, Bren's right in the middle of it; what stands out to him, what stands out to you, and how much overlap is there? :D


======================

Regarding spoilers: how far along is everyone? I've read either all, or all but one, book; someone mentioned they were only as far as the third book; and I think one of us has never read any Cherryh before...? So far I've been trying to avoid spoilers for absolutely everything beyond our current reading point, so the "Spoiler Edition" post will follow this one.

and on that farm there was a o'oi-ana, e i e i o

Date: 2011-06-07 04:59 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
As far as spoilers go, I've read the whole series, but I am really bad at remembering what happens when in a long series of books; doing it with only what has been 'officially' read so far makes it easier not to accidentally spoil later books.


The first thing I noticed is that Bren is using the atevi word for the clicking bird or lizard or whatever (o'oi-ana); either the humans adopted the word, or he doesn't use the human word.

Next, of course, is the description of firing a pistol - it always delights me when that's done accurately. It also means that they're definitely more technologically advanced than M.'s time; a pistol that can just be pulled out from under a mattress and fired is not something that a culture that sees any advanced machine as clockwork is likely to produce.

Bren is obviously familiar with Banichi and Jago, but he's also afraid of them, and he clearly has no guards of his own, or the habit of keeping door-sized windows closed and locked at night, despite living somewhere that assassins are common - "Assassins, he understood; but that any ordinary assassin should come into the residential compound [...] nobody in their right mind would do that." Despite the whole, you know, living around assassins thing, he doesn't seem like he's normally afraid of things.

In the next section there's television, and servants bringing breakfast - which was dissonant then (not as much now - see my comment on the spoiler post) because, you know, modern handgun, television... servants as a matter of course? It's not even that they're the people who bring everyone on the garden court breakfast, because Bren thinks of them as his servants.

It made me wonder whether humans had servants, too; it seems strange for a culture with space-level technology to have them as a matter of course, and of course even if it was bizarre to Bren before, he's been the paidhi for a while, but it was another "this is an alien culture" moment for me.

Bren's pretty comfortable with walking right up to Tabini-aiji's chair, and Tabini's clearly comfortable enough with him to joke with him - not only is Bren enough of a presence that those who are normally at court don't take his alien-ness as noteworthy, he's got some kind of real relationship with Tabini. (I mean, if Tabini taking him shooting and giving him an illegal gun wasn't a sign of that already.)

He's comfortable enough as "the paidhi" that he doodles during the energy council meeting - though possibly that's because he can't speak in the meeting unless invited to do so (!). He's apparently very interested in making sure that the aiji of the Ragi stays in power and that the system doesn't become decentralized, which strikes me as weird and possibly a bad idea (why are humans preventing atevi from developing a less-centralized society? just so that humans don't get wiped out?)

On the other hand, he's still uncomfortable with atevi having man'chi instead of personal relationships, and repeatedly fails to interact 'normally' with Jago - on the other hand, she doesn't scare him like Banichi does, and he's not afraid of accidentally offending her.

As far as the rest of atevi society goes, apparently an armed society is a polite society, because there's one jail and four "labor-prisons" for three hundred million atevi, none of which seem overcrowded. Assassins must be licensed, and intent must be filed before an individual assassination is attempted. You have to "file on" someone before attempting to kill them. Tabini thought it was acceptable, though not the best course of action, for a woman to "register a feud" with her ex-husband.

And! It looks like the first paidhi was Ian - Bren remembers him as Bretano, but it seems like it'd be the same guy, even though that was 20+ years after first contact.

More commentary is at the spoiler post.
Edited (added link, fixed broken link) Date: 2011-06-07 08:10 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Yessssss. Or even a Ian-'n'-Manadgi short story. I would be appeased by a short story. I mean, it would be sad and we'd know it'd take a long time for there to be the kind of atevi-human understanding that he clearly hoped there would be, with that first handshake, but... Ian! Manadgi! Delectable tea!
pebblerocker: A worried orange dragon, holding an umbrella, gazes at the sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pebblerocker
Yay, confirmed that the first human to make contact was ALSO the first paidhi! He would have had a head-start on learning the language. Though trained linguists listening to his first conversations would have had a better starting point than a biologist, assuming the ship had anyone interested in languages, which isn't a given.
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I replied to this on the spoiler post. Non-spoilery: yes, I think Ian's initial experience with Manadgi and the village to which Manadgi took them would have been a huge head-start - no doubt that's why he ended up the first paidhi. (It's possible nobody else wanted the job, too...)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
Lol at your Subject line :oD

because, you know, modern handgun, television... servants as a matter of course?
This threw me, too - am off to see what you say in the spoiler post about it!
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
With a click-click here and a click-click there, here a click, there a click, everywhere a click-click... :D

Re: Thoughts so far!

Date: 2011-06-07 10:25 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
Yeah, he's definitely pretty awesome in the reacting-with-firearms department, especially with deafening himself with the first shot and having the presence of mind to follow it up with a second! (I do not know that I could do it, even awake and alert, and I've had almost four years of occasional practice with a handgun!) It makes me think Bren's only really competent when he's purely reacting - that he knows what to do as long as he gets out of his own way, but the only time he can get out of his own way is if he is shocked into action.

You have a good point about Bren not picking up on the non-verbal warnings, too. Tabini-aiji takes him with him on vacation, specifically teaches him how to shoot, specifically teaches him how to shoot reactive targets and how to shoot from concealment*, and Bren takes it as a sign of favor, not as "hey, you might need these skills soon, just saying".

I have to wonder, re: humans not hunting, why they don't raise animals. Even if atevi find it non-kabiu to farm, humans are already offending some of the atevi by using preserved meats, and if they were raising animals on Mospheira they'd at least not be relying on non-Ragi for food!


* "cover" means it will stop a bullet, "concealment" means it hides you from view; the bed is concealment, not cover.

Re: Thoughts so far!

Date: 2011-06-08 12:40 am (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I think you're right about Mospheira being either beaches or mountains; that makes a lot of sense why they wouldn't have herds, especially if the local animals can't be domesticated or won't stay put in relatively small areas.

Re: Thoughts so far!

Date: 2011-06-11 06:21 am (UTC)
pebblerocker: A worried orange dragon, holding an umbrella, gazes at the sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] pebblerocker
He certainly did well to react so quickly! Of course he does better than you or I would, knowing he's in a society where everyone has a gun and nobody comes in without knocking, ever -- I don't live alone, so if someone comes into my room at night it's likely to be someone I'd hate to shoot, and even if it's someone I don't know who has bad intent, they'll likely be after my TV and won't kill me as a first resort, very different from assassins.

The more experienced paidhi of later books would certainly see the shooting lessons as a direct warning without needing anything verbal in addition. But even now he's felt uneasy and wondering if there's any meaning behind the sudden extra security around the aiji and the lessons coming at the same time.

Date: 2011-06-09 02:56 am (UTC)
spaceoperadiva: little jellical cat in a sink (Default)
From: [personal profile] spaceoperadiva
I've read all but the final book. But it's been a while so I've forgotten stuff. I'll be reading along in the spoilerized versions too since theoretically I should know what's going to happen. :)

Date: 2011-06-09 08:34 pm (UTC)
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (Foreigner)
From: [personal profile] blnchflr
(Life is busy and stuff - will return Sunday with comments!)

Date: 2011-06-11 04:40 am (UTC)
pebblerocker: A stern elderly alien woman. (Aiji-dowager)
From: [personal profile] pebblerocker
I got behind (already!) but I'm back on track now.

Something I didn't understand at all, and I don't know if it's because it wasn't explained clearly enough for me, or if I just missed information, or what: Why does Bren feel it "like a slap in the face" when Banichi says "We failed you tonight"? Clearly he's having a strong emotion but I can't tell where it's coming from, though it's tied to his throwing up. Is it that he's upset that Banichi and Jago let him down? Is it a sudden realisation that someone he trusted and looked up to is only "human"? Is he just embarrassed about having thrown up in front of Banichi, and/or thinking that Banichi wouldn't have spewed in reaction to the first time his life was threatened? It seems like a vital point of characterisation has gone right over my head.

I liked the scenery and scene-setting of the Bu-javid and the petitioners coming up the hill, their clothes and flowers and the stacks of papers with their ribbons and seals still an important ceremonial tradition despite computer records and the inconvenience of storing them. All very atmospheric!

Date: 2011-06-12 01:07 am (UTC)
cheyinka: An ateva riding a mecheita through the snow. (atevi)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I think he feels it as patronizing; Bren shoots (at) someone, is told by Banichi to lie that it had been Banichi who "discharged the gun", throws up in reaction, and Banichi tells him that he was brave - like a nurse telling a little boy who only cried a little bit at a shot that he was very brave, maybe?

ribbons and wax and seals, oh my

Date: 2011-06-14 11:49 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: A picture of a Metroid made to look like an engraving (engraved Metroid)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka

The whole paperwork and ribbons and seals thing has inspired me to make a metroid-wax-seal image (not an actual Metroid signet):

grey wax on brown paper with a metroid stamped into the wax

Re: ribbons and wax and seals, oh my

Date: 2011-06-15 03:37 am (UTC)
cheyinka: A picture of a Metroid made to look like an engraving (engraved Metroid)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
I think it's the... handcrafted nature of so much of the atevi world, at least at its upper levels? One gets the impression that nothing in Malguri except the gaslights came out of a factory of any sort, even if that's not actually the case. And then one looks around at one's own house, and at least in my case, realizes how little is handcrafted...

At one point, and I can't say it wasn't partially influenced by these books, I responded to an invitation "properly" (for American humans) rather than using the provided response card. The bride's mother called my mother to ask whether I would be coming alone or with my husband, because I hadn't sent back the response card and so she didn't know what my response meant. I was... amused and sad at the same time.

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