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A  R  E     T  H  E     A  T  E  V  I     F  O  R     R  E  A  L  ?

Originally posted in February 2002
Edited slightly for the sake of clarity.

Spoiler Alert!  Do not read this if you have not finished Defender.
 

Susan:
I simply do not believe that the atevi don't feel affection. With all the willing suspension of disbelief in the world, this just does not compute. 

Bren has been told this and apparently the atevi believe this themselves.

But.

The atevi are mammals. They bear young who are helpless. Their young do not mature for many years, during which they must be cared for by their parents, at an inevitable cost to the parents. What's the emotional motivation for all this parental self-sacrifice? Earth mammals who raise their offspring for years until they are old enough to be independent show affection for them (any Skinnerite/behaviorists who don't believe we can say animals have emotions can go elsewhere). Why would atevi be different? Why would atevi parents take good care of their children if "manchi only goes upward", as we are told? Of course they love their children.

Just think how the tourists near Malguri behave (don't have book handy to check spelling - Ilsidi's old castle). They want souvenirs to take home to the grandchildren, to make their grandchildren happy, just like any doting human grandparents.

I am certain that the atevi must feel affection and love for children, parents, other family members, spouses and friends. Bren can't help believing, deep down, and more and more as the years pass, that certain atevi do indeed feel affection for him. They give every external indication of doing so. We readers can't help but believe this. 

Do you really believe that Jago, Banichi, Tabini and Ilsidi don't feel affection, even love, for Bren, especially in the later books in the series? And don't other members of Bren's staff feel great affection for him? Sure they do.

So here's my hypothesis: It's a matter of atevi culture to have an extremely powerful "taboo" against expressions of affection and love. Due to this cultural prohibition, the language doesn't even have words for affection and love. And atevi really don't understand when Bren tries to describe these emotions, because they are culturally and hence linguistically unaccustomed to thinking in these terms. Culturally, for the atevi, behavior must be explained in such terms as manchi and association.

Look at it on the species/societal level. Atevi society, like human society, must have evolved in part because of the altruistic behavior of its members, which is beneifts the species, if not the individual. Altruisitc behavior is often motivated among Earth mammals by the emotions atevi are not supposed to have (affection, love, empathy, sympathy and the like). 

Certainly atevi culture stresses competition, not cooperation, and hostility, not affection - but cooperation is there, anyway, and affection must be there too, for the atevi to have evolved the successful and advanced civilization they reached even before the coming of the humans.

What do you think?
 

hautdesert:
Oh, that's what you mean.

I'm not convinced that atevi feel affection. That is, I'm not convinced they feel the same thing we feel when we say, "I like Susan." But they feel something that sure looks like it.

It sure seems to act like love. Bren loves Banichi and Jago--largely because of what they went through at Malguri and after. That's human, and I'm sure it has a biological basis. And I think that Banichi and Jago began to have man'chi for Bren about this time, themselves. I think Banichi declared this at the end of Foreigner when he said "Long distance, is it? If you go up there, we go, nadi." No orders from Tabini. No heirarchy. Something changed in the way B&J felt about Bren. Tabini certainly seems to have a good deal of "affection" for Bren, separate from his usefulness, too, although Bren won't let himself believe it. But just because it looks like love doesn't mean it necessarily is.

But you're right that it's hard to tease out what people feel from what they call it, and hard to judge how people feel by their actions if they come from a completely different culture. 

Quote:
 What's the emotional motivation for all this parental self-sacrifice? Earth mammals who raise their offspring for years until they are old enough to be independent show affection for them (any Skinnerite/behaviorists who don't believe we can say animals have emotions can go elsewhere). Why would atevi be different? Why would atevi parents take good care of their children if "manchi only goes upward", as we are told? Of course they love their children.

I'm not a behaviorist, not by a long shot. I think behaviorism is extremely short-sighted. However, I don't agree that raising offspring for years is neccesarily always done entirely for altruistic reasons, or because of love.

There are several advantages to producing offspring. For instance, the more kids you have, the more hands to eventually help out with the work. And the more people who will (one hopes) be obligated to take care of you when you're older. Those years of sacrifice will pay off eventually.

And think of people who pressure their children to perform in various fields--all those little girls in those beauty pagents, kids whose parents want them to be great athletes, or virtuoso violinists, or what have you. There are lots of those out there, of varying degrees. They don't do it because they love their kids (although I'm not saying they don't, mind you) but because it's something they want, for whatever reason. They get something out of it.

And if you're into sociobiology (which I'm not--it seems like a bunch of people sitting around fantasizing about justifications for the status quo, and telling themselves they're scientists)--you can make the argument that people only ever have children for selfish reasons--they want their genes to continue.

I'm not saying people don't really love their children, just that love isn't the only good motivation for raising children, and treating them as valuable. If that makes sense. Just as there are many other motivations for treating your loyal supporters well--like, say, not wanting them to get disgusted with you and look elsewhere for leadership, leaving you with no supporters and possibly in danger of your life.
 

CKTC:
Uh, what haut said.  Really, I don't think there's any question that the atevi feel something. It's just not affection in the human sense of the word. And like Bren thinks at one point, it's the little differences that are most dangerous. 
 

the mule:
They obviously have the emotion if not a way to define it. this is not inconsistent with them being a socially homogenous society. There are clearly political and practical reasons why they would hide this. Man'chi is safe as it doesn't attract assassins interest, but declare you love someone and you might be painting a target on them or yourself in a society where arguments are settled by bullets.

I get the impression that Atevi get to be adults a lot sooner than humans do. Ilisidi is not exactly a doting grandmother to Cajieri (or is she??)
 

creature feature:
(Warning! Far too long a post!)

This is a really interesting thread. I think we all must have wondered to ourselves whether Atevi really do feel affection after all since in some cases they do seem to demonstrate it. However, I also think that this is something that I know I *want* to believe they feel (as Bren sometimes catches himself wanting to believe), and hence I'm suspicious of drawing such a conclusion. Maybe there's similarities, but I don't think we can assume it's the same.

This is where I butt in here and do a biologist rant, by the way. No, don't worry I'm not a behaviourist and I'm not going to say animals (at least higher mammals) don't feel affection. However, I do have to say that you should be very careful when talking about things like altruism. Altruistic behaviour does *not* occur because of affection, etc. Okay, maybe in general terms in human society it does because we are thinking, feeling beings, but it's generally agreed that it didn't arise that way. Altruistic behaviour occurs in general because it benefits the individual, not the species. Animals that live in a herd/society cooperate because overall it's better for each of them individually. Also, animals are more likely to be altruistic towards those most closely related genetically to them. It's interesting to speculate as to whether these sorts of biological laws are what led to the evolution of emotional responses such as love. (I'm getting back to the point, bear with me!)

Of course, I accept that in advanced societies emotions can operate independently of the biological imperatives that generated them in the first place. There's a rule in biology called Hamilton's law, used to explain altruism. It essentially says that an animal will behave altruistically - even at detriment to itself - if this actually "benefits" it in the sense that more of its genes are preserved. So, a mother who dies saving two of her children, who both share 50% of her genes, will effectively be saving 100% of her genes. If she dies saving three of them, then that's "better" in genetic terms than saving herself. Saving eight cousins from drowning is the equivalent, genetically, of saving yourself. Everybody wonders whether this really works in practice - but a recent study is a good example - the British royal family through history. Nobody thought the rule would hold because there was a lot of ruthless bloodshed of close relatives, but amazingly, no single monarch disobeyed Hamilton's rule. (Still getting to the point! Bear with me!)

Supposing (just supposing! I'm making this up!) emotions like love evolved as part of this complex behaviour (and of course others, I'm just taking one example). Humans learned to love because this helped them behave at greatest benefit to themselves, even though now, as sentient beings, we can choose not to necessarily follow that and also our emotions have grown more independent of biological drives.

What if a similar sort of thing has happened (suppose!  ) with Atevi? I think they say somewhere that it's sworn that this hierarchy of man'chi extends to the animal species as well, that it's not uniquely atevi. Might it have arisen initially as a result of biological drives to best serve the individual propagation of their genes, and now, as in humans, such driving emotions have become a bit more independent and hence man'chi can, say, be given to a human? I know this is all a big tower of supposition, but necessarily so, since it's a fictional world (damn!) and we can only speculate. Something like that may explain though, why love and man'chi appear so superficially similar.

Okay I'll shut up and stop boring everyone now. And I came down to the computer room to work! Fatal mistake...  :P
 

Susan:
Complete Tangent - Hamilton's law and British royal family....

I apologize for going off at a tangent, everyone, but Haut has me interested in this Hamilton's law/British royal family generalization. 

Haut, you said cousins' genes count (which makes sense). So what about Henry VIII? He was having a terrible time producing a male heir, but he went on systematically executing cousins right and left to make sure there was nobody else left who had a claim to the throne. (Tangent within tangent: The old Countess of Salisbury refused to cooperate with the headsman, and forced him to chase her round and round the block until he finally got her.)

Or did you just mean that no British king or queen ever killed his or her own child? Compared to Philip I and Don Carlos (Philip was rumored to have poisoned Don Carlos, I don't think anyone knows for sure if he did). 
 

Sabina:
If we talk about affection and love wouldn we have to definbe what love and affection are, there are scientist who say love is just a matter of pheromons and the continuation of ones own genes. 
 

creature feature:
Susan, did you mean to ask me not Haut?  :)  What I meant was, that the study found that no British monarch killed off more of their genes than they saved, if you see what I mean. They obeyed Hamilton's Rule because they passed on more of their genes than they killed off. Henry VIII killed three of his cousins, yes, but in total he didn't murder more than a third of his genes. There's a nice summary in a newspaper article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/monarchy/story/0,2763,510183,00.html

If you want more information on Hamilton's rule itself, I can have a dig around for something if you like.

Sabina: I agree that if you were to be strict about this, you'd have to define scientifically what love and indeed all emotions are. Which nobody can. I'm not a strict determinist who believes that love can be explained in chemicals. We have no evidence for what it is so no definition can be made. It is, however, enormous fun to speculate on these things (well it is for biology geeks like me).  :) 

[Time interval]

Ooops, I forgot to say (sorry). The fact that we *can't* define what love is except that we feel it must be half the problem in trying to define what man'chi is. 
 

Susan:
Abject apologies.

So sorry, Creature Feature, definitely meant you. I must have flipped back up the page to see who wrote the fascinating post and went too far or not far enough.

Did Henry VIII really only have 3 cousins executed?

*checks your link*

Oh, the article said it was 5 cousins. That sounds more like the Henry VIII we know and love.

Not to give my own topic short shrift, but it does occur to me that if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be affection. 
 

hautdesert:
CF, there's no such thing as too long in a thread like this.  :)  You wanted to get geeky about Foreigner, you got it. I don't see anyone complaining.  :)

I agree, it's fun to speculate about things like this.

I'm not sure, though, that a survey of one royal family translates into a law of human behavior. A royal family is going to have other factors affecting their decisions--you have to have someone to inherit, or everything you're working for goes down the tubes, for instance. It may be that a certain percentage of family was always politically reliable, for whatever reason, and the ones any given monarch decided to do away with were the ones with questionable man'chi, or troublemakers. I don't think it's a sufficient sample--it's too small, and it's skewed. And how do you decide who has what genes? Absent DNA testing, we'll never know if aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. were really genetically related to each other. 

Besides, I don't think anyone could kill off more than a small percentage of their cousins even if they wanted to, not unless they laid waste to entire continents. Lord knows, you and I might be related (pretty closely, even) and not know it. You could be third cousins with some guy down the street, and have no idea. And if you then killed a certain percentage of people you knew were your genetic relatives, he (and many of his cousins) would throw that percentage off, but you wouldn't know, because he'd basically be invisible.

In any event, I think that saying "Altruism increases the chances of survival for any geneset and hence people with altruistic impulses are more likely to have survived to pass that on to their offspring" is a very different thing from saying "Altruism is actually motivated by a desire for a particular set of genes to survive." If that makes sense. I believe the former, not the latter. 

Susan, what if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but it's really a goose? In other words, how well we classify things depends on how detailed our knowledge and understanding of those things is. If we've only ever seen ducks, and one day we see a swan, or a goose, our first impulse is going to be to call it a new kind of duck. But if we then make assumptions about how the swan or goose will behave based on what we know about ducks, we could easily make mistakes. Sure, it has things in common with ducks--enough that you might want to put them in the same category. But it's not exactly the same as a duck.

Ducks are easier, of course--you can observe the differences in behavior, and dissect them, and these days even examine their DNA. But feelings are harder. All you can say is that humans (or at least we humans in this culture) tend to have one particular construct of how people feel towards each other, and thus how they act towards people they're bonded with. If some other group acts differently, is it because they feel differently or because they have a different construct? And if someone acts as you expect them to, how do you know it's because they feel the same thing you would? It's impossible to say, because we can't dissect a person and look at their feelings.
 

Susan:
I agree that royal families are different. For example, eliminating possible competitors for the throne can be advantageous to the ruler and his or her heirs, and may even be characterized as altruistic in that it can protect the country from a bloody civil war on the death of the ruler. The Tudors, for example were probably acting from these motivations (and others, like sheer bloodimindness).

Similar behavior goes on among atevi rulers, one presumes. (While being the aiji's child doesn't entitle an atevi to assume the position of aiji in turn, it obviously is a factor.) 
 

hautdesert:
Ya know, Susan, somehow I get the feeling you're usually online about the same time I am..... 
 

creature feature:
Well, geeky is as geeky does  :)  Even if I can't count to 5.  :P

Haut, you're right, one study does not a conclusion make. I cited the Royal Family example was because it was one of the few studies regarding humans in which they could go back several generations, and had fairly accurate records on who killed who and stuff. The reason it's of interest is that it's an example of humans obeying a known biological rule that explains at least in part a *behavioural* characteristic, without the humans in question even knowing it, and I thought this might highlight how things like man'chi could come about. There's far more studies been done on animals of course, but they're not so relevant to the discussion in hand.

WRT altruism; I had to say your sentences several times in my head before I understood what you meant. Your first statement (the one you believe) about altruism is logically correct working on the assumption that altruism is beneficial, and seems to make sense in explaining the evolution of altruistic behaviour. Most biologists working in the field would go further and say that in general genes promoting altruistic behaviour could be advantageous (depends whether selfishness pays off too well) and thus would spread in the gene pool. The second I'm not sure I get, sorry! As I understand, you're saying you don't think that altruism can be motivated purely by a general selfish interest in propagating one's own genes, but I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive? This isn't really my speciality...

I agree with you on the quacking argument though  :)  The trouble is that we are coming in with a set of assumptions based on what we know, which we don't know that we can necessarily apply to other situations. The Mospheirans in particular have a very limited experience of humans, as has been said before, and hence their range of assumptions is going to be that much more constricted. 
 

Sabina:
I see it this way, Ms Cherryh created the atevi and reminds us often that atevi don´t feel love and affection (so they are Bren´s thoughts) I think she wants them not to feel love and affection. 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
WRT altruism; I had to say your sentences several times in my head before I understood what you meant. Your first statement (the one you believe) about altruism is logically correct working on the assumption that altruism is beneficial, and seems to make sense in explaining the evolution of altruistic behaviour. Most biologists working in the field would go further and say that in general genes promoting altruistic behaviour could be advantageous (depends whether selfishness pays off too well) and thus would spread in the gene pool. The second I'm not sure I get, sorry! As I understand, you're saying you don't think that altruism can be motivated purely by a general selfish interest in propagating one's own genes, but I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive? This isn't really my speciality...

I'm not saying it can't be motivated purely by a general selfish interest. I'm saying I don't think it is motivated by a purely selfish interest. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive, either. I just think that they're two different statements. One says "A condition exists, it's beneficial, and so it continues to be passed on." the other says, "A condition exists only in order that it be beneficial." Let me try to think of a good analogy, here.

Maybe this will work. When I was a kid, my parents always made me do the dishes. They didn't get a dishwasher until I moved out. (I hate doing dishes! But that's irrelevant). Once, in a fit of disgust, I accused my mother of having me so I could do the dishes. She agreed, with a completely straight face. (Yes, I know she was joking.)

Anyway. My mother got a good deal of housework out of me when I was a kid. That was work she didn't have to do, she could use her energy to attend to other things. That was a benefit she got from having a kid. It helped. Kids who help out with housework make life easier for their parents. So it's beneficial for kids to help with the housework. 

But still, parents don't have kids so they'll have someone to do the dishes, (at least not in our society--I know there are places where you want more kids so they'll help with the farming, or whatever). In other words, just because you receive benefit from something doesn't mean that that benefit is the reason you do that something.

The reason I make the distinction is, especially in the popular press, the two statements are frequently confused. A biologist might say my first sentence, and the local science writer goes on for pages about how there is no such thing as altruism, because science has proved that even altruism is selfish. And I've read some popular sociobiology books that say basically the same thing. Those irk me the most, because often they don't have much actual research behind them, or they base these really absolute statements on one study, or on badly designed studies.

I'm sorry, I'm thrashing around here, and I hope you know what I mean. The starving masses are demanding lunch, and I can't put them off any longer, otherwise I'd try to think about this more and clean it up a bit. 
 

creature feature:
Haut, thanks, that clears it up a lot, and you're completely right. "A condition exists, it's beneficial, and so it's passed on" is of course what happens, whereas "A condition exists only in order that it be beneficial" is evolutionarily wrong. I think part of the confusion is that biologists use the term "selfish" in a very specific way, that doesn't necessarily correspond to what the generic meaning of "selfish" is taken to be. Love the housework analogy by the way  :)  I *still* do the damn vacuuming when I go home!  :P  Eeeek, I'm supposed to be somewhere in 20 minutes.
 

gresreg:
Love this thread!

I agree that defining emotion is difficult, if not impossible. In emotions such as love or affection, there are so many components. Pleasure, how the relationship affects one's self-image, and aesthetic considerations (physical attraction), for example. Atevi are certainly able to derive pleasure from associations with others that aren't purely political. There may be an element of professional pride for B & J in their ability to keep the paidhi alive. And Jago likes Bren's hair. Is empathy the missing ingredient? Are there any "pure" emotions? Maybe grief and hate? I propose these because they seem to serve no productive purpose in helping the individual organism or geneset to survive. Anger provides an adrenaline boost, as does fear, and love has obvious benefits. Do atevi grieve? We are told that they don't hate. There is a comment about "hard-wiring" for emotion. In humans, the limbic system is considered the hardware for our feelings. Maybe there is no corresponding structure in atevi. Wonder if humans ever studied atevi anatomy? 

Mostly I concur with Sabina that we the readers are expected to accept Bren's belief that atevi don't experience emotions in any way that corresponds to human feeling. 
 

Susan:
"Mostly I concur with Sabina that we the readers are expected to accept Bren's belief that atevi don't experience emotions in any way that corresponds to human feeling."

Maybe you and Sabina are right, but if so, why does Cherryh keep salting the plot with so many words and actions by atevi that would be interpreted as affection for Bren if Bren didnt keep telling himself that the atevi can't feel affection?

Maybe Cherryh is in a bind. Let's assume that my/our earlier posting about her central theme of an isolated, suspicious, desperate protagonist who, with great difficulty, eventually achieves warm and powerful connections with other beings with whom the protagonist cooperates to save the day applies equally to the Foreigner series. 

If so, and if atevi were simply like humans, she would have a very hard time over the course of a series of books in maintaining Bren's sense of isolation, suspicion and desperation as he becomes more and more identified with the aiji's goals and builds stronger and stronger personal ties with various individual atevi. And I want to posit that this sense of sense of isolation, suspicion and desperation and its eventual and successful resolution in building bonds is really key to Cherryh, so key that she would not easily omit it from any of her books. (Name one without it - I doubt you can.)

Perhaps, therefore, the atevi's supposed inability to feel affection is Cherry's overarching plot device to keep Bren (and the reader) uncertain throughout, forcing Bren (and the reader) to constantly undercut his achievement of fellowship and community with the thought that it's not real, that it's not the way it looks, that the atevi can't really feel for Bren the way Bren and we want to think they do.

Salad or love? Or maybe both? 
 

Heritage Partier:
Going all the way back to Susan's original post, I inject a bit of contraryness on something that hasn't been chased down. It's the "atevi are mammals" statement. I'll allow (how gracious of me! :-) ) that atevi are mammal-like, but we can't say they are mammals. They exist due to a different course of evolution. 

I've had the inkling that the atevi world features animal life with a bit more reptile-like characteristics than Terra. This isn't necessarily in the atevi bloodlines, but it's an inkling, especially with the flying fauna.

All of the previous postings in this thread are very interesting. I'll throw out this hypothesis: atevi don't acknowledge "love" because of the way it was probably presented to them by an early settler in the guise of universal love or even love your neighbor. People in general are not worthy of your attention, to say nothing of your emotional involvement, if you do not know how they fit into your personal man'chi. 

As was mentioned by several of you, the definition of love is the sticking point. In English, at least, it's an imprecise word ranging from ice cream flavors to biological ties. 
 

gresreg:
Probably should have typed "corresponds directly" - didn't mean to infer that meaningful bonds between atevi and humans are impossible, just that C.J. intends to challenge our concepts of emotion. 

Are affection and love the same thing? I interpret affection as being somewhat more superficial than love. Like, affection is the salad and love is the entree. I definitely got the impression that atevi can feel affection. 

Foreigner is the only book in this series that I've read, so my opinions may change after reading others.

You are absolutely right about the isolation theme, but is it necessary for the isolated character's emotions to be returned exactly in kind, or can that character recognize the value of other types of connections and still feel less alone? 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:

 Going all the way back to Susan's original post, I inject a bit of contraryness on something that hasn't been chased down. It's the "atevi are mammals" statement. I'll allow (how gracious of me! :-) ) that atevi are mammal-like, but we can't say they are mammals. They exist due to a different course of evolution. 
True enough. Of course, we're already on shaky territory with the "hey, this planet has real grasses! And the intelligent species looks alot of like humans!" thing. On the one hand, I prefer the hand-wave--"yeah, they're humanoids, don't worry about why, just go with me on this one." Hokay, I'm easy, and I'm not into reams of technical discussion when we could just sit right down and get to the story.

On the other hand, it's sort of a slippery slope. If grasses, why not eggs? Okay. That's reasonable. If eggs, why not milk? Getting shakier. But little Tigana, whose grandparents Bren meets at Malguri, has just cut her first tooth, so either atevi regurgitate for their young or she's drinking milk (or what would pass for milk, anyway). Well, okay. If milk, then cheese makes a certain sense, assuming that anywhere there's potential food, there are going to be microbes that know how to eat it. But there are microbes that eat milk that don't make cheese--only certain ones make cheese and yogurt. So I guess they evolved there, too, since we hear about cream cheese in Defender, and I do doubt very much the colonists were carrying cheese cultures. Yeast I'll buy--I can't imagine them leaving Earth without yeast--but I just don't buy cheese cultures. Go to far and you're getting into "Look, the Roman Empire evolved independently, and they all speak modern English!" territory. 

And, off on a tangent, why don't we ever hear about atevi or Mospheiran beer? They have yeast. They have grain. These liquors they drink (shibei, dimagi) are presumably distilled spirits. Vodka certainly is, although vodka isn't neccesarilly made from any grain at all. So why don't we hear about the beer? 

Anyway.

Quote:
 All of the previous postings in this thread are very interesting. I'll throw out this hypothesis: atevi don't acknowledge "love" because of the way it was probably presented to them by an early settler in the guise of universal love or even love your neighbor. People in general are not worthy of your attention, to say nothing of your emotional involvement, if you do not know how they fit into your personal man'chi. 

Excellent point.
 

Susan:
Great stuff on the likelihood or otherwise of Atevi mammaries. Bet Jago has tits - if she didn't, Bren sure would have commented on their absence. 

And the two species seem to have similar reproductive techniques - if they have mutually enjoyable sex, presumably there have similar ways of exchanging genetic material between men and females to produce offspring.

Don't know if you meant eggs in the sense of human/atevi eggs that go with human/atevi sperm, or eggs to eat, like the cheese. If edible eggs, small quibble - if there are eggs, they are quasi-reptilian. I'm pretty sure Cherryh says somewhere that there are no true birds. The witikin fill a bird-like environmental niche, though. (Of course think of earth's lovely, sweet, cuddly, warm-blooded egg-laying dinosaur mommies who are really just big birdies.)

Some foods both groups can eat, some foods atevi eat fine are poisonous to humans. Evidence of speciation?

I gotta go to bed now - short on sleep already. Stop me before I post again. 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
 You are absolutely right about the isolation theme, but is it necessary for the isolated character's emotions to be returned exactly in kind, or can that character recognize the value of other types of connections and still feel less alone? 

gresreg, I think this is a really important point. One of the problems Bren has early on is his desire to have his affection returned in the way he would like. He sees love as a transaction--"I give you this love, now you give me yours." He feels like the deal is incomplete otherwise. Folks who've gotten all the way through the books as we have them might recognize where he would have learned such a model. But it's also the way a lot of people think of love. "I love you, why don't you love me?" And lots of people think of love as synonymous with "want" or "need." So when they say "I love," they really mean, "I want." 

But if you really love someone, really accept them for who and what they are, that becomes less relevant. Sure, it's nice for people to give you what you want, but love is about what you give to others. If you love someone, you love them as they are--otherwise, you don't love them, you love some idea of them, right? And if that someone doesn't feel love, well, that's who they are. You take what they give you. Especially when you know that what they're offering might not be love, but might be just as profound, from their side. Or when you know that it's the best they can do. It takes some amount of maturity to come to that conclusion, though. And it's not like once you reach that conclusion, you never feel heartache or rejection. But still. I think that a mature love accepts that sometimes it can't be returned. Anything else is just desire, not love. 

Quote:
Great stuff on the likelihood or otherwise of Atevi mammaries. Bet Jago has tits - if she didn't, Bren sure would have commented on their absence. 

Don't bet on it. Bren has been extremely reticent about what he's learned about atevi biology and sexuality from Jago.
 
Quote:
And the two species seem to have similar reproductive techniques - if they have mutually enjoyable sex, presumably there have similar ways of exchanging genetic material between men and females to produce offspring.

Ah, Susan, I wouldn't have thought you were so innocent! 
How do I say it tastefully? Presumably, even if the equipment isn't similar, a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" deal would satisfy both parties. But I do get the impression that the equipment is more or less familiar, if only because there didn't seem to be a lot of "Oh, my God, what's this?" involved in the tent that night. But that could just be tastefulness on CJ's part.

Now, I have real, paid work to do. If I don't typset this program, there'll be no useless pieces of paper for audience members to clutch during the concert tomorrow night. I really, really need to get to work. I'm going to stop posting for tonight, and do the work I've been putting off all day in favor of pondering Foreigner imponderables. Really. I'm going to stop right.....now. No, now. Okay, now. Dammit! 
 

Susan:
"How do I say it tastefully? Presumably, even if the equipment isn't similar, a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" deal would satisfy both parties."

Of course you could be right, but I do like to think that they enjoyed - how can I put this delicately, to avoid shocking tender sensibilities - "a little bit of the old in and out." 

There - after all, this is a family practice. 
 

creature feature:
I'm shocked, what lewd speculation!  ;)  Damn, all these interesting posts to catch up on! Hmm, I got the impression Atevi were vaguely mammals. Trying to think why. Well, okay, it seems pretty much a given that they're warm-blooded. I mean, they plainly regulate their own temperature, and don't, like lizards, sit in the sun to warm up then have to dash into the cool to chill down when it gets too hot. That's one point. Another is that they have hair = mammal. The last is that somewhere Bren mentions Damiri's pregnancy, so I kind of assumed that that didn't mean she laid an egg and it hatched into a baby Atevi! That's another mammal characteristic. Guess it doesn't say anything about the lactation, although Bren drinks milk at some point, so if it really is milk as opposed to something they conveniently call milk, at least some animals around there evolved to lactate. Be really funny if they were marsupials!  :)

Now I must go and try and scrub the image of regurgitating Atevi out of my head.  :P
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
 Now I must go and try and scrub the image of regurgitating Atevi out of my head 

Heh heh heh. My work here is done.
 

Susan:
DuneManic said it, in another thread:

Anyone notice cherryh likes to make her characters vomit a lot?

You oughtta be used to it by now, Creature Feature. 

Seriously, though. I think you and CK both said something earlier here or in "Filing Intent" about wishing you'd seen the thread while the posts were going up so you could comment. Inquiring minds want to know everything you, CK (and anyone else who'd care to comment) think about this thread or the Filing Intent thread. 

(You could cross-reference the earlier post or posts in the thread that you're commenting on on by poster and time, if you want.) 
 

creature feature:
Thanks Susan, it's good to know all my ramblings aren't too annoying. Although I can't think of anything else I really wanted to add right now.

I've not read enough Cherryh books to comment on the being sick thing, but I can see how it could be a common theme.  I really sympathised Bren when he had his tea reaction, and Jase being sick all the time. On our last family holiday we took a ferry to Norway and got caught in a storm. I was so seasick that I didn't move from my bunk for almost the entire trip (it's an overnight voyage) and, after expelling all my stomach contents right down to the gastric juice, couldn't keep even a single drop of water down for a whole 24 hours. To say nothing of the fact that because I wasn't drinking anything, I also didn't, ahem, have any other fluid flow for 24 hours, which has to be a record. It made for some interestingly dehydration-inspired dreams while I was lying there. Sorry, was that too much information? 
 

Susan:
No, it was just right. We love to talk about vomiting, nausea and other gastrointestinal disorders. Also, of course, tremors, shaking, collapsing, sprains, broken bones, sore muscles and really painful hangnails. Any why? Because it makes us feel like we're in a Cherryh book. 
 

hautdesert:
Which reminds me of something I read on rec.arts.sf.written awhile ago, in a discussion of what The Lord of the Rings would be like if different authors had written it:

Quote:
 If CJ Cherryh wrote it, the trilogy would end with Frodo having found a place in the world (after spending most of the tilogy tired, hungry, and confused) and an uneasy truce between Mordor and Gondor.


WereOtter:
The tired, hungry, and confused part is right on target anyway. What Cherryh puts her protagonists through is almost sadistic. Though Defender is the first book in which Bren didn't get beaten up or shot at. Is that why Defender didn't seem quite as satisfying as the other books?
 

CKTC:
Hmm! I'd hate to think we're all a bunch of sadists. :P
 

the mule:
I don't see that its our sadism so much as our voyeurism at Brens paranoia? ( and probably his sex-life later on  )

We're also forgetting the midedeni heresy. There were at least some Atevi who were happy to 'associate' with everyone. and why is that a heresy. Is it that the lords are like the old japanese emperors and have god attributes? 
 

Ansikalden:
Yeah, a dahemidei would feel the need to treat everyone they met like aijiin!

*the attendant heretic says* But really, it was the Guild’s influence that proclaimed midedeni a heresy – it made it too hard for the assassins to remove obstacles with finesse…
 

hautdesert:
Or else it's considered a heresy for the same reason some people think "Love your neighbor" is a ridiculous idea.

Really, when you think about it, lots of people *say* love your neighbor, because that's what they were taught, and the idea seems perfectly acceptable, because the majority religions teach that. But are those religions majority because that's how humans are, or for other historical reasons? And how many people *feel* that? Many who profess it certainly don't *do* it, that's for sure.

And actually, the word in that part of the New Testament we translate as "love" isn't a feeling--it's more a philosophical idea. (I can't speak for Hebrew--I know the "Love your neighbor as yourself" turns up in Judaism, too, but I have no idea how that word is translated there.)

I submit that dahemidei wouldn't *feel* the need to treat everyone as in their man'chi (more accurate, I think, than treating everyone as aijiin) but they would *believe* it. Two different things. They would strive to do so, and it might seem to pose a risk to an aiji--you can never depend on people to have exclusive man'chi to you--your followers would owe loyalty to any stranger who came along, even enemies to your interests! And perhaps aijiin would have some of the same reasons the Romans had for trying to quash the Christians--they seemed destructive to the social and political order. Early Christians often believed they were above human law, because they'd been saved and Jesus was coming back again any day now and the whole thing would be a moot point, anyway. Kind of a disturbing thought, if you're in charge of law and order.

But suppose atevi aijiin didn't make the mistake the Romans made, (you know, those public mass executions that were supposed to discourage it and just ended up making it more popular), and just sort of got rid of a leader here and there and just didn't promote or depend on anyone who professed the philosophy. So it's just some tradespeople in some remote district somewhere, nothing earth-shattering. And like many religious and philosophical ideas that seemed revolutionary at the time, every one just kind of settled back down to day-to-day life, and lots of people say it, but they don't always do it. 
 

Susan:
The main thing is to avoid a Constantine-type aiji who ostentatiously converts to the heresy, makes it legal, and then gives preferment to its leaders. That's how Christianity won, as I understand it - it wasn't really widespread until it gained political power through Constantine, who gave power to the bishops, even though there's some doubt whether the conversion of Constantine himself was particularly sincere or deep. 
 

hautdesert:
That's sort of correct, Susan--Constantine probably converted because it was expedient to do so, which would imply that there were a pretty large number of Christians already in the Empire who had some amount of power. (the bishops would agree to back him if he did, and it would be worth his while, because it would bring him the support of all the Christians in the empire. It must have been a considerable advantage for him, or he wouldn't have done it.) And his conversion did give the bishops considerable temporal power. But that wasn't the whole story.

If you want my opinion (which you didn't ask for, but that never stopped me before  ) the success of Christianity was dependent on a number of factors--first, Paul came up with the "circumcision of the heart" business, which made it possible to convert gentiles without making them change their own customs all that much. Then there was that tragic PR mistake the Roman Emperors made--feeding all those Christians to the lions really only made the Christians look more attractive, contrary to the expectations of authorities. (I rather suspect this was because all those conquered peoples kind of admired anyone who stood up to the emperor, and figured if Rome was going after these Christians so hard, there must be something to it, if that makes sense).

Constantine helped (a lot), of course, but as I said, he did what was expedient--Christianity was already picking up steam by the time he converted. But what really solidified the Church's political power was the popularization and official adoption of the doctrine of original sin. (And for that, of course, we can largely thank Augustine of Hippo.)

Now, you're asking, why does she say that? Well, first, I'll freely admit to going with Elaine Pagels on this one (and I recommend all of her books, btw, if these sort of topics interest you). Remember that the Early Church had no central authority to speak of, and members claimed to be above human law. They had been saved and purified by God, and so they knew right from wrong and didn't need some falible human authority, up to and including the local bishop, telling them what to do or think. This was fine when things were small and intimate and everyone was a rebel against authority. But suddenly Christians are in the majority, the bishops see temporal power in their grasp, and want to be able to make their flocks toe the line. (They likely always wanted to, but couldn't because they didn't have the power, in society or in the church.) How to do that when members are all their own authority, owing obedience to God alone?

You make it doctrine that no-one can be really, truly good, and they need correction and guidance. Suddenly the religion that was completely anti-authoritarian becomes all for the divine right of the emperor to rule and the bishops to dispense wisdom. And since you've got some temporal power, and have voted yourself the right to use it to correct your straying flock, it becomes much easier to keep control of things.

Add in the fact that with all sorts of different ethnic groups having different customs (about marriage, say) but sharing a religion, the church becomes one of the few peaceful ways to resolve inter-tribal disputes during a time of fractured political power. So Church laws would come to have more and more authority across a wide area. That kind of wide authority, of course, translates into more and more of an ability to smash people who don't agree with you, which just widens your authority, which.....etc.

Just add water, bake at 350 degrees for one hour, and you've got the Middle Ages!

Anyway, there was a whole plethora of historical factors that contributed to Christianity's rise, most of which probably aren't present on the earth of the atevi. To make it worth any aiji's while to declare himself midedeni, there would have to be some benefit to it, there would have to be a lot of dahemidei already in the population or the philosophy itself would have to offer him some sort of advantage. An aiji is unlikely to go in for mass executions--no finesse at all! Although if one did, they'd likely have the same effect as the Roman ones, at least among those already disaffected with the aiji. And the Guild already represents a well-established authority for the resolution of difficult disputes.

Now, if the aiji-major decided that, few though they were, dahemidei posed some sort of political threat (one could imagine several scenarios, there), and then, let's say, this aiji sustained a head injury with some resultant brain damage and ordered mass executions on TV (which I'm thinking would increase both converts and disaffected citizens, in a vicious circle)....and then was assassinated by someone who, supported by the disaffected atevi, including new converts, takes over at Shejidan and declares himself Midedeni...and the Guild collapsed ....who knows?

Where the heck did I start, and how the heck did I get here???
 

Susan:
Early Christian history isn't my period, so I wouldn't dare to argue. One of the big fascinating questions, though, isn't it - why did this one Jewish sect make it so big? 

Again, you know much more about it than I do, but I get the impression that the growth of Christianity was quite slow for at least a couple of centuries, until it "took off" (like the industrial revolution?) or "reached a tipping point," maybe - most unlike Islam, btw. And that brings us back to Dune, for DuneManic.

Another thing that interests me is how much interpretative mileage is coming out of brief references to midedeni as belief in having man'chi to everyone. Perhaps Cherryh snuck that in rather slyly, just because it has so much resonance for earthlings, even though she didn't plan to develop the theme further. 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
Again, you know much more about it than I do, but I get the impression that the growth of Christianity was quite slow for at least a couple of centuries, until it "took off" (like the industrial revolution?) or "reached a tipping point," maybe - most unlike Islam, btw. And that brings us back to Dune, for DuneManic.

It took about 300-400 years for Christianity to get to it's critical mass, I think. It's something that, as you said earlier, is an intriguing question, isn't it? Why that one, out of all the possible religions, all the little groups of every description? I must confess to knowing little or nothing about Islam, though.
Quote:
Another thing that interests me is how much interpretative mileage is coming out of brief references to midedeni as belief in having man'chi to everyone. Perhaps Cherryh snuck that in rather slyly, just because it has so much resonance for earthlings, even though she didn't plan to develop the theme further. 

I must admit, this is a private carp of mine. She throws out so many ideas that she never follows up in these books. I find this one in particular intriguing, as I'm sure a lot of us do--an understanding of midedeni might give some insight into the atevi, which it's obvious we're all interested in.

So I've been sort of disappointed that she didn't follow it up at all. But as I go over these books, it seems more and more to me that they aren't very carefully edited. (Please don't hurt me!!! I hope I've proven my status as a Fan of Foreigner!!!) There are things that turn up twice, things that seem to lead somewhere that don't, things we're told at the beginning of the story are true that are flatly contradicted later--this is particularly obvious in Defender, where it happens within one or two pages. I think I'm going to start a whole new thread about just when Tabini gave Bren the gun and just when the ship appeared, for instance--she seems to have started with one idea, and then changed her mind but not fixed it in earlier sections. Many of Bren's ruminations wander all over the place, throwing out all sorts of ideas that never go anywhere--of course, that's sort of a part of Bren's character, but I suspect it's at least partially due to sloppy editing. (OW! Stop that!!! I told you, I love these books, I'm not trying to put them down, for Pete's sake....Ouch!)

Anyway, my current theory is, she thought it was an intriguing idea and threw it in, and then forgot about it. Maybe she meant to come back to it later, but somehow it never fit in. Who can say? 
 

Susan:
I think that most pagans, Jews, etc. converted to Christianity after it became the official state religion, not before. 

I don't know a lot about Islam, but I do know it had an incredibly explosive start, helped by the weakness and intolerance of the Byzantine empire. The Arabs conquered by the sword, and real fast, but did not in general convert at the point of the sword. From what I read, the Byzantines had alienated a lot of fellow-Christians in places like Syria and Egypt by their doctrinal rigidity and determination to root out heresy (monophysites, Arians, etc.) - all that messing around with the nature of the trinity, and insisting that their version was the only version. A lot of heterodox Christians (and Jews) didn't mind switching from Byzantine to Islamic rule, since the Muslims were relatively tolerant of other "people of the book." Although they taxed them and made them second-class citizens of a sort, they permitted them to practice their religion freely. Sad that modern Islam is often so different.

But as I go over these books, it seems more and more to me that they aren't very carefully edited.

There are certainly inconsistencies among the books. In Foreigner Jago says that Tano is "not licensed," and that's explained as his being one of Tabini's house guards, entitled to carry firearms but not being a guild member. But I'm sure he's a Guild member in later books. Almost everybody turns out to be a Guild member.

And in Foreigner it's the "accomodation," while in Defender it's the "necessity."

But I don't know of any series writer who edits really carefully - inconsistencies are not uncommon, and I don't blame Cherryh for these. They are fun to catch, though. 
 

DuneManic:
well. im a little hesitant to jump into this conversation because its hitting on things my not yet fully educated brain knows about. i admit to having some knowledge about chritianity, judaism, and islam.. but not enough to keep going on your guyses thread. wow. lol. ive learned just reading. 

anyway.. back to the very beginning.. do atevi feel? "they're just wired differently". we all have read this phrase over and over and over, and in some cases over and over again. while i think cherryh revels in throwing out ideas and not following up on them, and sort of.. writing around the bush so to speak on just what exactly is manchi and how did it evolve, im going to take her word for it. atevi are wired differently. they must have something equivalent to affection, i believe that. but i relate the atevi to pack animals. they recognize the strongest and all power flows up. but then again.. why do they dote on thier children? considering the treatment of cajieri.. i think it depends on the family. those at the bottom most levels are not bound by the rigid contraints that we as readers are seeing exclusivly. bren is at the top. the very top. we're seeing relations between the aiji and those immediatly under him. well sort of you know what i mean. if bren were to spend a few days with an atevi family, one thats been influenced by tv and human advertising.. and he wasnt the paidhi, they might live a less "emotionally" restricted life. they know thier manchi. it will always be the same manchi because more than likely the guild isnt going to be killing any atevi civilians. right? 

kings, emperors, presidents.. they live thier lives in the spot light. they must embody the ideal person according to the rules of their particular society. but look in that same society at the middle, lower class civilians, i dont think they will be adhearing to the strictest sense of the rules. not that im saying lower class atevi (im saying lower class for lack of a better word. i have no idea about the atevi caste system) feel emotions akin to humans. just that they are free-er to buy their grandchildren toys, and even spend thier lives with the same mate. 

and now that ive confused myself by writing this.. im going to go and try to sort out what ive just typed. and see if it makes any sense at all. 
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
But I don't know of any series writer who edits really carefully - inconsistencies are not uncommon, and I don't blame Cherryh for these. They are fun to catch, though. 

Well, yeah. But there are some real whoppers in this one. My favorite inconsistencies (the ones that amuse me the most) tend to be little ones, like where Bren stands up when he's never sat down (in Precursor, don't have a page number), or when Bren and Jago are squatting and talking, and then Jago walks up and squats down (page 374-5 of Foreigner). Those are easy to miss. And I also know that ideas an author has about a series and characters can evolve over time, so there will be some inconsistencies and changes as this happens, and as I recall Cherryh said herself on her website, authors are rarely the trivia masters of their own books that readers are. That's completely understandable.

But the kind of thing that really smacks of bad editing, the kind of thing I mean, are things like in Precursor, when we're told at the beginning that Captain Ramirez has a son and a daughter, and then when the action heats up, suddenly he has no family. Or the one that's really, really sloppy--read the top of page 37 of Defender--he's thinking about Sandra Johnson.

Quote:

Two kids and a house in the country, but she still thought of him, and sent him mangled greenery to brighten up his living quarters.
Now flip to page 54.
Quote:
A letter from Sandra Johnson. With photos of Sandra and smiling near-teens. Good God, he thought. Who are these kids?

Dear Bren, I was repotting today and thought of you. I checked and these plant slips aren't contraband where you are. 

The picture? This is my oldest, Brent, and this is Jay.

Was she married? Had she told him she was married?


Has the paidhi lost his mind??? No, I suspect Nand' Cherryh wrote two versions of how she wanted to present Sandra's plants, and forgot to take one out or change it. That's the kind of thing I mean by sloppy editing. 
 

WereOtter:
That fact that Sandra is even being brought up again is probably an editing issue. I far as I could see, the only reason she was mentioned again was to illustrate how Bren's prospects for a romantic relationship have dwindled. Cherryh could have made this point without dredging up an old character. Instead she forced her readers to try and figure out if and how Sandra connects to current or future events. Seems like I've seen very similar issues with other authors lately too.

When the word "heresy" is used by Atevi, I think they are talking about social theory rather than anything humans would call religion. Belief in divinities seems to be ubiquitous to human societies, but not to Atevi societies. So instead of comparing midedeni to the Christian doctrine of Love thy neighbor, it may be more correct to compare it to socialist or communist doctrine. Are socialism and communism manifestations of human emotional impulses or love or affection? In my opinion, no. So the fact that both species come up with utopian social theories does not mean they have the same emotional responses, just that they are looking for the ideal society (whatever that may mean for their species).
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
When the word "heresy" is used by Atevi, I think they are talking about social theory rather than anything humans would call religion. Belief in divinities seems to be ubiquitous to human societies, but not to Atevi societies. 

I think the word "heresy" is problematic--it implies there's a central authority that declares what's orthodox and what's not. Anyway, heresy isn't just used for social issues--it's also used to refer to certain mathematical ideas that certain sects abhor For example, in the eyes of certain sects, saying anything can go faster than light, or that there might be more than one universe, commits heresy. That does seem to me roughly analogous to declaring that saying an infinite number of angels can dance on the head of a pin is heresy--it doesn't have much application for your social system.

As for the atevi having gods, they do seem to have them (Tabini says things like "Fortunate and unfortunate gods!" and he seems to know the word "deity" in Ragi, which wouldn't exist if they didn't have gods of some sort) but we don't have much follow up on them. I'm sure that the attitudes towards them aren't in the least like majority human religious views, and maybe even what's being translated as "god" is something like "elemental power" or "natural force" or what have you. But I don't think we have enough information to draw a conclusion here.

And in any event, I think you're looking at the "love your neighbor" thing as exclusively a religious proposition, with all the theology and such dragged along with it. I'm not talking about the religion existing on the earth of the atevi--I'm saying that the core philosophical idea of Christianity (Jesus himself said it was the central, most important part of his teaching) is similar to the idea that you should regard everyone you meet as your associate.

Quote:
So instead of comparing midedeni to the Christian doctrine of Love thy neighbor, it may be more correct to compare it to socialist or communist doctrine.

I don't know as much detail about socialism or communism as I do about Christianity--but I do think that religions are, in fact, basically about society. What is the ideal society? How do the gods intend us to live? How should we treat others? Socialism and communism are also about society, and have lots to say (as I recall) about how resources should be allocated, how society in general should be structured, how the economy should be set up. But they say nothing about how you should relate to the stranger you meet in the street, or your next door neighbor, or your mother. They are economic and political systems, not prescriptions for daily interaction with other people.

Jesus himself makes no pronouncements about what economic or political systems are the best ones, despite what some of his followers might say. IMHO, he didn't think any one was better than any other, but that's my personal interpretation. It may be that he didn't pay much attention to how society should be set up because, good Jewish boy that he was, he already had such a model in the Torah. In any event, it seems to me that in Jesus' ideal society, specific political and economic systems don't matter much because everyone treats everyone else with "love." That is, everyone is valuable, and everyone considers how they would like to be treated before they do anything to anyone else. In such a world, the whole question of laws or politics would be irrelevant. It's a scheme for a utopia, albeit a very simple one. So all three are similar, in that regard.

Quote:

Are socialism and communism manifestations of human emotional impulses or love or affection? In my opinion, no. 
I agree. But neither is "love your neighbor." Christianity says that first and foremost you should treat your neighbor as well as you would treat yourself (that "love" in the text is translated from a Greek word that doesn't mean a feeling, but a way of behaving towards other people). And the same text goes on to explain that you should consider everyone you meet your neighbor--that's the key point, I think. "Love your neighbor as yourself" was hardly a new idea in Jesus' time, and taking the "behavioral" definition of love, it would even be appropriate for atevi--depending on how you define "neighbor." That could mean anyone in your man'chi, anyone in your tribe, or town. But when asked just who one should consider to be one's neighbor, Jesus basically said, "Well, pretty much everybody--and that includes people you despise." This sounds remarkably like "You should associate with everyone you meet" to me.

Now, don't think I'm trying to say that there's more correspondence than this. I do doubt very much any of the other things we would consider "christian" would be included in dahemidei. I'm not saying midedeni is "like Christianity" in that way. I'm saying that the idea that everyone is an associate is roughly analogous to saying you should treat everyone you meet as a valuable person who deserves to be treated just as well as you would treat yourself. "Everyone is your neighbor" is kind of the same thing as saying "Everyone is your associate."

Quote:
So the fact that both species come up with utopian social theories does not mean they have the same emotional responses, just that they are looking for the ideal society (whatever that may mean for their species).

This I would agree with. But I would be interested to know what implications treating everyone as your associate would have for atevi, and how others would have reacted to it--would they have thought it a threat to social order or just figured people who believed it were harmless kooks? Surely there are some stories behind it, and those stories might illuminate things about atevi that we all are interested in.
 

Heritage Partier:
Sandra & the kids.

My initial reaction to hautdesert's concerns about Sandra's situation was that Bren had lost any continuous contact with Sandra in the last several years. Therefore, he forgot how old her kids would be and was surprised to see them pictured beyond babyhood. And nothing is mentioned about who Sandra's partner is or was at the time of the kids' births. Perhaps Bren knows that Sandra HAD been married and divorced and now wonders if she has found someone new? 

Bren's connection to the Mospheira grapevine is tenuous at best. He probably knows who the top people are back in the Foreign Office, but a sufficient number of years have passed and new graduates have taken up jobs that were once held by his classmates and those he knew before Wilson left office. Hey, the majority of those he knew personally are potentially on the station due to seniority and skills, so his gossip gathering is low on the island. Bren continues to get the odd message from childhood friends, but I wouldn't doubt that their numbers dwindle over the years. (Messages, not friends.)

The most significant bit about the Sandra & the plants thing, though, aside from showing Bren with some human contact beyon high officials and his immediate family, is that Sandra named her oldest "Brent". Take away the "t"....

Quote:

Two kids and a house in the country, but she still thought of him, and sent him mangled greenery to brighten up his living quarters.
Now flip to page 54.
Quote:
A letter from Sandra Johnson. With photos of Sandra and smiling near-teens. Good God, he thought. Who are these kids?

Dear Bren, I was repotting today and thought of you. I checked and these plant slips aren't contraband where you are. 

The picture? This is my oldest, Brent, and this is Jay.

Was she married? Had she told him she was married?



hautdesert:

Quote:
That fact that Sandra is even being brought up again is probably an editing issue. I far as I could see, the only reason she was mentioned again was to illustrate how Bren's prospects for a romantic relationship have dwindled. 

I'm not sure I agree with this. I'm pondering it, because I hadn't considered it in that light.

I don't think Bren needs romantic prospects. I think what he's got with Jago is quite solid. I saw the bringing up of Sandra Johnson (who I never thought was a realistic romantic prospect, thinking of permanent relationships) as sort of touching base with his human associations.

Anyway, I have to go do, like, practical stuff, and I'll mull this over awhile. 

[Time interval]
 

Quote:
My initial reaction to hautdesert's concerns about Sandra's situation was that Bren had lost any continuous contact with Sandra in the last several years. 

Yes, I agree. My point was, on p. 34 he thinks casually to himself that she's got two kids and a house in the country. Then twenty pages later he opens the letter and is suprised to see she has kids. And shocked to think she might be married. This doesn't compute. Even assuming she just didn't marry her partner, her mentioning a husband shouldn't have surprised Bren, who knew at least that she had someone she'd had kids with.
Quote:
Perhaps Bren knows that Sandra HAD been married and divorced and now wonders if she has found someone new? 

This seems to be stretching it. A simple "re" in front of married would have said that, or, "John? Who was John? Had she re-married?" or something like that--but it's not there, an editing error in and of itself, if that's the case. It's presented as though Bren has no idea she's married at all. And his note to her-- "Fine looking kids, congratulations" reads as though this is the first time he's acknowledged their existence.

IMHO, if you have to search too hard for the sequence of events to make sense, the author hasn't done her job properly. (I'm not talking about whether a story makes you think, or you have to be alert--I mean when you have to contrive reasons why things might happen because the text by itself doesn't make sense. I'm having trouble explaining what I mean, and I'll try to think about it some more today and make it clearer.)

Quote:
The most significant bit about the Sandra & the plants thing, though, aside from showing Bren with some human contact beyon high officials and his immediate family, is that Sandra named her oldest "Brent". Take away the "t"....

I do agree that this is probably what Sandra's plants are for, to show his human contacts beyond human officials, as you said. And I couldn't help notice the name, too, although it kind of makes sense--Sandra had some pretty exciting experiences during the invasion, probably has some sympathy with Bren's politics and at the very least probably likes him. But why add the T if she meant to name the kid after him? I just don't know, but the similarity does kind of hit you in the face, doesn't it. 
 

the mule:
I think the whole thing with Sandra and the plants may be to point up how 'Atevified' Bren has become. When we first meet him he is a paranoid hermit who thinks he knows what's going on when he clearly doesn't understand the danger in his situation. 

By the time he sees the photo, he's a suave and assured diplomat so at home in the atevi culture that he sees the photo and thinks along the lines of "My god! her kids are teenagers! I remember them in nappies only the other day. has that much time really passed....?" He needs to be jerked back to his humanness now and again to stop him going totally native?  :)
 

Razz2togo:
Hello all. I'm glad to be able to take a few moments to visit. This semester at school has me running hard.
I'd like to drop afew comments so please forgive me any redundancy for it has been some time since I 
could actually be here. 1) I was dissapointed with Defender 2) I agree about the editing and there is a need
for a better proof-reader 3) I love Ms. Cherryh, but (forgive me) She is getting older and more busy by the moment. I wonder if she isn't driving herself to much. Her writing is suffering. 
 

Ker Pyanfar Chanur:
C.J. is mortal.

Sometimes I have to wonder, just which parts of her stories are written after 4:30 a.m. and 11 cups of coffee? I'm certain that there are parts that just won't come out right, and maybe we're seeing some of them.

Now, I'm going to be silent again and just be in general awe of the rest of you.
 

hautdesert:

Quote:
Sometimes I have to wonder, just which parts of her stories are written after 4:30 a.m. and 11 cups of coffee? I'm certain that there are parts that just won't come out right, and maybe we're seeing some of them.

Verbatim, from her website:
Quote:
And you don't just write straight ahead. You plan. You write. The plan doesn't work. The characters won't behave. You re-plan, have a great idea, rip up 3000 words and change the direction it was going. This goes on daily.

and:
Quote:
 A typical day? Up at 7:30, check the e-mail, feed the cat, check the schedule, write 500 words, talk to another human being, write 500 words, fix lunch, do the correspondence, write 1000 words, check the e-mail, go after groceries, answer the phone [insert this about five times at random] fix supper, speak to another human being, sit for an hour, berate oneself for not exercising. Do the bills. Maybe get in another 1000 words, feed the cat, go to bed, get up and do it all again, day after day after day for months on end. This is a good day...we're not talking about the one that begins..."What's that wet spot in the carpet?" And ends three days later. On a very good day we speak to almost no one.

I think Defender has more problems than some of the others because she was moving across country while she finished it.

Anyway, I still really think that if Bren were just struck by how much time had passed, he wouldn't have wondered if she were married (this doesn't work unless you theorize about an ex or a "non conventional" partner who isn't mentioned or implied anywhere in the text and whose only reason for existing is to iron out an inconsistency) and he could have added one measly sentence to his note: "Fine looking kids. Congratulations. It seems like yesterday they were just learning to sit up." Or something like that.