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I , H U M A N
S , A N D
S M E L L
posted in December 2000
for the sake of clarity.
Alert! Do not read this if you have not finished Inheritor.
This post was inspired by the "pupils"
In the Foreigner books, we get the
impression that atevi have better eyesight and hearing than humans, as
well as being bigger, stronger, less susceptible to cold, with greater
endurance, and, above all, better arithmeticians. I started to despair
of humans as hopelessly inferior, but then I struck upon an idea: humans
are better than atevi at taste and smell. And it stands to reason: humans
are more sensitive to the food poisons which are common on the atevi earth
and will likely be able to detect them better--indeed foods which taste
good to atevi often taste bitter to Bren, like that pudding in the first
book (?). And in the first book's prologue, there is some discussion of
the "coppery taste" in the original human colonists first impressions of
The jury is still out on who is better
at language. Very few atevi seem to have fluently mastered the vague human
language among those who are exposed to it. We don't know if other factors
may be an issue there. Perhaps the point will be proven when we find out
who learns the language of Those Others first. When they come. If they
aren't just humans....
As for social structure, atevi seem
to be able to get things done quicker, but I suspect that their governmental
structure is less stable. The human system can run for a while without
a president, but the atevi need an aiji.
I would say Atevi can manage alkaloids,
because they develop in this enviroment and the "coppery taste" is most
like blood (the colonists say the bodies were really strained at the start).
Although it´s probable that Atevi taste follows other patterns, they
do find the human food to heavy on the sugars. (May be a result of there
up-bringing, The nothern hemisphere also likes the sugars while the southern
hemisphere prefers the salty tastes.
As for the goverment, I would the
the Atevi is more stable, but human society can absorb changes a lot easier,
the can rearrange the assosiations faster and work with parties heavily
oppossed to their own. While a humans might fracure fast and reunite because
of their liking and preferences, Atevi have to sort out their man´chi
and put the assosiations back together.
*Finds this intresting*
It was mentioned in the First book
I believe that it was very impolite for humans to sweat around Atevi. From
this I'm guessng that the Atevi have a better sense of smell. It was also
noted in Book two (in the begining when bren was picked up at the Airport
by Banichi and Jago) that Atevi have a strange (but not displeasing. I
think a slight Musky fragrance) scent that is noticable to humans. They
also have a deciesivly diffrent tast as Bren found out, In the third book,
with Jago. *Sly Grin*
On a side note it is mentioned that
Atevi varey rarely Sweat. In the First book, just after Banichi broke (?)
his ankle, when the medic was examining it he threw his head back, hissing
through clenched teeth and started to sweat. Another intresting thing is
that under extreme stress they turn an intresting shade.
Did you know that alkaloids are often
poisonus and used in medicines, also some drugs are made out of them. For
example morpine, cocaine, chinine, strychnine, nicotine and coffeine are
So it´s rather interesting
Bren isn´t addicted or hallucinating all the time, though it would
explain his depressed, negative and suspicous mood after he drank the dowagers
tea in Foreigner
Bren is addicted to tea, like many
humans even on the human earth
I think that the objection to human
sweat is just that it is different, not that atevi are more sensitive to
smell. Humans can see too, even though atevi are better at it.
My theory is based on the fact that
atevi are in their natural environment, so they may be "programmed" to
screen out certain scent differences. Humans are not. Atevi and humans
will smell and taste different to each other, but the environment will
provoke stronger reactions from humans.
Anyway, c'mon guys. Don't you want
some human advantage?
As for language, in the first book
Bren characterized atevi minds as "literal." Perhaps the speed/extent at
which humans recognize and quickly draw analogies and metaphors is humanity's
main linguistic advantage over atevi.
Humans clearly possess better skills
in engineering and applied science otherwise Mospheira could not control
technology advances. I think this argues a more creative mindset. Human
art is probably much more abstract as we wouldn't have to factor in numbers
Also as humans are "out of environment"
they have advantages in never being sick with atevan diseases
I think the sweat distaste may be
to do with pheromone discrepancy. also diet has an effect. After all we
might smell like a dead skunk to the Atevi....
The only reason why Mospheira is
able to control the technological agenda is due to its existing tech advantage
and the social manipulations of paidhiin and aijiin. And, of course, because
it is human technology which would have a different focus from natural
atevi technology, perhaps throwing "curveballs" into atevi science. But
I doubt that atevi lack for creativity is the issue here, merely history.
However, the flexible structure of
human society leads to faster acceptance of technology, considering that
an individual catastrophe doesn't mean a social catastrophe the way it
does in atevi society. On the other hand, atevi are more flexible in dealing
with What They've Got, because atevi political balances are more focused
and simpler to calculate--Tabini is easily able to mobilize an economy
running on an atevi version of American corporatism into a space endeavour
on which the fractious Mospheiran politics is completely unable to come
to an agreement until the pre-Precursor administration is defeated.
I doubt that humans smell so atrocious
to atevi, actually. I don't think Jago would take to Bren's body so enthusiastically
if it wasn't in all ways aesthetically pleasing to each other, and certainly
not if he smelled that bad. It's interesting that atevi are so handsome
to humans and human hair (at least) is so fascinating to atevi. The warning
against sweating around atevi is more likely due to the fact that humans
don't know what atevi think, and "different is not necessarily good..."
Perhaps humans smell like the sea, for that matter.
I would say humans don´t posses
better skills, the problem are the numbers. Humans work with not accurate
numbers, atevi need them to be precise, Bren even suspects that atevi are
getting ahead of the human in the matter of science and technology. Also
human history is a lot short then the atevi history (I figure humans currently
have somewhat over 3000 B.C., while Malguri was build int forty-third century.)
Yes, I should have mentioned that
as well. I see slower atevi tech adoption as both a cultural issue and
a numerical psychology issue, the demand for precision even when the bad
approximation works. But I think the cultural issue is still there--being
the recipient of technology will slow down one's own technological progress.
As for atevi getting ahead of humans
in technology, it was to be expected for a few reasons:
I don't think that CJ intends to make
atevi intellectually superior to humans. But time will tell. As both human
and atevi societies make these difficult adjustments, this issue will be
determined by the per capita rate of innovation in both societies, if such
a thing can be measured.
Mospheira is an island-bound, conservative
society, likely not prone to innovation under those circumstances.
There are a lot more atevi than humans,
and hence more researchers. Even if you only take the fairly well-educated
Ragi, that's still a larger intellectual economy than Mospheira.
As the Mospheiran well of technology
dries up, atevi research is no longer constantly destabilized by technological
Greater human technology also provides
greater numerical precision, making atevi more confident about technological
research and adoption.
As for history, we don't know what
the present century is. I'd imagine that it is the 53rd, actually, or thereabouts.
Human history is also about 5000 years old. as you indicated. But it may
be even longer.
I'm enjoying your discussion. I
know it has been a month or more but I wonder if anyone wishes to continue
Do the Atevi share the inbred human
fear of strangers that has probably led to countless extinctions on earth
(from Neanderthal to Beothuk to ?mountain gorilla)? This is so widespread
among modern humans that it is probably genetic and unfortunately it can
be explained on a Darwinian basis. Atevi history seems not dissimilar in
its' litany of conflicts and the species was likely under the same survival
pressures as early humans. The early Atevi-human war is attributed to human
misunderstanding but I wonder if Cameron should be so sanguine about the
ultimate destiny of human-atevi relations. Our current yearning to the
contrary, humans have not tolerated intelligent competition on our own
planet. Will the Atevi be different? Why?
I don't think the atevi are more
tolerant in general, but if humans were to be part of an Association they
wouldn't be strangers (or competition). The connection would be instinctive
(from atevi point of view) and so humans among atevi would be much more
accepted and easier assimilated than atevi would be trying to live in a
Greetings and welcome, Somnambulist!
Sorry for bursting in. Carry on...
Welome to Shejidan sonambulist.
I would guess that your considering the dictum that superior intelligences
Right at the beginning when the Colonists
parachute down the first few Atevi they meet are friendly as far as I remember.
The Humans then got into a war and got confined to Mosphiera so
a) they are too small a group to
wage effective genocide on the atevi (unless the ship has nukes)
b) The Atevi started out much closer
in intellect (They were just out of their steam age at first contact) and
are therefore more disposed to distant co-operation than conflict unless
man'chi is threatened.
Atevi human genocide risks.
"superior intelligences displace
Mmm, I'm not sure that's the case.
Neanderthal may have been a smarter fellow than our grubby H. sapiens ancestors,
but he may have been less bloodthirsty or had a more limited diet or whatever.
Atevi may be more mathematically gifted but less able linguists than humans,
as has been pointed out. My point is that atevi clearly have territoriality
and aggression in their make-up. Humans usually respond to threats with
extermination (just ask the sharks, wolves, Amerindians, etc. etc.) Will
atevi be the same? Clearly mutual destruction is not in the cards (it would
be a lousy ending to a great series!) but the threat is there and Cherryh
alludes to it in many inter-species conflicts.
"I don't think the atevi are more
tolerant in general, but if humans were to be part of an Association they
wouldn't be strangers (or competition)."
The atevi are clearly favoured by
their creator and would likely be the survivors of a conflict. I like the
idea that atevi can include humans in their associations and that this
may ultimately save humanity from the atevi and perhaps (by example) from
humanity's own worst instincts.
I have to stand with my first point
there just aren't enough humans to carry genocide to the Atevi.
I am guessing that the third alien
group will turn up and cause humans and atevi to form a common association
for mutual defence. (The fact that the next book is called Defender, may
be colouring my thinking of course!)
So I guess we are otherwise in agreement?
If any kind of communication with
the "third" aliens happens to be possible (can't trust the Phoenix to really
have tried) wouldn't it be a real twist if the "thirds" would ally themselves
with humans against atevi (or with the atevi against the humans)?
I agree that the atevi are in less
"danger" than humans, unless Phoenix decides to throw a rock at the planet.
I think you might be right about the next book, though I dream of tie-ins
to the Merchanter or even the Chanur books. More likely Cherryh will choose
a conflict such as Ansikalden proposes. She tends to like to write big
on a small canvas, and doesn't like to muddy her character's interactions
with more than hints of outside events.
If Ansikalden is right then I suspect
that the third book will be very short and quite spectacular from about
a parsec away!
We already speculated ( but it may
have been another thread) as to the nature of the "aliens" as long as its
not those slimeball regul!
I also couldn't help but picture
other Cherryh aliens as the third race. In my mind, it was always the kif
for some reason.
And as for Ansikalden's post, yeah.
That would be interesting indeed, and all too Cherryh-ish.
The wait is killing me!
About the third spiecies,Who knows
Whats really in MS Cherryh's mind though humans do come to mind.
Much has been made about the meshing
the two species in the previous
books. It seems entirely possible now with the union of Bren and Jago
that these two groups will become
Do they need each other? Yes for
now, At lease that seems logical and obvious. However there are other forshadowings
in the book, which may end up being false leads.(genetics). And by the
way, how old is Banichi? He can tackle me any day!
I had the humans in mind somewhere
along the mind, too. Cherryh said somewhere, that the Foreigner - universe
stands for its own and won´t tie into the Alliance- Union - universe.
(It´s meant as an entry to new readers to Ms. Cherryh´s books.)
And I agree with this thing about
genetics. (Remember the Canadian company annoucing they can add the genes
to plants, animals and humans to the liking of the clients.
Banichi should be somewhat around
fifty. (Same source as above Ms. Cherryh stated that she likes to write
Bren and Banichi, no wonder everybody has a crush on him.)
It is a good entry series. It's
the first Cherryh series I ever read.
And I'm not at all surprised that
she likes writing Bren and Banichi. They're some her best characters, imho.
And Jago too. I LOVE Jago. :)