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A  T  E  V  I  ,     H  U  M  A  N  S  ,     A  N  D     S  M  E  L  L

Originally posted in December 2000
Edited slightly for the sake of clarity.

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

Eupathic Impulse:
This post was inspired by the "pupils" thread.

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 planet.

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. 
 

Sabina:
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. 
 

Chajo:
*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.
 

Sabina:
Alkaloids.

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 alkaloids.
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 
 

Eupathic Impulse:
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. 
 

the mule:
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.... 
 

Eupathic Impulse:
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. 
 

Sabina:
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.) 
 

Eupathic Impulse:
Tech adoption.

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: 

  • 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 releases.
  • Greater human technology also provides greater numerical precision, making atevi more confident about technological research and adoption.
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. 

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. 

[Time Interval]
 

somnambulist:
I'm enjoying your discussion. I know it has been a month or more but I wonder if anyone wishes to continue the thread? 

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? 
 

Ansikalden:
Hello somnambulist.

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 human society. 
 

CKTC:
Greetings and welcome, Somnambulist!  Sorry for bursting in.  Carry on... 
 

the mule:
Welome to Shejidan sonambulist. I would guess that your considering the dictum that superior intelligences displace lesser? 

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. 
 

somnambulist:
Atevi human genocide risks.

"superior intelligences displace lesser"
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.
 

the mule:
Sonambulist 

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? 
 

Ansikalden:
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)? 
 

somnambulist:
Mule.
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. 
 

the mule:
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!
 

CKTC:
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! 
 

Razz:
Re: Genocide.

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 together of
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 even closer. 
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! 
 

Sabina:
Third species.

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.) 
 

CKTC:
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.  :)