Fledgling – Chapter 12

Cultural Genetics Program
Bjornson-Bellevale College of Arts and Sciences
University of Delgado

In which Theo has dinner with her father.

So, like I was saying, after that brief moment of peace and domestic harmony, comes… more peace and domestic harmony? Whatever storm this is the calm before must be really awful.

With Kartor getting a surname this chapter, all of Four Team Three are now equipped with names both fore- and sur-.

The uncharacteristic clumsiness of Theo’s father is definitely suggestive to a reader familiar with the wider Liaden universe; we saw his old teacher pull the same trick back in Scout’s Progress.

It also brings on an observation which I’m sure is influenced by me remembering things that haven’t happened yet, but I’m going to pass it on anyway: Theo was able to catch both the objects Professor Kiladi dropped without any difficulty. Conversely, every incident of her supposed clumsiness we’ve seen has involved colliding or tangling with a person — a trend reinforced by her self-description in chapter nine. This doesn’t mean that Theo isn’t the problem, since she’s still the common thread among the incidents, but it does suggest that the problem isn’t so much a lack of control of her own movements as a flaw in her understanding of the movements of others. Put her in the middle of a crowd of people and trouble is bound to follow, but give her an inanimate object moving according to the basic laws of physics, and she’s fine.

6 thoughts on “Fledgling – Chapter 12

  1. Judy

    I read that more as people not coping with her pilot reflexes and therefore people fouling up both themselves and her. She does fine, and is read fine by anyone who either shares in super reflexes or is used to dealing with pilots and dancers. She’s insecure because her frame of reference is the slow reflex society who have misdiagnosed each occurrence from their frame of reference. It’s like being thought stupid because you don’t do well on a North American standard IQ test.

  2. Paul A. Post author

    I agree with your first sentence, but I don’t think that contradicts the statement that there is a problem with Theo’s understanding of the movements of others. She’s going to spend her whole life surrounded by people who don’t have her reflexes, and if she keeps acting as if they do, there will keep being Incidents. She needs to learn how to take slow-reflex people into account. Yes, the problem is made worse than it needed to be by the fact that she’s living in a society that can’t diagnose the problem and give her what she needs to get past it, but I don’t think it’s accurate to suggest that the problem is an invention of the society.

  3. Ed8r

    Jen Sar’s clumsiness was transparently for the purpose of testing Theo. I’m surprised she didn’t figure that out for herself, since she’s lived with him her whole life.

    Meanwhile, when I read this, I agreed with how Judy sees/saw the situation, so I appreciate your explanation, which is right on point.

  4. Othin

    All that said doesn’t rule out imho that Theo’s young body doesn’t respond as well as she things it should. Only think of Win Ton’s difficulty after coming out of the healing unit or the Uncle not being sure if Aelliana was pilot after his ‘rebodding’ her.

    Another thing might be others being unsettled by Theos increasing reaction speed – compare to young Nova surprising Pat Rin in Heirloom – might prefer Theo’s well established clumsiness as culprit. Our brain doesn’t like unsettling moments – so it is not so uncommon if we suppress something that can’t or shouldn’t bee and reconstruct realty. And the Saftey’s seem to have given up really checking and analyzing what’s on their cameras.

    I believe this to be one of the things where a combination of multiple problems/reasons are responsible for Theo’s image of being clumsy being reinforced over and over.

  5. Caroline

    I can’t remember the exact book, but I have a clear memory of a scene in which Theo is talking to Val Con, who mentions that he, himself, was clumsy as a youth. He says he could clearly see how things should be but then they weren’t like that.

  6. Paul A. Post author

    Ghost Ship, chapter 34: “I fell down rather often myself when I was a child,” Val Con said, sipping his tea. “I could see, you know, what needed to be done, but my body was still too unformed to do my mind’s bidding.”

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