Monthly Archives: August 2014

Saltation – Chapter 32

Number Twelve Leafydale Place

In which Theo’s parents receive her news.

There’s some looking-back going on in this chapter; not just to Theo’s recent activities, but further back to the events of Fledgling with the news that Kamele’s friend Ella has become the Chair of EdHist and is well advanced in repairing the damage there. (Ella professed to believe, back in Fledgling, that Kamele would be the next Chair, but I think this outcome was more likely and is more useful to all concerned, given their respective attitudes to office politics.)

And then, even further back, to Staederport, which we learned in Mouse and Dragon was where Aelliana first met Jen Sar Kiladi, coincidentally on the same day that she and her co-pilot introduced Hevelin the norbear to Bruce Peltzer of the Pilots Guild.

Like Mouse and Dragon, Saltation has a lapse of some years between chapters (specifically, this chapter and the next). And, as with Mouse and Dragon, I will be putting Saltation on hold while I read the stories set in the gap — beginning, tomorrow, with a return to Eylot for “Landed Alien”. After that, it’s back to see how Clan Korval (remember Clan Korval?) is getting on.

Saltation – Chapter 31

Hugglelans Planetary
Conglomeration of Portcalay

In which Theo shakes the dust of Eylot from her feet.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and I really don’t think “Theo’s annual discovery that she’s underestimated Hugglelans” is going to become a running joke, if only because there’s not much further it can go. (“Really, Theo? Did you think Hugglelans was just this universe? Listen: there’s a very nice universe next door…”)

Aito in this mode really does remind one of Theo’s father, and his family somewhat of Theo’s father’s family. I’m pretty sure House Hugglelans is Terran — surely something would have been said by now if they weren’t — but it seems like they’ve picked up a thing or two by living this long on a half-Liaden world. The fact that, as we now learn, they too are a family of ships and pilots, likely also has something to do with it. (Though, at that, they’re not ships and pilots in precisely the same way; I can’t see Theo’s father’s family ever adopting the strategy of making a paying business out of their support structures, because it would mean tying themselves to stationary infrastructure, and their fundamental ethos is basically a large-scale version of the pilot packing rule about being able to depart at short notice without leaving anything important behind.)

Saltation – Chapter 30

Administrative Hearing Room One
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo is pushed out of the nest.

I’m not sure which is a less fair event to claim as evidence of Theo’s “continued association with violent activity”, the one where she was attacked unprovoked or the one where her entire “association” with the activity was to get out of the way as it went past and do her level best not to get involved. I’m inclined to think the latter, with the additional note that the actual violence on that occasion was being done by official representatives of the lawful authorities, which makes it particularly unfair for those same lawful authorities to count it as an inappropriate event to be involved with.

(Although… was it these same authorities? There’s clearly been a shift in power since then, and it may well have gone as far as a complete change of government. We never did find out what cause Hap Harney was a martyr to; for all we know, the people who are now tarring Theo with his death were his people.)

Either way, they’re definitely being disingenuous in claiming the general unrest as justification for tightening their grip on things, considering who the actual restless people have been.

Saltation – Chapter 29

Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo goes for a walk.

It’s approaching the long break, and the prospect of working at Hugglelans again, so it’s a whole year since chapter 20. A school year, that is, which is not a great deal of help for fixing the timeline without an idea of how the Anlingdin year lines up to the Standard Year.

I’m not convinced Theo’s solution to the problem of next year would have answered the case: moving out of the main quad into the DCCT dorm would have removed her from the immediate vicinity of the parochial and suspicious, but it would have only made things worse in the long run by making her seem to align herself with Them against Us. I suppose, had things been otherwise, it might have served to delay matters enough for her to finish her schooling. Might have. And the attack on DCCT makes it pretty clear that things are not that kind of otherwise.

Healer el’Kemin’s little exposition on the uses of vya expands our knowledge of it somewhat. We had known that it was used to stimulate passion, but previously we had only seen it used to stimulate passions of one particular kind. (And, come to think of it, the information that it has more varied applications offers a new angle on Aito-who-always-wears-too-much-vya.)

Saltation – Chapter 28

Armorer’s Forge
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo doesn’t believe in local politics, but local politics believes in Theo.

So, of course, as soon as I remarked on the large time skips between chapters they stopped happening, and every chapter since then has flowed directly into the next. But there are a few reminders in this chapter of how much time has been skipped.

One is that Theo and Asu have long since moved out of their first-year berth in Erkes Dormitory and into a two-person suite elsewhere on campus, which explains why there wasn’t anything in Chapters 22 and 23 about the new student who was going to move into Suite 302 to replace Chelly: apparently that part of Theo’s school career got skipped entirely. I had wondered about that.

But, you know, the odd thing is that the dateline at the top of Chapters 22 and 23 still says Erkes Dormitory, Suite 302. And, because there really haven’t been any time skips since, that may have been many chapters ago but in story terms it was literally only yesterday.

Phase 4 – Schedule and Availability

Phase 4 of the Liaden Universe Re-Read will begin next week, on Tuesday, September 2.

Phase 4 Schedule

  • 2/9 – Agent of Change
  • 28/9 – Carpe Diem ch.2-71
  • 7/12 – “Quiet Knives”

(The first chapter of Carpe Diem is a reprise of the end of Agent of Change, in almost exactly the same words, so it’s not getting its own day.)


The novels in Phase 4 are Agent of Change and Carpe Diem.

These are both currently in print as a Baen collected edition titled The Agent Gambit, which is also available as an e-book. (Baen also offers the old separate e-book edition of Agent of Change and Carpe Diem.)

The old separate e-book edition of Agent of Change is part of the Baen Free Library.

The only short story in Phase 4 is “Quiet Knives”.

If you have some or all of the Adventures in the Liaden Universe® chapbooks put out by SRM Publisher, “Quiet Knives” is in #9 (Quiet Knives).

The chapbooks are out of print now, but they’re all available in e-book form via Pinbeam Books, whose Adventures in the Liaden Universe® page is also a convenient reference for which story is where.

Baen offers two sets of Liaden Universe short story collections; if you don’t have any of the chapbooks already, these may be a more efficient option than obtaining individual issues.

The old set, available only as e-books, are Liaden Unibus I and Liaden Unibus II, which collect #1-6 and #7-12 respectively. “Quiet Knives” is in Unibus II.

The new set, available in print and e-book form, are A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume One and A Liaden Universe Constellation, Volume Two, which collect #1-8 and #9-17 respectively. “Quiet Knives” is in Volume Two.

For searching out second-hand print editions, the authors’ web site recommends Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore, The Missing Volume, and White Unicorn Books.

Saltation – Chapter 27

Codrescu Station
Eylot Nearspace

In which Theo is involved in a salvage operation.

Guild Master Peltzer, with his historic Eylot name, stands as a reminder that Guild pilots have much in common wherever they hail from, and that not all pilots from Eylot are like the Young Pilots of Eylot. Mind you, he’s seen more of the wide universe than the Young Pilots, if — as seems likely — he’s the same Pilot Peltzer from Mouse and Dragon, who first gave Hevelin a job with the Pilots Guild many years ago and many light years from Eylot. (Or is it too obvious to say that a pilot who’s achieved Guild Master has seen more of the wide universe than a young pilot still in the academy?)

Firegems have been mentioned before, but I think this is the first time we’ve had such a detailed explanation of their place in the economy of the galaxy.

Saltation – Chapter 26

Codrescu Station
Eylot Nearspace

In which Theo becomes a Guild member in good standing.

The bit about Hevelin being more directly inquisitive and seeming to understand more than the norbears in Vashtara‘s pet library accords with what I remember from their respective previous appearances. It’s also interesting, although there isn’t enough information to be sure what it means, if anything. Is it because Hevelin is older than the pet library norbears? Or because they’re “hothouse norbears”, raised in a comfortable environment (by people who think they’re just clever animals) while Hevelin’s been making his own way in the universe? Or perhaps the line of causality runs the other way, and Hevelin’s intellect and personality led him as a young norbear to choose a wandering life instead of settling for a cushy spot somewhere.

Saltation – Chapter 25

Codrescu Station
Eylot Nearspace

In which Theo sees a ghost.

There are limits to how far a person can proceed even when intending to read a series in its internal chronological order, if only because there’s going to be chapters like this one which is in itself not in chronological order. It starts with Theo and yos’Senchul in orbit, and then there’s a flashback as Theo reflects on the events that occurred between the end of last chapter and the beginning of this. So should a person committed to internal chronological order consider rearranging the scenes of the chapter? I would say no. It’s all very well to want to read the stories in chronological order, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it’s about reading the stories. The authors’ choice to tell the events in this order means something; the order is part of the story.

That the “ghost ship” which appears on Theo’s ship scan is not just a scanner glitch of no future significance will be no surprise to anyone who knows the title of this novel’s sequel. (I can’t remember now whether I knew that thing when I first read this novel, but anyway I knew it wasn’t just a scanner glitch of no future significance.)

Saltation – Chapter 24

Diverse Cultures Celebration Team
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo and Kara discuss custom.

The healer Theo met before puts in another appearance, with the moment when he settles Yberna confirming both that he’s a Healer and that Theo doesn’t know enough about Healers to recognise one at work. His name is el’Kemin, a name which is not unfamiliar; there was a Syntebra el’Kemin in Local Custom, who through no fault of her own was briefly affianced to a pilot who wanted her no more than she wanted him. She was made uneasy, not to say terrified, in the company of pilots, an affliction it would seem is not shared by all her kin.

The Young Pilots of Eylot sound like trouble, and not just for the Culture Club. History has a bad record with patriotic organisations called the Young Whatever; that’s almost as bad a sign as “Democratic People’s Republic”.