Agent of Change – Chapter 1

Standard Year 1392

In which the man who is not Terrence O’Grady shows what he can do.

It’s a sign of how the Liaden Universe has grown over the decades that it’s taken the re-read a year and change to reach this, the sentence where it all started: The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.

One thing that strikes me about this chapter, after all those prequels full of Terrans with almost-familiar names like Ristof and Jethri, is how normal the names seem here: Terry, Sam, Pete, Russ. The Terran homeworld is even called “Earth” instead of “Terra”. On reflection, though, I don’t think it’s just a case of the authors not yet having their name generators warmed up, because it serves an artistic purpose. These are people who are proudly, even aggressively, Terran, who keep close ties with Earth and don’t mix with the other cultures of the galaxy; their names, which seem normal to a reader of the 20th or 21st century, perhaps mark them in the novel’s future setting as old-fashioned, resistant to the changes that subsequent centuries have brought.

9 thoughts on “Agent of Change – Chapter 1

  1. Ed8r

    I loved this beginning. As tentative as I was going in…I had read a review well after the fact, and only because I’d enjoyed another book recommended by the same reviewer did I decide to give it a try…ha! I was caught into the story immediately, and thus have been reading Liaden Universe books and stories for three and a half months so far, and haven’t finished all the stories yet!

    I’m especially appreciating your reread, because when I get to the end, I’m going to have to start again from the beginning because I’m now immersed in the authors’ style and cannot think of a day without it!

  2. Skip

    Good point about the names, Pete, Sam, etc.

    Now about Earth. Earth is not ever mentioned in another book, to my knowledge. Right? That’s just strange. It’s obviously not a secret, since not-Terrence O’Grady readily recognizes the desk as being of Earth. There are numerous references to Earth’s cultural icons — Merlin the cat, Val Con’s favorite story of the Round Table, Jeeves, Cheever McFarland working Bascomb Lines in the Sol System…Latin being the ancient tongue from which Miri got her Carpe Diem…

    I know Terra is mentioned, but never Earth.

    Very odd.

  3. Skip

    I am gobsmacked.

    The man himself is from Earth. And his desk. Earth. Earth earth earth. Jaeger, probably Russ, Skipper, and Pete.
    We have a New Dublin, but no Earth, not after this book.
    I never realized until now. I read this book long ago, and didn’t at the time think it mattered, it being Earth.

    “The power of Earth, and of true humans.” Jaeger says.
    Where did this whole Earth story line go? Why switch to Terra? Maybe to make it seem more removed from our reality.

  4. Ed8r

    I think like many authors, they might have thought this would be a one-off. It was only as they began realizing that they had designed backstory, worldbuilding, character invention, etc, that they also realized references to “Earth” ought to be dropped.

  5. Skip

    Well that’s plausible. And admittedly, I certainly cannot write ANYTHING.
    But realistically, after an opening chapter with so much jingoistic talk about Earth, the concept is not easily dropped from the story line. Poof! ?

  6. Ed8r

    And here I am…not quite 3 months later, but 6 months since my first reading of this book—Wow! I have been living with all these stories for half a year. But of course many others of you started years ago and have had to wait for years between…so I was in luck to find so much that had already been written, and then the release of Neogenesis right when I needed it!

    In any case, back to this first chapter. I have discovered that I have a hard time with names in fiction. If an author chooses to provide two widely divergent characters with names that begin with the same two letters or names that have similar elements (e.g., Tor An vs Vil Tor) or that rhyme or have similar consonance (like Terrence and Clarence)—then I am lost. (Just imagine me trying to read the works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Solzhenitsyn!) So, anyway, this time it took me a few sentences to realize why I was disoriented during this chapter, but once I nailed it down I was enjoying rereading the action while meanwhile knowing all the backstory.

  7. Paul A. Post author

    Earth is not ever mentioned in another book, to my knowledge. Right? That’s just strange.I know Terra is mentioned, but never Earth.

    Even later in this same book, it’s consistently refer to as Terra whenever it’s mentioned. The only place it’s called “Earth” is in this chapter, in the headquarters of the Terran Party. So I see it as being of a piece with the people’s names, that calling it “Earth” is a thing that the conservatives of the Terran Party do, the same way they give their children names like “Peter” and “Sam”.

  8. Othin

    Nice catch, Paul. It fits well with the authors use of speach patterns for indirect describtion or clarifying specific views or characteristics of a group.

  9. Ed8r

    This third read-through I am enjoying the book even more! I think now that I have assimilated the sense of humor and the Liaden culture, I can understand the story developments better and better and instead of trying to follow the plot points, I can just sit back and enjoy the flow.

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