Monthly Archives: November 2014

Carpe Diem – Chapter 65

Dutiful Passage

In which Shan and Priscilla regroup and reflect.

“I didn’t know it wasn’t possible, so I did it” is a glib enough explanation, but given some of the things we’re told elsewhere, I have a suspicion that Shan’s achievements are a sign that there’s more to him than he knows — and particularly, that it’s being brought out of him by his association with Priscilla, which would explain why it wasn’t spotted when he was young.

That’s an interesting detail, about direct mindspeech being so uncommon that Priscilla doesn’t know of anyone with the capability. Now I’m trying to think if there have been any other people doing it in the series so far.

This is another chapter which gains in richness from all the work the authors did in Conflict of Honors.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 64


In which Val Con speaks to a compatriot and a brother.

Val Con slipping out of his Department conditioning with the l’apeleka he learned from Edger is interesting in several ways.

One way is that it’s an example of things that go around coming around. If Val Con hadn’t been the kind of person who would and could befriend a Turtle, he’d be in serious trouble now (if he wasn’t already dead, back in any of the several incidents where his friendship with Edger has already helped pull him out of the fire).

It’s also a sign of one of the Department’s blind spots. They must have known Val Con had a history with the Clutch — they have access to Val Con’s service history, and even if they didn’t the fact that Edger lent him a ship would have been a big hint — but they don’t seem to have thought much of it. It’s not so much that I expect them to have had a counter for the l’apeleka specifically — I wouldn’t be surprised if Val Con is the only non-Turtle who knows much about it, and certainly even if an agent of the Department tried to get a Turtle to talk about Turtle things he wouldn’t get far — but even if they didn’t know about l’apeleka specifically, they might have considered the possibility that Val Con had learned something unusual from the Clutch, and they didn’t. All the time we’ve seen the Department spend thinking about what lessons they need to learn from Val Con’s past, and his time with the Clutch never comes up. It’s like they take it as read that no non-Liaden culture could produce anything the Department needs to worry about.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 63


In which Tyl Von sig’Alda offers a gift.

I do not think sig’Alda is as proficient at reading Miri’s moods as he thinks he is. There are several other possibilities that might produce a paling of the complexion, a roughening of the voice, and a brightness of the eyes, and every one of them is more likely than the explanation he prefers.

Similarly, I suspect there are gaps in his grasp of spoken Terran, which is probably sleep-learned and unlikely to have been practiced much with colloquial native speakers. There’s a limit to how much meaning can be extracted from a textual representation, but I’m pretty sure when Miri says “Thanks a lot” it isn’t the simple expression of gratitude sig’Alda takes it for.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 62

In which Tyl Von sig’Alda makes an approach.

sig’Alda is demonstrating a very closed-minded attitude here: instead of paying attention to new information and adjusting his theories and plans, he’s holding on to his theories and plans and taking in only what information fits what he already believes he knows. Some of it’s definitely indoctrination, like the way he shies away from the possibility that Val Con might be consciously and happily free of the Department’s influence, and some of it is… probably at least partly due to indoctrination, like the way he dismisses everything any Terran does as an irrelevant distraction. But I’m not sure that explains the way he seems to have accepted certain things as facts when they were only ever presented as plausible theories, like Miri’s supposed drug addiction.

One way and another, his inability or disinclination to accept new information is going to come back and bite him sooner or later, when reality fails to match the contents of his head. The question is how much damage he’s going to do before then, trying to impose the contents of his head on reality.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 61

Dutiful Passage

In which Shan and Priscilla go visiting.

And now we’re into that portion near the end of a Liaden novel where the chapters get shorter in a way that works as fast-paced action editing if you’re reading them normally but doesn’t work so well if you’re on a strict schedule of one chapter a day.

It sounds, from what Shan says, as if there’s never been a yos’Galan delm of Korval, and will not be as long as yos’Galan has any say in it. yos’Galan will accept the duty of First Speaker when necessary, but no more, and even that only as long as necessary before they can hand the reins back to yos’Phelium. I suppose if yos’Phelium failed entirely, yos’Galan would be obliged to become the primary line and take up the ring, but not for any lesser catastrophe. (And I’m having trouble picturing the circumstance that might destroy yos’Phelium utterly without taking yos’Galan too.)

Carpe Diem – Chapter 60

Interdicted World I-2796-893-44

In which Tyl Von sig’Alda comes to Winterfair.

Tyl Von sig’Alda’s impressions of Winterfair are a contrast to Miri’s a few chapters ago. They’re seeing many of the same things, but reacting to them very differently. That even extends to the dateline at the head of the chapter: sig’Alda knows the local name of the planet, but he’s not going to lower himself to using it.

I wonder if sig’Alda was a Scout before he was recruited by the Department; not all the pilots taken by the Department were. His reactions here are certainly not those a Scout would have, but that just brings us back around to the question of how much of his attitude is him and how much was instilled in him by his Department indoctrination.

And once again, the child he encounters is not given any gendered pronouns, and nor is the child’s parent — but, where it felt earlier like the authors were leaving room for the reader’s imagination, here it feels like the reason their genders are not noted is because sig’Alda doesn’t see them as human enough to care.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 59


In which the Snow Wind Trio makes its radio debut.

The performance of “Leaf Dance” is another of my favourite moments from the novel. I tend to assume that any attempt to put the Liaden Universe on the screen would inevitably disappoint, but that’s one scene that would be amazing if someone got it right.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 58

McGee Orbit

In which an honorable man offers an honorable man the means to avoid possible unpleasantness.

In this chapter we learn — and it would appear from his thoughtful expression that Pat Rin learns — that Cheever wasn’t just offered a job to keep him out of trouble, but also because Shan thought he might be helpful keeping Pat Rin out of trouble if things got nasty. Which suggests that Shan was already considering the possibility that the situation with the Department might get nasty. It also suggests that in the short time of their acquaintance, Shan gained quite a bit of respect for and trust in Cheever.

This is a very short chapter; I considered bundling it with one of the chapters on either side of it, but they don’t really go together.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 57

Springbreeze Farm

In which contacting a spaceship is beneficial only if one has plans to leave the planet.

Faced with the possibility of getting a lift off the planet, Miri and Val Con now need to decide if they want to try and make something of it.

Despite the attraction to Miri of a planet that’s like home except cleaner and with happy children, I think there’s really only one way the choice could have come out. Apart from Val Con, as Miri mentions, having things left undone in the wide universe, I don’t think they actually have the option of staying on Vandar the rest of their lives: with all the people looking for them, they’re going to be found sooner or later. The choice isn’t really “stay or go”, it’s “be found now, when we’re expecting it and have some measure of control over the circumstances, or be found later, perhaps unexpecting and unprepared”.