Boss Conrad’s House
In which the Road Boss makes plans for the day.
Miri’s bruised cheek is one of those things that have extra resonance from details mentioned in other stories. Pat Rin is especially upset about it because the culture of Liad puts a big value on presenting a clean and unblemished face to the world: no dirt, no smudges, no injuries. (No concealing make-up, either.) That’s also part of why everyone made such a fuss about Val Con’s scar in Plan B, beyond its inherent unpleasantness. Val Con is less concerned about it, partly (as with his scar) because of his Scout training, and partly because, as he reminds Pat Rin, this is not Liad.
Val Con and Miri do a neat job of diverting Nelirikk’s disapproval.
I somehow suspect there’s something to the fact that Tocohl’s proportions are described entirely in terms of being similar to Theo’s. Her voice isn’t Theo’s though, if Val Con recognises it but Miri doesn’t. (I wonder if it’s modelled on Aelliana…) Perhaps Jeeves decided that if Tocohl was to be a child of Korval, she ought to bear some resemblance to her sisters and her cousins and her aunts.
Tocohl takes after her father in choosing a name from fiction that suits her intended role: Susumo Tocohl is the protagonist of Janet Kagan’s novel Hellspark; she’s a linguist, a dab hand at smoothing over the problems caused by clashing cultural assumptions, and her universe’s leading authority on the process of teaching an AI how to be a person.
(Hellspark is a long-standing favourite comfort-read of mine, and I would perhaps be more excited about this development except that the surprise was spoiled for me long ago by an acquaintance who, in addition to our shared loved of the works of Lee & Miller and of Kagan, has a taste I don’t share for reading Advance Reader Copies.)
We still haven’t been given the name of the specialist Jeeves proposes as Tocohl’s colleague, which suggests that the authors consider it something worth building up to. My only guess at this point is that it’s Tolly, if only because he’s been established as a specialist earlier in the novel. And, come to think of it, if he’s still being looked for by someone he doesn’t want to be found by, he might welcome a trip away. (…and if he’s a specialist in AI, what does that say about the person who’s looking for him?)