Monthly Archives: July 2016

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 23

Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop
Berth 12

In which Tolly has an ally at large.

All things considered, Inki has given Tolly more chance than I was expecting of her. Though I notice she’s managed to arrange things so that whichever of her comrades Haz decides to go in aid of, that will leave one of Inki’s projects clear to proceed uninterrupted.

I was trying to decide whether Haz would be the type to call home with a status report before haring off after — I’m guessing probably Tolly, if she can figure out where he’s being sent — and then I was trying to figure out whether she has a method available for calling home; probably Tocohl’s been handling the status reports, and since she was probably communicating directly with Jeeves she might have been using a channel not accessible to Haz.

Where Tolly is being sent is Nostrilia, which is almost but not quite the name of the most famous planet in the galaxy in Cordwainer Smith’s science fiction stories. It will be interesting to see how far the resemblance extends.

There’s a moment, when Tolly is talking to Haz about people “believing that something that’s manufactured is artificial”, where I get the impression that he’s speaking of himself as much as he is of Tocohl or the Admiral.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 22

The Happy Occasion

In which there are awakenings.

…or Inki could persuade Admiral Bunter to abduct Tolly (in retrospect, I should have been more suspicious about how it was a private conversation with Inki that made him change his tune) and then take off in Ahab-Esais — I’m guessing possibly with Tocohl — leaving Haz to figure out which one to follow.

Assuming she hasn’t done something more permanent to Haz than she did to Tolly.

Shan sees no reason to assume Padi’s going to have a breakout during the reception, but with the advantage of knowing this is a story I’m inclined to differ: it would be a bit of an anticlimax if all that happens next is that Shan and Padi have a friendly conversation in their hotel room. (Or would it? Considering how much Padi has bottled up, she’s in a fair way to cause a lot of fireworks if the friendly conversation cracks her open.)

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 21

Admiral Bunter
Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop

In which there are preparations for arrivals and preparations for departures.

Padi is set for her trade reception, and even gets a bit of flying practice in. (Pilot Embrathiri — who incidentally is another character who’s short on gender-specific pronouns — may well have expressed a desire to sit passenger, but I’m inclined to suspect that the expression may have been preceded by a bit of prompting from Padi’s father.) Over at Jemiatha, everything’s set for Admiral Bunter, Tarigan, and Ahab-Esais to go their various ways. All seems to be proceeding smoothly.

This is probably why I’m expecting something to go horribly wrong within the next chapter or two.

(Is it wrong that I’m kind of hoping something will go horribly wrong in a way that means Haz gets to keep hanging out with Tolly? Like, say, Inki steals Tocohl and Tarigan, and Tolly, Haz, and the Admiral have to go in pursuit. Something like that, maybe.)

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 20

Admiral Bunter
Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop

In which Admiral Bunter returns.

I like the byplay about Padi using glancing-at-the-notepad as a way of providing appropriate pauses in the conversation, and the way it offers an explanation for her father’s ubiquitous glass of wine. (The glass of wine has a potential strategic advantage over glancing-at-the-notepad, in that the latter might make it look like one doesn’t really know what one is doing.)

It’s also another example of how two plot lines parallel each other within a chapter, because over in the other plot line we have Tolly thinking about how Admiral Bunter needs to learn about providing appropriate pauses in his conversation.

Thematic parallels aside, I still have no idea how, or if, the three plot strands are going to meet up. What has the progress of Dutiful Passage to do with Admiral Bunter, or either to do with the Uncle and Daav and Aelliana? Maybe Padi will accidentally stumble upon the ancient AI that the Uncle and Tocohl are each so interested in finding?

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 19

Vivulonj Prosperu

In which Aelliana returns.

Okay, so I wouldn’t have been left in the dark much longer about Tolly sharing a background with Inki. (This is far from the first time it’s happened that I’ve wondered about a thing in a blog entry and it’s been answered in the next chapter. That’s a good thing, I figure; it means the stories are well-paced and handing out information at an appropriate rate.)

Given the fact of their shared background, I think that that’s why Inki doesn’t want Haz telling Tolly about the confrontation with Stew. (I suspect the specific detail she doesn’t want Haz sharing is less the bit where she had to convince him with money, but the bit just before that where she frightened a man who wasn’t frightened by an Yxtrang. Or maybe it is the money thing, but because if she’s the legal owner of the ship the Admiral is installed in, that might give her leverage if she decides to run off with him.) She apparently hasn’t told Tolly she’s a Lyre graduate, which is an understandable precaution since he probably wouldn’t trust her if he knew — and so doesn’t help us tell whether she should be trusted, since she’d want to avoid that either way. She’s told Haz that they’re graduates of the same institute, but in a vague way that Haz will probably take to mean that they learned mentoring in the same place. And Tocohl knows Inki is a student of the Lyre Institute, but doesn’t know that Tolly is.

Meanwhile, over in the Daav-and-Aelliana plot line, we have a recap of the Tanjalyre Institute, for the benefit of readers who had forgotten or never knew about it. Among other things. (“could not help but overhear”, forsooth.) For the record, I’m very much enjoying the Daav-and-Aelliana side of the story, but I have less to say about it because its direction is less of a surprise.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 18

Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop
Berth 12

In which the road to occupying a new body is not without bumps.

And now I’m wondering how much of this foreboding I’d be having if I hadn’t read “Wise Child” first, because there’s quite a bit there about Tolly’s background that hasn’t explicitly come up in this novel yet. I’m pretty sure I’d have made the connection between Inki’s powers of persuasion and her background with the Lyre Institute being similar to the aelantaza and the Tanjalyre Institute, but I’m not sure I’d have spotted that Tolly’s also a graduate, even with all the hints that the novel’s been dropping about how he’s designed to inspire trust and make friends easily. And if I hadn’t realised that Inki and Tolly share a background, I wouldn’t now be worried about Inki stabbing everyone in the back and dragging him back “home”.

(Though I would probably still be worried about her stabbing everyone in the back and abducting the Admiral as soon as he’s stable enough to move.)

Come to think of it, something similar happened with Dragon in Exile, where I was waiting all through the novel for something because it had been mentioned in the short story that was written later but published first. I didn’t with Trade Secret, but I did end up thinking the short story would have made more sense if I’d read it after the novel. So maybe I should make a rule about not reading the new short stories before the new novels? But the short story comes out a whole month before the novel, and it’s difficult to just leaving lying there, and you figure they wouldn’t let the short story be published first if reading it first was wrong

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 17

Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop
Berth 12

In which it is time for a rest.

Well, darn. I was beginning to really like Inki. But of course she would be really likeable, if a graduate of the Lyre Institute is anything like a graduate of the Tanjalyre Institute — not to mention, as she said herself, possessed of considerable persuasive abilities. However, I think it’s too much to hope that the Institute could have produced two experienced mentors who both went rogue, and if an AI-stunning weapon is introduced in the second act it’s probably going to go off in the third.

Or is it? Would Inki let Tocohl know she had an AI-stunning weapon if her plans included using it on Tocohl? And we have been told that it was because Tolly was a mentor that he was able to work himself free of the Institute’s control, so if anyone was going to repeat the feat perhaps it would be another mentor. But I’m definitely not going to trust her now. And I wish I knew whether Tocohl knows what it means to be a graduate of the Lyre Institute.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 16

Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop
Berth 12

In which Tolly has his first in-person meeting with the Admiral.

Work continues on Admiral Bunter. It appears that the transfer does have to be done all in one go, which makes sense, and that Tocohl and Jeeves did plan ahead and pack a selection of things for him to be transferred into, which I suppose I should have expected.

The idea that Bechimo might have chosen to leave Admiral Bunter behind in the active expectation that he would fall apart by himself before too long is not a pleasant one, but it seems enough like something Bechimo might have done before Theo and Clarence started teaching him some consideration that I’m not sure he didn’t do it. (Theo, on the other hand, I don’t think would have done it deliberately. I expect she just didn’t think.)

I’m intrigued by the mention of Inki having mentored a judge. Who uses a machine — especially an illegal machine — as a judge?

I wonder if the theme of people being put in new bodies can be extended to the other main plot strand, back on Dutiful Passage. I can’t see an obvious way to apply it to Padi, but there is Shan — rather than being put into a new body he’s not certain how much to trust, he isn’t certain how much to trust what Lute might be putting into the body he already has.

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 15

Jemiatha’s Jumble Stop
Berth 12

In which an alliance of equals begins its work.

Tolly’s got a job on his hands, here. It will be easier to set Admiral Bunter straight once he’s in a proper installation where he can think properly and has more room for new ideas, but I suspect Tolly’s going to have to manage some straightening out before he can even get the Admiral to agree to the move. If I were the Admiral, I’d be suspicious about being moved into a new body, and worried about what might happen while I was in the middle of moving and not able to concentrate. Not to mention that what ships Inkirani might find to move him into presumably aren’t armed, or Bechimo would have stuck the Admiral into one of them in the first place, and the Admiral might object to being put in a body that makes it harder for him to carry out what he knows to be his job.

I wonder if it would be possible to do a partial move to begin with — say, perhaps just the bits that are crammed into extra and unsuitable computers like the commissary computer someone mentioned, so that he went from being split between thirteen comps on seven ships to being in eight comps on eight ships. That way he’d still have access to all the capabilities of his existing ships, but be less fractured, and have room to think in the new ship, so he could properly consider what he wanted to do next.

It strikes me that there’s a commonality of theme across the two halves of this chapter, speaking of being suspicious about being moved into a new body. Daav has been moved into a new body without being consulted first, and he’s suspicious of what might have been lost — or added — in the process.

(I keep thinking of the pilot who visited Tinsori Light, and who destroyed his ship and himself with it because he couldn’t trust either not to have had any nasty surprises installed in them, and hoping Daav’s situation is not going to come to a similar end.)

Alliance of Equals – Chapter 14

Vivulonj Prosperu

In which there is a recruiting of copilots and seconds.

The first mate is another Tiazan, this time not one we’ve met before. I think she may well be right about a bit of real flight being what Padi needs to sharpen her piloting; I also think that, the situation being what it is and the rules of drama being what they are, any actual attempt at flying away from the ship is likely to result in More Plot.

The Master Trader, meanwhile, seems to have decided that Padi also needs some real flight to sharpen her trading. I wonder if that’s a consequence of what happened at Chessel’s World, somehow, or if it was something he’d have started her on anyway at this point in her apprenticeship.