Neogenesis – Chapter 20 part VI

In which Val Con and Miri offer their solutions.

The distinction Val Con makes between those who count themselves to be Scouts and those who count themselves to be Liaden Scouts is one I was reaching for yesterday but didn’t manage to wrap words around. (And reminds me of Eylot, forcing its pilots to decide whether they were pilots who happened to be Eylotian or Eylotians who happened to be pilots.)

It also, come to think of it, suggests the possibility, if not the certainty, that at some point in the future the Scouts headquartered on Surebleak are going to accept non-Liadens into their ranks. Once you’ve reached the conclusion that being a Scout and being a Liaden are not necessarily linked, it’s an obvious consequence. (There have been hints in that direction already, too, with people mentioning that the Scouts have been providing educational opportunities on Surebleak, usually followed by commenting that Scout teachers always treat their students as prospective Scouts.)

We get a few answers about Bechimo in this chapter.

For one, we have, finally, a definite statement of Bechimo’s age: he was constructed around the time of Jethri Gobelyn, partly in response to the actions of Jethri and Jethri’s father. This is consistent with the hints that have been coming out in the last few Theo books, but leaves us still with the early statement of Bechimo being over 500 years old. At this point, I guess, the only thing to do is to shrug and move on.

For another, we get an explanation of why he thought the Admiral Bunter plan was a good one. It’s understandable, though not exactly to his credit, and I expect Theo will be having words with him about it later.

I feel like there might be a slight gap in the judgement Scout Commander yos’Phelium makes regarding independent intelligences; Jeeves was declared a real person after undergoing a comprehensive series of tests, so an intelligence wishing to be covered by that precedent perhaps ought to be tested in the same way. In the case of Bechimo, though, I suppose that’s not a concern for the immediate problem of getting yos’Thadi off his back; yos’Thadi wants a quick solution, so he’s not going to push to have tests done that will take time and might end up strengthening the case against him. (And even more time, one suspects, before the tests even begin, finding someone to administer the tests that both sides will accept as being the right kind of Scout.)

I get the feeling that yos’Thadi is going to try something rash, counting on a swift success to carry him past any problems from ignoring a legally-binding judgement. And I have a feeling that when he does he’s going to find Bechimo‘s crew ready for him.

An additional detail about the Yellow Salon: it’s where visitors are put who are not, as Miri chooses to put it, “housebroken”. Extra security measures, perhaps?

It’s interesting that Chernak apparently has some idea who the Uncle is — and also that Stost apparently doesn’t, when they’ve spent so much of their life doing things together and sharing their experience.

X, Y and M were covered in detail in the Migration duology, but I don’t think we’ve heard of the K Strain before.

It’s a small thing, I know, but it was brought to mind by the way that Jeeves keeps track of the taxi carrying yos’Thadi and vas’Anamac: how does the Uncle get to Jelaza Kazone, on this trip and his previous one? It seems unlikely that he’d own his own car locally. Perhaps he took a taxi, too, and Jeeves just didn’t have a reason to make explicit report of it.

16 thoughts on “Neogenesis – Chapter 20 part VI

  1. Skip

    The K strain seems odd, because in Crystal Soldier, somewhere in the first 1-3 chapters, Jela was ruminating on how the enemy had created the M strain and then humans had adopted /adapted the specs. I got the feeling that M strain was the first engineered soldier the human worlds ever had.

    you said: “suggests the possibility, if not the certainty, that at some point in the future the Scouts headquartered on Surebleak are going to accept non-Liadens into their ranks”

    Yes, maybe Pathfinders will be the first nonLiaden Scouts. Hah!

    The contradiction regarding Bechimo’s age is just another discrepancy. It’s a bit frustrating. I’ve gotten good at the Liaden shrug.

  2. Skip

    I looked back in the first three chapters of Crystal Soldier and didn’t find definitively that M was the first model. It may have been later in the book. Or I may have assumed it.

  3. Othin

    @ K-strain
    The K-strain isn’t exactly a soldier. K-strain would be K-grade staffers – possilby mentioned in Christal Soldiers as managing the crèche Jela and other soldier-children were raised in. They also thought Jela was lucky having survived the attack upon his crèche.

    @ Scouts and others accepting non Liadens
    Sounds only logical – with all that cultur-mixing going on. And it isn’t only the Scouts that divide into Liaden xx and xx on Surebleak. The Healer Hall on Surebleak is already acepting non Liadens – and they feel as having been lied to and cheated out of potential healers back on Liad. Another example are the Guild of Accountants – with rulings that also might effect and have to be acepted on Liad – with input of non Liadens or by non Liadens.

    @ tests for personhood/AI’s
    If it comes to this I don’t see a way around rehabilitating the mentor profession. Maybe making it another Scout Specialty.

    @ Complex Logic Laws
    Who besides the scouts enforces those laws? Only bounty-hunters? Somehow I get the impression that Liadens were only to happy to addopt those laws upon meeting Terrans. Why? I always believed the war that birthed those laws was among Terrans only and had nothing to do with Liadens. Or have the Liaden scouts become the policing force of all humanity (with the exeption of Yxtrang)?

    @ yos’Thadi
    It seems to be in character. Maybe then we see the point when his second Menolly vas’Anamac will finally won’t put up with his behavior anymore. She doesn’t share his arogance nor his will to suceed at any cost.

  4. Paul A. Post author

    That’s an interesting thought about the K-grade staffers: is that stated in the books somewhere that I missed, or your own interpretation? I don’t recall seeing anything that said the creche staff weren’t natural humans (although now that I think about it, it wouldn’t surprise me considering how common engineered-human servants were in the old universe).

    The Liadens would have been happy to support a Terran law banning AI; they’ve been against AI themselves since back on Solcintra, before they were even Liadens. (It’s mentioned in Crystal Dragon.)

  5. Skip

    I ran a search in digital text of both migration books. No mention of K strain, k model, k grade. I did find this, which says the M strain is the prototype soldier (and that Jela is lucky, which harks backs to our previous conversation about the luck)

    CS ch 29
    It happened that the date was of some interest to him, it being something over forty-four Common Years since the quartermaster had assigned M Strain Jela to Granthor’s Guard creche, despite the fact that the proto-soldier was smaller than spec. That he’d been the single survivor of an enemy action focused on the lab which had killed every other fetus in the nursery wing—that had weighed with the quartermaster, who’d noted in the file that a soldier could never have too much luck. He’d been lucky, too—or as lucky as a soldier could be.

  6. Skip

    CS ch 31
    Rool Tiazan adds some clarity. As I thought, the Enemy created the suspersoldier, and M is first series ever mentioned until Neogenesis. I wonder if the K strain is something Uncle created, tinkering with the gene map:

    ““The prototype of the M Series,” he said, with, Jela thought, care, “was developed at the end of the last war by those who now call themselves sheriekas . The design was captured, modifications were made, and when the sheriekas returned to exercise their dominion over the Spiral Arm, the M Series was waiting to deny them the pleasure.”

    Jela grinned. “I hope they were surprised.”

    “By accounts, they were just that,” said Rool Tiazan. “They had abandoned the design as flawed, you see.”

  7. Othin

    I was really sure I had read somewhere in the Crystal Books about K-grade staffer, so I was more than astonished when my Kindle surch didn’t find anything aobut the K-strain under ‘grade’/’staffer’/’Luck’/’strain’. But if the bit I rememberd wasn’t about Jela it had to be about Stost and Chernak.

    Quote: The Gathering Edge, Prolog “They shared the seventh minute of the seventh hour of the seventh day, and had been tagged as the “lucky ones” of their cohort by some K-grade staffer, for reasons they had never learned, and now never would; theThird Corps creche-world was long ago dust in a Sherikas raid.”

    I was really sure I had read somewhere in the Crystal Books about K-grade staffer, so I was more than astonished when my Kindle surch didn’t find anything aobut the K-strain under ‘grade’/’staffer’/’Luck’/’strain’. But if the bit I rememberd wasn’t about Jela it had to be about Stost and Chernak.

  8. Paul A. Post author

    Aha. Thank you. I usually make note of new terms, but I seem to have missed that “K grade”.

    I can see why you might have remembered that bit as being about Jela, if you only half remembered it; it’s very similar to the bit about Jela being called lucky.

  9. Skip

    Good find. I wonder, though. Does k-grade staffer necessarily refer to a type of engineered soldier? Could it be a normal human?

  10. Paul A. Post author

    I don’t think a normal person is likely, or else there wouldn’t be samples of K in the cases along with the M, X, and Y. On the other hand, you’re right that it’s stated that M was the first engineered soldier.

    But “engineered soldier” and “normal person” aren’t the only options; the duology contains people engineered for all kinds of tasks, from waiters to assassins. K grade could be some kind of non-combatant support role.

  11. Othin

    An army needs quite a bit of support personnel, especially if they are to ‘grow their own soldiers’ – so I think K-grade staffer just lumps everything from nurse, cook, medic, engineers, technician, tailor, Hydrophonic-gardener, etc. together. While a normally born human could certainly do any of this it would have been to expenciv and a civilian might not have fitted easily into the military strucktur, wishing to bring his famliy along and needing certain civilizen amenities etc. (Just thinking of all what is missing on the Yxtrang worlds.) Therefor a K-grade staffer might be quite close to a batcher, while producing the M-, X-, and Y-strain would have taken much more care.

    On second thought – if the M-soldier was the first – and obviously this engineering soldiers started right after the first phase – this might have been first step on the way to producing batchers and the kind of inner world society we see at Osabei Tower and Landomist.

    On third thought – the above speculation depends on wether Necessary Evils happened before, during, or after the First Phase.

  12. Ed8r

    What was not mentioned in the discussion above—but which struck me this time through—is that after the list of K, M, X, and Y strains we see this: There are also samples and notes for various specialist strains.

    We know an M is a generalist, right? Because of what Jela says about himself? K is apparently an admin or other adjunct staff, the X and Y are soldiers, but not merely common troops but also officers and Pathfinders. So what are these specialist strains?

  13. Paul A. Post author

    In the course of his judgement, Val Con says that timonium leakage is the defining feature of Old Tech, and that Jeeves’s scan of Bechimo did not detect any. This puzzled me on first reading, both because we have had indications that timonium is also used in modern times (see also: Surebleak, mining of) and because we have had indications that some of Bechimo‘s systems use timonium.

    On this re-read, it has occurred to me that perhaps the key word is not “timonium”, but “leakage”: that all Old Tech is wearing out and malfunctioning and the timonium leakage is a consequence of that which can be detected.

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