Excerpts from Two Lives

In which the fate of the RosaRing is sealed.

The story carefully sticks to local dates to avoid tying itself down too tight, but there is a hint of approximately when it’s set: one of the characters mentions the disruptions caused by astronomical phenomena cutting off the traditional trade routes, which suggests it’s set within the time period of Arin’s Envidaria.

Another, less definite, thing linking it to that time period is that Verita and Kiland’s troth rings are made of triluxian, a substance whose only other appearance in the series is the mysterious ring Jethri encounters in Trade Secret.

The Fleet of which Implacable is the last surviving ship has been mentioned a few times in other stories; in Saltation, Win Ton mentions a rumour that Bechimo‘s builders incorporated Old Tech that had been used in the Fleet. I don’t think Implacable itself has been mentioned before; in I Dare, the Juntavas High Judge’s ship also bears that name, but I feel certain that if the High Judge had been travelling in a centuries-old battleship powered by Old Tech with weapons capable of smashing entire planets, somebody would have mentioned the fact.

This is not, for me, one of the more successful Liaden Universe stories. I didn’t feel like we got to know any of the characters very well, and I’m not sure I liked any of the ones we did get to know. Also, as the author’s note at the front helpfully reminds us, we know how this is going to end, so the plot depends on interesting the reader in how it gets there, in which it did not notably succeed with this reader.

Mind you, I said much the same about “Guaranteed Delivery” the first time I read it, and I ended up liking it more on re-reads, so you never know.

Another thing, which doesn’t apply to “Guaranteed Delivery”, is that some days I’m of a mind to be annoyed whenever some trouble in the Liaden universe turns out to be due to a leftover from the old universe, so there’s that, which might not have been so much of a factor on another day.

8 thoughts on “Excerpts from Two Lives

  1. Ed8r

    Paul: annoyed whenever some trouble in the Liaden universe turns out to be due to a leftover from the old universe

    Whereas for this reader…perhaps as a (more relative) newcomer to this Universe…I still find it fascinating, like finding a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle the authors are doleing out only bit by bit.

  2. Paul A. Post author

    It might make a difference where a person joined the series relative to the Crystal duology. If you started reading after that, then for you the old universe has always been a part of your understanding of the series. Me, I had been reading the series long enough that the revelation that everybody came from another universe originally came as a new complication to my already settled understanding of the world, and one that a small part of me is still not entirely convinced was necessary or an improvement.

    So, it’s partly that. But it’s also partly the “Anakin Skywalker built C-3PO” problem: if you take two previously unrelated stories and tie them together, it might make the universe seem more cohesive but it can also make the universe seem smaller than it was before.

  3. Ed8r

    Paul: Also, as the author’s note at the front helpfully reminds us, we know how this is going to end

    When I first read this story, I didn’t know/remember the connection to a song in Carpe Diem (and I actually have yet to go back to that book to find the reference). Perhaps partly because I did not know it was going to be a tragedy, I found the ending to be a suitable redemption for the characters, who frankly, I hadn’t liked very much either.

    Also, it’s been clear to me ever since my own complete re-read (when I finally started to connect some of those puzzle pieces) that we were eventually going to have to come to a showdown with sheriekas in this Universe/Galaxy in the main story, so this little piece of seemed appropriate. Perhaps we’ll even see another connection to the Ligonier Library.

  4. Othin

    Hi Paul,
    I also didn’t like that story nor the main characters. And even after a reread I don’t get it. There seem to be no connections or important info to the overall story flow.

    Also the connection to the song in Carpe Diem is very vague – a lover joining certain death or destruction because there is no cure for a very contagious illness. Or does Carpe Diem mention the Rosa Ring?

    In Carpe Diem I got the impression that this song is firmly rooted in Terran main culture, while the world of this story and Rosa Ring seems to be a Terran subculture – because of the wish to dominate both: Terrans and Liandens.

    I didn’t catch any hint of approximately when it’s set. Could you please point it out?

    Could it be that Implacable and its sister ships refer to that war period that brought on the Complex Logic Laws?

  5. Paul A. Post author

    Ed8r: I didn’t know/remember the connection to a song in Carpe Diem (and I actually have yet to go back to that book to find the reference)

    “The Ballad of the RosaRing” is one of the songs Cory and Meri and Hakan sing at the Winterfair. I don’t necessarily recommend going back to the book to check the details, because this story has a major case of The Authors Have a Better Idea, so several of the details given in Miri’s recounting don’t appear in this story. (I would chalk it up to the tale having evolved as it was retold over the years before it reached Miri, except that the authors go to the trouble of implying in this story that the composer of the ballad was personally present.)

    we were eventually going to have to come to a showdown with sheriekas in this Universe/Galaxy in the main story

    My own feeling is that Ren Zel’s big moment in Neogenesis is the closest we’re ever going to get to that. It seems to me to have been specifically designed to close off (literally and figuratively) the possibility of any sheriekas showing up in future.

  6. Paul A. Post author

    Othin: There seem to be no connections or important info to the overall story flow.

    For me, this isn’t so much a consideration. Quite a few of the short stories, including some of my favourites, have tenuous connections at best to the central plot. This has at least as much connection as, say, “The Space at Tinsori Light” did when it was first published, and look how significant that turned out to be. But I don’t think it’s any less a valid part of the universe even if it never turns out to be more closely connected; part of what makes this a Universe and not just a series is that it’s big enough to have other stuff going on around the edges.

    Or does Carpe Diem mention the Rosa Ring?

    It does; the song in Carpe Diem is explicitly about a space station called the RosaRing. That’s one of the details that didn’t change.

    In Carpe Diem I got the impression that this song is firmly rooted in Terran main culture, while the world of this story and Rosa Ring seems to be a Terran subculture – because of the wish to dominate both: Terrans and Liandens.

    What Verita mentions wishing to dominate is “the remnants of the old Terran Empire”, which sounds like another subculture.

    It could be that “Terran main culture”, as it exists in Miri’s time, is a thing that only formed later, and may have subsumed both the remnants of the Empire and the remnants of the Confederation. (There are hints in this story that the Confederation is on its last legs as an independent entity, and depending on the success of the RosaRing project to survive.)

    I didn’t catch any hint of approximately when it’s set. Could you please point it out?

    One of the characters mentions the disruptions currently being caused by astronomical phenomena cutting off the traditional trade routes, which suggests it’s set within the time period of Arin’s Envidaria. (Particularly after reading “Revolutionists”, which describes the trade routes being cut off in similar terms.)

    Could it be that Implacable and its sister ships refer to that war period that brought on the Complex Logic Laws?

    Could be. Though I don’t see any sign that the Implacable itself houses a Complex Logic; it seems to have been designed on the principle of Fight Harder rather than Fight Smarter.

  7. Ed8r

    Paul: My own feeling is that Ren Zel’s big moment in Neogenesis is the closest we’re ever going to get to that. It seems to me to have been specifically designed to close off (literally and figuratively) the possibility of any sheriekas showing up in future.

    You may be right that Ren Zel’s moment is the only “big showdown” we’ll see, but OTOH the space at Tinsoori light may have acted like a crack in the wall between universes . . . a crack that had been allowing both physical and metaphysical elements to travel between. Tolly and Ren Zel between them sealed off that crack, but I’m not convinced that there will not be pockets of Old Tech or sheriekas-infused thinking that will need to be overcome. Also, I don’t think we’ve had any evidence that Bechimo’s weird space is equivalent to the space at Tinsoori Light/?

  8. Ed8r

    What this story does give us is one more strategy the sheriekas had intended to rid “the universe” (doesn’t matter which one) of all life. I don’t believe we’d been shown in the Old Universe that they had tried this kind of biological warfare. This creeping destruction and disintegration of all life—that so easily could have been spread to the entire new universe had not Kiland, at least, been implacable himself, and honorable enough to make a great personal sacrifice to protect others from the infection designed to bring about the final “perfection.”

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