In which two men decide what they will do with their lives.
It occurs to me that several of the people in the ARTS accommodation have names that resemble musical terminology. In particular Joolia Tenuta and Femta both have names resembling terms (tenuto and fermata) indicating that a note is to be held for its full length or longer, appropriate for people whose lives are on hold. It may even, considering Port Chavvy’s policy of letting people choose their call-name and the fact that there’s a musical contingent among the ARTS residents, be deliberate.
We have not met Jemmon or Femta before this story, but the name of their sponsor is familiar. Their project of travelling and studying cultures is funded by Crystal Energy Systems, which suggests that it is, in addition to whatever other purposes it may have, serving some goal of the Uncle’s.
Femta’s method of studying Port Chavvy, by allowing himself to be marooned there until someone came to collect him, reminds me of the Bedel and their kompani, but I don’t think there’s meant to be a direct connection. For one thing, Jemmon’s description of the project suggests that that’s only one of their methods, and not necessarily the main one. For another, if there were a direct connection I think the implication would be that the Bedel evolved out of this project (one recalls Seignur Veeoni’s claim that the Uncle created the Bedel) — but given their depth of history I would be very surprised if they weren’t already existing and well-established at this point in time. On the other hand, I could believe that, if the Uncle did create the Bedel for some purpose only to have them slip his grasp and go their own way, this might represent for him another chance to achieve whatever that purpose was.
Then again, I may be completely overthinking it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that maybe Crystal Energy Systems decided to fund the project without the Uncle’s input, but perhaps he just decided to fund it for no more complicated reason than that it was there and not doing anyone any harm.
On re-reading, I was interested to note that the places where Jeef and Shanna would end up are all mentioned back in the first chapter: for Jeef, there’s a mention of Chef Klyken and a picture of the famous view out of the Long View’s window, and for Shanna there’s a meeting with Femta (who doesn’t have the accent of somebody from around here) and a mention of the E Deck Atrium right when he’s thinking about his desire to be off and seeing planets again.