Tag Archives: Flinx

Trade Secret – Chapter 18

Tradedesk, Gallery 770

In which it is always good to have news of kin.

The red bar, it appears, indicates a person who’s been invited to the traders’ after-dinner. That number includes, apart from Jethri and Grandma Ricky, Samay pin’Aker and Infreya chel’Gaibin, but not Bar Jan chel’Gaibin. With Infreya chel’Gaibin, instead of her son, is a pilot Jethri doesn’t recognise – perhaps Former Scout yos’Belin – wearing her red badge tag “slightly askew”, which may be an indication that she’s been adjusting the number and colour of tags from those to which she is properly entitled.

Jethri gets to learn some more of the things about his father that people assume he knows already. In this case, it’s about Uncle and Dulsey, and the fact that Arin looked as much like Uncle as Jethri looks like Arin. Which, as Jethri himself notes, is interesting.

Trade Secret – Chapter 4

Clan Ixin’s Tradeship Elthoria, in Jump

In which Jethri’s mother wishes to discuss the future.

I like the story about how Jethri obtained his shirt. I wonder whether returning the defective cookpot was a straightforward transaction, or required a bit of trading skill. I’m also amused, given what we’re told later about some of the crew admiring the figure he cuts while he exercises, that he’s doing so wearing a shirt that promises “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (luckily for him, it’s not likely any of his admirers read Terran script).

Also, since his old calendar is mentioned and this is the kind of thing I notice, I notice that both the shirt and the calendar hail from Trundee’s Tool and Tow, and I wonder if that means they were obtained on the same port, or perhaps that Trundee’s has branches on more than one planet.

The Scout has informed Master ven’Deelin that his business concerns clan and kin, and will require not only personal attention but personal attendance. She has taken him to mean her own attention and attendance, and surely she must be right, for I don’t think the Scout would be unclear; but I did wonder for a moment if it was going to be Jethri’s attendance that was called for. We still don’t know why the Scout sent his message to Jethri addressed to “Jethri Gobelyn”. (And I wonder if the Master Trader is aware that he did.)

I notice that when she mentions Tan Sim, Master ven’Deelin always refers to him descriptively, as Jethri’s partner, never by name. It may be nothing, but I wonder if perhaps, considering the state of things between her family and his, there’s a point of melant’i that requires her to avoid acknowledging who he is (at least for the time being).

Balance of Trade – Chapter 36

Day 177
Standard Year 1118

Irikwae Port

In which there are several reunions and a parting.

The “toy” Jethri encounters is recognizably similar to the learning toys Cantra had her own encounter with, though considerably older and understandably more decrepit. After a thousand years and more, it’s not remarkable that it malfunctions; more remarkable that it functions at all. (Though I wonder how much of the malfunction is age and decrepitude, and whether any of it comes from trying to get into the mind of someone who no longer speaks the language.)

Characters using depilatory cream instead of shaving their faces is one of those science-fiction markers that I’ve seen on and off since I was a beardless youth myself (and probably goes back much further than that). I gather, though, that it’s one of those science fiction ideas that will always remain a marker of science fiction because it seems simple in concept but is actually tricky in practice. The trouble, as I understand it, is that a man’s facial hair is generally some of the toughest hair around, and a cream strong enough to dissolve it is also strong enough to do some harm to the parts of a man’s face he was planning on keeping.

The Ruby Club is obviously pretty sleazy, even if you don’t know about the Liaden taboo that’s been alluded to but not so far stated outright. If you do, it’s really sleazy.

From there, it becomes a day for being reunited with friends, including Tan Sim and Miandra, each of whom has been having a rough time since he saw them last, and Captain ter’Astin, who is not giving anything away about what kind of time he’s been having.

It’s good to see Tan Sim again. I like Tan Sim.

I like Scout Captain ter’Astin, too. On this occasion, we get confirmation that he has some facility at sensing the thoughts of others, which had been hinted at on the previous occasion when he and Jethri met.

Speaking of things hinted at on previous occasions, we get another of those remarks about family resemblance, this time applied to Jethri and Arin.

The parting is Jethri from the weather device, which for all that it’s caused a deal of trouble might also be considered an old friend in respect of how much it represents to Jethri of his links with his father.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 35

Day 168
Standard Year 1118

Irikwae Port

In which there are several beginnings for Jethri and his family.

This is another chapter where I’d probably have a lot to say if I were reading it for the first time, but this time round it’s more the minor details catching my attention.

One really trivial detail is that when Jethri’s thinking about all the people at the Tarnia clanhouse he misses already, one of those listed is a “Mrs tel’Bonti” who is not mentioned anywhere else in the book. Presumably the person being referred to is the cook, Mrs tor’Beli, who does not otherwise appear in the list.

Seeli’s news settles it: there’s definitely something going on between her and Grig. I wonder for how long? “A couple of Standard Months” is since they began their stay on Kinaveral, but of course there’s nothing to say they haven’t been carrying on longer than that.

It’s an interesting touch that the Spacers would prefer their baby to be born in space. Seems to me that would mean they’re a long way from help if anything goes wrong, but then again a Spacer’s life consists almost entirely, one way or another, of being a long way from help if anything goes wrong.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 34

Day 166
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri is called up for testing and certification.

Therin yos’Arimyst, the Hall Master who is to be responsible for testing Jethri for certification as a member of the Liaden Guild of Traders, is reputed to be very conservative. This mixes good and bad: on the one hand, it means Jethri isn’t going to have an easy time of it, but on the other if the conservative accepts him then he’s properly accepted, whereas if the judgement were made by a more easygoing person there might have been other more conservative Guild members still inclined to question it.

Another noteworthy bit of physical affection: Miandra places her hand on Jethri’s face, which for a Liaden is a particularly intimate gesture, reserved for close kin and other loved ones. Little wonder Meicha hisses at her.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 32

Day 165
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri and, for a change, Miandra and Grig each have a long and incident-packed day.

Boy, and I thought last chapter was long.

This chapter opens with the first scene in which we’ve seen one of the twins without the other, and it apparently presages that their paths are going to be more distinct from here on in.

As part of that, we get an elaboration of the subtext about Healers and dramliz from Jethri’s first day here. Meicha is a Healer, and a good one, with the rare gift of being able to heal the body as well as the mind. Miandra is a dramliza, which puts her in an uncomfortable position since the people of Irikwae are prepared to accept Healers but abominate the dramliz; Miandra’s grandmother wants her to be safe but thinks the problem can be solved by Miandra restricting herself to being a Healer, a course of action which Miandra is finding increasingly untenable.

(I don’t remember now which comment thread it was, or in what context, that someone mentioned the anecdote about Korval Herself arguing for the survival of the dramliz on Liad, but anyhow this is the chapter where that appears.)

I find myself wondering whether the Healer who gave it as her professional opinion that Miandra couldn’t have held back the storm really believes that, or if she deliberately steered away from officially marking Miandra as a dramliza. (And if so, for whose comfort she did so.)

I like the bit comparing how Jethri expresses himself in Liaden and Terran, now that he’s fluent in both.

Over in Grig’s half of the chapter, he’s having a philosophical disagreement with his family. I wonder whether it’s Grig, or anyhow people who thought like him, whom Val Con and his contemporaries have to thank for their autodocs and suchlike.

Also, there is an unusual and interesting application of the word “brother”. If the byplay about “Arin’s youngest brother”, added to Iza’s insistence on Jethri being Arin’s son alone, means what I think it means, I’m not at all surprised that Iza’s still hacked off about it eighteen years after the event. (It also raises the question of what other ‘brothers’ Arin might have.) Grig’s thought about family resemblances in the elevator seems to suggest that the non-standard definition of “brother” might extend to him and Raisy as well.

(Reading that back, I realise I’ve done that thing again where I leave something out because it seems obvious to me. So, to be clear, the word I’m hearing in this conversation even though nobody says it is “clone”. The implication, as I read it, is that Jethri Gobelyn is a clone of Arin Gobelyn, and that Arin used Iza as a surrogate without her knowledge or consent. I also get the feeling, partly from the word “youngest”, that Arin Gobelyn was himself a clone, and that when his family talk about Arin in this chapter it’s not always Arin Gobelyn they’re referring to.)

I remember wondering, the first time I read this chapter, whether Grig’s Uncle was the same person as Dulsey’s Uncle, seeing as they had certain similarities in personality and interest, and then getting to the bit where Grig’s Uncle has a name, and thinking maybe they weren’t, at least until Dragon Ship came out. (By the time I got here, I’d forgotten that one of Dulsey’s associates was named Arin, or I’d have wondered about that, too.)

Right now, I’m not sure whether Uncle Yuri is the same man as The Uncle, though it seems he’s pursuing the same line of work. Perhaps he is The Uncle’s younger brother…

(I’ve compared the physical descriptions of the two Uncles, which was unhelpful to a point that seems almost suspicious. They have very little overlap in which details they focus on: only one mentions an eye color, only one says anything useful about hair color, and so on. The only details that coincide are that both are tall and lean, and many men are both of those. Grig, for one, as we were reminded a few pages earlier – and that makes me wonder, for the first time, whose younger brother he might be.)

Balance of Trade – Chapter 31

Day 161
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri and Khat each have a long and incident-packed day.

Well now, this is a long chapter.

Khat’s day brings her to Banth, an inhospitable planet which a surprising number of Liadens seem to want to visit. And among them, the chel’Gaibin and her son, who reacts badly to encountering one of Jethri’s kin. I really like the sequence with Khat’s friend Keeson and his sister, which probably wasn’t strictly needful to the plot but adds a lot of texture to the story.

Jethri’s day, in between encounters with tailors and dancing instructors, takes him out to the vines, teaches him a few things about the local fauna, and leads to a possibly unwise bright idea involving the device Grig called a “weather maker”.

It’s been alluded to previously, but this is the first time the Code of Proper Conduct has been mentioned by its full title. Also mentioned is that it’s currently three volumes long, a state of affairs that I seem to recall does not maintain itself indefinitely.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 27

Day 140
Standard Year 1118


In which the twins give Jethri the benefit of their vast, sorrowful experience.

When the twins are telling Jethri about how much Pen Rel loves his vines, they tell a story about the “mother vine” that echoes the events of “Necessary Evils” and the scholar’s hearsay in Crystal Dragon. Where those were reports of contemporary events, though, now it is just a legend of “the old days, when such things were possible”.

That’s a connection I didn’t make the first time I read it, probably because I hadn’t read “Necessary Evils” yet. If memory serves, I read all the novels Meisha Merlin published before I read any of the short stories.

The other thing I didn’t realise the first time I read it was that Jethri’s confidence that it wasn’t within his power to match the twins’ devastation of the vines was a sign of trouble to come.

Balance of Trade – Chapter 24

Day 139
Standard Year 1118


In which Jethri is here to learn trade and mountains.

It’s interesting that Norn ven’Deelin speaks of this as “coming home”, and makes one wonder how she would characterize returning to the house of her own clan on Liad.

Meicha and Miandra have something going on: they’re able to pick Jethri’s emotions out of his head – but perhaps not yet able to not do it, given their reactions when Jethri starts panicking (and I wonder if Ren Lar was picking up on that when he suggested it was time to end the meal). “Healer Hall has taken an interest in them”. The Delm is firm that they are not, however, dramliz – but something about the way it’s said makes me wonder if that’s an objective judgement or if there’s a stigma being carefully avoided. (Also, I wonder what it is that tips Norn ven’Deelin off about them.)

The subject of Liadens considering it impolite to mop one’s face in public is one that we will return to in more detail at a later date.

I wonder if Flinx is named (not by the characters, obviously, but perhaps by the authors) after the protagonist of Alan Dean Foster’s series of young adult novels; I can see some similarities between that Flinx and our Jethri.

Master ven’Deelin’s mention of Korval in the parlor is the first time they’ve been mentioned since Crystal Dragon (and if memory serves it will be some time again before they’re next mentioned).

Jethri’s assessment of the parlor as “smallish – maybe the size of Master ven’Deelin’s office on Elthoria” shows that he’s made some adjustments in the time since he first saw that office: back then, he was struck by how large it was.

Incidentally, it’s been nearly exactly a relumma since then, which means that in depositing Jethri on Irikwae for two relumma, Master ven’Deelin is proposing that they will be apart for almost twice as long as the entire time they’ve known each other. I can see that being worrying even without the addition of a Spacer’s horror of being left stranded.

I have a feeling that when Master ven’Deelin remarks on how careful Jethri is of her honor, she’s very gently pulling his leg. He does genuinely want to avoid doing her disservice, and I’m sure she genuinely appreciates it, but she only really makes a point of it when he’s trying to invoke a desire to avoid shaming her to get out of doing something without straight out saying he doesn’t want to do it.

Which, as I said, doesn’t mean that they don’t genuinely care about each other, and I love the scenes in this chapter which show that care.