Tag Archives: handwich

Shout of Honor – Chapter 2

In which Commander Vepal finds an ally.

The drinking establishment named “The Headless Yxtrang” echoes an established pattern on Earth — there have been, for example, several taverns that commemorated some soldier’s deeds in the Crusades by being named “The Saracen’s Head”. Vepal sees a more metaphorical resonance with his own situation: the problem he is trying to solve is that the Yxtrang are collectively headless, in the sense of lacking the leadership they need.
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Alliance of Equals – Chapter 5

Dutiful Passage

In which there are uncomfortable awakenings.

So now we know what Padi’s secret is. Poor kid. Of course it didn’t occur to her, while she was taking great care not to let the others see how much afraid she was, that the others might be doing likewise.

Given the bit about how Padi’s found herself thinking of the milaster scheme as if it might somehow make or break her trading career, I see two ways that might go, depending on how far into the book they get to Chessel’s World. It might be a disaster, and that be a launching point for more plot. Or it might be that they get to Chessel’s World only at the end of the novel, after many adventures, and it’s a success but by then Padi has other bigger things to think about.

Another change in Dutiful Passage‘s roster becomes apparent: It appears that, after so many years, Ken Rik yo’Lanna is no longer the cargo master.

I said, back when it was first made clear, that I didn’t understand why Tolly hasn’t been told it’s Korval he’s working for; I think I’m getting the idea now. One thing I hadn’t borne in mind was just how much trouble Tocohl’s mere existence could cause her creators, given the Complex Logic Laws, if the identity of her creators became known. And I think what Shan said about it being bad-mannered to burden Lina with Korval’s secrets unnecessarily also applies to Tolly.

I’m beginning to really wonder who it was who served as the connection between Tolly and Korval for employment purposes. It seems to me like Tolly started to say a name or designation beginning with “The” before he thought better of saying it out loud. I don’t think it’s the Uncle, given the way Tolly thinks about him later in the conversation. It’s definitely not Theo, both because she doesn’t know people like Tolly and because if Korval had contact with her they’d doubtless be requiring her to aid the situation in a more direct manner.

Dragon in Exile – Chapter 35

Boss Nova’s House
Blair Road

In which Vel Ter jo’Bern appreciates art.

The drunken ne’er-do-well has a good name; an earlier Vel Ter jo’Bern was the head of House Hedrede during the Migration, and one of the negotiators on the Contract.

It’s nice to see the crisis pass with good feeling on all sides, though I do wonder if Vel Ter is able to view the situation with some distance on account of the distance that exists between himself and his clan; I suspect Delm Hedrede will be less appreciative of Luken’s artistry when the news reaches him. But less inclined to do anything about it, so there’s that.


In which things are changing on Surebleak.

Even granting that a public gathering of all the Bosses seems like a good opportunity to make a statement, it strikes me as particularly lacking in foresight for the disgruntled pack to try and start something at, of all things, a shooting competition. That’s right up there with the legendary criminal who tried to knock over the local precinct’s favourite coffee shop during the cops’ lunch break.

The old argument about the new consolidated school suggests this is set shortly after Necessity’s Child, though how much after would depend on the balance between the newness of the school and the oldness of the argument. Actually, it might even be during the late stages of Necessity’s Child, if the argument is “what to do when the new school opens” rather than “what to do now the new school has opened”.

(It might turn out that I’d have had more to say about this story if I’d read it after Dragon in Exile, the way Trade Secret turned out to contain details that clarified the situation in “Out of True”, but I had important pragmatic reasons for putting Dragon in Exile last in the schedule, namely that that meant I could schedule everything without needing to know exactly how many chapters there are in Dragon in Exile.)

Roving Gambler

In which Quin yos’Phelium finds occupation.

Oh, so that’s what a nerligig does.

It strikes me that “Roving Gambler” is very much about what the Code calls “proper conduct”. It’s full of people facing the question of what would be the correct thing to do in the circumstance, and as like as not finding that it’s not an easy question on a world like Surebleak, which is continually being challenged on what answers it did have. The kinds range from small domestic questions involving a father and his son to big policy issues involving the Boss of Bosses (and in classic melant’i fashion, the extreme ends of the spectrum involve the same people wearing different hats).

Korval has it particularly bad, as Pat Rin points out at the end, because they’re used to living on Liad and having the Code to consult on questions like this, but now they’re on Surebleak and the answers are different. (Something that’s foreshadowed all the way through the story, as Quin keeps finding moments where proper Liaden behaviour doesn’t quite fit the circumstance.) I’m not surprised that it was Kareen who’s been given the job of figuring out their situation; if anybody knows about proper conduct, it’s her. It’s interesting, though, that she’s specifically stated to have been ordered by the Delms to study the question: Is that just them putting an official stamp on the enterprise, or did they find that she was unwilling to get started?

I suppose if there’s any course of study that might help prepare one for running a planet, Generalist might be it. It’s been a while since we’ve encountered a professional Generalist; I’m pretty sure the last one was Quin’s many-times-grandfather Jela.

On the question of Surebleak’s seasons, I find this story inconclusive; all we hear about the weather is that it’s recently turned good after a long bad stretch, which doesn’t say much on a planet with weather like Surebleak’s, and anyway it’s not clear precisely how long after Ghost Ship it takes place, so there’d be no way of comparing.

Tomorrow: “The Rifle’s First Wife”

Ghost Ship – Chapter 25

Surebleak Port

In which Theo has luncheon with the Reform Boss of Surebleak.

Theo makes a good point well when she asks if Bechimo is really a starship. A certain amount of caution is understandable given Bechimo‘s history, but a pilot’s life is never exactly going to be safe. There are always risks, and you need to engage with them sensibly, but above all if you want to get anywhere you need to engage with them. It’s a big part of what pilots are saying when they say “the usual rules apply”. (For all the rules the Builders gave Bechimo, he doesn’t seem to have gotten that one. Maybe that was something he was expected to pick up from his captain and crew.)

Another data point for the question of whether Pat Rin looks like Val Con, supporting the idea that the resemblance is most striking if one is not expecting it.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 11

Mozart’s Modicum
Starport Gondola

In which Theo picks up an antiquity and a tail.

Theo, as is perhaps only to be expected from someone raised on a Safe World, isn’t really up to speed on what might be involved in a situation like this. As the operative tailing her notes, she doesn’t realise she might need to take precautions against people like him, and although it’s good that she does notice she’s being followed, it’s not so good that she thinks confronting the tail directly is a good idea, and she’s too ready to take his explanation at face value and assume the problem is dealt with. It’s there in the meeting at the teahouse, too; it’s good that she started to leave when her contact didn’t give the right recognition signal, but if she really understood why elaborate recognition signals might be necessary in the first place, she’d have kept going no matter what her contact said next.

It’s enough to make one wonder what the Uncle was thinking, sending her out so unprepared. Did he underestimate the influence of her upbringing, and assume that a pilot with her reputation would know these things? Or does he want her to get into trouble?

The tea Theo orders, Joyful Sunrise, is the same high-grade blend Daav gives Master dea’Cort as a joke in Scout’s Progress.

Ghost Ship – Chapter 2

Jelaza Kazone

In which Theo is introduced to her father’s family, and vice versa.

It is a tricky situation that Daav’s got himself in, regarding explaining himself to Kamele. The basic principle that he had kin in need of assistance is straightforward enough, but necessarily leads to questions like “Who are these kin?” and “Why have you never mentioned them before?” and, sooner or later, “But if your name is actually Daav yos’Phelium…”

Also, while I think Kamele would take the news that her onagrata had been married before at least as clear-headedly as Theo, things might get very awkward if she asked how the marriage had ended and where Aelliana is now and Daav felt obliged to answer honestly.

It’s interesting to compare Theo’s situation to Shan’s when the clan first became aware of him. Shan was rapidly enfolded in the clan, but that was because his mother had already declared him to be part of the clan by naming him yos’Galan; everything that followed was just sorting out the details. Theo is a Waitley, born under an arrangement that’s comparable in the relevant areas to a Liaden contract marriage with the offspring going to the mother’s clan, and her father has been making a point of not claiming any connection to Korval for himself let alone for her. It’s possible she could join Clan Korval at some future point, if it seemed like a good idea for all concerned (a collection of people including not only herself, her father and Delm Korval, but also her mother – which would entail the aftorementioned tricky explanations), but it’s not going to happen automatically just because her father has returned to his clan.

I like the detail that Merlin, who is usually referred to with male pronouns by those who know him best, gets female pronouns in the scene told from Theo’s viewpoint, because Theo’s from Delgado where female is the default gender.

Saltation – Chapter 36


In which Theo meets Win Ton again.

Now it’s definitely after the Battle of Solcintra; not long after, because the news has arrived at Volmer within the last few hours, while Theo was resting.

It took me a moment to get why Theo gets the more friendly greeting the second time she visits the Guild, but of course it’s because this time she’s wearing her jacket.

More foreshadowing of the news from home that’s awaiting Theo: although she doesn’t know it, she does have a personal interest in news of Ride the Luck and its pilot. But that’s still not the news of the moment… yet.

(It’s an amusing bit of outsider viewpoint that Pilot Vitale considers Korval “the most Liaden you can get”, especially considering the opinion Liad itself has recently expressed on that point.)

Saltation – Chapter 31

Hugglelans Planetary
Conglomeration of Portcalay

In which Theo shakes the dust of Eylot from her feet.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and I really don’t think “Theo’s annual discovery that she’s underestimated Hugglelans” is going to become a running joke, if only because there’s not much further it can go. (“Really, Theo? Did you think Hugglelans was just this universe? Listen: there’s a very nice universe next door…”)

Aito in this mode really does remind one of Theo’s father, and his family somewhat of Theo’s father’s family. I’m pretty sure House Hugglelans is Terran — surely something would have been said by now if they weren’t — but it seems like they’ve picked up a thing or two by living this long on a half-Liaden world. The fact that, as we now learn, they too are a family of ships and pilots, likely also has something to do with it. (Though, at that, they’re not ships and pilots in precisely the same way; I can’t see Theo’s father’s family ever adopting the strategy of making a paying business out of their support structures, because it would mean tying themselves to stationary infrastructure, and their fundamental ethos is basically a large-scale version of the pilot packing rule about being able to depart at short notice without leaving anything important behind.)