Tag Archives: Scout Headquarters

A Visit to the Galaxy Ballroom

In which Lina yo’Bingim does not wish to be part of the problem.

I’m fairly sure the merc who says “Efning” to Lina is attempting to wish her a good evening, but in the first moment I always think he’s offering his name.
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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.)
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Neogenesis – Chapter 20 part V

In which Val Con and Miri gather information about their visitors.

This is the first mention I can recall of there now being two separate branches of the Scouts, but it doesn’t surprise me. I presume the schism is a consequence of the events surrounding Korval’s big play and subsequent exile, and the subsequent removal of a chunk of Liaden society to Surebleak. Liaden society as a whole was divided over how to view Korval’s actions, and although many Scouts had a sympathy for Korval it is not to be supposed that they were unanimous in their approval.
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Saltation – Chapter 38

Conference Room Able
Pilots Guildhall

In which the bad news keeps on coming.

Caratunk is a planet we’ve heard of before: it’s where Jethri’s father met Iza Gobelyn.

And we heard about that in the same chapter which first informed us that “there are secrets in all families”, a phrase that’s associated with a particular family, and a particular person who is likely to be the same person Win Ton is on his way to meet. It amuses me that he’s implicitly included in Win Ton’s reference last chapter to unspecified people “even less reputable” than Scouts or Juntavas.

The fact that Win Ton was at Nev’lorn when the fighting broke out is interesting, and offers an additional reason for the Department to have decided the time was right for overt action. (And prompts one to wonder what might have happened if he and Daav had encountered each other there.)

And now the bad news from home has caught up with Theo, having been somewhat delayed by Kamele’s lack of familiarity with the options for sending an urgent message long-distance to a person in motion. There’s an irony here: Theo does know where to find her father – or would, if she had the means to link together several things she’s learned recently – but, lacking those means, she doesn’t know that she knows.

Saltation – Chapter 37

Conrad Café
Pilots Guild Hall

In which Win Ton has overstepped.

This is one of those chapters where I’d probably have had a lot to say the first time I read it, but now it’s so familiar that I don’t remember my first reaction.

One thing I definitely didn’t think of the first time, since Trade Secret hadn’t been written then, is the way certain things that happen or are mentioned in that novel strike familiar echoes in the description of Bechimo‘s creation.

Incidentally, I’m intrigued by the name of the café. Obviously it’s not named after Boss Conrad of Surebleak, but perhaps piloting history contains some famous Conrad they’re both named after.

I Dare – Chapter 55


In which the Captain acts for the safety of the passengers.

The mode of Ultimate Authority, which is referred to twice in this chapter, has, perhaps unsurprisingly, not come up much before: three times in the series up to this point. Priscilla adopts it briefly when putting Sav Rid Olanek in his place at the end of Conflict of Honors; Commander of Agents is said in Carpe Diem to use it when dealing with his underlings; and Val Con, greeting the Tree in Plan B, places the Tree in the position of ultimate authority.

The fact that it’s used twice in this chapter, and by whom, is the central conflict in a nutshell: the first is Commander of Agents again, and the second is Miri when she takes on the melant’i of Liad’s Captain. And I think it says something that, whereas Miri adopts the mode temporarily and in a situation where she is in fact the duly-appointed ultimate authority until the emergency is resolved, the Commander is not only self-appointed but apparently expects to be regarded as the ultimate authority all the time.

There’s a leap near the end of the chapter that I’ve never been able to follow. After the doomsday weapons are activated, ter’Fendil says he can deactivate them if Val Con gives him the control device, and Val Con does. Then it cuts to another scene, and when it cuts back everybody’s running for their lives and talking about the urgent need to do something before the weapons break out and start killing everybody. Is there something missing, or is it just me missing something?

Breath’s Duty

Leafydale Place
Standard Year 1393

In which Scout Reserve Captain Daav yos’Phelium returns a favour.

Speaking of first published appearances, this is Kamele’s, brief as it is, and it gave me entirely the wrong impression of her until Fledgling came out. I blame the translators’ decision to use “mistress” as a substitute for whatever word they use on Delgado, because while it has the advantage of bypassing a lengthy explanation it fails to capture the actual spirit of Kamele’s relationship with Jen Sar. On the other hand, I admit there were also some failings of comprehension on my part, regarding (a) the actual likelihood of Daav getting in the kind of relationship that “mistress” implies, and (b) the fact, which is mentioned right there in the story, that they’ve been together long enough for her daughter to be grown up.

This may also be, even more briefly, the first published mention of timonioum.

One of the purposes of this re-read was to see what new associations would come out of the stories by reading them in a different configuration: what would come out of a story by reading it near another story I maybe hadn’t read it near before? In this case, a new thing that struck me was the first dissonant detail: after a couple of pages of Jen Sar Kiladi getting ready for a fishing trip, just as he always does, he pauses to run through the Rainbow pattern. Reading the story so soon after Carpe Diem, with everything it has to say about the Rainbow and about the Rainbow being a Scout thing, that really jumped out at me as a sign that Professor Kiladi isn’t the groundhugging academic he appears. It says, if one didn’t already know, a great deal about his background in a very few words.

Another association that I don’t think I picked up before this re-read is that Acting Scout Commander sig’Radia has the same surname as Senior Scout Cho sig’Radia, the friend and mentor of Daav’s daughter. Probably a relative, not the same person; “Phoenix” has established that sig’Radia has a history of producing Scouts, and this story says straight up that Daav doesn’t know her. (I wonder, though: I don’t think Kiladi ever actually met Cho sig’Radia other than through written correspondence, and if he did notice the connection Daav wouldn’t make anything of it while he’s keeping the Kiladi connection quiet; conversely, of course, Cho sig’Radia knows Theo’s father only as Kiladi and has no reason to suspect he’s Daav. And one who was a Senior Scout a few years ago might have progressed far enough to become Acting Scout Commander now — especially since the “Acting” suggests that the Department’s recent actions have resulted in some rapid movement in the line of succession.)

I’m pretty sure I got the significance of the Richard A. Davis Portmaster Aid Foundation first time, though.

I seem to recall there being something I wanted to say about the bit where L’il Orbit casts shade on Kiladi’s piloting skills, but the only thing that’s coming to mind now is that it was never Kiladi, in the old days, who was called “schoolteacher”. And that there’s a bit of an irony in Daav yos’Phelium being named as a reliable pilot considering what happened the last time he was seen piloting a spaceship.

Carpe Diem – Chapter 23

Trealla Fantrol

In which Nova learns more about the Department of the Interior.

With Miri and Val Con’s adventure in Gylles over for now, it’s back to see what Val Con’s relatives are doing on Liad. Or have been doing, or will be doing: I’m still not sure how the timelines of the various plot strands line up.

One thing I have realised is that as well as Val Con saying it’s been slightly over a month since their night on the town in Econsey, we have Miri — the previous day — saying that they’ve known each other for less than a month. Maybe Miri is rounding down and Val Con is rounding up, or maybe they’re using different months… in which case, it’s anyone’s guess how long it’s actually been.

That realisation led me to go back over the chapters covering the disputed period, looking for date markers, and here’s what I’ve discovered: if one figures on Miri and Val Con being in the hands of the Juntavas for about four days, and then another four days between that and their landfall on Zhena Trelu’s world (a much more likely period to survive on bread, water, and salmon than two weeks!), that not only fits all the available hints, but it can then be plausibly asserted that (with a single exception) the chapters of the novel up to this point are after all in their correct chronological order.

Imagine that: the authors knowing what they’re doing!

Saltation – Chapter 22

Erkes Dormitory, Suite 302
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo receives a letter from Win Ton.

The pace is picking up; the novel is concerning itself less with the day-to-day of Theo’s life and more with the scattered highlights. Weeks passed between chapters 20 and 21; months have passed between chapters 21 and 22. If Win Ton’s contract ran for the usual duration, it’s already a year since the end of chapter 19, and more time has passed between the last few chapters than in all the chapters before.

It’s interesting, knowing where Theo’s story is going, that her course of study is described here as resembling a tradeship course.

I don’t know if Win Ton’s report on the reputation of Brine Batzer means that we haven’t heard the last of him, but I’m gratified that it matches my impression of him.

A Day at the Races

In which Val Con scores a victory over a field of skimmers and an aunt.

Speaking of families of consequence, here is Korval again. Anne and Er Thom have died since we saw them last, and Shan is now First Speaker, holding the clan in trust for when Val Con becomes Delm — though Val Con seems no more eager to do that thing and to give up the Scouts than his father was. (One suspects he’s going to find it harder to put off once the “your father was Delm at your age” card enters play, but he has a few years up his sleeve yet before he reaches that age.) For that matter, Shan is not keen on being First Speaker, and looks forward to being able to hand it off to Nova and head out on the Dutiful Passage. (Presumably there’s an age restriction of some kind, else Nova would be First Speaker already; she’s clearly better suited for it temperamentally.) And in the mean time, Shan races skimmers, and Val Con spends time with bartenders…

This is a case where the right ordering of a story is unclear, not because it’s not certain when it takes place, but because it’s certainly taking place at the same time as another story. I chose to put “Shadow Partner” first, since most of that story takes place before this one begins (and this ends after that does, if only by a paragraph or two), but they would not do badly the other way round.

Tomorrow: “Certain Symmetry”