Tag Archives: Star King

Dragon Ship – Chapter 10

Landing Pad Number Nine
Regent’s Airfield Number One

In which Bechimo takes on cargo at an airport.

Twenty-three Standard years is a long time for the pods to have been in storage. That means they’ve been in storage longer than Shan’s been a Jump pilot, let alone a Master Trader – and longer than Theo’s been alive.

And another drib of what’s happened to Daav. I suspect the authors of stringing out the scenes that don’t involve Theo so that no two of them appear without a bit of Theo in between. There are probably good and sufficient reasons for this; after all, it is officially a book about Theo.

Saltation – Chapter 25

Codrescu Station
Eylot Nearspace

In which Theo sees a ghost.

There are limits to how far a person can proceed even when intending to read a series in its internal chronological order, if only because there’s going to be chapters like this one which is in itself not in chronological order. It starts with Theo and yos’Senchul in orbit, and then there’s a flashback as Theo reflects on the events that occurred between the end of last chapter and the beginning of this. So should a person committed to internal chronological order consider rearranging the scenes of the chapter? I would say no. It’s all very well to want to read the stories in chronological order, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that it’s about reading the stories. The authors’ choice to tell the events in this order means something; the order is part of the story.

That the “ghost ship” which appears on Theo’s ship scan is not just a scanner glitch of no future significance will be no surprise to anyone who knows the title of this novel’s sequel. (I can’t remember now whether I knew that thing when I first read this novel, but anyway I knew it wasn’t just a scanner glitch of no future significance.)

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.

Saltation – Chapter 20

Piloting Praxis
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo is not going home for the holidays.

There is a saying: If you can’t be a good example, perhaps you can be a horrible warning. The price of fame is that Theo’s teachers seem inclined to use her as one or the other.

Being of a mind to look for connections with other stories, I idly wonder if any of the master-adjudicated piloting errors the students are set to study is the one that was at the centre of “Changeling”. The odds are not necessarily good, though, even if the timing does work out right (which at this point I’m not sure it does); in the wide universe, there are surely more than enough piloting errors to choose from.

Saltation – Chapter 18

Diverse Cultures Celebration Team
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo meets friends new and old.

It hadn’t occurred to me that yos’Senchul referring to Korval and Ixin by their nicknames might be a test of Theo’s knowledge of Liaden clans — at least partly, of course, because my own knowledge of such is at least solid enough that those two nicknames are transparent to me.

I wonder if Theo would have thought to look up Line Kiladi in the Book of Clans if Kara hadn’t interrupted — and what she would have found if she had.

Win Ton’s courier ship, Torvin, built in a Korval-affiliated ship-yard, has a name with history behind it: Clan Torvin was the clan of pilots that Cantra yos’Phelium was the last survivor of before she founded Clan Korval.

The bit about Liadens and Terrans disagreeing over which side of the ship things like entrance hatches go on is just a colorful detail here, but it will be significant later.

Saltation – Chapter 17

Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo’s advisors advise her.

It’s clear from the conversation Theo’s advisors have with her when they get back to the Academy that their hand-talk discussion on the trip back covered a lot of ground on the topic of What Are We Going To Do About Theo? — not just in general, and for the future, but also in quite a bit of detail regarding how they would approach Theo with their conclusions. The moment when yos’Senchul surprises Theo to make the point about how she reacts to the unexpected — right when Veradantha is drawing her attention by talking about how she reacts to the unexpected — has the feel of having been choreographed in advance.

I wonder if there was any particular reason for Veradantha to pick Jankalim and Theopholis for her list to demonstrate that aspects of culture are universal. (It happens that Jankalim and Theopholis are respectively the first and last planets visited by the protagonists in Conflict of Honors. Theopholis has some striking cultural details, including a peculiarly unpleasant penalty for pre-meditated murder; Jankalim we didn’t really get to see much of, culture-wise.)

Saltation – Chapter 16

Conglomeration of Portcalay

In which one may have anything at Hugglelans as long as one eats it under red sauce.

Theo’s advisors probably do want to hear her answers to their questions about her future hopes, but I think she’s right that there are other questions behind the questions, and I think that by asking about her future they’re also hoping to learn more about her past. Especially after the question about whether her father aimed her anywhere in particular, I suspect they’d like to know where he’s coming from. If Wilsmyth has discovered that Jen Sar Kiladi has no current flight time, surely Theo’s advisors have done the same.

Theo’s answer brings to mind the fact that the med tech a few chapters ago was confident that the life of a courier pilot lay in Theo’s future without having to ask, and, it now appears, before Theo knew herself. It might just be that as a med tech in a piloting academy he’s seen enough courier pilots in training to recognise the signs (especially if one of the signs is “shows up in the dispensary after getting in a fight”!) but I’m inclined to take it as more evidence that he’s a soul-weaver.

Saltation – Chapter 15

Administrative Hearing Room Three
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which certain facts are found.

Theo’s inner calm — as she says, the calm a pilot needs to act not only quickly but well — is, I think, at least partly thanks to the ministrations of the Healer. Wilsmyth does not seem to have attained a similar degree of calm, so apparently he either wasn’t offered the same service or didn’t take to it.

The amount of interplay going on at his table during the hearing suggests to me that he’s inclined to push for more and his advisors are inclined to believe that doing so would not be in his best interests. I note particularly the urgent whispering when the question of victimhood is raised; I can well believe that someone with Wilsmyth’s attitude would consider himself the injured party, but his advisors must be aware that if he tries to push that interpretation of events it’s likely to go against him.

(I’m reminded of something that occurs in passing in Scout’s Progress: a dispute between two Liaden clans which might have been settled in arbitration if one of the disputants had not, as the character describing it says, “taken up the melant’i of victim” and insisted on a formal hearing. Which proceeded to decide resoundingly against the self-assigned victim. But I digress.)

Theo completely fails to take the hint about wanting to speak outside the range of official ears, and has to have it spelled out, but she is young and relatively guileless, and particularly she was raised in a world where “outside the range of official ears” was not a concept to be considered, let alone a situation to be sought out.

Part of her advisors’ plan for balancing Wilsmyth’s attack on her flight time involves her getting to fly a Star King Mark VI, which has the effect of making Wilsmyth seem even pettier in retrospect. Even had Theo been the type to be tempted by the prospect of being upgraded to a newer and shinier aircraft, an upgrade from a Mark II to almost-a-Mark-III doesn’t seem like a bribe worth very much.

Theo being set straight by Instructor yos’Senchul reminds me of an incident when I was about her age and one of my teachers had to set me straight in similarly uncompromising fashion after I did something thoughtless. I don’t want to dwell on what it was I did, which was so spectacularly ill-considered that the me of today can’t imagine doing it, but it seems appropriate to acknowledge that moments like these, uncomfortable as they can be at the time, are important: I’m the person I am today, who would never do something like that, at least in part because of having that experience when I was the person I was then. And if we’re lucky, we get that kind of thoughtlessness out of the way in a relatively safe place where a vehement set-down from a teacher is the worst that results and we can take the lesson without coming to any lasting harm.

Saltation – Chapter 13

Ozar Rokan Memorial Flight Center
Anlingdin Piloting Academy

In which Theo loses her temper.

The thing that strikes me about this conversation on Wilsmyth’s side is that he clearly hasn’t bothered to learn much about Theo before trying to reel her in. I suspect he has some kind of mental picture of What Junior Students Are Like and has planned his strategy based on how his hypothetical Junior Student would react, instead of taking the time to work out how this particular junior student interacts with the world — with unfortunate results when it turns out that Theo differs from his ideal student in… pretty much every significant respect.

It doesn’t entirely surprise me, since he’s basically trying to pick up Theo as a tool to his own advancement, that he’s not thinking of her as a person with her own viewpoint, but it does kind of surprise me that he doesn’t at least realise what’s likely to happen when he threatens her: he was right there when her reputation for reacting aggressively started. (On the other hand, he was right there and didn’t back down until somebody else pointed out the danger he might be in, so maybe he’s just not very good at spotting what’s going on outside his own head.)

The thing that strikes me about this conversation on Theo’s side is that the subtext of the conversation goes straight over her head without her even feeling a breeze. You can tell she hasn’t been raised Liaden: I don’t know if a Liaden her age would have been able to negotiate a graceful exit from the conversation with Wilsmyth so determined to get what he wants, but she would at least have noticed that he was trying politics on her.