Review: Reap the Wild Wind, by Julie E Czerneda

The Oud, the Tikitik and the Om’ray all live on the planet Cersi, three sentient species that share little beyond a common language and an Agreement stipulating the rules of co-existence.

The Yena Om’ray lead a marginalised and secluded life, deep in the Lay Swamp, when one Harvest is disturbed by a foreign thing exploding in the air, taking both Harvest and harvesters with it. When they fail to meet the expectations of the Tikitik, coming to take their share of the harvest that’s not there the world as Aryl Sarc knows it changes. Forever.

The journey thus begins…

Populated with strong characters this well paced story is the starting point of a tale longer and larger than this single volume. Without having read parts two and three of the Stratification trilogy I none the less recommend Reap the wild wind to anyone who has a thing for this kind of yarn.

Review: Sporting Chance, by Elizabeth Moon

In this book the adventures that started off in Hunting Party continues. After having talked with the king about the mental condition of his sole surviving son Lady Cecelia suddenly has a stroke, resulting in alleged brain damage, and coma. The family places Heris on the suspect list, after it turns out Lady Cecelia had added her to her will, giving her the yacht. Alienated she accepts a mission to take the prince to the Guerni Republic for a medical assessment. To do this she has to ‘steal’ Lady Cecelia’s yacht… and also to let others try to handle Cecelia’s situation.

So, what do I think? It’s a good adventure story, and we also get to know a little about the space that surrounds the Familias Regnant. The young folks gets more time on stage, too, and when that happens this story definitely retains that air of Famous Five also present in Hunting Party. Those bits are not my favourite, and personally I would had liked Heris’ character getting some more flesh, so to speak. But it’s a well wrought piece of entertainment and right now that matches my mood and energies quite well.

Sometimes that’s all you wish for :D

Fast, furious… and faulty

No, this is not about a film. It’s about trusting media channels that are partial while succeeding in appearing unbiased. And how that can turn out.

The day before yesterday – yes, I’m a bit slow, I do have a job to do, and don’t entirely live by word of my laptop /I like to use my brain as well, and analysis can take time/ – there was talk about the qualifications of the judge who had presided over the Pirate Bay trial. He is a member of three different organisations (link goes to a swedish language news site) involved in the copyright issue, two of which is pure professional interest and don’t promote a certain opinion or viewpoint, but a third could be interpreted to suggest disqualification… But long before anyone had had time to research those organisations the verdict was clear, official, and in the public domain – the judge was entrenched in pro-megacorp copyright, and thus disqualified.

At that point it don’t much matter what the objective truth is – the trial was equal to a lynch mob, and he was judged guilty.

Dismissing the question of actual guilt – is this how we wan justice to be made? Because this isn’t the first time public verdict has been given. A couple of days ago two persons were approached and shot in Stockholm Old Town. Next morning everyone knew who did it, only now, a couple of days later, when one of the victims have recovered enough to tell what happened, it appears some one else did it (also in swedish, sorry). Of course, the investigation is still on, and both persons are on the suspects list, or so I assume.

But I wonder how was life for that other person, during those days in between? He was fairly famous, well known within his niche. Now he’s famous for something else.

Just because everyone wanted a piece of the action, just because the blogosphere acted as lynch mob.
And a lynch mob has no place in politic society.

Trust across cultures

As said in an earlier, in fact my previous post ;-), the range of topics possible to discuss when having read Cherryh’s Chanur books are many and varied. One of the ones most often talked about is gender. Therefore I’ll let that thread rest. Maybe I’ll pick it up later. But for now I’ll reflect on another topic – that of trust.

Take eight different species, three of them not breathing oxygen and one of the oxygen breathers an intruder. Even so the four resident oxygen breathers are very different from each other – from different planets, and thus from vastly different cultures. It should be obvious to us as readers to appreciate the differences, but instead we fall into the trap of anthropomorphising. Or at least I do. Repeatedly.

And what happens is that despite the characters too knowing about these differences, and in some cases learning about the at the same moment as the reader do so, they have troubles with understanding and interpreting each other. It becomes clear to the reader that language is a cultural construct, something that resides within the culture, and not every expression translates very well. Rather the opposite, and it is visible in the pidgin language shared between the hani and their mahendo’sat allies. But it is also obvious in the clashes between groundling or station bound hani and their spacer kin – culture can change within a species as well, culture is in constant evolution – it is the means by which we handle our reality.

It’s almost that the truly weird kif are easier to understand because they are so alien anthropomorphising is not an issue.

So while the hani captain Pyanfar ought to trust her two mahen “friends” Ana and Jik she doesn’t. This is partly because she realises they have been meddling and manipulating, both her and others, and it isn’t until the next to last book that we learn the reason for their behaviour (conditioning), and maybe we don’t exactly understand how their society functions until the next to last chapter of that fourth book.

Are these issues unique to a pretend universe? I think not. Cultures here on our planet places value on different things and behaviours. Immigrant parents don’t understand their kids who have grown up in a different society not only because the surrounding culture is different from what their parents grew up with but because they are younger, and culture and society are fleeting, almost as chimeras. Even waster gaps exist if you look on a greater scale, between and across continents.

How can we expect trust when we can’t even talk to each other without misunderstandings? How can we expect trust when one bows to the other only out of fear? How can we expect trust when one thinks he’s more valuable than another, just because he’s of a different colour or religion or, indeed, only wealthier?

Valid questions. Because I think trust is essential when humans deals with each other – without trust politic society wouldn’t hold.

Will it?