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WildCards

wildcardsforkindleSo…you tell me: was the rewrite worth it? Let’s talk about it here.

Ask anything! I won’t post spoilers to the next books, but I’ll answer pretty much anything dealing with WildCards and/or it’s relationship to GroundTies et al. Why I did what I did…stuff like that.

And if you’d like to post a review up on Amazon, here’s a link!

36 comments to WildCards

  • Othin

    Hi Jane,
    I have allready told you that the rewrites are great. I can’t stop thinking about the Wesley Smith univers.

    By the way, did you know that a Bijan Shapoorian is “Director at the Universities at Shady Grove”?

    @ “what constitutes as valuable input” or a Del d’Buggers nightmare
    Don’t know if this is a viable short story idea – I’m not a writer:

    Del d’Bugger on first mission. An old Professor (as in at the end of his carrier and with enough money for the rest of his days and no worry what others think of him) who had the guts to just thank all those he didn’t mention for their invaluable input to his research. If that wasn’t begging for a Del d’Bugger’s intervention!
    The celebrity Professor lives on a planet (Recon) think tank with his extended family (several wives and husbands and their kids, some researchers and some Recons) – and needs help to have his research co-patented and credited to – his at the time of his research 3 year old youngest daughter and her gang of 3 to 7 year old friends and their pets! His jet back held real paper (his research notes) read more like a Persiflage than any scientific paper – with him more often than not looking after the kids and pets while doing his experiments – and his insights and ideas sprouting from accidents, diversions and not being able to keep to his intended timetable – as well as the kids questions and sometimes nonrelated comments – and in one incident – the Kushils (one of the pets) mating cry (some pets have sharper senses and will react to anything strange)

    Jet unknown – one of his spouses will write 2 years later about the value/need of “anchoring ALL RESEARCHERS – nut just Net Heads in D Prog” – so they will be rooted fully in surrounding society. This is necessary – an essential need – for the researcher! They need their creativity feed by all sources available (that includes surprises, children and chance.) (The effect of isolation and an unchanging/controlled environment/closed system on the minds is Stagnation – like a chicken grown up in and breed for a cage on a chicken farm won’t be able to deal with being set free – in fact won’t survive a week in a garden with chicken houses and food. Just have a heart attack because of day light and darkness in the nights.) Anchoring Researchers also focusses them on their work. And the society gets a more responsible researcher who is protective of his inventions. Needless to say – she sees the Separatists (Shapoorians) in their “space cages” to be a dead end.

  • Othin

    @Hononomii: I really like the rewrite about Hononomii, his attack, his interrogation, and his coming back on the planet. This way his actions are much more comprehensible and he looks like a person, not just an excuse to forward other person’s actions. I hope to read more of him, his relation to Anevai as well as to Nayati. I’m also curios how he deals with his Cocheta experience and whether it’ll lead him to more self-confidence. on the planet.

  • Hono was definitely a big reason for the rewrite. I’m not a fan of characters who just mindlessly hit their marks and that’s really what he was in the first version. I was so cramped for space in the original book—editor telling me to just make it shorter—that I never even tried to develop him…and that never sat well with me.

    He’s still fairly truncated…he IS a minor character and must remain so…but rather than just coming on screen and immediately going catatonic, he’s now a dynamic part of developing the “cocheta influence.” In fact, tho it’s never explicitly stated, his Cocheta was subordinate, in the military sense, to Nayati’s, hence his willingness to concede rather blindly to Nayati’s demands. OTOH, he was beta to Nayati’s alpha long before the Cocheta came into the picture, so even without the Cocheta, his tendency w/b to follow Nayati’s lead.

    Mostly I feel that he’s less a sort of mindless victim in the new version and more an active player in getting himself into trouble. He’s still primarily a vehicle for Anevai’s growing misgivings regarding the Cocheta, but I’m a lot more comfortable with using him now.

    Thanks for mentioning it!

  • Othin

    I have the feeling that even though Hono is only a minor player, his experience qualifies him to give something back to Nayati (besides a bad conscience) and maybe to Stephan as well. Betas are Betas not just because they take what others have to give, are audience and make alphas feel bigger or better. Sometimes they are glue that brings or holds others together (like Hono bringing Dr. Paul and his father together again), sometimes they bring specialist knowledge, sometimes other advantages.

    That reminds me on the shell collection. Could this be one criterion whether other planets have their own Cocheta? Or even – could those shells be a relict from the Cocheta e.g. a food source.

    • Heh heh…the shells. Hmmm…..

      Hono and Dr P are curious characters. Much as I try, I’ve never really warmed to either of them…and you have to understand how unusual that is for me. 😀 I like getting to know even my bad guys. These two just remained cold and distant, no matter what I did. And I really figured Paul to do a whole lot more in the story.

      Your comment made me realize I hadn’t even had them onstage in HG. I began looking for a place to begin to work them in, wrote the scene…and realize now WHY I don’t particularly like them. 😉 (Goes whistling off into the ‘Net….)

  • Hanneke

    Hi Jane;
    I treated myself to reading Wildcards over Christmas and New Year, and wanted to let you know how much I liked the improvements.
    It’s much easier reading somehow, smoother; even just tiny little half-sentences added at the beginning to clarify some of the special terms and ideas somehow made it much easier to follow and get into the story.

    Everybody suddenly makes sense now you’ve added some clarification of their motivations, and boy, does it make a difference, especially to Wesley – he’s even *nice* occasionally!
    After reading Mimetrons and Partners, I liked Wesley, and was very interested in how that Wesley could rhyme with the character as I’d read it in Groundties. You’ve made him consistent with the new prequel, without totally changing the events in this book; but what a difference the tone and the extra details make – his motivations now are much clearer and believable, and he retains his likeable character; and somehow he’s also much more believably involved with saving the wider ‘Net *and* clearly in need of a real Partner who’d be up to his weight in the esoteric ‘Net programming.
    His first encounter with Stephen in the bar doesn’t read like an assault to me now, it’s comprehensible now I know about Mimetrons from book 1, and you’ve added that reminder and made the whole tone of the encounter different; and with the way you’ve now handled the encounter in the restaurant between those two the dynamic has changed a lot in the way I feel it. It doesn’t feel so lopsided anymore, it’s two complex people who might grow to mean much to each other but have to deal with a lot of problems first.

    Cantrell and Anevai and some of the smaller characters are much better too, as is the whole feel and flow of the book.
    I also like the feeling of the wider field of view, which both helps to understand the wider context and thus increases the suspense, knowing a bit what else is riding on these incidents, but also relieves the pressure from being inside Stephen’s feelings too much – I always get teary when I think about his history and the problems he gets into now. It kept me reading on in the first version, from wanting so hard for things to *get better* for the poor guy; but this new rewritten edition still keeps me reading just as much, and I’m relieved to not be constantly on the edge of tears while being just as interested in finding out what happens next and will things get better and/or get solved to a satisfactory conclusion.

    Yes of course I know you won’t disappoint in that, but when I’m inside the story that motivation to live through the satisfactory conclusion is still just as strong!

    Now I have to go read six boring articles before the last subject (information management) of this module of my course starts next Tuesday. I want to dive into Nexus right away, I don’t know if I can wait ’till the end of February to continue now I’ve started.
    Thank you for an excellent new take on your story, I really liked it!

    • Yipppeeee!!!! Thank you soooo much. that’s exactly what I hoped for, in every way. You can see why, after writing ‘NetWalkers, I was so excited to rewrite these…WITH the space (and insight) to do it right.

      The “assault” in the bar, I realize in retrospect, was a huge mistake, at least in how I handled it. I thot I wanted the reader to experience the same shock and confusion as Stephen did and then slowly get to know Wes and his motivations throughout the rest of the story. I didn’t have space for another Viewpoint in that book…Warner was already making me cut it to shreds…and I thot it w/b interesting to hold back and not let the reader into Wesley’s head until the second book.

      BIG mistake.

      I know now that the scene worked TOO well. He came across so obnoxious a lot of people never could forgive him. I think that one scene really hurt my entire career—and I, of course, loved it, because I KNEW he was fundamentally a good guy. But I never managed to bridge that for far too many readers.

      This is where a good editor could have saved the project (not to mention my career!) Instead of just saying “make it shorter” he could have said “are you aware what this scene is doing?” (In fact, he wanted to flat out cut the scene of Stephen in the gym which is one of the few places we see the poor lad having fun and what has helped keep him at least somewhat sane.) Yes, CJC was editing it, but she was also mentoring me along the way. This was my first book ever. By the time we sent it to Warner, she knew it as well as I did, and that snowblinds you to what the end effect is. That’s why “cold” editing is so vital, esp on a first novel, and esp on one as complex as this.

      These days, I write pretty much the whole thing without intermediate readings and so she can do a much colder edit than she did on GroundTies. Plus…I know more. I’m better at tracking potential reader impact. But, boy, I needed an editor like Pat Labrutto on that first book. My writing career would have been a lot different.

      Don’t get me wrong! I’m responsible for that book and by golly, I’m still proud of it. But it’s a poster child for how the shift from mentoring, real editors to “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” editors has hurt the industry. Warner figured CJ’s name on the cover was all it needed to sell copies. Warner dumped all real editorial work into CJC’s lap, just assumed because I was working with her that what came out w/b publishable. And it was publishable. It was a good book. It just wasn’t a good first novel. And not because of the length, but because readers need to learn to trust a writer and Wesley confused rather than instilled trust.

      One of the only actual physical fan letters I ever got was from someone who had just finished Harmonies and they said that they’d now read anything I wrote because they could trust me to follow through on what I started. I loved that comment, because it’s very important to me to do exactly that, but I also realized that it required people to trust me through three books to come to that conclusion in the first place. This isn’t optimal for a writer trying to build an audience.

      But…20/20 hindsight! It is what it is, and I’m delighted to be able to make the revised versions available and finally clear poor Wesley’s name. 😀

      Thank you!

      I really hate to ask…but if you and (anyone else who has read these) would put reviews (pro or con!) up on Amazon, it might help me sell a few copies. Right now, they’re just sitting there. 🙁

  • sky_barnes

    One review posted for wildcards, check (will have to post for others some other evening, as it is nigh midnight, (did I really spend an hour there?) ) I hadn’t realized nobody had posted any yet. Hope it ups business.
    Sorry I’ve been remiss in sharing here, either, as I bought the series in its current entirety in september, then waited until I had several free days (somehow a rarity with two part-time jobs), to read through from 1-4.

    Excellent! I am glad that it sounds like progress is being made on the conclusion (or just book 5), despite the lack of change in the progress bar on the side of the blog.

    Occasionally as I was reading I flipped to the originals (2-4) to see what was changed, and recalled again why I enjoyed the original series thoroughly. This is better – and I am impressed at how much you were able to use verbatim and still change the direction of the overall plot arc. The character’s emotional truth is as important as *truth* in the story, and here it is just more fleshed out for more characters.

    I admit I always liked Wesley, in spite of his initial jerk introduction, and am glad to now have explicit justification.

    During the read I bookmarked (a very few) pages as I was going wherever small inconsistencies made me notice them (perhaps to be reported to the typo section), but would have to go back to my reader to retrieve them, so not now.
    Goodnight.

  • Thank you thank you thank you! What a wonderful review! I wish I could summarize the essence of the books half so well! Wow…. I don’t know about business, but it settles my tummy a lot. I admit, I’ve been worried. This whole project has loomed over my head for so many years, the lack of feedback has been nerve wracking! 😀

    I’m so glad you did the back and forth thing. I hoped people would have fun with that!

    What you said about maintaining the “emotional truth” is soooo right. In a character driven story such as I write, it’s more important than the plot. The plot is quite mutable…as evidenced by the whole Hono-thread, not to mention the entire underlying political-arc…but those underlying human motivations, which ultimately boil down to character and emotion and psychology, are what give the story its integrity. The story arc was always intended to have another book to complete at least the Stephen/Wesley/Anevai emo-arc, but when Warner changed editors (several times) and then went away completely, that obviously went by the wayside.

    What the original HG would have been is something I can no longer resurrect. Once I wrote ‘NetWalkers, the focus of the political/social-arc underwent a massive shift. The role of the Mentor is much greater, and just what’s going on with the ‘NetWalking has taken a (I think anyway) really cool twist, thanks in part to current cosmological theory that fleshes out my whole NSpace concept in a Highly Significant way. 😉

    But what’s happening and has to happen with the characters and their relationships hasn’t really changed. That was set up in that initial series. A few details might shift, how we get there is taking some fun turns, but ultimately…the roller coaster is on its final run and unless we want to crash and burn….

    Obviously I always loved Wesley…well, once I got over the idea that he was destined to go off in Cetacean and get blown up and was free to get attached to him. Obviously, I hoped readers would as well, but in all honesty, for a broader audience I didn’t achieve that goal. I hoped the final one on one with Cantrell would pretty much explain him, but once the series came out I realized that scene was too little too late for a lot of readers. I don’t blame the readers, not a bit of it. I was a brand new writer tackling a mature writer’s project without the aid of proper editing.

    Again, I stress that CJC was more mentor than final editor on this project and that’s a big difference. What she taught me is beyond measure—I’d never written a story of any kind before I started GroundTies, had no idea what I was getting into and she quietly backed my ambition and helped me fine tune so many writing skills!—but she knew Wesley inside and out by the time we were done as well. In the end it really needed an editor who could come in cold and spot that nearly fatal flaw in the presentation of a major character and help me fix it rather than a rather frantic, overworked guy who just said make it shorter, then flung it out under the radar of his company, in the shadow of an Indiana Jones spoof/ripoff because it was “too long for a first novel.”

    I don’t really even blame Brian. I blame an industry that is antiquated in its marketing and production and is obsessed with best sellers rather than good books.

    I’m just so glad to have had you folks to keep me going so I could finally get this story right, and a venue in which to make it available.

    Thanks again to you and Hanneke for making my year start off SUPER!

  • aaaarghhh….and Othin who started it all off! Mmmm-wah!

  • Hanneke

    I’m still thinking, but getting into wilder speculation and castle-in-the-air territory.
    May I commit my flights of fancy here?

    Dr.Paul – I cannot like him, and don’t see what Cantrell sees in him, or ever saw in him. Yes, they’re both expedient and goal-oriented, but in her it’s always in aid of a positive goal, she’s not self-serving nor as coldly callous as he is (and jealous & possessive to boot). I’m suspecting Cocheta influence, stronger and earlier than presently known.
    These are emotions the Cocheta are known to have promoted in their hosts – on the whole, the Cocheta we’ve seen in action up to now seem a rather immature bunch, as far as both emotions and actions go; except for the Other who I suspect is not a Cocheta but Seneca.

    Consider:
    – the Ryevanovitches had trouble conceiving, for a long enough time their friend Tyeewapi knew about it;
    – Dr. Paul the worldclass geneticist stays on their world and is friendly with them for a while, and shortly after he leaves mrs.Ryevanovitch turns out to be pregnant with Stephen;
    – this might be a) just luck, b) the result of straightforward extra-marital activity, c) the result of some genetic assistance and tinkering by dr.Paul to help his friends – and maybe with another motive as well;
    – when Stephen is born he has very unusual eyes, enough to be considered a changeling or at least a bastard by their community – and neither Stefan nor Paul has these eyes;
    – the Recon on Rostov-on-Don may well have already been experimenting with the Cocheta hats at the time, though it’s not explicitly stated;
    – the Rostov Recon in later years keep the off-world researchers out of the loop about the Cocheta – but maybe in the beginning, before the Cocheta paranoia sets in so deeply, they might have made an exception for a good friend of one of the primary Recon Cocheta-links (i.e. Stefan);
    – arguments for this: if Stefan is hoping for help with their conception-problem he will want to offer something valuable in return, if the Cocheta perceive a near-match genetically to something they are looking for in a host, and a chance to influence an expert into tinkering with that to get the results the Cocheta are looking for;
    – human genes do have the basic building blocks necessary for ‘Netwalking (i.e. what Seneca does), but the chance of the right combination arising spontaneously seems vanishingly rare;
    – if Dr.Paul was put under Cocheta influence then, they’d have wanted him strongly bound; it’s already been shown that he could be made to forget his first meeting with them by Tyeewapi, so another such incident years earlier would not be too unlikely.

    All this inclines me to believe dr.Paul to be very heavily under Cocheta influence, and to have been so since before Stephen was born. This would in part explain how he’s become such a very unattractive specimen, as so far none of the Cocheta’s characters that we’ve seen in action have made a very favorable impression on me; though as Cantrell knew him before as an expedient man, and there has to have been some fit for his Cocheta with the person he was before, he probably wasn’t a nice man before this either.
    It also inclines me to believe Stephen’s sort-of ‘extremes of unusualness’ (the eyes, the ‘Netwalking, maybe the too-strongly attractive-to-all-kinds beauty) to be the result of that callous man tinkering with his parents’ genesets when he helped them conceive Stephen.
    To me, this seems to fit better than him just having an affair with Stephen’s mom.

  • Hanneke

    Regarding the photos of the scarring, in Harmonies Wesley gets confronted with them by someone from Cetacean (I forget who), and there it triggers the re-evaluation by Wesley and the reorientation of the relationship; I think that’s also where the conversation with Anevai happens and Stephen gets to know about it.

    In ColdFusion Cantrell tells Wesley to look at Dr.McKenna’s files; he does so by himself, electronically, finds the results of the bloodwork and goes off on a rampage about the Eudoxin, in which he is muttering about the things people into S&M do to themselves under influence of that horrific drug. There is no explicit mention of him having found the pictures, and considering the shock of the Cetacean-people when they see them those scars are not something anyone might voluntarily do to themselves: TJ and the admiral immediately accept them as evidence of torture, not as signs of voluntary Eudoxin-induced self-mutilation.
    Also, Wesley knows enough about S&M and bondage to know about quick-release ties, and to be able to tie one quickly (which he must have practiced at some point, maybe long before using it on Stephen), and despite his impression that Stephen might be into this he saw clearly that Stephen didn’t recognise the quick-release and didn’t know how to use it, nor was there mention of using a safe-word.
    I’ve only ever seen one interview with an S&M couple, in a series on tolerance and understanding for different kinds of sexuality, and from that I learned that *if it’s done respectfully, between consenting adults*, it’s the ‘victim’ who decides how far things will go, and they always use safe-words and quick-release ties, and anything that might leave permanent damage or scars is definitely not done.
    Though that horrible drug plays straight into this kind of scenario and might change people’s limits, for it not to be a nightmare but a consensual thing most of those rules should still apply. The pictures prove that in Stephen’s case this wasn’t true.
    This made me think Wesley didn’t see the pictures; and if he hasn’t seen them he can’t talk about them to Anevai and Stephen can’t have overheard.

    A solution might be that dr.McKenna talked these things over with Anevai’s grandparents, as they will be Stephen’s primary physicians during his recovery on HuteNamid after Cetacean has left, and that Stephen has heard about the scar-removal from them.

  • Speculation here is fine! Go for it. You’ve hit on a lot of the possibilities still percolating in the hindbrain.

    Nice vs not nice is often a question of balance and life invariably influences that balance. Certain jobs require a certain arrogance. Cantrell, Wesley, Paul…they all have plenty of it, but how it manifests varies according to the tectonics of life.

    Paul is still a bit of a cypher for me. How much of that annoying personality is Cocheta and how much is just the wrong part of his personality being brought out by the destruction of his life’s work is up for speculation. I’m not certain the details really matter until Cantrell is back in the picture, but we’ll see where the rest of this book goes. He could come into play yet. However, the character dynamic in which he’s really significant involves her. I think they both have issues that could make for an interesting subplot. They’ve both changed since they were young, idealistic, and in lust.

    There will be a return to HuteNamid…the next and last book in this series as such…and I think that’s when Paul will either overcome the influence of history and the Cocheta or sink into scum-dum for life. I just don’t know til I get there. Not sure he CAN resurrect himself. There are those who are overcoming the “Cocheta influence” and those who are just too blinded by their own self-importance to see that there’s something to be overcome. Where Paul falls into that bell curve is a question.

    He was originally meant to be more important than I think he really is…which is certainly in keeping with his personality! 😀 So far, Stephen’s actual parentage is kind of irrelevant. His past is far less important than his future. a lot of these details I don’t finalize until I must. That keeps possibilities open and the story dynamic. I seal them off and finalize them when they’re dynamically useful, but once they’re finalized they become an immovable object rather than a dynamic player, so arbitrarily setting them in stone is a waste of story potential, IMO.

    At this point, I believe Stevie’s eyes are indicative of the Other actually making a connection with him in the womb, since they’ve been that way from birth and get crazier when he’s ‘Walking. His mother had her own Cocheta, after all. 😉 But…we’ll see! 😀

    • Hanneke

      That’s another good idea for the reason for Stephen’s special eyes.
      I thought the Other is Seneca, as she was at home in Vanderaux ‘Nspace, where the (other) Cocheta couldn’t follow Stephen – but maybe that was because the Other is his personal and semi-integrated Cocheta. If so, is it the one he got on Rostov, or the recent HuteNamid one, or are they one and the same? I thought the HuteNamid one wasn’t a good match and didn’t really catch on, but going into ‘N-space might have allowed a reconnection with his old Rostov-invisibibble to be forged by that old Cocheta-spirit.
      Or maybe it is Seneca, but she’s been hanging around in the ‘Net with these Cocheta for years, and has learned how to integrate herself into their collective Gestalt, and can thus partake of some of their knowledge and links.

      Hmmm, that might be behind that little line I can’t place about that nasty Shaporian-plant in the ‘NetAt ship, who was on Rostov too when he was a kid, being sent to prepare him – sent by Seneca to teach him the first bits of knowledge about the ‘Net, but secretly Shaporian’s and thus sent by her with instructions to make the poor Recon kid Seneca’s interested in hate spacers and vulnerable to Mialla’s thugs, so he won’t want to go to the academy and if he does go, he’ll be easily bullied. That might make sense, but would mean Seneca chose very badly which doesn’t seem in character for her. If he was just sent by Mialla, not Seneca, because she discovered Seneca’s interest somehow and/or found out from Danislav the boy might be sent to the Academy, then why would the man teach him spacer-stuff about the ‘Net? Maybe teach it just wrong enough to get him off to a bad start at the Academy?

      I quite understand about not fixing these unimportant back-story bits in stone ’till they’re needed in the story – it’s why I dare speculate about them here. I certainly don’t expect you to hand out all the answers for these idle speculations here!
      I try to keep my speculation to the less-imortant details and what I guess are tangential matters, so as not to disturb your line of thoughts about the important things.

  • Hanneke

    Wider societal implications for the longevity virus: there hasn’t been much talk about that, but the effects should be huge, and the first signs should be starting to show in the next decades.
    The present-day leadership (Council etc.) have all taken it/are taking it – we know they all knew about it, and we know the bad councillors (Mialla & co.) are taking it, so like Wesley, their opponents are likely to be taking it as well to keep them from winning by default.
    This started when Cantrell knew Paul before, so they’ve not been aging for about twenty years.
    All information on the ‘Net stays on the ‘Net, so though the virus was discredited and they may have hidden the papers under security seals, people should start to notice that their political leaders haven’t aged in twenty years.
    For the upcoming generation of leaders-to-be, it should start to dawn that there will be no room at the top for them, if their parents’ generation is not going to make way for them.
    In the small worlds of the space-stations and the one-government (albeit tripartite) ‘Net Alliance there isn’t that much room for expansion.
    Do the children of the leaders get the virus as well? That would create a large body of impatient runners-up who might start assassinations just to make room at the top for themselves.
    If not, that’s a very large power imbalance and source of strife and discontent within the top families too.
    In both cases a Macchiavellian situation at the top of the food chain seems almost inevitable.
    Also, freezing the present government ‘forever’ may be just what Mialla wants, but would be very bad for society, as it takes away growth and change, and flexibility to respond to a changing universe – and things always change.
    Then there’s the impact on the ordinary people, who don’t get immortality – once they find out it exists, they will want it too. If the Council is still vulnerable to elections, people might try to vote in a nyone who promises everybody immortality. If not, civil unrest or rebellions become ever more likely.
    If the wider populace gets it, I’m sure Mialla will try to limit it to the spacers. Maybe the Recons won’t want it, as it is quite opposite to their goals of recreating earth-based lifestyles and/or living in harmony with their worlds. Still, if Recons know immortality is available and being used by those who want to oppress them further and further, will they dare to persist in not taking it? Or will some Recons want it, and others oppose it? Will Mialla’s prming the Mentor-trained spacers to believe any argument she offers mean she can convince the spacer-population they do not want it for themselves? That would be a hard sell, for most people don’t think of the long-term effects on society as more important than their own lives.

    If the ordinary people do get it, and people will still want babies too, overcrowding will very soon be a big problem, as will exhaustion of resources. They’ll have to implement immediate very strongly expansionist policies, continually building new space stations and/or colonising worlds – much more intense colonization of existing worlds would be inevitable, as well as expanded exploration looking for new worlds.
    Both would shake up the political status quo, and might give the next generation of leaders enough scope to stave off the trouble within the leading families.
    It would be very bad for places like HuteNamid, and for humanity as a whole, I think. Though some actuary has calculated that if everyone could biologically live forever, but still die from accidents and such, the average age of death would be at 800 years, so people still wouldn’t live forever; but if people taking the immortality virus remain able to sire or bear children that would still mean an unconscionably huge and fast expansion rate. If they’ve got the whole universe to expand into it might be possible, for a while; but not forever, and at what cost?
    Something like China’s one-child-policy would be needed, with all the repression of the populace necessary to implement that – well, they’ve already got most of the apparatus for that in place, but it would be a big societal upheaval anyway.

    Dr.Paul has been taking the virus the longest, and he’s a thorougly self-centred callous bastard, as I read him now. This might be just him, or maybe his character plus the Cocheta influence I mentioned above, but it might also be a psychological impact of the idea that he will live forever, while most of the people around him are ‘mere ephemerals’. That seems a likely sort of impact for this idea, on a lot of the power-hungry people who would take the immortality virus. That too would change society.

    This stuff really has enormous implications, unless it can be defanged by either not working as well as expected, at the very least causing sterility as well as the longevity-effect, or maybe having some very nasty side-effects after it’s been taken an X-amount of years (buildup in the tissues? making the body cycle through its available amount of cell-cycles extra fast so people stay young-looking, thinking they’re immortal, but in effect dying younger than if they’d aged normally?) – it also might have some incompatibility-issues in combination with N-space, considering the possible Cocheta-effect on dr.Paul, or anything else a fertile writers-imagination could come up with.

  • Hanneke

    I love your books, they make me think.
    But it’s late, I’ve got to stop thinking now and get to sleep; tomorrow I have to go to the office, and get on with my course-work again.
    I’m not used to talking with people about the books I read and like, and it’s a bit too freeing to be able to talk on here. I know I’ve overdone it, but thanks for letting me go on and on!

  • sky_barnes

    Hanneke,
    I have enjoyed reading your speculations. Looking at the implications of changes of technology and patterns of thought and behavior are what science fiction as a genre is all about. It is unfortunately an all to rare pleasure to encounter stories that are both fun and make us think, as most authors choose one or the other.
    Some of the most “speculative” are just far too bleak for me to pick up, and most of the ‘fun’ only involve the stage-setting of science fiction without the thought (though I read plenty of those and enjoy them greatly).
    Having a story that inspires thought in the readers (and not just a regurgitation of what is being presented) seems to me to be one of the highest of accolades for any writer.
    Longevity is already becoming an issue in our society, and science fiction just allows the implications to roll out in a more extreme fashion. There was a goodreads discussion collating books on the topic .. http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1111245-sf-about-effects-of-longevity-increase

    As for the story-specific situation it is interesting that both Dr. Paul and Wesley had to be publicly discredited and have been shoved into obscure positions. Both are arrogant, and sure of their own expertise and know how they have been wronged, yet Wesley is sympathetic and Dr. Paul is not. But Dr. Paul has been Cocheta brain washed for a long while, as well, on a sleeper mission that subverted some of the tendencies reminisced on by Cantrell. In that I see a potential for turn-around. Cantrell is such an excellent person, I cannot see her forming an attachment to a person completely unworthy.

    As for Stephen’s change-child origin, whether designed by Dr. Paul, the Cocheta or a sport, he has a mind that sees the world differently, hooks into realities most do not perceive, a body (and eyes), that both compel and repel and has been persecuted his entire life for all of it. Being able to harness that difference deliberately and for his own purpose is a personal paradigm shift that will take much reinforcement to cement. We all have impostor syndrome, (just go to some panel on the topic and you will find out), but as acting human beings we all get over ourselves at some point and just do the job we know how to do no matter how deep our uncertainty or our uncertainty of our feeling of rightness. Stephen in these books is being pushed through the uncertainty that has been deliberately brainwashed into him. He is going through the right of passage of maturation. Fortunately the story balances that coming of age message with the fact that all of the characters, at every stage of life (Seneca included), still have uncertainty to contend with, a truth for everybody except psychopaths.
    I also find it a reassuring message that alien beings from advanced civilizations can be wrong. It makes our own societal progress as iterations through failure ( see http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/05/fail-fast-fail-often-how-losing-can-help-you-win.html )
    as not so bad.

  • Othin

    Oh my, there’s been a lot going on here 🙂

    [Quote] At this point, I believe Stevie’s eyes are indicative of the Other actually making a connection with him in the womb, since they’ve been that way from birth and get crazier when he’s ‘Walking. His mother had her own Cocheta, after all. 😉 But…we’ll see! 😀 [/quote]

    I like it. Since quite a lot of things – including coloring and shape – depend on which genes get activated when, which means environment. And a contact with a Cocheta will definitely changes the environment of a fetus. All those intense emotions and how knows what during pregnancy – it’s just is a wonder there weren’t more children with unusual looks. Or was Stephan’s mother bonded more tightly to the Cocheta than other women? I wonder whether his little sibling also had those opal eyes. And what conclusions will the people of Rostov have drawn of that? Surely the wrong ones – they might even have suspected experiments on themselves by the Think Tanks researchers.

  • Othin

    @Wider societal implications for the longevity virus

    My thoughts also went into that direction. Some SF dealing with longevity went to split society in reproducing normal lifespan people and non-reproducing longevity population. I also remember one book where parents had their children treated to not reach puppetry – so that they would stay children forever while intellectually being on par with professors. If the parents then died or decided to end the childhood a treatment reversing the stop in development could be given. This is something I can’t see here.

    The alliance has only a few people under the longevity virus treatment. That is it is only a few leaders of Council. (Only Mialla was mentioned by name and some others whose identity is still mysterious. I can’t imagine that Wesley‘s father and brother were in on it. And at least Wesley’s father was on Council at that time. Or Wesley would have known.) So that was not all Council only part of it. Aside from Cantrell only a handful of exotic scientists at society’s edge had the treatment.

    I don’t think that people will notice the not aging of some of its members. Of those with the treatment only the elite on Council are in the focus of attention. But since they can change their look at will with nanobots nobody will realize that they don’t age. The only realization will be that they don’t die.

    [Quote] Also, freezing the present government ‘forever’ may be just what Mialla wants, but would be very bad for society, as it takes away growth and change, and flexibility to respond to a changing universe – and things always change.[/quote]

    But then the majority of society believes in a world that is stable and doesn’t change. It only expands – as in more worlds are being colonized and moor stations are founded, some small improvements are made and fashion changes. All else doesn’t change or is not recognized as change. So stability of the politic situation is reassuring, while recognized change is threatening.

    This of course means that the ambitious children of Council members either rebel or are heavily influenced by their seniors. So they properly work for them. Or they even do their parents dirty work as Bijan and therefor become expendable to their parent, if things go wrong. With the mentor those parents got a strong tool to keep their children dependent on them. This means of course that all Council members that have the treatment as well as children are the kind of parent that control their children so much that they never become independent or adult. Bijan properly envies Stephan his being orphaned – at least unconsciously.

    For the real old Council members I see two ways to keep society from noticing their longevity. They could change their own records (when and where they are born) every 20 or 30 years or so. This would only work if information on the net can be changed secretly and maybe the Net-At has to be in on this. So Mialla properly wishes to know how to change information on the net – and be the only one who knows how. The other possibility would be to pretend to die and have a new relative of her in Counsel, maybe some kind of double life for some time. Adding new false data to the net would be far easier and have no consequences on the net.

    The few people with longevity virus treatment at the edge of society have no living children of their own (Cantrell, Dr. Paul, and Wesley). If they had, I can’t see them withholding that treatment from their children.

    [Quote] Dr. Paul has been taking the virus the longest, … This might be just him, … but it might also be a psychological impact of the idea that he will live forever, while most of the people around him are ‘mere ephemerals’. That seems a likely sort of impact for this idea, on a lot of the power-hungry people who would take the immortality virus. That too would change society. [/quote]

    I fully agree – one of the long-term psychological effects would be to not care about the short lived non treated people. Already existing similar attitudes would certainly be reinforced. Another might be to value those short lived people only for amusement factor. That would lead to deliberate bad treatment of them only to see them dance.

    What I’m not so sure about is when those effects begin. Maybe only after some colleagues and friends died. After that it would take continuous conscious effort to keep making new friends with not treated people, in order not to become lonely and lose touch with one’s own humanity. Some of the psychological effects of longevity onto very small and powerful elite were explored in Russell Kirkpatrick’s Fire of Heaven serious.

  • Othin

    @Adaption, Epigenetic & Lamarck – differences between recons and spacers

    Lamarck (1744–1829, France) formulated an evolution theory (an organism can pass on characteristics that it acquired during its lifetime to its offspring). Darwin knew that theory and was influenced by it. It was linking Darwin’s theory to Genetics that made Lamarck’s theory seem to be invalid, so that it is now almost forgotten. In 2009 researches about mice (by Moshe Szyf, McGill University in Montreal) and rats (by the University of Alabama) were published that considered a rebirth of Lamarckism. Changes in the body caused by environmental conditions during the developmental phase can be passed on to the next generation. Transferring the results of those studies to humans would mean that education (as well as any maltreatment) is not only important for the current generation but also for the next.

    Biological adaption is more than just passing on ones DNA (programs on hard drive) – it is also activating certain DNA (reading/writing the DNA data in the RAM) and passing on which DNA sequences have been most active. That’s a bit like a preference to also activate those sequences. I don’t know how much of this process depends on conditions during pregnancy or if that passing on Preferences already takes place at fertilization of the egg cell.

    There also seems to be a mechanism that purposefully produces mutations in copies of DNA as John Cairns proved 1988 Regarding bacteria. It’s as if an organism uses a less reliable coping mechanism (a special error-prone enzyme) under strong and constant stress (changes in the environment). But it seems to be pure coincidence if or when one of those chances produces a better adaption. If the new gen is a better adaption that organism incorporates the changed gen – that is it exchanges gens. As soon as the right mutation has been found, the process of enhanced mutation is stopped.

    It is clear that space has a totally different environment than a planet. Properly planets all have different environments, since terraforming is a bit different on each planet. The differentiation will be greatest especially during the later phase of terraforming process, when there is already a reproducing population, but not jet an optimal environment (still on BIOS). Of course that would lead to additional differences between each recon group as well as a difference between recon and spacer. So Mialla might partly right. But I don’t see enough drift to create subspecies. A difference in just one or two genes isn’t that much. E.g. we don’t think people with milk tolerance to be that different from those without it. The psychological difference will be far greater than any others.

    Attitudes toward change will properly be one of the major differences between recons and spacers.

    • Hanneke

      Yeah Othin, I was thinking of the spacers’ increasing tolerance for some growth-accelerating chemical used more and more in space-based food production, that most groundlings and especially Stevie can’t tolerate, as being like the lactose (in)tolerance divide among different human peoples. Mialla uses it to say Recons are different and less than spacers, but it clearly isn’t enough by itself to consider it the start of real speciation, let alone the proof of it!
      Though combined with the social pressures Mialla is bringing about, if the spacers and groundlings are kept genetically separate long enough, it may become the start of some real speciation.
      In that context, I’ve also been wondering about the purpose behind the permanent and evolving nanobot-infection that horrid drug causes – at the moment it’s keeping people addicted after just one contact (causing cash-flow to Mialla’s company)’*and* killing them horribly after not many years (stopping the cash-flow, and making other people reluctant to try it – I know that’s how bad drugs work now too, but it still makes less economic sense to me than something that causes a lifelong milder addiction that doesn’t stop people from earning wages and spending them on the substance for decades, e.g. like cigarettes instead of hard drugs).
      Permanently present nanobots that can change according to circumstance, making everything but another suite of dedicated opponent-nanobots useless as treatment, might be doing other things to their ‘host’ bodies. One of those is accelerated ovulation and increased chance of pregnancy, as we’ve seen in Anevai, so we already know they’re messing with reproduction. And Mialla, who’s company is responsible for developing and distributing that horrid drug, has as her life goal to show that spacers and groundlings are ‘genetically different’; there’s a hint that she’s already tried genetic experimentation in a mention that they’ve tried unsuccesfully to ‘untangle’ the ‘genetic difference’ of Recons (I think it was in the political flyer the Cetagandan crew reads at the beginning of Wildcards?); and the horrid drug seems to be marketed primarily in space – it seems to be (almost) unknown on HuteNamid but readily available to rich people on Vandereaux. It makes me wonder if Mialla is now trying some genetic experimentation on the spacer population, through that drug; and that makes me worry for Anevai’s baby. I think I remember she was tested clean by het grandparents when Wesley found out what Stevie’d used, because Stevie swallowed the pill, but I’m not quite sure of that. She did get some of the effect of it in the early ovulation and getting pregnant when the timing wasn’t right – I don’t see how she could get that effect without getting some of the chemicals/nanobots as well. She could get the antagonist nanobot suite as well, but if those nanobots have messed with the germline I don’t see how that could be reversed.
      I’m a bit worried this might get too close to what Jane is going to address in her sequels, so I’ll stop that line of speculation now.

      As for Stevie being ‘small for his age’, your arguments are valid, but I read it as also being a sign of Danislav’s disinterest in his background. Stevie’s mother listed him as 10 years old on the application form (in the shorter Rostov years) – but Danislav isn’t interested in anything Recon, so blind to anything different from his own spacer lifestyle he hasn’t even checked that there might be a difference between the (Rostov) years his sister used, and the (Earth-based?) years used on the space stations. So he compares Stevie to boys who are a year older and considers him small for his age, and backwards; and as he’s the one responsible for the ‘paperwork’ to register him on Vandereaux Academy station, that’s what everyone thinks.
      At that age, a year of growth and experience make a lot of difference to a child.
      Maybe I read it wrong, as I remember reading somewhere that all births should be recorded in the CommNet and thus be considered known and unchangeable; but maybe by the time of Stevie’s birth his parents were already deeply enough under Cocheta influence to not register his birth.

  • Othin

    @ Small for his age
    Dr. D’s statement regarding Stephan being small for his age only reveals his ignorance and disinterest. Size depends partly on having enough food, properly the right kinds of food as well. But those are not the only criteria. People at the middle ages were smaller than now, even the rich ones. Additionally on a planet people’s size varies from region to region. People nearer the poles are mostly larger than people nearer the equator. So to compare Stephan’s size as 9 year old to 10 year old spacer kids shows a lack of knowledge and scientific method. Being small with 9 had more to do with how and where Stephan lived his first 9 years than with any genetic difference or being recon.

  • Othin

    @ Edit
    Oh, just discovered that it’s not possible to edit one’s own comments.

    @ Longevity implications
    Oh, I just remembered Jennifer Fallon’s exploration of how immortality and power influences character. (Tide Lords Series).

    @ Jane
    I somehow find it difficult to discuss each book separately, since so much of one book is relevant for the others. So if you believe that one of my comments or part of it better fits to one of the other pages, please feel free to put it there.

    @ Differences between recons and spacers
    Different gene activation in different environments explains very handily how spacers can get ‘infected’ by having to live on a planet. To recover from this infection a spacer has to live in a very strict spacer environment for some time, till the effect of that gene activation stops mattering. It’s a bit like some depressive persons learn to avoid circumstances that make them depressive. And of course no true spacer will conceive a child on a planet or have its childhood spend on a plant. Poor think tankers – they have to decide between family and their job.

    Sorry this is all a bit lumped together, but on some of this I have thought quite some time now and it didn’t become any clearer. So be patient with me.

    @ Brain structure & puberty
    Jay Giedd, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, in collaboration with University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA)
    At start of puberty children’s brain structure is normally not fully developed. Brain growth and development goes on until adulthood and can continue up to the third decade.

    In childhood the brain grows at a rapid pace. New cells and new links are built continuously, much more than are needed. Due to this overproduction kids learn so efficiently.

    At puberty an enormous cleanup starts. The brain sets emphases; it focuses accordingly to the kind of stimulation. Often used links are strengthened while unused ones are disposed of. The brain grows; nerve cells interlace and build new pathways. At the same time many links that are superfluous are dissolved. Therefore practicing many different interests is important. The focussing can be enhanced or directed by intellectual and physical activities or limited by passivity or under-stimulation.

    This process doesn’t take place at the same time in all regions. There are different stages of development. First the area for language and spatial thinking develops. The most intensive development takes place at the front regions and the frontal lobes, which are used for cognitive activities, e.g. planning, organisation, strategic thinking and opinion formation. The restructuring of this area takes more time and begins lastly.

    Therefore teenager may have difficulties with rational decision-making and with recognize facial expressions. Their ability to interpret other people’s feelings and emotional situations is reduced.

    @ Stephen
    The way I understand Stephan, he was already different at 8 or 9, before he came to his uncle Victor. That is in Omnibus I read Stephan’s mentioning of Rasmussen’s feeling wrong at the end of the mentor’s test as something real for Stephan. Even this wasn’t mentioned again in the rewrites. Stephan wouldn’t know that this marathon lesson was a test of the mentor. He also wouldn’t know that Wesley was on the other side of the mentor at the time. But it clearly wasn’t his first experience with the mentor or the tanks. This shows that mentor and tanks were used on Stephan before he ever came to Vandereaux. So either the mentor was already used on Rostov by Richard or Stephen had a rather long stopover on Parallax and was there already controlled by the academy or Mialla’s agents. Maybe even under Dr. D’s orders.

    To me this seems to be one of the things Wesley will have to uncover in Vandereaux. What were Herzog’s real objectives on Rostov? Was Eudoxin a mere cover? In a way the answer to who’s puppet Stephen is (or whether he is someone’s puppet without knowing it) starts with Herzog and what he did to Stephen besides the rape.

    Since at puberty unused neural networks are dissolved it stance to reason that Stephan already used those pathways that made him different in Dr. D’s eyes. This is besides the mentors and the tanks insistence that his reality was wrong. So either his magic word ‘thinkaboutit’ or his dreams were enough to keep the pathways alive. Or his Cocheta bonding was so strong that nothing could erase it. It might also be possible that Stephen, who had his first kissing a girl experience an Rostov and wished to be a man, started and may even finished part of puberty while still on Rostov. Also the Cocheta experience might have forced the brain restructuring process to start early, might have even have enhanced it or accelerated it.

    The fact that Stephan became an outsider and suffered at most interaction with his pears and teachers may have helped to keep his differences intact. If he had been loved and valued by his classmates and uncle, his independence and self-reliance might have crumbled.

    I suspect that Stephan was thinking net long before Chet noticed it. I also suspect that in Vandereaux nobody noticed – they properly didn’t know how to identify it. They couldn’t see it in Wesley. They didn’t suspect in Stephen. They also didn’t know what kinds of problems Thinking Net would create, because Academy doesn’t know about partners. So they couldn’t identify ‘Thinking Net’ by the problems it creates. Also Dr. D and Academy trusted that monitoring by mentor would tell them all they needed to know – so there was no one looking or observing Stephan working on a problem. His classmates who might have seen something of his Thinking Net sure as hell attributed this to his other differences. They also wanted Stephan to be inferior to them, so prejudice made sure, that no one saw what should not be.

    But I guess that Stephens longing for a partner may also have had something to do with his allowing others to use him sexually.

    Ok, let’s look to those who might have known? JP may have watched Stephan for 10 years – but since he had very little chance to interact with him – he had to trust more or less what Dr. D and official statistics said. Marani wasn’t given a chance for direct contact. She properly left him purposefully her own mentor for the unsupervised questioning and piggybacking. Which was one of the only times JP and Marani had prof that Stephan was more than his records and tests said. But how much more was he? Could have either of these two really create a situation of finding out without giving any hint to Mialla or Dr. D.? And when JP realized that Stephen was taking Eudoxin did he really want to take any closer look? Or did this party just put the Stephen – question on hold until Stephen scored his tests so well that Net At could make the Academy change Stephens course of study? To me it seems that JP and Marani took no action themselves – they only pounced on every opportunity that presented itself. And no matter how well JP could judge character – he couldn’t read Stephen at the distance he had.

    So the big question is if Sencia had a chance to know. Assuming she still had full access to all of Academy she could at least see how long Stephen spent on doing what and what he answered and not only his scores. But watching someone through camera or meeting someone in person would be still different. And then it is also a question whether she would tell if she knew. A bit like God – why is he allowing all the pain and hurt if he could simply prevent it? Is Sencia still compassionate? And would telling JP or someone else reveal her secrets? Was she still guessing at the other netwalker? Or was Sencia afraid of Stephan? Or did she want to test him in some ways?

  • Hanneke

    @Othin, regarding the first paragraph of your @Stephen notes above, I didn’t read that to mean he had previous experience with the Mentor program. I read it as his innate grasp of the way the CommNet/’Nspace works (or should work) being so spot-on, that Rasmussen’s approximations on which the present CommNet is built are, to him, clearly *not* an accurate representation of the real world, and so the virtual reality that is created by those equations will always feel slightly ‘off’ to him.

    It’s like people from Earth gravity seeing someone walking in lower gravity (the Moon) – it instinctively feels as if that is not the way something should move, if it was supposed to be a representation of our own world/reality. Your mental representation of ‘how walking people can move’ is different from what your eyes see – this creates dissonance, and that dissonance can create vertigo.
    I’m not sure, maybe the Moon pictures are too large a discrepancy, and everyone has become used to seeing them, and understands about the smaller gravity, so it doesn’t quite get the point across; but if the discrepancy is small but pervasive, it can really be very unsettling.

    So for Stephen to have such an instinctive grasp of the underlying rules of ‘Nspace before he had much formal teaching about it, for me was just a sign of what an ‘Nspace prodigy he was.

    • Hanneke

      Remember, Wesley’s aptitude for ‘Nspace work showed at a similar age, as Seneca decided he’d be her successor when he was eight.
      Now, what I find interesting about that is where Wesley got his early ‘Nspace grasp from.
      For Stephen, being exposed to a Cocheta-view of ‘Nspace in early childhood would naturally incline him to instinctively grasp the ‘laws of nature’ of that environment, just like every child learns to grasp those of his or her real-world environment (e.g. gravity, trajectories, the way light behaves, etc.) – without being able to articulate such laws, every child learns that when they drop something it falls. In Stephen’s internal world-view the Cocheta ‘Nspace is inegrated into how he sees the universe. That would be why the Rasmussen-based Virtual Reality would be so subtly wrong to him: the underlying tenets of the way the universe works are just slightly off-kilter.

      Now Wesley did have contact with real-world Seneca from an early age, as well as being a descendant of her gene-set, but he didn’t have that early exposure to ‘Nspace from within that Stephen had. Or was Seneca already ‘netwalking at that time, and maybe influencing the online experiences he had to see if he could grasp that mindset? I thought I remembered that being a later development during their collaboration, but maybe she only demonstrated it later, and had discovered it a long time ago. If so, when and how? Was it pure native genius (that’s the impression I have) or did she have an early Cocheta experience, somehow?

  • Hanneke

    Then, learning to deal with the Virtual Reality training sessions becomes an excercise in suspension of disbelief, in learning to operate according to the rules of the game – if he can keep that divorced from his ‘true sense of the real universe’ he can keep his ‘Thinking NetSpace’ ability and difference alive for a long time. Still, the Mentor’s monitoring would likely have made it quite difficult to keep those rules unintegrated – in the end he had given in to the Mentor’s view of the world on very many fronts, just never feeling *he* really fit in – until he got the validation of his own ‘Nspace worldview from Wesley’s article.

    I seriously doubt that JP&Marani had the ability to keep constant eyes on Stephen; and he was very careful what and how much he asked when piggybacking on Marani’s account. They knew the Mentor, and through that Danislav and the Shapoorianists were constantly monitoring the boy, and JP is still playing the Shaporianist game – he wouldn’t want to risk blowing his cover over one young Recon student. And as Wesley’s sketchbook-parcel was still sealed, even though the images were available now, it’s not clear when exactly JP managed to get those out of the sealed parcel – so it isn’t clear when he would have been alerted to Stephen’s presence in Vandereaux: maybe shortly before Marani left het Mentor-program available to Stephen (that is maybe 2-3 years after his arrival)?

    Seneca may be free to roam the ‘Net, but she doesn’t communicate with anyone but Wesley, and I get the impression she hasn’t been communicating (able to communicate?) directly with him (through manipulating his screen) since he left Vandereaux. Also, the Vandereaux CommNet was only very slightly connected to the rest of the CommNet and apparently well shielded – remember the Cocheta couldn’t follow Stephen there; so I’m not sure Seneca would have had the free run of the Vandereaux Academy ‘Net before Stephen and the Other walked there through ‘Nspace.

  • Othin

    I was referring to the last part in book 1 (NetWalkers). There JP and Sencha watch Wesley meeting the waiting Stephan and discuss how unfortunate this meeting is for Wes. JP watching Stephan for 10 years and still not knowing what to make of him is also mentioned by Chet – I think somewhere in Wild Cards. Also JP knew what Stephan looked like and Marani brought him of Dr. D’s office. So JP and Marani were interested.

    In NetWalkers Sencha has full access to the academy. After Wes leaving Vandereaux (his worming attack) the academy closes of most of its connections to the net. So I’m not sure if Sencha finds a way around this or not. If not she would know not that much more than JP can find out. And yes, JP’s possibilities to watch Stephen without exposing himself are limited.

    [quote]@Othin, regarding the first paragraph of your @Stephen notes above, I didn’t read that to mean he had previous experience with the Mentor program. I read it as his innate grasp of the way the CommNet/’Nspace works (or should work) being so spot-on, that Rasmussen’s approximations on which the present CommNet is built are, to him, clearly *not* an accurate representation of the real world, and so the virtual reality that is created by those equations will always feel slightly ‘off’ to him. [/quote]
    Do you think that Wesley’s testing of the mentor was not with the real Stephan? If it was with the real Stephan than he already had Mentor experience since he knew that the Mentor was addressing him.
    I was refering to the last part in book 1 (Netwalkers). There JP and Sencha watch Wesley meeting the waiting Stephan and discuss how unfortunate this meeting is for Wes.

    As I said, I find it hard to discuss only one book without referring to what has been said in the others.

    • Hanneke

      Yes, Wesley meets Stephen in the waiting room at Vandereaux, when Stephen is waiting to be picked up to go to the Academy, and Wesley is waiting to board a spaceship leaving Vandereaux ‘forever’.
      I don’t think Wesley could test the Mentor program on Stephen at the time – he didn’t have access to any of the usual digital media used by that program, no computer, no VR, just his sketchpad and an empty waiting room with rows of chairs and one tired little boy who after a short conversation fell asleep leaning on Wesley, ’till the student Wesley sent for arrived to take him to the Academy.
      Wesley, who knows how biased and bad the Mentor program is, and who cares about bright kids having opportunities to fully develop, is saddened by knowing this bright Recon child will soon be subjected to all the Mentor’s bad and biased guidance, which in Wesley’s view is very likely to stifle all the bright promise of this young boy. This gives the ill-effects of the Mentor’s guidance a face, which always makes the impact greater than when it’s just abstractly visualised. That makes it harder to bear for Wesley, who has done what he can to try and avert this evil, and has lost.
      That is why Wesley blacked out all those memories.
      And that is what I read into that discussion of how bad that meeting was for Wesley, that you mentioned above.

      I don’t remember reading about Stephen having been through Mentor-sessions on Rostov. As far as I understand, the Mentor was being beta-tested on students at Vandereaux. Stephen was bundled up unexpectedly and sent off to Vandereaux in a hurry from Rostov and there wasn’t time or occasion to test him while he was travelling, but he hasn’t reached Vandereaux Academy and his first Danislav-administered Mentor-test before Wesley leaves.

      Am I forgetting something important from the first book about Mentor-testing being administered on Rostov? The boy did get extra lessons from SciCorps personnel, that would have included computer tests – maybe Danislav snuck in an extra betaversion-Mentor-based test, even though the Mentor wasn’t officialy released yet, before considering his sister’s application for Stephen?

      It’s also possible that the Mentor-based tests on the surface seem similar to other computer-interfaced tests every child gets as an ordinary part of his schooling, and that explains Stephen’s initial familiarity with the Mentor’s kind of testing.

  • Othin

    Sorry for the scrambled post above – I should be more careful with paste & copy.

    When I spoke of Stephens mentor experiences prior to his coming to Vandereaux I was referring to the Beta-Test. Wesley’s test student was Stephen also the official records claimed it to be a girl named Stephanie. He even draws a picture of Stephen for JP after that test. And Wesley remembers responses original enough for a real child – although clever programming of a test subject is not ruled out. At least I took the student child that was Wesley’s test subject to be real enough for that to be really Stephan. That scene is also consistent with the real Stephen. If it was just clever programming than there had to be someone who knew the Wesser well enough and also Stephan well enough to do that programming. This hypothetical programmer would have to be a not jet introduced person. Dr. D. couldn’t have done it. Even if he knows enough of writing such a program he doesn’t understand children well enough to make his test subject convincing. The same goes for Antonita.

    • Hanneke

      Ah, my mistake. I guess I just took the statement that the test subjects were Vandereaux students at face value, and never thought that it might have been an early link between Wesley and Stephen.

      I did catch his sketching Stephen-as-the-‘Netwalker, but didn’t relate that to the subjects of the beta-testing; I guess I mentally put it on hold as a possible echo-backward-through-time of something Stevie might do on the ‘Net later, or maybe something Seneca did or will do. I’m not sure whether ‘Net-time is always necessarily linear, as it is so easy to lose sight of real-world time while ‘Netwalking.

      Thanks for the interesting points you’ve raised, and good night.

  • Othin

    Good morning,

    There is also another possibility. What if the mentors beta test with Wesley was with a programed Stephan? There is one person that could have done it. But if that was the case – we have to rethink everything we know about her. It would mean a really weird double play. And she could have created really perfect ‘Wesser Bait’. That person is Sencia. If this possibility was followed, than Sencia was far more complicated – and Wesley wouldn’t really know his gran. I’m not sure if that possibility can hold without totally destroying Wesley. For it would mean that the trust he ones put in to her wasn’t justified at all and he had been lied to from childhood / infancy on.

    I believe that Wesley has to find out in Homecoming Games what really happened in this mentor beta test. He has to know whether he tested Stephan as a child or some program. It is one question that wasn’t answered in the rewrites – because Wesley had erased that special memory.

    If it was Stephan, for how long had he been on the mentor and what had he been taught. Was Stephan’s mentioning of Rasmussen’s feeling wrong – genuine Stephan or a set up. What had been done to Stephan before he came to Vandereaux. And what had been done to him after, that isn’t in a computer.

    And if Stephan was somehow controlled by someone else – even partly – that might be devastating for Stephan himself. That is, if he couldn’t free himself of it. The only control/influence Stephan can live with is the Cocheta influence.

    If it was a program – than who the fuck wrote it. And jep, perverse, paranoid Wesser will question all possibilities including the most hurtful – Sencia. JP is of course another possibility, which he will check first.

    • Othin

      The question what is reality and whom and what he can trust – is one Sencia forced on him in Partners ten years ago – and he still struggles answering it.

      I hope I haven’t written anything that I shouldn’t. I more or less woke up with these thoughts and they stay with me so strongly I had to post them.

    • Hanneke

      It’s a valid speculation, but I don’t think it’s at all likely that Seneca could have been playing such a deep double game all Wesley’s life. Those two loved each other. It’s been too long since I read the first book, I’m forgetting some of the details, but that impression has stayed with me strongly enough I’d build on it with certainty. I trust Jane as a writer enough that I don’t believe she’s twist a true loving relationship like that into something so nasty.
      Seneca probably has plans that she didn’t tell Wesley about in detail: she was a cunning old woman with a lot of life experience, and he just a teenager (18 or 19 IIRC), when they parted – she wanted him to gain a lot more experience before she’d leave the ‘Net entirely to his care, that’s why she put herself onto the lifesupport machine. So it stand to reason she didn’t consider him ready to know the details of all her plans, but the feeling I have of her is that she works for the best of humanity and ‘Nspace, and that wouldn’t fit with the sort of nasty using people to destruction kind of plotting in your last speculation.

      On the other hand, if that nasty man who both tutored and raped little Stephen on Rostov was sent to use Stephen as a beta-test-subject for the Mentor, making it possible to calibrate the Mentor for Recons and to program it to brainwash them into feelings of unworthiness and incapacity and reject them – that makes sense of the sentence I didn´t understand in ColdFusion, about him having been sent to Rostov by the Shapoorianite camp. I thought that was before Stephen could have come to the attention of those bigots on Vandereaux, but if Danislav got his sister’s appeal about Stephen and saw a chance to test the Mentor and Stephen’s suitability as a Vandereaux testcase at the same time, it makes sense.

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