THE CRUCIBLE OF EMPIRE — Snippet 61

THE CRUCIBLE OF EMPIRE — Snippet 61

Item two. For all the derision that most kochan felt toward Terra Taif, the two greatest of those kochan — Pluthrak and Narvo — were already in association with it. The name-founder of the hybrid kochan-to-be was Aille, once a scion of Pluthrak recognized as namth camiti. And while Aille had formally severed his ties to Pluthrak, it was perfectly obvious that the relationship remained close and warm.

Narvo… The common assumption was that Narvo’s association with Terra was a formality. Something Narvo had been forced into because of the shame brought upon the great kochan by Oppuk. But the more he saw of the situation, the more Mallu was coming to think that Narvo was quite serious about developing the association — if for no other reason than the fact it brought with it, indirectly, an association with Pluthrak.

How else explain Terra-Captain Dannet? Her abilities as a military leader were now obvious — and must have been obvious to Narvo itself when the kochan sent her here. Surrendered her, and her talents, to the exotic new taif. Talents which, to a kochan like Narvo, were more precious than anything.

Third item — the Bond. For the first time in Jao history, the Bond of Ebezon had agreed to affiliate with a kochan or taif. While the affiliation was understood to be temporary, there was bound to remain a residue and a closeness even after the affiliation was formally severed. And the Bond was at least as powerful, in military terms, as any of the great kochan, if not perhaps as wealthy.

It was astonishing, really. Now that experience allowed Mallu to see things clearly, it was obvious that Terra Taif — dismissed by most Jao as an irrelevant freak — was already better positioned in Jao society than the great majority of kochan.

It was certainly better positioned than Krant! Which meant that Krant would gain greatly from an association with Terra Taif.

Allowing, of course, for two unknown factors — the prejudice of Krant’s own elders, and the attitudes of Terra itself. Why would they have any great desire to associate with such as Krant?

As he ruminated, Tully had been watching him closely. Now, he made that lip-twisting gesture — a “smile,” they called it — that seemed the most fluid and varied of all the human gestures.

“Interesting idea, isn’t it?” said Tully. “I’ll raise it with Caitlin, first chance I get. And, one way or another, I’ll do my best to make sure Krant gets a fair share of the loot.” The lips twisted a different way. “Insofar as you can apply the term ‘loot’ to what looks like a wreck, anyway. Speaking of which…”

Tully cocked his head sideways a little. Mallu wasn’t certain, but he thought that gesture was the human version of sudden-consideration.

“We’re supposed to try to capture a live Ekhat,” Tully said.

“Yes, I know. It is not likely we will succeed.”

“Won’t break my heart if we don’t, either. But we’re supposed to try, so try we will. But I’ve seen one of those monsters while it was alive — two of them, in fact — and it’d be easier to capture a Tyrannosaurus alive than one of them.”

Before Mallu could ask, Tully shook his head. “Never mind the reference. Very big predatory animal. The point is, it won’t do any good to point a laser at one of them and say ‘hands up.’ We’ve got to take it down in a way that completely immobilizes it without just killing it.”

The solution was obvious, of course. Almost impossible to do, but obvious. “We need to shoot off all of its limbs. Otherwise it will suicide.”

“What I figure — and there’s no way we’ll be able to do that with lasers. So.”

Tully bestowed on Mallu a variety of big smile — “grin,” he thought it was called — that the Krant-Captain did not think boded well for his immediate future.

“I’m putting you in charge of the special bell-the-Ekhat detail.”

Mallu wondered what bells had to do with anything involved. Tully turned away. “Follow me. I want to introduce you to the key members of your team.”

He led Mallu to a small dining area, what the humans called a “mess hall.” Nine human soldiers and two Jao were sitting at the tables.

“Bringmann. Kelly. Greer. Front and center.”

Three of the human soldiers stood up. All of them were male, and two of them were very large for humans.

Tully waved his hand at Mallu. “I believe you know Krant-Captain Mallu. I’m putting him in charge of you guys. Your team — you’ll love this, boys — is assigned to capture an Ekhat. Alive.”

The faces of all the human soldiers became distorted. Mallu didn’t recognize any specific body gesture, but the gist of it was clear enough — the human equivalent of the shocked-disbelief posture of the two Jao soldiers.

Tully shrugged. “Look, the orders come from on high. Don’t take it personally, Bringmann. Mallu’s got experience fighting them and you don’t.”

The smallest of the three standing jinau nodded.

“Krant-Captain, these two corporals” — Tully pointed to the two large ones — “are Thomas Kelly and Dennis Greer. They’re the unit’s recoilless rifle specialists.”

Mallu stared at them. They were easy to tell apart, because Kelly was very dark-skinned. “And a recoilless rifle is…?”

“Hard to describe. Kelly, Greer, show him.”

****

Once Mallu saw the weapons and had their operation explained to him, he felt a surge of sympathy for the Jao soldiers who’d fought in the conquest of Terra. Like most Jao who’d been far from the scene, his impression of Terran military capability had been shaped by the knowledge that they used kinetic weapons almost exclusively. Primitive stuff, as you’d expect for a primitive species.

Watching what the Lexington’s big guns had done to five Ekhat ships had drastically shifted his views on the matter, of course. But seeing such an obviously deadly version of a kinetic weapon adapted for ground combat brought it even closer to home.

Such a recoilless rifle — the jinau called it “an 84mm goose”—had originally been designed to destroy human tanks, apparently. But they’d adapted the munitions to serve for shipboard operations. In fact, they had a bewildering variety of munitions, whose distinctions — HEAT, HEP-T, Anti-Personnel Tracer, Armor-Piercing, and there were two or three others — soon had Mallu hopelessly confused.

It did at least become clear why both of the soldiers were so large, by human standards. The concept of a “recoilless” rifle in microgravity was…

Very flexible.

The one named Dennis Greer grinned widely when the subject came up. “Yeah, well. It’s tricky. If you don’t know what you’re doing, firing a goose in null gravity is likely to leave you spinning in circles.”

“With a busted neck,” added the other one, Thomas Kelly. “It helps, of course, to have as much body mass as possible.”

Mallu had gotten intrigued by now. The weapons might actually have a chance of attaining their goal. And he could see other uses for them. “Why not use Jao soldiers, then?”

Both human soldiers chuckled. “Jao don’t really take to the things,” said Kelly.

“Bunch of snobs, you ask me,” said Greer.

Mallu looked from one to the other. Then, even though he suspected the subtlety would be missed by the two soldiers, adopted the posture which he thought came closest to the meaning of their chuckles. Amusement-at folly.

“You have simply never met the right Jao,” he said. “Wait here.”

****

He came back shortly with two of his Krant soldiers in tow. Both of them were large by Jao standards, which meant they were much larger than even Kelly and Greer.

“These are Urta and Naddo.” He pointed out one from the other. “Teach them how to use the gooses.”

He interpreted the expressions on Kelly and Greer’s faces as the human equivalent of expectation-of-silliness-from-others. “You need not be apprehensive,” he said. “We are Krant. Not — what was the term?”

“Snobs?”

“Yes, that one. Tully once told me we are hillbillies. He was rather exasperated, I believe, so he added the terms ‘stubborn’ and ‘ignorant’ as qualifiers. But I got the sense that ‘hillbillies’ itself was not derogatory.”

Kelly’s dark face displayed a large smile. The grin variety of the expression. “Not coming from Major Tully, anyway. You hear it coming from one of my homeys, be a different story.”

The meaning of the last statement was obscure. But it was clear from the subtle shift in the expressions of the two human soldiers that they were willing to try to teach the two Jao how to use the very un-Jao-like weapons.

This entry was posted in Collaborators, Snippets. Bookmark the permalink.
Skip to top

Comments

35 Responses to THE CRUCIBLE OF EMPIRE — Snippet 61

  1. ij70 says:

    Ok. So Kaln can not get anything new adopted, but the Krant captain suddenly has two Jao who are great at learning new stuff!

    Might as well rewrite the whole Krant back story.

  2. Eyal says:

    Given the low status of Krant, it may be that its elders are trying to exhibit greater conformity than they otherwise would, to avoid further derision by the more powerful kochan.

  3. BRK says:

    Confirmation of what was my half formed suspicion.

    The Ekhat are going to be rendered “toothless” and forced to give information and to recieve instruction.

    Can you contemplate “wrem fa” for these behemoths ? This is going to be mighty interesting.

    Comments 1 and 2 highlight something else. People with less power have learnt by “wrem fa” that association is the key for survival and for transcending one’s situation.

    With The Ekhat in a position of weakness, this valuable lesson will be learnt. And so the work of “civilizing” the Ekhat begins in a small way. Nice.

  4. BRK says:

    here’s something else….

    What do you think the Lliex are going to think of all this ? Watching Ekhat getting trained ?
    By Jao ? ….. consider Jihan’s reaction and contrast with Liant’s reaction. I still haven’t added humans to the mix. …

    Folks, this is going to be a real great ride…

  5. Grant says:

    There was not one single piece of information in this snippet that even implied “training” or “civilizing” an Ekhat. The fact that their starting point is blowing all the prisoners limbs off just to keep it from suiciding until it can be studied and interrogated rather says the opposite in fact. Nobody here has even the slightest inkling of an idea about making any attempt at “civilizing” Ekhat. If you so much as suggested the possibility to anyone in the story so far they’d throw you in a straight jacket and toss you in a padded room.

  6. BRK says:

    It depends on the time frame that you are looking at.

    You have one maybe two Ekhat in a condition of quadriplegia ( non functional or amputated limbs”. You will interrogate them. (for how long ?) month , two months, hell I’ll be charitable and say you interrogate them for 24 months. What after that ?

    There is nothing that these Ekhat can do. Other than see, hear and talk. Their 24 hours have to be filled. With What ?

    will they be able to talk to others of their species ? no. Who are they going to talk to ? Jao, humans and Lliex. If you were there, what are you going to talk to them ? who won the grammy’s and the latest fashion statements on the red carpet ? What you will be doing, is to try and understand how these guys think. Once you understand that, you start talking to them showing them their fallacies or showing them that their assumptions regarding lietmotif species is wrong or inappropriate. how you do it is your choice, but this is what any civilized species would do, subject of course to their own culture and mores. Whether the Ekhat accept it or not is the first pass is doubtful, but given time, they have no option but to accept the logic.

    Can you see any outcome other that a “stockholm syndrome” setting in ?

    Can you see anybody deciding to terminate these helpless Ekhat after interrogation is finished ? If any person or persons goes through such an experience, they will have to do two things. If they want to die, they have to get somebody to sympathise with them enough to put them out of their misery. How do you suppose that can happen ?

    What you said is true. there is nothing in this snippet to suggest that all this is on the agenda. But, if the story has to unfold in real life, this is the kind of stuff you will have to deal with.

    This is where probably our own differences in culture and education come in. We are a civilization that is a melting pot that has been on the simmer for thousands of years. The USA is also a melting pot but compressed into 400 years. The way we think of time, indeed of other cultures and values and beliefs is different. but it is in interactions like these that we learn that we have differences of perception, which could lead to differences of opinion subsequently.

    It could even boil down to the difference in your perception of what you expect from Fiction and what I expect from fiction. Normally we would not even interact while enjoying the book. This forum gives us that opportunity. Which is great !

    All I am saying is that these things are likely to happen given the scenario developing in this and the previous snippet. If they do, It should be real interesting. In case it does’nt, I would be most interested to know why it did’t happen.

    I am looking at having a good time with this book. If I get educated in the process, more power to the authors and dedicated readers like you !

  7. BRK says:

    I just wanted to add one point. Think on it.

    In a conflict, it is easy to think of Us versus Them.

    If you can think that there is no Them, but only Us and then look at the reason for the conflict, you will find that Conflict is not an option till all else has failed.

    This is the central thought of Buddhism and Hinduism. All are same, but perception can be different. And perception at the end is a chimera. Finally only reality or truth Prevails. just as the object remains but the shadow vanishes. So if you see the Ekhat, humans, Jao, Liex etc as sentient beings and each with a right to exist and express themselves, maybe you can see an outbreak of peace and cooperation among humans themselves in our own lifetimes.

  8. Eyal says:

    @6

    I’d say there’s a good chance the Jao, at least, will want to terminate the Ekhat as soon as interrogation is done. The chance (which I personally believe is nonexistent) of bringing them into some kind of association owuld be considered nil by any of the protagonists, so why waste resources keeping them alive?

  9. Eyal says:

    I’d also note that even if you could get the Ekhat to recognize leitmotif species as their equals, or at least having worth, that doesn’t solve your problems, given that the Ekhat will cheerfully butcher each other (or themselves, for that matter).

  10. Mr. Masterson says:

    @1 :I understand why you might say what you did, but could the reason he pick those two. Was because maybe their big and dumb? All this talk about the Ekhat is interesting, but what I want to know if the Ekhat bleed out after you sever an appendage or does the appendage get cauterized after getting hit by the recoilless rifle? I also didn’t realize they had room to train in on the shuttle? Hopefully all my question will be answered soon. What a great story.

  11. Ed says:

    here’s an off thought, the Ekhat was breeding with her mate, she is captured and you get some little Ekhat’s to raise :-)

  12. BRK says:

    @8 If the Jao were alone in taking that decision, you would be correct. But you know Humans are different. Slowly the Terra Taif (Jao) will start thinking of public opinion as exposure to the human taif increases.

    So what would have been a certainty in the past is only a probability now.

    @9 This terminating of self that Ekhat have is an extreme form of “be of use” syndrome of the Jao. Possibly this is the bedrock from which this Jao thought pattern sprung out of. the question why would they butcher other races if they can find that these species contribute to them by merely existing.

    My belief is that to kill sombody you need to have a reason. That reason may be unacceptable, stupid, illogical whatever, but you got to have a reason. if you read the earlier book, you will find that the Ekhat do terminate each other and themselves but for a reason. That may not be a reason you and I might use to kill somebody but is a killing matter for them. Education is the answer for these kind of reasons.

    For a lomg time in India we had female infanticide. Even today ultra sound scanners for pregnancies are debarred by law to reveal the sex of the child in India. In certain states in India, it is illegal to even ask that question and the medical practicioner is required by law to register a complaint against the parents if they ask that question. It is education that slowly eradicating the vile practice of female infanticide in our country. We are not home and dry yet but we are getting there.

    Similarly there are other practices in other countries, like cannibalism etc that are getting eradicated only through education.

    All species in the two books need education and the beauty is that they will learn from each other.

  13. Grant says:

    No, it does not depend on the time frame you are looking at. And the humans are not different in any way that matters. It is THE EKHAT that matter, and they are not going to just suddenly decide that maybe their eons long quest to purge the universe of all life that isn’t them is maybe something they should put on hold for a while to experiment with something that is the absolute complete polar opposite of everything their entire race has dedicated its existence to for its entire history because you took one of them prisoner and kept it around with its arms and legs chopped off for long enough while it was interrogated.

    “Can you see anybody deciding to terminate these helpless Ekhat after interrogation is finished?”

    I see EVERYBODY deciding to do so. They just decided to blow all its limbs off its body with an anti tank weapon so they could capture it for interrogation and nobody even **blinked**.

    And do you seriously think in all the thousands of years the Ekhat have been cruising around the universe, wiping out thousands of species and enslaving hundreds more to be put to use in assisting in the destruction of the rest… the one missing component is that NOBODY ever tried talking them out of thinking it was a good idea??? And then this statement of yours is just … description defying:

    “Whether the Ekhat accept it or not is the first pass is doubtful, but given time, they have no option but to accept the logic.”

    Really? I mean… REALLY? That statement doesn’t even pass the laugh out loud test when applying it to dealing with other humans, let alone an alien species which rather painfully obviously doesn’t have remotely the same idea of “logical” that we do. That’s an astoundingly ridiculous statement. It might be nice if logic conquered all and was some kind of irresistable compulsive force and all you had to do was talked reaosnably at someone long enough and they’d give up on any crazy destructive idea they might have been contemplating and agree with you… but that statement bears absolutely no resemblance to reality in any way even just among humans, who at least have some baseline ability to adequately understand how each other think.

  14. robert says:

    Ha ha. Get the Ekhat to change?!? Ha ha. How, by playing Mozart to them? They kill their enslaved species with deadly music. As if playing Pa pa pa pa pa to one crippled individual will turn an entire, totally insane species into best buds.

  15. Grant says:

    @robert: Actually… if there WAS one single way any kind of state of detante might be acheived with the Ekhat (which, to be clear, I do not believe for a second) I suspect that “playing Mozart at them” might indeed by the way to do it. They are more likely to respond to music than anything else as far as I can tell. They seem to have a ridiculous level of obsession regarding the very idea of musucal composition… making them aware that you produce accomplished musical composers in your own species would be about the only thing I can conceive of that might at least give them pause.

    Even that, however, assumes they don’t take one listen to whatever you decide to play them and do whatever their version is of clamping their hands over their ears in agony at the horrible horrible noise, then decide you need to be wiped out more than anyone else they’ve ever met for producing such a horrifying cacophany that is an insult to thier own magnificent composition. Maybe you play them Mozart, but they prefer a bagpipe rendition of German death metal or something.

    Or maybe whatever it is you play them they actually like… and how DARE you presume to have emulated their own magnificent Composers! Die inferior scum! DIE DIE DIE!

    Etc…

  16. WCG says:

    Hmm,… well, I think the overriding theme of these books is that former enemies CAN learn to get along – and even profit from the experience. That said, I don’t expect to see the Ekhat in association anytime soon, and maybe not at all.

    But who knows? I have no desire to guess where the authors will take this book, and even less to criticize them before they get there. If they can make a radical change in the Ekhat – or at least one of them – seem plausible, more power to them. It would certainly fit with the theme.

    But right now, the Ekhat seem to be completely insane by the standards of any other race. I don’t know how much of that is biological and how much is cultural, but I suspect that a significant amount is the former.

  17. robert says:

    Please remember that the Jao conquered and then the Bond manipulated them into association with humanity because of one primary goal. Get more allies to help Fight the Ekhat. As for the taming of the Ekhat, you could play Mozart, you could play Vivaldi, you could play Lou Harrison, you could play any old Strauss, nothing would do the job. Not even John Lewis or scratchy old Caruso records.

  18. Grant says:

    I believe the over-riding theme of these books is the need for sensible, rational, like minded species to put aside their differences in the pursuit of their own self interest. That self interst being… “don’t let the completely insensible, irrational, relentlessly genocidal Ekhat exterminate you all”.

    And if you want a cue from previous Weber books about how relentlessly genocidal alien species are dealt with… refer to how the Bugs are dealt with in the “In Death Ground” and “The Shiva Option” books. Notice the total lack of hand wringing or soul searching by *any* of the parties involved over whether it was an appropriate course of action to exterminate another species when their own conduct dictates it’s either them or you.

  19. WCG says:

    Re. #18, that’s true, Grant, but (1) Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth are a lot better, or at least more thoughtful, authors than Weber and White, and (2) even those two thought otherwise in “Crusade” (in which there WAS plenty of “hand wringing” and “soul searching” about the terrible prospect of exterminating another intelligent species).

    As I say, I seriously doubt if there would be any way to bring the Ekhat into association. And considering the situation, I doubt very much if that’s on anyone’s wish list right now. For that matter, the Ekhat don’t seem to be in any danger of extinction at all (which is more than you can say for the humans in this series).

    But if Flint and Wentworth take the story in that direction (I still think that’s unlikely), I’ll be interested to see how they do it. And I wouldn’t bet they couldn’t pull it off.

  20. Mike says:

    I’m trying to remember for sure, but in Black On Black it seems as if the enemy aliens were unrelenting and impossible to negotiate with. In Stars Over Stars didn’t it turn out that there was a splinter group that had adopted peaceful ways? So I guess you could argue that Wentworth’s past work suggests either route is possible for the Ekhat.

  21. MiguelVargas says:

    Try doing what was done in the movie, “Encounters of the Third Kind” and maybe even have a full orchestra to play for the Ekhat as a reformatory or retraining. Then proceed to have them watch every SciFi show with Orchestral works associated with them like Starwars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Doctor Who’s famous intro sounds, etc. See what they make of that without exchanging a single word. Just play them music from the slowest pace to the crazies and fastest pace ever. Yes. Vary the tempo to see how this may play with their crazy neurons. Maybe slow tempo gets them happy like a drug and fast tempo gets them into a drugged-up Nazi rage.

  22. Doug Lampert says:

    It’s unlikely that current Ekhat behavior is instinctive, it almost has to be mostly cultural (or just possibly the result of genetic engineering).

    But where’s the evolutionary advantage in being THAT willing to kill yourself? Seemingly most Ekhat don’t breed, presumably they’re a social species and individuals are highly expendable (comparable to individual bees or ants or naked mole rats), but that doesn’t get you anywhere near the degree of suicidal behavior shown. Expendable doesn’t mean free or without value.

    Similarly I just can’t see the Ekhat as shown building a high tech culture, they do too much damage to their own toys too often. Again, I think the current behavior is cultural and dates from the time of their cultural collapse.

    Thus groups of Ekhat with different values would be reasonable, but we’re not dealing with any such group at this time, and given that different Ekhat groups are mutually genocidal the existence of any such groups won’t change relations with any of the main current groups.

  23. BRK says:

    Let me get in a word here

    Every species has time ? 24 hours if they are on earth every day ?

    Now every moment you have a choice of what you want to do. Humans chase money, women, song ideals etc. jao spend their time being of use, chasing kochan status etc etc.

    What do the Ekhat do with thier time ? We know what they do when they encounter other species. What do they do when they are in Ekahat space ? We have zero clue.

    Given a choice between reading a book and killing a person, I’ll choose the book every time. I will need a real solid reason to kill a fellow person. Given a choice of a gazzillion things why would Ekhat go around killing other sentient species ? There has to be some kind of reason.

    Let us assume they enjoy killing, it gives them a rush. Introduce them to video games, to WWF or pro boxing. get them hooked on to baseball. Heck start gladiatorial contests where Ekhat can contest against Ekhat. Once they move to some displacement activity keep them moving from hazardous activity to less hazardous activity. Treat it like drug therapy. move them down a notch at a time.

    Start with the young. give them values that make them sociable.

    It is easy to give up and go home. Call people names and hide in the sand. Any body would have told you guys that winning freedom from the british without raising a fist is an impossibility. It took Gandhi to show the world that it was possible. Not just possible but doable.

    As these books themselves point out, there are always two sides to a problem. If you look hard enough, you find the third way. Neccessary precondition, LOOK HARD ENOUGH.

    Rather than trying and convincing me how hard the problem is, if you can convince yourself that it is doable and look for a solution, who knows, we could make a real difference by taming the Ekhat on earth, the Al -Qaeda. think on it.

  24. Grant says:

    You’re still doing it. You’re insisting on applying human principles of psychology to Ekhat behavior with little to no regard for what the evidence in front of us tells us about the Ekhat. Not only that, but you’re selectively choosing to apply highly idealized principles which are largely unrealistic when applied *to humans*.

  25. BRK says:

    Response to comment @13 by Grant.

    I concede your point that talking to an Ekhat that is in full possesion of its faculties and limbs is certainly a waste of time. I will further concede that even I would happily shoot off their limbs to capture them. Agreed.

    But how many of the species that the Ekhat encountered had quadriplegic Ekhat in their power ? Not many I suppose. How many of them spent time understanding them or trying to understand them ? Going by your own reactions the answer would be nil. How many would spend resources trying to get them off their fix of genocide. Absolutely zero.

    How will you know whether what I say will work or not ? At least try it for about five to six years before you declare the experiment a failure.

    For twenty thousand years man kept saying that going to the moon was impossible, but BOB Kennedy made it possible. So first think it is possible and give it a shot. It may not work, try something else.
    If handling a fictional problem like this something you find impossible, what about stuff like the sub prime crisis. That is where a guy like Obama is key. because he says “yes we can”.

  26. BRK says:

    here’s some food for thought.

    How about trying hypnosis on the Ekhat ? Maybe try stuff like Pavlov. Try Mozart. Try sufi poetry. show them Las vegas and the Bellagio fountains. Read the the Bible to them. Try waterboarding. try the Vedas. try yoga, try panayama. try Kabbalah. try scuba diving. bungee jumping.

    Try Wrem fa. try ggod cop bad cop. Try comedy central. Try Avatar. try Uncle toms Cabin. try try try.

  27. Grant says:

    And try and try and try until you’ve so thoroughly psychologically altered and manipulated some single individual that they act in a way you find at least tolerable.

    Then you can send them back to the rest of the Ekhat where they’ll be dead in 1.5 seconds since they’re not exactly deliberative social creatures inclined to listen to differing viewpoints from others of their kind… especially already crippled contaminated ones… while the rest of the species goes about their business exterminating all life in the universe.

    Or… maybe you can just keep it as some kind of pet.

  28. WCG says:

    This discussion is kind of funny, because almost every enemy in our history has generally been considered evil, often beyond repair. And some of them have indeed been evil, by our standards, though they themselves have generally considered that they were the good guys. And these were fellow human beings that we sent to gas chambers, burned alive, or tortured to death in other ways. But we had good reasons for that, right? We were only protecting ourselves…

    For the most part, you want to destroy your enemies, not live with them. Look at the Jao on Earth. Don’t you think that most humans hated them, and wished above all else to find some way to destroy them? After all, they attacked and killed us, with no provocation at all. How could you live with such a species? (The Jao didn’t think much of humans, either, though as the victors, their hatred undoubtedly wasn’t as visceral.)

    Now, of course, they think of the Ekhat the same way, pretty much, that we’ve always thought about our enemies. I just think it’s funny. As I’ve said, I doubt that the Ekhat will ever be brought into association, but to flat out deny the possibility? Heck, we don’t know enough about them to say that. I can think of ways a clever SF author could make it work. Implausible? Yeah, no doubt. But I’m not willing to judge ahead of time.

  29. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well WCG, would you blame modern Israelis not trusting Nazi Germany if it was brought into current day without any change of attitude on the Nazis part?

    Sorry but while “we always thought our enemies were evil” has an element of truth, there also have been plenty of cases where “our enemies are evil” is the truth.

    Some peoples/nations were evil and good folks had good reason to distrust them.

    The Ekhat are currently evil and not just because the Jao think they are.

    We’ve seen enough from the Ekhat point of view to know that the Jao are correct.

    Will it always be true?

    Maybe, maybe not.

    As it is the Ekhat have to change, not the Jao beliefs about the Ekhat.

  30. Grant says:

    We’re not talking about political disputes with a neighbour.

    We’re talking about a species which has devoted itself to purging the universe of all other life.

    Characterizing the other side as “evil” in the first case is often an act of political expediancy rather than a serious evaluation of the real character of the opposition (and no, it is NOT often the case that the enemy are considered evil “beyond repair”, that occurs relatively rarely among the more extremely radical elements of the population). If however the term “evil” does not properly apply in the latter case the word simply doesn’t have any meaning at all. The two situations are not analogous.

    And no, I do not think most humans on earth after the conquest wanted to *destroy* the Jao. Kick their asses and eject them from the planet? Sure. Smack them around so hard they’d never think of pulling an invasion attempt like that again? You bet. Eliminate the entire species? Ummm… no. Because they’d displayed no particular traits that would have suggested that was something that would be required. Unlike the Ekhat, which have done so in spades.

  31. BRK says:

    let me point out to you some salient facts.

    For Comment 28 and Grant. Ok let me say that what you say is correct. You say this attitude of labelling the other side as evil and deciding not to coexist with them is a natural and logical thing. And you can go ahead and be happy. and you have decided that you are the good guys.

    For me there is no difference between you, the Ekhat, the Nazis or even the Al Qaeda. Because all their actions are virtually indisguishable from yours.

    So let me point out haw genocides start,
    1. You first isolate some point of difference between you and the targetted people. You start classifying them as us and them.
    2. You wait for them to make some error or some misjudgement. Show this as a mass attack on your value system or your way of life.
    3. drill this notion of alienness the minds of your people and place conditions that will be unacceptable to the targetted race. Demostrate that these guys are incorrigible, they are followers of a pernicious philosophy and raise the populace and start on the job of exterminating them.
    4. Every reasoned argument that the targetted race will put up will dimissed as ravings, sophistry, lacking in understanding etc. All proofs of good intention will be brushed aside. People who have their head screwed on straight will be labelled as traitors, collaboraters etc.
    5. Finally you will unleash the horde on the target race.

    All it takes is just one stupid mad man to unleash this horror. and you know the beauty ? They think they are the good guys. That they are doing the right thing and doing a favour to the world by purveying this atrocity across the world.

    One does’t need to look far for this. The Nazi pogrom against the Jews, Sri Lankan Tamils vs the Sinhala population. The most classic case of all this is the second War on IRAQ. We had an attack on our parliament by terorists, we had 26/11, but do you see us exterminating pakistanis at the first possible opportunity. It is this kind of thinking that leads to this kind of atrocity.

    You classify the Ekhat as evil because you are the people getting chewed up. If turkeys could talk, how would they consider you Christians ? This massacre of innocent birds on Christmas. Put yourself in the Turkey’s place and ask yourself wht you would make of your own behavior. To a turkey, you are even madder than the Ekhat. To them, your honoring Christ, bringing the family together, Christmas Joy and the festival spirit will be utter madness. Why because to them Christmas is a day when their families get ripped apart, loved ones are butchered, all your struggling for life is seen “fiestiness” and “personality” and you admire the bird and then you proceed to wring its neck. not just that, you teach your children also to do it. And you will give it the blessing of your church and call this holy.

    You are getting away only because the turkey cannot talk. IF they could, and they were sentient, they will be getting ready to cull you and me out of the universe.

    In Mother of Demons, this very point has been addressed. “Stand up for the weakest, let not the weakest be flailed. Because after they are gone, the flails will start on you. Then who will you blame. you have to blame yourself, because you were the one who blessed the flail in the first place.” or some thing to that effect.

  32. BRK says:

    I apologize for the rant in the previous column and to WCG and Grant for anything that has hurt them in the previous comment. I am truly sorry for what has left my table and on to the post.

    India in its long history has seen more conquerors than you seen hot dinners. We have a great amount of practice at looking at the threadbare excuses for strangers coming, looking down on us, calling us savages and then subjecting us to all kinds of atrocity. So, this coversation has hit a raw nerve. How raw it was, I got to know just now.

    All I point out is that Hitler thought he was a chosen messaih and what he was doing was for the benefit of the human race and for the German people. Even Osama thinks exactly the same. For us neutral third parties, who are friends of both America and Iraq, there is really no difference between George W Bush and Saddam Hussain. It just is that GWB has a bigger arsenal and a lot more resources. Now don’t get your knikers in a twist. i can prove it to you. Take any speech given by GWB on Iraq where he exhorts the American people to rise up agaist Iraq. Now do a find and replace for USA and substitute for Iraq, Saddam Hussain for GWB, democracy with ISLAM and some others. and now compare the resulting document with a speech of Saddam. Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be verbatim copy.

    As Eric and David have pointed out, history is written by the Victors and do you think any victors will write anything that will denigrate themselves ?

  33. BRK says:

    For comment 24 by grant.

    What is the evidence against the Ekhat ? Not in terms of their actions, but their thinking pattern that results in those actions.

    Second I am Human and know only human psychology. If there is an opportunity to learn a different psychology I will learn it. This is like a card game. I can play only with cards in my own hand. I cannot play with Cards in sobebody else’s hand or even the cards on the table at that instant.

    No 3. If I need to change my thinking based on my interaction with the Ekhat, it just shows that my previous mode of thinking was insufficient to adequately address the challenge. So I need to change my thinking and not not look down on it as an infra dig activity.

    Highly idealized principles are the only ones worth following. Given a choice between principles, I would always choose the Higher ideal one. And I suspect even you would.

    Highly unrealistic ? Maybe right now. but what bets for the future ? esp if I keep insisting on following them and infecting others with the madness ?

  34. BRK says:

    For comment thirty.

    If you look at the way how Tully was before Aille came on to the scene, your feeling that the humans did not want to exterminate the Jao will prove to be false. What do you think the Resistance in the previous book were in existance for ? To “educate” the Jao ?

    The only time Tully came to the conclusion that the jao were worth preserving was when he came face to face with the Ekhat and their military prowess. This is true for every Human in the first book. let us not gloss over this.

    Reality is reality and we have to see it unadorned by our spectacles, rosy or otherwise.

  35. gary says:

    There could also be the possibility that the xenophobic behavior of the Ekhat could be genetic, something that is instinctive hardwired into their species. For example, some animals like deers will freeze if our car encounter them on the road, or baby turtles upon hatching will instinctively head towards the sea or some baby spiders upon hatching usually devour their hundreds of siblings until the dominant few is left.
    Could be hard convincing someone to associate whose first instinct upon meeting you is to want to kill you. From the earlier snippets, seems like that’s the same reaction too when they meet with their own species.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.