I’m late, I’m late, for a read along date!
So I’m playing a bit of catch-up today, but my first proper post for Sci-Fi Month 2020 is finally here! Let’s discuss Golden Witchbreed.
If you’re only just hearing of this read along and would like to join the discussion or even just (hah) read along, here’s our schedule, courtesy of imyril at There’s Always Room For One More:
Friday 6th November | Part One & Two
Friday 13th November | Part Three – Part Five
Friday 20th November | Part Six & Seven
Friday 27th November | Part Eight
And the Goodreads group for gathering links/asking questions etc is here.
Now, then! Let’s get on with the discussion…
There’s a lot of rapid world-building as Christie is thrown in at the deep end. What aspects (if any) stand out or intrigue you?
I’ll admit that the sheer amount of factual information we get at the start of this book was a bit daunting! My poor brain will normally insist on trying to get things like pronunciation right, even if I’m not reading out loud, so with this there was quite a bit of mental stop-start to my progress.
That said, it’s the social/cultural side of worldbuilding that usually fascinates me most, and while I got a bit critical of some aspects (though those were presented from Christie’s POV), a few aspects of Orthean culture, like the fact that they don’t assign gender until their children are grown enough to identify themselves, definitely interested me. I appreciated the progressive approach there, perhaps more given the occasional sharp contrast with Christie’s own narrower view of such things. I think time will tell if she makes an effort to overcome her lapses into prejudice, though.
‘For my part, I prefer aliens that look alien… Humanoid aliens, they’re trouble.’ Physical differences – and similarities – trouble Christie and the Ortheans this week, but how do you feel? Would you rather your aliens looked more or less like us? Do you think Gentle is giving us a warning about what to expect?
I think that’s a double-edged sword – similarities will obviously give us the advantage of feeling like we have common ground, and that can be a more comfortable starting point for building relations – assuming one’s own prejudice doesn’t get in the way. (Christie.) On the other hand, Christie makes a very valid point – humanity is not all sweetness and light. People are messed up, and yes, they can often be trouble. But that’s assuming that the similarities go beneath the surface, and that’s a trickier question to answer, isn’t it?
I think there’s definitely a warning in there, about what might be coming. We’ve seen already that the Ortheans are not without their own prejudices, nor are they altogether slow to act on that prejudice.
Personally … to be honest, I think I’d rather have some sort of physical similarity there. As I said, it can provide a more comfortable place from which to begin to relate to an alien being or race, though I’m still wondering if that’s showing my own prejudice a bit, too.
This book is not messing around, is it?
‘He’s a good man,’ she said. ‘Don’t trust him.’
Every friendly Orthean warns Christie not to trust the others. What are your first impressions of Christie’s new alien allies (Geren, Haltern, Ruric and Dalzielle/Suthafiori) – and what do you think about Orthean intrigues?
There’s that kinship with human nature again, I suspect. I’m definitely finding the divide between general society and those of a more political mindset to be interesting. Those in politics/power are immediately less trusting, what a surprise!
I also feel like the whole ‘akin to the Golden Witchbreed’ thing is a pretty blatant flag waving over Camp Any Excuse, really. Maybe it’s a legitimate concern, and maybe it’s the dissenters grasping at straws to try and ensure that Orthean ways of life remain unchanged by offworlder newcomers. We’ll see.
‘Up until now they’ve taken you and your kin for overgrown ashiren. Now they know you’re the same as us, it’s just your methods that are different.’ Christie S’aranth survives a second assassination attempt and gains a nickname – do you think the shift in how she is perceived will be a good thing? Would you trust Maric and keep ke close?
I think that shift in perception will have upsides and downsides, let’s be real. Maybe she’s given her enemies reason to step back and be more cautious of her, but will that compel them to back down, or to regroup and try a different tactic to get rid of her? Or even just come for her in greater numbers next time? Somehow I don’t think she’s seen the last of her would-be assassins.
That said, I’m also hoping that this shift in perception will be a good thing – if her allies have more respect for her, that might afford her a bit more protection. Assuming they don’t all decide she can take care of herself…
As for Maric, ke reads like a sullen teenager type to me. I’m honestly unsure where ke stands, regarding any of this, yet. I don’t think they’re much of a threat? But I could easily be wrong…