The Islanders Week 9: Followed Path and Path Followed

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SUMMARIES

PIQUAY (1) - Followed Path

  • This entry gives us the 'guidebook' entry for Piquay, a small wine-growing island with a busy port.
  • Piquay is renowned as 'the place no-one can or will leave', which seems to mean that the locals like to stay put on the island, despite the degree of traffic.
  • It's also called 'The Island of Traces', referring to trails of experiences, traces of life, echoes of oral tradition. The trails, or spoor, crisscross the island and emanate from both individuals and the island itself. To depart the island is to lose this trace.
  • Piquay is a place of unrested spirits, unresolved hopes, unfinished work, and unbroken attention.
  • Most famous as the birthplace and lifelong residence of Inclair Laureate author, CHASTER KAMMESTON, who wrote the introduction to this book and has been mentioned many times.
  • Piquay is the setting of Kammeston's novels and they reveal it's nature - particularly a five-novel sequence from is middle period which tell a generational saga.
  • One of Kammeston's early novels, Terminality, tells a tale of death in a theatre and seems to be inspired by the COMMIS murder.
  • In his late period, Kammeston wrote biographies of painter DRYD BATHURST and poet KAL KAPES.
  • Kammeston never left the island and died on it a few years after receiving his Inclair Laureate.
  • An alleged testament of Wolter Kammeston, older brother of Chaster, was written after Chaster's death and found among the papers of the estate.
  • Wolter was widely believed to have been Chaster's identical twin. He died thirteen months after Chaster.

PIQUAY (2) - Path Followed

  • This entry is composed of the Testament of Wolter Kammeston, who identifes himself as Chaster Kammeston's older brother. This testament gives a short biography of Chaster Kammeston from Wolter's point of view.
  • The Kammestons (Wolter, Chaster, and sister Suther) grew up in an affluent household on the island, their father being successful in business.
  • Chaster exhibited dysfunctional behaviour from a young age, and was capable of being very charming or childishly selfish.
  • As a young man, Chaster got a job as an assistant theatre manager on a northern island.
  • While Chaster was up north, Wolter received some curious e-mails asking for his help. Chas explained that some people might come looking for him and asked Wolter to pretend to be him and claim he had never left the island.
  • The very next day, Wolter was interviewed by the Policier Seigneuriale. They assumed he was Chaster, and the interview seemed to go well and the subject dropped.
  • Chaster did not return home for a time. During his absence, and disturbed he had lied for his brother, Wolter moved out of the family home and into a place in town. This was to try and create separation between himself and his manipulative brother.
  • Eventually, Chaster returned. Wolter visited him, still feeling guilty, and asked Chaster to reveal what happened while abroad. Chaster did not. But Chaster seemed to be a changed person and resolved never to leave the island again.
  • Time passes and Chaster's career blooms. Rumours circulate that Chaster has many liaisons with visiting female fans.
  • One of these visitors turned out to be ELSA CAURER, the social activist. She came and stayed for a time. After she left, Chaster came to Wolter and delcared his love for her. He asked Wolter to go after her and ask her to come back, for he could not do it himself (it would destroy the mystique he created around not leaving the island).
  • Wolter says he'll help, but only if Chaster reveals his secret. Chaster refuses, but reveals that Caurer also asked him about his past.
  • Some time later, Caurer's book on the COMMIS murder and the trial of KERRITH SINGTON came out. It casted doubt on the trial of Sington, but didn't find another culprit. Chaster seemed angry, and expressed feeling used by Caurer rather than her being genuinely interested in him.
  • Later, it becomes obvious that Chaster and Caurer are back on, and seem to have reconciled.
  • When Chaster died, Caurer came to his funeral and revealed that Chaster has a special place in her heart.
  • Wolter Kammeston died 13 months after Chaster.

QUESTIONS/DISCUSSION

  • These two entries on Piquay couldn't be more different. They have different formats, styles, and even reveal contradictory facts. Do you find yourself falling more on the side or one or the other?
  • How could Chaster Kammeston write the introduction for his book if he was dead?
  • In Piquay 2, It is revealed that the whole 'natives never leave' is a fiction made up by Chaster Kammeston. But Piquay 1 seems to take it as truth. Wolter describes Chaster as 'a man trapped in his own fictional invention.' Where does that leave us with respect to who is revealing this story to us? Does @WildCard 's belief that the 'stories' in the book are authored by one of the characters hold up?
  • What do you make of the idea that individuals and places are connected by lines of story, and that moving from one to another can sever the trace?
  • How does this relate to the Archipelago as a setting, in which we have a series of distinct nodes, and to this book, which seems to trace a story across many of them.

Comments

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    I have been finishing up the read on Final Harbor so I am late on this! I'll pick up as soon as possible!

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    I'm now thinking that the whole book is really about perspectives on the death of Commis! Murder, accidental death, conspiracy, fiction... loads of theories so far.

    I'm not so bothered about "How could Chaster Kammeston write the introduction for his book if he was dead?" - firstly I don't think CP has any particular commitment to a rigid timeline, but more seriously lots of cultures have a tradition of pseudo-epigraphy.

    We tend to think of claimed authorship as in some sense sacrosanct, and passing off under someone else's name as somewhat wrong. But not everyone through history has taken this view. It is likely that some of the Hebrew psalms attributed to David were not actually composed by him (taking for the time being the position that he was a real historical individual) - a psalm would be considered "of David" as a mark of respect of successful imitation, without any sense of forgery or misappropriation. So conceivably "by Chaster Kammerston" might mean no more than "in the recognised style of" or "with grateful acknowledgement to".

    I like the second account and if I was forced to bet on there being a single truthful account it would be this one.

    I am attracted to the idea of links between individuals and place, and it seems to me to resonate rather well with human experience, and for that matter with various modern scientific models where it is important to know the history of a system as well as its instantaneous state. But I think it is extraordinarily hard - perhaps impossible - to actually sever connections between people and places, though I accept that lots of people may very well want to do this.

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    The bit about traces and being tied to a place made me think about ancient Egyptians and their connection to the river. I had read that even when they travelled, they wanted to come home before dying so they could be buried on the other side of the river, because that's where people 'moved on to' after they died.

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    The book is clearly not a gazetteer, so why did Priest decide on this form for the work? Did he have a chunk of spare worldbuilding he wanted to show off?

    The book now clearly is revolving around these same few individuals and Commis's death. I still have no idea what's going on. I think I've given up on trying to make sense of things, and instead I'm along for the ride of where Priest will take me.

    As for the idea of islands and connections, I get no sense of space of the archipelago. The islands are isolated, free-floating places without any inherent connection to anywhere else. (I think that's deliberate.) The connections between people, across the book, are similarly ephemeral and temporary. People are drifting in and out of each others' stories on the whims of ... fate?

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    @NeilNjae said:
    As for the idea of islands and connections, I get no sense of space of the archipelago. The islands are isolated, free-floating places without any inherent connection to anywhere else. (I think that's deliberate.) The connections between people, across the book, are similarly ephemeral and temporary. People are drifting in and out of each others' stories on the whims of ... fate?

    I agree - on the assumption that the world is roughly the same diameter as ours (everything else seems to be exactly the same, so why not this?) then the islands should cover something like 3 or 400 million km^2. But the writing gives the sense that they're all in a smallish clump somewhere, rather like the Greek islands, the Caribbean, the San Juans etc etc. I have never got the sense of a whole world here - maybe that's supposed to be an unexpected spinoff of the temporal vortices?

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    @Apocryphal said:

    • These two entries on Piquay couldn't be more different. They have different formats, styles, and even reveal contradictory facts. Do you find yourself falling more on the side or one or the other?

    No, it's become apparent that there is no truth. If so there is no need to look.

    • How could Chaster Kammeston write the introduction for his book if he was dead?

    Did he? Maybe he's not dead. Maybe someone wrote it for him. Maybe it's a temporal vortice thing. Maybe causality is only what you make of it.

    • In Piquay 2, It is revealed that the whole 'natives never leave' is a fiction made up by Chaster Kammeston. But Piquay 1 seems to take it as truth. Wolter describes Chaster as 'a man trapped in his own fictional invention.' Where does that leave us with respect to who is revealing this story to us? Does @WildCard 's belief that the 'stories' in the book are authored by one of the characters hold up?

    I literally have no idea.

    • What do you make of the idea that individuals and places are connected by lines of story, and that moving from one to another can sever the trace?

    Sounds like a theory an author would approve of.

    • How does this relate to the Archipelago as a setting, in which we have a series of distinct nodes, and to this book, which seems to trace a story across many of them.

    Not too well, but then the Archipelago doesn't relate particularly well to the Archipelago, does it?

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