The Gradual week 3

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**Summary**

15. Mutlac Vaqt means ‘Absolute Time’ and Mutlac Kema means ‘ship time’. We learn about the Serques. The publicity assistant, Jih, is asked about Wesler, the next port of call. Jih is from Goorn. There is some speculation about the islands and music, how they both have a structure. As the boat approaches Wesler, the chronometers change to align with one another.

16. Arrival on Wesler & first impressions. Young people hang mysteriously around the entry. Upon entry, the tour members are questioned by officials.

17. Some discussion of the pieces to be performed. Sandra’s Concierto For Piano and Orchestra will be performed on the island of Temmil by an islander named Cea Weller. The March of the Soulful Women, and anti-war piece, will also be performed, though for some reason is of questionable appropriateness. Most of Sandra’s time to be spent in outreach. The tour rolls on to different islands with different cultures but the bureaucracy seems to be a constant.

18. Leaving Wesler, the same young people are outside the shelterate building. Inside, there is another uncomfortable questioning by an official in order to leave the island. He had to present his staff to be registered. Jih explained that this was due to the high frequency of deserters. On the tour, there are delays and problems with uneven tempi between the percussion and the rest of the orchestra.

19. The end of the tour is approaching. By now the questioning at port has become routine, but the lineup of people of mysterious purpose still unsettles Sandro. The tour ends on Temmil - Choker of Air - where oddly nothing will go wrong.

20. Temmil Waterside is the main town. New concert hall. Sandro is allowed only a brief meeting with Cea Weller initially. He spends his days before the finale with teaching, and once joins the group on a country tour up the the volcano. He tries to call home but can’t get through, so he writes instead. The final concert approaches.

21. The final concert is a great success. Sandro finally meets Cea, who is a fan. They hit it off and end up spending the night together, then part the next morning. They leave he island. Sandro never did find And Ante.

22. Hakerline Promise for a short break before returning home, gives Sandro Tomè to reflect. He longs to stay on the islands. He thinks about the romantic compositions of Denn Mytrie and understands. He will return home and see what happens next.

**Discussion**

*The tour is already done. Where will the rest of the book take us?
*Time, and the difficulty of keeping it, is becoming a theme. Both on ships and in music.
*Questioning, young people, And Ante, Sando’s indiscretion. These things will also be back, I imagine.

Comments

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    I think we've had enough foreshadowing that things are about to go very badly for Sandro (but the frame of flashback means we know he survives at least long enough to write his memoir). Yes, I think all the elements mentioned will return.

    I liked the feature of "universal time" clock adjusting itself; that reinforced that time is nothing like universal in the Islands.

    I suspect that shelterate laws and army deserters will be a feature of the story to come.

    What do people think of the pacing in the story? We're 90-odd pages into the book and the story hasn't really started yet. Did Priest need all this space for this setup? The other work we've looked at is mostly short stories, so we know he can set things up quickly when he needs to.

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    Time: we seem to have another variation on time distortion here - discrepancies arise not just at the equator but on every inter-island crossing. Not sure what that is intended to signify. Also, in this version of the Archipelago they seem to have cracked a global measure of time (and presumably therefore mapping) which in other versions has not been possible.

    Groups of young people... I don't yet understand if they are officially sanctioned teams, or unofficial vigilante groups, or criminal gangs!

    The purpose of the wand/stave thing he had to carry is still unclear (other than it being some form of ID)

    Bureaucracy is a strong theme of island life here, but it never occurred to me that that was the case from the two previous books we have read. Maybe it relates specifically to boat travel?

    Something that occurred to me when I read @Apocryphal 's comment "anti-war piece" is that or mysterious friend And Ante could by word play be construed as Anti.

    The travel passage also made it clear just how densely packed this world's ocean is with islands! Even Greek islands aren't as packed in as this. But the ocean is almost literally riddled with islands.

    Again. CP likes to introduce brief affairs and infidelity into his books. Not sure what to make of that.

    @NeilNjae said "What do people think of the pacing in the story? We're 90-odd pages into the book and the story hasn't really started yet." and @Apocryphal said "The tour is already done. Where will the rest of the book take us?" - I agree with both of these. Not much has happened beyond setup, and yet the apparent setup of the tour and the (half) promise of doom awaiting seemed to go by without incident.
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    I’m used to books taking 90 pages or more to set up. I mean, Cloud Atlas takes even longer. So not bothered by that. Some very fine books have slow pacing. But some of this set- up seems to be belaboured or repeated, and that does bother me a little. I would at least have expected some progress on the And Ante front, since that was introduced early as the start of all his troubles. But I don’t mind the asides and scenery and so on.

    The young people… I assume they’re volunteers waiting to accept defectors, but not really allowed to tempt people to defect. But if Sandro is is so curious about them, why not just ask? I would have ages ago.

    Apart from these quibbles, I’m enjoying it. Throwing in a little extra martial affair just seems like the zeitgeist these days. It’s become almost like something the publishers require if you don’t have a murder. It doesn’t grab me, just makes me roll my eyes and say ‘of course’.
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    @Apocryphal said:
    I’m used to books taking 90 pages or more to set up. I mean, Cloud Atlas takes even longer. So not bothered by that. Some very fine books have slow pacing. But some of this set- up seems to be belaboured or repeated, and that does bother me a little. I would at least have expected some progress on the And Ante front, since that was introduced early as the start of all his troubles. But I don’t mind the asides and scenery and so on.

    I think that's it. This setup could have been done much quicker.

    The young people… I assume they’re volunteers waiting to accept defectors, but not really allowed to tempt people to defect. But if Sandro is is so curious about them, why not just ask? I would have ages ago.

    That's a good guess, and perhaps the knife is a sign of that. Makes a change from the escape lines being run by prostitutes.

    As for talking to them... immigration officials have immense power at that moment of entry. I always assume they're sticklers for rules, have no sense of humour, and take a dim view of variation from expected process. Wandering over to some disreputable layabouts in the middle of that carries a high risk of being refused entry. I'm not surprised he's not talked to them.

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    How these people get from island to island ahead of Sandro is interesting. Flying? No mention is made of flying in the islands. This version of the Dream Archipelago is very different indeed!

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    @clash_bowley said:
    How these people get from island to island ahead of Sandro is interesting. Flying? No mention is made of flying in the islands. This version of the Dream Archipelago is very different indeed!

    Oh! Were these the same young people every time? I had assumed that they were different individuals, but the same kind of group. Perhaps not reading carefully enough...

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    IIRC, there were a core of the same people, and a varying number of similar people.

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    @clash_bowley said:
    How these people get from island to island ahead of Sandro is interesting. Flying? No mention is made of flying in the islands. This version of the Dream Archipelago is very different indeed!

    I assumed it was something to do with bypassing the long emigration/immigration processes that Sandro and co had to do through. But knowing Priest, it's probably something else as well.

    As for missing that they're the same people, it was a small throwaway line. I'm sure we'll meet that group in detail later.

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    I got that they included the same people at both the entrance and exit of the one island, but not they the same people appeared multiple islands.
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