The Gradual Week 9

1

Summary

  1. Sandro continues his journey south toward Temmil. He's in a mental fog for the first part of it, his mind occupied by thoughts of his brother. He breaks his stay in the Salay group, but when some Glaundians occupy the apartment beneath him, he nervously moves on, concerned about the warrant for his arrest. He stops using the adepts, and his time detriment grows.
  2. He arrives at Hakerline Promise, the island opposite Temmil. Kan, the adept, appears at his shoulder and demands 60 thalers. She seems not to know him, but he's glad to see her. Her manner is stiff, but after he pays she examines his stave and relaxes. She tells him he currently has a 12 hour detriment, but if he steps foot on Hakerline, it can get much worse quickly. To prevent this, she would need to be with him at all times. Hakerline lies in a gradual vortex within a gradual vortex. She then describes how her parent met while in town and then settled on the island, This is her home island. There is some mumbo jumbo about tour operators and licenses, but she explains Sandro isn't eligible for a license because he was born on the mainland. Hence the stave. His stave reveals a lot about him to her - not just his travels, but also that he's a musician who plays piano and violin, and a fair bit about his brother.
  3. Sandro stays on the boat and observes the shore from the railing. Kan returns and tells him he must remain on the boat tonight, or they will 'lose him'. The gradual is too steep on the island, and besides he doesn't have a license - no entry without a license. If he tries to land tonight, they will take his stave and either inter him or put him back on the boat. Tomorrow he can land - the other adept, Renettia, will fix things.
  4. Sandro is left alone on the ship that afternoon. There's nothing to eat or drink, so he braves a short trip to a kiosk on the shore for food and water bottles. Back on the ship, he wanders the deck playing violin, reconnecting with his music. Later, he examines himself in a mirror and is surprised to see how fit he has become. shedding 20 years seemingly. Is this the effect of the gradual, or the change in lifestyle? He tries to sleep, but it's too hot, so he opens the porthole - but then it's too loud. He hears music, dull and repetitive pop music. He recognizes his own melody, made dull.
  5. In the morning, Sandro goes on deck early. Kan returns with Renettia - there are complications. He will not only need Kan's service on Hakerline Promise, but also Renettia's for the trip to Temmil. That island also has a strong gradual, but it's the reverse of Hakerline's - the two offset each other. The 'options' that Renettia presents don't really seem like options, so he submits again. They go ashore and he takes more money from his account, then pays Renttia the 100 Hakerline talents she requests.
  6. They drive on Hakerline and arrive in a village. Sandro is told not to leave the car, but he's thirsty and crosses the square to get a drink from a fountain. As he does so, things change dramatically - the car disappears and one of the old men in the square has collapsed. Sandro walks back to the car, and things return to normal. Kan reiterates that he shouldn't leave the car without them. However, they've found a safe restaurant for lunch.

Discussion

  • Even if you doubt that the adepts can somehow help people negotiate time, there's no doubt they are adept at making things more confusing, amiright?
  • Sandro's comment on hearing his own music, distorted, seems key: "Whoever was playing it, whoever was on the record, had turned it into something bland and loud and rhythmic, had made it cheap and repetitive, made it obvious and moronic, but it was still mine. The army had made my brother into a soulless soldier, but he was still mine." What do you think Priest means by this?
  • The episode with the mirror reminded me of something Sandro said in the opening chapter: "Time is a gradual process - like ageing, you do not notice it happening."

Comments

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    It's good to see Sandro being consistent, still naively accepting everything being done to him. Yes, the time effects are real, but are they something being created by the adepts? I'm not sure it's a useful question to ask.

    These chapters, and the rejuvenation, could be setting up that Sandro is And Ante: I forget who first suggested that twist.

    The quote sounds like whining of a sad old man, yearning for the past when things were better. Because of course Sandro knows best.

    There's also the question of why this particular collection of adepts has taken to following Sandro around. Do you think we will ever get an answer to that? I'm not sure, given Priest's previous form.

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    Still enjoying the twists in the tale. I'm sure most of us are contemplating how one would game the system on Hakerline - at least, I certainly am! If I go the right way over the plaza, can I regenerate a meal I have already eaten? If I then eat it again, do I then take in the benefit of the food once, twice, or not at all? Likewise with money - can I do specific wanderings that mean I get the goods without paying anything (of course, if I get it wrong I pay twice and get nothing, so maybe it all comes out even in the end?.

    Sandro could do some seriously cool stuff here if only he'd learn a bit about adepting. But as for me, the main question is how symmetrical the thing is. If I move one way and its exact opposite, do opposite things happen, or is it not so simple? When Sandro crosses the plaza and sees one old man collapsed, then seated again, what did they see of him? Is it like Special Relativity, in which two observers' view of each other has symmetry of appearance? Or like some kind of hysteresis in which asymmetries can build up? I don't think this is CP's main concern, and I don't for a moment believe that he is going to answer such ramblings... but he has created a world that allows such questions to be asked.

    In passing, I looked back to see what happened last time on Hakerline, and it was immediately after Sandro's one night fling with Cea. (If he'd played his moves right, it could maybe have been a longer affair).

    The parallel between Jacq as his brother, and the theme as his music seemed rather forced to me, not a natural outgrowth of the storyline to date. But maybe we'll have some flesh put on it. What did make sense is his feelings about how the music had been so brutally simplified as to make it almost meaningless, though apparently good to dance to.

  • 0

    @NeilNjae said
    There's also the question of why this particular collection of adepts has taken to following Sandro around. Do you think we will ever get an answer to that? I'm not sure, given Priest's previous form.

    Also interesting that on one occasion Kan appears not to know him, yet his detriment is only a matter of hours still, not weeks or months. Maybe instead of going up and down the timeline at a non-standard rate, the gradual shifts you into an almost parallel world (a la may worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics) and the shift that he made on this occasion was into a world where he and Kan had never met? So an adept's ability is not so much navigating time as identifying the specific world-line that is a person's natural one?

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    That’s a very interesting theory, @RichardAbbott
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    @Apocryphal said:
    Discussion

    • Even if you doubt that the adepts can somehow help people negotiate time, there's no doubt they are adept at making things more confusing, amiright?
    • Sandro's comment on hearing his own music, distorted, seems key: "Whoever was playing it, whoever was on the record, had turned it into something bland and loud and rhythmic, had made it cheap and repetitive, made it obvious and moronic, but it was still mine. The army had made my brother into a soulless soldier, but he was still mine." What do you think Priest means by this?
    • The episode with the mirror reminded me of something Sandro said in the opening chapter: "Time is a gradual process - like ageing, you do not notice it happening."

    Confusing is not the word for it! CP has given up even trying to make sense. You can't walk across the village square to get a drink of water without incurring temporal scrambling, AND EVERY VILLAGER IS NOT FOLLOWING THE ADVICE OF SOME SELF-PROCLAIMED ADEPT TO AVOID BEING THEIR OWN GRAMPAW? You actually de-age and grow younger by properly negotiating the Gradual, YET EVERYONE WHO CAN AFFORD IT IS NOT KEEPING ETERNALLY YOUTHFUL? I am beginning to think Sandro IS And Ante, grown so young his music is shallow and without meaning.

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    @Apocryphal said:
    That’s a very interesting theory, @RichardAbbott

    Whcih would imply that CP actually cares whether it makes any sense at all... ;)

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