(urth) Travelin' Jahlee

Roy C. Lackey rclackey at stic.net
Fri Aug 12 23:46:36 PDT 2005

Thalassocrat wrote:
>Damn - I was sure some explicit mention was made somewhere of the
>Neighbors having spacecraft, but now I can't find anything. I do
>have the Neighbor testifying at Silkhorn's trial: "I was one of
>those who boarded your Whorl when it neared our sun." So Neighbors,
>and probably inhumi, went to the Whorl before it reached orbit.

Okay, you're right about the point of first contact between Neighbors and
humans having occurred shortly before the _Whorl_ reached orbit. And I do
believe that that *was* the first ever contact between Neighbors and humans.

>Now obviously that doesn't necessarily mean that he had his own
>space-craft: scouting landers could have been sent out from the
>Whorl before it went into orbit - but is that very likely? Or the
>Neighbor could have astral-traveled there. But we don't know (do
>we?) of any other occasion when anybody gets to astral travel to a
>place they or a companion haven't visited previously. Perhaps the
>Neighbors can do it; I don't know.

I'm not sure that what the Neighbors do is astral travel as Silkhorn knows
it. If it is, where are their sleeping bodies? If wherever they live is a
physical place (as opposed to some mystical "higher plane" of existence),
such as another planet around another sun, then clearly they are able to
travel by some sort of "magical", non-technological means to Blue and Green.
The Neighbors had a lot more experience with astral travel than Silkhorn;
perhaps they needn't have been to their destination previously. But that's
pure speculation.

>But if they can't, when they went to their new home (the "Neighbor
>Whorl" or whatever it's called), they must have gone physically -
>in space-craft.

Perhaps. But even if that's true, it was a long time ago. One of the
Neighbors said that they had to deal with their inhumi problem "a thousand
years ago."

>At the end of IGJ, Silkhorn says to some Neighbors: "Will the
>inhumi really drive us away as they did you?" One replies: "Back to
>your ship, you mean?" Silkhorn says: "that isn't possible ... There
>are very few landers in working order ..." And the Neighbor
>responds: "Then they cannot drive you away as they did us."
>Again, nothing definitive, but to me it suggests that the Neighbors
>did indeed leave in spacecraft. Obviously, they can return in
>astral form, but the going was physical.

And the other Neighbor in that conversation said, "You cannot go where we
are." That throws a monkey wrench into the equation. If wherever the
Neighbors lived had been reached by spacecraft, then it *could* be reached
by spacecraft. What is there to prevent human spacecraft from going where
Neighbor spacecraft have gone? Mankind had shown itself to be a master at
space travel, second to none. Even the tired old _Whorl_ could be made to
voyage again -- which is what it did.

How likely is it that an alien spacecraft could approach and dock with the
_Whorl_ without Mainframe and the Crew knowing about it? Even if the
Neighbors had FTL spaceships, how close would their hypothetical home planet
have to be for them to first detect the presence of the _Whorl_ then travel
to the Short Sun system, land on Green, pick up some wild inhumi and then
dock with the _Whorl_? Then they would have to take the inhumi back to Green
to spawn, all the while without being detected. I don't think it happened.

The implication I draw from the Neighbor's above statement is that the
Neighbors *do* live in some non-physical realm where humans literally (in
their current form) cannot go.

>Now as to the Neighbors transporting inhumi to the Whorl: all of
>the above aside, the Neighbors might have some magic matter
>transfer way of doing this, but there's nothing in the text to
>suggest it. Any astral type of travelling would not have delivered
>blood-drinking inhumi, unless it was totally different from any of
>the astral travelling in the text. So I get left with
>transportation via space-craft, probably Neighborly, not human
>landers, because it probably happened before the Whorl went into
>orbit, and it seems unlikely that any kind of human scouting of the
>system would have happened that early.

I think that the Neighbor's initial exposure to humans was by their version
of astral travel. Whenever the _Whorl_ first sent a lander to Green, the
Neighbors used it to send back sentient inhumi, grown from the humans on the

>The final issue is whether any of these putative Neighbor space-
>craft might be present in the Short Sun system. I think the answer
>is probably yes. Silkhorn tells Vadsig in the relevant passage that
>the Neighbors took inhumi with them as "mirrors". But they can only
>function as mirrors (I believe) if they are allowed to breed. As
>far as we know, that can only happen on Green, and only when they
>are present on Green in their physical form.

Again, pure speculation, but the answer might be that wherever the Neighbors
live is the equivalent of wherever the inhumi are when, while astral
traveling, they are their "true", inner selves; truly human in the case of,
say, Jahlee, truly Neighborly in the cases of the Neighbors' inhumi. True
mirrors, in a sense.


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