(urth) Short Sun Notes: Chems

Andrew Mason andrew.mason53 at googlemail.com
Sat Dec 1 14:34:14 PST 2012

This is a small thing, but I think an interesting one. The question
has been raised in the past why, apart from Marble, there appear to be
no chems on Blue. It’s worth noting, though, that there seem to be
very few chems on the Whorl as well. Hound and Tansy say they have not
seen any chems for many years except soldiers, and later Incus says
that there are no female chems left in Viron except Olivine. So it
appears that civilian chems have almost died out; and military chems
would presumably stay in post for as long as the cities they are set
to guard are occupied. In that case we don’t need to give any special
reason why chems have not come to Blue.

But are there in fact none on Blue? Someone once speculated that
Cijfer was a chem: and although the indications are rather slight, I
think they may have been right. The main evidence is in RTTW 6, where
the Rajan says of Cijfer ‘[If she had been an inhuma] she would not
have covered Jahlee's face, or fetched a bio to help her’. This is a
puzzling sentence – is he saying that she _would_ have fetched a bio
to help her, or that she _wouldn’t_? And how in any case is this
relevant to her being an inhuma? But the significant thing here is the
use of ‘bio’ – why draw attention to the fact that Cijfer might have
summoned a bio, if she is a bio herself (and so is everyone else in
the neighbourhood)?

Later (RTTW 9), again wondering about who might be an inhumu/a, the
Rajan says ‘Hide, Vadsig, Aanvagen, Beroep, and Azijin can be
dismissed; I have been too close to all of them far too often to be
thus deceived. In my judgment Cijfer can be dismissed as well.’ Why,
if not because of closeness? But if she is a chem – which presumably
an inhuma couldn’t imitate – this would be an explanation.

If Cijfer is a chem her husband, Wijzer, must be as well. In the light
of this it may be significant that in the final battle he killed five
inhumi, ‘twice strangling one with each hand’.

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