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I have no memory of the next book at all; what I thought was the plot of The Language of Power was actually the second half of this. Hrm.

So, that Janus, huh? He and Fletcher make a nice matched set: both of them are doing terrible things for reasons that are not themselves necessarily terrible.

Foreshadowing for Slado, maybe?

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Speaking of details I could have mentioned:

The straight edge, the end of the Inland Sea, was a mere two hundred feet away; they dared not try to get closer.

The lip ran south by southwest, stretching off to become invisible in the hazy distance. On the far horizon: a tiny, dim, gray shape— another cliff. The eye could not doubt that the sun-silvered line ended at that place.

Seawater poured over the edge, seeming almost static in its smoothness. But the power of the moving water was revealed by the sound: a continual, rushing roar, so loud it seemed more matter than sound. It was as if the noise itself possessed mass, weighting the three people in place under its pressure.

Assuming this is an Earth-sized world, that means the falls are about five kilometers across? So twice as wide, perhaps more, as Iguazu Falls?

Edited at 2014-05-06 05:39 pm (UTC)

The scale of the falls bothered me when I first encountered them in '03 but now that I've done the math they don't seem so implausible. I had images of something the size of the Med being drained over the edge of something as wide as Lake Ontario: not sustainable.

I always assumed it was a concrete dam structure, made on purpose to separate the Inland Sea from the greater oceans.

I wonder how the dolphins handle the toxicity and different sea-chemistry.

I'm only part way through The Language of Power right now, but I was partly wondering if the Dolphin Stairs aren't actually a construct of the initial terraforming so that there'd be a stable, contained area where Earth life could take hold after Routine Bioform Clearance.

This maps breaks my recent comments. Let me delete and fix.

This reminds me of something I meant to mention:

That needs a scale but it covers a comparatively small part of the world.

And in a single, elegant movement of thought, so graceful it astonished Rowan herself, the steerswoman created in her mind both the largest map she had ever conceived and the smallest, simultaneously.
The largest was of the world itself, whose shape and size she knew from the secret and intimate interplay of mathematics, but which she now seemed to see whole, all open sweep beyond all horizons, curving to meet itself at the other side, complete, entire— and huge, so huge.
The smallest map was, to scale, that part of the world known by humankind.
The smallest map was crowded; the greatest, nearly empty.
And there, just outside the smaller map, the steerswoman with casual precision marked her own position, as if with a bright, silver needle; and she saw and felt the greater map rock, turn, orient, descend (or ascend, she could not tell which), approaching, adjusting and finally matching, point for point those distant cliffs, those nearer hills, this shoreline, this rock-strewn beach, the spray-splashed boulder on which Rowan stood, wet to the knees, arms thrown wide, head tilted back, breathing salt-tang air, and laughing for wonder.

Edited at 2014-05-06 05:43 pm (UTC)

Yes. Working out what Janus was doing was one of the most emotionally shocking moments I've encountered in an SF book.

And yet it's basically what the Outskirters do.

The Steerswoman series is utterly brilliant, perhaps the best I've ever read in all my 40+ years of reading, in the ability to convey an alien world.I'll looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

The basic problem is the two ecologies on this world are mutually hostile and for one to grow, the other has to shrink. Adding in the detail that there are thinking entities on both sides only makes the issue worse because the way this is set up, peaceful, stable coexistence is not obviously one of the options.

I am so very impressed by how well these books show Rowan figuring out these differences and what they mean. I think Orson Scott Card is trying to show something similar with the hierarchy of foreignness in Speaker for the Dead and Xenocide, but it doesn't work nearly so well.

"The whole section about re-indexing a scrambled library speaks to me."

Hah! yes. (Also, I've helped open a bookstore and move a library. so: YES.) When she came up with a solution I got perhaps a little more excited than was warranted. :)

And yes, the prose is wonderful. It manages to be poetic at times, but always on point and with purpose.

"I note that about a decade has passed since the most recent book was published."

I know that she has mentioned a fifth book, but it doesn't seem to be finished and I know she's had health issues.

The difference between Rowan's attack on the problem and (the one-legged steerswoman)'s is instructive and interesting.

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