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R Scott Bakker's :The Great Ordeal (spoilers)


Kalnestk Oblast

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44 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Oh right, wanted to get back to you on the other point.

Another theory based on the short story about the Nonmen surfaced a while back and I think was eaten by the board's great purge. The theory goes that the Inchorois didn't kill all the nonmen females when they gave the men immortality. What they did, instead, was cause the nonmen females to no longer be able to give birth to nonmen children. When they gave birth, the children weren't theirs - they were some kind of abomination, or some kind of genetic programmed inchoroi, or something like that. 

 

Sranc, assuming the theory is true (and it might be, although I remember Bakker saying years ago that the Womb Plague was a crude bacterial bioweapon). We know that the Sranc were made in perverse imitation of the Nonmen, with their face atop dog-style bodies. And we also know that the Inchoroi were ready for the Nonmen when they showed up angrily at the Ark to confront them over it, with hordes of Weapon Race troops and space-age weaponry. It'd be just like them to change the wombs of Nonmen females to start churning out Sranc children.

It's almost a pity, because it'd be way more interesting if this was the Inchoroi being benevolent in a fucked-up way. Changing the offspring of Nonmen so that they're all born soulless would be a much kinder way of reducing the population of ensouled beings for the No-God project.

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Sorry....where's the part about whale mothers? [NVM just saw the Pat post]

Sad there doesn't seem to be any clearing up of the Question of Questions in the excerpts so far. (Dragons and Chorae, in case there are new comers to these threads.)

 

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49 minutes ago, JEORDHl said:

So the womb plague wasn't just a broad band infertility as I'd assumed. For one so unflinching [Bakker] it definitely harkens back to your point about him not committing to his stated intent, re: emotional impact of sympathetic Whale Mothers. Like, if Bakker is truly trying to cast an ugly light on 'teh horror!' of being cuckolded, wouldn't the point have more impact if the non-Nonmen children weren't abominable?   

I don't know if the children were abomination or not. There's an implication in my mind that they weren't - that it was essentially impossible to tell whether or not you had fathered your kids implies that they looked basically nonmannish, at least early on. 

From the perspective of 'everything is biological' however, it's the opposite. For me and probably you, it'd be way more horrific to have to kill children that might look like me or their mothers than it would be to kill some deformed horror. For someone who views things as biological, there isn't much more horrific than to see your offspring be deformed, wrong, imperfect. In that case, the horror aspect isn't in having to kill the thing but having it be born at all

Because if biologically your goal is to procreate and spread your seed - as Bakker believes is a major goal for men - then it follows that it's super horrible to see that seed and procreation perverted. 

 

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Without the power of the Bios how could you breed women into the Whale Mothers?

I mean Kal is right, this idea that you can make basically women be born a sack of flesh around a womb while creating a race of super men...that's pretty fucking stupid.

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Sranc, assuming the theory is true (and it might be, although I remember Bakker saying years ago that the Womb Plague was a crude bacterial bioweapon). We know that the Sranc were made in perverse imitation of the Nonmen, with their face atop dog-style bodies. And we also know that the Inchoroi were ready for the Nonmen when they showed up angrily at the Ark to confront them over it, with hordes of Weapon Race troops and space-age weaponry. It'd be just like them to change the wombs of Nonmen females to start churning out Sranc children.

Yeah, the only reason I don't think it's sranc children is that by the time the nonmen got ready to go to war the weapon races were already there, and there in massive hordes. 

Though..hmm. We know how fast the Sranc breed, right? And we know how much nonmen supposedly love having kids - and always wanted more, but couldn't have them. It would be a really amusing twist if the Inchies said 'hey, we'll give you immortality AND give you a whole bunch of kids! We'll supercharge your fertility!'

And they honestly, truly thought that what they were doing was fairly kosher. Like, they'd be praised for this. Because what the hell do they understand about kids or why people want them? They're Inchoroi - they're bred in tanks and live millenia, and don't have any parenting instincts. So like really common software engineers, they got the list of requirements from their clients:

  1. Live forever
  2. Have a lot more kids

Figured out what they had that would work off the shelf and boom, there ya go. 

It would also explain somewhat why the nonmen seem allied with the Inchoroi/Consult. We see them quite often with Sranc. Leading parties of them, being around them, herding them. That sort of thing. That makes a lot more sense if those are the ones who are like 'yay, kids'. 

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1 hour ago, themerchant said:

I jokingly asked in another forum, who has done the more culling. The Dunyain at Ishual or the actual scalpers and Great Ordeal. They probably lured a fair few Sorcerers to their death before the consult just zerged them. Which is better than any number of sranc i guess.

If we figure that a group of Scalpers can kill, on average 10 sranc a day, one scalper group probably average out to about 3000 sranc a year. At any given time there are probably about 100 scalper groups operational, so we can probably figure, conservatively, about 250,000 sranc per annum are being destroyed. Given that the scalpers have been working for ten to twelve years (started at the end of the unification wars), the scalpers would have culled a conservative max of around 3 million sranc over that time frame. Which, given pre-industrial technology is very impressive, it took repeating rifles to cull 50 million buffalo over a similar time frame, done for the direct purpose of gleefully ennacting genocide-by-starvation of the Native populations of the Buffalo range.

Given the size constraints of working within Ishual, versus culling over a continent, I would say that the scalpers killed more. 

However, if we figure the dunyain community can kill 1000 sranc a day. they could have killed 365,000 per year. Given the boy is young and remembers the beginning and ending of the Ishual war, it was about five years long, so probably less than 2 million sranc killed at Ishual.

 

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22 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

I don't know if the children were abomination or not. There's an implication in my mind that they weren't - that it was essentially impossible to tell whether or not you had fathered your kids implies that they looked basically nonmannish, at least early on. 

From the perspective of 'everything is biological' however, it's the opposite. For me and probably you, it'd be way more horrific to have to kill children that might look like me or their mothers than it would be to kill some deformed horror. For someone who views things as biological, there isn't much more horrific than to see your offspring be deformed, wrong, imperfect. In that case, the horror aspect isn't in having to kill the thing but having it be born at all

Because if biologically your goal is to procreate and spread your seed - as Bakker believes is a major goal for men - then it follows that it's super horrible to see that seed and procreation perverted. 

While I am not refuting your point, because honestly, it makes a lot of sense, there is an additional factor that in the story of 4 Revelations, we are shown a Nonman woman who actually wants to die:

And he stands in the blackness, the eternal dank that rules the guttural foundations of Siol, his hand upon the neck and shoulder of his daughter, Aisralu, who even now clutches her belly, her womb, groaning against her headstrong pride, whispering, Please… Father… Please… You… Must… again and again, searching for his eyes, her face a summit, a beauty he worships, bent into a pageant of strangers by anguish.

So, it would seem that it wasn't just the males who were distraught about it though.  Whatever it was seems to have been anguish inducing to the females as well.

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16 minutes ago, Sci-2 said:

Without the power of the Bios how could you breed women into the Whale Mothers?

I mean Kal is right, this idea that you can make basically women be born a sack of flesh around a womb while creating a race of super men...that's pretty fucking stupid.

red snow kind of convinced me that it might be vaguely plausible, ish. Maybe. Mostly, it assumes that the whale mothers were absurdly uncommon and potential a polyploidy organism. It didn't pass along its traits because its traits relied on being polyploidy, it didn't happen much at all, and it was massively selected for. But even then, you'd think that some of the women would occasionally have to be 'normal' because they just didn't get enough whales. It definitely took me out of the moment. 

It might be the case that the world's objective view makes this happen, but I don't buy that. I would hope that the whale mothers were not also damned. That would suck. 

My major complaint is that it simply lacks the emotional punch that having just women there would. Or even worse - having Dunyain women there. Imagine Dunyain women either being perfectly compliant because they believe in their logical mind that this was exactly what needed to be done and are doing so willingly in order to Grasp the Absolute - how horrible is that? Or imagine that the women don't go along with it. That they are restrained against their will, their jaws and tongues removed surgically so that they cannot possibly convince anyone to free them, their limbs amputated or hobbled so that they cannot run. They are Dunyain like Serwa but more so - logical, intelligent, physically skilled - and they are forced to be broodmares by the men.  To me, that's a lot more convincing about both the horror and the wrongness. If your goal is to state that desire forces men to do horrible things to women, it's harder to get worse than that. 

 

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3 minutes ago, .H. said:

So, it would seem that it wasn't just the males who were distraught about it though.  Whatever it was seems to have been anguish inducing to the females as well.

Huh. I interpreted it as her pleading with her father to not die. 

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The idea of whale mothers says the dunyain are not rational actors but are ideological actors. I suppose that is a nice revelation in and of itself. Kellhus' belief in the cold rationality of his race is a delusion as proven by the dunyain creating whale mothers. Though we have not had it yet shown that there are not Serwe/Theliopa esque Dunyain females, there very well could be, but I suspect not. 

I also really do not believe the whale mothers is possible by selective breeding. True, in fifty years our chickens have been transformed into horrors that cannot walk by selective breeding, but that's with a massively faster life cycle.

Additionally, the ideological push of the whale mothers concept basically ignores everything known about infant viability, child rearing etc, which makes it even more unbelievable.

Lastly, I would expect the dunyain males to have perfect conscious control over their erections and muscles controlling ejaculation. So they would only need to insert, ejaculate and withdrawl, so the images Mimara sees don't fit within the way the dunyain are typically described. In the ideologically motivated whale mother scenario, dunyain don't have control of their bodies and have to fuck to trigger a non-conscious ejaculatory response. Again, I kind of like this that the dunyain are deceiving themselves about themselves, if they are the same as men and unable to control their own bodies in the procreatory process.

But hey, it's a literary version of hentai, so it must be all deep and shit, amiright?

But then I've always been something of a disbeliever in the Dunyain as kellhus is incredibly inconsistent about it and in my opinion crippled by it, thinking how great dunyain are whenever it is a convenient heuristic.

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Additionally, the ideological push of the whale mothers concept basically ignores everything known about infant viability, child rearing etc, which makes it even more unbelievable.

Yeah, that REALLY bugged me. I can vaguely rationalize some of it as creating sociopaths who don't need things like human touch or sound or heartbeats or the feeling of being held...but it's throwing away a crazy amount of science there and just ripped me out of the moment as being uberunrealistic. 

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I don't know Kal. Bakker's horror segments never depended on emphasis with the characters and I think it is fundamentally wrongheaded to ask where in this picture of Dunyaini whales the sympathy lies. I see the point here being the utter inhumanity of them, here directly compared with how Golgotterath is inhuman. See also the god of god ("it"). That reversal wouldn't have worked with human woman. We are not asked to feel sorry for anyone here. The crime is epochal not personal.

 

Also we now know where the abominations come from. Still no reason why everyone except Esmi had them. Though Kell might not have needed/wanted more if we suppose that he managed to make use of the first two while bungling the next. Then Theli got down-spect to a living calculator. And everyone after would have been too young for the Ordeal.

Also we can put the literal possession of Kell to rest. Seemed possible after Mimara dreamed of him as the wraith in the mountain in TJE. And the strangeness of Moe's death.

Another thing I thought of though probably not the first one to do so: The Heron spear is not a weapon. It is the No-God's remote control. So in a way Seswatha caused the apocalypse. He stole the spear and the No-God came seeking like a soul Roomba. The First Apocalypse is a story of Seswatha running away from battlefield to battlefield. leaving ruin in his wake until either it ran out of power or he found the off switch. What other reason would the Consult have to look for the Heron spear?

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7 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Yeah, that REALLY bugged me. I can vaguely rationalize some of it as creating sociopaths who don't need things like human touch or sound or heartbeats or the feeling of being held...but it's throwing away a crazy amount of science there and just ripped me out of the moment as being uberunrealistic. 

and I forgot to mention gestational viability! if the mothers are permanently chained it is unlikely they will ever carry more than one fetus to term. the health of the mother is PARAMOUNT to carrying to term. and chained up women permanently bedridden, would have their bodies aborting pregnancies most of the time, have no or minimal menstrual cycle or consistently die in childbirth with the first child because their super-weak bodies can't sustain the trauma.

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5 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

red snow kind of convinced me that it might be vaguely plausible, ish. Maybe. Mostly, it assumes that the whale mothers were absurdly uncommon and potential a polyploidy organism. It didn't pass along its traits because its traits relied on being polyploidy, it didn't happen much at all, and it was massively selected for. But even then, you'd think that some of the women would occasionally have to be 'normal' because they just didn't get enough whales. It definitely took me out of the moment. 

It might be the case that the world's objective view makes this happen, but I don't buy that. I would hope that the whale mothers were not also damned. That would suck. 

I was thinking about this, that the Dunyain created a separate baby factor species but it just seems very improbable. Then again if the World desired the Dunyain to exist who knows?

I do think there's a limit to how unscientific we can get - if there's such a thing as genetics, and you can select for traits, I think the rules of our world would apply. That or something has to be shown to explain why the deviations due to the enchanted nature of Earwa are these specific allegorical occurrences..

I also think it's odd that we've constantly been told that Men are so often slaves to lust, that's it's practically a hardwired weakness that even undoes Fayanal...but the Dunyain decide the best path to the Absolute lines through making men superior? We know they don't think raw power can give them what they desire b/c they specifically rejected sorcery. Heck the founders seemed to have hope to damn their descendants to Hell in the hopes this breeding program would bring one to grasp the Absolute.

However I do suspect Ishual has regular women around in addition to the whale mothers based on the fact Kellhus expressed no wonder or surprise, even internally, at the sight of women in the first trilogy.

It still seems possible that some knowledge of the Bios produced the first Whale Mothers but this would then indicate a rogue Consult member in Ishual at some point....not sure if that scans...

 

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also, I've been meaning to get at one of my FAVORITE lines that illustrates the inconsistency of the dunyain:

Quote

"A boy... A boy with his head shaved in mockery of Nil’giccas." 

So!

The dunyain can genetically engineer whale mothers but they cannot genetically engineer away hair or beards?

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1 minute ago, lokisnow said:

and I forgot to mention gestational viability! if the mothers are permanently changed it is unlikely they will ever carry more than one fetus to term. the health of the mother is PARAMOUNT to carrying to term. and chained up women permanently bedridden with no access to the sun, would have their bodies aborting pregnancies most of the time, have no or minimal menstrual cycle or consistently die in childbirth with the first child because their super-weak bodies can't sustain the trauma.

Yep. Or the epigenetic cues that trauma on parents and grandparents has on offspring, or the damage that creatures which are put into habitats have on their young, or the necessity of fetuses hearing things like language spoken to them prenatally, or how a fetus gets into sleep cycles based on the mother walking, or...yeah. Just...yeah. 

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7 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Huh. I interpreted it as her pleading with her father to not die. 


Hmm, yeah, I kind of just assumed that it was the opposite, probably because there she is, with him, saying "must."

geoffrobro, had the idea long ago that perhaps the Womb-Plague made the Nonmen sexually depraved.  This would go to the line about not knowing who was who's child, if they all were literally incapable of stopping wanton sex with each other.  That doesn't really answer the question of why choose death?  Except that they just refused to slip into such a damnable lifestyle?

That would go toward my theory that the Womb-Plague was more recruitment than a death sentence.  My theory was basically that the Inchoroi gave the Nonmen exactly what they gave themselves.  In other words, it was enlistment.

This is the thread we had over there.

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1 minute ago, lokisnow said:

also, I've been meaning to get at one of my FAVORITE lines that illustrates the inconsistency of the dunyain:

So!

The dunyain can genetically engineer whale mothers but they cannot genetically engineer away hair or beards?

I read this as the boy shaved his head to look a bit more like a Shrieker. May buy him a fraction of a second in reaction time when beginning a fight. Maybe the boy can even arch over like a dog and really look sranc like at least for a second to a sranc or Quya. Remember, Mimara's initial reaction was to think he was a sranc, and the reference to Nil'G calls to mind a sranc since they have the same head. 

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8 minutes ago, generic said:

I don't know Kal. Bakker's horror segments never depended on emphasis with the characters and I think it is fundamentally wrongheaded to ask where in this picture of Dunyaini whales the sympathy lies. I see the point here being the utter inhumanity of them, here directly compared with how Golgotterath is inhuman. See also the god of god ("it"). That reversal wouldn't have worked with human woman. We are not asked to feel sorry for anyone here. The crime is epochal not personal.

I think that's fair, though I do think that the emphasis on character horror has happened - Esmi's rapes in the first series are both deeply personal to her, for instance, and the horror comes from that more than anything else. Same with the "Who are the Dunyain" thing. Or the reveal of Istriya to Xerius. Or probably the worst of the lot, the kid in Neuropath. 

I think you're right in TAE where the horror comes from, but it's not entirely a Bakker thing to only be epochal in horror. 

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10 minutes ago, unJon said:

I read this as the boy shaved his head to look a bit more like a Shrieker. May buy him a fraction of a second in reaction time when beginning a fight. Maybe the boy can even arch over like a dog and really look sranc like at least for a second to a sranc or Quya. Remember, Mimara's initial reaction was to think he was a sranc, and the reference to Nil'G calls to mind a sranc since they have the same head. 

No. The dunyain all systematically shave their heads and have for millenia. but they haven't bred out hair. Kell starts out bald. Moenghus is bald. the Pragma is bald and so on.

being bald is probably just part of a kung-fu visual Bakker had in his head as a teenager. but not breeding out hair sure as fuck doesn't fit with the capability of breeding whale mothers.

It's like my big problem with Kellhus only consuming acorns on his journey to Leweth and not recognizing food sources on the journey. No society with food sources so scarce and depleted in protein and fat that acorns are a primary source of nourishment will EVER grow children to two meters in height. it just is not possible.

Or the reference to "dunyain steel" which implies dunyain blacksmiths. Dunyain ore and coal mining and dunyain smelting. It is probably not possible in a culture with no trade.

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