Reading: Telempath, by Spider Robinson, Part Four

BKTG14775smallWe know from part three that Helen Phinney has been carrying a torch for Isham’s Dad. What we do not know is if those feelings had been returned. All we know about the relationship is from Isham, and he phrased the relationship as Helen being in love with Jacob Stone. (This kind of makes sense, because Jacob seems like an emotionally distant person. and is highly unlikely to talk about his relationship with his son.) We also know that when asked, Jacob said that he wasn’t going to marry her because she was white. It is pretty clear that Isham does not really understand why this might be an issue.

In contrast, Isham is in love with Sarwar Krishnamurti’s daughter Alia. (Despite the names, they are both white.) They are not officially together because Krishnamurti is a bigot and the elder Stone did not want Isham to be “distracted.” (I think given the elder Stone’s non-relationship with Helen we can also assume that Jacob didn’t like the idea of Isham dating a white girl any more that Krishnamurti wanted Alia to date a black kid.)

The differences are interesting here mostly because the situations seem to be mirror images of each other.

Chapter Ten

Isham tries to work a few dramatic tricks that don’t go every quite as well as he hoped. (Note: the old line about not teaching your grandmother how to steal sheep comes to mind.) Isham gets locked up. He and Colacci talk and Colacci allows that Isham is probably right, which will not stop Isham from getting himself executed in the morning. Isham has a Plan however, and he is able to get at least some of it accomplished.

Though Isham is clearly not supposed to have visitors, he gets them anyway. The first visitor is Dr. Michael Gowan who gently guides Isham and the reader into a few realizations of hard truths. Most of those truths relate to Why No One is Willing to Listen to Isham Even if He is Right. Helen does not want to believe that the guy she loves is actually responsible for the plague, Krishnamurti does not want to have his nose rubbed in the fact that he is not the big idea guy and Jacob was, and George is not happy that he is now working for Krishnamurti, who is a homophobic bigot.

There is also a long complicated spiel where we learn that George is The Last Gay Standing. Isham must have homosexuality explained to him despite being familiar with the concept that some animals are homosexual, because human homosexuality can only exist with Civilization–except for poor George. I am not entirely sure why Robinson decided to include this little detail in his world building. (Especially since his other works have included the occasional homosexual or bisexual character.) Given that this was written in the seventies, I am guessing that he was stuck for creating a sympathetic homosexual character, so decided to attempt create a tragic “last of his kind” type character. (This is mostly a wild-ass guess though.)

After this, Gowan has a long chat about Isham’s motivations for killing his father. Isham tries to defend himself with the “I was raised to be a weapon, it shouldn’t be surprising I went off,” but Gowan is not buying any of it. It turns out that Isham has some fairly deep seated Daddy Issues that came into play and resulted in Isham’s actions. After some more conversation where Isham lets Gowan in on some of his Escape Plan, Gowan takes his leave, hoping to talk some sense into the members of the Council.

Chapter Eleven

The next person to see Isham is Alia, Krishnamurti’s daughter. Her appearance briefly turns him into a slightly motor-mouthed dork. She is definitely not supposed to be here, but was able to get in due to subterfuge (and the kindness of the guard). We learn a little bit about Isham and Alia’s relationship. We also learn how it was split up by Jacob Stone, who did not want Isham to be twitterpated over a girl because he was supposed to be The Hand of Man, and by Krishnamurti, who did not want Alia dating a black guy. This split did not last at all, and despite Alia going on to date other boys, she and Isham still have a thing for each other. Enough of a thing that Alia and Isham spent the night together before he left to kill Carlson, and now she is expecting.

They talk about this in a fairly round about fashion. Isham gives his pitch about making peace with the Muskies and lets her in on his escape plan. In return, Alia gives him even more information about the spear-rattling activities that Jordan has been engaging in. It is very clear that Jordan is planning some major offensive on Fresh Start, and he has gotten most of the farming communities on his side. This is not a very happy situation to be in!

It is even less happy when Jordan turns up and all hell breaks loose.

 Chapter Twelve

 What happens next is a brief siege where both Isham and Alia are kidnapped. We learn that part of Jordan’s beef with Fresh Start is because he had his face blown off as a result of having been attacked by a Musky. Jordan interrogates Isham and finds out from him that it was Jacob Stone, not Carlson who caused the Hyperosmic Plague. Jordan is very pleased to learn this, because he really feels justified in hating the elder stone for religious and personal reasons. Isham points out that Jordan’s disfigurement is the result of choices he had made. This was not a very smart thing to say.

 Isham learns that Jordan is honestly and sincerely religious! Isham tries to pitch the idea of peace with the Muskies, but Jordan has already fit the Muskies into his own personal cosmological niche–he has decided they are demons. Jordan preaches the word of his religion which as stated before is a kind of Gaea Theory pantheism with Gaea replaced by Pan. After some more talking back and forth it becomes clear to Jordan that Isham is not going to budge from his position, so he decides that he will starve Isham and Alia until they decide to convert to his religion.

Isham tries to get Jordan to at least feed Alia since she is pregnant, but Jordan does not care. He has them both taken to a cave, where they will be “fasting.”

Part Three | Part Five

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Filed under apocalyptic, Reading, science fiction, Spider Robinson, telempath

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