Atevi Wiring

C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner cycle seems like a first-contact story but runs deeper. As usual, her aliens are quite largely based on the Japanese, but their key and momentous difference is that they lack the neurochemical wiring for any kind of affinity other than loyalty to a leader, an instinct she calls man’chi, which it is dangerous to confuse with human “friendship”.

However, I am not entirely convinced by her assumption that man’chi is not shared by humans. It seems to me that it is very close to the Alpha-follower relationship played with by Patricia Briggs. To be sure, the people in the latter’s stories are werewolves, but Alpha wiring is surely wider than that. Perhaps both authors are really talking about us.

There used to be a genre of fiction dealing with leader-follower relationships, which is hard to recognise today. This is because all male admiration of another male is now deemed to be “gay”, an intellectual tyranny as complete as ever exercised by the punishers of “unnatural vice” in their day. And yet admiration is the natural consequence of meeting a natural leader, and probably just as hardwired in us as among the atevi. I say this as one who has been sequestered by an Alpha, with ample opportunity to study the phenomenon. The trick is not, however, ferocity or a manly jawline: for my Alpha is a petite female.

Posted on January 21, 2011 at 07:34 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Monkey Business, Miscellaneous

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