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Speculations on Goldtooth, Jik and Haisi



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>From: Lesley Grant <lgrant>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Mon, 11 Jan 93 9:07:42 GMT
I was thinking about the characters of the various mahen agents in the Chanur books recently. Goldtooth and Jik are consistently shown as professionals, while Haisi seems -- well, not to have what it takes, to be charitable. And yet they all act in much the same way in their dealings with hani. Are we to assume some sort of secret agent training school at Maing Tol? Somehow I don't see any Personage willing to employ a person with such a putative standardised experience. I was wondering if Haisi is supposed to be consciously modelling himself on the example of more successful (and more famous, as mahen agents aren't at all secret) agents, known to have success in their dealings with hani.
Goldtooth and Jik both quite definetly know a lot about hani customs, culture and general mindset, so several of their actions must be interpreted as deliberate, rather than just general 'mahen ways'. First, hani see bared teeth as threat. The standard way Goldtooth (and, to a lesser amount, Jik) has of greeting Pyanfar is with a broad grin. Granted, mahendo'sat really do smile like that, just like humans, but given that among other mahendo'sat and the kif these grins are less forthcoming it does seem like a tactic to annoy.
Both G. and J. also touch Pyanfar far more than she likes. The fact that hani don't seem to touch as much is implied in _Pride_ when Tully's gesture of a handshake is described as 'one of his own kind, who was always touching'. While Goldtooth is pretending to be an innocent merchant he politely doesn't touch Pyanfar except to touch her fingertips at the conclusion of the deal of pearls for welders. When he's in agent mode he slaps her back, holds her arm, etc practically every time he sees her, even though it is always received unfavourably. Doesn't Jik go even further and stroke her face at one point?
Both G. and J. also appear to have the ultimate psychological weapon against Pyanfar (and perhaps all hani, who knows), in their implication of her as sexually attractive to them. Hani are shown to be extremely private about sex (well, with husbands anyway), and just don't discuss it with outsiders. Even cosmopolitan ones like Pyanfar refuse to even think about cross-species posiblities. So when Goldtooth tells her 'You beautiful' or (even worse, as it means 2 alien men were discussing her charms) Jik says 'Ana right, you got lovely eyes', Pyanfar is made literally speechless, unable to retort to the outrageous insult, or, more importantly to the outrageous demand that typically proceeded it.
So what, you say. Well Haisi also does all these things, but fouls them up in a manner suggesting he's just heard about them second hand. He grins way too much, right from the moment of meeting Hilfy, thus allowing her to adjust to see it not as a threat. He touches her, then looks innocently wounded when she throws his hand off. He reduces the shock value of admiring her, telling her she's 'pretty' too often, then clumsily mkes the innuendo too obvious by actually propositioning her in a half-joking way. By that stage, Hilfy has managed to control her reactions to all his posturing, and the whole effort is wasted on his part. Given that Haisi consistently has no effect with these tactics, yet continues to use them seemingly in the firm knowledge that they are or should be successful, I think he's going on knowledge gained from agents who are successful when they use these tactics. And as Goldtooth and Jik are the agents we see using these tactics, they are probably the people Haisi is trying to emulate.
What do others think?
				Lesley


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>From: Jo Jaquinta <jaymin@maths.tcd.ie>
>Subject: cherryhlist: Double-0-mahen
>Date: Tue, 12 Jan 93 13:59:56 GMT
> I was thinking about the characters of the various mahen agents in
> the Chanur books recently. Goldtooth and Jik are consistently shown
> as professionals, while Haisi seems -- well, not to have what it takes,
> to be charitable. And yet they all act in much the same way in their
> dealings with hani. Are we to assume some sort of secret agent training
> school at Maing Tol?
If one assumes there the interstellar machiniscations of the Compact have not reached the order of complexity leading up to the creation of Pyanfar as the Mekh-hakit, I wouldn't say it is likely that a "special forces" insitution existed to create the class of agents typified by Goldtooth, Jik and Haisi. This would make it likely that they must come from either a merchant or a military background (pirate?). My money is on Goldtooth being a prior merchant and Jik a prior military. Haisi? Maybe he was a customs official on some border station and his personage thought that would make a good background. Seems she got it wrong.
			Jo


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>From: Lesley Grant <lgrant>
>Subject: cherryhlist
>Date: Thu, 14 Jan 93 9:38:11 GMT
Jo said:
> 	If one assumes there the interstellar machiniscations of the
> Compact have not reached the order of complexity leading up to the
> creation of Pyanfar as the Mekh-hakit, I wouldn't say it is likely
> that a "special forces" insitution existed to create the class of
> agents typified by Goldtooth, Jik and Haisi. This would make it likely
> that they must come from either a merchant or a military background
> (pirate?). My money is on Goldtooth being a prior merchant and Jik
> a prior military. Haisi? Maybe he was a customs official on some
> border station and his personage thought that would make a good
> background. Seems she got it wrong.
We-ell, ok. Goldtooth as a merchanter, yes. Jik as military, yes, definetly. Haisi....seems to me more like a petty criminal, perhaps a pirate?
What _does_ make a good agent? Why are certain people picked? I could see Goldtooth being recruited because he's charismatic -- perhaps to stop him becoming a Personage himself. He's the only truely charismatic mahe we are shown. Jik is a very sensible sort of fellow, and probably a better agent qua agent (de facto better of course, as it was his plan that was seen to have worked). He worked with his brain, Goldtooth used his charisma -- which seems to have vanished at the end of _Chanur's Homecoming_ when he has failed. As for Haisi, well, Vikktakkht will undoubtably show him a thing or two!
				Lesley

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