Episode 12: Halloween Special – Erin Barbeau Is Back to Talk Locked Tomb
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The books we discussed in this episode are Gideon the Ninth and Harrow the Ninth, the first two installments in the Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir.
Charles: Hello, this is Assigned Scientist at Bachelor’s. I’m Charles and I’m an entomologist.
Tessa: And I’m Tessa and I’m an astrobiologist.
Charles: And this is our very spooky Halloween holiday special. We have brought back Erin of insectoid reviews and also entomology to discuss with us the gay space masterpiece. The Locked Tomb Trilogy by Tamsyn Muir. Welcome back, Erin.
Erin: It’s good to be back.
Charles: It’s good to have you back, and it’s good to be gay and to have books about gay people. Tessa, how about you establish the scene?
Tessa: So, okay. The Locked Tomb Trilogy, of which two books are out, is broadly speaking a fantasy series, although it’s not quite like any fantasy series I’ve ever read before, um, it’s set 10,000 years into what we think is our future, maybe, and the backstory is that somewhere around the 20th, 21st century, humanity went extinct. Somehow we think it might be due to climate change and maybe nuclear war, but it hasn’t really been revealed yet. And the entire human species is just gone except for this one dude, who in the process somehow gains the power of necromancy. Again, we’re not really sure how this happened. It hasn’t been revealed yet, but he performed what has become known as the First Resurrection, which was sort of a miraculous thing where he literally brought back enough human people from the dead to propagate the species. In doing so though he also somehow altered the characteristics of the planets in our solar system and of our sun so that necromancy now works in the solar system and that a certain percentage of all children born in the solar system, but nowhere else grow up and develop necromantic powers, which in this case refers to anything that can manipulate living or dead tissue and have it do stuff.
So that’s kind of the setting, the nine planets of our solar system, which are referred to the nine houses. The first house, Earth, apparently is no longer inhabited. We also don’t really know why the other houses all have all specialized and they all have different styles of necromancy. For example, sixth house does a lot more with living tissue and as a result, they are the house that’s also responsible for providing pretty much all medical staff to the, um, what’s become the empire, because the dude who resurrected everybody else has named himself, essentially the God emperor of humanity and is referred to throughout the books as being God, that’s kind of where we start.
And way at, at the edge of the solar system, we have the ninth house, which is strongly implied to be Pluto. And the ninth house, its job is to guard the tomb. And make sure it stays locked, and what exactly that’s inside the tomb and why it’s imprisoned there is slowly revealed throughout the course of the series, although again, because the third book is not out yet, we still don’t have all the details, but it’s a pretty dingy place to live.
It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s poor.
Charles: So I think maybe the next thing that we should talk about is specifically things that might be confusing or that we are confused about… a good starting point might be to go back to what Tessa said at the beginning regarding the timeline of the universe that the books are set in and the establishment of where they are and how we know that’s, where they are.
And specifically what I mean is what are the clues that we are in fact, still in our solar system, just in a super weird way.
Tessa: And this is something that I’ve wondered a lot about. Um, because based off of the memes that the emperor references, he used clearly from some few, he’s a millennial basically, you know, he makes left pizza or none pizza with left beef jokes.
You know, things that only a very specific age demographic would get. And presumably he has carried these into the future. These 10,000 years gone by and, but beyond that, you know, characters also explicitly make references to Shakespeare or to the Bible. Um, so there’s definitely some connection or continuity with at least what we would recognize as our civilization and culture and, or at least Western-ish, civilization… culture.
However, your… however you want to define that, um, or at least an alternate version of it that still bears a lot of similarity to what we do. Yeah. Um, but beyond that, there’s also some hints that, for example, the house that the first book is largely set out as much older than 10,000 years. So obviously there were people around doing stuff before then.
Um, there is a passing mention to humanity going extinct, again due to rising seas and a runaway chain nuclear reaction, which may be referenced to nuclear war or maybe something completely different, but definitely sounds scientific. Um, so in that respect, you know, for something that’s ostensibly a fantasy series, there are a lot of preferences to real-world scientific phenomenon.
Erin: I’m wondering, if we could take kind of a segue for like a hot second about the genre of these books because I they’re weird because they’re a fantasy, but they’re also a space opera. So they are very much interesting because they kind of been the conventions of both fantasy and science fiction genres into what’s called science fantasy.
And I just started wanting to know what that, cause I keep finding people don’t know what science fantasy is that I’ve like, I want you to know. Cause it’s one of my favorite things in the absolute world, because you get the best of both worlds.
Charles: Yes. I will say that this is about as close to fantasy as I generally like to get.
Cause I liked the idea… cause like, you know, there’s the old adage that like magic is just. Technology that we don’t understand.
Erin: Oh, this is just like, yeah, here’s some bones. We’re going to make more bones out of this tiny piece of bone
Charles: And it’s also interesting because is that balance of they have space travel, like they have shuttles that work, however space stuff works. I’m an entomologist. I don’t know. And they have, you know, medical science and like a real anatomical understood, like not just an understanding of the shape of the body, but, uh, sort of a medical taxonomy of the body that would be recognizable basically to us and our understanding of anatomy.
And so That’s interesting. Yeah. So it’s probably we about 10,000 years from here. And I think that that is one of my sort of lingering. Thoughts regarding the series. The timeline is interesting because this is something that always occurs to me of when people choose to set stories and the amount of change that they expect within those units of time.
And so I would ask, like, what are you to think about the establishment of this specific universe, given that unit of 10,000 years?
Tessa: You know, this is what’s confusing to me because there’s a throwaway reference or two to when the resurrection happened, it reignited the sun. And also in some cases restored the planets.
Um, and you know, theoretically, if we’re talking about reigniting the sun, you know, that’s 5 billion years before we really have to worry about that. On the other hand, we don’t know how necromancy works, so it’s possible, whatever resurrected people killed the sun and then the emperor had to go and reignite the sun or something like that.
Charles: Well, actually, this is interesting. Is, is it potentially a lie that he reignited the sun?
Erin: Yeah, that’s the thing, is we don’t know if he’s lying or not about that, because like, he kind of was full of shit about a lot of things. Not very reliable, like even when, even about like the resurrection. It could have just not happened how he said it did.
And I have some thoughts about like, did humanity actually go extinct as in, like, there is no more humans and now I am alone or yeah, there’s no more humans on earth and I’m alone and I’m going to like make more people because I’m alone and I have nothing else to do.
Charles: Hate that guy. He’s just the worst.
This is, this is the emotion that has stayed with me the most since finishing the books. It’s just there’s that guy sucks. And I wish, um, when Mercy had killed him, he had stayed dead.
Erin: I was so there with you. I was like, Holy shit, boy, Mercy. So she just killed God. Yeah. And then 30 seconds later, I was disappointed.
Charles: Poor Mercy. It is very interesting also because the world… it’s always interesting to me when science fiction II fiction establishes that there is like a real, accessible afterlife of some kind, particularly because of the way that the Locked Tomb books talk about it, it doesn’t really demystify it at all, which is part of also what sets it apart from a lot of other science fiction that I’ve read of, they’re not dressing up the afterlife in fancy science clothes. They’re just establishing it as, you have the spirit and there you go.
Erin: And we don’t even understand the river, like Abigail hints up that, that there’s more to it. And there may have been some suppression of that too, which is interesting to me cause that kind of ties into God being a big ass a lot.
But it’s the thing I like with the afterlife and the treatment of death in the series is that death is not the end. It is just. There are a, say a change in state.
Charles: That of all things does feel the most like solidly Christian idea to me. And I don’t know that that’s necessarily the intention, but the existence of very firmly an afterlife is so absolutely central to Christianity and to Christianity’s approach to stuff.
Erin: Well, then we also have a lesbian Jesus, who’s very orange.
Charles: Here’s something that I’m still not a hundred percent on, which is, is the creation of the resurrection beasts. Is it the idea that they killed the body of planet and thus released its soul.
Erin: They kind of, they kind of did that, but what they do is they kill, they kill the planet in such a way that it’s so awful that the planet’s soul, or like the conglomeration of all the light on it gets super pissed off and in comes back to wreak vengeance.
Charles: Well, then the question is, why did that happen with the nine houses, planets, but not any of the other planets that they kill just to get that good death energy?
Erin: I think it does.
Tessa: I, yeah. I seem to recall that they, part of it is that they kill the soul or spirit of the planet before it can like gain come to its full powers of resurrection beast.
Charles: Yeah. So every time they kill a planet, a little soul appears. And it’s just that the resurrection beasts which are like big Katamari Damacy balls rolling around.
Erin: Cause like, they’ll just keep rolling. It’s basically the haters. See me rolling me, but with Katamari balls of body horror.
Charles: Okay. So, so that clears that up. Cause I was a little bit confused about that because there’s one thing you can tell you about these books is that there is just. A lot happening.
Erin: Oh my God. The other so much happening.
Charles: There’s a lot happening. Okay. So resurrection beasts, God is the worst. I want to clarify just in case, um, the big man is listening, not him slash her slash them, uh, God, in the books who is the worst… we’re going to have, we can, we can talk about our world God. Some other time
Tessa: That’s a whole other show.
Charles: That’s a whole other show, which we absolutely will do, but yeah. So God is the worst. Oh, Erin, you wanted to get more into the ecology of the river.
Erin: Oh, I got it. Yeah. So this is kind of, this was one of my really stupid shit posts, but so the thing of the river is that it’s a river. So it’s a road period, how it attacks and there’s ghosts in the river and like heroin and the other like lectures going in and out of the river when they’re fighting resurrection beasts, and it’s there monsters in that river. And at the bottom of the river, we have this thing called the stoma.
If it’s a very chompy thing, it has teeth. It doesn’t have like, you know, like monster teeth, it has human teeth, which is like, okay, that’s weird. Okay. Bags. Um, I like it, but that’s where, so the stoma is like, totally, it’s a place where John has no domain. So John is God and he’s real scared of that place.
And it also really kind of wants to eat him. And that leads me to perceive cause they keep cause they’ll shove resurrection beasts in the stoma because that kind of keeps them from. Being a problem because they can’t get back out. And there’s actually a character who is currently in the stoma. And I kind of want to know what he’s doing in there, but I don’t know if Maria is actually going to like tell us that so that
Tessa: The stoma leads to hell, essentially.
Erin: Yeah. That’s one of the, basically the implication is that we used to help. And, uh, my really stupid shit posts is that the stoma is the apex predator of the river,
or that it’s the Keystone species of the river. And it got pissed off because John AKA God … messed up the river and was mad at John for being a habitat destroyer and basically damming up the river and messing up the flow of the souls.
And wants to play hungry, hungry hippo with John.
Tessa: You know, I actually took a course on fluvial ecology, um, for my masters, and I’m really fighting the temptation to like, just completely go off on that about, Oh, well this is clearly good evidence for the flood pulse hypothesis.
Charles: I mean, Tessa.
Tessa: Yeah. Yeah.
Charles: What podcast do you think you’re on? Tessa!
Tessa: The flood pulse concept says the idea that rivers need floods periodically to really maintain good ecological diversity. It also keeps you from having erosion issues because paradoxically it prevents overgrowth of, um, plants and stuff, and from debris accumulating, and, you know, it’s just really good for productivity. So obviously when you dam a river, you lose that and you have to start managing your river a lot more carefully.
And you know, there’ve been some experiments with controlled flooding as a result. So what I’m going to say is that this entire book series is just a metaphor for that, that somehow John AKA God dammed the river and screwed everything up. And now that like the, the, the metaphorical salmon of the river, which I guess our souls are possibly resurrection beasts.
I don’t know. Can’t get up and can’t spawn.
Charles: This is… just as a side note, now that we’re talking about salmon, have you seen the pictures of the salmon that just like their Pokemon evolution into their final, like mating form?
Erin: Oh, yeah, it’s wild.
Charles: It’s wild.
Erin: Fish are weird. I work at an aquarium and watched a couple of fish transition. For sure, fish are weird.
Charles: It is a weird, quite weird. I don’t understand fish and I’m never going to, and I’m not going to try, but I… Tessa, I think we’ve cracked it. I think any of the theories about the books are wrong and we’re right. I mean, that is very, cause this is the other thing, is that necromancy. I think we’re, we’re supposed to believe that necromantic powers are only possible because of the resurrection, right?
Charles: Which is interesting because necromancy is going on the concepts that are established in the books of thanergy, or like death energy and thalergy, or like life energy. So like, If you kill something, then that releases a burst of energy. And, but if something is still alive, you can draw on its thalergy.
Some of the different houses do more thanergy stuff and some do more thalergy stuff. And they all do a little bit of both except like the ninth house. Cause they’re just all bones. It’s just bone city, 24/7.
Erin: The Ninth House knows what it’s about.
Charles: The ninth house knows what it’s about. It’s got, it’s got bones, goth Catholics.
What else do you need?
Erin: Charles. Did you ever read Homestuck?
Charles: [long pause] Erin… don’t say this to me.
Erin: Cause I never read Homestuck, but there’s apparently a Homestuck connection here.
Charles: Don’t ever speak to me about Homestuck ever again, it ruined my life.
Erin: [laughs] Friendship ended.
Charles: It poisoned my soul forever.
Tessa: Fortunately I was just a year or two too old to really like… somehow I missed that. So I was spared Homestuck. I’ve heard about it. I think I understand the plot vaguely, although it took three times for someone to finally explain it.
Erin: Oh, I literally do not know what the plot is and nor do I try to understand.
Tessa: I’m not really falling out of my, you know, going out of my way to don’t read it, but,
Charles: Well, don’t. Homestuck is very much like the herpes virus in that once it is inside of your body, it nestles down into your like nerve cells and it just lives there forever.
Charles: And you never know when you may or may not get an outbreak and you’re normally asymptomatic, but it’s never gone.You can’t be cured of herpes and you can’t be cured of Homestuck.
Erin: I’m going to give you, uh, give you a thing then, because Tamsyn Muir was incredibly active in the Homestuck fandom and there is a lot of Homestuck in the books, which I don’t pick up on, but apparently there is.
Charles: I mean, I, this almost makes me hate the books, but I’m not going to because they’re really good.
It almost ruined the whole thing for me. To this day there is a character that was like one of the most divisive characters and I won’t even speak…
Erin: I’ve never read it, but yeah.
Charles: Erin, why would you do this to me? I thought we were friends. I mean, the thing is the face paint from Homestuck is from Juggalos. So what you’re saying to me right now is that the face paint and the Locked Tomb Trilogy is Juggalos.
Tessa: You know, that that actually is not surprising. Given the meme density, that’s sort of in the orbit of Juggalos that doesn’t actually…
Charles: Now I can’t edit this out because this is the best stuff.
You’ve cursed this podcast. And you’ve cursed all trans people in science. So I hope, I hope it was… Erin, I hope it was worth it.
Erin: Yeah, it was, it was worth it. I just had to share that with ever since someone cursed me with that bag, I have to, I have to be a super spreader and spread it across. Like I’m not wearing a mask.
Charles: I’m going to go. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight because I’m going to be suffering. Because of what you just told me.
Erin: I think interactive fiction is a really interesting genre of storytelling. And what’s also really interesting about getting in the ninth is that you can tell it’s really influenced.
By JRPGs, like final fantasy, because the way the trials are set up, it’s very much like your dungeon crawling at times in collecting allies, heroin, getting in, stirred out with like no friends and that as they go along, they gain some through whatever scraps, the charisma they have. I can get in being a hippo and say shit, like, do you know.
If you took the first part of your name as your first name and the first part of your last name, you’d get like sex pal. God bless you.
Charles: Good old Sex Pal. or. I’m just trying to think of like a punchline for that, but I couldn’t, maybe he’s not dead. Can’t wait to get back to that guy. Cause I’m so basic.
But of course I love the nerd house.
Erin: I love the sixth house. I didn’t realize Palamedes is actually younger than me.
Charles: He’s like, I was born as 60 year old man vibes. He’s great. I mean, you got Camilla for the lesbians you got Palamedes for everybody else. How could you go wrong? You know, so they’re really good.
The fifth house is also very good. Well, that’s one of the nice things about, cause I was, I was, I was kind of incredulous about the structure of the second book, where we essentially relived the whole solar systems next top necromancer process. But with a completely different timeline as if Ortis had actually ended up going as heroin.
Erin: Can we just say that word? This is like a good boy… and we hate him until book two, and then we realize how much of a good, good goober he is.
Charles: Yeah. Yeah. He is basically if the kid from the “wells for boys” SNL skit grew up on a weird Pluto death cult.
Tessa: Yup. Pretty much
Erin: On AO3, he has like an account of like unfinished work.
Charles: No no no… He didn’t even, no no no. He was not hip enough to move to AO3, he’s still on fanfiction.net and God bless him for it. You know well, and that’s what I was going to say is that the, the structure of the second book at first, I was like, what is happening? Why are we doing this? But then it gave us an opportunity to really spend a lot of time with characters that we didn’t get to know as well, and then get to really appreciate them.
Like we got to spend time with the actual Dulcinea. We got to spend time with the actual Pro, however you say his name. We got to spend time with Ortus. We got to spend time with Abigail also. Like we didn’t really get a lot of Abigail and Abigail now is like one of my favorite characters because she’s also a nerd and this actually segues into another thing.
That is my only ship, which of course is Ortus and Pro.
Erin: Yes.Oh my God.
Tessa: That works so well.
Charles: You are welcome.
Tessa: Thank you for that.
Charles: You spend all your time thinking about lesbians. You didn’t even stop to think about the two weird beefy nerds in their thirties.
Erin: That moment when pro starts doing slam poetry and Ortus is like, Holy shit. Like that’s so pure. You can just speak, you’re going to see … going on.
Charles: And it’s like a very weird enemies to lovers arc, where at first they are competing, competing bad poets, and then they are allied bad poets. Well, so here’s another question, which is. In talking about river ecology, the necromancy that we see practiced in the books largely doesn’t actually deal with spirit or withholding souls from going to their final resting place.
Like the only people that we really see deal with spirit magic specifically is the fifth house. And they mostly just do it with a kind of reverence for the river where they don’t really like, they don’t bring a spirit back from the dead and then keep them there. Most of the necromancy that we actually see is just a manipulation and creation and destruction of tissue.
Erin: It’s just squishy magic.
Charles: It’s a squishy magic or in the case of bones, very hard magic. That’s interesting. So, yeah, I’m, I’m interested in, in what sort of, if you, you have theories or if there are sort of broader fandom theories about what actually powers necromancy and makes it available to people and why, if John were to actually be destroyed and die, Necromancy would no longer be available since, as far as we can tell necromancy is just basically a manipulation of forces in the universe that we can’t do here on the 21st century, because we don’t like know about it.
Like nobody has developed the knowledge of those techniques yet, but like, why would the destruction of John not only kill the things that he resurrected, but kill all necromantic power and capacity?
Erin: Well I think part of it is that the necromantic power is directly tied to the resurrection. Like when they talk about Harrow’s and how Harrow was came to be, it reads very epigenetics to me.
I, in terms that. It’s not necessarily inherent to the DNA code, but it’s, I don’t know how to explain it besides it sounds very epigenetic to me the way they explained it in the books piss me off for a good two days when it, cause I started yelling about that’s not how that’s not how DNA works.
Charles: Well, expand on that. Expand on how that’s not how DNA works.
Erin: Well, they were talking about how. I don’t remember. Cause I read the book and I’ve read her on the night in December because I had an advanced readers copy. So I it’s a little rusty, but when they talked about how heroin was conceived, so basically what heroin was parents do is commit or crime to make Herro by essentially killing 200 babies and children and getting into the only one that’s rides because she’s indestructible because she’s a lesbian Jesus.
And that’s why the ninth house hates her. Because she did die when she was supposed to, and she has freaky gold eyes. And kind of, you know, you don’t know where this kid came from and this kid is really weird and, um, heroin parents hate her. So we have to hate her too. So they were talking about it in the book where basically in order for a necromancer to be a necromancer, they have to be conceived.
And be like, experience like death energy during either conception or very close to conception in order to turn out or like before birds, in order to turn out a necromancer or be really close to death. And I was like, yeah. Okay. So like you’re also telling me that necromancy is hereditary, but you’re also telling me it’s.
Not, and it’s this thing that you experience that changes your genetic code. That’s not patient, but could be epigenetic because they’re like, yeah, blah, blah, blah. The chromosomes that I was like low. What?
Tessa: I didn’t get epigenetic vibes from that. Um, although I guess it would kind of make sense. I thought it was, I usually conceptualize standard thanergy as essentially a weird indirect way of harvesting increases in entropy because that’s what happens when living systems die.
Erin: Yeah. I do agree with the entropy thing, cause I do see a lot of necromancy being very much thermodynamics driven and that there’s a lot of weird shit. That’s not falling into the laws of thermal dynamics.
Tessa: So I thought more of Harrow’s story was just that, that was essentially them making sure that there’s enough energy available for her to become a necromancer. And that’s somehow tie that in order to become a necromancer, you have to be born in an environment where there is synergy available, not necessarily an epigenetic sort of way, but I suspect more in terms of just being able to have that energy to harvest.
Charles: Well, cause I would say it also doesn’t strike me as particularly outside the realm of something that could be genetic, because we know that there are a lot of gin heritable traits, which are only expressed given certain environmental conditions. And so that explanation really just reads to me as she has like the could be a necromancer gene.
Charles: But there needs to be adequate energy sort of ambiently to, to trigger that into expression.
Erin: The thing that gets me is that why isn’t … because Gideon’s mother was basically dying or dead when she was born getting it has almost been killed like a 500 times. And yet Gideon has like zero neck romantic affinity, as far as we can tell
Charles: Too much himbo energy blocks it all out.
Erin: That’s true, which is kind of one of the things that makes me go, okay. I don’t really understand what’s going on here. Like is necromancy a recessive gene? We know she has recessive the wheels for a rare eye color and her dad is gone. Boy, how come?
She’s not a necromancer if like she was exposed to the energy and all this other stuff going on. So that’s kind of like, something I’m curious about is if, how exactly that works. Cause like, when we look up the third house, we have the two twins and one is a necromancer and the other isn’t and we’re told our nappy is the necromancer because she was basically almost strangled by, I think part of us umbilical cord.
Charles: I don’t remember that.. that’s extremely metal in that case, I would think. Like the Ianthe how are we all saying Ianthe?
Erin: Don’t listen to me, I say everything wrong.
Charles: Well… all words are fake. Tessa, how do you, how do you say Ianthe?
Tessa: Yeah, I probably think Ianthe makes more sense…
Charles: Yeah. Well, so given Ianthe and Corona, Beth and I, I, I texted this. Well, I messaged Erin those, I think just like how well set up the Corona Beth is not an ECR romancer reveal is cause like, does she’s not a necromancer. She has the exact same body as the Ianthe, except that she is radiant and not… her body isn’t riddled with like death energy.
Erin: Yeah. Cause that’s the thing is also when they talk about necromancers like necromancers are all is really sickly or kinda like a waifish compared to non necromancers because of all like the death energy, which is interesting to me. Cause then you have the twins and it’s like, wow. Okay.
Charles: It’s just like, it’s just like a researcher’s perfect, like twin study. I’ve just like. What is, we can see exactly the effects of necromantic energy or necromantic potential onto exactly physically identical people. So that’s fun. Well, but in, in, so in terms of Ianthe and Coronabeth, I would even like that even makes sense to me also, as a sense of like, there was a certain amount of the energetic energy and there were two babies in the womb and one of them just sucked it all up. And the other one didn’t get anything, not unlike one of my favorite episodes of DS9. Yes. Um, where Julian and Dax go to a planet that has been riddled with a disease that was given to them by the dominion, when they resisted called the blight and Julian tries to cure the blight.
And there are a lot of great lessons about humility and perseverance and hopelessness and hopefulness. It’s a great episode, but the sort of the climax of the episode is. Julian is abandoned by all of his other test subjects. Cause something goes wrong and then they all die anyway, but one woman has left and she’s pregnant and he gives her what he thinks is a cure for the blight, but she doesn’t get any better.
And then she ends up giving birth and then immediately dying. And when she gives birth, it is found that instead of her getting cured of the blight, the baby, that she was gestating absorbed all of the cure and then. The baby is cured of the blight. And so similarly, all of this to say, you can have two organisms connected and one of them can suck it all up.
And the other one can just get nothing.
Erin: I just don’t like, I don’t understand, like why does it work that way? I am a biologist and I do understand because I’ve learned how it works, but yet I’m still like, And it’s really weird when you started thinking about it…
Charles: True viviparity is a nightmare that we’re all cursed with knowing.
Erin: No, but yeah, like when I was reading it, I was definitely reading that there was epigenetic factors that would save energy and power G like when Harrow was going to see like this energy would, um, unspool some of the DNA that was like formally locked up and couldn’t be accessed and, um, expressed. But then there was like some people act then there was like something else in there that was explained that it happened.
I don’t remember. It was, it was one of those things when I was, I was mad because it happened in a sequence that wouldn’t worked if it happened in real life.
Charles: Well, it’s, I mean, then we returned back to the point of, this is a universe where giant body horror Katamari balls traverse the universe because their planets were killed.
Charles: Well, in terms of the genetics thing, I was thinking of it less of like epigenetics and a specifical segment, like getting unspooled by the energy and more of sort of the classic. And this is because I TA’d genetics last year that this is at the top of my mind, the classic like lac operon. Just thinking about it, but like that sort of classic, like you have. Environmental conditions. And then the promoter gets turned on or this other thing turns it off. And then all of that together. And then third energy sort of gets in there and goes, whoop and like, You know, puts down an enzyme on a certain section of DNA.
And then if you don’t have the energy, then it can’t connect, then whatever, whatever.
Erin: Yeah. See, I was like even a higher level. I was like, Oh, the DNA is just caught around the histone because my brain immediately goes there. But yeah, no, come on genetics.
Charles: There’s I, I hated the genetics because I am not a geneticist and I will never be a geneticist.
Charles: So… we’ve talked about the resurrection beasts, we’ve talked about the river, God sucks. I do. I do really see the, of course Gideon is lesbian space. Jesus, because she is the daughter of God.
Charles: I get it. This is what was what I was going to say. That Gideon can’t actively harness thanergy, but she is not a normal person with regards to death.
Erin: No, she’s absolutely not like…
Charles: So there is, so she clearly has been affected by the circumstances of her birth. Just not in like the classic necromancer way.
Tessa: I wonder, instead of being riddled with death energy, with thanergy, the way that necromancers are, she’s the opposite. She’s just like overflowing with thalergy.
Erin: Yeah. That’s a really good point. Cause that would be really interesting. Cause like, A lot of the stuff in the books, it’s very cyclical. And it’s also very much about parallel duration and narrative. And like one of the characters that like near heroine Gideon’s relationship is OT and Farrah who are the second house.
Like there’s an OGs also named to get in… and he, if I remember right, he is, he does a lot of Fowler and cheese stuff.
Tessa: Oh yeah. I’d forgotten about that. Yeah, no, that actually does fit.
Erin: That I didn’t even recognize that parallel until you learn like, yo Gideon’s like totally full of life, energy.
And then I was like, wait a moment. This is yet another thing that, OG and Pyrra, like totally mirror Harrow and Gideon.
Charles: Well, so here’s the question is, do we think Gideon will be meaningfully resurrected in the next book now that God knows now that we all know get against origin?
Tessa: Yeah, I okay. So end of the book, Gideon is presumably stuck in Harrow’s body, um, or at least her soul and her consciousnesses.
We don’t know where Harrow’s consciousness is. And also the entity in the tomb is referred to as Alecto has been revealed as being the living cavalier of God, because it turns out you don’t actually have to eat your cavalier to become a lyctor.
Charles: Let’s back up a moment. Cause I don’t know that we’ve really talked about that whole situation.
Erin: It’s bad. Well, so here’s why we hate God…
Charles: Well, it’s, it’s one reason. Um, the other reasons that just that he sucks that he is bad, that he’s terrible, um, that we don’t like that he’s, um, that guy, so the Le so the elector thing. So basically the, a lot of the people, the first book revolves around these mysterious facilities in the basement of Canaan house, which is the big house that they go to.
On it is the house of the first house, which we assume is earth. Basically in these facilities, there are all of these different sort of challenges that require a cavalier and, um, and a necromancer. And then when you get through the challenge, you get access to like the chambers beyond that clearly were used by a necromancer and a cavalier.
And there’s all of this sort of like hushed. Sort of like, uh, like generally sort of spooky mysterious information about like how they were working on and these various theorems of necromancy and all of it sort of implied to be, they were working out how to become lectors and by figuring out the work that they did, the people who are there now.
Can follow in their footsteps. And as it turns out, we learned at the end of the first book, that to become a lyctor, you have to kill your cavalier and then absorb their soul into your body so that you have essentially a constant battery, an inexhaustible battery of death juice just buzzing away inside you all the time, so that you don’t have to keep killing stuff to harvest more death energy.
You just have, you know, an endless fountain that you can use to do your various necromantic deeds. And that’s why lyctors are so powerful and seemingly immortal because they’ve got. Just that, that energy battery just powering all their systems. So there’s, that’s most lyctors. And then we find out towards the end of the second book that you don’t actually have to kill dead your cavalier. There can be a sort of a. A reciprocal exchange between lyctor and their cavalier, and both of them can be left alive, but the literally the only person who has ever accomplished this is John and the body in the Locked Tomb that is kept in the ninth house is his living, but suspended, cavalier, who is also heavily, heavily implied to be some sort of dark construction of his own who is monstrous and inhuman.
Erin: She… the popular fan theory is that his cav is the resurrection beast of earth because we currently don’t know where that one is. And there is another resurrection visa has taken a humanoid shape. So it’s not too far out of the question that I like though is or soul. Yeah. And also I would think to note is that there is another person who did almost get close.
To achieve your perfect, like to her, but John sabotage her by killing her cab and she never became an actual lifter. And lo and behold, guess what, how has she found this? Yeah, it’s a nice house. And a Sasha basically gets sent to the, to what is now the ninth to guard Alecto. Uh, cab and the two that’s who is in that too, and…
Charles: Question is, is there an explanation that we’re really given for why the other lyctors were not helped towards actual perfect lyctorhood?
Tessa: yeah, we aren’t really giving explanation. My suspicion is that somehow that makes you more powerful. And John thought that would be too much of a threat to his own power.
Charles: And what a horrible narcissist he is.
Erin: He’s so bad.
Charles: A lot of interesting sort of religious questions, because this is something that always gets to me when people talk about religion, like, okay, so veering off track for a little bit, but this is my podcast and I’m the editor and I can do what I want… in the Marvel cinematic universe, one thing that always really gets my goat is when people talk about the existence of like Thor and Loki and how that immediately discounts, for example, a Christian understanding of God, like how can you still believe in your Christian God, when we have literal actual gods? And then it’s like, well, no, because Thor and Loki are corporeal and they’re temporarily limited and they are powerfully limited, and they’re effectively just hyper powered aliens, which doesn’t then discount the Christian for instance, construction of God, which is as a fundamentally incomprehensible entity, which existed before, beyond the universe. Right. And so similarly… Locked Tomb, am I right? You know what I mean?
Charles: Well, so do any, so do any of us, that was, that sounded very final, but it was, it was meant to be an opening up of like, how do we sort of square… like there is sort of the question there, one thing that people love to lobby against, for instance, the Christian construction of God is that God is like, has to be a horrible narcissist.
And so I guess talking about a character who literally calls himself God, and is a horrible narcissist sort of brings up those questions that like, you know, how do we live in the world?
Erin: Yeah. I don’t really know how to answer that because I generally, when I talk about like religion in these books, I usually talk about it from, from a symbolism point of view, like what the symbology means in terms of like what the next book is going to have.
Charles: Well, so here’s an actual point of connection, which is, you have mentioned before, not in this conversation, but in our previous mythical conversation that we have no proof happened, but did, um, that, that John feels very eco fascist.
Erin: Oh my God.
Charles: But my first response was to think, well, I don’t connect John with eco fascism because Blood of Eden sounds like a super eco fascist group name to me. And so that was my first thought was sort of an eco fascist. Like attitude, particularly because most of what we know about the blood of Eden is just that they oppose necromancy and they view it as sort of a corruption, which feels again, very like Christo eco fascist to me, of like, how dare you manipulate these forces of the universe and very literally play God.
Erin: Well, I mean, so I don’t know enough about what it, you know, cause we don’t really get too much of their ideology. Cause we have to remember that week is around it, which basically means she’s an angry ghost. And her main goal in life is to kill people because she hates necromancers and hates John. So we don’t really get too much of their backstory. So I kind of want to hold off judgment on their ideology. Whereas we get a lot of jobs, ideology, and we get a lot of his anger and rage at humanity for. Either a leaving him behind or destroying the earth, which for me immediately is like, Oh yeah, that’s, that’s an eco fascist dog whistle.
When we start to talk about humanity being a in and a virus and humanity, shouldn’t punish for these things.
Charles: Yeah. Well, why don’t we talk more about what is actually like established on the page explicitly in the books? Because I think I miss a lot of like the fine details because I was really just sort of powering through.
Erin: Yeah. You can really power through these books in the come back and reread them and be like, Holy shit, I totally missed this thing. Cause like there’s a meme in there that I didn’t get on my first read until someone was like, yeah. So how about that? S and I was like the, what now? So what we do know about what happened on earth is that there was a nuclear disaster…
Tessa: Disaster or war, we’re not sure which.
Erin: Yeah. And then there was climate change, which is referenced by rising oceans. And we know that John was alone, that he was, I’m not sure if he was left alone. I can’t remember exactly, but it sounded like he was left in some way. We know that he’s angry at humanity for what happened and he feels that humanity should pay for it since.
From some of the things he says and what we know in generally, what we know about what you did is that they’re terrorists. They tend to be terrorist because they’re a smaller rebellious group that they’re outside of the empire. And we don’t know if they were part of the empire at some point, or if they have always been outside.
We know that there was a point where John did something to children. We don’t know what, or how long ago, because that gets brought up about. Something about killing like 10,000 kids and there’s something about nukes and we don’t. And the new thing I think is more recent. I don’t know how recent the kid thing is in terms of the timeline of the story, because timeline is really bad because I know that was one of the things that really came up in a lot of fandom discussions about.
How is the first house. So, and habitable when they still have, when there was like a nuclear thing, if this is truly earth and like I went and looked and yeah, 10,000 years is long enough for a place to be totally find it. And habit like after any dealer on apocalypse, Because I kind of, I went and did some research because I was also watching the HBO, Sharon Noble miniseries at the same time.
And I was like, I kind of know things about radiation because I grew up next to a power plant that was nuclear. And I feel like it would be long enough, but I don’t know that I looked at that was right.
Charles: That also circles back around to my initial point regarding 10,000 years as a timeline for the end cultural result that we see because 10,000 years feels like an unbelievably long amount of time to still produce human attitudes and relationships that are fundamentally recognizable. Do you know what I mean?
Erin: Yeah, I guess I have mixed feelings about that because we could read classics from 10,000 years ago and still recognize like what’s going on. So I feel like sometimes human nature isn’t as mutable as we like to think it is.
Charles: Well, not even necessarily human nature, but for instance, we know that John inherited millennial memes because of the very, very good none pizza will left beef joke. And then we hear and see characters also like other characters make references to other memes of our specific time period. And so we know that those memes probably came from John got established and like the culture, and then got passed down to the point. But as far as I know, we don’t have any fun memes from our culture 10,000 years ago. And then is that explicable because unlike us, they actually have somebody who experienced that initial grain of culture and had that cultural memory. And then instead of dying was just around for the entire length of his progenitor culture. To reestablish and receipt all of the same things that he’s saying.
Tessa: I suspect it’s that case that, you know, essentially you’ve got someone who is from Earth, who’s also a narcissist and sensibly, the most single, powerful human, and that we know of that. Yeah. Essentially the reason things maybe haven’t changed as much as we thought they would have is in a lot of ways, either deliberately or accidentally, he’s kind of keeping society in stasis.
Erin: Yeah. And like, we also have, like, we noticed that things stop changing the closer they get to him. So that could also go for like, things like memes not just like physical object.
Charles: Yeah. And then we get to the Blood of Eden thing where from the little that we experience of them when Camilla and the other two that I don’t care about as much appear in the second book, it, their technology feels unfamiliar and potentially a little bit older.
Erin: Yeah. So the interesting thing about what a unit is that they use guns. There are no guns in the nine houses, and that’s part of the reason why Wake is so dangerous because the necromancers and cavs, they’ve never had to do guns before. And we don’t know why you don’t know if John just was like, yeah, no swords are better.
Or what, which is kind of interesting to me. And. It’s interesting to me that they seem to have clunky, clunky technology, but so does the nine houses, but in a way, what Eden has kind of innovated on the cocky of technologies and some ways that the ninth houses have not done, because if you notice wake.
Specifically use like Herro, uh, she knows that Harold’s freak out necromancers and she’s weaponized that in a way that I don’t think the nine houses have, because they’re so isolated from the whole resurrection, the steal, because John isn’t there. So they don’t see these Katamari ball of monsters, little fees.
Lots of lots of Vinny hands that can give good hugs.
Charles: Well it’s so this actually gets to maybe an unrelated, but kind of related thing is that in the first book we’re told about a sleeper in Canaan House, but we never see it. And then in the second book, we kind of see it, but the degree to which it is a meaningful representation of the reality of what the sleeper is, is questionable, because what is happening is not what actually happened. It’s like, uh, uh, uh, mind play that hero’s brain is putting on with her soul and the river and ghost and whatever. And so the sleeper, as we see it in the second book has a big hazmat suit and a gun and is going around blasting people because they don’t know how to deal with guns because the nine houses.
Don’t use guns. And so do we know actually exactly what the sleeper is?
Erin: I don’t think we ever really get explained what teacher means by the sleeper. And like the only thing I can think of is that the sweeper actually refers to either earth, soul sleeping slumbering or two electo because if electrical is ever at the first house, then teacher probably would have met her.
Charles: Yeah. Well, do we? Hm. Cause what do we think that Alecto would have the power to sort of project, like astral project?
Erin: It seems that she does because she haunts Harrow.
Charles: Well… does she?
Erin: So. Harrow is an interesting character because she’s one of the very few characters that I’ve encountered, who is severely, mentally ill, who does not have a story that resolves around a psychiatric Institute institutionalization.
Um, you can tell us getting tired, cause I’m starting to lose words, right? And how has a history of hallucinations, but from what I see and how things interact in with the events of her own life, it seems that electro is actually Astro projecting, which kind of ties into the epilogue, which is super confusing on purpose because Muir hates us.
Charles: I don’t even remember the epilogue.
Erin: So the epilogue is where we have this person and Cam’s there. And we don’t know who this person is besides that this person doesn’t either know who they are, or they do know who they are. And doesn’t say who they are. And it’s really freaky. Cause like they dizzy, like deep fried food.
That’s right out of the front of that look out like gain burned and it doesn’t. Seem to be a necromancer, but we’re not sure. And the setting. So the speculation is the setting is that they’re on a bloody Eden planet, which is why they play with the bones. Only when the curtains are closed. The fan speculation is that that’s, Alecto in Gideon’s body.
Because the reason why we think this is because of how, the way the tomb was opened, the tune can only be opened with John’s blood. We got the spawn of God here, which is getting in and heroin, getting in, had that really awful fight and getting his blood got under her own nails. And that’s how she was able to…
Erin: No details, man. So there’s all these little things that like build up to her the night that like, if you go back and reread them, like, you’ll be like, Holy shit, what the hell? But yeah, no, that’s how Harrow opened the tomb. It wasn’t necessarily that she was a great necromancer, it was she, is, she is the one of the best necromancers out there.
It’s because she had getting his blood under her nails. That is how she bypassed the wards. She couldn’t have done it without getting in some blood.
Charles: Cause I was like, well, we, cause I was just thinking, well, maybe she hallucinated going into the tomb and seeing the body.
Erin: So we’re not entirely sure if she actually managed it.
She gets that far in the tube before Gideon went in squealed, but she did open the two and she did seem to see the body and it is confirmed that there is a body in there and that it is Alecto that there is a dead girl. Wow. And so for her to be haunted by Alecto, it doesn’t seem that far out, especially considering like, when she says that she’s never liked Gideon’s sword and then later it turns out that Gideon’s mom who hates all the necromancers has been literally attached to that sword for the entirety of Harrow’s life. It doesn’t seem that far fetched that Alecto….
Erin: Yes. That is how she got there because she got stabbed with the sword and when it comes to like, Oh, Hey, it’s free real estate.
Erin: So, so yeah, it’s not completely out of the question that Alecto was haunting, like legit, straight up Astro projecting and haunting Harrow.
Um, but she could still not be, but it seems to me that is a really good possibility, especially considering that electro only ever appears basically electro doesn’t ever appear in her bubble either, which is interesting too, to me. Cause like if she was having more hallucinations, it wouldn’t be too far out of line for electrodes would also be in the Canaan houseboat whole stuff going on too.
That her brain is constructing and pulling back these ghosts. But like Silas was just in… Coronabeth… Like no, Silas was also, but like Coronabeth was just a construct of whatever heroine imagined her to be…
Charles: Because all the ones who die well… all the ones who were still alive died in the dream one.
And then all the ones who were done dead stayed alive because they were the ones whose spirits like were in the river to be accessible.
Erin: Yeah. So I don’t know. Alecto could have been a hallucination or she could have legit been Astro projecting it. And I’m on astral projection team in terms of things, but Harrow, Harrow, like Gideon, is an unreliable narrator.
Charles: I’m interested if either of you have speculation on what you think will happen in Alecto the Ninth.
Tessa: I think we’re going to have a bit of a road trip in getting everybody’s soul into their proper body. Cause we don’t know where her soul is. We know Gideon’s last time we checked was inherited, but it may have gotten moved to a different one.
And we S there’s some suspicion that the body that. The, the unknown individual, the weird acting person we see in the epilogue may be Alecto in Gideon’s body. So pretty much get everybody back in the right bodies. Hopefully getting inherit can actually talk to, you know, sit down and talk to each other about their feelings.
That would be nice. Um, and then, um, the, presumably the tomb is already open or is it going to be opened and hopefully we’ll find out what exactly went down in the resurrection.
Charles: Well, and then hopefully we kill God.
Erin: So I do… a lot of what Tessa said is a lot of the, a lot of the same things I think, um, it has when you’re actually did an AMA recently where she did say it’s, there is a very big heist.
There is a road trip. They do move house. John makes bacon apparently, but. So I do believe
Charles: Don’t eat bacon, John, it’s bad for your colon.
Erin: Let’s just let him, eat bacon, then he’ll die. There’s I do believe we are definitely going to have some sort of musical chairs with body swapping. Uh, we need to get people into the right places.
And I don’t know, like, I feel like we’re going to have a lot more Cam, I don’t know whose POV it’s going to be. I feel like we’ve. We may not get the same sort of POV stuff that we did in the past two books, but we’ll see, because the first person direct is a really effective narrative choice and maybe you shall continue using that particular POV style.
And I do think in terms of some other stuff that will go down is I feel like electro will have to be laid to rest in some way. And I feel like, well, if a series, since it’s very much about cycles and breaking the cycles, that either God will be killed and necromancy will end or they’ll do something else.
And I don’t foresee like a happily ever after type and mean, especially for a series that feels so deeply with trauma, particularly queer trauma. I feel like we’re going to get a bittersweet ending, but it’s going to be hopeful where it’s very much like, well, now we’ve solved. We kind of solved this problem, but we have to communicate with each other in order to move forward.
And it’s going to take time to heal. And because this, this is not a easy way. And bam, evil, evil is defeated now live happily ever after because there’s many layers to many things that we see going on. Yes, I do believe God is going to get killed. And I believe Ianthe is going to be the one to do it.
Erin: I suspect like, right. She’s a great, and now Ianthe a very interesting character to me because she’s everything she does. She does it for a reason. And her reason usually has to do with her sister.
Charles: Hmm. Oh, just as a… one of my favorite parts of the second book is just the gay jealousy triangle with Gideon, Harrow, and Ianthe. Gideon, just being like… she doesn’t, it didn’t mean anything to her, she just likes bones.
Erin: Like, okay. I honestly want a lot more of Ianthe and Gideon to be like, just chill out and hanging out. Cause I think they would actually be friends and others if it was a different situation. Cause they are quite funny together.
And I do sometimes think it would be really. Funny. If John was like, yo, I’m going to do an arranged marriage. Come here, Gideon, come here. Ianthe. Cause I think that would just be hysterical.
Oh yeah. The other thing that the fandom talked about a lot, and it is the thing that many people want is they want a sleeping beauty style or snow white style wake up being of peril in the bubble because getting in we’ll have to abide by the bubble rules. And everyone is just like, what if. What if getting it has to kiss her and wake her up.
Charles: Bunch of nerds…
Erin: I know. Everyone’s like what, uh, what, uh…
Charles: What if we were both girls. And we were in like a, like a death bubble… and we kissed?
Tessa: Pretty much. Pretty much.
Erin: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
Charles: Good books.
Erin: It’s a really good book. There’s a lot in it. They’re very heavy in many ways. Um, I talk a lot about, we didn’t really even touch on this, all the podcasts, but like I’ve written a little bit about this, about how the books deal with mental health and the cycle of abuse.
And it’s really wonderfully handled that it’s not just funky space lesbians having a good time. They are not having a good time, but they’re also having a good time that it’s, it’s a really good book series, please just read it.
Charles: They’re very good. Well, well, I’m hoping that nobody has gotten to this point without reading it because we just spoiled everything.
Erin: When that was more, all the reason to read it and see what parts we didn’t talk about. Cause there’s a ton of parts we didn’t talk about.
Charles: Well, yeah, but it’s, the surprises are really good. Put stuff together.
Erin: I mean, yes, but also the ended up hurting the knife is such that we just don’t know what’s going to happen going until after the knife.
So like, even if you’re spoiled, you’re still going to be surprised.
Charles: I did recommend these to my therapist this week, I was like, you gotta… space, necromancy, lesbians, swords. And she was like, say no more.
Erin: Also the side story, um, dark with a mysterious study of dr. Seth, which is on the six health and it’s about BB cam and big pal.
There is a non binary, secondary character in there. And it’s free on tor.com. And it’s actually a good read before you read her the knife, because it gives you some clues, which we may have already talked about, but it gives some clues about what’s up with
Charles: cam. That is actually something that is interesting to me that we didn’t really talk, because as we’ve said, these books are not only like teasingly gay, but just like
Charles: Yeah, there’s nothing subtle about it. There’s no, not remotely. It’s, it’s just text, but there is not really anything about gender in them. Like we still have male and female characters. And as far as we know they’re all cis. So that’s interesting.
Erin: I do have a trans reading of Cam, but that’s more head canon than anything else. And I can also read Harrow is trans too, but once again…
Tessa: One of my friends is a very, very big advocate of, um, Gideon as trans.
Erin: Yeah. That’s also a really good one.
Charles: We’ll see. Mine would just be Palamedes… My reasoning is, I like him. And that’s it.
Erin: You know, if you guys want to talk about trans science fiction, I have a lot of trans science fiction recommendations.
Tessa: Maybe about to be a separate show.
Charles: We’re going to get to it.
Charles: Okay. Okay. Erin, if people want to find you online, where can they look?
Erin: Okay. People can find me on Twitter @insectoidreview. And, uh, I have a science fiction blog that’s commentary and reviews. And you can also find me, uh, at some moment, I actually recently changed my professional, not science fiction, Twitter to @bug_wrangler.
And I literally never post anything there, but you can follow me there too. And then I also have an Instagram for my art, which is @caterpillar.creative, because I am very creative and I am a little caterpillar.
Charles: Wonderful. You can find me on Twitter @cockroacharles, and Tessa?
Tessa: And you can find me on Twitter @spacermase.
Charles: And you can find the show on Twitter @ASABpod and at our website, asabpodcasat.com, where we post transcripts of every episode.
Tessa: And until next time, keep on sciencing.
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