[LMB] Rian's gift to Miles? (A bit of a spoiler relating to Cetaganda)

David McMillan skyefire at skyefire.org
Sun May 7 13:15:22 BST 2006

Lucie Tuan wrote:
> I was re-reading Cetaganda, and this question came upon me.
> If it has been asked before, I apologize. Couldn't find the answer in FAQ:(
> In Cetaganda, Maz explained that the haut have many little rituals that
> govern their love/sexual life. Some are very weird, and they are all very
> intense.
> So there was Rian, giving Miles a long, long lock of her hair. I would think
> that since Cetagandans are so concerned about their genome, giving out a
> part of their physical tissue that contains their genes would be a serious
> and intense ritual. I can definitely see this little piece fit within one of
> Cetagandan's mating rituals. Since Miles is an outsider and she a haut-lady
> of haut-ladies (and probably already know that she's the next empress by
> then), there could never be anything between her and Miles, and she would
> know that, yet she still chose to enact this ritualistic action. THEN
> promised that Miles would see that there is no danger of her forgetting him,
> which in my reading, plainly screamed: prelude!!
	Welll... last time I checked, I was told (by a reliable source) that 
human hair does *not*, in fact, contain useable DNA information.
	Hmmm.  Google, google, goolge... well!  It appears that this has 
changed recently.

	Still, at the time "Cetaganda" was written, my impression is that human 
hair was not considered a viable DNA source for useful purposes.  So, my 
initial thought was that the hair Rian gave Miles had little (or 
nothing) to do with haut mating rituals, but rather was Rian attempting 
to find a way to espress her *personal* --rather than Imperial-- 
gratitude to Miles, someone who exists so far outside of her social 
context that most of the expressions she was familiar with would 
probably not mean a great deal to him.  And it was important to her that 
this expression be *very* personal, and he already had some idea just 
how much haut women were (ahem) attached to their hair.
	Plus, I think there was a certain element of 'matching' going on. 
Miles had, effectively, taken her completely out of her familiar 
contexts, shaken up her worldview in several ways, and left her 
permanently *changed*, in important though not profound ways.  IMO, she 
wanted to make an expression of gratitude that was, for a haut woman, as 
'wild and crazy,' as unconventional, and as *powerful* as Hurricane 
Miles blowing through her life had been.

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