[LMB] TSK - Going Home

Tony Zbaraschuk tonyz at eskimo.com
Fri Jul 26 16:18:40 BST 2019

On Fri, July 26, 2019 7:15 am, Gwynne Powell wrote:
> why does the horse and
> pedestrian courier opportunity fall mainly to Lakewalkers? The rider with
> groundsense seems to be more valuable to the overall society on malice
> hunts than in courier duty.? A flatboat, a tea caravan, or just a manure
> wagon that -- as Gwynne says, -- RELIABLY? gets anyone's message between
> set points on a set schedule would seem to be profit source.? Whit?? You
> busy?

It is quite possible that merchants in the various cities have some
sort of postal system among themselves.  The Fugger newsletters are
probably the most famous collection (16th-century).


I presume that this, like some kind of town government system, local
politics, and internal police/watch forces exists; we just don't see
it because it's not relevant to the plot and the exact details are
still sitting around in Schroedinger's Cat's Complete Constitutional
and Commercial Litterbox.  But people who ship stuff to other cities
and have to plan, say, whether to invest in a new glass factory,
would like to know stuff like this.

It's possible that at least some of them send messages by Lakewalker
couriers, particularly in the more farmer-settled south, where assimilation
seems to have progressed a good deal.  (Keep in mind that in terms of
Westerns, we are seeing the Frontier Zone and not the Settled East, so
lots of stuff important to the Settled East doesn't show up on the
Frontier.)  But very possibly they have private couriers too.

> Gwynne: I was thinking of Lakewalkers doing it partly because they
> need the money, partly because it'd be a positive interaction with
> farmers,
> and partly because they have a network of couriers riding regularly from
> camp to camp, and so have the framework for the system. We don't hear much
> about couriers, I'm wondering if they're the ones who don't have wide
> enough groundsense to be much good as patrollers, and don't have the skill
> to be makers. It's the perfect job for someone who's young, fit, eager to
> do something useful, and not all that gifted in their ground.

All of this seems likely.  But we should note that couriers provide a
backup warning system; they're often in places where patrols aren't,
and often riding through more settled areas where a malice might be
more dangerous if it came up -- consider Barr's little side jaunt
in _Knife Children_, for instance, where he's out of knife because he
already used his on a sessile he came across earlier.

> Boats do
> carry messages, but it's a fairly informal arrangement, without much
> guarantee that they'll get it to the right person. And they are limited by
> seasonal changes, etc.

Also boats find it much easier to go downstream than up.  But I'm guessing
that quite a few flatboats from Tripoint carry messages down the Gray as
well.  Messages in the old days tended to be pay-on-delivery, to give the
messenger a reason not to use the thing for firestarting as soon as he
was out of sight; it was only as major institutions developed that one
could have a service reliable enough to be willing to pay-in-advance.
(We have modern postal and courier services that do this, but those
require major institutional developments, usually governments or BIG
corporations operating in stable zones established by governments, for
which we don't see much evidence at all in the books.)

> Lakewalkers ride all the time.

Yes; this is a plausible path for the development of a courier service
moving forwards.  I might add that people with reliable ground-senses
have considerable advantages in traversing difficult terrain, bad
weather, and the like -- if you notice that the ground under your path
has no ground, before the horse steps in the pit, you can ride in
much darker night or worse weather.  (Also see Dag's adventures as a
snag sensor on Boss Berry's boat...)

Tony Z

Et vocavit Deus, "Fiat lux!"

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