In A Fire Upon the Deep, the pack known as Flenser

avoids total death by hiding two of its members in the pack of one of its followers, Tyrathect.

When the radio cloaks are developed, Tyrathect wears the first prototype. She finds that the radio delay makes it difficult to communicate within the pack, but the effect is similar to the echos walking between some cliffs she lived near caused with thought speech. She finds that her time spent near the cliffs allows her to make the necessary adjustments to work with the radio, and is pleased to discover that

using the radio cloaks sends the Flenser personality into unconsciousness. She speculates that this was perhaps because Flenser never walked between cliffs, and therefore never learned how to compensate his thought speech.

However, the next time we see Tyrathect,

Flenser is in complete control of the pack, despite near-constant use of the radio cloaks.

How did this happen? Was Tyrathect simply wrong, or did Flenser somehow learn to adjust?

1 Answer 1


It's not clear that Flenser is really in full control. The conscious/unconscious relationship is more complex in a pack than in, say, a human being, but the pack calling itself Flenser seems to be divided and not fully self-aware. Flenser sees himself as dominant over an unconscious Tyrathect; she is conscious, and perhaps much stronger than Flenser, but lets him believe he's in charge. Steel shocks Flenser with this revalation at a crucial moment, and later (after the death of another member? I forget) Flenser seems better integrated, calmer, and more benevolent.

  • 4
    This is the way I'd go with the question, too, and you have my vote...but this answer really needs a quote or two from the book. Feb 8, 2012 at 5:03

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