Spoiler Alert: To avoid spoilers, read all 3 Korvali Chronicles books before reading this article.
Ah, love. It’s complicated even among humans, and more so with an alien from another culture.
Interestingly, human-alien relationships can serve as a metaphor for human relationships. Haven’t you ever dated someone who was so different from you that you had a difficult time understanding one another? Alternatively, have you ever dated someone from a different country, culture, ethnicity, or religion? Every culture has its norms, rules, and mores, which will impact how its members approach relationships. Some consider male-female relations to be challenging due to the differences between the sexes; is it any coincidence that John Gray used Mars and Venus to illustrate gender differences? Gray is probably a sci-fi nerd, deep down…
Anyway, Snow and Jooni. A human male and a Sunai female, breaking the rules and having an illicit relationship. What attracted these two to one another? Many things: they’re both musicians and they bonded over a love of music. Sunai women are feminine by human standards, and thus attractive to human men. Both were single, lonely — Snow lacks Tom’s self-confidence and thus has a harder time meeting women. Jooni is different than other Sunai females — she’s uninterested in marrying a Sunai, being one of many wives, and having children. Both are rebels in their own way: Snow with his tattoos and his distrust of authority, and Jooni with her refusal to marry and her desire to leave her culture.
While that’s enough for them to hit it off, there’s a deeper attraction between them, one that has them risking a lot to be together, and has Jooni attempting to obtain permission to leave Suna and Snow scrambling for ways to help her. When they experience setback after setback, Jooni experiences great pain and Snow becomes infuriated. But what’s really making this so difficult for them? The very thing that attracts them:
They’re both dealing with feelings of powerlessness.
Jooni lives on a planet where men and women have their “place” in society, and there is no getting around those rules. The rules favor men because their society is dominated by men, and while Jooni can have her music shop and refuse to marry, she will eventually pay a price for her choices and become an outcast. She can’t emigrate, can’t travel beyond Sunai space, can’t have a human male friend. She can’t live how she wants to live on Suna, but they won’t let her go elsewhere. Why would they? Men make the rules and they believe Jooni’s desire to leave could reflect badly upon them. She’s stuck in a place that’s oppressive to her.
Snow, on the other hand, isn’t stuck… not really. He has considerable freedom that comes from a more egalitarian culture and the privileges he enjoys with the Space Corps. Yet, Snow still has wounds from childhood, when he too was oppressed… by his hyper-religious, punitive parents. Snow’s parents were extremely strict — if he violated the rules, he endured punishments that, at times, would be considered child abuse or neglect. Snow still carries a lot of anger about his upbringing and the impact it had on him, and those unresolved wounds attract him to Jooni, someone he recognizes as oppressed by similarly unfair and misguided rules.
As such, Snow sees redemption for himself in helping Jooni get out from under the Sunai thumb, whereas Jooni sees freedom for herself by seeking the help and love of a man who treats her as an equal. In the end, their relationship had too many obstacles to overcome: their geographical separation, the Sunai rules, the fact that they’d have to hide their relationship even if she succeeded in coming to live on Earth. Sunai and humans can’t reproduce, so no chance at children, either, even if Jooni changed her mind. Yet, I think the real reason their relationship came to its natural end is that both realized what they needed wasn’t one another, but the freedom from bondage that the other represented.
And in the end, both got that freedom.