Necessity's child excerpt

Yulie Shaper, in Necessity's Child

  • Appears in novels Necessity's Child, Dragon in Exile, Neogenesis
  • For a more in-depth character study, see the short story Moon on the Hills


  • Yulian Rastov Shaper is often referred to as Yulie or Mr. Shaper
  • He is thin, with wary brown eyes and dark blond hair
  • "Straw colored hair, face lined with worry and from working outside."[1]
  • His movements are Scout-quiet[2] yet he's "in some odd way skittish -- like he might suddenly jump for the door"[3]
  • He is younger than he appears, maybe only a few years older than Val Con yos'Phelium
    • “Val Con had supposed Yulie his elder by at least a half-dozen Standards. But the grin that illuminated his face, very briefly, revealed a much younger man, made older by care, and the weight of his rules and policies.”[4]

Daav's First Impression of Yulie

. . .beyond the rake, tucked not-quite-behind the trunk, obscured by the branches, was a man. A long, thin man, with a cap pulled low over a brown face. Dark blonde hair stuck out around the cap, like straw out of a hay-rick. An eye gleamed in the shadows; blinked.

Daav settled on his heels, bringing his attention —- and Aelliana’s —- once more to the study of the crack.

“The question is,” he said, conversationally, “what to fill it with. Gravel? ‘crete? Stumps?”

“Dirt,” a rough voice said from nearer than he would have thought likely. Their new neighbor moved on his own land like a scout. Daav hadn’t heard the disturbance of so much as a blade of grass.[5]

His FarmEdit


  • With numerous cats, Yulie Shaper lives alone at his freehold on Surebleak at the far end of the Port Road, a place dubbed World's End, adjacent to a timonium quarry.
  • "That road that ran all the way to the port -- that road, it started here. Here, on the property he called his, running right by the door of the cabin, right by the vegetable patch, right to the very cliffs that marked the first dig." [3]
  • The steep quarry cliffs are "a hundred times his height and more".[3]
  • Mr. Shaper’s nearest neighbor is Clan Korval at Jelaza Kazone.
    • For "ten cantra now and one per Standard Year in the future, he leased road access through his land to Korval for as long as the clan uses it."[3]
  • The next nearest neighbor is Boss Melina Sherton. Yulie takes his crops to sell or barter at her produce market.
  • The port itself is about one hour away, by taxi. [6]
  • In Moon on the Hills the Shapers used a lectracart to take their produce down the road to the market.[3]


  • Crops grow in his fields and in his camouflaged prefabbed growing rooms, from seeds, seedlings, and stasis. He harvests a variety of produce: grassnip (spice herbs), onions, field beans, tubers, later greens, cabbages, striped orange cabbage, bluefruits, nuts, spudfruit, coffee beans, etc.[3].
  • "He talked to a couple of the cats who guarded the coffee plants there in the cavern (disguised grow house)." [3]
  • He gives some spare crops to Mrs. ana'Tak (Korval cook) including torups, grapes,[7] bush-nuts, and homemade spring cheese (see The Rifle's First Wife)

Farm scene, from Necessity’s Child:

Mr. Shaper was a quiet man, but observant. When Syl Vor had, in his ignorance, made a hole too deep and too wide, Mr. Shaper leaned over and showed him the proper way to go on. He occasionally broke silence to explain what a particular tray of seedlings was, the manner in which they would grow, and what sort of “eating” they would eventually provide.

It was all so engrossing that Syl Vor quite lost track of anything but the task in hand, until Mr. Shaper broke his silence once more. “Here comes somethin’ big — you miss your dinner, boy?”[2]

Heir to Captain ShaperEdit

His grandfather was a pilot (Captain Shaper) who moved to Surebleak when working for Gilmour Mining. "His old grandfather'd been a spaceman and that was the worst thing to him about being on a planet -- the dirt and the mud and the rain." His Grampa taught him to read the sky and find the stars, and he spoke of ships, including "the legendary Korval trade ships..."[3]

Yulie Shaper is the only surviving heir to his family fortunes on Surebleak. Captain Shaper filed liens and lawsuits to ensure that he and his descendants would inherit various properties and farming equipment from the mining company, because they broke faith when they abandoned their Settlement Agreement with the colonists / employees. He'd made the best of a bad thing, for "Change had taken away his ship." Eventually the Company "capitulated and offered a settlement. They gave all the company's current right, title, and interest to all its holdings on Surebleak to Grampa." [3]

Character TraitsEdit

Anxious: When Pat Rin yos'Phelium first met Mr. Shaper, the farmer suffered greatly from poor sleep, general anxiety, and sudden panic attacks.

"When it hit, the panic, it was solid, like a crashing wall of rock falling on reason to the point that he saw the gray nothingness where vision should be." [3]

However, his panic attacks usually came only in the daytime. "Under the stars it was as if he sat more firmly in the universe."[3]

  • Reclusive: keeps mostly to himself, having developed a distrust of strangers, especially since his malcontent brother Rollie was murdered, and ten of his cats were shot. [3]
  • cat-person: His skinny cat, Nugget, comforted him when his brother died, a year before Clan Korval moved to Surebleak.[3]
  • crack shot with a long arm and not afraid to shoot intruders; killed six cat-killers, being "a real fine rifle shot. Real fine." [3], [7] A sharp-shooter as demonstrated at Sherman's Shoot Out. [7]
  • quiet and -- according to young Syl Vor yos'Galan -- silent, like a Scout: "The Scout-who-was-probably-Mr. Shaper" [2]
  • patient with youngsters, teaching Syl Vor how to plant seedlings.[2] He also helped Daav yos'Phelium find spare earth to fill in the "crack in the world" around the Jelaza Kazone settlement. [5] [2]
  • educated beyond Surebleak norm, because his grandfather insisted that all his descendants must learn to read and write. [3] He keep binders, records and deeds.
  • not materialistic, but a hard worker and careful manager
  • values peace, cats, Mrs. ana'Tak's cookies, and good neighbors. "Grandpa always said good neighbors was worth keeping." [8]
  • neighborly now: developing a friendship with Mrs. ana'Tak, he often takes her some of his garden produce, including torups, grapes, and bushnuts. [9]
    • "Jeeves, please bring us some morning wine if you please, and some of that spring-cheese we just got from Yulie.” (see The Rifle's First Wife)

New DirectionsEdit

  • Now Yulie runs an experimental farm on Jelaza Kazone land, working with a Scout botanist attached to Korval, Scout Field Ecologist Alara chel'Voyon Clan Silari (married to Diglon Rifle). [10]
  • Because Val Con yos'Phelium and his brother Rys (a vintner) helped him repel intruders, [7], Yulie is currently exploring how to begin winter wine production, and how to utilize all his growing rooms to produce more crops. He is assisted by some of The Bedel, who honor his respect for Rys.[6]

Tree KinEdit

  • In Dragon in Exile The Tree gives Yulie a pod to eat and a seedling shoot to plant on his own farm. [7] Several weeks later, the effects of Tree's seedpod are clear in Yulie's new sense of peace and good humor:
  • "I've been sleeping like a rock the last couple weeks, no dreams at all, and waking up just that sharply, even before I get my coffee!" [6]
  • Now Yulie's little tree is producing pods which are ripening, so his anxiety is apparently a thing of the past.
  • "Yulie looked less alarmed than Val Con had previously seen him...It would appear that the Tree, and the Tree's progeny, was wasting no time in commencing to meddle." [6]
  • Because of his acceptance by The Tree, Val Con and Miri begin to think of Mr. Shaper as "Tree-kin"[6]


  1. Dragon in Exile, chapter 20
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Necessity's Child, chapter 6
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Moon on the Hills, in Halfling Moon, and also in A Liaden Universe Constellation, volume ii
  4. Dragon in Exile, chapter 20
  5. 5.0 5.1 Daav's Up Early: A Ghost Ship Splinter, at Splinter
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Neogenesis
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Dragon in Exile
  8. Neogenesis, Chapter 2
  9. Dragon in Exile and Neogenesis
  10. Rifle's First Wife