This week in the Slacktiverse, August 30th, 2015

(posted by chris the cynic; written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Probably because I had patents on my mind the week before, this week I wrote about the differences between patent law and copyright law.  Patent law is meant to encourage innovation for the public good; copyright law is meant to protect corporate interests in ways that ignore the public good and disservice future generations.  I wrote about that, and I wrote what copyright law might look like if it were written with the public good in mind.
    • I wrote a bit of … I’m kind of torn on whether to call it “superhero fiction.”  I named the post that, and it definitely has a superhero in it, and what happens is entirely related to that, but it isn’t just or even mostly about the superhero.  It’s more about the person who figures out where the superhero crashed to earth after losing a fight, and heads out there to see if the hero needs help.
    • I wrote the newest installment of Forgotten Seeds, called Getting Packed, in which Kim and Shego share the plan for getting off the moon, the survivors loot everything salvage what might be of use, and an alien war machine has to be dealt with.
    • I shared some up close pictures of a dandelion’s seed head in a post called Sphere of Potential.  Actually, it was multiple excerpts of a single picture because sticking to reasonable photo-size doesn’t allow for showing the detail and the overall shape of things at the same time so it makes sense to show the same image cropped and scaled in different ways.
    • Want to know what’s making me feel overwhelmed and causing me to get frustrated to the point of screaming profanity this month?  I wrote a post that’s just venting about various such things.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

Lonespark gave a heads up about the submission cal for the AfroFutures anthology 2015 after learning about it from Alex:, deadline for submissions is September 19th and here’s a short description of what it’s all about (a lot more information at the link):

With a growing number of amazing speakers, academics, artists and musicians, from the U.S. and Europe [for a festival, with conferences and workshops they’re putting on], we’re looking to produce an anthology of work to help raise funds for our special guests.

[…]

The theme of the anthology is ‘what will it mean to be black in the future?’. We welcome stories that are woman positive and explore alternative sexualities and gender expression; the nature of futuristic spirituality and religion and the impact our history as black people will have on our future.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for August 28, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is rekindling his love for the silver ball.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal

Multiple Deconstructions:

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Philip Sandifer: Writer

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

The White Dragon: What’s-A-Come-And-A-Go

Last chapter, Jaxom found D’ram, we got to see what the male gaze saw in Menolly, and the Benden Weyrleaders revealed a plan to capture most of the Southern Continent, ostensibly so they could retire after the grubs make Pern safe from thread.

The White Dragon, Chapter XI: Content Notes: Misogyny, sexism

(15.7.5, the next day)

Rather than be allowed to sleep in too late for recovering from their time-hop, Jaxom and Ruth are awoken by Menolly and Mirrim, because the Benden Weyrleader wants to go somewhere. Food and drink are available, but it comes with some insults between Jaxom and Mirrim, after Mirrim expresses her distaste for a Weyrleader that lets his charge get Threadscored.

“And I just don’t see what good it’s going to do you. You can’t expect to fight Ruth.”
Jaxom choked. “I am too going to fight Ruth, Mirrim.”
“He already has,” Mirrim remarked, indicating the Threadscore. “Now shut your mouth and let the man eat.”
“Man?” Mirrim’s voice took a derisive swoop and she gave Jaxom a scathing glare.
Menolly made an exasperated sound. “If Path doesn’t fly soon, Mirrim, you’re not going to be on terms with anyone!”
Surprised, Jaxom looked at Mirrim, who was flushing deeply red.
“Oh ho, Path’s ready to be flown! That’ll sort out some of your high-headed notions.” He couldn’t resist crowing at her dismay. “Has Path shown a preference? Ha! Look at her blush! Never thought I’d see the day you’d lose the user of your tongue. And you’ll be losing something more soon. I hope it’s the wildest flight they’ve had at Benden since Mnementh first flew Ramoth!”
Mirrim exploded, her eyes narrowed with her anger, hands clenched into fists at her side. “At least my Path will be flown! That’s more than you’ll ever do, with that white runt of yours!”

Cocowhat by depizan

Oh, hit him already, Mirrim. Beat him into the ground until he apologizes. He’s more than earned it. Seriously, Jaxom, all that toxic masculinity is doing a fucking number on your character. Where’s the sweet empathetic boy that we had back in the earlier books?

That’s on top of the extra Wrong that it’s Mirrim getting teased – Mirrim, remember, is Brekke’s fosterling. Brekke was not exactly forthright about her own sexual identity back in Dragonquest. So, with how fantastically Brekke’s first sexual experience (rape) and mating flight (death of Wirenth) went, it would make sense that Brekke is not going to be forthcoming with the details about what happens when dragons get in heat. The embarrassment suggests that nobody else had taken on that role, either. Menolly had had an analagous experience, and is still Pern’s most comfortable woman in her sexuality, so it’s surprising to me that she hasn’t taken Mirrim aside at some point and given her The Talk.

In all cases, Jaxom, Mirrim’s virginity is not something to be joked about or used as an insult line. Doing that makes you an asshole.

Anyway, Menolly rebukes Mirrim for that last line, not having said anything to Jaxom about his role in the conversation, and then…

“Do you know anything about…” he jerked his head at Ruth, “that I don’t know?”
“About Path?” Menolly deliberately misconstrued his direction. “Well, if you’ve never seen a rider reaction to a proddy dragon, Mirrim’s given you a classic example.”

…Menolly shows she’s an asshole, too, which is also strongly against the characterization she had in the Harper Hall. What is it about this society that drums out compassion and empathy by the time children reach adulthood? Even if it is draconic pre-mating syndrome, I would think that garners sympathy or empathy, especially from someone who’s been getting it quite strongly from the ten fire lizards she’s Impressed. Of all the characters most likely to be empathetic, I’d put Menolly at the top of the list. What the hell is with this book and its complete character divergence?

So there’s a little discussion about how Ruth hasn’t been interested in dragons in a mating way, which Menolly suggests might be due to Ruth not necessarily maturing at the same speed as other dragons. Wouldn’t it be better if the conception was that Ruth really is just ace? It would be a lot less stigmatizing and it would have less implications for Jaxom that he’s a freak as well. The narrative assures us that Menolly isn’t pitying or condescending to Jaxom, and Menolly says that Jaxom shouldn’t feel ashamed about his own sex life (which, again, Jaxom is using a woman with the intention of possibly fathering a child, but not necessarily acknowledging it or providing support),so clearly all is well here. Menolly apologizes for Mirrim and enumerates all the parts of her that are embarrassing, exasperating, and trying (which is basically all Mirrim’s characterization has ever been, by the way), and then returns to the subject of Corana and Jaxom’s uniqueness as both Holder and dragonrider. The return of D’ram, collected by the Benden Weyrleaders, sidetracks the conversation, and Jaxom and Menolly are summoned by Robinton to the Harper Hall.

Sebell takes Menolly (who have coupled in Dragondrums, even though that book hasn’t been written yet), who is thrilled that he’s back from a mission somewhere (probably the south) and goes off to spend time with him while Robinton debriefs Jaxom about the trip to find and retrieve D’ram. He’s very interested in the images of men from the fire lizards – it appears that Robinton has long suspected the South was the origin point of people on Pern. Of course, someone could just find the records, or go back in time to see things…if they really wanted.

Before heading back to Ruatha, and after discovering that Menolly and Sebell have an intimate relationship, Jaxom decides to head to Corana and have a roll in the metaphorical hay.

She was as willing and eager as he was to satisfy desires thwarted on his previous visit to the Hold. As his hands touched her soft flesh and he felt her body press against his, he wondered briefly if she’d have been as willing a lover had he not been Ruatha’s Lord. But he didn’t care! He was her lover now! He gave himself to that pursuit with no further reservation. At the precise moment of his release, exquisite to the point of pain, he was aware of a gentle touch and knew, with a sense of relief that enhanced his own, that Ruth was joined to him then, as always.

And on that fantastically creepy line, the chapter ends. It’s also another missed opportunity – after all, what kind of negotiations would have to happen between two people sharing a deep empathic and mental bond if one of them is definitely sexual and one of them is just as definitely ace? Ruth, admittedly, appears not to care about being part of Jaxom’s sex life for the moment, but there’s obviously more to it than just sex. We don’t know if Jaxom fantasizes or masturbates or otherwise includes his sex life in things other than the time he spends with Corana – as a teenager, even as a Lord Holder and dragonrider, I’m guessing there’s a lot of time spent in his fantasy life.

Not as much time is spent, apparently, in understanding that Corana may be doing this as a political maneuver, except as that brilliant flash right before his penis takes over. The most we’ve heard so far have been the Holders’ sons, who are all about the making of children they don’t intend to support. Nobody else seems to be willing to take Jaxom aside and explain to him about what happens when you have multiple sons running about that could all theoretically lay claim to your Hold in various parts. Like the infighting currently going on, or that could have happened had Meron not been forced into naming a successor. And also, what sort of child support or marriage expectations might come from getting a girl pregnant, since there still doesn’t appear to be any form of contraceptive past the draconic abortion. Corana could be trying to improve her situation and see if she can’t get a good marriage and heir out of the deal, even though now she’s seen the miracle of childbirth. And has she met Lessa yet? Because Lessa is going to have an opinion on who inherits and rules Ruatha for as long as she lives, and it would be good to know whether Lessa will give her blessing or make sure that Corana meets with a situation that leaves her dead or vanished into the past.

The consequences of these things should really be discussed. I’d almost settle for even a conversation that talked all about the politics and none of the “you know how much of a dick move it is to get a girl pregnant and then dump her, right?”

Almost.

Writer Workshop August 26th, 2015

(Posted by chris the cynic a day late)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!

This week in the Slacktiverse, August 23rd, 2015

(posted by chris the cynic; written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I started on yet another Kim Possible fic.  Before posted the first installment I posted about why another one and why this type of one.  The idea is to do some id-channeling action genre actiony stuff where the main charater is pushed beyond normal limits, which is a bit of a departure for me.
    • Naturally, the first installment of Bent, Not Broken is the next thing I posted.  I’m pretty confident that you don’t need to know Kim Possible in order to follow it.  Already I think I’m failing at the id-channeling.  I feel like there’s too much think and not enough fight.  Which is not to say that I dislike what’s there; I actually like it a lot.
    • I realized that I never talked about a word I made up a while ago.  It was sort of an exercise in putting together as much ish-oid-y-esqueness into one word as possible.  What does it mean?  Not sure, but there is some discussion in the comments.
    • The song “Stand in the Rain” sets off my depression meter like whoa, so I wrote about looking at the song through the lens of having lived depression and, to an extent, having lived the song.  (Note that the song isn’t depressing, it just feels very depression themed.)
    • It started innocently enough with someone asking if I’d noticed whether or not my neighbors had gills and me responding that this is New England, we don’t do that sort of thing.  (Noticing, I mean.  No idea if people here have gills.)  Somehow it ended up in rhyming couplets.  So if you’d like to know about the New England mentality I was talking about, have a look.
    • Patents are made to expire.  A patent is a trade off, you get to have a monopoly on your invention enforced by the government, but in exchange you have to reveal exactly how it works to the general public and when the patent expires they can do whatever they want with it.  Thus innovation happens.  It’s why Velcro is everywhere: patent expired.  A lot of Lego’s patents have expired, but others are younger, and what I can’t seem to do is figure out how to learn which Lego stuff is fair game, and which is illegal to copy.  So I asked for help.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for August 21, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who might have found a useful thing to anchor with.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Philip Sandifer: Writer

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

The White Dragon: Recovering That Which Was Thought Lost

Last chapter, the Benden Weyrleader asked the Masterharper to help him find the Ista Weyrleader, because the Weyrwoman is distressed that she can’t find him. The Masterharper asked the Lord Holder of Ruatha to ask his dragon to ask the fire-lizards to remember where and when they saw the Ista Weyrleader’s dragon. Which crafted a mission for the Girl Harper, the Lord Holder of Ruatha, and selected fire lizards to hop back in time to find the Ista Weyrleader and discreetly report back.

The Ista Weyrleader, if alive, presumably, does not want to be found by anyone. His autonomy and desire to grieve is deemed subordinate to everyone else’s need for him. Which is not anywhere near kosher – what could D’ram possibly be needed for that he cannot be allowed to grieve?

The White Dragon, Chapter X: Content Notes: Male Gaze

(15.7.4 – the next day)

The first part of the chapter is getting everyone to the correct location – Ruth mentions that Menolly sends vivid pictures (as befits a Harper that has to memorize and report on clandestine affairs) and Jaxom wonders whether the fire lizards will be enough to get Ruth there, which puts all the time spent memorizing star positions to waste for Jaxom. Menolly and Jaxom settle in to wait for fire lizards, while Ruth takes a bath. There’s food plucked of the trees in the South, and Menolly nonchalantly mentions the time where she nearly lost two of her bronzes to a wild queen while she was here last when Jaxom asks whether or not there will be fire lizards.

The wait and heat is eventually too much for Jaxom to suffer through, and so he strips and dashes for the water, with Menolly following suit soon after. Which gives Jaxom a chance to ogle Menolly, helping us actually finally start building a picture of what she looks like.

Menolly’s body was trimmer than Corana’s, Jaxom noticed as they waded out, happily exhausted from their swim with Ruth. She was longer in the leg and not nearly as rounded in the hip. A bit too flat in the breast, but she moved with a grace that fascinated Jaxom more than courtesy allowed. When he looked back, she had put on pants and overtunic, so that her slim bare arms were exposed to the sun as she dried her hair. He preferred long hair in a girl, though with all the dragonriding Menolly did, he could see why she’d keep it short enough to wear under a helmet.

And… Menolly is apparently long and thin, despite having apparently kept up her sailing technique. And, most likely, the singing and instrument playing. And the traveling, which probably isn’t by beast in Southern or the more remote parts of the North. Yet she has “slim” arms. I can believe being flat-chested, long-legged, and slim in the hips from her life in a Sea Hold and the continual muscle-building and toning exercise that being a Harper and sailor is. For comparison, here’s the International Sailing Federation women’s match sailing champions from 2015, which is sailing with a lot of technological assistance, as you can tell from the gear still on them. They all might fit the profile for body type, but you can tell their arms are quite strong and not slim by looking at their picture. The work Menolly does should be putting muscle on everywhere, especially the arms, so I want to know what Jaxom is comparing to that Menolly’s arms are slim.

Also, how convenient it is that Menolly is still apparently without shame about the display of her body. Despite Dunca’s best efforts, that is. Menolly is also entirely comfortable being naked around Jaxom without being worried about anything happening to her, despite having plenty of stories about what Holder sons like to do and what dragonriders do when they’re in the throes of mating – a state she and Sebell have already shared when their fire lizards went at it. Admittedly, Jaxom has made no such moves toward her in the past, but they’ve mostly been in the company of others. This would be an opportunity, if he were inclined. Menolly might well kick his ass, but he wouldn’t know that.

Anyway, the plan to use Ruth as a fire lizard magnet works, and Ruth would get appropriate time coordinates for D’ram, except the fire lizards also remember quite a bit about men on the Southern continent, a time when there were many men, but no dragons, only fire-lizards. The fire lizards don’t remember sadness, though, so it’s unlikely there was a suicide, from which we get this interesting snippet:

“And besides, a dragon wouldn’t let his rider harm himself. D’ram can’t suicide with Tiroth’s alive. And Tiroth won’t if D’ram is still alive.”

O rly? Poorly-visualized coordinates caused a dragon and rider to be entombed. Doing the giant time hop nearly killed Lessa, and now there are equations that could be used to try a jump that would be beyond the constitution of even the hardiest rider. Two fighting queens killed each other without giving a damn about their riders. Accidents have killed dragons. Surely it would be possible to drink, drown, or poison oneself – or even take a one-way trip to the Red Star. Or just fly into a Threadfall and die, since it seems the prohibition against self-harm has a giant exception carved out for fighting Thread.

Speaking of, Jaxom deduces that the dragonrider that has spent his life fighting Thread would want to settle down sometime where he wouldn’t have to deal with it, and takes off for a twenty-five year hop (the 15 of Present Pass plus a safe margin) to find D’ram and Tiroth – over Menolly’s caution. Jaxom is correct in his deduction, and returns immediately to the present time, to be confronted with a pissed-off Menolly, hands on her hips, glaring knives at him, and this particular gem:

Menolly was very pretty, Jaxom thought, with her eyes flashing like that, but she was daunting, too.

That sounds familiar – like Lessa to the Benden Weyrleader, Brekke to her rapist familiar. “Look how pretty she is when she’s mad, which I can say because she can’t actually hurt me.” At least in Jaxom’s case, he’s not discounting taking a wound or three from fire lizards or from Menolly. She’s mad at him because he’s been gone for hours, her time, and she was worried that he had miscalculated – and she had no way of connecting to him through fire lizards, because the time gap was too large (which is why Ramoth can’t find Tiroth – someone should do a study to see how far in space and time the draconic connection goes).

The return to Benden brings a fair of fire lizards with them from the South, which alarms the watchdragon, and therefore puts everyone on high alert. Jaxom manages to get everyone set down and sends Ruth off to get food (after getting permission) before completely passing out from the strain of the time jumps. Smelling salts (or the Pernese equivalent) revive him, and he is required to drink soup before being allowed to talk. And is told he’s bedding down at Benden as well. And that Lessa is clearly annoyed at how this has turned out:

She glared at her weyrmate. “Yes, I’ve been worried over D’ram but not to the point where I would risk a fingertip of Ruth’s hide to find him if he’s trying that hard to be lost. Nor am I very pleased to find fire-lizards involved.” She was tapping one foot now and her glare was divided equally between Menolly and Jaxom.

Which gives the earlier conversation between Robinton and the Benden Weyrleader a little bit of the Unreliable Narrator. Or, if they are both right, it means that Lessa’s not-concern was still frequent enough and plaintive enough that the Benden Weyrleader sought help. I don’t believe Lessa has been known to be passive-aggressive in that way. Using her mental powers to push someone in the direction she wants them to go, sure, or acting in a manner to get a desired result, yes, but not trying to get someone you do anything but being not-concerned a lot a bit it. Maybe Lessa mentioned it, and then pushed hard on the Weyrleader’s resentment toward Lessa trying to get him to do something so that he went off to do it because he couldn’t stand the nagging. That would be more consistent with the Lessa that was already established.

Messages dispatched and assurances given that Lessa will not chew Jaxom out while he’s still weak from time travel, Lessa gets a good look at Jaxom and notices his Threadscore. Which means he is going to get chewed out, just not about D’ram. Lessa wants to know why she wasn’t informed about his injury and subsequent training. Not their jurisdiction, says the Weyrleader, and besides, a little battle scarring makes Jaxom less likely to try doing it on his own again (without training). Lessa is unhappy, but smooths out somewhat as Jaxom explains why he thought the twenty-five year hop was the right idea (because Lessa and company came forward in those intervals).

Menolly’s return changes the topic, as does the news that Ruth is eating far more than usual, and Manora has sent food up with her – enough to restore Jaxom’s energy and comfortably feed everyone else. Discussing the images that the Southern fire-lizards sent has the Benden Weyrleader muse that there could be other people on the Continent, prompting a Suspiciously Specific Denial from Lessa.

“F’lar!” Lessa’s voice was sharp and warning. “You are not exploring the Southern Continent. And, might I suggest that if there were men there, somewhere, they would certainly have ventured far enough north to be seen at some stage or another by F’nor when he was south, or by Toric’s groups. There would have been signs of them other than the unreliable recollections of some fire-lizards.”
“You’re quite likely right, Lessa,” F’lar said, looking so disappointed that Jaxom realized for the first time that being Benden’s Weyrleader and First Dragonrider of Pern might not be as enviable a position as he’d previously assumed.

Great Maker, another title, one that acknowledges that he’s the bestest. The narrative really does give him everything he wants.

I’m almost certain at this point that we’re now supposed to see the Benden Weyrleader as the old high school quarterback who now works a dead-end job, married to the girl he knocked up and who henpecks and emasculates him constantly, who is looking for any excuse to sneak off and relive the glory days (or at least try to rekindle that spirit he had when he was king of the world). We’re supposed to feel sorry for him.

I don’t. Partially because casting him as a henpecked husband means casting Lessa as the shrew in the operation, and to do so would be injurious to her characterization. And we have had more than enough of the narrative insisting that active, opinionated women are problems to be fixed. I also don’t feel bad for him because he’s still a big jerk, even if he’s a mellower jerk these days. What he wanted for Jaxom, and what Lessa wanted for Jaxom, both gave very little thought to what Jaxom might want or be curious about, being both Holder and dragonrider. And, perhaps, I still haven’t forgiven him for what he’s done to Lessa in previous books.

As it turns out, the Suspiciously Specific Denial is because the Weyrs have plans for the Southern Continent – after the grubs make the dragonriders obsolete, they plan to retire to the South and live a luxurious life feasting on the land there, preempting the Holders and Toric. Basically, the Benden Weyrleader believes the dragonriders should be independent of Hold tribute, so they need enough land to be self sufficient. On that revelation, the chapter ends.

I do have one question, though, and I think I’ve asked this before when talking about the Weyr-Hold issues before – if dragonriders really did want to be self-sufficient, why haven’t they done it already? They hold the military power, they can go basically anywhere on the planet to harvest or breed their own stocks of meat and plants and supplies, and if things get too far gone, they can time-travel to harvest ahead of Threadfall if they lost a crop that way, or to prevent the natural condition that killed a crop otherwise. If the Weyrs really wanted it, they could have long since established themselves as independent. What they have clearly wanted, instead, is for everyone else to be dependent on them for protection and to give then tribute.

What has changed? It can’t be that the Holders somehow have gathered extra military power to be a threat to dragons. They have flamethrowers to fight Thread with, but I don’t think that will really work against an enemy that can disappear and reappear at will. They could still try economic warfare with the Crafthalls, but that still doesn’t prevent the dragonriders from taking what they want or sieging everyone until they die or surrender.

No, there must be an advantage to be gained by controlling the South, and the Benden Weyrleaders are blowing smoke up Jaxom’s ass by talking about “retirement” after the grubs are properly seeded in the North. Since we’re following Jaxom, though, we may never know.

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