This month in the Slacktiverse, October 16th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Apart from utterly failing to get any Slacktiverse posts done, I’ve got two things
    • First, a bit of world building in my super-person universe.  The House of Iaso wants to be a really good (in all senses of the word) mental health facility that uses well researched methods with proven results which are applied with compassion and kindness.  Unfortunately those in power want it to be Arkham Asylum.
    • The other was me thinking that the world we live in does, in fact make perfect sense, if it is given the appropriate context.  These thoughts came about after looking up a bunch of Twilight Zone stuff.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

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Deconstruction Roundup for October 13, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who laughs slightly at the fact that it’s mid-October.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

Vaka Rangi: Eruditorium Press

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are drowning in new media possibilities and need a breather. Or for any other reason, really.

The Dolphins of Pern: Not As Dumb As You Think

Last time, Toric schemed, decided the hurricane was a good time to put his scheme into action, and expressed hatred for dolphins, Readis helped dolphins after a hurricane and got yelled at and struck by Aramina for it, prompting him to leave Paradise River rather than promise Aramina he wouldn’t have anything to do with the dolphins.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapters XII and XIII: Content Notes:

In grand Pern tradition, the action shifts over to K’van, at Benden, who is fully aware of all the settlements Toric has been building, and suspects that Toric intends to move on his plans soon. The Benden Weyrleader says there’s not much to do regarding a Holder, but K’van points out that all these settlements are outside the boundary markers of Southern Hold as established, and he and the Benden Weyrleader exchange some knowing glances about what to observe next, as K’van describes the discreet spying being done on Toric, as well as the apparent scheme of Toric selling land he doesn’t own to settlers that will then back him later when the Council comes to meet. The hurricane provided the evidence needed to confirm suspicions by exposing settlements that were previously hidden by the treeline.

Lessa is in favor of a (currently metaphorical) scorched-earth policy regarding Toric, but the Benden Weyrleader and K’van are both in favor of the idea of exposing Toric to the Council of Lord Holders and letting them handle him. Although Benden is not above using dragons to impart a lesson, one that apparently worked rather well the first time it was used on a similar situation. Lessa eventually catches on, and starts laughing, and proclaims that Robinton would be as well.

While we shift over to the return of the injured dolphins at Paradise River, those playing along at home can either research or chuckle at whatever plan Benden has in mind.

Jayge is hoping that three days is enough to get Readis to come back. Unfortunately, neither he nor Aramina is really ready to forgive Readis.

He wished that Aramina had not been so didactic about issuing that ultimatum to Readis. Although he understood her panic, and certainly agreed with her that Readis had acted disgracefully, he also understood his son will enough to know that forcing the boy to promise against his conscience would make him rebel. The boy was of the right age to resent a mother’s restrictions. Jayge earnestly hoped that the three anxious days would be enough for Readis to have made his point and make an honorable return. By this morning, Aramina had been beside herself with remorse at driving her oldest child away. Jayge doubted that she’d renew her demand that Readis stop seeing the dolphins, but he was equally certain she would never cease blaming the creatures for the trouble they’d caused her and hers.

So they’re not actually ready to forgive Readis, they just want him back because they’re worried he’s not going to survive out there. The narrative does acknowledge Jayge and Aramina are here because they think Readis will come back to check on the dolphins, but there’s no indication that they have gone looking for Readis in the time between when they decided to get their child back and this point in time. Which might have been this morning, according to that text block above. And truce would only last until the next time Readis is with the dolphins. This has the hallmarks of being the kind of family relationship between a highly anti-LGBT parent group and a kid that intends to live their life out of the closet. Running away and finding a supportive household may be the best option for everyone involved.

T’lion, T’gellan, and Persellan also arrive to check on the dolphins. T’lion has been unpersoned by Persellan in regard to having destroyed the book, for which Jayge thinks T’lion is lucky to only have been given the silent treatment (although it’s really Persellan addressing the air in front of him and T’lion responding, because T’lion is the only one with firsthand knowledge of what transpired).

As Jayge waits for Readis and the dolphins arrive, we find that “Worry conflicted with a rising and righteous anger that Readis, who had always been treated with respect, would repay their kindness in this fashion!”

Except the part where his mother slapped him and told him to get out if he wouldn’t promise her something and his father didn’t intervene.

This “ungrateful child” narrative might work better if the child didn’t have damn good reasons to repay their “kindness” in such a way. There’s never any real confirmation to Readis that his parents love him just as much despite the injury and that they consider him a fit and fine son. It’s pretty explicit that Aramina takes no interest in his dolphin fascination (because triggers) and Jayge doesn’t seem to have taken any interest, either, because of Aramina’s vehemence. There’s no evidence on camera that we’ve seen to this point that Readis has been treated with any respect, culminating in the slap and dismissal from a few days ago. Even now, Jayge sides with Aramina that Readis is wrong and believes himself that Readis has been out long enough to satisfy his tantrum, but he’s unwilling to examine the idea that he and Aramina are going to have to budge, more than just failing to forbid Readis, if he wants a happy household and a child that feels he’s been treated with respect.

They’re not ready to forgive Readis and welcome him back. They want their son to obey. That’s not a recipe for a successful family. It’s a recipe for an abusive one.

Once Jayge gets a good look at the injury, he admits to himself that Readis was right, and that nobody at the Hold suffered injuries as severe as the dolphins. He doesn’t actually say this out loud, of course. Persellan examines both dolphins, cuts stitches and sends them on their way. One of the mothers of the injured dolphins leaves T’lion with a very pretty shell, and one of the injured dolphins gives Persellan a kiss. After seeing what the two boys used the book for, Persellan forgives T’lion for taking and ruining it.

With no Readis present, T’lion begs Jayge to ask T’gellan if he can go find Readis, although the actual request doesn’t mention that part. T’gellan assets, so long as T’lion is back in time for his required copying so that Persellan gets a new book in short order. T’lion feels confident and happy to tell Readis of the news and a plan to get himself apprenticed to learn Healing so he can use it on the dolphins, but T’lion searches for a while and gets no leads. He promises Jayge and Aramina that he’ll try again tomorrow, and that’s where the chapter ends.

If T’lion finds Readis, and gives him the news, I’m still not sure Readis has any reason to come back. If Readis has found a place that provides shelter, he can make fire, forage, and has dolphins he can call to help with the fishing, he’ll be just fine on his own (until he gets hurt). Menolly proved you could do it, so Readis has precedent. It’s probably going to be up to Jayge to apologize well enough to Readis to bring him back. I’m still not sure he’s in the right frame of mind to do it.

Then we jump into the next chapter. The narrative has a gun on the mantel to fire, and this is the appointed time. Just as the Benden Weyrleaders are sitting down to food, the call comes in that Toric is on the move. And in the same way that they had intimidated the attackers storming Benden all the way back in Dragonflight, the queen dragons get to intimidate the sailing ships into turning around and returning, while the bronze dragonriders transport Lords Holder to the settlements to show the evidence of Toric’s ambition.

The narrative changes to Toric gloating about the profits of his enterprise and planning future settlements.

He disliked resorting to the Ancients’ names–they’d had their chance and lost it to Thread–but since Aivas had identified places by what it had in its memory, the old names for the Southern Continent had been seized upon with great enthusiasm as “a link with their heritage.” Toric was not of that mind. He had the future to plan for and that was what he’d been doing while everyone else on the planet seemed to be wallowing in ancestral accomplishments and striving to reconstruct all sorts of devices. He was probably one of the few who did not regret the silence of Aivas or the demise of the old Harper–who had been a meddler of the first order.

He’s right about Robinton, and if it weren’t for the fact that he’s a designated villain, Toric would totally work as an Ayn Rand hero, pushing forward with progress in the face of all the backward-looking traditionalists obsessed with their past.

As it is, of course, the gloating stops when he realizes there’s too much noise for an empty Hold, right before the Benden Weyrleaders and a select committee of Lord Holders (Groghe, Larad, Asgenar) bid him have a look at his own front yard, where the ships and all the personnel that should have been at the settlements are crowded. Along with the rest of the Lord Holders.

Toric blusters, insinuates Groghe is going along with this because he has pen–Hold size envy, that the South is not for dragonriders to parcel out, and that this is Hold business. The leaders of the Weyrs point out that its not in his Hold they’re interfering, and the Benden Weyrleader promises that at the end of the pass, some twenty-two turns away, nobody will have to tithe to the Weyrs again, because they will have their own lands and halls.

Toric presses the matter of why dragonriders get to choose when places can be settled, because the Charter said everyone gets to choose their own land. To which Asgenar points out that Toric has been charging all of his settlers exorbitant prices for every part of their settlement and any other thing they had, and one of the settlers pipes in the they have not actually been able to go to their settlement sites until now.

As a conciliatory gesture, the Benden Weyrleader promises that if the people who are here to settle can “prove [their] holdings, they will be officially granted [to them,] […] Free and clear,” which elicits a cheer.

Toric’s patience runs out and he charges the Benden Weyrleader to take a swing at him, which is easily dodged, and then Larad, Asgenar, and Jaxom seize Toric and cart him away for a private conference. Before the conference begins, Benden releases the settlers to go settle their lands as they had intended, but with the extra bonus of not being beholden to Toric if they don’t want to be.

The conference itself is the other Lords Holder dressing Toric down about not abiding by the covenant decided, nor figuring out any way of guarding against abuse or foreknowledge of special sites. And explain to him that the reports the dragonriders have collected have been going back to the council of Holders, and that there have been no special favors asked or granted for dragonriders or sons and daughters without land, and that nobody gets to apportion land without the agreement of the dragonriders and the Holders.

Toric has one reasonable question, and it’s one we’ve been asking since we knew the dragonriders would have an end point.

“Is that what you’ll become when you’re no longer needed to char Thread? The guardians of order on Pern?” Toric glared at F’lar.
“That is what some of us will certainly be doing,” F’lar said equably, “when, as, and if“–he paused significantly–“such overseeing is needed.”
“And who decides the when, as, and if, might I ask?”
“You may, and–”
“There will be guidelines for that, too,” Larad interrupted.
“Which we,” Groghe said, “in the Council will decide and refer to the special Gathers that will let everyone, Hold, Hall, and dragonrider, have a vote on the matter. Or will you absent yourself from that meeting as well?”

So the dragonriders will be the police force of Pern in the future, although it’s a remarkably democratic method of determining the guidelines for their use. For a moment, I wondered if Pern were going to go the way of mass democracy, but apparently not.

After Toric receives his final warning about sticking to his own lands and not trying to make himself bigger by sneaky annexation, with R’mart indicating that Toric doesn’t want to know what the penalties will be if he violates those prohibitions, K’van delivers the stinger.

K’van! Toric bellowed, and when the young Weyrleader turned in the doorway to face him, Toric raised his fist. “If I see a single one of your riders anywhere near this Hold…”
“Ah, but you see, you won’t, Lord Toric,” K’van said with a soft smile. “But then you have been too busy to notice that the Weyr is empty and we have settled in a much more congenial location, heretofore unoccupied.”
“With the full consent of the council of Lord Holders,” Larad added. “Good day, Toric of Southern Hold.”

And that’s the end of the chapter, with supposedly another humiliation dealt to Toric. Of course, that’s not likely to stop him, as none of the other ones have, either. In theory, all of his new neighbors should help keep him in check, but it’s probably going to have to be the demonstrated willingness of the dragonriders to physically put him in his place before he’ll actually give in.

Deconstruction Roundup for October 6, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who will be recognized for longevity at their workplace.)

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.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you would like to have a place to explain the reasons why your piece of media is both problematic and wonderful. Or for any other reason, really.

The Dolphins of Pern: Intelligent Signals

Last time, Readis talked with F’lessan, who encouraged him to embrace the role of guiding Pern to a satisfactory post-Thread society, and T’lion, who encouraged him to get a plot of land of his own and start running a dolphineers house out of it. Readis also used T’lion as a business partner and cover to request some underwater breathing gear discovered in the AIVAS archives.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter XI: Content Notes: Speciesism, child abuse

The chapter opens with Fandarel coming to see the Benden Weyrleaders, with R’mart, G’dened, and Talmor also in attendance because of work being done on the relocation of dragons. The dragons indicate the presence of Masterminer Nicat, but he does not appear immediately with the Master Smith, and there is a nod that since they had similar outlooks on efficiency, Fandarel might be the one that misses AIVAS the most.

“Maybe he has this ‘radio’ he’s been so eager to produce,” Lessa said, her smile partly for the many attempts the huge Smith had made to initiate some sort of instant communications system for those who had neither dragon nor fire-lizard. He’d been at it since that half-successful attempt at the beginning of the Pass.
“That would account for Master Nicat’s appearance,” F’lar said. The Masterminer had collaborated with the Mastersmith to find the raw elements, like metals, crystal, and some of the plastics that Aivas had listed as necessary to the production of “electronic” devices.

I…thought that most plastics were petroleum products and had to be manufactured, but at least there’s been statements that petroleum exists in some quantity on Pern. And it’s thoroughly possible to generate a good crystal radio with the technology that Pern has, since the telegraph idea did work. I admit, I didn’t think it possible to manufacture vacuum tubes, but there’s power, so it’s entirely possible. And there are glowing timepieces, so presumably fine gears and quartz are in use, too. It would be entirely possible to produce an electro-mechanical line of sight kind of radio.

Fandarel enters, sees the products of the meetings so far, and asks for more slowness in the settlement of the South, as well as confirming that there are a lot of bribes going around to get people South unofficially. When Lessa asks where Nicat is, Fandarel holds up an object “almost lost in his huge hand”, and calls Nicat through it.

“Ah! You’ve produced the radio!” Lessa cried.
“I have produced an electronic device,” Fandarel corrected her. “An improvement on the radios that were mentioned in the history files, and more nearly what the Ancients used to communicate when they were setting up their stakeholds. The old weather satellite that has been giving us predictions is also able to bounce signals, as is the Yokohama. With such hand units as these, we may communicate across long distances–once we’ve made them more efficient.”

Cocowhat by depizan

Oh, hellno. You want me to believe that we’ve gone from hydro power for printing presses and large industry to transistor two-way satellite radios in the span of four Turns? Even if guided by the invisible dead hand of the AI, that’s asking a lot and handwaving a lot of infrastructure that would have to be put into place. I would believe a vacuum tube radio at a desk somewhere connected to an absurdly high up broadcast tower, but satellite-bounced handheld units says that miniaturization has happened effectively, as well as battery construction and something like circuit boards. Although, now that I think about it, a few chapters back, there are requests to put terminals with database connections into various Holds in the North, which means I missed the spot where Pern developed a telecommunications infrastructure to handle all of that terminal material and its either absurdly-strong wireless connections or its transcontinental buried communications cables. For a supposedly resource-poor world, Pern is coming up aces with the metals and materials needed for high technology.

And they are transistor radios because Fandarel admits as much in the context of the discussion about bribes (Toric and others are apparently offering them) and available settlement land.

“We will need a work force to make the transistors required and to assemble the components. They will have to be trained, and we will need at least one knowledgeable person of journey rank to oversee the work. Master Benelek needs all the young folk he can train for the terminals and cannot give the Hall more time. I have a long list of those who have requested this efficient and effective little device.

Unless the galactic civilization back home is using much more exotic materials in their technology, Pern had a lot more resources than anyone was led to believe.

So Fandarel’s swamped, Nicat is overwhelmed for mining demand, and is now being asked to provide high quality stonemasonry to be shipped South for settlement-building, asking for people he doesn’t have. The Benden Weyrleader wonders why he agreed to supervise the move, to which Fandarel and Nicat both say he’s the only one who could be trusted with it. Eventually, Fandarel requests the elderly of Nicat’s workers to help assemble more radios, as it seems to be doing well for the elderly Smiths, who are happy for the extra income. Everyone promises to day that the holdup of going South is because there aren’t enough qualified people, which is actually true.

Fandarel leaves a radio with the Benden Weyrleaders, and then the two Masters take their leave. After that whirlwind, Lessa and R’mart tag-team an important observation.

“I wonder if he knew just how much he [AIVAS] was altering our whole lives,” Lessa said, making a sweeping movement with one arm.
“Quite likely he did,” R’mart said sardonically, “which is why he quit on us before we could disconnect him, or whatever it is one does with a machine.”
“He could have stayed around until we were well into the transition,” Lessa said, sounding slightly mutinous.

By its own admission, AIVAS deliberately shut itself down at the crucial point so that the humans wouldn’t get into disagreements with it. R’mart correctly articulates that it was a deliberate decision meant to forestall anyone walking off the path set in front of them, or seriously disputing whether the path was the right one at all. It’s a very Robinton thing to do.

The Benden Weyrleaders take a walk after the meeting ends, and we get the first confirmation of the reasons why the dragonriders are so ready to go independent, even when they have a gravy train waiting for them even in the post-Thread era. Possibly because nobody has died or taken over the Weyrleader spot at Benden during this entire time, and because Lessa ends up causing the situation that he remembers, the Benden Weyrleader has the sole institutional memory of the end of the last Long Interval: One Weyr, with three Holds tithing their worst fruits instead of their first fruits.

The Benden Weyrleader suspects that at the end of Thread, all the Holds and Crafts are going to, if not immediately give them the finger and proclaim they’re not sending any more tribute, over time decide that the time of dragonriders has passed and they don’t need to honor those old obligations any more. He’s not wrong. The long tail of loyalty could go for several generations, but eventually it’s going to be unprofitable. An independent Confederation of Weyrs would make it much easier for the dragonriders to continue being part of Pern, even though the laying numbers are going to take a nosedive. Assuming they don’t slot into the role of being the world police or military, deliberately outside the Holds and the Crafts and keeping them both from overrunning each other out of pique.

Lessa thinks dragonriders will slot into those roles afterward, but also thinks Toric will be the one to bring the action to break the traditional covenant as revenge for being deceived at the true size of Southern.

The narrative then shifts over to the dolphins ringing the bell at Tillek to warn Idarolan of a “bad blow, bad bad bad blow” coming. Because Idarolan is pod leader for the fish boats (and because he built a very nice marina and hospital for the dolphins). Idarolan asks Iggy, the dolphin, to chart the course on a specific dolphin-friendly map he had made, and then asks them to warn any fishing boats in the path before giving thank you fish to all the messengers. Idarolan drafts messages to be sent by fire-lizard to the land holders in the path of the hurricane, before musing that Toric would be annoying if he didn’t get the first message, that people who believed the uptick in bad storms was due to the Red Star being knocked out of orbit are lacking knowledge, and that how people got on without dolphins was a bad old time.

The action then shifts to Toric receiving Idarolan’s message, after a short internal monologue about how he’s been sowing seeds of discord in all the Lord Holders about how Benden shouldn’t be allowed to control the land apportionment in the South, as well as all the settlements he’s gotten supplied with all the people who resent the society as it is currently constructed (or those who have been promoted instead of themselves). He intends to sabotage the dragonriders, and believes this big storm might be the perfect time to put the plan into motion.

He’s also entirely not on board with dolphins.

The shipfish may have proved unexpectedly useful in telling fishmen where the schools were running, but he was not at all their advocate. He resented talking animals: speech was a human attribute. Mammals or not, the creatures were not equal to humans, and there was no way he would change his mind on that score. Humans planned ahead: dolphins only cooperated with humans because humans amused them, created “games” for them to play. Life was not a game! The very notion of providing amusement to an animal irritated Toric to the core. And he didn’t like their latest “game”: patrolling the coastline. He had his own plans for the coastline.

Okay, at this point, barring authorial interference, I really can’t see how Toric is allowed to continue. He got sent down to Southern as a way of trying to get him out of influencing others, and then Jaxom and Lessa and everyone humiliated him, and he’s theoretically had Piemur (although last we checked, Piemur had divided loyalties between Robinton and Toric, assuming he wasn’t playing a long con) as a Harper assigned to him for years now. Toric hates intelligent animals, the Benden Weyrleaders, and most of the other Lord Holders that he thinks have slighted him on a regular basis. Toric should be a person that nobody listens to because he doesn’t seem to have done anything to gather himself allies, and all that we’ve seen of him seems to indicate he has a very caustic personality. Yet somehow he’s the voice of the dissatisfied, as opposed to someone more winsome and better connected to the Lords Holder. Toric (and Norist) are the people that the actual group interested in social change facepalms at, because they’re cartoonish. They would only rise to power if it turned out that Groghe was a supporter and decided it was a good time to legitimize them.

Sure, the plot needs villains, but it needs better ones if we don’t want to have them come off as strawpeople.

The next section is essentially “the hurricane comes, and does what it does best – uprooting nature and structure alike in its path.” Of note is that Landing and Monaco Bay don’t take a lot of damage, but Cove Hold and Paradise River are flooded out, and T’lion remarks that during the windstorm he couldn’t actually get enough altitude to safely travel between. I don’t think that’s strictly true, unless there’s been a requirement for speed or something that could only be obtained by flying to warp into hyperspace. I would totally understand not going because the destination has too much wind to safely navigate, because not all dragons have the ability to safely navigate to Ruth’s accuracy, but there’s not a requirement that I know of that says the takeoff point has to also be in the air for things to work.

With the storm died down some, Kami and Readis go back to Paradise Hold with T’lion, and Gadareth has to use an underwater bugle to call the dolphins, since the pier and the bell are both essentially gone. There are hurt calves that require Healer stitching, so Readis asks T’lion to fetch Temma and bring her there to do it while Gadareth holds the dolphins steady. Temma has too many humans to come, and so does Persellan, when T’lion returns to Eastern to try and collect him.

So T’lion grabs the supplies, and Persellan’s book of technique, and he and Readis try to stitch up the calves themselves. T’lion manages to get the wounds closed up, at least, with all the internal bits inside.

And then realizes he’s lost the book. Cue frantic diving until Readis finally comes up with it. But it’s been soaked and clearly there’s ruinous damage. Readis proclaims he’ll print off the requisite information from Landing, as the two try to dry out the book and preserve some of its information. They talk a little bit about how humans still will need to take care of dragons and dolphins in the post-Thread era before Jayge busts them and lays into Readis about coming to help the dolphins before making sure the humans were all safe and healing. It’s apparently a bad example as a Holder to not tend to the people first.

Which, I suspect, Readis would be doing, if he were Holder. But he would probably still dispatch someone to help the dolphins if he could. T’lion essentially steps in front of Readis to take the heat by asserting that he’s dolphin liason for Eastern, but his and Readis’s stories tangle and Jayge finds out they’re both not where they were told to go, and absent from studies. And about the book, which everyone pretty much admits was a bad thing to take, even as Readis insists that he can get another made, and a better one. T’lion slinks off, and Readis is getting marched home to face up to the consequences of everything he’s done so far with the dolphins.

The way one was too short for Readis to prepare himself for his mother’s condemnation. She’d make sure he never went to the cove again. She would certainly extract a promise from him to have nothing to do with dolphins ever again. It was a promise that Readis could not in conscience give.
[Readis commits to the idea of the dolphineer, and that he’s going to become one.]
As badly as Readis thought his mother would react, the actual storm that followed his father’s account of his son’s various offenses against his Hold and against parental teaching and tolerance, his consorting with dolphins, and his absence from Landing school, brought such a tirade down on his head that he was unable to speak out in self-defense. Until she ranted that he was without conscience, loyalty, or honor in his devious and unworthy association with shipfish.

This is one of those situations that is supposed to come off as humans being the real monsters, since we’ve had two instances right next to each other about how dolphins, while intelligent, are lesser beings than humans and don’t deserve our help or sympathy for all the help they’re getting. Yet Pern has been living with intelligent animals for the entirety of its existence. Dragons and fire-lizards have been integral to the survival of the planet during every Threadfall. And yet, all the humans around dolphins seem to think of them as having the importance of pets when disaster strikes. That fits with the overarching Randian idea of Pern (“I got mine, fuck you.”), but it still seems very weird that a society that depends entirely on intelligent non-humans (and their handlers), had just been relieved of their existential that by another intelligent non-human (and its handlers) has such a callous attitude toward another non-human intelligent species. Unless they need handlers, too, before humans will respect them, which, ugh, speciesists.

Aramina’s outburst about loyalty and honor and devious behavior also suggests there’s a much greater core of feudal and filial piety going on in Hold culture than I would have thought. Matters of loyalty have, to this point, been mostly handled by violence or the threat thereof. The Harper attachment to Robinton was essentially a function of his incredible charisma. If there was supposed to be a deeper bond of loyalty present everywhere, I doubt there would be as much bribe attempts or concerns about bribes being accepted. The feudal society bolted on as a survival mechanism is still losing out to the Randian core, which suggests the whole thing is about to fly apart once Thread really is gone. Toric’s plan is essentially trying to kickstart this.

Readis, however, has been presented with an opportunity to try and rules-lawyer his way out of trouble, not that it’s going to work.

“I have, too. I have never been alone with the dolphins or in the sea. There has always been someone else with me.”
“That isn’t at issue…”
“But it is. I promised you the day after the dolphins rescued me and Unclemi that I wouldn’t go by myself to swim and I never gave. Not in ten Turns!”
“But you were a child! How could you remember that?”
“Mother, I remembered. I have obeyed. I have never come to harm from the dolphins…”
“But you have neglected your own family and the Hold’s needs at a time when we needed everyone’s help, everyone’s loyalty…”
“The dolphins are part of Paradise River Hold,” Readis began, but she slapped his be as hard as she could. He staggered back, rocked from the insecure balance of standing on the toe of one foot.
For a moment there was complete silence in the room. Aramina rarely used physical punishment, and the slaps she had given her children for naughtiness had been admonitory, not punitive. She hadn’t even so much as tapped his hand in rebuke since he had started at the Landing school.
“Dolphins…are…not…part of this Hold!” she said fiercely, stringing out the words to emphasize her anger and denial. “I’m sure there is work to which your father can put you now. You will do it and you will never mention those wretched creatures in my presence again. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Readis managed to say. “I understand.” He could not at that moment call her “Mother.” He turned his head to his father, awaiting orders.
Jayge, whose expressionless face told Readis nothing, beckoned for Readis to follow him.

And this is a reasonably good example of why smacking/spanking doesn’t work as a disciplinary measure. Making things worse, Aramina is not in any sort of mental state that would provide child-appropriate reasons why what Readis did upset her so much. “I’m upset because a disaster happened, I didn’t know where you were, you were doing something I told you not to do, and I really could have used your help” is what Aramina wants to say. Unfortunately, since dolphins very clearly stand on her own triggers, Aramina may never be able to handle discipline related to those things in a child-appropriate way. And Readis’s explanation that he adhered firmly to the letter of Aramina’s prohibition without understanding that he clearly violated the spirit of it is only going to come across as defiance to Aramina. So Readis gets hit without understanding and told that his worldview is wrong from someone who doesn’t have firsthand experience with the dolphins.

As someone who was disciplined that way, my experience says the only lesson Readis is going to learn from this is that his mother can’t be told anything about dolphins, and that he needs to be much more careful about how he interacts with dolphins, so that only his trusted people can see him do it. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Readis concludes that adults in general can’t be trusted with this any more, and that he’s going to have to conduct any further dolphin business out of the sight of everyone.

In essence, Aramina has crushed any possibility that Readis might come to her about problems, desires, or anything else for the immediate future, and quite possibly for the long term future as well. Trauma sucks.

Readis gets put to work helping dress the unexpected amount of meat provided by having to kill animals that got severely hurt in the flooding and the storm, and when he stumbles home, he decides that he’s not ready to face the family yet and sleeps in one of the barns. Which causes a miniature panic in the morning when he’s not where he’s supposed to be, although Readis only discovers this when he’s awoken by his sister on the lookout for him. So Readis gets in trouble again.

Later Readis would realize how strained everyone had been then, tempers and patience too stretched to allow for any tolerance, but when his mother insisted that he give his word that he would never again have anything to do with shipfish–and get use of that term as well as the tone of voice she used further inflamed him–then he, too, lost his temper.
“That is a promise I cannot make!”
“You will make it be abide by it,” his mother told him, her eyes sparkling with anger, “or you cannot live in this hold!”
“As you will,” he said, cold despite the trembling in his guts. He stalked down the hall to his room where he filled a travel sack with everything he could lay his hands on.

And so, because he won’t promise not to associate with dolphins, Readis leaves home, with Aramina yelling at him to get back here this instant. And that’s the end of the chapter.

It’s a pretty solid Menolly story here, with a child disfigured by an accident that wasn’t allowed to heal properly. Although Readis is by ignorance and neglect rather than having an active malevolent force in his life. And Readis storms out after a fight instead of waiting for a quiet moment to get completely away. But they’re both on the way to being the very first of their Craft against an environment that doesn’t particularly think they’re capable of doing it. We’ll have to see if Readis gets rescued by a dragonrider trying to outrun Thread or not.

So many broken family dynamics on Pern. It’s incredibly sad.

Deconstruction Roundup for September 29th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is being more of an annoyance to people who did much worse to them.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are looking for a thing to do as practice in writing while you plot your next fanfiction.

The Dolphins of Pern: Collegial Experiences

Last chapter, we finally passed the last parts of All The Weyrs of Pern and are now sailing one again into times not already known, with the setup that Readis has been enrolled in a boarding school to learn the data that AIVAS left behind.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter X: Content Notes: None noticed

It has been three years since then, the narrative tells us at the beginning of the chapter, denying us the ability to see what sort of political machinations went into Pern with the death of Robinton.

Save a few – Sebell is able to get the other Masters to go along with Robinton’s educational plan, a plan they had firmly rejected while Robinton was alive. That plan puts the Harpers in charge of most of the new education, so much so that the Harpers are no longer primarily the house of musicians. Menolly, appropriately, is quite bitter that it took Robinton dying before the other Masters were willing to listen to his plan.

Fandarel has less trouble with the adoption of technology, and both Smiths and Healers now have to attend courses on the knowledge AIVAS left behind that pertains to their Crafts. Oldive, unfortunately, still gets stiff resistance to the new techniques AIVAS left along his own masters, but I’d able to impart them to the new apprentices that are more concerned with easing suffering and saving life, rather than their own egos. (Perhaps not unlike the Healers of the era of the author and us…)

Dolphin sonar is adopted reasonably well, as are power generators for most Holds, although an ultrasound can only tell that something foreign is there, and not necessarily what it is.

And there’s a Computer Craft, even though the Smithcraft is not yet able to recreate circuit boards and transistors that will be necessary to build new machines. (Groghe wanted to have one of his own, likely as a status symbol, but it was not to be.)

Readis’s studies include physical education, including team sport from the AIVAS files (baseball, association football, and polo) and unspecified water sport, which Readis suspects is in deference to his disability, but also sees it as possibly practical knowledge, with as many people as there are taking journeys by sea.

There’s a field trip to Honshu, where F’lessan has appointed himself caretaker and Holder (ish) of the museum collections of murals, tools, and artifacts, although the word isn’t used specifically in the narrative. F’lessan asks Readis about his studies and his future plans, specifically for the time when he’s not going to be Holder on account of Jayge being quite healthy and young.

Readis wants to be a dolphineer. F’lessan approves.

“And with you living right on Paradise River and the sea, you must make good use of them.”
Readis mumbled a noncommittal answer. This was not the time to confide home problems–nor the person to confide them to.
Oblivious to the boy’s hesitation, F’lessan went on. “You might even start up your own crafthall. That’s what Benelek did, you know, by learning all he could about Aivas’s terminals.”
“He did?”
“He did!” Then F’lessan gave Readis a mischievous grin. “Right now, you and all the other Landing students have a brilliant chance to make sure that Pern becomes what the Ancients wanted it to be before Thread interrupted their progress.

That would make more sense if we had more than just the word of a xenocidal AI with a demonstrated capacity for omission and shading as to what the Ancients actually wanted. Certainly they wanted Thread gone. Anything past that is no guarantees, as even in the canonical books we have, there’s an expected technology level well above what Pern even has now. Later on, when Readis quotes the charter to Alemi, it only mentions “a good standard of living using the lowest possible form of technology needed to supply essential services and a good, rounded lifestyle” in a bid to avoid overspecialization. If we knew what they considered “essential services”, that would help, because Pern was theoretically fulfilling that requirement before AIVAS. Like all subsistence life, it was brutally hard and didn’t leave much time for anything but work, but it was stable and working.

It’s up to us, and you add the next generation, to be sure we pick up the plan where they left off and see that Pern becomes the planet they envisioned. That’s what most be done if Pern is to be what it could be. D’you see that? That’s what Master Robinton wanted. It’s what my parents want. But not all the Holders or Mastercraftsmen. They’re still hanging back with what’s comfortable and familiar. He narrowed his eyes slightly to assess the impact of his words on his audience. “It’s going to be difficult, the next twenty-odd Turns, to set in place what Pern will be now that Thread has stopped.”

Readis does point out that it hasn’t stopped yet, and F’lessan acknowledges that.

However, as much as F’lessan wants to paint the more reluctant to go along into the technological era as villains, many of them are looking at this revolution as loss of their power. Holders will no longer be able to use the threat of Thread to maintain their populations. Crafters will find themselves undercut by the technological production of goods or mass farming techniques or other reasons why they might want to hold on to their monopoly powers. Dragonriders have essentially put themselves out of work unless they decide to engage in the practices that Sean Connell found abhorrent to the majesty of the dragons.

Not everyone is on board with this change, because a lot of people who have power now stand to lose it.

Readis is not concerned with this, though, but instead with the possibility of being both a master dolphineer and a Lord Holder.

Of course, his mother would have an attack if he even whispered of his interest in the dolphins around her. She persisted in believing that it was the dolphins who had put his life at risk when it was the other way round. His father might understand, especially now that the dolphins had shown to be useful in so many ways, guarding the coastline and warning them of bad squalls and good fishing. Certainly mastering another Craft would only show the Lord Holders that Readis, son of Jayge and Aramina, was that much more capable of managing an important Southern Hold like Paradise.

Utterly possible, Readis. But there’s still a lot of ablism to get through before you could be confirmed.

Back at the school, Readis goes diving into the archives to see what the actual plan was for Pern, and discovers the charter. And that F’lessan was considered not a very serious anything until he took hold of Honshu.

However, since dragons aren’t part of the charter, Readis ends up in the same situation as the reader – now that there’s a definite end point to Thread, what do the dragons do afterward?

We get a small clue in that blues and greens have taken up shipping as a possible trade, which young dragons of brown and bronze, pre-Theadfall, can join in without it being demeaning to them. Master Samvel notes Readis’s distraction, and essentially gives him the advice that the dragonriders will tend to themselves, and so there’s not really a big need for worry about that question.

Which pushes Readis back in the direction of dolphins, their communication signals, and research into SCUBA gear for further underwater matters. Readis thinks it would be good to commission a crafter to make an aqualung, and maybe a wetsuit, if they could, and runs the idea past Alemi, who thinks it’s a good idea but isn’t willing to stamp his name on it for cover, because Aramina. Who is again noted as being irrational about dolphins and Readis, even if there’s at least a partial grasp going around as to why Aramina is very touchy on the subject of children being injured over close association with intelligent creatures.

Alemi suggests talking to Jayge, but Readis declares it a non-starter and instead shows the plans to T’lion at Landing, who willingly signs in as a partner and then offers to have Readis see the pod that answers his bell. They swim with dolphins and clean Gadareth and then come back to the shore to continue pooling money together to commission the aqualung. And T’lion talks about working in the mines with Gadareth and overflying all the possible spaces he might want to settle down in at retirement.

T’lion returns with the news that Readis is not the only one interested in commissioning an aqualung, and that the main stopping point right now is that there isn’t any elastic material that will be able to hold the mask to the face and create a watertight seal. Idarolan wants one, much to the consternation of the other Masterfishers, who think he’s too old to get involved in such things. Toric has already ordered ten. T’lion put in a good word for Readis, but it looks like they’ll have to wait. T’lion also suggests that Readis follow in the tradition of Northern Lord Holders and get himself established with a small hold on the Paradise River lands, where he could, essentially, run a dolphineer hall of of his garage.

On that note, and the waiting part, the chapter ends.

This tension between Aramina’s PTSD and Readis’s willingness to bend every rule that’s in his way (and receive support from everyone else about it) is going to explode horribly when it comes to fruition. But since nobody on Pern still practices the therapeutic arts, and somehow, nobody rediscovered its virtues over the 2500-year period, Aramina is at a severe disadvantage when it comes to coping and functioning effectively with her traumas.

Next week opens with what may very well be the first indication that technology is causing society to rupture at the seams. (In a good way, in theory.)