Monthly Archives: May 2014

Deconstruction Roundup for May 30, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has miles to go before he sleeps.)

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.

Aletha: Yllom Mormon

AlexSeanchai: A+ Reviews
Multiple Deconstructions:

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip SandiferPhilip Sandifer: Writer (formerly TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue)

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonflight: Scheming Woman, Backfiring Plan

(by Silver Adept)

When we last left F’lar of the Immense Ego and Darth Lessa, Lessa had just obtained her dragon companion, Ramoth, guaranteeing she would be the next Weyrwoman of F’lar’s Weyr, ensuring the two of them can continue to be forced to spend time together. They do have something in common, though – they both have some belief that they are better than everyone around them.

Dragonflight, Part II: Content Notes: Misogyny, Rape

There’s a short timeskip after the aftermath of the Hatching, leading to the part of a princess movie where the princess has to learn all the boring details of court life, when all she wants is to go have adventures. R’gul and S’lel, the Weyrleader and his lieutenant are Those Two Guys, the perpetually bickering pair, neither of whom is able to impart any useful information and that resist her pushback against their rote instruction with “It’s tradition.” (Traditioooooooon!) For more than a few pages, we have Lessa working through the equivalent of the classics, slowly realizing their koan-like natures, in between bouts of snark at the last, now-deceased queen and her rider and how F’lar wouldn’t have touched her with a ten-foot pole and the desire to go back to Ruatha and oust the regent and the child. I still maintain that Lessa is entirely okay with infanticide, and that is not a quality to have in a leader.

To get away from history lessons, Lessa gets informed of a logistics shortage. R’gul is getting ready to trade with the holds instead of using the dragons to go grab everything for the Weyr and leaving everyone else to take the scraps. Not everyone is sending their proper tributes, and there’s only one half-staffed Weyr instead of a full five. And F’lar is waiting, as is tradition, for the mating flight to take over so that he can dominate legitimately. So Lessa hatches another plan, not only to depose R’gul, but also to bring all the Weyrs and their corresponding holds under her control.

It must be tiring for F’lar to be right all the fucking time – avarice does become Lessa’s motivation to be a great Weyrwoman. And it gives her a purpose and plot to move forward with – apparently, Lessa isn’t alive if she isn’t scheming something and keeping secrets.

This time around, however, when Lessa tries to use the Force and goad the dragonriders into raiding the holds, her Jaegermomster-subtle strike is picked up by F’lar, who reacts as F’lar does – violence against her body, and a strong backlash against her mentally. And, as always seems to happen, Lessa’s plan to encourage raiding and supplying the Weyr backfires because the rider she encouraged to raid draws too much attention to himself.

Y’know, this pattern is chock-full of issues, now that I look at it. Lessa hatched her original plot, with her ambition to kill Fax, and it sustained her for ten years, while she…sabotaged the Hold and generally made things miserable for the people that were there, while Fax was away. And then she maneuvered F’lar to kill Fax, finally, only to be undone by her lie coming true. And now, she’s trying to provoke the dragonriders into fighting the Holds, but the one she chooses lacks discretion, and F’lar snuffs out her attempts. Which is setting up Lessa as the conniving, shrewish, bitchy woman who needs a Strong Man to teach her the right and proper way to be submissive to men, and to stop trying to advance her own interests and just dutifully accept her powerless role. We’re in Taming of the Shrew territory instead of Much Ado About Nothing, but without any signs that the classic Shakespeare inversion is on the way.

And, right on cue, we now have a mating flight opportunity, which means F’lar, a bronze rider, will get his shot at becoming the Weyrleader if Mnementh can mate with Ramoth. So, the dragon surrogates will have a dominance fight in proxy to F’lar and Lessa. Because the bronzes are the ones that go after Ramoth as she takes to the air.

Once aloft, though, Lessa and Ramoth gestalt into one consciousness, running solely on instinct and wanting to get away from the stupid boys that think they can catch her. As the “lesser” ones drop off, Lessa-Ramoth goes down to taunt the survivors, thinking about how great she is, and the inevitable fouling-of-plans happens, and Mnementh is able to catch Ramoth and mate with her.

Which apparently means that F’lar has free reign to have sex with Lessa without her consent. Since she was never informed about what happens when dragons go on a mating flight, and because I think it’s safe to say that having a dragon in heat in your head qualifies as a sufficiently altered state of mind to be unable to give a true consent. The narrative carefully constructs things, though, to give credence to the “but she was asking for it” defense:

The mating passion of the two dragons at that moment spiraled wide to include Lessa. A tidal wave rising relentlessly from the sea of her soul flooded Lessa. With a longing cry, she clung to F’lar. She felt his body rock-firm against hers, his hard arms lifting her up, his mouth fastening mercilessly on hers as she drowned deep in another unexpected flood of desire.

And, fade to black, with F’lar once again getting everything he wants, now including Lessa and the Weyr.

And F’lar even gets his victory lap, with no mention of how Lessa actually felt the morning after, when her mind was clear, other than an impassive look on her face and a warning from Mnementh to be careful of her. And, look, conveniently on the horizon, a distraction on the form of an invading army!

…which we’ll get to next time.

Board Business, May 28th, 2014

(posted by chris the cynic.)

Irregular Business

Lonespark asked about whether articles here are linked to in the weekend post the answer is more or less “oops”.  Yeah, they should be, and this weekend I’ll just link to last weeks one to make up for not doing it this weekend.

We’re getting visitors from two forums, A Meeting of Minds and AMF, we probably have been for over a fortnight, but I’m sometimes slow to notice changes in traffic.  Regardless, welcome here visitor type people.

Regular Business

There is no submission deadline for articles and open thread suggestions.  Send them any time. Please. They do not have to be Srs Bzns topics, either. The Eternal Dilemma Of Hot Dogs versus Hot Dog Buns is a perfectly good open thread topic.

The Submission Deadline for the weekend post is 20:00 (8PM) US Eastern Time (UTC-5) Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, strongly encouraged, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Again, none for articles and open thread suggestions, 20:00 (8 PM) US Eastern Time (UTC-5) Saturday for the Weekend post.  Also, if there’s a deconstruction you feel should be in the roundup, you can suggest that at any time.
In case the links don’t work: the group email is SlacktiverseAuthors (at) gmail (dot) com.
It is perfectly acceptable to use this as an open thread, should you so desire.

Writer Workshop for May 27th, 2014

(Posted by chris the cynic)

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!

Open thread: Excuses for fiction that need to go away

(idea by lonespark, written by chris the cynic)

First off, sorry lonespark, you suggested this AGES ago and I never got around to posting it.

Second, the prompt itself:

All fiction is problematic but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t enjoy it or that every time someone says there’s a problem in a certain work of fiction the work of fiction has the problem in question.  So you get people defending fiction against claims it has problems.  So far so good.  Some such defenses are bullshit.  Some such defenses are frequently used or excessively annoying/offensive/assholic bullshit that really needs to stop for all time.  This thread is for talking about those.

For those who want an example, historical accuracy as a defense in fantastical settings was the one Lonespark gave.  Thus:

P: This work is painfully lacking in diversity.
A: That’s because it’s historical that only white people were around in Europe at that time.
P: Ok: a) That’s not true.  b) It has dragons in it.
A: But historical accuracy–

And: Vox Day: My orc and troll fighting game won’t have any women in it, because that wouldn’t be historically accurate

So, you know, what are some excuses you want to see less of?

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

This week in the Slacktiverse, May 25th, 2014

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

The Blogaround

  • Two weeks ago, Storiteller went on a trip for work, leaving her baby not just overnight for the first time, but for five full days.  While she had a nice time in California, her husband ran into some unpleasant challenges, as she describes in Travels without my Baby.  A few weeks before that, they tried to bring Sprout (her nickname for her son) to an outdoor showing of Frozen.  This too didn’t quite go as planned, as she recalls in Baby’s First Movie?.  As Sprout enters the toddler stage, he’s becoming more definitive in his likes and dislikes, some of which don’t always match up with what his parents want him to do.  Storiteller talks about “Just Saying No!” and other ways of dealing with frustrating behavior.  Lastly, in her attempts to be an adventurous family, Storiteller planned on bringing her son on his first hike last weekend.  They did eventually get there, even though it took a while, as she describes in The Family that Hikes Together, Stays Together.
  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • The only new thing I have to share is a new installment of the Princess Story.  So I give you Part Six, in which prince Apobammos notices his sister is missing and Princesses Lara and Melitta ride a flying carpet.

In Case You Missed This

Things You Can Do

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for May 23rd, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who wonders as they wander.)

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

Multiple Deconstructions:

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip SandiferPhilip Sandifer: Writer (formerly TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue)

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Please comment or e-mail us if we’ve forgotten anybody or you have anyone to add. Or if any links are broken, or if you’re linked to and don’t want to be, or if [insert thing that does not sequit here], or for more or less any reason really.

Dragonflight: New Life, New Name

(by Silver Adept)

(Okay, gloves off, swears turned on. Today’s episode happens to be swear-free, but from here on out, all words will be displayed. If I hear They Changed It, Now It Sucks from you, I will be very cross.)

When we last left our Lady of the Sith and the Jerk who thinks of her as his possession, Lessa’s revenge is complete, except for the part where her Hold is in the care of a young boy and his regent, and F’lar thinks he’s got the right candidate for the queen dragon that is about to hatch.

Dragonflight, Part II: Content Noes: Patriarchy, Deaths of children

The last part of the current segment is getting Lessa settled in with castoffs of clothes from other women that F’lar has had in his bedchambers, getting the dragons fed, and a bit more about how well-matched F’lar and his dragon are (they’re both easily ruffled in matters of honor and saving face). Since the new egg is about to hatch, all the other riders are returning with their candidates as well. There’s also the first mention of between, the hyperspace dimension that the dragons travel through when covering great distances in a short amount of time.

The next scene starts with Lessa taking a bath, after seeing if there are potential escape routes. Not that we needed a ritual symbol of cleansing the body and soul and of transition and newness to drive the point home, of course, but here we are. Lessa luxuriates in the bath and is quite pleased with the feeling of soft clothes in what the narrative wants us to believe is her actual, quite feminine, personality. Her moment of girlish delight is cut short by F’lar’s return, and after catching her reflection in a mirror, Lessa becomes entirely self-conscious about how beautiful she is.

Why, the girl in the reflector was prettier than the Lady Tela, than the clothman’s daughter! But so thin. Her hands dropped of their own volition to her neck, to the protruding collarbones, to her breasts, which did not entirely reflect the gauntness of the rest of her. [Emphasis mine]

So let’s be clear here: Lessa is probably thin in a malnourished sort of way, except, of course, for her boobs, which somehow fare better than the rest of her. Despite an obviously athletic life, despite her lack of nutrition, despite a lack of any indication at all that she lives well enough to have developed fat reserves, Lessa has good-looking breasts. Great Maker forbid that F’lar have brought back an ugly girl as his choice, so reality itself bends to the will of the narrative.

Not that he’ll admit it. F’lar teases Lessa about her attractiveness by saying she’d be good enough for his brother. I think we’re supposed to get a Beatrice-Benedick feel from these two, but Lessa is not, in any sense, F’lar’s equal, nor would F’lar ever permit that to happen, so instead we get F’lar being a condescending ass (his default personality) and Lessa taking it because she knows how trapped she is in this space. F’lar is the sleazy boss that harasses all the female employees and enjoys watching them suffer, knowing they can’t retaliate against him. And to prove that point, F’lar orders Lessa to take care of the wound he received while fighting Fax, and Lessa just can’t bring herself to give as much rough as she’s received from him. We’re supposed to believe it’s because of a burgeoning attraction, with as much description if how virile and muscular and so very male F’lar is. I’d like to think that Lessa is making a cold calculation about what kind of consequences will likely happen if she gives him what he deserves, and she decides that she’s had enough of the physical abuse for now, but maybe later, when she does know all the escape routes, she’ll explain to him in excruciating detail just how much of an ass he really is.

There is food, which is also luxurious compared to Ruatha, and more of this burgeoning attraction between Lessa and F’lar, with her frustration that he gets to see her on full alert at everything and his complete lack of empathy regarding how she must feel in a new and strange place that makes odd sounds and has new ways of everything. F’lar takes delight in Lessa’s fear and suffering and being off-balance, because he’s the kind of guy that enjoys women being put “in their place”. And then, the Hatching starts, and F’lar threatens to strip Lessa if she doesn’t put on the candidate’s dress right this instant. No, he doesn’t make any sort of offer of privacy, or even try to avert his eyes from her. And when she’s done changing, he physically hauls her along to Mnementh and they go off to the Hatching, with F’lar having given her the most basic of advice about how to get through it.

The Hatching itself is horrible. Lessa is placed in yet another group of shrieking girls, and her contempt for them brings back our Sith sociopath of Ruatha Hold. She watches newly-hatched male dragons maul children they don’t match up with (yes, much like the Jedi Order, the dragonriders prefer their candidates young and lacking emotional attachments to the world) before the screams of the still-apparently-hysterical women return her attention to the golden queen egg. The girls don’t fare any better, with one girl’s neck violently broken and another clawed “shoulder to thigh” who will also die. Lessa’s contempt for the others’ inability to dodge puts her eye-to-eye with the new hatchling, and there’s the spark of connection where Lessa pair-bonds with Ramoth, the new queen, and everything else is secondary to making sure that Ramoth is taken care of…despite, as Lessa points out, Ramoth having just killed two children.

So, of course, F’lar is right, yet again, and can have his ego stroked that his single selection was the one who would Impress upon the queen. It must be nice being right all the time.

But let’s leave F’lar of the Immense Ego and go back to the ceremony of the dragons hatching. So dragonriders go out into the world, choosing young men and women from all around the world, bring them back to their Weyr, where, if a dragon doesn’t find them worthy of becoming their lifemate, the children could potentially die. For what the appropriate response is apparently…don’t be afraid. No pressure or anything. I have to think something like this gets downplayed when the parents get told. “It’s a great honor to be chosen! …assuming they survive. But Honor! Glory! Dragonflight!” And nothing is said about what happens to candidates that don’t get dragons but manage to survive. Are they kept for the next clutch? Are they sent to become the support staff for the dragonriders? Not that Lessa cares at this point, but we could stand to know.

Still. Children. Potentially as a fighting force. Or dead. And these are the traditions F’lar wants to uphold.

Changing Names, Shifting Shapes, Blurring Boundaries (Part 1?)

(by Lonespark)

I’m working on a post about The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson, and in the course of thinking about the characters, liminality has come up a lot.

Liminal places are in-between: Thresholds, passages, borders… Places for departures, and arrivals.  Places, sometimes, for waiting.  Places for people who didn’t fit anywhere else.

Liminal characters are multifaceted, or in-between… They have more than one relevant identity, personality, name… More than one homeland, family, culture, shape…

A lot of queer and/or trans* characters are liminal in some ways… to the point where these kinds of liminal identities are often taken as, or intended to be, symbols of queerness.

A lot of bi- or multi-cultural, -lingual, -racial, -ethnic, etc. characters illustrate and interact with liminality.  Immigrants and refugees… Fugitives or spies… Traders, explorers, conquerors… Hostages… Those who leave the familiar for love, knowledge, freedom… Second- and third- generation immigrants, people with mixed ancestry, people with heritage in places that no longer exist… (That might describe the majority of people on Earth now or throughout history.  We are always leaving homes and making new ones, finding, building, claiming our new lives…)

Liminality can mean showing different faces, or speaking different tongues, as needed.  I don’t think characters who engage in code-switching are necessarily liminal figures, but they often seem to be.  Slaves who are warriors.  Gods who are slaves.  Heroes disgraced.  People rescued or repatriated, whether or not they wish to be.

What does liminality mean to you?  What is its importance in your life?  Who are your favorite liminal characters, in texts or works of any kind?

This week in the Slacktiverse, May 19th, 2014

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

[Yeah, very late, sorry.  But I’ve taken the reigns back.  Woo!]

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

Things You Can Do

  • No submissions this week; feel free to comment with things you think fit.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community