Monthly Archives: May 2014

Deconstruction Roundup for May 16th, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who wishes the universe was both more and less just.)

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

RubyTea: Heathen Critique:
Multiple Deconstructions:

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere

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: Batman Gambits Pay Off

(by Silver Adept)

When we last left our sociopathic hero Lessa and inflated-ego traditionalist deuteragonist F’lar, Lessa’s sabotage had finally brought the villainous lord Fax to his breaking point, and he made a rash promise to abandon Ruatha Hold to the child of Lady Gemma, if it lived and was a boy. Lady Gemma has died childless from labor complications, and Lessa is setting one final desperate plan in motion.

Dragonflight, Part II: Content Notes: Abuse, Murder, Considered sexual assault, Patriarchy, Classism. Also, most likely, a Whatfruit.

I’m going to note at this point that violence seems to be the default men-on-women interaction here in these first few chapters. I have a sinking feeling it’s going to continue through the rest of the book. I hope I’m wrong.

As Lessa enters the hall, her scheming self carefully covered under the disguise of an uninteresting drudge, Fax has been informed of the death of Lady Gemma. We would assume that he has also been told she died childless, but this is apparently not the case.

“The child lives,” Lessa cried, her voice distorted with anger and hatred. “It is male.”…”Ruatha has a new Lord.”

Which provokes Fax into a flying rage, and he beats Lessa savagely for what she says until she is knocked unconscious. Fax would continue to beat Lessa’s unconscious body, but that F’lar calls him to attend to his oath.

We’ll get to that in just a second. First, though, we should take a look at this Improbability of Improbabilities. Here’s the sequence of events as the narrative runs.

  1. Gemma dies in childbirth, and her child dies with her.
  2. The news of Gemma’s death is transmitted to Fax. The news of the child’s death is not.
  3. A drudge enters the hall and proclaims the live birth of a male heir,
  4. Fax denies the claim and beats the drudge senseless,
  5. and F’lar calls on Fax to honor his sworn oath.

And nobody, apparently, thinks to check and verify the claim. That has been boldly asserted by someone of the untouchable class to an assembled gathering of nobles, one of whom has a vested stake in making very sure that this claim is vetted. F’lar may be willing to let such a claim skate on he word of a drudge, because it gives him the excuse he needs to kill Fax, but Fax most definitely wants proof, because if he can prove there’s no heir, then there’s no way that F’lar can challenge him on his oath. Problem solved. Fax is provoked, sure, but his first response should be to find the supposed child, even if his intent is infanticide. That he beats Lessa is in character for him, but that he doesn’t go onward to verify that there is an heir is not credible.

Unless, that is, that Lessa’s power did something to Fax, before she lost consciousness. Let’s do a quick recap of Lessa’s powers.

  • Limited telepathy with certain creatures
  • Limited precognitive abilities regarding danger
  • The ability to influence weaker minds so that she passes unnoticed, even while doing unsubtle things, or to implant feelings and thoughts in others that they believe are their own. (Later on, F’lar will witness Lessa transform herself into an unremarkable person, which is our explanation of how Lessa can commit blatant sabotage and not get caught.)

About the only thing she’s missing is some form of telekenesis, and you have Lessa as a Force user, almost a decade before Star Wars is released into theaters. And given Lessa’s abilities are fueled by rage and hate and her generally sociopathic view of Fax and anyone in the way of her revenge, I think I can safely say that Lessa is a Lady of the Sith Order.

So, Lessa’s announcement comes with all of her angry ball of emotions attached, leaving Fax in such a blind rage that his cognitive functions are temporarily suspended and he acts to hurt the target that sent him such horrible news. Which gives F’lar enough time to act to divert Fax’s attention away from the dubious claim and back onto the oath he swore that now requires satisfaction. Let’s roll the tape.

“It was heard and witnessed, Fax,”…”by dragonmen. Stand by your sworn and witnessed oath!”

“Witnessed? By drangonmen?” cried Fax with a derisive laugh. “Dragonwomen, you mean.”…”Parasites on Pern! The Weyr power is over! Over for good,”…

And here Fax plays straight into Flar’s hands – he insults dragonriders and their traditions in full view of many dragonriders and an audience that probably doesn’t give a [Ay carumba!] about whether Fax lives or dies. F’lar won’t suffer that kind of obvious insult to his pride and ego, and while Lessa is still unconscious, the two men fight. Fax uses his bulk and speed to keep pressing F’lar into a defensive position, although he suffers a Groin Attack from his persistence. Ultimately, F’lar wins because Fax is too aggressive and F’lar is able to step around him and stab him in the heart through the back. With the rather grisly detail of the knife coming back out a touch as Fax hits the floor facefirst.

Oh, and through this fight, F’lar has been able to identify the drudge that made the annoucement as the source of the disturbance in the Force he felt. So when the aftereffects of what he has just done kick in, F’lar leaves crowd control to his brother and takes Lessa back to his chamber. No grand pronoucements, no standing on tradition and the rest, because the details of who the [Crikey!] is going to take over as the Lord of each of Fax’s Holds when we find out there’s no male heir is boring and beneath the dragonrider who just caused a succession crisis and quite possibly a bloody civil war. Let the practical brother deal with all the politics while he focuses on Lessa.

Despite being tired from battle, we find that F’lar can effortlessly carry Lessa to his chambers, because she’s a slight thing with barely any weight at all. He examines her on the bed, revolted at the amount of filth she’s covered in, but still able to see that she’s of noble birth and pure blood despite her very successful-until-now methods of concealing herself from everyone. And then there’s this:

Delighted and fascinated by this unexpected luck, F’lar reached out to tear the dress from the unconscious body and found himself constrained not to. The girl had roused.

Cocowhat by depizan

F’lar is stopped from undressing Lessa because she’s awake. Not because he’s a decent guy, not because he thinks of women as beings worthy of respect, but because she’s awake. And, presumably, F’lar’s ego would not allow him to commit an assault with a live and aware victim, lest there be a witness to his carefully-constructed persona falling apart. Or that someone might object to those aspects of his conservatism that insist that women, no matter how noble, are supposed to be subordinate to him. F’lar, you’re a walking embodiment of rape culture. Why are we supposed to treat you like a hero?

So, with Lessa awake, almost the first thing out of F’lar’s mouth is “Name and rank.” Not asking, of course, because F’lar would never stoop to asking a woman a question, but demanding. Lessa, confronted with this haughty, egotistical prick in his bedchambers, is happy to hear the news of Fax’s death, and reveals her lie in claiming her Hold for her own. F’lar is nonplussed, to say the least, that he’s been tricked and killed another man because of a woman. It hurts having your ego popped like that, doesn’t it, F’lar? And his reaction is pretty much the same as Fax’s – he grabs Lessa’s wrist and does her bodily harm in his anger, with the intent of doing her much more harm. Unlike Fax, though, F’lar intends to publicly shame her.

That is, if he can catch her. Lessa bolts, leaving F’lar to try and pursue her on her home territory, ultimately requiring his dragon to catch her (which I would think is terrifying as [Crikey!] to Lessa, but the narrative insists otherwise). Along the way, he encounters F’nor. Who has done exactly the thing neither Fax nor F’lar did in their dick-swinging contest and clash of egos – he checked to see if there was actually a kid. Lo and behold, there is! And he’s a male, too! F’lar’s ego is saved, and he doesn’t have to admit he was outclassed by a woman and tricked into murder. And, even better, he has Lessa trapped and unable to escape his revenge for her trickery. The narrative gives F’lar everything that he wants.

So of he goes into his tirade, commenting on how foolish Lessa is, and how he would have happily killed Fax, if she had only come to him with her claim right at the beginning. He claims that Lady Gemma would have still been alive if she had done this. Because, of course he would have recognized her as the rightful heir.

Bul[Ay carumba!] F’lar has trouble recognizing the drudges as humans, before being able to conceive of the possibility that a woman could be the rightful heir of a Hold. But Lessa is supposed to have opened up to him with her secrets, trusted him implicitly, and then left him to do his work. Even though he’s the man she’s never met before. F’lar is demanding that Lessa trust him, because he knows he’s a trustworthy guy, regardless of what she thinks about him.

After fluffing his own ego sufficiently and giving Lessa the lesson he believes she deserves, and gloating a bit that Lessa will be accompanying him back for the dragon hatching, F’lar realizes he might do better, or at least get a fig leaf of legitimacy, if Lessa appears to come willingly instead of by force. F’lar makes a hash of that, too, first by appealing to greed (why settle for a Hold when you can have a Weyr?), which goes over about as well as you would expect, since Lessa’s primary motivation is revenge, not avarice. Then F’lar calls Lessa a coward, and in true Marty McFly fashion, it works.

Before everyone leaves, though, F’lar rewards loyalty by putting Lytol, the dragonless rider who told him to kill Fax, as regent of Ruatha, and the watch-wher knocks F’lar flat on his ass and tries to kill him, in a last-ditch effort to stop Lessa from her new life as F’lar’s pet. Lessa calls it off mid-pounce, and the resulting effort breaks its back, making sure that Lessa no longer has any ties to Ruatha to come back to. With the last loose ends tied up, the riders take to the sky.

Writer Workshop for May 14th, 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: Historical Periods you’d like to know more about

(by chris the cynic)

The topic of the medieval European system of vassalage recently came up.  That’s something I know practically nothing about because it’s not in my area and modern depictions of it are usually wrong.  I feel like it would be nice if I knew more about that.

What is a/what are some historical period(s) you’d like to know more about?

(Remember that while, “All of them,” is a perfectly good answer, and I agree, it’s not likely to spark conversation.)

[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 10th, 2014

(posted and compiled by Silver Adept, under the strikingly beautiful mind of chris the cynic, written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

  • Last weekend, Storiteller volunteered for her town’s second annual Tour de Cookie bike ride. While the year before, she participated while very pregnant, this year she hauled herself and her baby over to represent her town’s bicycle group, as she describes in Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts with C!. Besides the changes in her schedule since having her baby, she’s also noticed quite a few changes in emotions. Namely, she cries a lot more often than she used to, especially during cultural things about families or parenting. She talks about a few songs that particularly get her choked up in Songs to Grow On: Tear-Inducing Edition.

In Case You Missed This

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

Things You Can Do

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

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for May 9th, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, while chris the cynic receives the adoration of the masses.)

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: My Little Po-Mo

RubyTea: Heathen Critique:
Multiple Deconstructions:

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere

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: Plot Contrivances

(by Silver Adept)

When we last left our band of protagonists, everyone was converging on Ruatha Hold, ostensibly to look for a candidate to ride a soon-to-be-hatched dragon, even though just about everyone is sure or trying to make sure no suitable candidates are available. Except one woman.

Dragonflight, Part II: Content Notes: Misogyny, murder most foul, classism in spades, abuse, animal abuse, childbirth

This part opens with Lessa doing her drudge work as everyone around her flat-out panics – Fax is coming, and he has dragonriders with him. This perks Lessa’s ears, because, unlike the poor superstitious [Oh la la!] around her, she knows the truth about dragonriders, and intends to use them to retake her rightful lands.

Wait, what?

We’re going to sacrifice a story about a talented woman making a meteoric rise in favor of a hidden princess story, with the Unfortunate Implications that come along with it? So that nobody has to feel uncomfortable about how a member of the untouchable class had exactly what they were looking for, but was able to successfully hide in plain sight because nobody believed that talent could come from such lower-class almost non-humans? How, for all their veneration of Tradition (Traditioooooon!) and of Might Makes Right, neither Fax nor F’lar has been able to conceive that Lessa could exist?

Oh, fine. Onward, then.

Apparently, even though Lessa doesn’t believe any of the more fanciful stories about dragonriders, she does believe that they are somehow incorruptible, unable to be provoked or manipulated in obvious ways, and otherwise Inherently Superior to others. In short, she believes what F’lar believes about himself (although F’lar doesn’t extend that courtesy to other riders, since his ego gets in the way of his compassion). This dragonrider-veneration seems…out of place for Lessa, especially because we are then treated to a rundown of how easily corruptible and manipulatable all the people who have been in charge of her have been to this point – greedy, vain, looking out for their own profits, and incompetent – except for the first one, who showed too much intelligence and ability, so Lessa murdered him. And regrets his death, even though she can’t recall his name.

Onward, though, to Ruatha, where Lessa, revenge-obsessed sociopath, is already adept at guerilla warfare and sabotage. Lessa has apparently been aiding the growing of grass in the Hold, a big no-no for reasons that have yet to be revealed, although we finally get the first mention of Thread, the deadly organism that consumes all organic matter that it touches in single-minded devotion, here. In addition to her high crimes, such as murder and sabotage, we get the impression, and then a litany of proof, that Lessa has a long list of drudgery misdemeanors to her credit as well, starting a lack of fire in the hearth to warm Fax and company and continuing through the complete sabotage of the kitchen, apparently unnoticed by no less than three assistant cooks through the whole sequence, one of which Lessa sabotages directly by picking the wrong spice for him. Then again, considering an assistant cook sets her to a task by beating her and kicking her, perhaps we should be less surprised that things fall apart and people mysteriously end up dead.

Lessa’s sabotage, however, is too good to be real. At least, in a world where the drudges are supposedly only good for menial labor, and apparently require beatings to get them to their tasks, that is. I can’t imagine any cook that beats the kitchen staff would trust them to do something correctly unsupervised. The cook she sabotages with the wrong spice should know immediately that it’s wrong. The other cooks in charge of the bread and the meat should be able to spot or feel too hot of a fire, or notice the spit turning improperly (especially since they use tied-up dogs to turn the spit) or smell things burning and salvage them. Lessa should not be able to do this in this close of quarters, unless everyone around her is spectacularly unobservant. Or there’s something else going in her favor, like allies or friendly folk who see her doing things and turn a blind eye because they hate Fax as much as she does.

As this segment draws to a close, we hear of a few other acts of Lessa’s, where good linens are eaten by bugs, soiled by dogs, and the bedrooms are dirty because someone left the windows open just enough. Those acts I can believe, because they can happen out of sight or be just wrong enough to look right. And it’d not like they can run out to a department store for replacements.

The next segment opens with a suspicious F’lar, who doesn’t buy the story that the watch-wher [orig: watch-wehr] (from Part One) is an old creature and prone to nonsense, because with his special dragon-augmented mental powers, he sees the signs of manipulation, and because he’s certain that Ruatha couldn’t have fallen this far apart in ten Turns of the planet. F’lar has met Fax and seen what kind of asshole he is, and has already been asked by someone to kill Fax, because Fax is that big of an ass to dragonrider traditions, and presumably can see the decay around him. F’lar can’t accept that institutions can crumble rapidly, or that his traditions were probably swiftly superceded by the immediate reality of Fax’s tyrannical rule, because Fax is still both hidebound and possessed of an inflated ego. Since he can’t accept nature, it must be sabotage!

…or that would be the case, if the narrative wasn’t invested in making F’lar out to be always right, and giving him the special “I saw what nobody else does!” badge to burnish said ego with. This scene would work so much better if F’lar believed this [Ay carumba!] happened because of the traditions not being followed and F’nor is the one to notice Lessa’s Jaegermonster-subtle acts of sabotage and start following up on it, leaving F’lar to look for any good-enough excuse to kill Fax in a duel of honor. Instead, F’lar gets to look good and promote his theory that someone in Ruatha survived Fax’s genocide to his brother’s more skeptical and realistic position.

And then there is food. Lessa-sabotaged food, unpalatable to everyone, which only aggravates Fax more and more until he slips and gives F’lar an opening.

The day one of my Holds cannot support itself or the visit of its rightful overlord, I shall renounce it.

And just in case we missed that this is a Very Important Thing, the dragons spontaneously roar, prompted by a flash of whatever special power F’lar has…and with a feminine touch, too. Lessa most likely thought she gave a subtle indication of her unvarnished joy as such a slip-up.

F’lar tries to find whichever woman did such a thing, concluding (surprisingly logically) that the drudges are the most likely people to have that power surge he just felt, but not before some solid misogyny about how all of Fax’s women are vapid airheads, except his dinner partner, Lady Gemma, whom Fax hopes dies by childbirth. Fax continues to lose his temper, until F’lar finds himself calling out Fax on his earlier statement, not entirely sure why he’s picking a fight over this. Despite having been asked to find any excuse possible to kill Fax two chapters earlier. But F’lar can’t admit he’s going to murder Fax, so he assumes it must be this outside force compelling him to be confrontational. Because F’lar’s ego won’t allow him to believe that he has emotions, too.

In the middle of this stand-off, Lady Gemma goes into labor. Fax is delighted by this, proving again that he’s a contemptible ass, and Fax thinks he has a solution to his problem of careless words.

“Aye, renounce it, in favor of her issue, if it is male…and lives!”

“Heard and witnessed!” F’lar snapped, jumping to his feet and pointing at his riders…”Heard and witnessed!” they averred in the traditional manner.

And now, F’lar is in his element. He can enforce tradition on Fax and probably kill him, and nobody who witnesses such a murder will say anything about whether it was just, or even justified. The reader isn’t supposed to, either, because we already know that Fax is several unprintable things, and that Lessa is waiting in the wings to snap up her rightful territory once Fax dies. Except for one tiny issue: the child. Who has to be a boy to set this plot in motion, and whom, based on Lessa’s past, probably doesn’t stand a chance to live to see its first birthday, once it has done the work of getting Fax killed.

That poor kid is [Crikey!]ed.

So now everyone waits while the midwife is fetched and Gemma goes through a painful childbirthing. Apparently, only the midwife has a clue what to do and starts barking orders at the “silly gaggle” of women just watching. Lessa is seething with fury that her plan to provoke F’lar into fighting Fax was derailed by Gemma, and tells Gemma to her face quietly about all of this, while Gemma is racked by the pains of labor.

I think Lessa more than qualifies as a sociopath at this point.

Gemma dies in childbirth, and for a moment, Lessa considers the possibility that she might have had allies in fighting Fax, before burying any feelings from that revelation as she hatches a last, desperate plan. And we’re going to stop there, not because I love cliffhangers, but there’s’s a lot of [Ay carumba!] that has to get sorted out in the next few pages, and I’d rather do that at the beginning of a post instead of the end.

Board Business, May 8th, 2014

(posted by chris the cynic.)

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.

Deadlines
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 April 23th, 2014

(Posted by chris the cynic).

(Sorry this is late, had a final and a bad day, on the same day.)

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!

Minority religion is not a punchline (Part 1)

(By Lonespark)

So, today I entered a Twitter conversation for the first time that involved a very big name in my professional field.  I wasn’t talking to her, but she was part of the conversation.  The person I was talking to had been talking to her, and I was responding to him.  Twitter is very nifty like that, and I love it.

This could have been an awesome opportunity for me to expound on my brilliant thoughts about (professional field), but it wasn’t.  I was commenting to criticize him for using “voodoo” and “witchcraft” as synonyms for “bad magic” and more broadly “bad thing.”

Because that is bullshit.

It’s also very common, and the majority of people aren’t actively thinking, “People who practice Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, Puerto Rican/Dominican Vudu, Brazilian Vodum, etc., and Wicca, Druidry, Braucherei, Hexerai, Seidh, Conjure, Rootwork, Shamanism, etc. are bad/evil/etc,” when they do it.

But how is it different from “That’s so gay?”  Or from other negative terms associated with marginalized groups?

Grumpy Lonespark is grumpy.