Monthly Archives: June 2014

Deconstruction Roundup for June 27, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has comment envy of many of you.)

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:

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal: Multiple Deconstructions

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

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

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonflight: Giant Space Fleas From Nowhere

When we last left Lessa, her dragon had just hatched a clutch of forty-one eggs, and nobody got killed in the process, F’lar and Lessa have both discovered that dragons can move through both space and time, and F’lar ditched traditions in favor of practicality. We suspect his brother’s influence.

Dragonflight: Part III: Content Notes: Domestic Abuse, Sexism, Classism

Now, however, the moment of truth has arrived. Although F’lar misses it badly, finally not being able to interpret everything perfectly in time to ready everything. But note well, dear readers, that F’lar is allowed to make an admitted mistake only after we have discovered that dragons can move through time, So F’lar can fix the error and destroy the Thread that has already begun to fall as if he had spotted everything in time and anticipated the drop.

Oh, and Lessa lets slip that she can talk to any dragon she wants. Which is conveniently the last element in F’lar’s grand plan, because he needed some way of communicating everywhere in the world simultaneously if necessary to fight Thread. F’lar reacts to this news with his predictable anger, but this time, Lessa cuts him off at the pass.

“And you, you have been sitting there, spitefully holding the…”

“I am NOT spiteful,” she screamed at him. “I said I was sorry. I am. But you have a nasty, smug habit of keeping your own counsel. How was I supposed to know you didn’t have the same trick? You’re F’lar, the Weyrleader. You can do anything. Only you’re just as bad as R’gul because you never tell me half the things I ought to know…”

F’lar reached out and shook her until her angry voice was stopped.

…and a lot of good it does her, apparently. Fuck you, F’lar, you shit-eating asshole! I’m running out of ways to try and explain how violence and threats against people who disagree with you is wrong, no matter what the narrative absolves you of. Lessa is exactly right here, and F’lar needs to listen, which he is fundamentally incapable of doing.

And then there’s the other thing – Lessa’s been promoted from “stay at home and babysit the fertile dragon” to Mission Control, which means…stay at home and relay communication between all the others who get to go out and fight. Wait, that’s not a promotion, just a change of focus. Can’t have our fertile queen chewing firestone, because then there wouldn’t be more eggs, which is the very much most important thing for our noblewoman to be doing. Let the less-noble-born go fight thread, and, as a handy coincidence, those lower-class dragons won’t be able to reproduce, either. It’s population control of the undesirables, thanks to a conveniently extraterrestrial theat. Which means this whole thing isn’t just hinting at classism, it’s wallowing in it.

So, F’lar heads off to fight Thread, at the time it started to fall, while other women at home prepare to be the healers and medics. Oh, and Stockholm Syndrome has set in for Lessa. Fucknuggets.

“Most important, if something goes wrong, you’ll have to wait till a bronze is at least a year old to fly Ramoth…”

“No one’s flying Ramoth but Mnementh,” she cried, her eyes sparkling fiercely.

F’lar crushed her against him, his mouth bruising hers as if all her sweetness and strength must come with him. He released her so abruptly that she staggered back against Ramoth’s lowered head.

The narrative always gives F’lar what he wants. And this time, it validates all the abuse, all the threats, all the violence, everything absolutely wrong that F’lar has done and will continue to do. This…fuck. If F’lar is supposed to be romantic to someone, it’s in the Christian Grey fashion, I guess.

After this, the battle plan meets the enemy. Dragons chew firestone as the Threads arrive (so apparently, it’s contraceptive effect only works on females – really fucking convenient, indeed.) Then, there’s a lot of fire-breathing, because even one Thread, if allowed to burrow into the ground, will devastate a wide area, consuming all the organic matter and energy available. The southern continent has already been devastated, we are told, so there’s an imperative to get them all. In addition to the mobile flamethrower squad, there’s a lot of popping into hyperspace any time a dragon or rider is hit, because the intense cold of between is instant death to Thread, which prevents it from using dragon or rider as the host for its voracious feeding. F’lar, Weyrleader, commander of forces, abuser of women…is rendered basically the morale force for his dragon, whose instinct is the only reason the Thread fighting tactics work.

He, F’lar, bronze rider, suddenly felt superfluous. It was the dragons who were fighting this engagement. You encouraged your beast, comforted him when the Threads burned, but you depended on his instinct and speed.

And then F’lar takes one in the face, and his entire macho facade crumbles in the face of the intense pain of being burnt by the Thread. He recovers quickly, though, after he flails wildly to get the Thread off. (My personal headcanon has him flailing and screaming at an octave above his normal speaking register, but that’s because I’m not following the narrative’s insistence that I be concerned for F’lar’s heatlth.) The rest of the fight occurs without incident, although the intensity stays high the whole time, and the dragons warp home, unconcerned about the possible unstable time loop they’ve created for the thankfully-uninhabited area.

Where we pick up Lessa, who not only has to relay messages about everything going on, but is also apparently expected to be field general in F’lar’s absence. Which puts a nice point on how stupid it is for F’lar to be leading the strike and taking all of his lieutenants with him – someone with tactical knowledge of The Plan should be held back just in case the wrong people die. A few moments after Lessa finishes with the orders F’lar left regarding warning Holds and dispatching the second wave of fighters, the first wave’s fighting wings return above the weyr.

At which point someone, preferably Lessa, should curse them out so thoroughly that the broadcastable transcript would simply read [La Marseillaise.] Because if it’s possible to be wrong about your space position in space-time, with disastrous results, then it should logically follow that it is possible to be wrong about your time position in space-time. I somehow doubt that two entities existing in the same spot in space-time will end well for either of them, and it’s not like someone can undo their own telefrag. (Unless, of course, every telefrag is reversed by hopping back in time and moving the appropriate person out of the soon-to-be-occupied airspace, but there’s another potential source of Unstable Time Loops. Maybe there are fixed points in time here, too?) The Weyrs are going to have to designate certain airspace as arrival space, which one never occupies for longer than it takes to clear it after a grouping arrives…and to somehow communicate that groups that depart must return within their designated return window or fly the long way home until a new window is communicated to them for arrival. In other words, Pern needs an air traffic control system.

There’s very little rest, however, as the riders are needed elsewhere. Just enough time for Lessa to get jealous that the other queen’s rider, Kylara, put all the healing salve on F’lar and Mnementh. And for Ramoth to complain about not getting to fight Thread, to which Lessa retorts by insulting green dragons. (The Stockholm Syndrome is really taking hold.) Soon after the fighters depart, Lessa sends C’gan, the rider of an older blue dragon and commander of the weyrlings, to get more firestone to F’nor’s fight. And C’gan comes back and dies from Threadburn, having had his entire body and dragon attacked. This is apparently the catalyst that seals Lessa’s decision on the future.

F’lar had told her long ago that she must look beyond the narrow confines of Hold Ruatha and mere revenge. He was, as usual, right. As Weyrwoman under his tutelage, she had further learned that living was more than raising dragons and Spring Games. Living was struggling to do something impossible – to succeed, or die, knowing you had tried!

Lessa realized that she had, at last, fully accepted her role: as Weyrwoman and as mate, to help F’lar shape men and events for many Turns to come – to secure Pern against the Threads.

Lessa threw back her shoulders and lifted her chin high.

And thus we have transitioned Lessa fully from independent, strong, cunning, and utterly traumatized, to a helpmeet content to play second part and support to F’lar, which has also apparently allowed her to come to terms with all the trauma that she’s suffered. Lessa has no twitch or flashblack or issues at all with the death of someone from something impersonal, but instead comes to her ultimate realization through that.

And in Ruatha Hold, Jaxom, son of Gemma, slept well and without nightmares of a woman plunging a knife into his chest. (Okay, the narrative doesn’t say this explicitly, but I suspect that’s what happens.)

Next time: F’lar and Lessa learn that “Thou shalt not fuck up the timestream” is not merely a suggestion.

Writer Workshop for June 25th, 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: Summer Activities

(by chris the cynic)

Not everywhere has four seasons, and not everywhere is north of the equator, but for those places that do and that are it’s currently summer.  What do you do in summer?  What would you like to do in summer?

[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, June 21st, 2014

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

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for June 20, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who wonders if other people experience the same situations he does.)

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

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Multiple Deconstructions:

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Froborr: My Little Po-Mo

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Omskivar: Omskivar Reviews

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

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonflight: Exposition! Blessed Exposition!

(by Silver Adept)

When we last left them, F’lar almost admitted to himself, although to nobody else, that he had and continues to traumatize Lessa, who hasn’t been able to recover from the original trauma she suffered at Fax’s hands nearly thirteen years ago – she never got time to decompress and get closure, and the way F’lar treats her is pretty much ensuring she stays in the survival mode she had to adopt for all that time at Ruatha.

Additionally, failing to make the cut for human decency from last week was a comment alleging that sexual assault was so commonplace in the ancient and medieval worlds that we should not be making as big of a deal about it when it appears in a fantasy pastiche-world written into existence in 01968. The exercise of how long and hard to laugh at the premise is left to the reader.

Dragonflight, Part III: Content Notes: Domestic Abuse, Slut-shaming, Classism

We get to put all that aside, though, to finally learn the mechanics of going between and taking advantage of dragons as hyperspace travel entities. Mostly so that F’lar doesn’t have to dwell too long on the wrongness of what he’s doing to Lessa. Apparently, the trick to using the hyperspace drive is to have a very firm picture of where you want to go in your head, and then to command the dragon to go to that spot. So there really isn’t anything stopping dragons from appearing inside holds or other enclosed spaces, except…

“Once we came across a dragon and a rider entombed together in solid rock. They…were…very young.”

So, apparently, there’s either some variance in the actual location relative to the visualization, or the materialization is exactly where the visualization is, without any draconic compensation for size or location. Which, y’know, is kind of stupid that there isn’t a failsafe built in somehow so that situations where the jump is going to be off don’t end so lethally. Also, how do entire wings of dragonriders manage not to telefrag each other if they’re all envisioning the same spot for arrival, if there’s no compensation for where they arrive?

Or, as it turns out, compensation for when they arrive, as Ramoth and Lessa arrive at Ruatha on the day Fax slaughtered everyone but her in her family. And then hop forward to Ruatha on the day Fax dies. And then finally hop back to F’lar in the present. Who is livid, and reacts as F’lar does, by violently shaking Lessa so much that she can’t even organize her thoughts enough to answer his increasingly irate questioning.

She made no move to evade him as he grabbed her shoulders and shook her violently…. He was spitting with anger, punctuating each question that tumbled from his lips with a head-wrenching shake…. She reached out to catch at his arms, but he shook her again….Lessa cried louder, clutching at him distractedly because he kept jerking her off balance. She couldn’t organize her thoughts with him jolting her around.

Lessa is having a time-loop-induced flashback and running a million “what if?” scenarios in her head, but F’lar cannot see her distress, because he has questions that must be answered. Fuck you, F’lar.

Once he finally calms, and Lessa explains, we find ourselves in possession of a time loop – Lessa-of-the-future warns Lessa-of-the-past about Fax, so Lessa saves herself after she’s been saved. Which has us wonder how Lessa saved herself at the initial point of contact, before the loop starts. To stop Lessa from a guilt loop about whether she could have prevented the past, F’lar is callous about her grief. And then runs off to immediately time-jump himself back to a time in his own past and come back. Because anything Lessa can do, F’lar can do better, and the narrative ensures that F’lar always gets what he wants.

The next section is all about studying the records of time past, which is what F’lar uses to reconstruct a general timeline of how Thread will come to fall on Pern. And again, for being a nominal fantasy novel about dragons, there’s an explanation of orbital mechanics (the Red Star has a retrograde rotation compared to Pern), climate effects, and, as it turns out, the ancestors were definitely people of SCIENCE! To the point that they know what Thread actually is – a spore that can apparently survive the cold of space, and then activate at certain temperatures once it reaches Pern. (That information was divulged in the Introduction – see? Spoilers.) And that they have designs of how Thredfall works – up to six hours of attack with a fourteen-hour rest in between attacks. Thus, the placement of Weyrs so that there would always be a fresh complement of dragons, rather, “fire-lizards”, to shoot down the Thread before it touched down.

So F’lar knows a lot about orbital mechanics, instinctively understands the dangers of screwing with the timeline, but is comparably light on metallurgy, biology, and genetics…ish. What, exactly, are they teaching the weyrlings, anyway? Or is F’lar just the special snowflake that understands it all? Again, we find ourselves with gestures and sweeps toward what history is on Pern, but nothing of substance or detail. F’lar is pretty confident that there will be enough dragons and kids for them in time for the Thread, because he assumes Ramoth is going to be exceptionally fertile in the time running up to the Threadfall, and the queens she produces are going to be the same. While again making reference to the promiscuity of green dragons and their riders.

“Some green’s getting herself chased again.”

“And that’s another item your so-called all-knowing Records never mention. Why is it that only the gold dragon can reproduce?”

F’lar did not suppress a lascivious chuckle.

“Well, for one thing, firestone inhibits reproduction. If they never chewed stone, greens could lay, but at best they produce small beasts, and we need big ones. And for another thing – … if the greens could reproduce, considering their amorousness and the numbers we have of them, we’d be up to our ears in dragons in next to no time.”

Well, then, that’s interesting. If you’re a green rider, you can basically count out ever being Weyr-in-charge anywhere, and you’re apparently going to be a slut. If you’re not a bronze rider, there’s probably no chance you’ll ever be Weyrleader. What this does, though, is stratify the dragons into the fighting classes and the noble classes that lead them, but don’t actually flame Thread themselves. And we’re supposed to accept this, basically, because the dragons chose the kids they want to Impress upon.

Which says a lot of things, most of them Unfortunate. If you’re not appropriately-minded, you’ll be killed by a dragon. If you are, though, a dragon will select you based on your innate personality. You’ve impressed a Green? Congratulations, you’re a slut. Gold? Excellent, you’re…pure-blooded? Bronze? You’re…ambitious? Ruthless? Willing to sexually assault your Weyrwoman? This does not look good. We have yet to see what the overarching virtue of the other dragon colors, but I’m not holding my breath that it’s anything good.

And oh, look, a convenient distraction – Ramoth’s laying her eggs! Forty-one, to be exact. And F’lar, Traditionalist Extraordinaire, basically throws out all the traditions out the window regarding eggs and candidates and who’s allowed to watch (fathers only, though – F’lar’s upheaval has limits, after all) and…there are no casualties, because the candidates know what to do with awkward dragons. Ramoth’s queen goes to a rival for F’lar’s affection, so Lessa is able to send off a potential usurper to manage their own Weyr, even though the narrative wants to paint Lessa as jealous of others vying for F’lar’s attention, and everything is running smoothly, and the preparations for Thread are going according to plan.

So here’s a good place to stop, because the next section is where the battle plan meets the actual enemy.