Monthly Archives: September 2014

Writer Workshop September 17th, 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: Things lost to time

(posted by chris the cynic)

The past is badly recorded (the present isn’t much better.)  You can’t even see The Return of the Jedi as it originally appeared in theaters.  That’s a mere 31 years ago.  If you want to know about the Minoan Civilization (≈ three and a half thousand years ago) you … have foundations.  No literature, no stories, no idea what it was all about.

What poorly preserved/understood things intrigue you?

[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, September 13th 2014

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

The Blogaround

  • Storiteller enjoyed hanging out with her friends this past weekend, both the folks with and without kids.  In Faire Thee Well, she talks about visiting the local Renaissance Faire with her family and friends of theirs.  She loves how these fairs can both cultivate imagination and potentially break down stereotypes.  She also discusses how she and her husband have worked to see their friends without kids as much as possible after their son was born, offering some suggestions to fellow new parents in We Do Still Want to See You – Seriously.

    While not on her blog, she also had a guest post on the Children and Nature Network.  They asked her to rework a post from her blog, resulting in Valuable Lessons: What I Want to Teach My Son About Nature.
  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I posted the first chapter of a story in which a handful of people awaken to find themselves in an abandoned cryogenic prison on the moon.  It is a Kim Possible fan fiction, but one shouldn’t need to be familiar with the show to understand it.  It’s called “Forgotten Seeds”.
    • I talked about my financial situation and picking up another form of blood sucking parasite (not a metaphor) in “School, oil, money, and stuff“.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week. Contributions are still welcome!

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week. Contributions still accepted here, too.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for September 12, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who knows very little about anything.)

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

  • Currently on hiatus due to bridge-dweller interference.

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal:

duckbunny: Sensical

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)

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging


Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragonquest: Dread and Questions

Last time, F’lar and Lessa learned a thing or two about empathy…and just how brilliant the Crafters are…before promptly discarding the empathy and keepig the curiosity about fire-lizards in the South.

Dragonquest, Chapter VIII: Content Notes: Sexism, Misogyny, Patriarchy, intentions of Domestic Abuse

Chapter VIII takes us back to Southern Weyr, where Kylara is nowhere to be found, leaving Brekke and Mirrim to shoulder the workload of running the Weyr. Mirrim objects to this treatment fairly strenuously, as it offends her sense of fairness and justice. Brekke, current example of Womanly Virtue, intends to scold Mirrim for voicing those objections when F’nor calls her away. Thus, Mirrim escapes narrative punishment. Perhaps because, as a fosterling, her place in life has yet to be determined. Brekke, on the other hand, has been patiently fulfilling her ordained role for years, which will either result in her great reward, or being used by the narrative as a chew toy to induce feelings in the audience.

After reassuring F’nor that his message to F’lar was delivered and making some excuses as to why F’lar didn’t drop everything to come see, Brekke realizes that Wirenth, her queen, is preparing for the mating flight, and dashes off to see if it’s true. F’nor sizes up the bronze population at Southern and comes to the conclusion that he doesn’t like any of the prospective mates. His solution is to try and figure out how to arrange for a bronze he does like to happen to be in from another Weyr at the right time, since the more obvious solution would require him to acknowledge that he is attracted to her, and he’s not supposed to be the jealous type, even as he recoils in horror at the thought of any of the Southern bronze riders mating with Brekke. F’nor suggests to Brekke that she might call in some outsiders, but she refuses, and F’nor ignores her visceral reaction to the idea.

Then, Brekke reveals to us that she’s more like Lessa than just also having a queen that can talk to all dragons.

“What I meant was, if the fire-lizards – who seem to be miniature dragons – can be Impressed by anyone who approaches them at the crucial moment, then fighting dragons – not just queens who don’t chew firestone anyhow – could be Impressed by women, too.”

“Fighting Thread is hard work. Leave it to men.”

“You think managing a Weyr isn’t hard work?” Brekke kept her voice even but her eyes darkened angrily. “Or plowing field and hollowing cliffs for Holds? And…”

F’nor whistled. “Why, Brekke, such revolutionary thoughts from a craftbred girl? Where women know there’s only one place for them… Oh, you’ve got Mirrim in mind as a rider?”

“Yes. She’d be as good or better than some of the male weyrlings I know.”
[…]
“Hey, backwing a bit, girl. We’ve enough trouble with the Oldtimers as it is without trying to get them to accept a girl riding a fighting dragon! C’mon, Brekke. I know your fondness for the cold, and she seems a good intelligent girl, but you must be realistic.”

“I am,” Brekke replied, so emphatically that F’nor looked at her in surprise. “Some riders should have been crafters or farmers – or – nothing, but they were acceptable to dragons on Hatching. Others are real riders, heart and soul and mind. Dragons are the beginning and end of their ambition.”

…shit.

I was hoping Brekke would be able to get through things unscathed, but now that the narrative knows, I can only wait in horror to find out what it will do to her. Because she’s right in every particular, to the best of our knowledge. The hatching that we got to see with Lessa had the candidates separated. What could have been if they were all together? Presumably, the Weyr culture on sexuality and relationships wouldn’t change, you’d just have real equality possible in the dragonrider ranks.

Also, Brekke being craftbred, in addition to the chapter we just spent in the Crafthall, suggests that real equality is rapidly becoming a reality in Craft culture due to the outside pressures that require the very best to be put to work at their specialties, regardless of what outdated ideas about gender roles say. This trend should continue and spread and infect every other culture on Pern until equality is seen as entirely normal.

Finally, fuck you, F’nor, you shit-eating excuse for a person. You were supposed to be reasonable and pragmatic and open to new ideas, but you’re apparently just as ensconced in misogyny as your brother is, and for the same wrong reason of tradition. (TRADITION.)

F’lar arrives, and Brekke heads back, which makes F’nor relieved to not have her talking about her wild ideas while he tries to get his brother to support him and Canth to be the arranged partner for Wirenth and Brekke. F’lar is wondering where everyone is (trying to catch fire-lizards, of course), and when T’bor wings in, F’lar gives him the hard truth about the out of phase Threadfall. Then F’lar gets to see Mirrim’s three fire-lizards as she stirs a great kettle of soup. Mirrim does her best impression of a star-struck girl, and F’lar and F’nor talk about the use of fire-lizards as trainable entities, Brekke’s idea about Mirrim (F’lar laughs, but gives the matter no serious consideration), and, oh, wait, a Thread attack is coming.

For supposedly being lazy on the beach, however, the Southern Weyr fighters are excellent scramblers and are already in the air before the warning finishes. F’nor has to sit it out, since he is still injured, Everything appears to go according to plan, except that the vegetation clearly shows signs of having been hit by Thread, but there are no burrows, a lot of grubs, and there is a lot of dead Thread in the water. Something is going on here, and F’lar and T’bor both know it. Yet even a panic sweep looking for Thread finds none at all.

And no Kylara either, which brings out F’lar’s domestic violence instincts, and his regret that he suggested Kylara become a Weyrwoman, which shift to confusion as to why she didn’t appear when the warning call went out. When she does reappear, with her Impressed gold queen fire-lizard, she’s busily being angry and manipulative to T’bor, which invokes F’lar’s sympathy for T’bor in a definite “bros before hos” sort of way, including some delight at the idea that Prideth might get flown by an Oldtimer that would quickly bring her in line. Good to know F’lar’s domestic abuse proclivities haven’t dulled any. Kylara tries to show F’lar her gold, but it scratches her trying to regain balance, which provokes Kylara, sending the fire-lizard disappearing and getting Prideth entirely riled up, too the point where she doesn’t listen to any other dragon. That’s a Bad Thing. F’lar suggests letting someone else have Kylara, but T’bor isn’t having any of it, and then details what he knows of Kylara giving eggs to Holders. Which only adds to F’lar’s worries about everything, including the out-of-pattern Threadfall and the fact that Thread has likely been falling on the Southern Continent for a very long time, but not leaving any marks or burrows to signify that it had been there.

Unable to leave without more investigation, F’lar loops back to his previous investigation site, to see the plant repairing itself from the strike. F’lar is able to put two and two together, hops back in time to watch the Thread fall, then collects a plant with grubs attached to go show the Masterherdsman. Whom he also tells about the likely connection between fire-lizards and dragons, to the Masterherdsman’s utter disbelief. To be fair, the Masterherdsman is being asked to believe that breeding somehow transformed the fire-lizards into dragons over many generations, instead of the idea that fire-lizards may have been genetically altered through splicing, gene manipulation, and recombination into dragons, which would sound equally far-fetched, but at least would be able to explain the wild variance between the two relations.

The Masterherdsman, however, immediately smashes the grubs from the plant, over F’lar’s protests about their utility, because they are “an abomination”, and F’lar leaves, pissed, to end the chapter. Again, we have worldbuilding without foreshadowing. Grubs are abominations? Then F’lar would have had a strong revulsion reaction to them, I would have thought. Unless it’s something that dragonriders are just never told about, because they don’t work with the ground. That, though, would have provoked a reaction of surprise from F’lar at how the grubs were treated, not annoyance. So F’lar knows, but is somehow able to get over what his tradition (Tradition!) has told him about them in this case, when he’s still pretty in favor of doing things the old way if he hasn’t thought up a better reason and new way. F’lar, your characterization is getting inconsistent, it seems. It would have made more sense for it to be F’nor, but he’s still injured, so I guess you’ll have to do?

Next time…things get ugly.

Writer Workshop September 10th, 2014

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Because this is going up late in the day, again, I’m going to skip board business, but here’s a link to a pretty generic board business post, in case anyone needs reminders of what you can send in for the weekend post or whatnot.

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: Time to do that again

(posted by chris the cynic)

What’s something/what are some things that you like to do that you haven’t done in a while?

[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, September 6th 2014

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

The Blogaround

  • Storiteller’s kid is growing in leaps and bounds, sometimes in unexpected ways.  This past week, he’s been obsessed with climbing in and out of a little plastic chair, as she describes in A Chair of One’s Own.  As he grows older, she wants to make sure she continues to foster his imagination.  She contemplates the cultural trope of giving up imagination as part of moving into adulthood in Songs to Grow Up With: A Manifesto on Puff the Magic Dragon.

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Almost ten years ago Fred Clark noted that Steve had become and extremely important figure in American religion though we know almost nothing about him.  I have attempted to bring together everything that we know about Steve–not much– from his lunar shenanigans with Eddie Izzard to rumors of him throwing empty beer bottles at the universe.
    • I also made a post that consists of random thoughts brought up by watching Kim Possible.  This includes overriding of consent played for laughs, the two very different pop culture ideas of what a zombie is, and Shego’s enduring awesomeness (the snark, it is wonderful.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week. Contributions are still welcome!

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week. Contributions still accepted here, too.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for September 5, 2014

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who hates sickness.)

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

  • Currently on hiatus due to bridge-dweller interference.

Amarie: Amarie’s Dreamjournal: 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

Dragonquest: Empathizing with One’s Ancestors

Last time, the narrative gave us a Two Minutes Hate with regard to Kylara and Meron, but also, fire-lizard eggs hatched and presumably, Kylara and Meron both got one.

Dragonquest: Chapter VII: Content Notes: Subtle Sexism

Chapter VII opens with a trip to see Fandarel – the blacksmith Terry from the opening chapter is hale, hearty, and entirely sleep-deprived, just like F’lar. Who ignores the news from F’nor about fire-lizards before knowing what it was. We get confirmation the Mastersmith does have a sense of humor and a demonstration of a loudspeaker for communication in the Crafthall.

Wait, what? For a medieval pastiche, we have telegraph wires and devices, and an interoffice communication system, which no doubt requires some amount of transmission of audio over a wire. If it weren’t for the dragons, we’d be firmly in steampunk territory with Pern. As it is, it’s now really quite the mishmash of technology and feudal obligations, and the clash is starting to grind, because the technology already being deployed would easily adapt to a military use in case the subjects decided they didn’t want to serve under awful Lord Holders. With Thread falling outside, it would be easy to arrange an “accident” where an unpopular Lord would be outside his Hold, with no way back in and the rain coming. Get the assistance of a dragonrider and you’re all set. Of course, you still have to deal with the dragonriders if you want a proper democratic entity, even if you can flamethrower your liege at any time.

Then comes the distance-writer demonstration. Fandarel explains the chemistry: metal-acid reaction produces energy, which both drives the machine and allows the messages to be sent either or both of the two places the wires have been run to. To engage the system, acid from the telegraph arm presses on litmus, making marks and sending the electric signal to the destination, Or received electric signals actuate the arm and print messages from the other locales. During the demonstration, Lessa accidentally touches the paper, drawing a quip from F’lar about her acidity in word and deed. Leesa invites F’lar to try the same trick in response.

Mostly, though, this entire interlude serves to tell me the only way to figure out what sort of time period, or even type of novel, we’re in… is to say “oh, fuck this” and stop trying to figure it out. Because the presence of electricity, even if it is DC, should mean a lot of possibilities just opened up for the Smiths to explore. Anyway, over a meal, we find that telegraph communication is not quite that easy, even if it is faster-than-dragon (which it really isn’t, because dragons can time-travel and arrive in time for someone to get the message as it is dispatched) because constructing appropriate wire (which is being strung above ground for now) is difficult and the Holders are more interested in weapons than logistics.

At least, until Lessa tastes the food, at which point, the saboteur of Fax’s dinners declares a need for a better kitchen staff.

Lessa had taken a sip of the klah and barely managed to swallow the acid stuff. The bread was lumpy and half-baked, the sausage within composed of huge, inedible chunks, yet both Terry and Fandarel ate with great appetite. Indifferent service was one matter; but decent food quite another.

“If this is the food he [the local Lord Holder] barters you for flamethrowers, I’d refuse,” she exclaimed. “Even the fruit is rotten.”

“Lessa!”
[…]
“What’s your wife’s name?” [Lessa asked.]

“Lessa,” F’lar repeated, more urgently.

“No wife,” the Smith mumbled,…

“Well, even a headwoman ought to be able to manage better than this.”

Terry cleared his mouth to explain. “Our headwoman is a good enough cook but she’s so much better at bringing up faded ink on the skins we’ve been studying that she’s been doing that instead.”

“Surely one of the other wives…”

Terry made a grimace. “We’ve been so pressed for help, with all these additional projects,[…]that anyone who can has turned crafter[…]”

Lessa declares she’ll send over some of her excess women to cook, under strict orders not to get engaged in crafting, and thunders off to make a proper pot of klah.

Which conveniently leaves the men to discuss manly matters. I have to say, though, this is a nice call back to Lessa’s previous life as a kitchen drudge involved in food preparation. It conjures an image of the recently-made Weyrwoman, many years ago, confronting the kitchen staff about technique and spicing and making sure that the food she was served would always be high-quality. But it also subtly reinforces the idea that cooking is women’s work. Lessa runs down the people who should be cooking – a wife, a headwoman, excess women in her Weyr. No suggestion made for the men to handle their cooking, in case there’s someone with an aptitude.

Actually, the Smthcrafthall is doing some interesting things regarding equality. Fandarel’s quest for efficiency provides excellent cover for getting women and others who might be stuck in a role they don’t like or aren’t the best at to change and do what they’re good at in service of the Craft, putting the best people to work on things. If his ideas escape his Crafthall and get in to others…

…which might be something F’lar is about to help with the pollination of, suggesting that the Masterharper could send copy scribes to help with the transcription of old Records, freeing up some personnel to go back to their Smithcraft. Terry espouses a view that knowledge should be preserved for all, a position that I applaud, and the Mastersmith thinks the scribes could be delivered by dragon for maximum efficiency and speed. Terry is thankful for the extra help, and expresses both his thanks and his assessment of what it’s like to work with the time-skipped Weyrs.

“I see it this way, and I’ve seen riders from every Weyr by now. The Oldtimers have been fighting Thread since their birth. That’s all they’ve known. They’re tired, and not just from skipping forward in time four hundred Turns. They’re heart-tired, bone-tired. They’ve had too much rising to alarms, seen too many friends and dragons die, Threadscored. They rest on custom, because that’s safest and takes the least energy. And they feel entitled to whatever they want. Their minds may be numb with too much time between, though they think fast enough to talk you out of anything. As far as they’re concerned, there’s always been Thread. There’s nothing else to look forward to. They don’t remember, they can’t really conceive of a time, of four hundred Turns without Thread. We can. Our fathers could, and their fathers. We live at a different rhythm because Hold and Craft alike threw off that ancient fear and grew, in other ways and other paths, which we can’t give up now. We exist only because the Oldtimers lived in their Time and in ours. And fought in both Times. We can see a way out, a life without Thread. They knew only one thing and they’ve taught us that. How to fight Thread. They simply can’t see that we, that anyone, could take it just one step further and destroy Thread forever.”
[…]
“I hadn’t seen the Oldtimers in just that light,” he [F’lar] said slowly.

And that, F’lar, is why you’re the figurehead. You get to play the translator role between modernity and the time-skipped, and, assuming you don’t let your ego get in the way, you’ll be the one who can forge the understanding and help bring around the others to the new reality. After Terry finishes, Lessa enters with the pot of klah, and the spell is broken, but not without a greater understanding. How long did MCU Captain America have to spend acclimating himself to the idea that he had lost sixty years of time? Or Aang, having been frozen in ice for a hundred years? Change is painful, even for those who live through it. How much more painful it must be to have had a complete change happen without you being there to live it, or to get adjusted to it? Time marches on, but for people invested in the past, it’s always a pain to have to let go.

Having increased their empathy and sympathy for the time-skipped Weyrs, F’lar reads F’nor’s message about fire-lizards. And for…the third time, I think, when someone mentions fire-lizards are Impressable, someone else asks if they can be trained as messengers. Either the narrative is trying really hard to alert us to a plot point, or people on Pern have remarkably similar ideas about novelty. Lessa and F’lar decide they might want to explore Fort Weyr for more hidden rooms, and…all that empathy they had just obtained in the abstract goes right out the window when having to consider the specifics of actually dealing with Mardra and T’ron. Ah, well, chapter’s over.