Dragonquest: Dark Reprise

Last time, Jaxom Impressed. Which touched off some politics. And a flagrant insult to Kylara. Also, the plot to bring grubs north from the southern continent proceeds apace.

Dragonquest: Chapter XVI: Content Notes: Animal abuse, Existential Terror

It’s the last chapter, everyone! Let’s see if we can’t get through it without major content issues.

I’m told optimism is healthy, after all.

Chapter XVI opens promisingly, with an extended report on the difficulty of convincing everyone of the plot to seed the north with grubs. Fandarel and Terry give their approval (and a new prototype for capturing Thread more efficiently) and mention the irritation they are suffering at being unable to work on shielding the telegraph cables because of so much Threadfall and flamethrower jams. Robinton is playing diplomacy with the Holders, but they’re really insisting that the expedition to the Red Star happen sooner rather than later, despite the continued inability to find good coordinates for a hyperspace hop. The Lord of Telgar is particularly obstinate, not even accepting Wansor’s theory that planets that are close to each other affect each other, which explains the out-of-phase Threadfall. (Which, you know, planetary gravity will do just that, which means Pern could theoretically have discovered the very far out planets of the Sol system long before the inhabitants of Terra were able to make the calculations.) He and Meron get extra people spying on them to make sure they don’t make moves that disrupt the plan.

Brekke takes an interest in the plan, with the data being relayed though the Brown Rider Rapist, and her brain seizes on the idea that Meron might attempt to send his bronze fire-lizard all the way there, so she asks the riders to keep an eye out for that possibility. Brekke’s instincts appear to be right. Furthermore, the dragonriders are starting to realize that the cloud formations over the Red Star could be the recognizable marks to use to send the dragons over to attack. Which makes Lessa worried, because F’lar of the Immense Ego, Figurehead Extraordinaire, will totally jump to the Red Star once he thinks he can manage it, so that he can save the world singlehandedly.

Things come to a head, though, with Meron at Fort Weyr, when not only does Canth confirm how cruel Meron is to his fire-lizard, Canth interferes with an abuse situation by startling Meron enough for the fire-lizard to escape and do its own hyperspace hop. This sets Meron off entirely, resulting in his swift banning from Fort as he continues to insist that the dragonriders are just hiding their confirmed coordinates from the Holders as a power play to keep the Holders subject to the Weyrs. The Brown Rider Rapist wonders what Meron sees through the telescope, and suggests to his fire-lizard going there. Which, naturally, freaks the fire-lizard out.

Terror, horror, a whirling many-faceted impression of heat, violent winds, burning breathlessness sent him [the BrnRR] staggering against N’ton as Grall, with a fearful shriek, launched herself from his hands and disappeared.

Which is probably the most clear sign that the Red Star is inhospitable to visitors a dragonrider will receive. The Brown Rider Rapist ignores the warning signs, privileging the knowledge that the coordinates he sent to Grall are good enough for Canth over the fire-lizard’s clear “back the fuck off” signals.

Sound familiar?

There’s no small pride in being able to steal his brother’s thunder on this, too, and it clicks into place for him why Brekke was very interested in distracting him from that idea (including blatant come-hithers) earlier. Again, rather than taking this as a warning sign that what he’s doing is extremely dangerous, he still thinks he can just jaunt over, get a really good look, use Ramoth as the relay tower so that every dragonrider knows where to send themselves later for the invasion.

So, before we see the consequences of this trip, let me point out that Meron is correct about the dragonriders having coordinates, but his reasons are half-wrong – it’s that no dragonrider was ready to risk themselves on something less than a sure bet – that form of “cowardice” we call the survival instinct.

So, Canth makes the hop.

Canth started to open his wings and screamed in agony as they were wrenched back. The snapping of his strong fore-limbs went unheard in the incredible roar of the furnace-hot tornadic winds that seized them from the relative calm off the downdraft. There was air enveloping on the Red Star – a burning hot air, whipped to flame-heat by burning turbulences. The helpless dragon and rider were like a feather, dropped hundreds of lengths only to be slammed upward, end over end, with hideous force. As they tumbled, their minds paralyzed by the holocaust they had entered, F’nor had a nightmare glimpse of the gray surfaces toward and away from which they were alternately thrown and removed: the Neratian tip was a wet, slick gray that writhed and bubbled and oozed. Then they were thrown into the reddish cloud that were shot with nauseating grays and whites, here and there torn by massive orange rivers of lightning. A thousand hot points burned the unprotected skin of F’nor’s face, pitted Canth’s hide, penetrating each lid over the dragon’s eyes. The overwhelming, multilevel sound of the cyclonic atmosphere battered their minds ruthlessly to unconsciousness.

Then they were hurled into the awesome calm of a funnel of burning, sand-filled heat and fell toward the surface – crippled and impotent.

Painridden, F’nor had only one thought as his senses failed him. The Weyr! The Weyr must be warned!

Okay, that is excellent writing. The sense of utter panic comes across really well, without any bravado, macho bullshit, or anything beyond the immediate need to stay alive.

A pettier me might snark about how cocky the Brown Rider Rapist feels now that he’s met something stronger than he is, but I’m reserving that kind of commentary for when Brekke kicks him in the testicles and tells him to fly between without coming back as she leaves.

Instead, we get to see Brekke panic again, this time over the Brown Rider Rapist and Canth going to the Red Star, and the dragons are all in distress over the beating the two are receiving at the Red Star. And Brekke screams her worst fear, with sufficient force that it breaks blood vessels in her eyes. “Don’t Leave Me Alone.” Because she knows, with the experience of having lost Wirenth, just what alone means. Knowing that if she loses them, the darkness that she’s been fighting off, the one that threatens to swallow her completely and return her to the catatonic state, will come back and will take over again. The one that everyone has basically left Kylara to suffer under, without any help, or even empathy, because Brekke is virtuous and Kylara wicked.

So Brekke has to watch as the dragons mobilize to break the fall of the unconscious Canth. And then, she remembers some long-forgotten lore and performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the Brown Rider Rapist until he can breathe on his own. And then, Canth is there, and Brekke screams her relief – “I am not alone” – and passes out.

And this is touching and wonderful and really needs a nice soundtrack swell and a great fade to black, roll credits. If only the whole thing wasn’t based on a rape, and a preventable disaster, and a narrative that punished a woman for having feminist opinions. It sours what should otherwise be the moment of the Triumph of the Heart. I cannot interpret this really good, heartwarming scene apart from the sheer awful that happened earlier in the book. Which is why I’m still hoping that after he recovers, the Brown Rider Rapist finds himself bereft of Brekke and on the bad side of the Benden Weyrleaders, so that some small amount of punishment can be given to those that deserve it.

Then, after what would be the credit roll for this movie, to close out the chapter, there is yet another demonstration of the effectiveness of grubs during live Threadfall. Groghe, Lord Holder of Fort, isn’t ready to accept the power of grubs, even though Meron has, and would still prefer to send attackers to the Red Star. The Brown Rider Rapist and Canth will recover, and the Benden Weyrleader thinks that when the grubs have finally taken hold, it will be time for dragonriders to go explore the other planets of the star system, assuming that at least one of them will be hospitable for dragons and riders. Even though he has no real reason to believe this is true, but now that he’s said it, the narrative will ensure that he gets everything he wants. Anyone attempting to upstage him, as has been demonstrated, will suffer at the narrative’s hands.

Next up: the Harper Hall trilogy, which will hopefully have less awful, before we come back to the third volume in this cycle, The White Dragon. There are again, appendices of material that contains spoilers and then some, so it will also be skipped for this book. So the question of whether or not a successful assault will be mounted against the Red Star will have to wait.

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18 thoughts on “Dragonquest: Dark Reprise

  1. alexseanchai October 23, 2014 at 1:15 am

    oh god it’s time for Harper Hall what horrors of the deep abyss are we going to find in some of young!Alex’s favorite books

  2. genesistrine October 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Pern could theoretically have discovered the very far out planets … long before the inhabitants of Terra were able to make the calculations.

    Well, except that, y’know, they should have known about them already. They’re colonists. Earth’s already done all the heavy intellectual lifting. The planets should all have names, number of satellites, orbital details etc etc; this big one’s Godzilla, this one’s Mickey Mouse in honour of our corporate sponsor; legend is unclear on what a “corporate sponsor” is but we believe it to be a multi-headed devouring monster that drove our ancestors from their paradise of socialised medicine and free high-speed internet onto to the cold, Thread-ridden surface of Pern.

    (Solution: orbital mechanics and planetology are craft secrets of the Smithcraft and they’re pretending Wansor invented it all because they just can’t bear the thought of dragonriders screeching “Why didn’t you mention this before!?” at them.)

    Which makes Lessa worried, because F’lar of the Immense Ego, Figurehead Extraordinaire, will totally jump to the Red Star once he thinks he can manage it, so that he can save the world singlehandedly.

    Ever since Lessa did a massively stupid thing last book and Saved the World he’s been gagging for a chance to do something even stupider and world-savinger to prove his MANLINESS.

  3. genesistrine October 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Argh, didn’t realise blockquote didn’t work. Sorry. Could some kind admin please edit in italics for the quotes?

  4. Pebblerocker October 27, 2014 at 3:37 am

    After not enjoying most of the book due to rapeyness and too many long boring conversations between insufficiently differentiated Lords Holder and cranky old Weyrleaders… I was amazed to discover this last chapter was actually exciting and even emotionally moving. It’s somehow turned around and become good writing. Having a character with defined and understandable psychological motivations, who hasn’t committed any atrocities on page, suffer a believable emotional crisis in an exciting action-packed moment is something that works on me. As long as, yeah, we ignore that the man she’s working to save is the man who raped her.

  5. bekabot October 28, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I don’t know that extra info would have been welcome to the dragonriders, any more than it would be to the Lord Holders.* When the story opens the dragonriders and the Lord Holders are the people who have the scarce resources on the Northern Continent pretty much sewn up between them (or among them). Their focus is on stuff, not knowledge. The contests which arise out of that situation are the contests one would expect: 1) a contest among Lord Holders for resources (which epitomized by the struggle between Fax on the one hand and Lessa and her kin on the other), and 2) a contest between the Lord Holders, working together or separately, on the one hand, and the dragonriders on the other, for the same resources, including access to the nubile/fertile women.** (Which would be the struggle epitomized by the Weyr Search itself.) Everybody knows what the game is out of the starting gate and nobody particularly wants the game changed. True, everybody wants to win the game, but more information won’t necessarily help them there. It might help, but what it also might do is take their minds off the game. They’re all better off in their own estimation (it’s not my business to try to outthink them) playing the game on the board they already know by means of the rules with which they’re already familiar than reconfiguring the board to match reality more closely or by rewriting the rules for the same reason. I don’t notice anything exceptional about F’lar in this regard, except: first, he’s an unusually adept player in his own right, and second, he’s been able to suss out, for some reason, that the game’s due to change of its own accord (Thread is going to reappear) and he knows on that basis that he must adapt or die. He decides to adapt.

    We don’t get introduced to the Crafthall economy until later. The people in the Crafthalls are knowledge-workers, or people to whom new information (which is also, since this is Pern, old information) actually is valuable. Consequently they have a far different take on this issue than the Lord Holders or dragonriders do.

    The dragonfolk at Benden Weyr, after all, have had all that tech-y crap in their back hallways for hundreds and hundreds of years, and they’ve never thought to investigate it or to put it to any human use. It’s only after a couple of kids have broken through that the stuff even gets noticed, although, of course, the breakthrough can’t have been the first one. (It may have been the first one in that section, as witness the absence of footprints and the other “deserted area” cues, but it can’t have been the first one in the history of Benden Weyr, because we’re told viaeavesdropping that Weyr boys have been trooping through the same back hallways to get of glimpse of nascent eggs since time immemorial.) If the dragonfolk had been interested in the Ancestors’ leftovers they would have shown it. They’ve had fallow periods lasting centuries at a stretch to make their own explorations and run their own experiments, but they’ve done nothing of the kind. What they’ve done instead is guard their own resources (hoard the queens and the eggs) and scheme and threaten to gain access to the resources produced by the other sectors of their society (insist on receiving the Tribute and finagle to get it increased). Neither the dragonriders nor the Lord Holders are especially inquisitive people; their researches are all enforced. (“Threadfall is coming.”) And even in pursuing those researches the Lord Holders and dragonriders stick to the patterns they’re already predisposed to follow. Lord Meron wants to invade and conquer scary foreign territory, and F’lar wants to keep control of all the eggs.

    *But the small holders might appreciate new knowledge and new techniques, because they seem to need all the help they can get.

    **There’s a third possibility, which is that of a struggle among Weyrs. This possibility is obviated in Dragonflight because there’s only one Weyr, but as soon as new (old) Weyrs are (re)introduced, the struggle takes place, exactly as one might predict, and along the lines one might expect.

  6. Silver Adept October 29, 2014 at 12:56 am

    bekabot, that’s one of the difficult issues with Pern – it seems like the natural curiosity about the past has just been turned off completely. Even the most conquest-oriented of our history was interested in the knowledge of the past – or at least in controlling those areas so that they could direct the scholars to show that they are the legitimate descendants of the Ancients and totally have the right to rule. Yet the old records and corridors have not been explored, despite Benden having the run of all the Weyrs for centuries, and several of the Lord Holders needing expansion in their Holds.

    By now, really, everyone should have rediscovered everything…or used their time-traveling dragons to go back as far as they want to go, building stations for refueling and rest along the way, observe what they wanted, then send the information forward to the current time so that any lost knowledge can be returned. The Weyrs should be information clearinghouses.

  7. genesistrine October 29, 2014 at 6:42 am

    or used their time-traveling dragons to go back as far as they want to go, building stations for refueling and rest along the way, observe what they wanted, then send the information forward to the current time so that any lost knowledge can be returned. The Weyrs should be information clearinghouses.

    See, now that’s what they need to be planning to do in the future, rather than planetary exploration!

  8. bekabot October 29, 2014 at 10:38 am

    @ genesistrine and Silver Adept

    Thanks for the response.

    I agree about the loss or deficit of curiosity among the Pernese. It’s remarkable. You could say it’s because of Thread and that because Thread is so devastating the whole society is ambulating around in a permanent state of shock. And that might be plausible, but still, it’s not flattering to human beings. We all like to think that when human beings are in danger of being done in by the forces of blind insensate nature (etc.) what they get the urge to do is buckle down and get creative.* But the Pernese take another route: first they develop the dragons (which is indeed a mighty feat) and then they hand over the task of fighting Thread to the dragons (the dragonriders being the riders of the dragons). For themselves, what the Pernese humans do is dig a series of deep holes in the ground and hide in them. In effect they live their lives out in bomb shelters, even between Falls.

    Then they don’t even investigate the tunnels in the shelters. Wow.

    Maybe they don’t do the travel-into-the-past thing because it’s psychologically strenuous to humans, though not to dragons? There are lots of major hints dropped in that direction. Lessa for one goes back, inadvertently warns her former self about the Thread and about a few other things, then returns to home base in time for a major freak-out (possibly leading to some more therapeutic shaking from F’lar; I don’t really remember). And then there are the complaints the Southerners have that being double-timed doesn’t agree with them. It sounds to me like this is an issue which the author may have covered in advance because she knew it would occur to many of her readers. (I never read Dragonsdawn but when it came out I thought the coolest introductory chapter evar would be to have the original colonists land on Pern only to be greeted by a welcoming committee of their descendants. Sample dialogue: “Yeah, we know you’ve got spaceships. Well guess what, we’ve got dragons. So wave and say hi to Stellth, everybody. Have you ever seen a grin like that one before? Isn’t he a beauty?”) My theory is that the author didn’t want to write a series in which everyone was continually in danger of bumping into his or her own ancestors or descendants and of cluing said descendants or ancestors into things which would screw up the timeline (otherwise known as the plot). She just wanted a bunch of dragons and distressed maidens and heroic leaders, so she wrote the kind of book(s) which would accommodate the second set of ingredients, not the first.

    About the planetary-exploration plans — those, like the combings of the Hold and Weyr records, and the Red Star viewing parties, are enforced. Somewhere in these books the dragonriders, or maybe it’s just F’lar, stumble over the obvious fact that once the Thread has been whupped they’re all going to be out of a job, and then it gets suggested (F’lar again?) that since dragons can go to any location they can picture mentally, they can be put to other uses than just fighting Thread (and intimidating Holders and overawing girls).

    *Speaking of girls: Menolly. There’s a character much more in line with the human penchant for self-flattery than most of the ones we’ve run into thus far. She faces down Thread alone and without support while just an adolescent kid. Lessa-versus-Fax was an unequal contest, but at least Lessa had a roof over her head.

  9. Silver Adept October 29, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    @ genesistrine – if bekabot is right about the game really being about resources rather than knowledge at this point, then exploration makes sense in the sense of “on these undiscovered planets lie things that can be exploited and shipped back to Pern by dragon, allowing us to glut or starve the market at our leisure and maintain control at the top of the hierarchy.” For that to be the motivation the Benden Weyrleader, though, we’d need much more proof he could actually think that many moves ahead. And that he had already cleaned out the closets of any place he could get to, looking for those same resources.

    @ bekabot – I always read the sickness as the timestream not liking two instances of the same person in the same general space coordinates (which could mean “on the same planet”) at the same time point – in Lessa’s case, she ended up being at three different space coordinates at the same time point, and the timestream reacted rather violently to that. It’s a surprise she didn’t bring out the Clock Roaches.

    If the way I’m reading it is correct, then avoiding time sickness should be fairly easy – from the present year, a series of lanes are designated as dispatch years, where dragonriders only appear when they are going backwards, and other years designated as return lanes. The only difficult hops are the ones where someone has to clear their birth year in one jump going back, and the return jump from before their birth to their designated return “present”. If, say, time researchers always had to be twenty-four Turns exactly when they left, then it should be possible to leave on the day, and then come back the day after. Dragonriders wishing to retire from fighting could volunteer to staff the way stations, giving pictures to departing dragons and making copies of research from the arriving ones, so that the knowledge is more likely to be preserved or recovered if the chain is broken.

    Institute a Temporal Prime Directive and a Chrono Patrol, and things should be less likely to go kerflooie.

  10. genesistrine October 29, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    @ bekabot: love the thought of the transtemporal welcoming committee!

    I’ve been thinking – Pernese don’t seem to have any concept of history-including-progress. No sense of improvement-over-time (except Benden dragons being bigger, and that bloke who was trying to breed faster runners).

    Which does actually make some sense in their situation; the social setup is optimised for surviving Thread and is kept stable by Harper indoctrination of the young, the rule of the Lords and Craftmasters and, if anyone gets really uppity, fire-breathing dragons. There’s not going to be any technical innovation – new plough designs, new weaving machinery, etc – because the existing technology is as good as it can get, thanks to long-forgotten Earth designers optimising them for colonists who wanted to go back to the land; no exploration because the Southern Continent is believed to be Thread-bared wasteland and the Northern Continent was completely mapped by orbital survey, right down to minerals – the miners may never have to prospect at all, they just check the old records to see where particular ores are found.

    But still, it’s a long time for a society to remain so static. No fishermen ever get blown off course and find good fishing grounds off the Southern Continent? No Smithcrafters ever experiment with Fandarel’s proto-batteries before? No amateur antiquarians ever go poking around the sealed corridors, collecting all the weird stuff the people who were smart enough to tunnel through rock and create dragons left behind?

    One possible and nasty explanation: the original colonists messed with their descendants’ heads. Pernese are that dim because they were made that dim, to help keep their society static….

  11. genesistrine October 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    @ Silver Adept: yeaaahhh, I don’t think F’lar is thinking that far ahead. All that seems to be going through his head is some version of “we’ll have to look as though we’re doing something useful to keep the tribute flowing”, without any apparent curiosity about the planets themselves.

    Still, he’s a Pernese trying to think of something new, which is rare enough to earn him some props….

  12. bekabot October 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    It’s a surprise she didn’t bring out the Clock Roaches.

    Clock Roaches are like everybody else…they’re scared of dragons. Dragons are supratemporal.

  13. Only Some Stardust October 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Maybe in the far, far future someone does decide to play with time travel, and the reason there aren’t time travelers out the wazzaroo is that single event caused Pern to institute Time Cops, or at least a Time Squad. That’d make for a pretty thrilling novel really, and since the goal would not be changing the time line it could be pretty easily inserted whenever.

    And the planetary exploration sounds so potentially thrilling; refine the technique enough and jump across the cosmos, and you could have DRAGONSSSS IN SPAAAACEEE conquering the galaxy. Preferably with laser beams.

  14. bekabot October 29, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Of course the Defcon Paranoid version of this line of thought is that Pern is in fact run by a band of time travelers and that the band consists (as it would have to) of dragons and dragonriders. The goal of this corps is to enforce a preferred version of history which corresponds with the plotline expounded in the Dragonriders books. The linchpin of their plan involves having the whole planet saved by F’lar, a dragonman, so that all Pern will feel beholden to the Weyrs more or less forever. “Nothing too good for the Weyrs,” is what they want their planetfellows to think whenever the subject of dragonriders and dragons comes up. They call themselves the Temporal Lodge Commandos (feel free to think of a better name) and they like the background as much as F’lar likes the foreground.

    That could explain just about everything. The TLC’ers would already, in the early days of Threadfall, have done the experimental work necessary to their project and would already have set up the system of relays and way stations Silver Adept recommends. They would either have wiped out human timesickness as a factor in that way or managed to beat it through habituation and mental discipline. (That’s if human timesickness is even real, because it might be a ploy induced through technology and/or Mind Woo by the TLC’ers to discourage too much delving into their activities.) They would have attained, on a backward planet like Pern, to an unchallengeable technological superiority, which they would keep in a state of high burnish and polish through the judicious addition of selected Smithcrafthall personnel. (Maybe Fandarel knows about them and has turned down an invitation. Or maybe he hasn’t turned the invitation down; maybe he’s an agent.) They’re mostly staffed, again as Silver Adept recommends, with retired dragonfighters and their dragons, but what most Weyrfolk don’t know is that many dragons who are supposed to have gone between (especially dragons who’ve disappeared along with their riders) have actually gone off to join the Commandos.

    They’re the reason why none of the run-of-the-mill Pernese ever seem to get off the beaten track. All those fishermen blown off-course and entrepreneurial Smithcrafthallers and little old Weyrladies who make unexpected discoveries while looking for misplaced glowbaskets find themselves discredited by the Commandos, or enticed or compromised by them, or blackmailed into secrecy, or bribed into complacence. If worst comes to worst they are simply forced to forget (with the help of the Crafters the Commandos perfected memory erasure technology almost at the beginning of their ascent), and if by chance even that doesn’t work the event itself is “edited” and made never to have taken place. (But the Commandos rarely go that far, because they don’t believe in using dragonfire to fry a herdbeast haunch.)

    They probably have a Temporal Prime Directive, which they follow with the same dedication Captain Kirk abides by the planetary Prime Directive of the Federation. And the Chrono Patrol? That would be them.

    They have no fear of Clock Roaches; they are the Clock Roaches.

    What do you think?

  15. bekabot October 29, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Preferably with laser beams.

    “With frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!!

  16. Silver Adept October 29, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    @ genesistrine – Well, considering what the ancients have already done regarding genetic manipulation, I doubt anything like “highly unethical” would stop them from experimenting on their descendants.

    What seems to be the thing holding everyone in place is the gigantic devotion everyone has to TRADITION. The Benden Weyrleader got knocked off that trajectory because of Lessa, and seems to be running with it for as long as it gathers him advantage over everyone else, but not everyone is going along with it – the Harper Hall trilogy is very much about traditions and their enforcement.

    That, and any and all progress seems to get reset every time Thread falls, because apparently everyone is so freaking scared of the deadly rain that they don’t go exploring inside when they can’t go outside. The kids must be busy forever, or something. And it seems like the people who make happenstance discoveries are shushed or otherwise removed from being able to spread the word.

    Then again, as we’ve found out and will continue to find out, the power of TRADITION can lead to some pretty heinous acts.

  17. genesistrine October 30, 2014 at 7:19 am

    @ bekabot: Cool! We can up the paranoia quotient too – what if it’s not the humans running the Transtemporal Intervention Agency, but Pern’s other sentient species?

    We’re told dragons are creatures of instinct, need humans to control them, etc. But Mnementh, the only dragon we’ve had much narrative insight into so far, is very obviously far more intelligent and thoughtful than that – he takes a slow approach to a critical meeting to give F’lar time to calm down, for instance, and his snark about R’gul being “all chest and indignant eye, which meant he was feeling his authority” shows he can read human social and body-language cues remarkably well.

    And F’lar is a main mover at a critical point in Pern’s history. What if Mnementh isn’t F’lar’s noble steed, but F’lar’s handler? He’s in the ideal place to influence and observe F’lar’s thoughts and actions, take any action he considers necessary or instruct other agents for anything he can’t manage personally.

    If the dragons are in charge we can assume that they can either mitigate or cause time-sickness in their riders (depending on whether or not it’s natural for humans). Any humans who run into anything odd or seem too curious/possibly disruptive meet a set of jaws round a dark corner (and who would ever imagine that a dragon could teleport into such a small space!) or are dumped into an enclave in prehistoric Pern if they’re potentially useful for more than dragon yummies. (I don’t think they’d bother with mindwipe, though it’s perfectly possible that dragons have much more telepathic abilities than they’ve owned up to and can mess around with human memories if they want.)

    It’s even possible that they’ve been breeding Pernese humans for lack of curiosity and general obedience to draconic control – the bright and curious humans tend to get et or vanished, and dragonriders are chosen for controllability and good looks, and then tend to have more reproductive success (hot guy in leather with personal dragon! Well hel-lo there!).

    And where does Ruatha, with its tradition of super-duper Weyrwomen fit in? Have they all had Lessa’s power? Is it where human collaborators hang out?

  18. Silver Adept October 31, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Oh, wow, that’s Rod Serling kind of stuff there. I enjoy it greatly and would like to subscribe to your newsletter and/or fanfiction archive.

    I think the super Weyrwomen come into existence any time the Transtemporal Security Agency needs to control large groups of people and coordinate them – they get used as conduits and range extenders to exert draconic control on people who aren’t normally in contact with dragons enough to naturally be under it.

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