Dragonsinger: The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down

Last chapter, Menolly assisted in the Impression of two fire lizards, composed a new song after Brekke psychically broadcast her anguish to the world, and may have finally given us a reason to break out Beware The Nice Ones, as Menolly has (potentially correctly) deduced that Pona is poisoning other people’s opinions of her, by the way Lord Groghe reacted in surprise to meeting her. Both Silvina and Sebell have warned her away from getting revenge, but considering that all Menolly has received for being a good girl whose only heterodox idea is that girls can be Harpers is scorn, sexism, misogyny, and disdain from the other girls and most of the Masters at the Hall, I think it will be nice to see Menolly step outside the Good Girl box. Fisticuffs would be even better.

Dragonsinger, Chapter 8: Content Notes: Misogyny

Chapter Eight’s proper action starts with Piemur looking for the sign that the will be a craft fair, since it’s a restday and there’s no Thread due. The isolation of Half-Circle Sea Hold means Menolly knows what these craft fairs are, but that she hadn’t been to one in nearly seven years, because the traders stopped coming when Thread started falling. So, basically, seven years in isolation for Menolly, which must have suited her abusive father just fine, since no new ideas or information could get in to his domain.

And then there is this:

Piemur was thoroughly disgusted with her obtuseness. “Marks! Marks! What you get in exchange for what you’re selling at a gather?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out four small white pieces of highly polished wood, on which the numerals 32 had been incised on one side and on the other, the mark of the Smithcraft. “Only thirty-seconds, but with four I got an eighth, and Smithcraft at that.”
Menolly had never actually seen marks before. All trading transactions had been carried out by her father, the Sea Holder. She was astonished that so young a boy as Piemur had possession of marks and said so.

Okay, firstly, yet another way Yanus controlled his family, by controlling their money. Secondly:

Cocowhat by depizan

Pern has money.

Cocowhat by depizan

Pern has money.

Which really cements the idea of Pern as a steampunk version of the Italian city-states. With time-traveling, hyperspace-hopping dragons and alien spores, that is. But also makes the feudal idea of the Lords Holder even more ridiculous, as there are now two very different reasons that the feudal idea should have long since evaporated. The dragonriders hold the martial power and could have steamrolled the Lords Holder at any point they wanted to, and the Crafthalls hold the economic power, through producing goods and by controlling the monetary system. There really is no reason for the Lords Holder to exist as anything other than ceremonial lords, once structures can be constructed that can withstand Threadfall, or be hardened against it, or once it’s certain that the dragonriders can basically ensure that Threadfall is a non-issue with regard to destruction of property and crops. The Holds may function as cities for trade and other economic functions, but that’s all they should be at this point.

Secondly, this is clearly fiat money that’s being used, even though it’s divided in ways that suggest it should function more like real money. The wood used in the construction of the mark pieces has no intrinsic value, because it’s stamped with a value, rather than being a segment of a coin with actual value (for example, in very old England currency, the penny was a whole coin, the half-penny half of a penny coin, and the farthing a quarter of the penny coin). And fiat money needs either a store of valuable material to draw on, or the power of the monopoly of violence (and usually both) to actually work the way it’s supposed to. So the Crafthalls might have the valuable materials, which are…? But theoretically, the Holds have the monopoly on violence, even though it’s really the Weyrs that have said monopoly, so I would expect any money to be minted in the names and badges of the Holds or the Weyrs, not the Crafthalls.

And Piemur’s implication is that the various Crafthall marks have differing values, with the Smithcraft marks superior to most, if not all of them. Which makes me wonder what, exactly, a mark is worth. Some sort of bushel of goods from each of the crafts? A precious metal value of some sort? There has to be some exchange rate between marks and goods (and that’s in the control of the Crafthalls, so the Holders can easily have their power eaten away by inflation) or the whole system would collapse. And this is a worldwide system, because even isolated-at-the-end-of-the-world Menolly knows what marks are and their usage. I suppose we don’t see it from the dragonriders, because their goods are a protection racket, but it would seem that they should have mentioned it at some point earlier? (That does assume that there is a plan in place from the beginning, or at least Dragonquest.)

Money, based on the world we’ve seen so far, makes no sense at all. Especially as an established system that just hasn’t been mentioned until now.

Back to the action. There is the care and feeding of fire lizards, now with two new members and their hatchlings. Both Sebell and Robinton make their way to the feeding ground with their screamingly hungry fire lizards – and in doing so, both gain an appreciation for how Menolly has juggled nine, and get the angry side-eye from Domick and Morshal for having their rest day sleep interrupted by the fire lizards. Morshal gives Menolly an angry look as well as Robinton, as if he blames her for it. Robinton tells Menolly not to worry about it.

“Fortunately,” he went on, “you don’t have to sit classes with Morshal.”
“I don’t?”
“No, you don’t. Morshal teaches only at the apprentice level.” The Masterharper sighed. “He really is adept at drilling basic theory into rebellious apprentice minds. But Petiron already taught you more than Morshal knows. Relieved, Menolly?”
“Oh, yes. Master Morshal doesn’t seem to like me.”
“Master Morshal has always considered it a waste of time and effort to teach any girls. What good would it do them?”
Menolly blinked, surprised to hear her father’s opinion echoed in the Harper Hall. Then she realized that Master Robinton had been speaking in deft mimicry of Master Morshal’s testy manner. Warm fingers caught her chin, and she was made to look up at the Harper. The lines of fatigue and worry were plainly visible, despite his good night’s rest.
“Morshal’s dislike of the feminine sex is a standing joke in this Hall, Menolly. Give him the courtesy due his rank and age, and ignore his biased thinking. As I said, you don’t have to sit classes with him. Not that Domick will be any easier to study with….”

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Robinton, you’re all talk when it comes to actual change in your Hall, if you’re going to just excuse Morshal’s misogyny like that. You just mentioned that all he does is teach apprentices. If you were serious about wanting change, especially to Menolly, you would have sent Morshal to retirement a long time ago. Failing that, send him to the Smithcrafthall, where he can soak in Fandarel’s neverending quest for efficiency and it’s gender-equalizing effects until Morshal understands that women are as good as men at many things, including Harpering. By saying “oh, he’s harmless. Ignore what he says and treat him as a doddering old man.” ignores that Morshal, by virtue of his position, is able to poison the minds of all the apprentices he has to teach with his misogyny, all but guaranteeing that it passes on to the next generation. It means that you have to work twice as hard, if not more, to undo that teaching before being able to instill the change you want. And Robinton has already seen how that teaching causes him problems – Petiron’s missing apprentice was assumed to be a boy, because Everyone Knows, Harpers included, that only boys can be Harpers. Petiron omitted that detail deliberately so that Robinton, or anyone else, wouldn’t be prejudiced against Menolly before they had the opportunity to see and hear her work. It’s like the attempt at being virtuous that Robinton is spinning is being blocked by a narrative that intends to hurt its women as much as possible. Seriously, though, Robinton, how can you be such a matter of intrigue and manipulation and not see what’s going on here? Morshal is the most obvious misogynist, and you haven’t sacked him yet. And then you’ll have to deal with Domick, and possibly Shonagar as well, since they’re not necessarily doing well with Menolly, either.

After feeding the fire lizards, Robinton gives Menolly a two-mark piece and some instructions to collect a new belt, something pretty for herself, and some bubbly pies that Robinton says Piemur knows where to find. Menolly turns toward feeding herself, where, after some discussion of how the fire lizard distribution went down, the boys turn to their tactical ability to maximize goods, including delicious bubbly pies, from their marks collected. Sebell interrupts with more questions about care and feeding of fire lizards, and then Menolly spies the Mean Girl squad and has several very impolite thoughts about what sort of revenge she could take on them, including pulling out Pona’s hair by the roots. Audiva is spared a kind thought, because she’s been nice, or at least fair, to Menolly so far. Menolly tries to distance those thoughts from herself, but they persist until she distracts herself with Robinton’s assignment to rewrite her Brekke song. So, before the gather, Chapter Eight finishes. No violence yet, but whatever switch that has flipped in Menolly that has her ready to fight back is not turning back off. Next chapter promises to be action-packed.


23 thoughts on “Dragonsinger: The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down

  1. shuu_iam February 26, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    It suddenly occurs to me that McCaffrey is one of those authors that chooses names based on the characters’ roles. I’d noticed some before, but in thinking about it:

    F’lar: Flier. Flies on dragons.
    Menolly: Likes melodies.
    Audiva: Likes music (audio).
    Pona: Opponent.
    Lessa: Seen as lesser when she hid as a servant, maybe?

    Loving the deconstructions. I read these books as a child and missed a lot, so it’s good to see it in a new light.

  2. genesistrine February 27, 2015 at 1:44 am

    @shuu_iam: And Pona’s boyfriend Benis turns up next chapter.

    Just saying.

  3. Only Some Stardust February 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Morshal = Marshal.

    What I’m wondering is how wooden money works at all. Shouldn’t forgery be a major issue? It’s only wood, anyone can carve numbers on wood. Unless there is something I’m missing about the construction of these things; don’t tell me Pern is a world where ONLY a few uber special WoodCarver people know how to carve wood or have the brains and ambition to create money?

  4. Silver Adept February 27, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    Also, possibly, Brekke (break-y, the one who falls apart) and Lytol (lie-to-all, about how much it really hurts to have lost his dragon for all these years).

    As for the money, yeah, forgery should be a huge problem. I think we’re supposed to believe that the mills used for coin production are sufficiently complex, as with Terran metal coin, that they cannot be easily duplicated, and their construction is a highly-guarded secret, presumably with severe penalty to anyone who attempts forgery. That’s all not in any sort of evidence, however, and it still doesn’t answer the economic questions about money supply, relative value and exchange rates of the currencies, why the Crafts haven’t taken over yet and retained the dragonriders as a Thread defense and the monopoly on violence to keep themselves legitimate, and why the fractions of a mark go so small, are based on halves despite fractional coins being complete, and for that matter, why fractional values are being used at all. Unless there’s some sort of good that is always “one mark”, and the value of that good, and thus the currency, fluctuates based on what it takes to make that good.

    There will be zero help from the text on any of this – we’re just supposed to nod and accept it as normal without thinking about it. So feel free to speculate on how the economy of Pern actually works, now that we know there’s feudal tribute, a monetary system with multiple currencies, and a guild system in place regarding all the means of production.

  5. Nothing February 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I was thinking about the use of wooden Marks as currency, and the only real explanation I was able to devise is that it is because wood is a rare and precious commodity on Pern due to the difficulty of protecting forests from Thread; normally forests are razed apart from what I assume to be necessary for survival purposes. It also means paper money isn’t a thing on Pern–pulp would require too much waste of valuable wood. I also recall that metals were meant to be rare on Pern, more so than Earth, so maybe that’s why there are no metal coins. If wood is rare, that makes forgery difficult except via theft of wood and/or tree poaching. Maybe Marks are inscribed with special dyes/unique guild ink colors that are not available to those not involved with the production of Marks?

    Honestly, though, I don’t know, because while we are told wood is hard to come by and forests are few, there does not seem to be any real shortage, and Marks, as others pointed out, don’t seem to have any real value, only representational value.

    Reading this deconstruction, I didn’t remember quite how bad even the Harper Hall trilogy was. I got out of the Pern franchise years ago when I began to notice its tremendous misogyny; I couldn’t really enjoy it anymore. Yet somehow I still remembered the Harper Hall as being relatively safe… Ah, but wait until you see what ultimately becomes of Menolly later in the Pern books…really, things should go differently for her than they do, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. You’ll also increasingly see that Robinton is heavily favored by McCaffrey in almost all matters.

  6. genesistrine February 28, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Not to mention Killer Kylara, who was bored with T’bor. And regulation-minded R’gul. Manora runs the manor. I always thought there was something vaguely meant by Less-a and More-ta too, but what I’ve no idea.

    Maybe the thinking behind a craft mark is that it’s something like a day’s work for a member of the craft? An eighth would be an hour-equivalent, then, and a thirty-second a quarter of an hour, with value according to which craft – evidently a Smith’s time is considered worth more than anyone else’s….

    Though that ignores that no-one ever in the history of the human race would say anything as long as “a thirty-second”; they’d call it a quarter or a teener or a sprint or something equally short.

  7. Firedrake March 1, 2015 at 8:34 am

    My suspension of disbelief has torn and allowed my disbelief to fall through and go splat on the ground. I love coming up with in-universe explanations of things, but it seems so obviously “oh, she’s going to the fair, she’ll need to buy something, I’d better put in some money” that I can’t take it seriously.

  8. depizan March 1, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    The more I try to figure out how any of this works, the more confused I get. This isn’t the first time that incompatible things have cropped up in the world building, but I think this is the most we’ve had dumped on us all at once.

    I’m not even going to touch on how Pern having money works, except as it relates to all the other WTFs here.

    the traders stopped coming when Thread started falling

    Wat. Half Circle Hold is cut off from trading (or traders don’t travel at all) for fifty years??? And yet, it’s still possible for Harpers to get around, and for fishing fleets to go out. (And presumably for farmers to farm, unless everyone is living on nothing but fish every pass. Oh, wait, they can’t be, not everyone’s near the sea. How can you have a world where travel becomes impossible for fifty year stretches (except by dragon) but at the same time, it’s still possible to farm and the like?)

    Where is Yanus getting the money? Do they sell part of the catch? To whom? How? When? Are the traders capable of transporting food goods? If so, again, what happens during each Pass?

    For that matter, if Threadfall isn’t a problem for agriculture (or for their being forests and prairies and all that), why do settlements have to keep greenery away? Either the dragonriders are good at getting it all, making the no plants in the settlements rule seem like over cautiousness, or they’re not, in which case there should be huge Thread burns in the countryside. … Actually, it’d be worse than that, if any Thread got through and it really just keeps going, they’d have to go fight the Thread eating a forest (or whatever) lest it get to human settlements. Also, if Thread does get through, that should mean crops are lost and Passes are dangerous not just because of Thread directly but because of the potential for famine.

    Wait…back to the question of where the money comes from. How did Robinton get money to give to Menolly? Who is paying Harpers, and why?

    How does any of this work!?

  9. Lodrelhai (@Lodrelhai) March 1, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    If I remember right, Renegades of Pern deals with the trader caravans, but I never read that one. Still, with Thread falling my guess is the caravans didn’t stop so much as rescheduled – they’d want to time their travel so they either avoid areas when Thread is due or be at a Hold large enough to bring all their people, wagons, and animals under cover. Then, just as people are starting to get the hang of avoiding Thread, it starts outside the timelines and in unpredictable patterns. I imagine if there are trade caravans still, they visit the largest Holds only.

    That does not, however, prevent smaller Holds that are willing to take the risk from packing their own wagons or ships with trade supplies and heading for the nearest major Hold themselves.

    For Thread getting through, yeah, there’s a lot of inconsistency. When Menolly Impressed her 9, she fed the hatchlings to keep them from flying out; every indication was that those who escaped were all eaten by the Thread. And yet she also observes in Falls afterwards that with dragons in the air very little Thread ever actually hits the ground. Cleanup crews confirm this, as they rarely find any places where Thread got through, and never more than a couple that are easily handled by young people with flamethrowers.

    I suppose some explanation could be native flora and fauna evolving some natural deterrents to Thread – toxins, indigestible seed cases, mucus secretions to bog it down. The firelizards can’t be the only ones with a defense, right? And of course there’s the grubs, which apparently still have some presence on the northern continent since the Masterfarmer recognized them (but thought they were dangerous due to poor record-keeping). So as long as the dragons keep population centers clear, there may not be too much need to worry. Alternately, more Thread does get through than anyone realizes, but natural defenses (and grubs) combined with people only checking places that people usually go could make everyone think the dragons are more effective than they are. Any Thread that lands in wilds is handled naturally, any that lands around greenery-cleared Holds dies for lack of anything to eat, and what gets through in the crops and local trails gets cleared by the cleanup crews.

    And this just occurred to me, even though we saw it 2 books ago. There is a Masterfarmer. Agriculture is a Crafthall. Per Wikipedia there is a Fishercrafthall too. While I’m sure there’s plenty of people who can do this stuff without being part of a Crafthall, apparently the training of it, approved methods, and production are (or should be) controlled by a Crafthall.

    How do the Lord Holders stay in power?! What do they pay tithes to the Weyrs with? All production of food and goods is taught and handled through the Crafthalls. Primary education is handled by a Crafthall. Seriously, it’s brought up repeatedly how much everyone hates Meron and how Nabol suffers under him. Even if the other Lord Holders wouldn’t move against him for fear of inspiring their own people to do the same, how is it that the Craftmasters could not band together to take him out?

  10. depizan March 1, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I just get very tired of “I’m sorry, your world building is in another castle.” I know that’s somewhat inevitable in a series, but I don’t usually feel quite so much like the world building is swapping around from book to book (or scene to scene) to allow whatever the current plot is. Things are just too inconsistent or completely not explained. It’s like Pile o’ Tropes rather than actual world building.

    (I can see why this would make Pern a really popular world, fanishly speaking. Interesting but incompletely thought out or broken worlds are great for fanish endeavors, and a lot of fic and art and theories and such can come from people trying to make sense of messy canons. *says the Star Wars fan* But, at the same time, it’s frustrating if one hasn’t been sucked in.)

    I imagine if there are trade caravans still, they visit the largest Holds only.

    Which means that most Holds have to be self-sufficient or die. Which goes back to the questions about how the world works. I mean, either the trade caravans are necessary (for the Holds and/or the traders) and they’d have to figure out how to make it work during Passes, or they aren’t necessary and we’re left trying to figure out why they exist in the first place. They can’t be necessary and not happen for fifty year stretches. Or even for seven year stretches.

    What do they pay tithes to the Weyrs with? All production of food and goods is taught and handled through the Crafthalls.

    Well, now they are. In the first book, it seemed pretty clear that the Holders were paying in food. Which could be dismissed as early installment weirdness, except it goes right back to the Holds no longer really making sense now that we have powerful Crafthalls that control basically everything. (Except the dragons.)

    How can you simultaneously have Yanus Sea Holder and a Fishercraft Hall? Unless one can both be a Crafter and a holder? I mean, either these things are the purview of the Craft Halls or they’re not. I mean, it’d be fine if like there were Sea Holds too tiny to warrant Craft Masters (except then how do they warrant a Harper?). I could believe in tiny little out of the way settlements that maybe didn’t quite fall into How It’s Done. But that doesn’t match anything else.

    I try to make a sensible world out of what we’re given and end up throwing up my hands in frustration every time. This isn’t a puzzle that can be pieced together, it’s several partial puzzles all dumped in one box in the hope that no one will notice.

  11. notamolly March 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    It could be that half circle is off regularly traveled trade routes but then why are goods and services not brought by ship? Same goes for masters of the crafts (unless that is a training guild only?) And the girls? teenaged girls who are marginalized and treated like crap by the crafters where they are supposed to learn to sing and assist the harpers without being treated as part of the group. Then the new girl is part of said craft, there is no indication she is a prodigy and Silvina is sure not helping Menolly make friends. I am going for team Thread

  12. Only Some Stardust March 1, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    Hmm… maybe some Craft Halls are just concerned with keeping knowledge and teh Traditions, rather than actually actively going out and doing / overseeing daily. I mean, it would be pretty hard to prevent other people from making/buying nets and catching fish on their own, it isn’t nearly as complicated as music.

    Although, that brings up the question of how any Craft that can easily be learned or done by your average J’oe keeps itself from merging naturally into the Holds and becoming superfluous. Something that takes years of schooling I can see worth sending away your kids to learn at a glorified school called Crafthall, or wanting professionals to do it for you, but anything else and you’ll end up with a situation of ‘Nope, sorry, I do not feel like paying fees or even waiting time to have mr outsider crafter come in, I am just going to do it myself’.

    How do most crafthalls not end up disappearing / merging into the Holds? Or, conversely, have Holds merge into them when they are richer?

    I’m beginning to wonder if the Lord Holders simply rule because they have right to the land by The Ancestors, and tradition obsessed Dragon-Riders enforce that because it’s convenient for them. Perhaps the dragon riders keep the population less powerful by dividing it into Holds and Craft-halls? Dragons are powerful, but they need materials (that they would get from Crafthalls?) so they can’t flame indefinitely, nor can they go inside buildings that have cramped enough rooms and passages, and they need food / tithes. By keeping things separate and dividing the knowledgeable from the less educated masses who might gather around them and learn from them, they ensure people have to travel back and forth to get the things they need and they can’t hole up all on their lonesome as easily. Sure, it’s probably overkill as they have meat eating flying horses, but better safe than sorry, right?

    Who knows what educated masses might do – re-invent or re-discover the very technology the colonists fled to Pern from and shoot them with guns?

  13. Only Some Stardust March 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Wait, no, scratch that. They do hole up on their lonesome – no traders and all… ugh…

    Makes no sense. Fix head-canon failed.

  14. boutet March 2, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Fix attempt:

    -lord holders aren’t supposed to have power but started taking power for themselves after the Weyrs vanished (except Benden). The current situation IS unworkable and causing problems, with too many people in charge and no one following

    -all holds warrant a harper because Robinton wants to have a finger in every pie even if it means effectively banishing his journeymen

    -crafthallls like fishercraft don’t exist to teach their craft, but to represent their craft politically. Like a union.

    -the firelizards menolly was trying to save were dying because they flew out over the water, and thread drowns so the riders don’t bother with it when it’s falling into water. they were so hungry they went to the nearest food source, which was the fish in a frenzy to eat drowned thread

    -trade caravaneers didn’t start up out of necessity to move goods, they started with people who hated living in the holds. they trade luxury goods and aren’t technically necessary to hold life.

    Money though, no ideas.

  15. depizan March 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm


    Hm, yes, that does provide reasonable explanations for most of it. (And the harper theory seems particularly spot on. For all that Robinton is supposed to be a good guy, manipulative bastard seems more accurate.)

    You know, given that Thread drowns, and people know this, why hasn’t anyone taken advantage of it? You’d think moats would be a thing, or even, depending on exactly what the technology level is (besides varies wildly from book to book), rooftop fishponds.

  16. genesistrine March 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    the traders stopped coming when Thread started falling

    Maybe that’s just what Yanus told everyone….

    Seriously, it’s brought up repeatedly how much everyone hates Meron and how Nabol suffers under him. Even if the other Lord Holders wouldn’t move against him for fear of inspiring their own people to do the same, how is it that the Craftmasters could not band together to take him out?

    Ditto Fax. Even more ditto Fax, since he was actively invading other Holds and murdering their ruling families.

    Hmm… maybe some Craft Halls are just concerned with keeping knowledge and teh Traditions, rather than actually actively going out and doing / overseeing daily.

    Some may even be recent innovations – wasn’t there a minor point in DQ about the Oldtimers blocking the setup of a Woodcrafthall?

    Who knows what educated masses might do–re-invent or re-discover the very technology the colonists fled to Pern from and shoot them with guns?

    Yeah, in all this Lords/Crafts/Weyrs stuff we’re forgetting the masses. Unmechanized agriculture is labour-intensive; there’s got to be a huge number of peasants supporting this society. Presumably the Lord Holder’s job in reality is keeping the peasants producing.

    Maybe there’s more to this Blood thing than we’ve been assuming. It looks like the usual ooo-hereditary-feudal-nobility-is-so-keyool thing, but… what if one of the reasons the society seems so… weird… is that the Lords as a group have some degree of Lessa’s Sith Mind Control abilities over humans?

    rooftop fishponds

    Well, water’s heavy and Thread can’t eat rock either – a nice slate roof is probably just as protective and less likely to collapse and simultaneously squash and drown you.

  17. bekabot March 2, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    You know, given that Thread drowns, and people know this, why hasn’t anyone taken advantage of it? You’d think moats would be a thing, or even, depending on exactly what the technology level is (besides varies wildly from book to book), rooftop fishponds.

    genesistrine has handled the rooftop fishponds, and I don’t have much to add, except that (since Thread is supposed to make fish thrive) they’d be a good idea for anybody who could build roofs strong enough not to fall in from the weight of the water; that having been said, it would make about as much sense to just set the ponds up a little distance from the Hold(s), stock them with fish, then let the Thread do its stuff. Or you could dig a moat, if you wanted, though the moat wouldn’t provide much protection from the Thread, because moats are useful for stopping things which have to come across them but not as useful for stopping things which are falling down from above.

  18. depizan March 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I was under the impression half the problem with Thread was that it wouldn’t just land and sit there, but land and eat stuff around it – hence the no greenery in the Holds rule – which implies to me that it’s mobile.

    So, moats to keep it from wandering up to your place from the fields before the flamethrower crews got it. And while a slate roof would keep the Thread from falling into your home, it would still be hanging up there being dangerous until you flamed it or something and if it’s flopping about up there, might flop off onto people.

    (And I was thinking the rooftop ponds more for the Holds and Weyrs, which I had thought were rather castle/fortress type places and should be able to support the weight. Though the whole thing depends entirely on what the architecture is…and I have no idea.)

    Unmechanized agriculture is labour-intensive; there’s got to be a huge number of peasants supporting this society.

    And once again, we seem to have multiple bosses over the same people. Even if you’re right and the Holders exist to bully the peasants, the Farmcrafters have to be ordering the peasants about, too. In order for them to maintain their own existence, they can’t share knowledge, so they’d have to tell the peasants what to do in a way that would keep them from gaining any knowledge of farming. Or they train the peasants and the peasants are forbidden from training one another? It all just gets weird and complicated rather quickly.

  19. notamolly March 2, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    So unlike medieval guilds, the crafthalls for the most part control how much peasants are educated. Which leaves a quasi feudal society in the holds, not a single city-state to be seen and big fire breathing lizards keeping the little guys in check.

  20. genesistrine March 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Sloped roofs to slide the Thread into the moats.

    It’s a shame we never get a look at what Thread actually does when it gets to do its thing. There’s mention of Thread burrows, and a couple of infestations in I think High Reaches when the Oldtimers have basically given up, but we never learn what it looks like. A sort of ground-and-below level area of everything being eaten? A pulp-sf landscape of mutant fungus?

    The really weird thing is this must have been going on since long before humans found Pern, so it’s obviously not a last infestation and Pern vegetation will presumably grow back after some indeterminate time with no harm done.

    Holds and Weyrs seem to be artificial and/or artificially extended cave systems as a rule. The older ones were carved out with high-tech mining tools, but the more recent ones must have been carved out by human labour – is that a craft too? A division of the Miners?

    Maybe the Farmcrafters are some equivalent of agricultural college. The Lords can send a younger son or some suitably loyal flunkey or relative of same for training; they can act as stewards/tax collectors, able to accurately assess what amount of tithes should be expected from particular smallholds as well as advising the smallholders on more efficient methods.

  21. Silver Adept March 5, 2015 at 1:29 am

    I love the thinking going on here, and wish there had been more of it in the original.

    There’s been one oblique hint to the nature of Thread in the actual narrative – the spoiler data explicitly states what kind of thing it is, but a reader that understood would know that Thread is a spore of some sort, which presumably burrows underground and then absorbs as much of the energy and nutrients in the surrounding area, choking off any other plant life. There would presumably be an upper bound for any one spore, but enough of them would be devastating if the natural remedies weren’t in place to check the power of the spore.

    I like the ideas of the Crafthalls as colleges and guilds put together. Holders send sons and daughters to the various Halls to get the knowledge, and they come back and teach others. Of course, that requires the sons and daughters of Holders to not be shitheads, which is a dubious prospect at best.

    We’ll get to meet one of the smaller Holder families past this series, and the relationship there is very much reminiscent of a feudal fiefdom, with land given in exchange for tribute.

  22. Only Some Stardust March 5, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Thread as a being like a fungal spore does not entirely make sense; I don’t know of any real life spores that instantly eat away at you the moment you touch them.

    I suppose they could be extremely toxic, meaning that it would take time for the natural toxins they introduce to decompose and let the environment grow back. Although in that case you’d expect nearly everything and its brother to have developed immunities to the toxin.Or maybe it is coated in some kind of acid and that’s how it burns, although I can’t think of any moving organisms coated in acid. Sedentary ones like pitcher plants keep it trapped via gravity, but I don’t know how a moving one would keep the acid from sloshing off.

    I think the Crafthalls as kind of being like colleges/guilds combined is the one that makes most sense so far, definitely. And like the elite everywhere, some want to reserve the best education away from the ‘unwashed masses’. Perhaps there is more linking between high ranked Holders and high ranked Crafters than what we’ve been able to see; nepotism being a thing I’d be very surprised if that wasn’t going on. The very talented, of course, get scholarships so they can entertain their lords with pretty music better.

  23. genesistrine March 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I think Thread’s only referred to as a spore in its space-travelling phase – once it hits atmosphere it becomes full-blown silver-strand Thread-with-the-munchies.

    It’s stated to eat – this could be taken as in the same sense as acid eats, but I’ve always seen it as eating-to-get-resources-to-reproduce-and-spread. So presumably it will eat its way through everything organic over a wider and wider area until it hits the ocean or something that can eat it, and once it has eaten everything it can it – dies off? Transforms into another phase? There’s presumably some kind of spore-shooter on the Red Star – is that another phase of the Thread organism?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: