Monthly Archives: May 2015

This week in the Slacktiverse, May 31st, 2015

(posted by chris the cynic, sorry for being so late, written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I wrote a new part of Being more than a Simulacrum.  In “Before you go” Wade, Felix, and Zita all have non-immediate responses to meeting Leela Place Place, and she gets the results of her brain-scan and figures out where she’s going next.
    • In the Kim Possible decon-ish thing, I’ve gotten passed the preliminary stuff and thus wrote my first post about an entire episode, “You mean my social status doesn’t exempt me from the rules?” which covers the first episode, Tick Tick Tick, in which Kim meets her arch foes and gets detention.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

Alex Seanchai shared a project they’re doing that you might be interested in:

I am going to make Greek alphabet oracle discs by stamping copper, and in order to defray the costs of the stamps and the blanks, I have preorders available through Indiegogo rewards.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

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Deconstruction Roundup for May 29, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has a doctor visit today to hopefully help with the 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.

Chris the Cynic: Stealing Commas

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

InsertAuthorHere: Um… InsertAuthorHere


Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Philip Sandifer: Writer

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragondrums: A Guy Like You

Last chapter, Piemur survived another round of deadly Thread, likely bending a few laws of nature to do so, collected a pet runnerbeast and a queen dragon, and had serious doubts about returning to the world he left in a sack. Meanwhile, the rescue effort finally got authorized by Robinton with an appropriate cover story.

Dragondrums: Chapter 10: Content Notes: None, again

Chapter Ten stays with Piemur, Farli, and Stupid for the entire time, so no cuts to elsewhere. The action starts with the arrival of red-sailed ships landing on his part of the land.

As Piemur continued to watch the disembarkation, he became aware of a growing sense of indignation that anyone would dare invade his privacy, would have the audacity to make a camp and set up cooking fires with great kettles balanced on spits across the flames, just as if they belonged here. This was his river, and Stupid’s grazing grounds. His! Not theirs to litter with tent, kettle, and fire!

If this is Piemur trying to do an impression of Yertle the Turtle, I’d say he passes. But Piemur is not king of all he sees, and even if he were, there’s one thing that he keeps forgetting in all of this – he hasn’t actually revealed his presence to anyone yet. So nobody knows that he’s staked a claim on the land.

Nor will anyone, because Piemur decides to move inland and erase the traces of his existence rather than go say hi to the work crew, who are here to harvest numbweed. Because Piemur hates the smell of cooking numbweed (as does everyone else, apparently, that isn’t forced into having to make the salve) enough to abandon the shelter he currently has set up. Piemur, as he moves inland, while Farli is scolding at something, starts to construct a story so he could impress the work party, strolling in like he owns the place, and spinning a yarn full of almost-truths with a few key omissions…

“Hello! What are you doing sneaking around here?”

Busted.

A tall girl stepped into his path, blocking his way. On one shoulder was a bronze fire lizard, on the other a brown, both eyeing Farli intently. She let out an apologetic squeak, as startled as Piemur. As she also dug her talons into his shoulder and tightened her tail about his neck, all that came out of his mouth was a choked cry of astonishment. A quick chirp from the bronze caused Farli to relax her tail. Piemur turned his head toward her, annoyed that she hadn’t warned him.
“It’s not her fault,” said the girl with a wide smile, easing her weight to one leg as she enjoyed Piemur’s discomfiture. She had a pack strapped to her shoulders, a belt with a variety of pouches, some empty; dark hair wrapped with a band tightly about her head so strands wouldn’t tangle in branches; and thick-soled sandals on her feet as well as shin guards tied around her lower legs.

I’m trying to picture this and figure it how it will work in relation to collecting plant material and/or wielding harvesting weaponry. If the plants are thorny, it doesn’t seem to make sense to cover the shins, but leave the tops of the feet open and reinforce the soles. If the trees tangle hair, wouldn’t something like a braid, possibly with weight on the end, be more useful for keeping hair out of the trees? And what happens if this new girl has to climb or crawl? Should we be assuming she’s wearing sturdy full-leg and full-arm coverings, which would make it very hot for her? If not, how does she avoid injury? (Later, we find she has a wherhide jacket for protection.)

“Meer,” and she indicated the bronze, “and Talla know how to be silent when they wish. And when they realized that she was already Impressed, we all we wanted to see who had got a gold. I’m Sharra from the Southern Hold.” She held out her hand, palm up. “How’s you get down here? We didn’t see any wreckage as we came along the coast.”
[…Piemur explains in the Robinton way, letting Sharra think he’s been wrecked…]
“That’s all past history for you, lad,” said Sharra, her deep, musical voice compassionate. “If you survived the southern seas, and three Threadfalls holdless, I’d say you belong in the south.”
“I belong here?” Suddenly, the prospect heartened Piemur. Sharra was as perceptive as the Harper. The thought of being permitted to stay on in this beautiful land, walking where no one else, maybe not even Sharra, had ever trod before, made Piemur’s heart tip over.
“Yes, I’d say you belonged,” said Sharra, wide mouth curled in a smile. “So, what name shall I call you by?”
If she hadn’t given him the opportunity to state a name, any name, not necessarily his own, Piemur might have prevaricated. Instead, he answered her with a grin. “I’m Piemur of Pern.”

I’m wondering if there isn’t something else making Piemur’s heart tip over, considering puberty and such, but for now, we’ll take Piemur at this word that it’s exploration and having a place to call his own that warms his heart.

Piemur introduces the rest of the cast to Sharra, and finds out that she makes very sure to be well away from the numbweed factory, collecting other herbs, because she hates the smell, too. Piemur offers to help her, which she accepts, and then proceeds to shamelessly use him to retrieve difficult-to-collect herbs from trees, thorny bushes, and tight spaces over the next few days.

She was quite ready and prepared to daub him with numbweed whenever necessary, but she did have to point out that his size made him the logical person to pursue the shyest herbs in their protective environment. Nothing would permit Piemur to lose honor in Sharra’s eyes.

For his scratches, Piemur learns a great deal about the medicinal properties of the herbs he’s collecting, as well as quite a bit about the surrounding area, while he admitted to having been a herdsman’s son. He also learns about a better plant to use for bedding while he shares the light blanket Sharra has with her.

In other types of stories, this would be something to be negotiated, because Sharra and Piemur would both be acutely aware of their differing genders and not want to give off an impression of invitation or imposition unless they could be sure the other was receptive. Since we’re still in the boy’s adventure story, though, possibly handwaved by Pern customs outside of Weyrs, there’s no direct mention as to whether either of this pairing finds the other attractive, as there’s still adventure to be had. Maybe if and when Piemur gets back to Southern Hold, there will be some commentary to the matter. Maybe not, though – Menolly didn’t have any crushes she was leaving behind to go out from Half-Circle, after all.

One night’s hunting from the fire-lizards yields an interesting piece of information about the world they both live on. Having dispatched a whersport, something entirely new to Piemur, that the fire lizards brought, Sharra explains a bit more about the local wildlife:

“There’re a lot of strange beasties in this part of the south. As if all the animals you have in the north got mixed up somehow. A whersport isn’t a fire lizard, and it isn’t a wher. For one thing it’s a daytime beast, and whers are nocturnal; sun blinds them. Then there’s far more varieties of snake here than in the north. Or so I’m told….

Hrm, crossed strands in an ancient room, a disturbing connection between fire lizards and dragons, and apparent “mixing-up” of the animals on the north. And grubs. Seems like the ancients had access to some very high-level scientific procedures.

Chapter 10 closes with the cooking of dinner from the whersport and some plants and tubers.

Open Thread: Types of government

(idea by Lonespark)

Do you have a preferred system of government?  Would you like to share your thoughts on the pros and cons of various systems? Are there any from history that particularly interest you?

(Note that a system of government which interests you doesn’t have to be one that you approve of.)

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

This week in the Slacktiverse, May 23rd, 2015

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I had a less than good week.  As a result, only two posts.
    • First, I noted that my continued following of Kim Possible fandom led me (via crossover) to suddenly stumble into Raven/Starfire Teen Titans stuff and wondered if I’m going to keep on ending up unexpectedly finding myself following teen superhero slash pairings.
    • Second, I finally got around to tackling the Kim Possible title sequence which I had originally planned to do in the same post that covered the theme song (which plays over said sequence) that was posted almost a fortnight earlier.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for May 22, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who totally spaced on his Pern post yesterday, despite working on Pern the day before.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Philip Sandifer: Writer

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Dragondrums: The Pines of Rome

Last chapter, as promised, Piemur landed into life on Southern with a thud, hatched his fire lizard egg, and decided he was content, right where he was.

Dragondrums, Chapter 9: Content Notes:

Chapter Nine continues this idea of Piemur running on instinct, in contradiction to the character that had been established in the previous book and here until he stole the fire lizard egg.

Afterward, Piemur wasn’t certain why he had run from the dragonriders. He seemed to have been running from or to something ever since his voice had changed. In his panic, he supposed he aligned the Oldtime dragonriders with Lord Meron, and he did not want to encounter anyone connected with Lord Meron just then.

That’s not instinct, that’s logic. Piemur already knew by that point that Meron was supplying Southern Weyr in defiance of Benden, and then he heard Mardra threaten Meron. That sounds like a perfectly good pair of reasons to run away very fast, not to mention the stolen fire lizard egg Piemur had. Stop robbing Piemur of opportunities to demonstrate what he’s allegedly famous for.

Breakfast is an unexpected half-consumed-by-Thread runner beast corpse for Farli (Piemur’s queen) to eat raw and Piemur to cut strips from for cooking later. As they explore, Piemur finds the perfect inland camp point, with vegetables behind him, herdbeasts in front, and fresh water a-plenty.

Squinting against the sunlight, Piemur could see herdbeasts grazing on the lush grass on both sides of the river. And yet, there’d been Thread here the day before, and no dragonriders flaming to prevent the deadly stuff burrowing into the ground and eating the land barren.
As if to reassure himself, he poked at the soil with one of the sticks he’d collected, lifting up a clod of grass. Grubs fell from the roots, and Piemur was suitably awed by the abilities of those little gray wrigglies, which could, all by themselves, keep stuck an enormous plain free from the ravages of Thread. And those bloody Oldtimers hadn’t so much as stirred from the Weyr during yesterday’s Fall. They weren’t proper dragonriders at all. F’lar and Lessa had been right to exile them here to the South, where the insignificant grubs did their work for them. Why, he could have been killed during that Threadfall, and not a dragonrider around to protect him. Not, Piemur honestly admitted, that he hadn’t been well able to protect himself.

Freeze it there, please.

First, when did Piemur learn/deduce that grubs were the reason that Southern recovered easily from Thread? From what I remember, that was supposed to be a closely-guarded secret with need-to-know clearances applied, such that Benden and the Masters of the Crafthalls friendly to Benden are the ones to know, and everyone else left in the dark. Could this be yet another of the Noodle Incidents perpetually referenced but never explained? An authorial slip, perhaps, because the audience learned about the grubs back in Dragonquest? In any case, there’s no forthcoming explanation as to why Piemur knows this secret knowledge.

Second, um, Piemur, if I’m a dragonrider, and I know that I’m sitting on a continent where the grubs will keep the vegetation alive, and nature is smart enough to keep most of the fauna out of harm’s way, why would I risk injury to myself and my dragon flying flaming passes over deserted areas where there are no confirmed people? You’ve been trying to hide yourself from them for this long, so they really have no reason to be there. Unless you believe that Tradition (TRADITION!) dictates that dragonriders fly and flame all the areas where Thread could fall on land, regardless of whether there are things there or backup systems in place. That sounds like what “proper” means here. But again, exiled, so therefore they’re already outside the definition of “proper”.

Anyway, Piemur’s plan at this point is to wait in the valley, let Farli and himself feast from its riches until she’s outgrown her beginning-of-life appetite, and eventually make his way to Southern Hold. While he gathers fire material, he takes a closer look at some of the vegetation and realizes that he’s in a field of numbweed plants, which provides needed relief to his still sunburned skin. The Plan, however, finds itself getting easily derailed.

As he settled by the fire to wait for his meat to cook, he knew he’d be sorry to leave here.
He said that to himself the next morning when he rose, and that evening when he curled himself up in the shelter he’d made for Farli and himself. He really ought to try and get word back to the Harper Hall.
Each day, however, found him too busy catering to the needs of a rapidly growing fire lizard to make provisions for a journey of possibly several days. He spent a whole day trying to catch a fish for the oils need to soothe Farli’s flaking skin.
[…Thread falls again, but this time, Piemur is ready for it…]
He had made preparations against the next Fall of Thread, determined never to spend another eternity under a rock ledge. He had found a sunken tree trunk where the river flowed out of the forest. Diving into the water, he kicked down to the depth at which drowning Thread could no longer sting. There he hooked his arm around the tree trunk and poked back to the surface a thick reed, through which he then was able to breathe.

Since it doesn’t say what the diameter of the reed was, and since Piemur isn’t dying of poisoning while he does this, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that his snorkel is sufficiently wide to permit proper exchange of gases. And a second benefit that the snorkel is curled at the top in some way so that the sheets of Thread falling above the surface of the water don’t drop into his breathing apparatus and destroy him internally. And a third benefit that Thread doesn’t viciously chew through the reeds like it does any other organic matter so that his snorkel can be above water without being shorn off…

…okay, that’s a lot of doubt. The way the scene is written, I’m not sure Piemur can survive. Maybe there’s a missing detail, like that his snorkel is protected by the tree trunk, and so the Thread falling onto the trunk either doesn’t penetrate or gets a grub swarm as soon as it touches down. Despite the missing details, Piemur is able to wait out the Threadfall. Once it finally passes, he notices that much of the local wildlife has been doing the same thing he has in trying to get away from the Thread. Which makes me wonder why life on Pern hasn’t evolved some adaptation to combat Thread, like armor, or the ability to anticipate the Thread so as to be able to get under cover, or gills. So that something like this doesn’t happen:

He saw the bulge of the fallen runner beast, half-hidden under a large numbweed bush. To his surprise, it heaved upward, its bloodied flank crawling with grubs. The poor thing couldn’t still be alive? He raised his stick to put an end to the creature’s pain when he realized that the movement came from under the animal, spasmodic and desperate. Farli hoped from his shoulder and chittered, touching a tiny protruding hoof that Piemur hadn’t noticed.
It had been a female runner beast! With an exclamation, Piemur grabbed the hind legs and pulled the corpse from the youngster the female had given her life to protect from Thread. Bleating, it staggered to its feet, shedding a carpet of grubs, and hobbled the few steps to Piemur, its head and shoulders scored here and there by Thread.
Almost absently, Piemur stroked the furry head and scratched behind the ear cup, feeling its rough tongue licking his skin. Then he saw the long shallow scrape on the little beast’s right leg.
“So that’s why you didn’t make it to the river, huh, you poor stupid thing?” said Piemur, gathering it closer to him. “And your dam sheltered you with her body. Brave thing to do.” It bleated again, looking anxiously up at him.

So Piemur gives the beast a name – Stupid – and takes care of him, using everything he knows from his pre-Harper life, which is another advancement along the path of running Menolly’s story in reverse.

The narrative spins away from Piemur back to the Harper Hall, where Sebell and Menolly meet with the newly-returned Robinton from Nabol Hold. Robinton is quite pleased with himself, even though he has no news of Piemur.

“I have arranged matters so that we don’t have to worry about Nabol Hold supplying the Oldtimers with northern goods or receiving a further embarrassing of riches of fire lizard eggs in that otherwise impoverished Hold.”
“Then, none of the disappointed heirs caused trouble during the confirmation?” asked Sebell.
Master Robinton waggled his fingers, a sly smile on his face. “Not to speak of, though Hittet is a master of the snide remark. They could scarcely contend the nomination, since it had been made before such notable witnesses. Besides, I never bothered to disabuse them of the notion that Benden and the other Lord Holders would call the heir to account for the sins of his predecessor.” Master Robinton beamed at the reactions of his journeyman to his strategy. “It afforded me considerable pleasure to help the new Lord Deckter to send the worthless lot back to improve their beggared holds.”
[…Robinton gave some advice that running a Hold is like running a successful business…]
“We won’t locate Piemur by whistling for him from the north. You two go south. Make certain that Toric lets the Oldtimers know, if you can’t carry the message discreetly to them yourselves, that Meron is dead and that his successor supports Benden Weyr. I believe that Master Oldive wants you to bring back some of those herbs and powders. He used up a large portion of his supplies on Meron.”
“But don’t you dare return until you’ve found Piemur.”

So the narrative has no trouble at all showing us why Robinton is the best ally the Benden Weyrleader will ever have, but it won’t bother with why Piemur is so universally known. Still, it’s a solution that would make Spock proud – no lies, merely omissions, and everybody filled in the details the way that worked to the Harper’s benefit. Plus, an excuse to send Menolly and Sebell southward to collect the wayward apprentice, even though at this point, there’s no useful intelligence that he can deliver. (Which might be another part of his reluctance to return to the Hall, in addition to the part where he feels out of place there and almost was killed there by apprentices who are still there.)

Only a little while to go before everything wraps up. But first, everyone has to actually get to their appointed places.