Monthly Archives: October 2015

Deconstruction Roundup for October 30th, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is anticipating Costume Day tomorrow.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

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The White Dragon: …same as the old age.

Earlier in the chapter, the true nature of the Dawn Sisters became apparent with a powerful telescope, and Jaxom, accompanied by Menolly, Piemur, and Sharra, discovered what are likely to be the ruins of the first settlement on Pern, before having to fight off Thread and the anger of everyone else for just going off and exploring. The discovery has basically summoned everyone that is everyone to the South, and it’s here that we pick up again…

The White Dragon, Chapter XIX, Part Two: Content Notes: Misogyny

(Still 15.10.16)

In the hours that followed, Jaxom was grateful that Sharra had thought to feed him breakfast. He didn’t get much time for more food. The moment he entered the main Hall, questions were thrown at him by the Weyrleaders and Craftmasters assembled. Piemur had been very busy during Fall because Master Robinton had already completed a sketch of the southeastern face of the mountain to show the incredulous visitors, and a rough, small-scale map of this section of Southern. From the almost rhythmic way Menolly described their jaunt, Jaxom decided she had already repeated the account many times.
What Jaxom remembered most of that session was feeling sorry that the Masterharper was unable to see the mountain first hand. But, if Jaxom had waited until Master Oldive permitted the Harper to fly between

…and the Benden Weyrleader is asking Jaxom to send him the coordinates so he can take a look with everybody else, a move N’ton squashes after laughing at “the look on your [Jaxom’s] face”, which isn’t described, but presumably is either crestfallen or utterly pissed off at the Benden Weyrleader wanting to steal his thunder so completely and transparently.

So Jaxom leads the others to the site of the ruins, where the Benden Weyrleader trues to dig through the ash and uncover the path…with his belt knife. T’bor (High Reaches Weyrleader, still) points out that erupting volcanoes tend to cover everything in their path in lots of ash before a sun-blotting grouping of fire-lizards arrives, exuberant that men have returned to them. After they all vanish when asked about the volcano and everyone with a fire lizard gets vivid imagery of the eruption, the Benden Weyrleader is still openly skeptical of the idea that fire lizards have a way of preserving memory from previous times.

Because it’s not like he lives in a society that preserves memory, albeit imperfectly, in crafts, songs, and traditions, or anything like that.

“Of course men were here. They’re not telling us anything we didn’t know. But for them to say they remembered?” F’lar was scornful. “I could accept your finding D’ram in the Cove with their aid…but that was only a matter of twenty-five Turns in the past. But…” For want of an appropriate expression of his skepticism, F’lar merely gestured at the dead volcanoes and the long-covered traces of a settlement.

I should probably mention that at least one of those depictions of memory was detailed enough to allow for a time jump, and it survived more than four hundred and fifty Turns so that it could be used for the purpose of that hop, along with a song that would provide the key for its use. There’s skepticism, oh great thief of credit due others, and then there’s what you’re doing. None of this is mentioned, but a defense is mounted:

“Two points, F’lar,” Menolly said, boldly contradicting the Benden Weyrleader, “no fire-lizard in this time knew the Red Star, but they were, nonetheless, all afraid of it. They also…” Menolly paused, and Jaxom was certain she had been about to bring up the fire-lizard dreams about Ramoth’s egg. He hastily interrupted.
“Fire-lizards must be able to remember, F’lar. Ever since I’ve been in the Cove, I’ve been troubled with dreams. At first I thought it was leftover from fire-head fever. The other night I found out that Sharra and Piemur have had similar nightmares…about the mountain. This side of it, not the one facing the Cove.”
“Ruth always sleeps with fire-lizards at night, F’lar,” Menolly said, pressing their case. “He could be relaying those dreams to Jaxom! And our fire-lizards to us!”
F’lar nodded, as if granting them this possibility.

He never fully agrees with it, as Fandarel offers some sound advice on what to do next – dig. Lots. Much like the proverbial child in a candy shop, the Mastersmith has a lot of new problems to solve and knowledge to gain, and he’ll borrow the best diggers from the Masterminer to excavate.

Jaxom takes his leave, and an afternoon nap, before Mirrim and Sharra wake him up to send him in to Robinton for a report. Jaxom is rude and cross with Mirrim, before trying to turn the charm on for Sharra.

“You are my true friend, Sharra,” Jaxom said. “Mirrim irritates me so! Menolly told me that once Path had flown, she’d improve. I haven’t noticed any sign.”

Sharra doesn’t take the bait, and Jaxom is soon set to the task of trying to get information from the fire-lizards about where would be a good spot to focus the digging efforts. After Robinton deduces that Jaxom was the one that stole Ramoth’s egg back from the south, that is, now that the whole picture is laid out before him of what fire-lizards can do.

Robinton also gets to articulate the main question that has been in our minds since we could piece together that the Ancients were highly technologically advanced and possibly a space-faring race:

“…Surely people who could hold the Dawn Sisters in the sky in a stationary position for who knows how many Turns ought to be wise enough to identify an active volcano. My surmise is that the eruption was spontaneous, totally unexpected. The people were caught going about their daily tasks in cot, hold, crafthall. If you can get Ruth to focus those disparate views, perhaps we could identify which of the mounds were important from the numbers of people coming from it, or them.”

Knowing Robinton’s character design, he’ll turn out to be right, but the question itself is important – why would a space-faring group be caught unawares by an active volcano? Unless there were no seismologists or computers and sensors to monitor the activity, at which point I’m surprised they didn’t completely wipe out when Thread first arrived. If us Terrans have had the technology to monitor activity for decades at this point, it seems reasonable to believe so would any settlement in the blast zone of any volcano. So I’m going to guess that Robinton is correct, but that the Ancients brought it on themselves by doing something seismically dangerous.

Mirrim volunteers herself and Path to help with focusing the fire lizards after Menolly, Jaxom, and Sharra are set to start tomorrow. Now, we’ve already been set up earlier in this part, and in earlier books, to understand Mirrim as sharp-tongued and generally headstrong. With that in mind:

“I can arrange to come, too,” Mirrim said.
Jaxom caught Sharra’s closed expression and realized that Mirrim’s presence would be as unwelcome to her as to himself.
“I don’t think that would work, Mirrim. Path would scare the Southern fire-lizards away!”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous, Jaxom,” Mirrim replied, brushing aside the argument.
“He’s right, Mirrim. Look out in the Cove right now. Not a single fire-lizard that isn’t banded,” Menolly said. “They all disappear the minute they see any other dragon but Ruth.”
“It’s ridiculous. I have three of the best-trained fire-lizards in Pern…”
“I must agree with Jaxom,” the Harper said, smiling with sincere apology to the Benden dragongirl. “And, though I quite agree that yours are undoubtedly the best-trained fire-lizards in Pern, we don’t have time for the Southern ones to get used to Path.”
“Path needn’t be in evidence–”
“Mirrim, the decision has been made,” Robinton said firmly, with no trace of a smile now.
“Well, that’s plain enough. Since I’m not needed here…” She stalked out of the hall.

You know what? I’d love to see the book called Dragongirl…written by someone who doesn’t have a deep and abiding hated for women who stand up for themselves and are assertive. Otherwise, the use of that term instead of “dragonrider” pretty well cements what the narrative, and most likely all the other riders, think of their first female fighting rider. Mirrim deserves more than a brush-off and a convenient excuse that pretty well indicates that she’s not wanted. If Jaxom can read Sharra’s body language, Mirrim probably can, too.

And as extra topping on this shit sundae, Robinton reaches for the most convenient and sexist excuse possible.

Jaxom noticed the Harper’s gaze following her [Mirrim], and he felt acutely embarrassed by her display of temperament. He could see that Menolly was also disturbed.
“Is her Path proddy today?” the Harper asked Menolly quietly.
“I don’t think so, Master Robinton.”

So our options appear to be that Mirrim is either raggedy because her dragon is having a PMS-equivalent, or that Mirrim is just naturally bitchy. Way to go on the false choice there. *thbbbbpth*

After Mirrim is sent off, Brekke and the Brown Rider Rapist arrive, Brekke to chide Robinton for not taking his retirement easy, the Brown Rider Rapist to chide Mirrim (if he can find her) for bothering Robinton. Piemur calls for a swim, and the gang head to the water, Jaxom asking how Robinton knew, and Menolly pointing out that someone could follow the logic chain to Jaxom, and that more people will, now that the crisis of the South is finished and they don’t need to believe in nonexistent goodwill.

There is another joke at Mirrim’s expense about her trying to stay on and see if the fire-lizards will react to Path.

“And what do you bet Mirrim tries to stay there [with Wansor star-watching] the night, too, to see if Path does keep away the Southern fire-lizards?” Piemur asked, a slightly malicious grin on his face.
“Mirrim does have well-trained fire-lizards,” Menolly said.
“And they sound just like her when they scold everyone else’s friends,” Piemur added.
“Now that’s not fair,” Menolly said. “Mirrim’s a good friend of mine…”
“And as her best friend you ought to explain to her that she can’t manage everyone on Pern!”
As Menolly prepared to take umbrage, dragons began popping into the air over the Cove, and with their bugling no one could hear anything else.

Which is convenient, otherwise we might have to hear someone say something nice about Mirrim, instead of her perpetual Butt Monkey status. We also know that Brekke has been managing everyone since her appearance several books ago, but she apparently isn’t the focus of negative attention any more. Perhaps because the Brown Rider Rapist’s “claim” on her gives her protection so long as she doesn’t step too far out of line.

The arrival of dragons and ships is for a big conference at Cove Hold about what to do with the ruins. The time-skipped are uninterested in the artifacts of the past, and the Masterminer’s analysis suggests that the lava and the ash both avoided the main parts of the settlement and only damaged a small bit.

Heading back to the dragons, Jaxom gets to overhear Mirrim talk with N’ton about Ruth, which is also the narrative teeing up for us a reminder that we should not feel empathy for Mirrim.

“Of course, Wansor’s all right,” Mirrim said, sounding peevish. “He’s got his eyes glued to that tube of his. He never knew I came, never ate the food I brought, never knew I left. And further,” she paused, taking a deep breath, “Path did not scare away the Southern fire-lizards.”
“Why would she?”
I’m not allowed to be on the Plateau when Jaxom and the others try to coax some sense out of the Southerners.”
“Sense? Oh, yes, seeing if Ruth can focus the fire-lizards images. Well, I shouldn’t worry about it, Mirrim. There are so many other things you can do.”

That sounds incredibly patronizing, and it probably is. Considering the context, N’ton and Mirrim are probably both thinking that those “other things” are delivering food, running supplies, and generally the things that women in the Weyr do, not the things that the real dragonriders do. So Mirrim is most likely understandably aggravated, in much the same way Jaxom was, about regularly being sent to the support squadrons. Even so, her rejoinder aims well below the belt.

“At least my dragon is not an unsexed runt, good for nothing but consorting with fire-lizards!”
“Mirrim!”
Jaxom heard the coldness in N’ton’s voice; it matched the sudden freezing in his guts. Mirrim’s petulant comment resounded over and over in his ears.
“You know what I mean, N’ton…”
Just like Mirrim, Jaxom thought, not to heed the warning in N’ton’s voice.
“You ought to,” she went on with the impetus of grievance. “Wasn’t it you who told F’nor and Brekke that you doubted if Ruth would ever mate? Where are you going, N’ton? I thought you were going…”
“You don’t think, Mirrim!”
“What’s the matter, N’ton?” The sudden panic in her voice afforded Jaxom some consolation.
[…N’ton reveals Jaxom within earshot…]
“Jaxom?” Mirrim cried. “Oh no!” Then Jaxom heard her running away, saw the glow basket jolting, heard her weeping. Just like the girl, speak first, think later and weep for days. She’d be repentant and hanging on about him, driving him between with her need to be forgiven her thoughtlessness.

So, I’m very much not sure what to do with this. The brash and unapologetic Mirrim we’ve seen so far wouldn’t crumble at her target overhearing her. At the same time, if the aggressiveness is a front and Mirrim uses it because she sees it as the only way to survive and be on an equal footing with the hypermasculine dragonriders, then the thought of having actually hurt someone might be enough to set her off. That Jaxom groans at this, making it sound like Mirrim does this tears-and-apology routine a lot, suggests that the second interpretation is more likely, which makes Mirrim continually victimized and hurt by the institutional anti-women sentiments embedded deeply in Pern and in the narrative. Once again, the narrative punishes women who get ideas, and it doesn’t permit anyone else to speak positively on their behalf. (Which is interpretation three – Mirrim goes off to cry because men cannot be impugned without swift consequences on Pern.)

After Mirrim leaves, N’ton apologizes and Jaxom dismisses the whole thing – after all, Ruth doesn’t understand and Jaxom’s okay with having an ace dragon. Ruth, on the other hand, is itchy and his concern is what Jaxom can focus on. While retrieving oil for Ruth, Jaxom is annoyed at not ever being treated as a full dragonrider (a Thing that should generate empathy for Mirrim, not scorn), and on his return, he finds that Mirrim has been sent back to Benden and Sharra is itching Ruth.

And to close out this triple-length chapter, it turns out that Jaxom’s penis sense is correct. Sort of. Ruth called Sharra over to get Jaxom to open his mind up again, which Roth apparently has determined means sex. Sharra is apparently up for opening Jaxom’s mind.

Jaxom asks “Will you do that for us, Sharra?” and her reply is “I would do anything for you, Jaxom, anything for you and Ruth!” Which doesn’t actually sound like she’s interested in Jaxom per se, but she is interested in Ruth, and Jaxom is the vehicle for that. Now, it’s entirely possible that Sharra has become affectionate for Jaxom during his recovery, but she’s been giving him a lot of signals that says she thought it was the fever talking and not him. I haven’t seen any change in her that hasn’t been filtered through Jaxom’s desire for her. To have it come to sex at this point seems to be a sign of narrative necessity and not any organic reason that has to do with Jaxom.

The closing line for the chapter is

They made love in the soft warm darkness, delighting in each other and fully responsive to the moment of ecstasy that came, totally aware that Ruth loved with them.

Which still suggests that Ruth is the interesting thing in their mental threesome and not Jaxom. It would be nice to have more explicit confirmation of this from the text, otherwise it’s basically the narrative rewarding Jaxom for being creepy, possessive, and trying to control Sharra. Which, admittedly, is in character for the narrative, but is still a bad thing.

Now that I look at it, Ruth may, in fact, have a sex drive, but not one that wants to engage in mating flights and the physicality that goes along with it. He’d rather be engaged with the minds in the act than get physical. Being able to peer into Ruth’s head during this would be nice. Instead, all we get is everyone apparently has a good time.

This week in the Slacktiverse, October 25th, 2015

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

The Blogaround

  • From Ren Faires to political interpretations of children’s literature, Storiteller covered a range of subjects in the past two weeks:
    • After revisiting three different places recently, she reflected upon the changes she saw in her son over the course of a year in Deja Vu All Over Again.
    • In the ongoing but very occasional Book Club series of reinterpreting children’s books from overly literary or political points of view, she looks at Why Richard Scarry’s Busytown Has the Worst City Government Ever.
    • Having attended the local Renaissance Faire (a fantasy event where a space “becomes” a highly romanticized, fantastical version of a pseudo-Renaissance town) twice with a toddler, she has some recommendations for those considering the same in Fun at the Renaissance Faire for All Ages.
  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Most stuff was about the Halloween contest story, Life After, mentioned last week
      • Chapter 1: Time Changes – shows a future (2029) hero and villain reacting to the latter’s boss changing the timeline in a way that reverses the world they knew, while in the past, 2004, people are faced with the event that changed the timeline
      • Chapter 2: Dying Light – has the characters on earth in 2029 and 2004 trying to survive while another character tries to make it back to earth after being stranded in the afterlife.
      • Then I did a meta-post on the metaphysics of the setting, in part if anyone is interested, in part so that people offering helpful ideas (thanks, by the way) could have a better idea of how I was looking at it.  Very much about cycles of life and death and growth and decay with the truly bad things being the ones that try to stop or unbalance the cycle.  I encourage anyone to use said information to deliver additional helpful ideas.
    • In general life stuff I noted that where I am the cold times have begun, I asked for advice on catching mice without killing them, I noted that my sinus cavities appeared to be trying to kill me (thankfully the condition did not persist),and I now have a new new new computer because the double new computer to replace the single new computer didn’t work as advertised.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Open Thread: Sickness

(by chris the cynic)

 

I once wrote a story (well, fragment) in which a survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse (zompocalypse) says that the thing he misses most from the days before the collapse of civilization is cold medicine.  I’m feeling like that character a bit and it doesn’t make it easy to think, so you get sickness as a prompt.

As usual anything related to that can be used as a jumping off point.

Examples include: something about how you feel about sickness, where money should be allocated in dealing with medical research, the fact that “Cat’s Cause Schizophrenia!” should in fact be written, “Certain cats are hosts to a parasite known as ‘toxoplasma gondii’ exposure to which can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in humans especially when those already at risk are exposed as children,” or anything else even vaguely related to sickness.

 –

[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.]

Deconstruction Roundup for October 23, 2015

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who may have created a script that works this week.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Erika M. and Will Wildman: Something Short and Snappy

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Vaka Rangi

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

The White Dragon: Welcome To The New Age

Last chapter, the retirement Hold built for Master Robinton received its intended occupant, with everyone dancing around this reality. Piemur got grumpy at everyone that no-one was recognizing his efforts that made everything possible, and Jaxom continued to scheme of ways to get Sharra alone so he could try to seduce her.

The White Dragon, Chapter XIX, Part One: Content Notes: Sentient experimentation, paternalism

(15.10.15-15.10.16)

The chapter starts with the Masterharper calling in Jaxom and Piemur to talk about the Dawn Sisters. (The two are a bit slow-moving from their apparently late night.) Wansor will be by eventually with a bigger telescope to examine things further, and Brekke is there to indicate that the rollout of the Holder sons plan has hit snags (as well as to remind us of the unofficial rule in place that says Robinton is not to be overtaxed, no matter what he thinks). The main gist of the meeting, however, is to say that once Jaxom is certified to fly, he, Piemur, Menolly, and Sharra are going to go looking for more evidence of the ancients on the Southern Continent to see if they can piece together why the Ancients left.

“Harper and Holder?” Jaxom asked, seizing the opportunity he’d been waiting for.
“Harper and Holder? Oh, yes, of course. Piemur, you and Menolly have worked well together, I know. So Sharra can go with Jaxom. Now…” Oblivious to the sharp look Piemur gave Jaxom, the man went on. “One sees things from the air in a perspective not always possible at ground level. The reverse, of course, applies. So any exploration should involve both methods. Jaxom, Piemur knows what I’m looking for…”
“Sir?”
“Traces of the original habitation of this continent. I can’t for the life of me imagine why our long-dead ancestors left this fruitful and beautiful continent for the colder, duller North, but I assume they had good reasons.”

Robinton explains that while old Records talk about the need to move North, there aren’t enough surviving ones to figure out why. The discovery of an iron mine by Toric and mine shafts by N’ton and Robinton confirms that there was a civilization here, and they had some impressive power at their disposal, to keep those mines stable, even as other attempts, like D’ram’s shelter in the past, have long since succumbed to the ravages of time.

The scope of the operation is massive, considering the size of the continent, but the potential reward is great, or so Robinton says to them. After laying out the parameters of the initial search grids, Robinton has a final comment.

“However, I want to impress on you both that though this is a joint effort, Piemur is far more experienced, Jaxom, and you will please bear this in mind when problems occur. And send me your reports for this…” he tapped the chart, “every evening! Off with you both, now, and organize your equipment and supplies. And your partners!”

Which, I am sure, infuriates Jaxom some and makes him less likely to defer to Piemur.

The party doesn’t leave that day, as Oldive arrives and looks over both hold and Harper, not buying into Robinton’s attempt at gallows humor, and recommending light duty for the Harper and unobtrusive help from the younger people around. Jaxom is given a clean bill of health, and then Wansor arrives with a full-on proper telescope, instead of the spyglasses that have been in use to this point. The Starsmith has progressed greatly in his knowledge of optics based on reverse-engineering the microscope, to the point where the eyepiece placement is offset, muttering “something about reflective and refracting, ocular and objective and that this was the arrangement he thought best for the purposes of viewing distant objects.” Hats off to the Starsmith and the glass grinders (wherever they get their glass from) who can create such lenses and calculate the optics. I think we’re well past the point of fantasy kingdom at this point, and have firmly moved into the latter part of the time of the Italian city-states.

As we wait for sundown, we’re told that Wansor finally decided to come down and look when Robinton said things were odd with the Dawn Sisters, discounting everyone else, including Idarolan, who as a sea navigator, probably knows more about the heavenly bodies than anyone else. Fandarel has frames for setting the telescopes on, although he apparently has to physically move Wansor to get him out of the way of their construction, and this is treated as friendly and genial.

Finally, sundown arrives and Wansor steps up to the eyepiece…and refuses to believe his eyes. Fandarel takes a look:

“I see three round objects!” Fandarel announced in a booming voice. “Round metallic objects. Manmade objects. Those are not stars, Wansor,” he said, looking at the distressed Starsmith, “those are things!”
Robinton, almost shoving the Smith’s bulk to one side, bent his eye to the viewer, gasping.
“They are round. They do shine. As metal does. Not as stars do.”
“One thing sure,” Piemur said irreverently in the awed silence, “you have found traces of our ancestors in the South, Master Robinton.”
“Your observation is eminently correct,” the Harper said in such a curiously muffled tone Jaxom want certain if the man was suppressing laughter or anger, “but not at all what I had in mind and you know it!”

That’s right, they have discovered geostationary satellites. (Of scientific interest, Pernese moons are not tide-locked, according to observations.) The discovery is confirmed by everyone there, then the Benden Weyrleaders and the Brown Rider Rapist are summoned to see the same things. Wansor is trying to do the math on something, reaches his result, and then asks both Fandarel and N’ton to recheck the math. Which again confirms that the objects in the heavens are geostationary, and it is Piemur who suggests those are possibly the craft by which the ancestors came to Pern. Which is an interesting conjecture – if it’s true, then whatever disaster befell the Ancients did so very early on, where they weren’t able to finish bringing down all the colony ships to cannibalize their parts to build the new homes with. It seems more likely that they’re part of a communication array of some sort.

Robinton wants to find out what they are. The Brown Rider Rapist is game, but his enthusiasm is met with a stronger veto from Brekke, who has no intention of going through the heartbreak she suffered when he jetted off to the Red Star again. So Robinton asks his fire lizard to go to the Dawn Sisters and tell us what it is. Which really comes across as callous and cruel, considering the only extraplanetary affair so far has been the visit to the Red Star that nearly claimed the lives of the Brown Rider Rapist and Canth. But Robinton appears to have no qualms about sending the fire-lizard he’s empathically bonded to into a potentially hazardous and deadly environment to satisfy his curiosity. Now that I think about it, that sort of sums up Robinton, doesn’t it?

As it turns out, Zair is a blank when it comes to going there. There’s no disappearance or even indication that Zair knows what he’s talking about, which suggests that the memory of the fire-lizards has no recollection of the ships above.

Then comes two really smart decisions. The first is that Oldive puts a sedative in Robinton’s wine so that he falls asleep instead of trying to stay up late, and the other:

It had been tactfully decided not to broadcast the true nature of the Dawn Sisters, at least until such time as Wansor and other interested star-crafters had had a chance to study the phenomenon and reach some conclusion that would not alarm people. There’d been enough shocks of late, F’lar commented. Some might construe those harmless objects to be a danger, much as the Red Star was.
“Danger?” Fandarel had exclaimed. “Were there any danger from those things, we should have known it many Turns past.”
To that, F’lar agreed readily enough but, with everyone conditioned to believe that disaster fell from sky-borne things, it was better to be discreet.

Not that they could know it, but Fandarel is entirely wrong – the destabilization of any of those craft could result in an extinction-level event, and they really wouldn’t know unless someone noticed the orbit decaying of those craft. The time-jumping dragonriders could then engineer a Lessa-class Stable Time Loop where, soon after leaving for the past, the solution party reappears with the answer in hand or already built, so no real danger, but only potential. In any case, the decision to not broadcast the real nature of the Dawn Sisters is a good one to avoid unnecessary panic. Not so great for the advancement of science (SCIENCE!), but it certainly seems like all of those things and discoveries are being treated as Craft secrets anyway.

As Jaxom heads to bed, he resumes thinking with his penis, despite the monumental discovery.

As Jaxom pushed his legs into his sleeping blanket, he tried not to be annoyed with the thought of another invasion in Cove Hold, just when he thought he and Sharra would be left alone for a while.
Had she been avoiding him? Or was it simply that circumstances had intervened? Such as Piemur’s premature arrival in Cove Hold? The worry over Master Robinton, the need to explore which left them too tired to do more than crawl into their furs, the arrival of half of Pern to complete the Hold for the Harper, and now this! No, Sharra had not been avoiding him. She seemed… there. Her beautiful rich laugh, a tone below Menolly’s, her face often hidden by the strands of dark hair which kept escaping thong and clip…

You’re still being creepy, Jaxom. But rather than let your conscience intrude and point this out, Jaxom sticks with it and passes through “Nobody needs me at Ruatha”, “other dragonriders will have bigger and stronger flyers than Ruth, so they will explore more in any day (and might steal Sharra away from me)”, and parks his jealousy and inadequacy train at “So I’m going to go to the volcano first so I have something to brag about and feel superior to everyone about.” Before he can act on that idea, though, he falls asleep and dreams again of the volcano erupting. This time, though, he can pay enough attention to realize that he might be reliving a vision of the other side of the mountain, which would also lead to proof of where the Ancients were. It’s a can’t-miss plan and it gives Jaxom all the glory he could ever want. All he needs is to borrow Idarolan’s spyglass and…

He pivoted on his heel and lurched backward in surprise. Piemur, Sharra, and Menolly were standing in a row, watching him.
“Do tell, Lord Jaxom, what you saw in the Seaman’s viewer? A mountain, perhaps?” Piemur asked, showing all his teeth in that smug grin.
On Menolly’s shoulder, Beauty chirped.
“Did he see enough?” Menolly asked Piemur, ignoring Jaxom.
“I’d say he had!”
“He wouldn’t have planned to go without us, would he?” Sharra asked.
They regarded him with mocking expressions.
“Ruth can’t carry four.”
None of you are fat. I could manage, Ruth said.
Sharra laughed, covered her mouth to silence the sound and pointed an accusing finger at him.
“I’ll bet anything Ruth just said he could!” she told the other two.
“I’ll bet you’re right.” Menolly didn’t take her eyes from Jaxom’s face. “I think it really is best of you have some help on this venture.” She drawled the last two words significantly.
“This venture?” Piemur echoed the words, alert as ever to nuances of speech.
Jaxom clenched his teeth, glaring at her. “You’re sure you could carry four?” he asked Ruth.
The dragon emerged on the beach, his eyes glowing with excitement.
I have had to fly straight for many days now. That has made me very strong. None of you are heavy. The distance is not great. We are going to see the mountain?
“Ruth is obviously willing,” Menolly said, “but if we don’t make a move soon…” She gestured toward Cove Hold. “C’mon, Sharra, we’ll get the flying gear.”
“I’ll have to rig flying straps for four.”
“Then do it.” Menolly and Sharra raced off down the sand.

And at this point, I kind of feel bad for Jaxom. He’s always been seen as someone who’s messing things up. His birth derailed Lessa’s plan to take over at Ruatha. Lessa may be happier where she is now, in terms of being able to wield real power, but Jaxom had an inauspicious birth. Then he had a dour ex-dragonrider as his warder growing up, and then he screwed things up royally by Impressing Ruth, crossing the streams in ways that made him unpalatable to the Holders and too precious to risk for the dragonriders. Not to mention that Ruth is both a runt, by dragon standards, might be thought of as developmentally delayed, and is apparently ace, which makes him even weirder among the dragons. Since then, both Jaxom and Ruth have basically been under everyone’s watchful eyes. Even when he was sneaking off to see Corana, there was a wink and a nod. The only thing he’s pulled off was the egg return, and even then, there are suspicions among the Harpers that he was responsible. And Piemur is rubbing it in his face, at least in his perception, about what a great explorer he is, Menolly is, and everyone else’s accomplishments, while he has been sidelined with injury and sickness. So Jaxom gets an opportunity to steal a march on everybody and publicly claim something as his and Ruth’s accomplishment, he’s confronted with the very people that he wanted to have something to be on par with, and they’ve known about it all along. For Jaxom, life sucks.

While he gets no cookies at all in how he’s treated women through this whole book, (I suspect, had such a term existed when the book was written, Jaxom would be complaining right now about having been “friendzoned” by Sharra this whole time) with the exception of the egg heist, Jaxom has been the Butt Monkey of this book, despite being its ostensible protagonist. So there is the possibility of empathy here with Jaxom as an underdog.

Unfortunately, when you’re psychically linked with a dragon that all the fire-lizards adore, you’re probably going to have your secret plans broadcast to others. Ruth probably just thought it would be fun to have friends along on an adventure, without any thought about why Jaxom might want to do something alone.

Ruth can carry the four, and in his exuberance, pops them through hyperspace to the destination. Which is breathtaking, and we learn that the volcano dream was a shared dream, which is what tipped everyone else off to the plan that Jaxom hatched. There’s a lot of scenery porn as we get to see the continent from dragon perspective, on both sides of the mountain. And then, they get to observe the side of the volcano they have been seeing in their dreams, and there are obvious signs of human settlement, presumably in the path of and/or partially buried by the flow of lava or mud from the eruption, but the narrative isn’t clear on this at this point.

The explorer crew’s aerial survey is cut short by noticing Thread on the horizon, which sends everyone back to base on a hyperspace hop. Everyone else at base is apparently annoyed with their trip. Let’s recap, however, who was on that trip:

  • A trained dragonrider, who has flown Threadfall with the Queen Wing and can hold their own in a fight
  • The legendary girl who survived Holdless and Impressed ten fire lizards
  • The Harper who, for the last few years, been exploring the Southern Continent without the protection of a Hold
  • Someone who has been living in the South for years

So I don’t really think there’s any reason for anyone to be annoyed with them for being out during a possible Threadfall. Idarolan is pissed, but that’s probably because they took his spyglass without asking, and what if they broke the delicate expensive instrument, and so forth. We also get one side of a conversation between Ruth and Canth about how everyone on the morning’s expedition was just doing what the Masterharper wanted before everyone buckles down to the task of fighting Thread. Afterward, the Brown Rider Rapist comes by, intending to rip Jaxom a new one for leaving without telling anyone and not being back with enough time to get prepared for the fall. In response, Jaxom gives him a verbal two-finger salute that shows maturity and diplomacy while making it absolutely clear how angry Jaxom is at being talked down to again:

“We were ready for Thread when it fell, brown rider,” he responded calmly. “My duty as the rider of a dragon was to protect Cove Hold. I did. My pleasure and privilege was to fly with Benden.” He gave a slight bow and had the satisfaction of seeing the anger in F’nor’s face give way to surprise. “I’m sure the others have by now reported to Master Robinton what we discovered this morning. Into the water with you, Ruth. I’ll be glad to answer all your questions, F’nor, when I’ve cleaned Ruth up.” He gave F’nor, who was staring at him in honest amazement, a second now and then stripped off hot and sweaty flying gear, leaving only the shortened trousers that were more suitable to the heat.
F’nor was still staring at him when he ran and dove neatly into the water, coming up beside his wallowing white friend.

Jaxom has apparently stupefied the Brown Rider Rapist with this outburst, but by now, people should be ready to start thinking of Jaxom as an independent man instead of a child to be ordered around.

Sharra arrives to assist with the cleaning, bearing stiff-bristle brushes that Brekke brought. Menolly has apparently placated Robinton by giving him a full report and not letting him get a word in edgewise, a feat that impresses Sharra mightily. Brekke was fretting for Jaxom’s health (even though Oldive had pronounced him fit the previous day), and we saw what happened with the Brown Rider Rapist.

The mission is a success, which is a good news, bad news situation. The bad news is that the discovery from this morning is going to bring everyone worth any kind of status immediately down to excavate, analyze, and otherwise attempt to solve the mystery. And they’re all coming right now, right after the Threadfall and the cleaning routine.

And we’ll stop here, after Jaxom gets a quick meal, at the halfway point of the chapter. This particular chapter, by the way, is, at least on the electronic version in reading on, three times as long as any other chapter in the book that I’ve read, and in most other books in the series as well.

This week in the Slacktiverse, October 20th, 2015

(posted by chris the cynic, who is again sorry about being late again; written by members of The Slacktiverse)

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

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Things You Can Do

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