Monthly Archives: April 2016

Deconstruction Roundup for April 29th, 2016

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is anticipating an exchange reveal.)

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

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

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you can’t stop dancing after putting on a pair of enchanted shoes. Or for any other reason, really.

Nerilka’s Story: The Tragedy Compounds, With Interest

Last chapters: Nerilka, meet worldwide epidemic. Epidemic, meet a competent planner, administrator, and Healer who will be hampered by the fact that she’s female and her family is unlikely to be any sort of helpful – Tolocamp is self-quarantined, and Campen is unqualified to lead in a crisis.

Oh, yes, and speaking of Tolocamp, he abandoned Pendra and some of his daughters to the known plague zone as he broke the quarantine.

Nerilka’s Story: Chapters IV and V: Content Notes: Evil Stepmothers, misnaming


Chapter 4 opens with the drums pounding again – one of Nerilka’s earplugs had fallen out. Which means Nerilka can hear quite clearly as the drums beat out the death of her mother and sisters at Ruatha. The remaining children grieve privately at the loss, with the exception of Campen, and Nerilka wonders whether anyone, in addition to her, had hoped that it had been Tolocamp instead of her mother and sisters.

If only she could hear us outside the narrative, all of us that are very tired of having women be sacrificed for narrative and plot, and especially this one so that it can set up a bitchy rivalry and get the mistress into the household to cause trouble. Twice, while Nerilka is raiding the storeroom to help Desdra and the Healers stay stocked, she spots Anella in the area, and is unhappy about her Holder duties being potentially usurped:

Clearly I heard my father’s vigorous voice calling out the window, and I saw Anella lurking just round the first bend in the corner. Quick as a snake, she scuttled away, but the gloating smirk on her face on her face provoked me past indifference to active dislike and disgust of her.
[…down in the storeroom, Nerilka summons Sim at a shriek, then apologizes to the Healer for overburdening him…but not to Sim, despite his clear fear that something bad was going to happen to him…]
…I caught sight of Anella sweeping down the steps, beckoning imperiously to Felim. I knew that if I entered the main kitchen and saw that smug little lay-aback playing Lady Holder, I would rue the outcome.

So it’s going to be Official Mistress versus Lady Holder for control of Fort. If it’s not abundantly clear at this point, this story idea can go fucking die in a fire.
Plus, Nerilka gets some extra salt in her wounds as she goes by the Harper Hall – Tirone is, of course, safe and sound, having avoided the plague to this point. While Nerilka catches some of the Harper joy for herself, it is quickly erased by the details of Tolocamp’s sentries refusing entry or exit to Healers or Harpers and the presence of the internment camp for the sick and for the Healers.

The healer eyed me with some consternation, for this smacked of criticism of the Lord Holder. I could not in conscience show any trace of my growing disgust, disillusionment, and distrust of my sire. And obviously I should not have heard such sentiment.

Wait, what? Why should a Crafthall worry about insulting a Lord Holder? The Crafts are independent of the Holds, and the Holds have to trade with the Crafts for their simple and advanced goods. The Harpers, especially, since they’re the only official teachers. Yes, there’s something to be said for staying on good terms with the Lord Holder so that you don’t end up outside during Threadfall, but the way Nerilka describes this makes it sound like there’s a more official prohibition on criticizing the overlord and their decisions. I wonder when it came into being, and also how the Lords Holder ever try to enforce those prohibitions.

After inquiring about Capiam’s health and urging Desdra to take advantage of her help and supply access as much as possible, Nerilka instructs Sim to tell her where the internment camp is and makes plans for how to make sure everyone there has proper supplies, as well as how to make sure that Harpers and Healers are unimpeded by the guards (as much as possible). From there, she heads to the kitchens. Felim is entirely a-tizzy, trying to decide whether Anella’s demands for “all kinds of foods that I [Felim] know Lady Pendra would not condone” should be taken to heart or politely ignored.

“She said she was to order Hold matters now. And I was to prepare broth for her children, whose stomachs are delicate; and there are to be confections with every meal, for her parents desire sweets; and roasts midday and evening. Lady Nerilka, you know that isn’t possible.” Tears streamed down his cheeks again as he shrugged. “Must I take orders from her now?”
“I’ll find out, Felim. Proceed with the plans we made this morning. Not even for Anella can we alter an established routine in one day.”
[…and then…]
That little lay-aback, coming in here and thinking she could just take over a Hold the size of Fort and run it if it were exactly like the backhills midden from which she’d come! The thought of the chaos that would shortly result at such inexpert hands gave me a perverse delight. Little did Anella know if real management, and if she wished to to keep my father content, she’d better learn. Whatever had made her think that just because Lady Pendra was dead, she was to step into her shoes, just as she had taken her bed partner? Unless…
[…something bad happens, that is. Something that distresses the other children…]
“Father has had her transferred into Mother’s rooms. Already!”

Hrm. This sounds suspiciously like a situation where Tolocamp wants to disown his own entire family. It is pretty clear by this point that Tolocamp and Pendra did not have a loving relationship between themselves or their children (thus, Anella as the open, acknowledged, mistress-shaped secret between them), but the speed at which it appears Anella is to ascend to Lady Holder makes it pretty clear to me that Tolocamp does not give a damn about his current children.

Nerilka quips that the speed might be because Tolocamp has the plague and wants to enjoy his remaining time on the planet. Campen is offended, but the remaining siblings are more on board with that joke, before they go off to change the guard for the interment camp and do their other tasks.

As it turns out, Tolocamp wastes no time at all installing Anella as Lady Holder. Dinner that night has Anella read out a pronouncement:

“I, Lord Tolocamp, quarantined from active participation in the conduct of Fort Hold in these unsettled days, appoint and deputize Lady Anella as Lady Holder to ensure the management of the Hold until such time as our desired union can be publicly celebrated. My son, Campen, will actively discharge under my direction any duties required of the Lord Holder until such time as I am no longer immured.
I solemnly charge all of you, under pain of disgrace and exile, to observe the quarantine of this Hold, and to refrain from contact with any others until such time as Master Capiam, or his delegate Masterhealer, rescinds the quarantine restrictions. I require obedience to all restrictions made by me to ensure the safety and health of Fort, Pern’s first and largest Hold. Obey and we prosper. Deny and we fall.”
She turned the sheet toward us and pointed to the end. “His signature and ring mark are here to be verified.” Then she insulted us again. “He charges me to discover which of you ventured perilously close to the internment camp today.”

Nerilka has no qualms about stepping up, but when she does, so do other siblings. Nobody shouts that they are Spartacus, but the effect of confusing and aggravating Anella is the same.

Additionally, in the electronic version I see here, in the middle of the pronouncement is an image of a standing woman, holding an unrolled scroll, wearing a tiara, looking down smugly on a sitting man and woman, the man looking angry, the woman looking…dispassionate. Like she’s pretending not to be interested so as not to give the smug woman the satisfaction of an emotional reaction of any sort. The actual description of Anella’s clothes don’t mention any head pieces, so we have to guess this is an embellishment from the illustrator. I, personally, would have put the illustration after the whole proclamation, but that’s just me.

Also, what the ever-blistering fuck is going on here? If I wanted an evil stepmother plot straight out of a fairy tale, I’d go read a fairy tale. The only thing we’re missing at this point are the evil and selfish stepsisters. The plague plot from Moreta had its fair share of taking care of prima donnas, most notably Sh’gall, but Anella couldn’t be more cartoonishly evil at this point.

So, after this grand thing, someone snarks the quarantine by pointing out Tolocamp already broke it. And Anella demands that the children come up to the head table with her (but she can’t name them all), as well as the Harper, earning herself another snarking about who requires the head table (and, by implication, who isn’t so full of themselves as to need it). Nerilka vows to provide no help to Anella, and thinks that others will follow suit. She drinks quickly, eats quickly, makes sure the scraps from the kitchen get sent to the interment camp, and then heads to bed. That’s Chapter IV.

Chapter V opens with news of dragonriders flying Thread, but Nerilka is suspicious of the numbers reported, because there wouldn’t be enough riders based on the casualty reports. Before she can puzzle out the meaning of the message, she hits the kitchens for klah, with the obligation to keep Felim on an even keel after he suffered insult from Anella about not having enough sweets on hand. Nerilka wants to let the new Lady Holder learn what a bad idea it is to aggravate your cook.

And then realizes what Lady Holder really means, and swiftly hustles off to remove journals that contain sensitive data about the residents and to take Pendra’s personal jewels for later distribution among the survivors. On her way back to the kitchens, Nerilka gets another way to paper cut Anella:

I was on my way back when Sim intercepted me.
“Lady Nerilka, she is asking for a Lady Nalka.”
“Is she? Well, there isn’t one in the Hold, is there?”
Sim blinked, confused. “Doesn’t she mean you, lady?”
“She may indeed, but until she learns to call me by my proper name, I am in no way obliged to answer, am I, Sim?”
“Not if you say so, Lady Nerilka.”
“So return to her, Sim, and say you cannot find Lady Nalka in the Hold.”
“Is that what I do?”
“That is what you do.”
He lumbered off, muttering under his breath about not finding Lady Nalka – any Lady Nalka – in the Hold. That is what he was to say. No Lady Nalka in the Hold.

Uh, Nerilka? What will happen to Sim when he delivers that message to someone who has already shown a contempt for things that don’t go her way? And who probably has the same attitude toward drudges as everyone else does in the planet? Are you unconcerned about sending Sim in to likely be beaten and shouted at by Anella when she hears the response? Or do you think that Sim’s possible mental difficulties will spare him from being hurt?

Or, is Nerilka not concerned because, despite knowing his name, Sim is still a drudge and not worth caring too much about. There’s a lot of horrible people potential in this, but we won’t see what happens and how things are taken.

Returning to the plot, Nerilka goes to find the Healers, and is directed to the Hall kitchens to find Desdra, who is giving instructions for sterilization of glass bottles. Nerilka reflects on her increased time in kitchens (as befits her new station in the stepmother narrative), and Desdra’s instructions say “no cheating on the sands”, which gives us new knowledge about technology available to the Sixth Pass – sand-based timers in various divisions of time, presumably encased in glass of some sort. Which, in turn, says that the Pernese understanding of time is both complex and subject to arbitrary divisions. That’s probably a holdover from the Ancients, but I wonder who or what the Time Authority is that ensures that the sands measure the same amount of time (within tolerance), regardless of the length of the day during any season. (And what they use as their official definition of time – Terra currently uses a definition in relation to the period of a caesium atom, but even Sixth Pass Pern has no way of measuring that.) Because, y’know, time traveling dragons should mean that temporal definitions and divisions should be strict at this point to avoid accidents and disasters. Yet it always feels like time is loose on the planet.

Desdra asks Nerilka to prepare a restorative soup and a cough syrup, tussilago (likely pronounced in the same way as “tussin” is for Terran cough syrups), scribbling instructions and measurements using a “charcoal stick”, which means the “carbon stick” of the Ninth indicates more loss of knowledge from Sixth to Ninth. As she heads off, Nerilka can feel that the Healers are excited about something, and it’s not just Capiam’s recovery. When she brings back the completed work at the end of the day, the excitement is even greater, but nobody is saying anything.

Nerilka heads to bed contemplating whether or not her work is going into the camps (if so, good), and how much more she will be able to do without the assistance of Tolocamp and Anella. And thus ends Chapter V.

At some point, this is going to create a more direct clash. Nerilka can’t hide from Anella forever.

Writer Workshop April 27th, 2016

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!

Open Thread: The Weather

(by chris the cynic)

I needed an open thread topic; slush is falling from the sky today.

[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, April 24th, 2016

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Still have a concussion.  Still avoiding prolonged exposure to computer screens.  So … yeah.  At least finances are better (though no new news on the reviews thus still not out of the woods for sure.)
    • I talked about an adventure I wasn’t there for and wrote a little bit about what I’ve been writing (pen and paper) while avoiding screen time.  Those both in the post The forklifts are coming! Title about the adventure, not the writing.
    • Twelve pages from the pitch-era Kim Possible series bible were released on twitter.  Normally I’d be all over this, and in a sense I am (printed out the released pages), because something I haven’t really talked about is this: what shifted me from just reading the internet to really interacting with it was a passion for finding out this kind of pre-finalization content (specifically that which was cut, altered, or overwritten) for a work of fiction I was interested in.  But concussion.  So I just linked to the twelve pages (be aware that most other collections miss one of the pages) and asked that people who have reactions to them share those reactions in the comments to that post.

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: Politics

(by chris the cynic)

This space is being set aside for discussion of politics.  Why?  So that space elsewhere can be away from such discussion for people who need a break from the ubiquity of election news.  (Which is why, for example, as soon as I publish this I’ll be linking to it from Ramblings as an elsewhere to discuss political news.)

Deconstruction Roundup for April 22nd, 2016

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is in a bright and early meeting today.)

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

InsertAuthorHere: InsertAuthorHere

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

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you find that you’ve been drafted into an eternal conflict raging thousands of years in the future. Or for any other reason, really.

Nerilka’s Story: Avengers, Assemble

Last chapter, we took a look at how the author marginalized Nerilka in the prologue, then made hay about the presence of year markers, indicating some form of calendar system and long-term memory not previously present, and closed out with the beginning of the story, with Nerilka missing out on the Gather by aggravating her mother.

Nerilka’s Story: Chapters II and III: Content Notes: Verbal abuse, classism

(3.11.43-3.12.43, 1541)

Chapter II opens with Capiam’s quarantine booming out across the land. Those that understand assemble with the Harper and Healer staff of the Hold to get instruction and explanation from Fortine and Desdra, representing the Healers, and Brace and Dunegrine, representing the Harpers. Fortine asks anyone who has been to either Gather to present themselves for examination to Desdra, after which he will address all the Healers while Brace briefs the Harpers. The entire sequence makes Nerilka suspicious, as Capiam doesn’t usually delegate.

On her way to check on the supplies in the storeroom, Nerilka is stopped by Campen, who asks a few questions about what’s going on before catching himself.

“Rill, what’s abroad? Did I hear quarantine? Does that mean Father is stuck at Ruatha? What do we do now?” He recalled that if he was acting Lord Holder, he ought not to be requesting advice from any lesser entities, especially his sister. He cleared his throat noisily and poked his chest forward, assuming a stern expression that I found ludicrous. “Have we sufficient fresh herbs for our people?”
“Indeed we do.”
“Don’t be flippant, Rill. Not at a time like this.” He frowned ponderously at me.
“I’m on my way to assess the situation, brother, but I can say without fear of contradiction that our supplies will prove more than adequate for the present emergency.”
“Very good, but be sure to give me a written report of supplies on hand.” He patted my shoulder as he would his favorite canine and bustled off, huffling as he went. To my jaundiced eye, he appeared unsure as to what he should be doing in this catastrophe.

(Jaundice? That word survives? Does that mean the condition does, too? It’s an interesting exercise trying to figure out why certain words remain in Pern…)

Nerilka sounds like there’s some schadenfreude involved in seeing Campen realizing that he might actually have to run the place, instead of just supervise. Campen isn’t helping himself much by puffing himself up, but he probably doesn’t have many coping mechanisms and he’s likely been taught, both implicitly and explicitly, that the person in charge cannot ever appear to be unsure or seek advice in the running of the Hold, let they appear weak and lose the respect of the people.

Here, also, we’re getting the Rill nickname out of the way quickly – since the secret is already out, as of the last book, the nickname can be freely used. Earlier books inform later ones.

Nerilka’s visit to the storeroom reveals a lot about the people running Fort and what’s going on in the world.

Sometimes I am appalled at the waste in our storerooms. In spring, summer, and autumn, we gather, preserve, salt, dry, pickle, and store more food than ever [sic] Fort Hold could need. Each Turn, despite Mother’s conscientious efforts, the oldest is not used first, and gradually the backlog grows. The tunnel snakes and insects take care of that in the darker recesses of the supply caves. We girls often make judicious withdrawals to be smuggled out to needy families, as neither Father nor Mother condone charity, even when harvests have failed through no fault of the holder. Father and Mother are always saying that it is their ancient duty to supply the entire Hold in time of crisis, but somehow they have never defined “crisis.” And we keep increasing the unused and unusable stores.
Of course herbs, properly dried and stored, keep their efficacy for many Turns. The shelves of neat bags and bound stalks, the jars of seeds and salves bulged. Sweatroot, featherfern, all the febrifuges, that had been traditional remedies since Records began. Comfrey, aconite, thymus, hissop, ezob: I touched each in turn, knowing we had it in such quantities that Fort Hold could treat every one of the nearly ten thousand inhabitants if necessary. Fellis had been a bumper crop this Turn. Had the land known its future needs? Aconite, too, was in generous supply.

I think I can say confidently at this point that Tolocamp and Pendra suck at being Lord Holders. Not because they try to preserve and store food and medicines away in case of a future crisis (after all, dragonriders still demand tribute, regardless of how your harvest went, and it’s quite possible that Thread will keep you indoors for a very long time), but because they store too much and then refuse to get rid of it before it spoils. If they disapprove of charity, then they fail at converting their excess into mark pieces or other, more durable, goods. They also fail at winning goodwill and strengthening ties by refusing to use their excess to keep vassals with poor harvests healthy and fed. Unhappy vassals start trouble. So one must wonder whether Tolocamp has had to fight off unhappy Holders coming at him with knives. And perhaps we have part of the reason why other Holders aren’t so willing to attach themselves to Tolocamp.

In any case, in addition to the supplies, there are some very old bound tomes that constitute the medical Records – recipes for medicine and the notes of Healers. The oldest Records, supposedly dating to the flight of the Ancients, are crumbling in Nerilka’s hands, with their ink already faded away. In the Ninth Pass, Harper archivists are busily copying and recopying old Records – do they not exist in Sixth Pass? (And what about Fandarel’s ink recovery process?) It seems that people so very concerned with hoarding everything would not be so lax as to let old knowledge die. As Nerilka looks through more recent records, she realizes that everyone could be affected by the disease. Which induces panic mode until a drudge comes to fetch her to the kitchens and talk to the cook.

Sim, our second named drudge of this entire series, takes a message from Nerilka to be delivered “into the hand of Journeywoman Desdra only!”, to which “Sim bobbed his head up and down, smiling his vapid smile and murmuring reassurances.” So both of our named drudges appear to have mental issues. I’m not really liking this trend, as well as the indeterminate status of the other drudges.

Felim, the cook, has been told to prepare for for an undetermined number of guests, which makes him nervous because he “had been so often chastised by my mother for ‘wastefulness’ that his only defense was showing her the records of how many ate at which meal and what was served them.” Another strike against Pendra, who seems to have a sadistic steak in stark contrast to her busybody matchmaker characterization in Moreta.

After promising to find out how many are coming to dinner, Nerilka has to talk sense into Campen about how many people would actually be coming to Fort to dine, considering Capiam’s quarantine order is still in effect. Nerilka then makes an executive decision to increase the normal meal only by a quarter portion and add more cheese and biscuits, and then gets the older relatives to start converting spare rooms into infirmary units, while her favorite uncle, the one she thinks should have been Lord Holder, goes into the Records to see if something can be found to help the Healers figure it out. (He’s referred to as a pensioner, too, which is another one of those odd vocabulary choices, since I don’t think the concept of the pension works on a works like Pern.) Before he does so, the uncle relays that Capiam is ill with the disease.

The chapter ends with the dinner, whose guests included more minor Holders than expected and all the Crafthall Masters, save the Healers and the Harpers. There’s still more than enough food and drink to cover everyone, and logistics without breaking quarantine is the topic for the Masters and Holders to talk about long into the night, while Nerilka pours klah, and then goes to study old Records afterward.

Chapter III picks up the next day, with a pair of drum messages, one just “terrifying”, and one more from Ratoshigan requesting assistance from the Healers. As Nerilka heads to the Harper Hall, more drum messages roll in, with the casualties, the fatalities, and the requests for Healers. And offers of assistance from those places not affected yet.

Then come the reports from the Weyrs, and at this point, Nerilka’s image of dragonriders as invincible gods (or their avatars) crumbles swiftly.

Why I had thought that dragonriders would be immune from this disease, I do not know, except that they seemed so invulnerable astride their great beasts, seemingly untouched by the ravages of Thread – though I knew well enough that dragons and riders were badly scored – and impervious to minor ailments and anxieties that were visited on lesser folk.

Nerilka’s not wrong here, though – dragonriders don’t till land or make craft things that have to be sold or otherwise do anything other than what relates to the care and feeding of dragons and the destruction of Thread. Plus, dragonriders don’t interact with the average Holder, or even big Holders, on a daily basis. Their rituals are secret and mysterious, and their sexual practices are clearly more freewheeling that the system of tightly guarded female sexuality that the Holds use. A mythology about them was bound to develop, because dragonriders hit all the high points of myths and legends. To see them exposed as mortal beings after all is a confidence-shaking blow. Further eroding confidence is the knowledge that Capiam, the Masterhealer, is down with the flu and Fortine is on the drums. So, dragonriders are affected by this, the Masterhealer is down, and thus everyone could be engaged in a full panic.

But they’re not visibly doing so, possibly because Thread has basically made them need a higher grade of disaster to start panic. Nerilka can see the signs of strain on Desdra’s face, even as Nerilka offers the stores of Fort to the Healer. When Desdra attempts to placate her, Nerilka informs her that she knows “every drum code but the Masterharper’s, and can guess at that.” as a way of telling Desdra to cut the bullshit. (Although, “every drum code” still makes me wonder how the Harpers manage to fit the language into, essentially, drumbeat measures.)

Before Nerilka can convince Desdra to grab what she can, Tolocamp returns on the dragon he commandeered from Ruatha and demands the immediate dispersal of all the Holders, Crafters, and others who had gathered at Fort, because of the quarantine order from Capiam. As Tolocamp shoves people around for emphasis (demonstrating his contempt for others), the courtyard clears and Tolocamp turns his baleful eyes on his family.

Father turned on us all, for my brothers had come to investigate the unexpected arrival of a dragon.
“Have you run mad to assemble folk? Did none of you pay heed to Capiam’s warning? They’re dying like flies at Ruatha!”
“Then why are you here, sir?” my rather stupid brother Campen had the gall to ask.
“What did you say?” Father drew himself up like a dragon about to flame, and even Campen drew back from the contained fury in his stance. How Campen escaped a clout I did not then understand.
“But-but-but Capiam said quarantine…”

That’s the thing with abusers, Campen. They don’t follow logic when others use it, only when they do it, and their logic doesn’t have to follow actual logic. If your logic contradicts their worldview, you are wrong, regardless of what reality says.

That said, I do wonder how Tolocamp has managed not to get a knife in the back, or the front, with the way he manhandles others, on top of the abuse of his children. That kind of attitude would surely put him on the wrong end of dragonriders somewhere, because Tolocamp surely couldn’t contain his rage and would strike one of his betters. Or that they would decide he needed to go for one reason or another. Or maybe I’m being optimistic and Tolocamp knows exactly where the line is and endeavors to make sure he’s always on the right side of it while he perpetuates his abuses. Worked pretty well for Yanus.

Tolocamp declares himself in quarantine (in person, to his family), and then rushes off, leaving the kids to pick up the pieces. A muffled sob is the only clue Nerilka needs to realize that Tolocamp is the only person coming back from Ruatha, and so she turns her attention to making sure none of the siblings panic about the quarantine by referencing their hardiness. Mostar points out they all had chicken pox or smallpox (“the spotted fever”) and it seems to help break tension as Theskin points out the danger of breaking quarantine.

After uneasy sleep, Nerilka wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to check on Tolocamp. The instruction list is for wine, food, febrifuges, and for his mistress, Anella, and her children. After assuring us that Lady Pendra knew about it, and was sometimes glad for it, Nerilka tells us what she really thinks about Anella:

But I didn’t like Anella. She simpered, she clung, and if Father couldn’t pretend interest in her, she was quite happy on Mostar’s arm. Indeed, I think she hoped to be wed to my brother. I longed to tell her that Mostar had other ideas. Still, I wondered if her last son was my father’s issue or Mostar’s.
I chided myself for such snide thoughts.

Because, of course, what this story really, really needs right now is one woman calling another a gold digger. If we recall from The White Dragon and how Jaxom had his way with Corana, and with consideration to Tolocamp’s (and Mostar’s) position, who wants to lay bets against the idea that some form of coercion, stated or unstated, is part of the relationship, and that Anella has probably adopted this persona so that she can continue to be in favor with Tolocamp instead of trying to figure out how to feed the extra mouths thanks to her miserly Lords?

On the plot, Nerilka runs the instructions for supplies and foodstuffs herself, leaving Campen with he duty of figuring out how to sneak Anella and family in. When he complains to her about it, she points out how little Tolocamp cares about their preferences and goes over to the nurseries. Her tactical eye points out that they could seal themselves off if needed, so she makes a note to send up more supplies before going over to the Wash Aunt (despite having referenced Aunt Lucil as in charge of the nursery just a paragraph before, and Aunt Sira, in charge of the weavers, this aunt apparently doesn’t warrant a name, just a job title) to suggest today is a really good day to wash a lot of things.

She was a good person, but tended to procrastinate out of a mistaken motion that her drudges were woefully overworked. I knew Mother always had to give her a push to get started. I didn’t like to think that I was usurping any of my mother’s duties, even in a temporary basis, but we might be in need of every length of clean linen ever woven in the Hold.

And again we have this Hold narrative that drudges are idle or underworked characters. In this particular case, we’re supposed to believe that those who do the washing aren’t being worked hard enough.

Which, um, no. Laundry has always been an arduous task, and the technological innovations that have happened on Terra have not mitigated that reality, so a place like Pern, which is deliberately trying to avoid electricity, is never going to have a time where the drudges that do laundry are somehow underworked. What would the Wash Aunt know, though, compared to Nerilka, since the unnamed Wash Aunt only sees the work done every day by the drudges.

Nerilka has a perfectly good reason to request a big wash, because of the need for clean linen, but she doesn’t need to color it with more of the bullshit idea that drudges are fundamentally lazy.

After the wash, Nerilka checks in with the weavers and takes a short breakfast in the nook her mother users. Then she has to deal with finding quarters for Anella and her family – two babies, parents, three brothers, and six elders.

Anella pouted a bit at being assigned rooms so far from Tolocamp, but neither Campen nor I paid any attention to her remarks or to those of her shrewish mother. I was just relieved the entire hold had not descended on us. I suspected the older two brothers had more sense than to chance their arms on their pert sister’s prospects. Although I felt Anella ought to be well able to care for her children, I did assign her two servants, one from the Nursery level and a general. I wished to have no complaints from my father about her reception or quarters. Any guest would have had as much courtesy from me. But I didn’t have to like it.

Do tell us how you feel, Nerilka, about all of this, and how you’ve been inculcated with cultural values that set women against each other.

In the evening, Nerilka notes errors in the drums as the drummers get tired, and greater pleas for healers and relief from the disease. Even though Nerilka uses earplugs, pulses echo through her brain in the form of the bad news of the day. And that’s how Chapter Three ends.

I might note that Nerilka is a competent administrator of the household right from the beginning, as she starts the rounds, makes decisions to handle situations, and basically keeps the place running, while Campen flounders on everything and has no crisis management skills. So Nerilka is basically the perfect wife for someone, except that she’s not pretty, which means her talents are taken for granted and only one man is interested in having her as his wife. Nerilka will probably not receive any sort of acknowledgement or thanks for her skills from anyone, not even Campen. He will likely get all the praise that is rightly hers, even though she’s much more likely to be doing the things that keep everyone alive and healthy. Not every part of Latin Christendom has to be replicated in a story like this.

Board Business, April 20th, 2016

(posted by chris the cynic)

Irregular Business


Remember these?  There was never an intention to stop doing them.

Also the idea of writing prompts has been suggested again.

For example, “What’s the culture like where you live/where you grew up/some other place you know well?”  Then people can each write about their own place in their own way and those of us who are not omniscient can learn about places unlike the ones we know.  Any thoughts on that?

Regular Business

There is no submission deadline for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompt suggestions.  Send them any time.

The Submission Deadline for the weekend post is 20:00 (8PM) US Eastern Time Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the weekend post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Again, none for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompts.
20:00 (8 PM) US Eastern Time Saturday for the Weekend post.  Also, if there’s a deconstruction you feel should be in the roundup, you can suggest that at any time.
In case the links don’t work: the group email is SlacktiverseAuthors (at) gmail (dot) com.
It is perfectly acceptable to use this as an open thread, should you so desire.

Writer Workshop April 20th, 2016

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!