Dragonsdawn: Retreat and Recovery

Last time, the colony suffered widespread fatalities and casualties from Threadfall, which was invisible to the meteorological instruments. Only the intervention of dragonets and the luck of having shelters with Thread-immune outer coverings prevented a total colony kill.

Dragonsdawn, Part Two: Content Notes: None noticed.

Let’s talk about that for a minute. We’re supposed to believe that a large mass of spores in a tight formation evaded detection from weather instruments while similar entities composed of dust, ice, and water vapor would be picked up. And, for that matter, the survey team that first visited the planet did not conduct surveys of the other bodies in the system, including the other planets, the moons, and the wanderer that was passing through the area. (Have I said this before? It seems like I have.) Even if their data indicated that Pern was the only habitable planet for humans, someone surely would have noticed the masses of spores, even dormant, as a curiosity. And, apparently, Landing was the first site for the first Fall of the Pass – there hadn’t been any other location where a previous Fall might have gone, so that the instruments might notice what was going on elsewhere in the world. Humans are not exactly the best at pattern-spotting, sure, but this kind of devastation event seems like even the pre-tech society should be able to spot. Also, see all previous discussions about how the native life of Pern appears to never have evolved any sort of defense against Thread, excepting the dragonets. The narrative is robbing the colonists of understanding and perspective by having the only evidence of Thread be the circles of destruction.

The actual text begins with the aftermath of the disaster, with the wounded shipped in, and the two psychologists for the colony (the first mental health professionals mentioned on Pern!) pulling full shifts and then some for the grief and counseling needed.

Right after that, Sean’s father reveals himself to be the great-ancestor of Lord Tolocamp, having sent his wife and oldest daughter to help with disaster recovery, while he hid in his cave system and expected his son’s stallion to impregnate all the mares there.

Ongola notes that the only people that haven’t checked in are the mining camp with Our Villains. Rather than raise a party to go and check on them, it’s just a note. I would have thought someone would check, if for no other reason than to make sure they’re dead, and thus no longer a threat to the order of Pern. Because this is the right opportunity for someone to have a go at it.

The callbacks continue with the dragonets now being the moniker “fire-dragons” and the colonists naming the whole incident “Threadfall” (even though I have no idea how they would do so or why they would do so, since the behavior of the parasite very quickly stops it from being thread-like). Complicating analysis of Thread is that soon after it feeds, if it gets no other food, it dies. Further complicating matters is that fed Thread apparently had no upper bound of growth, as a segment of Thread accidentally discovered on a fishing vessel and “judicious”ly fed until it could get to Landing grew from a bit in a bait bucket to needing” the biggest heavy-gauge plastic barrel” on board the ship, grown to “a gross meter long and perhaps ten centimeters in diameter” when put in an observational cage. The assembled scientists try to figure out the origin, with Tillek pointing out the coincidence of the big red morning star rising and the appearance of the Thread, and then go to work analyzing and determining what just hurt their community.

Apparently, one night is all that was expected for solutions, as grumbles begin and demands are made of the scientists for answers the next morning. The news that they’ve kept a sample alive to study angers the grieving more.

“I’m a father first, and my daughter was… devoured by one of those creatures. So was Joe Milan, and Patsy Swann, Eric Hegelman, Bob Jorgensen, and…” Tubberman’s face was livid. His fists clenched at his sides, his whole body strained with rage and frustration. He glared accusingly at Emily and Paul. “We trusted you two. How could you bring us to a place that devours our children and all we’ve achieved the past eight years!” The murmurs of the delegation supported his accusation. “We”-his wide gesture took in the packed numbers behind him-“want that thing dead. You’ve had long enough to study it. C’mon, people. We know what we have to do!” With a final bitter, searing look at the biologists, he turned, roughly pushing aside those in his path. “Fire kills it!”
He stomped off, raging. His followers left without him.
“It won’t matter what they do, Paul,” Mar Dook said, restraining Paul Benden from going after Ted. “The beast is moribund now. Give them the corpse to vent their feelings on. We’ve about finished what examinations we can make anyhow.” He shrugged wearily. “For all the good it does us.”

Wait.

This colony has been going for eight years and can’t detect a meteorological event? That seems fishy. As does someone not noticing the return of the wandering planet using their telescopes and possibly even getting a good look at what’s on the surface of it. If Wansor can manage it with his telescope, surely those people who are astronomers in this colony can with theirs. For everyone to be caught by surprise sounds a lot more like narrative blinkering than anyone not noticing until it was too late. In just a few paragraphs, telescopes will be trained on the wandering planet in getting to determine if it is the source of Thread. Yet nobody has apparently done this already, despite the fact that it’s an eccentric-orbit world that may or may not actually be there for a good long while.

Also, one night is not long enough to determine useful information about anything, even if you have a phalanx of scientists working on it.

The assembled team speculates whether or not Thread is an invasion weapon or an item designed to kill the colonists, both dismissed by Pol as “a suggestion from the fiction of the Age of Religions”. Which, no, Pol, religion does not just vanish in The Future, because humans will find things to be spiritual about, even when science has plumbed the vast depths of the universe and can provide natural explanations for just about everything. The only point in which religion dies of when science conclusively proves what lies beyond human existence. In essence, religion dies when Universal A.C. solves The Last Question. At which point, religion begins again.

The psychologists suggest that catharsis brought on by burning the cage the now dead Thread was in could be helpful with the grieving process, so Paul and Emily let Ted Tubberman incinerate the cage. It’s apparently not enough, however, and the psychologist continues to monitor him as he goes on a crusade to set fire to any Thread shell he finds.

The scientists more go back through the data they have about the original survey and their own observations, concluding that the wanderer’s orbit is about 250 years, some subset of which is spent close enough to Pern to potentially drop spores, as they determine the break in between incursions is 200 years. They also conclude that the survey team’s visit to the planet happened right after a cycle of Threadfall, where the team noted the aftermath without being able to connect it to anything. (The survey team didn’t think it odd, apparently, that a large swath of the country had significant amounts of new growth and others had quite a bit of very old growth.)

They also go exploring and find that there are two signs of previous Threadfall, one on the North, which is uninhabited, and one on an island where it was reported as having been more of rain with black specs. At Landing, however, the calls to figure out how long the rain will last increase, and the speculation starts to take on more alarming interpretations. Even sending one of the space probes to investigate produces only more information and no conclusions. Kenjo eventually comes in with new information – some of the circles of destruction have no husks associated with them, as if the Thread has burrowed and is now progressing to a new stage of life. The scientists slip out on small groups to study this, but their efforts yield no immediate fruit, and they are pulled from their work by communication indicating a new Fall on its way. Landing dispatches people equipped with flamethrowers and HNO3 canisters, which will apparently affect the Thread “like using fire and water at once” on it. I don’t understand the reasons why nitric avoid would be super-effective against Thread, but they don’t seem to be thinking of using nitric acid as a flamethrower fuel, which is nice.

For the most part, though, the scientists and leaders of Landing go about and observe and make sure that the affected areas are prepared – their crops are toast, but the people that built stone structures can wait out the Thread, and the defense party applies fire and acid to any Thread still alive, while noting that water and rain both are potential killers to Thread that comes in contact. That said, the bigger problem of what to do with the planetwide menace remains unsolved. The pictures of the devastation help the colonists decide that their Randian fantasies will have to be put on hold until the existential threat is dealt with. Which involves rigging improvised weaponry, it appears.

Tarvi drafted a crew to work round the clock, adapting empty cylinders into flamethrowers and filling them with HNO3. The easily made oxidant had not only proved to be very effective at destroying Thread but could be synthesized cheaply from air and water, using only hydroelectricity, and was not a pollutant. Most importantly, dragonet hide and human skin were not usually not severely damaged from spillage. A wet cloth, applied within about twenty seconds, prevented a bad burn.

I don’t have the requisite chemistry knowledge, but the wisdom of the Internet suggests nitric acid is not flammable at all, and is instead corrosive to the point where reacting with a base or an organic compound can cause the organic compound and the acid to ignite. So trying to light the stuff on fire seems like a bad idea, and that instead, these flamethrowers should be called sprayers or something else. The new sprayers and some flamethrowers are also mounted to the airsleds so that the colonists can mount a defense of burning Thread out of the sky before it gets to the ground.

Additionally, even though they have long since stepped down from a leadership position, Benden, Boll, Keroon, Tillek, and Ongola start finding other people asking them to make decisions. A colony psychologist (who finally gets a name – Tom Patrick) says that someone has to take the reins and oppose Ted Tubberman.

“I don’t think you can steal a showdown much longer,” he said, “or you and Emily will lose all credibility. That would be a big error. You two may not want to take command, but someone will have to. Tubberman’s constantly undermining community effort and spirit. He’s so totally negative that you ought to be thankful that most of the time he’s out trying singlehandedly to clear the continent of rotting Threadshell. Grief had totally distorted his perceptions and judgment.”
“Surely no one believes his ranting?” Emily asked.
“There’re just enough long-buried gripes and resentments, and good honest gut-fear, right now that some people do listen to him. Especially in the absence of authorized versions,” Tom replied. “Tubberman’s complaints have a certain factual basis. Warped, to be sure.” The psychologist shrugged, raising both hands, palms up. “In time, he’ll work against himself – I hope. Meanwhile he’s roused a substantial undercurrent of resentment which had better be countered soon. Preferably by you gentlemen and Emily and the other captains. They still trust you, you know, in spite of Tubberman’s accusations.

Remember in part one where Avril thought that if she couldn’t get off the rock and back to civilization, she’d settle for disputing the colony and trying to take it over for herself? We have a perfectly suitable villain for the narrative, and since the narrative hasn’t shown any qualms to this point about wallowing in negative stereotypes, why not tack a few more on to Avril and make her the antagonist? Instead, she’s just off on her own island, apparently unconcerned with this clear discontent brewing, still existing in this unknown state because nobody decided to go and check on her. If she turns up later, twirling a mustache, I will wonder about the intelligence of the nominal leaders of the colony.

Who are currently plotting to get the stakeholders to call a meeting of their own volition so the stakeholders will elect them to emergency rule all while believing it was their own idea to do so. Because that’s the only way the colony itself will survive Thread. Maybe we don’t need outside villains when the heroes are more than manipulative enough.

The meeting does get called, and the seniormost legist (lawyer), Cabot Francis Carter, starts with a rousing speech about how human ingenuity can beat most problems and that the planet itself is by far better than the inconvenience of Thread. Having primed the audience, he delivers the suggestion that stake autonomy be suspended temporarily and a central government reformed until the menace is handled. Ted Tubberman counter-suggests sending back to Earth for aid, but is shouted down by the colonists remembering what happened to a different colony that requested help – it took fifty years for a response, and the debt and obligations that came with it were crushing. Ted tries again, this time betting the colonists won’t want to be cooped up with each other while Thread rains outside, but he is again shouted down by voices suggesting Thread is nothing more than a challenge to be solved, and that humans excel at solving challenges. Ted calls for a vote, and is voted down on sending for help. Soon after, the colonists vote to temporarily reinstate Boll and Benden for the duration of the emergency, which they accept. Ted accuses the vote of being rigged and is sure neither Boll nor Benden will step down.

Even though he’s lost his credibility with the colonists (and, presumably, the reader) at this point, I’d give good odds that Ted is basically correct on both accusations. A trained orator is making the case for recentralization, while the most prominent voice of the opposition is a grief-stricken man with a clear need for vengeance. And since nobody knows exactly how long Thread will be around, Benden and Boll have basically become dictators-for-life. The Randian paradise is over, thanks to a worldwide threat that can’t be handled by everyone acting in their own self-interest. Even without Thread as the catalyst, power was eventually going to concentrate on the hands of those who did best and had excesses, so this would have been the eventual result, anyway. It’s just been sped up significantly.

After the election, Cabot mentions that Thread is likely to fall tomorrow, and Benden and Kenjo explain the need for the aerial fighting team. Those with dragonets are encouraged to join the ground crews that will find and exterminate any Thread that falls through. The meeting ends in a spontaneous cheer from most of the people there, but this segment ends on a very creepy vibe, not out of place in a suspense novel or a thriller.

“Perhaps only Ongola took note of those who remained seated or silent.”

Ongola, the one person who has been consistently paying attention to these things, as perhaps the spymaster of the colony and its newly re-formed government. What, exactly, does Ongola know anymore?

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19 thoughts on “Dragonsdawn: Retreat and Recovery

  1. Firedrake July 14, 2016 at 6:16 am

    B ark, B ark, B ark.

    Why would anyone ever say “HNO3” (four syllables) when “nitric acid” (also four syllables) conveys the same information to a greater number of people – or “conc. nitric” as we called it in chemistry lessons?

    If the scientifically answerable questions had been answered, and ethics had moved out into the wider sphere of discourse, and spirituality became a matter for individual discovery rather than organised imposition, I think it would be fair to say that the “Age of Religions” had passed.

  2. Funaria July 14, 2016 at 10:32 am

    They’re saying HNO3 because later generations say ‘agenothree’ of course! (Which is still silly, since they could say nitric acid in this book, have it written down as HNO3 in their records, and still have the later generations corrupt it to agenothree.)

  3. WanderingUndine July 15, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Sigh. Pern appears to be faring even worse than Narnia in deconstruction. Narnia features some unintentionally likable characters, like Lasaraleen, but you-all seem to find everyone in Pern contemptible and I can’t muster much argument to the contrary.

  4. Wingsrising July 15, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    I poked around via Google and found a thread that pointed out a section in the later book Dragoneye that talked about flamethrowers using a mix of TWO chemicals, one being nitric acid, and that also confirmed there are chemicals that ignite when they mix with nitric acid and in fact it was once used in rocket fuel that way, but it sounds like it’s not a very safe thing to do.

    I watched some videos recently about how actual flamethrowers work and one thing that’s clear as that there are lots of connectors and valves and hoses and suchlike, and the contents are under pressure. When everything works right, they don’t leak… but as time goes on and bits wear out, sometimes they’ll start to leak — especially when we’re talking about them being built by a nonindustrial society as in the later Passes. And when they leak, they would be leaking nitric acid. Doesn’t sound like fun (and while I’m not a chemist nor do I play one on TV, just wiping it off with a wet cloth and nothing bad happens doesn’t sound like what it says on the MSDS, which suggests flushing with water for 15 minutes). Also it means you’re carrying two tanks of fuel on your back which will ignite if they mix for any reason (e..g leakage) and storing, filling, etc. fuels that ignite when mixed. The safety of that seems dubious to me.

    Not to mention the problem (in later Passes) of a nonindustrial society making tanks that can be pressurized to high pressure reliably without bursting and reducing your queenriders to bloody, shredded, acid-burned parts. (Which will then ignite as the two fuels mix.) Not to mention how are they compressing gasses and making the necessary gauges,regulators, etc. in the first place?

    Apparently the preferred fuel for military flamethrowers these days is diesel, which is harder to ignite than gasoline, and hence safer… and won’t give you acid burns if your flamethrower leaks. Given that Pern does appear to have petroleum, I’m surprised the colonists didn’t go for that instead.

  5. Firedrake July 16, 2016 at 2:52 am

    I can’t immediately lay eyes on it, but I think someone found the spot where the nitric-acid sprays of Dragonflight became conflated with the flamethrowers, which back then were definitely distinct devices.

    The thing that’s hacking me off with this book (as opposed to Pern in general) is how much of it is retroactive justification: yes, says Anne, I was right all along, and this proves it, so there. And that seems to be the primary reason for things to be in this book: to be the ancestors of things that are already in the previous books.

  6. Wingsrising July 16, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I forgot to post the link to the thread I was referring to:

    http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=3064&page=2

    As an aside, I mentioned this whole nitric-acid-flamethrower thing to a friend I was chatting with in Skype last night because he has a degree in biochemistry, and he showed me the 35-year-old scar where he dripped nitric acid on himself during an adolescent attempt to make nitroglycerin. 🙂 He assured me that it is not the case that “…human skin [was] not usually not severely damaged from spillage. A wet cloth, applied within about twenty seconds, prevented a bad burn” although flushing it immediately with large quantities of water will. “Foamed up like Alka-Seltzer” was the way he put it. (I mean, if it’s sufficiently dilute it won’t hurt you, but if it’s that dilute it won’t burst into flame when mixed with other chemicals — his suggestion was turpentine — either.)

    Also apparently nitric acid eats rubber, which leads one to wonder what they were making the flamethrower hoses from by the Ninth Pass.

    Re: the sprayer in Dragonflight. As described it sounds much more like the sort of thing I’d expect a nonindustrial society to produce: one person directing the nozzle, another working the plunger, as opposed to making pressure vessels that can be pressurized to, say, 1000 psi, without significant risk of bursting and killing the user.

  7. depizan July 16, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    the only evidence of Thread be the circles of destruction.

    And I still don’t get how those weren’t a warning sign. If they were there for the surveyors to spot, you’d think they’d have recommended investigating them further. If they weren’t there when the place was surveyed (or weren’t mentioned by the surveyors), but were there for the colonists to see, that’s even worse! “Oh, gee, something left circles of destruction on our new home. Let’s not investigate them or anything. They look like awesome places to set up camp!”

    We may be all the way down to a Z Ark. How did these people arrive safely? I wouldn’t trust them with a bicycle, much less a spaceship. They seem related to the people in horror movies who decide to investigate that funny noise outside without so much as a flashlight, even though the phone isn’t working and there’s an escaped killer on the loose.

    Complicating analysis of Thread is that soon after it feeds, if it gets no other food, it dies. … Thread apparently had no upper bound of growth…

    Is Thread an escaped biological warfare creation? I know that theory gets dismissed in canon, but it doesn’t seem to make much sense as a natural…creature? (What the hell is Thread? Even the Pern wiki is super confused about it.) It seems to exist purely to eat. There’s no mention of reproduction anywhere, so far as I can remember, there’s just spores hanging out in space, occasionally dropping on the planet, eating stuff, and dying. And if it has no upper bound of growth, shouldn’t there be occasional mention of gorged Thread in other books? Sure the dragons get most of it, maybe even all of it in settled areas, but there can’t possibly be enough dragons to cover an entire planet. Can there? Humans aren’t living in the only places effected by Thread, are they? (Like there’s just one swathe of the planet it falls on and coincidentally everyone settled there?)

    Ted Tubberman both does and doesn’t make sense – his anger at the colony leaders completely makes sense, but there’s a very good reason to study the Thread – to make sure the damn stuff doesn’t come back and eat more people! Then again, this is a colony of Luddites, so maybe he makes perfect sense. (Again, how the hell did these people survive for the previous books to exist???)

    the team noted the aftermath without being able to connect it to anything. (The survey team didn’t think it odd, apparently, that a large swath of the country had significant amounts of new growth and others had quite a bit of very old growth.)

    And they gave this planet an unqualified stamp of approval? O_o This really is a B Ark scenario, isn’t it. That’s all that makes sense. I mean, yes, people can be wildly dim, but so many people had to be dim for this to work, it’s almost easier to assume the civilized galaxy was trying to get rid of all of these people, not just the nomads.

    Also, if Thread really does just eat everything until it runs out of stuff to eat, how did it not eat everything on the planet? This makes no sense.

    their crops are toast, but the people that built stone structures can wait out the Thread,

    And then die of starvation?

    Backing up Wingsrising’s friend’s commentary, nitric acid does not sound real safe to me. I know google searches didn’t exist back then, but you’d think she might have checked with someone before writing this. Or humans have evolved tougher skin, lungs, etc.

  8. depizan July 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Damn, the link didn’t work. Let’s try this.
    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcsneng/neng0183.html

  9. Silver Adept July 16, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Oh, the wrong, it is incredibly fractal when this new knowledge. It very much seems like there aren’t enough people who could make this colony work present on the planet, and that the people who did the survey of this place did not do a thorough job of surveying the place and figuring it out.

    I have no idea what Thread actually is, other than a convenient global threat to unite a group of people into doing something desperate and building feudal structures. It has random weaknesses, a random origin, and tailors itself to the plot as needed.

    And, ugh, the new knowledge about nitric acid only makes it an even worse choice for combustion and storage. Surely some other thing is present in the colonies that could be used. Like, say, ship fuel that a pilot has squirreled away.

    Or building a giant Tesla coil to try and cast chain lightning against all the spores in a general area, until one can do it manually with a seriously amped-up static electricity generator. I can believe that the initial panic is stopping the creative juices, but once that gets done and a little data gets out, then all the scientists are looking for their own ways to fight Thread and see if their way is effective.

    It may not need genetic engineering to get from these colonists to their less than brilliant descendants. Nobody seems to have the requisite ability to survive.

  10. depizan July 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    The other thing that’s weird about their response to Thread is that they’re not quite acting like they’re a small colony with limited supplies. I think that’s what was bothering me about Ted Tubberman’s actions that I couldn’t quite put my finger on yesterday – he goes off burning all the Thread casings he can find. (Even though the casings are harmless.) He’s acting like someone who either has unlimited flamethrower fuel or no one left to protect. But the first can’t be true (unless they have a method of creating whatever fuel he’s using) and it’s not clear at all if the second one is or not. Does he have a wife? Other children? Friends? Lovers? ??? Are they all dead? Where are they while he’s rampaging about wasting fuel? Why are the rest of the colonists letting him waste fuel?

    Along those same lines, why aren’t they freaking out about the loss of their crops? It’s been eight years. Surely whatever supplies they brought with them have to be about gone.

    Even the politicking doesn’t feel quite right. The colony has a bunch of dead, a bunch more injured, their food supply wiped out, and deadly stuff falling from the sky – these are urgent problems calling for urgent solutions. It seems like they should be in band together and survive mode. Or else full on panic mode, in which case you’d think packing up and going back would come up as a possibility. It may not be possible, but neither is sending for help. If one is being treated as possible, the other should be. (Seriously, you don’t need the whole price tag and fifty years bit – any help from the civilized galaxy is going to take years to get there. They’re not in a situation where waiting even for a single year is going to cut it.)

    And there are a lot of other questions raised by this eight year skip – where are the injured being treated? There isn’t a hospital, is there? That doesn’t seem like it would fit with the “do it all on your own” set up of the colony. (Which makes little sense anyway, since a colony like this should need a hospital. I suppose you could have traveling doctors…who are being supported how, exactly? Food for service? Where’s their equipment and medicines and such coming from? Especially the medicine part.)

    Not only is everyone terminally dim, not much about this place makes any kind of sense. The more I think about it, the more I just get a gigantic headache.

  11. genesistrine July 17, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Sean’s father reveals himself to be the great-ancestor of Lord Tolocamp, having sent his wife and oldest daughter to help with disaster recovery, while he hid in his cave system and expected his son’s stallion to impregnate all the mares there

    Well, to be fair to Sean’s dad he’s got his other people to look after as well as the mares, and Sean’s being an epic dick about it – “if he’d trained his stallion properly like I did mine he wouldn’t have had to kill it when it panicked” um, he was also trying to keep a load of other people and horses from panicking and running out of the cave they’d crammed themselves into at the same time and panic’s infectious; I’m inclined to cut the dude some slack on that.

    In just a few paragraphs, telescopes will be trained on the wandering planet in getting to determine if it is the source of Thread. Yet nobody has apparently done this already, despite the fact that it’s an eccentric-orbit world that may or may not actually be there for a good long while.

    More supporting evidence for them actually being a cult of space Luddites? No science except that that’s immediately necessary to survive on an alien planet, and planning to get rid of that ASAP?

    The assembled team speculates whether or not Thread is an invasion weapon or an item designed to kill the colonists, both dismissed by Pol as “a suggestion from the fiction of the Age of Religions”.

    Quite apart from the whole fedora atheism crap, what does either suggestion have to do with religion? No one’s suggesting that a deity dunnit.

    Or does she mean SF was also a product of the Age of Religion, and humans are “now” too rational for fiction too? It would explain why no-one in science fiction ever seems to have read any….

    @WanderingUndine: Narnia features some unintentionally likable characters, like Lasaraleen, but you-all seem to find everyone in Pern contemptible and I can’t muster much argument to the contrary.

    Fandarel. Who doesn’t love Fandarel? Manora, Silvina (well, barring the whole “grounding for murder attempts” thing, OK, maybe not Silvina), Groghe I can never not see as Brian Blessed, Mirrim, Menolly, Lessa….

    Though I certainly haven’t found anyone in this book sympathetic so far. What a shower of shitheads.

    @depizan: And they gave this planet an unqualified stamp of approval? O_o

    I bet they didn’t. I bet these fuckwits just decided hurr, perfectly good planet, we know better than these egghead types with all their health and safety legislation.

  12. WanderingUndine July 17, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I think I liked Sorka. And Tarvi. Um…I don’t remember strongly liking or disliking most of the other characters at this point, but I read the book 14 years ago. I didn’t consider them fools, though, since they did survive and thrive even with Thread.

    Heh. This was my first Pern book, so I didn’t know while reading it that it contradicted the other books regarding Thread etc. I think I took it as *the* canon and, when reading the other books later, ignored anything in them that contradicted it. On account of paying no attention to publication order.

  13. genesistrine July 18, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I feel sorry for Sorka; it wasn’t her choice to end up stuck on the planet of the Libertarian Luddites, but on the other hand Sean shows every sign of growing up to be the absolute image of noxious Pernese masculinity and she’s gazing adoringly at him as he does, so my sympathy is kind of limited.

    As for Tarvi, again limited. Sucks to be ace (if he is) in a colony so reproduction-obsessed they’re lobbing aphrodisiacs at the un-paired-up, but then again there’s no reason to believe he didn’t know he’d be expected to reproduce when he signed up and thought… god knows what he thought; he apparently had some Cunning Plan from his remark to Sallah, but the odds of us ever finding out what it was (or it making any sense if we do) are minimal. Why the hell did you think coming to Pern was a good idea in the first place, Tarvi?

  14. emmy July 18, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    @Silver Adept
    “that the people who did the survey of this place did not do a thorough job of surveying the place and figuring it out”

    Which is another point that the canon is eventually going to wrap around to trying to quick-patch in an explanation for, iirc.

    Anzryl gung gur rkcybengvba grnz jnf vaperqvoyl haqrefgnssrq qhr gb univat ybfg n ybg bs grnz zrzoref ba zber qnatrebhf jbeyqf, fb gurl cerggl zhpu ynaqrq ba Crea, gbbx n dhvpx ybbx nebhaq, fnvq ‘Jryy, vg’f na Z-Pynff cynarg, uhzna yvsr pbhyq cebonoyl fheivir urer ohg jul jbhyq nalbar obgure?’ naq jrag ba gurve jnl.

  15. WanderingUndine July 18, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    *I* was a Libertarian Luddite at the time, so the colony sounded appealing to me before Threadfall began.

    I guess I tend not to dislike characters unless they do something cruel and/or obnoxious, or oppose an aquatic humanoid in any way. Or have consensual sex. I’m an envious, bitter virgin, so have difficulty enjoying or relating to characters with happy sex lives unless they’re especially interesting and/or admirable, but my opinion doesn’t reflect their quality as characters or people..(I don’t envy rape victims or try to like rapists)

  16. depizan July 18, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    *reads the ROT-13*

    WAT. Okay, this entire galaxy is too stupid to live.

  17. genesistrine July 19, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    @WanderingUndine: My main problem with Dawn is that everyone’s stupid, and it’s perfectly obvious they had to be written stupid to make the stupid plot work. And this was a bestseller. It’s depressing, probably because I’m an envious, bitter unpublished writer. It’s the same reason I had to stop watching the Walking Dead, not to mention Torchwood.

    @depizan: I dunno, that sounds pretty reasonable as presented. As long as they’re sticking it in the records as “didn’t have enough specialists to investigate thoroughly, but if you’re in the vicinity and desperate the air’s breathable and you can probably survive long enough to fix your spaceship/yell for help and have help arrive” I don’t think it’s their fault if some gang of twits decide on a one-way trip to settle there.

  18. depizan July 19, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    The problem isn’t the beleaguered surveyors, it’s…everything else implied by that. The government wasn’t replenishing the survey teams, which seems like a horrible idea if these surveyed planets are going to be used for colonies. (Though if colonies aren’t really a thing, that part seems less bad. Or if there’s supposed to be an in depth survey before a colony is launched and these guys just skipped that step.) Then there’s the fact that this colony happened – with, at least from supplementary materials, some government involvement. At a minimum, it makes it canon that this is a B ark.

    I don’t know. I just get this horrible image of this dysfunctional government where no one double checks anything properly and nothing’s funded properly and the last fifteen colonies have gone the way of Starfleet redshirts.

  19. genesistrine July 20, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Well, it is canon that this lot had to politick like hell to get approval (I’ll skip over the forcible transportation of nomads because that makes no bloody sense whatsoever). It’s as possible as anything else that that was partly because the planet hadn’t been fully surveyed or proved and they were heading there with no planned backup or way back.

    Like I said before, I can absolutely see this gang of Golgafrinchams deciding that health and safety regulations were for The Weak and they didn’t need any of that namby-pamby rubbish, since their Noble Pioneering Spirit would deal with any problems as they arose.

    But canon’s so indefinite about what the govt actually does that either could work really.

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