Monthly Archives: November 2016

Board Business, November 30th, 2016

(posted by chris the cynic)

Irregular Business

There are people I’m supposed to poke with respect to writing articles.  The representation of female characters in classic Nintendo games?  Class issues at the farmer’s market?  Something about knitting and social justice?  I don’t remember.  With one exception, I don’t remember the people I’m supposed to poke either.

If I’m supposed to be poking you, please consider yourself poked.

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.

Deadlines
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.
Advertisements

Writer Workshop November 30th, 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: Unfinished Work

(by chris the cynic)

Short version:

Are there unfinished works that interest or intrigue you?  Ones that frustrate you?  Ones of your own you’d like to say something about?

Long version:

As November comes to a close, many of those who participated in National Novel Writing Months will find that instead of producing a full novel in a month they’ve produced an unfinished work in a month.  Unfinished work is nothing new.

Vergil never finished the Aeneid.  While he reached the end, there are places in it where he put in placeholder lines that he could tell at a glance were things he’d have to come back to, and he probably intended to revise the whole thing one last time after all of the placeholders had been replaced by completed verse.  He died before he got the chance.

Giovanni Villani of Florence, a historian, also found his work cut short by mortality.  He died of the Black Death in the middle of a sentence about the Black Death.

Book series of a certain length are prone to suffering author existence failure as well.

Other unfinished works are things that were simply shelved or abandoned.  Check a fan-fiction site if you want to find thousands upon thousands collected in one place.

TV series also often meet this fate without anyone needing to die.  How, one wonders, would John Doe, Surface, seaQuest, Nowhere Man, The Pretender, Sliders, Invasion, Lois and Clark, V: The Series, Earth 2, The Dead Zone, VR 5, Forever Knight, Kyle XY, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Mork and Mindy, Space: Above and Beyond, and [so many animated shows one could never hope to capture the scope by making an overly long list of excepts] have ended?

With unfinished works appearing throughout our world (though my examples have been somewhat chris-culture-centric) you probably have some thoughts related to them.  Are any of those thoughts ones you might share?  Because here is the place to do so.

[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, November 26th, 2016

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • This week I wrote another superhero fic fragment, this one is called Schism and in it a villanous team breaks up, on the job (right in front of the heroes) after bumping into a former member.
    • I also have a post, non-story format, that describes the characters from “Schism” that I’ve worked out in any kind of detail (all the villains, one of the heroes) as well as the events that led up to “Schism”.
    • I want to get into an old exe (the 16 bit-32 bit hybrid LE format), and thus asked for help, but it appears that the level of whatever~the~opposite~of~standardization~is used back then makes it basically impossible.
    • In my personal life the biggest news is that my sister gave birth.  Thus my family has a new member.  I was present today when she was able to finally convince the three and a half year old that the newborn’s name was not, in fact, “Baby Brother”.
    • Before that the bigest news was that after the days of the week coming in the order they come in left me off my meds, I managed to get back on my meds.
    • I hadn’t meant to post it on Thanksgiving, I actually thought that I’d posted it the night before, but on thanksgiving I posted about the problem with the things I’m thankful for.  Basically, a lot of what I’m thankful for are the things that keep me alive (shelter, heat, so forth) and it can all be lost.  Yeah, it’s a money thing.  Always is.  So the very things I’m thankful for cause me great fear and stress.  I am thankful I have them, I feal losing them, that stresses me out a lot.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for November 25th, 2016

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who hopes that your holidays, if you celebrated them, were excellent.)

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

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Eruditorium Press

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 have a need to hurl invective from the highest, most echoing place local to you. Or for any other reason, really.

The Renegades of Pern: Social Discontent

Hello again! It’s 1989, according to my copyright date for the electronic copy of this book, which means we’ve advanced a good long time since the publication of the original novels. There’s a new Spoiler Data introduction now, so let’s start with that.

The Renegades of Pern: Introduction and Prologue: Content Notes: Ableism, Sexism, Arranged Marriages, Incestuous Implications, Murder, Abuse, Animal Abuse

Rather than talking about the long colony ship and Landing and the heroics there, it’s a much more practical issue about the presence of Thread, its weaknesses, the creation of dragons, their special status and powers, and the eventual division into the three castes and the forgetting of their origins. To set the stage for our current book, however, we appear to be stuck in a time of the Idiot Ball.

There were long intervals, too, when no Thread ravaged the land, when the dragonriders in their Weyrs kept faith with their mighty friends until they would be needed once more to protect the people they were pledged to serve.
One such long interval is coming to a close at the opening of our story; though with a decade to go before another Pass of the Red Star, few are yet aware of its ominous approach. Indeed, few believe Thread will ever fall again. And in the false comfort of that belief, people have grown complacent. With that complacency, discord has arisen in Hold and Hall, setting in motion a chain of events that results in renegades on Pern!

I realize that four hundred years is a long time to maintain vigilance against a threat that doesn’t materialize. The United States has enough trouble with the knowledge of the devastation wrought by an atomic weapon, and that’s only been seventy years or so. And that’s with documentation and education about the horror of atomic weapons. Pern has time-shifting dragonriders and Harpers who are supposed to be the Keepers of a static social order and the some source of approved education, so they would supposedly have an easier time of keeping things in mind. Or bringing back proof that Thread will come again, since Moreta proved you could go forward in time as well as back.

The reason that this hasn’t happened, though, as the prologue opens, is because this is the end time of the Long Interval during the reign of Fax, where there is but one Weyr, Benden, and it is, at best, understaffed because Lessa has brought forward the other Weyrs to the time where they are needed. We are running a prologue somewhat concurrently with an already-written novel, and that makes my retcon hairs stand on end. It’s not near Fax, but instead focuses on Lemos Hold (so they’re villains) where Felleck is being given the boot for not coming up with a satisfactory tithe, despite all the help that Lord Gedenase has provided to him of better grain, working tools, and even an animal to help plow fields. Felleck, as he leaves, sees the new tenants of his hold already arriving, and swears revenge for everyone at Lemos for his humiliation. There’s a quick time shift as Fax’s successful campaign spreads and other Holds put defenses up on their borders, before the action spirals down to…Barla and Dowell, who we just met in the previous story, receiving the messenging troop that started their trek away from their home to avoid the lewd advances of Fax and his men, which Barla does at this point because she’s already pregnant.

“Fax is Lord Holder of Ruatha?” Dowell muttered. “Lord Kale was in excellent health when…” He trailed off, shaking his head.
“They murdered him. I know it. That Fax! I heard about that jumped-up High Reacher. He married Lady Gemma, and it was an unpopular hurried wedding. That much the harpers said…quietly. They called him ambitious, ruthless.” Barla shuddered at the thought. “Could be have murdered all in Ruatha Hold? His lady? Lessa and her brothers?” She turned scared eyes on him, her expression bleak.

Lessa mentioned by name seems weird, especially for second cousins once removed, as they are, but maybe it’s a thing about the royal family of Ruatha.

I note the swiftness of which Fax’s legitimacy is discarded as a person who is not of proper Blood, but instead an ambitious and ruthless foreigner. And also that the Harpers, who presumably would have control over such things, have legitimized the marriage and only speak quietly of their concerns. Admittedly, Fax would probably kill all of them for suggesting such a thing, but this is one of those situations where are more closely defined idea of how Pern’s feudalism works would help. We’ve had Craft walkouts threatened and done in Moreta / Nerilka, so there’s precedent, and the Harpers, as historians, would know of this. I’m surprised that this time, there isn’t extra data about the general lack of Craft anything in Fax’s territory, as the rest of the allied Holds try to starve him out or inspire rebellion.

Anyway, after Dowell and Barla resolve to leave, we skip up five Turns to a man named Dushik being punished for killing his third man in drunken brawling. Lord Oterel delivers the punishment and tells his steward to set Dushik loose in Fax’s territory. Then seven Turns after Fax attacks, the narrative anticipates my questions about the Harpers.

After seven Turns, Fax’s usurpation has become more or less accepted — except by the Harper Hall. The Masterharper, Robinton, had been hearing unsettling reports from his harpers that make him mistrust this uneasy peace. Fax is ambitious, and with all but Ruatha Hold prospering under his harsh management, it is entirely possible that he will look eastward, to the broad and fertile plains and the mines of Telgar. As if aware of Harper Hall scrutiny, Fax has begun to turn harpers out of his Holds and Halls for the most spurious reasons. Whatever teachings the harpers have provided, Fax says, the young will learn from his deputies. He has challenged authority — and succeeded. What will he challenge next?

I am unimpressed with Robinton at this point, considering how much the other books have made him to be an excellent spy master and very set in his ways that the Harpers are the education system and inviolable. That Robinton has let Fax exist for seven years and be able to have prosperous Holds suggests that nobody is actually doing anything to try and remove Fax from power. Despite the armed presence on Fax’s borders from all of his neighbors that are not feeling secure about their borders. If nobody considers Fax legitimate, then it should be no trouble at all to raise an alliance of soldiers and Crafters and rebellious subjects and overthrow Fax. Instead, because of the previous books requirement that Lessa trick the Benden Weyrleader into killing Fax, before being usurped herself by Jaxom, it makes it sound like everyone is cool with what Fax has been doing, like the old Randian rules of sovereignty still apply all these thousands of years later. If we’re going to keep Fax, we really need to have some reason why everyone isn’t ganging up on him. The fact that he controls the remaining dragon Weyr and nobody knows whether the dragonriders will fly at his command would be a really good one.

Anyway, this segment is about Toric also defying family authority and leaving High Palisades Island to make his own fortune on the mainland of Pern. Since he will eventually become Southern Holder, clearly Toric was able to overcome any punishment or sanction he would have received by leaving the Fisherman’s Hall.

There’s a quick paragraph, advancing time again, about a woman, Keita, who stole a loaf of bread, considered more than she needs, and is going to be turned out and made holdless in the middle of winter, with the final punctuation being that the wife thinks Keita is a slut. An entirely unnecessary slur, and again, positioned so that it comes out of the mouth of another woman. Which is then followed by another about a fisherman being turned out for being “footless”, meaning either amputated or otherwise malformed, as the clock advances another year. This time, though, someone recognizes the ableism.

“Now let’s not be bitter, fisherman. I’m doing my best for you. It’s a tough enough life for an ablebodied man, let alone…”
“Say it, Masterfisherman, say it. Let alone for a cripple!”
“I wish you wouldn’t be so bitter!”
“Leave it to me, then, Master, and get back to your ablebodied fisherfolk! You’ll be missing the tide if you wait too long!”

Points to the author for recognizing ableism, and if they were living in the States at the time, they did it a year before the Americans With Disabilities act that we know of gets passed. Including the part where the able-bodied one accuses the disabled one of being bitter about being discriminated against. Less, of course, for the sexism right before it, but this is pretty much a great example of the reasons intersectionality exists. In any case, another holdless person.

The next two vignettes advance another year and are about people who believe in the return of Thread outside of the dragonriders in their single Weyr, and the stewards and Holders that want to squelch such “gossip”. A fruit picker bribes the steward to stay the winter, rather than have to go back to Ruatha or on to Keroon. A traveling craftsman discusses logistics with a crafter in a Hold about what to do if Thread returns. They make a wager about it.

The clock moves forward again, to beyond the death of Fax and the resurgence of the remaining Weyr, but there’s a power vacuum to be filled with Fax gone, and the displaced are going back to make their profit. An artist gives their goodbye.

Two more Turns advance and we finally get to one of the major players in the last story – Lady Thella, the older sister of Lord Larad of Telgar.

“Larad, I’m your sister–your older sister!…you will not marry me off to some niggardly, foul-mouthed, snaggle-toothed senile old man, just because Father agreed to such a travesty in his dotage.”

I should note at this time that the narrative has already classed Thella as “rebellious” before we began this segment, and that Larad is “trying to make a suitable disposition” for her. Because the world they live in prizes sons and not daughters and uses their daughters as pawns without thinking about it, and the women are supposed to just accept this as their lot in life and not complain.

Anyway…

“Derabal is not senile or snaggle-toothed, and at thirty-four he is scarcely old.” Larad replied behind clenched teeth. Being a brother, even half-brother, he did not appreciate the defiant stance of her magnificently proportioned body, athletic and fit in her riding gear. To him, the high color in her cheeks, the flash of her hazel eyes, and the contemptuous curve of her sensuous mouth meant merely another stormy session with her. It did not help that she was within a half span of his own height, so that in the high-heeled long riding boots she preferred she was eye-to-eye with him. At that moment he would have liked to throttle her challenge and reduce her to compliance with the good beating that was long overdue. But Lord Holders did not thrash dependent kinswomen.

Cocowhat by depizan

AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHANO.

Lord Holders thrash their dependents all the time. Yanus proved that, and really, all of Menolly and Piemur’s adventures pretty much give the lie to that. And Jaxom, too, and the Benden Weyrleader proves it’s not just the Holders.

Also, is it me, or is the description here supposed to be implying, if not outright stating, that Larad finds his stepsister sexually attractive? And that his preferred form of expressing that might be to abuse her? Because we didn’t already have enough screwed up things about Pern and its inhabitants.

As we get into the description of Thella, we find her cut in much the same mold as Kylara, Menolly, and Mirrim, women who are not taking their assigned lot in life lying down. The narrative is working overtime to make Thella out to be wrong for this, describing how much Thella was encouraged to defy convention, learning hunting, riding, and exporting. Thella challenged Larad’s right to become Lord Holder, since she was the oldest child of her father. The Lord Holders told her “politely, in most cases, and dismissively in others, told to take her ‘rightful’ place with her stepmother, sisters, and aunts.” Thella has no intention of marrying someone she considers beneath her as a minor holder, and definitely not going as “a meekly submissive bride.”

Things that are warning flags for Thella: She was not chastised for beating a drudge to death, but was taken to task for running a runnerbeast to death. (Because animals are more important than people here.) Both of those things are significant flags of a cruel streak. Which is confirmed by the way she treats the drudges after being told to go away from the Lords Holder – “The drudges bore new lash marks daily as she vented her frustration, and some fled the main Hold on any pretext they could invent.”

So Larad has had enough, and locks Thella in her bedroom. Thella disappears the next day with runnerbeasts, riding gear, food, equipment, and quite a bit of cash from the Hold.

Right at the end, after Thread falls, and a suspicious string of thefts from merchants traveling a specific road, one of Thella’s sisters, Fira, suspects she knows who is masterminding it. Larad, however, is pretty pig-headed about it and chooses to blame only those who are holdless or dissenters or the expelled, the [title drop!] renegades of Pern.

Thus ends our prologue.

Here’s the thing. Just knowing this little bit about Thella makes me reinterpret The Girl Who Heard Dragons. Instead of being a Fax-like person who styled themselves as a leader and planned on exploiting a population for their own profits or advancement, Thella is now a woman fighting the society that wants to marry her off and have her be controlled by a man. Aramina’s skill as a dragon-talker is an integral part of succeeding at that plan, so that Thella can avoid patrols and Threadfall, and possibly gather intelligence about where is the best place to camp to survive and what caravans will be coming through so that she can keep supplied. Thella is potentially building a place for herself and others where they can live properly free lives outside the constricting social structures of their world.

The more I think about it, Pern stories that aren’t set in the First Pass have a pattern. The characters are in a social role they are poorly suited to, they end up in a situation where they are able to step outside that role, and then they reintegrate, to greater or lesser degrees, back into that society, depending on whether their new roles are a better fit or not. Lessa is better as a Weyrwoman, although still subjected to the Benden Weyrleader. Menolly is now a Harper, Jaxom and Mirrim dragonriders, and Piemur an explorer. Unfortunately, Brekke was put through the wringer and Kylara got killed, so it’s not a perfect match for these things, but Brekke and Kylara were also sacrificed to make a point about sexual behavior and trying to fit your role or step completely beyond it. So Thella is going to fit the pattern, I’m guessing, in the Avril/Kylara method where her disobedience to her assigned husband and rejection of her social role will result in her harm and being put under the control of men. And, most likely, the narrative will take every opportunity it can to remind us of what kind of horrible, horrible person she is for doing this. Despite having also set up for us that she has cruelty issues that could easily make her a horrible person to be in charge of anybody.

Time to find out whether I’m going to be right, yet again.

Writer Workshop November 23rd, 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!