Monthly Archives: December 2016

Open Thread: [Topic]

(by chris the cynic)

[Insert something intended to spur conversion, that will ultimately fail, here.]

[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, December 17th, 2016

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Only one thing this week: Conversations about Des’ demon is a series of snippets of conversations between Desdemona and Ge, characters in my superhero universe, about the former’s inner demon (literal demon, figurative “inner”) which Des constantly suppresses.

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 December 16th, 2016

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who seems to be dealing with an inordinate number of crisis situations.)

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 SandiferEruditorium Press

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 are stuck somewhere in what seems to be a neverending hallway, with no progress possible, no matter how hard you try. Or for any other reason, really.

The Renegades of Pern: Southern Strategy

Last time, Thella got boots, supplies, and a minion to go recruiting for her, while she also thoroughly demonstrated to us that she is no more fit to be running a Hold than the jokers that currently are running them. Which is not a compliment.

Speaking of…

The Renegades of Pern: Chapter Three – Content Notes: None to speak of

…Chapter Three opens with Mardra complaining to Toric about the incident where Piemur stowed away in a shipment to Southern and then snuck off.

(PP 11.04.06)

So we’ve stepped backward in time for this chapter. So hopefully these narrative threads will all converge in the right place and time and show us why we’ve been following all these people.

Mardra is unhappy about the shipment issues, so much that she slops her wine and then calls a drudge to wipe it up before the “fly-bys” come by. More insect life for Pern.

The actual viewpoint character here is Saneter, the Harper assigned to Southern by Robinton, who relies on him for discretion while briefing him about Southern Weyr and Hold’s past, and charging him with making sure he reports out any conflicts that develop in the area. (T’ron is T’ton here, too.)

We are treated to Sharra’s insight that Mardra fancied Toric, who wants nothing to do with her, and that rejection has hardened into a desire from Mardra to humiliate and demean Toric. Mardra complains that her fire-lizard queen saw someone sneak away and demands that Toric look at her when being spoken to, for which Toric moves his head fractionally.

After four Turns of dealing with the disaffected [time-skipped] Saneter found their decline increasingly painful to deal with. Mardra had become a raddled, blowsy old woman, constantly wine-sotted; and T’kul, stringy with age and potbellied, spent his time endlessly recounting spectacular Falls which he had seemingly charred with only his dragon Salth’s aid.
“Look at me,” Mardra repeated, command still ringing in her voice, her eyes piercingly intent on the holder. Again his head moved fractionally, and Saneter, judging by the furious set of the Weyrwoman’s lips, suspected that Toric had adopted his very disconcerting habit of seeming to look right through her. “She saw someone. Someone who shouldn’t have been there. Someone who tampered with that sack. Those were Crafthall tithes to this Weyr, and I hold you, all of you -” for the first time she glanced at all the other Masters who had been summoned with Toric “- responsible for any losses. Now hop it out of here!”
There was a murmur of righteous protest from the other Masters – farmer, fisher, herdsman, and tanner. Saneter, too, would have backed any retaliation. Craftsmen had the right to withdraw their services from a holder – and, by law, from a Weyr, though such an extreme action had never been recorded.

The narrative is very good at making sure we know who is heroic and who isn’t – people with complex motivations that are functional doesn’t seem to be part of the oeuvre here. At the same time, Mardra being chastised for drinking and T’kul for reminiscing is a bit incongruous with the part where they were both exiled to Southern for not getting with the program. Being excluded doesn’t give you many options on what to do with your life, y’know?

I’d also like to know where and what the code of laws is for Pern. So far, we know there was a charter, and some amount of lawmaking by the colonial government, even though their intent was basically to let everyone else be lord and sovereign of their own plots. I presume the laws of the various Holds and Weyrs, as they are created by their autocrats, are recorded in some form (the Records?) and promulgated in some way. I would also presume that the proceedings of the conclaves of the Lords Holder are also recorded and promulgated, so that when it comes time to remind everyone of the obligations they agreed on, there’s a written record to refer back to. But that’s only for the Holders. Is there a similar process for Craft proceedings and laws, and the decisions of the Weyrs and their Weyrleaders when they meet? Who records and enforces these laws and obligations? The Harpers? Since there’s no overarching system of government on the planet, it seems impossible to talk about laws that apply to everyone, even those steeped in TRADITION! (Tradition!)

The right of rebellion only works if the Holders or Weyrleaders actually respect that and the Crafters have sufficient power to break the functioning of the hold by striking. We’ve already seen plenty of goods at Gathers that lack the Craft stamp on them – there would probably be more than enough enterprising merchants willing to smuggle or funnel goods into a Hold that was currently under lock. Weyrs would just take what they wanted (as they are now, in this story) because, oh, right, mounted weapons of war and destruction. The only walkout we’ve actually seen happen so far was the Healer and Harper punishment of Tolocamp for not helping the medics during plague, and that only worked, really, because of the worldwide pandemic. While it would be interesting to write what consequence came of actually telling the Weyr that no Craft product would come to them, the conclusion is foregone, really.

The narrative has the grumbles of the Crafters, but the tanner points out the obvious problem – dragons – and everyone subsides. Saneter attributes it to the fact that “dragonrider inviolability was deeply ingrained in them all – even a renegade holder like Toric”, but it sounds very suspiciously like everyone came to the real conclusion and nobody actually wants to say it. The Crafters and Toric complain about being treated with less than the respect they deserve over things they don’t know about, and Toric shreds shade fronds in his fury.

Unfortunately, it looks like Robinton’s briefing was less than complete, because Saneter is distressed about loyalties and doesn’t understand why the Southern Weyrleaders want Toric replaced, which basically results in Saneter mentally declaring full loyalty to Toric against the Weyr. Toric declares, likely as a revenge, that anyone turning over fire lizard eggs to the time-shifted dragonriders is immediately subject to exile from Southern. Dragondrums told us that the trade of fire lizard eggs from the South was a very lucrative enterprise, and Saneter confirms this while contemplating whether or not to tell Robinton about this latest fracas.

The amount of marks offered for the contents of a gold fire-lizard queen’s nest was more than most holders earned over three or four good Turns. Granted, not that many gold nests were generally located, but the demand for the creatures always seemed to increase. […] He had also told Master Robinton that the [time-shifted] were exacting far more than a normal tithe, and that the deliveries did not occur at the customary times or by the usual carriers: it had been moon-dark last night. And he had not seen a single dragon active that morning. But why would Toric forbid his holders to sell fire-lizard eggs to the Weyr?
On the other hand, Saneter decided, a long account of that day’s incident, when viewed in a calmer frame of mind, was nothing to bother the already burdened Masterharper.

Even though this is exactly the thing that Robinton wants Saneter to report on. He’ll have a far more reliable agent in Piemur, now, but Piemur’s not ready to check in at the moment. Of course, we don’t really want to judge Saneter too harshly, as he’s stuck in a situation where everybody he’s supposed to be keeping tabs on is abusing him in some way.

The arrival of a ship at port brightens Toric’s mood, as it brings a family member with a Mastersmith designation, according to Sharra. Who is described as being valued for her ability to settle Toric down, and also for her healing skills, in that order. Glad we know what the priorities are, there.

Also arriving on the ship are many more holdless, who will be set to work expanding the available space for Southern Hold to grow into and to start up mines that Hamian, the Mastersmith, is interested in. Saneter points out to us that Toric is not supposed to be officially trading with anyone in the North, but ultimately decides not to report on that or the importation of people to the South.

Sharra collects messages from the Weyrs, and messages from family, who are not all going to come join Toric in the South. Sharra asks if being officially confirmed as a Lord would help, and Hamian says now isn’t the time for making a fuss, as Lord Meron is dying, and tries to turn aside the conversation to the people who came – a couple of Mastercrafters. Sharra gives him the side-eye about any insinuations that they’re marriage material, and Hamian reminds himself that “Southern Hold women marry when and where they choose.” If that dictate extended to everyone in the Hold, that would be a rather radical choice compared to the rest of Pern. Of course, that would also mean most women have a chance of providing for themselves, which doesn’t seem as likely.

During the welcome feast, Toric takes Saneter aside and asks him about the quality of the people arriving from the north.

“Any murderers in this lot, Saneter?”
“Only one,” Saneter replied, “and he claimed self-defense.” The harper was not convinced, having spotted the rather surly-looking fellow off to one side, shunned by other passengers. “Fifteen were apprentice-level, and two more got as far as journeymen in their crafts, and were turned out of their places for constant pilfering and theft; one was caught selling Crafthall goods at a third of their worth.”
Toric nodded. He was desperate enough to take any help to clear Southern lands, even to the extent of circumventing the Benden Weyrleaders’ restriction on any intercourse between the interdicted Southern Weyr and Hold. So Toric was smuggling people in from the North. Some desperate holdless folk heard whispers that he would not turn them away from the Southern shores, but he was getting too many useless folk for his trusted settlers to absorb quietly. He needed more skilled men, trained in hold and hall management – and he had to keep his illicit settlers from the [time-shifteds’] notice.
“Two were caught stealing unmarked herdbeasts. There are, however, some honest settlers,” Saneter continued, hurrying on to the good news. Four couples of good crafts, and nine singles of various backgrounds, some of them with very good recommendations. Haiman vouches for four of the men and two of the women. Toric, I’ll say it now and get it off my chest: you should apply to the Masterharper.”
Toric snorted. “He’d tell Benden-”
“And the Benden Weyrleaders, if you approached them with Master Robinton, would be the first to assist you. […] some young, eager, trained holder sons who know they’re not going to get any place north during a Pass would certainly see the advantages to coming south. Even if we have to sneak them in when the [time-shifted] aren’t looking.”

First, I can’t tell whether guild price-fixing is spread to be a feature or a bug of this Randian paradise. Either way, though, it seems to be an accepted thing at this point, and we’re probably supposed to believe that everyone with talent for creating ends up in a Crafthall somewhere, assuming they’re a dude. Like how everyone with am affinity for dragons is supposed to end up in a Weyr.

Also, must be nice to be able to go back to previous time periods and show off that the ideas you had earlier were totally planned out in advance by others, like sending all the second and later sons out to Southern to either survive or die and thus remove pressure on the North.

For as progressive as Toric might appear, he’s still more than ready to work everyone to the ends of existence, and Saneter thinks about how he still has some traditional views, including the belief that he gets to dispose of his sisters to marriage in whatever way he deems fit.

And then there’s a couple paragraphs about a dragonless man named Giron (who had been referred to earlier, in a skipped-over section, as G’ron when the accident that made him comatose and sent his dragon into suicide was talked about) who was supposed to go to Southern, dumping ground for the unwanted, but seeing dragons in the air caused him to run away from his escort into the hills. So now we know where Thella will find her Lieutenant, and also that he’s profoundly mentally ill from having had his draconic bond severed. But only after a couple paragraphs, we’re back to Sharra using a legit excuse of supplying numbweed to get out of the Hold and go do stuff. Ramala, one of the women of the Hold, goes along with her to help. Here’s how she’s described:

Ramala was a quiet woman, competent, perceptive, and gifted with all the attributes Sharra knew herself to be deficient in, especially patience. Ramala was not a pretty woman but she exuded am indefinable air that caused people to turn to her for advice and help. Sharra did not know much about Ramala’s past – except that she had been in a Healer Hall in Nerat before she came to Southern; the other woman had bought her own place in Southern, and Toric had seen such worth in her that he had invited her to join him permanently in his hall. Ramala never complained, but Sharra could quite easily see how she might like a short break.

Remember, though, that Brekke is in the North and is the one requesting the numbweed, or is might be forgiven for thinking that she had teleported and changed her name. Or that someone else’s genetic program successfully has been turning out clones.

Also, could we please not keep with the part where a woman can either be pretty or competent? There has to be a beautiful headwoman or Lady Holder somewhere running their place with competence and iron will. (Because Weyrwomen can be beautiful, but they generally don’t do day to day operations. And many Lady Holders that we’ve met still follow the dichotomy.)

Sharra packs and sails with others. And we have a mention of shipfish (this can’t be the first mention of them, can it?), who are “flipping and careering and generally making a show of themselves to the delight of the passengers.” So the dolphins survived, clearly, although the technology for communicating between humans and dolphins has been lost. There’s clearly going to be a long conversation between the two species once Pern recovers the technology to reopen the channels.

After a curse (and regret) of the time-shifted that put Southern in its current situation, Sharra goes off to get numbweed, discovers Piemur, and evaluates him as a potential candidate to hold under Toric while they gather herbs. Her opinion of him, once they’re done, is that Piemur is a missing Craft apprentice from a major hold that would work out exceedingly well as either her apprentice or as a shining example for Toric to hold up as what kind of person he wants in a Southern holder. Once they get back (and Sharra recognizes Menolly’s ship in the harbor on the way in), Sharra helps sneak Stupid in, Piemur sees the new drum and identifies himself, and there is the reunion at the end of Dragondrums. Which ends the chapter, with Toric disavowing the entire adventure and everyone at Southern thinking Piemur is a good match for the South.

To be utterly crude at this point, what was the actual fucking point of this chapter other than the material about Giron? If we wanted to spend time in the Harper Hall trilogy, we’d go read the Harper Hall trilogy. And the chapter stops at the end of the books, too, so it’s not like any new information has come, other than more details of the plan Toric put in place, a plan that was already known to everyone involved. This is a useless chapter and probably could be scrapped without issue. Out of the three chapters so far, only the parts that eventually cross with Thella seem to have any significance to the overall plot and advance the narrative. These flashbacks are building an entire chapter to insert one or two things that are likely to become useful later. It’s padding. So, for that reason, the whole chapter gets a whatfruit.

Cocowhat by depizan

See you next week, when we hopefully get back to the actual plot.

Writer Workshop December 14th, 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: Mid Month Check In, December 2016

(by chris the cynic)

What have you been doing of late?  How are you?  Are you still alive?  So forth.

[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.]

These two weeks in the Slacktiverse, December 10th, 2016

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

The Blogaround

  • Storiteller has sighed an incredible amount since the election, as well as cried, held her head in her hands, and stressed about what to do next. She also did a lot of writing leading up to and after the election:
  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Sorry about not getting a “This Week” post last week.
    • I’ve been in a kind of superhero rut and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I’ve always wanted to have at least one shared universe with super people.  So, in that arena:
      • A public history of said universe
      • A new index for relevant stories and such
      • It’s common in fanfic to pair hero and villain.  If one is on a team they don’t run, the team leader often gets the “bad guy” role of trying to break up the one true pair.  Pieces of Truth is my attempt at that kind of story.  (Though not fanfic.)
    • Games that know they are games have a problem: it’s difficult to tell if a given bug is a “bug” that’s there to show the characters it’s a game, or a real live bug.
    • It doesn’t look like it because this is two weeks of stuff, but there was a period when I didn’t post anything, so I made sure people knew that I wasn’t dead yet.
    • It took me a long time to put the pieces together, and when I did I only mentioned it to one person.  Now I’ve finally made it into a post.  Have you ever noticed how buildings made with government funds that fulfil useful purposes are fallout shelters?  There’s a reason for that.  It’s a reason that has nothing to do with nuclear preparedness and everything to do with how Americans are willing to spend money.
    • I wrote about the state of my life.  Since it’s my life, it should probably have trigger warnings or something.  I’ve lost all track of what they would be.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

Storiteller has put together a list specifically for parents on what they can do in response to the election: How Parents Can Help Love Trump Hate. While it is aimed at parents, a lot of the ideas are good for anyone short on time/resources.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community