Last chapter, more technology porn and a polite meeting of the Holders, where we found out that the Charter of Pern is boggling in the way it sets the world up for giant conflict later on. There’s still feasting and dancing to be had, though, so we’re going to stick with this setting…
All the Weyrs of Pern: Chapter 10: Content Notes: Patriarchy
…and start with how much Master Idarolan got drunk over the stress of the election. Classy. It does tell us that there was a backup plan to move the Fishercraft Hall all the way down to Monaco Bay if Ranrel hadn’t been elected, but otherwise it’s basically Jaxom and Sebell helping Idarolan avoid pissing himself by taking him to “the nearest head” (a fine nautical term for Tillek Hold) and then trying to sober him up after he passes out soon afterward. With Sebell gone, Jaxom ducks into the stall with Idarolan when more people enter the head.
For his trouble, he overhears a plot to kill him while he’s up in space and put Pell, one of Barla’s sons, in charge at Ruatha.
That’s Barla, as in mother of Aramina and mother-in-law to Jayge. I wonder what the opinions of those three would be with regard to such a plot.
Jaxom doesn’t see the three plotters, and neither does Sebell, so we skip ahead past the festivities for Jaxom to go home and fly Thread with Ruth. And learn the name of his second son, Shawan. Before going off to fight, Jaxom confides in Brand, the steward, about what he heard at Tillek, and Brand points out that not only would they have to deal with Jaxom’s sons, but F’lessan’s as well, since Lessa also has a birthright claim on the place. (He refers to it as a deferral, rather than what it actually was.)
Then there is Threadfall, described again with new reverence from Jaxom now that he knows more about the history of the dragons. (And a lot of “ancient” and “age-old”.)
And one tiny accident where a flying strap nearly breaks in the middle of a sharp turn. Jaxom takes the tongue-lashing in good humor after he determines it’s not sabotage, and cuts himself new straps that night.
Then it’s on to Landing to take Sharra up into space. Mirrim is excited.
As soon as they entered the Aivas building, Mirrim, who had been chatting with D’ram, ran to greet them.
“I’m ready when you are,” she announced.
“Easy, girl!” Jaxom laughed. Her association with T’gellan had calmed her considerably, but she still tended to become overzealous in her enthusiasms. Not necessarily a bad trait, Jaxom realized, but it could be wearing on her companions.
Not necessarily a bad trait, the author realized, after having had Jaxom make fun of Mirrim’s enthusiasm and the assertion that having a man in her life has made Mirrim much more bearable to everyone. Have we had any suggestions of how T’gellan handles his weyrmate? The Benden School that we’ve seen so far isn’t one I’d want to have replicated worldwide.
Preparations continue, with the AI briefing Jaxom about the tasks at hand for this trip. Once that is done and the dragons are getting loaded, Jaxom gets fed up with Mirrim adjusting and readjusting the burden on Path.
“You’re wasting time, Mirrim,” Jaxom said finally, when she insisted on padding the knots across Path’s back. “The load sits fine and we’re not flying straight, you know.” Privately he wondered if Mirrim was covering up a case of nerves. Sharra was composed enough, and so was S’len, though his face was flushed with excitement.
“I just don’t want them shifting,” Mirrim replied stiffly.
Oh, Mirrim.We understand that you’re struggling against a patriarchy that insists women are useless except as a babymaker and possibly, domestic servant. And that you’re an Exceptional Woman among the dragonriders, so you’re suffering under extra scrutiny for everything that you do and everything that happens will be taken as representative of your entire gender. Jaxom doesn’t fully get it, since he’s had the silver spoon since birth. So yes, there’s nerves there, but the burden on Path is only the surface item of a much deeper set of nerves.
There’s some useful information about draconic capabilities, although AIVAS is still having difficulty with the inability to use telekinetic abilities.
For instance, how much weight could a dragon carry? For which the answer was: your much weight did a dragon think he could carry? An answer Aivas found specious–and certainly not helpful when what was needed was hard numbers.
Then there was the question, How do dragons know where to go? “Their riders tell them,” did nothing to explain the actual process to Aivas. While Aivas did accept teleportation, it could not understand why telekinesis was so impossible a concept to explain to the dragons and the fire-lizards. Especially when Ruth had indeed understood what Farli had not: to go to the Yokohama.
In checking the details of this joint trip to the spaceship, Jaxom had asked Ruth if he could carry two riders, as well as two padded barrels, one of pure water and one of carbonated water. Ruth’s felt had been affirmative although, as Aivas saw the load, it was more than the dragon’s slight frame ought to be able to bear.
So dragons can violate physics by being able to carry more than what their frame should be able to, and instinctually know how to traverse hyperspace to a picture in their minds. But they don’t understand how to move things with their mental powers.
Anyone asking about the science behind the dragons, in other words, is going to get nowhere. (Not that it would ever stop the determined fans of the series and their fanwork capabilities to try and make it work anyway.) I saw speculation on a wiki, I believe, or the fansite that I’m taking the reading order from that the dragons do have telekinesis, but it’s a field they exert on themselves and whatever they’re carrying, with the mental powers kicking in whatever additional lift is needed to pick up even things that should be impossible to physically lift. But because that field is instinctual, instead of learned, the dragons lack the ability to understand it and project it. Thus, no telekinesis and no way of pulling objects through the void to them instead of pulling themselves through the void. It’s as good an explanation as any without any actual data, which is in perennially short supply for a series that is trying to reinvent itself as a science fiction story.
There is the transfer to space, and the “it’s bigger on the inside” moment of witnessing Pernrise and then Mirrim unstraps Path a little too forcefully and pushes herself up to the ceiling. “Mirrim had been too startled to cry out; also, she had no great wish to show to disadvantage.” says the narrative, still pointing out the extra weight Mirrim is suffering under without acknowledging the cause of it.
The riders get to watch the planet on the viewscreens, and then S’len pops over to a different ship, the Bahrain, to help get it ready as well with oxygen and algae, while Mirrim and Sharra take care of the Yokohama. Jaxom reorients the telescopes and gives AIVAS more data about the skies. Once the Yokohama is done, Mirrim and Sharra shift over on Path to the Buenos Aires to do that ship as well. With algae in place, everyone goes back to Landing, where there is a lesson in bacteria and antibiotics waiting for them, to be delivered to them, from Oldive and Brekke, described incredibly improperly as “introverted”. There is now an ultrasound machine from Fandarel and petri dishes and microscopes from Morilton. The lesson is actually on how to turn the various components of bacteria against each other so to defeat them without antibiotics. But before we get too far into the weeds, the chapter ends.
There’s a lot of possible plots warping by in our focus on the end result of the Plan. The plot against Jaxom would be a good one, as might the formation of the new Halls discussed in the last chapter. There’s a lot going on which might provide worldbuilding or a clearer picture of what is going on in relation to the industrial revolution underway, but no, we’re resolutely zipping past those things because the March of Progress can’t be stopped and shouldn’t be stopped.
I wonder what we’ll blow past in the next chapter.