All the Weyrs of Pern: And Colon Semi-Colon Too!

Last chapter revealed a plot against Jaxom, that Mirrim is being held to a much higher standard than any of the other men around her (and that Jaxom thinks having a man in her life is good for her), and that the Plan, whatever it may be, will need all three of the colony spaceships to be operational.

All the Weyrs of Pern: Chapter 11: Content Notes: Patriarchal Double-Standards

Present Pass 20. We’ve time-jumped again. Despite still being in the middle of a furious cultural and technological revolution, since the goal was laid out at the beginning of the book that an attempt at permanent erasure of Thread, we’re charging ahead to get there by the end, sprinting by books worth of material in our haste.

We start on a Hatching, where the Benden Weyrleaders are musing that it’s nice so many people want to be dragonriders, with the temptation of Landing so close by. Benelek has been elected the first Mastertechnician, and Groghe is wearing insulating boots that make “The Dance of The Hatching Ground Sands” a thing of the past. They’ll be standard issue for dragonriders and everyone else, because they also protect against the cold of hyperspace, thanks to plant fibers embedded in the boots that protect against both extremes.

There’s going to be a new Weyr constructed, because all eight are currently at capacity and dragons are still laying, including Ramoth, who has laid thirty-five eggs, one of which is a queen egg. It will be in the South, preferably equidistant between Southern and Eastern Weyrs.

Lessa reflects on everything the Benden Weyrleaders have done these past few years…

Lessa experienced a flush of pride for what had been achieved by over the past Turns by an ex-drudge from Ruatha Hold and the bronze Benden rider whom noone had wanted to believe.

…and sells herself incredibly short. Just last chapter we were reminded that Lessa has better claim to Ruatha than Jaxom does, so having Lessa describe herself as an “ex-drudge” is very revisionist, trying to make her into more of a Cinderella story of humble beginnings to grand power. Lessa went into hiding because of Fax, and then stepped out once Fax was dead to try and reclaim her Hold. That’s more Fa Mulan, not Belle or Cinderella. And it also very strongly minimizes Lessa in the equation, since being a bronze rider already afforded the Benden Weyrleader large amounts of privilege to act (and take credit for) everything that’s happened. Lessa is being recast in the Exceptional Woman role that she had previously been able to avoid precisely because she wasn’t an ex-drudge raised up to the heights, but an aristocrat forcibly recruited and partnered by the Benden Weyrleader so that she wouldn’t go overturning the social order with her psychic powers and strong will. Which, you know, is a theme.

  • Lessa can’t because she’s too powerful.
  • Kylara couldn’t because she was too sexual with those below her station.
  • Avril couldn’t because she was too much a caricature of a real person.
  • Mirrim can’t because she’s trying too hard to be a guy.
  • Jancis can’t, because nobody will take her seriously.
  • Thella couldn’t, ostensibly because she’s too cruel to be effective.
  • Menolly can’t because she’s got arbitrary restrictions to access and gatekeeping imposed on her.

The general gist of all these Exceptional Women is that they could be effective at changing everything, except that their society reacts incredibly violently to the idea of women holding any kind of power over men. Lessa was and is beaten and shaken, T’gellan is doing something to keep Mirrim in check, Kylara was permanently mindscarred by Brekke, through Wirenth, Avril was defeated by Sallah, Thella was hunted and eventually lost to Jayge on trying to capture Aramina, Jancis has the rest of the Crafthalls to contend with, even if she has powerful allies in Fandarel and Piemur, and unfettered Menolly was immediately censured and then physically maimed to stop her from using her talent before having to run a patriarchal gauntlet that she probably wouldn’t have made it through were it not for Robinton insisting she should. It’s a pattern where women are given incredible potential to change the world and then told they either can’t use it or can only use it in approved ways at the direction of men higher ranked than they are, one of whom they will likely be required to fall in love with or graciously accept the love of. This is a failure of storytelling, and I have to wonder whether there is some sort of editorial interference being run on these stories, under the discredited theory (even for then) that nobody wants to read books about strong women protagonists.

Back swirl bang hash mark question mark swirl bang.

Lessa also notices the graying of the Benden Weyrleader’s hair and wonders if it might be time to retire to Landing themselves, but dismissing the possibility until Thread is gone forever. F’lessan is part of team AI, and Tagetarl is the first Masterprinter to complement Bendarek as papersmith. Lessa looks for Robinton and D’ram, and wonders why those old men took to the new world so readily when others resist it so fiercely. Because retired Warder Lytol, retired Weyrleader D’ram, and retired Masterharper Robinton must have some inner quality that makes them superior to current Lords Sangel, Corman, Nessel, and Begamon and current Masterglass-smith Norist. Couldn’t tell you what it was, though, clearly.

The Hatching begins, and Lessa runs down the candidates for the queen egg…

Cona was Neratian, and Manora had reported that in the sevenday that the girl had been at Benden Weyr, she had already been in the weyrs of three bronze riders. That was not a bad trait in a queen’s rider; it was certainly preferable to a lack of sensuality.

Cocowhat by depizan

Kylara disagrees with you, Lessa. Unless your only problem with her was that she slept below her station, which is still highly problematic for someone billing themselves as an ex-drudge only a few paragraphs earlier to espouse. The retcon continues.

Lessa mentally goes over how the new Weyrleaders for the Ninth Weyr will be selected, and then settles in to watch the hatching, including the queen egg, Amaranth, which goes to the oldest candidate, Breda. Ramoth remarks that this one is likely to be a handful, as a “true daughter” of hers. We also find out that Breda is an orphan, raised by her Crafthall and otherwise without options for going out of her Hold. After the new candidates are at to their tasks, the Weyrleaders go to comfort the candidates that didn’t Impress. Unfortunately, that’s all we get to know about what happens to them (along with Lessa noting that Cona is nowhere to be seen, and settling on the idea that is probably for the best for Cona to get consolation in her own way) because Robinton waylays them and asks about why F’lessan is scouting land (not that’s he’s asking because he doesn’t know), treating us to this charming example of a double standard:

With three sons by as many weyrgirls, F’lessan had need to be absent from from their entreaties. He had provided well for each of his children, but he was no more ready to settle down with one than any young, handsome, and popular bronze rider. Manora had even suggested that the absence of that young charmer for a while might result in one or more of the girls settling for an older rider in a more stable, lasting attachment.

So it’s totally okay for a rider to impregnate someone and not form a lasting attachment to them, then? And it’s a good idea for a potential queen rider to be sleeping with the bronze riders? But sleeping with a Lord Holder as a queen rider is right out, and if you choose to have that bronze rider’s kid, you’d better not go asking him for any sort of support for child-rearing. Boys will be boys, and popular jocks, err, riders, can’t possibly be expected to settle during their wild phase. And if those girls get insistent, we’ll encourage the older riders to have a turn with them and attach to them for the support they want.

Sounds like what would have been the Jaxom-Corana arrangement, so at least it’s consistent. And what would make Lessa and Manora’s attitudes more…understandable, I suppose, is if there were a little bit in there about how those pregnancies were during mating flights, when everybody is all horny beyond control, but it’s not, and so the image I’m getting of F’lessan is that he’s a playboy even for the presumably promiscuous Weyrfolk. And that this is encouraged. (Also, weyrgirls =/=
queen riders, so F’lessan is likely sleeping beneath his station, too. Nice double standard.)

Something else in my head says that a much earlier book said children are raised communally in the Weyrs, so as to prevent attachments to biological parents (who could be killed by Thread at any point or so might end up in completely different coupling arrangements at any time, whether mating flight induced or not). If memory serves correctly, then this entire scene of weyrgirls chasing F’lessan makes even less sense, because parenting support should be coming from the Weyr, not the father.

And we still don’t know what happens to the candidates that don’t win. Presumably, Groghe’s daughter will go back to the family, but what about other candidates without families that want them to return?

Robinton keeps the topic on Toric, on finding a new supply for paper pulp, and other things he thinks are innocuous.

“Will we end up having to fight him [Toric] for holdings in the South?” Lessa went on, shooting him [Robinton] a fierce glance for his casual manner.
“My dear Lessa, no one, absolutely no one, is going to challenge a man, or a woman, mounted a-dragon! And let us hope there is never a point at which that is even remotely possible.”
“Southern Weyr?” F’lar reminded the Harper severely.
“Well, yes, now, but that was not aggression–it was abduction.”

Abduction born of desperation, I might note, and from one dragonrider to another, as a fight of equals. The only time we’ve seen anyone else challenge the dragonriders, the mere appearance of the dragons spooked both the horses and the humans sufficiently well to make the fighting force fall apart. So Robinton is correct, at least for now. Because firearms and explosives are probably also in the AI’s database, and they might very well get deployed in some way and he found out to be effective against dragons, too.

Having talked about F’lessan, the narrative shifts over to him playing hooky from both Landing and the Hatching, musing on whether or not he is going to be a Weyrleader (he thinks not, based on Golanth’s abilities), and then investigating a cloud of herdbeasts in different colors before both reflective water and thermals catch Golanth’s attention.

F’lessan is a recipient of one of six wristwatches on Pern (Piemur, Larad, Jissamy, Robinton, and Fandarel are the others), all constructed by Jancis. Hello, miniaturization and also tiny mechanisms and possibly quartz crystals and button batteries if the watches aren’t self-winding. We’ve leapfrogged well past the beginning of the industrial revolution and are well on our way to space age materials and items. On a world that was supposedly settled because it was resource and metal poor. I wonder if that’s been retconned, too.

F’lessan also asks Golanth about finding thermals to glide on, and gets more information than he, or we, bargained for.

My eyes see the variation of air, I smell the difference, and my hide feels the altered pressure.
Really? F’lessan was impressed with the explanation. Been listening in on my aerodynamics lessons with Aivas?
Golanth thought that over. Yes. You listen to him, so I thought I should. Ruth does, and Path certainly. Ramoth and Mnementh don’t. They prefer to sleep on the sun while Lessa and F’lar are here. Bigath listens, and Sulath and Beerth. Clarianth occasionally, but Pranith always and Lioth whenever his rider’s down. Sometimes the listening is very interesting. Sometimes it’s not.
Not only was that an unusually long speech for Golanth, but it gave F’lessan such food for thought that he was kept occupied with the ramifications until the edge of the vast inland sea became visible.

There are quite a few potential ramifications there. They’re not spelled out, of course, but I can think of a few, one of which should be “the intelligent creatures at have pair-bonded with are at least as smart as we are, if not smarter, he can follow along with lectures as well.” Which makes me wonder what a dragon with a working knowledge of science could do with their own abilities, like being able to teleport to a set of coordinates, or even better, to a very specific set of space-time coordinates, without having actually seen the destination in some way. Or possibly to give some assistance to their rider on helping understand or construct things. Or perhaps rearrange themselves into a more efficient coverage method for roasting Thread, doing the same job with less dragons.

F’lessan and Golanth continue to explore the area around them, taking note of the way the trees are growing in the area, and discovering the Xanadu settlement, which F’lessan thinks would be an excellent Weyr when Thread isn’t menacing from the skies. They move on to the Honshu settlement, the one encountered in Rescue Run, which Golanth only spots before dark because he sees herdbeasts going in one of the doors. After camping for the night, F’lessan gives it another shot, and while repulsed by the smell of the dung “up to midthigh in some places”, he explores enough to find a sled, sufficiently preserved to be recognizable as such from pictures that AIVAS had. Emboldened by this discovery, F’lessan explores more until he comes across the murals painted in the main hallway of Honshu that we last saw in Rescue Run, and takes it as independent verification of AIVAS’s account of things (even though he hopefully knows that the settlers had communication devices.)

F’lessan concludes this spot would be excellent for the Ninth Weyr, and the chapter ends, keeping tension alive for, well, until the next page. Which will have to be next week, I guess.

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “All the Weyrs of Pern: And Colon Semi-Colon Too!

  1. genesistrine June 1, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    T’gellan is doing something to keep Mirrim in check

    I don’t think we’ve seen him do anything, have we? The big check on Mirrim so far has been her so-called “friends” excluding, denigrating and trash-talking her for no apparent reason. It’s not just Pernese men keeping Pernese women down….

    Jancis has the rest of the Crafthalls to contend with, even if she has powerful allies in Fandarel and Piemur

    Is Piemur still a decent ally now, though? I don’t think we’ve seen them interact, and his support may just have been an “impress the pretty girl with the important relative” thing.

    But then I don’t like Piemur….

    I have to wonder whether there is some sort of editorial interference being run on these stories, under the discredited theory (even for then) that nobody wants to read books about strong women protagonists.

    Doubt it. Any author who’s been a bestseller as long as AMC was is effectively uneditable. If that was the thinking it was AMC’s thinking. Which is perfectly possible; she certainly seems to’ve had some very odd ideas about romance and relationships.

    Kylara disagrees with you, Lessa. Unless your only problem with her was that she slept below her station, which is still highly problematic for someone billing themselves as an ex-drudge only a few paragraphs earlier to espouse. The retcon continues.

    The weird thing is, it’s not a retcon. Kylara was picked and coached as a prime candidate for Prideth’s egg explicitly in-text because she was banging her way around the bronze riders too. It was only once she became Weyrwoman that she became Designated Evil Slut for god alone knows what reason. Maybe for sex with non-bronze-riders, but we’re never explicitly told why she’s suddenly such a vile person for doing exactly what she was chosen for doing in the first place.

    Something else in my head says that a much earlier book said children are raised communally in the Weyrs, so as to prevent attachments to biological parents (who could be killed by Thread at any point or so might end up in completely different coupling arrangements at any time, whether mating flight induced or not).

    Yep. The Smallest Dragonboy is the best look at it – Keevan knows who his father is and hangs around him and his cronies sometimes, his mother’s never mentioned and his foster mother is his main emotional support. The whole fostering system has been completely forgotten at this Doylistic point though – Sharra, Jancis and Menolly are all raising their own children. And F’lessan was raised by a foster mother, though she was never named and hasn’t ever appeared on-page.

  2. WanderingUndine June 1, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    First there was Lord Kale, and now Amaranth. We’re starting to make a gourmet meal here. :-p

    I thought Moreta’s children were raised by someone else, but I’ve forgotten the details.

    Is “sensuality” used here to mean a combination of sexual desire *and* sexual activity? If so, I hate seeing its “lack” be disparaged. Granted, someone who wants to avoid sex altogether probably wouldn’t — or at least shouldn’t — seek to be a dragonrider, though a woman whose only other options are marriage or mistress-hood might think it could be preferable under the influence of dragon sex. But I categorically have a particular dislike for narratives that slut-shame *and* prude-shame. And someone can have plenty of sexual desire and still not be having sex with many peoole — or anyone — if they’re not conventionally attractive and/or struggle to express or detect attraction. Argh.

    I don’t remember if Meron’s designated villainousness was a factor in the villification of Kylara for bedding him.

  3. Nothing June 1, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    You know, beyond the “woman falls for or settles for a superior man” pattern, there is also a long-standing pattern in McCaffrey’s writing that when “babies ever after” happens, the child is usually a boy. Maybe there are little girls in other series, but I can’t remember any Pernese protagonist giving birth to anything other than a boy. It happens in her Freedom series, too, but that one is problematic for a whole host of reasons. Maybe someone somewhere will deconstruct that one too.

  4. Silver Adept June 1, 2017 at 6:59 pm

    @ genesistrine –

    Quite true. We’re not seeing a lot of Mirrim and T’gellan together to know what the magic is that he’s working on her.

    Piemur is still an ally in the basic sense because he’s got the ear of all the important characters of the books, even if he’s still behaving much more jerkily.

    I’d forgotten that Kylara’s behavior was considered good (and likely in contrast to Brekke being reserved) before she suddenly became villainous.

    And ugh, another example of needing your series bible or at least some indicator that social mores have changed toward raising children individually again. We’ve had time skips, so they could easily be hidden in there…

    @ WanderingUndine –

    “sensual” is definitely being used in the combined sense here, of both a high sex drive and lots of sexual activity, which is okay so long as it is with approved people, I guess. And the lack always seems to be shamed in queen riders, but that’s because, until Mirrim, there weren’t any other women riders outside of the queens.

    @ Nothing –

    Yep, all boys, all the time, for all the children. Because heaven forbid there be daughters brought up to be awesome.

  5. WanderingUndine June 1, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Nerilka and Alessen had a daughter, “little Moreta,” as well as sons iirc. So did Tarvi and Sallah, though that wasn’t their happy ending. In the Acorna aeries (rot13 for spoiler) Npbean naq Nnev unir gjva qnhtgref. But here and now, it’s definitely sons all ’round.

  6. genesistrine June 2, 2017 at 3:39 am

    @WanderingUndine: I’m pretty sure Kylara was being vilified before the other characters knew she was seeing Meron. Come the think of it the change might have been after Prideth was flown by Orth – maybe the unspoken rule is that queenriders can sleep around until their queen’s flown, and after that they’re supposed to be monogamous? It would explain why DQ was being so sniffy about Mardra’s court of young bronze riders too.

    I can see the narrative logic of picking queen candidates who are already comfortable with sex with the local bronze riders, since that way the mating flight’s going to be with at least some men she’s been intimate with. (And by the same reasoning Brekke was a terrible choice and really shouldn’t have been allowed to stand as a candidate, since there was no way she wouldn’t find a mating flight terrifying and traumatic.) But there’s this weird dissociation between theory and on-page – there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to find or filter candidates based on their sexual appetite/preferences, all the bronze/queen pairings we see have been permanent, we’ve never had a replacement Weyrleader due to a queen fancying a change or a new bronze beating an old one. I’ve said it before, but AMC talks a good line in sexual/relationship variety but only shows het-monogamous-lifelong on-page and slut-shames everything else.

    (Well, except ace, grey-ace, lesbian, shy, low-libido etc women, and she’s obviously of the opinion that the only thing they need is sexual assault from a suitably protagonist-y boyfriend and they’ll be up for author-approved types of woo-hoo.)

    @Silver Adept: And ugh, another example of needing your series bible or at least some indicator that social mores have changed toward raising children individually again. We’ve had time skips, so they could easily be hidden in there…

    I think she just forgot rather than making it a social change, otherwise we’d’ve had Lessa musing on all these trendy modern girls raising their own babies, what a change from when she had her own.

  7. Wingsrising June 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    One possibility is that sleeping around is encouraged in junior queen riders but not in Weyrwomen. Certainly that seems to be true of the dragons: in Moreta, Moreta mentions that Orlith’s interest in a Benden bronze would be encouraged in a junor queen, but not in the senior queen. Which makes sense, especially in a Pass: you want the leadership of the Weyr to stay fairly stable and particuarly not to suddenly switch to a bronze rider from a different Weyr.

    For example, Moreta certainly had plenty of partners in her past, but there seems to be an undercurrent in the book that she owes Sh’gall her support until the Pass is over. Which I suppose again makes a certain amount of sense — there are a number of references to attractions between riders influencing the mating flights, and again you want stable leadership during a Pass — although it’s also certainly unfair.

    Makes me wonder about T’gellan’s Weyrwoman and if she’s allowed to have a seperate Weryrmate, too?

  8. depizan77 June 2, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Groghe is wearing insulating boots that make “The Dance of The Hatching Ground Sands” a thing of the past. They’ll be standard issue for dragonriders and everyone else, because they also protect against the cold of hyperspace

    I don’t know enough about insulated clothing, but this has me wondering how toe and/or foot loss (also everything else vulnerable to frostbite) wasn’t a problem for dragonriders up til now. Surely, anything they had that was sufficient enough to protect dragonriders from hyperspace would’ve been sufficient to protect their feet from the hatching ground. Conversely, I’d think anything that didn’t protect their feet from the sands would also not protect their feet from hyperspace.

    I can see the new technology provinding even more effective insulators, but this makes it sound like what they had before wasn’t really good enough at all.

    We also find out that Breda is an orphan, raised by her Crafthall and otherwise without options for going out of her Hold. … the Weyrleaders go to comfort the candidates that didn’t Impress. Unfortunately, that’s all we get to know about what happens to them

    How does McCaffrey juxtapose these things and not see the problem? You can’t tell us that Impressing a dragon is some people’s only hope and then not ever deal with what happens to the people who don’t Impress! Especially when the options for women are extra, extra limited. ARGH!

    “My dear Lessa, no one, absolutely no one, is going to challenge a man, or a woman, mounted a-dragon! “

    Welp, guess we don’t need to worry about the plot involving the people conspiring (poorly) against Jaxom then. And thank you Robinton for once again reminding me to wonder why no one’s ever tried mass poisoning the dragonriders. Or some other non-direct method of removing the problem. (Kinda like those conspirators… Only hopefully more competent.)

  9. Eilonwy Has An Emu June 3, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    How does McCaffrey juxtapose these things and not see the problem? You can’t tell us that Impressing a dragon is some people’s only hope and then not ever deal with what happens to the people who don’t Impress! Especially when the options for women are extra, extra limited. ARGH!

    Back in Dragonflight, the rule was that unsuccessful candidates could stay at the Weyr, make themselves useful, and try again until they aged out.

    This isn’t unproblematic, for a host of reasons, starting with the propensity of bronze riders to Search young women who weren’t especially likely to impress, but who seemed like pleasing bed mates. A change in that practice is something it would have been interesting to see — with the faster pace of hatchings during the Pass, hitting up holds for attractive young women would get old fast, and there ought to have been social pressure (or even a dictate from Lessa) to Search seriously and stick to genuinely likely young women.

  10. Eilonwy Has An Emu June 3, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    ^^^Sorry, @depizan77, I thought I’d set off “my” first paragraph (the quote from your post) as a quote, when clearly I did not.

  11. depizan77 June 3, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    That’s still incredibly screwed up, especially for the female candidates, both because of what you point out and because the books seem to be assuming they have one option per hatching, so their odds of Impressing are significantly worse than male candidates. (I thought it was canon that women could impress one of the other colors, too? Blues? Greens? ??? But I don’t think we’ve seen any female riders of anything but queens…have we?)

    It just feels like one of the many worldbuilding horrors that McCaffrey created that she doesn’t seem to have noticed that she created. I can’t help but think that a more aware author would have, at some point, told the story of a woman who didn’t Impress. Or would have made it more clear that even being a candidate significantly improved their options in life. Instead, we seem to get Impress or… what… be a servant or bed mate? If that is an improvement over their previous choices, that’s horrible. And if it’s not, it’s horrible.

    (Hell, even for the male candidates, it sounds like they’d just end up serving the dragonriders if they don’t Impress. And we still don’t know whether that’s an improvement for them or not. Because this whole world is completely fucked up if you’re not one of the few people with power. And possibly even if you are. Damn it, McCaffrey, you somehow wrote a horrific dystopia that’s either mascurading as wish-fulfillment fic or has been mistaken for wish-fulfillment fic.)

  12. WanderingUndine June 3, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    In Dragonsdawn and First Fall, green dragons always bonded with women. Somehow that changed at some point, with Mirrim as the only ‘modern’ exception we know of. Male dragons have always bonded with men only, as far as we’re told. If I recall correctly.

    “No one would challenge a dragonrider” has been pretty evident throughout the series, but is this the first time it’s been explicitly stated? And are we readers supposed to agree with Robinton and Lessa that it’s a *good* thing?

  13. genesistrine June 4, 2017 at 4:21 am

    @Wingsrising: maybe. We’re never given enough information to be sure though, thanks to the author’s apparent belief that it should be self-evident.

    I like to believe T’gellan, Mirrim and has she ever been named? are a poly triad, and that’s why Mirrim’s so happy now.

    @depizan: this has me wondering how toe and/or foot loss (also everything else vulnerable to frostbite) wasn’t a problem for dragonriders up til now.

    I always got the impression previously that the Dance of The Hatching Ground Sands was only a problem if you were wearing light slippers or barefoot; I’m pretty sure there’s a scene in an earlier book with a grumpy Lessa being annoyed with F’lar because he’s got boots on and her feet are burning. And weren’t Menolly’s flash new boots lined with down or or somesuch?

    Especially when the options for women are extra, extra limited. ARGH!

    And they must be extra extra extra limited in the Weyr, which brings so much stuff in as tithes. No call for on-site tanners, weavers, dyers, farmers, for example, maybe some animal husbandry for the soon-to-be-dragon-dinners, but no use for horse tamers.

  14. depizan77 June 5, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    @genesistrine

    Wait, so what’s left for the people who don’t impress to do at a Weyr? Are they literally relegated to drudge or bed mate? Jesus, McCaffrey, did you think this through AT ALL???

  15. genesistrine June 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I think drudge is a separate class/caste, but yeah, I think failed female candidates are where the women of the Lower Caverns come from, along with any girls born in the Weyr (because queens only Impress on girls from outside the Weyr).

    There’s a hint in DF itself, when Manora and Lessa are talking about the lack of tithes to the Weyr that year:

    “Time was,” [Manora] went on, her voice soft with nostalgia, “we would pass the coldest part of the Turn in one of the southern Holds. Or, if we wished and could, return to our birthplaces. Families used to take pride in daughters with dragonfolk sons.” Her face settled into sad lines. “The world turns and times change.”

    Which to me reads as though Manora’s not weyrborn and is thinking of her own situation. Was she a failed candidate for Nemorth? Or did she leave home for a dragonrider lover who moved on?

    There’s a telling description of Manora at the beginning of this scene as well:

    Manora, a stately woman of middle years, exuded an aura of quiet strength and purpose, having come to a difficult compromise with life which she maintained with serene dignity.

    I think that’s the closest we’ll ever get to authorial acknowledgement of what happens to women who come to the Weyr and don’t Impress. Manora worked her way up to headwoman, which is more impressive than queenrider since there’s only one per Weyr and it has to be done with talent and application rather than whatever nebulous qualities dragons like, but….

    As for male candidates, who knows. Though I daresay it’s easier for men to move away and start anew somewhere else in Pernese society.

  16. depizan77 June 5, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    So they’re marginally above drudge, but they’re still basically trapped as the servants (sex work included) for the Weyr, unless they have a home that wants them back. This does not seem like an improvement in their lot in life. Either coming to the Weyr changes nothing for them or actually lowers their social class/status.

    Did McCaffrey just get lost in the fantasy of it all and forget that the world she’d built was far from ideal? That small bit you quote from DF makes me think that if McCaffrey had written Renegades of Pern next (instead of much later), it might have been a very different book.

  17. genesistrine June 5, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    It may still be an improvement on Hold life, where women seem to be expected to be servants and breeding stock – at least the Weyrs seem to have a) readily available abortion via between and b) an acceptance of single women, if only because no-one there’s married.

    From DQ (CN: a shedload of male gaze and privilege from F’nor): As he ladled out a bowl of stew, F’nor wondered at the perversity of women. Girls were constantly pleading to come to Benden Weyr. They’d not be expected to bear child after child till they were worn-out and old. Women in the Weyrs remained active and appealing. Manora had seen twice the Turns that, for instance, Lord Sifer of Bitra’s latest wife had, yet Manora looked younger. Well, a rider preferred to seek his own loves, not have them foisted on him. There were enough spare women in the Lower Caverns right now.

    We’re seeing that through F’nor’s particularly punchable filter, but I don’t think the Lower Caverns women are obliged to have sex with anyone they don’t want to*, so given the choice between “child after for child for some bloke you may or may not have got to choose” (noble marriages are arranged; we don’t know about Craft or peasant-holder) and “series of relationships with hot guys in lizard leather, kids optional” I think I’d prefer the latter (assuming I couldn’t get into the Smithcraft…).

  18. depizan77 June 5, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    If the women of the Lower Caverns are allowed to say no, especially if they’re allowed to say no to everyone should they so choose, then, yes, it does appear to be an improvement. Hell, Pern is so terrible that even just not having to have child after child until you die in childbirth is an improvement.

    Ugh. I continue to find it creepy that the stories that McCaffrey chose to tell mostly kind of gloss over how terrible the world of Pern is. No, worse than that, they end up basically romanticizing Pern. Why didn’t she create a world that was more worthy of that romanticizing? It’s not like this is an actual place that was just this terrible.

    Could she not imagine a world that wasn’t a horrid place for women? … Wow, that’s a really depressing thought.

  19. genesistrine June 6, 2017 at 5:21 am

    Yeah, it’s the “if” that’s the killer. I’d like to think the riders would have been poisoned en masse long since otherwise though.

    And I think she just doesn’t give a shit about anyone who isn’t a protagonist. The early books do occasionally flesh out a minor character such as Manora above, but later books seem to bother less and less unless they’re intended to pair off an existing character.

  20. Silver Adept June 8, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    It is bad in the Weyrs, and those are marginally better than the Holds, and we haven’t seen into the Crafts, save the Harpers and the comment that Fandarel is weird because he sticks people where they are best suited, instead of reinforcing the caste system.

    Renegades is such a disappointment because it was the perfect vehicle to show that things really suck for non-titled people or to show that it really isn’t that bad for your average serf, and it did neither of those things.

    (I’d love to believe that it’s T’gellan’s Weyrwoman that’s so good for Mirrim.)

    But we don’t get to see what happens with women who don’t Impress. Men, most likely, return to their noble or crafthall families and remain potential inheritors or continue working on the family trade, because that’s the kind of place Pern is (since Alessan was refused to be Searched, based on being the oldest child), but women likely stay where they are and hope to curry favor with the dragonriders, since their feudal families won’t want them back so they don’t have to provide dowry for their marriage.

    Pern is a wish-fulfillment story, and blithely assumes the reader is more interested in reading the stories of the upper crust and putting themselves until those shoes, so making mention of the permanent underclasses spoils the fantasy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: