Monthly Archives: October 2017

Open Thread: Halloween

(by chris the cynic)

By the Gregorian Calendar, tomorrow is Hallowmas, or All Hallows’ Day, or any of a few other days.  Since that’s tomorrow, today is All Hallows’ Eve.  Therefore: candy.  Candy and costumes and stuff.

This also coincides with the Day of the Dead, which is not a coincidence.  The Day of the Dead was moved so it would take place at the same time.

I’m told that by Celtic reckoning this is the end of fall, and thus the eve of winter.  That means that from sundown today to sundown tomorrow is Samhain.

We haven’t had an open thread in ages.  Speak of what you will.


[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, October 29th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

Just a reminder that you can submit via the email SlacktiverseAuthors [at] gmail [dot] net and if that doesn’t work throw a comment up here so we know something went wrong.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for October 27, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who will have costume things to do in the weekend and next week.)

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

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

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 would like to have a place to attempt to jump scare small children. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragonseye: Forget What You Know

A new book, with a new time period to explore. At this point, it seems almost like a series trend – after the initial two series, it seems like there’s a regular oscillation between Ninth (and Final) Pass Pern and some earlier Pass, sometimes in the service of providing some backstory to a thing referred to from the future. Maybe this one will follow the trend? And possibly help us learn how the society at Landing became the shell of itself that it was at the beginning of the Ninth Pass.

Dragonseye: Prologue and Chapter 1: Content Notes: Misogyny, exoticizing

Oh, Prologue, how I’ve missed you. Since this is a post-AIVAS Prologue, though, this have changed again. The ships that came to this new world have names now, and the science material about how the dragons came to be and the cyclic nature of Thread is much more prominent and detailed (now that another book has laid down the canon). At this point, it’s already established that the First Pass lasted about fifty years, and that the period between passes should be about 250 years. And an insistence that the people who experienced the first one left plenty behind for their descendants to recognize the return and prepare for it.

So this is what happened 257 years later, we’re told. And already there’s some wobble in the calculations, clearly.

And since the Prologue assures us that plenty was left behind, Chapter One opens with Chalkin, Lord Holder of Bitra (quelle surprise!) expressing explicit skepticism about the return of Thread and pooh-poohing the ego-inflated dragonriders that keep appearing at his Hold with lists of instructions to be followed in preparation for another Threadfall. Maybe this is where Bitra Hold gets its infamous reputation from?

So that we can be very sure that Chalkin is ignorant and foolish, he dismisses the increased violence of storms and the seismic activity as natural phenomenon (aided by his science orientation), refuses to post watchers looking for the red star in the sky, and dismisses dragons as a weird experiment and poor replacement for the airsleds (one of which is in Telgar Foundry as an exhibit) and that someone in the College could surely figure out alternatives based on all the records being copied.

Smiths, check. Harpers, check.

Useful notes:

  • Even at this time, Bitra Hold is already notorious for gambling.

    […]even his gamesters were watching the sight. He’d have a word with them later. They should have been able to keep some customers at the various games of chance, even with the dragonrider display. Surely everyone had seen that by now. Still, the races had gone well and, with every one of the wager-takers his operators, he’d’ve made a tidy profit from his percentage of the bets.

    It’s always a great worldbuilding exercise to leave out what those games of chance might be. Since it’s Bitra, I would expect rigged games that never pay out.

  • The famous Benden white sparkling wine makes its debut at this particular Gather.

    The wine was the only reason he had been willing to come to this gathering: and he’d half-suspected Hegmon of some prevarication in the matter. An effervescent wine, like the champagne one heard about from old Earth, was to have its debut.

  • And also, everyone hates Chalkin.

    Paulin, Fort Hold’s Lord, had lured one of the best chefs on the continent to his kitchens and the evening meal was sure to be good: if it didn’t turn sour in his stomach while he sat through the obligatory meeting afterward. Chalkin had bid for the man’s services, but Chrislee had spurned Bitra’s offer, and that refusal had long rankled in Chalkin’s mind.
    […Chalkin looks for excuses…]
    He’d taken the trouble to go to Hegmon’s Benden vineyard, with the clear intention of buying cases of the vintage. But Hegmon had refused to see him. Oh, his eldest son had been apologetic–something about a critical time in the process requiring Hegmon’s presence in the caverns–but the upshot was that Chalkin couldn’t even get his name put down on the purchase list for the sparkling wine. Since Benden Weyr was likely to get the lion’s share of it, Chalkin had to keep in good with the Benden Weyrleaders so that, at the Hatching which was due to occur in another few weeks, he’d be invited and could drink as much of their allotment of wines as he could. More than one way to skin a wherry!
    He paused to twirl one of the bottles in its ice nest. Riders must have brought the ice in from the High Reaches for Paulin. Whenever he needed some, he couldn’t find a rider willing to do him, Bitra’s Lord Holder, such a simple service. Humph.
    […what do the Telgar Weyrleaders think?…]
    “Him!” She had absolutely no use for the Bitran Lord Holder and never bothered to hide it.

    When the wine is later sampled at the Weyrleader table, Chalkin will appear to ask for a refill from that bottle and be told to go back to his own table. Chalkin instead continues to make rounds of the other tables along from their bottles, so it’s not that there’s some irrational prejudice against the name Bitra this time – Chalkin appears to have earned most, if not all, of his animosity.

There’s a display of aerial feats on dragons, and a particular rescue dive draws admiration from the crowd and a strong set of rebukes from K’vin, the current Telgar Weyrleader, who made the rescue catch, at his partner in the stunt, P’tero, for not waiting for the correct signal. There’s a safety harness that would prevent serious injury, which is likely the predecessor to the “riding straps” of their descendants, but K’vin is still unhappy.

We are also told that dragons have “gaps in their ability to correlate cause and effect”, so P’tero’s dragon wouldn’t have connected “new straps” with “safety.” I wonder if that loose causal correlation is what allows for draconic time travel. Doubt we’ll find out.

There’s also an explanation as to why there are less women riding green dragons anymore.

K’vin wished that more girls were available to Impress green dragons. Girls tended to be steadier, more dependable. But with parents keenly interested in adopting for more land by setting up cotholds for married children–and no dragonriders, male or female, were allowed to own land–fewer and fewer girls were encouraged to stand on the Hatching Grounds.

Cocowhat by depizan

That’s claptrap I get to hear all the time about girls getting more mature than boys, especially in the context of classroom learning and reading skills. It’s socialization that makes those girls more dependable, because those girls are being groomed to run a household, to be pretty and demure and to catch a husband so they can be someone else’s problem as soon as possible. Girls have already become a bargaining chip in family power struggles, which I would like to believe makes the Ancients spin in their graves. More likely, though, there’s probably some Randian explanation of how women are weaker and should be grateful that anyone takes them into protection instead of leaving them out to die in their infancy.

There should still be a pretty good supply of women for the Grounds, though – families with too many daughters and not enough dowries, or the headstrong girls that think they can be Lords or Crafters in their own rights, instead of arm trophies for men, and so on. Especially in places where the people would be all too happy to unload those women into the Weyrs, where they stop having to care about them.

There’s a mention of Fort being powered by giant solar panel arrays, even though they lost a few to severe winter storms, and a response to Chalkin’s earlier internal accusation of hypocrisy about Fort both being concerned about Thread and building buildings outside that said Thread would supposedly ravage. The buildings are apparently slate-roofed and with gutters that will drop the Thread into the water supply to drown it, and iron-wrapped wood underneath, along with stout walls. This outer expansion, we’re told, is plan B, as the builders wanted to build in the caves, but cavern collapses and the utter refusal of the watchwhers to explore further has stopped the expansion plans.

Watchwhers, who have to this point been shown as night guards and Wind Blossom’s ugly and apparently useless attempts to recreate the dragon program, are “mutant, blunt-winged, flightless photosensitive” creatures whose refusal to go places indicates “dangers human eyes couldn’t see.” As cave explorers, though, and especially as those things that human eyes can’t see, it’s a wonder they haven’t been mentioned more by, say, the miners and the workers for whom cave collapse would be lethal. The myopia of the narrative on dragonriders is making it very difficult for a coherent worldbuild.

The narrative then tells us how K’vin came to be the Telgar Weyrleader in an open flight that he didn’t expect to win. Mostly because he was sure he didn’t have the experience to lead during Thread. And now that Thread is approaching, he’s got nightmares. And he’s hitting the equivalent of the books left behind by Sean and Sorka about how to fight Thread, recognize it, and the rest as his way of compensating for the nightmares. His Weyrwoman, Zulaya, is reassuring, telling him that his predecessor, B’ner, had worried and had nightmares as well. The narrative gives us an extra reason to believe her.

Zulaya could sound so sure of something, but then she was nearly a decade his senior and had more experience as a Weyrleader. Sometimes her intuition was downright uncanny: she could accurately predict the size of clutches, the distribution of the colors, the sex of babies born in the Weyr, and occasionally even the type of weather in the future. But then she was Fort Weyrbred, a linear descendant of one of the First Riders, Aliana Zuleita, and knew things. It was odd how the golden queens seemed to prefer women from outside the Weyrs–but sometimes a queen had a mind of her own and chose a Weyrbred woman, defying custom.

This is probably the point where I should mention the other series that Anne McCaffery is known for writing by herself, the Talents series, which consists of two books written about a grouping of people with various psychic abilities banding together to become a powerhouse corporation to protect themselves and four books about a particular character, the Rowan, and her family, all of whom have powerful psychic abilities and are employed, essentially, as transporters across the cosmos from space station to space station. (And the alien species they encounter and have to deal with.)

Psychic abilities have always been present in the Pern series, right from the get-go with Lessa’s ability to blur her identity and attempt to influence people. So it’s less “whoa, where did these psychic powers come from?” and more “this might be the closest since the beginning that we’re acknowledging psi powers exist in this universe outside of the dragons.” It would be nice to have more clarity on this issue, but it is at least somewhat consistent that the earlier in Pern’s history we are, the more obvious the psychic abilities are. I’m not sure if the author had a late idea to try and merge Pern into the Talents universe, or whether this is just a thing that has been studiously ignored and is now being picked back up again.

In addition to Zulaya being pretty clearly some form of precognitive, this relationship is one that seems to be both platonic and professional and personally intimate. There’s talk of K’vin being in Zulaya’s bed, mention of his lineage that goes back to Sorka herself (his great-great aunt), but Zulaya is also described as being “so…impersonal…that K’vin had to conclude that she hadn’t gotten over B’ner’s death yet.” and that “she put her hand through his arm so that they would present the proper picture of united Weyrleadership. K’vin stifled a sigh that the accord was only for public display.”

Remarkably unlike previous books in the series, that wasted no time in getting to their male gaze-y description of the Weyrwoman, we’ve spent a lot of time on the business of the Weyr and talking before Zulaya is described in the same way.

Zulaya was tall for a woman, long-legged–all the better for bestriding a dragon’s neck. He was a full head taller than she was, which she said she liked in him. B’ner had been just her height. It was her coloring that fascinated K’vin: the inky black curly hair that, once freed of her flying helmet, tumbled down below her waist. The hair framed a wide, high cheek-boned face, set off the beige of her smooth skin and large, lustrous eyes that were nearly black; a wide and sensual mouth above a strong chin gave her strength and purpose which reinforced her authority with anyone. She strode, unlike some of the hold women who minced along, her steel-rimmed boot heels noisy on the flagstones, her arms swinging at her side. She’d had time to put a long, slitted skirt over her riding gear, and it opened as she walked, showing a well-formed leg in the leather pants and high boots. She’d turned the high-riding boot cuffs down over her calf, and the red fur made a nice accent to her costume, echoed in the fur trim of her cuffs and collar, which she had opened. As usual, she wore the sapphire pendant she had inherited as the eldest female of her Blood.
[…they discuss the earlier stunt fall…]
“You really should learn how to scowl menacingly.” She glanced up at K’vin and then shook her head, sighing sadly. She had once teased him that he was far too handsome to ever look genuinely threatening, with the Hanrahan red hair, blue eyes, and freckles. “No, you just don’t have the face for it.”

We note the difference of description between Zulaya, who gets a full camera pan, including the addition of a functionally useless skirt over the riding pants and boots (presumably to make her look more feminine while the male gaze is active) and descriptions of her jewelry, color choices, and her features, while K’vin gets a literal shortcut – Hanrahan red hair, blue eyes, and freckles. And he’s taller than she is, even though she’s apparently taller than most women. There are very few absolute descriptions of height – Lessa is diminutive, but is that just compared to everyone around her, or is she actually shorter than average? What is the average height on Pern, anyway?

Also, I think this is the first explicitly person of color Weyrleader we’ve had in all of these books. The description, though, wants me to envision an attractive semi-practically clad person rather than a more properly-clad but less feature-showing person, as a dragonrider that would be used to the extreme cold and the likelihood of fighting a skin-devouring parasite would wear. (Like the ones designed for the 2017 Wonder Woman movie.)

In essence, this particular description is aiming for eroticising Zulaya, while also exoticising her. We know that several different ethnicities made the trip to Pern, but even in the far future, we’re still apparently obsessed with making anyone of darker skin colors out to be hot. Even with all that time spent beforehand making her seem much more practical, although I now realize that this description, with the strong mention of her precognitive abilities, makes Zulaya more and more into someone’s harmful stereotypes of a person of Romani descent.

Which would mean it’s a Sean and Sorka story, just genderflipped. This is not necessarily a bad idea, if both characters can ascend out of the possibility of being stereotyped awfully.

And we also have to deal with the part where K’vin is clearly at least in lust with Zulaya, who does not return that feeling to him, at least most of the time.

The actual plot, as it is, proceeds to an innocuous discussion of dragonriding, by teasing a shipmaster’s wife about not having done so, and how riding a ship through storms should mean dragons are a breeze. The heckling stops briefly for everyone to sample the Benden white, and to tell Chalkin to piss off when he comes by to try and get wine from everyone else’s bottles instead of his own. After a short discussion where people worry that Chalkin has enough of a following to make things difficult for those who want everyone ready for Thread, the food arrives, there is dinner, and then the meeting starts. K’vin hopes the music is still going when the meeting gets done, because apparently Zulaya is a great dancer, and she likes K’vin as a dance partner because he’s tall. Zulaya comments on the art looking good, including the chairs and banners that have been created with Telgar Weyr’s colors (black grain on a white field) before the meeting begins in earnest. Present are Lord Holders and their accompanying Weyrleaders, the Chief Engineer (Smith), the Chief Medic (Healer) and the Headmaster of the College (Harper). Of course it’s those three, because of their descendants being so important later on.

With more than a little acid commentary at Chalkin when he makes a rude noise about the imminence of Threadfall, the meeting gets underway. Paulin dismisses the idea that the wanderer would actually collide with Pern, based on calculations and the notes of the ancestors. With support from others, who have done and rechecked the calculations that came from AIVAS, Keroon, and Tillek. Paulin, Fort Lord Holder, and S’nan, descendent of Sean and Fort Weyrleader, go over the pathways the Fall will take when Thread arrives and the timetable of when it is likely to appear. Since this is the first time anyone will have a live-fire exercise, each Weyr will provide personnel for the first few falls to get experience for later on.

B’nurrin, Igen’s Weyrleader, makes a sensible comment suggesting that everyone get their fighting experience by practicing on the Falls that will fly over the Southern Continent before anything comes North, but this is treated as shocking by other Weyrleaders and dismissed. Although K’vin privately supports the idea and thinks that if he were to take a few wings of riders southward, he would find a practice partner in B’nurrin.

The conversation shifts to ground crew logistics – Master Kalvi, the Chief Engineer, says that everyone should get their allotment of HNO3 tanks, but they’ll have to make the flamethrower fuel on site, and there will be demonstration and practice with the ground crews before Thread arrives. The Chief Medic indicates everyone will be trained in first aid and burn control.

A useful note is that the language is shifting at this point – S’nan insists on using “Year” rather than “Turn”, which is coming into use by younger people. Additionally, numbweed and fellis juice are namechecked as part of the standard first aid kit at this point.

The report on the Weyrs is that they are fully staffed and supplied and ready to go fight. The Holds have filed their reports, except Nerat, who is having trouble controlling the vegetation and wild weed growth, and Bitra, who essentially has been flying the middle finger about this, and continues to do so, expressing his disbelief that Thread will return. When asked for what proof he wants, Chalkin says that an AIVAS report would help. (Landing is, of course, buried, and nobody has been able to find the building that houses it because the ash blanket has obliterated anything that might serve as a referent.)

Then, in fine Pern tradition, Chalkin gets to voice all of the things about the return of Thread that should inspire skepticism, as well as several of the plot holes that we’ve brought up before.

Chalkin’s grin was patronizing. “A spaceborne organism? That drops on a large planet and eats everything it touches? Why wasn’t Pern totally destroyed during previous visitations? Why is it every two hundred years? How come the Exploration Team that did a survey of the planet before it was released to our ancestors to colonize…how come they didn’t see any evidence? Ah, no,” Chalkin said, flicking the notion away from him with his begrimed hands, “ridiculous!”

He’s still right that it sounds ridiculous. To the last point about evidence, the others will bring up the rings that the exploration and rescue teams discovered, but that will doesn’t explain away how life survives on a planet where an extinction event happens every two hundred years.

And if Pern’s orbit is roughly the same period as Terra’s, that means that if the last Pass finished when the United States puts its official birthday in 1776, the next Pass would have begun in Jimmy Carter’s first term as President and continued through at least President number 46. That’s a long time of innovation and new things being present, except that Pern is supposed to be degrading gracefully rather than actively driving forward. Skepticism is a thing to be expected when the last ten generations have not had any experience with world-destroying events.

That said, there is precedent that Chalkin is not living up to his end of the bargain.

“Oh, Chalkin believes in the Charter all right,” Paulin said sardonically. “The patent conferring the title of ‘Lord Holder’ on the original northern stake-holders is what gives his line the right to hold. And he’s already used the Charter to substantiate his autonomous position. I wonder if he also knows the penalty for failing to prepare his hold. That constitutes a major breach of the trust…”
“Who trusts Chalkin?” G’don asked.
“…the trust that holders rest in the Lord of their hold in return for their labor.”
“Ha!” said Bridgely. “I don’t think much of his holders either. Useless lot on the whole. Most of ’em kicked out of other holds for poor management or plain laziness.”
“Bitra’s badly managed, too. Generally we have to return a full half of his tithings,” M’shall said. “Half the grain is moldy, the timber unseasoned, and hides improperly cured and often rancid. It’s a struggle every quarter to receive decent supplies from him.”

Cocowhat by depizan

So, apparently, Pern wasn’t intended to continue as Rand’s paradise away from anywhere after Thread fell, but a feudal planet with vassalage as the core method of survival and a hereditary oligarchy that prevents anyone who isn’t already at the top from exercising direct power over their own lives and lands. The narrative attempts to run a distraction in this revelation by following out immediately with the knowledge that Article Fourteen of the Charter has a provision for a Lord Holder to be impeached by the council for dereliction of duty, but that’s essentially the peerage deciding to revoke a title and grant of lands (which would be a function of the Crown) and hope that some other peer would be more suitable for them.

It doesn’t even take a unanimity of the council to impeach; agreement among the “major holders and leaders” is sufficient, and there doesn’t have to be a trial conducted for it. The Benden Lord and Lady Holder offer refugee stories as evidence that Chalkin is

“come as near to bending, or breaking for that matter, what few laws we do have on Pern. Shady dealings, punitive contracts, unusual harsh conditions for his holders…”
[…Paulin wants to see them, and then delivers this gem…]
Autonomy is a privilege and a responsibility, but not a license for authoritarianism or despotic rule. Certainly autonomy does not give anyone the right to deprive his constituents of basic needs. Such as protection from Threadfall.”

I think we have very different definitions of what autonomy means. I also think that this interpretation is flatly contradicted by the material present in the books about the colonists, who very much seemed of the opinion that everyone should be able to have absolute rule within the boundaries of their domains. If the Charter got amended between then and now, that’s worth pointing out, but I think we’re supposed to believe that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia, even though the “Die Eurasia Die!” banners are still present.

There’s one additional wrinkle to be smoothed if Chalkin gets the boot. His successor has to be of the same bloodline. Which could mean, practically, that they are deposing Cesare to install Lucrezia. Instead of being able to grant the whole stock to a different bloodline entirely.

All of this is just a giant headache.

Cocowhat by depizan

As for the plot, the remaining business is to approve the construction of a mining hold in mountains where the ore can be gathered and processed faster than it would take to work them in the Telgar mines, so that production on flamethrowers and other equipment can get done in time for Threadfall (approved), and for Clisser to get new students in the scientific arts trained for use in sextants and for everyone to develop a safeguard – permanent, indestructible, and unambiguous – so that later generations will not succumb to viewpoints like Chalkin’s on the validity of Thread. But it has to be essentially usable in a situation where all the technology and learning of the current time has been lost. The chair concurs of the necessity, and tasks Clisser with figuring it out.

There’s an offhand remark about keeping the language pure in relation to the idea of a Rosetta Stone being used to encode the necessary information. Nobody laughs in the face of this remark, even though the Rosetta Stone itself is proof that languages can change rapidly in the same geographic space over time.

With no new business, the meeting adjourns, and so does the chapter. It’s going to be an interesting journey from here to the eventual creation of the stone creations that will eventually be what the Benden Weyrleader uses so far in the future to convince his people of the return of Thread.

Deconstruction Roundup for October 20, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is sick enough to stay home from work.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

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 ingesting restoratives at an alarming rate. Or for any other reason, really.

The Dolphins of Pern: No Plan Survives Contact With Reality

Last time, everyone expected Readis to show, but when he didn’t, only T’lion made a concrete effort to find him, and Toric was chastised for his plans before his settlers were allowed to go settle, but without any being beholden to Toric for the privilege. With an unstated threat left in the balance and the Southern Weyr relocated, everyone believes Toric is no longer a threat. We know better, but Toric isn’t likely to rear his head again in this book.

Which means there’s only one loose thread to tie up before we finish – how is Readis doing on his own?

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter XIV and Epilogue: Content Notes: None

Readis continues in his Menolly pathway, having to spend a Threadfall under cover that’s barely adequate, before finding a cove cave system that has the right attributes for both humans and dolphins to coexist. Readis’s impulsiveness has left him without several useful tools and items, and without making amends to Persellan and telling T’lion where he was and seeing if he was okay for his role in the book destruction.

And he has no bell to attract dolphins, even if the place would be perfect for it.

Such concerns are pushed from his mind in the more immediate concerns of finding for and making tools that will allow for sleep and getting food. Readis goes searching for fire lizard clutches when he’s not making tools, as having a fire-lizard is essentially having a link back to everyone else, but no luck there. He does manage to fashion himself a flotation vest and test it out before taking a nice long swim out.

And even with no bell, a dolphin finds him. And tells him all the pods are looking for him, once they’re properly introduced. Readis asks the dolphin not to say that they’ve found him, but in saying he wants to be a dolphineer, Readis finds out that the other dolphins have been summoned anyway. They’re all very excited at the prospect of dolphineers, nearly swamping Readis in their exuberance.

Readis insists he doesn’t want to be found by humans, but also leads the dolphins back to his idea of where the Dolphineer Hall could be. Well, more hangs on while the dolphins escort him in. Who then comment about his “horsss”, the runnerbeast, and approve of his choice of place. They also mention the general 1:1 ratio of dolphins to dolphineers in the past.

And then ask him a necessary question.

“How people know to be dolphineers if no one knows who you are?” Delfi asked.
If Readis had needed any confirmation of how intelligent dolphins were, that remark certainly clinched it.
“Well now, you have a point, Delfi,” he said, settling more comfortably on the ledge, his feet dangling. “Just tell folks that there is now a dolphineer and a dolphin crafthall.” Readis wasn’t exactly certain how one established a crafthall, but Master Benelek had and so had Master Hamian, when he decided to specialize in the plastic materials the Ancients had made so much use of. Someone had to start someplace, sometime, and for a good reason. He believed he had one; the care of the dolphins who had been neglected by humans for so long in their struggle to survive Threadfall

It’s as good a reasoning as any, as it’s not like there’s a regulatory authority that permits and licenses new Crafts. The council of Craftmasters might want to have a vote in the matter as to whether to let Readis establish himself in such a way, but odds are that Readis will never hear about it until well after he’s already well-established.

After figuring out that the dolphins essentially go wherever there’s a bell, Readis remembers he has no bell, and after a discussion among themselves, the dolphins promise to come back with one tomorrow.

Which they do – although the bell is missing a clapper and needs a lot of work done to take off rust and accumulated years of disuse before it will be serviceable. Which Readis gets to, making a clapper and scraping off all the grime caked on over the course of the next two days, earning a lot of scraped and swollen knuckles before getting everything hung, including a bell pull for the dolphins to use from the water.

He rings in a Come-in sequence and then finds there’s basically the pod right there, and they have great fun ringing the bell, even if it threatens to deafen Readis and completely spooks his runner. Definitely an outside bell. The dolphins are enthusiastic and tell him he needs flippers, a mask, and a tank so that he can go long distance with the pod. Which sobers Readis up about his missing possessions very far away from where he was. But even then, the dolphins say they’ll keep him safe and take him out on expeditions, where they keep him fed and watered and give him the things they recover from sunken ships.

They’re also pretty good with the humor.

“We find. We bring. You fix. You ring.” Loki said. He identified her by the splotch on the side of her melon.
“Loki! You’re a poet! Did you know that?” Readis exclaimed.
“Yes. I poet. I know it. See?”

Some jokes are apparently timeless.

Eventually Readis puts his horse/runner outside to give him some range. Unfortunately, that means waking up one morning to find one of the large cats has made a meal of it. Eventually Readis starts another garden in the space where the pasture was. And life continues, until a single dolphin rings his bell to get a bloodfish off.

What should tip Readis off is that this dolphin doesn’t have any of the Silly Animal speech pattern. And that she has a name that’s the same as one of the original dolphins. But the pieces don’t come together for Readis that he’s talking to the Tillek, even though he compliments her speech and she tells him about all the other dolphineers at Monaco Bay, Paradise River, and so on. Instead, it crushes Readis’s hope that he’s going to be the very first dolphineer. And also, he’s nearly eighteen. Which means this interim has been about, what, seven Turns without anyone really noticing the passage of time? Or being told?

Readis immediately readjusts his goals to possibly having himself turned into a proper Holder with his land, even as Theresa asks to swim with him, and then thumps him into the water to emphasize it’s not actually a request.

So Readis swims with Theresa, without his vest, right out toward the Great Western Current, but he is shielded from the fact that Idarolan and Alemi’s ships are out there by Theresa’s body. Once he sees those ships, Readis realizes that he’s been had, that Theresa is the Tillek, and that he’s being escorted to a gathering of the dolphineers. Who also have in their company his family, several Weyrleaders, Master Samvel, Masters Menolly and Sebell, Alemi, and Idarolan.

“Well, Readis, lad,” Master Idarolan said, planting his hands on his hips and grinning at him. “Led us a fine and merry chase you have, lad.”
“I wanted to help the dolphins,” Readis said, speaking to his father despite the press of other important people around him. “No one else was.”
Jayge took Readis’s arm and pressed it affectionately, his expression wistful. “We know that now, son. And I honor you for what you did that day, despite what I said, and felt, at the time.”
“I should have never said what I did,” Aramina murmured right beside him, and there were tears in her eyes when he looked around at her.

Ah, there we go. It took a few years, but Jayge and Aramina are ready to apologize and understand. I feel very cheated, though, that we didn’t get to see what happened that caused the breakthrough. A perfectly good moment of character development, that could have been accompanied by an actual serious search for Readis, would have been nice. But as things are, and because the narrative has always been steadfast at avoiding the parts that would be the most interesting to see, we stayed with Readis, oblivious to the changes going on around him. Clearly a lot has changed while he was away, and yet we get to see none of it, instead we may have to accept the new world.

And speaking of the new world, Readis is actually here because the Tillek has formally requested the creation of a Dolphincrafthall and wants Readis installed as the Dolphineer, Craftmaster of the Dolphincraft.

But he needs some soup and klah to warm up first, and there’s plenty of new clothes and other things destined for him and his Hold (Kahrain, because that was the name the Ancients had for it and Readis hasn’t given it another name) to fix it up properly and build in the Dolphincrafthall. It turns out Readis was found out because T’lion flew over the seaside caves and knew it would be perfect for dolphins, and so they’ve known he was there for a few sevendays.

The actual chain of events ends up being that the pod of Paradise River were upset when Readis left, so they and the Eastern pods asked around and got nothing. They then asked the Tillek to talk to Idarolan about when dolphineers were coming back. Who told Oterel, who talked to T’bor, who relayed it to Menolly and Sebell. Menolly and Sebell learned about the disappearance from Alemi and forwarded all their knowledge on to the Benden Weyrleaders. They remembered a fragment from Robinton, so they consulted D’ram, who knew the right videos from AIVAS to view. Armed with that data, the Tillek went to Paradise River to ask Jayge and Aramina.

“She asked us,” Jayge said, looking slightly embarrassed while Aramina ducked her head and nervously twitched the hem of her tunic, one of her Gather tunics, Readis now noticed, “if we objected to your becoming a dolphineer.”
Readis waited.
“It is an honor to be asked,” his mother said softly, hesitantly, before raising her head to look him straight in the eye. “I was once asked to accept an honor”–she shot Lessa a quick glance–“and could not. I cannot stand in your way, Readis.”

Oh, dear Aramina. That had to have been psychologically horrible for you, and somehow I don’t think it’s helped you with your own trauma all that much. I wonder whether it might be a good thing for Aramina to stand on a Hatching Ground as a candidate now, to go through with what she didn’t want to before. It’s not likely, especially in the era of dying Thread, that Aramina would Impress, but it might be good for her at this juncture to get exposure therapy.

As things are, though, Readis is to be instructed by the Tillek and have his Dolphineer exams administered by her until he can ascend to the role requested of him. And coming (and removing the bloodfish from her, which was situated very close to her genitals) indicated he passed the entrance exam.

The dolphins sing to announce the return of the Tillek, who calls Readis in to swim with them. The sailors say they’ll drop off the supplies at his cave.

“We’re proud of you, son,” his father said just as Readis arched himself into a dive over the railing and into the sea, carefully assuming at the space left free for him by the dolphins waiting there.

And that’s the closure that Menolly never got, nor Alemi, really, to know that her parents approved and were proud. Because Yanus doesn’t. And he’s a jerk.

The epilogue has the remaining humans discuss the increased pace of life with the reintroduction of technology, and the realization of what the lonely sounds they had been hearing all this time were. Everyone toasts the future without Thread, and the book comes to a close.

It’s a good last chapter, and brings to a close one of the things that had been forgotten from the beginnings. There’s still a little clock to be run out on Thread, and possibly at least one book to be written in the Post-Thread era, because the social upheaval that comes with the ability to be always out on the surface of the planet will be huge.

Instead, though, we end up spinning backward in time all the way back to the Second Pass to possibly retell a story of people who forgot they had Thread to deal with. So next time, we look out for a Red Star Rising through a Dragonseye.

Which title should I use for it?

Open Thread: Mid-Month Check In, October 2017

(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.]

This month in the Slacktiverse, October 16th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Apart from utterly failing to get any Slacktiverse posts done, I’ve got two things
    • First, a bit of world building in my super-person universe.  The House of Iaso wants to be a really good (in all senses of the word) mental health facility that uses well researched methods with proven results which are applied with compassion and kindness.  Unfortunately those in power want it to be Arkham Asylum.
    • The other was me thinking that the world we live in does, in fact make perfect sense, if it is given the appropriate context.  These thoughts came about after looking up a bunch of Twilight Zone stuff.

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 October 13, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who laughs slightly at the fact that it’s mid-October.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

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 drowning in new media possibilities and need a breather. Or for any other reason, really.

The Dolphins of Pern: Not As Dumb As You Think

Last time, Toric schemed, decided the hurricane was a good time to put his scheme into action, and expressed hatred for dolphins, Readis helped dolphins after a hurricane and got yelled at and struck by Aramina for it, prompting him to leave Paradise River rather than promise Aramina he wouldn’t have anything to do with the dolphins.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapters XII and XIII: Content Notes:

In grand Pern tradition, the action shifts over to K’van, at Benden, who is fully aware of all the settlements Toric has been building, and suspects that Toric intends to move on his plans soon. The Benden Weyrleader says there’s not much to do regarding a Holder, but K’van points out that all these settlements are outside the boundary markers of Southern Hold as established, and he and the Benden Weyrleader exchange some knowing glances about what to observe next, as K’van describes the discreet spying being done on Toric, as well as the apparent scheme of Toric selling land he doesn’t own to settlers that will then back him later when the Council comes to meet. The hurricane provided the evidence needed to confirm suspicions by exposing settlements that were previously hidden by the treeline.

Lessa is in favor of a (currently metaphorical) scorched-earth policy regarding Toric, but the Benden Weyrleader and K’van are both in favor of the idea of exposing Toric to the Council of Lord Holders and letting them handle him. Although Benden is not above using dragons to impart a lesson, one that apparently worked rather well the first time it was used on a similar situation. Lessa eventually catches on, and starts laughing, and proclaims that Robinton would be as well.

While we shift over to the return of the injured dolphins at Paradise River, those playing along at home can either research or chuckle at whatever plan Benden has in mind.

Jayge is hoping that three days is enough to get Readis to come back. Unfortunately, neither he nor Aramina is really ready to forgive Readis.

He wished that Aramina had not been so didactic about issuing that ultimatum to Readis. Although he understood her panic, and certainly agreed with her that Readis had acted disgracefully, he also understood his son well enough to know that forcing the boy to promise against his conscience would make him rebel. The boy was of the right age to resent a mother’s restrictions. Jayge earnestly hoped that the three anxious days would be enough for Readis to have made his point and make an honorable return. By this morning, Aramina had been beside herself with remorse at driving her oldest child away. Jayge doubted that she’d renew her demand that Readis stop seeing the dolphins, but he was equally certain she would never cease blaming the creatures for the trouble they’d caused her and hers.

So they’re not actually ready to forgive Readis, they just want him back because they’re worried he’s not going to survive out there. The narrative does acknowledge Jayge and Aramina are here because they think Readis will come back to check on the dolphins, but there’s no indication that they have gone looking for Readis in the time between when they decided to get their child back and this point in time. Which might have been this morning, according to that text block above. And truce would only last until the next time Readis is with the dolphins. This has the hallmarks of being the kind of family relationship between a highly anti-LGBT parent group and a kid that intends to live their life out of the closet. Running away and finding a supportive household may be the best option for everyone involved.

T’lion, T’gellan, and Persellan also arrive to check on the dolphins. T’lion has been unpersoned by Persellan in regard to having destroyed the book, for which Jayge thinks T’lion is lucky to only have been given the silent treatment (although it’s really Persellan addressing the air in front of him and T’lion responding, because T’lion is the only one with firsthand knowledge of what transpired).

As Jayge waits for Readis and the dolphins arrive, we find that “Worry conflicted with a rising and righteous anger that Readis, who had always been treated with respect, would repay their kindness in this fashion!”

Except the part where his mother slapped him and told him to get out if he wouldn’t promise her something and his father didn’t intervene.

This “ungrateful child” narrative might work better if the child didn’t have damn good reasons to repay their “kindness” in such a way. There’s never any real confirmation to Readis that his parents love him just as much despite the injury and that they consider him a fit and fine son. It’s pretty explicit that Aramina takes no interest in his dolphin fascination (because triggers) and Jayge doesn’t seem to have taken any interest, either, because of Aramina’s vehemence. There’s no evidence on camera that we’ve seen to this point that Readis has been treated with any respect, culminating in the slap and dismissal from a few days ago. Even now, Jayge sides with Aramina that Readis is wrong and believes himself that Readis has been out long enough to satisfy his tantrum, but he’s unwilling to examine the idea that he and Aramina are going to have to budge, more than just failing to forbid Readis, if he wants a happy household and a child that feels he’s been treated with respect.

They’re not ready to forgive Readis and welcome him back. They want their son to obey. That’s not a recipe for a successful family. It’s a recipe for an abusive one.

Once Jayge gets a good look at the injuries, he admits to himself that Readis was right, and that nobody at the Hold suffered injuries as severe as the dolphins. He doesn’t actually say this out loud, of course. Persellan examines both dolphins, cuts stitches and sends them on their way. One of the mothers of the injured dolphins leaves T’lion with a very pretty shell, and one of the injured dolphins gives Persellan a kiss. After seeing what the two boys used the book for, Persellan forgives T’lion for taking and ruining it.

With no Readis present, T’lion begs Jayge to ask T’gellan if he can go find Readis, although the actual request doesn’t mention that part. T’gellan assents, so long as T’lion is back in time for his required copying so that Persellan gets a new book in short order. T’lion feels confident and happy to tell Readis of the news and a plan to get himself apprenticed to learn Healing so he can use it on the dolphins, but T’lion searches for a while and gets no leads. He promises Jayge and Aramina that he’ll try again tomorrow, and that’s where the chapter ends.

If T’lion finds Readis, and gives him the news, I’m still not sure Readis has any reason to come back. If Readis has found a place that provides shelter, he can make fire, forage, and has dolphins he can call to help with the fishing, he’ll be just fine on his own (until he gets hurt). Menolly proved you could do it, so Readis has precedent. It’s probably going to be up to Jayge to apologize well enough to Readis to bring him back. I’m still not sure he’s in the right frame of mind to do it.

Then we jump into the next chapter. The narrative has a gun on the mantel to fire, and this is the appointed time. Just as the Benden Weyrleaders are sitting down to food, the call comes in that Toric is on the move. And in the same way that they had intimidated the attackers storming Benden all the way back in Dragonflight, the queen dragons get to intimidate the sailing ships into turning around and returning, while the bronze dragonriders transport Lords Holder to the settlements to show the evidence of Toric’s ambition.

The narrative changes to Toric gloating about the profits of his enterprise and planning future settlements.

He disliked resorting to the Ancients’ names–they’d had their chance and lost it to Thread–but since Aivas had identified places by what it had in its memory, the old names for the Southern Continent had been seized upon with great enthusiasm as “a link with their heritage.” Toric was not of that mind. He had the future to plan for and that was what he’d been doing while everyone else on the planet seemed to be wallowing in ancestral accomplishments and striving to reconstruct all sorts of devices. He was probably one of the few who did not regret the silence of Aivas or the demise of the old Harper–who had been a meddler of the first order.

He’s right about Robinton, and if it weren’t for the fact that he’s a designated villain, Toric would totally work as an Ayn Rand hero, pushing forward with progress in the face of all the backward-looking traditionalists obsessed with their past.

As it is, of course, the gloating stops when he realizes there’s too much noise for an empty Hold, right before the Benden Weyrleaders and a select committee of Lord Holders (Groghe, Larad, Asgenar) bid him have a look at his own front yard, where the ships and all the personnel that should have been at the settlements are crowded. Along with the rest of the Lord Holders.

Toric blusters, insinuates Groghe is going along with this because he has pen–Hold size envy, that the South is not for dragonriders to parcel out, and that this is Hold business. The leaders of the Weyrs point out that its not in his Hold they’re interfering, and the Benden Weyrleader promises that at the end of the pass, some twenty-two turns away, nobody will have to tithe to the Weyrs again, because they will have their own lands and halls.

Toric presses the matter of why dragonriders get to choose when places can be settled, because the Charter said everyone gets to choose their own land. To which Asgenar points out that Toric has been charging all of his settlers exorbitant prices for every part of their settlement and any other thing they had, and one of the settlers pipes in the they have not actually been able to go to their settlement sites until now.

As a conciliatory gesture, the Benden Weyrleader promises that if the people who are here to settle can “prove [their] holdings, they will be officially granted [to them,] […] Free and clear,” which elicits a cheer.

Toric’s patience runs out and he charges the Benden Weyrleader to take a swing at him, which is easily dodged, and then Larad, Asgenar, and Jaxom seize Toric and cart him away for a private conference. Before the conference begins, Benden releases the settlers to go settle their lands as they had intended, but with the extra bonus of not being beholden to Toric if they don’t want to be.

The conference itself is the other Lords Holder dressing Toric down about not abiding by the covenant decided, nor figuring out any way of guarding against abuse or foreknowledge of special sites. And explain to him that the reports the dragonriders have collected have been going back to the council of Holders, and that there have been no special favors asked or granted for dragonriders or sons and daughters without land, and that nobody gets to apportion land without the agreement of the dragonriders and the Holders.

Toric has one reasonable question, and it’s one we’ve been asking since we knew the dragonriders would have an end point.

“Is that what you’ll become when you’re no longer needed to char Thread? The guardians of order on Pern?” Toric glared at F’lar.
“That is what some of us will certainly be doing,” F’lar said equably, “when, as, and if“–he paused significantly–“such overseeing is needed.”
“And who decides the when, as, and if, might I ask?”
“You may, and–”
“There will be guidelines for that, too,” Larad interrupted.
“Which we,” Groghe said, “in the Council will decide and refer to the special Gathers that will let everyone, Hold, Hall, and dragonrider, have a vote on the matter. Or will you absent yourself from that meeting as well?”

So the dragonriders will be the police force of Pern in the future, although it’s a remarkably democratic method of determining the guidelines for their use. For a moment, I wondered if Pern were going to go the way of mass democracy, but apparently not.

After Toric receives his final warning about sticking to his own lands and not trying to make himself bigger by sneaky annexation, with R’mart indicating that Toric doesn’t want to know what the penalties will be if he violates those prohibitions, K’van delivers the stinger.

K’van! Toric bellowed, and when the young Weyrleader turned in the doorway to face him, Toric raised his fist. “If I see a single one of your riders anywhere near this Hold…”
“Ah, but you see, you won’t, Lord Toric,” K’van said with a soft smile. “But then you have been too busy to notice that the Weyr is empty and we have settled in a much more congenial location, heretofore unoccupied.”
“With the full consent of the council of Lord Holders,” Larad added. “Good day, Toric of Southern Hold.”

And that’s the end of the chapter, with supposedly another humiliation dealt to Toric. Of course, that’s not likely to stop him, as none of the other ones have, either. In theory, all of his new neighbors should help keep him in check, but it’s probably going to have to be the demonstrated willingness of the dragonriders to physically put him in his place before he’ll actually give in.