Monthly Archives: December 2017

Deconstruction Roundup for December 29th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has completed another full circuit of the roundups and looks forward to the next.)

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

Libby Anne: Love, Joy, Feminism

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

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 want to understand the mystic properties of the turning of the year. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragonseye: Finally….oh.

Last chapter, there were finally enough stars aligned for the council to take action against Chalkin, and they summarily impeached him and drew up plans to capture him in his hold to inform him of their decision and sentencing.

All without giving him the option to defend himself in the court.

We also learned about yet another atrocity that was known to someone, but nothing was actually done about it.

Dragonseye: Chapter XIII: Content Notes: Crimes Against Humanity (Torture), Sexism, untreated PTSD

As one might guess, the actual capture is anticlimactic – even though the watch-wher sounds an alarm, nobody investigates. Everyone gets into Chalkin’s chambers, and while the first daughter doesn’t scream, the second one does. That alarms the guards, but as soon as Paulin announces Chalkin is impeached, and those who stay loyal will join him in exile, the guards say “Fuck it, we’re out,” just as the reinforcements arrive.

And then Chalkin wakes up.

Chalkin showed every fiber of his cowardice, trying to bribe one Lord Holder after another, with hints of unusual treasure if they assisted him. If anyone has been in the least bit tempted, their resolve was strengthened when the broken, shivering wrecks were released from “cold storage.”
“The place was full,” Issony said, looking shattered by what he had seen on that level. “Border guards, most of them, but they didn’t deserve that from Chalkin!”
Even the hardiest of them would bear the marks of their incarceration for the rest of their lives.

Hang on. This is from the character who, last chapter, mentioned that a girl had died from a week in that space while he was there, but now, now he’s shattered by the presence of men in the area who have suffered the same treatment. These men are mostly the same people who were, just a few chapters ago, committing atrocities against others.

“Iantine? Did you bring…ah, you did. Do a quick sketch of them, will you,” Issony said, pointing to the two so close to death: the two who had been castrated for rape. All that could be done for them was to ease their passing with fellis juice. “To show S’nan. In case he has lingering doubts as to the justice of what was done here today.”

Issony, you’re an asshole. You couldn’t manage compassion for the girl killed in this manner, but fellis is ready for the castrated rapists to overdose on so they go quietly.

This scene would go over much less problematically, actually, if Issony wasn’t there at all. Iantine has been portrayed as both sympathetic and empathetic throughout the book. Since he’s the one with the artistic talent anyway, he can be making sketches of his own accord, to make evidence of what happened here, as a stark reminder to the council of their utter failure to act when they had the evidence that horrible things were happening to innocent people. Iantine would be rightly shocked and scarred again at seeing something worse than what he had already thought was the worst thing someone could do to others. Issony being present screws with what is supposed to be a moment of genuine realization and horror, because he’s seen this before, and he didn’t do anything about it.

As it turns out, the raiding party, having secured Chalkin (who of course has a breakdown that confirms him as guilty and gives the council yet more crimes to conflict him of) is soon greeted by Vergerin himself, who has been hiding as a stablehand ever since he realized that Chalkin would be likely to kill him if the council ever got around to removing Chalkin from power. And we know he’s good, too. The narrative tells us.

He had unwound the layers that clothed him and stood with a quiet dignity in the midst of the warmly dressed riders and Lord Holders. It was that innate dignity that impressed Paulin. Nor was he alone in noticing it.

See? He’s very clearly a noble and upright character, because despite the fact that he’s got the smell of shit all over him, he exudes a dignified aura that all the assembled nobles notice.

And then, probably because the narrative still fails to recognize that it’s giving legitimacy to the person who just got deposed, Vergerin references the succession gamble himself and confirms Chalkin cheated, and Paulin nods his approval that Vergerin kept his promise, despite all the evidence present for the last several chapters that Chalkin is a monster that has been doing horrible things to his people all the time he’s been in power.

Chalkin appears, sees Vergerin, accuses him of breaking the promise, and tries to hurt him, but is restrained by other Lords. His wife, Nadona, accuses Vergerin of taking everything from her and Chalkin, and appeals to her brother, the Lord Holder of Nerat, to do something. She gets nowhere with this appeal, and the narrative takes pride in telling us “Irene took some pleasure in applying the slaps that cut Nadona’s hysterics short.” Because slapping women around to sit them up is a time humorous and totally okay thing to do on Pern, we’ve established, no matter how much of an abuse it is on Terra.

As Chalkin is hauled out for exile, Paulin takes Vergerin to the nearest room and pours him a drink, “impressed by the man’s control in a difficult situation.” Nadona, having seen the writing on the wall, has chosen to stay behind and raise her children, rather than follow Chalkin into exile, backed by her excellent knowledge of what her Charter rights are. It takes five men (and a knockout blow from Bastom, as it turns out later) to load Chalkin on the dragon that takes him to exile on one of the islands.

Iantine’s portrait of Chalkin is noted, laughed at for being what it is, and then ordered taken down and fixed to what Chalkin actually looks like. Iantine himself is glad for the opportunity to correct it and thinking a bit about possibly seeing if Debera would take him on as a mate before K’vin returns him to Telgar, where Leopol shows that he really is a palette swap of Piemur.

“One, you rode away on a Fort Weyr dragon. Two, you’ve been gone overnight so something was up. Especially when the Weyrleaders are gone, too. Three, we all know that Chalkin’s for the chop, and four, you’ve come back with a portrait and it isn’t the one you’ve done here.” Leopol spread his hands.” It’s obvious. The Lords and Leaders have got rid of Chalkin. Impeached, deposed, and exiled him. Right?”
[Iantine nocomments.]
“But I’m right about Chalkin, aren’t I? He won’t get ready for Threadfall, he’s been far too hard on his people, and half the Lord Holders owe him huge sacks of marks in gambling debts.”

Cocowhat by depizan

Oh my GODS and GODDESSES why hasn’t this been mentioned until now? If Chalkin has that kind of leverage on the Lords Holder, this should have been a much tougher sell to get him removed. All Chalkin has to do is threaten to expose or collect the debts and he should have sympathetic votes in the council. Even if he’s committing atrocities within his own borders, the leverage he has should be enough to stop anyone else from acting against him, especially if it requires unanimity.

Plus, the scene we had with Chalkin would be playing out differently. Rather than trying to bribe everyone with new riches, Chalkin should be threatening to call in every debt that he has and bankrupt all the Lords he can if they continue to depose him. Chalkin can’t be both the mastermind of a planet-wide gambling operation and not smart enough to realize what leverage he has on everyone else. It doesn’t work that way. Chalkin is either Stupid Evil and the mastermind is yet uncaught, or he’s competent and would know to go straight for the gambling debts.

Iantine’s attempts to not give away any information to Leopol are wrecked by Tisha essentially asking him the same questions, which the narrative suggests is a consequence of everyone already knowing the things that Iantine is trying to protect. Iantine answers Tisha, to Leopol’s great amusement, and Iantine asks a very good question that gets a very creepy answer.

“Do I have no privacy here?” Iantine demanded, raising his hands in helplessness. “Is there no way to keep secrets?”
“Not in a well-run Weyr there isn’t,” said Tisha.

We’re supposed to believe these are the good guys, but cult, cult, cult! Strange sexual practices, an unnaturally cheery attitude toward everything, a society that claims to actively prevent people from having secrets. Pernese Weyrs or Stepford, Connecticut? This should be terrifying to Iantine based on the trauma he suffered at Bitra and the things that he’s observed since. Like this:

He didn’t really want to show the latest drawings he’d done. The two castrated rapists had died shortly after he finished the sketches. He intensely regretted how pleased he had been with their sentences. Had they any idea of what additional torment Chalkin would inflict on them when they asked to be returned to their hold? No, or they wouldn’t have gone.

These are not normal things to witness. And to sketch as evidence. Iantine very much needs space to process these things and a trained counselor to talk them out with, but the only person who might function in that role has just told him that his confidence will not be kept. Iantine should be ready to crack, if he hasn’t already done so a few times over.

And in this case, it wouldn’t necessarily help to have someone open the painting that he was ashamed of and start howling in laughter, which is what Tisha and Leopol do on seeing what Iantine painted to Chalkin’s satisfaction. The narrative, however, just says

Iantine was in sore need of a good laugh, and if his inner anxieties kept him from joining in wholeheartedly, at least he was made to grin.
Tisha’s amusement alerted the rest of the Weyrfolk to Iantine’s return, and the table was shortly surrounded by people having a good laugh over what Chalkin had considered to be a “satisfactory portrait” of himself.

Because Iantine had a direct line to the author, I guess, because there’s nobody in any of this sequence that outright says that’s why they’re having such a loud laugh. It would be just as easy for Iantine, in his more fragile state, to assume that everyone was laughing at his workmanship, rather than the ridiculousness of Chalkin. But that doesn’t happen, because magically being able to intuit the right reason, as well as to set aside the terror and trauma that he’s witness to be able to smile. When Iantine talks to K’vin, a few scant hours later, though, he sounds a lot more like someone who might be suffering a touch (or more) of PTSD.

“How many people Chalkin had in those appalling cells,” Iantine said, blurting it the words before he realized what he was saying.
K’vin put a sympathetic arm around his shoulders. “I think I’ll be a few bad dreams over that myself,” and he gave a deep shudder. “Perhaps you’d best get some rest…”
“No, I’d rather not, if you’ve something else for me to do,” Iantine says truthfully.

No, K’vin, you won’t. Because you are bonded on a telepathic and empathic level with another creature that will help you get over it fairly quickly, aided by your own sense of justice. Iantine doesn’t have that, and is looking specifically for things to do so that he doesn’t have to think about it. Iantine needs a serious debrief and some therapy, neither of which he will get.

The narrative shows us a touch of how K’vin’s not all that upset about it, as he and Iantine talk about the portrait that Iantine did of Zulaya, and it’s pretty clear, even to Iantine, that K’vin’s more upset about having a beautiful woman (that he might even be in love with) as his Weyrwoman who doesn’t have any affection for him at all in that way. Iantine notices, but doesn’t say anything, about how the public pairing of the Weyrleaders doesn’t have any of this clear emotional content that K’vin is showing now.

The chapter itself, after having put us through all of this characterization and drama, ends with Clisser going to Kalvi with the plans drawn up for the astrological reminder structure, what we now know of as the Eye Rock and the Finger Rock, and Clisser asks Kalvi to have it done by the solstice. That’s it. If that’s supposed to be our breather, it belongs on the next chapter. Otherwise, it’s just mood whiplash.

Open Thread: End of the Year

(by chris the cynic)

It’s the last open thread of the year.  This even if I forget next week’s, which, let’s be honest, I probably will.

There are a lot of ways to react to something ending.  Some popular ways are: not at all, reflection, and putting the damned thing behind you and not giving it any more thought.  The first one doesn’t really yield much to say, but the second and third possibly could.

[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.]

Deconstruction Roundup for December 22nd, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is currently somewhere above the world at this point.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

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 want to talk about how you’re not sure that it’s the end of the year yet. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragonseye: Stuck Until Subterfuge

Last chapter, a judicial process took place, which was legal by the laws of Pern and relatively without precedent, making it both judicial and extrajudicial at the same time. Unsurprisingly, the defense was less than spirited, and the defendants were convicted and exiled or castrated for their involvement.

Dragonseye: Chapter XII: Content Notes: Crimes Against Humanity (Torture, Murder)

None of this is enough to budge Jamson, though, who is incensed that “a Lord Holder’s right to deal with his own folk” was usurped by the trials, even as he agrees with the sentencing. Paulin and Thea stumble their way into a realization – if they can get Jamson to leave because of his health, Gallian will be invested, and then they will have a unanimity. Gallian is worried about jeopardizing his succession, but Thea assures him that things will be fine, and Paulin wants to get impeachment done before Chalkin retaliates against the people in his Hold. Which he will, of course.
Gallian is still nervous about all of this.

“I suppose I should get accustomed to making decisions, not merely carrying them out.”
Paulin clapped him on the shoulder encouragingly. “That’s exactly it, Gallian. And I’ll guarantee, not all the decisions you’ll be called upon to make will be the right ones. Being a Lord Holder doesn’t keep you from making mistakes: just make the right wrong ones.” Paulin grinned as Gallian tried to absorb that notion. “If you are right most of the time, you’re ahead of the game. And you’re right in this one for good reasons which you’re father declines to see.”

That’s a refreshingly honest take on leadership – yes, there will be mistakes, but try to make ones that don’t end in disasters.

Gallian wants to know what will happen to Chalkin once he’s impeached. Paulin says exile, because it’s the only way to make sure Chalkin doesn’t keep causing trouble. In the matter of succession, the uncle of the children, Vergerin, is mentioned as a potential, but Paulin thinks Vergerin gambled away his succession. Which, you know, might be an issue if anyone was willing to cede Chalkin enough respect to consider that a bet with honoring. As the two discuss heredity, Thea returns from her attempt to convince Jamson, which was successful – not because she convinced Jamson to leave over his own health, but with some acting and the application of rouge, Thea appeared sick enough that Jamson decided to take them both south until Thea recovered.

Thea then asks about succession, and is told about Vergerin, and Thea repeats that he gambled his succession away, before Gallian leaves to be appointed as the High Reaches Lord Holder pro tempore. What is to follow, of course, will be kept away from Jamson until it’s too late to object.

Four days later, when Lord Jamson and Lady Thea had been safely conveyed to Ista Hold, the rest of the Lord and Lady Holders and the Weyrleaders convened an emergency meeting at Telgar Hold and formally impeached Lord Chalkin for dereliction of his duties and responsibilities to Benden Weyr, for the cruel and unusual punishment of innocent holders (Iantine’s drawings were submitted as well as the proceedings of the recent trials), for refusing to allow the Charter to be taught so all would know their rights (Issony gave testimony on that account), and for denying these rights to his holders without due reason.

Let’s add one important detail to this decision – Chalkin is not present to give a defense. Gallian is surprised that there isn’t another trial, but Paulin says that Chalkin just had his. Again, Chalkin is not present at these proceedings, has no opportunity to give a defense, an explanation, or submit any evidence in his favor. Yes, the narrative and the characters have been doing their level best to prove to us that Chalkin is a monster, but if the case is that good against him, Chalkin should be able to offer his defense. The trickiest business would be figuring out how to get him to appear before the council, given the autonomy granted and the general non-interference of the dragonriders.

S’nan makes a point of refusing to use dragonriders to get Chalkin, but M’shall is totally for it, and the matter quickly becomes a question of “who has been enough in Bitra that they could produce a viable way of grabbing Chalkin and cutting off his ability to escape?” and “who will succeed Chalkin?”

Vergerin, of course, because he’s of the Bloodline, and they intend very firmly to follow the Charter on inheritance, even though there’s a third instance of “but he gambled it away”, which M’shall finally says something about how he heard Chalkin cheated on it. The dissonance is still…something. They’ve already impeached Chalkin, but they’re still totally willing to abide by a wager that involves him winning something.

To appease the council, Paulin says that each hold that has a child versed in hold management should send them so they can assist Vergerin in getting Bitra back up and ready in time for Thread. Which just leaves the question of getting Chalkin before he goes to ground. Issony and Iantine are called him, because they have the expertise of having lived there, and between the two, they help the Council plan how to cover all the possible exits.

But then there’s also one other thing about Bitra that we haven’t yet been exposed to.

“There’s another level,” Issony said, tapping the right-hand corner of the paper. “You were lucky not to visit it.” He gave a snort. “Chalkin calls it his cold storage.” The teacher glanced around the table. “A lot of small cubicles, some horizontal, some vertical, and none of them long enough or wide enough for the poor blighters shoved in ’em.”
“You can’t be serious?” S’nan’s eyes protruded in dismay.
“Never more,” Issony said. “One of the kitchen girls spilled a tub of sweetener and she was immured for a week. She died of the damp cold of the place.”

Cocowhat by depizan

And nobody found this abhorrent, or what?

There’s a wordto describe what kind of place that is. They’re oubliettes, which means they are places where people are put to be forgotten until they die. Issony is a teacher, and in theory knows what the Charter says and what the law was like, and yet he waits this long to talk about the place where murder and torture happens for things as small as spilling sugar. Murder is supposed to be punishable under the Charter, and yet it seems that the outsider thinks this is normal discipline between a Lord and his servants.

The chapter finishes with the plan drawn up and ready to go for the morning, at the point where the guards and the watch-wher are felt to be least effective.

We’re more than halfway through the book, with all sorts of heinous activities as having taken place, and now, finally, we’ve managed to get to the point of removing the Bitran Lord Holder, because a lot of people have either turned away or been bound by rules rather than trying to do good. No wonder their descendants can’t defeat Fax.

Writer Workshop December 20th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Anyone who would feel more comfortable talking about non-writing creative work in a thread that doesn’t have “Writer” in the name, you may find this month’s creative corner thread useful.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!

Open Thread: Mid-Month Check In, December 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.]

Deconstruction Roundup for December 15th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who had somehow managed to make it to the last month again.)

The point of these posts is threefold:

  1. To let people stay up to date on ongoing deconstructions. (All ones on our list, including finished and stalled ones, here.)
  2. To let people who can’t comment elsewhere have a place to comment.
  3. To let people comment in a place where people who can’t read Disqus can see what they have to say.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Eruditorium Press

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you want to talk about how a worldwide audience can make for some very interesting seasonal talk. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragonseye: …and justice for whom?

Last time, one Lord Holder held out on impeachment on the principle that one does not remove someone from office lightly, right before the narrative undercut that position by telling us the holdout was mentally ill and having problems with his faculties. Because, as we are about to find out, it’s not possible for someone to put up a true effort against the designated heroes.

Dragonseye: Chapter XI: Content Notes:

This chapter title breaks the naming convention of Pern chapters, which usually just list the name of the place, and sometimes, a time period or designation. This chapter is specifically titled “The Trials at Telgar and Benden Weyrs,” which suggests an event of monumental importance – except that it’s the trial of various flunkies and guards, not the impeachment of Chalkin. As trials go, unless this produces testimony that can be used to nail Chalkin to the wall, these aren’t that important. Jaxom’s trial of Norist and the other Lords Holder would deserve a break more than this one does.

Jamson is unable to attend the trial at Benden, but we are told that representatives from every Weyr and Hold are able to attend. Even though there’s a blizzard covering Bitra, that phrasing means someone from there is present, even though I suspect that’s not actually the case. Jamson is missed at this trial because it’s on a subject he would actually care about.

The Lady Holder Thea came, annoyed that Jamson had a legitimate excuse for his absence and had sent Gallian [regent son] in his place.
“It might have done that stubborn streak of his some good to hear just how Chalkin conducts his hold. Oh, he’d’ve spouted on about autonomy but he must certainly is against any harm coming to unborn children.” Thea gave Zulaya a significant nod, reminding those around her that she had borne fourteen children to Lord Jamson in the course of her fertile years: sufficient to substantially increase the borders of their lands when the children were old enough to claim their land grants.

…wow. Not at the number of children, because I’ve seen plenty of good Catholic families that can get to fourteen children in our current age, but Lady Thea must have an iron constitution, because that would mean no more than one Cesarian, and, depending on what level of medical care is actually available at this point in time, potentially having done it in a world of potentially sixteenth- to eighteenth-century Terran medical care. And she and her fourteen children all survive to adulthood. That’s a sort of thing where one might start looking for the Infinite Improbability Drive.

Although, if all the Lords Holder have the same feelings toward fetuses (seeing them as land investments instead of children), that might explain the conspicuous absence of chemical or herbal birth control everywhere. Lady Thea was probably forbidden from traveling by dragon any time it might have been possible she was pregnant.

Okay, on with the trial.

Held in the capacious Lower Cavern at Benden Weyr, the first of the two trials was a sobering, well-conducted affair. At one time on Pern, there had been trained legists on Pern, but the need for such persons had waned.

No, it fucking did not, because this is not the first time in 250 years that a matter has crossed jurisdictions or someone has appealed to the Charter or an impartial court would need to be established! And even if you corrected that sentence to point out that the transference of the power of the court to the Lord Holder is what happened, that could potentially reduce the number of lawyers you would need, but I suspect it would have the opposite effect.

Furthermore, at least in my opinion, the narrative contradicts itself with the justification as to why there are fewer lawyers.

Most arguments are settled by negotiated compromise or, when all negotiation efforts failed, by hand-to-hand combat.

Cocowhat by depizan

What, you mean mediation and arbitration, and failing that, a formal duel? Now, who usually takes on the role of the impartial expert in situations that call for meditation and arbitration?

Lawyers.

An easy way out of this conundrum, if you wanted to continue in the crass denigration of Bitra, but also to give them a useful service that would justify their continued existence, you could make all the legists Bitran. It gives everyone else a reason to hate them and to warn everyone else away from ever making a contract with them, because they write the damn things! And it would provide them with a significant amount of income to power the games with (and make everyone suspicious the games are rigged).

Ugh. Instead, what we have is people apparently hammering out an agreement between each other, then trusting them to follow through on it. Or then fighting over who is right in a dispute. Which has nothing to do with who might be right in a dispute.

Consequently, a spokesperson for the accused guards had to be found. One of the teachers from Fort Hold who specialized in legal contracts and land deeds reluctantly agreed to officiate.
Gardner had not been very enthusiastic about involving himself, however briefly, with rapists, but he recognized the necessity of representation and did his best. He had perfunctorily questioned the victims as to the identity of their alleged assailants and tried to shake their testimony. The three women were no longer the frightened, half-starved wretches who had been so abused. Their time in the Weyr had done wonders for their courage, self-esteem and appearance.

Yes, being taken seriously in your rape charges, having the rapists arrested, and having a court that will not only prosecute them, but likely convict them, and also having a place that didn’t shame you and supported you is very much going to increase your self-esteem and courage.

Also, a contract lawyer is not a criminal defense lawyer. Those guards are not going to get the defense they would be entitled to. They just aren’t.

Also, importantly, contracts and land deeds are handled by teachers from the college. Someone is still helping resolve disputes and is doing legal work to make sure everyone knows what’s going on, so there aren’t competing land claims. There’s still all sorts of need for lawyers. So the narrative can be quiet about how the need for them has somehow waned and been replaced by a trial by combat system.

Gardner even insisted that they had been rehearsed in their testimony, but that did not mitigate the circumstances of the grievous bodily and mental harm inflicted on them.
“Sure, I rehearsed,” the oldest of the women said loudly. “In me mind, night and night, how I was flung down and…done by dirty men as wouldn’t have dared step inside a decent woman’s hold with such notions in their head. I ache still rehearsing,” and she spat the word at him, “what they did, again and again and again.” For emphasis she slammed one fist into the other hand. Gardner had ceased that line of questioning.
In the end he managed one small concession for the accused: the right to be returned to their Contract Hold, following the trial, rather than have to make their own way back to Bitra.

Which isn’t really a concession as much as it is a sentence of exile. There’s a little about how Chalkin protested heavily about the dragonriders and how the dragonriders would happily chew out Chalkin out “when his guards said ‘they was only following orders to keep the holders from leaving!'” This should also count as evidence enough against Chalkin for his impeachment, which would have likely been accomplished by now if there was an independent judiciary to bring the charges to.

M’shall took the role as the prosecutor, and there were three judges and twelve jurists, so it had all the trappings of an independent court, except the part where no competent defense lawyer could be found and there’s no way in hell that anyone in attendance could be selected as a neutral juror in the case. All in all, six men are convicted, three as the rapists, and three as accomplices.

The penalty for the rape of a pregnant woman was castration, which was to be carried out immediately. The others were to receive forty lashes, well laid on by Telgar’s large and strong stewards.
“They were lucky there isn’t Fall,” Zulaya remarked to Irene, Lady Thea, and K’vin. “Otherwise they could also have been tied out during the next Fall.”
Despite herself, Thea gave a shudder. “By its probably why there are so few cases of rape recorded in our hold’s annals.”
“Small wonder,” K’vin said, crossing his legs again. Zulaya had noticed his defensive position and her lips twitched briefly. He turned away. His weyrmate had nearly cheered aloud when the verdict was delivered.

Well, shit. That’s harsher punishment than is written into the laws of our times. Whomever wrote the Pernese Charter, there were clearly women writing the part about what the punishments for rape are. Unless, of course, this punishment is specifically for the rape of a pregnant woman, which would mean that it’s more likely that the punishment is either for violence against an unborn child (like Jamson’s firm conviction) or for screwing another man’s property, both of which would be much more in line with Pern’s overarching philosophy.

The last guard protests that only Chalkin can deal with him, because he’s the one that holds the contract, but he’s told that it wouldn’t have made a difference and the sentences are carried out. The three women ask to go back to their holds, with renewed backbone and desire to stop anyone else from trying to turf them out. And then the narrative supplies me with more support to my theory that Bitra shouldn’t exist by actually confirming some of my speculations.

“Of course, you can’t tell if Chalkin doctored the last census or not, but he’s supposed to have 24,567 inhabitants.”
“Really?” Zulaya was surprised.
“But then, Bitra’s one of the smaller holds and doesn’t have any indigenous industry–apart from some forestry. The mining’s down to what’s needed locally. There’s a few looms working but no great competition for Keroon or Benden.”
“And the gaming,” Thea said with a disgusted sniff.
“That’s Chalkin’s main industry.”

So, apart from gaming, Bitra has no exports. I have to assume that Bitra’s internal production is enough for Bitra, because they clearly aren’t getting imports, since they’ve basically tried to screw every potential supplier they could have. Or perhaps they have a laundering operation in the same way the time-skipped exiles of Southern did, where Bitran money is used to bribe merchants into breaking their embargoes, or in to having fronts purchase the goods that are then shipped on to Bitra. Because as described, there’s no way Bitra should exist at this point.

The next trial, apparently, also uses Gardner as the defense lawyer, but this time for murder, and the jury doesn’t buy that killing someone is justifiable when your orders are to “restrain by any means.”

The men were sentenced to be transported to the Southern Islands by dragonback with a seven-day supply of food, which was the customary punishment for murderers.

Okay, that’s interesting. Exile for murderers, castration for rapists, beatings for accessories. And this is apparently what is laid out on the Charter or is the custom of Pern. I really can’t square these punishments with the idea that Pern is supposed to be some future society ideal, but then again, I assume those ideals are Star Trek, not Galt’s Gulch, so… (And also, I find it interesting that rapists get a much more permanent punishment than murderers do, given that we know that people can survive in the South, although usually by accident rather than by intent.)

Chalkin, of course, sends a threat that he intends to get compensation for the “ritual disfigurement of men only doing their duty,” and shouts at the dragonrider that comes to collect such a message about all the sins and problems of dragonriders.

After all that, the action settles back onto the weyrlings of Telgar and Iantine and Debera, whose dragon (and her) figure in more than a few sketches, prompting others to say that Iantine is in love, head over heels with Debera, and the other girls are laughing at Debera’s cluelessness, but also their own insecurities about what happens when their dragons rise to mate.

“To him it probably does,” Grasella said, “but, Jule, I’m more worried about the blue riders. I mean, some of them are very nice guys and I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings, but they don’t generally like girls.”
“Oh,” and Jule [who is Weyrbred] shrugged indolently, “that’s easier still. You make an arrangement with another rider to be on hand when your green gets prod-dy. Then the blue gets his mate, if he’s got one, or anyone who’s willing–and you’d better believe that anyone’s willing when dragons are going to participate. So bed the one you like, and the blue rider his choice, and you all enjoy!”
The girls absorbed this information with varying degrees of enthusiasm or distaste.

Yet more evidence that others would, and probably should, find dragonriders to be a weird sex cult. Jule is blasé about the fact that people in the Weyr sleep around, especially when under the influence of dragons. To the Craft and Holdbred, who are probably being fed a very steady diet of arranged monogamy, and especially Debera, who escaped her own arranged marriage to the Weyr, this casual attitude toward sex should be shocking and scandalous, but nobody protests too loudly, as if all these women have just accepted the new reality as an objective fact.

Debera, for example, while she’s a bit embarrassed at Iantine falling for her, (and Morath confirming Iantine likes her) is a lot more textually embarrassed by the fact that she’s going to get new clothes.

She had tried to argue with Tisha that the beautiful green dress was quite enough: she didn’t need more. Tisha had ignored that and demanded that she choose two colors from the samples available: one for evening and another good one for daytime wear. Everyone in the Weyr, it seemed, had new clothes for Turn’s End. And yet, something in Debera had delighted in knowing she’d have two completely new dresses that no one had worn before her. She had, she admitted very quietly to herself, hoped that Iantine would notice her in them. Now, with Morath’s information, she wondered if he’d notice at all that she was wearing new clothes.

This is the right attitude for someone to have who has gone from relative poverty to apparent abundance. She has one dress that is probably fancier than what Debera has ever worn in her life, a dress that would probably have been made for her wedding, if the family had saved enough to contract a Weaver for it. And now, there’s someone insisting that she get two more dresses of the same quality for daily usage, as if these are, essentially, commodities. Debera understands the value and work put into the dresses, and wants to treat them as such. I would think that the others from outside the Weyr would also have similar reactions to their own fancy clothes.

The conversation goes on to talk about finding living spaces, and Jule ends up making a tasteless comment about how there will be space available for them when the time comes, with the implication of fatalities that all of them pick up on immediately. Jule apologizes immediately and the subject gets changed swiftly after an uncomfortable silence. The narrative shifts away, as well, to get away from that reality.

Clisser and Jemmy are, naturally, arguing. Jemmy is being short with Clisser, who wants status reports on the latest of the history ballads, over the trial. Jemmy thinks the trial was a farce and the guards should have just been sent to exile immediately. Clisser contends the trial was necessary to prove that people don’t act arbitrarily, and Jemmy snorts that such things are to position themselves against Chalkin.

Jemmy has reconstructed an abacus and slide rule to replace digital calculators and pads. (In theory, the slide rule allows for complex maths at nearly the same speed as digital calculation, but you have to be trained on it to achieve that speed, and you have to know what scales to use.) He’s also trying to figure out something that was done in the past to mark astronomical occurrences, and Clisser helps, albeit unintentionally, Jemmy land on Stonehenge as the likely candidate for imitation, and then is dismissed so that Jemmy can work on everything. Sallisha meets him just outside the office and gives him a full piece of her mind about the choices of subjects. Greek history and culture, she says, is essential so that people know where their government system comes from. Except Pern is not an Athenian democracy. Or, for that matter, a Roman republic. Perhaps, maybe, Sparta, given that the dragonriders really could rule any time they wanted. But no, Pern is feudalism. So Clisser’s objection, “…there is no point in forcing hill farmers and plains drovers to learn something that has absolutely no relevance to their way of life,” is right, but not for the reasoning that he has underneath it. Sallisha and Clisser go back and forth about what’s important to learn, with Clisser heavily on the side of “Pern is the important history to learn, as well as obligations to their betters and their rights under the charter” and Sallisha very much on the side of “knowing where you came from is most important.” They hash on about how terrible it is that so few people knew their rights, and why Chalkin hasn’t been removed, before Clisser says that Sallisha will be teaching the South Nerat circuit and gives her a new contract and her new syllabus. And that’s the end of the chapter.

I realize, now that I’m at the end of the chapter, that we got cheated on seeing what we actually wanted to see – a Lord Holder’s court and hearings not just on matters of crime and discipline, but matters of petty disputes, taxes, and the like.

Writer Workshop December 13th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Anyone who would feel more comfortable talking about non-writing creative work in a thread that doesn’t have “Writer” in the name, you may find this month’s creative corner thread useful.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!