The Masterharper of Pern: Did We Really Need This?

We’ve managed our way through another story of Pern, the place that continues to find new ways to suck, despite the fact that we’ve been down this road multiple times. And now, we get to take a swing at the life story of who should be a dear figure to all of us, except for the part where the narrative has shown him to be manipulative and in favor of essentially holding a horrible system static and unchanging. Here we go again.

The Masterharper of Pern: Chapter I: Content Notes: Childbirth

We come barreling in medias res into the point right after Robinton is born to Merelan, his mother, and delivered to Petiron, his father, Menolly’s eventual mentor at Half-Circle, to keep a hold of, and we’re already skirting perilously close to NOPE territory.

He didn’t see the looks passing between midwife and her assistant, nor did he see the younger woman leave quietly to summon a healer. Merelan’s bleeding was not tapering off. The midwife suspected that something had been torn; the baby had been born breech, and was large-headed as well. She packed ice in towels around Merelan’s slim hips. It had been a long labor. Merelan lay limp in the bed, exhausted, her face white and lined. She seemed bloodless, and that worried Betrice more. There was such a risk in transfusion: despite the similarity in color, blood differed from person to person. Once long ago, healers had known how to tell the difference and match the blood. Or so she’d heard.
Betrice had suspected that Merelan would have trouble delivering, for she could feel the size of the child in the womb, and so she had asked the Healer Hall to stand by. There was a solution of special salts that in extreme cases could help a patient overcome the loss of blood.

So help us all, if this starts as a story where the mother dies in childbirth, there will be a wall of swearing that will last for pages.

It is a useful reminder, however, that we are back in the pre-AIVAS era of science and medicine, and so I am really surprised at this knowledge of salts that encourage clotting and blood production. Even as they acknowledge they’ve lost the ability to type blood, if someone were, say, worried about blood loss during labor, and they had the requisite methods to do so and keep it sterile and safe, why wouldn’t they just take a couple units from Merelan well beforehand? That’s blood that can safely be transfused back into her later, regardless of whether you can type it or not.

Mostly, though, that seems rather advanced medicine to have this concoction to deliver.

The narrative tells us that Betrice has a low opinion of Petiron’s parenting skills, and how lucky they are to have a child, given that Merelan has miscarried three times already. The Healer returns with the midwife’s apprentice, and the three of them set to infusing a clear liquid into Merelan, using needlethorn as the delivery system. Blood plasma, perhaps, which is usually safe to give to anyone, regardless of origin? That would require a centrifuge of some sort to spin blood into component parts. Which would suggest that the methods that Capiam figured out in the Sixth Pass survived to this point in time.

In any case, with the help of the women, and having her son nearby, Merelan stabilizes, and all three attendees agree that Petiron should not be trying for another child, even though it’s obvious all across Pern how the two of them love each other. They also agree to suggest fostering when Merelan will inevitably object to only having one child to care for. At this point, I remind everyone that Pern does not have viable birth control anywhere, despite this being a perfect situation for it.

Petiron is against fostering, and Betrice thinks it’s because he’s jealous of his son getting to spend time with his wife. Betrice’s husband, Masterharper Gennell, thinks it’s obsession over Petiron’s Moreta Cantata that’s using Merelan as principal soloist, and that Petiron does love his son.

Betrice firmed her lips together. “Loves him, does he?”
“You doubt it?”
She regarded her spouse critically. “I do.” She curled her hand around his arm. “But then I have you as an example. You were a eager to tend the first of our five as the last, and they have certainly turned out well. Oh, Petiron looks in the cot now and then, or at the child when he’s toddling in the yard, but only if you remind him that he’s fathered a son.”

Neglectful parenting is a thing, but this picture is in contrast to the Petiron we met briefly through Menolly’s eyes, at least potentially. Menolly seemed to think of him as a warmer and more interested figure, but then again, she also had significant musical talent, and so maybe he was kinder to her than he would have been to others.

Merelan sings well, to great applause, but Betrice makes sure that she takes a “restorative drink” in between performances and is unsurprised when Merelan takes ill after the performance is finished. She complains to Gennell that Petiron only cares about Merelan’s voice. Gennell disputes it by telling Betrice all about their early days and how obviously smitten with each other they were.

The narrative takes a short trip to remind us that we are in the time where five of the six Weyrs have been empty for centuries and even the Harpers only have cryptic entries and the Question Song as a result. Gennell makes a mental note to reinstate the song as a required teaching ballad, as we go over the speculation of what happened to the dragons and the fairly widespread belief at this time that Thread will not fall again. We know better, and that this is the end of the second Long Interval caused by Jaxom, Ruth, and a lot more dragons detonating antimatter engines on the wandering planet to send it out of Pern’s orbit, eventually. Still, it’s been nearly five hundred years since Thread has fallen. How many people would take seriously a dire warning from the 1500s about the return of something deadly in the next ten years?

Since Merelan isn’t getting better at the Harper Hall, Betrice arranges for Petiron and Merelan to take a teaching position back near where Merelan grew up and sends them with the Ritecamp trader train to get there, so that the two can teach and Merelan can recover.

Then she [Merelan] winked at her spouse, knowing very well that he hated doing “basics” with beginners, while she enjoyed teaching the very young. So long as the children were taught, it didn’t matter who did the teaching. As Mastersinger, she knew her Teaching Ballads and Songs as well as Petiron did.
[…Petiron is stiff at first, but seems to be warming up to everyone…]
He even enjoyed the nightly music sessions, for almost everyone in the thirty wagons of the train played some instrument and could carry intricate parts. Many had good voices, and he found himself conducting four- and five-part harmonies to some of their favorite ballads and airs, as well as teaching them the newer songs.
“They’re nearly as good as fourth-year apprentices,” he said with some surprise to Merelan at the end of the third evening’s session.
“They do it for fun,” she said gently.
“There’s no reason they cannot do it better and have fun, too,” he said, not at all pleased at her subtle rebuke over his attempt to improve the harmonies.

Okay, Petiron needs to loosen up a lot if he’s going to do anything with his life other than he tucked away in a corner composing. Now, that may be what he actually wants to do with his life, but this kind of monomania is not a sign of being able to relate healthily to other humans without significant training.

As it turns out, the two are alone in their wagon, with Robinton in a crib in a different wagon, and so Petiron and Merelan take the opportunity to have sex. Which is totally a thing that someone would do if they’ve been raising a child for so long and haven’t had the opportunity in a good long while. But that also runs the risk of a pregnancy that Merelan will have complications with. Again, birth control would be lovely here.

The narrative tells us that getting Petiron out of the Harper Hall allows him to mellow out significantly and appreciate things like hunting, fishing, long walks, and learning to be economical with his composition surfaces. Merelan recovers nicely in the fresh air and exercise along the way. Not too far from their final destination, the Runner Station that the train has stopped at hints that things out in the backwoods are not what someone from the city would expect.

Sev scratched his head. “They got odd notions, you might say.”
Merelan knew there was something that he was not saying, he she couldn’t understand his sudden reticence.
“Ah, d’you have something that isn’t Harper blue?” he blurted.
“I do,” Merelan said, “but I don’t think Petiron does. You mean, he might aggravate someone?” She smiled to show that she perfectly understood.
“Ah, yes, that’s about the size of it.”
“I’ll see what I can do about keeping him occupied,” she said, smiling sympathetically.
Everything went very well the first two days. The morning of the third, Merelan was entertaining all the children with game songs and teaching them the gestures that went with them, when a very tattered girl, eyes wide with delight, moved with surreptitious stealth closer and closer. When she was near enough, Merelan smiled at her.
“Do you want to join us?” she asked in a carefully soft voice.
The girl shook her head, her eyes wide now with a mixture of longing and fear.
“Oh, please, everyone else is here,” Merelan said, doing her best to reassure the timid child. “Rob, open the circle and let her in, will you, dear?”
The child took another step and then suddenly squealed when she saw a man charging from the trader’s wagon, right at Merelan’s circle.
“You there…stop that, you harlot. You evil creature, luring children away from their parents…”
[…a near-melee breaks out as the man is restrained from hitting Merelan…]
“She’s singing, ent she? Singing comes first, don’t it? Singing to lure kids away! She’s evil. Just like all harperfolk. Teachin’ things no one needs to know to live proper.
[…the struggle continues…]
“Harper harlot!” Rochers shouted, trying to free a fist to wave at Merelan, who was clinging to Robinton as much as he was clinging to her.
“She’s not a harper, Rochers. She’s a mother, amusing the kids,” the Station Master said, loudly enough to try and down out what the man was saying.
“She had ’em dancing!” Spittle was beginning to form in the corners of his mouth as the men pulled him back to the wagons.

They hustle Merelan out of sight back into a wagon while things get sorted. Merelan was wrong about what was going on, but I’m thoroughly intrigued by this development. Could we have finally found ourselves the long-lost and sorely needed contingent that doesn’t fall in line with the Harper orthodoxy? Well, we could have, if the narrative wasn’t immediately squashing that idea by insisting that these people are only that way because they’re backwoods hicks afraid that their children might learn about the big wide world out there and leave.

“We run into some real odd folk now and then. Some of ’em have never met a harper, and some don’t hold with singing or dancing or drinking. Sev says it’s because they can’t make wine or beer, so it has to be evil. They don’t want their children to know more than they did or you’d better believe it–” and Dalma gave a sour little laugh, “–they couldn’t keep them from leaving those awful jungles.”
“But it was the way he said ‘harper’…” Merelan swallowed at the tone of hatred in which the word has been uttered.

Good on you, Merelan. It’s easy to dismiss someone as just a hick that’s ignorant, but there’s more going on than just that here, and I want to know what it is. This is a potentially stellar worldbuild – what kind of folk belief system has appeared in the absence of the official doctrine? Why music as the evil thing, and Harpers as the evil people that bring it? Is there a dismissed or disgraced Harper leading this competing belief system? A Holder who had all his children go away to Crafthalls and never return? Tell me, dammit! The traders clearly know more than they’re letting on.

Also, personally, I would use “siren,” not “harlot,” for better connotation. Yes, Pern had all of its classical civilization education dumped before the second Pass, but surely that word would have survived in the meaning of someone who sings beautifully to lure people to harm, perpetuated by the Harpers if nobody else.

Merelan is appalled by the state of education out here, though.

It was true that there were really not enough harpers to do more than stop in once or twice a year, but Merelan was still shocked at the realization that there was a significant number of cots and small holdings where no one could read or count above twenty.

This is a normal function of a vassalage system. Literacy is not a valued result for anyone who doesn’t need to know how to read, write, and do figures — the nobles and the merchant class. There’s no incentive. You learn your trade or you work your land, you have kids to pass it on to, and you die. When the priest comes by to teach you your prayers, you learn them by rote and leave the interpretation up to them.

There are no further incidents on the rest of the trip, and Petiron is really enjoying being able to work with his group of musicians. Petiron also is busily sucking up as many variations as he can hear on the various ballads and songs, some that have gotten complex to the point where Petiron isn’t sure which is the original and which is the variant. All this notation, though, means he’s running out of tanned hide to make scores on.

To transcribe this, Petiron acquired some of the reed-based writing material that was a local product. It has a tendency to absorb so much ink that his scores were a bit blotchy, but he could amend that when he got back to the Harper Hall.

…when was anyone going to mention that Pern has rediscovered papyrus, at the very least, if not some form of paper, already. And why is this not far more widespread across the planet? Yes, it won’t have the same archival quality as hides, but most people don’t need archival-quality material for their everyday needs. If one wants a highly literate society, there needs to be plenty of material to practice with! Styluses and clay. Graphite or ash sticks. Wax, for fuck’s sake, although glow baskets might have meant that chandlery is a lost art. Seriously, there are a lot of ways other than ink and hide to do writing with, and yet it’s taken us fifteen books before there’s a one-off mention that the pre-AIVAS Pernese dad something other than hides to write on! Auuuugh.

After saying hello to Merelan’s family, Petiron gets where her talent comes from, and is almost contemptuous that great voices in that hold are still in the hold, rather than having all been shipped off to the Harper Hall for their use. He’s also less than thrilled about their one-bedroom apartment, because it means the kid sleeps in the same room as them, and also he’s a bit weirded out by the fact that just about everyone bathes in the nearby sea. Now I kind of want to go back and see if anyone ever bathes regularly and collectively in the cold waters in the north. Because yay, all sorts of potential problems if they do.

Petiron is also a bit askance at the collective workspaces, and the communal child-raising pens, many already stuffed with toys, including one supposed to resemble a fire-lizard. Petiron says they died out a long time ago, but yields to Merelan’s insistence they exist because of the eggshells they leave behind that have been found. And is still not very attentive or loving to Robinton. But he goes about the business of organizing everyone into their groups and teaching, including an adult learner’s class in the evening. He takes a liking to Rantou, who is one of the evening class’s attendees, there because “I gotta learn so the baby won’t have no stupid for a father.” Rantou has the ear to be able to listen to a part and then play it back on reed pipes, and the skill to manufacture excellent instruments. He also has no desire to go to the Harper Hall, much to Petiron’s consternation.

There’s a useful note here in the argument, though, about music as a career for Rantou.

“But people do learn the Teaching Ballads and Songs, as they have here,” Merelan said. “As I did.”
“Only the usual ones, but not all the important ones,” Petiron said sternly with a scowl. When he frowned like that, his heavy eyebrows nearly met over the bridge of his aqualine nose. Though she never tell him, Merelan adored his eyebrows. “They don’t know the Dragon Duty Ballads, for instance.”
Merelan suppressed a sigh. Was it only people brought up in strict Harper Hall tradition who believed Thread would, not just might return in the next fifty or so Turns? Or was their belief merely an extension of the traditions of the Hall?

So tell me more about these competing beliefs, author. And whether that might have given rise to the anti-Harper faction we saw a small glimpse of. And whether people in places that don’t have a Weyr nearby find the Harpers somewhat silly for their strict adherence to traditions that seem very outdated at this point.

Petiron and Merelan continue to argue, with Merelan sensibly pointing out that a small population area generally doesn’t have extra people to spare for Crafthall education. Petiron counters with the idea that they sent two off to Benden Weyr, and Merelan dismisses that as special circumstances due to the great honor being Searched is. Then the narrative has Petiron blanch entirely at the idea of Robinton being taught swimming, even before he has mastered walking, because of the danger involved. Merelan thinks the trip has been fantastic, even as she wishes she could stay on longer, and that Petiron looks his best and has learned his most about what life is like outside scholarship. Now, if only he would be more attentive and like his son more…

As they sit on the beach, and the chapter is basically over, Petiron wants to have Merelan to himself in the shade for sex, and Merelan readily agrees. “Segonia has given me a potion that will make it safe all the time for us.”

Cocowhat by depizan

WELL. DID IT WORK? Because if it does, then there is, in fact, birth control on Pern and every woman and every Healer should already know about it and be able to prescribe it. Dragonriders have their own method, of course, but you are not going to sell me on the idea that there is effective birth control on a route that is visited by trading caravans, has Healers on staff, and that it has not spread itself completely through Pern, overtly or covertly. So I want to know…does it work?

(It does, or at least appears to have worked, peeking into Chapter II, because Robinton is still the only child of Merelan and Petiron.)

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22 thoughts on “The Masterharper of Pern: Did We Really Need This?

  1. Eilonwy Has An Emu February 1, 2018 at 7:26 am

    As Mastersinger, she knew her Teaching Ballads and Songs as well as Petiron did.

    Mastersinger

    This is a woman holding a mastery in the Harper Hall, more than 20 years before Menolly was supposedly a first because women couldn’t be Harpers at all, within the lifetime of people who were saying it in Dragonsinger.

    We don’t know at this point (and I don’t remember from my last read) what curriculum is taught to singers or what status they have. Even so, if women could be masters if their specialty was singing, why were there no serious women singing students in Dragonsong and no Masters carping that Menolly’s voice wasn’t up to the one place where women “belonged” in the Hall? It’s even specified that Piemur and other boy sopranos sang the female parts in major productions.

  2. saidahgilbert February 1, 2018 at 8:29 am

    I haven’t read this book. I stopped with Dragonseye because the story was starting to annoy me. (And the deconstructions were increasingly becoming more interesting than the books themselves.)

    I have a question, though. How did they use needlethorn to deliver the salts concoction? Is this a plant that can grow like a tube or did they make a hole through the plant stem or something?

  3. depizan77 February 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Mostly, though, that seems rather advanced medicine to have this concoction to deliver.

    The medical knowledge seems really all over the place in these. Surgery – which we were told in one book was unthinkable, is a far older medical procedure than blood transfusions. Why in the world would surgery be a forbidden art, but blood transfusion something people can mess around with? (Especially when blood transfusion tech should make surgery a less risky proposition than it might otherwise be.)

    And Eilonwy Has An Emu is right about the retconning going on here regarding women at Harper Hall. It appears that all the sexism has been shoved off on the backwoods folk to make the people we’re spending the book with look more enlightened. (At least I assume we’re now going to go back to Harper Hall and spend the rest of the book there.)

  4. genesistrine February 1, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    why wouldn’t they just take a couple units from Merelan well beforehand?

    Preservation issues, most likely. I assume the liquid is just the “solution of special salts” rather than actual plasma.

    Menolly seemed to think of him as a warmer and more interested figure, but then again, she also had significant musical talent, and so maybe he was kinder to her than he would have been to others.

    He was also old and suffering badly from what sounded like rheumatoid arthritis or similar at that point, so he had good reason to be charming to his main carer. Especially if you remember the treatment of Old Uncle in DS.

    “I do,” Merelan said, “but I don’t think Petiron does. You mean, he might aggravate someone?” […]

    “I’ll see what I can do about keeping him occupied,” she said, smiling sympathetically.

    Merelan is very obviously very used to Petiron aggravating people and being the person who has to smooth it over….

    there needs to be plenty of material to practice with! Styluses and clay. Graphite or ash sticks. Wax

    Previous books have mentioned “sand-tables” used for notes, with glass covers to make sure your work’s not disturbed until you want rid of it, and DF, at least, has slates and styluses.

    if anyone ever bathes regularly and collectively in the cold waters in the north

    Not that I remember – I think anywhere we’ve seen close-up has the convenient no-maintenance Ancient hot-water system.

    effective birth control […] I want to know–does it work?

    The Healer at the beginning of the chapter doesn’t think Merelan will be able to get pregnant again, (“caution Petiron that she’s not to get pregnant again. I doubt she can, but he’ll have to restrain himself.”) So if Merelan and Petiron don’t have any more children is it due to this potion or is it due to Merelan’s injuries in childbirth?

    It’s possible to read this bit as the potion doesn’t actually work (because, as you say, it should be widespread knowledge*) and Merelan doesn’t get pregnant again because she can’t.

    [* though let’s face it the depths of Pernese stupidity couldn’t be plumbed by James Cameron in his highest-tech submersible so that’s not something we can take for granted….]

    Another interpretation is that Pern went really aggressively against the scientific method and knowledge-sharing, so if your family knows how to make a contraceptive potion you cling onto the recipe like grim death and never tell a soul who isn’t related to you.

    Which could also explain how come they managed to forget about grubs and talking dolphins….

    (There’s actually a historical almost-parallel: the Chamberlen family of 17th century London were male midwives with a reputation of being the only people who could save mother and baby in difficult and breech births. They’d invented obstetrical forceps, but they weren’t interested in sharing the knowledge; they were interested in how much they could charge for being the only people with a chance of saving lives when childbirth went wrong. But then again the Pernese aren’t even trying to charge money….)

  5. genesistrine February 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    @Eilonwy Has An Emu: Mastersinger

    Retcon ahoy! Ready the harpoons!

    Yup. We don’t know how a Mastersinger compares to a Master Harper, whether or not she had to have all the instrument-playing, instrument-making and other skills needed to be a journeyman harper, but we’re explicitly told “she knew her Teaching Ballads and Songs as well as Petiron did”. And on top of that she’s performing in public, in front of Groghe’s mum and dad at that.

    But by the time Menolly comes along, no-one remembers any of this.

    @saidahgilbert: How did they use needlethorn to deliver the salts concoction?

    Needlethorns are the things they had to collect in Moreta – they grow hollow and sharp, so they’re natural hypodermics.

  6. Firedrake February 1, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Ah, the perils of retconning. As in Star Wars, where everyone completely forgot about the Jedi over a span of twenty years between III and IV.

  7. WanderingUndine February 1, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Unfortunately, I just listened to Lord of the Rings excerpts read by someone who does great voice impressions, and now I’m hearing the traders’ dialogue in his version of Sam Gamgee’s voice due to the similarity in dialect.

    I have a disorder tbat impedes blood clotting. This chapter reminds me that if I’d been born in a time and place where most people with even a semi-fuctioning uterus are obligated to reproduce, I would probably have died in childbirth, especially if I couldn’t use any effective birth control. I don’t intend to ever get pregnant, and there’s very little chance of it at the moment (I take the Pill for PCOS and have sadly never been sexually active), but the current efforts to outlaw birth control and/or abortion sometimes make me fear for my life.

  8. Silver Adept February 3, 2018 at 9:08 am

    Regarding Menolly, I’m guessing there will have been enough time and events for some Masterharper to decide that women are just too much trouble to deal with and ban them from the Hall, unless they bring in significant income like the Holder daughters do. And they’ll do it fairly early on, so that there’s enough of a generation that passes for everyone to believe that it’s always been this way, nevermind Robinton having been raised by a Mastersinger and therefore someone as living proof that it happened.

    @ depizan –

    I suspect the sexism hasn’t been just passed off onto the country folk, but that the Harper Hall would certainly never admit to such a thing, being such a liberal institution.

    @ genesistrine –

    I do remember how they treated Old Uncle, so yes, Petiron had some extra incentive to be charming.

    The sand tables don’t seem very portable, and I would have thought that an idea like papyrus would have spread more than it apparently has, because animal hide is apparently precious outside of the Hall and people need to keep records even if they aren’t Lords or Crafters.

    It’s entirely possible that Merelan can’t have any more children thanks to scarring or other things. That would make it possible for this potion to exist but not be widespread – it doesn’t work.

    Given that Clisser’s legacy is reducing education to whatever can be put to a catchy time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the scientific method is a Craft secret.

    @ WanderingUndine –

    That is terribly scary. Even though we know that hormonal contraceptives can be used for other reasons, there are still more than enough men fixated on the idea that choosing when to have children, and how many, is somehow in contravention to divine edict about what people with uteruses should do and that men should be the unquestioned rulers of everything. That those people still have access to political power at all is incredibly scary.

  9. genesistrine February 3, 2018 at 10:46 am

    some Masterharper to decide that women are just too much trouble to deal with

    Hmmm, I wonder which Masterharper that might be? Or, if it’s one between Gennell and Robinton, Robinton doesn’t seem to have felt any need to reverse the policy until he found out about this nifty tunesmith who happened to be female.

    Re papyrus, maybe. But it would presumably have to be brought by traders, and maybe there are more profitable items they prefer to carry instead. Maybe people use notched sticks, like Ogham, or knotted string like the quipu system.

  10. depizan77 February 3, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    @genesistrine

    I did a quick check and Robinton is Gennell’s successor so, either what is consistency? lol or Robinton is going to get credit for fixing a problem he creates. Whee.

  11. genesistrine February 3, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Ahahahahaha. Pern all over, either way.

  12. Sontin February 3, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    It’s been a long time since I read any of these, but is it ever actually stated outright that women are forbidden from entering the Harper Hall? I know Menolly’s parents were very outspoken on the subject, but I always thought that was just their opinion as opposed to Pernese law. The first two books in the Harper Hall trilogy are told mostly from Menolly’s POV, and Menolly grew up with her mother and father saying, “Of course you can’t be a Harper, you’re a girl” so it’s understandable that she would believe that, particularly since she spent her whole life there until running away.

    But I don’t remember Petiron – who ought to know – or any Harper or person at the Hall apart from that one teacher having any kind of problem with it, so is this Anti-Female stance the official Pernese POV or a case of Unreliable Narrator on Menolly’s part caused by unsympathetic parents who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about?

    Of course, I could be a bit biased on this because I always found Menolly one of the worst and most unsympathetic characters in the series for several reasons (just my opinion, of course, with no offense intended to Menolly fans :))

  13. genesistrine February 4, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Everyone’s very welcoming of the Masterharper’s pet genius, but the only other girl students there are segregated and incompetent and there are no female journeymen or masters, so it’s not just Menolly’s perception.

    Whether it’s an actual official policy or a “don’t even bother to try, girls, you’re not going to get in” is anyone’s guess.

  14. Brenda A February 4, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    This book has a LOT of stuff that contradicts or utterly retcons what was previously established. There are individual parts of it that I love, but there are large chunks that I really don’t.

  15. MadamAtom February 5, 2018 at 9:18 am

    “Given that Clisser’s legacy is reducing education to whatever can be put to a catchy [tune], I wouldn’t be surprised if the scientific method is a Craft secret.”

    I’m kind of embarrassed that this is what gets me to finally delurk over here – I came to the Pern deconstruction by way of Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings, literally years ago – but I can’t resist:

    It isn’t very detailed, but it at least conveys the main idea. 🙂

    But then, from what we’ve seen of Pern, teaching people how to question things was probably a deliberate omission on Clisser’s part anyway.

  16. genesistrine February 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    Yeah, there’s one particular bit that I have a bet with myself will produce a new record for the use of cocowhats and surrounded-by-assholes, and quite possibly whole new swears on top of that.

  17. Sontin February 6, 2018 at 8:11 am

    @genesistrine
    “There are no female journeymen or masters, so it’s not just Menolly’s perception” (Sorry, I have no clue how to do italics!)

    You’re right; that’s a very good point. Oh well, I’ve learned better than to expect consistency from Pern. Part of the reason why this time period and its characters is probably my least favorite in the Pern series…

  18. genesistrine February 6, 2018 at 2:00 pm

    Use HTML tags for italics and bold – <i> at the beginning and </i> at the end – replace i with b for bold.

    And a weird, gaslighting sort of inconsistency too – every book pretends that NOTHING’S CHANGED WHAT ARE YOU GOING ON ABOUT and it’s very disconcerting to read.

  19. Silver Adept February 6, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Very much gaslighting, given that Menolly gets a grounding in everything when she’s at the hall and they’re all dudes, even the singers.

    I’m both intrigued and a little worried that people who have read ahead are setting wagers with themselves about the amount of swearing to come. I’d hate to be disappointing from not fully understanding it, but at the same time I’d like to be able to tuck in under the expectation because it might not actually be bad.

    This being Pern, I will likely understand the implications and swear a lot more than the expected line.

  20. genesistrine February 6, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Sorry to worry you, even a little. But oh boy. Much incoming. So Pern. Much retcon. Wow.

  21. Silver Adept February 7, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    @ MadamAtom –

    Good to see you! And that’s a great song to embed to show off what you can do in a catchy song. I forgot that TMBG have done several children’s albums after NO!

  22. saidahgilbert February 8, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I can’t believe delurk is actually a word! I googled it and there were actually definitions outside of a slang dictionary.

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