Monthly Archives: July 2018

Deconstruction Roundup for July 27th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has utilized the heat to do significant damage to invasive weeds.)

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.

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

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 waiting for something good to happen that will be at least as good as the best things in your life. Or for any other reason, really.

The Skies of Pern: Ripple Effects

Last time, a comet dropped down and said hello to Pern, generating sufficient panic among everyone present that the Weyrleaders present agreed to allow every rider that already knows dragons can time travel to do just that so that the coastal areas that are going to be affected can be evacuated in time, while everyone who is on the ground will be staring at the interesting thing in the sky, not knowing if it is going to be a problem or not. We pick up after a first amount of effort has been made to move everyone to safety.

The Skies of Pern: Part 2: Segments VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV: Content Notes:

The action has returned to the conference room, local time 1:10, so after everyone has theoretically gone back and done their evacuations, although no reports have yet come in about their successes. Lessa is currently alone in the conference room, everyone else having gone somewhere to muster people or oversee their evacuations, which leaves her as the only person present for Erragon to explain that the tsunami wave is going to impact places like Monaco in multiple waves, based on how the water flow is going. Some places may have breakers, natural or built, to help disperse the waves before they crash in, but there’s still going to be a lot of wave action and flooding all across the coastlines of the South. Erragon thinks the Dolphin Hall will be mostly spared by having land in the way of the waves. Lessa reflects bitterly on the hurricane that apparently caught everyone by surprise in comparison to having time to evacuate from this impact, which doesn’t make any sense to me, because presumably time travel is time travel and once you know the pathway the hurricane is planning on traveling, you can get out of its way. Hurricanes do not, to my knowledge, simply spring up and make landfall. If the Yoko has telemetry on cosmic objects, it should be able to spot a big storm forming. If we knew more about the rules regarding time travel, this wouldn’t seem like such an issue.

Erragon continues to describe the extent to which the wave will travel, including the places in the southern parts of the North that will be affected and to what extent. Lots of the arrival times being talked about are in a four o’clock hours, which seems appropriate, given folklore that the pronunciation for the number four and the one for death are fairly close to each other in many languages that have Chinese as an origin, including Japanese, where “tsunami” comes from.

Having seen what will likely happen, the Benden Weyrleaders convene a meeting to inform the appropriate people about what is going to happen to them and the need for them to get their people to safety. In attendance is Janissian, the granddaughter of Sangel that wants to stand for that Hold’s lordship. During the briefing, a loud boom interrupts and sends Erragon shouting into the hall that it was “the ground shock wave” from the comet’s impact arriving on schedule.

Having never been in an earthquake, I have no idea whether they make a large amount of sound when the seismic wave arrives. I’m more inclined to believe the loud boom is a sonic boom due to the comet strike, rather than loud ground, and if that’s the case, I think seismic waves travel faster through ground than sound through air.

As it is, the narrative spins back to a coastal hold where F’lessan and two other dragons are tasked with getting the gawking holders to get out of the way of a wave they don’t know is going to hit yet. F’lessan notices the dolphins are doing their best to sound an alarm, and so he piggybacks on their warning to give credence to his own. It doesn’t convince them at all until F’lessan manages to get someone with a telescope to look in the right direction just as the comet splashes down and see the beginning of the tsunami, which starts to convince a few, but it’s not until the sonic boom and the seismic wave arrive a few minutes later that the Seaholder is convinced of the wisdom of evacuation.

In this particular case, the matriarch of the hold, Lady Medda, engages in the same bossy behavior F’lessan was faulting Mirrim for, giving orders and directing traffic efficiently. F’lessan doesn’t complain a bit about her. The fact that she looks like she’s had “nine or ten decades of living” probably has a lot to do with it. The evacuation is successful, even with enough time to rig up three boats full of things to carry to the high ground. And one very emergency rescue of the Seaholder, who couldn’t make it to the heights before the wave would. Thankfully, Golanth grabs the Seaholder and they all warp through hyperspace before the wave crushes everyone, Golanth even giving a little extra time back for the rescue, so that the schedule isn’t off, despite the extra rescue. Which flattens F’lessan all the more, in addition to the exhaustion of the scramble. The Hold gives their thanks in unison, and then Lady Medda continues to organize the effort to get everyone under shelter to wait out the effects of the wave and the storm that comes with it. The other riders give F’lessan their thanks after helping him into his riding gear so that they can all pop back to Landing.

Local time 2:12 and the party being sent to inform Toric is apparently the Brown Rider Rapist and K’van, neither of whom relishes the idea. They agree to take Sintary as well. We get a quick dip into what Idarolan thinks of Janissian:

He’d heard good things about her, taking hold with her grandmother ever since old Sangel became so erratic. This night be an excellent time for the girl to show her leadership qualities. She was the best of Sangel’s blood.

And, apparently, two women took over while the Lord is not necessarily fully able to work with his faculties. And not enough people put up a fuss about how it wasn’t right to have women in charge? A lot has changed since Thella tried to take her birthright. This meeting breaks up to inform various people at Southern, Nerat, and Southern Boll of the impending disaster and to get them to safety, before moving forward about 90 minutes to local time 3:40 and the return of F’lessan, along with a cavalcade of dragons already there, back from their own missions. The queens are directing traffic, and the orders for everyone, essentially, are rest.

Next section is at the Harper Hall, where Sebell is trying to direct the drum system to provide accurate communication to all the panic messages coming in asking for more information. There’s a chuckle between him and the Brown Rider Rapist delivering the maps about how Toric is going to regret having “undisclosed” coastal holds, and a little conversation (that seemed like a throwaway when it appeared in the last section) about keeping tabs on how the Luddites will spin this disaster and try to explain away how having a ship in the sky that could track and predict these things is a terrible idea.

Without a section break, Canth and his rider had to Southern, with Canth making a very smug remark:

Ruth is not the only dragon who knows when he is

Which flatly contradicts the earlier books that said most dragons don’t have a good grasp of time and that was what made timing things with precision difficult and dangerous. If the trait is much more widespread, is there any way that someone could try to breed for it in the dragon population?

Canth’s rider reflects on one reason why the hurricane had been a disaster upon arrival: Toric had warning from the dolphins, but didn’t move quickly enough to shelter.

The news is delivered to a roused-from-bed Toric, who is aggravated enough at the news and who is delivering it that he tries to take a swing at Canth’s rider, only to be solidly punched in the shoulder by Idarolan to stop him and then roared at by Idarolan to get his ass in gear and start evacuating. Canth’s rider then heads on to see the devastation at Monaco and to watch the tsunami pound at and try to overwhelm other places and eventually run out its energy without flooding a space.

Then it’s back to Landing, where Tai is waking F’lessan and getting him to drink and eat something after his nap. And in his first few thoughts is him being the…dragonrider he is.

Then he realized that it was cloudy. Landing’s usually bright sun was visible as a hazy yellow orb in the forbidding sky.
“Dust in the air, someone told me,” Tai said with no expression in her voice. She wasn’t a volatile personality, like Mirrim or Lessa, F’lessan thought. More like Brekke, quiet, self-contained: definitely reserved.

…so, that’s terrible, given what happened to Brekke because a rider took a liking to her, but also Mirrim and Lessa are being insulted again for being women with active voices and personalities. So Tai’s options appear to be to get pressured until she gives in or F’lessan stops waiting, or to assert herself and catch the backlash for being uppity.

You’re a terrible person, F’lessan.

Plot-wise, Tai runs down the damage report so far – Monaco is destroyed utterly, most of the rest of the places have flooding, but neither dolphin nor human seems to have suffered casualties, barring those humans who ignored the warnings or tried to go back and get something left behind. Those humans distress Tai the most, and F’lessan tries to reassure her that everyone did everything they could do to get all the people to safety. Tai points out that the comet still dropped and the waves flooded, to which F’lessan retorts that dragons couldn’t have stopped either of those events. (Time travel is time travel, says I. Until you can point out the rules that stop you from doing it, Tai has a point.) And, of course, the secret of time travel isn’t supposed to be spoken of to outsiders, even now, which annoys F’lessan a lot.

When Tai discovers that the feline pelts she’s been sleeping in were not rescued by F’lessan, but by Zaranth, there will be explaining to do…

…but not on camera, because we are back to the Printer Hall at Keroon, local time 11:15 (same time as the last segment), where Master Tagetarl has been keeping tabs on the drum messages and the scramble in the bay to make sure there’s nothing in the path of the great wave that will be arriving soon enough. There’s a messenger here with a priority printing request from the Benden Weyrleader, with strict orders to make sure she doesn’t leave until Tagetarl has done it. Tagetarl seems bemused until he reads the message, and then he springs the Hall into immediate action to print big broadsheets for immediate distribution before sending the rider, Danegga, who has borrowed Path, to the kitchens to eat and drink while the Hall prints the requested material. It’s an opportunity to “try that 26-point they’d just added.” (And nary a mention of the word “font”, only “boldest print face.”) Danegga gets, as requested, the first batch of hundred to distribute by dragon, and then Tagetarl drops another hundred at the Runner Station for immediate distribution, managing not to give away his recognition of Pinch in the process. He distributes the facts he knows, and hears that the Luddite faction is claiming that the comet is the fault of AIVAS and that the dragonriders let it strike rather than stop it.

I note that both of those accusations could be true, because we don’t know the extent of how much AIVAS calculated other orbital bodies in relation to pushing the Red Star out, and we don’t know the rules regarding dragons and time travel enough to be able to disprove either contention. It is…unlikely, given the narrative’s position, that either of those are true, but the comments section had reasonable speculation about the true motives of the AI while it was operational, and there hasn’t been anything, aside from our knowledge that the AI was correct because Jaxom jumped in time to confirm it, that definitively says the AI was both correct and benevolent.

As it is, the narrative shifts back to F’lessan, and he invites several dragonriders displaced by the flood to stay at Honshu while everyone recovers. Then he pops back to the displaced population that Lady Medda and Binness are running with extra supplies to help them reset, while trading a little light banner with Medda, who has suggested to F’lessan that in her younger years, she might have had a dragonrider or two in her bed. After reporting their safety back at Landing, F’lessan heads to Honshu to prepare for guests.

To F’lessan’s dismay, Mirrim was already there, and had organized the couples who were holding a little north of the Weyrhold. He had thought her safely stuck at Landing. He should have known better. He should also be grateful to her–or try to act if he were–though she still tended to give orders to him. Very soon after his arrival, he was genuinely glad she had come. She was the one who had organized food and there was succulent meat grilling on the main terrace for the many Monaco Weyr riders who had taken up his invitation. Tai was one of them.

So, why wouldn’t Mirrim give orders to F’lessan? She’s a Weyrwoman, after all. Or at least the weyrmate of a Weyrleader. Unless F’lessan is still far too hung up on the kitchen girl who Impressed a green to recognize her status, which would very much be in line with the thinking of plenty of bronze riders. But, of course, if she’s useful, then she’s okay.

F’lessan would love to show Tai the observatory and it’s massive telescope, but they’re both too tired to make the climb (and they don’t have the technology to boot the telescope back up again, anyway). Instead, he startles her accidentally, and then probes her knowledge of the starry sky, and then they all go off to bed, after F’lessan dangles the promise of Tai being able to see through his binoculars some other night. These subtle tests and his irritation at Mirrim suggest to me that F’lessan has somewhat of a problem with competent women, unless they’re pretty and he’s interested in them.

As it is, that’s the end of Part 2. Part 3 is aftermath, and it should be very interesting to see how the continent recovers from having been laid to waste by a tsunami.

Deconstruction Roundup for July 20th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has done excellently about stunt professionalism this 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.

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

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 are hoping for something new to cross your dashboard and excite you. Or for any other reason, really.

The Skies of Pern: More Visitors

At the end of Part 1, we have a successful Luddite attack in the books, all of which our main players are involved in, one way or another, and Tai’s Zaranth has demonstrated the ability to move things that she isn’t holding on to, proving AIVAS was right about that as a draconic ability.

The Skies of Pern: Part 2: Segments I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII: Content Notes: Toxic Masculinity

Local time 12:04 in the morning, 1.9.31

Part 2 starts with more meteors, or comets, streaking through the sky at Ruatha. Sharra sees them first and summons Jaxom and Brand to use their binoculars and take a look at the phenomenon as well. All of which seem to be originating from a single space.

And also Sharra using AIVAS surgery knowledge to repair a tendon.

The next several segments, actually, are various other places waking up (Telgar, local time 4:04 in the morning, Benden, local time 6:04 in the morning, Harper Hall, local time 1:00 in the morning), looking as the astronomical phenomenon and realizing it’s very different than the usual ones, and everyone engaging in a mass scramble to Landing to get the telemetry from the Yokohama and a little more of an idea of what is going on.

Also, R’Mart retired from Telgar, at some point between books, a meteor dropped on Circle Runner Station (and likely obliterated it), Menolly is the fastest of the Harpers in figuring out that some people will believe this to be some sort of AIVAS act from beyond the grave or the revenge of the Red Star, even if none of that is remotely conceivable, much less true, and F’lessan is equally as reckless as his parents have been when it comes to safe distances for takeoff and hyperspace warping. Everyone else roused heads back in, reasoning that putting more stone between them and a potential celestial object is a good idea. (Which it is.) So only the astronomer dragonrider goes to represent Benden as well as Honshu.

Which is where the plot picks back up – a lot of very frightened people staring at telemetry data at Landing (local time 10:21 mid-morning), but only a few of them able to interpret what it might mean. F’lessan is hopeful that the orbit of the object will be hyperbolic, so that it will “give everyone a beautiful display, a bad fright, and then disappear, still shedding part of its mass.”

Since there’s such a crush of people at the Admin building demanding answers, F’lessan has Golanth drop him on the roof, which turns out to be a poor decision in terms of finding purchase, but some of the guards to the building help him fall safely off the roof. He gives a few orders for T’gellan, Mirrim, and Tai to be let in when they manage to get through the crowd, and then heads to the room where the telemetry data in on screen.

The prognosis is not good – the Yoko has already started calling it a potentially hazardous object (PHO), and the calculations keep becoming more certain that it’s going to strike the planet somewhere. It’s a comet, and a fairly large one at that. The target space for impact is a question of whether it will obliterate an island, potentially setting off a volcanic chain reaction, or splash down into the sea, where all that energy has to be absorbed by the sea. That particular island chain is uninhabited, except for the island of exile for the anti-AIVAS faction from the previous books.

It hits the sea. Here’s the summary data (slightly reformatted for readability):

Impactor Summary
Probable cometary origin
Impact velocity: 58.51 km/sec
Dimensions: 597 m x 361 m x 452 m ellipsoid
Volume: 51 million cubic meters
Average Density: 0.33 (+/- 0.11)
Total Mass: 17 million tons
Derived Impact Energy: 29.7 Exajoules
Explosive Equivalent: 7.4 gigatons

And the coordinates of impact, which is how they know it touches the sea.

This is a nitpick, but I can’t imagine a computer that’s been programmed to give a report in both SI and Imperial units in the same report.

That said, the energy release mentioned is 2.97 x 10^19 joule, which The Other Wiki says is about .5 of the energy an average hurricane uses making rain in a single day. Lessa will later remark that the hurricanes of various areas seemed to be more destructive than what this comet did, but that’s without fully understanding the devastation that a tsunami can cause. And that’s without having to worry about nuclear reactors that could go critical when power is lost to the systems that keep them regulated.

It also notes one ton of TNT is 4.184 x 10^9 joule, which makes it relatively easy to see if 7.4 gigatons is in the ballpark (which it is, but the measured energy release is a little less than 7.40 gigatons exactly.)

Everyone seems relieved that the comet touched down in the water, except F’lessan, who understands that the heat of the comet’s passing has set several forests on fire, which is bad, but worse, all the energy that was in that comet has to go somewhere, and giant waves that will swamp, flood, and destroy anything in their path is what’s happening on the screens in front of him. F’lessan can’t recall the word, but Tai arrives with the word (tsunami) and Mirrim and T’gellan, all three of whom understand what danger the coastal regions are in from this wall of water, although their experience has been limited to the sea/earthquake varieties. The strength of the potential disaster is enough to frighten Mirrim, the narrative tells us, who gets “a piercing look” and a head shake from Erragon, the chief in charge of the Interface room, when she asks what it all means. Because even though there’s a death wall of water coming, we can take time to be crude about wimmins and science, amiright?

Erragon finally beseeches all the dragonriders to evacuate all the coastal holds, and asks for maps, which allows (retired) Masterfisher Idarolan to step in, with said maps, having been summoned by Weyrleaders to the spot. He gives advice that the dragonriders need to make good time, emphasis in the original, to achieve their evacuation goals, and the riders (specifically, the bronze ones) are told to get out and spin the clock back and get themselves enough warning to evacuate everyone.

This does avoid the “you have time-traveling dragons! Use them!” critique, but the scope seems rather small. Given that the bronzes are being asked to do the thing, why don’t they go back sufficiently where they can put a rock in the way of the comet’s orbit and deflect it from ever entering the atmosphere? Or use the newfound confidence they got from lifting antimatter engines to port the comet out of the way while it was still in space? Are there fixed points in time where this disaster has to happen, but you can bend things enough to evacuate all the people out? Time travel is a useful plot device, but it has to have some rules or it becomes a deus ex machina.

Also, way to sideline your heroes, narrative. Unless there’s a grand purpose for leaving Tai and Mirrim in the present, why can’t the other colors go back and do evacuation as well? To the best of my knowledge, it has never been established one way or another whether all dragons can do the time warp again, or whether only bronzes and golds can. (And it turns out that Zaranth and Path are coming along, anyway, as F’lessan directs Golanth to give Zaranth the time-shifted coordinates to warp to.)

The narrative kicks us back to the conference room, where the Benden Weyrleaders, Wansor (who has lost most of his sight by this point, and yet can still tell who is coming into the room by their perfume), Lytol, and D’ram are watching the same information that the previous group was watching, too, and already formulating the plan to get people to safety once the comet strikes by bringing in Idarolan and his maps, where Lessa suggests that her mate leave sufficient time for enough preparation, and then suggests to Idarolan what he say to the other riders to make sure everyone can be evacuated with the same suggestion to make time.

Then we go back to Monaco Bay Weyr, local time 10:22, just after Mirrim had left for Landing, so there’s no messy paradox to have to deal with. Mirrim does what a good Weyrwoman does and takes charge of the situation.

“Well, we’re back and there’s an emergency, Dilla,” Mirrim said, going to the bell and rigorously pulling its rope. “C’mon, Tai, we can start evacuating the children. You can help, too, F’lessan, while ‘Gell gets the maps.” She raced inside and F’lessan heard her announcing the crisis to all within.
Typical Mirrim, he thought, but at least she was over the panic that had seized her in the Interface office. Immediately there were screams, sobs, shouts, and general confusion.

This vein continues, from “Mirrim’s shrill voice was organizing the weyrfolk inside,” to “Mirrim’s bossy streak was in full operation,” and “…even his dragon would not thwart Mirrim in this mood or under these circumstances.” But when you’re in a crisis situation, what most people need the most is a leader. The person that starts giving orders is the person that generally gets followed, and that can essentially get people to do something more than panic. This works for most people, whether it’s an operation to evacuate a Weyr from an incoming wave or to get a person out of a house with all the stuff they need before their abuser gets home. If F’lessan has time to snark about how Mirrim isn’t behaving like a dainty girl, he’s not using all the time he has to help with the evacuation. Which mostly seems to consist of directing people and helping them get themselves and their goods in the dragons so they can be transported away.

It was as well that dragons had an innate instinct for avoiding each other on the ground as well as in the air for the traffic in and out of the main Weyr clearing was amazing.

Once the Weyr is secure, dragons get dispersed along the coastlines to evacuate the holders, all still working on borrowed time. T’gellan leaves a final warning:

“Don’t shave time too close! Lessa would kill me if you got time-lost!”

And now I want to know how many tragedies happen of this nature that there’s a name for it, and if anyone has come back long enough to describe it such that it gets such a name. If you meet yourself in the timestream, do you both poof out of existence? (No. Lessa created a Stable Time Loop of warning herself of Fax.) Is it a reference to how Moreta got lost in hyperspace because she didn’t have a destination in mind? (Maybe. Beyond Between suggests that it was because rider and dragon were mismatched for each other, though.) Maybe if two of you touch each other at the same time, you wink out of existence because the timestream hates the paradox you created.

F’lessan does wonder to himself as to whether everyone is participating in a large-scale version of Moreta’s Ride, and what caused the fatal final jump, before the narrative hops back to the conference room, local time 1:10, where we should be starting to see the ripple effect of the Stable Time Loop that is forming. We’ll stop here and pick it back up next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for July 13th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has to deal with morning meetings. And possibly a new paradigm of looking at things.)

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.

Elizabeth SandiferEruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

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 feeling a bit chilly with all the space available and would like to fill it with posts. Or for any other reason, really.

The Skies of Pern: The Second (and Third) Day

Last time, we actually got to see what the attackers were up to, and there were torture threats, and a plan was decided on for tracing back the Luddites to their leader.

The Skies of Pern: Part 1: Segments VI, VII, VIII, and IX: Content Notes:

It is now 1.2.31, and Haligon is paying a call on Fort’s Runner Station Master, Torlo, who we met, along with Tenna, in the short story Runner of Pern. There’s no word back on a trace from Crom, Tenna’s out on a run, and so Torlo offers formal hospitality to try and figure out what Haligon is up to. Haligon, for his part, is trying not to upset Torlo. Fire-lizards carrying messages hasn’t destroyed the runner system, and Haligon picks up that Torlo might not have a lot of love for the Smiths, but he does find at least some common ground that they both think the Healers have benefited well and spread their new knowledge freely from the AI. Torlo says that the Runners don’t permit propaganda books to travel on their network, but things are still frosty between them, and Haligon is able to finally get Torlo to admit that he thinks the Runners are going to be displaced by either dragons (Haligon tells him they’re too expensive and there aren’t nearly enough riders considering the service) or by the radio devices being developed by the Smiths (Haligon points out the devices lack the necessity infrastructure, like communication satellites, to be truly long-range items, and that they’re very expensive). Haligon’s explanations seem to at least mollify Torlo.

We note that terrestrial line-of-sight radio and telegraph will be available once towers can be erected that will not be destroyed by Thread, but even then there will still likely be need for Runners until you can cover the planet in radio relays. At which point we kind of hope a forward-thinking Runner develops PT&T in partnership with the Harper Hall and things go from there.

Haligon, for his part, after wishing Tenna would espouse him, goes back home to sort petitions, and we switch over to the Keroon Printer Hall on 1.3.31, where Tagetarl is dealing with the problems of having a printing press but not a spell-check program. He needs the dictionaries updated and to figure out a way of spotting errors before they print hundreds of copies. (I presume he knows he needs proofreaders, but even then, as we know in our days here on Terra, things still slip through.)

A sound puts Tagetarl on alert, but it’s Pinch, announcing himself with casual and improper grammar. (“It’s me” is improper – me is an object descriptor, so it should be “It is I”, because I is the subject descriptor. Unlike many of the other problems with the language, I’m more than willing to believe this particular error has persisted through all this time.) Tagetarl calls Pinch out on his grammar, before revealing to us that ever since the propaganda books have shown up, the Printer Hall shreds anything that’s not perfect. Tagetarl also says he has jobs available for anyone that has the skills to proofread. Pinch then reveals the reason for his visit.

Keroon has all sorts of hill folk, you know, the kind that don’t want their kids Harper-taught or Healed. Then there’re the ones who aren’t really hill folk. Who get too many visitors and have had very interesting indoor occupations.”

I still want to know about these “hill folk” and how they came to be, because they’re the best foil I have for the rest of the planet’s social structure. Are they survivalists? Cultists? A group shunned from polite society surviving on the fringes?

Pinch, of course, asks for paper and inks to sketch the people who clearly don’t belong among the backcountry folk, while eating some for himself and his fire lizard. While he sketches the visitors received with fanfare, we get Pinch’s heritage – and the implication that Nip was not the only spy out in the world. Nip trained Tuck (“another nonconformist”, according to the narrative) and let Sebell see inside that world. Tuck trained Pinch (and at least two others), even as Sebell put Piemur to work in much the same way as Nip put Sebell. Pinch will provide other sketches after some sleep, but Tagetarl uses his own fire lizard to send the first few sketches to Sebell, and we pop over to Benden Weyr.

F’lessan is present for a pre-Threadfall briefing of Wingleaders, and although his mind wanders a bit wishing the Weyrleader would take some time off, he comes back to attention in time to get his wing’s assignment. Mostly, at this point, we’re learning that some greens are used as reservists to bring in extra firestone sacks (I thought this was some part of Weyrling duty.) and that F’lessan thinks about what it would be like to fly with Tai. But that gets pushed away in the loading and looking and eventual fighting of Thread.

And then we take a five day time skip to Monaco Bay, where Tai is, as she watches Zaranth stare intently at trundlebugs working in their straight lines. There’s a little bit of “some bugs are terrible, but trundlebugs are okay, and also, bugs and floods are a really good reason to sleep and live off the ground” before we get to just how much progress has been going on.

Tai’s little house was just beyond her hammock: all of its shutters were open to let in what wind there was, the fine-net screens preventing the entry of airborne insects. The afternoon breeze generally wafted away those clinging to the material. The diurnal ones departed at dusk, the nocturnal ones were noisier but photosensitive. A tall spire of solar panel provided Tai with what power she needed: for lights, the warmer plate, the cold box, and for the occasional hot air during the worst of the cold weather–which, to her, was never as cold as it had once been in Keroon’s foothills.

Quite a bit of progress, indeed. And Pern presumably has all the right minerals and materials needed to construct such complex things as solar panels, refrigerators, and heaters.

The actual point of the trundlebug, though, is that its path would take it into Zaranth’s nostril, so Zaranth moves it out of her way. Not physically, by exhaling or moving her body, but mentally, to Tai’s great surprise.

AIVAS predicted this, and was actually disappointed that the dragons hadn’t developed their telekinetic abilities significantly in the interim. Tai doesn’t know this, of course, and would have lots of questions on the how, except that someone has called for help in dealing with a very large group of felines and T’gellan is turning out half the wing to fight them, including Tai.

Zaranth is very apt at hunting, and after a close call with a camouflaged feline, snags one with a move that snaps its spine before whirling and snapping the neck of its hunting partner. Tai briefly considers trying to lift the cats onto the dragon, so as to skin them away from the pests, but realizes they’re way too heavy for her, and so she gets to work on them, skinning one before taking a break to see how the others are doing.

Dragons also apparently really like the taste of big feline, as Zaranth is apparently drooling while Tai does her work.

One of the herders, Rency, provides Tai with water and fans get to get all the insects off, and offers to accompany her back to he second to help skin it, an offer Tai accepts. Rency is described as having “a short bow and a weyrhide carrier full of the sort of barbed arrows that would be needed to bring down felines”, and I have trouble believing that this is a recent invention, given that the Pernese have been hunting flying creatures for a very long time, and have had some sort of standing military at each Hold for a little less than that. Perhaps they’ve never redeveloped, say, the English longbow and it’s phenomenal stopping power, but it seems reasonable that bows and arrows have been around for quite some time.

Tai offers to help move the herdbeasts in the right direction, since they’re terrified of dragons, and it turns out T’gellan and Mirrim had the same idea. So they do. And then plan to go for a swim once the herds are moving in the right direction again.

That’s the end of Part 1. We’ve spent a lot of time on only a few days. The Luddites look to be the A plot, but F’lessan, Tai, and Zaranth figuring out what, exactly, makes the dragons able to use telekinesis on things they’re not carrying looks to be a respectable B plot, as everyone prepares for the eventuality of After.

More next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for July 6th, 2018

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who had a very productive second swing at clearing out the garage and making it more of a garage.)

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

Elizabeth SandiferEruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist


RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

Yamikuronue: Other: Please Specify (previously Raven Wings)

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 grateful for the knowledge that sometimes you just need another body to help you do something, and it goes a lot faster and better than it would have by itself. Or for any other reason, really.

The Skies of Pern: More Perspective Hopping

Last time, we looked at the Benden Weyrleaders contemplating getting old and the Southern Holder being as contemptuous as he could get away with without crossing the line into actual rude.

The Skies of Pern: Part 1: Segments IV and V: Content Notes: Torture References

We flit over to the Healer Hall, where Oldive is studying a virus under a microscope that looks suspiciously like one in the AIVAS files, but doesn’t match up exactly enough to be definitively thus. So now I have to wonder if AIVAS was able to teach the Healers about genetic mutation and the general rule that smaller organisms mutate way faster than bigger ones. There have probably been more than sufficient generations of the virus that you could put them in the same family, but this specific strain is likely new.

Oldive is appreciative of the new headquarters he has at the hall, and the increased number of medics studying under him. Sharra surprises him in a stretch, because according to him, everyone with sense is out at the Gather, and not stuck behind the “triple-plated glass” that gives such a nice view without letting the cold in.

Pern has apparently been taught the secrets to insulating panes and layers of glass. And about mutations, too, at least to a basic knowledge, because Sharra asks as to whether this new virus is one, since the Pathology Records mention the possibility, and it’s been long enough for mutation to take place.

Oldive is noncommittal about the answer, and says that Sharra should be with her husband. Sharra has no interest in being bored with proclamations and petitions, and asks whether they will have an electron microscope to use.

What’s not mentioned is the infrastructure that would be needed to actually use such a thing, and with Pern still not really able to manufacture new computers (at least, last we checked), it looks like that dream will be a long time away. Master Morilton is forever in demand, and we finally learn why the other crafts aren’t getting a whole lot of anything – the Healers have priority, and getting Healer Halls stocked fully is the priority of the Healers. Morilton is considering dedicating an entire Hall to fulfilling the Healer requirements. Both Oldive and Sharra are ready to take a meal break when they hear the sound of breaking glass, and understand they’re the only ones in the Hall to deal with the intruders. First Sharra gets her own fire lizards to harass the unseen intruders, then asks Ruth to summon reinforcement lizards to drive them out. Which they do, into the waiting visages of some very angry dragons, but not before significant damage has been done to their storerooms and labs.

Oldive inquires as to why, and the leader of the group shouts for the need for the Abomination to be halted, a name that gives Sharra some shudders. Eventually, as the riders of the dragons arrive, the group is shouting some decent slogans.

“Tradition must be upheld!” He glared around him, his angular face and burning eyes inciting his followers. “Halt abominations.”
“Turn back to tradition at Turnover!” screeched one of the three women, waving a bloody hand at Ruth, who frowned down at her.
“Our petitions have been ignored!”
“We protest the Abomination!”
“And all its works!”
“Abomination! Abomination!”
Stoically, Sharra and Oldive endured the chanting.
[…Reinforcements for the Healers arrive…]
“Destroy all the Abomination’s devices.”
“Purity for Pern!”
“Turn to Tradition.”
“Avoid abominations!”
[…more reinforcements for the Healers arrive…]
“Abomination away!”
“Restore our tradition!”
“Shut up!” Groghe bellowed, the volume of his voice as intimidating as the powerful runnerbeast he pulled up just short of knocking the leader down. The man rocked back and it was then that Sharra noticed that he, and the rest of his vandals, had the effrontery to be wearing green: not the genuine Healer green but close enough to answer how they had been able to gain access to the Hall.

As a plan goes, it’s good – get colors close enough that you won’t get a second look from the sentries, and then go smash things. And if there aren’t people actually in the Hall, you get away with it and melt back into the crowd.

There’s also a bit there that has parallels to a religious profession of faith in at least the Catholic tradition. At least once a year, instead of reciting a creed, the congregation and priest do it as a question and response. The way it starts (or started, when I was much younger than I am now) was:

“Do you reject Satan?” [“We do.”]
“And all his works?” [“We do.”]
“And all his empty promises?” [“We do.”]

I wouldn’t be surprised if that particular segment about protesting the Abomination and all its works wasn’t inspired by that bit (or its equivalent in other denominations). Seems an appropriate thing to shout at something that you consider is the ultimate evil opposed to your pure traditions.

I’ll also quibble that “Shut up” as a phrase is unlikely to have survived the journey across space and several millennia of a completely different context to have exactly the same meaning. Some form of “Silence!” certainly will, but not that form.

One of the protesters realizes she’s bleeding from a head wound, and the assembled crowd is more than content to let her do so, but Oldive holds true to ethics and patches her up, suggesting that it will require stitches. The Luddites recoil at an “abomination,” but I’m pretty sure wound stitching has been used long before AIVAS. It’s just internal surgery that everyone has been up in arms about.

Thankfully, context arrives in that Oldive’s diagnostics and offer of numbweed are also rejected, with it getting clear that Oldive and the Healers are the “abomination.” Oldive remarks that having given his diagnosis and recommendation, he’s done his job as a Healer, and it’s up to them to accept or reject his suggestions. They reject it, and Oldive moves away. Right afterward, the Healer sent to check on the damage returns with her report.

“The stillroom’s a complete shambles! Every sack, canister, and bottle in the treatment rooms have been emptied, and what they didn’t burn–” She paused in her telling to take a deep breath before she could continue. “–they urinated on!”

This sets the crowd off more, with one going so far as to use his club on a prisoner to beat someone to their knees. Groghe stops things before they get too far, claiming his prerogative as the Lord Holder, before trying to interrogate the group. They have no visible markings, and they’re not talking, so Groghe asks the crowd to help search them. Which they do with a touch more vigor than Groghe wants, and over the protests of the prisoners that they have rights. A holder points out their rights mean precisely nothing in the face of having defied the Lord Holder.

The Healer who gave the damage report, Keita, recognizes one of the group as a person who came for itch cream before, and goes off to see what name was given by the scout. Sebell, who came with the first party of reinforcements, points out the clothing and leathers of the prisoners will get their identities from the merchants they bought them from. Sharra points out that these people aren’t dressed for the party, and that their beasts and saddlebags might provide all sorts of information about them. Which it does, as the beasts were ready for a quick getaway. Possibly to a ship in the harbor. There’s one specific thing in the saddlebags that Groghe takes grim amusement at.

Groghe held up a piece of paper by an edge. “What? You make use of abominations?” he cried, eyes glinting with malice as he turned to the leader. “No less than a map printed by Master Tagetarl’s abominable press. Useful things, abominations!”
Sharra tried not to grin at Groghe’s style; he’d always appeared so pragmatic. Mockery was unusual for him, but today the gatherers loved it.

OOC Is Serious Business, y’all. And while the narrative suggests this is mockery, I think that mockery might be less conscious derision and more incredulity that such a thing would be put to use by those kinds of people. When you stare at rank hypocrisy, one of the first reactions you get is to laugh at it. At least for me, it is. Then you bear down on it.

As the Lords and assembled discover evidence that this Hall was not the only one targeted, the drums rumble in with a message of vandalism at Boll, and injury to Healers, which pisses Groghe off mightily. In retaliation, the prisoners are to be trussed up, sent to a level without lights, given bottled water only, denied contact with anyone else, and the leader delivered to a very specific space for interrogation. Groghe thunders off to Gather requirements, and Oldive, Sebell, Sharra, and the arriving Benden Weyrleaders compare notes about the coordinated attacks, concluding that it’s gone well beyond random attacks to an organized strike. With varying degrees of effectiveness – Tai forestalled a more complete destruction earlier in the book, and Fandarel repelled his invaders. Canon says Tai got “messed about” before her dragon arrived in support, but I’m inclined to believe that even a lightly drunk dragonrider would knock heads unless the assailants were trained fighters. Because trained fighting dragonrider. (Even if the narrative would insist she couldn’t because girl.)

We follow Sebell to the searching of the packs and everyone seems horrified by a bound book where pictures of surgical procedures have been repurposed and re-captioned to make a propaganda volume called Tortures of the Abomination. Sebell thinks of it as amateurish and dismisses it as such in front of Horon, calling it the disinformation campaign that it is. He doesn’t quite seem to solidly get that, without context, the pictures of medical procedures can be quite grisly and ghastly, but he’s at least got an inkling of it so that he can not be seen to be affected by the propaganda.

Sebell sends for someone, who turns out to be the Healer with the surgical specialty, so that he can explain what the pictures and their context actually are, and one of the exuberant holders reports to him that the prisoners are happily naming each other. And so we close out this particular segment…

…and jump back to Landing, where F’lessan is being told he should take a nap after all the excitement. This is how Tai is described:

“I just want to check on Tai. They kicked her around a lot. Persellam said she’d be badly bruised but the gash on her cheek wouldn’t scar.”

Which suggests to me that Tai was ambushed by the vandals in some manner and overpowered that way. I’m still not sure on the how of that, and I’m still waiting to hear the part where she caused plenty of injury herself.

Tai is swimming, described as “a black spot in the sea,” which is regrettably still making her ambiguously brown, in case it’s her hair that’s black and not her skin. F’lessan calls her in to shore, and then we get another thing that doesn’t make sense:

Her body, legs, and arms were covered by bruises. Persellan had done a neat repair of the gash on her right cheekbone.
“What’s wrong, F’lessan?” she asked anxiously, splashing the rest of the way.
“What are you doing?” he demanded, looking but not looking–as was polite–at her long lean figure and her long, lovely legs.

No, I cannot suspend my belief nearly far enough to think that the dragonriders are uncomfortable about naked bodies or have a politeness requirement about such things, and that such a thing has developed over the course of this series. Perhaps in this new world it has always been this way, but it certainly has no precedent in any of the published works before. In fact, I would expect the dragonriders to have the least number of issues with nudity, given that they are likely to encounter each other having dragon-induced sex, and they seem to enjoy communal bathing, especially when the dragons have to be washed and scrubbed. That suddenly it’s polite not to stare, and that it’s a bronze dude doing it for a green rider stains credulity, given the known reputations of both of those rider types and the general lack of evidence that this kind of politeness has come up before. I can imagine this happening if it’s F’lessan trying to get over his reputation and he thinks it a good idea not to actively ogle, but I can’t see that being extended to all the riders.

We finally get to peer in Tai’s head as F’lessan applies numbweed about how things went down. Tai discovered the group, wrestled a crowbar from one of the men, “poked him hard in the groin” and then started laying about her indiscriminately. Apparently, though, it wasn’t enough and Tai might have been seriously injured or killed had one of the vandals completed a swing of his hammer. Like I said, sounds like Tai gave as good as she got. Might have been knocked down and then hit from there, but everyone else had made it sound like she didn’t do a lot of damage to the intruder group.

F’lessan finishes applying the numbweed, makes sure Tai is going home, and then Golanth tells him he’s too loopy from a lack of sleep to go anywhere else but home and to bed, and takes him there. And we jump perspectives again.

This time, it’s a war council composed of Benden and Fort Weyrleaders, Groghe and sons, Jaxom, Sharra, Sebell, and Crivellan, the Healer with the surgical specialty Sebell called earlier. N’ton went to go check and make sure there were no exiles from the last time unaccounted for on their island, which uses the AIVAS date – 2359 – as the time when they were exiled, instead of the Present Pass date, so N’ton seems on board with the new epoch system. Jaxom asks about the ones sentenced to the mines, and so naturally Groghe dismisses the escaped prisoner as likely dead, since he was deaf and not too bright, supposedly.

Lessa wants answers, and now, suddenly, we pick up a thread that hasn’t been used in decades.

However, the ability to sense people’s thoughts–and sometimes cloud their perceptions with the strength of her mind–could be useful in extracting or confirming truths. Aivas had said she was as much a telepath as any of the dragons. [Her weyrmate] had called it “leaning on people,” though she had never been able to cloud his mind. Still, though it was an enervating process and one she disliked being required to use, she had leaned on people to advantage on a number of occasions. Tonight would probably be another.

Oh, look, Lessa’s got her psi powers back, as if the author had never buried them in an attempt to make the series much more of a straight fantasy before reintroducing the science fiction elements.

Also, “had never clouded his mind” is bullshit. The Benden Weyrleader did not take one look at her and realize she’s the lost heir, rather than a drudge not worth noticing. He has been consistently able to feel when Lessa is deploying her power (and beat her for it when she did), but he did not pierce her disguise. We are supposed to believe that he has since been encouraging her to use the power rather than dissuading her more. It’s an evolution that can happen, but it needs more than author fiat to be believable.

The war council takes stock of the damage and all the locations that were hit with attempts, and all agree that these were not random attacks, before asking Groghe about what information he collected from his batch of prisoners. Their fears and only having bottled water available for them in the mood for talking. Groghe says “No real discipline in the bunch,” and “harrumphed at such moral weakness before he went on,” which is a pretty shit thing to do. Of course, he’s not the one being tortured so he can continue secure in his untested belief that he could withstand such things.

The running thread through everyone that’s been caught is that they all have a grievance against Healers for not fixing their ailments or because family members died of disease. Nobody knows yet who the leader of these groups are. There’s some discussion about how rumor and negative ideas can spread easily and be very hard to combat, before Haligon suggests using the Runner corps as a vehicle to listen and be listened to about this situation and hopefully provide, warning, a way of combating propaganda, or both. That suggestion is adopted by the table. Likely Haligon will ask Tenna to spread the word.

Then they call for Batim, the leader of the group that smashed up the Healer Hall HQ, and try to get information out of him. Batim says very little but to demand his rights. The Benden Weyrleader casually threatens to leave Batim in hyperspace, and then Lessa casually mentions that they could trace messages back through the Runner network, find out from traders where they sold enough green to clothe a lot of people, and then starts naming places as potentially liable until she gets a reaction from him to confirm where he got his orders from. Without having said anything, Batim is providing enough clues that the council is satisfied, and Groghe orders Haligon to take Batim away.

Whereupon we get yet another place where the Charter and case law have supposedly fallen down – the treatment of prisoners.

“I have rights! Chartered rights! You’re all so big about that blinding Charter of yours,” Batim cried hoarsely as Haligon called the guard in. The prisoner made a frantic surge toward the table but was thwarted by the quick-footed Haligon. Struggling, Batim reached straining fingers toward the glasses. “Water. I’ve had no water all day.”
“Actually,” Lessa said in a cold voice, “the Charter does not cite water in the list of rights.”
“But it has to!”

I’m quite sure it doesn’t. It should, but it doesn’t. That said, as genesistrine pointed out in earlier Charter discussions, it also forbids corporal punishment. There is probably a solid legal argument that denying someone light and water constitutes corporal punishment. (They might be able to weasel around the water part by suggesting that the bottled water is sufficient for that obligation, and that prisoners are free to imbibe or not as they choose.)

As would dropping someone off in hyperspace. Crivellan is horrified that the Benden Weyrleader suggested such a thing. N’ton points out that it is a convincing threat, but it’s empty because dragons don’t hurt people. Which is not common knowledge in any way, and as far as I know, a trained dragon and rider probably could leave someone behind if the rider really willed it to happen. It was used to get Batim mentally off-balance. Knowing that, Crivellan immediately apologizes for doubting the methods. I suppose it’s no more dirty than police officers making empty but convincing threats to get suspects to talk, and there’s plenty of case law here on Terra that allows police to flat-out lie to someone if it gets that person to tell the truth about crimes committed. Which is to say it’s a terrible dirty trick and should be deplored, but it’s probably not forbidden in the Charter to lie to someone else.

Pern needs the equivalent of the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions on Torture, and a whole lot of other laws that would be applicable planet-wide, and it needed them in the actual Charter.

What Lessa pulled from Batim’s mind was mostly him trying to get psyched up for the torture he was sure would happen to get him to talk.

“The very idea!” Master Crivellan was appalled.
“Someone like Batim would probably enjoy being tortured,” Jaxom remarked.”
“Jaxom!” Sharra exclaimed.
“He’s right, you know,” Lessa said. “Don’t deny that you would have liked to help, considering how distressed Master Oldive was.”
Then I would have,” Sharra replied candidly, “not now. I’m sorry they don’t know better.”

…not wrong, Jaxom. Batim probably would use it as fuel to make himself into a martyr. He probably is using what is already being done to him for that purpose.

The assembled have small recriminations about how they’re not really paying attention to how progress is being received, but they mostly just blame it on the people being too stupid to understand the benefits of what’s happened and willing to believe easy lies over hard truths. They lack understanding, and so the plot can continue.

Inquiries are set up to trace people and goods, and Groghe demands exile for his prisoners. This provides a little more illumination as to how the process works…

Crivellan jumped at the crack of fist on wood. “I thought that required a trial and jury,” he said, surprised.
Groghe gestured to include those present. “Masters, Weyrleaders, and Lord Holders. Adequate judges. The vandals were caught in the act. Plenty of people saw what they did. Destroyed valuable property, depriving others of medicines and services. […]”

…but it’s still going to be a kangaroo court. Groghe bullies Crivellan into going along with the idea by saying the Healer Hall needs to make a statement about how you can’t attack them with impunity.

In any actual adversarial process with a presumption of innocence, the torture already underwent by the prisoners would probably be enough to exonerate them, or at the very least have a significant amount of evidence and testimony thrown out as fruit of a poisoned tree. There might be enough impartial witnesses to make a proper case, but Groghe and his sons and any of the parties to the treatment of the prisoners would not be accepted.

Decisions made, the war council breaks apart, and we finally get to the end of the first day of this particular part.

Tomorrow, it’s Haligon and the Runners, and now we know why we stopped off at Runner of Pern first.