Monthly Archives: May 2019

Deconstruction Roundup for May 31st, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, whose school visits start tomorrow.)

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 Sandifer: Eruditorium 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 entirely aggravated at getting stuck on the day before the dress rehearsal. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragonsblood: Flying the Nest

Well, we’ve made it this far. There’s still six books to go that we know of before we reach the end of the line.

This book is solely the product of Todd McCaffrey, or so the blazon proclaims.

Dragonsblood, Introduction and Chapter One: Content Notes:

If we turn to the Introduction, written by his mother, though, after proclaiming that Todd had quite the pedigree of writers and that he’s also accomplished in his own right without having to rely on that pedigree, it mentions there were conflicts between them about the story and that she made him go through her regular beta readers to make sure the canon and the style started true. She feels he did the job admirably, and shows us “another point of view about Pern.” One, of course, that hews to what Anne thinks about Pern, because, well…

You see, I’ve always been paranoid about people writing in my world. If you’d seen some of the lovingly but inaccurately written stories I’ve seen, including a film script that had me cringing in fear that it would be produced, you’d understand how I feel about having my literary child misrepresented.

You don’t say. Much like another Anne who accused her fans of “interrogating the text from the wrong perspective”, it would be an understatement to say that Anne McCaffrey hated fanfic.

It’s taken us a while, but now we finally have a textual excuse for all that extratextual material I’ve been trying to avoid, and will continue to avoid where possible, as justifications for why Pern is the way it is. I still think it’s a mark of poor storytelling if people have to use your outside-the-text conversations and statements to make your text make sense and see where you’re coming from.

There were some authorized outlets where people could play characters on Pern without litigious threats, but those spaces had to obey her very tight rules about setting, sexual orientation, and many other things, to continue to exist, and her lawyers were not above sending cease and desist letters to teenagers that strayed from the path. Among other things. And while it looks like she’s mellowed out some by the time this introduction is written, you can still see the white-knuckle pearl-clutching at work, so much so that even her son had to follow the rules to be able to write in the world.

Based on this alone, I don’t expect things to be different with a new author at the helm, writing supposedly solo. Let’s begin.

Red Star at night:
Firestone dig,
Harness, rig
Dragons take flight.

(Fort Weyr, at the end of the Second Interval, After Landing, 507.)

Chronologically, we’ve moved forward in Pern time, rather than back, so we’ve jumped up past the flu that killed the humans. But we’re still feeling the effects of something, as the new Fort Weyrleader, K’lior, is concerned about not having enough dragons to fight Thread.


is still Weyrleader at Telgar, despite everything we saw him do and all the reasons his Weyr could have invoked to have thrown him out by now. And while he has enough supplies, and full tithes, he’s not sharing with anyone. Well, he could share, but then C’rion suggests it’ll all be bronzes so that D’gan doesn’t have to compete as much on the next mating fight and that pisses D’gan off enough that he storms out. M’tal chides C’rion for antagonizing D’gan, and the two haggle a bit about getting personnel in the right place, where it turns out C’rion wants to shift J’trel over to Benden so as to help them with Search…and to get over the loss of his partner.

“But he’s not a scoundrel. And it’s no lie that his blue has an eye for good riders, especially the women.”
“Which is odd, considering his own preferences,” M’tal remarked.
“Well, you know blues,” C’rion agreed diffidently. As blue dragons mated with green dragons, and both were ridden by male riders, the riders themselves tended to be the sort who could accommodate the dragons’ amorous arrangements.
“And you want to get him away from Ista so he can forget about K’nad,” M’tal surmised. K’nad and J’trel had been partners for over twenty Turns.

And that leads into realizations of just how old both Weyrleaders are, too.

I have to note that this book was published before Dragon Harper by a couple years, so this idea of saying that blue and green riders are generally gay without insisting they are exclusively so was already on pace by the time we get to that book. New knowledge. I also wonder if this is one of the things that got fought over.

The fruit that turns out to be vital in saving everyone from the plague gets mentioned here in the future time, too, and J’trel specifically as the person who brings the fruit and knows where it is, which might have caused a recordscratch about how Kindan knows this, but it’s entirely possible I just wasn’t paying attention in the right spots rather than this being an instance where a character knows something they shouldn’t.

We shuffle over to who is likely to be our main character, Lorana, trying to sketch a bug with one hand and keep it pinned down with another. Which works until she has to wipe away sweat, and then the bug burrows away.

Lorana has two fire-lizards, Grenn (a brown) and Garth (a gold), and gets regular visits from J’trel. Who is late to picking her up, but she shows him her sketches of the “scatids,” pointing out a variation between the ones in the north and the ones in the south. J’trel times it ever so slightly to make sure Lorana gets in the ship she’s supposed to on time, but there’s something worrying about Talith.

As the blue dragon became airborne, he gave a soft cough.
Lorana looked at J’trel with her brows raised. “I don’t recall him coughing like that before.”
J’trel waved a hand. “He’s old. Sometimes a thick lungful of air makes a dragon cough. His lungs aren’t like they used to be.”
“Do dragons cough often?” Lorana asked, with natural curiosity–her father had been a beastmaster and had even tended people in emergencies, and she had learned much of his craft.
J’trel shrugged. “Dragons are very healthy. Sometimes they seem to get a bit of a bug, and sometimes a cough.” He made a throwaway gesture, saying, “It doesn’t last long.”
“What about the Plague?” Lorana asked with a faint shudder.
“The Plague affected people, not dragons, and the dragonriders were careful to keep safe.” J’trel’s face took on a clouded look. “Some say we were too careful.”

So dragons do get sick as well as injured. (I wonder if this was a thing that got fought about.) And it’s useful to have already traced the Plague all the way through to know what had happened then.

There’s a quick explanation of how they time-traveled to be sure Lorana could get where she needed to go on time, and how being in two places at the same time can be exhausting or irritating or both to dragon, rider, and any passengers along for the ride. And, because it might be the first time someone is looking at Pern, there’s an explanation of how paradox is avoided in the timeline: every time travel incident is a Stable Time Loop. Everything that will happen has already happened. Or as J’trel puts it:

“You can’t alter the past,” he told her. “As long as it never happened in the past, it never can happen in the past.”
“Why not?”
It cannot be done, Talith said. A dragon cannot go to a place that is not.
Lorana looked puzzled.
“I tried once,” J’trel said, shaking his head at some sad memory. “I couldn’t picture the destination in my mind.”
It is like trying to fly through rock, Talith added.
“I wanted to go back to when my mother was still alive,” J’trel said. “I wanted her to see that I’d Impressed, that I’d become a dragonrider. I thought I could make her happy.” He shook his head. “But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see her and the place clearly enough in my mind to give Talith the image.”
You had not done it, so you could not, Talith explained with draconic logic.
Lorana shook her head, mystified. “Maybe if I think about it long enough, it’ll make sense,” she said[…]

That characterizes this like it’s a failure of imagination that’s keeping the dragonriders from ripping through time and doing things that aren’t in the predestined Stable Time Loop. And frankly, that’s weird, because portraits and drawings and tapestries are very clearly part of Pern, and available to a lot of people. If J’trel had a portrait reference of the right time period, even if it wasn’t the right place, he could presumably do the time warp and then fly to the right place to find his mother once he knew where in the past he had landed. If it’s really solely a problem of not having an appropriate picture, then it really isn’t a problem at all, given how in the very first book of the series, a four hundred year-old tapestry was sufficiently detailed that someone could use the picture on the tapestry as their reference point. (Presumably not the tapestry itself, although being able to picture it hanging in a place where Lessa knew it would be hanging might have also been good enough for some sort of temporal hop.)

There’s a possibility that envisioning something that you saw would cause you to telefrag your younger self by appearing in the same place, but Lessa already proved that didn’t happen, and dragonriders presumably get the same image from others when they are warping through hyperspace, but the dragons seem to be able to sort themselves and their riders out so that everyone isn’t trying to appear in the same space-time coordinate. So that’s not it, either.

So what is actually keeping the dragons in check, other than narrative fiat? And, as usual, what happens on the first go-round, when someone isn’t already back in time to right the wrong or otherwise create the timeline that will save someone from a particular issue?

Does anybody in SF ever really provide a good answer to these questions?

But we should keep an eye on that cough from Talith, as the narrative spins back to how J’trel and Lorana met.

It turns out that Lorana had kept her brown fire-lizard from taking a one-way trip to hyperspace after he suffered a serious wing fracture, and that has J’trel’s curiosity, given that the fire-lizards usually vanish themselves when injured that badly. He inspects Lorana’s work at setting and splinting, says there’s a good chance the fire-lizard will live, and offers to take Lorana and her fair down to the southern continent (although not named as such) to rest and recover. Halfway through the month it took to recover, J’trel is fascinated by Lorana’s drawing skill, she tells him about how the skill was developed and encouraged by her father after they held off a mob that was convinced they’d brought the Plague with them. In return, J’trel let’s on that he doesn’t feel like he belongs, either, because he’s old, he’s not the best fighter, and the partner he loved is dead. He didn’t have a plan after informing the family, but now he’s glad because he’s pretty sure he’s met a future Weyrwoman.

“I’ve never met a woman more fit to lead a Weyr.”
“Lead a Weyr?” Lorana repeated aghast. “Weyrwoman? Me? No, no–I–”
“You’ve more talent than I’ve ever seen,” J’trel told her. “Half the Istan riders of the past thirty Turns were searched by me and Talith.”
He smiled briefly in pride. “And you can talk to any dragon!” he exclaimed.
Lorana crinkled her forehead in confusion. “What makes you say that?” she asked. “I’ve only talked with Talith.”
“While it’s true that a dragon can talk to anyone he chooses, only riders bonded to a dragon can address one–and usually only their own. No rider can talk to another dragon unless he can hear all dragons. Do you know how few can do that?”
Lorana could only shake her head.
“Torene is the only one I can think of,” J’trel said. “And I don’t think she has your way with them. It’s more like you feel than talk to them.”
“You don’t?” Lorana asked in surprise. She looked out to Talith and smiled fondly at the blue. “I’m sorry, I–”
“Lass, when are you going to stop apologizing for your gifts?” J’trel interrupted her gently.

Oh, I don’t know, maybe when your society stops being a patriarchal hellscape. J’trel is a privileged man asking why a woman isn’t using her skills to the fullest. Has he noticed at all how women are treated outside of the Weyr? Has he paid any attention at all to how the Weyrwoman gets treated in the Weyr? I’ll bet he hasn’t, because nobody would want to risk the patriarchal wrath of misbehaving around dragonriders. Plus, although it’s in the future compared to here, Aramina showed us why that talent isn’t necessarily one to flaunt everywhere.

The narrative, however, prefers to say that this feeling of not feeling like you have a purpose in life a symptom of the “deep shock” that came from the utter destruction of the population during the plague and that Pern is suffering survivor’s guilt on a planet-wide basis. But no, Pern doesn’t need therapists, and is steadfastly refusing to reinvent them in the face of the multiple planet-wide disasters that ravage the planet regularly, both scheduled and unscheduled.

J’trel gives Lorana the possible purpose of drawing all the creatures in Pern, and they have a laugh about the recovered Grenn having a less successful first flight because it’s too fat to fly from all the eating and loungng it’s been doing while healing. At least it’s not being fatpohobic about a human. Which is a pretty low bar to clear.

Coming back to the present, there’s some gawking over the drawings that Lorana can produce versus a superstition that has no real business being on Pern about women in ships being bad luck for the sailors. The captain points out it’s supposed to be a short shakedown run and takes Lorana on as Healer to see whether or not this ship can deliver on the promise of being a ship that can run between holds in the intervals between Threadfalls during a Pass.

Which goes smoothly and the chapter ends with J’trel very certain that Lorana will end up as a Weyrwoman, perhaps Pern’s finest.

Nothing like expectations. And also the strong possibility that J’trel might interfere as much as possible to get the result he wants.

As a first chapter, it’s a little weird, honestly. There’s not a lot of foreshadowing, and I guess that Lorana’s ability to draw is going to be the gun on the mantelpiece, unless it’s her ability to talk to all the dragons.

Right now, the narrative seems a bit lost, like the characters claim to be. We got some useful attempts at worldbuilding, and we got to know how these characters met, but I don’t know that anything very specifically contributed to plot in this chapter.

Which makes me worry that the editoral immunity that the first author had got extended to the new one, because the first author was being a helicopter parent with regard to this book.

Well, maybe the plot will work better next week?

Deconstruction Roundup for May 24th, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is only a week away from performance.)

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

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 dealing with the realities involved in having a radioactive cat for a little while. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon Harper: Actually Moving Forward

[Mari Ness defends Kylara in this week’s post, and does a solid job of showing all the ways that Kylara gets screwed over by the narrative and the society that she lives in. Both Kylara and Brekke can be tragic victims of the society and the narrative. They do not have to compete.]

Last time was a lot of disease porn and unnecessary deaths. And Kindan working miracles to keep people alive, which finally meets Lord Bemin’s standards of “good enough to date my daughter”, long after his daughter is dead.

Dragon Harper, Chapters 15 and 16: Content Notes: Jumping up and down on someone’s trauma triggers,

Rider, dragon, tried and true
All life’s hope now lives with you
Dragon, rider, work and toil
Save the earth, save the soil.

Chapter 15 opens with more advancing of the time-travel plot by having the wing that got drilled in recognition points dispatched to other Weyrs to act as guides to find the smaller holds in their lands and distribute supplies or note their deaths. M’tal is worried whether everyone will be fine, and C’rion points out that if something terrible happened in this mission, the people who are here now wouldn’t be here, because people who die in the past wouldn’t exist in the present. Everyone agrees that the Timey-Wimey Ball is still a bad idea to try and explain or understand, but they are concerned that they can’t strip fruit forever.

The narrative spins back to Kindan, who wants to study Lenner’s notes, and is told that he can have one of the rooms upstairs. Which turns out to be Koriana’s room, specifically chosen for him by Lord Bemin to work in.

And Kindan is apparently supposed to just get on with this work in the room of the girl he loved, with all of the reminders of her around, and the fact that she hasn’t been dead all that long?

“Inconsiderate asshole” is the least foul thing I can say about Bemin.

As Kindan works through the notes, he stays to cry (and say that’s a bad idea because it will run the ink), and falls asleep at the desk. Bemin finds him, gets him out of his dirty clothes and puts him to bed, where Kindan has dreams of Koriana, and also the cruelty of waking up to a world without her. Bemin talks frank logistics with Kindan about keeping the place alive by having enough hale bodies to actually do the work. Kindan takes it as a compliment (“treating me like a son”) and then sets to the task of bathing and clothing himself. And there’s another useful nugget of information that would have been much more useful to be put earlier in the story, or even to make something interesting out of it, or to provide context as to why Koriana was always at loggerheads with her parents.

“Bannor was much bigger than you, but Koriana liked to dress man-style whenever she could, so I thought you might fit in her clothes.”

He does. (“nearly a good fit on him.”)

And also, why wasn’t this talked about more? Koriana seemed perfectly okay with letting her opinions be known, and she spent significant time with the Harpers, and yet we didn’t hear anything about how she hated dresses. Or that she didn’t dress in dresses when she was around the Harpers, and they thought it a good idea because she was an active person. We don’t know why Koriana liked dressing man-style. Did she do it for greater freedom of movement? Because it would piss off Lady Sannora? Because Koriana really wanted to be one of the guys, since they got all the privileges and fun? Because we and the narrative have been misgendering Koriana the entire novel and nobody, save perhaps Kindan, would ever know? Why does Koriana like dressing masc? Alas, we won’t know, because this comes out only after Koriana is dead and can’t tell anyone.

The plot doesn’t spend any time on this, but gets back to Kindan going over Lenner’s notes and piecing together what the likely course of infection-to-symptoms-to-death (or recovery) is and how long each phase is likely to take, and after a short conversation with Kelsa and Verilan, Kindan asks Valla to go get J’trel for an in-person conference where Kindan can detail a plan to save people, at the risk of the dragonriders. What’s the plan?

That’s chapter 16.

Step by step
Moment by moment
We live through
Another day.

Which is essentially what Vaxoram told Kindan, and then Kindan took up as a rallying cry after Vaxoram ran out of days.

Kindan’s plan is solid – wait until everyone is sure there have been no new cases of flu, wait three weeks after that and then send in the dragons and their riders to help make the Holds run again. Thirty dragonriders and dragons together can do a lot of the work of other people. Only one Weyrleader actually hears the plan, M’tal, but because it’s a good one, every Hold gets help from the Weyrs surrounding. And there’s a lot of work to be done, cleaning out and clearing out and the reality of “Three large mounds outside the Healer Hall were covered with fresh earth, waiting for spring to cover them with green.”
The Harper Hall’s Headwoman, Selora, survived, which is a huge boon to standing the place back up. She’s the only one not a young apprentice that did, so recalls are out to the Harpers that survived to come back and take up teaching positions. As it turns out, based on seniority, Zist is to become the new Masterharper as the oldest surviving Harper.

Selora sends all of the outcasts to the Archives, and Kindan suggests Verilan lead the recovery efforts, based on his familiarity. Verilan takes it up with a vengeance and organizes several squadrons of apprentices to sort and refile, then start recopying damaged records as they are discovered.

Kindan gets pulled from the task by a single drum message: Report. Despite not actually saying who he wants, everyone in the Archives insists that Zist is calling for his apprentice from the mines, so Kindan needs to get there on the double.

They’re right, and Zist is annoyed that Kindan hasn’t got a full report ready for him yet, so that is what Kindan gets to do in front of Zist for several hours, write the whole affair down. Tears spring to his eyes as he writes about the last days of Vaxoram, and it turns out Zist has been reading the report as Kindan has produced each page.

He was surprised a moment later when behind him Master Zist snorted and exclaimed, “You’ve a long ways to go before you’re a Master, what do you mean making Vaxoram a journeyman?”
Kindan turned to respond hotly. “Vaxoram earned the right. For all I knew, I was the last Harper on Pern.” His voice cooled as tears filled his eyes once more. “It was all he wanted.”
” ‘Want’ is not all that makes a journeyman,” Zist replied acerbically. In a softer tone, he added, “But Journeyman Vaxoram had earned the right.” He gave Kindan a firm nod. “And so the Records will show.”

Zist then calls for the Songmaster to report, and asks Kindan who will show up. Kelsa, he replies, because she’s the best, and she does. Zist tells her to take Kindan’s report and her knowledge of the events of the plague and turn it into a song, to be premiered tonight, after giving her a little grief about whether she actually holds the title (and is told, although he already knows, that the Master is dead).

Zist calls for the Voicemaster and asks Kindan who will show up. Nonala, he says, because she’s the best. And she does. Zist tells her that she’s going to premiere the song that Kelsa is writing right now. She demands her choice of singers, after proving she the right person for the job by calling Kindan’s voice “passable at best,” even when he wasn’t suffering from puberty.

We find out that Dalor is in charge at Camp Natalon, because Natalon and his wife also died of the plague, as did everyone between seventeen and twenty-one. Nuella is fine, as are Zenor and Renna. And Jofri is being summoned back to be Zist’s second in command.

Zist calls one more time, for the Archivist, and Kindan tells him Verilan will show up.

“He should be been made journeyman long ago, but he’s too young.”
“Age is not my concern,” Zist replied. “Experience and maturity are what counts.”

Verilan shows up, proclaims the Archives will be restored by the evening, and is unperturbed at Zist giving him grief about being just an apprentice and claiming to be the Archivist. Zist charges Verilan and the scribes with copying out Kindan’s report for every hold, major and minor, and with copying Kelsa’s song, for similar distribution, and it all has to be done by dusk. Verilan nods and sets to it without a word.

After that’s done, Zist sends Kindan to the kitchen with a message that there’s a new song tonight. Which means Kindan ends up being sous chef for Selora, conveniently keeping him out of the way of everything while the others work. When he and the others finish, they are sent back to change, and there are new clothes in the right hue for all of them to change into. Everyone finds the clothing a little rough around the edges, especially with the apprentice rank marks just tacked on.

It’s not until the group arrives at the dining hall and sees a very large crowd of dignitaries that they start to suspect something is up and this is not the usual dinner. It turns out this is a promotion dinner. Kelsa is called first, promoted to Journeyman as Songmaster. Then, when all are seated, Nonala is called and promoted up as Voicemaster. Then Verilan, as Archivist, although he believes it should be Kindan at the table. Kindan reminds him that he’s lucky to be here at all, considering he’s still officially banished, since nobody has promulgated any sort of reversal of that ban, and then helps him get to his Journeyman table.

After the food, Zist rises again.

“It is the rule of the Harper Hall that a person cannot be promoted until they’ve eaten one meal in their present rank,” Zist said. There was a gasp from all the apprentices and journeymen as these words registered amongst them.
Jofri rose beside Zist and they walked over to the journeymen’s table.
“Journeyman Verilan,” Jofri said soberly, “please rise.”
“Me?” Verilan squeaked. “No, it should be Kindan.”
“Get up, Verilan,” Kelsa commanded him. “Get up, or we’ll lift you.”
Reluctantly Verilan rose.
[…only one other has done this feat, Murenny, and Verilan is the youngest Master on record, we are told. Then, it’s time for Nonala and choir to sing the song Kelsa composed from Kindan’s report. It’s called “Kindan’s Song.”…]
Step by step
Moment by moment
We live through
Another day.

Fever consumes us
Death surrounds us
Still we succeed through
Another day.

That’s at least what we get to hear of it, anyway, as Kindan is lost in the grief and memory of what happened. Until he realizes the song’s been done for a while, and there are people standing behind him. M’tal and Bemin escort Kindan, as “Step by step, moment by moment, Kindan walked the tables.”

So he gets his promotion after all. (As well he should after all of this. If the Harpers didn’t take him, I think the Healers would promote him based on field experience alone.)

And, for the less than a page epilogue, it’s mostly “M’tal made good on his promise to take Kindan as Weyr Harper for Benden.” And one last rhyme:

Harper in your garments blue
Sing a song of tales quite true
Harper with your drum so loud
You make us all feel quite proud.

Which is entirely a pack of lies, based just on this book, but even more so based on the other books in this series. And in other series, too. It’s supposed to be a moment of triumph, but it’s just one more lie.

There is, at the end, authors’ notes in case we didn’t believe that influenza can do all of the damage it did, talking about pandemics happening every three to five years, and explaining that during the flu outbreak in 1918 CE, the immune systems of eighteen to twenty-one year olds were so aggressive at combating the flu that they would attack the lungs of the person infected, causing a death by drowning. Which is why this particular flu on Pern strikes that same population so devastatingly.

I still have questions, though, about epidemiology and Pern and how they keep managing not to notice that clustering people together tends to have bad effects on the population’s health. Because Thread forces this. Or would, were it not for dragons, but there seems to be a tacit agreement that the dragons don’t protect everything. Given what Thread does where it burrows, though, it seems way more likely that the dragons really do protect everywhere where Thread comes in viably hot, because they don’t want to deal with the devastation afterward.

Or they keep forgetting things like vaccinations and they somehow manage not to transmit all the data they need to between generations, or if they do, nobody has actually indexed any of it so that when a pandemic breaks out, they can just consult and go “I need the Records of Lemos Hold, volume four, and the Masterhealer’s Treatment Manual for flu.” It makes for less dramatic storytelling, sure, but presumably, the Pernese have always had the history of Terra and the other worlds the colonists came from, and so this should not be new knowledge in any sort of way, even if the colonists wanted to jettison a lot of the knowledge they had accumulated in their own worlds. Epidemics like this result in lost lives, sure, but why do they also always seem to result in lost knowledge, too?

Also, now that we’re at the end, it seems like almost all of the chapter starts from this book, once we get past the hatching, are likely excerpts from the song Kelsa wrote for Kindan. Maybe they could be arranged in some sort of coherent order to get an idea of how it worked.

We’ve landed at a stopping point for this series, having followed the Harper’s path to this point. Next week, we’ll spin the clock back again and pick up the other strand of the narrative to come, this one involving dragonriders rather than miners and harpers. This is also a solely-Todd affair, so no more hiding behind the other author (if such a thing happened.)

Dragonsblood starts next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for May 17th, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who welcomed an old colleague to a new location 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

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

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 very concerned about the financial situation you are rapidly descending into, with your eyes open. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon Harper: Disease Porn

Last time, plague came everywhere. Kindan was still trying to accomplish his goal of discovering causes and how to beat it, but everyone stood in his way, and in a conflict with Vaxoram about what was important to look for, Kindan ended up starting a fire that got him and Vaxoram banished from the Harper Hall by Resler, the archivist. Now at Fort Hold, Kindan and Vaxoram have become nurses to a hospital and likely infected themselves.

Dragon Harper: Chapters 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14: Content Notes: Unnecessary Character Deaths,

Here’s Chapter 11’s poem, for all the good it will do:

For fever, you take feverfew
For pains, take you fellis too
For vomiting, keep your stomach free
Fur flu, let your eating be.

After where we left off in Chapter 10, it’s disaster porn, essentially. Time stops having meaning, and everyone is working as much as they can, only stopping to rest when they absolutely have to. This goes on for a while, so here are the highlights:

  • Kindan, early on, figures out how to take a temperature of a person without touching them and risking exposure – using a moodstone and interpreting the colors. He sends the request to Benden to see if they can put something together that will let them touch moodstone to a person’s forehead.
  • Everyone in Bemin’s family gets sick. Everyone but Bemin and toddler Fiona dies. Yes, Koriana gets killed from the plague, because otherwise it wouldn’t be tragic enough. A mass grave is dug in the ancestor garden of Fort Hold to hold all the bodies.

  • All the Masters of the Harper Hall die. So does Master Lenner.

    Kelsa invents the double question mark as a drum code rhythm asking for more information.

  • Kindan gets sick. Lord Bemin nurses him back from the worst of it, but he’s down for three days. Kilti dies in those days, leaving Kindan basically in charge of the healing effort. After these deaths, Kindan hits upon the idea of using a mask to cover the faces of infected and carers alike so as to stop the spread of the disease any more than it already is. (Based on a parachute design and a fever dream where said parachute covered the correct places.)
  • Vaxoram gets sick. He won’t recover. We learn shortly before he dies that Nonala is the one he was in love with (damn it, stop queerbaiting, Pern, although Bury Your Gays is not any better) and Kindan engineers a ceremony of sorts where Vaxoram walks a table to become a journeyman, with Bemin swearing that Kindan’s a Master to get him to do it.

Chapter 12:

Harper mourn,
Holder cry,
Every turn,
Till tears run dry.

  • The masks arrive to try and put an end to the disease cycle. There a short discussion of who was most susceptible, and a two-pronged plan to clear out the dead and concentrate the living in the hospital goes into effect. Kindan gets a boost of encouragement (and gets called a healer) from Fiona’s apparent recovery, and a large bout of thanks from women running the kitchen for his effective work at keeping up hope and at treating the sick.
  • After Koriana dies (and Bemin keeps Kindan from committing his own death by kissing her goodbye), he realizes that he can have dragons and their riders airdrop more than just moodpaste and masks, but they can actually drop in useful supplies of food to feed the sick, now that everyone’s stores are basically out.

Chapter 13:

Healer with your craft so sure,
Sickness we can all endure,
Use your skill and healing notions,
To save us with your salves and potions.

Chapter 13 starts with Kelsa having to take porridge from Conar. It tastes terrible, but it’s the only thing not moldy that he could find, and the two of them are doing their best to keep each other healthy and recovered. Kindan’s message rolls in off his drums to tell J’trel to get fresh fruit from south of Ista. J’trel relays that to J’lantir, and the time travel plot relayed at the beginning of the book finally comes full-circle, as the dragonriders harvest fruits from the South to them airdrop over Holds and keep the survivors alive, while carefully keeping that knowledge compartmentalized so as not to cause a time paradox where someone knows something they shouldn’t at the wrong time. Despite a significantly tight window for all the requisite time travel, fellis leaves and fruits drop in right on schedule, giving hope and sustenance to everyone at Fort.

Chapter 14 picks up immediately after the drops.

What is this I see
I cannot believe my eyes
Fresh fruit and new hope
Floating in the skies.

Kindan, now Healer Kindan to everyone around, says he needs to mount an expedition to the Harper Hall and check on everyone there. We learn a little more solidly about the flu symptoms (people seem to be coughing their lungs out, and it hit the most healthy people harder because of that. Is that a sign of tuberculosis there?) before he sets out. Bemin tries hard to talk Kindan out of going, saying that the progress that’s been made so far is all his credit.

“If we survive here, at this Hold and the Hall, it will be only because of you,” Bemin said. He glanced down, seeing the top of Kindan’s head. “Survive and you can have anything you ask for.”
Surprised, Kindan looked up at the Lord Holder. “You know what I wanted most on Pern.”
A ghost of a smile crossed Bemin’s lips. “No man would have been prouder than I to have you call him ‘Father.’ “

That’s what you say now, after Kindan’s love already died, after you’ve lost your family, and after Kindan has done more than anyone should have to with keeping your Hold alive. You damn well better lie to him about how proud you always have been of him, because you need him. If this hadn’t happened, you would never have given Kindan the time of day, much less your assent to Koriana partnering with him. Kindan calls him on this right before they see the entryway to the Harper Hall.

“We’ll send in a party as soon as we can,” Bemin promised.
“No, we’ll do it, our duty as harpers,” Kindan replied.
“No, as Lord Holder, I am telling you that Fort will do it,” Bemin told him forcefully. In a softer voice he added, “It’s my choice and our honor.”
“I thought you didn’t trust harpers,” Kindan snapped back before he thought about what he was saying. He instantly regretted it but Bemin laughed and waved it aside.
“You’re right: I didn’t trust harpers,” Bemin agreed. He nodded down to Kindan. “But now that you’ve produced fruit from the sky, I’ve had to revise my thinking.”

So all it took was a fucking miracle, and suddenly you’re on board, Bemin? Well, a miracle, Koriana dying, the rest of his family, save a young daughter dying, and seeing a lot of people dying without his leave to do so. It’s pretty clear where your standards are for Kindan.

The last part of this chapter is Kindan finding Druri, J’trel, Kelsa, Verilan, and Nonala alive and bundling them all off to the Weyr. Conar didn’t make it. Kindan also grabs Lenner’s notes, which were entrusted to Verilan, and might have some significance in making the plague lessen. And also, Kindan delivers the bad news.

He heard a noise from Nonala’s bed and saw her looking at him entreatingly. He turned to her and grabbed her hand.
‘It’s all right, help’s here,” he told her.
Her lips were dry and her throat parched. She beckoned him close enough to whisper, “Vaxoram?”
“Journeyman Vaxoram didn’t make it,” Kindan told her with a shake of his head, tears filling his eyes.
Nonala closed her eyes and turned away. Then she turned back and opened them again. “Journeyman?”
“He walked the tables,” Kindan told her. Her eyes widened. “He said that maybe then he’d be worthy. He said he loved you.”
Nonala moaned and turned away again.

And it seems entirely crass of me to point this out at this particular time, but this is a textbook case of telling without showing. Unless we’re supposed to believe Kindan is so wrapped up in himself that he didn’t notice the affection between the two of them, but also the whole duel sparked off because Vaxoram was making a rude joke about Kindan and Nonala. And we haven’t had any further anything about a developing relationship at all, because the narrative has prioritized everything else but showing us this until after Vaxoram was guaranteed to die. It’s terrible.

But that’s also the end of the chapter, so we can stop here and pick up next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for May 10th, 2019

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who seems to be running a bit drier on the mojo 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.

Ana Mardoll: Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings

Elizabeth Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jen A. Blue

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 having the kind of week that might be terrible for your mental health, but only in subtle ways. Or for any other reason, really.