Dragonsblood: A Compound Tragedy

Last time, Kindan and Lorana continued to prove they should have apprenticed to the Healers, while Tullea continued to show signs of being time-split without anyone putting two and three together, and the dragonriders continued to scramble to try and put together enough dragons to successfully fight Thread.

Dragonsblood, Chapters 14, 15, : Content Notes: Consent Issues, Dragon Mating Flights, Cruelty to Clearly Intelligent Species

(Fort, Third Pass, Day 6, AL 508)

Thread Falls
Dragons rise
Dragonriders scan the skies
Dragons flame, Thread dies.

So, a variation on the poem from the last chapter, then.

The chapter starts with the Fort Weyrleader, K’lior, preparing to fly his first Pass against Thread. What’s interesting about this is Cisca, his Weyrwoman, almost certainly has human-human telepathy, in the repeated ways that she can figure out what he’s thinking, even as he tries to hide it from her, and even when he didn’t say anything aloud at all. This is not remarked upon by the narrative in any way outside of K’lior’s confusion at how his thoughts can be so transparent to Cisca. Despite, outside of a small and select number of sentences in this entire series, human to dragon telepathy has been the norm and what is expected. The narrative is not drawing attention to the oddity, and therefore it is important in some way for us to remember that telepathy works between humans, as well.

More immediately, K’lior can’t help but be a monogamous Weyrleader, although he at least goes far enough to acknowledge that there should be all sorts of relationships in the Weyr.

He and Cisca had already formed a strong attachment before her gold rose for the first time, and while he understood and accepted the ways of the Weyr, he was honest enough to admit that he did not want any other dragonman entwined with her.

And there we are again. Good bronze and gold riders are monogamous and het while bad ones aren’t, and all the other colors are freewheeling orgy factories. It’s like there’s a stereotype on display here about gay people and promiscuity but someone is trying really hard not to be as obvious about it as their mother was.

Anyway, we cut to D’gan

proclaiming yet again that all his dragons will fly, including the sick ones. And justifying being an abusive asshole by wondering why nobody takes his shooting at the level he intends it.

“We have only two hundred and twenty-two fighting dragons,” he repeated, ignoring the startled looks on the faces of the other dragonriders milling about the Lower Caverns. They should be used to his shouting by now, he reflected. They should know that his roar was always worse than his flame.

That’s not saying much, given that his “flame” is making sick dragons fly, accusing them of “shirking” if they don’t want to train because they’re sick, physically abusing people he considers beneath him, not caring who gets press-ganged into dangerous and deadly work, and so on, and so on. Yet here he is, proclaiming in his own head that he’s not really all that bad. Just loud. It’s not like he does anything to warrant terror.

Except, you know, that when, yet again, he says no to the idea of the sick dragons taking a Fall off to recover (“Harper, I heard no ‘buts’ in the Teaching Songs.”), he characterizes it as a “repeated revolt” against his leadership.

But no, to listen to him tell it, it’s everyone else that’s the problem. Why hasn’t he been replaced, deposed, exiled, or otherwise had, say, a massive amount of desertion in protest of his “leadership” before the Weyrs quarantined themselves?

Then on to C’rion, who is hoping that a small area to cover in Fall and the new tactics to account for losses will make his Fall one without casualty. His Weyrwoman, Dalia, reflects on the losses and on a gain — Jassi, filling in for the lack of a Weyr Healer after his dragon died, has essentially become an authoritative figure in running the Weyr. So much so that Dalia thinks she should stand as an egg candidate.

Back to K’lior, who arrived in the right place, but apparently, facing away from the Threadfall’s approach. They get reoriented in time.

Back to C’rion, who pops in with a small concern about the weather, which is affecting the fall and making it unpredictable. It’s his terrible luck that a Thread clump lands directly on him from above and scores him and his dragon, Nidanth, so much that they both go to hyperspace to die, leaving J’lantir in charge of running the fall.

Then to Kindan and Lorana, and the reality that Lorana continues to feel each dragon’s death quite keenly, and Kindan, after being summoned by Arith, discovers that Lorana had been sketching each of the dragons and riders as they die. Not in full detail, but enough to get the point across. To his credit, Kindan asks for scented oil. To his detriment, he doesn’t actually explain that he wants it so he can give Lorana a massage, which he does, first with her neck, then up her hands and arms, and then he get and legs. He’s skilled enough that Lorana enjoys it greatly, and basically falls asleep after he is done, but the narrative doesn’t even bother with the two sentences it would take for Kindan to explain and ask Lorana if that’s what she wants. He does say that it’s obvious her hands are cramping because of the number of drawings, but he doesn’t, say, ask if she wants to be touched while she’s having some serious grief and trauma.

Which makes it that much sharper of an issue when the next scene starts.

In the morning, Lorana woke suddenly with a burning passion, fierce and nearly frightening in its intensity.
Kindan ducked his head in, eyes snapping with emotion. “Tullea’s Minith has blooded her kills.”
“She will mate soon,” Lorana said, stretching her senses and feeling the young queen’s passion. She looked up at Kindan, her eyes warm but also challenging. “Stay with me?”
Kindan gave her a surprised, half-hoping look. Lorana sat up in her bed and patted it.
“I’ve never been near a dragon’s mating flight,” she explained.

I…find that hard to believe, to be honest. Just because the regularity of them would suggest as much, but Lorana has also been in the Weyr for a while. Unless the sickness is also curbing a dragon’s sex drive, the greens should be still trying to get someone to chase them. And, presumably, being in the Weyr for this long has given Lorana ample opportunity to understand what goes on during a mating flight, if she hasn’t had it drilled into her directly because she’s a queen rider and will have to follow the procedure herself soon enough.

The way the narrative phrases it, it’s like they want Lorana to say she’s never had sex before, so that her first time can be with Kindan, the golden boy. The way they’ve phrased it, though, I’m way more worried that Lorana hasn’t been given enough information to understand and consent to what is about to happen to her.

Except Lorana had fire lizards, and back a few chapters, she specifically mentioned that she’s been through fire-lizard mating seasons, so the difference should be understanding the degree to which the emotions affect people.

Except Lorana is already well-poised to understand this, given how keenly she’s been feeling everyone’s death. So Lorana might understand completely. But I still don’t think she would say that she’s never been near a flight before.

Kindan moved to her and, at her beckoning, sat on the bed beside her.
“The emotions from dragons mating are very strong,” he said, his voice low.
At that moment, Lorana gasped as she felt Minith being caught in her mating flight and–
When she could speak again, she leaned up and captured Kindan’s mouth with hers, kissing him deeply.
Kindan responded by clutching her more tightly, returning her kiss as ardently as she had given it. Like dragons entwined, they drew together, burning with a passion born on dragonwings.
Afterward, they broke apart, still touching each other loosely. Lorana looked at him as he lay beside her and traced the line of his jaw lovingly. Kindan turned his head, caught her hand, kissed it, and released it again, all with a gentle smile.

Cocowhat by depizan

Not so much the fade to black, but for the swiftness involved before Kindan can, say, explain to Lorana anything at all and see whether she really wants him there. It will be explained later that the mating flight was shorter than usual, so perhaps Kindan thought he had more time to explain, but when Pellar was with Aleesa, they had time to arrange everyone and gather some form of consent, or at least acknowledgement of what was about to happen. Maybe the author felt that Lorana patting the bed and asking Kindan to stay was consent enough, but by that point, Lorana is probably already being influenced by Minith. Kindan, likely, too, but any of the bronzes in flight. So meaningful consent is shot by the time it could be sought.

And also, depending on how much of other books had been plotted or written at this point, how is Kindan reacting to this based on the trauma of Koriana’s death? Has it been long enough that Kindan feels a pang but has moved on? Is he still mourning for her more than thinking about new relationships? Was he working up the courage to ask Lorana?

That it’s essentially “Kindan and Lorana are totally fine with this and very affectionate torward each other after the mating” skips over a lot of very important questions about how the mating drug works and what everyone actually thinks about it afterward, when they’re not under dragon-influence.

The next scene, after Lorana tells Kindan that B’nik’s dragon flew Tullea doesn’t help.

Tullea walked with the obvious soreness of a woman recovering from her dragon’s mating. B’nik looked equally uncomfortable.
Lorana, on the other hand, moved through her pain, a smile close to her lips, her hand entwined in Kindan’s, projecting the sense that the pain served a purpose that she accepted and welcomed.

Cocowhat by depizan

SEX SHOULD NOT BE PAINFUL.

Seriously. And I would like to believe that dragonriders, to this point, have figured out that if mating flights are going to involve a lot of sex and friction, that there would be lube of some sort easily to hand. And also, perhaps, something to help keep weight off and muscles from getting sore, like hammocks or swings or other things. These should all be solved problems at this point out of necessity. Because the Weyrs are used to this and are culturally much less uptight about sex, or so we get told. And they have mating flights fairly commonly.

K’tan (who is narrating) continues to dissect the flight, wondering why Tullea and B’nik don’t look nearly so happy, before recounting that Tullea couldn’t or didn’t want to control Minith (likely didn’t, given that Tullea looked at B’nik, screaming at her to get her dragon under control, “with a smirk in her eyes”), which led to eating whole beasts rather than just sucking them dry of blood, and that the flight part was pretty short, with Minith diving into the pack of bronzes and getting flown by B’nik’s Caranth.

A short mating flight, gorging on her food–those spoke of a small clutch and more problems for the Weyr with a Weyrwoman who would not control her dragon.

Given that Tullea then acts extremely swiftly to evict Kindan and Lorana from doing research in the Records Room and tells M’tal’s wing to move themselves, essentially, as far away from her as she can send them, I don’t think the problem they should be gearing up for is an out-of-control Weyrwoman.

Lorana still wants to go to Fort to raid their records, but there’s no pathway to that until B’nik shows up and offers to personally escort them while Minith and Tullea are still asleep. Which gets Kindan to Zist for a conference, but first, B’nik (who is way better, in Lorana’s opinion, when he’s not having to be Tullea’s man, just to continue driving home how much we’re supposed to think of Tullea as a shrew) explains to Lorana and us about the consequences of timing it, although he only mentions extreme tiredness, rather than the other consequences that we’ve seen happen from prolonged time splitting.

B’nik and Lorana conference with K’lior and Cisca about numbers and strength.

Cisca was even taller than her Weyrleader, a brown-eyed, brown-haired beauty with a strong, cheerful face. She was much more buxom than Lorana, but she carried herself proudly, her stride neither apologetic nor flaunting.

It’s not quite “She breasted boobily down the stairs”, but I’m not entirely sure how Lorana can tell that Cisca has achieved the socially acceptable balance between apologizing for her rack and shoving it in everyone’s vision.

After talking about fighting strength, we switch to the Harper conference, where no real headway has happened there at all. The only message from High Reaches has been “Wait”, and all Verilan has is the certainty that each successive incident of Thread and sickness is roughly halving the number of available fighting dragons to the point where there won’t be enough to succeed in all of two more Falls, based on the attrition rate.

There’s a jump back to the Weyrleader conference, all now ensconced in Fort’s Records Room where, finally, after a full day of nothing, Cisca finds a mention that a very specific room was built, after much argument, at Benden Weyr at the end of the First Interval. Then back to the Harpers, where everyone has confirmed Verilan’s figures, and Kelsa brings up having rediscovered a fragment of a haunting song, which kickstarts Kindan’s memory enough that he is able to sing back the song he had only a glance at before he had to try and help put out the Archive fire. Kindan is now certain the song refers to Lorana, the “young healer lass”, even though the rest of the song is still opaque. Before more can be put to use on the song, Lorana bursts in and tells them, tearily, that Arith has gotten sick. And that’s chapter 14.

Ecosystems are constantly changing, adapting to new life-forms, while simultaneously life-forms are adapting to the ecosystem. To engineer a change to an ecosystem is to commit to a lifetime of monitoring.

–Glossary of terms, Ecosystems: From -ome to Planet, 24th Edition

(Tillek Hold, First Interval, AL 58)

Chapter 15 starts with fog as Wind Blossom begins her “vacation” at Tillek. It’s very apparent it’s not a real vacation, as Wind Blossom has requested “a bell, a coil of rope, and some planking” from the local Lord, Malon, to accompany a shelter. Malon has no idea why Wind Blossom would want such things.

Insert another caustic rant about how fast knowledge gets lost on Pern, with extra spice because it stands credulity that in fifty years, everyone just about everyone has forgotten that the dolphins talk and can be summoned by bells and are otherwise quite happy to work with people.

It’s premature, because within a few pages, the narrative will tell us that Malon “soon guessed” the reason that Wind Blossom came to Tillek and he tries to dissuade her with the thought that the water is too cold this far north. Wind Blossom is persistent, though, and intends to get the result she is looking for. My point still stands, though, that if Malon can “soon guess” that Wind Blossom is trying to call the dolphins, then he shouldn’t be nearly as clueless as he appears about the materials she requested earlier.

I realize this is an author trying to avoid spoiling a very important point of the series up to this point, but it has the effect of unnecessarily complicating every section after this point and not being clear about what is going on, leaving a new reader without a clue, even as the older readers nod and smile, assuming their own memories are good enough to recall how someone summons a dolphin.

Plus, the title of the leader of all the dolphins is The Tillek. So that particular Hold should have a longer, not shorter, memory.

In between those events, though, we have another instance of foreshadowing, where Wind Blossom discovers that the watch-wher of Tillek has been chained up.

Wind Blossom turned to Tillek’s leader and looked up at him with deadly intensity. “Why is it chained?”
“Oh, Tilsk here was always getting into mischief,” Malon said dismissively. “It’s for its own good.”
“Watch-whers are ‘he’ or ‘she’,” Wind Blossom corrected sternly. [Which fans the editors missed her calling Tilsk an it not two sentences above. Wind Blossom would have said she, because…] “This one is a green; that makes her a ‘she’.”
[…Wind Blossom is very annoyed that nobody has been training with the watch-wher and what that means for the loss of knowledge…]
“What if we start chaining up dragons?” she asked, nodding in satisfaction when both Malon and M’hall recoiled in horror. She looked back up at Malon. “It is the same thing, to chain a watch-wher.”

Wind Blossom also pointedly remarks that chained watch-whers can’t accomplish their purpose of eating Thread when it falls at night, which surprises Malon to learn. And then he agrees to keep that knowledge secret so as not to alarm the Hold, rather than spread out widely so everyone knows to take good care of their watch-wher. So that knowledge will get lost at the next major disaster.

There’s a quick scene between Emorra and Tieran as they try to reduce the surface of the dragon illness problem, with no apparent success, before returning to Wind Blossom, who has successfully contacted the dolphins and had them retrieve some things that were “lost” during the Crossing. M’hall notes the success and Wind Blossom points out to him that these things are on loan, rather than retrieved, and at some point will need to be lost again. Which makes me wonder again about what the plot actually was in terms of throwing away all the equipment during the fleeing, as if that was the exact point decided where there would be no further need for their high tech.

Especially, as the equipment is unveiled, they have significant amounts of power still left in them. The equipment turns out to be a genetic code viewer and sequencer, as well as a mapper that will help those reading genes to understand what they’re looking at. The chapter closes on Wind Blossom agreeing with Tieran that it would be easier for their future descendants to use the equipment in their time, if only they could be taught how to do it.

And one last note, the ships in orbit have collected the name Dawn Sisters from the astronomy students looking at them through a telescope.

So, we are setting ourselves up for a giant time-twist plot that is likely going to make me wonder a lot of things before all is said and done, and only some of them are going to have anything at all to do with the paradoxes that are being invoked or sidestepped because the authors wanted a plot to work more than they wanted to think about the consequences of that plot. That is definitely not a headache I am looking forward to.

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22 thoughts on “Dragonsblood: A Compound Tragedy

  1. Digitalis August 8, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Huh. I read the mating flight a lot differently then, cause the impression I got was that Lorana was not a virgin and did have a good understanding of what was happening, so I didn’t have a problem believing her ability to consent.

    Still, a big WTF on the “moved through her pain” bit.

    While gold flights are depicted, at least in the newer books, as affecting everyone in the vicinity, green flights tend to be shown to only affect the riders involved, at least as far as I can recall. I guess they don’t “count” as far as Lorana’s concerned.

    I’m pretty sure Cisca’s thing is just that trope of “Ha ha, women know what men are thinking cause they’re so emotional and men are helpless to their wiles.” Not saying there isn’t human-to-human telepathy in these books, but Cisca’s not part of it.

  2. genesistrine August 8, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Yet here he is, proclaiming in his own head that he’s not really all that bad. Just loud. It’s not like he does anything to warrant terror.

    I find that pretty convincing, actually. I’m sure plenty of assholes tell themselves that of *course* they’re not assholes, they’ll be *perfectly reasonable* and listen to people if people talk sense/act with proper respect yadda yadda. Of course they never actually *do*, but as far as they’re concerned that’s always the fault of everyone else.

    Whether or not this is what his author intended, who knows? He does, to give him credit, sometimes seem to be trying for psychological subtlety, but he’s just as often creepy or tin-eared.

    Re Kindan and Lorana, I read it as MASSIVELY creepy from the massage onwards, but it’s hard to tell. There could easily be a lot more flirting via tone, inflection and body language than we’re reading into it. But it’s a similar issue to above; is the writer being creepy or is he just not a very good writer?

    if mating flights are going to involve a lot of sex and friction, that there would be lube of some sort easily to hand

    There’s also supposed to be a lot of female arousal involved, which in most cases should take care of the lube issue itself. (Not for some women of course, there is natural variation, but the book implies that soreness is normal.)

    I don’t think the problem they should be gearing up for is an out-of-control Weyrwoman

    It doesn’t seem to be so much that she’s out of control, but that she can’t control her emotions. Which seems a fair description of Tullea; her emotional regulation is all out of whack. She can’t or won’t stop her queen overeating when that’s supposedly essential for the best mating flight outcome; she can’t or won’t control her temper and jealousy when other queen riders are better than her at something, even when it’s something she has no interest in; basically she can’t control her impulses even when the good of the Weyr (and therefore the planet) is at stake.

    (Neither can D’gan, of course, but he seems to be being cast as a minor nuisance in this book for some reason I wonder what the difference might be…)

    chained watch-whers can’t accomplish their purpose of eating Thread when it falls at night, which surprises Malon to learn. And then he agrees to keep that knowledge secret so as not to alarm the Hold, […] So that knowledge will get lost at the next major disaster

    Hell, it’s lost already. One watch-wher gets unchained, big whoop. How many more are never going to be unchained, since nobody’s going to bother to say, “hey, unchain your watch-whers, they’re the designated Thread-fighting night shift.”

    In a series full to the brim of mind-destroyingly stupid plot points this may be the very stupidest ever.

    (Until the next book, I daresay….)

  3. Silver Adept August 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    You can totally draw that conclusion, Digitalis, and the text supports it. It’s just not clear enough for me to do the same. The author could have helped his cause significantly by having people make direct and unambiguous statements. That might mean people having frank talks about sex, and we can’t have that in our Dragonrider fiction.

    Sex should still not be painful.

    I don’t recall a whole lot of green flights being shown in these books, so I couldn’t say I’d they were more limited.

    I can’t speak to any experience, but it seems odd that Lorana would be the one thinking “Shit, she’s got a nice rack and knows how to show it off just right.” I don’t think that’s a regular thing that women do when looking at each other?

  4. genesistrine August 8, 2019 at 2:30 pm

    I think it’s Lorana noticing the titties because that way it’s not male-gazey at all after all it’s a female character looking!

    Hur hur.

  5. Digitalis August 8, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    No, the part I was talking about with Cisca was at the beginning, talking with K’lior. Sorry for the confusion!

  6. Silver Adept August 9, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Oh, my bad. It’s the trope of “long association allows her to finish his sentences” and “men are terrible at hiding what they’re thinking.” I feel like, in this setting, Cisca being actually telepathic would be less problematic than letting those tropes out for a run.

    @ genesistrine –

    Right, it can’t be male gaze if there’s no male doing the gazing. How silly of me. [/sarcasm] And also, arousal can take some of the lubrication duties, but if they’re going on long enough to cause soreness, I’m not entirely sure there’s enough lubricant going to be produced to go all the way through. And also, most dragonriders are dudes having sex with dudes. Lube should be everywhere just for that.

    D’gan is true to character of an asshole who lacks self-awareness in the most important ways, but it’s hard to tell whether he’s written that way intentionally or the plot happens to Jane conjured someone accurate because that’s what it needs. All the same, reckless endangerment of dragons and riders seems like the thing that should get you recalled as a Weyrleader.

    Tullea’s lack of emotional regulation continues to be treated as if it’s just some facet of the universe. She’s on her period for three years, this is normal, even if it isn’t fine. Or, apparently, she woke up one day, said, “Oh, snap, guess I’m a crazy bitch now” and everyone took it in stride, because they didn’t care to investigate why the sweet Tullea was becoming progressively more unhinged.

    The plot relies heavily on Good being Dumb and not investigating clear red flags as they appear. And also that information critical to surviving and thriving gets lost or forgotten with regularity.

  7. alexeigynaix August 9, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Speaking of male gaze vs female gaze

  8. genesistrine August 10, 2019 at 1:57 am

    @SilverAdept: The plot relies heavily on Good being Dumb and not investigating clear red flags as they appear

    I think the root cause of so MUCH stupid on Pern is that Good Always Follows The Rules, and the Rules are a) extremely stupid and b) extremely authoritarian. They don’t have nuance, or edge cases, or litigatability (if that’s a word).

    D’gan’s the Weyrleader because his dragon banged the oldest queen. That’s the Rule. Doesn’t matter if he’s a terrible Weyrleader who’s getting everyone killed; he’s in charge and no-one’s going to disobey. The Rules say so.

    Ditto Tullea; oldest therefore boss. That her mental state makes her incapable of being a good boss is beside the point. (And what happened to all the therapist-lite stuff Zist and the other Harpers were spouting? Kindan’s RIGHT THERE. Hasn’t the fact that the second-in-line to the largest Weyr on Pern been showing signs of serious emotional disturbance for the past few years merited a visit from the Masterharper?)

    It’s also what we saw in the Second Pass “oh dear evil Lord is kicking out all his people and they’re starving to death in refugee camps on the border but they’re on His Land and He’s the Boss guess we can’t do shit about it the Rules say so.”

    Even the latest watch-wher stupidity is related – Wind Blossom, the Authority, says no no don’t tell everyone that watch-whers shouldn’t be chained because people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and will freak out if they know Thread falls at night, and no-one points out the blindingly obvious problems with this. Authority has Spoken.

  9. Silver Adept August 11, 2019 at 9:23 am

    Which is kind of weird, @ genesistrine. Because if Pern is supposed to be the libertarian’s paradise, where everyone is autonomous on their own plot of land, this idea of slavishness to authority wouldn’t make a lick of sense, and I would have expected the feudal form that developed as a response to Thread to have a significant amount of that libertarianism to shine through in their governmental structure.

    Instead, we’ve gotten nearly the opposite of that style, where everyone has to be subservient to the authority, even in the way they think about them in their heads. Which, if we believed the authors were capable of biting satire, would be the best set-up for a story, where everyone believes so cheerily in their individual freedoms while reinforcing a rigidly authoritarian structure.

    The Rules can’t be rules-lawyered because there are no lawyers, and the one instance of actual court proceedings we’ve seen were set up deliberately for Halla. Everything else has been mentioning court in the abstract, and the councils of lords and Weyrleaders work democratically. I don’t think anyone would be amiss at thinking that Pern is what happens when you try to make the SCA’s structure actually work on a planet and then have to also include peasants and guilds and the like. Although I think that the stories might have been better if the authors did at least an SCA-level amount research on what they were constructing.

    I'[ll have to keep this idea in mind as we go forward, though, because it fits really well with the observed behaviors of everyone. The Rules have to be folllowed, even when doing so would cause greater harm than the social upheaval from breaking them.

  10. genesistrine August 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    It’s extremely weird, though on the other hand I’m pretty certain that disagreeing with Ayn Rand herself got you kicked out of the libertarian club PDQ, so maybe it’s just being true to its origins…. :eyeroll:

    But there it is, on the page. It’s been a consistent feature from the start, though at least when it was TRAAAADITION Lessa and F’lar were fine with judiciously giving bits of it the boot in the interest of common sense and good politics. (And occasionally even finding that bits of it weren’t that traditional after all; eg “queens don’t fly” vs the queens’ wing from the 8th Pass.)

    But once the Charter came in in ‘Dawn that became Absolute Unbreakable Rules that *must* be followed and are Exactly The Same As Present Pernese Law, even when the planetary and sociopolitical situations are so radically different from what it was (presumably) set up for.

    (Or, given the inconsistencies in ‘Dawn and the other books of that era, we can theorise that the feudalism was planned for all along by the upper echelons and they just didn’t care to let the future peasantry know what they were signing themselves and their children up for…)

    everyone has to be subservient to the authority, even in the way they think about them in their heads.

    Even the *Harpers*. Wasn’t it Kindan who got bitched out for thinking rude thoughts about a ~LORRRD~?

    the councils of lords and Weyrleaders work democratically

    In the sense that they get a vote and no-one else does, at least…

  11. alexeigynaix August 11, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    But once the Charter came in in ‘Dawn that became Absolute Unbreakable Rules that *must* be followed and are Exactly The Same As Present Pernese Law, even when the planetary and sociopolitical situations are so radically different from what it was (presumably) set up for.

    oh so they’re Second Amendment types.

  12. Silver Adept August 11, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    Essentially, yes. They’re the people who insist that the Charter covered everything that it needed to, and there’s no situation where it might, say, need any sort of amendment or reinterpretation over time. Ever. Which makes the theory of “we expected this feudal arrangement to happen over time, but we don’t care, because we won’t be alive to have to deal with the consequences” a significantly plausible theory. And that makes the “take all our undesirables with you on your trip” part of it a lot more like “here’s your permanent peasant underclass to go along with your dreams of feudal lordship.”

    It was a Harper. I can’t remember if it was Piemur or Kindan who gets chewed out about it, but it has to be “Lord, even in your mind” because apparently if you look like you’re not respecting them in your head, thay’ll remove your head for you to examine it, or something. And nobody will stop them, because Them’s The Rules, Kid.

    Yeah, the Lords, Leaders, and Craftmasters get a say. Everyone else gets to suffer according to the lot in life determined for them by those Lords, Leaders, and Masters. Whether by birth or by summary justice from any of them to turn them into drudges or Shunned.

  13. WanderingUndine August 12, 2019 at 9:28 am

    “’I’m not entirely sure how Lorana can tell that Cisca has achieved the socially acceptable balance between apologizing for her rack and shoving it in everyone’s vision.” I’m not sure how anyone can tell that about someone else either. And as a very buxom woman, I wish I knew how to achieve that balance myself. Being bi, I can’t speak to the (un)realism of those thoughts coming from someone who’s not attracted to women.

    The normality of painful penetrative sex seems to remain a common belief in the here and now. At the risk of TMI, I’ve never had penetrative (or any) sex but have reason to believe that it would be likely to pain me. But I know *I’m* the abnormal one.

    “Ecosystems are constantly changing, adapting to new life-forms, while simultaneously life-forms are adapting to the ecosystem. To engineer a change to an ecosystem is to commit to a lifetime of monitoring.” *wince* Yes, any “ecosystem” — the relationships of organismas with each.other and their abiotic environment in a geographic area withing which they’re interconnected — runs on chance and change. It’s good to acknowledge that ecoystems are not naturally static in an ideal state of being, as is popularly believed in the here and now. But in the absence of terraformers or suchlike deliberate manipulators, there’s no conscious “adaptation” guiding the process. And while any change *might* have long-term and possibly unexpected consequences, a “lifetime” of monitoring would likely see it get subsumed by, or at least muddled with, many other changes. *looks around for ecology teacher, wondering if he would approve of what I said*

  14. Silver Adept August 12, 2019 at 10:20 am

    It’s entirely plausible that Lorana could be bi, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of evidence suggesting such to this point. And it very much sounds like a dude writing that the thing Lorana zeroes in on with Cisca is her breasts, and that’s the thing that’s used as the shortcut for her beauty. (There was a recent Twitter thing where Cat Valente pointed out that generally, when women are writing women, they don’t spend a whole lot of time describing their breasts, if they do at all.)

    There are a lot of people that believe sex should be painful, yes, because they generally have a sex-negative view and think pain is a useful punishment for slutty slut behavior or as proof of the virginal capacities of their partner. Most of which have religious origins, and Pern’s nominally nonreligious. And also, dragonriders, who are telepathically bonded to creatures that will drag them along with their own sexual escapades. So something like pain should be a sign that something’s wrong, and not something to be powered through. But that’s my opinion about what would happen in dragonrider practice.

    The ecosystem thing seems like it would be extremely difficult to monitor, given that someone wouldn’t know whether changes and mutations were working against their changes and mutations or not, unless the organisms evolve and live on the scale of things like bacteria or insects, where someone could theoretically see multiple generations in their lifetimes.

  15. alexeigynaix August 12, 2019 at 12:52 pm

    okay so cn rape:

    between consensual sexual behavior and sexual assault, one of these things is more likely to hurt than the other one. and if the first one hurts when it isn’t supposed to and that doesn’t at least get a pause in the action to make it not, then it becomes the second.

    if consensual sex is, everyone knows, supposed to hurt—

    you know what I’m just going to leave the rest of this as an exercise for the reader

  16. genesistrine August 12, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    I have a strong suspicion that bi and lesbian women are even rarer on Pern than non-white ones.

    Plus, I don’t remember if I’ve pointed this out before, but Thread is a part of the Pernese ecosystem too.

  17. Firedrake August 12, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    @Silver Adept: I believe this is the fundamental contradiction of libertarianism. They set up a system in which the only answer to a warlord is a bigger warlord, but then assume that everyone can run his own private fortress rather than being forced to submit to the local strongman.

    So some libertarians will be just fine with situations like this, because they see themselves as the men on top rather than the toiling underlings.

  18. WanderingUndine August 12, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    I don’t especially think Lorana might be bi. I just meant that I don’t know what it’s like to look at someone who is (or presents as) a gender I’m categorically not attracted to. Also, I’m visually impaired and unlikely to see the subtle details of peoples’ appearances, e.g. their facial features. I focus more on noticing and trying to remember their larger features like hair, height, and overall body shape. So I believe I would probably take particular note of someone’s prominent breasts even I didn’t find them attractive. But I can’t know if that’s true. And it’s irrelevant here, as Lorana isn’t visuslly impaired.

  19. genesistrine August 13, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    @Silver Adept: I can’t remember if it was Piemur or Kindan who gets chewed out about it, but it has to be “Lord, even in your mind”

    Found it, it was Piemur in Dragondrums:

    “Meron’s trading with the Oldtimers?”

    “Lord Meron, lad, you don’t forget the title even in your thoughts… and yes, that’s the possibility.”

    Which points up the AUTHORITAYYY thing even more since we also kept being told in the first couple of books that Meron was just a jumped-up Steward and not real Blood at all ptui (even though it was his relatives who ended up inheriting anyway). But he’s got power so you gotta suck up even in your own head.

  20. Silver Adept August 13, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    I share your suspicion, genesistrine.

    So it’s the “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” problem, then, Firedrake? Everyone assumes they should be in control, even if they aren’t currently so, and they take it out on whomever in their lives they think they control?

    Most dudes that I know of, when they write other dudes, don’t write things like “his package lead the way as he entered, John wondered how he’d managed to find shorts that didn’t draw attention, yet still left no doubt to the size and girth of his penis.” unless we’re supposed to think of John as having a sexual interest in the other guy. Yet they’ll write women specifically with the idea of describing their cup size, either directly or indirectly. Anyway, it’s annoying me that women are described primarily in terms of their attractiveness or sexuality and men aren’t.

  21. Michael I August 14, 2019 at 10:22 am

    @genesistrine

    To be fair, Piemur IS about to go on an intelligence-gathering mission in Nabol hold.

  22. genesistrine August 14, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    It’s not pointed out to him what the reason is, though, so interpretation is up to the reader. It reads a lot more like “respect your ~superiors~” than “make sure you call him what everyone else calls him to blend in” to me (especially since Meron’s own subjects tend to refer to him as “him”, “that one” and one drudge even calls him “Meron” – though not to his face).

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