Dragongirl: Remembering There’s A Plot

Last time, the Weyrs redistributed their personnel to try and give enough riders to each other so that they could survive the next few Falls. So far, the attempts at keeping casualties down to acceptable levels have been failing, but the dragonriders are forging ahead. They’ve suggested doubling up on themselves to try and ensure their own survival once their numbers are too small, but they haven’t tried it yet to know whether it will work, because they’ll know they’ve tried it when they see themselves, and they’ll know how well it works when they’re saved by themselves.

Once again, as we stated early on, time travel plots become more about the time travel rather than about the rest of the plot.

Dragongirl: Chapter Sixteen and Seventeen: Content Notes:

Dragonrider
Dance in clouds
Soar to starts
Touch mountains
Skim rivers.

(Telgar Weyr, morning, AL 508.4.15)

This chapter opens with T’mar and Zirenth getting to fly together, finally, now that T’mar is healed enough to give it a go, or so the Healers think. Talenth is not going to join Zirenth, because she’s too egg-laden to go flying, which gives us a little banter about information likely gleaned from the Records about queen clutches, like “an early clutch is a small clutch” and “queen eggs are rare on the first clutch.” And now that we’re talking about pregnant dragons, we’re going to start talking a lot more about pregnant women. Which starts in one of the worst ways that such a thing can do.

T’mar’s encouraging talk was still not enough for H’nez and the bronze rider grumbled that when T’mar recovered, he’d request to be allowed to return to Fort Weyr.
“No you won’t!” Jeila had told him heatedly. “You’ll stay here, with me, where you belong.”
And that, as Jeila told Fiona later, was that. Although, Fiona thought with a grin, perhaps Jeila had produced some extra inducements as she had confided all this as a prelude to announcing her pregnancy.

Cocowhat by depizan

That’s not the way I would hope that news gets delivered, since I would expect it to be happy and joyous, not part of a certain amount of almost-blackmail, to hear the narrative describe it. The way this sequence goes through, it’s more like Fiona is grinning that Jeila convinced H’nez to stay, not out of “but we’re happy here” but out of “my dragon has eggs and I have a baby, so we’re not going anywhere at all.” Which wouldn’t actually be as much of a threat it appears to be in this narrative if Weyrs really were more communally raising their children than they actually are in these books.

Jeila is worried that she’s not going to carry to term, to which Fiona reminds her that her mother was built the same way and Jeila admits that she eventually had four kids. Jeila wants Bekka to attend her birth, and Fiona thinks she’ll start asking for Bekka and her mother, given that Lorana might be ready to give birth as well. Jeila inquires about whether Fiona might also need one, to which Fiona shrugs.

It was just possible that she was with child, but Fiona had always been erratic in her cycle, so she wasn’t entirely certain. Surely she hadn’t noticed any changes in her eating habits and, if she felt a bit more emotional, it was far too easy to ascribe to the current mood of the Weyr–even, all of Pern.

Although, with the way that everyone has also made fun of Fiona about getting fat, I also wonder whether that erratic cycle and mood swings might be due to some sort of mental issues she’s developed and predate the possiblity that she might be pregnant.

The narrative has no interest in examining what Fiona’s psychic landscape is like, instead turning to the dwindling supply of dragonriders available to everyone. The dragonriders decide to practice precise timing and sending themselves in the past, to the point where they are close enough to each other to see themselves. The only snippet of story we hear about all the jokes and stories Is this:

“I never knew I was that fat!” “We did!”

Which says something about what’s considered humor on Pern all the same, and that’s not really a thing that I’ve been all that fond of people using as humor at all. H’nez, at the conference of leaders, is dour about how many they have lost at Telgar, and no amount of comparison to the other Weyrs and the good company he’s keeping with his casualties gives him any comfort.

That night, Fiona spends a little time with he dragon, reassuring Talenth while she sleeps, before recognizing that Kindan has come to see her, and after a small comparison of how Lorana and Kindan feel very different mentally to her, she lets herself be swept up in his arms, and the narrative shifts to T’mar and the other riders who timed it back earlier complaining of the mother-of-all-hangovers, something very different than the thing Fiona was feeling when she was spending all that time at Igen and Fort together. Which could help us extrapolate that being near to each other while being twice in time has a much harder toll on them, if that’s what we’re supposed to get out of this. But, because nobody has systematically explored and then written down what timing it is like for themselves, we are still left to guess. And given how much of this story is about time travel, now, I’m sure we’re supposed to pick something up from how different this experience is, compared to other ones.

As the Threadfalls happen, Fiona makes sure that Lorana always has someone with her to see how she is doing and to comfort her from the ineviatable losses. By the time of the last scheduled Fall, Fiona has collected a support group of her own, headed by Rhemy, one of the younglings earlier who was involved in the discussions of helping people regrow their hearts, because Rhemy has figured out Fiona feels the same effects, although not to the degree that Lorana does. Which is about all that Fiona will admit to, is that she doesn’t feel things to the degree that Lorana does. Talenth isn’t helping any, in that she’s having disturbing dreams, somehow related to her clutching and hatching, but there isn’t any actual detail to go along with it, and, of course, there’s the steadily decreasing numbers of dragons and dragonriders to contend with. Which is to say, Fiona is stressed the absolute fuck out, but she’s not confiding in anyone, and she’s not actually talking about it. Why is this?

Fiona dug deep into herself to find enough cheer to to spread it to Talenth and counteract the dragon’s despair, but she realized that even her reserves were stretched. She knew how much the rest of the Weyr looked to her, how they shook their heads in amusement when they thought she wouldn’t notice over her ever-cheerful manner, how she managed to find something good even in the hardest of times. Oh, the old ones would prattle on and warn her that she was taking things too easily, but Fiona knew with a certainty that the mood of the entire Weyr was influenced by her cheerfulness and that mothers would tell their daughters, “See? The Weyrwoman’s not worrying, why should you?”
Dragonriders, too, took their cues from her, as did Jeila and even Lorana.

This is the same basic structure that we had earlier, about how Weyrwomen are perpetually always the Chief Morale Officer of their Weyr, so they’re not allowed to feel all that many negative emotions all that fully, lest they have an emotional contagion and start bringing down the emotional states of the people around them, too. It’s worse now, of course, because there’s no person that Fiona can turn to for relief of her own distress. Including what is happening as Fiona is struck by the resemblance between Jeila and Tanniz, which sends her into a spiral about what happened to Tanniz when the despair got to be too much for her, such that Fiona worries that Lorana might follow that same path. It’s a short worry, but all of this pretending to be the happiest person on earth has Fiona basically stuck as someone who can’t actually get away long enough to have a cry or a scream or otherwise to do something other than smile on the outside as he stress kills her on the inside. And she’s still not all that old and being thrust into this role. I’m having trouble figuring out how to articulate the kind of existential cry that must be going on with Fiona right now, because I’m not sure that it can be put into words, but I can definitely tell that it’s there.

Kindan arrives to try and help alleviate some of Fiona’s burden (although he was initially resistant to people trying to relieve Lorana’s burden, the narrative tells us that he comes around to it and begins to appreciate how much of that burden he had taken on himself, and doesn’t have to do any more), and after several times where Kindan believes everything has to do with pregnancies, whether Talenth’s or Lorana’s, Fiona finally lets him have it.

“It’s…everything,” Fiona said, throwing her arms open wide. “It’s that Talenth and Tolarth will both soon clutch, that we’re losing dragons every three days and all the clutches on Pern will be too little too late and that, on top of it all, she has a child coming into the world and she doesn’t know where she fits.”
“With me,” Kindan said with a decisive nod of his head.
“With us,” Fiona corrected. Kindan gave her a questioning look. “Here, in this Weyr–Telgar–where she’s central to everything, where she can speak to all dragons, coordinate with Nuella and the watch-whers, and be surrounded by those who love her.”
“So where is the problem?”
“The problem is with her, Kindan,” Fiona replied tetchily, surprised at his obtuseness. “The problem is that she sees all she is not–not a Weyrwoman, not a mother, not a mate–and it worries her.”
“How do you know so much about her feelings?”
“I didn’t,” Fiona said. “Mostly I learned it from Shaneese and Mekiar.”

Also not quoted was Fiona’s realization some time ago that Lorana is shielding her from the brunt of what she feels when dragons are lost. And somehow, we’ve managed to derail the part where Fiona is full up to bursting with her own issues and gotten re-centered on Lorana and her issues. Kindan continues in this vein by saying that Fiona probably understands something about pregnancy (gestures at the dragon), being a mate (doesn’t gesture at T’mar or himself, but could), and about being a Weyrwoman (because she is), and therefore Fiona is the perfect person to help Lorana through her issues. Even though Lorana seems to have been getting a lot worse over time. Fiona says she’ll give over Talenth if she could, which draws a very sharp rebuke from the arriving Lorana, and the chapter ends with the baby kicking Lorana. Which Fiona asked about to distract Lorana from being morose about the fact that Ista is flying Thread and they’re light dragonriders, like everybody else is. After both Fiona and Kindan said they loved Lorana.

And because the baby giving a kick is a great cliffhanger to end on, we go on to Chapter 17, where M’tal is getting ready to fly Thread.

Fly high,
Scan sky,
Brave all,
Fly Fall.

(Ista Weyr, afternoon, Al 508.5.5)

Although it’s not that specific Threadfall mentioned in the last chapter, but a different one. M’tal, we find, is sensibly keeping some of his troops out of the fight and others as a reserve wing in case more people are needed. In addition, he’s worried that Igen is going to give him difficulty, because the hot sands make for unstable and turbulent wind conditions, but he doesn’t let on about that.

At which point I am thinking about something I didn’t think about before, namely that Igen is a desert, and it’s been an abandoned Weyr for some time. If there’s no green in the desert, and M’tal is worried about Thread, does he need to be there? After all, if Thread falls on desert sand, with no carbon life for it to gorge upon, and only light and heat to bake it while it tries to burrow and find something useful, how much should he be worried about fighting it over the thermally turbulent sand? If the sand is over rock, he could theoretically let it fall there, and the Thread would die of starvation, right? And there would be nobody around to fault him for it, so long as all of the traders were inside the Weyr or a proper shelter, waiting things out, and the dragonriders do get all of the stuff that will fall on greener, more life-sustaining places. There’s got to be at least some part of this Fall that’s going over places where Thread won’t thrive. Since everyone is at limited capacity, the strategic decision would be to ring the dead zone, flame anything that threatens to get out of it, and otherwise pay minimal attention to the stuff that stays inside. M’tal’s got the charts, he should be able to say with a reasonable amount of certainty where the Fall is going to be and deploy accordingly.

What actually happens is far less tactically sound, but before we get there, there’s something to highlight in the ongoing saga of various polyamorous relationships, and it’s mostly that M’tal, Salina, and Dalia are doing just fine, thank you.

As he turned away from the two very different women in his life, M’tal found time to send a stray hope in Fiona’s direction that she, Kindan, and Lorana had managed to cement their relationship as well as he had with Dalia and Salina. It helped that both were mature women and not given to fits of jealousy. He couldn’t imagine Tullea in a similar situation but, he reflected as he clambered up Gaminth’s side, perhaps the Benden Weyrwoman would come to surprise him as well.

So, M’tal’s relationship is different than the Fiona quad in that Salina and Dalia have both ridden gold dragons, understand what being a queen rider and Weyrwoman entails, and they both understand that the partnership between Dalia and M’tal came about because of a mating flight. There’s a good chance all three of them also sat down and talked about what this triad of theirs meant. I also expected both women to have talked about what sorts of things would be expected from either of them, where they would cede to the other and where they would expect to be ceded to, and what they could do together. (Mostly because I would not expect a good, healthy relationship to have developed without talking happening.)

M’tal’s lack of imagination regarding Tullea is probably still predicated on the universal opinion that Tullea is far too much of a bitch to be able to hold down any kind of relationship with anyone other than B’nik, and far too jealous of anyone else to let B’nik have a relationship with anyone other than her. But the truth of the matter is likely that there would have to be a change in Weyrleadership for any of those scenarios to potentially come to pass, and at Benden, it seems to be the widespread opinion that B’nik is the only person equipped to deal with Tullea appropriately, so nobody else is going to really give it much of a go when that Weyrleadership is up for grabs.There will be enough to make everything look good, but not so many as to make anyone believe it is being seriously contested.

In any case, M’tal and crew arrive over Igen, only to have significant issues with the thermal currents coming from the sand, with the additional problem of that making the Thread fall erratically. Since the dragonriders are unused to fighting Thread in this kind of pattern, it’s basically chaos on the sands instead of the nicely-formed wings that they’ve drilled with. (So tell me again why scatter drills aren’t part of weyrling training on the regular? There was at least some hint of things as the “we’re running out of dragonriders” became more and more apparent, but it doesn’t look like that training was done well or done enough or otherwise such that the force remains coherent and effective in the face of a very different landscape?) Things are going pretty well for M’tal, but he almost gets destroyed by a clump approaching him from behind, before a dragon flames it out of existence and then disappears into hyperspace, so all M’tal gets is a good look at the jacket of the rider, which is very clearly the insignia of Benden’s Weyrleader. Several more times, this rider pops into existence to save dragonriders before disappearing again. M’tal immediately goes to see B’nik to give his thanks, except B’nik says he didn’t ride to the rescue of Ista during that Fall. M’tal is adamant that it was B’nik’s jacket, and so asks him the next logical question: who stole your jacket? B’nik denies that this has happened as well, so M’tal moves on to explanation three, that B’nik will, in the future, do this thing. Also of note is that the bronze dragon looked darker than usual, but that’s dismissed as a trick of the light.

Having informed B’nik of his theoretical upcoming action (and everyone commiserating about how they had hoped not to have to use that solution), M’tal goes back to Ista and the narrative goes on to Lorana throwing Fiona out so she can have some space to herself, because Fiona has been very solicitous about the status of the baby. Mostly because when the baby kicks Lorana awake in the middle of the night, Fiona gets woken up, too. And while Lorana is grateful that Fiona doesn’t take umbrage at this, she also needs to vent at someone about all of the things that are going on with the baby, as well as a resurgence of Tenniz’s prophecy in her dreams. The narrative hops away to Fiona, who has gone to the Kitchen Caverns to give Lorana space. Where Bekka and Seban are, since they’ve been called in to help with any possible birthings that might happen. And that conveniently puts them under the care of Birentir for their continued instruction. Bekka has been a useful pair of hands and knowledge for the midwives, but her instructions to Fiona are basically “Stop worrying about Lorana and her child.” Which includes going to sleep with T’mar that night, and all it is is sleep, even though Fiona wakes up in the middle of the night with a feeling that something terrible is going to happen.

The next scene starts with Fiona flagging down Terin and getting ready to have a catch-up, since Terin was last seen at the conference of the Lords, Leaders, and Masters, but Talenth going to the Hatching Ground and clutching her eggs interrupts the possibility of having to explain where Terin has been all this time. Fiona chides Talenth for not telling her what she’s doing, to which Talenth replies that she knows what she’s doing. Everybody is running to the Hatching Grounds, but when everything is done, Talenth puts out twenty-one eggs, none of which appear to be queen eggs. Fiona reassures Talenth that she did marvelously. Once Talenth is sleeping, T’mar wonders whether the early clutch, the low numbers of eggs, and the lack of a queen are related to the fact that these dragons have had their genes altered to make themselves immune to the dragon plague. Hopping over something I’ll get back to in a second, when Tolarth clutches, it’s twenty-two with a queen egg. Tullea’s Minith also clutches twenty-two with a queen egg, which gives credence to the idea that the new gene pool has reduced numbers significantly.

T’mar has some interesting advice for Fiona in one of the skipped-over sections that makes me continue to believe that a more knowledgeable author would be able to convincingly carry the polyamory aspects better:

“A queen often mates for the good of the Weyr, often against her rider’s desires or interests,” he said. “In the course of your life, there’s no guarantee that you might not find yourself with several partners.”
“Several more partners,” Fiona corrected with a smile.
“Riders are often much like their dragons,” T’mar allowed noncommitally, although his eyes gleamed humorously.

To T’mar, anyway, the idea that someone might not be monogamous for a lifetime should be expected for bronze and/or gold riders. He might be expecting serial monogamy, such that nobody has more than one long-term partner at a time (because, remember, one of the riders way back at the beginning of this set had two waiting for him in his Weyr and everyone seemed to facepalm at this idea as someone showing off, although they already acknowledged he seemed to have a different sex partner every night), but he’s making it pretty clear that there’s not supposed to be an expectation of someone mating once and sticking with that partner for the rest of one’s life. So this shouldn’t be nearly as strange a situation as everyone is making it out to be. Unless what’s strange about it is that there are non-dragonriders involved, or that there are women with two dudes instead of dudes with multiple women (or dudes with multiple men), but we don’t get to know what that is.

Fiona even confirms that this is the sort of thing that should be seen as pretty normal among dragonriders.

She knew they were talking about Talenth’s clutch and was certain that some of the conversations were condemning her for allowing Talenth to select Zirenth–as if she had a choice!–over a different dragon, one with a conscious rider and not the pairing of Lorana and Kindan.
Fiona was pretty certain that some of the more traditional weyrfolk were also chatting critically about her own choice of partners, but Turns of similar such chatter as she grew up at Fort Hold had inured her to the effects of such gossip–“Some people can’t live without carping” had been Neesa’s response Turns back when a very young Fiona had been taunted by some of the Hold youngsters.

So do dragonriders have control over their dragons and who they choose or not? Because the books have been see-sawing over this over the course of their publication runs. If they do have control, then some of the tongues wagging makes sense, but if they don’t, then I would have expected weyrfolk to shrug their shoulders and say “the dragons choose” and go on about it. Fiona certainly seems to be of the opinion that she doesn’t have control over who her dragon chose. Or who caught her dragon with their tricks and agility. And many of the other mating flights we’ve seen from the perspective of the dragonriders suggests that the gestalt is not something that you can resist forever, even if you can resist it to some degree.

Also, what’s this teasing that’s happening to Fiona in the past? Is she doing more than just hunting tunnel snakes as a child? Is she hanging out with boys as possible husbands or because she’s being trained to take over for Bemin? Are they gossiping about the possibility that Fiona might be interested in more than one boy? Or has been seen with more than one boy? Or is Fiona generalizing that the chatter has been about all of the unladylike activities that she might have gotten up to as a child and she’s just used to people complaining about her decisions so much that she doesn’t pay any attention to it at all?

Fiona’s reaction was quite different if she overheard any criticism or Lorana or Kindan, as one group of weyrfolk discovered when she overheard them.
“Lorana and Kindan saved the dragons of Pern!” Fiona roared at them. “And anyone who cannot give them all due honor for their sacrifices need not remain in this Weyr.”
The women blanched, one looking beseechingly in Shaneese’s direction.That was a mistake, as Shaneese bustled over to the group and weighed in heavily on Fiona’s side.
“I can see that you’ve all had too much idle time on your hands,” Shaneese had said in conclusion, “and I’m glad that you’ve all volunteered to help the healers with their medical laundry.” She glanced toward Fiona, who gave her a slight nod of encouragement. “The Weyrwoman and I are certain that you will give all your efforts to ensuring that all their fabrics and tools are thoroughly sterilized–steamed for a full ten minutes.”
Stunned beyond words, the women could only nod in mute agreement.

Shaneese is a perfectly excellent henchperson, always taking the side of the authority and doling out the punishments to make sure that everyone doesn’t badmouth the authority in their hearing.

Also, I must throw my hands up in the air and shout

Cocowhat by depizan

because oh Great Maker we’ve complicated the state of knowledge on Pern again. Because if they know how to sterilize, and they use that word, that makes me wonder what they knew in the time of the plagues that killed the humans and the dragons. Except, of course, that they apparently didn’t know anything, because Kindan had to reinvent various methods after coming to certain conclusions while being thrown into the middle of a plague situation. Stuff that the Healers presumably could or should have already known. But now, we’re talking about steam and heat sterilization of linens like it is common knowledge now, and always has been. Even though it didn’t get used at all when it would have been the most useful.

The only thing that’s different here is the degree to which the new author is contradicting themselves and daring us to point it out to them, compared to the previous author’s occasional attempts to hide it or pretend like nothing has happened. The usual issues apply of “where were the editors?” “where were the proofers?” and, most importantly, “where is the series continuity check?” Not that any of that matters, really, I suppose, but it is very much a thing that might cause someone expecting consistency to tear their hair out. And then the narrative trolls us, probably unintentionally, when there is talk about whether they can use the same knowledge Lorana and Kindan were taught to figure out whether or not the dragon clutch sizes are the new normal or not.

Kindan frowned. “I’m not sure how much of our knowledge of Wind Blossom is accurate; it seems that watch-whers were created more by design than by mistake.” He held up a hand to contain T’mar’s objections. “I think our Records from the times were purposely misleading.”
Weyrleader and Weyrwoman gave him shocked looks.
“It wouldn’t be the first time that Records were changed according to the feeling of the times,” Kindan said.
Fiona made a face and nodded in agreement. “I saw plenty of that in the Records at Igen,” she said. “It was obvious that those writing the Records had their own views of things.”
“And, as they were writing the Records, those were the views that are remembered,” T’mar said with an understanding nod of his own. “But that still doesn’t answer our question now.”

Well, that’s the first I’ve explicitly heard someone say that the Records are opinionated. Of course, it would be true, as all the Records that we have of our own times and places are opinionated, even if some of them want to say they don’t have bias or opinion, but what gets in and what stays out are definitely things that show opinion about the importance of whatever is being written about. It is interesting to see Kindan fairly unconcerned about the fact that the historical record of a time is being rewritten to re-suit the beliefs of a more modern era, and Fiona to give a negative opinion about the beliefs expressed in the Records she saw. Since Igen was The Asshole’s before he merged with Telgar, I can see why Fiona might not want to agree with those opinions about anything, even though supposedly the Weyrwoman is the one who is writing Records, at least for the most part. I would have expected the Harpers, the keepers of the supposedly static culture, to be a lot more upset about the fact that their historical records are being altered, but Kindan doesn’t seem bothered by it. What a difference the future will be, then, when there’s at least some idea of resisting the Harpers or that someone gets so nervous about his daughter’s musical ability that he looks for any excuse at all to hurt her and try to divert her away from the path of making catchy tunes.

Also, if the information in the Records is opinionated and biased, how does anyone looking at them know whether what they’re seeing is truth or BS, unless they regularly make comparisons between one set of Records and another? So tell me again why the Weyrs have to keep their Records separated?

As it is, the consistent low numbers has Lorana exceptionally concerned that the cure they came up with is having an unintended side effect of early and light clutching, and Tullea stops by in person to twist the knife on Lorana about it. Which nearly earns her getting slapped by Fiona, but Fiona stops just in time. Fiona tells her to be grateful she’s got a queen egg, as Talenth didn’t lay one. For that charity, Tullea says “I’m sure they’re all greens, given the way they were mated.” and Fiona shows restraint again by not pounding Tullea into the ground for that particular insult.

Supposedly, Tullea’s behavior was much improved by no longer being stuck in time, at least for the amount of time that they knew Tullea was twice around. There’s always the possibility that Tullea is still twice-in-time somewhere, but Tullea has really had her worst traits aggravated and made into her single point of characterization, to the point where she’s going after Lorana for nonsensical reasons. There’s no reason for this, though, narratively-speaking, it’s just there to have Tullea be terrible at Lorana.

And while Kindan and Fiona are trying to comfort her, Kindan mentions that the Records have plenty of mentions of multiple partnerships, which again makes me wonder what the fuck is the problem with this arrangement, then, if there’s all this evidence and Records and everyone seems to have known that this is the sort of thing that could have existed and did exist already. It’s starting to become more and more apparent that the only plot that doesn’t depend on people ignoring the evidence in front of them or behaving in ways that would seem to be strongly out of character for the amount of information available to them is the one about the dragons all dying off and needing to figure out some way of replenishing their ranks. Which is going to have some sort of time-travel solution involved.

In any case, the chapter ends with Fiona studying T’mar and having a little bit of angst about whether she should just leave Lorana and Kindan and just be partnered with T’mar, to which she gets a chide from Lorana (presumably, it doesn’t explicitly say who is telling her to stop) about her line of thinking. To which Fiona buries it and frets about what might happen if anybody got seriously hurt of killed, rider or dragon, and marvels about how Lorana can keep taking the pain of every dragon dying and still keep moving each day. (And also, that Fiona still expects two women in love with the same man to be an “endless well of jealousy and betrayal”, which it hasn’t been for her and Lorana, mostly because I still think Lorana has been on board with shipping Kindan and Fiona for a good long while.) Fiona eventually concludes there must be some counterweight of joy to all of the sorrow and eventually slips off to sleep at the end of the chapter.

We’re starting to work harder on the plot of the dying dragons at this point, and there’s only a few more chapters to go, so hopefully we’ll be done with this and then on to the next soon. I’m getting tired of characters not talking to each other, not taking what the others have to say as true, given a long track record of meaning what they say, and for characters to not behave in any way consistent with the setting that they have been put into and the logical conclusions that would be drawn from that. I can see why people who might have loved the original author’s materials (or at least be more willing to tolerate it) could be entirely put off by the new author’s take on everything. I wonder what the relative weightings of transformative fanworks are for the original First/Sixth/Ninth Pass settings are compared to this Third Pass setting.

5 thoughts on “Dragongirl: Remembering There’s A Plot

  1. Digitalis April 30, 2020 at 10:53 am

    I wonder what the relative weightings of transformative fanworks are for the original First/Sixth/Ninth Pass settings are compared to this Third Pass setting.

    *Cracks knuckles* My time has come.

    There are currently 946 fanfics on Archive of Our Own, the latest of which was updated two days ago (as of April 30, 2020). Of those 946, 289 of those are crossovers, largely fusion fics where characters from other stories live on Pern (the Avengers Impress dragons, etc. basically).

    Approximately 469 include characters from the books written solely by Anne (up to All the Weyrs of Pern).

    A further 331 fics feature original characters exclusively, focusing on Passes and Intervals not explored in the official books. However, there is some degree of overlap between these fics and the 469 with canon characters for fics that focus on OCs but include canon characters and events in the background.

    Of the Third Pass books, I have managed to find a grand total of 4, one of which was in Russian. All of them were written during or shortly after the books were being written. (When I say I don’t post fic because there’s not an audience, this is why.)

    Fanfiction.net has 686 fics, many of which are cross-posted on AO3, but the ratio appears to be about the same. It’s important to note however that for a long time, Anne MacCaffrey did not allow fanfiction of her books at all, and was well-known for sending cease-and-desist letters to her fans. This was relaxed later on to allow stories with original characters and Weyrs but specifically forbid using canon characters and locations (Benden Weyr, Ruatha Hold), and eventually lifted entirely a few years before her death.

    She did allow online role-playing with the same restrictions, and last I checked there are still a couple dozen RP sites active at any one time. Fanart is less common and probably a good 50% of it is for RPs.

    Another thing to note is that many of the fics on AO3 are tagged with warnings for many of the problematic elements of Pern–consent issues, especially around mating flights, homophobia, various bigotries, etc. Many fans (in my experience, the majority of them), at least of the ones who are active in the fandom, are well aware of many of the books’ flaws and choose to either acknowledge and explore the problematic elements of Pern’s society, or deliberately ignore them. We pick and choose the bits of canon we like, and toss the rest, because dragons are cool; riding them, even cooler.

  2. Silver Adept April 30, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    Right. I’m not surprised that the hostile policy toward fans killed the possibility of fic at the point when it would be best to establish it. By the time we get to the reboot, it doesn’t look like there are many people who are willing to take on that part, either.

    And, well, all of the warnings and issues. But, y’know, steal what works, fix what’s broke, discard the rest.

    Especially now that the original author’s been dead for a while, the second author is done, and there’s one more author taking a stab at it very recently, but still. If someone or something were able to navigate things and produce a reboot for a new audience that managed to deftly avoid the pitfalls of the original, it might be just the resurgence for works that Pern could use.

  3. genesistrine May 1, 2020 at 11:37 am

    a little banter about information likely gleaned from the Records

    Like I’ve said before, this should be common knowledge round the Weys – it’s their *job* to breed dragons. It should be like football or baseball statters on steroids. There should be long-drawn-out arguments about which historical queen dragons were the best layers; Firth laid more queens but Forth laid more bronzes and after she switched to being flown by Flumpth she laid more queens and would have caught up in a few more seasons. Because that’s something humans *do*.

    H’nez […] grumbled that when T’mar recovered, he’d request to be allowed to return to Fort Weyr.

    It is pretty hilarious that Mr “I DESERVE to be Weyrleader!” is all of a sudden “aaaa people are dying being in charge sucks I want out!” though.

    Jeila convinced H’nez to stay, not out of “but we’re happy here” but out of “my dragon has eggs and I have a baby, so we’re not going anywhere at all.”

    *Can* he even transfer? Isn’t he backup-Weyrleader as the rider whose dragon banged the backup queen dragon?

    That said, yeah, that relationship’s weird and creeeepy. Jeila apparently fixated on him at first sight and may now be doing some kind of emotional blackmail thing with the pregnancy.

    Jeila wants Bekka to attend her birth

    SHE’S!

    TWELVE!

    I’m having trouble figuring out how to articulate the kind of existential cry that must be going on with Fiona right now, because I’m not sure that it can be put into words, but I can definitely tell that it’s there.

    I wonder if we’re seeing it in Talenth’s scary dreams. Maybe they’re her picking up on Fiona’s repressed emotions. Or Lorana – as an ex-Weyrwoman and telepath – is subconsciously broadcasting doom and despair and HORRIBLE PREDESTINED TRAGEDY IS COMING through the Lorana/Fiona mindlink.

    Kindan […] begins to appreciate how much of that burden he had taken on himself, and doesn’t have to do any more)

    Because he can dump it on Fiona, the designated dumping site for everyone else’s bad feelings, instead. Woo-hoo.

    Bekka has been a useful pair of hands and knowledge for the midwives, but her instructions to Fiona are basically “Stop worrying about Lorana and her child.”

    Worth looking at the details – she dumps yet *more* guilt and stress on Fiona. Check it out:

    “And you’re afraid you’ll lose the both of them, aren’t you?” Bekka asked knowingly. When Fiona, frowning, gave her a reluctant nod, the young girl continued, “Isn’t it possible that the both of them are picking up on your distress?”

    Fiona bit her lips glumly and nodded once more. “What can I do?”

    […]

    “If you can’t keep your moods in check, then it would be better if Lorana found quarters by herself,” Bekka said.

    See, Fiona? It’s all on you! Keep your feelings good and repressed now, or awful things might happen to the people you love!

    Fiona flagging down Terin and getting ready to have a catch-up

    Including her asking Terin “hey are you pregnant?”

    SHE’S!

    THIRTEEN!

    It’s like one of those stupid high-school-girl pacts of “let’s all get pregnant at once so our kids can grow up together!”

    “A queen often mates for the good of the Weyr, often against her rider’s desires or interests,”

    Which, on the evidence of the mating flights we’ve seen, is as much bollocks as the Weyrwoman getting to choose. These people seem to spend half their lives gaslighting themselves! “Yes, yes, this is all MEANT to happen! Everything is fine!”

    I can kind of sympathise, since a clear-eyed look at their situation would be pretty horrifying, but still, *damn*.

    Unless what’s strange about it is that there are non-dragonriders involved, or that there are women with two dudes instead of dudes with multiple women (or dudes with multiple men), but we don’t get to know what that is.

    As far as we could tell, what Kylara was doing long ago and far ahead that was so nastysluttybad was sleeping with someone who wasn’t a dragonrider, so maybe. On the other hand, Kindan is the Weyr Harper and no-one seemed to get nasty about him getting with Lorana (well, except Tullea, and there’s no telling whether that’s Weyr morality or Tullea being the Designated Bitch in this era).

    You’d think women with two dudes would be fairly common – M’tal’s situation came about because he had an existing relationship before becoming Weyrleader; if the queenrider in that situation had an existing partner would she be expected to drop him?

    (I suspect she might, because Pernese toxic masculinity probably leans towards it being an insult to a bronze rider’s alphaness to not be the only man in a relationship. But like you say, we don’t get to know.)

    Also, what’s this teasing that’s happening to Fiona in the past?

    I read that as just complaining about her being wilful and unladylike rather than Riding In Cars With Boys – if she did have any relationships or crushes before she Impressed they’ve never been mentioned. Hell, the narrative’s never mentioned any friendships she had as a child; she doesn’t go looking for any old friends/contemporaries when she visits Fort. Just the cook and her dad.

    Fiona’s reaction was quite different if she overheard any criticism or Lorana or Kindan, as one group of weyrfolk discovered when she overheard them.

    “Lorana and Kindan saved the dragons of Pern!” Fiona roared at them. “And anyone who cannot give them all due honor for their sacrifices need not remain in this Weyr.”

    The women blanched, one looking beseechingly in Shaneese’s direction.That was a mistake, as Shaneese bustled over to the group and weighed in heavily on Fiona’s side.

    Something very important has been left out here. *What were they actually saying?* Because damn I would have a good few things to say about Kindan myself. And probably also things like “Don’t you think Lorana might be better off away from the Weyr somewhere where she might get a bit less telepathic dragon death firing itself into her cortex?” Or are they muttering about weird four-ways? In which case this narrative needs to make its mind up; are poly relationships normal if rare, as everyone keeps telling Fiona, or eek icky no decent person etc etc?

    It’s also *extremely* interesting that they look at Shaneese for help. Has she been saying the same stuff but been smart enough to do it where Fiona won’t hear?

    (Also that punishment seems to imply that the Healers normally do their own laundry which come on. Don’t they have actual medical stuff to do?)

    Kindan frowned. “I’m not sure how much of our knowledge of Wind Blossom is accurate; it seems that watch-whers were created more by design than by mistake.” He held up a hand to contain T’mar’s objections. “I think our Records from the times were purposely misleading.”

    What a pity no-one can go back in time and ask.

    Ah.

    Um.

    Nevertheless.

    Tullea says “I’m sure they’re all greens, given the way they were mated.”

    T’mar’s response is:

    “Greens are good fighters,” T’mar said breathlessly, having raced from his weyr up to Fiona’s side. “We could use as many of them as we could get.”

    GREENS!

    CAN!

    BREED!

    Just don’t let them chew firestone and you’ll be swimming in little green dragons!

    makes me wonder what the fuck is the problem with this arrangement, then, if there’s all this evidence and Records and everyone seems to have known that this is the sort of thing that could have existed and did exist already.

    This is all just *so* *fucking* *tedious*. It’s not even “relationship drama” because there’s no damn drama! All there is is endless droning stupidity and shittiness.

  4. Silver Adept May 2, 2020 at 12:19 am

    I mean, there’s always been a fair amount of “H’nez talks a big game, but backs down when called to the carpet by his superiors.” Who apparently didn’t include the Healer he knifed, despite the thing I’ve heard where when the medic tells you to do or not do something, you obey the medic and you take up any objections to how you were told off afterward, when you’re not in danger of dying.

    Presumably he could transfer again to another Weyr where he would be able to talk his big game but be safely far enough down the succession list that he wouldn’t be expected to lead anyone for anything actually really important.

    They really are piling it on Fiona to keep her spirits up in the face of everyone else having a meltdown and then some. And she just keeps accepting it, because she’s basically been told that if she cracks, the whole world goes with her.

    And all of this relationship stuff really is ridiculous, yes. And it’s all borne out of the authors not ever having made a call on this beforehand and not seeming to be willing to make a call on it now, either.

    And yes, greens can breed, but I think there’s a prevailing assumption (another thing they could go back and ask someone about) that greens will only breed inferior dragons forever, which might have mutated to the point where they believe that green-bred dragons will be utterly unsuited for Thread-fighting in any way at all. Given that what the people here need is numbers more than anything, I don’t think they’re sitting in a position to be picky about what kind of dragons they have, so long as they have dragons.

  5. genesistrine May 2, 2020 at 6:36 am

    there’s always been a fair amount of “H’nez talks a big game […]”

    Absolutely, but it’s still great to see it in action. Considering how inconsistent everyone else’s behaviour is it’s nice to see some consistency.

    greens can breed, but I think there’s a prevailing assumption […] that greens will only breed inferior dragons forever

    I don’t think they’ve even thought that much about it. There could be an issue in that greens you want to breed from won’t be able to flame, so can’t fight Thread, but with only 8 breeding queens on Pern just nominate the first 8 young greens to rise as breeders and boom, you’ve doubled your baby dragon production. If greens-descended-from-greens might have long-term health issues then only breed from greens from gold clutches until you get the numbers up, because as you say they’re not in a position to be picky.

    Going back to Kindan’s “I think our Records from the times were purposely misleading” it’s actually conflating 2 different things. They immediately start talking about bias and opinion, which is no doubt a big problem in the Records, but what Kindan suggests there is *deliberate* lying.

    So… why? Why lie about watchwhers being a design error rather than designated nightdefense force? Who benefits from that?

    The watchwhers don’t. They get chained up so they can’t fly and fight, they nearly got wiped out with no-one bothering to object. It’s of a piece with Wind Blossom’s baffling insistence that no-one must know that she made watchwhers deliberately so you shouldn’t chain them up but you must NEVER EVER TELL ANOTHER LIVING SOUL.

    I would have expected the Harpers, the keepers of the supposedly static culture, to be a lot more upset about the fact that their historical records are being altered, but Kindan doesn’t seem bothered by it.

    Another nail in the coffin of the idea that the Harpers are noble disinterested preservers and teachers of knowledge on Pern rather than the propaganda arm of the status quo.

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