Monthly Archives: September 2020

Deconstruction Roundup for September 25th, 2020

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has a lot of natural disaster to contend with, none of which is their own making.)

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

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 certain that the person who is currently in charge intends to stay in charge regardless of whatever the election process says. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Time: An Act II Tragedy

Last week, mating flights happened that kept queen dragons from killing each other, and then it was revealed that Lorana continues to be busy up and down the timeline, making sure Tenniz gets the option of seeing and imparting wisdom and future knowledge to his children as well as arranging for the necessary interference to keep the queens apart and for F’jian to be there for Terin in an hour of great need (And, conveniently, sexytimes.)

Dragon’s Time: Chapter 10: Content Notes:

We resume in Chapter 10 with preparations underway for a space where a lot of eggs are going to be in a hurry.

“This isn’t anything like a proper Hatching Ground,” T’mar said as he surveyed the results of two sevendays’ worth of effort. The dragons had worked tirelessly, scooping up fine sand from the shore and bringing it back to pile atop the newly stone-lined makeshift Hatching Ground.
“It’s the best we can do,” Fiona said. She shook her head. “Who ever thought we’d have all five queens and four greens ready to clutch at the same time?”

You did, back in chapter 9 when you were concerned about the likelihood of one mating flight touching off others, Fiona. That wasn’t a part I had quoted, though, because it was more about the difficulties of constructing a proper Hatching Ground for one dragon that rolled into a discussion of how one dragon going for a mating flight would inspire the others. So, I would have thought at least at some point along the way, someone would have gone “So what happens if all of them decide they’re having eggs at the same time?” and the planning would have proceeded accordingly, but I guess they shook it all off as highly improbable, despite the understanding that they’re here, back in time, because they’re currently experiencing a shortage of dragons and could really use some more, thanks.

Also, because I know it’s going to become important later, “stone-lined” for me, as something to catch sand, means solid stone with no breaks or cracks that haven’t been mortared, cemented, or otherwise sealed so that the sand itself does not leak out of the container that’s been created for it, because otherwise, there’s going to be a lot more sand needed than the container can hold, so that all the cracks can be filled as well with sand. So. Sealed stone space for sand.

Also in preparations is Fiona getting her way again about who will be standing for dragon eggs when they are available, in the frame of thinking about how many humans they’re going to need if there’s a maximum amount of eggs available.

“Will Lorana stand, do you think?”
“Will you stand?” T’mar added, glancing at the harper.
“He has no choice,” Fiona declared. Kindan glanced her way and gave her a resigned look. Fiona chuckled and reached out to pat him on the shoulder. “He’s a wise man.”
“I don’t think it matters, really,” Kindan said with a shrug. “No Records I’ve read mention someone my age Impressing.”
“But if you can Impress, then maybe we can get some of the others who have lost their dragon to stand on the Hatching Grounds again,” T’mar said. “Think how that would be.”
“I’ve nearly thirty Turns now,” Kindan said. “Aren’t I too old for this? Shouldn’t someone younger have the honor?”
“The dragons will decide,” Fiona said.
“And you’ll keep your word?”
“Yes, if you are not chosen this time, I won’t ask you again,” Fiona said. They’d talked about this ever since the mating flights. At first, Kindan had refused outright, but when Lorana had merely suggested it was probably moot, the harper had relented on the condition that he would not be asked again.
“Otherwise, I’ll be as old as Zist and standing on the sands!”

Someone finally got Fiona to give in on something. Wow. Except I know as well as all of you do that this means it’s going to be the time that Kindan finally gets his dragon. Because Kindan has been favored by the narrative since his introduction, there’s no reason for any of us to believe that he won’t also end up getting a bronze dragon, so that he can be Fiona’s and Lorana’s mate without anyone wondering why they’re slumming it with a Harper without a dragon.

The potential numbers also have everyone wondering exactly where they’re going to procure enough resources to feed the potential number of new Candidates and their dragons, since taking on the injured has already stretched the resources thin. And then all of the pregnant dragons clutch within a week of each other, and now they know that they need enough candidates for two hundred and fifty-three eggs, five of them being queen eggs. Which, working with the narrative’s idea of a ratio of at least four candidates for each egg, means figuring out how to find, house, and feed more than one thousand humans, without necessarily tipping off themselves or anyone else that they’re doing it. They think of the possibility of skipping forward in time to determine how many are hatching, and then only grab that many, but the idea is shot down. Doylistically, because that would be a sensible way of using your time travel powers, but Watsonianly, it doesn’t work because apparently the timeline actively resists anything other than the correct solution or what plays out in the timeline. How do we know this?

“Fine, you try it,” Fiona told him, gesturing toward the outside and Zirenth in the distance. “Let me know when you get tired.”
“You’ve already tried?” T’mar asked in suprirse. Fiona and Lorana both nodded.
“Perhaps you can go, but neither of us could,” Fiona told him.
“It’s like J’trel said, there’s no there.”
“Does this have anything to do with your voices?” T’mar asked Lorana. She had told them all about her encounters with the strange voices going forward in time.

Which I am going to grumble at, because other than the arbitrary rules imposed by the narrative, there’s no good reason why Lorana shouldn’t be able to hop forward and observe things. She can do the astrological calculation and visualization, but apparently, because this is the wrong solution, or something would happen with that future knowledge, neither Lorana or Fiona can jump forward to the right time.

Which suggests the timeline is far more robust than everyone thinks, and if it is self-protecting like this, then basically any solution that comes into anyone’s head about trying to fix things should be testable. If they can do the thing, then it was the right solution (or the right path for them to take on their timeline toward their fated and inevitable death, I suppose), and if they can’t manage to do the thing, then it’s a wrong solution and should be discarded. And possibly remembered in case it can be used at another time, place, or manner. What would make it more consistent would be if trying to go to a particular place and time that’s not in the timeline gets someone shunted away to somewhere or somewhen else, such that they can’t actually hit their target, no matter how much they are interested in trying to do so. That would make a lot more sense, rather than being stymied at the point of departure, because, after all, astronomical navigation techniques says that someone, especially Lorana, should always be able to hit their spot without something actively interfering and pushing them away from the destination. There’s always a there, but if you can’t get to there, then that’s the timeline’s way of telling you that your solution is wrong. (Connie Willis uses this concept in the Oxford Time Travel novels that deal with the Second World War, as it is only after the war is won that the time travelers realize they were prevented from jumping out because they needed to be in key places to help preserve the integrity of the timeline.)

What the leadership decides to do in the meantime is basically spread the secret that there’s going to be a massive dragon hatch among the Weyrs, the traders, and sympathetic Holders like Nerra, who have been taking in all sorts of orphans and others that she would probably enjoy getting to send off at a moment’s notice to see if they can stand to be dragonriders. And that way, if they need to raise a thousand or more at a moment’s notice, they can, and without straining their stores or supplies. Having made that decision, it’s time for Fiona and company to make their rounds among the injured and do the morale-boosting work and other such things along with healing and tending to the injured. Fiona picks Shanar as the lucky toddler that will be accompanying them, because Fiona has apparently learned something about the dragonriders that makes having a child along perfect for the task in front of her.

Dragons loved the gentle emotions and pure honesty of the very young, their riders loved seeing proof that Pern would continue, that their great efforts were not without reward, and–most of all–everyone secretly loved seeing Fiona struggle to teach the squirmy infants manners.

Because, of course, everyone likes to see the Weyrwoman struggle or otherwise have difficulty with things. Which would be less of an aggravation for me if we haven’t basically had everyone taking pleasure in embarrassing Fiona throughout the entire book, often about things that she did when she was a child, or things she did with regard to children. Otherwise, the narrative could get away with justifying it as a “making the Weyrwoman more human and relatable” for the dragonriders.

Fiona was quick enough, particularly with her breeding as a Lord Holder’s daughter, to pick up on that, and she capitalized on it shamelessly, being certain always to bring with her a change of clothes, particularly diapers, and a bag for the soiled clothes. Sometimes she would change the child herself, other times she would spend minutes moaning and murmuring to wheedle a rider into doing the deed for her.
Lorana and Kindan both were privately amazed at her ability to judge emotions correctly; Fiona seemed to know which rider most needed to see that the Weyrwoman wasn’t above getting her hands–and even her clothes–dirty, and which riders wanted to prove to themselves that their fingers weren’t so clumsy, their voices weren’t so hard, their fears weren’t so great that they couldn’t change the diaper of a crying baby and return it laughing merrily.
For Fiona, it was as easy as breathing; she was never certain, but she always had an inkling of another’s emotions.

And there’s about as obvious as it will get that Fiona’s also an empath to esper levels. So, for her, it might very well be true that her emotional state influences others, rather than it being something used to try and ensure all the Weyrwomen are perpetually in a happy state until they snap and bite someone’s head off. (Tullea being the exception, except she might not actually be the way she is around Fiona around her own dragonriders.) So Lorana and Fiona have telepathy, and Fiona’s an empath. Gold rider superpowers unite.

And because we can’t not keep track of the emotional development of our characters, after the narrative spends time on doing healing of a rider and pointing out that shortages have been happening ever since the injured riders joined the team, we get this:

Jeriz, now having nearly thirteen Turns, had been dragooned into everything. Fiona noticed it was easier to get the best out of him when he was around her or Terin and suspected that the young lad, who had started to draw more attention as he reached his maturity, harbored feelings for the two of them. Terin seemed both flattered and amused.
Fiona wasn’t certain how she felt. She understood about crushes; she’d managed to turn hers on Kindan into a solid reality, so she could hardly fault the lad for hoping for the same.

Cocowhat by depizan

I’m pretty sure what I think about this myself. Especially since Fiona had thought of Jeriz as training for her own son, and because of how badly she treated Jeriz. Also, he’s thirteen. Which makes Fiona much older than that, and Terin, too. Yet, the narrative can’t give us a definitive of Fiona going “nope, he’s too young, and he’s also Jirana’s brother, and no, he needs to be a lot older if he’s going to make his suit with me.” Terin is free to make up her own mind, of course, but I think she’s also old enough that this would also be a problem of consent and enough of an age difference that the Romeo and Juliet laws wouldn’t protect her. Also, Jeriz is thirteen, and even though the author really believes that twelve is the perfect age for all of these things, if not earlier, thirteen is still far too early to be making lifelong decisions. Because they will be lifelong if there is pregnancy involved.

Blech. Moving foward, Bekka gets sent to Nerra to collect more supplies and to spread the word, and time passes to clutching times and the two queens getting along and Terin apologizes for the problem with the mating flight, and oh did we mention that Terin is now pregnant, apparently by F’jian? Along with that, the plan to get Candidates in place is going smoothly, and Halla and Pellar are dispatching a crew to clear out the firestone mine at Igen that needs to be cleared, so, again, timeline cleanup at work. Fiona writes herself the note that she will find, and then Lorana receives another memo from future Fiona self telling her not to have the green dragons chew firestone, even though it’s about the right time to start doing firestone drills. So now Fiona’s been told by herself not to go to the west and not to have the greens chew firestone. At least this time around, everyone accepts that it’s timeline fuckery and doesn’t question whether or not it’s real. Perhaps because they’ve now seen more than enough of timeline fuckery to roll with it.

We go back to montage mode where Fiona recounts that Xhinna is growing into a leader, although Taria will always be a follower (even though she’s not shy about expressing her opinions), her success at getting Lin, Benden’s junior, to come out of her shell (remember, she’s junior to Tullea, who I guess is exactly like she is around Fiona when around others), about Jassi getting who she wanted to, and also having been a competent person while Fiona was raising her children and gracious about ceding the spotlight back to Fiona when she no longer had to be so hands-on with them, and how Javissa and Shaneese managed to get along with each other, after an initial period of friction, to become a powerhouse pair that kept the logistics of everything running smoothly. Fiona has a mind to have Javissa stand for a dragon egg as well as Jeriz.

Then it’s time for flamethrower drill with agenothree-based flamethrowers for all the queen riders, who are excited at the prospect of eventually getting to fly a queen’s wing, before their practice is cut short by spotting cats moving toward the encampment. Those selfsame cats apparently vault the outer wall meant to keep them out, and Fiona and the queens manage to pluck them all and drop the off somewhere safely, completely confused as to why the cats are attacking the space, because attacking humans will get them killed, and the dragon eggs are too big for the cats to try and drag off.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wait long to figure out why the cats were attacking, as the next scene has the eggs hatching. Well, some small amount of the eggs hatching, as we find out that the tunnel snakes have apparently gotten to many of the eggs and killed and eaten the dragonets inside without anyone noticing that it was happening. Which means it’s now a scramble to get the live dragonets out of their eggs and bonded with candidates before the snakes get the rest of them.

So, before we begin and find out who gets their dragons, I want to call back to the point where the narrative told us this was a stone-lined Hatching Grounds. And that I said specifically that “stone-lined” for me meant a solid berth of stone without cracks or easy ways for anything to get in. Because what gets said is that “[f]or a fest like this, […] they’d tunnel for months,” despite Fiona insisting that guards have been posted all of this time to kill both cats and tunnel snakes, should they show themselves. And none of the eggs show any obvious signs of being cracked or damaged, as Fiona will rush to one of the eggs and rock it, realizing it’s too light to contain a dragon. Which means that somehow, the tunnel snakes have to have tunneled in through the stone bottom to get to the dragonets, break their shells, and then consume the contents inside. We’re told that the ground is soft enough for the tunnel snakes to get through, but there’s never been an indication that the tunnel snakes can work their way through stone. On the side of the tunnel snakes, its never said how thick the stone is, but against them, the stone is also supposed to support eggs and sand enough for those eggs, and sand is fucking heavy. Presumably, so are dragons, so that stone had better be plenty thick to carry all that weight. But we are supposed to believe enough tunnel snakes came and drilled through the stone and ate the eggs, and none of the dragons noticed the sudden silencing of life from their eggs, or heard the scrabbling of the snakes against the stone, and the guards didn’t hear it, either, over the course of these months. I can’t say that I believe that on its face, especially when we find out that most of the green dragons’ eggs didn’t survive because the greens don’t have maternal instinct, and they were told where they could clutch that put them in more vulnerable spaces than the gold dragons put theirs, but the attack surface for all the eggs is essentially the same when you’re coming up from underneath, so there’s no reason to believe that the greens were somehow more vulnerable than the golds were based on placement. Out of the more than two hundred eggs, apparently only twenty-three survive, including all of the gold eggs and most of the bronze eggs. Which is basically this way for plot reasons, but it doesn’t make any sense, based on what little we actually know about tunnel snakes.

Anyway, in the chaos of trying to get as many viable candidates out and bonded and away, Bekka impresses one of the gold dragons, Pinorth, and Kindan collects a bronze, Lurenth (like there was any doubt about either of them). Jeriz collects a green, Qinth, although she’s injured pretty severely before she bonds with Jeriz.

They all heard J’riz’s pained cry; in all her reading, Fiona had never heard of a dragon Impressing through her shell, but her need was great and J’riz had risen to it, smashing the egg open, pulling her out, and had single-handedly throttled two tunnel snakes before others had rushed to his aid.

These are the seemingly more vicious and dangerous tunnel snakes, we might say, and Jeriz is still killing them single-handedly in trying to save his dragon. That same berserker rage shows up in R’ney, who impressed the last viable hatchling, a brown.

He’d managed to Impress the very last hatchling–a brown–after having found a shovel he’d used both as a hammer with which to shatter shells and as an ax with which he severed the heads of a dozen tunnel snakes, his rage rising to berserk levels.

Somehow, I can imagine that berserk survives as a word on Pern, even though they’ve long since lost the context of the berserker as a warrior. Maybe I’m finally giving up on this idea of words surviving without their contexts, I don’t know.

There’s also something brewing in our camp of only-known lesbians that needs paying attention to, as well.

When his rage had cooled, he [R’ney] had been one of the first of the new weyrlings to bring his dragonet and set up his camp beside the injured Qinth. Xhinna and Taria were already there, quiet sentinels who slept not a wink the whole night. Taria had smiled shyly at the brown-eyed, rusty-haired lad, and they’d quickly struck up a conversation into which Xhinna had occasionally wandered, seeming surprised that her shy mate would find the smithcrafter’s company so enajoyable.

That’s not suspicious at all, now is it? Taria is getting flirty with the new dragonrider. Of course, we don’t really know what their arrangements are with regard to what happens when Taria’s dragon decides it’s time for a mating flight. But, fundamentally, can we keep our lesbians as lesbians, or officially state that Taria’s bi, or, even though I don’t like the implications of it, has been made bi by her association with her dragon? Or provide a justification up front about what Taria is doing? Because right now it’s looking a lot like the authors are trying to shoehorn some het in with their lesbians, rather than allowing them to continue to exist just fine as they are.

As it is, now that the eggs have hatched and the injured have healed, it’s time for all the fit and able fighting dragons to go back to the future. Fiona is leaving Xhinna behind and in charge of the remaining weyrlings and those who are not yet up to fighting strength, as well as one wing of mature dragons to protect them from the dangers of the island.

Since there’s still one more major plot point to happen and be resolved in the last part of this chapter and through the next one, we’re going to stop at this point and save the end for next week. I really wanted to push through, but there’s enough in the remaining space to warrant its own post. Aigh.

Deconstruction Roundup for September 18th, 2020

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has a lot of natural disaster to contend with, none of which is their own making.)

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

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 need to rage about how there are people who are choosing very narrow interests over the common weal and you want them to stare at the evidence of their folly until they get it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Time: Getting Our Timelines Straightened

Last time, the settlement for the second time-twist got underway and more firmed up, with all of the weyrlings from all the Weyrs disappeared and in this big island that nobody has known about or explored before, full of dangerous tunnel snakes and cats that survived from the ancient times. The humans and dragonets are living mostly on decommissioned ships, while the fuller-size dragons have tents to deal with the humidity and the constant rain.

Oh, and there are still some things on the timeline to be done and cleared up, like getting the injured to go back for the original time-twist, a firestone mine that needs to be mined out for the original time-twist, and the like. But the new group is apparently equally as good at keeping themselves hidden in time as the original group is, only choosing to flood the market with out-of-season fruits and silver-set gemstones to get enough supplies to keep themselves theoretically hidden from everyone else.

Oh, right, there’s also the bit where Fiona gave birth to twins, Shaneese had her child, and all of the women green riders are suddenly baby-crazy to the point where they may or may not have stopped to get consent from the partners they had their eyes on toward getting pregnant. It’s Pern, after all.

Dragon’s Time, Chapters 9 and 10: Content Notes: Narrative gaslighting

So we stopped after the births and early life last week because there’s some time passing that happens, and we get descriptions of all the children in Fiona’s life that’s worth looking at, and last week was already getting long in the tooth as an entry. So, here we are.

With all the adult company surrounding the children, it was not surprising that they learned to speak early and well. Tiona spoke the first word of the three. Kimar was the last of the children to speak, even though Shanar [that’s Shaneese’s child, if the naming convention didn’t make it clear] was a month his junior.
Dark-haired and blue-eyed, there was no mistaking Tiona as T’mar’s daughter, although her ebullient manners and charming ways were clearly inherited from her mother. At turns this both delighted and exasperated Fiona, who discovered a girl “just like me” could be a handful, much to Bekka’s obvious amusement–everyone else was too cautious to produce more than a studied lack of expression.
Shanar was sturdy, steady, and friendly, very much like his mother. He had dark eyes and darker skin, but he freckled, reminding everyone of Jeriz.
Kimar was blond-haired and had his mother’s sea-green eyes. But his manner was much more like that of his obvious father, Kindan. The boy would watch everything, move slowly, but always with grace.
When Kindan fashioned them all simple pipes, all three children were ecstatic, but only Kimar slept with his at night.

So Tiona and Kimar, from those descriptions, sound like fraternal twins, rather than identical ones, which is not impossible, although now I’m trying to remember if there was any space in the narrative that we know of where Fiona had sex with Kindan and T’mar in short succession with each other since the clear idea here is that one of them is the father of one, and the other the father of the other. And, of course, the girl takes after Fiona and the boy takes after Kindan. Which leaves Shanar to take after T’mar, I suppose, in addition to Shaneese?

Also, I seem to recall that one of the curses hurled in the direction of any given parent is “May you have children exactly like you,” so I think we’re supposed to side with Bekka here and take a little bit of amusement in Fiona having to deal with parenting a child or two that are far too much like her to be comfortable.

As things progress, we find that Tiona has an independent streak a mile wide and wants to not sleep in the communal bed anymore, but her first foray into having a sleepover with Jirana is a disaster for both of them and Jirana gets herself pulled into the communal bed to sleep. Which gets Colfet to agree to build Tiona her own bed so that she can not bother Jirana and not be subjected to Fiona’s great communal bed, either.

And speaking of Colfet:

The children were a special source of pride to the old seaman, whose own children were all grown and starting families of their own. These dragonchildren were, for Colfet, a treasure of unimaginable wealth.
Whenever he could, he would watch them, and he was practically encouraging all the women to have more children, seeing each pregnancy as a further sign of his own success.

And the narrative says that Fiona understands this a lot better when she manages to wring the story out of Lorana about what happened on the Wind Rider. Which then leads into the rest of the story about sending away her fire-lizards, about getting and losing Arith, about harnessing the Asshole’s decision to jump into hyperspace to send the messages back, and eventually, the locket that told her at least one of her fire-lizards survived, and then Lorana has a big and good cry about all of this and her own losses of children, dragons, and everything that’s happened to her all to this point. To which Fiona says “You are my life, my blood, my heart,[…]I could not be without you.”, and yet we’re still supposed to believe that Fiona’s straight, is that it? Like, Fiona is pretty clearly panromantic at this point, even if that particular terminology hasn’t completely entered the lexicon at this point. And it’s kind of frustrating to not have the words being used, but also, this is the sort of thing that would thrive, I would think, in dragonrider spaces, because the dragonriders are already supposedly outside the “normal” boundaries of Holders and Crafters and what they might consider appropriate relationships (although, with the caveat pointed out that women loving women relationships may not necessarily be seen as taboo so long as there is also the part where the women do the part where they get pregnant and produce heirs and sons to inherit). That we have so few examples is another one of those “did anybody actually think through the implications?” shortcomings.

We have a short interlude of worry that there may be dragons rising to have sex soon, which is potentially very perturbing for Terin, since her love is still dead and she might understandably not want to have sexytimes with anyone right now. There’s the potential additional complication of the greens being fertile, since nobody has been chewing firestone (and isn’t it just a crock of shit that firestone only turns the female dragons infertile, rather than doing it to the male ones, too?) and a short musing from Fiona that Talenth has been completely uninterested in sex, despite there being basically no reason for her not to be. (Also, the parenting idea of “when the child does something, let them pick themselves back up and make a determination of how hurt they are,” which is apparently a thing that I demonstrated when I climbed the side of my playpen, flung myself over the side, then checked to see whether or not there were any adults coming from this stunt. If no adults, then I went and started playing with toys, rather than trying to get adult attention. I’m told that one side of the playpen stayed down after my parents observed this happening, since it was clear that if I wanted to get out, I was going to get out.)

Also, the narrative tells us that the string of monogamous heterosexual pairings between Weyrleaders that always happens in these stories is supposed to be rare.

“It’s possible for a queen to stay with just the one bronze,” she reminded him.
“Possible,” T’mar admitted grudglingly. “But very rare.”
“And not always to the good of the Weyr, either,” Fiona said. “But what my queen does is not always a reflection of what I want.”
“And what do you want, Weyrwoman?”
“Right now, I want answers to our questions,” she told him. “And I want you to know that I love you.”
T’mar’s expression softened. “I do.”
“And remember that I will always have a place in my heart for you.”
“And others.”
“Like Shanar and Kimar.”
“So much competition,” T’mar teased, shaking his head.
“It’s only a competition if there’s a prize.”
Wisely, the bronze rider said nothing.

So, yeah, we’re supposed to believe that most Weyrs operate on a regular rotation of Weyrleaders as the queens choose among the available bronzes. And maybe in Interval times, that is how it actually works, with various bronzes and their riders getting the opportunity to lead the Weyr and do whatever the riders do when they’re not gearing up or in the middle of fighting Thread. But when it’s time for a Pass, it seems like there’s a sudden and strong insistence on consistent leadership through the pass, barring death of the current Weyrleader. And those relationships are more often than not based in love and compatibility as much as they are consistent leadership through troubling times. I am again reminded of how much it would be nice to see a story where the partnership is always strictly professional and there’s no love in it at all, even if there’s regular sex for appearances, or one where there’s a rotation of leadership during a Pass, to show us how a Weyr adapts to having a new person in charge in the middle of life-threatening situations. It’s not like there aren’t examples to draw on about peaceful transfer of power in Terran history to provide the template for how Pern manages it.

The narrative progresses again to tell us that there’s an additional problem with their shipboard living decision – apparently, wood won’t keep these tunnel snakes out. Which the humans wouldn’t have discovered had it not been for a Mreeow that went after the tunnel snake as possible food, and the noise of that alerted the humans to finding the hole that had been torn into the ship and the supplies that had been raided. There seems to be a fixable solution to this, in the sense of possibly turning the old ships into a tied-together and anchored flotilla hiding out of sight of the visible ship routes, although that solution wouldn’t work for Fiona, who has already been shown to get ill in the sway of a hammock. And the dragons would till have to be housed off-ship, most likely, but it seems like having a small amount of dwellings and infrastructure on the island with most of the crews on ships off the islands would be the easiest solution to both tunnel snakes and Mreeows. Also, stone floors on anything that doesn’t have to go into the ground, and if someone has figured out how to make cement, now would be a good time for someone to learn it or practice it for these on-island dwellings, to make them more resistant to attack from both threats. Or, even more so, learning how to build houses on stilts, like one might do on a known floodplain, with anchors checked regularly for damage to make sure the houses don’t come crashing down suddenly. Maybe if Pern had decided to keep more knowledge rather than discarding it all in favor of their pastoral fantasy, they might have more ways of handling situations like this, where cultures that have already had to adapt to this kind of environment could provide useful information on how to do that kind of stuff. And that would have had at least some amount of experience attempting to Thread-proof their above-ground dwellings rather than just admitting they have to abandon it all for fifty years while death rains from the sky.

Consistency, what’s that, right?

The plot continues with talk of logistics and when to bring the injured back to convalesce, with an eye toward making sure there are enough bronzes around when the queen dragons decide it’s their time, with another “huh, you know, Talenth never went at it in the past the last time, either” bit before Jirana gets attacked by a Mreeow. That was apparently going after the tunnel snake that was also in the space where Jirana was. Which results in setting guards, one, and also Fiona suggesting that the Mreeows came with the colonists, since they have only four limbs and don’t have eye structures like native Pernese animals do. (So, here we are, once again with Ted Tubberman’s legacy menacing dragons and their riders.) Fiona also admits that if these were the tunnel snakes she was going to hunt, she probably wouldn’t have built her reputation on it, and that the snakes themselves have the run of the place, anyway, with the soft soil that they have. (Cement. Or imported stone. With ships off the shore. But none of these ideas are getting any serious consideration.)

With one of the green dragons showing signs that she’s ready to mate, there’s talk about how it would be possible to repopulate the dragons if the greens were allowed to breed and clutch, even if it were only greens and blues. So finally someone gets to the idea of “well, since bodies are what we need, then why don’t we let the dragons that are known for being very willing to mate do that and provide us with more eggs?” rather than insisting that only gold dragons can breed their way out of this situation. There’s a small thought about “where will you get all the humans you need for all of these potential dragons,” but it’s put off as a problem to deal with when they actually have to think about how many humans they’ll need for the dragons. (And, of course, there’s the problem of needing to have enough borrowed time to produce enough mature dragons to be able to come back and put them to work against Threadfall, but if they start now, they’ll have enough time to get the clutches mature by the time they need to jump forward again.)

The next morning, that same dragon that was showing signs of wanting to mate goes off on a mating flight. Fiona takes the other dragons that might interfere with her and goes to Red Butte, which means Jirana gets the opportunity to see Tenniz’s cairn. She asks whether or not purpleflower would grow in the space where Tenniz is buried, and we have yet another instance of characters that really should know better being caught confused about time and how it works when you have dragons that can go anywhere in time.

“Of course,” Fiona promised. “Should we bring your mother?”
“No,” the little girl replied. “Father told me that it would make her sad.”
“He told you?” Fiona repeated, eyes narrowing. Jirana nodded. “Just now?”
Jirana made a face. “No, silly, he’s dead! He told me before; the last time we met.”
“Jirana,” Fiona began with the slow patience of an adult trying to break bad news to a child. “your father died before you were born.”
“Yes,” Jirana said. “But he told me when he saw me the last time.”
“The last time?” Terin repeated, dropping down beside Fiona and exchanging a quick worried look with Fiona. “When was that?”
“When he told Jeriz that he had to go to Telgar,” Jieana replied simply.

We are in the middle of a time travel plot, and yet it seems like nobody considers the possibility of time travel as being the reason why these things that are seemingly impossible keep happening on a regular basis! It’s especially galling for Fiona to be the one holding the ball, because she’s the one who spent several chapters trying to convince others that she really did see Lorana, and was at least willing to entertain the idea that Terin saw F’jian as well, past the point of Lorana’s supposed death and F’jian’s actual one. If there’s anyone who should go “Oh, okay, someone’s brought Tenniz forward in time to meet his daughter and son and leave a set of instructions with them, should probably make a note of that in case it’s me and I have to go back and do it,” it should be Fiona. Between herself and Lorana, at various points in their own timeline, they’re the ones responsible for most of the temporal shenanigans as it is!

Right after this conversation, Lorana sounds the all-clear for the mating flight, and there’s a short interlude about trying to figure out where to get hot sand from and keep it for a potential Hatching Ground, in case the green that went off clutches. But before that can get done, Talenth rises to mate, and oh, yes, Terin’s Kurinth does the same thing, which leaves us with control problems all over the place. Eventually, a Lorana that is riding Talenth appears to bolster Fiona and give Fiona’s Talenth a place to go and be chased by the bronzes and have a mating flight, so there’s another loop-back on the timeline. And also, a lot more of mind-to-mind communication, rather than being relayed through the dragons, so at this point we can confidently say that Lorana and Fiona have telepathy with each other, even if they don’t necessarily have it with anybody else.

Similarly, Terin, after despairing that F’jian isn’t there for her, he appears to help her, and Ladirth appears to fly Kurinth, and so that way we have both of our warring queen problems solved, and also, more proof that F’jian is being assisted by someone to get to various points in Terin’s timeline where she needs him most, like for her first mating flight, apparently. (And now we wonder about whether he’s going to show up for all the other ones, too, like was suggested earlier, or whether there will be sense applied and Terin will be able o have other partners through her life because of Kurinth, instead of just the one.)

With everyone sorted out without two queens trying to kill each other, chapter 9 finishes.

Queen and bronze fly entwined
Heart, spirit, soul, and mind
To the Weyr’s strength assure
That the eggs will endure

(Still no time, because it must be too much work, or something, or maybe they got bored, or someone pointed out that having time signatures means that plot points will be given away, or something.)

That piece of poetry is terrible. I can’t figure out any sort of useful meaning out of it, or anything that it’s trying to impart, or really anything at all about it, other than it’s talking about dragons banging and then laying eggs. Maybe that the two dragons that mated will be united in making sure the kids come out fine? But that hasn’t really been true all that much, from al the things we’ve seen of a queen being very protective of her eggs while they’re getting ready to hatch. So, yeah, here’s another fragment of poetry that presumably means something, except that it doesn’t mean a thing.

Chapter 10 starts with a montage, of sorts, where Fiona comes back after the mating flights (and it’s T’mar and Zirenth again, because even when you hint at the idea that there might be the possibility of a change in leadership, it doesn’t happen, because that’s not how these things are done, hem-hem. After that, though, there’s a quick bit of Lorana hopping on Talenth to go run some timeline errands that have to happen before Talenth is “too egg-heavy” to go anywhere. So the prohibition about traveling while pregnant is strictly for riders, not for dragons. (I’m sure we knew this before, but at this point, it’s equally possible that it’s been changed to suit this particular plot.) Lorana’s first stop is to collect Tenniz and vault him forward into the future. First, she tells Javissa about what kind of supplies Tenniz will need for his journey to his final resting place, trying to be careful not to give away anything that Tenniz or Javissa didn’t already know in her past. This is also the point where Lorana gives her assent for Jirana to be named after herself, before she spirits Tenniz forward in time to be present for Jirana’s birth, after Tenniz objects that they can’t break time, and Lorana replies that they can cheat it instead. Tenniz is incredibly grateful for being present to witness the birth of his daughter, but it’s only the first stop on the tour Lorana has planned for him, and so they hop forward two more Turns in time.

“How do you know when we are?” Tenniz asked. Lorana smiled and pointed up to the night sky. “Oh!”
“The traders taught Fiona,” Lorana said. “She taught me.”
“ ’Our gifts are always returned many fold,’ ” Tenniz said, quoting trader lore. His brows puckered as he asked, “But how do you know where to go?”
“Talenth and I scouted before we came to you,” Lorana told him.
“So you know what we’ll find?”
Lorana shook her head. “I only thought to offer you opportunities.”
“Thank you, Tenniz said with feeling, deeper than mere words.

And we have one, hopefully final, aphorism here because it’s Tenniz and he can’t help himself. Probably something he adopted as a way of obfuscating what he was seeing to make it more palatable or more easy on the timeline.

Additionally, I still don’t understand how or why Lorana has so much greater fidelity with her time travel than anyone else does. Can she imagine things more clearly and precisely, so that she gets finer-grained control over her jumps? Because her navigation by stars and planets should presumably be doable by everyone else who was taught how it happens, and, in theory, to the degree that Lorana can do it as well. When it was Jaxom doing hops, it was because Ruth had an unnaturally effective time sense, but at this particular point, it seems like whatever Lorana’s got going in her corner, it shouldn’t be an intrinsic anything. (Maybe it’s her artist’s eye that allows her to get super-fine detail, but that is also trainable, to at least some degree.)

As it is, this visit is so that Tenniz can talk to his children while they are still very young and enjoy that part of their upbringing. Then Lorana hops him forward yet one more time to talk to Jeriz and Jirana for a final time before he’s returned from when he came, so that way what Jirana said about talking to her father comes true and makes sense to a reader that hasn’t already figured out that any time someone talks about something that should be impossible, it’s basically a hint that someone’s messed with the timeline and they haven’t done whatever it is that’s necessary to do that fiddling with the timeline. After returning Tenniz to Javissa a few minutes after she took him, Lorana hops forward in time again, encountering the twin voices that she heard before, but pushing through to get F’jian and Ladirth so she can pull them back in time to Kurinth’s rising. Lorana also calls and sends back Tolarth, Minith, Meliirth and Lyrinth, so that there will be other queens who are not in a mating frenzy to block Talenth and Kurinth from going at it (who appeared in the earlier sections skipped over and did just that), and so Lorana accomplishes what has already happened in the past, with Ladirth flying Kurinth and Zirenth flying Talenth. And also, y’know, F’jian gets to spend some time with Terin, and fulfill his promise. But also, F’jian now knows with certainty that something is wrong.

“How long do I have?” F’jian asked softly.
“I cannot tell you,” Lorana said, shaking her head sadly. “And you cannot tell Terin.”
“Why?” the bronze rider asked.
“Because, no matter how much we want, we cannot break time,” Lorana said.
“So I am to die?”
Lorana said nothing. The young man turned toward the sleeping girl.
“Will I see you again?”
Lorana nodded. “And remember, I don’t know this yet.”
“Why are you doing this?”
“We cannot break time,” Lorana told him quietly. “But we can cheat it.” She waved him toward the sleeping girl and turned back once more to the Weyr Bowl.

And thus, we have all of the same problems as before where F’jian says he can’t tell anyone anything about what’s happening, but he also knows what he’s doing and can work out from all of this that he’s being seeded at specific points in Terin’s timeline because he doesn’t have a whole lot of time left on his own. Tenniz, at least, knew that he would be dying soon and therefore is easier to work with about moving him in time past his own death so that he can achieve things that would otherwise be impossible without time-traveling dragons. F’jian doesn’t know, but can obviously put it all together, which can’t be great for him, and he can’t tell anyone about it because apparently that causes the timeline to fracture.

Also, functionally immortal dragonriders. There should already be a full complement or more of them at this point who have seen their own deaths and can be guided by someone with good enough time sense to continue going forward and fighting Thread, secure in the knowledge that these Falls won’t kill them. They might have to sit a few out because of injuries, but as best I can tell, they’re not trying to exist in two times at once, so they shouldn’t have any trouble continuing the fight all the way to the end of the Pass by doing hops from Fall to Fall, in a near-continuous stream, and then, when they’ve secured the legacy of the dragons for the next several hundred years, warp themselves back in time to their foreordained deaths, if they are so anxious to get to them. Maybe, to maintain a certain amount of mystique and worry for the people who are going through it on the slow path, they never know how many reinforcements they’re going to get, or they have to pretend not to know, or they can’t know who is doing it, or some sort of ticky-tack kind of thing like that, but at this point, everyone who’s already been spotted dying should be part of the reinforcement corps that keep appearing to fight Thread all throughout the Pass. So, after the various Loranas that come to get F’jian for when Terin truly needs him are done, one more Lorana / Fiona should be coming to get him to jump him past his own death so he can fight with some non-Telgar Weyr and ride out the Pass with them with a sequence of jumps from Fall to Fall that give him enough time to reload firestone and fight, and eventually take some rest, before reloading firestone and going out to fight again and again and again. That would make him so exhausted that when he does the final jump, he forgets to reload firestone first and flies straight into his own death, and, I don’t know, maybe make this entire set of books make a lick of sense for once?

Now that we’ve completed another chunk of “things that have to be done in the timeline so that memory lines up with reality,” we’re going to stop for this week, and if we’re lucky, we’ll sail through the last of this chapter and through to the end of the work next week. I still don’t understand the need for all of this timeline secrecy, though. Sure, it might be an issue if you directly told your earlier self what you were doing, but there’s been more than enough of leaving cryptic hints and making sure that you’re staying out of sight of your younger self to get to the point where there’s no real reason to not believe that you’re probably out interfering with yourself by this point and to be ready to accept the weird when it happens and try to remember it so that you can then go and do the weird later, when you need to.

So, hopefully, the end is near. Next week.

Deconstruction Roundup for September 11th, 2020

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has a lot of natural disaster to contend with, none of which is their own making.)

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

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 need to rage about how there are people who are choosing very narrow interests over the common weal and you want them to stare at the evidence of their folly until they get it. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Time: The Back-In-Time Plot Writ Very Large

Last time, Lorana and Fiona were reunited, after Fiona follows Tenniz’s cryptic prophecies in the same way that Lorana did, spots the same spot where dragons are, and eventually calibrates herself to arrive at the correct time. Before then having all of the weyrlings of all the Weyrs hop back in time to this place and time so all their weyrlings, and eventually, the injured, will grow to full strength before rejoining the fight. Possibly with some additional clutches to also help grow the fighting force along the way. But because this is a Pern book, this island isn’t without dangers, including what appear to be the descendants of Ted Tubberman’s cats.

Dragon’s Time, Chapter 9: Content Notes: Dubcon

After the cat attack, T’mar and Kindan decide to build a wall to keep the Mrreows out and go often to start that, and once they’re sure that Mayorth, the injured dragon, is in good hands, Lorana decides it’s time for Minith to go home. Bekka volunteers to rider Talenth forward in time so that Lorana has a return trip dragon as well. On their trip, however, they encounter something trying to hold them back from going forward.

They had not quite been between for three coughs when they heard a male voice cry toward them The Weyrs! The Weyrs must be warned! And another voice, female, cried, Can’t lose the babies, can’t lose the babies!
Lorana felt a tug on her heart as she tried to fathom the pain of the two voices, but she felt Bekka’s rising panic and, with a surge of will, they broke beyond the cries, forward to Telgar Weyr and back once more into the light.
Lorana jumped off Minith and raced over to Talenth where Bekka gave her a hand up. They were in the air and between before anyone noticed.

Well, there’s the mystery of the riderless Minith solved, at least, and it didn’t wait volumes to manage it.

Back at the new staging ground for dragons, Fiona takes Jassi, one of the gold riders from Ista, to meet Lorana again after learning that Jassi knew Lorana before she took the ill-fated voyage on the Wind Rider, which leads to Jassi offering her queen to Lorana to replace Arith, to which Lorana sensibly notes there are already plenty of dragons that have been offered to her already, and they’re kind of partial to the ones they’re bonded with. Jassi asks about whether it hurts to not have Arith, and Lorana agrees with that, that it hurts all the time, and confirms that being able to feel all of the dragons get hurt and die is pretty terrible, too, but it’s easier when that pain can be shared.

“How can you survive such pain?”
“It’s hard,” Lorana said. “But it would be much harder to abandon those who remain, to give in or give up simply because it hurts.”
Bekka moved toward her, raising a hand to rest on her shoulder. Lorana smiled down at the young woman.
“I think it’d be harder, not being able to share their pain,” Lorana said. “But I don’t know.”
“It’s hard,” Bekka said. “Sometimes I go into a corner and just cry and cry after a bad Fall.”
“You, too?” Jassi asked in wonder. “I thought I was the only one.”
“I think we all do,” Fiona said. “But mostly they get better, so it’s not too bad.”

Cocowhat by depizan

Bekka is now fourteen or so, based on her eventually turning fifteen later on in the chapter, so being a “young woman” is more of that “can work like an adult therefore is an adult therefore age of consent laws are BS and I should never have been convicted Y’r Honour” idea that genesistrine summarized so neatly as the running theme through these books.

Furthermore, this entire sequence of admitting to having bad feelings and letting them out, and then discovering it’s not only you who does these things is more evidence that dragonriders are assholes. We’ve known for a good long while that Weyrwomen and gold riders are being trained with the idea that their emotions are contagious and if they’re not at least faking happiness all the time, then everyone else suffers and is unhappy and it’s all the gold rider’s fault. But there’s no corresponding space where all the gold riders get together and have a talk about their feelings and get some of that stress out and get to know each other better? There’s not a standing date somewhere that’s all the Weyrwomen getting together to give each other information about how things are going in their Weyrs and to have time away from their responsibilities so they can build back up some of those reserves of happy? (No, of course not, that would require thinking cooperatively or collectively, and this is Objectivism’s Paradise, everyone for themselves and their own Weyrs first, and no cooperation ever.) This is structured a lot more like a bunch of dudes admitting to each other than they do occasionally have feelings other than anger and machismo, with the idea that, at least for that specific moment, they’ll be vulnerable before the mask descends again.

Then again, the way that the Weyrwomen have been written to this point, Tullea especially, we’re supposed to see them in a hierarchy or all grappling for social status and power to be the top of the pecking order, rather than as the cooperative group I would have expected, since it’s basically them against the world, including in their own Weyrs. Hell forbid there be any sort of solidarity that can’t easily be swept underneath the rug or forgotten when inconvenient.

As the plans get underway to figure out how to protect against the Mreeows attacking vulnerable dragonets, Fiona is explaining to Lorana and Jassi that the older weyrlings will be better-equipped to handle their muzzy-head, and the muzzy-head of the younger weyrlings, because now they know they’re in the same time as they were before. Which is fine, except there’s this gem:

“They all came?” Lorana asked surprised.
“All except F’jian,” Bekka said sadly.
“F’jian?” Lorana repeated, glancing around. “Where is he?”
“He was lost between,” Fiona told her. “He died saving T’mar.”
“But then why was he muzzy-headed?” Lorana wondered. Fiona shrugged and shook her head. “And Terin? How is she?”
“She seems in good spirits,” Bekka said.
“Seems?”
“She claimed F’jian came back to her, told her it would be all right, that he’d always be there when she needed him most,” Bekka said, her face in a frown.
“You don’t think so?”
“He’s dead,” Bekka said frankly. “I don’t see how he could have come to her.”

This is with Lorana, the person who figured out how to jump forward in time successfully, standing right in front of her, alive and hale. At this point, the best conclusion to draw is “we haven’t done it yet in our own timelines, so we’ll try not to poke that hard about it.” But that would require logic and consistency of character. Because Bekka now has a reason to believe that Lorana did come visit Fiona, since, hey, Lorana’s still alive! And therefore, if Lorana’s still alive, and can do pinpoint time jumps, then it makes logical sense that a future-Lorana could have come back and assisted F’jian in time jumps that would be beyond his own fated death. Yet Bekka continues to cling to the belief that it couldn’t have happened, even though she’s in front of the people most likely to believe her if she’s had a change in logic.

Lorana gets brought up to speed on Jeriz heading off to Telgar (“he was driving Shaneese to distraction until she thought to make him my minder,” Fiona says) and is introduced to Jirana, who already knows who Lorana is, because they have met, even though it’s the first time Lorana and Jirana are meeting on Lorana’s timeline, and Jirana can’t say anything more, because that would be the sort of thing that breaks time. They also discuss the other plans that have to happen, such as mining out firestone for their earlier selves in Igen, and finding something to trade and people to trade with during this jaunt back in time, and otherwise making sure the timeline doesn’t get out of joint. Which reminds Lorana of the voices she heard traveling forward in time, one of which Kindan recognizes as D’gan’s [ASSHOLE] last words, and the other Lorana says is Fiona’s voice. Fiona, of course, intends to have her children here and not go bouncing about time if she doesn’t have to, so she’s pretty sure that won’t be an issue. There’s a certain wonder about why they didn’t encounter this problem on the earlier trip, and the explanation given is that they left before the Asshole took the Weyr back in time, although T’mar wonders why they didn’t hear it coming back. Doylistically, of course, it’s because this plot twist hadn’t been written yet, but Watsonianly, T’mar is right. If there’s something in hyperspace that wasn’t there before in the timestream, presumably it should be always there rather than appearing at some point. Unless some action somewhere has shifted the entire narrative onto a new timeline branch, because they avoided a disaster or did something different this time around without knowing it, and this part has always been present in the new timeline, and we wouldn’t know that because we’ve been on the older timeline until now. For using time as much as they do, and being supposedly careful about not disturbing it that much, and having dragons that presumably relate to time differently than the humans do, there’s a distinct lack of knowledge about whether we’re all on the same timeline, or whether we’re bouncing back and forth between timeline possibilities until we manage to chart the pathway forward into the complete success version. It makes me wonder how many different attempts have come before this one that ended in failure, whether on the human plague or the dragon one, and then how many timelines abort in death or in being in the wrong place at the wrong time and need correcting and guidance from someone else farther along their own timeline trying to preserve it. That would be a different set of books, and would probably take away from Pern even more to deal with the timeline problems, so it’ll never happen. All the same, I kind of want to read the spinoff series that develops from all of the failed attempts before we manage the official timeline success, something that would take otherwise seemingly-mundane or coincidental activities and turn them into deliberate events meant to keep the timeline on track.

After complaining about the climate, they turn to Jassi, who is from the place closest to this island, about how to properly dress for this climate, and for advice on what to watch out for in their attempts to clear out enough land to establish a habitable space. Kindan volunteers to help with exploration and clearing, and Fiona cleverly reassigns all of his Weyrlingmaster duties to all of the gold riders that have come back, so each group of weyrlings gets to learn under their specific gold rider that will be leading them later on. There’s a skip forward to having established a small settlement and turning to the idea of bigger accommodations for the dragons, but the first few ideas are no good (underground will flood, canvas tents weren’t ordered in the past). The non-pregnant leadership crew meets to try and figure out how to keep everyone supplied, since Fiona has started to have cravings and physical issues with the pregnancy, where they decide that they’re going to have to figure out how to trade discreetly to keep themselves in supplies. Fish is thought of as the right idea for this trade selection, and there’s a thought to explore the western half of the island and find something better.

That idea gets nixed because Fiona gets a memo from her future self warning them to stay east of the river, but once Fiona gets looped into the plan, she starts suggesting other things that are good possibilities, like the clay, or the gemstones (green sapphires) if they were finished jewelry pieces, before Fiona hits on the a solution that’s likely to make them the most profits – trading the fruit they have in abundance to markets that don’t have them or during the times of year when it would be unavailable. When combined with Jassi’s idea that everyone can live on ships, most of which don’t have to be seaworthy, the situation regarding keeping dragonets and humans safe from Mreeows comes to fruition. Some of the dragons have to sleep out in the elements, but many of them apparently think it’s kind of fun.

This also brings Lorana back to reunion with Colfet, the sailor who liked her and helped her get away when the Wind Rider wrecked, and Lorana taps Colfet to lead the effort to teach the younglings how to live aboard a ship and the necessary skills they’ll need to fish and sail.

His enthusiasm had faded somewhat when he’d discovered how poorly some of his students absorbed his teaching, but he was old enough to take the long view and shortly, even the worst of his “crew” were able to do their duties to his satisfaction.

And also, I suspect, there’s going to be a lot of frowning if someone who isn’t higher-ranked than them starts beating the weyrlings for not understanding, not that it does any good at all anyway. But it’s also nice to think of the possibility that perhaps Colfet has learned or always was the kind of person who realized that violence against the students doesn’t work, anyway. He could teach a thing or two to the Harper Hall if that’s the case.

Fiona keeps good on her promise to teach Jeriz how to read, borrowing Igen Weyr Records for that purpose, and when she says what they really need is material from miners or to talk to the Masterminer so they can mine silver ore (and know what to look for) and material from smiths on how to smelt and turn that ore into jewelry, Lorana suggests sending out Kindan and Jeriz on the mission, because Harpers can go anywhere, copy anything, and not be out of place, and Jeriz needs the practice with reading and lettering. Fiona has an opinion about that setup.

“You’d have to pry him away from Terin,” Fiona said. She’d only managed to teach the lad to read by arranging for the young weyrwoman to be with them. Fiona got the impression that, were the green-eyed boy older, he would have sought instruction from Terin directly.
As it was, Kindan managed to get Jeriz to agree to go along only if Terin could accompany them. So Lorana, Kindan, Jeriz, and Terin departed on Talenth, leaving Jurinth in Fiona’s care.

Gee, I wouldn’t have a clue why Jeriz might not want to be alone with Fiona, even if it is for something that he desperately wants to learn how to do. It’s not like Fiona has demonstrated a shattering lack of respect for Jeriz’s boundaries when they’re alone, has gotten upset with him for something that he thought was well in hand (and that people should be believing him and Terin about, especially now that Lorana’s back), and has otherwise demonstrated for all of her ability to charm adults, she doesn’t have a fucking clue how to raise children, or anything.

When they returned, it was all that Kindan could do to thank the younger pair and release them before he and Lorana burst into laughter. “You should have seen him,” Kindan told Fiona, “you would have thought that Verilan himself was watching his every stroke.”
“Did he do well?”
“Marvelously, if terrified for fear of not impressing Terin,” Lorana allowed with equal mirth. She shook her head and sobered, telling Fiona “I think you made an inspired choice with that pair.”
Fiona said, “Yes, I did, didn’t I? I can’t wait to see my own children at that age.”

Cocowhat by depizan

So Fiona will also be overconfident that whatever she’s doing is right, in addition to being terrible at parenting. That’s going to be all sorts of fun.

Also, I’m reading this is in the way of “Jeriz wants to impress Terin because he has a crush on her,” which, y’know, being nine, is entirely plausible, in a child-appropriate sort of way. Nothing will come of it because Terin’s still completely devoted to F’jian, of course, and also, because Jeriz is nine. Given how Shaneese and Fiona have been to him, though, there’s also the possibility that Jeriz is thinking that perhaps if he can impress Terin enough, he’ll be assigned to her, and that will allow him to get out from underneath Fiona’s direct supervision and possibly even begin to build competence and confidence in his own right without being treated like he’s Fiona’s son or kid brother or other overly-familiar relationship that he doesn’t want to have with her. There are a lot of possible motivations for Jeriz in this situation, and knowing which one he has would say a lot about how he views the situation with Fiona and Terin and everything else.

The next scene is Fiona giving birth to twins, and going through the stereotypical contraction pains, desire to absolutely not do this thing again, getting razzed by her midwife here and there as motivation to push harder and otherwise get the children out. Given Fiona’s somewhat unique situation of who the fathers might be of her twins, and Fiona’s worry that she might not survive the childbirth (we are again reminded that Fiona’s very young for pregnancies), we get a touch of insight into some of the ritual involved in naming and claiming children.

“Swear as foster-mothers,” Fiona said.
“Nothing’s going to happen to you,” Lorana assured her. “But I claim this child as kin of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life, for all time.”
“This child is ours,” Shaneese said in agreement. “She shall grow strong with the care of her mothers. I shall call her my own, tend her wounds, cheer her triumphs. Blood of my blood, heart of my heart, life of my life.”
[…Fiona calls in the boys to do their part…]
“I claim this child my daughter,” Kindan said formally.
“As dragonrider of Zirenth and Weyrleader, I do claim this girl my own, heart of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life,” T’mar said.
“I name her my own, heart of my heart, blood of my blood, life of my life,” Kindan concluded.
[…more contractions…]
“I, Fiona, Weyrwoman of Telgar, do name you, heart of my heart, blood of my blood–oh!”
“Push!” Bekka ordered.
“As her mother, I name this child in a mother’s voice: Tiona,” Lorana said even as Fiona bellowed with her next contraction.

There’s a slight complication in getting her son out, but nothing Bekka can’t handle, and after he’s born, Fiona passes out.

Apparently, the formal requirement is “blood of my blood, heart of my heart, life of my life”, presumably in the presence of the right number and kind of witnesses, like anything else that’s contract law on Pern. And the naming conventions have stuck, to some degree, as Tiona’s sibling is named Kimar. So daughter named after one mother and one father, son named for both fathers. (If we were using Ninth Pass conventions Kimar would likely be Kionar, eventually shortened to K’nar when he got his inevitable bronze, but apparently we’re not using that style completely here.)

After Fiona gives birth, there’s a significant amount of time passing with Fiona raising her children, Shaneese giving birth soon after Fiona, and the whole thing apparently kicking off a craze about wanting to take care of the babies already present or to go get some of their own.

Between them, Shaneese, Fiona, and the three babies had all the help they could want and soon found themselves strictly rationing it.
Xhinna, Taria, all the queen riders, and the other three women who had Impressed were constantly stopping by, many to coo over the babies and some to look wistfully.
[…the one who isn’t made happy by this is Terin, who appears to be pining after the fact that F’jian didn’t give her a baby to remember himself by…]
“We should start planning the nursery,” Shaneese said, changing the subject.

“A nursery?” Fiona repeated, surprised. “That seems a bit grand for just our three.”
“They won’t be alone for much longer,” Shaneese reminded her with a grin. “Some of the green riders have been inspired by our example.”
“Who?”
“All of them except Taria,” Shaneese said. “Helena has been working on J’gerd for months now and, from her smug look, she’s succeeded.”
“And Vellany?” Fiona asked, referring to the sturdily built green rider who had surprised everyone when she’d Impressed Delanth, as she’d seemed least interested of all the Weyr’s young women. She’d been far more interested in spending time with J’gerd and other riders, so it was no surprise when Shaneese continued, “She finally managed to get J’keran to stay awake long enough.”
[…Fiona asks for confirmation, is told Bekka’s sure, and that the camp has become slightly afraid of Bekka’s sixth sense for pregnancy, to the point where some people deliberately avoid her for fear that she’s going to curse them with her knowledge…]
“And Seriya?” Seriya was a shy sort with large eyes set alluringly in a delicate face.
Shaneese laughed. “V’lex!”
“Really? How?”
“I have no idea,” Shaneese admitted. “And I’m not certain how she managed to keep V’lex from pining after J’gerd long enough to–” She stopped, shaking her head in amusement. “V’lex is beside himself with joy and J’gerd–”
“That could cause trouble,” Fiona said, peering off into the distance thoughtfully.

Wait, is that a canonical bisexual representation there I’m seeing? V’lex sleeping with Seriya and getting her pregnant and also pining after J’gerd? That would be nice, to have an acknowledgment of what we’ve kind of known all this time. The narrative doesn’t seem quite as interested in confirming this for us, though, only saying that “Seriya, for all her shyness, is a sweet person who gets what she wants,” continuing the undertone for all of this that the riders being sought after may or may not have been fully consenting to what has happened. Which would be a lot less of an issue if we had stuck with the idea we’d had at the beginning of the Fiona books, where all the kids go to caregivers to be raised and there’s very little of wanting to raise your own as your own, because then we wouldn’t have to consider whether or not the women who are getting pregnant are going to demand to be weyrmates with those who succeeded at it, or some other method of child support, since now it’s all “I’m going to raise my baby” as the norm, rather than the exception. And since these are all green riders that are trying to get themselves pregnant, we have the stereotypes about green riders being slutty and Kitti Ping’s insistence that green riders would be terrible mothers to contend with as well.

The way that it’s been set to us, it sounds a lot more like a pregnancy pact has been set up and the boys who are going to help with this don’t have a choice about their involvement. Which, y’know, consent. It’s still important and necessary and required, and there’s not a whole lot in literature or in life that acknowledges that boys as the recipient of sexual assault are traumatized as well. And, especially in dragonrider culture, where the boys and men are expected to be horndogs looking to put it in wherever they can be, there’s not exactly going to be a supportive network of people there. They’re likely going to be expected to joke about their own prowess and how manly they feel and never actually get the opportunity to talk it out with someone who understands and can help.

And perhaps they were willing participants in all of this. The narrative doesn’t tell us that, instead choosing to focus on the determined efforts of the women to get pregnant by their preferred partners, in spite of time and other things getting in the way, which further reinforces the idea that the partners they chose weren’t fully and enthusiastically consenting to this. We should probably keep an eye on all of these riders, to see if they start exhibiting signs of trauma.

Given how unconcerned T’mar is with this, there’s definitely not going to be support. The plot moves forward, all the same, with Fiona resisting calling the place “Eastern Weyr,” she gets surprised when Jirana calls out to Talenth to bring Fiona to wallop a tunnel snake that intended to bite the babies, because it makes her re-evaluate how old and responsible Jirana is. (And Fiona goes tunnel snake hunting, thinking the ones that have grown up here on the island are more vicious and aggressive than the ones she was killing as a child.)

And then we get to the part where Fiona and Bekka discuss Bekka’s likelihood of having children.

[…]Bekka who, now nearing her fifteenth Turn, had grown mature in her healing. She had been turning heads nearly since their arrival in the camp and now, Fiona noticed with amusement, the blond healer was turning her head from time to time.
“I’m not getting pregnant,” Bekka assured Fiona when they had a moment together privately. “We can’t afford it.”
Fiona raised an eyebrow at her challengingly, even as she bounced an oblivious Kimar on her knee.
“Oh, I’m going to have children,” Bekka told her airily. “And I’ll make you diaper them, too!” Then she shook her head firmly. “But not now. I’m not ready and there’s no other midwife.”
“Javissa,” Fiona suggested.
“When I have a baby, I’m going to have my mother midwife and my father standing beside her,” Bekka declared.

She’s still fifteen. But, of course, that means she’s three years past when she should have been married or partnered and two kids behind. And she should be used to being a looker at this point, apparently, with as much as Fiona seems to be ready to throw her at men and dragons like. But, we might note, all the other people who seem to have thought waiting was a good idea eventually get into it when they find their true love, so I suppose we should be watching out to see who turns Bekka’s head the most consistently and set them as The One for her. Or watch out for Fiona’s interference and meddling in this affair, because Fiona’s already said she’s not taking no for an answer from Bekka about having a dragon, either. So I guess we should be keeping an eye out for boys for Fiona to throw at Bekka.

Anyway, before we get to the stopping point, we also resolve the plot point of who went to grab the injured dragons and send them back in time to Igen in the first place – it’s this future Fiona, with the help of T’mar and a cadre of dragonriders who already know that Fiona was planning to sneak out and do things, because she telegraphed when she was going to try by getting everyone who might stop or notice her involved in something else or otherwise away from her. These resolutions are pretty anti-climactic – mostly it’s “character realizes they’ve got to do something in their past to make sure they can keep themselves on the timeline they’re in, so they go do it.” And they’re spaced out almost as breathers from the current action, so that there’s stuff going on in the present past and then a trip to the past to do something in the past-past to make sure things run smoothly. They don’t feel organic as much as they feel like someone making sure they’ve gotten all of their paradoxes resolved, even though Fiona of the future doing something to get Fiona of the past going is a big bootstrap paradox by itself, but whatever.

More child-rearing next week, as well as more of the issues that come when you have potentially more than one fertile or mating-interested dragon deciding now is the time at the same time.

Deconstruction Roundup for September 4th, 2020

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who has insufficient power on their own to cause the changes that would be most helpful right now.)

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

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 wondering just how much this cycle is going to repeat the last one, to the most terrible results. Or for any other reason, really.

Dragon’s Time: The Disappearing Act

Last time, Fiona didn’t abandon her hope that Lorana was coming to save them all, staunchly defending Lorana against all of the people who are more concerned about the practical realities of their lack of dragons to continue fighting Thread, but she did decide that certain practicalities will have to be observed, as there still aren’t enough dragons to ride out the Fall and the weyrlings won’t be old enough in time. There’s still a lot of disbelieving going around that doesn’t make as much sense, given what we know about dragons, but the dragonriders of Pern are running short on time, so they have to act as though there won’t be anyone to save them.

Dragon’s Time, Chapters 8 and 9: Content Notes:

Holder, crafter, harper know
Every dragon’s loss is a blow
To strength and power of the Weyr
And the hope of all everywhere.

(Unnamed time, starts immediately after the full Council meeting)

So, after Tullea disappears on Minith and the meeting breaks up, Kindan takes a walk with Terin and they talk about hope and despair and what Fiona learned from Kindan’s experiences.

“She didn’t learn from me,” Kindan said with a frown. “She learned from the ballads.”
“The ballads?”
“Songs become more than truth,” Kindan told her. She gave him a questioning look. “I was scared during the Plague. I didn’t know what I was doing, I wasn’t sure that we’d survive.”
“But you didn’t give up.”
“Because I couldn’t,” Kindan said. He shook his head at the memory. “I was much younger and I wanted to impress Koriana, to impress Lord Bemin…and I wanted to live.”
“And you did all that,” Terin reminded him. “Because you didn’t give up.”
“I didn’t give up because I couldn’t,” Kindan said with pain in his voice. “After Koriana died, baby Fiona was bawling her head off, Bemin couldn’t remember where he’d put her”–he stopped and met Terin’s eyes squarely–“it was for her that I didn’t give up.”
“So why are you giving up now?” Terin asked him softly. “She’s here, she’s fighting with all that she’s got, doing all that she can, and she’s probably carrying your child.”
“I don’t know how we’ll survive,” Kindan admitted bleakly. “We’re being worn down, dragon by dragon. At some point, we’ll have too few to fly a Fall and they’ll all die gloriously and then the queens will chew firestone and die gloriously and–”
Terin’s slap was as hard as it was unexpected. Kindan raised a hand to his face in surprise and gave the redhead a wide-eyed look of astonishment.
“That’s enough,” Terin told him harshly. “You are going to go over to those weyrlings and you’re going to train them. And we’re going to survive. That’s all there is to it.” She heaved a deep sigh. “And if you can’t figure out how to save us, Fiona will.”
“Yes, weyrwoman,” Kindan said. Then, to her surprise, he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “You are right; I was wrong. We’ll figure it out even if we have to send you and Fiona to the Red Star to stomp out the Thread strand by strand.”
“Do you think we could go to the Red Star?” Terin asked, with serious consideration in her eyes.
Kindan gave her a worried look. “I think it would be wiser to stay as far from it as we can.” He thought on it a moment more and added hastily, “And whatever you do, don’t mention it to Fiona or she’s likely to try.”
“Good point,” Terin agreed.

So Kindan gets the Get A Hold Of Yourself slap and it breaks him out of the despair spiral, which is good, but a thing I didn’t mention in the previous post about Kindan’s choice of wording to Fiona is that he’s projecting, a lot, in that previous conversation about his own fears and worries, and his follow-up with Terin here confirms that. Most of the people that Fiona has had leave her that would have been extra-important to her did so when she was barely old enough to remember them. Fiona is probably much more affected by the losses of dragons and riders than she ever was about the masses and family members that died in the plague, except on how that changed Bemin’s parenting decisions around her. Kindan, on the other hand, has had to live through the human plague that killed most of his friends and mentors, his girlfriend, and most of her and his family. Before that, his father died in a mining accident and his watch-wher shifted to a new person. Then came the dragon plague, where he lost his fire-lizard, and Lorana lost Arith, which affects him as well, though her, and now, even though the dragon plague is cured, attrition is going to get the rest of them eventually. Kindan’s life is set up so that everyone around him that he cares about has died or is in the process of dying, even if some of them don’t know yet that they’re dead. That’s not a recipe for optimism, and the closer they get to total party kill without someone appearing in a rush of wings to save them, the more Kindan is convinced that his entire life is going to be defined by all the people in his life dying and leaving him. He doesn’t have a dragon to buoy his spirits or inject artificial love into his systems, not for lack of Fiona trying. So, yeah, I can kind of see how Kindan might not be someone with an endless reserve of belief that things are going to turn out all right. He does a quick reboot after Terin smacks him in the reset button, but it’s hard for anyone, when all they see in front of them for the remainder of their lives is misery and hopelessness, not to feel like taking up arms against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is the right option to end them.

Sometimes the numbers just don’t add up right to go through with it.

It is a nice moment of levity to realize between Terin and Kindan that if they mused about the possibility of going to the Red Star in Fiona’s hearing, Fiona would absolutely want to try. And probably have the same results as Canth did when he tried. So one minor disaster averted there.

The next scene swings over to Mekiar, who has set up a pottery wheel for Fiona to get her feelings out in clay. Jirana plays optimist in this case, because she’s already heard from Tenniz all sorts of things about the future and is pretty sure things aren’t on the pathway to the bad end, so that helps Fiona and Mekiar regain some hope of their own. Jirana also wants to throw clay and make something to keep, so Mekiar sets up a couple of wheels and both Fiona and Jirana make something for the other to keep, which seems to help relieve Fiona’s stress and allow Jirana to look forward to painting when things are completely fired. Javissa arrives with Kindan to take Jirana to bed with her, because Kindan has come to apologize to Fiona, indicating “Terin tore strips out of me” as the reason why. Fiona tells him she wants to accept his apology in silence, and the narrative coyly tells us that Fiona demanded his most sincere apologies three times over, so we know what they were doing in bed that night.

Which might be the last good thing for a while for both of them, as Tullea wakes Fiona up the next morning with a fesh coat of invective for Lorana, because all of the weyrlings at Fort have disappeared. So have all the weyrlings at Telgar, and Kindan with them. Tullea jumps to the conclusion that they’ve all given into despair, too, and gone to hyperspace, but Fiona dismisses that idea by saying that if Lorana had wanted to die, she would have done it long before The Asshole jumped himself into hyperspace. Tullea is shocked that “anyone her junior would take her on so sharply,” but it’s not like Tullea hasn’t been mean to everyone around her, Lorana and Fiona included, on a regular basis. She’s definitely more affronted that someone is backtalking her at all, rather than even considering the possibility that Fiona has a point.

Before they can devolve into a screaming match at each other, Fiona offers Tullea breakfast. And asks for Jirana and Javissa to accompany them, since Fiona woke them both up trying to take stock of who was here and who was gone. Carrying Javissa on her hip gets Tullea to soften, and then to ask if she can do the same to Javissa, “with ill-concealed longing.”

Yep. In proper Pernese tradition, Tullea wants kids of her own to raise, and being able to take care of and fuss over Jirana gets completely through Tullea’s bitch camouflage. Fiona feels like she’s learning a lot about Tullea from how she handles Jirana, thinking of her as someone “who returns trust with fierce loyalty.” Thus, what happened in the first chapter of this book (which seems so long ago, even though it wouldn’t be for someone reading this at some normal pace, instead of stopping to analyze so much) comes to pass and Fiona learns Tullea’s true nature (the same thing she razzes the much older Tullea about in the future).

For some reason, she felt it vital to lodge the image firmly in her mind so that she would never forget this moment when she saw the Benden Weyrwoman for who she truly was–a loving, kind person who hid her fear in brash armor. A child would help her out of that armor, Fiona thought to herself, just as Jirana is helping her now.

I’m still not sure that says good qualities about Tullea as a parent, but it does suggest that to the people she’s closest to, Tullea is much less spiteful and antagonizing. Which, I suppose, squares her characterization in relation to how she can be genuinely thankful to Lorana and calmer after her own trip in time, and then go straight back to aggravation as soon as that moment passes on and Tullea doesn’t have anything to be grateful to Lorana for any more. The more agreeable Tullea, with Jirana, and company set down to another council meeting, since it’s been determined that all of the weyrlings from all of the weyrs have warped away, and that basically confirms for everyone that Lorana has worked some seriously worldwide magic to pull this off. Jirana sleepily says Tenniz always said things were darkest before the dawn, which Tullea adds on to to make it “darkest before dawn, then bright with sun,” which makes Fiona go out and stare at the sky, catching the flash of the Dawn Sisters in the sky, and making the leap that Lorana must have gone to the Dawn Sisters on her journey.

Which provokes an entire argument about who gets to go to that space, at which point Fiona bowls them all over and says T’mar is going and everyone defers to her. When T’mar asks Zirenth about if he’s going to have any trouble getting there, Zirenth says no, because Lorana already did it and he remembers her doing it. Which, y’know, would have been real useful information, but it’s always been the case with dragons that if you don’t ask them exactly the right question, you don’t get anything of use when it comes to how they perceive and remember time. So T’mar and Zirenth pop over to the Dawn Sisters and are awestruck by how majestic the planet is, laid out beneath them, before T’mar runs out of oxygen and just barely warps himself back in time before he suffocates. The dragons help guide Zirenth down appropriately, get T’mar off, and Birentir rushes over to help him out. We don’t know what he does, because Fiona gets hit with a burst of something that drops her to her knees, likely related to being too many places at the same time. Or someone warning her against exerting herself at this particular point.

Too much! she heard a voice cry to her. You can’t lose the babies!.

But T’mar recovers, Fiona helps herself up using Jirana first (who offered to be a brance) and then Cisca second (who, we are told, half-carries her to T’mar, reinforcing my headcanon that Cisca is built), and they all decide that they’re all going to get to take a look the next time they go up. Because of course there’s going to be a next time. And while she’s up there, Fiona spots what she thinks is the right spot that Fiona would have seen and pops over to confirm her suspicions, scaring Cisca and K’lior with her disappearance.

What they have apparerntly found is a very large, very uninhabited island and the puzzlement begins as to why it’s uninhabited and why it’s unmarked. Along with a lot of stories being told about the grandeur of the Dawn Sisters, which apparently hasn’t actually been erased from the history stories of Pern yet, since there was talk about whether they could house all the missing weyrlings and their dragons, since they housed the ancients that came over on them. So it’s some later point in time where the knowledge of the Dawn Sisters as spacefaring vehicles gets forgotten.

Now that they’ve found the where, it’s a question of the when, and Fiona knows when to look about that, because, although I can’t actaully find it in the narrative, Fiona apparently was wracked with pain because she was in three very close places to herself last night: giving T’mar information as herself, waiting to receive the information from herself via T’mar, and trying, possibly, to get to sleep, or just trying to enjoy the post-coital benefits from having banged Kindan three times. So Fiona knows when and where to go to get information from herself on the matter, although it is super-painful for all three of the Fionas to experience. After being warped back to the present time, T’mar relaying the information that future-Fiona gives to present-Fiona while past-Fiona was trying to sleep. They’re all confused as to why all the weyrlings only popped back three Turns, but we don’t get to hear that discussion, because Fiona passes out from the strain and the chapter ends.

West of Tillek, East of Benden
Halfway around the world.
Far lands, strange lands,
Large lands, Great Islands.

(Still no marked time, which makes me wonder why the sudden abandonment of temporal reference markers, other than us having to keep track of the internal timelines of Lorana and crew)

So we’re clear, these big islands that we’re talking about is not the same island that Avril Bitra claimed as her stake acres, with the intent of grabbing as much gemstone wealth as possible and then fleeing back to civilization with it. It is, apparently, a completely new continent, entirely unexplored and unknown to the people of this era, even if it might have been included in a survey of the planet some long time ago and is on the maps in the books.

Chapter 9 starts with Lorana landing carefully on a chosen space , listening carefully for the sounds of something that might be dangerous to her, as parental wisdom comes to the fore again. “The first mistake will be your last,” is apparently the wisdom on tap, and Lorana expresses her regret that it turned out to be true, her father making only the one mistake with the herdbeast that kicked him and eventually killed him. Despite not seeing anything immediately, Lorana has Minith fly somewhere else, at which point she gets a glimpse of something coming up to try and attack them. Lorana wants to know what’s stupid enough to attack a full-size dragon, but she doesn’t see the attacker well enough to know. So Minith and Lorana take a rest at Red Butte (which provides a jarring reminder that Lorana’s in a time where Tenniz is still alive, since the cairn she put for him isn’t there), and, after a nap, Lorana and Minith decide to seed the Great Isle with some herdbeasts snagged from the wild herd of Igen, before popping ahead seven Turns to see how the herd has progressed. Which is much better than expected, before the explanation of the why appears, namely, the Telgar contingent had the same idea and seeded the island with some beasts of their own. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Suddenly she felt a warning from Minith and the air crackled as a dragon burst forth from between. The rider grinned and waved at her. Lorana gave the rider a startled look–it was Fiona and her heart leapt with joy as she waved back.

I suppose that, if somewhat indirectly, answers the question of how the dragons know not to telefrag each other when going to the same space – they can detect each other and make sure they’re out of the way. Or something like it, because otherwise Lorana wouldn’t have had a clue that Fiona was arriving.

There is the big teary reunion between Lorana and Team Telgar, with much crying for everyone, vindication for Fiona, a teary emotional demand from Kindan to never leave again, and Lorana fessing up that she lost her child. After that, we find out that Team Telgar had the same seeding idea that Lorana did, and a few other pieces make themselves clear.

We thought of the same thing and came up with the same solution,” T’mar explained when Lorana got to the part in her tale where she mentioned moving the herdbeasts back in time.
“At least now we know why we were all so muzzy-headed,” Fiona said with relief. “We were not only back in time here, but also back in time at Igen as well.”
“Knowing why helps, but it doesn’t stop us from feeling the effects,” T’mar said.
“I’ll be glad when we get to normal,” Fiona agreed. “At least now, though, I don’t have to doubt my sanity.” Fiona explained about how she fainted when she met her future self and how she nearly fainted again when, as her future self, she went back in time to organize the weyrlings for their jump back to this time and place.

So Fiona ends up organizing the completely gone-and-disappeared weyrlings hop after she finally follows Tenniz’s logic and finds what Lorana did. At this point, however, everything that Lorana’s done that hasn’t been masterminding Fiona’s first hop to Igen, and showing F’jian the way to go, although that could very easily be a Lorana who is much older than this particular point pulling F’jian into points in her past, has been a shaggy dog story, because Fiona’s responsible for all the rest of the hops, skips, and jumps. It’s additional time complexity that isn’t necessary and is causing a lot of pain and secrecy for no particular reason. Since Fiona is also able to deduce what Lorana did, the two of them together (after Lorana makes sure Fiona does her stint in Igen) figure out what Tenniz meant and together go and set up this situation. Since Lorana comes back after ensuring the Igen loop happens, a whole lot less angst and despair happen while Fiona and Lorana both puzzle it all out.

Having been reunited with Fiona, Fiona suggests that Lorana send Minith back to Tullea (which also could have happened earlier if the author had decided to keep Lorana solely on the Igen loop instead of all this additional complexity), and they discuss the fauna of this Great Island.

“We’ve been hearing some noises from the woods, some deep mreeow noise we’ve never heard before.”
“I think what I met was different,” Lorana said with a shake of the head. “This creature made no noise. It seemed like a tunnel snake. Large and fast.”
Kindan and Fiona exchanged a look. “I suppose if there was nothing hunting tunnel snakes they’d get large,” Fiona said.
“And the faster ones would survive the longest,” Kindan said, “and grow largest.”
“Large enough to attack a queen?” T’mar asked, his tone dubious.
“Need breeds desperate action,” Fiona said.
“Well, we’d best keep guard,” T’mar said grimly. “A weyrling is much smaller than a–”
A sudden mreeow broke through his speech, followed immediately by a dragon’s cry of pain and a chorus of shouts. The group rushed out to see a large furry beast running off, and a group of youngsters gathered around a bellowing dragonet.

What are Ted Tubberman’s cats doing all the way over here? Maybe they’re the kind like that likes to swim, I guess? Since there’s no natural predators for them, I’m sure they would have flourished. Unless, of course, Tubberman only thawed out one gender’s worth, at which point they would have died out.

But, still, what are those cats doing in this space, other than that they have to exist so that someone and their dragon can be attacked by them? Additional dangers for the weyrlings and dragons, because we haven’t had enough drama and problems? And, again, why hasn’t this island been inhabited before? I recognize that the human plague destroys the population, but humans being humans, they tend to want to spread wherever they can go. And islands are really useful waypoints for traders and sailors, so even if they haven’t done a whole lot inland, I would have expected a port or something, unless these Mrreows or something else are just really good at murderating to the point where the island is abandoned as too dangerous. Which, y’know, seems like the sort of things that someone who was there would want to leave as a warning to everyone else, but that’s not there, either. Instead, we get this island conveniently devoid of people and dragons, but full of dangers so that the protagonists can yet again try to bend time and fix things to their advantage.

Now that everyone’s reunited, and we’re supposed to be feeling good about it, it’s time to take a break. We’ll come back next week with getting everything properly set up on this island.