Deconstruction Roundup for September 22nd, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is poised on the balance between the bright parts and the dark parts.)

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.

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

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 would like to have a place to explain the reasons why your piece of media is both problematic and wonderful. Or for any other reason, really.


The Dolphins of Pern: Consequences

Last time, Readis got infected by a thorn from the sea and it spread to the point where he’s likely to have lasting physical damage, Robinton expressed confidence that Pern won’t exceed its original mandate, and everyone continued to figure out how the dolphins fit into all of this.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter IX: Content Notes: Ablism

The narrative fast-forwards four Turns through the run up to and the execution of the plan to alter the wanderer’s orbit to end Thread as a threat forever. Readis is used as a surrogate for everyone who assumed that altered orbit meant the immediate cessation of Thread and Jayge sketches out the idea of Thread leaving after the current Pass ends. Physically, Readis has some effects from the thorn.

Jayge grinned at his son, tall for his eleven Turns, and tried not to glance down at the wasted right leg, which cocked on tiptoe beside the uninjured left foot. He ruffled Readis’s curly hair and thought instead that it was unfair for the boys in the family to have the curls while the two girls had straight hair.

And to think this could have been prevented, had someone actually believed the dolphin report the first time. (The narrative said T’lion got busy and didn’t remind Readis to have his foot checked out. But again, nobody took the dolphin seriously, despite having no reason not to.)

Also, it is apparently either a preference of Jayge’s or of Pernese men that their women have curly hair. How many bets on whether or not the curling iron manages to make itself into the list of technology that’s okay?

As things are, the actual reason for the scene is that Readis and his sisters have been enrolled in a school at Landing. Readis is suspicious.

“You mean, because of my leg I have to go away?”
“There’s not a thing wrong with Kami and Pardure, my young lad!” his father said sternly.

Barring the awkward phrasing there, as Jayge would probably be more familiar with his son, after all, Jayge is not exactly doing a great job of telling Readis that his disability isn’t the reason for his removal. If there’s “nothing wrong” with the other two, all of means is that they got in for some other reason. Given the type of place Pern is about disability, it’s entirely possible that Readis is being sent away because of that disability, so that he, like Menolly, can turn out to be cripspiration for others about what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Readis was not completely mollified. He hated anyone making concessions for him. He rode the small runner Lord Jaxom had trained for him only because Ruth said that he, the white dragon, had selected the beast for Readis, who had been so good about scrubbing his hide all these Turns. The little creature had made it possible for Readis to go wherever the other youngsters of the Hold roamed: the boy was as good a rider as he was a swimmer. Aramina preferred him to use Delky, the runner–anything to keep him out of the water and away from the dolphins. She could not be convinced that the dolphins were not responsible for his illness and subsequent crippling. It was Aramina who had heard about the proposed special classes to be held in the Admin Building, using the information machines that were the legacy of Aivas. Menolly had told Alemi, who had requested the concession not only for his eldest daughter, but for Readis as well.
[…how will he get there? Dragons…]
[Readis had] never been able to convince his mother that T’lion wasn’t in some way responsible for his illness. He’d told her time and again that the dragonrider had told him, twice, to go see Temma for the thorn and he’d forgotten. So his illness, and his bad leg, were not T’lion’s fault, but his own.

And we have Aramina doing what, really, many people would do, but also likely exacerbated by her own experiences – trying to find a spot to plant the blame on when there isn’t necessarily a place to put it. Because humans like to believe they can control things, and Aramina’s trauma is around a thing she theoretically could control by suppressing it. If she could have stopped T’lion, or if Readis wasn’t so obsessed, the tragedy could have been averted. Like if only ten year-old Aramina could not talk to dragons.

Getting back to the plot, the classes at Admin are Robinton’s idea, with AIVAS’s support – train the youngsters, who don’t have preconceptions, so that they will spread the good tech and knowledge, making it possible for everyone to have power generation and electric tools. Jayge is studying wind and hydroelectric power, to figure out which is best suited for what Hold, the powered looms, lights, and fans are good for comfort, and Alemi is very keen about manufacturing ice to keep the fish catches fresher longer.

There is a calculation here – this training, while good for Readis in general, will “also make the boy more acceptable to the Council of Holders when it came time for him to be confirmed in his holding.” – because his disability will work against him, Jayge? How ablist is the Council, then, hmm?

On the day before the planned start for the school, however, Robinton dies and AIVAS suicides, and so there is eventually a very large cluster of loudly weeping adults and keening fire-lizards. The narrative follows Readis as he essentially helps care for the adults during the night and in the next morning when he wakes up, by taking care of morning chores and feeding the smaller children. Eventually, the entire hold is bid to come out to Monaco Bay for the funeral and burial at sea.

Essentially, the entirely of Pern, humans, dragons, fire-lizards, and dolphins alike, turns out for the burial. Ruth stays behind in vigil even after everyone else leaves.

Three days after that, class begins. Readis is part of class twenty-one, named after the Turn, under the direction of Master Samvel, and the Transition Phase (so named later) begins. But Chapter IX ends.

Not a lot of content here that’s unique, because the funeral and material we’ve already covered takes up most of it. Chapter X starts with a time-skip, so we’re again going to be denied seeing the immediate aftermath of the death of Robinton and AIVAS, skipping what is likely a pivotal point in Pernese history. I wish that we spent more time in the interesting and important points in time and instead of glossing over them and spending more time with our heroes, whomever they may be.

These weeks in the Slacktiverse, September 19th, 2017

(posted by chris the cynic; written by members of The Slacktiverse)

It’s been long enough since I made a “this week” post that I figured it was better to get it on the wrong day than just do nothing.  Thus, here it is.  For those wanting an open thread, please direct your attention to this month’s mid-month check in.

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I returned to my shared super person universe to write a story in which someone tells the story (yes, story in story framework) of how it came to pass that death doesn’t stop her from walking and talking.
    • I returned to The Horse and His Boy rewriting to show a conversation between Aravis and Aslan after the battle of Anvard.

In Case You Missed This

Just a reminder that you can submit via the email SlacktiverseAuthors [at] gmail [dot] net and if that doesn’t work throw a comment up here so we know something went wrong.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for September 15th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who observes the anniversaries of tragedy by agitating for a world that does not repeat decisions that lead to them.)

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

Fred Clark: Slacktivist

Froborr: Jed A. Blue

Justice_Turtle: ReadAllTheNewberys

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are semi-savoring the thought that the act of closure has to be performed by someone else. Or for any other reason, really.

The Dolphins of Pern: Something Else Entirely

Last chapter, Toric gave a very good impression of Snidely Whiplash, if he were also a Social Darwinist and utterly devoted to Rand. And there were dolphin meetings, like there have been for the last several chapters, where the dolphins have to keep re-proving themselves to new audiences.

The Dolphins of Pern: Chapter VIII: Content Notes: Arbitrary Skepticism, Child Endangerment

At the end of the last chapter, the Harpers and Healers decided its time to inform Lessa that there’s yet another intelligent creature on Pern and it’s worthwhile to pursue a partnership with them. As it is presented to Lessa (by Alemi and Robinton), who is apparently nonplussed at this new knowledge, the dolphins were here longer than the dragons and are more useful than the fire-lizards. Alemi takes this cue and says that the dragons seem to like them, with the narrative saying this means he is “not letting himself be intimidated by the diminutive but forceful Weyrwoman of Benden.” Which is still apparently the running gag of Pern – Lessa is short, and a woman, and yet she intimidates grown men! Isn’t that funny?

No, it isn’t.

There’s a quick bit about the Healers, but also interestingly…

“Master Oldive had a very puzzling patient, which the dolphins at Fort Hold diagnosed as having an internal growth in the belly.”
“And that caused enough problems with his Hall,” she said dryly. “I really don’t like the idea of cutting into human bodies.” She gave a little shudder.
“No more than when a child is hard to birth,” Alemi said, knowing that Lessa had had to have that surgery.

Wait, how many kids does Lessa have ? I only know of one, and F’lessan predates the discovery of AIVAS. Which suggests the Cesarean does, too, according to this quote, and would have to be part of the Healer canon of acceptable technique for surgery and if we can have people recovering from C-sections, what exactly is the prohibition on surgery there for? Pern has sterilization materials and apparently enough training on their proper use that an OR would be possible, even if they have very little knowledge of germ theory.

Lessa settles down some when told the dolphins won’t interfere with the AIVAS plan, but she pops right back up at the idea of dolphin intelligence.

“Sea creatures with names?” Lessa exclaimed and her frown returned. That the dragons knew their own names at birth was an indisputable mark of their self-awareness and intelligence. To hear that the dolphins also had names smacked of heresy to the Weyrwoman.

There’s that one of those words again, the kind that might not belong. Because heresy requires orthodoxy (which we have in spades, thank you Harper Hall), but also imparts a generally religious flavor to the whole thing (which we seem to be even more rapidly moving toward, despite the statements initially that there aren’t theisms or religions in Pern).

Also, Lessa seems oddly perturbed at the possibility of another intelligent species. Maybe she wants the dragonriders to stay extra special?

As it is, Lessa heads out to do more land inspections so that new Holds can be granted in the South, and we finally get an idea of what kind of personnel are needed to get one up and running, even if the exact arrangements aren’t made clear.

Still, sometimes one has to wait until there were sufficient representatives of the crafthalls to provide self-sufficiency within each new holding, and at least one journeyman or journeywoman healer who could tend the needs of several holds.

So, essentially you need enough crafters to oversee the work of resource extraction, construction, husbandry, farming, and teaching, plus medicine, then enough people to do all that work underneath the supervision of those crafters, in the name of the noble who is going to get the land grant and all the profits from it.

Tell me again why anyone expects this system to survive for very long past the end of Thread? Inertia, maybe?

As it is, Lessa surveys, but the narrative switches to Jayge, furious at being invaded. He asks Alemi if the dolphins will patrol his seas and alert them to any more intrusive boats and their passengers. Because while Alemi and Jayge are sympathetic to “the dreadful conditions of the holdless, crammed into the caves at Igen and other, even less salubrious places in the North”, rules are rules and you can’t just cross a border illegally and expect to be able to make a life for yourself, no matter how awful it is where you are.

Alemi reflects on having to help flush out the renegades that Toric wanted dealt with, acknowledging how easy it would have been with dragonriders, while approving of their avoidance of “partisan leanings”. Alemi thinks it’s appropriate for dragonriders to have a retirement space, that Idarolan said there’s more than enough land for everyone in the South, and that it would be greedy to ask for more than what one really needed to do the job. And then Robinton interrupts, telling us that the entire sequence between Jayge and Alemi and all of this is a flashback, and the correct time period is right after they both left Lessa at Benden. Who isn’t being told about the dolphin patrols. Robinton wants to know more about the dolphins and their treatment by human Healers, as Alemi marvels that Robinton is free, given that there are “archivists and harpers” arranging and copying the information in AIVAS’s data banks. Unless they’re also new for AIVAS, I guess I have to take back the previous comment about there being no archivists on Pern to organize and make available the data and knowledge they have. I can still complain about the fact that if they have existed, they’ve done a shit job at it.

As they talk, Robinton is surprised to learn that dolphins, being mammalian, have many of the same disease issues and problems that humans can have, like heart attacks. Alemi mentions having come across six dolphins all beached and dead, which were usually matters of pollution, according to the AI. Robinton offers a spirited defense as to why that won’t happen again:

“We can–perhaps–be grateful that what the Ancients had, Pern’s resources will not provide. That will be our saving.”
“Oh?” Alemi wasn’t above a little prompting.
Master Robinton’s mobile gave lot with a knowing smile. “Despite all we have endured since the Dawn Sisters took their orbit above us, the world has stayed remarkably well in the parameters set out by the colony founders. Of course, we couldn’t know that we were abiding by those precepts”–he grinned roguishly at Alemi–“but the fact of the matter is that we did keep to just the technology needed to survive. Once the threat of Thread is abolished, we can improve the quality of our lives and still remain within these precepts: a world that does not require as much of the sophisticated doodads and technology that so obsessed our ancestors. We’ll be the better for it.”

That’s not even the slightest bit true, Robinton, but it sounds nice. Fandarel’s drive for efficiency could easily be matched by a Jancis-Piemur partnership for innovation. And every entity that wants to live as a land holder will develop new technology to displace anyone who has been there before. Now, if Pern has somehow managed to come into being as a world without any radioactive elements, it’s entirely possible it will take a very long time to develop space technologies…and atomic weapons, but they have electricity and whatever they can extract out of AIVAS before it self-terminates, assuming that the termination wipes all the data stores. If the data survives AIVAS, then essentially it only takes however long understanding the science takes before they jump from steampunk to cyberpunk. And it really just takes a dragonrider deciding to test the limits of the dragon’s abilities before there’s mining of space objects and/or waystations set up between Pern and the galaxy the colonists tried to leave behind. There are far too many ways that post-Thread Pern can exceed those precepts, and it won’t take much of a deliberate action to do so.

Robinton suggests the dragons will be there after Thread is gone, and the action shifts back to T’lion taking flak about potentially neglecting his dragon in his enthusiasm for dolphins, even though the dolphins are quite helpful and Gadareth doesn’t feel neglected at all. Alemi is knowing and conspiratorial with T’lion about talking and working with dolphins, and their propensity to fling water at everyone they like. In going to collect Boskoney, Menolly’s replacement at Paradise River, to take him to Landing, T’lion tells Readis that he talks to dolphins, which will no doubt precipitate a lot of headaches from Aramina about someone having encouraged Readis. Especially since T’lion enjoys talking to Readis about the exploits and stories he has with dolphins. So the two of them hatch a plan to have Readis come to Alemi’s dock and talk and swim with the dolphins while T’lion is there. That way, Readis isn’t breaking his promise to go be at the water alone, and he gets to indulge in dolphins. Who specifically say Readis’s foot has a thorn in it, even though Readis doesn’t feel anything. So when Readis takes ill, everyone thinks it’s just a fever that he’ll get over, but T’lion gets the information that Readis stepped on a sea thorn, which is worse than the nasty land ones. He eventually tells Boskoney everything, and that manages to get Readis to a dolphin, and they get the poison out, but not before the possibility of Readis not getting full use of his right leg. Boskoney doesn’t tell T’lion this while he’s in the middle of recriminations, but instead mentions that Readis is now under Healer orders to have to swim on a daily basis. Which is a still-uncomfortable reminder of suffering that T’lion’s brother endured, but the swimming part is at least a little bit of a buoy for him. The chapter ends on this note, with Readis happy that he gets to swim with the dolphins and everyone else mostly just happy he’s alive.

I’m pretty much over the arbitrary skepticism about dolphins at this point. If their sonar can diagnose things, then someone should be thinking about it when there are injuries, and using it if they’re lucky enough to have them nearby. Essentially, Readis was preventable at this point, because the dolphins are there and happy to do stuff like sonar. But there seems to be a thing from the author that talented children are supposed to be disfigured in some way as a way of keeping them from…hubris? Upsetting the social order before its ready? I don’t know.

Next week, we get to see the consequences of actions.

Board Business September 13th, 2017

(posted by chris the cynic)


Regular Business

There is no submission deadline for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompt suggestions.  Send them any time.

The Submission Deadline for the weekend post is 20:00 (8PM) US Eastern Time Saturday.

Anyone who has submissions for the weekend post should send them in.  Some people wonder if they really deserve to be in the post.  The answer to that is always the same: You do.  So try not to be afraid and do try to send in submissions if you have them.

The sections of the weekend post are as follows:

The Blogaround

Any denizen of the Slacktiverse who has posted an article to their own website since they last submitted to a weekend post is invited, enticed, and cajoled to send a short summary of that article along with its permalink to the group email. That summary and link will be included in the next weekend blogaround. This will help to keep members of our community aware of the many excellent websites hosted by other members.

Remember, this is since you last submitted to a weekend post, not since the last weekend post. For example, if the last time you submitted was a month ago, everything you wrote since then is fair game.

In Case You Missed This

Readers of The Slacktiverse can send short summaries of, and permalinks to, articles that they feel might be of interest to other readers.  These should be sent, as you might expect, to the group email.

Things You Can Do

Anyone who knows of a worthy cause or important petition should send a short description of the petition/cause along with its url to the group email.

Again, none for articles, open thread suggestions and writing prompts.
20:00 (8 PM) US Eastern Time Saturday for the Weekend post.  Also, if there’s a deconstruction you feel should be in the roundup, you can suggest that at any time.
In case the links don’t work: the group email is SlacktiverseAuthors (at) gmail (dot) com.
It is perfectly acceptable to use this as an open thread, should you so desire.

Writer Workshop September 13th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

[Anyone who would feel more comfortable talking about non-writing creative work in a thread that doesn’t have “Writer” in the name, you may find this month’s creative corner thread useful.]

Those of you who also frequent Ana Mardoll’s Ramblings will find this somewhat familiar.  Here, as there, it was requested that there be a regular post to talk about writing projects (and other artwork-creation). Thus this post exists.

Pencil by Elisa Xyz

What are you working on? How are you feeling about it? What thoughts and/or snippets would you like to share? How does your activism work into your art? What tropes are you hoping to employ and/or avoid? Are there any questions you’d like to ask or frustrations you’d like to vent?  Writing workshop below!