All the Weyrs of Pern: A New Phase Dawns

Last time, someone actually expressed a lack of faith in AIVAS. Since it was Lessa, however, and she was in the presence of two Bros, Jaxom and the Benden Weyrleader, she was summarily dismissed, even when she had keen insight later on. Now, however, it’s time to take big dragons up to space and engage in the satisfaction of roasting Thread before it actually gets to the planet.

All the Weyrs of Pern: Chapter 13: Content Notes: False Humility, Manipulative Behavior

Sharra and Oldive have volunteered to dissect Thread. The big dragons are ready to go up into an airlock. The transfer up goes smoothly. Everyone has to adjust to microgravity, with the Benden Weyrleader commenting on how Lessa has to try it. “I know you don’t weigh much under any circumstances,” he says, and then tells Robinton, “No strain for you, Robinton.” My skin crawls at the casualness of making Lessa diminutive.

After adjustment, each grouping heads to their respective locations – analysis in a cold-sleep lab, the riders to the bridge to observe and destroy Thread. Path and Ruth take each Weyrleader to a different ship so they can enter the commands. Robinton gets to put things in on the Yokohama. As Thread gets vaporized, Sharra complains that no tools brought up can cut the outer shell, and there’s not nearly enough space to use a flamethrower, even if they wanted to. They speculate about whether a diamond cutter could get in. AIVAS casually remarks that laser technology is still beyond them before confirming that the diamond cutter would be effective.

“Then why on earth didn’t you suggest we bring one along on this trip?” [Sharra] demanded.
“The question was not put to this facility.”
“The trouble with you, Aivas,” Sharra continued with some asperity, “is that you only tell us every you think we should know: not necessarily all we need to know or what we want to know.”
A long silence ensued, during which she and Oldive left the laboratory, sealing the door behind them.
“Sharra’s right, you know,” D’ram remarked at last.
“Indeed,” Robinton said.
“But would we have thought that a diamond cutter would be necessary, considering the selection of edged tools Sharra and Oldive did bring with them?” Jaxom asked, though he agreed completely with his mate and was rather proud of her for speaking so bluntly. It was significant, too, that Aivas had not refuted the accusation.

No kidding. The narrative likes giving truthful statements to women. Perhaps because those women will then be taken as seriously as the plot demands of them. But nobody is going to take this idea seriously, as it would mean throwing their lot in with the cartoon villains, instead of taking time to think about whether or not the way they’re being fed information and technology might serve a purpose other than their own. They’ve already anthropomorphized the AI, surely that means they can envision the idea of it having interests of its own, rather than just theirs.

Before the next plot beat, Jaxom reflects on how nice it is to be able to work on two different time zones, so that he can stay with the AI and get the work done of running Ruatha in his twenty-hour days. Because someone might be concerned about the Lord being absent all the time or use that void to plot or otherwise sabotage him.

The plot beat is that a roof of Honshu has caved in and a secret compartment has discovered sacks filled with something. Fighting the urge to go back to sleep, Jaxom joins all the other dignitaries at Honshu, having to navigate fog for landing. F’lessan has been blessed with a little of good sense, so that when he opened a sack to examine the contents, he stopped at the awful smell and didn’t proceed to tasting the liquid inside. Since it’s Kenjo’s secret fuel stash, discovered when a dragon crashed through the ceiling, F’lessan can count himself lucky or prudent.

AIVAS confirms that it’s fuel, and dashes Jaxom’s hopes of being able to take a ship to the source of Thread and destroy it by showing them the actual scale of the Oort cloud that they would have to destroy. AIVAS exhorts everyone not to give up on the plan, even as it is still not forthcoming with the details of how they will alter the Red Star’s orbit. It also quickly changes the subject to say that every dragonrider is going to need to get trained in microgravity, much to the happiness of those riders.

A new enthusiasm swept through all the Weyrs, overcoming the mid-Pass apathy.
Three days later, fires were set among the fuel sacks, but fire-lizards gave the alarm so no harm was done. On hearing of the near disaster, Aivas was unperturbed and, in an offhanded tone, informed the agitated Lytol and D’ram that the fuel was non-flammable.
[…Fandarel wants to know how and is rewarded with a lecture on jet propulsion that confuses everyone…]
That evening Master Morilton dispatched his fire-lizard with an urgent and horrified message that someone had destroyed all the lenses his Hall had ready to be installed in microscopes and telescopes, ruining months of hard and patient work. Later the next morning Master Fandarel found that the metal barrels [a subordinate] had been producing to house the lenses had been thrown into the forge fire and distempered overnight.

That’s a good tactical change for the anti-AI faction. At this point, they understand direct action won’t work, so they’re resorting to sabotage and terrorism, like a good guerilla warfare unit would. Which means the next action should be a targeted attack on someone who seems vulnerable.

And lo, after talking a bit about how Thread is weird, even for the AI, and pointing out that metal tools get brittle at the necessary temperatures to keep Thread dormant, Sharra is involved in a riding strap break in much the same way that Jaxom’s was. Because, of course, Jaxom didn’t tell Sharra about his problem, nor where he was hiding his own straps, so as not to worry her. Ruth saves her, and then Sharra goes on using a different dragon and rider (called “all right for an [time-skipped]” by Ruth), Jaxom takes care of discipline meetings, and then, when he fesses up to Sharra about what happened, she “[tears] strips out of him for ‘sparing’ her anxiety” and then confirms for us that Jaxom really is the main character here.

“Especially when you’re the leader for all of Aivas’s plans.”
“Me? The leader?” Jaxom stared at her in complete surprise.
“Well, you are, even if you don’t realize it.” Then her severe expression softened. “You wouldn’t.” She gave him a sweetly condescending smile. “You are, though. Take my word for it, and everyone on the planet knows it.”
“But I–I–”
“Oh, don’t get fussed, Jax. It’s one of your most endearing traits that you don’t get puffed up with importance and irritate people with an inflated self-consequence.”

Oh, yes, and it’s “Jax” and “Sharrie” as pet names for each other.

Also,

Jaxom doesn’t get too egotistical, we’re told, despite trying to pull rank last chapter, demanding an apology for the Weyrs before that, and generally having had the privilege of being both Lord and dragonrider before also becoming the leader of whatever AIVAS has planned. And before that, used said dragon to be the hero that returned the egg, to steal his wife from where she was being kept prisoner, and also used his station to get a girl to have sex with him. But he’s not got an inflated sense of self-worth…compared to the other, more senior Lords Holder, perhaps, who have been used to their positions and their power for all their lives, instead of being precariously balanced, as Jaxom has been.

At the scheduled meeting for discussing the vandalism, Jaxom informs everyone else about the incidents with the riding straps and is dressed down by everyone else in the room for not telling them when they happened, over his protests that he’s been careful. AIVAS mandates extra security for the Halls, and is glad the vandals didn’t damage the truly useful things to the plan.

“All that work is divided along several Halls and different locations,” Fandarel said with an air of relief. Then he shook his head, his expression doleful. “I find it very hard to believe that some member of my Crafthall could so wantonly destroy the hard work of his colleagues.”
“Your society is a trusting one,” Aivas said, “and it is sad to see that trust betrayed.”
“It is, indeed,” Fandarel agreed, his voice heavy with sadness.

Cocowhat by depizan

That’s…no. At best, I might describe Pern as a place that espouses “Trust, but verify.” Where “trust” is very specifically spelled out in contracts and agreements that always benefit the aristocrat over anyone else except a dragonrider. Fandarel can’t be ignorant of the politics – even a ruthless drive for efficiency will put you on someone’s bad side. I would believe he usually has a buffer between himself and the rest of the planet, though.

If I were feeling cynical, I would say that was a calculated statement by the AI, to try and make people believe the best of themselves, instead of the reality that the sabotage represents. And I would also point out that we just had a novel all supposedly about the people who are cast aside by this society and would probably enjoy doing damage to it, given resources to do so. Even more so now that there’s a focal point for all that disaffection, and it could create alliances between the disaffected and the Lords who want to keep their hands officially clean.

Security measures are implemented, including watch-whers, fire-lizards, and feline cubs, which Sharra mentions Toric has used, although they need to be locked up during the day. This suggests to me that the Records from the plague in the Moreta/Nerilka time have been lost or destroyed, as nobody that I know of would willingly associate with what was suspected to be a plague-carrier. Sensitive objects are to be sent up to the spaceships as soon as possible, including the fuel.

“Is there any guarantee that they’d be safe there?” Lytol wanted to know. He ignored those who regarded him with anger, dismay, disbelief, or anxiety as he waited for Aivas’s reassurance.
“This facility can efficiently and effectively monitor the Yokohama as you [can] your individual Holds, Halls, and Weyrs,” Aivas replied.
“And the guardian guards himself!” Lytol added in a low voice.
“Q.E.D.,” Aivas said.
“Cue ee dee?” Piemur asked.
“That has been demonstrated.”

And on that cuteness, the chapter ends.

In that last block, it doesn’t seem likely that Lytol would be the person to both ask for reassurance and add an additional bit on the end. I think that last line was intended to be spoken by someone else. But that’s just me.

Lytol is right, though – all it would take is one rogue dragonrider and the spaceship is just as vulnerable as everywhere else. Even though AIVAS would react faster than humans would.

I expect the tempo and seriousness of the attacks to increase, despite the additional security, because that’s what would make a good story at this point. Tune in next week to see if I’m horribly disappointed.

Writer Workshop June 14th, 2017

(Posted by chris the cynic)

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.

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.

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!

Open Thread: Mid Month Check In, June 2017

(by chris the cynic)

What have you been doing of late?  How are you?  Are you still alive?  So forth.

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

These two weeks in the Slacktiverse, June 12th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • Sorry about not having one of these last week.
    • I had three story things:
      • Shasta reflecting on being sold in my The Horse and His Boy rewrite.
      • I’ve long had the idea for this fragment, but never did get much work done on finishing it, then someone talked about some cis-normative bullshit in Wonder Woman (which is, for the most part, a good movie that is worth watching) which provided the impetus I needed to finish writing the fragment and post it.  The fragment has nothing to do with Wonder Woman but it does have to do with (a lack of) cis-normative bullshit.
      • I had an exposition dump that describes the setting I tend to imagine whenever there’s a thing where something is said to mutate much of the human population into mindless monsters.
    • I wrote a description-outline-thing of a story where someone tried to sell their soul, but they’re in a mental space so bad it precludes meaningful consent, and since the demon can’t buy the soul without informed consent, the demon has to work to help the human on a mental health front which is a long and involved process.
    • I asked if there were anything for simulating the effects of an extreme ice age.  “Shy of snowball earth, but still with 2/3rds-ish covered” extreme.
    • I gave a general update on things going on in my life.
    • I am still begging people to nominate me for meaningless awards in the Kim Possible fandom, this time with a much more streamlined post on how to do that.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

No submissions this week.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for June 9th, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who worries about the SAN points of anyone following politics closely.)

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

Philip SandiferEruditorium Press

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

RubyTea: Heathen Critique

Vaka Rangi: Eruditorium Press

Silver Adept: Here on The Slacktiverse

Let us know, please, if there are errors in the post. Or if you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s someone who you think should be included, which includes you. We can use more content. Or if you are trying to decide between equally acceptable options. Or for any other reason, really.

All the Weyrs of Pern: A Smidgen Of Doubt

Last chapter was a bit of a breather, even as it did me characterization violence to Lessa and made sure the banner of the double standard was as spotless as possible for display.

All the Weyrs of Pern: Chapter 12: Content Notes: Bro-Code, the lying AI

Chapter 12 begins with the Crafts swarming over Honshu, cataloging and hauling off everything they can get their hands on, even the sled, which would require someone to manufacture new power banks for it to run. S’len also discovered a rack of functional space suits, which allows AIVAS to adjust some of its plans to include a bit of breathing room. The addition of the other two ships also helps with the plan, and an artist (Perschar, who we met in a previous book) is set to use the telescopes to map the terrain of the wanderer for whatever distinctive features might be useful. The Smiths are sent to learn the construction of the ship and see if there are any other useful things to be scavenged.

On one of these trips up, Fandarel asks a smart question and gets a very curt answer.

Fandarel, thinking about that fuel, wondered why the settlers had dared to leave the colony ships in an orbit that was ultimately destined to decay. Aivas replied curtly that that was not an immediate concern: So far the orbits had not decayed, and the surface of Pern was not at risk–not, at least, from ship debris.

It’s a really good question – why leave a ship up there that is likely to have a very bad effect when it crashes down? Unless the colonists were very sure that the ship itself would break up and vaporize in the atmosphere, there’s basically enough tonnage to perform a Colony Drop on the planet’s surface, and their supposedly low-tech agrarian descendants would be unable to handle it, much less know that it was coming. Sure, it won’t be their problem, because it will take millennia to achieve this and they’ll all be dead, but 20th century Terran technology has to plan very carefully what they do with decommissioned satellites and other such things. It’s unlikely that the characters of Three Hundredth or Three Thousandth Pass Pern would successfully be able to understand why the Dawn Sisters are moving, much less prevent a possible extinction event if they should all land wrong.

Before we can get too far into the ramifications of this, S’len activates the red alert when he sees Thread approaching.

“It’s Thread, Jancis, I’m sure of it,” S’len replied. “Not space debris. There’s this flood of egglike things of varying sizes streaming toward us. Looks just like the stuff Aivas described to us in his lecture. Space debris wouldn’t come in a steady flow, would it? This stuff goes back as far as we can see from the window. Only none of them ever hits the window, and the pilot’s board is all lit up and the engineer’s station is beeping at us.” His words came tumbling out in his haste to describe the situation. Then his voice became agitated. “Bigath and Beerth are demanding that we go outside. They say it’s Thread. I never should have even thought what I thought it is!” Then, in an explosive aside: “No, Bigath, we can’t fly this sort of a Fall. It’s not Thread yet, if that’s what it is! We haven’t any firestone, and there’s no air out there, and you wouldn’t fly outside anyway–you’d float, just like in here. Shards! Jancis, I can’t make her understand!”
S’len didn’t panic easily, and Bigath was not as erratic as some greens.

Ah, yes, that is actually a relevant problem when you have giant creatures bred to fight a thing who see it in an entirely new context. S’len is right, too, that methods that work in a planetary environment don’t work in the vacuum. Considering that AIVAS has said dragons can survive for a while out there, if the dragons could be outfitted with weapons that would work in space, theoretically Thread could be vaporized before it made planetfall. That might speed development of things on the Pern.

The panic continues up here, however, before we can turn our attention to such things.

“When is Ruth coming, Bigath wants to know!” S’len’s tone had altered from dismay to desperation. Aivas’s calm voice continued to exhort the green dragons to listen to reason, but he was using reason that the dragons were not able to hear. Jancis was scribbling a note to Jaxom to come at once when S’len with a cry of relief, said, “Ruth’s here and everything’s under control!”
Jancis looked at the note and then at her fire-lizard, who cocked his head at her quizzically. She considered the matter for a moment longer and then made a decision. There was absolutely no way in which Jaxom and Ruth would have known to come to the bridge. He was in Ruatha today, and Aivas had no way of communicating with him there. She checked the exact time on her watch and wrote it down on the note. She added a final phrase in big letters: “TIME IT!” Then she sent Trig off to Ruatha and Jaxom.
“But if Ruth and Jaxom are here, why send the note now?”
Jancis smiled at her grandfather. “Trig needs the practice, Granddad.”

So Jancis knows the secret but Fandarel doesn’t? Or is Fandarel’s attention just diverted and he’s not thinking through how things are going so far?

In any case, Jancis says she wants to see what Thread looks like in space, and so the Smiths all troop up to the bridge to see what the spores look like. Jaxom is described as having a laugh at the sight of everything, which is in character for him, I guess, since he’s no longer the sympathetic boy from before.

Once everyone gets into a stable state, Fandarel makes exactly the suggestion I had thought of before:

“Fascinating! To be amid Thread and unharmed by it. Truly astounding. It’s a great pity we can’t do something to stem the tide here, before it reaches the surface.”
S’len groaned. “Please don’t even think that,” he said, flicking his hand at the willing creatures whom Ruth was visibly restraining at the window.
“Thread doesn’t look so dangerous right now,” Jancis said thoughtfully as she watched the ovoids sweep in and abruptly disappear.

And then the next logical conclusion happens – Jaxom and Jancis suggest sending out a fire lizard to capture a Thread spore and keep it in an airless airlock for study. AIVAS points out that Lemos and Nabol tried but crashed, and tries to ward off the idea with how dangerous it is. It is ignored. AIVAS, seeing they plan on doing it, recounts the benefits of the plan. Trig is briefed by Jancis and Ruth, and succeeds at snagging a Thread egg and depositing it in the airlock. Which then triggers the hasty construction of an investigation team, to be brought up to study it.

Jaxom takes advantage of the situation to tweak AIVAS again about departure from the planned activities, and the bridge has amused glances as AIVAS recalculates and realizes the ships pass through Thread every fourth Fall. And then leads Jaxom to realize that the deflector shields can also be used as destructor shields, using the Yokohama to vaporize any Thread that gets in the way. Fandarel wants to know if the effect can be extended. On a no, AIVAS endures another round of people asking what the actual plan is and getting nowhere with it before Jaxom suggests that the deflectors on the other two ships could also be used as destructors. Cue a giant clamor of everyone asserting they have the right to do it on the other ships, until Jaxom asserts himself again.

“As Lord Holder, I outrank everyone else, so I will make the decision. Master Fandarel deserves the chance for many reasons, and Jancis, too. However, Bigath and Beerth brought all you Smithcrafters up here, so they can just haul you across to the other ships, as well. You–” He pointed at Balterac. “–can be trusted with switching the screen from deflect to destroy. And you–” He indicated Fandarel. “–can then engage. Jancis, you reprogram the shield, and Evan, you can hit the ENTER key. So you’ll all take part.”

Wait, Jaxom outranks both the Mastersmith and the dragonriders? I don’t think so. For one, that would create a significant imbalance of power, even with the Crafters’ ability to pull all their people out. Second, that contradicts what we learned just a few chapters ago, when Lytol very firmly told off a Lord Holder who believed he could forbid the creation of new Crafts. The Crafts, dragonriders, and Holders are independent of each other and have been deliberately set up this way.

If Jaxom had said “I have the most experience in space,” I’d be willing to go along with that. But “I outrank you all” does not.

AIVAS points out that doing the change in shields will only affect a miniscule amount of Thread, but everyone else notes the morale boost would be substantial and prepares to go do it.

“That is,” Jaxom said, turning to the green riders, “if you and your dragons are amenable…”
S’len and L’zan were more than amenable.

That’s what I thought.

With the bridge clear, AIVAS asks Jaxom a second time about the carrying capacities of dragons.

“Jaxom,” Aivas began, “how much weight can the green dragons carry? Their burdens today weigh more than their body weight.”
“A dragon is capable of carrying as much as he thinks he can,” Jaxom replied with a shrug.
“So if the dragon thinks he can carry the object, irrespective of its actual weight, he will?”
“I don’t think anyone’s actually tried to overload a dragon. Didn’t you tell me the earliest ones were used to transport loads out of Landing following the eruption?”
“That is true. But they were never, as you surmised, permitted to carry great weights. In fact, Sean O’Connell, the leader of those early riders, resented the fact that the dragons were used in such a capacity.”
“Why?”
“That was never explained.”

Wait a minute… If the story we saw in Dragonsdawn is supposed to be the story AIVAS tells the descendants about their ancestors, there’s pretty clear indications of what Sean thinks about the use of dragons as cargo ferries. Is AIVAS extrapolating, or just making things up that sound good to the descendants?

Also, at least two genders of dragons. And the repetition of the fact that dragons violate the laws of physics. Sounds like someone is getting some flak about the unreality of their attempts to make an unreality. The acknowledgements (at the back in this ebook – a print copy had them at the front) gives a very sharp poke at people insisting on consistency and continuity:

The author and Dr. Jack Cohen are fully aware that some of the procedures and developments of new products suggested in these pages would probably take many more months, years, to produce and effect than is here suggested. However, there are certain licenses that an author, and her advisor, may take to produce a novel. Then, too, the Pernese had Aivas to help the, didn’t they?

That certainly sounds like someone attempting to wield either Bellisario’s Maxim or the MST3K mantra as a defense. I think it would work better, though, if the author wasn’t trying so hard to move in a harder-science direction. As a story of “characters of a fantasy world discover they are in fact the descendants of a high technology society,” Pern works just fine. As a story of “characters of a fantasy world discover they are in fact the descendants of a high technology society, whose science is totally based in extrapolations of reality in 20th c. Terra, and is easily reconstructed,” Pern falls flat from the dragons forward. There’s another series (the Talents / the Rowan) that started on more SFnal ground than this, and if there’s arc welding trying to get Pern into that universe, there’s a long way to go before it’s plausible.

Picking up where we left off , AIVAS then asks about the other way that dragons violate known physics.

Jaxom smiled to himself. “Dragons can do a lot of inexplicable things.”
“For instance,” and Aivas’s voice altered subtly, “arriving in very timely fashions?”
Jaxom chuckled. “That’s one.”
“How did you contrive such a serendipitous entrance?”
“Jancis was clever enough to put down the time. When I visualized the bridge for Ruth, I also visualized the bridge clock–” Jaxom pointed to the digital face–“at a minute before the one she gave. So, of course, we arrived–” He chuckled again, “–in time!”

Awful puns aside, that answers on the small scale about whether or not clocks could be used to time jump as well as place jump. I also don’t think Jaxom visualized a bridge full of chaos, so presumably, Ruth instinctively picked an exit point where he would avoid telefragging anyone, himself included. If the clock on the bridge also keeps date and year, presumably, that would be a way of transiting back and forth in time without the risk of materializing into something or someone else. Since dragons automatically correct for place, so long as Jaxom just adjusts the bridge clock, he could go anywhere and use the viewers and telescopes to scope out landing points for other dragons to arrive at to study the past. And so long as he kept good records in the computer, Jaxom would be able to avoid paradoxing himself or having anyone be in two places at the same time. There’s going to have to be thought into constructing the stable time loop in the way that Jancis just did, but it would be doable.

After the shields do their work, AIVAS advises they be reset to deflection. Fandarel asks who was on duty at Landing, in anticipation of a discussion between everyone about whether or not to display this stunt as yet more proof of the usefulness of the technology. Jaxom pops over to Benden to inform the Weyrleaders of what went on, gets admonished for using time travel, and then further admonished for having a sample of Thread in the airlock. Which actually leads to the first on-camera discussion of whether AIVAS is fully trustable.

“I’m curious, Jaxom, and you’re more in Aivas’s company these days than we are: This dissection business makes me wonder if Aivas’s basic imperatives conflict with ours.”
“Not where the annihilation of Thread is concerned. Though sometimes I don’t understand why he has us doing some of those endless drills and exercises. Especially now that he has been revealed as fallible.”
F’lar grinned. “Did Aivas ever say he was not?”
“He likes to give the impression that he’s never wrong,” Lessa said in a sharp tone, looking alarmed.
Jaxom grinned. “Good teacher image, and that’s necessary when he has to pound all these ideas into our parochial heads.”
“Is his fallibility a danger to us?” F’lar asked.
“I don’t really think so. I’m just commenting on it since we are private today,” Jaxom went on, “and because I was so surprised when Aivas did not know Thread’s decent passed so close to the Yokohama.”
F’lar blinked, absorbing that information, and Lessa’s down deepened. “Surprised? Or worried?”
“Well, it’s not his fault. The ancients didn’t know it, either,” Jaxom said with some satisfaction.
F’lar grinned back at him. “I see what you mean, Jaxom. Makes them more human.”
“And Aivas not so inhumanly perfect.”
“Well, it doesn’t please me,” Lessa snapped. “We’ve believed everything Aivas had told us!”
“Don’t fret, Lessa. So far Aivas has not lied to us,” F’lar said.
“But if he doesn’t know everything ,how can we now be sure he’s guiding us in the right direction with this great plan of his that’s supposed to destroy Thread forever?” she demanded.

Lessa is being the voice of reason here. It’s too bad that the narrative is trying to portray her as being the hysterical woman concerned about nothing compared to the confident young man and his knowing older mentor. The Lessa I remember plots and schemes and has rational reactions to things (that aren’t Thread – very few people can react to that dispassionately) instead of having so much time spent on her tone instead of her content.

Also, I’m unsure that anyone can claim with confidence that the AI has not lied to them. It may not have told lies on anything they can go and confirm, but AIVAS has already demonstrated understanding of shades of meaning. It doesn’t have to lie to steer the planet in a bad direction. And it has a vested interest in keeping the ancestor-worship alive, because there’s still enough heft in being the archive of the Ancients to draw people who aren’t on board with the idea of technology and modernization. So much like how we didn’t get to hear about Lytol’s objections, Lessa’s objections, echoed or very close to the anti-AI faction’s objections, are being dismissed without being taken seriously. (That it’s Lessa being dismissed is an extra dimension of wrong, based on how she’s been treated by the men of Pern over all of these works.)

Resuming, Jaxom thinks he’s starting to figure out The Plan.

“I’m beginning to figure out what that’s going to be,” Jaxom said so confidently that Lessa gave him a long look. “Aivas is obviously teaching us at the rate at which he feels we’ll be able to absorb the revolutionary ideas; these exercises are what we’ll have to perfect before we can achieve his goals, which are ours, and were our ancestors’.”
“And will you let us in on your conclusions?” Lessa’s tone was as caustic as Jaxom had ever heard it.
[…Jaxom explains a bit, Lessa is unconvinced, but also wants to get in on the action that the green riders already are…]
Lessa cocked her head at Jaxom, her expression thoughtful. “Does Aivas plan for the dragons to move those ships?”
“Move the ships?” Jaxom asked, surprised.
“Why? How?” F’lar asked.
“Remember, F’lar, when Aivas insisted the dragons should be able to move things telekinetically?”
“Dragons can only move themselves, their riders, and what they carry,” F’lar said categorically. “They cannot move things they’re not holding. And what good would come of moving the ships? If his plan is somehow to use the ships to blow up the Red Star, I don’t see what good that would accomplish. Not as I understand his lessons in spatial mechanics.”
“No more do I.” Jaxom took the last gulp of his klah and rose. “Well, I’ve delivered my report of today’s surprise.”
[…Jaxom suggests that the shields can be switched programmatically between destruct and deflect modes..]
“You won’t worry about Aivas’s fallibility, will you, F’lar?” Jaxom asked in a lowered voice when they were in the short corridor beyond the weyr.
“Me? No, certainly not,” the Weyrleader assured him. “We’ve learned so much already from Aivas that, even if his vaunted Plan fails, we’ll surely find our own ways of ridding Pern of Thread by the next Pass. But, somehow, Jaxom,” F’lar said, griping Jaxom’s arm hard to show his implacable resolve, “I know we’ll manage to do it in this Pass! Make no mistake about that! We’ll do it in my lifetime!”

AUGH.

Lessa is entirely on to something here. Jaxom’s casual attitude toward what the actual carrying capacity of a dragon is combinable with the Benden Weyrleader’s assertion that dragons only transport a limited set of things through hyperspace. I think Lessa has it, but isn’t saying anything because she’s not going to get anywhere with those two. If Mirrim should drop by, though, I wouldn’t put it past Lessa to insinuate that some rider somewhere said that Path couldn’t possibly move some extremely large object to Landing and watch with glee as Path digs her claws into it and vanishes it through hyperspace. Because Mirrim was sure Path could, and Path was holding on to it, after all, even if she wasn’t carrying it in her claws.

If the theoretical upper bound is “whatever the dragon thinks they can move”, presumably that means a single dragon, properly convinced, could move the wandering planet by themselves. They’re already lifting and shifting more than their own body weights.

As it is, when everyone gets back from space, Lytol confides that he’s having trouble finding a qualified person to dissect the Thread spore in space, because people understandably think that proximity to Thread equals death. Video of the Thread spore unchanging helps allay fears, and video of the shield destructor accompanies a report that the fall over Nerat was much easier thanks to the effort. Robinton and the Benden Weyrleaders want to go up into space and start training themselves, as well as engage some destructor screens of their own. Everything gets scheduled, and the chapter ends.

Next time, big dragons IN SPAAAAACE!

Open Thread: Plans

(by chris the cynic)

Other than, “The same thing we do every night: try to take over the world,” do you have any plans you feel like sharing?  Any comments on planning in general?

[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]