Open Thread: Light and Fluffy

(by chris the cynic)

It is no accident that Greek Tragedy was at its zenith when those writing, preforming, and consuming it (free male citizens of Athens) were as far removed from the hardships of life as they had ever been.  Art can show us what life is like, but it also can show us what life is not like.  It can make us more complete by giving us what our lives do not offer us.

And so, in dark and gritty times there is a call for light and fluffy art.  What, if any, light fluff do you like?  What don’t you like?

[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.]

This week in the Slacktiverse, February 4th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

Storiteller wrote:

If you’d like a daily reminder of items you can call Congress about, sign up for Daily Action. To sign up, text DAILY to 228466. You can also sign up via their website. If you have anxiety and don’t like calling, this guide has some great suggestions to help!

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community

Deconstruction Roundup for February 3rd, 2017

(by the Slacktiverse and others; collected by Silver Adept, who is now hurtling headlong toward possible resolutions, whether desired or not.)

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

Mouse: Mouse’s Musings

Philip Sandifer: Eruditorium Press

Ross: A Mind Occasionally Voyaging

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 find am outlet to express the emotional state you have been suffering from since your world was upended. Or for any other reason, really.

The Renegades of Pern: Yet Another Time Skip

Last chapter, Jayge first tried to warn Benden Hold and Weyr about Thella, then rescued Aramina from Thella with the help of Readis. The two of them are planning on sneaking down to Southern so that Aramina can have much fewer dragons to listen to so that she’s not ultimately traumatized every time she hears communication. In a normal story, this would mean it’s time for a tense chase sequence…

The Renegades of Pern: Chapter Ten: Content Notes: None

(Southern Continent, Present Pass 15.05.22-15.08.03)

…but instead, we have a time jump of two entire Turns and so there’s no resolution to this problem, excepting, perhaps, as an aside somewhere.

And we’re on Southern, no less, so we’re back with Piemur and Toric. Toric is hiding the map of the settlements under a cover, which amuses Piemur, before the subject of why all the dragonriders, except Mardra, have gone away from the Weyr becomes the topic of discussion. Toric doesn’t like how things are going.

“My first loyalty is to my Craftmaster,” Piemur replied, holding Toric’s gaze. So far Piemur had managed to retain his first allegiance, warped a trifle, but unsullied.
“Understood.” Toric flicked his fingers in acceptance of Piemur’s response. “But my first loyalty is not to those — those sisters’ mothers.”
“Understood.” Piemur grinned at the description of the [time-skipped], though the incestuous implications drew a gargled protest from Saneter.
[…reassurance of Toric…]
“What could they be up to?” There were not that many [time-skipped] to be effective at anything: both men and dragons were old, tired, and more pathetic than dangerous. Except T’kul – lately no hold woman was safe from that womanizer.

I wonder what things Piemur has done that he considers his loyalties bent in such a way, but still intact. And while Toric thinks of it as a joke, the exile of the dragonriders to the South basically ensures the genetic isolation of the dragons, too. Unless they go off to try and participate in other mating flights, which Benden does allow them to do. Toric, for his part, swears in front of the two Harpers that he has no knowledge of what the dragonriders are up to, with Piemur and Saneter witnessing this oath and suggesting that Toric send word to Benden about the strange activity of the nearby Weyr. A few days later, both Mnementh and Ramoth arrive and sweep the Weyr, looking for the egg stolen from Benden, although nobody on the South knows this yet. Fortunately, N’ton arrives soon afterward with the news, and everyone at Southern Weyr is on eggshells, just for a few hours, until N’ton’s fire-lizard delivers news of the egg’s return and Lessa’s complete indignation. And that Robinton’s counsel was ignored and he was sent away until everyone cooled down. Toric and Piemur spend a lot of time realizing just how close to utter annihilation the South came, had the North decided to extract a scorched-earth revenge against them, and then Toric turns to the question of whether or not the Northern dragonriders would have noticed all the work Toric has done to build the South up into a powerhouse. Piemur assures him that there’s no reason to believe the North was looking for that, and that things are well-camouflaged from the air.

“What they don’t know won’t hurt them. I’d bide my time, Toric.”
“You’re with me, then?”
“If today didn’t prove that, I don’t know what will,” Piemur said, cocking his head to one side. He liked Toric, admired him, but he did not entirely trust him. Which was fair. Toric did not completely trust Piemur, especially not too often in Sharra’s company. Piemur had noticed how Toric tried to keep them apart; the Holder had just given Sharra her long-sought permission to go on an adventurous trip south, beyond Hamian’s mines. “So, if we’re back to normal tomorrow, I’d like to see what’s beyond that headland east of Island River. Maybe even get as far as the cove that Menolly found when they were storm-lost.” He noticed the alertness in Toric’s eyes. The holder had not liked that inadvertent excursion; he had always been suspicious of just how far Menolly and the Masterharper had gone, though he could never deny that they had been storm-driven, and that only Menolly’s sea skills had kept the small boat afloat. “A dragon can’t go between to a place he’s never seen,” Piemur reminded the Southerner. “Likewise, a man can’t hold what he hasn’t beheld! How about it, Toric?”

That is a textbook non-answer, Piemur, and confirms to me that you are still playing a double game with Toric. And that Toric still thinks he has the ability to choose who Sharra will be paired off with. And also, Piemur, that your interest in Sharra is still far too obvious for everyone’s liking.

That, and we are still retreading time periods that have been covered in other books, just from new perspectives. Which isn’t wrong, necessarily, but doesn’t produce a lot more of new timeline stuff. At the very least, stick with Thella and the action, until Toric’s plan comes to fruition.

Anyway, the next paragraph has Piemur hacking through the underbrush and discovering a house on a coast that’s not supposed to be there and way too big for anything that Toric would have let get built. Plus, colored fish nets. And canines that start barking to alert the house residents to their visitor.

Those residents turn out to be Aramina, Jayge, and their toddler child, shipwrecked on a run from Keroon Beasthold, trying to deliver beasts from Rampesi to Toric. Aramina is sure that they were dragged to the shore by shipfish (dolphins), a story that Piemur confirms and reinforces with Rampesi’s accounts of shipfish rescues. Aramina and Jayge are the survivors of both the shipwreck that had Aramina the only person without a broken bone and the fire-head fever that followed that claimed the rest of their ship party. And then all the survival parts that come from being on a new continent with new diseases and plants and critters. Piemur is impressed with the settlement, and Aramina and Jayge mention they found the place rather than building it, which makes Piemur’s eyes pop because he knows full well there shouldn’t be anything here. So, instead, he gives advice for them to hold what they have and we get treated to descriptions of just how weird a place this is, with sand that just washes off, insulated walls, strange containers and nails, and the nets. And also,

“I’ll have to introduce you to the dogs tomorrow,” Ara said. “We have them against snakes and big spotted cats.”
“You have them here, too?” Piemur asked eagerly. Sharra had thought those cats a local sport – she would be interested to know that they inhabited other parts of the Southern Continent.

And the predator cats survived yet again. And yet managed not, as an invasive species, to completely destroy the ecosystem.

Also, there’s also a thing about how much space there is compared to the number of people.

“More than we need right now,” Ara said, swatting at Jayge affectionately when he winked at Piemur. Though her figure was not yet distorted, the harper had suspected she might be pregnant again. There was a luminous quality to her eyes and face that Sharra had told him often enhanced the beauty of a gravid woman.

Pregnancy glow is a thing, apparently, even here. I do find it interesting that it’s Sharra, who has Healer training, that can recognize this. And that Piemur actually paid attention enough to this to recall it later.

Anyway, there are drinks, and conversation, and people both realizing that they’re not telling the whole truth to each other, but not really doing a whole lot of anything to fix that. Piemur is ready to get into the records and learn as much as he can about the original settlement on the South, since more and more of it is being unearthed by accident, but he stays the night with Aramina, Jayge, and tiny Readis.

He is rewarded by getting the tour with them, where we learn that this is the remains of Paradise River settlement, and that there are some artifacts that survive even to the current now. Plastics, after all, do not biodegrade easily, and don’t let Thread through.

As Piemur turned it in his hand, its texture, despite the stains of age, was somehow soapy. The leaves fell open to clever illustrations so humorous that he smiled; he glanced at the words beneath them – short sentences all, and the letters, while recognizable, were absurdly big and bold. Master Arnor would never have let Harper Hall apprentices waste so much space; he taught them to write in small but legible letters, so that more could be crammed onto each page of hide.
“Clearly a youngster’s book,” he agreed. “But no teaching song I’ve ever read.”

The other materials are maths books with equations, and a nice plastic box to put them all in.

This is also another one of those situations where Pern is incredibly weird. Two thousand years of linguistic drift and yet the written language is recognizable? Goodness, no. Not for any script that I know of. But then again, the Harpers are charged with trying to keep the language static. (And we see how well they’ve done that.) And have a monoculture, perhaps, since all the people talked about in the origin stories seemed to have washed away into people who are tanned by the sun and those who aren’t. Even so, things should still be moving and changing.

Piemur stays longer, having Farli map the place out mentally while he does the same on paper, and then giving Jayge and Aramina training on how to handle the fair of fire-lizards they’ve Impressed. Until a message arrives from Sharra telling him that Jaxom is ill with firehead at Robinton’s cove. Piemur heads off, leaving the happy couple behind.

Thus ends this chapter, and if this is supposed to be the resolution to Thella, then someone has disappointed their readers horribly. Yes, babies ever after is the way things go for many of these stories, but Thella hanging in the balance is a big narrative problem. Since it took until Rescue Run to get the final resolution for Stev Kimmer, we can only hope that Thella will be faster in their plans to get captured or get Jayge and Aramina.

And that we will get to a spot that hasn’t been covered by a different book some time soon. Forserious.

Writer Workshop February 1st, 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.

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: Visual Art

(by chris the cynic)

Do you look at it?  Is it artistic?  Then please tell us about it.

[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.]

This week in the Slacktiverse, January 28th, 2017

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

The Blogaround

  • chris the cynic wrote:
    • I now have a Patreon account, the better to take your money.  So, I’ve got a post about having it, and another to point out that I am actually trying to follow through on the whole, “If you’re a patron of mine you get to see some stuff before anyone else” promise-thing.
    • Just to be clear on the previous, and save you the trouble of reading all three of those links, Patreon allows you to pay me, but you don’t need to pay me to get to read all my stuff.  Everything will eventually show up at Stealing Commas.
    • I gave the super person plotline I started last week an index and added three new installments:
    • I wrote a completely unrelated story, set in the same universe, about certain bad guys reacted when a hero mistreated a sidekick.  It’s called, “Evil has standards“.
    • I had a bunch of comments in conversation about villainous origins, so I collected them into a post.  Sure, sometimes super-villainy is all about the bottom line, or about having read too much Rand, but other times it starts when you want to make a world where no one starves, and then notice that the governments of the world are kind of an impediment . . . and it would be easier if you just ran the whole planet.
    • I had two things set in Kim Possible ‘verses:
    • Real life has sucked.  Really, really sucked.
      • I am really bad at coping with other people venting in my general direction.  Really bad.  So after that happened, again, I wrote about the pain of “fight or flight” when violence is uncalled for and you cannot flee.
      • Sometimes I make lists of things I need (e.g. shoes without holes in the soles), invariably I add things I merely want (e.g. a donkey).  I made such a list.
      • (Content note: at least one dead baby animal) I don’t even live at the farm, yet Bones’ not-merely-livestock classification is as real to me as it is to those who do live there.  Somewhere between friend and family, that goat is dear to me.  We only found pieces of her newborn kid(s).  Not enough to know if it was a goat-standard twin birth, just one, or triplets.  I wrote about that, how it might have been entirely preventable if not for other horrible bullshit, and how it affected me.

In Case You Missed This

No submissions this week.

Things You Can Do

Fred Clark shared this from HIAS* while adding the comment in brackets:

Donald Trump has issued a number of executive orders targeting vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers, which means your voice of opposition is more critical than ever.

History has taught us the deadly consequences of slamming the doors of this country shut on people just because of who they are and where they are from. We must prevent this administration from repeating the mistakes of the past. Here’s how you can help: [click that link, please, it’s a good list].

* The letters stand for “Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society”, but the turn of the millennium marked them expanding the scope of their mission from Jewish refugees to all refugees.  It’s still a Jewish organization, though, hence the advice to make sure your rabbi is involved.

–Co-authored by the Slacktiverse Community