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Author Topic: PC002: For Fear of Dragons  (Read 29603 times)

ajames

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Reply #20 on: April 10, 2008, 01:52:35 AM
The girl at the end of the story was not, I think, the 'replacement witch,' and the protagonist did not eat the children.  She cut a deal with the Clergy.  She would take the place of the dragon, giving the community an outside enemy to fear and obey.  They, in turn, would not burn her at the stake, or some such.  She, the dragon slayer, would become the 'witch.'  Instead of eating the girls, she rescued them from their evil patriarchal society and sent them on the the next village, where they would be loved and valued. 

Very similar to my interpretation. I didn't think the clergy and the girl every cut any formal deal, just that she as the 'witch' essentially took the place of the dragon for the society - although she never did eat the girls. Like Birdless, I found it a stretch that none of the girls returned home, but not so much so that the story was ruined for me. And I interpreted the house the girl was sent to as a stop on their way to a new life, not a new home.

I liked a number of things about this story, but found the sexualization of such young girls disturbing. Even so, good follow up story. I'm looking forward to next week.



birdless

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Reply #21 on: April 10, 2008, 02:45:41 AM
Yeah, it's an interesting question: Did she foster the rumors of her "witchiness" to sate the need of an object to fear, but one that wouldn't end the lives of innocents or did the essence of the dragon compel her to take up the dragon's role wholly?

My take on it was the "essence of the dragon" bit, but I can see how an argument would be made for her being a benevolent soul, too... It definitely opens up some interesting questions:
  • She proved herself to be resourceful and intelligent—why not address the need of her people to fear some gruesome entity, rather than feed into it?
  • She defeated a dragon, but did fear prove to powerful a foe to defeat?
  • Would revealing the truth completely upset social and governmental equilibrium?
  • If the truth would wreak havoc in society, might a child's innocence be worth the cost?

Hm.... maybe these are stupid questions... I'm so tired right now I can barely think.



Ocicat

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Reply #22 on: April 10, 2008, 06:20:27 AM
It may not be PC to point this out, but the "sexualization of such young girls" was pretty standard practice though most of medieval history.  When a girl got her first blood, she was a woman, and as such ready to marry.  10 is certainly young for that to happen, so this society was pushing it before that - which I don't think many cultures considered acceptable.  But remember that Juliet was 14, and the idea that those under 18 are children and should be protected is a new invention.   A good idea, sure - but a new one. 



Rachel Swirsky

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Reply #23 on: April 10, 2008, 11:05:46 AM
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It may not be PC to point this out, but the "sexualization of such young girls" was pretty standard practice though most of medieval history.


Most of history in general, neh? I have no idea why that wouldn't be acceptable to say. It's certainly factually accurate.

The only way I can think of that the statement wouldn't be "PC" would be if there was a judgment attached to the end of it, e.g. "the sexualization of such young girls was pretty standard practice through most of medieval history [and therefore creepy 40 year old dudes are totally justified in catcalling and harrassing twelve-year-old Catholic middle school students as they walk home from school.]"

Quote
10 is certainly young for that to happen, so this society was pushing it before that - which I don't think many cultures considered acceptable. 


What I find myself reminded of by the need for "protection" from the dragon is the rumors that were passed in parts of Africa a while ago (are they still? I don't know) indicating that the only way to "cure" onself of AIDS was to sleep with a virgin. This led to the rape of infants. People will do crazy weird things when they're scared.



Russell Nash

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Reply #24 on: April 10, 2008, 11:32:35 AM
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10 is certainly young for that to happen, so this society was pushing it before that - which I don't think many cultures considered acceptable. 


What I find myself reminded of by the need for "protection" from the dragon is the rumors that were passed in parts of Africa a while ago (are they still? I don't know) indicating that the only way to "cure" onself of AIDS was to sleep with a virgin. This led to the rape of infants. People will do crazy weird things when they're scared.

Sex with a virginal girl has been a "cure" for all kinds of sexually transmitted diseases for about as long as there have been sexually transmitted diseases.  It was alive in Europe and North America well into the Victorian age.



Darwinist

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Reply #25 on: April 10, 2008, 01:24:14 PM
It may not be PC to point this out, but the "sexualization of such young girls" was pretty standard practice though most of medieval history.  When a girl got her first blood, she was a woman, and as such ready to marry.  10 is certainly young for that to happen, so this society was pushing it before that - which I don't think many cultures considered acceptable.  But remember that Juliet was 14, and the idea that those under 18 are children and should be protected is a new invention.   A good idea, sure - but a new one. 

Look no further than current events:  how about what was recently discovered going on in that polygamist sect in San Angelo, Texas?  Disturbing to say the least.   

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.    -  Carl Sagan


BasicJim

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Reply #26 on: April 10, 2008, 01:31:18 PM
When the dragon started speaking to her, I knew it was coming. 

Me too, but that didn't ruin the story for me.  What ruined the story was the fact that there was nothing new in it.  Even the underlying social commentary about how we need to have evil in order to have good, or we all need something to unite against, etc al.

This story belongs in the category of 'mindless background fantasy.'  You can listen to it while doing about any other task and won't miss anything if your attention is diverted from the story.  Even if you miss the detail, you've seen the premise before.




birdless

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Reply #27 on: April 10, 2008, 01:45:19 PM
Quote
10 is certainly young for that to happen, so this society was pushing it before that - which I don't think many cultures considered acceptable. 


What I find myself reminded of by the need for "protection" from the dragon is the rumors that were passed in parts of Africa a while ago (are they still? I don't know) indicating that the only way to "cure" onself of AIDS was to sleep with a virgin. This led to the rape of infants. People will do crazy weird things when they're scared.

Wow! I hadn't heard that, and was even more surprised by Nash's follow-up statement.

On a side note, didn't the shorter life expectancy have something to do with marrying so young? I seem to remember hearing/reading that somewhere, but I don't remember where.



Gwyddyon

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Reply #28 on: April 10, 2008, 03:01:41 PM
Life expectancy in Europe didn't increase appreciably until the last 100 years.  Since "marriageable" age increased between 1000 and 1800 AD, life expectancy might be a factor but it would be a very small one.

I've been getting most of my fantasy from the MZB Sword and Sorceress collections lately, so I've been reading a lot of material more or less identical to this story.  That may be why it didn't really stand out to me as a great piece (although it was better than much of the MZB collection stuff).  The ending, in particular the Underground Railroad for Virgins, was a bit corny and didn't explain why the girls would so easily leave families behind.



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Reply #29 on: April 10, 2008, 03:30:36 PM
Was thinking about this story on my drive into work today. Heck, if we're going to draw parallels between this story's premise and real life we don't have to go very far. WMD = dragon. Oh wait, can't find any WMDs. Uh, okay, it's a struggle against global terrorism then.



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Reply #30 on: April 10, 2008, 06:21:01 PM
I thought it was a good story. It was quite obviously political but it didn't hammer it in to the point where it became tedious. I don't feel there is too much to discuss about it, I think it pretty much speaks for itself (I was, and still am, absolutely convinced that the "witch" in the end was setting all the girls free; I think all the bad things about her are repeated from her public perception and not meant to be taken as fact).



Listener

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Reply #31 on: April 10, 2008, 06:40:26 PM
I thought it was a good story. It was quite obviously political but it didn't hammer it in to the point where it became tedious. I don't feel there is too much to discuss about it, I think it pretty much speaks for itself (I was, and still am, absolutely convinced that the "witch" in the end was setting all the girls free; I think all the bad things about her are repeated from her public perception and not meant to be taken as fact).

I didn't find the story political at all in the "this is an allusion to how evil Bush/Clinton/Obama/Bin Laden/the UN is".  If I had to categorize it, I'd say I found it more political like "The Golden Compass" is political -- the politics of religion as it relates to politics, not the politics of government.  Though this mythical land was apparently some sort of theocracy.

However, I didn't think about politics at all when listening.  I'm reading "Time Enough For Love" again, so I'm more thinking in the abstract than the concrete when it comes to political stuff.  Maybe that's contributing to it.

Sometimes a story about priests sacrificing virgins to dragons and witches is just a story about priests sacrificing virgins to dragons and witches.

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Heradel

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Reply #32 on: April 10, 2008, 07:03:04 PM
Sometimes a story about priests sacrificing virgins to dragons and witches is just a story about priests sacrificing virgins to dragons and witches.
I agree.

I liked the story, though I think the bit at the end would have been better if what she did with the sacrifices was clearer — say, if it was said the path looked like it was only used once or twice a year.

We can pull out themes to go to other things, but I'm really not sure it's there, or that it makes this story a better story if we take it as an allegory for Iraq. I'm also not sure if the evidence is really there, it seems like the journey there could have included hints if we were meant to take the Dragon for Iraq.

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Ocicat

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Reply #33 on: April 10, 2008, 09:03:18 PM
It's not an allegory to Iraq in specific - it's about how governments (and churches) use fear.  It would have been just as topical during McCarthy's Red Scare of the 50's as it is today.

And that's the beauty.  And the point.  Slay one dragon, and you create the need for another...



Windup

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Reply #34 on: April 11, 2008, 05:08:49 AM

And that's the beauty.  And the point.  Slay one dragon, and you create the need for another...


That does seem to be the case.  While that's certainly exploited by people in power -- or those who aspire to be in power -- my pessimistic suspicion is that it goes even deeper than that.  At some level, we may be happier when we are scared and can feel united about something.

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Reply #35 on: April 11, 2008, 09:46:48 AM
It's not an allegory to Iraq in specific - it's about how governments (and churches) use fear.  It would have been just as topical during McCarthy's Red Scare of the 50's as it is today.

And that's the beauty.  And the point.  Slay one dragon, and you create the need for another...

This is just so true.  We can walk back through every leader who took hard control of his people and see "the enemy over there" being used.

US: Terrorists, Commies, Nazis
Russia/USSR: Nazis, US/The West
Germany: The enforcers of the treaty of versailles, Jews

It just keeps going and going and …



Kaa

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Reply #36 on: April 11, 2008, 04:17:44 PM
My first thought was that the girls were becoming the dragons, and that each new girl slew the dragon and replaced it.  I'm glad it went somewhere else.

I, too, was thinking of the movie "Dragonslayer" all the way through the story, although that didn't detract from this story at all.

The ending, to me, was a lot like the ending in The Giver (by Lois Lowry): ambiguous enough so that if you read the story in one state of mind, you interpret it as a happy ending, but if you read it in another state of mind, it seems sinister.

All in all, I really liked this story and look forward to the next.

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birdless

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Reply #37 on: April 11, 2008, 05:55:17 PM
My first thought was that the girls were becoming the dragons, and that each new girl slew the dragon and replaced it.  I'm glad it went somewhere else.

I think that would have been a cool place for it to have gone.



stePH

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Reply #38 on: April 11, 2008, 10:49:36 PM

And that's the beauty.  And the point.  Slay one dragon, and you create the need for another...


That does seem to be the case.  While that's certainly exploited by people in power -- or those who aspire to be in power -- my pessimistic suspicion is that it goes even deeper than that.  At some level, we may be happier when we are scared and can feel united about something.

Ozymandias in Alan Moore's Watchmen certainly seemed to think so.

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Yossarian's grandson

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Reply #39 on: April 11, 2008, 10:53:09 PM
You know, this story has so far been likened to the life of Joan of Arc (guilty!) and the situation in Iraq.

Independent of the author's intention, the sheer fact that a totally made up story, set in (as far as I can tell) a mostly of Medieval setting and involving well known fabled beasts, conjures up such comparisons, for me proves the best argument for why fantasy will always be a relevant genre and why so many people enjoy it.

All good fantasy stories either refer to a real world situation or are so imaginative and/or well written, that every reader is able to project whatever real world situation he or she finds important into the story.

Anyway, that's my dime. Any prices for the longest grammatically correct sentence in a thread? (PS: if it's not grammatically correct, I have the excuse of not being a native speaker. And anyway, how your Dutch (or French, or German).... ;D