Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: PC002: For Fear of Dragons  (Read 30979 times)

Darwinist

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 701
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

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
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

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
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

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 9
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.



Ramsey

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • www.ramseyhong.com
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.



eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
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

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
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.

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


Heradel

  • Bill Peters, EP Assistant
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2938
  • Part-Time Psychopomp.
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.

I Twitter. I also occasionally blog on the Escape Pod blog, which if you're here you shouldn't have much trouble finding.


Ocicat

  • Castle Watchcat
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 3281
  • Anything for a Weird Life
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

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
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.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


Russell Nash

  • Guest
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

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 618
  • Trusst in me, jusst in me.
    • WriteWright
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.

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else


birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
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

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
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.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Yossarian's grandson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Wisdom is knowing when to jump
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



Yossarian's grandson

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
  • Wisdom is knowing when to jump
Reply #40 on: April 11, 2008, 11:03:25 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. 

I feel I must add a little nuance. Although it is true that during the European Dark Ages (as just one example) girls were wedded as early as 10 or 11, this wasn't a sexual thing (or not entirely, at least). Among nobility, marriage was mainly a way to cement bonds with other nobles and extend power and influence. A noblemans daughter's main funtion was that of a bargaining chip.

Now, I'm not claiming that there weren't many lecherous older nobles that certainly had sexual intentions toward girls who, even measured to an objective standard, weren't ready to deal with sex. However, I believe that intercourse wasn't the main motive. It was power.

And of course, the younger the bride was, the greater the chance of her being a virgin and having a long and fertile life. Nasty. But it's not the same as bedding young girls just because they are young.

And one last thing: records for this period mainly concern the nobility. We really have no clear idea of what age the ' lower classes' considerd to be appropiate (did I spell that right..?). But it might have been a very different story.



Windup

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
Reply #41 on: April 12, 2008, 01:11:55 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.

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


Hmmm... I think maybe I've been dissed, but even after glancing over the Wikipedia article, I'm not completely sure. (I've never read The Watchmen, so I haven't got a lot of context to work with.)  In any case, I'll clarify by saying that just because I suspect something may be true doesn't mean that I think it's good.  People can react to information in lots of different ways, but ignoring it completely is usually the least-safe route.

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #42 on: April 12, 2008, 03:10:12 AM
I seriously doubt you would be disappointed if you made time to read the Watchmen! And I don't think that was a diss... that's just pretty much exactly the view that Ozymandias held.

SPOILER WARNING:
In short, Ozymandias perpetrated a highly secret conspiracy to create a catastrophe made to look like an invasion by a creature from another dimension/planet. The intent was to introduce a nefarious, overarching, alien "third-party" for which the whole world could unite against. This catastrophe cost a large number of people in NY (I think) to lose their lives, but Ozymandias thought the ends justified the means. He felt that humans needed something to fear, so he thought that by giving them some tangible outside force to fear, it would create peace and unity on a global scale.

That summary doesn't do it justice...  :-\

<edit: included "not a diss" comment>
« Last Edit: April 12, 2008, 03:14:59 AM by birdless »



Windup

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1226
Reply #43 on: April 12, 2008, 03:23:39 AM

I seriously doubt you would be disappointed if you made time to read the Watchmen!


What with a job, child, spouse, bike, church and other issues -- not to mention a little writing of my own -- I've only got time for one comic, and right now, Freak Angels is it.


And I don't think that was a diss... that's just pretty much exactly the view that Ozymandias held.


That part I got; I just wasn't sure if StePH meant a simple factual comparison, or if the intent was to say, "see where that idea takes you."  (Destination: Super Villany)  My argument is that even if you believe that fearing an "outside" force fills some sort of primordial human psychological need, you can react to that information in lots of different ways.  At least some of which do not involve bloodshed or oppression.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2008, 03:26:27 AM by Windup »

"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."


birdless

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 581
  • Five is right out.
Reply #44 on: April 12, 2008, 03:58:44 AM
The perception of whether he was a villain or not was kinda left open to the reader. But as for time, it's a stand alone 12-issue series not related to any other super-hero universe, which you can find in a single TPB volume. Think of it as adding it to your novel reading list. ;)



Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #45 on: April 12, 2008, 05:57:20 PM
Yeah, but that modern-day old dragon in the mountains is responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocents in NYC and elsewhere, and the backwards-thinking knuckledraggers in that country helping him hide rule with fear and oppression.  I don't buy the analogy.   

Ah... just goes to show the double-edged nature of analogy.  I thought the "old dragon and the backwards-thinking knuckledraggers responsible for thousands of deaths" sounded like Dick Cheney and Co.

(Of course, I read this after posting in this thread.)
« Last Edit: April 13, 2008, 04:31:19 PM by Tango Alpha Delta »

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Reply #46 on: April 12, 2008, 06:14:28 PM


The perception of whether he was a villain or not was kinda left open to the reader. But as for time, it's a stand alone 12-issue series not related to any other super-hero universe, which you can find in a single TPB volume. Think of it as adding it to your novel reading list. ;)

The Watchmen is another classic example of this "one man's villain..." idea.  I doubt we'd have to brainstorm for very long to come up with other stories that build on that theme.  It was all over the place after the Berlin Wall came down - "Now that the Soviets are gone, who will be our 'dragon'?"  (Not in those words, of course...)

The problem, of course, is that there is no shortage of "threats" on the radar at any given time.  What I liked about this story was that the protagonist recognized that if she became "the threat", she could counteract the damage that was being done by the superstitious.

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!


stePH

  • Actually has enough cowbell.
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3906
  • Cool story, bro!
    • Thetatr0n on SoundCloud
Reply #47 on: April 13, 2008, 02:46:57 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.


Hmmm... I think maybe I've been dissed, but even after glancing over the Wikipedia article, I'm not completely sure. (I've never read The Watchmen, so I haven't got a lot of context to work with.) 

Not dissed.  I'm just pointing out that (trying not to spoil too much) Ozymandias planned to unite humanity in common cause by creating a fear of an outside threat.

"Nerdcore is like playing Halo while getting a blow-job from Hello Kitty."
-- some guy interviewed in Nerdcore Rising


Thaurismunths

  • High Priest of TCoRN
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1421
  • Praise N-sh, for it is right and good!
Reply #48 on: April 13, 2008, 05:42:45 PM
I agree with Gelee on this one. I was really kind of disappointed in this selection, and I try really hard to enjoy any kind of faerie tale.
Minx did a fine job with the reading, but the writing seemed a raw and I hope the story wasn't chosen solely for its plucky young heroine.
On the most superficial level I enjoyed the overall concept of the piece: Atypical girl sacrificed to dragons and upsets centuries of tradition, much to the consternation of powers that be. If I go much deeper than that the story loses cohesion.
Here we have a very young child who, rather inexplicably, decides to be the first one to buck a system that has been in place for a thousand years and is capable of conceiving and executing a plan. The child makes a lock-pick, then practices with it, on many locks, in different ways, for some period of time. (I dunno about you, but I've tried making my own lock-picks and picking locks, it ain't easy and I have skills and abilities a child doesn't.) So super-child executes the plan that it was 'fated' to do and becomes the dragon in its own right.
So why is a child capable of all this, incapable of seeing the greater picture of maybe the priests won't appreciate it?
Why did the dragon's spirit speak on the first night, but not the second? Why wasn't the girl hungry?
What was the point of the line "Some hunters believe that they gain the powers of the animals they kill..." why not just say "At my death you gained my powers, kick the old priest's ass!"
It all seemed as though it could have used either another draft or a more stringent editor.
My opinion of the story goes down even more if this story was written to be some kind of social critique.

Oddly, one thing I didn't have a problem with was the ending where the girl wanders off to become "The Old Witch". I actually saw that coming a mile away, as a pretty standard trope, and am ok with it because that's how faerie tales go.

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.
I think eyetanz meant "political" in the more obscure definition that Rachel Swirsky uses to refer to a person's collected points of view or personal reference point.

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


JoeFitz

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #49 on: April 13, 2008, 08:39:17 PM
The child makes a lock-pick, then practices with it, on many locks, in different ways, for some period of time. (I dunno about you, but I've tried making my own lock-picks and picking locks, it ain't easy and I have skills and abilities a child doesn't.)

This tidbit really bothered me in the story. I could sort of accept that she could secret a lock pick and knife, but it was too much when this 10 year-old recounts endless hours of practice - behind her back and in the dark, hanging upside down. It struck a really sour note for me. I didn't think it needed to be explained and it brought me out of the story.

Otherwise, it was fine. A little too straightforward theme-wise and a little abrupt at the end, but not bad.