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Author Topic: PC002: For Fear of Dragons  (Read 24897 times)
Yossarian's grandson
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« Reply #40 on: April 11, 2008, 06:03:25 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.
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Windup
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« Reply #41 on: April 11, 2008, 08:11:55 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.)  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.
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"My whole job is in the space between 'should be' and 'is.' It's a big space."
birdless
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Five is right out.


« Reply #42 on: April 11, 2008, 10:10:12 PM »

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...  Undecided

<edit: included "not a diss" comment>
« Last Edit: April 11, 2008, 10:14:59 PM by birdless » Logged
Windup
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« Reply #43 on: April 11, 2008, 10:23:39 PM »


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 11, 2008, 10:26:27 PM by Windup » Logged

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


« Reply #44 on: April 11, 2008, 10:58:44 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. Wink
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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #45 on: April 12, 2008, 12:57:20 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, 11:31:19 AM by Tango Alpha Delta » Logged

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Tango Alpha Delta
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« Reply #46 on: April 12, 2008, 01:14:28 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. Wink

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.
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This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

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stePH
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Cool story, bro!


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« Reply #47 on: April 13, 2008, 09:46:57 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.) 

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.
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #48 on: April 13, 2008, 12:42:45 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.
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How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?
JoeFitz
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« Reply #49 on: April 13, 2008, 03:39:17 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.
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #50 on: April 13, 2008, 04:27:13 PM »

Quote
I hope the story wasn't chosen solely for its plucky young heroine.

This was one of Steve's picks from before PodCastle was conceived (as was "Come Lady Death"; we'll get to the first of my selections this week with Hilary Moon Murphy's "Run of the Fiery Horse"), so I can't say for sure, but I strongly doubt that was the case. If nothing else, plucky heroines show up frequently in the slush pile, so if Steve bought every one that came along, you'd be inundated.

UPDATE: "Stone Born" was my selection, for the record.
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Heradel
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« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2008, 10:27:01 PM »

UPDATE: "Stone Born" was my selection, for the record.

But also ours, the forumites.
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Rain
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« Reply #52 on: April 14, 2008, 10:39:48 AM »

This felt like a really generic fantasy story, the subplot about controlling people through fear also fell flat with me and didnt really fit in with the rest of the story
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Rachel Swirsky
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« Reply #53 on: April 14, 2008, 12:07:19 PM »

Quote
But also ours, the forumites.

Although technically it wasn't voted high enough for us to *have* to buy it. ;-)
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #54 on: April 14, 2008, 01:08:38 PM »

I have the excuse of not being a native speaker. And anyway, how your Dutch (or French, or German).... Grin

We don't care as long as you're easy to understand, and you are.

BTW my German has been upgraded from shitty to crappy, but Wherethewild is basically fluent at a fairly decent level.  I'm ex-pat American.  She's ex-pat Australian.
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sirana
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« Reply #55 on: April 15, 2008, 03:32:01 AM »

Hmm, not really my story.
The characters were cardboard, but I guess that goes with the territory if you tell a classical fairytale.
The telling was solid and the ending worked quite well, but to me the main idea and political message was just to heavily applied.
I like stories that want to convey a certain message, but I don't really enjoy beeing beaten over the head with it.
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DKT
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« Reply #56 on: April 18, 2008, 04:52:46 PM »

This one didn't do as much for me as the other PC stories have, however, there was something about the image at the end -- about being afraid and expecting the worst, and then being given hope instead -- that made me smile. 
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Chey
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« Reply #57 on: April 21, 2008, 10:12:05 AM »

I like Vaughn's Kitty series and was looking forward to one about a dragon.  I was rather disappointed. 

I was pulled out of the story by Minx’s reading.  I felt she was too sensual in the beginning.  She’s narrating a story about a young girl with no desire to have sex, and yet there were parts that were down right lascivious.   

Beyond that the idea of our heroine first being able to live, at such a young age, without parents or a support system was a bit unbelievable.  Then to hear about the witch sending young girls off to, I assumed, a better life made me wonder what type of civilization lived outside of the kingdom and why weren’t they stepping in to stop such practices.  Did they have a dragon or ogre or evil menace they in turn fed the girls to? 

Not to mention, at some point in time, the kingdom is going to run out of virgin girls.  Jeanette was the last virgin of proper age, and she had ample opportunity to make herself ineligible.  Why was this tolerated?  If they needed a girl after her first showing of blood to tempt the witch/dragon, the powers that be are either going to have to have a stable of girls locked up tight under guardianship of women, or they are going to have to start imposing heavy penalties on girls for having sex and getting married.  Either way, not a sustainable enterprise.  Maybe each year they selected a girl at birth and kept her in seclusion.  I don’t know, but the questions made it hard for me to concentrate on the story.

For once I heard a story with too little world building or exposition. 
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Deaf Leper
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« Reply #58 on: April 23, 2008, 11:20:51 PM »

I'm a sucker for stories that center around facing and overcoming fear, or a hero or heroine who stands up to those who try to control through fear.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 11:34:50 PM by Deaf Leper » Logged

"I used to think I was serving humanity....and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it." - Jubal Harshaw
Unblinking
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« Reply #59 on: November 12, 2009, 04:27:21 PM »

Thus begins the rise of Unblinking's threadomancy!  Smiley

It was an okay story, but had a lot of problems.  My favorite part was the odd fact that the dragon was old and frail and probably had been for centuries but nobody realizes it.

A few of the things I didn't like:
1.  As others have noted, the fact that she made her own lockpick and somehow practiced for hours in a variety of situations was far-fetched.  Beyond the more obvious questions, where does she get access to locks?  She's a peasant, right?  I'm not sure locks and keys were in common posession.  Maybe I'm wrong.
2.  As Deaf Leper pointed out, there's a serious logistics problem with the way they're running things.  If young girls are encouraged to get knocked up as young as possible, then you're going to run out of virgins sooner rather than later. 
3.  Why would the dragon need to wait at its cave for someone to kill it?  It could just come out of its cave when the sacrifice came or circle around and block the path down to the village when the soldiers do come and they'd be forced to fight it and would quickly kill it.  Or it could attack the town.  And if it wanted to be killed, why did it fight the girl?  The girl even asks the dragon this and didn't really get an answer--what's with that?
4.  The dragon's layer of scales is described as being "like iron", but the girl cuts its toe off with a peasant's knife. 
5.  The priests are too aware of their own deceptions, or perhaps they are just too verbose about it.  Either way, having them freely admit to the girl "Yeah we know the dragon's not really a danger, but we do it so that people will have something to dispel their fear with" is completely out of character for the priest role as described.
6.  Instead of trying to make a real difference, she just sends the girls away from their parents to go live in God knows where.  I find it hard to believe that none of the girls comes back, for one thing.
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