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Author Topic: PC018: Illuminated Dragon  (Read 29550 times)


  • Hipparch
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Reply #40 on: August 14, 2008, 04:20:20 AM

  Just because you call yourself one thing does not mean you have to behave the way that group is supposed to. They may consider themselves "Rational" without behaving in a truly rational manner. In the same sense, I'm sure the "Rationals" consider themselves the good guys even though they are doing things that others consider evil.

Unfortunately I cannot come up with any good real world examples that would not start fights.

Well, you could note that, as generations of history teachers have exhausted themselves saying, the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.  And I doubt anybody with internet access would argue that the label People's Democratic Republic of Korea is accurate prior to the "of." 

And considering recent financial events you could probably get away with joining Slate in observing that the Royal Bank of Scotland is neither royal, nor Scottish, nor apparently, much of a bank....

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


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Reply #41 on: August 14, 2008, 07:26:24 AM
  I suppose the "ist" can change the meaning (most the of them examples I was coming up with were not ists), but I do not think it changes the meaningt much in the mind of the person using that label to describe themself.

Not in the minds of those who come up with the term, no. Their successors, though, are a whole different story.

One thing worth noting about the story is that we don't know what sparked the "rationalist" movement. We get to see magic from the perspective of a kindly old man who has survived because he was unthreatening. Maybe others were using magic in ways that were less pleasant for the people around them. I can easily imagine a backstory to the rationalists which starts with a group of philosophers/scientists thinking "magic is unpredictable and dangerous, and over-emphasis on magic has kept our society back. We should push the magic-users from power and rule based on reliable science" - that may be an entirely rational line of thought. It is also one that can very quickly become "let's exterminate all magic and all art because art leads to magic", which is not rational in any way.


  • Matross
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Reply #42 on: August 18, 2008, 05:29:13 PM
For me, this story was powerful for deeply personal reasons.  Elements of the story, for me (at least), brought back images of the Cultural Revolution in Communist China when anyone with ties to the west, religion, chinese feudal traditions, or just had the bad luck of being on someone's shit list, could be rounded up, beat up, publicly humiliated, tortured, killed, or sent to a labor camp for decades.  Anyone that was intellectual, a dissident, an english speaker, an artist, a monk, a homosexual, a christian, came from a bad political background, visited a foreign country, had money, had political enemies, or just didn't raise their little red books fast enough was rounded up.  Perhaps people in more developed worlds can hide behind Starbuck's Lattes and snarky attitudes, and construct some abstract treatise on how "enlightened" or non-religious people could/would never do this sort of thing.  I happen to know from first-hand accounts that this is not only plausible, but it can happen, and it has happened many times. 

My grandmother was a target of political struggle because, as a widowed mother in a male-dominated confucian society, the only job she could get was teaching Japanese during the Manchurian occupation.  My father was under suspicion of being a western spy because he liked to tinker with amateur radios.  My mother was sent down to the countryside, away from her family at 13 to work in the fields for no good reason than Mao said so.  I could go on and go.  My father happens to be good friends with a traditional chinese artist, Jinqing Cao (who's work is famous in China and Japan) who was barred from painting for 14 years because one of his paintings (of an owl) was interpreted by the politburo as being politically subversive.  If you walk through any city in China and talk to people in the age 55 to 75 demographic, they'll tell you a million stories like this.  There are a few movies that address this uncomfortable time in chinese history: To Live, The Blue Kite, Farewell My Concubine, etc, but I fear most of modern China has cast that memory aside in favor of making money as fast as humanly possible.

For my 2 cents, Prineas was spot on with her stories.  The destruction of bookshops, smashing of windows, and exculpating of pictures from books was something the Red Guards did on a regular basis.  And the final scene of Rafe painting a dragon with his own blood...  using his life as a last gesture of rebellion...  Wow!!!  That part just made my speechless.  In the chinese literary tradition to write something in blood was a powerful statement and oath, of sincerity so pure that you were literally sacrificing your own life to make it.

Gorgeous and poignant story, all in all, and definitely my all time favorite Podcastle to date.


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Reply #43 on: August 25, 2008, 11:11:34 PM
A discussion on Athism, Mao, and language that began in this thread has been split and moved here:

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


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Reply #44 on: September 05, 2008, 01:45:44 PM
Just found this image and thought it was relevant ;)
No clue on who made it, I'm afraid.


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Reply #45 on: September 05, 2008, 05:05:02 PM
Just found this image and thought it was relevant ;)
No clue on who made it, I'm afraid.

WoW. That dragon is awesome! So cute and he looks so... knowing.
I wonder who breeds them and how I can get one.. That would be awesome, a cute little dragon tickeling my shoulder with his tiny claws. And when someone asks if I have a lighter, I will scare the holy craps out of them when I send my dragon over.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.


  • Matross
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Reply #46 on: September 06, 2008, 02:35:56 AM
That picture is so cute!


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Reply #47 on: September 06, 2008, 03:21:06 PM
so cute! The wee little dragon picture has me enchanted. I'd bet tho- that overfeeding leads to terrible things. 

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


  • Sir Postsalot
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Reply #48 on: January 07, 2010, 06:49:57 PM
I liked this story and didn't see it as message-driven at all (if I had I doubt I would've liked it).  The world and the conflict was set up well, and the resolution with the blood dragon was outstanding!  It had crossed my mind to wonder why no one had thought to use the beasties as weapons before, but I suspect that this may be closely related to the question of how the Rationalist movement got started in this world.  It might've started when a magician got out of control and used his magic to conquer or kill, and so if the remaining magicians were to rampage as they so easily could it would only serve to strengthen the numbers of the Rationalists because so many more would be afraid of the magicians.  This man wouldn't even consider it under normal circumstances because he too may be afraid of the violence that had come before, and any magicians with violent tendencies likely got his head bashed in a long time ago.

I didn't see a problem with the "Rationalist" label in the story.  Remember that the label is what they call themselves, it's nothing but a propoganda tool, like a dictator calling his country "The People's Republic" despite the fact that nothing is really done by the government with the masses in mind.  By calling myself a Rationalist, that implies that anyone who opposes me is irrational and potentially dangerous, thus helping to justify brutal oppression.

I definitely don't see it as an argument for religion vs. magic.  If anything, I would argue the exact opposite.  The magic in this story is measurable, visible, clearly present, and could be measured in various ways, making the magicians more like scientists.  The rationalists, on the other hand, rely upon their faith that magic doesn't exist despite obvious evidence that it does exist.