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Old Dec 6 2013, 07:32 AM   #1

Kath's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Oop North

Fan of: Moreta
Default Dragons: sentience vs. subservience

This is a topic that came up in discussion of my current Pern fic, and I'm throwing it over to the forum to play with.

Originally Posted by skywaterblue
Narnoth wasn't the dragon that impressed me as much, matter of fact, although I like that he makes some astute suggestions and M'ton listens to them. No, I actually think it's the first time I've seen in fic: a queen deeply discussing dragon-politics with her rider, and the RIDER offering to try and help. (I mean, it's clear from canon that a great deal of politicking and decision-making occurs amongst the dragons, especially among the queens, but the books often slide over by having the rider either not interested, or saying that the politics of dragons are too alien or remote or hard to understand and thus inconsequential.) That truly does feel like an equal partnership, rather than the somewhat mutually parasitic relationship depicted in the books.
Originally Posted by Kath
THIS. I've always had the feeling that canon Pernese dragons are sadly underused. Ramoth could have been so much more than a haughty egg-factory, and given all she does in Dragonflight she has barely any independent agency (except when it comes to laying...) And I can't decide whether Ruth breaks that mould or if his characterisation is only there to reinforce Jaxom's stu-ish traits.
Originally Posted by skywaterblue
I suspect that Anne was aiming for something about the relationship to be subtly horrific to adults but deeply appealing to teenagers. I think her intention IS that the dragons are barely sentient, and that engineering to be subservient to human society meant that they don't truly have any sort of free will. (AND in a bit of heretic thought, I think the implication in D'dawn is that the whers were engineered to make up for the Pings shady ethics in creating dragons, as creatures that are both sentient, capable of living in their own societies and repellant to humanity. I don't think Todd's later expansion is so far off from what his mother intended in capabilities, but much softened from what even SHE might have written.)
So, what do the rest of you think?

* Are canon Pernese dragons characters in their own right, or merely accessories to their human counterparts?
* How much dragon society really IS there in the Weyrs? We don't see a great deal of it in the books, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.
* Are all dragons as interesting as individuals as Ruth is? Or is he just special? Are the greens really dumber than the golds?
* How does a lack of decent long-term memory affect dragon mentality? Did Kitti-Ping cripple their ability to think for themselves by effectively giving them partial dementia?
* DO dragons have free will? Or are they purely creatures of instinct who only care about keeping their riders happy and doing whatever their hormones are telling them to do this week?
* What are wher-to-wher social interactions like? Are they really more independent than dragons? And considering how often they end up living chained and mistreated, why aren't they more pissed off about it?
* Is the relative lack of agency in the dragon characters worthy of note at all, when you look at human characters like Brekke who don't actually DO anything for themselves?

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