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Old Dec 6 2013, 04:37 PM   #3
Anareth
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Default Re: Dragons: sentience vs. subservience

You can't really ignore that they're genetically engineered organisms. And part of that engineering is subservience, for good reason-you don't want to create a gigantic predator species with telepathic and telekinetic (just referring to between, even) abilities and set them loose without some kind of failsafe control. They also are telepathically permanently bonded to one human being, and that's going to alter their personalities. They DON'T have a human degree of free will because if they did, that's inviting having an ecologic disaster. The human has to override the gigantic carnivorous fire-breathing telekinetic telepathic dragon.

Now, do they have personalities? Yep, we definitely see that. Even in Dragonflight Mnementh clearly has thoughts and opinions independent of F'lar. Pridith straight-up tells Kylara she's not going along with the plan to have Mnementh fly her (though Kylara may also be right that when she's in mating drive Pridith might forget that). They undoubtedly relate to each other somehow--very few advanced species don't have some method of communication and social hierarchy. But I very much doubt they're sitting around discussing Proust. More likely they have "barn buddies" (as horses do) that they get along with more than others, they find entertainments to keep themselves occupied (playing with the boats.)

And if you're going to question whether Kitti Ping was denying them "agency" (I hate that word), it's also important to remember, she literally gave them life. Without her dragons don't exist, agency or not. They're a completely artificial species created to serve a particular purpose. If anything the shorter memories are a kindness as the purpose means that they're going to get badly injured or even killed. I can think of quite a few horse owners who wish their horses had memories like dragons-it's amazing how long they can remember that a relatively-harmless but terrifying looking monster (tractor, plastic bag, neighbor's dog, whatever) was in THAT corner six months ago and ZOMG IT MIGHT STILL BE THERE! Now you can debate the ethics of creating a sentient and quasi-sapient species solely to use as a weapon, but if you're going to, letting them forget quickly is the kinder method. Whatever the memory function is, it doesn't seem to prevent things like remembering people or forming pair bonds with other dragons (see Ramoth and Mnementh, or Orlith expressing a fondness for the Benden Weyrleader's bronze.)
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