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Old Jan 30 2008, 01:23 AM   #1
D. M. Domini
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Re-reading Damia's Children

So I'm re-reading Damia's Children, which is interesting because I'm doing it with an eye to fanfic.

Some things that I noticed and/or thought as I was reading:

- 16 year old Thian is a jerk. Because his parents don't let him be an outright @ss and really go after Roddy, he finds what Roddy is interested in, and constantly beats him in it. Or so the book says. He competes just to be able to have a slice of lording it over his cousin. He wouldn't bother otherwise. Thian is a jerk! (Guess he takes after young!Damia and/or The Rowan...)
- And, Roddy didn't *say* anything wrong, why are they ripping on him in the early chapters? Even Afra! We never see Roddy being as much of a prick as he is said to be!
- Are Mrdini bipedal seals? With cyclops eyes? They don't seem to be described anything like what's on the covers, and Romas is usually pretty good at coverart. They have flippers, and short tails. Their eyes whirl, too, which seems strangely draconic, although it's not as common.
- Why don't Mrdini design chairs that have a hole or slot for the tails? I've seen plenty of chairs like this that would easily accommodate a moderate sized tail.
- Likewise, why don't Mrdini build saddles for horses that can accommodate their tails? If they're really short, like three inches (the tails, that is), just raise the saddle 3 inches and put a slot or groove in there.
- Laria and Thian don't act like people who have been raised with aliens since infancy. They have some curious gaps in the way they interpret the Mrdini's actions.
- Mrdinis are almost like dragon stand-ins. If you count the later books, even to the point of forcing two characters to have sex.
- Yeah, I don't like Mrdinis. They aren't well thought-out, and I refuse to believe the sketchy way they are written is just because they are so not-human that a human such as myself can't understand them.

More later--I'll try to get you actual quotes. And hopefully I'll stop being so negative. I've not really bashed Laria yet, have I?
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Old Jan 30 2008, 05:43 PM   #2
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Quote:
Their eyes whirl, too, which seems strangely draconic, although it's not as common.
I don't remember this at all! Can you give a quote?

Quote:
- Why don't Mrdini design chairs that have a hole or slot for the tails? I've seen plenty of chairs like this that would easily accommodate a moderate sized tail.
I don't think it's just the tail. They're not built the way we are. For us, bending twice in the middle is a comfortable way to relax - maybe it's not, for them.

Quote:
- Likewise, why don't Mrdini build saddles for horses that can accommodate their tails? If they're really short, like three inches (the tails, that is), just raise the saddle 3 inches and put a slot or groove in there.
Repeat what I just said, plus an extra - it mentions that the young ones can ride pillion for short amounts of time, but it is very uncomfortable to straddle in that way. Just an adapted saddle would not fix that..
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Old Jan 30 2008, 05:44 PM   #3
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I can see splitting this into two discussions - one about humans, one about Mrdini physiology... if a host would like to do so, that is!
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Old Jan 31 2008, 03:04 PM   #4
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(:yells for Granath Well, my take is this...it's the same for all Anne's works really. Her characters are essences of something more than the physical. Thats make logical sense, right. I mean it literally. K, the Dinis are odd in their physical appearance. The incorporation of science behind their reproduction is vague. But, she has to focuses on other things for the stroy to work. (Geez, I'm good at stating the obvious aren't I.) The dream sequences provide a deeper connection and I like to think Anne likes dreaming herself or was expounding on the possibilities that lie within that realm of subconcious thought. That aside, at this point in time in human history, the more advanced humans have established a link with an alien-kind. This is an amazing accomplishment. So, I'll have to start pulling quotes to state my case. I think what I'm trying to say, is Anne has other things in store for us with her stories. I'll be back on that later.

You don't have to like the Dinis. I tend to visualize them as something the Henson creature shop might pull out of the hat. Makes for good discussion though. (-;
I completely agree with your comment on the cover art. It's so wrong. I don't know how many times I've flipped the book over while I was reading the Dini descrip and been like, huh? That can't be right. :sigh: Oh well. Maybe Maelin could render a drawing sometime of her thoughts on the matter.
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Old Jan 31 2008, 11:41 PM   #5
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Re: Re-reading Damia's Children

Here's some quotes - from the american paperback edition.

Whirling 'Dini eyes - page 53

The big 'Dini lowered its upper section so that the liquid, purply poll eye was level with her face. The eye began to twirl slowly. The 'Dini brought both of its paws forward to touch her outheld hands, folded them to its chest and said firmly PLSGT! the 'Dini way of exchanging names with humans.

This is the only reference to twirling I've seen, though.

'Dinis riding horses - page 3, 4

Not for the first time did Laria regret that the conformation of the 'Dini made it impossible for them, with their stout short legs and stumpy tail, to straddle the hardy little Denebian hybrid ponies that Humans employed. When they were younger, she'd occasionally put Tip and Huf up on Saki, Tip in front where she could hold on to it, and Huf riding pillion behind, its fingers latched tightly to her belt. But it wasn't the most comfortable way to travel now her mates were too heavy to ride Saki with her.

I think now I'm getting a better idea of how Mrdinis are conformed. They look like weasels, in that they have short silky fur and have a long, long trunk, with "flippers" at the end of their short legs, and a short stumpy tail. My guess is that she perhaps intends either the tail to get in their way when riding (thus my work-around), or the 'Dini legs aren't long enough to wrap around a horse securely. Or perhaps they don't have ball socket joints in their hips--which doesn't make any evolutionary sense for a bipedal species because a short fall could break a hinge-type joint (which is the least they would need to walk forward) and cripple them. I'm wondering if their legs are so short as to be penguin-like, but the books imply that they can stride, and you can only do that if your legs are a certain length, so I can't imagine them being THAT short, which is why I can see them riding horses ok, with provisions if the tail gets in the way.

To be honest, I think the artist did as well as he could with the conflicting descriptions given.

Thian being a jerk - page 67

He was scheduled to take over Laria's teaching duties on Clarf so he wouldn't have to put up with cousins Roddie and Megan, who were only T-3's and shouldn't take on the airs and poses they did.

***************

Well la-de-dah, Thian! They're only T-3s, but *you're* a T-1!

***************

The one time he had tried to take the wind out of their sails, his parents had jumped on him with all four feet and threatened to put him into Coventry if he ever pulled another stunt like that.

"But they..." he began in self defense.

It is what you do that concerns us and you may not retaliate in that fashion no matter what the provocation!

There could be no doubt in Thian's mind that his mother meant exactly what she said. Worse, he could feel his father's mind confirming the rebuke.

They didn't say anything when he started bringing in more game than either of his cousins could find: he studied up on the tactical games in which Roddie was said to excel and beat him consistently in all of them, and he kept his scholastic record higher than his obnoxious cousin's and Roddie was supposed to be the engineering brains of the family, taking after his famous namesake uncle. With quiet satisfaction, he saw that Roddie kept trying but could never quite reach Thian's level and that was quite fine by Thian. There were many ways to outmaneuver an enemy and Thian was perfecting one.


***************

I'd be more understanding of this if Thian had some big deficit in some area, and he had a reason to be insecure. I think AMC is trying to make it out as a normal family rivalry, but to me Thian is just being a jerk, because he really doesn't have a reason to be insecure, or to need to prove himself to his cousin by picking up his cousin's biggest asset/talent and kicking his butt at it for nothing more than to show him up, when I'm sure Thian has areas of his own interest that he's good at already. I'd understand more if it was Rojer acting like this, because Rojer is really into engineering and mechanical things. Thian just does it to eff with Roddie. Jerk!

***************

What did Roddie say wrong here, aside from not agreeing with Afra and Thian? - page 73, 74

"All the old military commanders say it's wrong to have too long a supply line," Thian said when the subject of Tower augmentation came up.

"This is the twenty-fourth century, Thian," Roddie said, dismissing that concern. "We have skills and abilities that those ancients never thought of. And," he added pompously, "we haven't had a land war in generations."

"Thian's point is well-taken," Afra said at his most mild and Roddie flushed, hearing the subtle rebuke.


***************

...perhaps I'm just socially retarded, which could be the case given my nerdosity in quoting this book here, but what did Roddie say wrong? If there were more context that mattered, I'd post it, but this is the first thing Roddie says in the entire book.

Moving on...this is still Afra speaking.

***************

"Neither species has explored the areas through which they've been passing. There've been no yellow stars, which are systems the Hivers seek, or where our folk could land and replenish supplies from natural materials. Naval hydroponics can only supply so much to agument frozen, dried, and canned comestibles. Water's been recycled far too often for it to be potable. That's actually the main problem though fuel supplies are also dwindling and must be replenished."

"Ice planet? Ice astroids?" Roddie suggested.

"Requires detours from the course into a system with an expense of fuel that might not be justified by results," Afra said. Roddie's face fell. "But it is an alternative that is being considered."

"But that's not a viable one, is it?" Thian said thoughtfully. "If yellow stars generate the kind of planets the Hive wants and we need to find drinkable water, there'd be a possibility of confrontation."

Afra nodded solumnly and Thian sighed at the complexity of it all.

"We'll think of something," Roddie said proudly.

"The 'Dinis might beat us at it," and Laria's grin was mischievous. "They're very clever."

Roddie decided he had other things to do than argue with cousins.

"Is it being a Denebian that makes him like that, or being just a T-3?" Laria asked her brother in a low voice.


***************

At least Afra tells her off for that.

***************

"Deneb does inculcate certain characteristics in its children," Afra said, rising. "just as Aurigae instills others, not necessarily exemplary ones, in hers!"

"Whoops!" Laria said, grinning at the subtle rebuke. "A few years in a Tower and he'll probably turn into a quite bearable young man."


***************

...that was patronizing.

I think my next fic will be from Roddie's POV or something, LOL.
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Old Feb 1 2008, 01:29 AM   #6
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Well, Thian is a teen. Teens are, by definition, jerks at least some of the time. Sorry folks, but they are. I certainly was! I see nothing wrong in competing obliquely if your parents don't allow a direct confrontation. Although I do find that competition between different grades of talent petty.

I found Rojer's treatment of Asia a lot more off-putting in Lyon's Pride and TTATH. That sort of overprotectiveness I find almost disgusting.

I don't think 'Dinis stride. They can waddle fast but they don't stride. In fact, they can lean back on their tails as a third supporting limb. I would need to dig up the quote.
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Old Feb 2 2008, 01:38 PM   #7
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This is very human and why it is so credible to read.

I bet that Anne has been watching her children or grandchildren and introduced the human part into her books. If Anne was to portray her characters too good and holy, it would not be credible or recognizable to anyone. Humans are humans after all, and children has to be raised and guided. Thian learns and matures while getting older like any other human.
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The Rowan is my favourite!

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Old Feb 2 2008, 04:43 PM   #8
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Well it could be that Roddie was implying that the supply lines shouldn't be a problem because it's the 24th century. Least, that's how I read it.
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Old Feb 2 2008, 04:52 PM   #9
D. M. Domini
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Re: Re-reading Damia's Children

I would agree with you (edit: Nina) if it was made clear that Thian was in the wrong. But it's not; his sister agrees with him, Afra agrees even if he doesn't agree with being impolite about it, everyone who the reader is supposed to care about agrees with Thian. Zara, in a later-on quote in the book, is the only one to stick up for Roddie, and at that point in time she's portrayed as being emotionally unstable due to having her first periods. I think Zara is even referred to as "perverse" during those scenes! The book's subtle architecture implies to the reader that Thian is always right in the way he acts. There aren't really any consequences for him.

Therefore, I don't believe that Thian-as-a-jerk was really intended by the author. I didn't even "feel" it until I started this closer re-read, so I could mine the books I don't really like as much for fanfic ore. (lol)

I find that Damia's Children, Lyon's Pride, and The Tower and the Hive leave much to be desired for character development. I think if AMC had focused on Zara, the 'dysfunctional Prime', and her empathy for the Hiver Queen, and only showed the rest of the family through her POV, the result would be a more interesting and truer sequel to The Rowan and Damia than the existing sequels.

Gosh, I sound so anti-McCaffrey. I don't mean to be, she has excellent ideas and often the first few books in a given series are excellent. It just that the longer she writes a world, the more likely the quality will go down. Her real strength is in stand-alone books, which is ironic given how many series she has!

Greenrider Tresa - yeah, that's how I read it. I just wonder how that standpoint makes him a bad guy. I'm confuzzled.
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Old Feb 2 2008, 07:10 PM   #10
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Default Re: Re-reading Damia's Children

Quote:
"All the old military commanders say it's wrong to have too long a supply line," Thian said when the subject of Tower augmentation came up.

"This is the twenty-fourth century, Thian," Roddie said, dismissing that concern. "We have skills and abilities that those ancients never thought of. And," he added pompously, "we haven't had a land war in generations."

"Thian's point is well-taken," Afra said at his most mild and Roddie flushed, hearing the subtle rebuke.
Because he's refusing to consider other possibilities? Like the fact that supply lines could break if there are, I don't know, alien invaders? Or if something happened to a generator...

They're trying to think outside the box, and he has just said "No, the box is perfect already."
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Old Feb 2 2008, 09:45 PM   #11
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Hee hee, that's not how I interpreted it. They're quoting old military people who never had to deal with 3d or space warfare, and he's like, "Wait, don't the rules change in space? So why would that necessarily hold true?"

So I rather think Roddie was the one thinking out of the box.

Not that I think Thian & Co are *wrong*, they have valid points...I think if Primes can be spared and are willing, by all means put them on naval ships to increase quality of life. But I don't think Roddie's point was necessarily one to dismiss so quickly either, and I don't understand how we-the-reader are supposed to dislike him due to it.

I guess it all boils down to that the manipulation of the reader isn't working on me as it should. My suspension of disbelief has been well and truly shattered.
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Old Feb 3 2008, 08:38 AM   #12
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I don't think we see enough of Roddie being petty and nasty. I was expecting someone like the bane of the Rowan's childhood, Moria. When we get to know him, he's already improved beyond recognition, according to Afra and Rojer. His humor always was a bit heavy-handed though, and those used to a more subtle approach could find that off-putting.
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Old Mar 4 2008, 02:52 PM   #13
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at that point in the book, there is One Talent to catch on the ships, Thian hasn't gon yet, so the supply lines are what are being sent without assistance from planets to ships. and they are getting out of range by the time Thian shows up. there were a number of mentions about Roddie, and yeah I think a rivalry between roddie, and the oldest three or four that was pursued rather enthusiastically, by all involved. One possible IS that Thian, and Rojer were jerks about being Primes (likely learned at mama, and the Rowan's knee) so they HAD to be better than the cousins etc.. who weren't primes, while those cousins WERE pushing themselves to show that they could be as good or even better than those uppity prime cousins who only had birth going for them... one possibility at least.
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Old Mar 28 2008, 09:21 PM   #14
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I think that when Anne uses the word "dismissing" she may be trying to imply that Roddie is being dismissive of the idea in a patronizing way. Almost a put-down of Thian and his idea. At least that is the way I've always taken it. Afra's response, in that case, was a subtle rebuke of Roddie's discounting Thian's very valid point. Like I said, that is how I've always taken it. Afra wasn't rebuking the idea so much, but the attitude that went with it. However, if I am right, she could have made that clearer. You know. Have Roddie say, "Thian, that's stupid! This is the twenty-fourth...."
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Old Apr 4 2008, 02:01 AM   #15
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I dunno, it did sound a lot more like he was dismissing the supply line argument because the Talents DID exist. Even though he was going to become part of the supply line in the next few books.
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