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Old Apr 27 2011, 11:33 AM   #43
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland

Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: Exploring the Subtextual - Robinton/Menolly in the DRoP series

Sorry for my (cowardly) siesta. I am still working on the next part of this, which covers The White Dragon. I got partly through then wandered off to read some other book when I got ticked at Jaxom's sex-of-ambiguous-consent with Corana. :-/

As I said in my very first post, I never thought I'd convince anyone with this. I'm just having fun, even when I debate.

I like awmotb's quirky theory that Petiron is Menolly's father, and this was why Yanus was so upset about her tuning. I can't see it happening, because Petiron/Mavi seems very unlikely and I don't see why Yanus would treat Menolly as his child if he suspected she wasn't when he had so many real heirs...she could just be a fosterling at Half Circle if Petiron was her father...but wouldn't it be FUN for Menolly to be Robinton's much-younger half-sister? That's such a fun theory. Funfunfun. Not practical in my mind, but fun.

Moving on...quoting Greenrider Tresa...

Quote:
If there's any wording that might be taken as indicative of romance because it was used that way elsewhere, coudln't that just be because McCaffrey also wrrote romance and used those phrases or actions out of habit?
And quoting Ryuu...

Quote:
Something to keep in mind: before Pern, Anne was a romance writer, so something of the subtext that Domini pointed out is going to be there.
I admit, I'd have to get a few ebooks together and use a word analysis across all her books to be able to prove it conclusively. That certain words trigger certain nuances for me (cries, slender) doesn't mean those nuances were intended, just that I have a biased interpretation of them. We'd need some real analysis to know conclusively one way or another.

But. You don't just interject phrases as a writer because you're used to using them. You'd literally end up with nonsense. Even if you've used them a thousand times before, they have a meaning, and you choose to use them again when that meaning fits what you're writing NOW. So even if the precise words that I pinpointed don't carry the weights that I thought they did, and thus specifically fail in this case to support my argument, in a body of work as big as AMC's we could probably find word patterns and phrases AMC tends to draw upon in certain scenes.

Am I making sense? I think I'm saying, you're right, the specific words I chose as romantic indications might be nothing of the sort. I may be biased. (I probably am.) But my theory is still plausible; AMC may display patterns of word choice and phrasing around known, canon romantic elements in her books we could use on Robinton/Menolly scenes. Without actually running some sort of word count and phrase analysis we can't conclusively prove your viewpoint OR mine though.

Once I can get my hands on a complete set of ebooks, I may do some sort of essay on my findings.

Golden Talisath - your (first, longest) response is interesting to me, as it encapsulates a reaction to AMC's work that I hypothesized but didn't specifically see anyone vocalize yet (although I wasn't looking seriously). As you point out, there's a lot of wiggle room for interpretation, and you choose to interpret these things as nothing more than a platonic relationship, where I see subtext.

One of the things I've noticed from AMC as a whole across all her works is that she's quite fond of being so subtle that it's easy for a reader to dismiss certain aspects of the ideas and notions she's bringing up. She gives her readers plausible deniability if they don't like some of the conclusions you could come to on what she's written. And a person who doesn't want to hear something is very likely to take that "out" without realizing they're passing something by.

(Anecdotally, I had a reader of one of my fanfics ding me for a relatively light-hearted use of "boo-****ing-hoo" towards a character that was being whiny and bratty, when Anne herself elsewhere had Afra Lyon saying in the book Damia's Children, "Forgot we'd get that with this effing great ball of spit!" The differences between my fanfic content and AMC's originals was one of reader deniability...I was blunt, AMC used euphemisms. Mine was THERE, but with AMC's you could pretend the character didn't actually say "****ing great ball of shit." even though any teen in this day and age would know instantly what AMC meant...or go look it up as I did. (I was sheltered.) The content was the same--both characters were cussing, with a fairly low cuss-to-non-cuss ratio across the entire works, both hers and mine. The difference was in presentation.)

I think this is the technique she used to get gay dragonriders into the series without censorship back in the 70s. (This isn't a tangent with regards to Rob/Menolly; hear me out.) Her setup was subtle enough that those not interested/supportive/receptive to the idea of homosexuality or gay rights could point out that "perhaps she wasn't thinking the logic through with the greens being female with male riders--after all, she didn't portray any male-ridden green flights "on screen" from one of those rider's POV. So why read homosexual things into the weyr system? You're bringing your own bias in!" If you didn't want to see it, you didn't have to. By the time AMC started getting more direct on-screen, proving her subtle allusions to it weren't just being mis-interpreted, there were many, many other examples in the genre that were far more explicit about homosexuality than AMC's ever been.

It's a technique I'm ambivalent about...on one hand, it most definitely was a combo of Anne McCaffrey and Marion Zimmer Bradley and Mercedes Lackey that got me over my initial, "Being gay is icky!" feeling when I was a teen, and of those three, AMC and MZB were subtle about it (and also admittedly predated Lackey by a few decades, so they needed to be). So it's obviously a valid way to expose certain ideas to people who are receptive to them, without causing overt distress among those who are not ready to be receptive to them.

But on the other, because the references to some things in AMC books are so fleeing and subtle, you can never really pin anything down (or explore the deeper ramifications which can get pretty profound)...which is where the debate on Robinton/Menolly comes in. What can we pin down as evidence of a romantic desire that never came to fruition, and what was just a depiction of a paternal or "friendly" non-romantic relationship? Was it meant as a romantic tragedy? Or a subtle encouragement of May/December relationships? Or as some of you think, I'm seeing things that don't exist? AMC leaves so much in our hands.

The whole homosexuality-as-portrayed-in-AMC's-works doesn't directly apply to Robinton/Menolly, since they're male/female. But...it is clear that the subtle wording and subtle forwarding of certain ideas in a non-obvious way is WITHIN AMC's toolkit as a writer. Did she use it here with Robinton/Menolly? Occluding the issue due to maybe the age or authority gap much like she occluded the issue with gay dragonriders? I think yes. But I may be wrong. Did she use it in as many places as I'm seeing it? I don't know. I could be barking up the wrong tree with some of the examples from Dragondrums. You might be very right in that some of the stuff I pointed out is intended as platonic, and even if many readers could see a non-platonic reading it didn't mean AMC meant it that way. But I don't think all of it is...although even then, I'm not entirely certain what point she was trying to make with subtext Robinton/Menolly. AMC seems very careful about relationships, even when all other sorts of details in the books can get screwed up by forgetfulness and the vagaries of time.

I'm such a nerd. I'm not even being geeky here, I'm being outright nerdy.

(Oh, and I hope I don't sound like I'm attacking anyone. I use the quotes I do and reference the posts I do because they help me illustrate things I'm pondering.)
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Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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