Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 15

The Masters and the Loresinger

So I'm following an outline, and I've been dying to get to this chapter out for several reasons. One, because this ties together so many sub-plots that I've taken, and two because all of a sudden, not all the stakes are interpersonal.

Three, because I asked Tremor months ago to use his piece Chant of War, and he graciously accepted, and I wanted the chapter to capture the same sense of mysticism that Tremor carried forward from the Kavala. So I built this up in my head until almost anything that I threw down to pixels was going to be a disappointment. Hopefully, not too much so. A few spoilers below the fold.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 14


T'Mar has even more secrets than originally thought, and reveals that if Juliette is a captive of circumstance, her circumstances have been engineered, and she gets a glimpse at another layer of the onion.

Juliette also has secrets of her own. I struggled with this, because she is he character the reader gets closest to, and the narration is designed to pull the reader close. I think it makes a better story for Juliette to have secrets from the reader, even though there are moments when the reader is right there with her thoughts.

Finally there is some progress in improving the holo-projector. This alludes to the relationship that the Vulcans have with the 433rd house as well as brings back the theme of connection, and how Vulcans and Betazoids differ in celebrating success.

This chapter also reveals more about T'Mar's parents and gives the opportunity to show that Vulcan families are not all alike. This is also where almost incomprehensible differences between Betazoid and Vulcan relationships and marriage are made clear. I always saw Betazids and Vulcans being very forthright on the mechanics of intimacy, but from there the viewpoints sharply divide. Vulcans are almost required to put rigor around their marriages and mating. Betazoids have a tradition of breaking tradition.

Danek, Juliette and T'Mar are not designed with the traditional love triangle in mind -- the Terran idea of 'which one do I choose' wouldn't play well at all, but doesn't preclude any kind of tension. More on this in later chapters.

As her Matron points out, Juliette has a lot to learn in this area, as does T'Mar. 

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 13


FthinraKathi is a language that predates Surak, and is officially extinct. Luckily, T'Mar's mother has a thing for dead languages. So does Pylkau, it seems, who just does not like the idea of a Betazoid at the monastery at all.

It is also when T'Mar and Juliette reconcile, so it's not all Vulcans hating on Juliette. This is also a chance to flesh out T'Mar more, and show what lies beneath the cool Vulcan exterior. T'Mar is a novice with secrets.

The Vulcan Language Institute, linked above, was extremely helpful, and the history of the language structure really helped with the idea of a Vulcan that rose as a spacefaring culture long before the other species, but almost didn't survive the final test of any species -- having the power to destroy itself.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Stone That Sings, Chapter 11

The Passion Opera

Danek spells out some of the conflicts that are going on within the Vulcans in the Sas-a-shar community, and while writing this, while I try to stick with the outline, I had one of those epiphany moments.  I had understood that this community of Vulcans were part of a schism in how to best walk the Way of Kolinahr, but I had glossed over it in my initial outline. It started as simply a throwaway thought and a way to put the Vulcans in a less pristine technological environment because "reasons".

This chapter really got me thinking about what those differences meant, and at the same time, not have my small sect in the Sas-a-shar become a mix of "The Hills Have Eyes" or "Deliverance". At the heart of it, they were still good people, and good people that chose to live in a far more hostile environment. Later chapters will dig in to just how hostile this environment can be.

This is also an opportunity to give Lorot a chance to shine. He's been a bit of a comedic foil for P'Nem, but as someone who contributes a lot to keeping the monastery running, he has quite a reputation. He's also a gifted calligrapher -- an art dying on Vulcan, and elsewhere. This is really a chance to examine Art in a universe where matter and energy are starting to blend. I feel Star Trek skipped out on this, simply falling back to some sort of wistful thinking about the 20th century. I suppose one could look at it like some sort of re-enactment of some three hundred years ago, but at least in these contemporary times, they are niches. Again, in a universe where stuff is easy, maybe the wistfulness isn't as far-fetched, though I would say every century/decade/year would have its artists. But things get complicated in such a far-flung future.

This chapter also has Juliette obliquely referring to the Passion Operas again, this time to posit to Lorot how she sees her situation. His repsone, I hope, is clear.

The Stone that Sings, Chapter 10

Holograms, Refuse, and Refusal

This chapter introduces the ESH, or the "Emergency Stylist Hologram."

This started as a comedic idea and remains so in many ways. At the same time, much of Juliette's stress about her hair is one part vanity, three parts loss of control. The ESH is a resumption of control and the establishment of just a little more Betazoid normal in her life.

This also opens with Juliette asserting her independence. Vulcan society is very role driven, and much of the Vulcan/Terran romances are very much about the strong Vulcan taking calm, logical control of the relationship situation.   It should be very clear that the Stone That Sings dumps this on its head slightly -- first with the relationship between Lorot and P'Nem, and, more starkly,  the relationship between Juliette and Danek.  Juliette, coming from a planet of predominantly female Matrons, is expected to do work and get her hands dirty. Sure, there might be other houses with legions of consorts to take care of mundane labor, but that's not the 433rd House of Betazed's style.

Juliette is not able to articulate the political situation on Betazed, and while Danek is technically correct, there is a judgement factor added on which may or may not apply. Juliette certainly doesn't agree, which is good because it ticks her off enough to get a fresh robe and find something unusual.

Juliette has to make a decision, and it shows how important telepathy is to Betazoids, but to Juliette in particular, who resigns herself to a life on Vulcan versus losing her abilities.

The Stone that Sings, Chapter 12

As Is Proper

This is the first chapter that really brings up the idea of propriety in Vulcan culture, and runs Juliette right smack into that propriety. It was hinted at when Master Surot gave a tour of the monastery -- men and women live in different wings. This, of course, doesn't solve the problems of same-sex liasons, but that is what the Initiates are for -- but as young adults on the Way of Kolinahr, one can expect some level of control, or at least discretion.

This chapter also brings T'Sana forward, and gives more of a perspective of her concerns around Betazoids. It also brings to light the differences between Betazoid and Vulcan perspectives on intimacy, and what is proper to discuss in mixed company.

We also learn that manipulating Juliette into retrieving zattre was not entirely just a chore for Juliette, but also an object lesson. Master Surot tries to spell these things out quite clearly and at the same time also learns Juliette's distress around the Kolinahr Masters. As I review this, and look at the second draft I realize Juliette's interaction with the Masters should probably become a scene itself -- especially because its so powerful, and starkly highlights a major difference between Vulcan telepathy and Betazoid empathy.