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Fridge Brilliance

  • I've been an ardent fan of the Dragonriders of Pern series, with the only thing I had a problem with being the Rule-Abiding Rebel nature of the Weyrwomen being "powerful" women whose only real power is political--the rest is just glorified kitchen duty, like keeping records and making sure the Weyr has enough food and medical supplies. For a long time I (and many others) just resigned myself to dealing with the rampant Values Dissonance of the earlier books, until I read The Master Harper of Pern. And then I realized: Weyrleaders are figureheads three-fourths of the time. Even in a normal Pass/Interval cycle, the Pass is fifty years and the Interval is two fricking hundred. Even dragonriders can only reach a hundred-and-fifty. And the Weyrleader is only in charge of wing-drills and leading everyone into Threadfall. In everyday life, outside of the awesome fighting? He can't do shit unless the Weyrwoman gives him permission, and when one of the largest dragons on Pern has her back, he'd better hope for a good relationship. Weyrleaders are only needed for fifty years, and might only stay in power for one year if the Weyrwoman hates him. On the other hand, the Weyrwoman stays in power until she dies, is crippled, chooses to retire, or her dragon stops producing clutches--which is generally thought to be way upward of forty years. Meanwhile, she controls everything outside of Threadfall--you're always going to need food, shelter, and medical supplies, but how often are you going to need someone to lead you into combat? My conclusion: Anne McCaffrey made an unwitting, but brilliant subversion. --Sharysa
    • Additional Fridge Brilliance in that logistics are arguably the most important part of any military organization. Given that the Weyrs are at least quasi-military in nature, keeping track of supplies and records makes the Weyrwoman undisputably the most powerful person in the Weyr, whether Thread is falling or not. The Weyrleader's real power lies in negotiating with the atavistically paternalistic society of the Lord Holders. -- Snarf
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