swan_tower: a headshot of Clearbrook from the comic book series Elfquest (Clearbrook)
[personal profile] swan_tower

(This is part of my Elfquest re-read. There will be spoilers.)

I suspect I’ll wind up making several posts about Recognition during the course of this series, because it’s such an interesting and complex topic: a spontaneous soulbond, with bonus reproductive instinct. You can spin a bunch of different stories out of that, and the Pinis hit quite a few of them; in fact, I’m not sure there’s any point in what I consider the main canon (the first eight volumes, up through Kings of the Broken Wheel) where they play it completely straight. Cutter and Leetah come the closest — but before I get to that, let’s talk about Recognition itself.

I mentioned before that the Wolfriders have a serious birthrate problem, and this extends to basically all the elves except the Go-Backs (who have managed to ditch Recognition entirely; I don’t recall if we ever find out how). The instinct that drives Recognition is based on genetic matching; some magical instinct looks at another elf and says “yep, you’d make a good kid with me,” whereupon the two of you bond at a psychic level and feel an urge to get it on. Savah says in Fire and Flight that “Recognition insures that your offspring will number among the strongest and most gifted of our race” — which would run the risk of elitism, the special super-awesome Recognition-born children vs those who happen the normal way, except that apparently Recognition is just about the only way elves can have children. Out of the seventeen Wolfriders in the present day, only one (Pike) was born outside of it, and that’s considered a noteworthy thing. Later on, Nightfall and Redlance will need Leetah’s magical assistance to have a kid. Now, something I read — I don’t remember where this was; probably in an interview or something from the Gatherum or maybe even the RPG — said that the Recognition instinct gets less selective the older an elf grows, which is why an elf can turn around one day and find themselves bonded to a person they’ve known for centuries. But essentially, without Recognition, you’re unlikely to reproduce. And only the Go-Backs, who have ditched the impulse entirely, seem to have more than about two kids max.

When your birthrate is that low, your species is going extinct. I don’t care how long you live: if your replacement rate is that abysmal, then you’ll barely maintain population in good times, and bad incidents will whittle you down one bit at a time. Madcoil took out six elves who had only four children among them. Shale and Eyes High both died after a single kid. Rillfisher left only Dewshine behind, and Treestump hasn’t Recognized anybody else since then. This is especially a problem when your super-picky reproductive instinct may wait for three or five hundred years before deciding, okay, I guess that person will do. That’s three or five hundred years in which you might get killed without having any children at all.

So: Recognition is narratively fascinating, but logically kind of dumb. You’d either need to just run with the elitism, keeping Recognition-born children in the minority and having most being conceived the normal way, or you need Recognition to be way more active in an elf’s early years, so they have a better chance of reproducing before something takes them out. And either way, most of these elves need to be like Woodlock and Rainsong, bringing more than two kids into the world.

Of course, the story is less interested in the pragmatic implications of Recognition than it is in the narrative aspects. Which is fine, because that’s what I’m ultimately interested in, too. 🙂

I’m sort of astonished that I have yet to write soulbonds into any of my fiction, because they’re one of my favorite iddy tropes. A permanent psychic connection to another person! Guaranteed to cause angst on the way to a (probably) happy conclusion! The angst is a key part; if soulbonding meant instant and uncomplicated harmony with the other person, it wouldn’t be nearly as good story fodder. Clearbrook says that Bearclaw and Joyleaf “completed each other — just as any two who have Recognized one another should,” but a) that isn’t always the case and b) even when things do settle down to a happily-ever-after, the road there isn’t necessarily smooth. In fact, I can’t recall any instances in the main canon of Recognition leading immediately to a good partnership. We have plenty of happily lifemated pairs, but all the ones I can think of who form their bond during the course of the story run into at least a little trouble.

Like Cutter and Leetah. Because the Wolfriders are (generally speaking) the protagonists of this series, a lot of their behavior ends up being positioned, or at least read, as “good” — but on the topic of Recognition, their basic attitude is shown to be straight-up wrong. They’re used to obeying their instincts without a lot of reflections, so Cutter, once he realizes what’s happened, sees no reason he and Leetah shouldn’t just get together right away. (Strongbow, in his least admirable moment ever, argues that Cutter should stop worrying about what Leetah wants. I apparently edited that out of my memory, and will probably go right back to pretending he never said that, because I usually like Strongbow.)

But Leetah sees plenty of reasons to hold off. And unlike Cutter, she’s more than able and willing to delay, to control the impulse driving her toward this total stranger. In the classic way of romance, they both need to change before they’ll actually be a good match for one another. Cutter needs to grow past his hotheaded impulsiveness, to show respect for Leetah’s point of view; this culminates in his abject surrender to her will for Dewshine’s sake after the stampede. (As if Leetah wouldn’t have healed her anyway — but Cutter doesn’t understand that yet.) As for Leetah, she needs to learn about the Wolfriders and their ways, to see Cutter’s positive qualities as a leader, as exemplified by the Madcoil story. But things don’t click for them until she speaks Cutter’s soul name out loud, which brings the epiphany she needs: the soul name, being an encapsulation of the individual’s essence, helps her understand him in a way that nothing else could.

It’s interesting that Cutter doesn’t receive the same kind of key. Leetah doesn’t have a soul name; that seems to be peculiar to the Wolfriders, because of their dependence on sending (telepathy) — even though the Gliders and the High Ones use sending a lot, and don’t appear to have soul names. I don’t know why the Pinis made that decision, though I could make up reasons. Soul/true names are another fun trope, and this story mines them pretty thoroughly, too — Cutter and Skywise, Nightfall and Redlance, Strongbow closing Timmain out of his mind to keep himself safe. That may wind up being another post.

Anyway, this particular couple actually wind up in an excellent partnership, once they understand each other. Not every Recognized pair in this series can say as much . . . which is why you should expect at least one more Recognition post before I’m done with this re-read, one that focuses more on the problems baked into the concept.

That’s enough for Fire and Flight, I think; I haven’t touched on everything in it, but the other topics feel to me like I could save them for a later volume. So next up, The Forbidden Grove!

Originally published at Swan Tower. You can comment here or there.

Date: 2017-02-02 04:07 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Cutter cradling the injured Redlance to his chest (Elfquest: Cutter with Redlance)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
The soul name thing is heavily implied to be part of the cost of the wolf and elf blood blending in the print anthologies, in the stories that deal with Rahnee and The ones with Timmorn.

GoBacks *can* still Recognize, but by and large, they have far more wolf blood and are closer tied to the World of Two Moons than even the Wolfriders, if I remembering right.

I am *utterly* enjoying your breakdowns!

Date: 2017-02-03 06:51 pm (UTC)
mindstalk: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mindstalk
I think Go-Backs have only a trace of wolf blood, from some old ancestor Two-Spear. They have basically no magic, while the Wolfriders all have sending; the Sun Folk had higher peaks of power (Leetah, Rayek) but less evenly distributed tha the Wolfriders.

Date: 2017-02-03 06:55 pm (UTC)
sharpest_asp: Cutter cradling the injured Redlance to his chest (Elfquest: Cutter with Redlance)
From: [personal profile] sharpest_asp
Granted, I'm working from the implication in the prose, but given which Wolfriders founded the GoBacks, is the reason for why I see their wolf-blood was higher to begin with. Two-Spear and his best friend... man why are my books in the other room... were both said to have too much wolf in them, which led to some of their actions that were considered mad.

I see it as grounding them far more in the World of Two Moons, making them more *natural* and less inhibited by whatever it is that fights the elf magic.

Date: 2017-02-03 03:42 am (UTC)
radiantfracture: (Default)
From: [personal profile] radiantfracture
It would be difficult to express how pleased I am that this re-read is happening. Elfquest was one of my very first comics fixations, though I drifted away for the later incarnations.

{rf}

Date: 2017-02-02 09:41 am (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
this extends to basically all the elves except the Go-Backs (who have managed to ditch Recognition entirely; I don’t recall if we ever find out how).

Kahvi associates it disparagingly with other forms of magic, which distract and blunt a warrior's spirit—Go-Backs don't send easily, either—but I don't remember any sense that it was a deliberate decision on some ancient healer's part as opposed to ordinary genetic drift. She simply says that her people have done without it for centuries. I would say that ditching Recognition is a reasonable evolutionary adaptation for a population engaged in constant warfare, but then there's no reason for the Wolfriders to have kept it, either.

Out of the seventeen Wolfriders in the present day, only one (Pike) was born outside of it, and that’s considered a noteworthy thing.

Is it ever discussed exactly how that worked? The kind of three-way mediation Leetah does with Nightfall and Redlance is similar, but I believe explicitly not the same thing.

(The other interesting thing with Pike is that he doesn't actually seem worse off for the circumstances of his conception. He doesn't have magic outside of sending, but most elves don't, and he's kind of an amiable slacker for much of his early life, but that's hardly a permanent failing. I remember wondering at one point if he would have been capable of Recognition himself, but it's irrelevant because he ends up partnered with Skot and Krim, both Go-Backs—and when their child does not survive one of the bitter winters of the Wolfriders' long waiting, Krim says bitterly that maybe there's something in this Recognition business after all.)

the Recognition instinct gets less selective the older an elf grows, which is why an elf can turn around one day and find themselves bonded to a person they’ve known for centuries.

As a reader whose interest in other people has with one exception taken anywhere between three months and six years to wake up and in most cases never wakes up at all, it didn't even occur to me to question this as a normal mode of relating sexually to other sentient beings.

And only the Go-Backs, who have ditched the impulse entirely, seem to have more than about two kids max.

Rainsong and Woodlock had three—Newstar, Wing, and Mender. That was definitely unusual for the Wolfriders, though.

Soul/true names are another fun trope, and this story mines them pretty thoroughly, too — Cutter and Skywise, Nightfall and Redlance, Strongbow closing Timmain out of his mind to keep himself safe. That may wind up being another post.

That concept also made perfect sense to me. I have an everyday name and I have a ritual name. I still don't share it with people on a regular basis.

It's really interesting for me to see these books both through another reader's eyes and at some distance from the last time I picked them up myself.
Edited Date: 2017-02-02 09:49 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-02 10:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Kahvi associates it disparagingly with other forms of magic, which distract and blunt a warrior's spirit—Go-Backs don't send easily, either—but I don't remember any sense that it was a deliberate decision on some ancient healer's part as opposed to ordinary genetic drift. She simply says that her people have done without it for centuries. I would say that ditching Recognition is a reasonable evolutionary adaptation for a population engaged in constant warfare, but then there's no reason for the Wolfriders to have kept it, either.

Right, exactly. I doubt there was a specific moment when the Go-Backs did something to get rid of Recognition forever. If I had to speculate, I would say they had healers early on who did the kind of thing Leetah did for Nightfall and Redlance, because they realized the Go-Backs really needed kids, and the kids thus produced were more fertile under normal conditions. (I don't think we see Tyleet having kids in canon; if she conceives more easily, that would bolster my theory.) But if Recognition is key to how magical gifts perpetuate themselves, that would explain why the Go-Backs don't have very much magic, either. Not just a prejudice: under this paradigm, they traded that capacity for increased reproduction instead.

No idea if that's how the Pinis think of it, though.

Is it ever discussed exactly how that worked?

Pike's father was Rain, who was a healer; I have the vague impression that Rain's gift played into it, but I don't know anything more than that.

And yes, agreed that Pike doesn't seem to be worse off for it. Possibly his amiable slacker-ness could be blamed on the method of his conception, but it seems like a stretch.

As a reader whose interest in other people has with one exception taken anywhere between three months and six years to wake up and in most cases never wakes up at all, it didn't even occur to me to question this as a normal mode of relating sexually to other sentient beings.

If the elves were doing better at reproducing in general, I wouldn't bat an eyelash at it, because I'm of your mind.

Rainsong and Woodlock had three—Newstar, Wing, and Mender. That was definitely unusual for the Wolfriders, though.

The fact that it's called out as unusual is exactly what made me notice that the Wolfriders (and most of the other tribes) are going extinct. If Woodlock and Rainsong were unusual for having three so quickly, that would be a different matter; she's pregnant with her third before Newstar is even mature, which for an elf is unheard of. (For a human, of course, it's business as usual.)

Huh. I didn't think to mention it in the paper I wrote for my archaeology tutorial, but that's another point of comparison to hunter-gatherers. They tend to space out their pregnancies, because when your society is mobile, you need the first kid to be able to walk long distances before you have the second. I think four years apart is the general average, so Rainsong's been keeping up a weirdly high pace from that perspective, too. Edit: though to be fair, the Wolfriders aren't a mobile group; they've lived in the Father Tree for eons, before the fire drives them out.

That concept also made perfect sense to me. I have an everyday name and I have a ritual name. I still don't share it with people on a regular basis.

I chose a private/ritual name for myself back in high school, but I wouldn't use it now; I don't think it fits who I am at this point. But yes, Elfquest is probably one of several sources to blame for my endless fascination with names: private names, formal names, magical names, names with hidden meaning, names with obvious meaning, names changing at key points in your life, people using different names in different contexts. (I've tried to keep the most obvious versions of that from being in everything I write, but the minor iterations crop up all over the place.) So yeah, soul names make perfect sense to me, too.
Edited Date: 2017-02-02 10:10 am (UTC)

4

Date: 2017-02-02 10:39 am (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
(I don't think we see Tyleet having kids in canon; if she conceives more easily, that would bolster my theory.)

As far as I've read in the series, no, only the adopted human child in Hidden Years. It is entirely plausible that she might have had some in the comics I haven't read and vaguely consider not to exist.

Pike's father was Rain, who was a healer; I have the vague impression that Rain's gift played into it, but I don't know anything more than that.

Rain himself says that Pike was his first experiment; he was trying to increase the tribe's birthrate, which goes toward your theory about the origins of the Go-Backs. He doesn't seem to have succeeded, though, since there's not a whole raft of Wolfrider kids between Skywise's age and Cutter's.

(Do Rainsong and Pike share a mother? There's no mention of Rainsong being born outside of Recognition, so I can't tell if Rain's experiment was to father children with someone he was already Recognized to or to see if he could be fertile without involvement of Recognition at all. I wonder about the first possibility only because there's at least one line from Joyleaf in the same flashback story—Skywise's birth in Hidden Years—making it clear that Recognition is unpredictable even between lifemates who've previously experienced it.)

If the elves were doing better at reproducing in general, I wouldn't bat an eyelash at it, because I'm of your mind.

Do you think the Pinis noticed the system they'd set up? Or do you think they didn't bat any eyelashes, either, until some close reader pointed it out?

[edit] I am now, inevitably, trying to figure out how Recognition is supposed to work at all physiologically and the answer I'm coming up with is "Narrative convenience!" Some of the characters' birth circumstances suggest that male elves of whatever tribe may be normally fertile without Recognition—Kahvi conceives Venka by Rayek, Skywise fathers Yun on an unknown (there's like three candidates, according to my memory of that panel) Go-Back—and therefore that part of Recognition for female elves is the triggering of what humans would consider a normal reproductive cycle, but without Doylistic evidence I would be skeptical that this is meant to be part of a consistent system.

[edit edit] So I took a shower and while showering (when of course I was away from my computer) I remembered that when Leetah does whatever it is she does with Redlance and Nightfall that results in the conception of Tyleet, she tells the couple that they have only one night to work with, so perhaps there is something as technical as ovulation involved in this worldbuilding after all. Or it's just limited-term magic. I dunno. Strictly speaking, it's all alien paranormal phenomena anyway.

The fact that it's called out as unusual is exactly what made me notice that the Wolfriders (and most of the other tribes) are going extinct.

Are the Sun Folk? I think of them as stable, the Go-Backs as tenacious but dwindling (in the absence of war, I'd expect their population to skyrocket), the Wolfriders as endangered (and getting damn near close to inbred), and the Gliders as static (deeply fucked up, but in strict terms of population holding steady).

I chose a private/ritual name for myself back in high school, but I wouldn't use it now; I don't think it fits who I am at this point.

I meant that I grew up with the concept of a Hebrew name, which is used only in Jewish ritual contexts. Anyone who reads the non-English text of my ketubah will be able to learn it, but otherwise they will need to hear me called to the bimah or I'll have to tell them; it will be on my gravestone when I die. This is normal for a number of diasporic Jewish communities. It did not occur to me until some years into adulthood that many non-Jewish readers could have parsed Le Guin's idea of true names vs. use-names, for example, as a magical high concept rather than just the way people have names. (I am not saying that Le Guin was inspired by Jewish custom; if she drew on any real-life analogues, I would expect them to be Native. Just that the two crossed such that it didn't read to me as a feature of a secondary world, because it was a feature of mine.)
Edited Date: 2017-02-02 11:46 am (UTC)

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-02 09:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
(Do Rainsong and Pike share a mother?

The Elfquest wiki doesn't identify either of their mothers, so we don't know whether they're full siblings or half.

I wonder about the first possibility only because there's at least one line from Joyleaf in the same flashback story—Skywise's birth in Hidden Years—making it clear that Recognition is unpredictable even between lifemates who've previously experienced it.)

Yeah, Recognition is both a state and an event. That wasn't clear to me originally -- I only grokked the state half of it, based on the evidence of the first eight volumes -- so I tend to forget a Recognized pair can nonetheless Recognize again, and have to if they're going to have another kid.

Do you think the Pinis noticed the system they'd set up? Or do you think they didn't bat any eyelashes, either, until some close reader pointed it out?

I'm not sure they ever did see it. I mean, they clearly know that the Wolfriders have a low birthrate (in "Starfall, Starrise" Rain is worried about their dwindling population), but I don't see anything that makes me certain the Pinis realized the full scope of the problem -- see below re: the Sun Folk.

I remembered that when Leetah does whatever it is she does with Redlance and Nightfall that results in the conception of Tyleet, she tells the couple that they have only one night to work with, so perhaps there is something as technical as ovulation involved in this worldbuilding after all.

Ovulation is a very plausible explanation! Under that theory, it basically doesn't happen unless Recognition triggers it, a healer forces it, or the mother is a Go-Back (both of your examples involve Go-Back mothers with fathers from other tribes). And I can see why the elves would have become a species where that was true: if you live forever, then regular ovulation would lead to massive overpopulation. But, as in the real world, a beneficial mutation can become a massive liability when your environment changes.

Are the Sun Folk? I think of them as stable, the Go-Backs as tenacious but dwindling (in the absence of war, I'd expect their population to skyrocket), the Wolfriders as endangered (and getting damn near close to inbred), and the Gliders as static (deeply fucked up, but in strict terms of population holding steady).

Admittedly I'm speculating there, because we have almost zero information on Sun Folk families. But Leetah is six hundred years old and both her parents are still alive, yet Shenshen is her only sibling; if that's representative of her people, they reproduce at about the same rate as the Wolfriders do. And since they seem to be dependent on Recognition, you'd expect the results to be the same. The Sun Folk are probably doing slightly better because they don't die of old age and rarely face violence, so they're much more likely to live long enough to have two kids instead of one (or zero), but there's no evidence I recall of them having larger families than that.

As for inbreeding, Wendy Pini admitted in some interview (probably in the Gatherum) that the Wolfriders are massively inbred. The Sun Folk must be, too; Savah says her family founded Sorrow's End, and that everyone there is descended from her or her mother -- which is to say, from her mother, as Savah herself is a descendant -- so we're looking at a founding population of one woman and about four men. I operate on the assumption that the High Ones succeeded in weeding out basically every negative gene in their species; otherwise every elf tribe would consist of harelipped hemophiliac nearsighted asthmatics. (Especially when they reproduce so slowly and so rarely, there isn't a lot of opportunity for genetic drift.)

It did not occur to me until some years into adulthood that many non-Jewish readers could have parsed Le Guin's idea of true names vs. use-names, for example, as a magical high concept rather than just the way people have names.

In non-fictional contexts I associate "ritual name" primarily with Wicca/neopaganism, which is probably another contributing factor to/consequence of its use in fantasy. Though of course there are many other cases where that kind of contextual name thing comes into play -- I hadn't realized Judaism was one of them.

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 04:33 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
The Elfquest wiki doesn't identify either of their mothers, so we don't know whether they're full siblings or half.

Fair enough! Also I should have guessed there would be at least one Elfquest wiki by now.

a Recognized pair can nonetheless Recognize again, and have to if they're going to have another kid.

Is it canonical that the same elf can experience Recognition with different partners, or did I just extrapolate that because it seemed plausible for genetic diversity?

Under that theory, it basically doesn't happen unless Recognition triggers it, a healer forces it, or the mother is a Go-Back (both of your examples involve Go-Back mothers with fathers from other tribes).

Yes; I left out Krim and her short-lived child because it could have been fathered by either Skot (Go-Back) or Pike (non-Recognized Wolfrider) and I didn't know if that could have made a difference. They were the only examples I could think of. Aroree never conceives by Skywise, for example, and I don't think Shenshen has children among the Wolfriders, which if anything strengthens the theory.

(Especially when they reproduce so slowly and so rarely, there isn't a lot of opportunity for genetic drift.)

I am afraid my first response to this rather reasonable extrapolation is: "They must have totally different incest taboos." I know that some of those come about because of power differentials as well as genetic drawbacks, but if your starting population is a family and everybody's functionally immortal, after three or four centuries the experiential difference between you and your sibling's children must start to count for significantly less than the benefit of contributing to the next generation, especially when recessive genes are not an evolutionary consideration. At least the Wolfriders got an infusion of totally unrelated wolf blood early on.

(I may need to re-read these books if I am to keep discussing them: without the ability to check my references, I am having difficulty distinguishing between actual canon and things that I just thought made sense at the time. For example, my memory tells me the wolf blood went both ways: the Wolfriders bond so closely with their wolf-friends because they are also the descendants of Timmain the High One and her half-wolf son Timmorn, just on the four-footed side of the family rather than the two-legged. I have no idea if this is ever stated outright in the text or just patently obvious if you think about it.)

In non-fictional contexts I associate "ritual name" primarily with Wicca/neopaganism, which is probably another contributing factor to/consequence of its use in fantasy.

I hadn't known it was a Wiccan thing!

Though of course there are many other cases where that kind of contextual name thing comes into play -- I hadn't realized Judaism was one of them.

The secular name—the use-name—is the kinnuy. The Hebrew name is the shem hakodesh, the sacred name. I never heard either of these terms growing up; I learned them in college. One is often chosen as an equivalent or analogue to the meaning of the other; sometimes they share the same initial letter; some parents observe traditional pairings and some go with whatever feels or sounds right. I've wondered occasionally if it's starting to change, but this dual-name system was so much the Ashkenazi norm* that most American Jews of my generation and acquaintance have both. And you still have the name even if you never use it. I did the research to come up with a Hebrew name for my niece when she was born. I have no idea if she will ever employ it ritually—her father never has—but it's recorded.

* I specify Ashkenazi just as a reminder that it's not a universal custom. When my friend Shlomo came to Brandeis from Brazil, he was bewildered by people asking him what his Hebrew name was; it was Shlomo.
Edited Date: 2017-02-03 04:37 am (UTC)

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 05:12 am (UTC)
ext_3743: (sea turtle 01 (totaldevotion))
From: [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
my memory tells me the wolf blood went both ways: the Wolfriders bond so closely with their wolf-friends because they are also the descendants of Timmain the High One and her half-wolf son Timmorn, just on the four-footed side of the family rather than the two-legged. I have no idea if this is ever stated outright in the text or just patently obvious if you think about it.

It's been many years since I read either the graphic novels or any of the prose material, but I vaguely feel like this was specified in one of the Blood of Ten Chiefs anthologies, if not in the main canon?

Some of the other things under discussion make me wonder if they were delved into more deeply in the Journey to Sorrow's End novel, which IIRC had a fair bit of material that wasn't in the original version. (I don't remember how many novelizations ultimately happened, but I know that when the second one came out I read it and was very disappointed, having loved the first one.)

(As you can tell by my lack of any other comments, [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower, I'm essentially lurking [and reading over on DW, mainly], but these posts are great. Thanks for doing this!)

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 05:24 am (UTC)
sovay: (Viktor & Mordecai)
From: [personal profile] sovay
It's been many years since I read either the graphic novels or any of the prose material, but I vaguely feel like this was specified in one of the Blood of Ten Chiefs anthologies, if not in the main canon?

Thanks! I never read any prose Elfquest; how was it, other than the second novelization being disappointing?

(I just realized that the subject header for this entire thread is "4." I believe that was Autolycus' contribution to this conversation. Possibly because it takes my attention Away from the Cat, he has dedicated himself recently to the trampling of my keyboard. Glory, glory, cat-allujah.)
Edited Date: 2017-02-03 05:24 am (UTC)

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 05:48 am (UTC)
ext_3743: (kittens - Claudia - green wall)
From: [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
I loved Journey to Sorrow's End dearly, but have no sense of how it would hold up now. IIRC the Pinis wrote it themselves, but I think that was also true of the later one(s). (I think I still have my copy, though! [And my copies of the anthologies.] Not sure if I kept my copy of the later novelization[s], though.)

All these years later, one delightful line remains clear in my memory: Leetah, after Shenshen says/does something snarky, thinks to herself, Viper! What do you imagine you know? I love that turns of phrase.

The Blood of Ten Chiefs project was really interesting! Basically each book (there were at least five) included one story for each of the ten chiefs before Cutter, and each chief's stories were written by the same author for each book, so there was a continuing story for each of them. (There may have been some tweaks in the lineup, but generally speaking that's how it went.)

Unsurprisingly, there's a list of authors (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Elfquest_publications#Prose_fiction) on Wikipedia. (I had to look--I remembered that some of the authors involved were fairly well known, but couldn't remember who exactly other than Mercedes Lackey and Diana Paxson.)

I believe that was Autolycus' contribution to this conversation.

^_^ I admit I was curious.

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 06:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
I can't remember how much of the prose stuff I read.

I can't decide whether trying to pick it up now is a good idea or a bad one. <g>

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 03:48 pm (UTC)
ext_3743: (Default)
From: [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
That's a tough call. ^^;

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
I too was wondering about the significance of 4. <g>

Date: 2017-02-03 06:15 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
my memory tells me the wolf blood went both ways: the Wolfriders bond so closely with their wolf-friends because they are also the descendants of Timmain the High One and her half-wolf son Timmorn, just on the four-footed side of the family rather than the two-legged. I have no idea if this is ever stated outright in the text or just patently obvious if you think about it.)

It is stated outright in the main canon, definitely. It first came up in the original series, while they're guests/prisoners in Blue Mountain. Leetah accidentally finds out that the Wolfriders age and die because of their long-ago wolf heritage; that's the first time she realizes that Cutter isn't going to live as long as she is, I think. Winnowill found out at the same time.

And it comes up again later -- Kings of the Broken Wheel, I think? -- when Skywise has Leetah take the "wolf" out of him so that he'll be immortal. I think it was Skywise who had that done? (I remember the first part of the series in a lot of detail, but everything from Siege at Blue Mountain on is pretty vague now.)

Date: 2017-02-03 06:30 am (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Leetah accidentally finds out that the Wolfriders age and die because of their long-ago wolf heritage; that's the first time she realizes that Cutter isn't going to live as long as she is, I think.

Yes. I remember the Wolfriders' origins as revealed in Captives of Blue Mountain (and it is Skywise who asks Leetah to de-wolf him in Kings of the Broken Wheel, because otherwise he might die before finding a way back to his tribe across time). What I'm not sure I'm remembering accurately is that the wolf-friends have elf blood in them as well, although it would explain how the bonding process works and why Nightrunner can send to Cutter in the opening pages of Fire and Flight—I think of them as the other children of Timmain and Timmorn, a mixed lineage that is now more wolf than elf, in parallel with the Wolfriders who went the other way. I cannot tell if this is canon or headcanon. My original formulation of the question was probably unclear.

Date: 2017-02-03 07:48 am (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Oh, I see -- sorry for the needless infodump! Yeah, that was me misunderstanding the question.

And I'm not sure either. I definitely have always had the idea that the Wolfriders' pack have elf blood in them, but you're right, I can't remember if it was from the main series or various extracanonical sources. I am pretty sure it IS confirmed somewhere by creator Word of God, but I'm not sure if it's from an interview or an actual scene that's in the series or what. I'm pretty sure Umadoshi is right that it comes up in Blood of Ten Chiefs, but those are somewhere in the canon gray area, I think ...

And thanks for the confirmation on Skywise! I read the original series so many times I have parts of it memorized, but I'm not sure if I've read most of Kings of the Broken Wheel since it originally came out in, whatever that was, the early '90s, I think.

Date: 2017-02-03 03:55 pm (UTC)
ext_3743: (hands full of books)
From: [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
I'm pretty sure Umadoshi is right that it comes up in Blood of Ten Chiefs, but those are somewhere in the canon gray area, I think ...

Now I'm wondering if it should be considered definite canon if it happened to be in one of the stories Richard Pini actually wrote, but that might require more digging than anyone is up for.

(Random grumpiness: I took a quick poke at the official EQ site, and if there's any info about the anthologies there, it's not readily apparent. I loved those books!)

(Parenthetical the second: I'm amused that this entire LJ-side discussion is taking place between people I read on Dreamwidth.)

Date: 2017-02-04 08:12 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
And thanks for the confirmation on Skywise! I read the original series so many times I have parts of it memorized, but I'm not sure if I've read most of Kings of the Broken Wheel since it originally came out in, whatever that was, the early '90s, I think.

You're welcome! I also have large chunks of this story memorized, slightly more than I expected, to be honest.

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 06:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Is it canonical that the same elf can experience Recognition with different partners, or did I just extrapolate that because it seemed plausible for genetic diversity?

I've been wondering that myself. I don't remember any instances of it in canon, but it might well be in some corner I've forgotten; if it isn't, it's still plausible. Not just for genetic diversity, and not even just because the likelihood that you're only a good genetic match with a single elf in all the world seems small, but because the Pinis make no secret of the fact that their elves are predominantly bisexual and polyamorous. So it seems like multi-Recognition is the kind of thing they'd be on board with.

I am afraid my first response to this rather reasonable extrapolation is: "They must have totally different incest taboos."

I imagine so. Recognition would presumably prevent any bad matches (if the High Ones didn't remove all problematic genes in the first place); what the effect would be on the social side depends in part on which theory for the origin of the incest taboo you take to be the correct one.

For example, my memory tells me the wolf blood went both ways: the Wolfriders bond so closely with their wolf-friends because they are also the descendants of Timmain the High One and her half-wolf son Timmorn, just on the four-footed side of the family rather than the two-legged. I have no idea if this is ever stated outright in the text or just patently obvious if you think about it.

I can't recall whether [livejournal.com profile] umadoshi is right about where it gets specified, but yeah, I have the same idea in my head, and I don't think I made it up. (I even wrote a fanfic (http://archiveofourown.org/works/339344) where a sister of Timmorn's ends up being the source of the konigenwolves in Bear and Monette's Iskryne series.)

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 03:56 pm (UTC)
ext_3743: (wolf 02 (howling))
From: [identity profile] umadoshi.livejournal.com
(I even wrote a fanfic where a sister of Timmorn's ends up being the source of the konigenwolves in Bear and Monette's Iskryne series.)

!!! I'll have to check that out. Thanks for the link! *on a psychic wolves kick*

Re: 4

Date: 2017-02-03 04:36 am (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
In non-fictional contexts I associate "ritual name" primarily with Wicca/neopaganism, which is probably another contributing factor to/consequence of its use in fantasy.

I ran over the character limit in the previous comment. The fantasy author I know who drew explicitly on Jewish naming customs for his worldbuilding was Tolkien; I can't speak for The Hobbit, but at least for The Lord of the Rings he modeled Dwarven culture on his understanding of Jewish culture—including constructing Khuzdul like a Semitic language—and one of the appendices includes the note that the Dwarves of Middle-Earth reserve their true, Khuzdul names for their own use and, among non-Dwarves, go by names taken from the cultures around them. I go back and forth on how I feel about this. I do not feel ambiguously about the fact that he totally dropped the ball on diasporic languages. Middle-Earth does not have Dwarven Yiddish, or Ladino, or Yavanic, or anything like the multitude of languages and dialects created by the fusion and friction of Jewish and non-Jewish communities. Huge missed opportunity, John Ronald Reuel. You're just lucky I don't care enough about conlangs to try to fake one up.

Date: 2017-02-03 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mindstalk.livejournal.com
* Tyleet definitely has a biological kid.

* I'd never thought about the wolves maybe having elf blood. So I don't think it's stated at least as far as I've read, though I could have missed it.

* The low elf populations are also notable in light of how deep the history is. Cutter's dad dies at around 1200 years of age, And he's 9th chief or so. Also means that he had his heir just in time, really; Cutter takes over at around 20.

* Probably it just doesn't make sense. But the High Ones were immmortal and possibly re-spawning, at which point *any* reproduction can end up filling the universe with pointy-eared four-fingered goo, and it's mentioned they took measures to prevent that. And the planet of the stories is kind of elf Kryptonite, so it makes sense to me that they'd be on the edge, even with adaptations like the wolfriders. (Doylistically, it also keeps them from displacing the humans.)

* I got my own idea of secret names from the Star Trek novel My Enemy, My Ally, where Rihannsu have a fourth name told only to family and lovers, and had childhood ideas about using my middle name as a secret name.

* The conflict between recognition and lifemating comes up at least a few times, in and outside of threesomes.

* I hadn't noticed only Wolfriders having secret soul names. I'd assume it's somehow related to wolf blood and being (eventually) mortal.

* Speaking of immortals and reproduction, there are *also* the trolls. And the preservers, though I don't know if they breed -- they barely seem killable, even by elf standards.

Date: 2017-02-03 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Tyleet definitely has a biological kid.

I should have checked the wiki, yeah. Via Recognition, so no evidence one way or another for the theory above.

But the High Ones were immmortal and possibly re-spawning, at which point *any* reproduction can end up filling the universe with pointy-eared four-fingered goo, and it's mentioned they took measures to prevent that. And the planet of the stories is kind of elf Kryptonite, so it makes sense to me that they'd be on the edge, even with adaptations like the wolfriders.

Yeah, like I said, it's entirely logical for the High Ones to have been that way. I'm still not sure the Pinis realized the situation as set up leaves the elves not so much "on the edge" as "on their way out." (Ultimately it doesn't much matter, of course; my interest in the topic largely comes from writer-brain analyzing the setup.)

The conflict between recognition and lifemating comes up at least a few times, in and outside of threesomes.

Starting with the first book, where Savah suggests to Rayek that maybe he could achieve some kind of peace with Leetah and Cutter. But do you recall any instances of somebody Recognizing multiple different people?

Speaking of immortals and reproduction, there are *also* the trolls. And the preservers, though I don't know if they breed -- they barely seem killable, even by elf standards.

I don't get the impression that preservers breed, no -- their bodies are completely sexless, so if they do reproduce, it's not in the usual way. :-P Troll reproduction must happen, because we've got both Two-Edge and Trinket (dear god, I never thought I'd put those two in the same sentence), but how many kids they have on average and how rapidly? Who knows.

Date: 2017-02-03 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mindstalk.livejournal.com
"But do you recall any instances of somebody Recognizing multiple different people?"

Certainly not at the same time. Not sure if anyone Recognized different people at different times. Don't think so, but not sure. OTOH various levels of poly were implied or outright stated, from casual comfort to solid three-bonds.

Date: 2017-02-04 07:44 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Not sure if anyone Recognized different people at different times.

It's heavily implied! In "Starfall, Starrise" (Hidden Years #5), when Bearclaw teases Shale that "Recognition isn't as cozy as you thought, eh?" Joyleaf leans in to rib him in return, "As if you could remember, old badger! When it happens to you and me, it'll be your last time! Be sure of that!" Her phrasing—when it happens, not the next time it happens or when it happens again—suggests that they aren't yet Recognized, although they may be lovemates and even lifemates, and that all Bearclaw's previous experiences of Recognition have been with other elves.

Date: 2017-02-05 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
They definitely aren't Recognized yet, because Cutter isn't born until a couple of decades after Skywise. Interesting point though about Joyleaf saying "As if you could remember" -- you're right that her phrasing only makes sense if he's Recognized someone else before.

Date: 2017-02-05 08:33 pm (UTC)
sovay: (I Claudius)
From: [personal profile] sovay
They definitely aren't Recognized yet, because Cutter isn't born until a couple of decades after Skywise.

They could have Recognized previously for an older sibling of Cutter's, say one who didn't survive the high-attrition lifestyle of a Wolfrider, which would make them a Recognitioned pair of lifemates but not presently child-producing—but then I would have expected the previous experience to be mentioned. So I feel like that's pretty clear.

Date: 2017-02-05 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Meant to add a line about that, yeah. It's possible, but since there's never been a mention of it, unlikely. (We've gotten mentions of both Scouter and Dart having older sisters who didn't make it.)

Date: 2017-02-05 09:21 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Meant to add a line about that, yeah. It's possible, but since there's never been a mention of it, unlikely.

Which then makes it interesting to me that Joyleaf seems to feel so confident that she and Bearclaw will Recognize. I can't tell if it's a hat-tip toward Rain's plan of encouraging Recognition ("When I'm done with all of you, we'll be hip-deep in cubs!") or just a certainty that she and Bearclaw are so well-suited to one another that eventually the magical genetics aspect of their bodies will notice and fire off the correct signals for baby-making.

Date: 2017-02-05 09:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
I would probably read it as the latter, but Doylistically, it might just be the writer's awareness of what's going to happen coloring the story.

Date: 2017-02-05 09:28 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I would probably read it as the latter, but Doylistically, it might just be the writer's awareness of what's going to happen coloring the story.

I read it as the latter first, but this discussion prompted considering the possibility of the former.

It's completely foreshadowing! I'm just doing the thing where I try to look at a story from inside.

Date: 2017-02-04 08:04 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Starting with the first book, where Savah suggests to Rayek that maybe he could achieve some kind of peace with Leetah and Cutter.

I'm wondering now if that was my first exposure to the concept of poly. I can't think of what else I would have been reading at the age of five ("I remember you going through all of them!" says my mother) that would have given me the opportunity. Huh.

Date: 2017-02-05 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
It may well have been my first exposure to the idea, too. I don't remember it particularly getting my attention at the time; if you're young enough and something gets presented as Not a Big Deal, you just nod and go "oh, okay." One more piece of evidence for why telling stories with a diverse array of ideas is so important.

Date: 2017-02-05 09:13 pm (UTC)
sovay: (Haruspex: Autumn War)
From: [personal profile] sovay
I don't remember it particularly getting my attention at the time

Me neither, which is why I have to think about it. I have literally no idea of the first story I read with queer characters. I feel like I was always aware of the concept.

One more piece of evidence for why telling stories with a diverse array of ideas is so important.

I mentioned the PBS show Ghostwriter (1992–95) recently in comments to another friend and then went to look it up on Wikipedia because I hadn't seen it since it was on the air (and am not actually sure I saw the entire third season anyway—there was at least one cast change I felt weird about) and discovered, although I hadn't ever actually thought about it, that it was a majority non-white children's show. Most of the protagonists are Black or Latinx. One is Asian-American. I think two are white and one of them is only a part-time character. It's not that I didn't see this as a child. It's that it didn't occur to me to question it as the normal composition of a children's TV show and it produced in me, surprise, surprise, no difficulties whatsoever with sympathizing with and enjoying the adventures of characters who were ethnically different from me. I feel this is not an irrelevant data point.

(The gender mix is about even, by the way. I had also totally forgotten that Samuel L. Jackson plays one of the parents on the show, which is great.)
Edited Date: 2017-02-05 09:14 pm (UTC)

Date: 2017-02-05 09:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
I was startled, when I re-read both Zilpha Keatley Snyder's The Egypt Game and Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game, to discover how racially diverse the characters were in those books. Because yeah, reading them when I was a kid, my reaction was simply to go "okay, these are the characters, I like or don't like them according to their personalities and roles in the story." Ethnicity and cultural background were not irrelevant to those qualities, but nobody was The Black Kid or The Asian Kid or whatever, and so I didn't define them that way in my head, either.

Date: 2017-02-07 12:16 am (UTC)
teleidoplex: (Default)
From: [personal profile] teleidoplex
I'm a fan of the biological explanation you guys have worked out here, though it makes me wonder... if Recognition triggers ovulation a) is there a time limit (possibly reflected biologically by the increasing weakness the recognized pair feels if they don't shag), and b) would it be possible for someone else to fertilize the egg (for example, if Rayek and Leetah had shagged during the trial of hand, head, and heart, or Scouter and Dewshine during their time in Blue Mountain).

Since it's fan theory, I know there's no actual answer, but it's interesting to ponder.

Date: 2017-02-09 10:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swan-tower.livejournal.com
Sounds like a job for fanfic! :-D

Profile

swan_tower: (Default)
swan_tower

July 2017

S M T W T F S
      1
23 4 5678
910 11 12131415
1617 18 19202122
23242526272829
3031     

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Jul. 27th, 2017 12:41 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios