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[mythsoc] Dragonish thoughts (was Want Shinies!)

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  • dianejoy@earthlink.net
    ... From: Elizabeth Apgar Triano lizziewriter@earthlink.net Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2004 07:37:02 -0400 To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com Subject: Re: [mythsoc] RE: Want
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 23, 2004
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      Original Message:
      From: Elizabeth Apgar Triano lizziewriter@...
      Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2004 07:37:02 -0400
      To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [mythsoc] RE: Want Shinies!

      >Thanks for sharing, Lizzie. It was fun reading your
      >essay (which I would call a "dialog"). Sorry to
      >disappoint you, but no flogging from this quarter

      > LOL Thassokay Paul, it wasn't from you that I feared it. Doesn't a dialog
      > require more than one voice? I guess someone else would get the same
      > thoughts across with words like you use below, involving ancient and
      > knowledge of history and gems and other things, and size, in a nonfiction
      > manner.

      I'd call it an interior dialogue, but if the dragon's written it down,
      surely, it's intended for someone else, if only for a dragon offspring.

      >It's fair to call me out, sure. So here goes a quick
      >blurt as I shift from main job to #2. Some of the
      >traits I expect when I think Dragon:

      >1. Solitary, not necessarily lonely. Where do big
      >dragons come from? It is not easy to see where they
      >would grow up, (from cute little pet dragon sized, to
      >say... Smaug sized). I also think dragons mating
      >would devastate the landscape, so I suppose they must
      >mate in the air to keep things relatively tidy.

      >> I think it's pretty classic and traditional to go for the dragon-alone
      >> image. We don't know all that much about wolverines and coelacanths
      >> either, although I think the former are more solitary and the latter more
      >> gregarious. Maybe they have select mating areas, and that's where tundra
      >> first emerged, or they bank their flames, or...

      I figure Dragons are rare; any beast that defends itself with fire has to
      be! Often the case that after they mate, one of them dies. *Reign of
      Fire* is a nice speculation on what might happen if lots of dragons existed
      at once (a well-worked out system). So it's a *good* thing that they're
      rare, but they can't be TOO rare, or there's no genetic diversity.

      BTW, there's a great book (now, sadly out of print) that traces the life
      cycle of the dragon, and offers explanations for why they live as they do.
      An interesting vision. Complete with biological drawings, speculating on
      how they breathe fire and such. Maybe someone can actually come up with
      title and author? Sigh.

      >2. Charasmatic. Dragons have personality, and,considering the relative
      lack of social intercourse
      >suggested by the last point, it is quite surprising
      >that they can converse and be witty, sly, perceptive
      >and charming. Most of course are quite intelligent,
      >unlike other lizards, though very few are book

      >> Yes, charisma and wit and general learning. I would chalk that up to age
      >> and intelligence. Thus you have charming ones and grumpy ones. I admit
      >> it is hard to work in the literary side of dragons (how do you read with
      >> those huge talons?) but that is where a handy-dandy human form comes in.

      Couldn't they invent something? Or velvet their claws as cats do?

      >3. Their eyes can mesmerize other critters, including most regular joes
      >(and janes).

      >> That can be magic or see above for #2, charisma.

      Works for me. How many of us are mesmerized by wonderful human eyes?

      > 4. Dragons can do magic, although they generally show
      > restraint.

      >> Yes. The fidgety point of many fantasies, how do you keep consistent
      >> rules for magic? Why doesn't the dragon (or whomever) just magic the
      bad >> things away? Their magic can be limited to things related to fire,
      for >> example.

      Limiting the magic's a good idea. Or doing something clever like tying the
      life of the beast to someone else, a la *Dragonheart.* Maybe so many
      knights who never came back from a dragon fight just got magicked, so they
      don't recall who they are, and are working in a stable somewhere on the
      other side of the world.

      >5. They have a sense of honor, meaning you can trust
      >them not to lie and to try to match deeds to words,
      >i.e., they will keep their word if they ever give it.
      >This is quite an amazing thing since a person might be
      >dinner on a dragon's whim if he hadn't promised safe
      >passage, and destruction of a village might just be
      >what happens after a bit of indigestion.

      >> Also classic, I think. And the cunning use of this trait makes for many
      >> good tale.

      Ah, yes; take a look at Lawrence Watt-Evans's *Dragon Weather,* *Dragon
      Society* and *Dragon Venom.* He's got a great dragon physiology worked
      out, and it integrates well for the purposes of plot.

      > 6. They are complex emotionally, but are ruled by
      > Greed (and Vengence if wronged).

      >> Ah, I would say, not all dragons. Again, classic.

      Definitely not all dragons. Some are devoted to those with whom they bond,
      and some serve humanity, or can become human. Vengeance is the leit-motif
      in the Watt-Evans, but from the human protagonist, not the dragon.

      I'm also of the opinion that shape-shifters have a hard time becoming a
      dragon; sort of the "Holy Grail" among their kind if they can successfully
      reproduce all the dragon's features and get them right. Takes decades.

      > 7. Of course Dragons can fly and are scaley and
      >strong with claws and wings big enough to fly off with
      >a yak for an afternoon snack, and they can be
      >different colors and breath fire or ice etc. They can
      >grow to be BIG. How big, well, maybe as big as your
      >average California bungalow, maybe twice as big, but
      >not much bigger than a blue whale.

      >> Depends on the dragon. Yaks are pretty big. I like a dragon with a head
      >> about 6' long and body to match, but some prefer them closer to the size
      >> of an aircraft carrier. Is that bigger than a blue whale?

      I figure a good sized dragon would fill my living room at least, tip to tip
      and nose to tail. Daniel Hood has a smaller sized one, about the size of a
      large dog, named "Fanuilh." Also the name of the first book---more like
      mysteries in a fantasy setting, with the dragon acting as side-kick. Cute,
      but well-executed.

      >Now I'm ten minutes late so I have to go. <

      Isn't that always how it happens? Thank you !

      >Incidentally, I never think of the long skinny
      >"Chinese Dragon" as the physical image of dragons. I
      >always see what I think of in my minds' eye as
      >"Northern" dragons, which are much broader and heavier
      >with huge powerful hindquarters, smaller foreclaws and
      >impossibly large wings.

      >> Yes, that is closer to my standard also, but I keep adding other
      >> variations. And then what about critters that aren't really Dragons but
      >> could belong to their extended family... winged serpents and the like?
      >> And the scaley/heavy thing speaks of cold blooded, sort of... but if you
      >> handle a snake, it has a lovely warm muscular feel to it. If you expand
      >> on that, and use a seal-like head, like some tales of Nessie, it is
      >> closer to some of the modern dino theories, quick and colorful. Not
      that >> I'd say dragons were dinos, just it's a handy analogy.

      I love the Western dragon; the Eastern kind seems so much connected to
      Oriental royalty, seem very limited (though always connected to wisdom) and
      seems far less menacing. The menace is part of the charm, even if it's
      only potential. Dragons must be gorgeous, for snakes have such beautiful
      skins, and so variate in pattern. Sure, we can have smaller versions, and
      different kinds of dragons; perhaps they have their own hierarchy on
      worlds where they are more populous a la McCaffrey and they need not follow
      the pattern of *Reign of Fire*---perhaps more like Jo Walton's in *Tooth
      and Claw,* which was so much fun. It's wonderful that authors can choose
      among so many attributes, and still ring new changes on dragons.

      I haven't read Rawn; what are her dragons like?

      >> C'mon all you dragon lovers, chime in. We don't have to be published
      >> novelists like Melanie Rawn or Anne McCaffrey to have legitimate ideas
      >> about dragons.

      Done. ---djb

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