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outer alliance

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Mating Flight, by Bard Bloom

Bard Bloom is a fellow member of the Outer Alliance mailing list, and was the latest to answer my call for Boosting the Signal submissions over the loop! When he told me his duology Mating Flight was about dragons, I leapt right on that. And I’m glad I did, because yoiks, check out that lovely cover art, won’t you? Not to mention that his protagonist is a female dragon, with a very basic goal: get through the coming mating and dominance matches of her people. And I am totally curious now as to how she recorded this diary Bard mentions!


Mating Flight

Mating Flight

From the author:

This is a snippet from the Mating Flight duology by Bard Bloom, comprised of Mating Flight: A Non-Romance of Dragons and World in My Claws: Mating Flight Concluded. They’re on Amazon in Kindle and paper formats.

Jyothky, keeper of the diary that was edited into Mating Flight, is a dragoness of marriageable age. Which means she, two other dragonesses, and six male dragons — drakes — are going to go off for a few years, have lots of sex and dominance contests, and decide who will marry whom and which three drakes don’t marry at all. She has no sense of touch and no libido, putting her at a disadvantage.

Good to Be a Dragoness (?)

Advantages Disadvantages

I am guaranteed getting married, since there are two drakes for every dragoness.

I’m not really very eager to get married. Arilash, well, Roroku was right about Arilash, so I guess she does want to have a drake she can mate with whenever she wants and nobody will complain. I haven’t really been looking longingly on drakes very much. And I’ve tried, too.

This is rather more than a matter of gratifying intimate personal urges, or even producing progeny. Mated pairs of dragons control territory. Bachelors do not. They live on the territory of mated pairs, one way or another.

Dragonesses enjoy copulating more, according to Arilash. I can’t imagine how she found this out. If it’s true at all.

I can’t feel, so I’m not going to enjoy it much.

Drakes need to compete all the times, before they’re married or definitely not getting married. Lots of fighting, lots of verbal sparring, lots of treasure hunting, all that sort of thing. Which some of them enjoy (Greshthanu) and some of them don’t (Osoth).

Dragonesses compete too. The customs are a bit different. We fight and spar verbally as much. We don’t collect much treasure, that would be offensive to the drakes — the drake gets status from presenting his mate a good hoard. Sexual prowess is another realm of competition … for drakes too, but more for dragonesses. Arilash is going to beat me in that. She’s been practicising with the drakes, if the rumors are true. Which is very undignified and inappropriate of course!

I am not much obliged to study anything in particular beyond the basics of breath, sorcery, combat, rulership of households and domains. A dragoness can get away with more laziness than a drake. I know a handful who have taken advantage of this option. (I’ve actually had more of the opposite problem: I’ve wanted to study sorcery, but nobody will teach me anything but the simplest, because it will stunt my growth more than it already is.)

Drakes who think it likely that they will lose generally need to study some craft or profession which will give them some status among dragons, afterwards. Osoth studies necromancy and Nrararn studies sky-magic, both quite respectable and useful specialities. Tultamaan studies the king, and is one of his advisors and retainers. Ythac should probably be paying more attention, though he is pretty good with information magic. Of those four, only Ythac has much of a real chance at getting married.

I am automatically considered attractive and appealing no matter what I look like or what parts of me got broken. This ought to be important. I am probably going to be the technically worst lover in all of the dragon-worlds. I’m going to keep asking “is it in yet?”, because I can’ttell. If not using an outright scrying spell — can you think of anything more offensive than that? But ultimately that doesn’t matter. I’m a dragoness, which means I am more desireable than the lack-of-mates that half the drakes have.

I am not actually very attractive. I’m a dull black color without much texture. Arilash is a dull tan color without much texture. Roroku is a dull green color without much texture. And so on. Compare that to the drakes: Nrararn with his twirly horn and incandescent mane and pretty cerulean color, Greshthanu with his garden of blue and orange spikes, etc. etc. etc.

This is really just the same as songbirds. Females are dull colors to avoid attracting attention. Males are bright colors to attract attention: attention of females, attention of predators, whatever.

But I’m not a stupid little songbird. I’d like to look exciting and dramatic. Again, I could shapeshift or use cosmetic spells the way drakes do, but everydragon can tell that they’re there and pretty much can tell what I really look like too so it doesn’t help.

I have a better-than-drake chance of surviving my Great Separation. (Mating flights must be nasty on Dragonhome for the original, un-Separated dragons. Two drakes for every dragoness is bad enough, but they’ve got three or four.)

I did survive my Great Separation, so this one doesn’t seem very important any more. Sure, I should be thankful and happy for it. But the only difference it makes to my day-to-day life is that I have a day-to-day life. That’s surprisingly hard to remember.

I’m going to get married.

… I’m going to get married.

I’m not even being flippant or clever here. Suppose that I have my choice of four drakes (really two or three) and I don’t want to marry any of them, or anyone at all? Suppose I want to go be an explorer, a discoverer of new worlds? A researcher into the depths of sorcery (bad for size, bad for fertility)? Anything other than the co-ruler of a tiny-to-small domain? That’s not a choice for me. I’m going to get married, because there are so many more drakes than dragonesses that every dragoness has to get married.

I hope there’s actually some fun in it. I’m not going to enjoy sex, that’s clear enough. My parents seem basically happy with each other, but they say that’s some work to achieve and due in a large part to a regular schedule of sex plus lots of unscheduled. Rankotherium and Dessvaria seem to basically hate each other.

I hereby resolve to meet my fate with all the honor and bravery of a dragon. And if I don’t have all the sensuality of a dragon, I’ll fake it as best I can.

(I hope you believe that resolution for me, ’cause I don’t.)


Buy Mating Flight: A Non-Romance of Dragons: Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback)

Buy World in My Claws: Mating Flight Concluded: Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Paperback)

Follow the Author On: Official Site (where the next novel is currently being serialized) | Facebook | Google+

Other People's Books

Sometimes, bigotry doesn’t pay

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be rigged for silent running this week. I’m waking up again to post this, because it’s important.

As y’all know I’m a member of the Outer Alliance, and the word broke today over the OA’s mailing list about a particularly noxious little adaptation of nothing less than Hamlet, by Orson Scott Card. Those of you who’ve been following this issue already, or who already know about Card’s rampant homophobia, you know where I’m going with this.

According to this review, his big shocking change to the story is that Hamlet’s father was not only gay, he was also a child molester. That he molested Horatio and Laertes and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, thereby turning all of them gay. And, as a cherry on top of the bigotry sundae, Hamlet’s dad’s ghost is looking forward to his “beautiful son” joining him in Hell.

Folks, I’m not inherently opposed to adaptations of the classics. Modern popular culture is full of excellent adaptations of many of Shakespeare’s works, and SF/F certainly has its share of them. But I’m opposed to them when they go out of their way to perpetuate lethal stereotypes about queer people. And even aside from that, if the reviewer’s description of the prose tasting like “saltines without salt” is any sign, this particular adaptation is wretched even aside from its being a hatefest.

Another member of the OA mailing list has, however, pointed out a gem of hope and light here: i.e., that the small print run of this novella has not in fact sold out, indicating that not too many have elected to throw their money at it. Ditto for how the previous Tor release in which Card’s work appeared isn’t selling too well either on Amazon.

So to all of you who never knew about this work, I’m a bit sorry to have brought it to your attention, and can only hope you will continue to not only not buy it, but will specifically not buy it because bigotry is not okay. To those of you who already knew about it and elected not to buy it on that basis, I thank you.

To counter its existence, I’d like to commend to your attention the Lethe Press anthology Time Well Bent, in which userinfocatherineldf has a story in which Shakespeare isn’t queer, but his sister Judith is–and so is his friend Kit Marlowe. Hayden Thorne has Arabesque, a dark m/m adaptation of Snow White. And I’ve mentioned this one already, but it’s worth mentioning again in a post whose theme is “adaptations of classic stories”: i.e., Ash by Malinda Lo.

And now I’m going back on silent running, because I need to finish my edits. But while I’m gone, I invite y’all to share with me in the comments any queer-positive adaptations of classic stories, of any genre!