Two words about two letters etc.

Fri Jan 10 14:51:49 PST 2003

On Thu, 9 Jan 2003, Alexx S Kay wrote:

> >
> > Hi, I think the anti-gunpowder arguments are wrong, because:
> >
> > 1) the level of control needed to remote-explode gunpowder would be
> > equivalent to that needed to explode oil lamps, burn down tents, set
> > horses' tails on fire, dephosphorylate specific proteins in soldiers'
> > brains;
> And?  I'm sure that most of these have been tried on Dragaera at some
> point.  And counterspells discovered.  That's what makes it an arms
> *race* :-)  It seems that at the current moment of Dragaeran military
> history, it's easier to sabotage gunpowder than to use gunpowder
> effectively.  This may or may not have always been true, nor need
> it be true in the future.

The argument, which I suppose I didn't completely spell out, was that if
you can protect your tents/horses/soldiers you can protect your gunpowder.

Anyway, this "remote-control" detonation issue isn't relevant because of
point 3) (anti-Eastern Teckla armies); and allow me to add point 4) Guns
would have reappeared during the interregnum if they had been developed

> [Digression: How often does some history-minded commander win a battle
> by using an attack (magical or otherwise) so outdated that the enemy
> doesn't remember the once-common counterspell?  I'm sure it's happened
> a few times, though I expect that no one commander (except maybe Sethra)
> lives long enough to pull it off twice...]

Good question, though since we don't know anything about magic (are
defensive spells unique or are they elaborations on a common theme?)
who can say?

> > 1) During Teckla reigns (republics, we're told somewhere) non-sorcerous
> > science would be encouraged.
> Why?  I mean, sure they *might*, but have we seen any actual textev for
> this?  They could just as easily decide that "science" is something that
> only pampered aristocrats do, whereas they were just going to make sure
> the harvest season went smoothly.

It was argued elswhere that science would be suppressed to keep it out of
the hands of Tecklas.  Either that's wrong, supporting my argument, or
the above is likely.  I think democracies tend to be science-friendly.

> > 2) The China etc. analogies don't hold in my view because the Chinese
> > etc. never had experimental science, which _is_ present on Dragaera -
> > it's an aspect of sorcery (see Aliera's forensic exchange with Sethra).
> One thing that historical China shares with Dragaera is a *very* strong,
> *very* centralized government, with a vested interest in preserving the
> status quo.  That counts for more than a little.

But it's a lot of different status quos.  If I can calculate right,
200kyears/17**2 reigns is about 700 years/reign or around four different
houses running things per Dragaeran lifetime.  I can't see the Jhereg
bothering to quash science, for example - just think of all the nice
pharmaceuticals they'd encourage, or movie technology, or ...

Centralized govts. can do a lot for stasis but they can do a lot for
progress too - maritime science, NASA, the internet come to mind.

> > The Serioli present the same Orb-problem I assert elsewhere.
> > Someone-with-too-many-consonants-to-remember-his-name has the
> > know-how to make Pathfinder, Blackwand, Spellbreaker, assorted goodies -
> > how is it that the Serioli didn't ride into battle against the Empire
> > on Morganti tanks?
> Perhaps because they don't want to?  Why *that* is would require more
> knowledge of their culture than we yet have.

I phrased this too cutely.  The Serioli have been essentially annihilated
by the Dragaerans/Gods and are reportedly not pleased about this.  It
seems odd to me that Mr. Consonants or his kids didn't retreat to Hawk
Mountain and build a Blackwand assembly line when the first massacre took
place.  Ok, maybe Great Weapons aren't so great in the hands of the
Serioli as in those of Dragon sorcerers but still - Barritt was reportedly
able to stand against the Empire on his lonesome with just one, without
even Vlad there to remind him how to use it...

- Philip