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Poem: "The Curious Incident at the Guildhall Library" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Curious Incident at the Guildhall Library"
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 28th, 2011 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well...

>>If Maryam is so calm about meeting a dragon, why is she so confident that her fellows at the Guildhall will not be?<<

Because Maryam is not an average British citizen. Her personal heritage conveys advantages and disadvantages; one of the advantages is a pretty high level of resilience. Also, she's a steamsmith; that profession selects for equanimity.

Nether-England is somewhat more cosmopolitan than our historic version was, but still tends to think of itself as the center of the world (which is about 50% correct) with an unfortunate habit of snubbing foreigners. Let alone people who aren't hominids. Let's say there are some clue-by-fours waiting in dark alleys for the unsuspecting prejudices that are still trotting around London.

Won't this be fun?

>> And how did the dragon get a book from the library unnoticed to begin with?<<

Good question. I have some ideas as to how that might have come about. If other folks are interested, it may come up in later writings.
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: December 30th, 2011 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Maryam has a broader background than most, but her fellows at the Guildhall at least have the "steamsmith" advantage -- they're in a science/engineering field where exploring new ideas and how things work is encouraged. And the "English gentleman" tropes she, and likely most of them, grew up with also encourages facing the unexpected with a certain amount of poise, especially if the unexpected is being polite. I'm not sure they'd give the dragon borrowing privileges, but there might at least be conversation rather than combat?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 31st, 2011 07:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Thoughts

>>her fellows at the Guildhall at least have the "steamsmith" advantage<<

That's true for the other steamsmiths, and they do frequent that library, but it's not exclusive to them. It's actually a library that specializes in the history of London, and also hosts a bunch of other unique collections. That's what I found when I went digging for very old London libraries. I figured that in nether-London it would have some collections on various branches of alchemy too.

>> they're in a science/engineering field where exploring new ideas and how things work is encouraged. <<

Ideally, yes, and in that nether-England is more devout about science than our version was. In practice, it depends on the individual. Some characters will be very logical and forward-thinking. Others will be stuffy old bats, or even stuffy young bats.

>> And the "English gentleman" tropes she, and likely most of them, grew up with also encourages facing the unexpected with a certain amount of poise, especially if the unexpected is being polite. <<

I've been exploring which "English gentleman" tropes are popular, present, or unpopular and who has which ones. Maryam got a set from her father that is very close to my idea of what a gentleman should be, and which deviates somewhat from the current fashion in nether-England. Not freaking out is widely respected; people's level of poise varies. Maryam's is at the high end. Being polite is also very widespread. But then there's that pernicious tendency to think that foreigners are somehow 'lesser' beings, including the human ones.

The dragon presents a tangle of conflicting features: male, powerful, educated, polite, upper-class, and an alchemist; but not human and not British. Maryam is less conflicted because she has a broader-than-usual idea of what makes a person. It's possible that someone else has had a similarly genteel response. But some other people are likely to see a big creature with sharp teeth and assume "monster" without noticing the evidence to the contrary.

>> I'm not sure they'd give the dragon borrowing privileges, but there might at least be conversation rather than combat? <<

Depending on the person, it's possible. He may have other friends or allies.

During the Victorian period, though, people had some odd fussy ideas about who belonged where and could do what. There were places that only men went, or only women went; places that foreigners weren't allowed and places that gentlemen wouldn't go. It made for some peculiar arrangements of society kind of like a set of partially overlapping spheres. So different characters will have experience with different places, and varying levels of willingness to venture outside their own 'proper' territory. The dragon is one of the more flexible individuals, as is Maryam -- but an underlying reason for their civility with each other is that they've both had experience with other people judging them based on appearance rather than performance.
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