“Lemma the Librarian – Op-arrrr-ant Conditioning”


Published: January 20, 2018


This is a bit more like it. We’re deep in the Lemma series’ usual sense of humour, which is to say not terrible puns – although there are a lot of those – but Lemma’s increasingly furious response to same. Also mockery of the whole concept of Talk Like A Pirate – God knows it needs it – with Iason and Iola’s humiliated chagrin at this Sea People, erm, custom being probably the high point of the whole story.

The middle section is the usual sexy mc, although played somewhat more for laughs than usual. (Milos really needs to learn to quit when he’s ahead; also, get a real sense of humour.) It’s a quite short story, without much space for character business, but the new three-way Lemma/Iason/Iola dynamic runs well, the siblings especially. And Iola playing catchup with the facts of living with Lemma that Iason has so painfully learned.

Lemma also, for only the second time ever, overcomes someone’s mind control and saves Iason and Iola. She’d better enjoy this moment while she can…

When The Fuck Are We? 🤷

@midorikonton be praised, new place names! The party is heading back south into the Med, in particular towards a Sea People port called Qart Hadast (Qart-ḥadašt, Carthage). There’s also a Sea People port near “the Gates of the Inner Sea”, which might be Qart Hadast and a bad grasp of geography on Lemma’s part, but is more likely Gades, Cadiz, a Phoenician entrepôt for the metals trade, situated near the strait of Gibraltar. (Although most of the tin trade with Britain specifically was overland through Gaul.) Pytheas, famous Greek voyager to Britain, possibly stopped there on his route north, and definitely did on his return. Lemma doesn’t get to see it on her return voyage, because she blows up the boat.

Neither of those settlements, you may note, is Greek; if you recall from way back, however, there’s a theory tying the Sea People to both the Dorians and the early Phoenicians. It’s kind of odd that the Greco-Sea People and the Poeno-Sea People are similar enough that everyone treats them as a single group; but by this point in the series that’s practically nothing. Both cities were also founded after there’d been time to recover from the Bronze Age Collapse, which is to say three or four hundred years after our ostensible date; likewise, nothing as bad as the whole “Mercia” business. We’re back in clear geography and timelines again! 

Meanwhile, the Talk Like A Pirate business has actual roots, although not terribly old ones. Robert Newton played Long John Silver in the 1950 Disney adaptation of Treasure Island, and did a very good job of it (seriously – Silver’s about as complex as children’s adventure characters get, and Newton manages the mixture of frightening cold-bloodedness, dark charisma, joyous charisma, and genuine friendship with Jim quite well*). Newton was from the West Country, and Silver was too, so he decided to go with his own native accent to help give the character a distinguishing bit of business. Unfortunately, this bit of method acting slammed right into the facts that Americans aren’t great at parsing the fine differences of British accents, broad West Country is easy to parody, and people like pirates. So seventy years later a erotica-comedy writer can slap in “carrrrrrrrrrgo” and everyone reading will get the joke immediately.

*I haven’t seen the movie since I was like twelve, so grain of salt, but critics also seem to like the performance. That this story comes right after “the Choosing One” is a coincidence, but as I wrote this I realized that if the villain has to be Brea (as Jenny seems to suggest in her author’s note) I’d much prefer Silver as a model than “bwa ha ha I am sadistically evil now!”**

**OK, flipped-her-switch-to-evil is a trope that I often enjoy in this genre 😛 That isn’t really the same thing as what Vamp!Brea is up to, though.


Next time: Lemma has a solo adventure; I try to determine what accent lizards have.

Don’t you mean what accent lizarrrrds have?

When I planned this arc out circa 2010, I didn’t even notice I was putting a character with long drawn out S’s one chapter after a character with long drawn out Ar’s. I tried to figure out a way to have long drawn out T’s in the next chapter, but how do you draw out a T?

This is one of the most directly Slayers-inspired chapters–the sequence where Lemma gets mad enough to fight through the pain and cast her spell is inspired by a scene where something similar happens with Lemma and magic-punishing bonds in episode… 12, I think? of the first anime.