“Lemma the Librarian” – summing up


There’s one more paywalled story, “The Shelving”, where Lemma finally returns with all her collected books and becomes a Librarian for real. There’s a conflict and all that, but it’s pretty drummed-up: the main point is to finally get Lemma and Iason to admit out loud that they love each other, and let us look at their new relationship, which is 100% a worthwhile goal. Spoilers: they’re great, and also adorable. I mostly only even bring this up for completeness, and for the sake of one last “When The Fuck Are We 🤷”. 😉

So, the Lemma series. I’ve been stressing its arcs pretty hard, which might be a little misleading if you haven’t read it*. It is quite an episodic series; you could shuffle probably three-quarters of the stories without more than minor changes. But the arcs are there, and Lemma’s journey from the hot-headed, selfish asshole in the Prologue to the heroic, self-aware (although still pretty impatient) mc-kinked sub of “The Shelving” is pretty great. It’s not, like, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or anything, but for mc comedy-erotica it blows anything else (that I’ve read, at least) out of the water. 

Iason’s rather more shallow – or at least, we don’t get to see inside his head the same way we do Lemma’s. His development, inasmuch as it exists, is more a matter of his relationship with Lemma developing. Iola, honestly, has more of an arc than her brother, but it’s a pretty great one so I’m not complaining**. 

If you wanted to throw a major criticism at it, it’d probably be “formulaic”. There’s half-a-dozen individual stories that have literally the same ”Lemma gets mind-controlled, Iason rescues her” plot, and if you broaden the second part to include people other than Iason, you’re comfortably over half the series. But it didn’t get dull for me, even reading the entire series twice in quick succession while writing up this series. Part of that is just it’s in a fairly narrow subgenre – you want sexy mind-control, here’s some sexy mind-control – and part of it is that @midorikonton does a good job of varying things up in the incidentals from story to story, the drawn-out induction of “By the Book” versus the interpersonal conflict of “The Last Dance” versus the deliberately awful dumb humour of “Op-arrrrr-ant Conditioning”.

The series has some other flaws – the way the books are characterized in the first three and last stories, and not at all in the interim; also, every single thing in the first third of “The Choosing One” – and the quality of the individual parts varies, if not widely, than at least noticeably. But on the whole it’s pretty great, and I don’t regret for a moment reading it or putting my time into this series. A high recommend.

*Why in God’s name have you read two dozen reviews for a publicly available story I’ve been linking to in every post without reading the actual story? What are you doing!?

**Wasn’t she gay at the beginning? What happened to that?*** …Also I just realized she’s so uncomfortable about knowing young Iason did it thinking about Annella because she did the same thing. 😉

***She’s been having dreams about someone she met in the Tin Islands – oh, God, both halves of the party have been paired off, haven’t they XD

When The Fuck Are We? 🤷

We finally hit Lemuria! And the port city of Atlantis, all on the continent of Mu. Sometimes @midorikonton is too cute for her own good. 😛

Atlantis, of course, comes from Plato’s Republic, where it’s used mostly used as a tale about the hubris of nations and how great his ideal state is. There’ve been plenty of suggestions that it’s based off cultural memories of the Minoans, who had a powerful mini-empire pre-pre-Bronze Age Collapse and were destroyed or at least crippled after a catastrophic volcanic eruption/tsunami in the Aegean; which is as good a theory as any, although my feeling is it’s as likely Plato just made some shit up. In any case, it’s been an inspiration for lots and lots and lots of subsequent fiction, and a great deal of pseudohistory and pseudoarchaeology. It traditionally is placed in the Atlantic, usually somewhere around the Azores.

Mu, like Lemuria, is much more recent. It was invented by cranks in the late 19th and early 20th C, as a singular ancestral civilization to explain “similarities” between distant cultures like the Babylonians and Mayans. (The idea that building a big honking fake mountain by pushing rocks into a pile and putting a temple at the top is very straightforward apparently didn’t come up; neither did the idea that non-white people might be capable of that whole “technology” thing on their own.) It lives in the Pacific – the longest land-bridge ever hypothesized – which neatly gives each major ocean its own lost continent.

By about the 1930s the three of them had been sort of stapled together; they even have a standard order which maximizes euphony (“Atlantis, Lemuria, and Mu”). If there’s more than just at Atlantis – two thousand extra years of pop culture means it’s by far the best-known and most-used of the three – then you usually get all three. Although this is the first work of fiction I’ve ever seen that actually conflates them. ;P

Lemma’s Lemuria lives behind three “gates” in a sort of pocket-dimension, which is how it stays so isolated*. One gate is in the Atlantic and goes to the port of Atlantis; the second is in the Indian Ocean and goes to the capital of Lemuria. The third is “on the opposite side of the world” – presumably the Pacific – and leads, in the real world, to a “Shattered City” that’s a generally awful place to be. It took me a surprisingly long time to realize that that’s probably R’lyeh, duh.

R’lyeh is – but that will have to wait for another time. 😉

*My sudden theory is that the Bronze Age Collapse is kicked off by an occurrence of the quarter-second lapse in magic disaster that Lemma mentions in “the Choosing One” – that’d mess up any of the societies we’ve seen in this book, but not so badly as to be irrecoverable with a century or two of time to pass, by which time the spread of ironworking messes up any chance for magic to get a foothold again. Lemuria would drop out of history entirely; if we want to be generous, we could say the gates would break but leave the people alive and well in their parallel world.

Hahaha, yep. It’s R’lyeh.

You missed the other thing though: That Which Sleeps Beneath the Library is referred to once as That Which Shattered the City. Remember how “The Call of Cthulhu” references Cthulhu being the high priest of a cult that worships something worse? To quote Narbonic, Heh heh heh.

That is also my response to your “sudden theory” at the end there.

I’m glad someone picked up that Mu is every lost continent. The idea of the three gates that hide a huge chunk of the world comes straight from Xenogears, by the way. The idea that those gates correspond to the locations of mythical lost continents/islands is all me, though, as far as I know.

I’m so glad you enjoyed Lemma so much! It’s been a big part of my life–TEN YEARS in the writing!–and I have a lot of feelings about it being over.