Discrepancies

A discussion of the novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

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Re: Discrepancies

Postby December » Wed Jun 23, 2010 9:07 am

Ok. Sometimes I impress even myself. *grin*

http://www.twilightmoms.com/media/interviews/stephenie-meyer/stephenie-meyer-answers-questions-from-twilightmoms-members-2/


Twilight Moms: I know your vampires aren’t like traditional vampires with the holy water, crosses, sun, etc.

But in regards to their sparkly skin – are they really reflecting the sun? Kind of like it would be damaging to them if they didn’t have this ability?

I’m guessing it’s just because they are pretty and cool like that, but still wondered about your reasoning behind it…

Steph: Their skin hardens into a diamond-like substance (only harder). This material has prism-like qualities. The sun does not damage the skin regardless of the reflecting.

My reasoning was, why should the sun burn them? That seemed like a very mystical kind of thing, and my vampires are more science than magic to me (whereas my werewolves are more magic than science).

"
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby Openhome » Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:48 am

Wow, you are GOOD!

Not only did you find the diamond thing, you also found the dreaded science statement.

Breathe Knives. Just breathe through it.

So, harder than diamonds but can burn with fire because venom is that flammable? And they have chromosomes. Ah, memories of the Science of Twilight thread are buzzing through my brain right now.

Of all her world, this is the hardest part for me, so I will leave the comments aside except to say that I do believe that part of Aro's reluctance to allow any hint of their true existence does seem to be partially vested in the fact that he fears that humans could indeed come up with a way to fight vamps. I have no doubt that the Volturi in all their years have experimented with their kind and have found some minor areas of weakness. However, I do believe that their desire for complete anonymity is because of the resulting chaos in the vampire world if humans found out about them.
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby December » Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:15 pm

Openhome wrote:Breathe Knives. Just breathe through it.

*giggle*

This is probably not the thread for it, but it's interesting to ask what exactly Stephenie was getting at, in drawing this distinction between the "magic" of werewolves and the "science" of vampires. Apart from the fact that one belongs imaginatively to the world of forest and folklore and an exotic alien culture, and the other is meant to be interpolated into the world of 21st century American high-schoolers (and thus, in some sense, the scientific and rational mental universe we all (mostly) inhabit....

Except of course for the fact that even to Stephenie, vampires also belong to the world of "monsters and magic" and love "so strong it couldn't exist in the rational world." (EC Ch. 26). That line (which for many reasons I've always thought one of the most revealing in the whole series) surely suggests that despite her insistence on detailing the "science" of Twilight, Stephenie isn't wholly committed to slotting vampires into our rational, explicable universe.

*sets down opener and steps carefully away from can of worms*
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby andypalmer » Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:54 am

Let's also keep in mind that, as much as we love Stephenie, she doesn't have a science background.

We know from BD that vampire skin has the same relative malleability to other vampires that human skin does to humans. That level of malleability is not consistent with "like diamonds but harder." So, we're forced to chose between what's in the story, that she pondered about, wrote, and re-read dozens of times or an off-the-cuff answer to an scientifically-based interview question.

We know something of the strength of vampires from Bella's arm wrestling bout with Emmett. We also know that vampires weaker than Emmett (who is considered very strong for a mature vampire) are capable of ripping the limbs off other vampires. This opens many, many possibilities of real-world human weapons that could damage vampires. No, Charlie's police issue .38 was not going to have an effect but the higher end military heavy weapons would, based purely on the science - the force of impact, etc.

This threat, this capability of human militaries to possess weapons that can damage vampires and potentially defeat them, albeit as a very high price in human life, is foundational to why the Volturi maintain their enforcement of the vampire laws. This also explains why the rules were more "lax" centuries ago, resulting in the vampire legends we have today (i.e., a sword's not going to do anything against a vampire).
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby December » Thu Jun 24, 2010 10:48 am

Andypalmer wrote:Let's also keep in mind that, as much as we love Stephenie, she doesn't have a science background.

I'd also say: she doesn't have a scientific project. Now, many science fiction and/or fantasy writers do. For them, scientific credibility is part of the world-building. For Stephenie, not so much. Or at least, only to the point that her stories make sense the way the world we experience makes sense. (Which is in fact pretty inscrutable if you don't have considerable scientific background).

So I guess maybe my point isn't so different from yours: for an author with a sophisticated scientific background, science is built into the way they experience daily reality, and to seem "realistic" any invented world has to be equally transparently in line with scientific principles. For someone who goes through the world less attentive to the scientific explanation behind everything (I'm thinking for instance of my mother: it's enough for her that lightbulbs work; she really doesn't care how they go about making light), what will matter is that there aren't too many glaring contradictions on the surface of the story. Because that's what their real world is like.

The problem comes when the scientifically-minded readers start to investigate the fictional world's inner mechanisms, and the author succumbs to the temptation to join them in their scientific project. In real life, we have division of labour: most of us content ourselves with our folk-explanations of how things work and leave the complexities to the scientist. But Stephenie's folk-explanations are required to do double-duty as real scientific accounts of the biochemistry and materials science of her vampire world -- and patently they're not suitable for that. She's been pilloried for lousy science -- when all along, it seems to me, what she's actually been offering is the kind of muddled, inaccurate but superficially plausible folk explanations one can totally imagine ordinary vampires having about themselves, in the absence of actual scientific knowledge. Imaginatively, Stephenie's actually got it about right. It's scientifically -- as the world-building, Creator-author, deemed to understand the actual material workings of her universe -- that she's fallen down on the job. A job she should simply have politely declined.
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby missp » Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:46 am

December wrote:
Andypalmer wrote:Let's also keep in mind that, as much as we love Stephenie, she doesn't have a science background.

I'd also say: she doesn't have a scientific project. Now, many science fiction and/or fantasy writers do. For them, scientific credibility is part of the world-building. For Stephenie, not so much. Or at least, only to the point that her stories make sense the way the world we experience makes sense. (Which is in fact pretty inscrutable if you don't have considerable scientific background).


The problem comes when the scientifically-minded readers start to investigate the fictional world's inner mechanisms, and the author succumbs to the temptation to join them in their scientific project. In real life, we have division of labour: most of us content ourselves with our folk-explanations of how things work and leave the complexities to the scientist. But Stephenie's folk-explanations are required to do double-duty as real scientific accounts of the biochemistry and materials science of her vampire world -- and patently they're not suitable for that. She's been pilloried for lousy science -- when all along, it seems to me, what she's actually been offering is the kind of muddled, inaccurate but superficially plausible folk explanations one can totally imagine ordinary vampires having about themselves, in the absence of actual scientific knowledge. Imaginatively, Stephenie's actually got it about right. It's scientifically -- as the world-building, Creator-author, deemed to understand the actual material workings of her universe -- that she's fallen down on the job. A job she should simply have politely declined.

VERY WELL said, December! I see the one word that matters most in the whole discussion, though. FICTIONAL. Sometimes, when we become too analytical, we lose sight of the fact that it is, in the end, simply a fictional story. I for one thank God and SM for that, because I love to lose myself in this fictional world when my RL gets to be too much! :D
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby ringswraith » Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:53 pm

So, something that just came to mind.

Mods, I was trying to locate a similar discrepancies-type thread for the series in general but failed to find one, so please feel free to transfer this to another thread as appropriate.

We've all heard how Edward has said that (while she was still human) he's so in tune with Bella's heartbeat that he can detect it from quite a distance.

So why then (back in TW) did the nomads (James et al) need to smell Bella's scent when they could have just heard her heartbeat?
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby December » Fri Jun 25, 2010 2:39 pm

Great question!

(And no I couldn't find a general thread to discuss inconsistencies either. If it weren't so darn hot at the moment, I'd pull myself together to split this thread and create one right now. On second thoughts....now that we're out of spoiler-purdah, I don't see any reason why this can't be a general thread to discuss inconsistencies in the series).


You can probably guess what my own answer to your question will be (*grin*)....

(No it isn't consistent. LIke SO MUCH ELSE in this series.... If that sort of thing really bothered us, Stephenie would so not be our kind of author. Fortunately it doesn't, so we can have fun spotting these things!).

Ok how's this for a bit of hand-waving in the spirit of the game? Yes, the vampires could hear her heartbeat, but their attention wouldn't necessarily be immediately caught by it -- not the way it would by her scent, because of all their senses, smell is clearly the most overpoweringly dominant for them (as it is for so many hunting animals).

Just trying it on.

(*grin*)
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby ringswraith » Fri Jun 25, 2010 3:48 pm

True. But still- they thought they were dealing with another (much larger) coven. Hearing a heartbeat would surely draw their attention.
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby andypalmer » Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:57 pm

My guess would be that they hear heartbeats all the time in the forest, if they listen for them. All those animals, etc. There are animals that have heartbeats in the same range as ours, so another heartbeat within the woods wouldn't have been unusual. It's only really by scent that they can notice the presence of humans "casually"; of course, in "hunting mode" (ala Bella in BD), their senses are more focused.

Given that, it's at least plausible that they wouldn't have noticed Bella by heartbeat and helped by the simple fact that they wouldn't expect a human within the coven; I suspect vampires are as susceptible as humans to ignoring or otherwise overlooking the improbable :-)
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