"Explorations" of Bree's Novella

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

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Re: Discrepancies

Postby December » Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:04 pm

Oh, no question that even if you CAN die, it makes all the difference in the world that you don't HAVE to die. Vampire immortality is far from meaningless. And certainly we've always been aware that vampires can lose their lives -- properly and for all time. (I mean, that's the whole point of NM). As I said it's just a matter of emphasis. There are parts of Stephenie's story where the idea of omnipotence and endless life is very much to the forefront of Bella's (and our) imagining. Bree's story (along with BD and Jasper's backstory in EC -- which I've always found slightly discordant as well) belongs to a different imaginative register: one where in practice it's vampire mortality that comes through most vividly.
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby Openhome » Sat Jun 12, 2010 9:34 pm

December wrote:
Openhome wrote:It makes the choice so much more profound. It also makes the books much more fun because the Cullens aren't immutable, and their existence is much more dangerous than I thought it was before.

Intriguing. More fun, possibly (certainly more adventure-filled and uncertain). Definitely less like heaven on earth.* But for precisely this reason, I would myself have said that it makes the choice that much LESS profound. One reason why BD sort of rolled up the Choices thread as we knew it.

I'm curious now what about it strikes you as adding to the significance of Bella's transformation, not diminsihing it.

_____________________
*Or indeed, hell on earth, depending a) on your view of immortality (some people can't think of anything they'd hate more -- see Cats on Mars on the old Choices thread) or b) if you think true earthly immortality has to be counterbalanced by some compensatory suffering (like the penance of the vampire's eternal and unassuageable thirst, as Sparkling Diamond once suggested on the same thread). But either way, more like ordinary life as a different species than something with profound spiritual implications.


Maybe this is more of a conversation for the Explorations thread. ;)

I am not taking into consideration the whole soul or no soul thing, because that adds another level of argument that I don't want to hit on right now. On Explorations, one of the common topics has been that Bella's HEA and the Cullen's lives were simply way too good. We see the Cullens as having it all with the only caveat being an eternal sore throat. However, Bree's story brings up two essential issues. First, vampires in their natural state do come across as what we would judge as evil. They assume godhood (see the first five pages of the Bree book) and see humans as lesser snacks. They are truly without moral guidance at all. Secondly, it isn't true eternal life. There are weaknesses and a horrible downside to being a vampire. THAT is why I see it as more profound. The soul aside, Bree's book does show the two sides (Cullens and newborns) and shows us a little of what Bella and the others will spend eternity fighting against. Certainly, Bella doesn't get it at all until the end of EC, and then she only gets a glimpse. IF she knew, the choice would have been that much harder.
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Re: Explorations of Bree's Novella (* BREE SPOILERS*)

Postby December » Sun Jun 13, 2010 1:34 pm

Hmm...too much Sunday roast dinner inside me, and thinking in low gear. Still not sure if I'm following your thought.

Now I can see that if you believe that the vampire’s earthly immortality means forfeiting all chance of Eternal Life in the hereafter, it certainly changes the reckoning to realize that this “immortality” is itself so precarious. But leaving immortal souls aside...

(*ponders*)

I suppose it’s true that this also changes the balance between what Bella is gaining and what she is forfeiting in becoming a vampire. Emphasizing how easily vampires’ lives are snuffed out helps to absolve Bella of coolly trading away her precious humanity in order to live forever. (Sure, she's still exempted from the ordinary processes of aging and dying, but the Faustian bargain is less absolute). We’ve known since Twilight that vampires can get killed, but early on, the lure of endless life is pretty dazzling to Bella. She laughs at Edward for worrying that she might be more interested in immortality than in him, but she certainly considers it a fabulous side benefit.

By the time we’ve absorbed Jasper’s story and faced up to the danger the newborn army represents, that glittering prize is looking a little tarnished. Even before the point is hammered home in Bree's novella. Bella is giving up her human birthright of friends and family and taking on an eternity of hellish thirst and temptation with nothing to gain for it but love. The entire upside vanishes, leaving only the thirst and the loss...and dear Edward, effortlessly tipping the balance on the other side of the scale.

Was that what you had in mind, then, when you suggested it would make Bella's decision more profound if she recognized how qualified the a vampire's immortality really was?
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby vampbball » Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:31 pm

Openhome wrote:However, Bree's story brings up two essential issues. First, vampires in their natural state do come across as what we would judge as evil. They assume godhood (see the first five pages of the Bree book) and see humans as lesser snacks. They are truly without moral guidance at all. Secondly, it isn't true eternal life. There are weaknesses and a horrible downside to being a vampire. THAT is why I see it as more profound. The soul aside, Bree's book does show the two sides (Cullens and newborns) and shows us a little of what Bella and the others will spend eternity fighting against. Certainly, Bella doesn't get it at all until the end of EC, and then she only gets a glimpse. IF she knew, the choice would have been that much harder.


I very much hope Bella was able to connect those dots; I'm positive she was. Jasper's story just confirmed the nature of vampire culture for me, but I was already suspicious. James' aggressive behavior, Laurent siding with Victoria (although that was pre newborn army, wasn't it? So we don't know if he knew she planned to attack the Cullens), Irina and the Denali flakes bailing on their own friends when under attack, and the Volturi, making it clear that they were only too happy to destroy other vampires. What Jasper's story added was the scale of vampire wars and aggression, and that new vampires had been created and sacrificed to fuel those wars (which makes sense if the lives of "adult" vampires are also cheap). Once I read Eclipse, I could understand Edward's anti-transformation position so much better - and it had nothing to do with souls or or the difficulty of abstaining from humans. Let's say the epic battle with the Volturi finally happens. There's no guarantee that every Cullen wouldn't be wiped out with only Bella surviving (well okay, I'd have a hard time explaining Alice's death). But how miserable. I agree with what December wrote below, she did it for Edward and Edward alone.
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Re: "Explorations" of Bree's Novella

Postby Openhome » Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:38 pm

The entire upside vanishes, leaving only the thirst and the loss...and dear Edward, effortlessly tipping the balance on the other side of the scale....

Was that what you had in mind, then, when you suggested it would make Bella's decision more profound if she recognized how qualified the a vampire's immortality really was?


Yep ^^^ that.
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Re: Discrepancies

Postby Knives » Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:28 am

andypalmer wrote:I would guess burning napalm, if you could get it on a vampire, would kill one. I suspect that they could make it through "standard" fire relatively unharmed, as long as they were not "bleeding venom" but also suspect that more extreme heat would damage their outer "stone-like" skin and set their venom alight. So, humans armed with flamethrowers, incendiary grenades, and the like would be a threat, albeit only in numbers - vampire super-speed is a potent weapon.

Plus keep in mind that these are weapons that humans have designed without vampire-slaying in mind. If a war were to occur, within six months we'd have:
- white phosphorous rounds for guns (high heat)
- napalm filled bullets (think the UV or silver-nitrate bullets from Underworld)
- gyrojet weapons (think guns with bullets an inch or more in diameter, designed to hit harder and with bullets that could hold napalm or some other substance)

A bunch of guys spraying automatic fire at a vampire are going to hit with some of those bullets; if any individual bullets can get the fire going, the vampire would be in trouble.



I'm going to have to respectfully disagree on just about this entire post. Aside from the fact that trying to explain Twi-pires with science is literally the stupidest idea Ms. Meyer could have ever had (and I mean that sentence with all due respect towards the author), have you ever hit a diamond? Shot one? Tried to burn it, perhaps? No? Please, give it a go. I'll wait.

Bullets are not going to work on vampires. Napalm carpet-bombing will not work on a vampire smart enough to close his mouth and eyes. Shrapnel is not going to affect a vampire. In fact, nothing short of a nuclear blast (as laser attacks would be scattered by their reflective skin) is going to faze a vampire what so ever. By all laws of science, they shouldn't even be able to kill each other, let alone get killed by mortals.
Openhome wrote:Knives, I believe that..
wait for it...
you are right.
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Re: "Explorations" of Bree's Novella

Postby December » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:08 am

Well, I'll agree that those who live by explanations tend to die by them. What makes Twilight work for the reader are not its logical consistencies(!) but its thematic and emotional ones. Twilight makes sense the way dreams make sense: at the level of association and archetype, not science and practical reasoning. But that's a pretty powerful kind of sense too: enough to command assent from thousands of readers and pull them headlong into the story. Stephenie could (and probably should) have left her fantasy in the realm of myth: unanalyzed -- and indeed defying all rational explanation.

I tend to think that we as a fandom bear a heavy responsibility for her attempts to defend the indefensible, and more to the point, explain the inexplicable. If we had any sense, we'd have left it alone instead of challenging her to make the mechanics of her vampire world add up. We don't believe in Edward and Bella's love story because the materials science of vampire bodies is probable, but because the fantasies it taps into (of fatal attraction, love measured out in sacrifice, the gift (and curse) of immortality etc) are so compelling. Egging her on to focus on the practicalities rather than the fantasies is probably the stupidest thing which WE collectively, as a fandom, have done.

Fun though it undeniably is to geek out on these topics.... (*grin*).
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Re: "Explorations" of Bree's Novella

Postby December » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:38 am

Um...I think I'm going to move some of the preceding posts back to the Discrepancies thread, where there's already a vigourous technical debate about Vampire Materials Science going, and try to keep this discussion focussed on how our reading of the story (morally, thematically, aesthetically) is affected by the way Stephenie imagines her vampires.
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Re: "Explorations" of Bree's Novella

Postby Openhome » Sat Jul 17, 2010 12:17 am

Sooo, taking this back to and Exploration of Bree's Novella....

Twilight Series Theories just posted their conversation with SM about the novella. We had talked somewhere on here about why Edward didn't save Bree. I thought you guys might like to look at these comments and see what you thought.

It seems to me that 1) the fandom has very dirty minds, 2) Edward is very much in play here, 3) it is the old Edward, the one SM loves, and 4) he really did want to save her.

Your thoughts??
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Re: "Explorations" of Bree's Novella

Postby olorin » Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:31 am

December wrote:As I said it's just a matter of emphasis. There are parts of Stephenie's story where the idea of omnipotence and endless life is very much to the forefront of Bella's (and our) imagining.

Of course, but that's just Bella's human POV, thinking immortality would give her endless untarnished
happiness with Edward. Edward tried to convince her otherwise again and again, but she wouldn't listen.
Only after she saw Bree struggle and die, did she accept how much more difficult it would be, even after the transformation, and it made her a lot more reasonable. ;)
That's one of the things I like most about the story, that every character has their own complex and very
unique POV, even if we don't get to see it. Why should we or SM be restricted to only Bella's human POV?
It was getting a little tiresome after Eclipse, and it was time for a change. Did that change the emphasis of
the story? Of course, but then again every book had very different priorities.
And I think many of us were already imagining Edward's POV while still reading Twilight.

About the vampire indestructibility, I think only the body liquids are very flammable. The rest of the body burns
much more slowly with a thick purple smoke, which is why Edward used dry pine needles to help burn Victoria.
(she was still burning when the Volturi arrived)
I think the vampires speed makes it easy to blow out any flame, run through an inferno or outrun most
explosions, without much of a scratch. That's why they need to be incapacitated first.
Carlisle must have tried fire to kill himself in the beginning, but I guess the survival instinct takes over
as soon as the fire touches the body, forcing him to make a run for it.
Also burning slowly makes for good torture. :evil:
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