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The Killing Stroke
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something just occurred to me. The Nerishi-qa didn't strike and change his mind at the end...he struck to test the honesty of the Shin-te's claim.

He turned the blow when he saw that the Shin-te truly meant to take it...that he believed utterly in what he said.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
From the first, the shin-te had met death with sorrow, remembering nothing except his loss. Now, however, there was another light in his gaze. Strictures shaped the corners of his eyes, the lines of his mouth. A sensation of anger emanated from him.

"The nerishi-qa," he pronounced softly, "teach a false Art."

Isla rounded on him. "How so?"

"Legend teaches,: I put in, "that nerishi-qa is the first and most potent of the Fatal Arts. All others drive from it."

The young man shook his head. There was no doubt in him. "It is false.

"You have called it 'the Art of the Killing Stroke,' yet there is no killing stroke." The strength of his conviction shone from him. "The nerishi-qa claim for themselves the power and the right to determine death. But he who determines death also determines life, and that they cannot do. Life belongs to the one who holds it. It cannot be taken away. Therefore no killing stroke exists. There is only choice."

In my urgency, I had no patience for such mystical vapor. And Isla felt as I did, apparently. Nearly together, we objected, "We saw you die."

Direct as a fist, she added, "That champion nailed you to the floor with a spear."

"Did you choose that?" I demanded.

Uncomfortably, he answered, "I do not remember."

A moment later, however, he shouldered the burden of his beliefs. "Yes. I did."

Then his earlier sorrow returned to his gaze--a bereavement shaded by shame. "You say that I was ignorant. I did not know him for nerishi-qa."

I accepted his assumption. I feared to weaken him with doubt. But Isla did not.

"Or you knew," she countered, "and that's why you chose to die. You knew you couldn't defeat him." Mashu-te to the core, she accepted the risk of what was in her heart. "You surrendered to despair."

Anxiously I watched the young man for his response.

"I do not remember," he repeated. "Perhaps I did." The flinch had returned to his eyes, although he did not look away. "If so, I do not deserve to be named among the shin-te."


The belief that Asper has of avoiding assumptions when possible is something that makes sense to me. This idea that there is no killing stroke unless we allow it is something I really can't accept. I've just read through all the posts in this thread, and the one by Barnetto about this just being sophistry is the post that reflects how I feel about this. This short story has excellent design in its world-building, but is hampered by having such a weak theme. Even the SRD quotes used to explain the theme have him sounding like he's stumbling over the rationality of the theme. It just doesn't make sense. In contrast, Penance has a very strong theme about the foolishness of clinging to prejudice, and that short story illustrates it in a heartrending way. The Killing Stroke is interesting because of its great design of its world. But its weak theme makes it inferior to Penance, in my opinion.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Something just occurred to me. The Nerishi-qa didn't strike and change his mind at the end...he struck to test the honesty of the Shin-te's claim.

He turned the blow when he saw that the Shin-te truly meant to take it...that he believed utterly in what he said.

--A


I can accept that (must be the shin-te in me, heh Wink ) That warrior sounded skilled enough to quickly change his attack at the last split-second.

Quote:
He nodded gravely. "I believed that I would die." Then he added, "But that was a small matter. I was already beaten. Yet when you spoke my own words to me--one of the mashu-te a student of the Direct Fist--I heard them in a new way. They became"-- he rolled his smiling gaze at the ceiling--"how shall I say it? They became simple. Despair is the killing stroke. There is no other." Lightly he shrugged. "My hazard was no greater than yours."


Not giving in to despair is a theme i can more readily grasp, because SRD uses it a lot in his writings. I suppose I am accustomed to accepting the idea that despair can never triumph as long as the trying continues. I have no issues with this idea whatsoever!
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But how is that any different from there being no killing stroke? Very Happy

The whole thing about despair never triumphing is as obviously untrue as their being no killing stroke.

Despair triumphs all the time. People die and are killed no matter how much they try.

If one is sophistry, why is the other? Wink

--A
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 19, 2016 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the theme of this story is captured in the lines from the GI, even a prisoner is free to choose his/her attitude toward imprisonment; self-mastery (the ability to choose one's own thoughts and emotions) is the only truly human form of power. In other words, we are never without choice, and there is power in that.

I've expressed my confusions above, so I won't repeat them. But the center of the story does seem to revolve around whether or not the receiver of a killing stroke can make a meaningful choice about it.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
But how is that any different from there being no killing stroke? Very Happy

The whole thing about despair never triumphing is as obviously untrue as their being no killing stroke.

Despair triumphs all the time. People die and are killed no matter how much they try.

If one is sophistry, why is the other? Wink

--A



Smile Heh-heh-heh, okay, fine, they're BOTH sophistry! More Razz Wink Wink Wink

Still, when people say they'd like a whole book or even a series based on this short story, is it because they admire the story theme or because they admire the designed world? I'm willing to bet it's because they admire the designed world! Hail Idea Applaud Eureka
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2016 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh damn right it's because of the world. I love the world. The best part of all fiction is the world building for me. Very Happy

But back to the theme...really, all of life is sophistry of some sort. Very Happy Choice, even meaningless choice, is essential to our sense of self perhaps.

--A
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
Oh damn right it's because of the world. I love the world. The best part of all fiction is the world building for me. Very Happy


Yes, we strongly agree on that! Nice feeling, isn't it? Mr. Green

Avatar wrote:
But back to the theme...really, all of life is sophistry of some sort. Very Happy Choice, even meaningless choice, is essential to our sense of self perhaps.


That statement sounds suspiciously like sophistry to me... Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can't help but be. Wink

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All sophistry is wrong; Avatar talks about sophistry; therefore, Avatar is always wrong.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, I don't always talk about sophistry, therefore I am not always wrong. Wink

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's just sophistry.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Which is wrong? Laughing

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By definition. Wink
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL What can I say...I'm a sophist. Very Happy

(Bar the fallacious arguments anyway. Laughing )

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