Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dentistry PA

This is a quick update from the rewrite wars. Madison is well, though she enters a dark place. As I go more deeply into this draft, I've noticed two important changes I am compelled to make.

  1. I am emphasizing certain themes that seemed too trivial or obvious during earlier drafts. The example I'm thinking of is the role of women in the PA world. The other is Madison's attitude toward marriage. I understood both internally, but I felt if I hit the themes too hard in the beginning, I would be preaching. And there were other things about Madison and her world that I did not know and needed to explore. But going back to it, I can seed these issues lightly.

  2. Madison is dealing with more difficult situations. Sometimes it's tighter, more confrontational dialogue. Because I know more about the whole story, I can point conflict in the right direction. In the example I mentioned earlier, it is to have Madison do something almost unforgiveable, for which she feels no remorse. The scene has always been in the novel, but now I'm shaving away the soft parts and letting it stand as it is. I want to show that she has given up her humanity in order to save her family. I love the scene and I hope it works.

Anyway, I'm heading into the home stretch. It's as good as I've ever seen it.

While I slave away, here are some notes from my dental appointment yesterday! I know, who cares, right? Except the whole teeth-in-the-PA-world thing bothers me a great deal. Most writers don't address it. Why would they? Unless you're writing Marathon Man 2050, you don't want to go there. Harry Turtledove is almost the only guy who mentions teeth, and he said something about dental health not being good in the primitive alternates. Is he right? I asked my hygienist. Disclaimer: these are my notes and whatever I got wrong is not the fault of my wonderful and intelligent dental health professional. I spent most of my time shuddering and climbing the walls during the appointment.

PA Dentistry

In a world without soda and fruit juice and very little, if any, sugar, teeth would have much less decay. People who had a lot of fillings and dental work Pre-A would still be vulnerable to splits and breaks in their teeth. Fillings can weaken the teeth because tooth is extracted and refilled, thus compromising tooth integrity. Fillings, bridge work and crowns could also fall out. People born PA would not have the exposure to soda and juice and their teeth would be much stronger with very little, if any, decay. There would be fewer breaks, almost no cavities. I forgot to ask about wisdom teeth.

On the other hand, periodontal issues are much more dependent on a person's genetics. Perio disease (gingivitis, periodontitis, both chronic and aggressive) is plaque growing and spreading below the gum line. A person's genetic predisposition would not be helped or altered by the environment. As plaque grows and spreads under the gum line, it causes inflammation, swelling and bleeding and inflammatory response, where the body turns on itself, and the issues that support teeth are destroyed. Bone and tooth loss results.

Also of interest, your gums are extremely sensitive to stress and hormonal changes.


  1. Looking forward to the revisions.

    1. Role of women. Orson Scott Card talks about the effect of gender roles and politics in urban v. rural (i.e. frontier/desperate) settings in his Earthborn(?) books. Though the more I know about the real-world man, the more suspicious I've become of anything in his books.

    I think it relates somewhat to the nature of the apocalypse. Who is fertile? What do the babies look like? Do you know the nitty-gritty of the Demented? Can they get pregnant? Does the virus or whatever pass? Always? Never? Can something prevent it (like certain drugs enhance the chances of HIV free babies of infected mothers?)

    2. Dentistry. I think as with much medical issues, it comes down to the availability of antibiotics and the potential spread of infections within the body.

    I also read somewhere that because of the higher sugar content in maize, many Native American cultures had lower life expectancies because of infection started from rotting teeth. [Insert your own smallpox comment]

    And of course, now that the water is no longer flouridated, how do we deal without government mind control?

  2. But do you know anything about wisdom teeth?

    I hadn't heard about maize, but it stands to reason. I wonder if older native corn had anything near modern sugar content. There is also the problem of stone-ground grains leaving bits of stone in the grain which wear down the teeth.

    Fluoridation: I'm sure we'll be able to stockpile a few aluminum foil hats.

    As for gender roles, yes, I agree about the urban-rural divide. I also believe that to some extent people are self-sorting, and new frontiers can allow for different sorts of societies. But in the near-term, it's going to be Mormon country. Day of the Triffids explores the rationalization of polygamy. Most of those people are eaten by plants, but you can see Wyndham struggling with Big Ideas, yet secretly worried it's all about sex.

    My question is how quickly does any idea of equality disappear? Immediately, or do we burn a few witches first? Safety is so important that people will strike almost any deal to have it.

    Nice try. I'm not going to dish about Dims here, when there's a whole novel about this very subject. I'm not that easy.