17 May 2010

"Dragon Is A State Of Mind" : Suggested Reading

Read it here: "Dragon Is A State Of Mind"
By: Milena Benini
Genre: Fantasy

The best way to reach this story is to click the link above.This will take you to a list of Croation SF stories in English. On the list find "Dragon Is A State Of Mind." Clicking on this takes you to a PDF download of the story. If you are a stranger to reading PDFs, don't be nonplussed by the back to front ordering of the pages. In the top bar is a downward facing triangle, and clicking on this will take you to the next page without you having to bother scrolling backwards and forwards.

NOSF is a Croatian SF zine, and with its English supplement is reaching out to the English speaking world. It seems only fair to reach back.

"Dragon Is A State Of Mind" is definitely English, being an Arthurian story.

I remember going through an Arthurian phase myself, years ago. "Arthuritis", a friend called it. She was trying to compile an extensive list of Arthurian lit. Other friends were extending that list by creating their own Arthurian worlds.

These days on TV we have a series called Merlin, which I don't entirely like because it messes with the Arthurian world in a way that is clearly meant to assemble a bunch of teenagers together and watch them play out the resulting dramas, but doesn't add anything to the legend. In fact, I only keep watching because I'm wondering when the dragon under Uther's palace is going to collide with the fighting dragons of the original myth. Yes, there were dragons in the original story.

The story goes that Vortigern (here and here for more details, and indeed Googling "The story of Merlin and the two dragons" gets plenty of results) was trying to have a castle built, but every night the work of the previous day fell down. Frustrated, he asked around, and was eventually brought the boy, Merlin who, he was told, might be able to explain the problem. Merlin explained that there were two dragons under the earth who were fighting every night. Their fights were causing earthquakes, and these quakes were bringing the castle down.

Waiting for this story to connect with the plot in the TV series keeps me watching.

"Dragon Is A State Of Mind" also messes with the Arthurian legend, but in a way that I am happy to accept. The author, Milena Benini (here for an interview, - she sounds like an interesting person, here for her blog, but English speakers be warned that it's in Croatian) is clearly interested in the the nature of dragons, what they might have been and why they died out. She hints that they were sustained by human belief in them, but is sensible enough not to dwell on this idea and instead goes on to speculate on the fate of the last dragon.

"Fate is a harsh mistress," she says. I like that line. The story raises, without ever directly mentioning, a very interesting idea about the nature of Arthur himself.

It's a little sad, but enjoy it.

Morva Shepley

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