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Stockholm Syndrome
11/11/2008 - Discussion Topic #1 
11th-Nov-2008 09:31 pm
artemis fowl
This seemed to be the most immediate thing that I could do to get everyone talking and involved. This may not always be the case, but I have decided to do two discussion topics, both of which I ask that you reply to, and in return reply to the replies to your comments.

One quick thing I would like to point out is that I live in the US and so I have the American editions which have some really bizarre edits. There is one passage in particular that I would really like to see which was completely left out of the American versions about "Mud Fairies". Anyway, if you're aware of any of these edits and they come up, please make us all aware.


Over on havencity, I found an AFC Eoin Colfer interview which contains some possible spoilers for the next book.


If you don't mind reading them, then I ask that you look at the comments specifically about the ideas Mr. Colfer has for the next book. What is your speculation about what he could actually mean, and what are your fears and hopes for the series, specifically for Artemis and Holly's canon relationship with one another and the state/development of it?

In-Universe Discussion:

(Note: Please avoid referencing technicalities of what you really think Mr. Colfer would or wouldn't do unless it is relevant. Especially since there is a meta-topic available during this discussion, this topic should be your views on the characters and their motivations without breaking the fourth wall too much.)

Below is an excerpt from The Arctic Incident, seeing as my worries about the future of the series are needling at me a bit.

Discussion Prompt: Holly seems just shy of hating Artemis in the beginning of TAI, but by the end it seems that Artemis is not the only one who has changed in terms of who he respects. Artemis/Holly, as a ship, is something that's developed quite uniquely through the canon and is still not quite firm in canon, but ship or not Holly has some unusual feelings toward Artemis. It's quite hard to pinpoint where the two stand with each other many times, and I want your opinion on what this scene says about their relationship at that particular point in the series. In retrospect, where did it indicate that it was going? Where was it at that moment?

Artemis smiled. He had been doing that a lot lately. Even the parting with Holly had gone better than he could have expected, considering she'd seen him shoot his own father. Artemis shuddered. He anticipated many sleepless nights over that particular strategy.

The captain escorted them to Tara, slipping them out through a holographic hedge. There was even a holographic cow chewing the virtual leaves to throw humans off the fairy scent.

Artemis was back in his school uniform, which had been miraculously restored by the People's technology. He sniffed his lapel.

"This blazer smells unusual," he commented. "Not unpleasant, but unusual."

"It's completely clean," smiled Holly. "Foaly had to put it through three cycles in the machine to purge--"

"To purge the Mud Man from it," said Artemis.


There was a full moon overhead, bright and pocked like a golf ball. Holly could feel the magic singing to her.

"Foaly said, in light of the help you've given us, he's pulling the surveillance on Fowl Manor."

"That's good to know," said Artemis.

"Is that the right decision?"

Artemis considered it. "Yes. The people are safe from me."

"Good. Because a large section of the Council wanted you mind-wiped. And with a chunk of memory that big, your IQ could take a bit of a dip."

Butler extended a hand.

"Well, Captain. I don't suppose I'll see you again."

Holly shook it. "If you do, it'll be too late." She turned toward the fairy fort. "I had better go. It will be light soon. I don't want to be caught unshielded on a spy satellite. The last thing I need is my photo all over the Internet, not when I've just been reinstated at Recon."

Butler elbowed his employer gently.

"Oh, Holly... eh, Captain Short."

Eh? Artemis couldn't believe he'd actually said eh. It wasn't even a word.

"Yes, Mud B... yes, Artemis?"

Artemis looked Holly in the eye, just as Butler had instructed him to do. This being civil business was more difficult than one would think.

"I would like to... I mean... what I mean is..."

Another elbow from Butler.

"Thank you. I owe you everything. Because of you I have my parents. And the way you flew that craft was nothing short of spectacular. And on the train... well, I could never have done what you..."

A third elbow. This time to stop the babbling.

"Sorry. Well, you get the idea."

Holly's elfin features wore a strange expression. Somewhere between embarrassment, and could it possibly be, delight? She recovered quickly.

"Maybe I owe you something too, human," she said, drawing her pistol. Butler almost reacted, but decided to give Holly the benefit of the doubt.

Captain Short plucked a gold coin from her belt, flicking it fifty feet into the moonlit sky. With one fluid movement, she brought her weapon up and loosed a single blast. The coin rose another fifty feet, then spun earthward. Artemis somehow managed to snatch it from the air. The first cool moment of his young life.

"Nice shot," he said. The previously solid disk now had a tiny hole in the center.

Holly held out her hand, revealing the still raw scar on her finger. "If it wasn't for ou, I would have missed altogether. No mech-digit can replace that kind of accuracy. So, thank you too, I suppose."

Artemis held out the coin.

"No," said Holly. "You keep it, to remind you."

"To remind me?"

Holly stared at him frankly. "To remind you that deep beneath the layers of deviousness, you have a spark of decency. Perhaps you could blow on that spark occasionally."

Artemis closed his fingers around the coin. It was warm against his palm.

"Yes, perhaps."

A small two-seater plane buzzed overhead. Artemis glanced skyward, and when he looked back, Holly was gone. A slight head haze hovered above the grass.

"Good-bye, Holly," he said softly.

12th-Nov-2008 04:00 am (UTC)
I could go on about this scene for hours, because it was the first scene that really made me squee about the pairing on my first read-through of TAI back in middle school.

I suppose the thing that I saw going on here was a strange sort of shift in the way they viewed one another emotionally.

The line:

Holly's elfin features wore a strange expression. Somewhere between embarrassment, and could it possibly be, delight?

...really stuck out to me.

Personally, I imagine that Holly has looked almost the same throughout their adventures, perhaps holding at something that, in human terms, looks just a bit older than Juliet was in the first book (Juliet was 16, so perhaps Holly looks something more like 18-20.). One of the arguments you get against Artemis and Holly is that they're different species and so the ages don't match up, so either which way you look at it someone's going to be committing something akin to pedophilia at some point. Well, I don't think that's necessarily the case, even if Artemis continues to age normally, though all this gallivanting about in the time stream makes me question whether or not he will.

Anyway, as I was saying, at this point in the book I think that Holly probably still perceived Artemis as a child/adolescent, and would continue to do so at least through perhaps the end of TOD, but Holly's perception of Artemis's being a child or being an adult wouldn't be wrapped up in his numerical age at all. Human aging and, in this case, specifically the legal age of consent for Ireland (16, right? ...Frightens me, but anyway...) wouldn't mean anything to her except something that was very abstract and immaterial. Holly's view on Artemis is colored entirely by his apparent physical age (how far into puberty he is) and how much she respects his maturity.

That said, this was perhaps the first time I think I saw Holly being a bit flustered by Artemis emotionally. I doubt there was any sort of physical attraction there, but I think that Holly just deeply likes who Artemis is when she isn't pitted against him, quite often in spite of herself. He confuses her... but she's an adventurer and because of that she likes it.

Artemis, on the other hand, is a less difficult nut to crack in this instance. Holly remains, from this point forward, nearly the only person that can consistently get Artemis tripping over words. His emotions waver a lot, and he doesn't have a good handle on them, but I think that for Artemis to "like" a girl that respect would be a very important part of it. His physical attraction to her is also confirmed in his internal monologue about his assumption that "in a few years he would view her differently" earlier in the book. He's aware that he's toying with the idea, even if he hasn't got a firm grip on the reality of the idea at his age. He even thought of her as pretty when he kidnapped her, and in TTP he was fascinated by her appearance even as a ten-year-old, so I don't think there's any question as to whether or not Artemis is physically attracted to her as he gets older.
12th-Nov-2008 12:11 pm (UTC)
Actually, the Irish age of consent is 17, though I don't honestly know why 16 would trouble you, since worldwide, most territories' ages of consent are between 14 and 16. Even within the US, more than half of states have a 16 AOC. Though, true, not the one you live in. Nor the one Hollywood is in.

OK, on with the actual discussion.
Yeah, I doubt Holly has aged significantly over the course of canon, it's only been three years for her and Artemis, and three years isn't dreadfully significant even for a human as an adult. Don't think I agree about her being the equivalent of 18, though. When she de-ages because of the time travel in TTP, she says she's a rookie, barely out of the academy, and we're told in AF that Trouble Kelp's manhood ceremony was when he entered the academy. I'd say what she de-ages to is what's equivalent to about 18, legally adult, but still emotionally adolescent, and not yet entirely hormonally stable.

Something I've found strange for a while is that medically, the typical thirteen-year-old boy is in Tanner Stage III (ie, mid-puberty), yet Artemis is talking in terms of "when I hit puberty" in TAI, which suggests denial on his part (or serious misunderstanding of what puberty is on Colfer's, a theory which is supported by almost the entirety of TLC, but we're supposed to be working in-universe here, right?).
Which would then explain the overblown libido difficulties in TLC, when repression and denial stopped working, I suppose.

I agree that he's almost certainly physically attracted to her here, though not that he was at ten. 10-year-old Artemis is truly prepubescent (Tanner Stage I), and to me, his interest in Holly reads to me as entirely scientific. Note that at first sight 12-year-old Artemis calls her pretty in a pointy sort of way, while at the same length of 'acquaintance' 10-year-old Artemis clinically notes her cheekbones might be Slavic.
Holly being somewhat physically attracted to Artemis in TAI is possible in my opinion. Remember that we are told adult Pixies look enough like Human children for Opal to only need her ears rounded to pass as one. Also, she certainly appears physically attracted to him even after their return to the present in TTP, even though he's only something like a year-and-a-half older then than in TAI.
As you say, the human law itself might plausibly not matter to her, but I think the reason those types of laws exist would probably concern her, because she cares for him and therefore doesn't want to scar him emotionally, and even if Artemis was willing (which seems likely) she would probably resist becoming 'too' physical while Artemis is still young. (Not that the timing of their first coitus is ever going to be even remotely canon. There might be some very mild wedding-night innuendo if it goes on that far, but in-universe frankly I don't see them getting married so much as Holly going AWOL and moving into the manor without ceremony. But you can't have that in a children's book, never mind how many kids these days have parents who haven't married.)

The scene we're asked to discuss in the original post certainly seems to me to show Holly as getting fond of Artemis. He did manage some pretty heroic stuff in that book, after all.
12th-Nov-2008 03:51 pm (UTC)
I've always thought of Holly as being in her early to mid-twenties.
12th-Nov-2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
For current Holly, I agree, though I'd say mid is more likely, given she says when she's de-aged that her face is 'missing a few decades wear and tear'. I didn't think of my face as having 'wear and tear' at 22, I do now at 25.
13th-Nov-2008 01:59 am (UTC)
In human terms, I agree with you. Not from experience, but from observation... But I also suggest that Holly might be slightly younger than the age at which you begin to see wear and tear, because I think that the change Holly experienced was something that it actually took Artemis a minute to notice. It was just a huge thing to her because the changes that had occurred to her (de-aging just a few years in human sight) had originally taken such a long time to actually take hold of her that she saw a much greater change than Artemis did, though it was obviously enough for him to notice as well.
13th-Nov-2008 01:45 am (UTC)
I suppose the use of the word "frightens" was not exactly accurate. I was being somewhat facetious. I suppose I wasn't referring to sexual things so much as the fact that just... someone younger than me could be declared completely legally responsible for themselves is difficult for me to grasp. I'm getting to that point, but I hardly feel that I'm ready for legal adulthood, and it's fast approaching me.

I'll give you that maybe 18 is shooting just a bit young, but I really don't see her as being a great deal older than that-- a few years perhaps in relating her age to human years. I just don't see her as being respected entirely as a seasoned adult in fairy society. Fairies age much more slowly than we do, but that doesn't give us any indication that it takes them any longer to get through school once they're old enough to start. Because of that, Holly could have been much, much younger in finishing her time at the Academy than someone in human society who's finishing high school.

Trouble's "manhood" ceremony, if it is anything like earlier culture's more traditional manhood ceremonies, could have signified his physical maturity in terms of being capable of being a man physically, not so much that he was legally necessary independent, or was mentally mature. After all, in spite of the fact that he held onto the name and his machismo, choosing and insisting upon the name "Trouble" sounds like something an adolescent, just dubbed a man would choose.

It could well be that people don't understand the mechanics of puberty (including Mr. Colfer), but it could also be that Artemis is referring to the physical affects of puberty rather than the reality of his body changing, and that yes, he is in denial. I would like to learn more about Tanner Stages, though, because I haven't heard that term even though I have tried to do some reading about how puberty works.

There's a quick idea! It's silly, and I don't know if anyone's as OCD about things like that as I am, but it might be a useful resource to make literature about silly little things like that available for fanfiction writers...

Anyway... back on topic...

I suppose you have a valid point about ten-year-old Artemis's scientific interest in Holly, but I think that in-universe, in retrospect of TTP, that his slight change of tune had to do with the fact that pre-ten-year-old-mind-wipe Artemis had changed in his view of her.

I think that Holly may be somewhat less squeamish about Artemis's youthful appearance, but I think that this has more to do with the way the two of them click mentally, because I think Holly looks quite a bit like an adult human. Pixies and elves seem to be similar but a bit the opposite of one another, and I imagine Holly as having similar proportions to a human except that she has a bit of a larger head because of mental capacity versus size. I think that she would continue to become more comfortable with the notion of being attracted to Artemis as he became more physically mature, as seems to be the case in their time-stream-affected-selves in TTP.

I did read something that said Artemis was intentionally a bit of a late-bloomer physically, so as a parting point with that, he could have changed at least a fair bit in a year and a half.

I have romantic ideas about marriage and such myself, but you're right that it doesn't seem right for them in a traditional sense. All marriage is, to me mentally, is emotional commitment, and any sort of ceremony is rather superfluous, especially in their case.

I think that covered everything?
13th-Nov-2008 02:04 am (UTC)
Also, I just wanted to say that in spite of the fact that I disagree with you on some points I really appreciate the amount of thought you obviously put into this post. I have a similar tendency to pick even the things I like apart for the sake of not being crushed by fannish, ridiculous hopes not being fulfilled, but I suppose I'm trying to give myself license to enjoy my A/H while I can.
12th-Nov-2008 05:46 am (UTC)
I remember when I was reading Time Paradox, I thought "what? I'm not the only one who ships Holly and Artemis!?" XD

So to see this kind of affectiong between Holly and Artemis so early on in the series is surprising. I really love the fact that Artemis is stumbling over his words to the point where Butler starts nudging him! I wonder what happen to that coin. I don't remember it being mentioned before.
12th-Nov-2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
he pretended to give it to Mulch...but I don't know what happened to the actual one. That is actually a very good question.
13th-Nov-2008 12:47 am (UTC)
I would have to read it again, but I think that Artemis may have somehow kept it, because since the fairy's thought Mulch had it, they would have had no reason to suspect that he still had the original. Artemis is a pragmatist, so he may have gotten rid of it, but it seemed to mean quite a lot to him. Theoretically, though, he could have kept it someplace where he would remember its location in the eventuality of his finding his memories again.
12th-Nov-2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
Have you not read the books in order? Because the coin was rather important...
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