Adaptions and remixes

Sep. 20th, 2017 12:07 pm
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
[personal profile] selenak
Two filmed novels in, the tv version of JKR's written-as-Robert-Galbraith mystery novels called Strike comes across as very enjoyable. Holiday Grainger is a delight as Robin, Tom Burke still isn't how I imagined Cormoran Strike, but he's entertaining to watch, and they have good chemistry. Inevitably, characters and subplots were for the axe in both Cuckoo's Call and The Silkworm, but so far they've kept the important emotional beats. In the case of The Silkworm, I'm especially glad my favourite sentence of the entire novel gets to be used in dialogue, though a different character gets to say it on tv: Writers are a savage breed, Mr. Strike. If you want life-long friendship and selfless camraderie, join the army and learn to kill. If you want a lifetime of temporary alliances with peers who will glory in your every failure, write novels."

Of the guest stars, the actresses playing Leonora and Orlando were especially good. I do notice that some of the sharpness of the novels is lost when it comes to politics. I mean, The Silkworm, the novel, has passages like this: : Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, was announcing plans to slash 350 million pounds from the legal aid budget. Strike watched through his haze of tiredness as the florid, paunchy man told Parliament that he wished to 'discourage people from restoring to lawyers whenever they face a problem, and instead encourage them to consider more suitable methods of dispute resolution.' He meant, of course, that poor people ought to relinquish the services of the law. Nothing like it on tv. But the result still doesn't feel as awfully castrated as the tv version of The Casual Vacancy, which lost all the bite and anger and ruined what might not have been a masterpiece but was a novel with genuine points to raise by turning it into inoffensive blandness, more angry reviews here, possibly because such asides aren't the main issue in the Galbraith novels.

In other news, [community profile] missy_fest has been revealing one Missy story per day-ish. This was the smallest ficathon I ever participated in, but a delight to write and read, and as soon as it's de-anonymized, I'm going to link and talk about the story I wrote. Meanwhile, check out the one I received, which was The Master's Faithful Companion (Forever or Just A Day Remix), which remixed my story Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

remix and other festathons

Sep. 18th, 2017 03:30 pm
isis: Write what you're told! (micah wright)
[personal profile] isis
Hopefully if you're planning on signing up for [community profile] trickortreatex you've already done so, as sign-ups close in under 3 hours. (Of course, you can always write treats!) I've been diddling with my offers but I think I'm set. Ordinarily I think of it as warm-up for [community profile] yuletide, but considering that I've been doing a lot of exchanges recently (maybe too many) it's not exactly that for me this year!

Speaking of exchanges-in-progress, I've got the next two weeks to finish my [community profile] femslashex fic - I finally got a good grip on what I want to write and it's going like gangbusters now - and to incorporate beta changes into my [community profile] crossovering fic. Then it will be time to write whatever I get assigned for [community profile] trickortreatex, and to sign up for [community profile] yuletide. Whew!

But one exchange is done and dusted, and that is [community profile] remixrevival! There are two remixes of my work, one in the main exchange and one in madness, both in Raven Cycle fandom, and I have no idea if they are by different people, though each was done with a different approach. And even though this isn't a gift exchange, I'm delighted by both of them and happily ticked the "link to this related work" button, because they're both great, and I enjoyed reading them even though I'm not really in the fandom any more.

But to return, and view the cheerful skies (1727 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Raven Cycle - Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Ronan Lynch/Adam Parrish
Characters: Ronan Lynch, Adam Parrish
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Long-Distance Relationship, Murder Squash Song, Remix
Summary: Come visit, Adam didn’t say, because at some point before he even met Ronan, he had set himself this idiotic challenge: he would do everything he could to prove to himself that he could make it alone.

This is a sequel to a ficlet I wrote for [personal profile] jain a few years ago for [community profile] fandom_stocking, but it also stands alone as an exploration of the same basic idea (so therefore it's a legit remix), and the author very subtly brought it into compliance with the last book in the series, which hadn't been published at the time I wrote the original. Stylistically it's fabulous (and exactly the style I love to read), the details are delightful, and the ending made me grin a little and tear up a little and I'm not even in the fandom any more.

Disappearing Act (the Smarter than I Look remix) (950 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Raven Cycle - Maggie Stiefvater
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Noah Czerny/Joseph Kavinsky
Characters: Noah Czerny, Joseph Kavinsky, Ronan Lynch, Richard Gansey III
Additional Tags: Non-Consensual Oral Sex, Ghost Sex, Supernatural Elements
Summary:

Kavinsky's still around, which means he's still dangerous. There are ways to change that. But they're not fun.

This is a remix of a nasty little noncon story I originally wrote as a kinkmeme fill, but what's brilliant about it is that the author used a POV shift to completely change the meaning of the original story, revealing the original POV as an unreliable narrator. This is one of my favorite devices in fiction - it's a feature of the brilliant Iain Pears book An Instance of the Fingerpost, and I've used it in remixes before - and it shows that Noah has agency, rather than being the victim.

While I'm talking remixes, have a few recs:

Underworld (the Etruscan pottery remix) (5 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Etruscan Mythology
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Original Female Character/Original Female Character
Characters: Original Female Character(s), Vanth (Etruscan Mythology), Karun (Etruscan Mythology), Tuchulcha (Etruscan Mythology)
Additional Tags: Digital Art, Fanart, Etruscan mythology - Freeform, Red-figure vase painting, Underworld
Summary: "I could not leave you here alone," Thana said./Velia folded her hands over Thana's. "I wanted you to live, my love."/"I know," Thana said. "But I could not leave you here."

This is beautiful fanart, which makes a bit more sense after you've read the (linked) original story, which is a sort of f/f Orpheus story, also very good and makes sense even if you're not familiar with Etruscan mythology.

Down the Garden Path (and what Alice found there) (4517 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 5/5
Fandom: Alice In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
Additional Tags: Dreams and Nightmares, Dreams vs. Reality, Non-Linear Narrative, Board Games, Pastiche, Poetry, journeys, Nursery Rhymes, Werewolves
Summary: Alice throws a six, and finds herself on the square of the hypotenuse. But she's been here before, and she'll be here again, and perhaps she's already here...

This amazing expansion of the original ficlet is fantastic, in both literal and figurative senses. The early bits are perfect pastiche of Carroll's nonsense, and then the later chapters are really quite transcendental, bringing sense to the nonsense and gathering all the elements together in a lovely way.

Of course I wrote something for the exchange as well, though it's unlikely that you'll stumble over it unless you know the fandom. I'll post about it when works are revealed next week.

15 Characters Meme

Sep. 18th, 2017 01:31 pm
selenak: (uptonogood - c.elisa)
[personal profile] selenak
1. Norma Bates (Bates Motel version)

2. Philip Jennings (The Americans)

3. Missy (aka Gomez!Master) (Doctor Who)

4. Jimmy McGill (Better Call Saul)

5. Rachel Duncan (Orphan Black)

6. James McGraw/Captain Flint (Black Sails)

7. Ahsoka Tano (Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

8. Bernie Gunther (Philip Kerr: The Bernie Gunther Mysteries)

9. Sarah Connor (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)

10. Alfred of Wessex (The Last Kingdom)

11. Andra'ath/Miss Quill (Class)

12. Londo Mollari (Babylon 5)

13. Phyllis Crane (Call the Midwife)

14. Doc Holliday (Wynona Earp incarnation)

15. Jessica Jones (MCU version)

And you came up with some awesome prompts!

Now the questions: )
selenak: (Scarlett by Olde_fashioned)
[personal profile] selenak
I've acquired new fandoms and revisited some old ones since the last time I did this, thus, from [personal profile] astrogirl:


1) Make a list of fifteen characters first, and keep it to yourself for the moment.

2) Ask your f-list to post questions in the comments. For example: "One, nine, and fifteen are chosen by a prophecy to save the world from four. Do they succeed?", "Under what circumstances might five and fourteen fall in love?", "Which character on the list would you most want on your side in a zombie invasion?"

3) After your f-list has stopped asking questions, round them up and answer them using the fifteen characters you selected beforehand, then post them.

Also, this unique summary of A Legacy Of Spies cracks me up. :)

Yum.

Sep. 17th, 2017 09:48 am
kass: apples and honey (apples)
[personal profile] kass
It's one of my favorite flavors of the year, and it's one I only taste at this season: coffee-infused honeycake batter, licked off of the scraping spoon after I put the pans in the oven.

annoying Calibre plug-in problems

Sep. 17th, 2017 01:26 am
ratcreature: Tech-Voodoo: RatCreature waves a dead chicken over a computer. (voodoo)
[personal profile] ratcreature
Normally I download fanfic from AO3 into Calibre with that FanFicFare plugin, because that is very convenient and imports all the meta data.

However as of the most recent update (to 2.17.1) it won't download locked content anymore. I get an error that it can't log in, even though my password hasn't changed and I can log in via browser. It also still downloads non-locked fanfic form AO3 without problem. Does anyone else have this problem?

ETA: Googling found me some recent message board posts by the FanFicFare creator, explaining that AO3 has changed its login process to disallow automated tools to download locked stories. That is inconvenient.

Dear Trick-or-Treater!

Sep. 16th, 2017 03:59 pm
isis: (harry punkin)
[personal profile] isis
I like: historical (if appropriate) and worldbuildy detail, scenery porn, what-if AUs, original characters, time travel, bodyswap, ghost/afterlife stories, mythological and supernatural elements, and magical realism. I like gen, het, slash, and femslash. In general I'm not a fan of AU that completely changes the setting, but if you have a brilliant idea, go for it; I would prefer "interesting" to "mundane" AUs, e.g., in SPAAAACE yes, coffeeshop no. (Coffeeshop in SPAAAACE, okay!).

In fic: I prefer past tense to present tense, though don't feel constrained by this preference if your story really wants to be in present tense. I don't really care for second-person narration, but again, feel free to slip this preference if you have a fantastic idea. I'm happy with epistolary fic. I like lots of dialogue. If you want to create IF, go for it!

In art: I like both serious portraits and funny little cartoons. I have a soft spot for art in which one character is doing something typical-but-alarming, and the other is rolling his or her eyes, or reacting with horror, or getting ready to douse them with a bucket of water, or whatever. Stylistically, I love interesting and experimental compositions, unusual perspectives, emphasis on textures such as hair and clothing, and scenery porn (Mountains! Trees! Cliffs with water crashing on them! Brooding ruins of an ancient castle!) and I like line drawings as well as full color.

Tricks I would like: ghost stories (either scary or sweet), supernatural elements, afterlife stories, relationships between living characters and ghosts/spirits/supernatural entities, meddling deities, magical objects that do surprising things. I don't care for explicit horror, but I like mildly spooky things. In general I prefer happy endings, but see individual fandoms.

Treats I would like: romance, friendship, wacky hijinks, first kisses, first times (of anything), comedy of errors, matchmaking. Please don't add in any unrequested background non-canonical relationship. Explicit sex okay, non-explicit sex is okay, no sex is okay, but any sex should be in believable language for that era or fandom. UST, gen, whatever. It's all good. I certainly like explicit sex in fic, but I prefer more focus on the emotions than the physical mechanics, and my preferences are fairly vanilla: mouths, hands, genitals, toys, all are fine, but I'm not into BSDM or bloodplay or watersports or anything that might get a special tag.

I would prefer not to receive explicit horror (fic or art), any kink you'd specifically tag, or artwork that depicts explicit sex (NSFW R-rated is fine, NC17 showing genitals is not). I do not want any fic focusing on pregnancy, children, or with the A/B/O trope.

And now onto the specific fandoms. Please note that prompts may be spoilery. Also, I tend to go rather light on prompts, because if I had particular ideas, I'd write them myself! If none of my vague ideas appeal to you, I assure you that as long as you incorporate things I have said I like, and avoid things I have listed as dislikes, I will be happy with whatever you choose to create.

17776: What Football Will Look Like in the Future - Jon Bois (Juice, Nine, Ten) )

The Mark of the Horse Lord - Rosemary Sutcliff (Conory, Murna, Midir, Phaedrus) )

Old Kingdom - Garth Nix (Original Clayr, Lirael, Nicholas, Sameth) )

The Shining Company - Rosemary Sutcliff (Prosper, Faelinn) )

Wiedźmin | The Witcher (videogame) (Cirilla, Cerys, Sylvia Anna | Syanna) )

And then there's this

Sep. 16th, 2017 06:47 pm
selenak: (Black Widow by Endlessdeep)
[personal profile] selenak
The other day, I could hear Arundhati Roy present her new novel and talk about the situation in India today in Munich. And reinforced that by now, I'm not just bugged but disturbed by part of Kala's storyline in Sense8, because it's so exactly in contrast to Indian reality, and so exactly what a vicious government propagandist would want people to believe, that I'm starting to wonder whether the reason why the Wachowskis and JMS came up with it wasn't that they otherwise would not get permission to film in India. Spoilers for both seasons of Sense8. ) Why? Because consider the depth of current day Hindu fundamentalism from Modi (the PM) downwards. Arundhati Roy mentioned the saying "there are just two places for Muslims - the grave and Pakistan", which gets said by officials in the country with the second largest Muslim population in the world (Indonesia has the largest). People get lynched for the crime of possessing or eating beef. Modi belongs to the RSS, the same organisation Gandhi's assassin did, and the vocabulary of said assassin is now mainstream politics. A popular taunt makes the word "secular" into "sickular". An MP could say Arundhati Roy should be used as a human shield in the war in Kashmir to punish her dissent, and not get reprimanded but applauded. (For more, check out check out these statements by today's most famous Indian origin writers.) Basically: the kind of story Sense8 tells is about as likely to happen in this India as a story about, say, a rabid atheist rising in Saudi Arabia's government and starting to persecute Muslims would be. Or, to bring it closer to home, a story about a fanatic atheist becoming a US government official and starting to surpress Christians. Which, of course, is what Breitbart & Co. tell their ilk already happened under each Democratic president. ("War on Christmas", anyone?) Which tells you what type of propaganda this is.

Now don't get me wrong: I don't believe the Wachowskis and JMS are aware. At first, I thought it was simply that they wanted Kala to be a faithful believer and needed some type of conflict for her that wasn't about her not wanting to get married, picked Hinduism as the most popular Indian religion (and the one with the film friendly statues), and didn't do much research about the Indian present. But now I wonder whether they did tell some staff member to do research, and that person came back with this storyline, getting it as a condition for the crew filming Kala's story in India. Because it's just too perfect BJP propaganda to come across by accident, my inner conspiracy theorist says.

For distraction, something lighthearted:

Avengers


Up in the air, Junior Birdman: in which the Avengers (plus Maria Hill, Sam Wilson and Rhodey) go camping. Set at some point between the frst and second movie, this Natasha-centric story is ensemble-tastic, and has Bruce as co-lead.

Gratitudes

Sep. 16th, 2017 11:52 am
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
[personal profile] kass
1. Tasty leftovers for lunch: baked rice (lemon, cinnamon, curry leaves), topped with spicy kale (ginger, soy, and a hot red pepper from the CSA) with a dollop of chicken schmaltz just to make the whole thing richer and more flavorful.

2. Rereading the introduction to The Bitch is Back this morning and being both comforted and inspired by the existence of many smart, thoughtful, passionate women determined to wrest the most out of midlife.

3. The fact that my son, who is going on eight, still wanted nail polish this weekend and still watches Shimmer & Shine.

4. Beautiful warm late-summer day, which means I'm still wearing sleeveless shirts and sandals, both of which make me happy.

5. I'm going to give myself a pedicure this afternoon. \o/!

How are y'all?

Yuletide noms!

Sep. 14th, 2017 06:24 pm
astolat: lady of shalott weaving in black and white (Default)
[personal profile] astolat
They close tomorrow so hurry and get your nominations in!

Mine are:

Witcher: Geralt, Emhyr, Ciri, Dandelion (duh)

Dragonriders of Pern: Menolly, Robinton (I totally want Menolly/Robinton NOT SORRY)

Dune (the book): Paul, Jessica, Stilgar, Feyd -- I don't know exactly what I want here, I think I want some outsider POV on Paul maybe?

My runners-up were:

Rome: Pullo, Vorenus, maybe Octavian -- man, I would love a story that undid what the show did to Octavian in S2 so much

Gladiator: Maximus, Commodus

Brimstone: Ezekiel, The Devil

Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon: Eric, Hank, Sheila, Venger

Battle of the Planets: Mark, Jason

and my perennial hope-springs-eternal Dracula: the Series: Lucard (hope doesn't really spring very far lol)

I am totally not mentioning these here in hopes that someone has a spare nom they wouldn't mind using on one of these. ;)

wednesday reads 'n things

Sep. 13th, 2017 03:25 pm
isis: winged Isis image (wings)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. Short graphic novel that is a bit darker than I had expected. Well done and a quick, entertaining read.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan, which is book 1 in the Trials of Apollo series. I didn't even know about this series until someone mentioned it in relation to the Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase books! I love how these book series interweave. Riordan's genius is in humor that is both silly and poignant, with heartfelt sentiment at its core. The god Apollo may be a total jerk, but as a human teen he is forced to confront his egoism and poor choices of the past, and maybe he'll come out of it a better, er, god. (Also, I am so pleased by the setup for the next book, and am anxiously awaiting my library hold to come through!)

What I'm reading now:

I'm still sort of poking at Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, but if it doesn't grab me soon I'm ditching it.

I'm also somewhere in the middle (I have no idea how far in I am, really, because my waterproof mp3 player has no display) of Airborn by Matt Cruse, which is reminding me more of Steampunk Tom Sawyer than anything else. I'm enjoying it, though some of the events (the volcano that happens to start erupting as they go by!) make me roll my eyes.

What I'm reading next:

I have a couple of things people have mentioned nominating for Yuletide on my phone to check out. Also, I may give in and read the last of the existing Expanse books. (But then there won't be any more! Not for a while!)

What I just finished watching:

Finally saw Ex Machina, which I mostly liked but really, I wanted more scenery porn. Apparently it was filmed in Norway. Beautiful! Oh, yeah, AI robot plot and mad scientist type, whatever.

We are thinking of starting Westworld, speaking of AI robots.

What I'm playing now:

Still Dragon Age: Origins, which continues to be excellent entertainment. I have a golem companion now, who is a hilariously sarcastic pigeon-hating pile of rocks that is good at bashing enemies. Also I can't manage to make my character be anything other than basically lawful good. I am terrible at choosing objectively awful responses to things, even when they look like they might have interesting results!

What I'm playing next:

I bought the second Witcher game for $3 from a Humble Bundle promotion, so I will give that a try next.

Hillary Clinton: What Happened

Sep. 13th, 2017 04:15 pm
selenak: (Rocking the vote by Noodlebidsnest)
[personal profile] selenak
Briefly; originally I intended to wait for the library to feature What Happened, but the sheer amount of hate Hillary Clinton's book has already produced made me buy it in a hurry. Having read it yesterday, mostly I agree with this review on its major strengths and weaknesses. (My main area of disagreement is with the reviewer's screpticism re: the role of sexism in the election and her comparison between the respective type of hoslitiy aimed at Hillary vs her husband, John Kerry and Mitt Romney.) Therefore, I'll add some trivial observations of my own which are pop culture related:

1.) Wasn't surprised to learn that Hillary, as opposed to The Orange Menace, loved her SNL counterpart. Up and including Kate-as-Hillary singing Halleluja post election.

2.) Was amused that of the various new terms the internet coined in recent years, her favourite is "Mansplaining". (""The second I heard it, I thought"Yes! We needed a word for that.") Of course, the sheer number of guys currently mansplaining what REALLY happened in the election to Hillary Clinton was also predictable.

3.) HC also mentions The Good Wife among the shows she's watched post election for distraction. Given the various comparisons the show draws between the Clintons and the Florricks (my favourite being the Diane and Will conversation where he admits to not getting it and says Peter and Alicia are Bill and Hillary on acid), enquiring minds wonder how distracting that one could have been. Mind you, Hillary is way more positive about Bill in this book (and per previous one) than Alicia ever was about Peter. What Happens includes not just a wry "I heard it again in the 2016 campaign: that 'we must have an arrangement' (we do, it's called a marriage)" and lots of praise for his unwavering support but a straightforward love declaration as well as the statement that if she'd known what was ahead, dark times, public humiliation and all, she'd still marry him again without hesitation.

4.) She loved that pony meme as a summary of her dynamic with Bernie Sanders, and I have to confess it cracked me up as well.

5.) Apparently her Game of Thrones reference ("They shouted "Guilt!Guilty!" like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones shouting "Shame! Shame!" while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep") is held up as an example of Hillary not getting that Cersei is a villain? Which, well. There are lot of times GoT doesn't want you to sympathize with Cersei. That sequence, though, wasn't one of them.

6.) I don't know the woman, so I have no idea whether or not the book is Hillary Clinton unrestrained, but she certainly sounds like it. ("The President of China had to explain the complexity of the North Korea challenge to him. 'After listening for ten minutes, I realized it's not so easy,' Trump said. Can you hear my palm slapping my forehead?") Also, on Comey: "(Comey) said that he was 'mildly nauseous' at the idea that he influenced the outcome of the election. Hearing that made me sick." I have a bit more sympathy for Comey than she does, but yeah, no kidding.


Generally speaking, I found the book easier to read than her previous memoirs, not least because of her greater focus on one particular era and set of issues.

Gratitudes

Sep. 12th, 2017 04:03 pm
kass: orange aspen leaves, "zen fen" (aspen zen fen)
[personal profile] kass
1. Kitten. With his little kitten face, and his giant kitten paws, and his blissed-out kitten squinty-eyes while lounging on my desk in a sunbeam and licking my fingers.

2. Thanks to [personal profile] heresluck posting her recipe for Keralan pepper chicken last week I was inspired to get curry leaves (one can buy them on Amazon! which is useful to know if one lives in a small town as I do), and then I was inspired to ask her what else she cooks with them, and now I am making lemon, cinnamon, and curry leaf basmati rice.

3. It is warm this afternoon. Warm and beautiful and sunny and the crickets and cicadas are singing their song.

4. I have a big work deadline coming up and I am reaching a state of calm about it. As in: the really important things will get done. The things that don't get done...? Must not be that important. ::grin:: We'll see if I can sustain this attitude through the next couple of weeks (not likely, but one lives in hope.)

5. Tonight [personal profile] kouredios will come over and we will have dinner and watch some Gilmore Girls again. It's nice to be getting back to that routine.

How are y'all?

A trailer and a story

Sep. 12th, 2017 12:12 pm
selenak: (Ashoka and Anakin by Welshgater)
[personal profile] selenak
Trailer spotted: The Man Who Invented Christmas seems to be trying to take the Shakespeare in Love approach to Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. The following thoughts occured to me in no particular order:

- Dan Stevens is actually made to look like a young Charles Dickens and has something of that manic energy, but:

- as Dickens' favourite daughter Kate Perugini put it, writing to George Bernard Shaw: "If you could make the public understand that my father was not a jolly, jocose gentleman walking about the earth with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch you would greatly oblige me."

- no such luck, Kate, not with this movie. Though Dickens really wasn't

- I know I complain about Mark Gatiss written episodes of Doctor Who a lot, but his very first one, The Unquiet Dead, actually did something more interesting with the basic idea of Dickens + Christmas Carol + supernatural elements than this trailer indicates

- why is it that "based on a true story" movies that tackle author plus famous work always feel the need to pretend the author in question had writers block and/or dire difficulties before hitting on the inspiration for the famous work? Do we blame Stoppard for this one, too? Finding Neverland did it as well, and it's just as untrue here (neither Barrie nor Dickens were when writing Peter Pan and Christmas Carol respectively in any type of financial or inspirational difficulties)

- the idea of Charles Dickens, of all the people, having writers' block is hilarious, though, because his problem was more the opposite. Neil Gaiman in the Sandman story Calliope lets Dream curse a writer with literally unending inspiration (spoiler: it's not a boon when you write your fingers bloody because you really can't stop), and Dickens wasn't quite there, but nearly.

Mind you, the film makers are probably safe to assume most tv watchers know zilch about Dickens' biography. But not for the first time, I wonder whether a miniseries wouldn't be a great format to tackle that, Dickens in his morally ambiguous complexity, covering the whole life from child-of-a-conman Charles to celebrated writer, philantropist and terrible husband Dickens going on one last reciting tour. Abi Morgan did a good job with The Invisible Woman, taking one particular part of his life, and she has tv experience, so she'd be my first choice to write such a series.

Meanwhile, in another fandom, to wit, Star Wars:

Balance Point: now by now there are some stories in which Force Ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi haunts Vader, but this story is the first one which lets someone else who used to be close to Anakin Skywalker do so instead, and executes that premise beautifully.Spoilers for Star Wars: Rebels ensue. )

Multifandom recs

Sep. 11th, 2017 06:01 pm
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
[personal profile] selenak
The Americans:

While pondering whether or not to volunteer for The Americans this Yuletide, I checked whether there were new stories since last year, and indeed there were. I especially liked:


It's never over: a look at Oleg in season 5.

My last night: Philip and Elizabeth post Martha.

The Defenders:

Saints in Effigy a Claire pov on her relationships.

MCU:

Spider-Sitting: what Happy Hogan thinks about basically being made Peter's handler.

Gratitudes

Sep. 9th, 2017 07:55 pm
kass: glasses of pink wine (rose)
[personal profile] kass
1. The tapestry of sound at twilight: crickets, cicadas, the occasional distant whistle of a train.

2. Mister Adorable Kittenface. Even if he's being a little bit bitey today and attempting to gnaw on me with his teeny tiny little teeth.

3. A glass of rosé, because rosé.

4. I finished Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books and they are quite charming.

5. Today I wrote a work thing that really, really needed to be written. It's only a draft, so with any luck I'll manage to improve it, but worst-case instance, now it exists. Go me.

How are y'all this evening?
selenak: (Partners in Crime by Monanotlisa)
[personal profile] selenak
In which our author in a way comes full circle, going back to the territory of his third novel and big breakthrough, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, as well revisiting some of his most famous characters in this and later novels, to wit, George Smiley and friends. Though Smiley himself, in present day, only makes a cameo appearance at the very end. He's the Luke Skywalker to this novel's The Force Awakens, looked and searched for throughout the story by everyone, and none more so than a younger adlatus, who only tracks him down at the end of it. Mind you, "younger" in this case is relative, since the man in question is a senior citizen himself. He's also our narrator, and none other than Peter Guillam, possibly familiar to non-readers because Benedict Cumberbatch played him in the more recent cinematic version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy gets referenced a lot, and there are some other veterans from it making appearances, notably Jim Prideaux towards the end, but really, the Le Carré novel which this one serves as a remix, bookending, counterpart, whatever you want to call it as remains the earlier The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. The one which which, in pop culture consensus, Le Carré reinvented the spy genre, presenting a counter vision to James Bond in the form of his shabby, worn down civil servants and the way the Western side of the Cold War was presented as performing morally ambigous to downright villainous acts. (Mind you, as Le Carré himself acknowledged, Graham Greene went there before him, but Le Carré still popularized the type.) The film version had Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, and Alec Leamas is the (dead) character most revisited in A Legacy of Spies.

The premise: Peter Guilllam, enjoying retirement in France (the Bretagne to be precise, as he's half Breton and spent his early childhood there before being dumped into the horror of a British public school), gets summoned to London and given the unwelcome news that the children of Alec Leamas, Elizabeth Gold (and as it turns out the offspring of a third party who is new to the saga) are sueing the British government for what happened to their parents at the end of the earlier novel. (If you don't recall Leamas and Gold having kids in said book/film, don't worry; this is meant to be news to the reader, though Guillam knew about Alec Leamas' illegitimate son, if not about Gold's illegitimate-given-up-to-adoption daughter. Since the current secret service and government has no intention of being embarrassed, that means they need some individual to blame, and with Smiley mysteriously unable to find, this means Guillam as the sole survivor of "Operation Widfall", as it was called.

In practical terms, this means we're getting both flashbacks from Guillam and lots of excerpts from reports made at the time by various parties concerned. Le Carré avoids just rehashing old material (only viewed from the other perspective, as opposed to that of Alec Leamas) by not arriving at the actual events of The Spy... until the last third. Before, we get the backstory, involving Leamas as head of Berlin station and Guillam as a courier. It's also Le Carré's opportunity for a good old suspense plot; the extraction of an asset. Meanwhile, in the present day, the various current day "Circus" members are gleefully skewered and satirized in their fake chummyness. (Footnote: one of them is called "Bunny", which is all you need to know. Is there ever a male character named Bunny who isn't an object of satire to his author?) Guillam, being a Le Carré spy (retired), lies of course to his investigators. Whether or not he also lies to himself regarding his motives at various points is up to the reader.

Nitpicks: for starters, I think Le Carré is making things easy for the readers as who to sympathize with, which didn't use to be the case. Having established the "children sue" premise, he goes out of his way to not allow any narrative identification with them. Elizabeth Gold's daughter (and btw, the gender choice - a daughter for Liz Gold, a son for Alec Leamas - is another thing that strikes me as lazy) never makes it on screen, err, page, she's only referred to; Alex Leamas' son Christoph (half German, because of course he is) first shows up in the flashback as a sullen teenager, then in the present as a money-hungry thug, and by the time it's revealed that some spoilers ensue ), it's too late for the readers. The son of the new character, the asset Leamas and Guillam first had to cultivate and then to extract, an East German secretary code named Tulip, gets a bit more development in that he's presented as likeable as a child and the way he's as an adult is clearly due to what happened to his mother and the choices our heroes made back in the day. But again, he gets just one scene. Meanwhile, Leamas, Smiley (in the flashbacks - when I said cameo appearance only, I meant present day George Smiley, the one in the 50s and 60s gets a lot of scenes) and Guilllam himself get a lot of pages to show their mental and emotional state about those hard choices.

Secondly, it's not until the last third when a sympathetic female character not romantically involved with any of our male regulars shows up; she's Tabitha, Guillam's thoroughly unimpressed lawyer, and she's great, but until then, Le Carré leaves us with types: Spoilers explain a bit ). Since Le Carré in an article about the recent tv version of The Night Manager freely admitted the best thing about it was the gender change that allowed Olivia Colman to play the handler character, I'm surprised that he didn't at least try to get out of his boys' club mentality for this novel. Make Christoph a Christine, for example, who still is damaged, has spent some time in prison and is on a revenge quest, and then even with the drawback mentioned above you immediately have a more interesting character. Granted: as a rule, you don't read Le Carré for his female characters (with the odd exception), you read him for the various male characters with myriad issues neurotically interacting with each other, and as always, he delivers a plenty.

Thirdly, for a novel which has a trial looming as a threat, it's a bit frustrating that spoilers happen ).

Not a nitpick, just an observation: if you're only familiar with the recent movie version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and not either the 70s tv version or the novel, you might be surprised and/or annoyed that Peter Guillam isn't gay in A Legacy of Spies, but this was a movie-only thing, not mentioned or indicated in the original novel. Though while Guillam's het affairs are plot revelant, I admit he'd have been a more interesting character to me if Le Carré had decided to make him at least bi. Anyway, this novel isn't a case of a narrator truly telling his own story, it's more a case of the narrator telling other people's stories, in this case, Leamas', Smiley's and Tulip's.

Lastly: if The Spy Who Came In From The Cold advanced the cause of shadiness in the spy genre, it for all its moral ambiguity - Spoilers for a spy novel and movie classic ) - it did so with the underlying assumption that it was still justified by the need to not let the Soviet Union win the Cold War. A Legacy of Spies, written by a much older John Le Carré who is thoroughly disgusted by current day politics, has its narrator wonder increasingly what any of it was for. And then George Smiley in his Old Luke Skywalker cameo answers that question with a passionate declaration that's very obviously also an authorial fourth wall breaking, of a writer in the age of Brexit and Trump. Smiley, on why he did the things he did:

"For world peace, whatever that is? Yes, yes, of course. There will be no war, but in the struggle for peace no stone will be left standing, as our Russian friends used to say. (...) Or was it all in the great name of capitalism? God forbid. Christendom? God forbid again. (...) So was it all for England, then?" he resumed. "There was a time, of course there was. But whose England? Which England? England all alone, a citizen of nowhere? I'm a European, Peter. If I had a mission - if I ever was aware of one beyond our business with the enemy, it was to Europe. If I was heartless, I was heartless for Europe. If I had an unattainable ideal, it was to lead Europe out of her darkness towards a new age of reason. I have it still.

It's the last sentence that draws the line between nihilistic despair and critique allied to resolve and hope, despite it all.

Of ficathons and story plans

Sep. 8th, 2017 11:33 am
selenak: (Uthred and Alfred)
[personal profile] selenak
Back after a week of hiking and little online access, I managed to finish my story for the Missy Remix just in time. Phew.

Meanwhile, Yuletide nominations are nearly upon us. Of the new fandoms I've discovered for myself this year, I still want to nominate The Last Kingdom - anyone wilth so we can get more characters in? I'd also nominate Wynona Earp, but it's above the limit due to the popularity of the Waverly/Nicole pairing. Class, otoh, should qualify despite the Doctor Who connection. (I mean, if individual MCU projects like Ant Man make the cut...) And since it's now officially cancelled, I feel the need for fanfic more than ever. Any willing Class nominators, again, to get more character options if we coordinate our efforts?

Book-wise, I won't nominate the Bernie Gunther mysteries because a) no one will pick that one up, and b) I have just one particular idea for a story, which would be an Agent Carter crossover, and finding the odd person who enjoys both Agent Carter and those novels would be even more difficult than finding someone willing to write for a WW II era book series set mostly inside Germany and occupied territories. Also, I might write that story myself, it's one of those "if I ever find the time" things. It would copy the structure of the later Gunther novels, i.e. switch back and forth between two eras, WWII and the 50s. During WWII, when Goebbels launches his big propaganda coup of inviting all and sunder to check out the newly discovered Katyn massacre site, Peggy is undercover among the reporters, with a mission (she thinks) to find out the truth and expose the Nazis for liars, only to discover to her horror that in this particular case, the Nazis actually said the truth, the Soviets did committ the massacre in question, but to admit this would sabotage relationships among the Allies and thus the Allied war effort which means her actual mission becomes burying the evidence. Meanwhile, the novels have Bernie Gunther in Katyn investigating that very event, so their paths would inevitably cross, and their interests clash but in some areas coincide. Cutting dialogue and murky ethical territory on both sides guaranteed. On the other hand, in the 50s, Bernie is the one on the run under a variety of false names while Peggy has just founded SHIELD and is on the rise when a murder happens that involves some former Hydra member who's been adopted via Operation Paperclip, and she needs an outside investigator who knows his way among former and not so former Nazis without being one, and won't be deterred should the killer be one of hers, either.

Morning gratitudes

Sep. 7th, 2017 10:15 am
kass: a latte in a teacup with a heart shape drawn in the foam (latte)
[personal profile] kass
1. A latte. Because today is grey and there needed to be espresso.

2. A haircut! I have ears again! The best thing about having short hair is the delightful feeling of getting shorn again.

3. Earlier this week, [personal profile] kouredios and I watched an ep of Gilmore Girls for the first time in months upon months. I had forgotten how much I like these characters.

4. Tonight [personal profile] squirrelhaven and [personal profile] outsidetheparty and their kid are coming over for dinner, so I'm making green chicken enchiladas.

5. Kitten. Because kitten.

How are y'all this morning?

wednesday, you know the drill

Sep. 6th, 2017 02:58 pm
isis: (Default)
[personal profile] isis
What I've recently finished reading:

The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato, which is the sequel to The Clockwork Dagger. It's a solid conclusion to this "duology", though really it could have been published as a single book. Octavia and Alonzo flee to Tamarania; instead of airships and buzzers, we have mecha battles, but really, under the steampunk trappings it's a solid fantasy story about the politics of this invented world, and the real power behind its mythology and religion. The romance is still the weakest part, but the plot is inventive and interesting, the worldbuilding fascinating, and Cato sticks the ending.

The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal). A collection of panels and short cartoons about running, some of which you've probably seen online on The Oatmeal or social media. Inman does an excellent job of explaining his take on running through surprisingly earnest self-deprecating humor; at least parts of it will resonate with any runner, and hopefully it will inspire non-runners.

Suradanna and the Sea by Rebecca Fraimow, a lovely f/f-ish novella about accidental immortals. (I actually read this last week but forgot to put it in my post.) Free online!

What I'm reading now:

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. So far I'm finding it very hard to figure out what's going on, which is largely the fault of the format; it's a library downloadable ebook from Overdrive, and everything is in a single font with nothing italicized or otherwise set off differently, which makes it tough when much of at least these first chapters is quotations and attributions, and sort of play-format dialogue (I think!), so I may have to find a physical copy.

What I'm reading next:

I've got Anya's Ghost, a graphic novel by Vera Brosgol, from the library, mostly because I noticed it in the tag sets of various recent challenges. Maybe a new fandom, just in time for Trick-or-Treat!

I also just bought a waterproof mp3 player, since I'm stuck swimming (which I don't mind) and pool-running (boooooring) due to an injury which is likely to take months to heal. It arrived today and I immediately loaded Kenneth Opel's Airborn onto it; I had gotten it from the SYNC summer program but had only listened to a little bit before I injured myself. Now I can listen to the whole thing!
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