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( Star Wars )
( Stargate: Atlantis )
( Babylon 5 )
( Battlestar Galactica )
( Batman )
( Superman Movieverse )
( Terminator )
( Doctor Who/Torchwood )
( Buffy: the Vampire Slayer )
( Star Trek )
( Vorkosiverse )
( Marvel )
( Miscellaneous Fandoms--Outlaws of Sherwood, Enchanted Forrest Chronicles, Starfire Series, Rio Bravo, Big Fish, the Bible, Honor Harrington, Pride and Prejudice, and Chalionverse )
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For the past several years, a slowly-getting-louder vocal minority of poo-slinger dudebros has been whining about how "biased" the Hugos are because their poorly-written white-male-power idfics don't get nominated. Vox Day (aka Theodore Beale) is by far the loudest. He's also stated publicly that he doesn't even really care about winning any more, he just wants to destroy the Hugos. So last year he put together a slate of like-minded authors with Hugo-eligible works, called it the "Sad Puppy" slate, and urged his followers to nominate them. They did, and those works got on the ballot, and none of them won for obvious reasons. (If they'd had actual good works of SF with enough literary merit to be worthy of a Hugo, they might have had a chance. And the Hugos have historically been very easy to game in the nominating phase and very hard to game in the voting phase, because there are a lot of people who vote every year but never nominate.)
This year, Vox Day's Sad/Rabid puppy slate managed to game the system such that there are six whole categories with NOTHING but Rabid Puppy nominations. He did this by calling on GamerGaters to flock to his banner and buy memberships solely for the purpose of hurting "SJWs" (Note: some of the authors whose works are on his slate were not aware of it before the nominations were done. Some of them have already withdrawn their work from consideration because of their disagreement with Vox Day and his tactics.)
Of the various responses to this that I've seen, Abigail Nussbaum's is the best at laying things out clearly.
How am I going to respond to this? Personally, I'm going to buy a supporting membership to Worldcon this year, and will vote for NO AWARD in the six categories they swept and instead of ranking their works in other categories. And next year, you can bet your sweet britches I'll be nominating works that actually deserve a Hugo.
This is a very long letter with lots of stuff, but DO NOT PANIC. I'm actually fairly easy to please; I am very rarely disappointed with a ficathon story. I write long and detailed Dear Author letters because I find such things helpful when I'm writing for other people; if you are like me, here you go! If your style is different and a detailed letter makes you feel hemmed-in, feel free to do what works for you.
The most important thing for me in a fic is that the characters are well-written and recognizably themselves. Even when I don't like a character, I don't go in for character-bashing. If nothing else, if the rest of this letter is too much or my kinks just don't fit yours, just concentrate on writing a good story with everyone in character and good spelling and grammar and I will almost certainly love what you come up with.
One thing: I do have an embarrassment squick, which makes humor kind of hit-or-miss sometimes. The kind of humor where someone does something embarrassing and the audience is laughing at them makes me uncomfortable because I identify too much with the person getting laughed at, so instead of being funny it is squicky. On the other hand, the kind of humor where the audience is laughing with the characters I really enjoy.
( General Preferences )
( Fandoms )
Fandom: Discworld - Terry Pratchett
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Havelock Vetinari, Samuel Vimes, Carrot Ironfoundersson, Roberta Meserole, Rufus Drumknott, Moist von Lipwig, William de Worde
Additional Tags: Havelock is a scary man, Character Study
Summary: A character study of Havelock Vetinari from a young child up as far as Unseen Academicals. Mentions of most of the major Ankh-Morpork players, especially Vimes. Takes off from Havelock's musings on the nature of evil in Unseen Academicals.
Vetinari is one of the most difficult characters to get right that I can imagine, and this character study nails him. Perfect.
Fandom: The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: James "Bucky" Barnes/Maria Hill
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Maria Hill, Pepper Potts, Natasha Romanov
Additional Tags: Post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Friendship, Pre-Relationship, Flirting
Summary: Stark's people expect Maria Hill to kick up a fuss when Steve Rogers brings back the Winter Soldier and so do most of the Avengers. In SHIELD, this would've been history repeating itself.
This is sweet and fun and so in character, I love it!
I am pleased to report that a new Cordelia Vorkosigan novel has been sold to Baen Books for publication, tentatively, in February of 2016.
The title is Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.
It is not a war story. It is about grownups.
And that is probably all I ought to say right now in a venue read by the spoiler-sensitive. It is, after all, a long haul till next February.
2016 will also mark the 30th anniversary of my first publication by Baen, which ought to be good for a little PR fun.
So, not QUITE a year until the next book, but almost--I can wait that long! It's better than being worried there wouldn't be any more new books. Lois has been calling herself "semi-retired" for a while, and you may note that the latest projects have been getting all her work into ebook form (particularly the ones with e-rights reverted to her) and getting an essay collection (basically previously published speeches and interviews) into ebook form ...
From what she's said on the Bujold email list, she had some medical procedures and the recovery from that always stops her writing for a while, but it was taking longer than usual this time because it was combined with various other rl events.
Anyway, I'm just sitting here squeeing, and reflecting on the title. It doesn't sound like a very Vorkosiverse title--doesn't sound like any of Bujold's previous titles, in fact. She tends toward short and pithy. "Brothers in Arms" "Memory" "The Sharing Knife" various place names, etc.
Also, I'm wondering about the Jole in the title. Same guy as was Aral's aide back in the Vor Game era? And if so, why "Gentleman" Jole, and not the appropriate military title of whatever era it's set in? And why Jole and Cordelia, instead of Jole and Aral, or at least Jole and Aral and Cordelia? I mean, it's possible that Jole and Aral and Cordelia stayed friends after Jole was transferred/promoted/got on with his career, but if they're still close enough to headline a book together after Aral's death, it makes me ponder dira 's Jole/Aral series and what that would look like decades on.
It feels to me like it's most likely not the same Jole, all things considered. Lois does like to recycle names. (Dubauer, anyone?)
Stephen Sondheim's musical Into the Woods deals more explicitly with the wolf in Red Riding Hood being a metaphor for predatory sexual exploitation than most modern versions, and Johnny Depp made it even more creeptastic in the recent Disney version.
( Red and the Wolf ) She's pleasant enough when he first says hello, then he spends a song literally yanking her around to get her to pay attention to him, and telling her what she should be doing (that she doesn't want to do and is actively trying to get away from.) In the end, she smiles and says Okay! and picks some flowers that he showed her, at which point he stops hassling her. (And, of course, this shows why appeasing the creep is a dangerous course to take, because he uses her delay to go find her granny, eat her, and set up to eat Red Riding Hood too.)
Here's the video so you can watch the whole creeptastic scene:
So far, it's not problematic at all. The wolf is a creep, and everyone knows it. Yay!
Here's the problem. Later on, when Red describes the whole thing to the Baker in “I Know Things Now,” she describes the wolf like this: “But he seemed so nice.”
I ask you, did the wolf seem “nice”? NO. He was not nice. He was, in fact, the creepiest creep to ever creep. And she knew it! She didn’t like his attention, she didn’t want his attention, she spends the entire song trying to get away from his attention! But a man is giving attention to a girl, she should be pleased, right? He's trying to give her things--flowers even--so she should appreciate it, right? The only way the wolf is "nice" is if you assume that any male attention to a female automatically is "nice" regardless of what kind of attention or whether she wants it or not.
But it's actually worse than that. Here's some context to that line:
"Mother said straight ahead
not to delay or be misled
I should have heeded her advice
but he seemed so nice.”
She tried to do the right thing. She did everything she possibly could to do what her mother told her and keep the wolf from misleading her. And now she’s blaming herself for the fact that he literally yanked her off the path. And the show just kind of accepts this version, in which Red bears some of the blame for the wolf's "seduction" of her. When, really, no, that's not what happened at all.
The whole song:
There’s actually some good and empowering stuff in the song, too, and I love it, but at the same time, eeeep!
If it actually reflected what had happened--if the wolf had been ambiguous and kinda nice, if Red had responded to him and chosen to go off the path with him, it would be a great song. As it is, it's pretty failtastic.
In the Apartment After the War (2778 words) by Beatrice_Otter
Fandom: Agent Carter (TV)
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Peggy Carter & Angie Martinelli
Betaed by: lilacsigil
Summary: When Jarvis showed them in to the swank "apartment" he's letting them use on Howard Stark's dime, Angie was incredulous. Awestruck. But not so incredulous that she lost sight of the important things.
( In the Apartment After the War )
Here are some of my favorites:
( Agent Carter to Agents of SHIELD, Iron Man to Avengers, and everything in between )
A Cavalry of Women (5794 words) by Anonymous
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Carter (TV), The Avengers (Marvel Movies), Captain America (Movies)
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Peggy Carter, Melinda May, Maria Hill, Natasha Romanov, Sharon Carter (Marvel)
Additional Tags: Betaed, Food, Conditioning, Triggers, SHIELD, Natasha Romanov Joins SHIELD, SHIELD Academy, Additional Warnings Apply, Red Room, Training, POV Peggy Carter, POV Natasha Romanov, Natasha Feels, POV Maria Hill, POV Melinda May, POV Sharon Carter, Women Being Awesome, BAMF Women, Women In Power, Women in the Military
Peggy has done everything she could, through all avenues--ladies magazines, soap operas, dance halls, tossing a coin and a word to known gossip-mongers, hell, even bribing someone to place slips in the damn sanitary napkin boxes--to get the word out that if you were a woman of age with certain qualities, apply for work.Peggy wants them. She wants all of them.
A look on the through-line from Peggy, at the very beginning of SHIELD, to Sharon, at the end. A look at how Melinda, Maria, Natasha, and Sharon came to join SHIELD, and how each of them inspired and motivated the others to succeed. A look at the women of SHIELD and how each of them (though very different) are ultimately the best at what they do.
Fandom: Star Wars
Rating: General Audiences
Characters: Princess Leia, Obi-wan Kenobi
Word Count: 1075
Written for: starwarsficfest, July 22, 2008.
Prompt: OT, Leia Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi: Obi-Wan escapes the Death Star alive - heroes.
AN: I just found this in my WIP files. It is a vignette that was written for the starwarsficfest on Livejournal in summer, 2008. I have no idea why I didn't post it; I must have intended to add something else, but it seems complete as-is, so I am posting it as-is.
Also available on AO3.
( She found him on top of the pyramid, sitting on one of the big stone blocks, watching the sky above )
I should also mention some other great rec communities, bestthingever and gensplosion. Happy reccing and reading!
Hrm. That's really difficult. I mean, I do have a degree in history and there are so many times and places where I would love to go back and be a fly on the wall. Or, better, hide some small cameras and/or audio bugs around key places and times. (As long as, you know, I didn't have to actually stay there.) If I were doing it for personal interest ... maybe the time of Christ, and follow him around?
You see, we have no historical documents about Jesus or any of his disciples. None. We have the Gospels and Acts, of course, but those are not history books and were never intended to be. (Even by the standards of the day, much less our standards.) This is what people who read the Bible today pretty much always miss. While the Bible tells true stories, that doesn't mean it tells factual ones.
Look, when a historian today works, they gather all the facts, sift through them, and try to figure out what they mean--to figure out, in other words, the truth. And if they get any of their facts wrong, they get ripped to shreds. But in ancient times, historians worked differently. They figured out what the truth was, and then figured out how best to arrange the facts and garnish them so as to help people understand that truth. Which is how you get things like Josephus giving us what he says is the speech given in the fortress of Masada the night before its inhabitants committed suicide to the last man. Either he "improved" things and there were survivors to tell him about the speech, or he made up the speech because he thought it would be the most interesting way of conveying to his listeners the ideals the Jewish rebels at Masada were fighting for. So even when you're reading history from the ancient world (or, in fact, any place prior to the Enlightenment, or any place where Western scientific theory hasn't come to dominate academia) you have to take that into account. They told history like a story and would sometimes alter/embellish the facts to fit or dramatize things.
But even by ancient standards, the Gospels are not history books. (There are history books in the Bible--Kings, Chronicles, Samuel--but they give very different pictures of the same events, and are definitely of the ancient model, which is not what we modern Western people expect history to be.) The Gospels are "gospels," in Greek "euangelions"--and if that looks familiar, it should, it's the word that "evangelism" comes from and literally it means "good news." The Gospels are designed to teach people the good news that Jesus came to bring through stories about Jesus' life. The theology is the important part, not the history. Which is why, for example, different Gospels record that Jesus was crucified on different days.* Jesus' death was near Passover and theologically connected to it, but different Gospels explained that connection in different ways, resulting in different days for the crucifixion. The theological point was more important than factual accuracy. And more than that: the effect of that theological point on the reader or hearer was the most important thing.
All of which means that (despite all the ink spilled on the subject) there is very little we know for sure about Jesus and his disciples, from a factual historical point of view. I've always been curious as to what actually happened, but it's not a matter of faith for me--that is, if I went back and found that things were very different from the way the Gospels tell the story, I doubt it would affect my faith because I don't read the Gospels for historical fact in the first place.
*Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the Synoptic Gospels) record that Jesus' last meal was a Passover meal (eaten on Passover Eve), and that he died the next day (still Passover, because the Jewish day starts at sunset). John, however, records that Jesus' last meal was an ordinary friendship meal the day before Passover Eve, and that Jesus died on the Day of Preparation (i.e. he died while the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple). John wants to hammer home that Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, the one who dies to save the people from the angel of death, so he dies as the lamb dies. The Synoptics want to hammer home that the Lord's Supper is connected to the Passover Meal, eaten the last night before the slaves become free, and Jesus' body and blood (in the form of bread and wine) are like the blood of the passover lamb, even though he doesn't die until later. All four make similar connections, but there are different shades of meaning. People argue: which day did Jesus die? (After all, he can't have died on both days, and he can't have had two Last Suppers.) I don't think it matters. I think that if the writers of the Gospels knew people were arguing about it and thought it was a major deal, they would have been shocked and horrified. But with our modern fact-based educations, that's the sort of thing we focus on.
But you know what other story I want to read? The one where it's a Jewish holiday and Steve absentmindedly mentions it to Tony ("Happy Chanukah!" or appropriate greeting for whichever holiday it is) and Tony is baffled because he's not Jewish (not anything, really, pretty much raised atheist), and Steve is Catholic (or Episcopalian, I've seen an interesting meta on what it would mean if Steve was an Irish Protestant, but whatever he is, definitely Christian.)
So then Steve is all, wait, but Howard was Jewish, and he didn't show it, but then things were a lot worse for Jews in those days, I thought you would be public with your religion/ethnicity!
And Tony is all, no, nope, nuh-uh, no Jewish background in the family that I know of.
And Steve goes, then how/why did Howard know Yiddish? Because a lot of the scientists on Project Rebirth were Jews, so Yiddish was spoken around the labs, and Steve never heard Howard speak it but he definitely understood what the others were saying when they were cursing people out or arguing or joking around in Yiddish, so.
And Tony's mind is blown, and he goes on an incredibly tacky orgy of self-discovery to "find his Jewish roots."
(schneefink, you may want to look away, because this will be FILLED with spoilers.)
Because it's awesome? Seriously. I mean, okay, it does have some flaws. There are parts where the dialogue is pretty clunky and definitely NOT helped by the fact that the supporting actors couldn't always, well, act. (Look, the main characters were pretty much all awesome actors, with the exception of Bruce Boxleitner who still did a decent job, but the guest stars were often pretty low-budget and given clunky scripts to work with and were simply not up to it.)
But the overall arc of plot, character development, worldbuilding, was breathtakingly groundbreaking in its day and is still a darn sight better than most of the long arc-driven shows we have today. It paved the way for every show since that had a long story to tell. Lost could not have happened without Babylon 5 showing the way. Except that Babylon 5's arc was better than just about any other TV show arc since. Most of them fizzle out or go weird or jump the shark; Babylon 5 didn't. It all fits together, particularly if you chop off season 5 which was an add-on. It makes sense in a way that a lot of the latter part of, say, Battlestar Galactica doesn't. Most arc-driven shows, they peter out or lose steam or the writers lose track of what they're aiming for or they never had an endpoint planned out in the first place and as time goes on it really shows and the whole thing falls apart.
The thing was, Babylon 5 was J. Michael Straczynski's baby, start to finish. He had a whole five season arc figured out from the beginning. Not only that, he had redundancy built in. For example, he knew he was going to need a Very Powerful Telepath for Reasons. Like, a telepath who is WAAAAAY more powerful than any other telepath ever. That was going to be Talia Winters (whose lover Jason Ironheart had been experimented on and turned into some sort of metahuman, and had given her a "gift" before he died that was supposed to be developed into the Very Powerful Telepathy needed for plot purposes). But Talia's actress left the show. So Joe Stracynski wrote her an awesome final episode ... which also happened to bring back Lyta Alexander, a telepath who'd been in the show's pilot, in which she telepathically "scanned" a Vorlon (a really mysterious and powerful alien) and then went off to try to contact the Vorlons, who then took her in and altered her and used her as a proxy, thus giving her the Very Powerful Telepathy needed to fill the plot arc originally filled by Talia. The two women were very different, character-wise and history-wise, yet either of them could fill the same plot arc, and when one replaced the other it felt like it had been planned that way all along. I still look back at that (and several other instances like that) and shake my head in wonder.
And the reason he could do that, that he had such tight control and move things around, is that he wrote most of the show. There's at least one season where he wrote every single episode himself. In a lot of ways, the series is like a novel written by one man. So, yeah, it didn't always get as polished as it could be, but dang. And even with all the places where the dialogue was clunky, there are other places where it's so incredibly awesome that it gives me chills.
When it first came on, of course, that wasn't why I loved it. No, I loved it because it had wonderful characters. The show was billed as "not Star Trek!" and it wasn't, but part of that was that the characters were allowed to be a lot more real and human and funny. And they were allowed to grow and change over the course of the series. Londo and G'Kar, for example, both start off very petty, and yet they also had heart and the possibility for something more. They both change dramatically over the course of the series, together and separately, and they both have reasons to do so. It feels natural. It feels like real life. They make mistakes, they learn, they grow, sometimes they backslide--they felt real. All of the main characters felt real and three-dimensional in a way you seldom get on TV or movies.
And the worldbuilding! Wow! Each alien race had a culture all their own, that felt three-dimenional, too. (Except maybe the Drazi.) Most SF shows, each alien species has A Characteristic. They're Stoic Warrior Aliens or they're Logical or they're whatever, and they all come from a planet that is All One Thing (a desert, or oceans, or whatever that one geographic feature is). But there were a lot of species on Babylon 5, and any that showed up more than once got developed into something deeper. Something complex. Something like a real culture might actually be like, with a history and everything. I love the Minbari the most, but the Centauri and the Narn both had some fascinating complexities.
And it had a message. Sometimes subtle, sometimes clunky, but it was about something. In a deeper way than Star Trek was, by that point. You can watch the show on a number of levels--just the SF action adventure, or the political commentary, or the religious level--there was always something to explore and go deeper in. You didn't have to delve into its message or buy into it to enjoy it, but it was there if you wanted it.
I loved it, and still do. I love the characters. I love the world. I love the thoughtfulness.