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Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
10:18 pm - Collected Fanfiction Post
Links to all fanfiction I've written in various fandoms. That I'm admitting to.

Alias )

Angel the Series )

Babylon 5 )

Battlestar Galactica )

Breaking Bad )

Buffy the Vampire Slayer )

Citizen Kane )

Doctor Who )

Farscape )

Earth: Final Conflict )

Heroes )

Highlander: The Series )

Historical Fiction )

Lost )


Merlin )

Mythology )

Once upon a time )

Penny Dreadful )

Rome )

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine )

Star Trek: The Next Generation )

Star Wars )

Sunset Boulevard )

The Americans )

The Beatles )

The Borgias )
The Godfather )

Torchwood )

X-Men )

The West Wing )

Crossovers )

current mood: exhausted

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Wednesday, August 16th, 2017
1:43 pm - First as a tragedy, then as a farce...
RE: ongoing horror show, err, US national and foreign politics: this is yet another reason why I find the entire Hydra in Marvel comics & MCU concept so stupid, not just in the WWII era, where the sheer logistics (or lack of same) break my brain, but also in the present day. Super-secret organization, master assassins, gadget weapons? This just isn't how fascism works. This is how fascism works. It shouts its goals to the winds and gets itself voted into power.

There is not a single member of the Republican party, nor any other voter who either elected the Orange Menace or by not voting enabled it, who can claim this isn't EXACTLY what they voted for or allowed to happen. Because Agent Orange certainly hadn't kept his views a secret. Nor did his minions.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pissed off

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Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
12:59 pm - Orphan Black 5.10
In which we get a LotR or Babylon 5 type of ending, and it's lovely.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pleased

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Monday, August 14th, 2017
11:55 am - "Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?"
I am looking forward to Jodi Whittaker’s Doctor, but last week it hit me really badly how much I’m going to miss Peter Capaldi, and I promptly started a Capaldi era rewatch, and fell in love with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara (and Missy, and (almost) all the storylines and themes) all over again. This was when Moffat-DW really clicked for me. I like the Eleventh Doctor, I like Amy, Rory, and of course River, but individual episodes aside, I was never in love during that particular era. And that’s okay. With a canon spanning more than 50 years, you really don’t have to be all the time. But it’s really great when it happens.

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I am looking forward to Jodi Whittaker’s Doctor, but last week it hit me really badly how much I’m going to miss Peter Capaldi, and I promptly started a Capaldi era rewatch, and fell in love with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara (and Missy, and (almost) all the storylines and themes) all over again. This was when Moffat-DW really clicked for me. I like the Eleventh Doctor, I like Amy, Rory, and of course River, but individual episodes aside, I was never in love during that particular era. And that’s okay. With a canon spanning more than 50 years, you really don’t have to be all the time. But it’s really great when it happens.

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It also means you’re going to handwave a great deal more. For example: my favourite of the RTD Who years is undoubtedly the fourth season due to the wonderful Ten & Donna combination, but I’d never claim this was the overall best written of the Rusty seasons. (If pressed, I’d say that was the third one, which I also loved, but which suffered from landing Martha with the unrequited love storyline. But I’m also open to arguments about s1, not least due to having to reinvent the show for a new audience without alienating the old one.) Similarly, this most recent season of DW had with the Twelfth Doctor, Bill and Nardole a wonderful team TARDIS, then there’s Missy, and all the interactions are made of win, but yes, definitely not the best season, and Moffat’s exhaustion is at times showing. Which is also true for the Eleventh Doctor’s last season, especially the later post Ponds-half when Clara’s individual voice was not yet found and Eleven mostly felt as if he was stalling, but I’m not that keen on the first half, either. My point, though, is: quality-wise, it’s not worse than RTD’s fourth season or now Moffat’s. It’s just that I don’t love Eleven-Amy-Rory plus River and Eleven-Clara with the same fervor I do Twelve-Clara and Twelve-Bill-Nardole plus Missy, or Ten-Donna. And so I’ve never felt the urge to rewatch seasons 7 (or 6, for that matter, but my issues with season 6 are many and not so much abut an average-level of episodes).

Some rewatch of s8 & s9 observations: that sense of exhaustion during Eleven’s last season of which I spoke? Is completely vanished in Twelve’s first. Probably because playing around with a new Doctor helps invigorate a writer, but also: Moffat is really in fine form. The figuring out your identity theme is set up from the get go, both in comedic scenes (“who frowned me this face?”) and serious ones; the Doctor’s little speech to the automaton controller about him having replaced so many parts of himself over and over again that you have to wonder whether there’s anything of the original left is pointedly about both of them, even without the visual aid of the plate also functioning as a mirror that the Doctor holds up between them. The question both who he is and whether who he is now is a good man in one of the themes of the eigth season. (Which is why it’s the perfect season for Moffat to bring back the Master in a new regeneration, the character who more than any other has always been the Doctor’s counterpart.) And simultaneously, you have Clara’s arc which is kickstarted with her having to wonder whether the Doctor is still the man whom she befriended and decided to travel with but less and less about that as the season continues and more about who Clara herself decides to be and turns into. Clara has never been bad at improvising, but just compare her holding her breath and pretending to be an automaton in <i>Deep Breath</i> to save her life with the next time she’ll bluff Cyborgs, which is in the season finale when she pretends to be the Doctor and is so successful at that despite the Cybermen reading her as human they’re confused and convinced enough that they’re stalling and can be taken out (by Danny Pink, as it turns out, but if Clara hadn’t maintained her bluff for as long as she did, he’d have been too late). What Clara does in the eighth season opener is incredibly brave but her fear is palpable, and she’s not able to carry it off for long. What she does in the season finale comes with a confidence of that’s not quite human anymore.

Mind you, Clara becoming her own Doctor is an arc across two seasons, of course, and the ninth shows us the price that comes along with this. I do wonder, btw, how s9 would have played out with Jenna Coleman hadn’t reconsidered and had left with the Christmas Special (in which case Clara would have died as an old woman after one last adventure with the Doctor). Because I can’t imagine her s9 storyline working with Bill; not only are their respective relationships with the Doctor different, but the two women are. It would have needed different storylines for s9, basically. (Because yes, on the one hand Clara taking off with Ashildr/Me and her own TARDIS and Bill taking off with Heather/the Pilot are similar, but on the other you couldn’t simply switch Ashildr with Heather; Ashildr was very much another Doctor counterpart and consequence, which Heather wasn’t at all.

Clara being a teacher is so instrumental to her characterization, which is a big contrast to Amy, whose various professions weren’t really important to her overall story. Donna’s various temp experiences came in handy on occasion, as did Martha’s medical knowledge, but (arguably) these respective jobs didn’t define them as much as Clara’s teacher-ness defines her. (Bill being a student-against-the-odds, otoh, is again crucial to her characterization, and her relationship with the Doctor.) So are her flaws, which (in the Twelve but not the Eleven era) aren’t the generic “pretty” type of flaws (i.e. stubbornness) that are really meant to be virtues; biggest among them her propensity to lie. (Which of course she shares with the Doctor.) That she’s such an excellent liar doesn’t just come in handy when confronting the monsters of the week, it also seriously burdens and threatens to destroy her relationship with Danny, because she tends to fall back on it even when there’s no need. And her increasing recklessness, which, coupled with a human instead of a Gallifreyan physiology, can have such fatal results. Then there’s the way in which Clara while maintaining her compassion (that quintessential Companion trait) also increasingly is able to display big-picture-mentality in dire situations, or, as Danny (not meaning it as a compliment) would put it re: the Doctor, officer mentality; compare Clara in <i>Mummy in the Orient Express</i> (when she grits her teeth, though she still brings Maisie to the Doctor believing this to be Maisie’s death) to Clara in <i>Under the Lake</i> in s9 (convincing Lunn he needs to go out and retrieve the phone with no Doctor necessary to give her that idea, and a very angry Cass asking her whether she learned that from him to which she replies she learned to do “what needs to be done”.

Rewatching Missy’s appearances in s8 and s9 reminded me that when she first shows up, the degree of witty insanity, callousness and cruelty actually isn’t that different from Simm!Master’s. A prime example is Missy killing Osgood simply because the Doctor showed some sympathy and admiration for Osgood before and thus is likely to be pained by her death. Even later, that stunt she pulls off with Clara inside the Dalek armor, trying to get the Doctor to unwittingly kill Clara, is easily as evil and emotionally devastating (had she succeeded) as what the Master does to Bill. The big difference between the Simm and the Gomez incarnation of the Master is that Missy is the first regeneration since Delgado to being vocal about not just wanting to torment/defeat the Doctor but to wanting him back as a friend. Delgado!Master’s version of this were “let’s rule the universe together” offers; Missy’s first attempt comes with trying to get the Doctor to admit he’s just like her by giving him universe-ruling powers, and her last is trying the reverse, in a way – not being like the Doctor – though she plays at that for a laugh – but being with him on his terms. I wouldn’t call it a redemption arc per se, not least because the motivation remains consistently about her relationship with the Doctor, but it’s still worth pointing out that the Missy who kills her own minions for the LOLZS in <i>Dark Water</i> (never mind everyone else she kills) is a far cry from the Missy who responds to the not yet recognized Razor when he irritates her by NOT killing him (despite the Doctor not being present to impress, I might add). And another thing: her killing the Master wouldn’t have been necessary if the goal was simply to get him off ship (he needed to survive for her to exist in the first place). But by killing him (and thus triggering his regeneration into herself) she ensures that the only version of the Master around in the universe at that point is hers, aka the one who in a pinch will prioritize the relationship with the Doctor over burning the world(s). Since at this point it’s quite likely the Doctor will die (and so will she when she goes back to him), ensuring that Simm!Master isn’t let loose on the cosmos again probably counts as a responsible act as well.

Unless the Christmas Special is unlike any other Christmas Special, <i>Heaven Sent</i> probably counts as the last Stephen Moffat episode where he unites horror, character exploration and brilliance to come up with a classic. (The others being <i>Blink</i>, <i>The Girl in the Fireplace</i>, the s1 two parter originally introducing Jack Harkness and <i>Listen</i>.) It’s arguably a deeper horror than any of them. Moffat is probably the DW writer using the possibility of time travel most creatively in both his and RTD’s run, but here it’s not time travel, it’s time horror – “the long way around” indeed as the Doctor has to live through 4,5 billion years of burning himself to death over and over again once he realizes what he’s trapped in and how to get out. Incidentally: rewatching this and the s9 finale still leaves wondering whether

a) All that happens in the confession dial – i.e. the 4,5 billion years – happens in a physical reality, which would mean the Doctor who eventually emerges on Gallifrey is the nth billion copy by teleporter and the time lord whose adventures we’ve been following died off screen between <i>Face the Raven</i> and <i>Heaven Set</i> (since the first time we see the Doctor in <i>Heaven Sent</i> it’s already 7000 years after the previous episode’s ending from his pov) , or

b) All that happens in the confession dial happens in the Doctor’s mind only, a la the DS9 episode <i>Hard Time</i> when O’Brien undergoes decades of imprisonment within an hour due to a memory implant device. Not that the torment would be less for the Doctor, since it was real for him, but it would mean the Doctor who emerges on Gallifrey physically the same person who got teleported away in Ashildr’s Trap Street.

Argument for the former: “bigger on the inside”, i.e Time Lord technology is capable of creating the castle within the confession dial.

Argument for the later: the Doctor in the s9 finale says that the function of the confession dial as originally intended is for a dying Time Lord to come to terms with his past before his mind (!) is uploaded onto the Matrix on Gallifrey. Which would argue for a mental exercise, not a physical one, especially since dying Time Lords probably aren’t fit to do much physically in normal circumstances.

Also: does Missy still have a confession dial with her? If so, will Thirteen receive it? (Probably not since I don’t think Chibnall will bring back any version of the Master in his first season, though he might later, but let’s stay Watsonian for a moment.) Because in the s9 opener she clearly states that you send a confession dial to your best friend in the event of your impending death, and since she’s ostensibly dying for good in the s10 finale…

Another <i>Heaven Sent</i> question: when the Doctor tells his Head!Clara that “I remember, I remember everything” (during his “why can’t I just stop, why do I have to go on” outburst), does he mean his life in general or does he mean remembers each of those 4,5 billion years? Or do we assume that when he emerges on Gallifrey, he “only” remembers the last and successful time he had to go through that torture?

Speaking of “why can’t I just stop?” : earlier in the season, in the episode where he ends up making Ashildr immortal, he tells Clara that he’s so tired of losing people. Now you can take his refusal to regenerate at the end of the s10 finale as him not wanting to change anymore, but my rewatch makes me feel it’s more that in this particular moment, he’s just sick and tired of living, full stop. From his pov, he’s failed and lost Bill to Cyberfied death (since he doesn’t know she’s survived), he’s ultimately failed to get through to Missy, the longest relationship of his entire existence (since he doesn’t know she did want to stand with him), he’s lost Clara (and while he can’t remember her personality or the emotions he felt for her anymore, he knows she was important to him, and he lost her to death. River is gone, the Ponds are out of reach, etc., and that’s before we factor in however much he remembers from the 4,5 billion years of self immolation. Gallifrey is back (and promptly reminded him why he stayed away for most of the time), so there isn’t the mixture of guilt and hope related to the Time War as a motivation anymore, either. So I think what the Christmas Special will remind him of is not so much of why it’s okay to change but why he wants to continue living.

And it’s fit that this will happen through an encounter with his earliest self. For Missy, meeting her literal past had her tempted by it (it was much easier being this way) only to ultimately reject it but also be destroyed by it. As I wrote in my earlier reviews, since any multi Doctor episode has the various regenerations first bickering and sniping at each other but eventually team up and thus achieve their goal, it made sense that the first multi Master episode would have the incarnations of the Master acting entranced by each other only to end up literally stabbing each other in the back. And if her past ends up destroying the Master (or trying his best to, at any rate – the Master is never forever gone from this show) , it makes sense that his past will end up revitalizing the Doctor and giving him the courage to regenerate into a new self.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: enthralled

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Sunday, August 13th, 2017
8:03 pm - Meanwhile...
The things you learn: seems Samantha Bee of tv comedy fame is a Call The Midwife fan. A woman of taste, which is not new.:) As the unspeakable creature in the White House brings us closer to WWWIII by the tweet and finds condemming Nazis as Nazis too much of an effort, I can see why watching CdM is a good way to maintain sanity.

(Sidenote: I usually avoid calling present day people Nazis because the term is flung around far too often and sometimes in bizarre contexts - see: "grammar nazi" - but if they scream about blood and soil, give the fascist salute and throw the occasional Sieg Heil in, there's absolutely no reason to call them anything else. No more of this "Alt-Right" nonsense.)

But to return to "Call the Midwife", here's a lovely new story, a terrific portrait of Shelagh/Sister Bernadette that follows her through her life to that most crucial of years to her, 1958: life, and breath, and all things.

And here's a Black Sails rec:

The Fields of Elysium: the story of Thomas Hamilton after the 2.05 flashbacks until and including something spoilery )

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: busy

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Tuesday, August 8th, 2017
2:11 pm - Ubique sunt ignori stulti
In the last three days, British historian Mary Beard has been relentlessly attacked on and off twitter for pointing out that the Roman Empire wasn't populated exclusively by white people; this particular round of racism, misogyny and general vileness was started by, of all things, a five minutes BBC cartoon for children featuring some poc Romans. It would be ridiculous if it weren't so outrageous and depressingly a symptom for our present, especially considering current Trump Administration employee and long time racist nutter Alex Jones has also commented. Detailed articles on the subject here and here.

(Incidentally, if I weren't there already, such events would completely sway me to the "representation matters" side when it comes to tv and movie casting.)

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: annoyed

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Monday, August 7th, 2017
8:44 pm - Fanfic Recs
Black Sails:

Echoes: it's that rarity, a post-Treasure Island fanfic not in denial of same which has Silver reflecting on his past, specifically the relationship with Madi. Also Flint, but here the focus is on Madi. And it takes what happens in the s4 finale fully into account.

Book of Days: Miranda (and James) after London and in the years before the show starts. Beautiful and painful.


....a question for everyone who has watched this little gem of a spin-off and the most recent season of Doctor Who: at which point of the Doctor's timeline do you think he met Charlie & Quill and brought them to Earth? We know that there were only three months between that and the Class pilot, and that Clara (as well as Danny) are listed as the most recent names on the Coal Hill board in the pilot, so it must most likely have been post-Clara for the Doctor, and I'm guessing pre-Bill, but was it before or after the events of Extremis flashback that reveals his s10 arrangement with a certain someone in the vault? At the time Class was broadcast, [personal profile] londonkds speculated he might have been projecting his best enemy on to Miss Quill (though they're actually quite different, other than love of sarcasm, if you look at motivation and goals), and it occurs to me the s10 revelation makes that even more likely, but it could have worked both ways - he could have had his Rhodian & Quill encounter before the flashback events, in which case it would have been part of the build up to the decision he makes there, or after, in which case the decision could have been part of the projecting and ignoring that the Quill and Charlie situation really isn't alike.

Okay, on to the fanfiction:

wear me like a locket 'round your throat: Charlie and Quill before, during and after the season finale.

Two stories using the fact that Clara Oswald taught at Coal Hill:

To to learn to be brave: in this one, she's April's favourite teacher and inspiration, but April also observes her downward spiral.

Per Aspera Ad Astra: in which Clara makes a nostalgic incognito visit to Coal Hill post DW season 9 and promptly runs into the not at all nostalgically minded Quill.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: groggy

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Sunday, August 6th, 2017
8:33 pm - Yet more Last Kingdom thoughts
More Last Kingdom thoughts, and a new icon which I made myself since I couldn't find one, apropos some rewatching after reading the early books and discussions with [personal profile] peasant:

Cut for spoilers )

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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6:01 pm - Orphan Black 5.09.
Last but one episode, and more board clearing.

Spoilery talk )

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: aggravated

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Saturday, August 5th, 2017
8:38 pm - DW Fanfic Rec
A fantastic look at Missy through the decades in the Vault:

Still Time to Change the Road You're on (2513 words) by AstroGirl
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Doctor Who
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Twelve & MIssy
Characters: Twelfth Doctor, Missy (Doctor Who)
Additional Tags: Missing Scenes, reforming villain, The Vault (Doctor Who)

Missy may or may not be changing. She doesn't understand any of it, herself.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: bouncy

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Friday, August 4th, 2017
10:37 am - Against the Law (Film Review)
This tv movie was shown on BBC2 as part of the BBC's "Queer Britannia" season, to honor the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offenses Act (which ended sex between two consenting male adults being regarded as a crime). Directed by Fergus O'Brien, it's a docudrama, with the fictionalized scenes based on the book of the same title by Peter Wildeblood, the only openly gay man to testify before the Wolfenden Comittee in 1955. (The Wolfenden Report was key to the eventual Sexual Offenses Act.) In between Wildeblood's story - he's played by Daniel Mays, whom I've previously seen mostly in villain roles (for example in "Ashes to Ashes", and who is great in this utterly different role), we get interviews with men in their late 60s up men in their 90s who describe what it had been like for them to grow up and live with both the law, society and your own social conditioning being against you. Both drama and interviews are incredibly moving, and compliment each other, especially since the film refuses to give Wildeblood an ahistorical "victory" moment where, say, he's reunited with his boyfriend, or one of his tormentors apologizes. Instead, the victory is in the lives of these men who've all been through hell but lived to see another age, still not ideal, but one where they can be with the partners of their choices.

Spoilers feel like a Mary Renault character ended up in a Ken Burns docu )

In conclusion: excellent film, watch it if you can.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: impressed

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Tuesday, August 1st, 2017
8:34 am - Fictional evil overlords are so much better and more coherently written
Ever since [personal profile] trobadora talked about the idea of a Missy Remix, I've been enthralled by it. And now it really happens:

Missy This Fic - the Gomez!Master remix

Meanwhile, in the real world which is currently both darker and far more absurd than Doctor Who ever gets:

This summary of recent events by Alexandra Petri also isn't half bad.

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: exhausted

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Monday, July 31st, 2017
3:32 pm - Orphan Black 5.08.
In which there is a lot of board clearing. Hmph.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: indescribable

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Saturday, July 29th, 2017
1:39 pm - Speaking of alternate timelines...
You know, in recent weeks there was a lot of talk, usually in the context of how ill advised the “Game of Thrones” makers idea of a show called “Confederate”, an AU in which an undefeated South with slavery intact continues to the present, was, about how sick people were of “what if the Nazis won?” or “what of the Confederacy won?” Aus. And I’m so with you; I was already sick of “what if the Nazis won?” dystopias several decades ago.

However. The combination of the recent (July 20th) anniversary of the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler and me reading Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series made me wonder if anyone ever attempted a scenario in which one of the various attempts on Hitler’s life (from Georg Elser’s 1939 one onwards) succeeded. Historical attempts, that is, not fictional ones (looking at you, Quentin Tarantino). Probably not, because anything I can come up with would neither be a happy ending nor the awfulness that unfolded in reality, but…complicated. Not good for “good versus evil” role playing, which, let’s face it, is the main attraction for any WWII scenario, historical or AU, for the majority of people.

For starters, one common factor (which is also why I’m such a hard sell on “what if the Nazis won?” scenarios): there was so much infighting and hatred between Hitler’s flunkies that I can’t imagine the system holding up. The Third Reich wasn’t North Korea where you can replace one Dear Beloved Leader with another. Not least because while many of the upper level Nazis had great power in varying degrees, they weren’t personally popular, and more often than not were indeed disliked by the population at large. (“Wenn das der Führer wüßte”, i.e. “if only the Leader knew” was a catchphrase based on the naïve belief that all negative apparations of the NS regime were due to everyone else.) You couldn’t have just transferred the leader cult from a dead Hitler to whoever emerged victorious in the inevitable succession blood bath. The most likely candidate to unite both an already existing power base and popular appeal – indeed the only one among the top level Nazis with popular appeal – would have been Göring, who could trade both on his WWI veteran (and pilot – aviators were always popular) reputation and his chummy, genial manner. But by the late 30s and through the 40s, Göring was addicted to morphine, and the connected daze and laziness would have had him at a disadvantage re: his rivals. (One reason why Göring surprised many people in Nuremberg with his sharpness was that the Americans had weaned him off morphine and thus he was alert and all there for the first time in years. Of course, the imminent death sentence presumably also helped with his focus.)

Another common, depressing factor: there’s no way another Dolchstoßlegende (backstabbing legend) wouldn’t have developed, i.e. the myth that Germany could have won the war, if not for those traitors, etc., and this would have poisoned or at least heavily burdened whichever kind of German state would have existed next. Taking all that as a given, here are some possibilities I could come up with:

1.) The Georg Elser November 1939 assassination attempt succeeds as intended. Advantages: this would have gotten rid not only of Hitler but of many of the upper Nazi hierarchy, since they were present at the Munich Bürgerbräu where Elser had planted his bomb. Disadvantages: Elser worked alone. Which meant no one would have been ready to deal with the rest of the Nazi system. Likely result: I’m betting on a military dictatorship and/or an uneasy alliance between some top generals and some middle level Nazis. France had already fallen at that point, ditto Poland, but I don’t see the generals invading Russia. They’d likely have tried to negotiate peace with Britain and not tried to expand further. Whether or not Churchill would have gone for it in the case of a Hitler-less Germany… no idea. Would the Holocaust have proceeded further? Can’t make up my mind on that one, since it would have depended on just how many top level Nazis made it out alive, and whether or not the top military brass thought killing everyone in the already existing “work” camps would rid them of future embarrassment/retaliation, or whether they’d thought closing the camps in a non lethal manner would make it all go away.

2.) The March 1943 attempts. Advantages: this being post Stalingrad, this time parts of of the military were already involved, and thus there were some plans of what to do next. Disadvantages: these plans weren’t very thought out yet, and only Hitler would have died, which meant Goebbels, Himmler & Co. remained at large and more likely than not would have retaken control of the situation the way they did in rl in 1944. Nazi infighting wouldn’t have started until after the conspirators were dealt with. However, whichever victor emerged post Stalingrad would presumably have tried to negotiate a truce/peace with the Western Allies, because, well, Stalingrad, and the realization that you can’t win a war in Russia. Would the Holocaust have continued? Depressingly, in such a scenario my money is on a “let’s just kill everyone in the camps to ensure no survivors get nasty stories out” scenario.

3.) July 1944 attempt: aka the one with the biggest chance at actual success. Meaning that Himmler, Goebbels & Co. get arrested simultaneously with Hitler’s assassination as planned, Goerdeler becomes Chancellor and, backed by a bunch of generals as well as Canaris, starts peace negotiations. I think at this point the Allies would have insisted on unconditional surrender whether or not Hitler was still alive, and because the war situation as already very bad for Germany, Goerdeler and the generals would have agreed. There would have been a variation of the Nuremberg trials and an occupation. And no more death camps, meaning the saving of all people who died between July 44 and May 45. However, there would also, see above, a new backstabbing legend, and the July 44 conspirators would have been hated and reviled by the majority of the population which would have taken even longer to accept they’d all been part of a murder state. At best, I think Germany would have dealt with its guilt the way the Soviets did with the Stalinist purges – i.e. denial for decades save for a minority of the population, and only very late acceptance something monstrous had occurred.

Any agreements or disagreements? Alternate scenarios?

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current mood: pensive

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Friday, July 28th, 2017
6:27 pm - Spared by fate
...and I don't mean the latest attempt to repeal the ACA, because that particular sparing came through hard work by people who made phonecalls, Senators Mussorski (spelling?) and Collins putting people before party and McCain proving he has a sense for cliffhangers and drama.

No, I just discovered that back in ye early 90s when the first three Bernie Gunther novels were published, successful and thus considered for movie versions, the two actors in consideration for the leading role were Klaus Maria Brandauer (wrong accent and wrong size, but could see him having pulled it off, acting-wise)... and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thank the universe for small favours the world was spared that one. Nowadays, HBO has aquired the rights to the novels and Tom Hanks wants to executive produce (though again, thank you, universe, for favours, he's too old to play Bernie Gunther now except for the late 50s settings. Also, he's wrong for the part. Nothing against Tom Hanks in principle, but not in this role, at any age.

Since I believe in constructive criticism: I can see Max Riemelt (Wolfgang on Sense8) as Bernie Gunther, and since after the wrap-up movie (yay!), there will be no more Sense8, he's available. Advantages: actually German, actually from Berlin, actually the right age for Bernie Gunther in the 1930s when the series starts (and it's easier to age someone up than to age him down, especially if that actor has to play action scenes), and fluent in English which I assume (since HBO is producing) the series will be shot in. Also, he can do sardonic and increasingly self loathing.

(if it has to be an international movie star, Michael Fassbender would also do.)

(Going to actors who don't speak German and aren't at least half-German: Kenneth Branagh would be good for older Bernie, but just would not be believable anymore for a man in his 30s.)

Meanwhile, have two fanfic links in two different fandoms:

Spider-man: Homecoming:

Just a kid: Both a prequel and a fleshing out to and of canon - covers Peter from Ben's death to the movie. Great voices for all the other suspects, too.

Babylon 5:

The Book of the Dead: in which the Centauri afterlife turns out to be far different than what Londo had expected. Also features a great G'Kar, Timov and Vir!

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current mood: calm

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Thursday, July 27th, 2017
5:29 pm - Philip Kerr: Bernie Gunther Series
Reading the first Bernie Gunther novel has sent me into the rabbit hole, the marathon reading from which I now slowly emerge, having grabbed all the novels my local library had available and then buying the most recent one, Prussian Blue. By which you can conclude that these novels are addictive, despite or maybe because of their very dark setting and the way Kerr handles it. I didn’t always read them in order, but that works out better than usual in a series because Kerr writes them not always in linear order as well, and several take place in different eras simultaneously (one post WWII, one during the Third Reich), each filling out different gaps in his anti hero’s life. In fact, I’m glad I read, not by intention but coincidence of availability, “The Other Side of Silence” (No.11, probably the one most located in the 1950s, with just one flashback to the 1940s) before “The Pale Criminal” (No.2, set in 1938), because while both novels feature male gay characters, the ones in No.11 are fleshed out and for the most part sympathetic, and also not just one or two but four on page and a fifth one intensely talked about, whereas in No.2 they are solely a weak coward and a villain respectively, which for a novel set during a time when gay people ended up in prison and/or camps in Germany is a highly questionable authorial choice.

(Sidenote: not that you don’t have historical basis for writing gay villains in a story set among the Nazis. I mean, Ernst Röhm. But still.)

Reading the first novel had left me wondering how Kerr would justify Bernie Gunther’s continued survival as a (mostly) ethical P.I. in one of the most brutal dictatorships in history. Turns out, he doesn’t; Bernie gets drafted back into police service by Reinhard Heydrich in 1938, which means that when WWII starts, he along with the rest of the police gets absorbed into the SS, and while he manages to get a transfer into another unit, this doesn’t happen before being exposed to and in one case participating in mass shootings. While some of the novels feature flashbacks to the P.I. period, most therefore have Bernie as part of the institutions he abhors, which simultaneously deepens his moral compromise (and self loathing) but heightens the likelihood of his survival (while also providing the novelist with excuses for letting Bernie be present at some key points he couldn’t have been as a civilian, like the discovery of the Katyn massacre, more about that in a moment). I find this a fair authorial choice – if you’re going to produce a series of novels with a German detective set mostly in the Third Reich, keeping him entirely guilt free of the morass the nation was sunk into would have felt like cheating. I also was able to buy into the premise of various upper hierarchy Nazis – Heydrich, Goebbels, Arthur Nebe – finding Bernie so useful they would want to use him because he’s That Good at crime solving and occasionally even in a dictatorship you need to figure out who actually did the deed as opposed to finding the most convenient scapegoat. (The constant in fighting and rivalry between top Nazis also plays a role in Bernie’s survival, since a good detective is also useful for getting dirt on each other.) Another way Kerr plays fair is having Bernie constantly aware of the sheer insanity of it all – trying to track down individual criminals when the entire system around you has become criminal, and murder and thievery actually are the law.

Further ramblings below the cut )

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Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
4:33 pm - Destiny is all: more Last Kingdom thoughts
Having now read three of the four books the first two seasons of The Last Kingdom are based on, I find my original suspicion that Bernard Cornwell novels benefit from adaptions into other media because these take you out of the main character's head justified, though not always quite in the way I assumed. Because the novels are narrated by an older Uthred looking back, his narrating self can sometimes point out things his younger self did not yet see or realise, for example, that he wronged his first wife Mildrith, or that he underestimated Alfred early on because a chronically sick non-warrior valueing learning and feeling guilty about sex could not possibly be a strong leader in his young eyes. Otoh, older, wiser Uthred narrating still doesn't change the fact most female characters come across as more dimensional and fleshed out in the tv adaption than they do in the novels (Brida and Mildrith in the first, Hild and Aelswith in the second season - Iseult, alas, is a cliché in both versions).

The tv show cut or compressed various characters and slimmed down events, and given that they do two books per season so far, that's not surprising. But even if they took a longer time, I think some of the changes and cuts were to the narrative's benefit. For example: Cornwell has to come up with some pretty convoluted circumstances and far-stretched plots to have a teenage Uthred who is still with the Danes secretly present when Prince (not yet King) Alfred confesses about his carnal lapses to Beocca. In the book, he needs to be because he's the narrator and neither Alfred nor Beocca would have told him about this. The tv show dispenses with said circumstances and just has the scene between Alfred and Beocca, without Uthred secretly listening in, because he doesn't need to be in order for the audience to get this information about the young Alfred.

Mind you, dispensing with the first two times Uthred meets Alfred and letting their first encounter not happen until after Ragnar the Elder's death creates one important difference between book and show relationship that's worth mentioning. Book Uthred lies to Alfred (and Beocca) these first two times and point blank spies on them for the Danes, so the later "why do you keep distrusting me?" indignation rings a little hollow in this regard. Show Uthred does no such thing, so Alfred is accordingly less justified in his lingering ambiguity.

Another cut that somewhat shifts perception: the first novel has Uthred participating in a few Danish raids led by Ragnar, including one on Aelswith's hometown (though she doesn't know he took part). Now, in the show we go from Uthred the child to adult Uthred directly and adult Uthred is solely seen at Ragnar's home, with the deaths of Ragnar & Co. impending, but given adult Uthred later is shown to be already a skilled fighter, it stands to reason he practiced these skills. But I suspect the show avoided showing Uthred fighting against Saxon civilians this early on deliberately. Both show and books have Uthred loving the Danes but staying with the Saxons post Ragnar's death because various circumstances (and then Alfred's machinations) make it impossible for him to do otherwise. Only the book, though, spells out that Uthred doesn't start to feel any kind of identification/emotional connection to the Saxons until he sees them winning a battle (until then, narrator Uthred says, he hadn't thought Danes could lose, which makes sense given that throughout Uthred's childhood and adolescence, they were winning), when before he regarded them as weak and didn't want to think of himself as belonging to them. Which makes sense given Uthred is raised in a warrior culture and is a young, arrogant adolescent at the time, but again, I suspect the tv version avoids spelling this out in order not to make him off putting early on when establishing the character.

Otoh, the scenes the tv show adds in the two seasons where Uthred isn't present all serve to flesh out the characters in question more and work to their benefit, whether it's Alfred, Hild, Aelswith or Beocca. The notable exception is Guthred in s2, whose additional scenes make him look worse, not better than the novel does. Possibly, too, because in the novel Guthred is described having an easy charm that makes Book!Uthred forgive him even the truly terrible thing Guthred does to Uthred, and the actor playing Guthred on the show doesn't have that at all, and instead comes across as nothing but fearful, easily influenced and weak. (And show!Uthred while coming to terms with him doesn't forgive him.) I have to say, lack of actorly charm aside, given that Guthred does something spoilery to Uthred ), I find the tv version more realistic.

The push-pull relationship between Uthred and Alfred is there in both versions, but in the tv show, it comes across as more central. As my local library has it, I also read "Death of Kings", the novel in which, Alfred dies, not without manipulating Uthred one last time into doing what he wants him to do, and Uthred's thoughts on the man later, summing him up, are Cornwell's prose at its best:

I stood beside Alfred's coffin and thought how life slipped by, and how, for nearly all my life, Alfred had been there like a great landmark. I had not liked him. I had struggled against him, despised him and admired him. I hated his religion and its cold disapproving gaze, its malevolence that cloaked itself in pretended kindness, and its allegiance to a god who would drain the joy from the world by naming it sin, but Alfred's religion had made him a good man and a good king.
And Alfred's joyless soul had proved a rock against which the Danes had broken themselves. Time and again they had attacked, and time and again Alfred had out-thought them, and Wessex grew ever stronger and richer and all that was because of Alfred. We think of kings as privileged men who rule over us and have the freedom to make, break and flaunt the law, but Alfred was never above the law he loved to make. He saw his life as a duty to his god and to the people of Wessex and I have never seen a better king, and I doubt my sons, grandson and their children's children will ever see a better one. I never liked him, but I have never stopped admiring him. He was my king and all that I now have I owe to him. The food that I eat, the hall where I live and the swords of my men, all started with Alfred, who hated me at times, loved me at times, and was generous with me. He was a gold-giver.

Last Yuletide I added a Last Kingdom request at the last minute because I'd seen it had been nominated, and accordingly it was short, but this Yuletide I think I'll also offer, and will request in more detail and more characters. While the other historical tv shows I consumed during the last year were entertaining in various degrees, this was the only one which was also good.

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current mood: good

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Monday, July 24th, 2017
2:22 pm - Orphan Black 5.07.
In which there's pay off for severa storylines, hooray! And flashbacks.

Who are you? )

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current mood: excited

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Wednesday, July 19th, 2017
1:11 pm - "To kill a President"' and "March Violets": Book reviews
For once, I manage to write my book reviews on a Wednesday.

Sam Bourne: To Kill the President

It was to be expected: the first Donald Trump era thriller (that I've read). Which takes full advantage of the fact that when previously any critic worth their salt would have complained about the one dimensional characterisation of the villains and the lack of realism in the US voting someone like that into power and then the Republican Party falling in line, followed by no checks and balances from any institution after even the Supreme Court caves due to the stolen seat being filled by the new President's choice, now all this looks like, well, realism.

Spoilers from an age where reality beggars caricature )

Philip Kerr: March Violets.

This is the first novel of a mystery series which I heard/read about via The New Yorker. The article in question was enthusiastic enought to overcome my instinctive squick at the premise, to wit: hard-boiled/noir detective novel set in the Third Reich. Basically, what if Philip Marlowe was German? Wandering those mean streets as a cynic with an ethical core takes a whole new meaning if the authories aren't just corrupt but a dictatorship preparing for war and genocide. Our hero is Bernie Gunther, former policeman who quit the force in 1933 for the obvious reason given that the novel positions he has ethics, and became a private investigator instead. Kerr serves up all the usual hard boiled/ noir tropes - untrustworthy millionaire clients, corrupt cops, shady dames -, complete with Chandleresque language, and he did his research - the novel's setting is Berlin in 1936, around the Olympic Games, and in addition to the well drawn Berlin geography, there are some great nods to Fritz Lang's movie M via some of the supporting cast, gangsters (given that Bernie Gunther originally gets hired to recover some diamonds, though of course it turns out it's far more complicated and what everyone is after is something else altogether. The brief appearances by historic figures (Göring and Heydrich, to be precise) are drawn credibly, which is to say their vileness comes across without Kerr employing sledge-hammery moustache twirling; in fact, he uses Göring's bonhommie manners to make him chilling.

As opposed to To Kill a President, this actually is a good novel. But. I still struggle somewhat with the basic premise. This is the first novel of what according ot the New Yorker article I'd read are twelve so far, and already I'm having to suspend disbelief about Bernie's continued survival. There's no reason why Heydrich at the end of this first novel shouldn't have gotten him killed, for example. And since we're in 1936, Bernie would still have the possibility to leave the country, and given what happens to him in this novel, it's hard to wonder why he doesn't, given he has no dependants who'd suffer for it. Yes, the decision to emigrate wasn't as easy as hindsight would have it if you weren't rich and didn't have friends abroad, but again, some truly harrowing things happen to Bernie in this novel which would serve as an incentive to get the hell out of Germany if ever there was one beyond the general situation of the country.

With this caveat, I'll keep reading.

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current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, July 18th, 2017
5:43 pm - Spider-man: Homecoming (Film Review)
Okay, that's it. As Civil War made me suspect, Tom Holland is my platonic ideal of Peter Parker, at least in his teenage phase. Also, while I had liked the first Raimi/Maguire movie and parts of the rest while increasingly disliking other parts of those films, and liked the first Garfield without thinking it needed to exist while extremly disliking the second one, this latest cinematic go at Spidey was a complete delight to me and I love it.

Ramblings beneath the cut )

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current mood: pleased

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