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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 )

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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Friday, August 28th, 2015
11:07 am - Treasure Island Revisited
I hadn’t reread this book since my childhood, and due to my Black Sails fannishness, I thought it was time. It held up pretty well: you can see why it became an instant classic. Incidentally, given Stevenson originally thought it up to amuse his stepson, and given the tragic fate of other child muses of children's classics, I checked what became of the stepson, and lo, he seems to have had a good life, and also later collaborated with his stepfather on three different books.

In the decades since I've read Treasure Island first, I had forgotten some parts: I hadn't recalled that Jim's father is still alive (if sick and then dying) at the start of the book. Probably because his mother in her one big scene (returning to the inn despite the pirates because damm it, her property is there) makes a far more vivid impression. Incidentally, current day children and YA books tend to kill off mothers if they don't kill off both parents, so Stevenson killing off Hawkins Senior (and not making a big deal of him later in the book in Jim's memories) is unusual. Not that Jim & father figures isn't a big issue: Doctor Livesey and Captain Smollett are the good, if remote ones, while John Silver is the very present, seductive and bad one.

The first part is great with setting up atmosphere, mystery and suspense, and it's fast paced, while the narration then slows down a bit until Jim discovers the mutiny plans, but the story never feels slow. Incidentally, Billy Bones drinking himself to death (and the information that so did Flint in the past) feels sad now to me in a way it didn't for child![personal profile] selenak due to Black Sails. Actually Silver is the only pirate in the book who doesn't have an alcohol problem, but while I remembered Billy Bones dying of rum and fear at the start of the novel clearly, I had forgotten the part much later where Jim is alone on the Hispaniola with the dying Israel Hands, which in terms of creepy intense set pieces is as effective as the first chapter and Jim in the apple barrel overhearing the mutineers.

Something else I had forgotten was that there's much hostility between the Squire and Captain Smollett at the start, and that even Jim doesn't like Smollett much in the beginning. Squire Trelawney constantly misjudging everyone is a running joke (the Squire really is basically Prince George from the third season of Blackadder in this book), but it's interesting that Stevenson doesn't go with the children's book habit of making a child's judgment of character instinctively right, and spotting villainy and virtue by heart. It makes Jim a more realistic boy. As does the fact that when he does find out the truth about Silver, the fact Silver uses the same line of praise he used for Jim to the next youngest crew member outrages him almost more than the fact Silver is planning a mutiny ("You may imagine how I felt when I heard this abominable old rogue addressing another in the very same words of flattery as he had used to myself. I think, if I had been able, that I would have killed him through the barrel ").

Something else I hadn't known was that Stevenson later wrote a hilarious meta fiction, a debate between Silver and Smollett as to which of them their author likes best. You can find the entire text here. But I can't resist quoting the entire opening, because, well, you'll see, plus it's a good example of Stevenson's style:

“Good-morning, Cap’n,” said the first, with a man-o’-war salute, and a beaming countenance.

“Ah, Silver!” grunted the other. “You’re in a bad way, Silver.”

“Now, Cap’n Smollett,” remonstrated Silver, “dooty is dooty, as I knows, and none better; but we’re off dooty now; and I can’t see no call to keep up the morality business.”

“You’re a damned rogue, my man,” said the Captain.

“Come, come, Cap’n, be just,” returned the other. “There’s no call to be angry with me in earnest. I’m on’y a chara’ter in a sea story. I don’t really exist.”

“Well, I don’t really exist either,” says the Captain, “which seems to meet that.”

“I wouldn’t set no limits to what a virtuous chara’ter might consider argument,” responded Silver. “But I’m the villain of this tale, I am; and speaking as one sea-faring man to another, what I want to know is, what’s the odds?”

“Were you never taught your catechism?” said the Captain. “Don’t you know there’s such a thing as an Author?”

“Such a thing as a Author?” returned John, derisively. “And who better’n me? And the p’int is, if the Author made you, he made Long John, and he made Hands, and Pew, and George Merry - not that George is up to much, for he’s little more’n a name; and he made Flint, what there is of him; and he made this here mutiny, you keep such a work about; and he had Tom Redruth shot; and - well, if that’s a Author, give me Pew!”

“Don’t you believe in a future state?” said Smollett. “Do you think there’s nothing but the present story-paper?”

“I don’t rightly know for that,” said Silver; “and I don’t see what it’s got to do with it, anyway. What I know is this: if there is sich a thing as a Author, I’m his favourite chara’ter. He does me fathoms better’n he does you - fathoms, he does. And he likes doing me. He keeps me on deck mostly all the time, crutch and all; and he leaves you measling in the hold, where nobody can’t see you, nor wants to, and you may lay to that! If there is a Author, by thunder, but he’s on my side, and you may lay to it!”

“I see he’s giving you a long rope,” said the Captain. “But that can’t change a man’s convictions. I know the Author respects me; I feel it in my bones; when you and I had that talk at the blockhouse door, who do you think he was for, my man?”

“And don’t he respect me?” cried Silver. “Ah, you should ’a’ heard me putting down my mutiny, George Merry and Morgan and that lot, no longer ago’n last chapter; you’d heard something then! You’d ’a’ seen what the Author thinks o’ me! But come now, do you consider yourself a virtuous chara’ter clean through?”

“God forbid!” said Captain Smollett, solemnly. “I am a man that tries to do his duty, and makes a mess of it as often as not. I’m not a very popular man at home, Silver, I’m afraid!” and the Captain sighed.

Fandom ,you couldn't do better with your meta fiction. :) Anyway, as you see here, Stevenson does the Victorian novel thing of writing out accents and dialect. All the pirates have one (though Silver's is flexible depending on whom he talks to), none of the heroes do, except for ex pirates Ben Gunn and Gray (the existence of Gray was another thing I had forgotten). The most upper class person of the book, Squire Trelawney, is also characterized as the most foolish one, though, and the one who gets to display all the -isms when he writes to Doctor Livesey, re: Silver:

I forgot to tell you that Silver is a man of substance; I know of my own knowledge that he has a banker's account, which has never been overdrawn. He leaves his wife to manage the inn; and as she is a woman of colour, a pair of old bachelors like you and I may be excused for guessing that it is the wife, quite as much as the health, that sends him back to roving.

(Something that hadn't occured to me before was to wonder what Silver's plan re: that account was if everything had happened according to scheme; after all, he couldn't have returned to Bristol either way. However, Stevenson has that covered:

"Well," said the other, "but all the other money's gone now, ain't it? You daren't show face in Bristol after this."

"Why, where might you suppose it was?" asked Silver derisively.

"At Bristol, in banks and places," answered his companion.

"It were," said the cook; "it were when we weighed anchor. But my old missis has it all by now. And the Spy-glass is sold, lease and goodwill and rigging; and the old girl's off to meet me."

There are no women in the book other than Jim's mother who at least gets one scene of action, and Mrs. Silver, who only gets mentioned, but intrigues me a lot, especially this does sound like a partnership. Says Jim at the end: Of Silver we have heard no more. That formidable seafaring man with one leg has at last gone clean out of my life; but I dare say he met his old Negress, and perhaps still lives in comfort with her and Captain Flint. It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another world are very small.

(Your headcanon is my headcanon, Jim. And this story is my headcanon for Mrs. Silver, at least until we find out whether or not a certain character in Black Sails will become her.)

Letting Silver get away with it at the end is about the most un-cliché-Victorian thing you can imagine, and I love Stevenson did this, which is why I was disappointed to learn a recent theatre production kills him off under a pile of gold. That's just wrong. Silver is the archetype from which all later fictional pirates derive, and the fact he stays free and alive, instead of being morally punished, that's just essential.

(BTW: in Peter Pan, Barrie, who loved Treasure Island, claims that Hook bested "Barbecue" - which is a nickname Silver has in the book which never quite made it into pop culture and the movies - and was feared by him, to which I say: pull the other one, James Barrie. Hook's far too emo to be a match for Long John.)

Not that Stevenson soft sells Silver as a villain, or makes him too smart. Silver, like everyone else, underestimates Ben Gunn. And the scene on the beach where Silver in no time flat kills two crewmen is chilling, and told as extensively as his showcases of bravery and cleverness, which is why Jim is in no doubt Silver would have killed him, too, if it became more convenient. The tension of distrust, unwilling admiration and lingering affection is what makes the relationship, and the first person narration ensures the readers are in the same position of Jim - they simply don't know whether or not he's right re: Silver.

In conclusion: still a highly enjoyable yarn, that book. Thank you, Mr. Stevenson, Sir.

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

current mood: content

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Thursday, August 27th, 2015
5:46 pm - Bickering Authors, Renaissance Edition
Yesterday I was in Nuremberg. Passing not just Nuremberg's but Germany's oldest bookstore, I saw this poster featuring some of its back-in-the-day authors:

 photo 2015_0826Nuumlrnberg0011_zpsyy1xkxtg.jpg

Well, you just know why Henry Tudor's German book tour got cancelled. No, not just the royalties. :) He clearly demanded a guarantee he'd get a better audience than Luther did, and then Korn & Berg looked at the difference in sales and realistically replied they couldn't guarantee that, Martin L. being outsold only by Albrecht Dürer prints. They did offer Henry a public discussion with Luther and a joint signing session afterwards, though. Except then Luther said he doubted Henry (he said Childe Hal, not Henry - "Junker Heinz" being his nickname for The Guy In Question) could write anything, including his own name, without Thomas More holding his pen, and the moment Henry heard THAT, he decided to create a country and linguistic culture hostile to translations from the German. Clearly.

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

current mood: silly

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Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
5:06 pm - Orphan Black Rec
I'm currently so worried, angry and frustrated about events like these, which keep happening over here (two more only last night). Which makes the need for fannish things to enjoy even more urgent. On that note, here's an Orphan Black rec. One of the s3 elements I was pleasantly surprised by most was the way the late (since the pilot, so not really a spoiler) Beth Childs was used, the way Sarah's thoughts keep coming back to her. This story expands on the mental Beth-Sarah conversations by giving Beth conversations with a great many other characters. Intense, with a dream logic that makes emotional sense, and extra points for including Amelia:

and when they sing (8316 words) by piggy09
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Orphan Black (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Major Character Death
Relationships: Beth Childs & Sarah Manning, (sort of) - Relationship, Beth Childs & Kira Manning, Beth Childs & Helena, Helena & Amelia (Orphan Black), Beth Childs & Rachel Duncan, Beth Childs/Paul Dierden
Characters: Beth Childs, Katja Obinger, Kira Manning, Helena (Orphan Black), Amelia (Orphan Black), Rachel Duncan, Charlotte Bowles, Paul Dierden, EVERYBODY SHOWS UP TO CHAT OKAY
Additional Tags: Dreams, Confusing and pretentious

As soon as Sarah had enough memories for Beth she was here: this kitchen, the safest place Sarah knew, a keeping-place until Sarah was ready to meet her. She had been alone there for a while. There were visitors, sometimes, but mostly Beth was just alone. Waiting and waiting and waiting for Sarah to come and see her.

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

current mood: depressed

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Monday, August 24th, 2015
9:29 am - Taxi (Film Review)
Or "Teheran Taxi", as the German title is, because another movie named "Taxi" was just released as well. This one won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, and now that I've watched it, I can say: deservedly so.

It's a Persian movie, directed by Jafar Panahi, and the only way people in Iran will be able to watch it is via bootlegs, since Jafar Panahi is currently officially forbidden to make any movies at all. It takes place entirely inside a car, with a deceptively simple premise: passengers of the taxi they assume the director's car to be drop in and out, leading to an anthology of cinematic short stories, shot via a camera installed in the taxi, and the occasional mobile phone. It never drags or feels self pitying, not even when one of the later passengers, a (female) lawyer recently disbarred from practicing, says "that's as ridiculous as if they'd forbid you to make movies". Panahi doesn't comment.

(BTW, early on, a passenger asks whether the others are actors, which also doesn't get a reply; I think it's fairly obvious they all or, not least because the characters include a bootleg dvd seller, Omid, the above mentioned lawyer, a (female) teacher questioning the use of Sharia law against thieves and spiritedly debating it with another passenger, etc., all of whom would be placed in severe danger if they were real as opposed to fictional.)

Despite the cramped location and the themes adressed, the film feels fast paced and often funny, with the passengers all coming to life as characters within their short narrative spaces. You don't see much of Teheran - it could be any big city with palm trees the car keeps driving through - but nonetheless the sense of place is vivid, complete with ever present robbery problem, a red thread throughout the movie. If this was shot by a non-Iranian director and set in Iran, I bet all the women would wear black and all the men would wear traditional clothing; here, their scarfs and bourkas are of varying colours, some wear trousers beneath them, and the men wear t-shirts and jeans more often than not. A former neigbour of Panahi's shows up in a suit and a tie. After Panahi's niece Hana (a girl who is arguably the movie's most memorable character among many memorable characters) points out her teacher told her the rules of what is and isn't permissable in movies, she says that to make the neigbour a sympathetic character, they'd have to change him altogether - no sympathetic character is supposed to wear a tie. Or have a Persian name, which surprised me; the Ministry of Islamic Guidance rules say sympathetic characters ought to have Arab names, preferably those of the holy Imans.

Hana is shooting a movie as a school project herself and ties to boss a young boy she spots stealing a purse into returning it, so he can be a hero (and sympathetic character); the fact the passengers include more women then men, and women of all ages, from schoolgirl Hana via the teacher, the lawyer and the distressed wife of a moped driver who had an accident to two middleaged-to-old women who want to put their goldfish into the Ali Spring (don't ask), makes this film compare positively a great deal of current Western hit movies. I'm just saying.

All in all, a compelling look at current day Iran which makes its point against censorship and the current laws in a deceptively good natured way, and therefore even more effectively. Highly reccommended.

Trivia: the bootleg seller is pimping The Walking Dead's fifth season to one of his clients. Wasn't that the most recent one? Iranian bootleggers work quickly!

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

current mood: impressed

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2015
7:56 pm - Fanfic recs
Two stories by the same author, different fandoms:

Rome (and history):

Blood on the coliseum floor: never mind the title, the story itself avoids the coliseum anachronism (it wasn't around yet for a few decades more, being a Flavian building). This is a sharp, unforgettable Octavian/Augustus portrait. Not a character easily rendered in fiction, but this is an utterly convincing portrait both of the Rome version and of what I know of the actual man.


White on White: and here we have a Spike portrait, just as sharply drawn, emphasizing his relationships with Dru, Angel and Darla, which is one but not the only reason why I was so drawn into it.

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

current mood: calm

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Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
12:04 pm - Tudor Novels, Young Adolescent Edition
In subject matter. It might also be in marketing, I don't know, I read three of these novels because [profile] sonetka's reviews had made me curious, but what they have in common, other than the era they're set in, is the first person narration and the fact they are about and narrated by teenage girls.

Detour rambling: mind you, authors who are definitely billed as Weighty Bestseller Writers employ first person narrators as well, independent from whether their main character is male or female. Mika Waltari did it all those decades ago, Philippa Gregory can't stop doing it right now. Mostly, and there are always exceptions, I prefer third person in my historical narrative. This is because few authors can pull off a first person voice which strikes me as plausibly that of a character from era X. Also if you've read more than one novel from a first person addicted author, the voices in question usually resemble each other too much, independent from which time the characters hail from. (Which is, btw, why I think Waltari pulled it off in The Egyptian, but then his narrators from Neronian Rome or the Finnish middle ages also sound very much like aged Sinuhe, and my suspension of disbelief is broken. Otoh Jo Graham gets away with it regularly, not least because her first person narrators actually are meant to be the same character, born into different eras. Someone who for my taste created a plausible first person narrator in the Tudor era is C.J. Sansom in the Shardlake series, but maybe if I would read a novel of his set in another era and it would also be first person, I would feel differently.

Anyway: Katherine Longshore, who wrote the trilogy (of sorts) I'm about to review, isn't a writer in the Sansom class who manages to give you a strong sense of era through the various levels of Tudor society, or of the ideological clashes. Her novels all take place in the claustrophic court world, and her narrators don't hold values or positions which completely clash with a present day reader. Romance and self realisation are the two main red threads. But I enjoyed reading all three books, though in varying degrees. They're vividly written - süffig, we'd say in German, for which there is no adequate English translation, but the word associates a good drink -, and even within the overcrowded (by novels) Tudor era, they manage to feel individual, not derivative of the dozens of predecessors. They manage to bring the characters they feature to life. While they're losely connected, you can read each on its own. They also don't take place in chronological order. On the contrary, the first one is the last one in terms of Tudor chronology. Which finally brings me to the actual books.

1.) Gilt: Our first person narrator is Katherine "Kitty" Tilney, who grows up with Catherine "Cat" Howard (given the overabundance of Katherines, a historical novelist always has to come up with short versions and nicknames; these are Longshore's) and ends up witnessing her execution. This is the book I liked least of the three, for one particular reason: structure-wise, it reminded me too much of The Other Boleyn Girl - goodnatured, kind female narrator is endlessly exploited by ruthless ambitious other female main character, who rises and then falls mostly due to own deeds. Our heroine, as opposed to our villainess able to see the shallowness and destructiveness of ambition and court life, at the end finally is free of same and can have a self determined existence.

This is definitely one of the most negative takes on Katherine Howard I've come across. (Most fictional takes on Henry VIII.'s fifth queen have her as a good natured, if somewhat stupid teenager, with the exception of Ford Maddox Ford who made her into a Catholic saint.) She's basically a High School mean girl: manipulative, shallow, cruel, demanding loyalty without ever giving it. Even when she does something historically seen as generous (pleading for the incarcarated Thomas Wyatt, who is at the point of her wedding enjoying another stint in the Tower), she does so for self aggrandizement. Now the mean girl characterisation is just as possible as the goodnatured one in terms of the historical foundation (i.e. we don't know; certainly the mutual blaming each other once Katherine Howard, her servants, and her former and current lover were arrested could be due to understandable panic in the face of a gruesome death, or it could say something about their characters - who are we to tell?), but the problem is that the Kitty and Cat relationship is the central one in the novel. Everyone keeps telling Kitty that Cat is just using her, but it takes her eons to catch on. And we're still supposed to buy into a deep bond between them after Cat's fall, which makes Kitty be there for her in the night before her death, when all the previous novel has shown Cat in such a relentlessly negative light. This just doesn't work for me. More ambiguity in Cat and some truly positive actions which make it understandable why Kitty still loves her, and I'd been sold.

Why do I still think the novel is worth reading instead of skipping over? Because it (and the subsequent novels) have the most fleshed out, interesting Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford, of any Tudor era novel so far. We're definitely talking post Julia Fox Jane characterisation, without Jane suddenly becoming a saint (impossible anyway in a novel dealing with the Katherine Howard era). Seen through Kitty Tilney's eyes, Jane is basically a Tudor noir character, an enigmatic woman with a past who is a riddle Kitty can't quite solve. She clearly had strong feelings for the dead Anne, and Kitty at one point speculates that Jane in her relationship with Cat and the other young girls is trying to recapture her youth, but then again, after the fall, Jane at one point says to Kitty "What makes you think this (death) isn't exactly what I deserve?" In the end, Jane comes across as better than Cat who immediately tries to use her as a scapegoat once all is discovered, and Kitty's sympathies are with her. The hints about Jane's and Anne's relationship are enough to make one very curious about the next novel, which is:

2.) Tarnish: this one has a young Anne Boleyn, just returned from France and new at the English Court, as the narrator. And because it's Anne Boleyn in her late teenage years, the arc of the other two, with our heroines realising the destructiveness of ambition and court life, is unthinkable. Also, the romance outcome is the exact reverse from what it would be in your avarage YA novel. Anne in this novel has two main love interests, King Henry, whom she has a long term so far unrequited crush on, and Thomas Wyatt, whom she developes the verbal-sparring-of-equals relationship with, which in a novel dealing with not rl characters would lead to Anne leaving her crush on the King behind and embracing true love in the form of Wyatt. Not here, of course, though she gets out of the crush stage with Henry and does realize she's in love with Wyatt, but Anne, with an YA unusual form of ambition, concludes that with two married suitors and one of them the King hinting that he's willing to do the hitherto unthinkable and separate from his Queen, she's going to go with the more powerful option.

(The novel's Henry VIII., btw, is a neat exercise in reader foreshadowing, leaving aside that Longshore already presented us with the bloated, more quickly lethal version in the previous novel, as well as the assumption your avarage reader has avarage historical knowledge. You can see why Anne, especially given she's grown up in a society glorifying him, has her original crush, while at the same time the way he's paralleled with his sister Mary, who in her casual cruelty is the closest thing the novel has to a villain, foreshadows what will happen.)

(Another unusual thing for romance-heavy novels: Anne's relationship with Henry Percy, which in this version isn't youthful True Love but both of them wanting to escape an unwanted marriage and seeing each other as the solution to this - and in Anne's case seeing Henry Percy as a social climbing -, rushing into a relationship and then realising there's no there there. Which comes with awkward first time sex. Usually romantic heroines either have blissful sex with their true love, or unwanted painful sex with an arranged husband. Awkward wanted sex with not-really-true-love makes for a refreshing change.)

The novel also has a strong emphasis on the relationships between the Boleyn siblings, and here you can see the author improving in terms of the previous novel. Anne, who hasn't seen her sister and brother for years, makes some basic assumptions about them which turn out to be mistaken (or only scratching the surface), but she doesn't come across as blind the way Kitty does in the previous novel re: Cat, not least because neither Mary nor George are presented as villains. (Though this is one of the darker Georges; one of the things Anne at the start is puzzled and hurt is why their early childhood closeness before she went to France can't be recaptured and George behaves in a jerkish way to her. There is an explanation - and no, it's not incest -, and misunderstandings are cleared up, but George still is one of the edgier versions around, though miles from the Tudors rapist or Mantel's spineless fool.)

And, as mentioned: Jane (Parker) as she is then. Longshore uses Fox' research re: Jane Parker being present and involved in the early court life of Anne Boleyn to great effect; her version is a nail-biting, intense girl who forms a loners' friendship with pre-popularity Anne, but with more than one reason (and Anne is blind to the obvious other one at first), and there's also a basis for both Jane's capacity for passionate attachment and her fear of being at odds with power. She's plausible as a younger version of the woman from Gilt and goes some ways to explain the enigma without explaining it all.

Anne going from newcomer and somewhat ridiculed outsider at court to trendsetting new favourite comes with the usual finding-yourself-arc of a young heroine but also with historical irony, due to the reader's awareness what her triumph at the end will result in. It also comes with strengthened relationships to her siblings and to Jane, though, and a wistful road-not-taken one with Wyatt, and all in all, it makes Tarnish my favourite of the three novels.

Brazen: features an older Anne a few years later, just after Elizabeth's birth, as a supporting character, but our first person narrator is another teenage girl: Anne's first cousin Mary Howard, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, who gets married to Henry VIII.'s illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond. Another Henry, as viewers and readers of Blood Ties know. Here, he's Fitz. They're not, however, allowed to consume their marriage just yet, supposedly because Henry VIII. thought teenage sex was responsible for his brother Arthur's early demise. I kid you not. This is so preposterous that I looked it up, and yes, Henry VIII. actually gave that as a reason. Mind you, the novel allows characters to point a far more likely reason for the royal non-consummation order: this way, the marriage could easily be dissolved, should Henry VIII. want or need to marry his illegitimate son to someone else. If he had legitimized him - not impossible, given he had made both his daughters illegitimate -, then, for example, it would have been very likely that he'd sought a royal bride for Fitz.

Anyway, being forbidden to have sex of course makes for the obvious arranged-couple-falling-in-love-and-yearning-for-each-other plot. But Mary also has other things going on her life; as ever, Longshore is good with the friendships (Mary with Madge Shelton and Margaret Douglass; together, they create the Devonshire Manuscript) and the family relationships, which with the Howards are even more dysfunctional than they are with their Boleyn relations. (Mary's parents have a marriage to spectacularly bad - historical fact, btw, we have the Duchess' of Norfolk's letters to prove it - that it arguably outdoes Henry VIII.'s marriages in that department, minus the part where he killed two wives.) Mary's brother and Fitz' best friend, Hal (Earl of Surrey, poet, destined to be executed a few years after this novel) is another important supporting character.

Early on, Mary has a romantic view on the Henry VIII. and Anne marriage but gets rapidly disillusioned. One of the novels twists is that while remamining an Anne supporter, Mary inadvertendly contributes to her fall when she thinks Cromwell is interrogating her about her friend Margaret Douglass' secret marriage (Margaret being the King's niece, this one was illegal and did indeed earn Margaret a stint in the Tower later) and tries to distract him with in itself harmless talk which Cromwell later uses fatally against Anne. Btw, this Cromwell is certainly of the villanous kind, though the uncontested prize for main male villain (other than Henry VIII.) in this novel goes to Mary's father, the Duke of Norfolk. (I've yet to read a positive characterisation of him in any novel, no matter whom the author prefers. Which isn't surprising. He scorned books and new ideas, abandoned the nieces he first pimped at the first sight of trouble and abused his wife.) (Mind you, somewhere I'm sure there is a Misunderstood Woobie!version of Norfolk. There is of everyone else...) Who ends the novel frustrated when a grown up, sadder and wiser Mary who after Fitz has become a vampire has died young refuses to be his instrument and continues her own life at her own conditions. (Which as a Duke's widow she can now afford.) But he swears he'll find another Howard girl to bring to the King, and thus the circle to the first novel is closed. It is also for Jane, who in this novel makes only a few appearances but at the end as opposed to Mary returns to court because she can't imagine another existence but serving a queen, and thus dooms herself. The relative lack of Jane after her two strong and intriguing appearances in earlier novels is a let down only if you've read the other two, but it makes sense given Mary would have had only limited contact with her.

All in all: not must reads, but if you feel like consuming three novels about women in the Tudor age which offer interesting non-romantic relationships along with the romances, these would be a good choice.

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

current mood: contemplative

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Friday, August 21st, 2015
5:18 pm - ...but why must the show go on?
Am I ever glad I abandoned The Good Wife and my emotional investment in same before all of this went down, because the latest PR attempt to deal with a certain actors-in-the-same-room related disaster completely backfires as the Kings attempt to deflect the questions as if they'd never done an interview before. Seriously, guys, "no comment" would have been better than Read more... )

This is starting to look like good material for a Robert Altman directed Hollywood-on-Hollywood farce. Also, whatever Julianna Margulies next job will be, it's bound to include a huge reality check.

From the bizarre to the real life gruesome: good article on why torture doesn't work, and which interrogation tactics actually DO work. Mind you, sadly it probably won't be read by people who aren't already against torture, but still, good article. Probably more relevant than ever, given Jeb Bush's pro torture stance.

And lastly: one of our living legends in German politics, Egon Bahr, died at age 93. Here is an obituary in English. Perhaps the best way to describe him to non-Germans is that he was a real life West Wing character who really did believe in this whole public service as a calling thing, while at the same time also being West-Wing-style devoted to "his" Chancellor, the late Willy Brandt.

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current mood: gloomy

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Thursday, August 20th, 2015
9:52 am - Sense8 Vid rec
This is a song with obvious Six Feet Under associations, but it still works beautifully for this show, its ensemble and the way their connections with each other form:

Breathe Me (9 words) by Butterfly
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Sense8 (TV)
Rating: Mature
Warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Relationships: Capheus/Kala/Lito/Nomi/Riley/Sun/Will/Wolfgang, Amanita/Nomi Marks, Hernando/Lito Rodriguez
Characters: Capheus (Sense8), Kala Dandekar, Lito Rodriguez, Nomi Marks, Riley Blue, Sun Bak, Will Gorski, Wolfgang Bogdanow
Additional Tags: vid

I am not just a me. I am also a we.

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current mood: busy

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
3:33 pm - Drive-by recs
Lord of the Ring:

Sunshine and Rain: a lovely friendship and comfort vignette between Elrond and Bilbo, shortly after the Ring got destroyed.


If certain pop culture clichés about the Spanish Inquisition ever amused and/or annoyed you, here's an excellent post (triggered by a movie I haven't seen, The Headsman, but really only taking its use of an Inquisitor as a starting point, and thus perfectly understandable for everyone) dissecting and clarifying what the Spanish Inquisition actually was, versus what pop culture thinks it was:

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

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current mood: busy

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Monday, August 17th, 2015
5:01 pm - Ultimate Fanfic Trope Showdown Meme
Picked up from various sources: Ultimate Fanfic Trope Showdown, which had these results for me:

1. Enemies to Friends to Lovers
2. Found Families
3. Rivalmancy
4. Trapped in an Elevator/Snowed-In Cabin/etc
5. Hurt/Comfort
6. Friends to Lovers
6. Loyalty Kink
8. Royalty/Arranged Marriage
9. Fake Dating/Fake Marriage Accidentally Turns Into Feelings
10. Adopting/Raising a Baby
11. Incest
11. Reincarnation/'25 Lives' AU
13.'Groundhog Day'/Karmic Time Warp
14. Espionage AU
15. Seemingly Unrequited Pining
15. Actually Unrequited Pining
15. Amnesia
18. Age Difference (possibly due to time travel)
18. Vampires/Werewolves AU
18. Magical Connection (telepathy, etc)
21. Sex Pollen
21. Fake Out Make Out
23. Role Reversal AU
24. Coffee House AU/Food Service AU
24. High School/Uni AU
24. Soulmate Identifying Marks: Tattoo, Red Thread of Fate, etc
24. A/B/O
24. Selfcest (possibly due to time travel)

Thoughts: Yep, that's me, alright, though there are some tropes here which I downright DISLIKE; they're duly placed at the bottom, and the only reason unrequited pining (actual or imagined) doesn't fare worse is my dislike for coffee house/high school AUs, ABO etc. burning brighter. I actually don't have anything against amnesia. As with so many things, it depends on the execution.

As to the top tropes, thankfully, canon provided for me No.1 in the unsurpassable Londo/G'Kar of Babylon 5. No.2 is most shows of the last ten years or so that I've watched, while 3. is covered by Doctor/Master (also Pattie/Ellen from Damages). My favourite example of 4 remains Beast/Brand when I started to suspect Joss Whedon wasn't just teasing and was actually shipping them. (Though Londo/G'Kar thoughtfully covered that trope, too. *g*)

(What surprised me was that "Friends to Lovers" made it above "Incest", but that's probably due to the fact the last decade or so soured me on the fannish execution of incest pairings, and in some cases the canon execution as well. (Looking at you, Deb's therapist, oh worst ever! And at you, season 3 of The Borgias!) I mean, I AM the Flowers in the Attic generation, I used to go for this stuff with far more interest. But no more, apparantly.

As to the strange numbering, don't blame me. That's the result I got. Possibly because my dislike for the lower half burned so equally. :)

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current mood: silly

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Sunday, August 16th, 2015
4:01 pm - Mountain Finale
Before I leave the Alpine area in favour of Bamberg, one last pic spam from hiking through the mountains:

Achensee Closeup photo 2015_0809Schilderstein0023_zpsk8dsdig8.jpg

More to save your browsers under the cut )

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current mood: bouncy

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Saturday, August 15th, 2015
6:53 pm - That and This
LJ really seems determined to drive everyone away, doesn't it? Sigh. I hate the new "feed" design.

From the trivial to the infuriating: Jeb Bush won't rule out the use of torture should he become president. Well, naturally. The amazing thing is that he admits it. But this reminds me again that Dubya, Cheney & Co. are all walking around free and wealthy and not ever threatened by being treated as war criminals, and despite of all the years of getting used to it, it's as infuriating as ever.

Oh, and some of them even are lined up to create more misery and disaster in the next administration: Paul Wolfowitz takes a swim.

Real life politics being that depressing, it's always good when fandom comes through. Have a vid rec:

Doctor Who: Survivors: joyful vid about the Companions and their post-Doctor lives and connections. Yay!

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current mood: pessimistic

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Friday, August 14th, 2015
11:52 am - Ben Aaronovitch: Moon over Soho, Whispers under Ground, Broken Homes, Foxglove Summer (Book Review)
Aka, I read my way through the rest of the Rivers of London series. Now some commenters to my review of the first volume had an "even/uneven numbers" theory similar to the Star Trek movies. My own experience was that the degree to which I liked an individual entry was directly related to the Lesley content of same. Much Lesley in 3 and 4 meant these were my favourites.

More spoilerly observations below the cut. ) So I hear the sixth volume is due this autumn? Excellent. *pre-orders*

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current mood: calm

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Wednesday, August 12th, 2015
5:51 pm - Orange is the new Black: Season 2
The second season turned out to be awesome, minus the mystery as to why Larry is still in it. More spoilery observations to follow. )

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current mood: impressed

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Monday, August 10th, 2015
6:42 pm - Briefly
Not dead, just busy hiking through mountains and marathoning Orange is the New Black. However, I did hear the good news about Sense8 getting renewed. I'm glad. It wasn't perfect, but there was a lot to love about it, and room for improvement in the first season is almost a given.

Also: This article makes me wonder, like the author quoted, why no one wrote a novel about Harper Lee and Truman Capote's childhood friendship before. I'm now very curious about this one. (And amused the author got the idea while watching Capote, because yes, the Harper Lee scenes therein are golden.)

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current mood: bouncy

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Thursday, August 6th, 2015
2:33 pm - Apropos the day
Still a legendary piece of journalism, still devastating to read: John Hersey's Hiroshima from 1946.

Some shorter pieces:

Five Myths about the Atomic Bomb

What U.S. Citzens weren't told about the Atomic Bombing of Japan

Hiroshima remembers

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current mood: indescribable

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Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
4:14 pm - I knew you were going to say that
The other day I watched A Dangerous Method again, and, as I wrote in my original review, was frustrated all over again by the sensation of a film having all the right ingredients for me - actors I like (Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley), a scriptwriter I like (Christopher Hampton), a director I like (David Cronenberg), complicated relationships, good performances, some excellent dialogue - and yet completely failing to deliver a satisfying whole. I still think the biggest problem is that it focuses on the wrong main character (i.e. Jung), and the second biggest problem that it doesn't overcome its stagebound origins in the way other Hampton adoptions of his plays did. But upon rewatch, other problems occured to me: even within the Jung-as-central-character premise, it avoids digging deeper. Spoilers for not very well known movie ensue. )

So frustrating! But definitely not boring. Also, this time I picked up on more of the musical in jokes. Since Sabina is a Wagner fans, the soundtrack uses a lot of Wagnerian motifs, and the wittiest use is the one of the Valhalla theme at the end of Rheingold , which the movie uses when the skyline of New York comes in sight and Jung is into raptures and says how the Americans are going to love psychoanalysis, which sardonic Freud comments with "before or after they accuse us of spreading the plague?" Given that the splendour of Valhalla at the end of Rheingold is one bought by deception, blackmail and betrayal and also doomed to destruction three operas later, this is very apropos.

In other fannish news: the third season won't be shown for many months more to come, but Black Sails has already been granted a fourth, which makes me a very happy watcher indeed. Also, moving on to another of my fandoms, some great Vanessa Ives icons (from Penny Dreadful).

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current mood: frustrated

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Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
7:45 pm - Orange is the new Black (Season 1)
Fannish osmosis told me the following things about this show ahead of watching: a) Non-exploitative women in prison character and ensemble drama, and b) this is one of those shows where everyone - for an euphemistic value of "everyone", i.e. of course there are people who hold other opinions, nothing is ever unilateral in fandom - seems to hate or dislike the lead. Whether the second is true, I don't know, but the former definitely is. It pulls off a really large cast and multiple stories going with it, and does the key trick of of complex characterisation - when people appear as stereotypes at first, later reveals show them as far more interesting and complicated without retconning the events that led to the first stereotype impressen. (Well, that goes for almost all of the characters. There's one bad guard and one particular inmate who at least in the first season are exactly what they appear at first unsympathetic glance.)

As for Piper as the original pov character, I can see where she'd draw fannish ire (she's white, rich, privileged and pretty selfish), but the story is aware of her flaws (which btw don't make her worse than anyone else, either), and doesn't make anyone else suffer for her education. (She partly learns through their stories, which isn't the same thing.) Basically, she works in the first season narrative as a guide for the audience to meet everyone else in the ensemble. Sometimes the show uses Piper to reflect audience expectations and changes back on them, as when spoilery things happen )

The only actor who was instantly familiar to me was Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red the chef, but I was impressed by everyone. Especially by the actress playing Miss Claudette, Michelle Hurst, who does a lot just with facial expression and her eyes. Spoilery comment to follow. ) Not surprisingly, the very messed up mother-daughter relationship of Aleida and Daya (I hope the spelling is right) captured me. My favourite friendship was perhaps between Sophia the transwoman and the incarcareted nun, which was delightfully surprising and relaxed and good for them. Speaking of Sophia, I also appreciated the show didn't shy away from the struggle of or conversely demonize her wife from her pre-op life who fell in love with a man and has her own emotional struggle going on despite being basically supportive, not to mention that now Sophia is in prison she has to raise their son Michael alone. (In some other fictional stories involving trans characters I've watched, family members are either vicious and not understanding or completely and seemingly effortlessly supportive.)

Speaking of tropes associated with prison stories, in the first season the backstories as revealed so far avoid letting all the characters be innocent and/or in prison for a sympathetic crime. (This includes Piper who did do the action she's in prison for, and while early on seeing herself manipulated into it later comes to realise she's avoided taking responsibility for anything all her life.) Though the backstories are all illuminating, with the exception of the only inmate who remained on the cliché side for me. Spoilers don't doubt such people exist, but in a fiction where everyone else is more complicated... ) Everyone else, though, is great, and the show is a good example of how you can explain without excusing. Take Alex, who is a drug dealer. Spoilery things the show does with Alex. )

There's a lot of humor in the show, but it also makes its tragedies cut deeply. I've come to care about all these people, and will definitely continue watching.

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current mood: thoughtful

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Saturday, August 1st, 2015
11:33 am - Bavarian Lakes and their Mountains
Because you don't have to travel to Southern Tyrolia to enjoy Alpine beauty; living in Munich, I also have it next door.

I mean:

Tegernsee vom Wieseer Hhenweg photo 2015_0712Mancherlei0036_zpslcjklvhl.jpg

More beneath the cut )

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current mood: exanimate

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