pedanther: (Default)
Briefly noted:

The Star Wars Rolling Remix 2017 collection has opened. The works will remain anonymous for about a week, for the benefit of those who like to amuse themselves by guessing who wrote what and in what order.

From the existence of this post, you may safely conclude that one the works in the collection is by me.

For the explanation of what is a rolling remix and the details of how this one was organised, I refer you to [community profile] starwarsrollingremix.
pedanther: (Default)
List of Completed Fics:
Ten Alternate Universes: Bernice Summerfield (481 words; Doctor Who & spinoffs)
Ten Alternate Universes: Kay Harker (606 words; The Midnight Folk et seq.)
Ten Alternate Universes: Havelock Vetinari (1062 words; Discworld)
New Flowers Bloom (100 words; Snow-white and Rose-red)
A week next Saturday at the Stork Club (401 words; Captain America: The First Avenger)

Read more... )
pedanther: (cheerful)

1. I have been to the cinema to see a movie for the first time since, according to my notes, July. The movie was Arrival, and it was worth going to see. I will probably go and see some more movies this month, because we have Rogue One arriving this week and then Moana in the post-Christmas summer season.
 

2. I finally got around to reading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Edwards, which has been lurking in my to-read pile for years. The author is the wife of the film director Blake Edwards, aka the actor and singer Julie Andrews, and I'm pleased to be able to say I enjoyed it, although probably not as much as I would have when I was the target age and less capable of spotting the bits that are designed to impart important life lessons. Other things that stuck out to now-me that wouldn't have to child-me were the puns (especially having recently read the bit in Summer in Orcus where the child protagonist is scornful of the kind of puns adult fantasy writers put in children's fantasy), and the wise token adult's attitude to the designated adversary's concerns, which I felt should have had a hashtag on them saying "#notallhumans". I was very pleased that the designated adversary turned out to be not evil, just doing his best in very trying circumstances, and that the token wise adult was shown to be a human being with his own flaws and blind spots (and that he started listening to his former adversary more by the end), but I felt it could have done with an explicit call out that even though the designated adversary turned out to be wrong about this specific group of humans he had perfectly valid reasons to be distrustful of humans in general.

(PS. I probably would have identified with one of the children when I was a child, but as an adult the designated antagonist is definitely my favourite character.)
 

3. Another thing that's been sitting on the shelf that I finally got around to is the Big Finish audio drama Storm Warning, the first of their series featuring Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor. It was okay, I guess? I mean, I enjoyed it, but I'm not in a big hurry to find out what happens next. (Although part of that's obviously because I'm starting the series fifteen years late, so I already know from fandom osmosis quite a bit about what happens next.) And, to be fair, I've never been all that good at audio dramas; I don't tend to find them engaging enough to sit still through.
 

4. The Rep Club Christmas Show has been and gone. I was involved only as an audience member, which I think may have been the right call. On top of the reasons for making that decision in the first place, I'm now in a position to tell that I enjoyed watching it once but it would probably have worn a bit thin through a month of rehearsals and performances. (It would also have been a crimp on my social life that I'd have regretted, in terms of things I've been able to go to on what would have been show nights.)

The next Rep Club production is, as I've mentioned, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I've been cast as the socially awkward science nerd, which as you can imagine is going to be a stretch.
 

5. Fanfic rec: Third Wheel, in which Bruce Wayne makes his first official visit to Metropolis, and Lois Lane is assigned a celebrity profile that turns out to be more interesting than she expected, while Clark Kent investigates sightings of a mysterious bat-man.

"I've always wanted to learn how to fly," Clark said, sounding impressed.

"You should," Bruce said. "It's fun."

"It always seemed like it would be."

pedanther: (cheerful)
1. At the gaming group this week, we played Carcassonne and Splendor. First we played a two-player game of Carcassonne, which I won convincingly, then another person arrived and we played a three-player game, which I lost even more convincingly. Then we played two three-player games of Splendor, and I lost both times.

At the end of the evening, everybody happened to finish up early except the role-playing group, who were in the middle of battling a kraken that was trying to sink their ship. I hung around to see how that turned out; how it turned out was that the kraken destroyed the ship, but the adventuring party did manage to rescue most of the people on board by stuffing them inside some kind of hammerspace pocket their wizard conjured up. On the one hand: Lots of survivors, yay! On the other hand: Lots of survivors stuck in a hammerspace pocket hovering in midair over open ocean with no chance of anybody happening along to rescue them... The wizard explained that he had a theoretically sound plan for getting everyone back to dry land in one piece, but the venue was closing up so we didn't get to find out yet how well that was going to go in practice.


2. The local music school runs a small choral group for adults that I've been vaguely aware for a while, but hadn't got around to checking out due to having other things on and general shyness about putting myself into new situations. Recently I've had some more free time due to not being in any shows at present, which happened to coincide with the beginning of a new school term, so it seemed like a good time to check it out. I am enjoying it so far.


3. In a rare burst of decluttering enthusiasm, I've done something about the pile of Things I Put Down For a Moment Intending to Deal With Them Later that was gradually engulfing my study. It's now sorted into three boxes: things to be put away when I figure out where they go, likewise but with a good chance I'll be wanting them again before then, and things that actually need dealing with. Next step: dealing with the things in the third box.

In a bit of carry-over, I also did a thing with the box that's been sitting in the kitchen since I moved in, which nominally contained things that needed to be unpacked in the kitchen. It's now been separated into a small box of things that really do need to be unpacked, and a larger box of things I never actually used in the old kitchen and don't see myself using in this one either. Next step: Figure out how to usefully get rid of the second and larger box.


4. The new online community platform Imzy recently moved from closed to open beta, in case anyone's interested in checking it out. (Can't have communities without people in, after all...) My impression is that so far the more broadly-drawn communities, like Fantasy, are making more of a go of it than the communities based on more specific topics, but that may change as more people get involved.


5. Fanfic rec: Working Backwards by Starlightify. In which Clark Kent wakes up in Lois Lane's bed and has to figure out how he got there, and also who Lois thought he was at the time. Normally I find stories with this kind of premise acutely embarrassing, but this is written with a great deal of warmth and empathy and I enjoyed it unreservedly.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. At the gaming group, last time I went, we played 7 Wonders: Duel. There were about half a dozen people interested in learning about it, so we ended up playing in rotation, where everyone got two games against different opponents and most people (including me) won the first and then lost the second.


2. I participated in the Multifandom Drabble Exchange on Imzy, because it seemed like a good excuse to check out Imzy and a good excuse to write some drabbles. I wrote one drabble, and attempted a second based on one of my recipient's other prompts but it refused to be squished down to 100 words.

* New Flowers Bloom expands a bit on some of the events that are summarized so briefly in the happily-ever-after paragraph of the fairy tale "Snow-white and Rose-red".

* A week next Saturday at the Stork Club is a shameless fix-fic for the end of Captain America: The First Avenger.

I received two drabbles, both for the TV series Ultraviolet (yay!). Neither of them seems to have been posted anywhere outside of Imzy (which is currently still only readable to the beta testers).


3. I have not signed up for Yuletide this year, though I may end up doing a pinch hit or a treat or something. This is my usual level of engagement with Yuletide, because I find that the most daunting part of Yuletide is thinking of things to ask for.


4. Kim Newman's new novel Angels of Music (a take on the Charlie's Angels premise populated with characters from 19th century genre fiction, including the Paris Opera Ghost as the mysterious faceless leader) is now available in a variety of formats. It's also been announced that his next book will be a short story collection with a theme of monsters, featuring a brand new Anno Dracula story titled "Yokai Town".


5. Ursula Vernon's new novel Summer in Orcus is being published online as a serial, with new chapters dropping twice a week. It's her version of the old "child dragged into another world for an adventure" genre.
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. We have finished the run of Oliver!, to the disappointment apparently of many people who left it too late to get tickets. Apparently there were enough enquiries to suggest that we could have sold out a fourth weekend of performances, but that wasn't practicable because everyone in the cast and crew had already made other plans and in some cases would be out of town.

Despite the logistical complications (and having to share the green room with a crowd of small noisy people), I'm glad we were in our theatre instead of the big one. The trouble with the big one, which I think I've mentioned before, is that it's impossible to book it for more than a few days at a time, so we'd have only been able to do one weekend and would have had to stop just as we were all getting settled into the thing. As it was, we had the first weekend to get settled and then two more weekends to enjoy doing it properly.

The director says that between seeing me in action as Fagin, and hearing the violin player who got recruited for the pit orchestra, she's seriously considering doing Fiddler on the Roof as her next big show. That won't be for a year or two, though. What's coming up now is our annual season of one-act plays, then The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


2. I've been to the gaming group a couple of times since I last mentioned it.

The first time, we played The Resistance and Cards Against Humanity, and I was reminded why I don't like playing The Resistance or Cards Against Humanity. (The Resistance is one of those games that's all about watching people's body language to figure out who's the traitor, and I'm frankly terrible at it. Cards Against Humanity is kind of a joke game, and it's basically the same joke over and over again, which gets boring very quickly if you're not in the mood for that kind of joke, and I'm usually not.)

The second time went better. We played Formula D, a game where you roll dice to move a car around a board shaped like a race track, which is a lot more fun than it sounds. You get to roll different shaped dice depending on what gear you're in, and you have to be careful not to go around corners too fast, or bump into other cars, or several other things that can damage your car and put you out of the race. I drew pole position at the beginning, and had a lot of fun hogging the track by placing my car where it would be more difficult for the others to get past. Later in the race, I fell behind a bit due to some conservative cornering, and in the end I came in third.


3. For SF Writer Appreciation Day this year, I showed appreciation for Tim Powers by putting money down for his latest novel. And the one from a couple of years back, because I somehow hadn't got around to that one yet.


4. This week's fanfic rec is a sequel to the Batman & Catwoman one from last time: Give and Take


5. My current favourite podcast, and the one I'm most consistently keeping up with, is Robot or Not? with John Siracusa and Jason Snell. Episodes drop once a week, and are all under ten minutes long; many are under five minutes, and the shortest to date is 48 seconds including the opening and closing music. The format is very simple: Jason nominates a topic, and John explains why it is or is not a robot. Topics include robots, cyborgs, and AIs from fiction, mechanisms from real life, and occasional left-field balls such as "the dance called The Robot". John's answers are based on intuition rather than a pre-determined set of rules, although as the series progresses an empirical set of guidelines is beginning to take shape, and sometimes don't fall how you might expect. (Assembly-line robot arms? Not robots, for reasons that actually make sense when John explains them.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Last night (Friday) we had a showcase night at the Rep Club, with members performing songs from various musicals -- ending, of course, with a couple from the upcoming production of Oliver!. I got called on to perform "Reviewing the Situation", which was a bit nerve-wracking, particularly since at the point where it was added to the program we hadn't actually got up to it in rehearsals. I'd been practicing it at home, but never with someone else accompanying, and it's the kind of song where that can make a difference. I did manage to get in some practice with the showcase night's accompanist, and in the event it went off well. The other performances were also good, and all in all it was a fun night.


2. Three weeks until Oliver! opens, which puts us into the traditional period for worrying about whether the whole thing will come together in time. We still haven't had any rehearsals with the pit orchestra yet, for one thing. I suspect the big test might be in about a week, when we start doing the head-to-tail run-throughs, and we find out how much the children still remember of Act One.


3. My current favorite author of DC superhero fanfic strikes again. The title of this one is Arm Candy, and the summary is: Where Bruce Wayne goes, models follow. It's almost a joke, the way he wears them like watches, girls too young for him hanging off his arms. It's a wonder he can even tell them apart. Both are ironic.


4. I did a piece of adulting recently that I was quite proud of. The venetian blinds on one of my windows weren't staying up, and I figured out that some of the brackets that held them in place had been twisted out of shape. I found a shop that sold replacement brackets, installed them, and re-hung the blinds all by myself. I even dealt calmly and collectedly with the part where I learned why the original installer had drilled two holes for one of the brackets, which I did by inadvertantly screwing the bracket into the wrong hole first and discovering, as the original installer presumably had, that when it was placed there it got in the way of the mechanism for raising and lowering the blinds.


5. The local high school's big production of the year was the musical Hairspray. I went along, and it was one of the most entertaining nights out I've had in a while.

(One thing I was a bit worried about going in was how they were going to handle the fact that a significant subset of the characters are African-American, a group that isn't represented in large numbers in these parts. Apparently, this is not an uncommon problem; there was actually a message in the show programme from the authors of the show saying that they encouraged high school productions to find creative solutions to it -- ie., absolutely not blackface -- and asked the audience to get into the spirit of the thing. In the event, what this production did was have all the white characters played by white actors and all characters who are people of colour played by actors who are people of colour, if not necessarily the colour originally intended. That seemed like a reasonable compromise.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. The fanfic I recommended last week has a sequel now: Christmas in Kansas, the story of the first time Clark Kent brought his colleagues Bruce and Diana home for the Christmas holidays. There's inevitably quite a bit of focus on Bruce, due to the inherent incongruity of Bruce Wayne + relaxed family holiday, but Diana gets some really nice moments, too.


2. Since I'm already recommending out-of-season Christmas fanfic, I don't think I've recced back in anno domini here; it's a crossover in which Susan Pevensie goes to stay with a friend in Tatchester and ends up befriending Kay Harker. It's really beautiful, but it hasn't got a lot of attention possibly because there aren't a lot of people on AO3 who know who Kay Harker is. (I mean, I suspect it would still be a beautiful story even if you have no idea, but I can see why people might be cautious.) (And of course I could be wrong, since I've known Kay nearly as long as I've known Susan.)


3. Rehearsals for Oliver! continue. I'm beginning to really get a feel for Fagin's physicality: how he holds his shoulders, how he moves his hands, how he walks. Not so much, alas! for how he speaks - I'm shifting unreliably between several different accents, and it seems like the more I attention I pay to how I'm speaking the less likely I am to get the result I'm after.

The children of the cast seem to have largely accepted me, in (will-I or nill-I) the role of the fun adult who'll often play along with a joke but needn't be paid any attention to if he tries to get one to settle down. Fortunately, there are other adults in the cast who can achieve more success if settling down is what's needed, including our Nancy, who's a teacher in real life.


4. I've been to see Captain America: Civil War. I have previously had occasion to comment that the MCU doesn't have a track record of sticking the distance with moral dilemmas or good-vs-good conflicts; the side that the heroes aren't on tends to see the light, or do something that allows their viewpoint to be swept under the carpet, like die or turn evil (or turn evil and then die). I didn't expect this movie to be any different, and it wasn't. Doubtless there will be bloggers who will examine the details in more depth, but that's not really my thing.

I like the new version of Spider-Man.


5. At the gaming group this week I played Hoax, Council of Verona, and Goblins, Inc..

Hoax is one of those bluffing games where you have to figure out what cards your opponents have while being free to lie as much as you like about your own. I've generally been pretty terrible at bluffing games because I have no poker face when I get a good card, but between Batman Love Letter last week and Hoax this week I've been working on a strategy where I attempt to mask my reaction to good news maintaining a cheerful demeanor all the time regardless. I was getting pretty good at it by the time we moved on to the next thing.

Council of Verona involves a meeting to settle the feud between the Montagues and Capulets, and cards representing various characters from Romeo and Juliet, each of which either has a goal for the outcome of the meeting or an action that will affect the outcome. (For example, Lord Montague's goal is to end the game with more Montagues at the meeting than Capulets, and there's a lesser Montague whose action can be used to have one of the Capulets kicked out of the meeting. Another character, I forget which, has the goal of ending the game with more people kicked out of the meeting than still in. Romeo, meanwhile, doesn't care what happens at the meeting, or whether he's in or out, only whether Juliet is there with him.) Where it gets complicated is that players score by betting on which characters will achieve their goals, and using the action characters to influence the outcome - and some of the characters' actions, instead of directly affecting other characters, can be used to mess with the other players' bets. I still don't think I've quite got my head around it.

Goblins, Inc. is about designing giant fighting machines and then playing them off against one another. It's an interesting mix of co-operation and competition. It's played with two teams of two, but halfway through the game the pairs are split and rearranged so that you end up allied with a former opponent. At various points in the game, each player is required to make important decisions without consulting their ally. Players are scored individually, and each player earns a different number of points from a victorious round depending on their secret agenda. (For instance, one player might earn points for each of their opponent's weapons that's destroyed, while another might earn points for each bit of armor; and similarly when it comes to the bits of their own machine remaining intact at the end of the fight.) In theory, the secret agenda might also influence a player to make a decision during the round that helps them but harms their ally. In practice, I found that I paid a lot of attention to my intactness agenda during the design phase (points for every intact weapon at the end of the fight? okay, we need to start with lots of weapons) but during the fight phase I would just forget about the destruction agenda and concentrate on the best outcome for the team. That seemed to work well for me, since I won the game.
 
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Since I mentioned that the brass band was contesting at the Nationals, I suppose I should add that they came second in their grade, which is pretty good going considering (a) there were around a dozen bands in that grade, and (b) it's a grade up from where we competed last time.

But I wonder what it says that my immediate reaction to the news was a little voice somewhere inside me asserting confidently that they'd never have done so well if I'd gone and played with them.


2. I have now seen every episode of the original series of Star Trek, plugging an obvious gap in my geek credentials. I started at the same time Mark Watches did, nearly two years ago, but fell behind almost immediately because I wasn't willing to buy the DVDs just to watch them once, and this turned out to be a bad part of the world to borrow them. Star Trek wasn't available on any online streaming service in Australia at the time, and none of the local bricks-and-mortar video libraries had it, so I ended up relying on a mail-order video library that would only send them out one disc at a time and took a whole week to get the next disc to me when I sent the previous disc back. It was a considerable relief when one of the Australian streaming services finally started offering Star Trek, and I could knock off the second half of season three in under a month.

(And yes, "it has Star Trek" was literally the sole criterion I used to decide which streaming video service to sign up for. It wasn't a bad decision, though; the same provider also has the Australian streaming rights for Doctor Who, as well as a pretty large collection of shows I've always intended to watch some day but couldn't be bothered when the best option looked like being the mail-order video library.)


3. A little while ago I discovered a YouTube channel dedicated to Tiny Planets, an animated show that was one of my favourite things in the world when I was younger. I’ve been watching episodes on and off since, and it’s just as delightful as I remember it being. (In fact, it’s even more delightful, because the version on YouTube is without the intrusive narration that was added when it aired here.)


4. This week I finally got around to attending a meeting of the local gaming group, whose existence I learned of a bit over a year ago. I insist that this is partly their fault for giving the impression that they don't want new people to find them: before this week, the only evidence I'd seen of their existence was a single flyer on the wall of a shop that is itself quite hard to find. (They also have a Facebook page, I'm told, but it's not visible to people who don't have Facebook.) To be fair, they're not hurting for members; there was a pretty good crowd the night I went.

They cover a range of tabletop gaming areas: the meeting I went to had a table each devoted to an RPG campaign (Pathfinder), a miniature wargame (Warhammer 40K), and Magic: The Gathering, as well as several tables devoted to more casual boardgaming.

Not being the kind of person who's good at interposing myself, I hovered until one of the organisers noticed me and gave me the tour, then hovered some more until one of the boardgames finished and the people on that table invited me to join their next game. They turned out to be a pretty friendly bunch, and did a lot to counteract the uncertainty I was still feeling about whether I was welcome.

We played 7 Wonders (I came third) and Love Letter: Batman (I came dead last, partly because I was having too much fun to concentrate on strategy). Love Letter: Batman isn't as weird as it sounds, and doesn't actually involve any love letters: it's a spin-off of a game about deducing the location of a compromising letter, but in the Batman edition you're deducing the hiding places of villains instead.

Once I got past the nervous hovering I had a lot of fun, and I don't intend to wait a whole year before I go again.


5. The single best thing I've read recently is a fanfic called Empty Graves, which is the story of why you never hear about anybody going back in time and killing Superman when he was a defenceless two-year-old. (The short answer is Martha Kent. The long answer is more complicated, and ends in a brighter place than I was afraid it would when I was halfway through.)

 
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Swancon soon! I haven't packed yet, because I usually do that after laundry day, so as to have the widest range of clothing options, and laundry day this week has been postponed because of rain. (Note to self: Go and bring the laundry in off the line once this is posted.)


2. The brass band is contesting at the Nationals again, but I'm not going with them; I've already missed one Swancon and most of another for the previous two occasions, and I feel that's quite enough. I went to all the rehearsals, though, because it's good practice and because the person who will be filling in for me won't be available until just before the contest, so until then it was useful to have someone filling in for them.


3. I've recently rewatched some episodes of Davies-era Doctor Who that I hadn't watched in years. (Part of the impetus was that the Verities are rewatching both first seasons of Doctor Who for their podcast this year.) The stories and performances hold up pretty well, and I don't think any of the special effects struck me as fake-looking that didn't already the first time, but the incidental music! I remember, back in the day, there were a lot of complaints about Murray Gold's music being obtrusive; it never seemed so to me then, but it does now.


4. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was on TV last week, the 1992 comedy film version, and I'd never watched it all the way through before, so I did, and now I kind of want to see the Yuletide Buffy fanfic we'd be getting if there'd never been the TV series afterward. There are all these hooks in the movie that everyone ignores now because the TV series went a different direction, like the idea that there's just one Watcher and one Slayer, endlessly reincarnated. Or even Buffy's ludicrously uninvolved parents - imagine what a fanfic exploration of that could be like... (I tried looking at AO3 to see if it had any movie Buffy fic, but all I found was a bit of Pike/Benny slash and a lot of TV Buffy fans who don't understand how fandom tags work.)


5. At Mark Reads, Mark has just finished reading all of Tamora Pierce's novels, and is just about to embark on Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. I was really keen on those when I was around the same age as the protagonists, but I've never re-read any of them, so that'll be interesting. (Actually, I've started re-reading the first one already, and it's holding up pretty well so far.)

ETA: 5a. Mark is, of course, also still reading through the Discworld series. He's just started on Interesting Times; it makes an... intriguing accompaniment to Lian Hearn's Tales of the Otori, which I'm reading as homework for Swancon.
 
pedanther: (cheerful)
For the AU writing meme, [livejournal.com profile] lost_spook requested Bernice Summerfield, [livejournal.com profile] daibhid_c requested Kay Harker, and [livejournal.com profile] john_amend_all requested Havelock Vetinari.

Bernice Summerfield )
Kay Harker )
Havelock Vetinari ) 
pedanther: (cheerful)
(via [livejournal.com profile] lost_spook)

Give me a character/pairing and I will write snippets of ten different alternate universes for it. One line, ten lines, a ficlet if you're lucky.

  1. Wild West
  2. Coffee Shop
  3. Shapeshifters
  4. Pirates
  5. ...In SPACE!!
  6. Born Another Gender
  7. Schoolfic
  8. Police/Firefighters
  9. Urban Fantasy
  10. Regency
pedanther: (cheerful)
(via [livejournal.com profile] lost_spook)

Because this year, between various Yuletides and the fact that a few months ago I went through my collection of old fic and uploaded (and backdated) everything I was still willing to expose people to, there's actually some chance of being able to provide meaningful answers.

Read more... )
pedanther: (cheerful)
(via [livejournal.com profile] john_amend_all, out of several available options, because he linked to a handy template)
Read more... )
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. Our season of short plays has opened and closed, with positive responses from the people who came to see it. We got a good write-up in the local paper, both in the sense that the reviewer liked it and in the sense that everyone's names were spelled right and it didn't give away too many of the good surprises. (If I'd been directing one of the other plays, I'd have been annoyed about some of the moments chosen for the accompanying photo spread, but fortunately my own play was immune to being spoiled in that manner.) The reviewer said that of the three plays the one I directed was his favourite, which I'm inclined to attribute to the quality of the script, and showed the best acting, which I'm prepared to take some credit for.

After it was over, I spent about a week not stirring from home except to go to work and band practice, and I'm not letting myself get roped into any more theatrical productions until June.


2. We've had the second round of the Toastmasters speech evaluation contest, with winners from three club contests competing against each other. This year, for the first time, I was competing as a winner of a club contest. I didn't win the area contest, but I'm not too bothered; just getting there was an achievement, and anyway I wouldn't have been able to make it to the third round, the division contest, this weekend, so I wouldn't have advanced any further regardless. The winner of the division contest will go on to compete in the final round at the District Convention in early June. (Which I'm on the organising committee for, and that's another reason I'm not committing to any more theatre before then.)


3. The final season of Foyle's War aired here recently - at least, they say it's the final season, but they've said that before. More than once. The war that the title theoretically refers to ended two final seasons ago, not that I'm complaining. (At least it hasn't become one of those wartime series where the war drags on longer than it did in reality so they can fit more seasons in; that trick only works if the series is set vaguely "during the war", and Foyle's War has always been tied to specific historical events, which is one of the things I like about it.) I'm actually really glad we got this final season, because it leaves us in a much better place than the last final season did; not entirely happy, but considerably more hopeful.


4. One of the things I like about reading fanfic is that it can offer new ways of looking at things that one might not have thought of before.

For instance, I recently read a Doctor Who fic that starts with a fresh look at "The End of Time", Ten's regeneration reluctance, and the extended companion farewell tour, through the lens of "The Time of the Doctor":

He doesn't want to go.

Coward, the Master called him, and maybe it's true, because he's terrified. Imagine him, of all people, frightened of change. But it's different this time. Twelve regenerations to a Time Lord, and the last one may have been non-standard, but it counts, and so does the one he tries to tell himself wasn't really him. He can feel the evidence inside him, irrefutable: some vital part of him busy using itself up.

Twelve regenerations, and he's just shoved the only people capable of giving him more back into their time lock. So this is the last time he'll ever experience this, and he's not going to go gentle. No, this last time, Death is going to have a fight on its hands.


He knows what he wants to do with the time he has left, and he has to do it now, because there's no telling how much time he'll have left, after. And no telling what kind of man he'll become.

So he visits them, one by one: the people he's loved, the people he's failed to do right by.


The fic is And at the End, a Garden by AstroGirl, and the rest of it is good too.


5. Video link of the month: John Oliver presents: Infrastructure: The Movie

"You cannot tell me that you are not interested in this, because every summer people flock to see our infrastructure threatened by terrorists or aliens, but we should care just as much when it's under threat from the inevitable passage of time. The problem is, no one has made a blockbuster movie about the importance of routine maintenance and repair. Or they hadn't - until now..."

(If you want to skip straight to the hypothetical action movie, that begins at 17:10. The preamble is worth sitting through if you have the time, though.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Lost Prince (e)

In progress
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. I Dare (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Healing in the Vine (e)
Terry Pratchett. Guards! Guards! (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Simon Singh. Big Bang

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Terry Pratchett. Eric
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. One thing that struck me, looking back over my fiction logs for 2014, was that if you don't count fanfic (of which more in a moment), I read only two new novels in 2014 that weren't chosen for me by a book club or similar endeavour. I read both of them in April, when I had a holiday with a lot of travel time to fill and only limited contact with the book-clubs-and-similar.

Now, to be fair, I read quite a few new novels for the book-clubs-and-similar, but there was a certain lack of variety. So for 2015, I've made myself a rule that I'm going to read at least one chapter each month of something I've picked for myself.


2. The thing is, I did actually read several more novel-length works of fiction in 2014, but they didn't get into the fiction log because they were fanfic. (I read an enormous quantity of fanfic in 2014, I suspect at least partly as a way of getting some variety from all the book-clubs-and-similar, and although I was reluctant to have too many novels on the go at once, fanfic didn't trigger the reluctance even if it was long enough to otherwise count as a novel.)

Most of the novel-length fics were from the Undone Universe and Motion Practice series. They're both based on the Marvel Avengers movies, and mix novel-length works with shorter fillers and side-stories. Undone Universe mixes the Marvel multiverse, mythology, and a threat to the totality of existence; it's interesting and complicated but really, really grim. Motion Practice is an AU in which Nick Fury is a District Attorney, the Avengers are his team, and Loki is that one defense attorney whose reputation is based on being able to get anybody off if they have the money; it's a lot of fun, but also has its serious side - one of the things I like about it is the way the drama arises naturally out of the solid character work. (The character- and world-building has enough solidity that a lot of the stories in the setting arise from those rather than just being echoes of things that have happened to the non-AU Avengers.)

It seemed weird in retrospect to not be logging fiction that I'd spent so much time reading. So this year, I'm logging any fanfic I read that's at least 7500 words long (which I picked arbitrarily because it's the cut-off for novella length in the Hugo Awards).


3. I have, of course, been to see the third of Jackson's Hobbit movies by now, and I'm not at all surprised that the internet already contains at least one fan-edit that attempts to squeeze the trilogy into a single film with most of Jackson's inventions removed. There were parts of the third movie where I was mentally marking it up for edits while I was watching it in the cinema, which I think marks a failure of engagement on the film's part.

The thing that bothers me about The Battle of the Five Armies is not so much how much time Jackson devotes to depicting the eponymous battle (which Tolkien, in a sign of how important he considered it to the story, pretty much skipped entirely), but the way he chooses to depict it. All the named characters who die during the battle do so in meaningful one-on-one confrontations with named characters from the other side, some of whom have been invented for the purpose, often physically separate from the main mass where the nameless extras are hacking away at each other. I don't think I like that, and not just because it's a big departure from the book (where Thorin and Kili and Fili are in the thick of the fighting the whole time, and Thorin is killed not by a single blow from a Dramatic Archenemy but from the accumulated injuries from all the people he's fought). It's also generally a misleading thing to be suggesting about the way battles work.


4. I finally got around to watching the first episode of Leverage yesterday. It was fun, but I don't know if I'll be watching any more, because a feature that I suspect is going to be integral to the format going forward turns out to hammer one of my narrative turn-off buttons. I've been known to say that as a kid I spent more time watching I Love Lucy from behind the sofa than I did Doctor Who, because alien monsters don't inspire dread in me but what does is the prospect of someone being publicly humiliated because they thought they knew what was going on but they were wrong. And it turns out, apparently, that this happens even if the someone in question is the villain of the episode.


5. I've mentioned before that when the Modesty Blaise comic strip ended in 2001, our newspaper started running the strip from the beginning, and then in 2012 it started from the beginning again even though it had only got a third of the way through.

I recently realised something else: This time around it's printing the strip off a different set of masters. (The way you can tell is that the strip was first printed with a title block in the top left corner of the first panel, which was removed in reprints and the artwork extrapolated to fill the space left behind. Comparing the strips we're getting now to the ones we got in the 2001 re-run, many of them have differently extrapolated details.)

I have a theory that this means that there are two versions of the strip being made available to newspapers, and the reason our newspaper restarted was that they discovered they were signed up for, according to some definition, the wrong one. (Speaking historically, in the original run the distributors started offering two different versions of the strip to newspapers starting with the story "Cry Wolf" - which, as I noted at the time, is precisely the point at which our newspaper re-started in 2012.)
pedanther: (cheerful)
Fiction books
Ben Aaronovitch. Foxglove Summer (e)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. Plan B (re-read)
Tamora Pierce The Fire in the Forging (e)
Terry Pratchett. Pyramids (e) (re-read)

In progress
Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Lost Prince (e)
Sharon Lee, Steve Miller. I Dare (re-read)
Terry Pratchett. Guards! Guards! (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Simon Singh. Big Bang

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Tamora Pierce The Healing in the Vine

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