tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
([personal profile] tree_and_leaf Jul. 24th, 2017 04:24 pm)
It is an understatement to say that I don't like Theresa May in the least, and think she is doing the country a lot of harm - and yet, I still find Tim Lott more annoying.
selenak: (Rachel by Naginis)
([personal profile] selenak Jul. 24th, 2017 02:22 pm)
In which there's pay off for severa storylines, hooray! And flashbacks.

Who are you? )
tree_and_leaf: Isolated tree in leaf, against blue sky. (Default)
([personal profile] tree_and_leaf Jul. 21st, 2017 03:19 pm)
Happy birthday, [personal profile] coughingbear!
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.
selenak: (Henry Hellrung by Imaginary Alice)
([personal profile] selenak Jul. 18th, 2017 05:43 pm)
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 )
selenak: (Missy by Yamiinsane123)
([personal profile] selenak Jul. 17th, 2017 02:03 pm)
Spoilery Doctor Who talk about the big casting spoiler. )

On to Orphan Black. Which was a good spy hijinks hour that moved the plot forward.

Read more... )
selenak: (Max by Misbegotten)
([personal profile] selenak Jul. 16th, 2017 04:09 pm)
Since the other Borgias left me in the mood for over the top historical melodrama, and since it was available, I marathoned the second season of Versailles. (My first season review is here.) Aka, the show with the general accuracy of The Tudors (which is to say more than than the all around anachronistic crack like Reign, but generally not that much, though the occasional clever use of historical fact actually happens), produced by Canal just as Borgia, with the main selling point to internet fandom that there’s canon m/m prominently featured, courtesy of Louis XIV.’s brother Philippe d’Orleans, aka Monsieur, played by the increasingly gorgeous Alexander Vlahos. The second season tackles the affair of the poisons, one of the most notorious events in the reign of Louis XIV., but just as it did in the first season with just about any historic event fictionalizes the hell out of it, including, mystifyingly, changing the name of the main supplier of the poisons in question. Instead of La Voisin (first name Catherine), we have “Madame Agathe”. (Otoh the black mass celebrating renegade priest gets to stay Father Etienne Guibourg, which means the first time he is introduced in a seemingly benign undercover identity, the more historically versed parts of the audience know who he is and what he’s infamous for.) In terms of historical characters, we also get introduced to the delightful Liselotte von der Pfalz, the Princess Palatinate, and may I say that I was hugely relieved the Versailles version is great, because the original is one of my favourite figures of the era, due to all those vivid letters she penned for the folks back home, and as Versailles’ first season unfortunately reduced Monsieur’s first wife Henriette to a very passive, agenda-less character, which the original definitely was not, I was a bit afraid something similar might happen to Liselotte, the second Madame. But no. She’s blunt, no-nonsense, determined to make the best of a bad situation, as all versions of Liselotte should be. (Mind you, this show still obeys the Hollywood rule of plain and beauty, so when Monsieur’s lover, the Chevalier de Lorraine, ridicules Liselotte’s fashion and looks, it’s not clear what he’s on about since the actress is pretty – whereas historical Liselotte cheerfully admitted to her plainness in youth and weathered stoutness in age, comparing her looks as a middleaged woman to a roasted pig – and so is her wardrobe.)

On to more spoilery musings beneath the cut. )
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
([personal profile] selenak Jul. 15th, 2017 12:32 pm)
Emmmy nominations: as a fan of The Americans, I'm pleased that Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Alison Wright were all three recognized at last. Will root for them accordingly, which is all the easier since frustratingly, Bates Motel' final year went without an Emmy nomination again. Freddy Highmore has been fantastic throughout, and especially in this last installment where the show had to at last enter the same narrative territory as Psycho, and succeeded with flying colours, very much because young Highmore has managed to make an iconic role his own. (Very Farmiglia would have deserved nominations in all preceeding years, but I can understand she didn't get one this year, since she played "only" Mother, not Norma anymore.) My loyalties might be slightly split for best actor because of Bob Odenkirk for Better Call Saul, and I'd be happy if he wins, too, but if I had to decide and push came to shove, I'd go with Rhys over Odenkirk. Speaking of Better Call Saul, I call fail on the nomination of Jonathan Banks for best supporting actor over Michael McKean (Chuck). Or for that matter Michael Mando (who plays Nacho). Look, I get the Mike cult, and Banks is always solid, but Mike really did not have all that much to do this season. Whereas Nacho got core emotional dilemma stuff, and the actor rose to the task. And McKean may have played the most disliked character on the show, but I don't think the most fervent Chuck hater on the planet would dispute he did so amazingly, and this season, it was a lynchpin performance, with Chicanery and the s3 finale as the two particularly outstanding episodes in this regard. As for the utter lack of nomination for Rhea Seahorn as Kim, don't get me started. Though, again: makes it easier to root wholeheartedly for Keri Russell and for Alison Wright in their respective categories.

_____

Yesterday there was a lengthy interview with Christopher Nolan in one of my regular papers, apropos his upcoming movie Dunkirk. Two issues caught my particular attention: a) he mentions having written the script for a movie about Howard Hughes, only to be foiled by the Scorsese/Di Caprio movie "Aviator", which made it unlikely for a few years studios would finance another movie about Hughes, and now when the time would have been right again, Warren Beatty struck first and made Hughes a non-subject for a few years more. But, quoth Nolan, he hasn't given up and swears this script is the best he ever wrote. To channel some writerly frustration, he added, he put some of his Howard Hughes characterisation into Bruce Wayne in his three Batman movies. And suddenly Bruce's utterly self indulgent hermit phase between movies II and III as well as his bizarre rewriting on why things didn't work out with Rachel in I as voiced by him in II appears in a new light. :) Or maybe Howard Hughes' decades in Las Vegas hotel rooms do - clearly the cover for a secret vigilante identity. Come to think of it, old Hughes sueing unauthorized biographers does resemble the Frank Miller version of Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Returns somewhwat, no?

Anyway: b) the other particularly interesting-to-me Nolan statement was that in preparation for Dunkirk, he watched All Quiet on the Western Front (classic 1930 film version of Erich Maria Remarque's WWI novel, directed by Lewis Milestone) and was amazed such a movie was possible in 1930. But, says Nolan, it probably only was because it was an American movie based on a German novel, because an American director would never have presented American soldiers in this way, and the Germans wouldn't have made the movie to begin with, "so hooray for one culture speaking for another in this case", ends Nolan. Thinking about it, I concluded he was right that the German film industry would not have made All Quiet on the Western Front in the early 1930s - the book had been a big bestseller in Germany, but the movies were utterly dominated by the UFA by then, and the UFA was owned by Alfred Hugenberg, hardcore conservative who'd go on to support Hitler in his 1932 and 1933 election campaigns. As it was Goebbels orchestrated an anti All Quiet on the Western Front campaign when the movie was released in Germany - SA guys loudly protesting in the cinemas, white mice released, I kid you not -with the result that the movie was quickly withdrawn and most Germans saw it only once the Third Reich had come and gone. (My paternal grandparents back in the day did see it in the cinema, but they had to travel to Belgium to do so, which they did because not only did Granddad own the book, but he regarded it as a matter of local pride - he was born and raised just a few streets away from where Remarque, the author, had been born and raised in Osnabrück. And my grandfather, who'd lost his father in WWI when he, Granddad, was still a toddler, always regarded the book as a way to figure out what his father might have been like.)

Last year, when I heard a lecture by Elizabeth Bronfen on war movies in Zurich, she compared the aesthetic and thematic treatment of All Quiet on the Western Front with what WWII movies and news reels quickly established as standard in US movies, and it really is strikingly different. Not being an expert on war movies, my lay woman opinion would be Nolan is right in the American part of his statement as well, that an American movie about US soldiers like All Quiet on the Western Front at the time and for some time to come would never have been made. Probably not until the genre of Vietnam movies started, and that came and went again; more recent US movies, no matter about which war, which present US soldiers being lured into a war by propaganda and then fighting pointless battles and dying with no heroic justification or reward whatsoever (i.e. not even saving a comrade's life or turning a battle, or getting an epilogue declaring that their cause lives on or their sacrifice is remembered or what not), don't come to mind, either. Or am I missing something?
rushthatspeaks: (sparklepony only wants to read)
([personal profile] rushthatspeaks Jul. 12th, 2017 09:36 pm)
I don't expect to make the convention Thursday evening.

Friday July 14

6:00 PM 6 Terrible... but Great. Lila Garrott (leader), Bart Leib, Natalie Luhrs, Sonya Taaffe, Vinnie Tesla. Our panelists muse on books that are really bad but in an amazing way! Genevieve Valentine's term "shitmazing" may be appropriate here. What makes something both terrible and great? Are these works worth analyzing and perhaps even emulating, or do they exist simply to be enjoyed (if that's the word) on their own merits (if that's the word)?

This should be fun. Anybody else remember Lauren Baratz-Logsted's Crazy Beautiful (HOOKS FOR HANDS), or John Boyd's The Pollinators of Eden (KILLER SEXY PSYCHIC SPACE TULIPS)?


7:00 PM C The Works of Tanith Lee. Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe, Emily Wagner. Tanith Lee (1947-2015) was a supremely talented writer who worked in numerous genres and forms. She wrote children’s novels (The Dragon Hoard (1971)), Vancian fantasy (the five-novel Tales from the Flat Earth series), historical romance (The Gods Are Thirsty (1996)), fantasy/horror (The Book of the Damned (1988)), science fiction (the four-novel Birthgrave series), thriller/horror (the three-novel Blood Opera series), far-future science fiction (the Drinking Sapphire Wine duology), and more, including erotica, Gothic romance, and straightforward horror. Lee was clever, manipulating genre tropes and clichés in skillful and unusual ways. Lee was poetic, writing of everything from sex to childhood in lyrical fashion. And she was prolific, writing over one hundred novels and collections. She was twice nominated for the Nebula Award, ten times for the World Fantasy (winning twice), and six times for the British Fantasy Award (winning once), and was given the Grand Master Award from at the World Horror Convention in 2009 and the Life Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2013. As critic John Clute wrote, "Lee encompassed every genre of the fantastic... with supple attentiveness and an ongoing exuberance of invention which transcends... genre constraints." Join us to celebrate her work.

I wrote the entry on Lee in The Encyclopedia of Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy, which is one of the more random line items on my resume. I always enjoy talking about Tanith Lee.


Saturday July 15

2:00 PM C Lines of Consent in Fiction. Samuel R. Delany, N.S. Dolkart, Lila Garrott, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Josh Jasper. In science fiction and fantasy, consent is often handled in fuzzy, imprecise ways. Obvious scenarios of non-consent, such as the enslaved house elves in the Harry Potter books, are easily identified as problematic, but less is said about magical destiny that compels an ordinary person to become a hero; inherited magic, rank, or family feuds that empower or endanger a character without their consent; soul mates, who are forced to love and be attracted to each other; werewolves compelled to change shape under the full moon; and other strictures that are so common we've come to take them for granted. This panel will discuss work that either explicitly deals with consent or appears oblivious to its relevance, and will explore the writer's responsibility when placing characters in a scenario (or plot) that hinges on questionable consent or non-consent. Content note: this panel may explicitly discuss violations of consent and their consequences. For the purposes of this panel, trigger warnings and content notes are assumed to be valuable tools that assist the reader.

I haven't seen a convention have this panel before. It's an important panel. Let's hope we can do it right-- given the lineup, I should think so.


3:30 PM B Reading: Lila Garrott. Lila Garrott. Lila Garrott reads an excerpt from their novel-in-progress, The Journeyers.

PLEASE COME YOU'LL LIKE IT. The book is very hard to describe, especially since it's not like I've sat down and tried to write a blurb for it yet, but I promise it is enjoyable.


Sunday July 16

12:00 PM 6 Disturbed by Her Song: Gender, Queerness, and Sexuality in the Works of Tanith Lee. Steve Berman (moderator), Lila Garrott, Sonya Taaffe. Memorial Guest of Honor Tanith Lee thoroughly explored gender, queerness, and sexuality in her fiction, creating cultural pansexuality in the Flat Earth series and queering history in the Lambda Award–winning Disturbed by Her Song. Lee wrote lush, sensitive, poetic prose about people unrestricted by gender roles or cultural norms, and she did it for forty years. Were there any missteps along that span? Does her “channeled” writing as spectral lesbian author Esther Garber (and Esther's pansexual half-brother, Judas Garbah) stand out from the greater body of her sexually charged work? How did she handle her portrayals of trans people and their sexuality? Our panelists will discuss queer themes, sexual exploration, and sexual fluidity in Lee's work.


1:00 PM 5 Clothes Make the Story. S.A. Chakraborty, John Chu, Lila Garrott, Kathleen Jennings, Shariann Lewitt. Costuming says a great deal about era, wealth, status, and taboo in both the setting of a work and the time and place where that work was created. It's frequently discussed in the context of visual media, but costuming can be just as important in literature, and it's a vital part of worldbuilding for speculative works. This panel will dig into the implications of clothing choices in speculative fiction, how they age as the work ages, how they interact with diverse readers' expectations around concepts such as modesty and gender, and their use as signposts to help the reader understand how to approach the created world.

An astonishing amount of post-modernist theory centers around clothing, and I'd like to see that transfer to the conversation of SFF. Lo, Barthes did not Fashion System in vain.


2:00 PM 5 Imagining a New Normativity. Lila Garrott, Shariann Lewitt, Alena McNamara, Tui Sutherland. In the varied settings of fantasy and science fiction, writers have an opportunity to model characters who don't make familiar assumptions related to personal characteristics such as gender, sexuality, politics, race, and religion. Some speculative worlds have new defaults, such as the setting of Rose Lemberg's "Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds," in which women are expected to form families with other women; in others, the default is to make no assumption at all, as in the world of full gender parity in Tanya Huff's Quarters series. This panel will explore some of the new norms of recent works, and discuss techniques for writers interested in creating worlds with new notions of normativity.

An object perpendicular to another object is said to be normal to it. This is pretty much how I feel about the concept of "mainstream"-- perpendicular. My day-to-day life, meanwhile, is apparently so unimaginable that the details of it don't come up in art, which is ridiculous.


Also I will be around generally, and [personal profile] gaudior and Fox will be there on Sunday, though I'm not sure yet at what time or for how long.

I look forward to seeing a lot of you there!
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
([personal profile] philomytha Jul. 12th, 2017 10:19 am)
I wrote something! Looking at AO3, this is the first non-exchange fic I've posted since November 2014. And with all those bingo cards, instead I write a fic that has nothing to do with any of the prompts and is instead entirely the fault of both of my boys. But hey, I wrote something, even if it is fluffy silliness about a broken toy :-D

Title: Best Toy Ever
Summary: "ImpSec is my ... intelligence utility." - Miles, in Diplomatic Immunity.
Five-year-old Miles makes use of some ImpSec assets.

Best Toy Ever )

Final schedule for Yuletide 2017


Nominations Friday Sept 8 - Saturday Sept 16
Sign-ups Sunday Oct 1 - Monday Oct 9
Assignments out by Sunday Oct 15
Default deadline Monday Dec 11
Assignment deadline Monday Dec 18

Please note that this is a week earlier than the draft schedule we previously posted.

New Year’s Resolutions notification


If you took part in Yuletide and defaulted after the default deadline, or you submitted an incomplete story at the posting deadline, or you defaulted in Yuletide twice in a row, we ask you to complete a New Year’s Resolution story before you sign up again.

We have just sent an email to everyone who was added to our NYR list after Yuletide 2016. We don’t want you to get to Yuletide 2017, try to sign up, and realise at this late juncture that you are under a restriction.

The email we use is the one currently associated with your AO3 account. If you have any doubt about whether you fulfilled the Yuletide challenge last year, please check your AO3 account details to see what email address the message was sent to. It’s also possible that our message has gone to your spam folder.

You are welcome to comment here or to email yuletideadmin@gmail.com and ask if you are on the list of people who need to complete a New Year’s Resolution fic.

If you defaulted in a previous year, you may still be on our NYR list.

More information about New Year’s Resolutions


New Year’s Resolution fics written for the purpose of re-qualifying for Yuletide must be posted to the New Year's Resolutions 2017 collection before you sign up to Yuletide 2017. They must be over 1,000 words and written to a previous Yuletide prompt. You can write for a Yuletide 2016 prompt, or you can choose an older Yuletide prompt as long as the fandom in which you write is small enough to still qualify for Yuletide (that is: when adding the total fics on AO3 and ff.net, there are fewer than 1,000 fics that are in English, complete, and over 1,000 words long).

The New Year’s Resolution system exists for several reasons:
  • It's an incentive to encourage people either to default early, or, to push on through and post something

  • It works as a warm-up, or as practice, or as a way of proving to yourself you can finish a story to a prompt

  • It's a contribution to the project of getting more stories written in tiny fandoms

  • It's a way of ensuring that past prompts don't get entirely forgotten.


If you had to default in a past year, we are aware that this may have been for a carefully-considered reason or in a difficult time. Needing to complete a NYR does not mean we think you're a terrible person. We hope you use it as an opportunity to write something you enjoy.

You are also welcome to submit a NYR story if you just feel like writing one! The collection will stay open for late fills until Yuletide 2017 assignments are sent out.

Writers are especially encouraged to write stories for prompts that were not filled during the main Yuletide run.

2016 prompts on AO3
Google spreadsheet of all prompts (thank you to Min)
Database of 2016's Dear Author letters (thank you to lsellersfic)
2016 prompts as a text file
Prompts from 2016's non-signed-up pinch hitters on LJ and on DW
Some Day My Fic Will Come mini-challenge - This challenge is for prompts that are posted year after year after year - see more info at the link!
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