selenak: (Equations by Such_Heights)
Well, we already know there'll be Missy stories, covering her Doctor-less time. Other obvious possibilities:

Spoilers for the Twelfth Doctor era ensue )

The other days
selenak: (Companions - Kathyh)
Disclaimer re: spoilers first - I haven‘t had the chance to watch the third season of Wynona Earp yet, so not only can I say nothing based on it, but I also ask you not to spoil me in any possible comments.

[personal profile] kernezelda asked me about this, the question triggered by her remembrance that John Crichton, once he‘s adapted enough to the Unchartered Territories to carry a gun all the time, nicknames it „Winona“. Now I suspect that due to Farscape being a 1990s show, this was John being a Winona Ryder fan, bless his geeky heart, but Wynona Earp, dark haired, hard-drinking, issue-ridden sarcastic gun wielding woman that she is, would totally be his type. If he met her pre-Aeryn, that is. Pre-show John, otoh, would probably be someone Wynona had a one night stand with, at best, but no relationship. (In that hypothetical timeline ignoring scenario where they meet as adults. If you use the actual timeline for both Farscape and Wynona Earp, Wynona was a child when astronaut John Crichton left Earth the first time.)

Otoh, if they were to meet during that time in Farscape‘s fourth season when Crichton and friends made it back to Earth for a while, and if this was, say, somewhere around s1 or s2 of Wynona Earp, we‘re talking about a darker, more broken version of John Crichton who also knows what it‘s like to be, well, not the Chosen One as much as The One With The Ring (i.e. knowledge in his head put there by a third party which everyone else is after and willing to commit any crime to get at). He‘s still geeky enough to dig having an Earp (with or without Doc Holiday in tow) to talk to, and despite being exclusively Aeryn-sexual at this point would at least be aware that Wynona is hot and his type. Conversely, this version of John Crichton would be messed up and issue-ridden enough for Wynona to be actually drawn to, though if it‘s s2 she might be most interested in whether or not his government connections could prevent Purgatory from being bombed and/or members of her team getting kidnapped by again. They‘re both too paranoid for good reason to really trust each other, of course, but if they get drunk together there might or might not be an comiserating about being stuck with a curse/wormhole knowledge respectively.

She‘d be amused by the gun called „Winona“, he‘d be in stitches once he finds out hers is called „Peacekeeper“. (He‘d probably wonder whether Scorpius qualifies as a Revenant, though, given his penchant to return from certain death.) (If I were to write a non-crack fanfiction, I‘d then have Wynona realize that Aeryn qualifies as a revenant - she did die and was brought back by unnatural means, courtesy of Zhaan. Cue angst! Especially since the similarities between Aeryn and Wynona would either cause them to bond or detest each other on sight.) Wynona being bound to Purgatory, which she tried to escape most of her life, is in a way the reverse of John desperately trying to get home for most of the show only to find Moya, his friends and space have become his home now, so there might be some talk about that, too. His constant pop culture references would drive her crazy, but Waverly might appreciate them. If we handwave the timeline so Farscape‘s fourth season takes place in the here and now rather than Wynona Earp‘s first two seasons taking place in 2002/3 or thereabouts, John might be gratified to find out from Waverly that Winona Ryder made a career come back and would insist on taking Stranger Things with him on dvd once the s4 Earth interlude is over.

Lastly, Noranti would be bound to make a cryptic remark about Wynona‘s future and/or give Doc some advice that would cause trouble for the future of the remaining Wynona Earp storyline. And someone from Purgatory would try to become a stoaway on Moya.

The Other Days
selenak: (Vulcan)
It's so good to have a Star Trek show to look forward to again, I can't tell you. And Netflix put the four shorties online yesterday for us overseas fans who couldn't watch them before, so I felt all caught up when starting the new season today.

Space: Where Vulcans who want to avoid a family reunion go trekking )
selenak: (Young Elizabeth by Misbegotten)
To start with the obvious: interesting characters and a gripping narrative, as with all novels. No matter how well researched the background of a novel is, if the author can‘t make its characters come to life for their readers, it won‘t work. Also, it‘s no use to say „but it happened that way!“ about implausible historical events. The story has to be told in a way that makes its readers, or in the case of theatre plays, tv shows and movies, its watchers believe what is happening based on its own merits.

Read more... )

The Other Days
selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
Overall, more non-Britain based historical episodes. I’m aware of the budget problem, but really, I have no problem with Studios and GCI doubling as, say, Byzantium, and if DW still wants to do the educational thing, well, the last few years have demonstrated that maybe getting stories told from a non-British perspective, especially and including a historical one, is something severely lacking.

This being said, my first suggestion is actually a figure from British history: Aphra Behn, spy, Restoration playwright, poet and summed up by Virginia Woolf thusly: „"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds." The possibilities are for a meeting with the Doctor and friends are endless: young Aphra, travelling to Surinam? (Maybe Ryan gets involved in original Oronooko’s revolt?) Agent 160 Aphra, spying for Charles II in Antwerp? Playwrighth Aphra, wowing the London stage? (Maybe Yaz gets to be one of the first Restoration actresses?) Bring on the Restoration spy theatre adventure, I say.

Non-Britain-based ideas: Al Andalus, i.e. Muslim Spain, offers seven centuries of history and lots of colourful characters, male and female alike, of all three Abrahamic religions. (Also, bonus point if the Mosque of Cordova reminds Graham of the Mines of Moria, because that actually was the model, according to the Fellowship DVD.) I have a soft spot for the female Muslim poet Walada, the Jewish statesman Samuel Ibn Nagralla and of course Moses Maimonides, who all lived in different eras from each other, so if one of them makes it into the episode, that would be neat, but I’ll take any era, really.

Byzantium: good old Constantinople provides us with centuries of intrigue, coups, inner religious warfare and glorious architecture. If the Doctor should encounter a certain bearkeeper’s daughter, that could be fascinating, but Theodora isn’t the only interesting woman in Byzantine history. Bonus for someone from our gang getting to do a race in the circus.

Egypt: make Erimem tv canon speaking of centuries of history. As someone pointed out once, Cleopatra is closer to our present than she is to the building of the Pyramids of Gizeh. Considering a current member of the US government has gone on record stating those were build by Joseph of Biblical fame in order to store corn in, maybe an episode set around the building of any of the Pyramids could prove enlightening. Bonus if Egyptian mythology is used for the adventure, and not just by namechecking the obvious suspects (Isis, Osiris, Seth).

Holy Roman Empire: moving closer to my home turf, but not that close: again, lots of fascinating history to pick from. Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen, Federico Secondo, stupor mundis, the Renaissance man among medieval Emperors who was German-Norman by genetics, Sicilian by birth and education, was at different points suspected of being a Muslim and an atheist, conducted the sole peaceful Crusade (as in, (successful) negotiations, not a single battle), constantly at odds with the Popes, but also most definitely into absolute monarchical authority. Since he was very much into sciences, questioning everything and not a big believer in miracles, I could see him figuring out what the TARDIS is and trying to hijack it.

The Other Days
selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
Still in a mood for Middle Earth, not least because the craziest twist in either book or movie verse makes more sense than British politics right now. (Yep, it’s still that painful „watching a friend commit a long, drawn out suicide by drinking themselves to death“ feeling.)

So, on to fiction, where people behave in less lethally farcical ways. You know, just a trivial matter but I couldn’t help but notice: in fanfiction, Kili and Fili address Thorin with „Uncle“ all the time and refer to him as „Uncle Thorin“, ditto with Frodo and „Uncle“, „Uncle Bilbo“ etc. Whereas in canon: the movies have use Frodo „Uncle“ as an address precisely once (in the „Unexpected Journey“ opening flashfoward) , versus „Bilbo“ at all other occasions (Fellowship and Return of the King), and he never refers to him as „Uncle Bilbo“. (Nor does anyone else. Sam says „Mr. Bilbo“, Merry and Pippin mention him as „Bilbo“ or „the old Hobbit“.) In the books, it’s „Bilbo“ all the way. As for Kili and Fili, as far as I recall in the book their biological relation to Thorin is only mentioned in the paragraph that brings up their deaths; in the movies, Fili uses „Uncle“ once – when pleading that Kili should not be left behind in Laketown – but it’s „Thorin“ otherwise from both brothers. (Fili calls „Thorin“ before the wounded Thorin regains consciousness near the end of „An Unexpected Journey“, Kili addresses him as „Thorin“ in his „what the hell, hero!“ speech in „Battle of the Five Armies“.

Now, at a guess, the reason for Frodo’s fanon constant „Uncle“ use is that Frodo, no matter at which point the story is set, tends to be written as younger than he is anyway, and definitely in pre-quest stories. (If you’re the woobie, you get infantilized.) As for Kili and Fili – maybe there’s a subconscious assumption that calling their uncle by his name is too informal for a hierarchical society? Too modern? Whereas yours truly sees the constant „Uncle“-ing as the modern touch.

Now, some recs:

I measured out my life in tea spoons: lovely Bilbo character portrait from childhood to Valinor, using tea as the Macguffin

The well-travelled soul: and another excellent character portrait of Bilbo through the ages via short vignettes

Sunshine and Rain : this one has Elrond and Bilbo talk about Arwen and mortality; it’s a hurt/comfort & friendship story with Bilbo doing the comforting

Splintes and Bruises: more but less serious h/c, this one set after the first movie, when both Thorin and Bilbo have to be covered in bruises due to the state Unexpected Journey left them in.

Five Times Lindir Was Stressed By Dwarves and One Time He Smiled: to finish my recs on a light note, poor Lindir. (Elrond’s steward at Rivendell, previously known as Figwit in fandom. *g*) Also a good look at Bilbo in this early stage of the quest.
selenak: (Bardolatry by Cheesygirl)
[personal profile] likeadeuce asked my about Shakespeare adaptions or retellings (a la „10 Things I hate about you“ for The Taming of the Shrew“ for example) I want.

First, the problem is that retellers and adapters whose takes I end up loving have a more audacious imagination than I do. If you’d asked me whether I want a High School AU version of a Shakespeare play, I’d have said no, and yet, „10 things I hate about you“ managed to superbly keep what works about „Taming of the Shrew“ and chuck out the horrid dated gender stuff. I wouldn’t have suggested a Tempest production set in the Arctic, and yet, when the RSC did just this, starring Patrick Stewart as Prospero, it turned out into my favourite Tempest of all times. Yet another Midsummer Night’s Dream, this one with bonus fascism? God no, and yet, when watching RTD’s adaption, again, I loved it.

Speaking of my favourite living Welsh writer, though: given how his ruthless cutting and redistributing of lines complete with new pairings and unexpected revolution paired with our Rusty’s penchant of mixing comedy and darkness made his take on Dream so fascinating, though, I’d like to see him have a go at Twelfth Night. I’m counting on canon on screen/stage same sex relationships at the very least, and maybe different end games, but I’m also curious how he’ll handle Malvolio. And Feste. And which setting he’ll choose.

In terms of retellings: I felt somewhat let down by the BBC’s Hollow Crown take on the York tetralogy. Now granted, the Henry VI plays simply aren’t Our Will at his best yet but in the try out stage, but still, there’s far more potential than what we got on screen. Now, Ian McKellen and Richard Linklater already did the „Richard III in Alt! 1930s Britain“ thing, and what I have in mind is more a transposition into another culture. How about taking a hint from Kurosawa instead, hiring a Japanese team and do the York plays retold with Samurais? (Perhaps this time keeping pissed off peasant Jack Cade?) Or settle them in the post-Genghis Khan era of Mongol history, when the various branches of the Borjin Clan had a go at each other for supremacy? (For occupied France, read China.) And I would like it to be a retelling rather than something still using the Shakespearean names, completely told as a Japanese or Mongol story, respectively.

Lastly: did you know that young Richard Wagner, before discovering Norse mythology, Schopenhauer and German nationalism, composed an opera adaption of Measure for Measure which turned this late, cynical Shakespeare play into something that culminates in the people staging an uprising against anti-sex laws, gets rid of the Duke/Isabella conclusion (Isabella still doesn’t get to stay a nun, though, she ends up with Lucio instead) and transports the whole action from Vienna to Sicily? It made me wonder what an adaption into another medium could do with that play. And whether you could somehow make sense of the Duke in a modern context, and make the endings – Isabella who really didn’t want to marry hitched to a man she hardly knows, Angelo who was ready to rape and kill pardoned into marriage with Mariana – palpable and plausible? I’m tentatively eying a vlog AU a la The Lizzie Bennet Diaries set in the movie industry, with the Duke and Angelo as producers.

The Other Days
selenak: (Tardis - Hellopinkie)
First of all, a mighty caveat, which you could call the Weeping Angels Clause: I’m not really sure any of these should be revisited, because as the Angels illustrate, it can result in diminishing returns. They were a brilliant concept, brilliantly executed, in Blink, and I really wish Moffat had never used them again and found something else for the Eleventh Doctor and River to reunite over, because they were so much less interesting and more standard monster-y in their comebacks.

With this in mind:

Jenny from The Doctor’s Daughter: I know Big Finish actually did bring Jenny back, but there is only so much time in the world, and I haven’t had the chance to listen to her audio adventures yet. Anyway, I think an encounter between Thirteen & Friends on the one hand and Jenny on the other could be truly interesting and could also shake everyone out of their comfort zone. The Doctor as an absent parent (even if the way Jenny came to be wasn’t intentional, and of course the Doctor did not know Jenny survived) should press some of Ryan’s and Graham’s buttons. Jenny asking about Donna and Martha would bring home to our current trio that there were other „best friends“ of the Doctor before, and not with joyful fates, even if we don’t get into details about Donna. Jenny and the Doctor dealing with the Doctor’s change of gender would be the least of it (considering Jenny’s a female clone of a male Doctor, that shouldn’t throw her too much), but with Jenny now having been on her own for years and grown into her own adult personality, she could be a fascinating „what if?“ for the Doctor. Especially if Jenny still uses her soldier training. And vice versa.

The Space Arthurian Myth characters from the Seventh Doctor adventure Battlefield: either in the form of an actual follow up/prequel (i.e. the Doctor as Merlin, added bonus for Yaz, Graham and Ryan all assuming myth roles as well), or simply go for the basic concept which also uses River’s „I hate wizards in myths, they always turn out to him“ comment. And it doesn’t have to be a European myth transported to space – anyone up for the Doctor and friends running into sci fi versions of the Mahabaratha mythical characters?

The Third Doctor adventure Inferno presents basically Doctor Who’s version of the Mirroverse – fascist Britain, evil Brig, evil Liz Shaw, etc. Since then, there have been various „timeline gone wrong, resulting in fascism“ tales (more recently, Turn Left as one of the most successful ones), as well as stories presenting us with multiple versions of the regulars („The Wedding of River Song“, for example). However, no more straightforward Mirrorverse as such. Now, look at our current rl state of affairs. What I’d like the show to do is another Mirrorverse concept episode – but one where the Doctor and friends encounter a timeline where everything is much better, so they have to wonder whether they aren’t the Mirrorverse characters. (Bonus if the Doctor runs into a clean-shaven version of Delgado!Master, if an actor can be found who’s up for it, or conversely into Missy the embodiment of chaotic good, travelling with her faithful Companion, the deeply compassionate Lucy, saving the universe.) (Extrabonus if the Doctor in the end concludes that while she likes and respects that version of Missy, she can’t relate to her the way she could to „her“ versions of the Master.)

Bonus: So what was up with Orson Pink from Listen? Heavily hinted to be a descendant of both Danny and Clara, which the way canon developed turned out to be impossible. I’m not sure it needs an entire episode to provide an explanation, but something would be nice.

The Other Days
selenak: (Discovery)
One of the pleasures of Star Trek: Discovery is the great number and variety of female characters – Michael and Tilly as regulars, Katrina Cornwell, L’Rell and Georgiou as recurring. As different as they are: Every single one of them is an ambitous carreer woman either in a position of leadership or wanting to get there.

Spoilers for the first season beneath the cut )

The Other Days
selenak: (Bilbo Baggins)
Still in a mood to be sentimental about Middle Earth, I came across this neat take on Bilbo’s and Frodo’s first „real“ (i.e. not among masses of relations) encounter:
By the Brandywine

Noteworthy for a) keeping Tolkien’s take for how old Frodo was when Bilbo got interested in him and decided to adopt him, and b) letting Frodo show a sense of humor and spirit. Seriously, if you look for Bilbo & Frodo stories, you have to wade through Dickens pastiches where Frodo is a waif barely able to talk and prone to bursting into tears all the time, complete with the writers ignoring he was quite happily raised chez Brandybuck after his parents‘ death before Bilbo adopted him, not with the Sackville-Baggineses. This, incidentally, is not something you can blame the movies for, much as Peter Jackson makes the most of the angst potential of Elijah Wood’s blue eyes once the quest has started. Frodo when he’s introduced is very much a cheerful Hobbit, whose reaction to Bilbo trying to express his fondness is to say „Bilbo, have you been at the Gaffer’s home brew?“, and who parties with the best of them at the birthday gathering. (Which of course makes the later Ring and quest-caused changes all the more effective.)

Speaking of the birthday party, Bilbo’s farewell speech with the glorious trolling in the non-Middle Earth sense („I don’t know half of you half as well as I would like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve“) basically sums up his relationship with the Shire post-quest: both fondness and exasparation. In a way, both The Hobbit and LotR make the point that you can’t go home again, not to the home you remember, because either you or it or both have changed. It’s true for Thorin, for Bilbo, for Frodo. Incidentally, rewatching the birthday sequence has reminded me again what a superb job Ian Holm did, who with little screen time for Bilbo gets across a lot about the character, his relationships with Frodo and Gandalf, the effect the Ring has had on him, the crankiness mixed with the whimsy, the undiminished capacity for wonder and that old longing which gets him on the road again as it did decades earlier, against all Hobbit traditions. The Doylist reason why Bilbo leaves the tale early on and then has only cameos is obvious, once Tolkien had decided that he couldn’t be the ringbearer in this new tale, but on a Watsonian level, I think Bilbo deciding not to end his days in the Shire (where he lives in comfort and with a companion he’s fond of) after all but to hit the road again (until old age catches up with him once the life prolonging effect of the Ring is gone, and makes him retire in Rivendell) is a remarkable statement about just how powerful that inner restlessness must have been. And at the very end, in the Grey Havens, when he’s on the boat to the West, the very last thing he says is an expression of joy that there is at yet another adventure to go to. Here’s the birthday sequence for you all to enjoy and be sentimental about with me:

And the extended edition version, which has the Bilbo-Frodo moment I mentioned earlier:

selenak: (Vulcan)
Wychwood wanted to know about German sci fi novels, and I have to admit this is a genre department in which I’m seriously underread – I think I picked up one Hans Dominik as a child, but that’s it -, with one big exception. The exception, though, is our most prominent and long-running sci fi series in any media. To which: Perry Rhodan.

Perry Rhodan started like Doctor Who in the 1960s, only not on tv but as a pulp fiction weekly, and it’s still getting published in this format (though there are also hardcover collections, paperbacks, ebooks, audio versions etc.). Unlike Doctor Who, it never got cancelled, so you have a decades long uninterrupted canon. You also have, since a few years, Perry Rhodan Neo, which is basically what in Marvel the Ultimate ‚verse was to the 616 verse, or what Battlestar Galactica 2003 was to the 1970s BSG – a separate universe and timeline using some of the same characters and basic concepts but with its own spin, characterisation and continuity.

Back when it started in the 60s, the original two writers, who didn’t stay the sole two writers for long, were one K.H. Scheer and one Clark Darlton (Pseudonym for Walter Ernsting, because if you were a German fantasy or sci fi writer in the 1960s, you more often than not got yourself an English language pseudonym). They created the original set up and the first ensemble of characters, and in some ways, you can see their fingerprints to this day, though so many other writers since then have come and gone. Scheer was interested in spy stories (he also wrote those outside of Perry Rhodan), space ships, space battles (whether or not his nickname „Grenade-Herbert“ was fair is still debated). Darlton, otoh, was more into whimsy, humor, aliens and the mystic-fantasy angle now and then. Leading the series‘ central character, friends and enemies themselves aside, Scheer’s most memorable contribution, character wise, was probably Atlan (who shows up in installment No.50 of the series as a millennia old snarky alien who’d gotten stranded on Earth – yes, Atlantis was named after him -, and promply develops rivalry/friendship with our hero; more about him later); Darlton’s was Gucky (mutant who looks like a cross between a walking beaver and a mouse, hence a „Mausbiber“, though his species‘ own name for themselves are „Ilts“, very powerful – he’s got telepathy, telekinesis and teleportation – and very cute. Likes carrots and practical jokes; think Bugs Bunny in space, and you wouldn’t be totally wrong).

The titular hero, Perry Rhodan, starts out as an US astronaut, the first man on the moon – remember, this series started before Neil Armstrong & colleagues actually got there. Unlike Neil Armstrong, he finds a stranded space ship there, with a still alive crew, and immediately realises that if he tells this to his superiors back home, the cold war will end up getting very hot indeed if the rest of the world concludes the Americans have access to alien weaponry. Which is why he and two of his fellow astronauts decide not to do that (the fourth astronaut of the moon landing crew disagrees, which becomes a plot point for some issues) and go independent instead, aided by said alien tech and two of the aliens, whose species is called „Arkoniden“ („Arkonides“ in English, I guess?), and founding a new , „Third“ Power in the Mongolian Desert. No one back on Earth is thrilled and everyone tries to get their hands on Rhodan and the Alien tech, but in the end it actually does work out in ending the Cold War and creating world unity. Which is when the first space invasion storyline arrives, because of course it does, then our hero decides to go exploring into space himself, and so forth.

We’re now several thousand years later; many authors, characters and storylines have come and gone. Perry and some friends from ye early days are still around, courtesy of a macguffin rendering them potentially immortal, meaning they don’t age and heal fast, but they still could be killed by violent means; last time this actually happened to a main character, though, there was a mighty uproar in the fandom (think Torchwood fandom after „Children of Earth“) which still hasn’t entirely settled. There now textual same sex relationships, female writers on the staff, and in terms of female characters, we’re a far cry from when in the original set up, male alien Crest had to explain why female alien Thora is his ship’s Captain to Perry by telling him that it’s just because the males of his people are more affected by the general degeneration than the women (because why else would a WOMAN lead the ship?), though you can sometimes still tell rather blatantly whether a female character was created by a man or a woman.

One of the enduring qualities of the series, though, is that it has this rich variety of genres internalized. There are still spy stories (the late K.H. Scheer would be pleased!), heist stories, thrillers, exploration stories, invasion stories, mystical/mythical tales, entire life stories (when a new important character is introduced, you sooner or later get his backstory in a separate issue), more recently even YA like plot lines (because these days, when our heroes reproduce we don’t time skip to when the kids are adults but actually see them doing the raising), etc. Also, the characters are a mixture between one-offs, recurring and regular, and while this means it’s possible your favourite won’t show up for not just months but years, it’s equally possible they’ll then be given a prominent role in their very own storyline.

Then there are the many, many different species around. The very first one from the very first issue, the Arkonides, are still there, and since they’re basically Albino Romans in space (much like Babylon 5’s Centauri are), I’m pleased with that. But since a written series isn’t budget-limited, the Perryverse has been collecting non-humanoid species galore since then, in all sizes, from miniature to gigantic, and no, not only the cute looking one’s like Gucky’s are written sympathetically. (One species, the Haluter - >Haluts? – look like gigantic monsters but are among the most intelligent and generally heroic ones in terms of their characters; they also were an early example of our authors stepping outside the binary gender premise with aliens.)

Another advantage is that if you’ve skipped storylines or eras, you can still enjoy others without going „who what why???“ all the time. (It’s like Doctor Who this way.) Of course, there are superfans who really can detect whether author x has made a continuity mistake when ignoring events from issue 798 when writing issue 2004, but that’s fandom, any fandom for you. (These days, the Perrypedia is helpful in this regard, to authors, too.) One of the things I found fascinating when Perry Rhodan Neo started was what got updated and what remained the same: the idea of Perry as the first man on the moon had to go, for example, and ditto for the Cold War in the 1960s sense, but Perry is still an astronaut discovery a crashed alien ship on the moon, and while the Earth isn’t suffering from an US versus Russia and China nuclear stand-off (Neo started five years or so ago, gulp), the environment is rotten, the rich/poor divide catastrophic, pharmaceutical instrustries rule, and so he still goes rogue in the Mongolian desert. There are some cases where I like the reboot versions of aliens or individual characters better, and some where I think they just couldn’t manage to produce something that can match the original. (Case in point: Atlan and his relationship with our hero. In the original timeline, this includes, early on, an interlude where they are stranded on a desert planet where they’re trying to defeat each other with a mixture of traditional shoot and chase methods and mindmessing. This is sort of the foundation of their later friendship with its periods of tension and what makes them slashy. The reboot has Atlan show up in very different circumstances, there isn’t an early antagonistic period, instead, there is early helpfulness, and while there are later tensions, the push-pull dynamic simply isn’t there.)
(Gucky, otoh, works in both continuities.)

In conclusion: this is my German sci fi book fandom, has been since decades, and probably always will be.

The other days
selenak: (Thorin by Meathiel)
Winter always reminds me of the Hobbit trilogy. Which belongs to the flawed canons which I love fervently despite being aware of just how faulty they are. Too bloated, shouldn't have been three movies, ridiculous Action!Legolas scenes (and too many action senes in general), yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm with you, but listen: These flawed movies made me care about their characters in a way I just hadn't in the book (save for Bilbo). (Maybe I read it too late, and in the wrong order - i.e. I read LotR first, with 12 or 13, and was 21 by the time I got around to The Hobbit.)

Ramblings under cut to protect Tolkien and movies newbies ) I checked whether there was new-to-me fanfiction relevant to my interests, and came up with these:

Exile: what Tauriel did next

From such great heights: There's a first time for everything: Gandalf/Galadriel.

Perennial: Bilbo's life with Frodo between trilogies and beyond. (Bookverse, but works for movieverse as well.)

Unguarded: Thorin contemplating his burglar.
selenak: (Discovery)
The various incarnations of Star Trek have included at least one alien (as in non-human) character among their regulars ever since Spock turned out to be so pivotal to TOS‘ success. Some of these characters provided outside povs or worked as bridge characters between different cultures; several, though not all of them were used to explore the alien culture which produced them. (Spock, obviously, but also Worf – arguably TNG was the single individual Trek show who in terms of on screen canon did most to develop the Klingons from evil enemy race to the space Vikings with their own mythology, customs, and political history they became -, whereas Dr. Phlox on Enterprise and Neelix on Voyager were prominent ensemble characters, but their respective people never got that much attention. (Enterprise‘s big contribution to the ST verse in terms of deepening/developing an alien race were the Andorians via recurring guest star Shran, whereas Voyager did the outsider pov angle with both the Doctor and Seven of Nine, not Neelix, and went for established people like the Vulcans, the Klingons or even the Borg rather than the Talaxians when it came to featuring/exploring more of their culture.) DS9, by its very setting on a Space Station, was something of an exception in that there were fewer human than non-human characters around, but even so, Bajorans were getting explored primarily, though not exclusively via Kira’s storylines, Ferengi via Quark (and family), and so forth.

Star Trek: Discovery has Saru, who isn’t the only alien on the bridge but by far the most prominent one and indeed a main character on the show. His people, the Kelpians, are new to the ST-verse, i.e. they’re getting established through him, which means that in this, he’s in a similar position to Spock on TOS. Otherwise, though, his narrative function (as of Discovery‘s first season, and of course subsequent seasons can change this) strikes me as very different, not least because Discovery is the first ST show in which the Captain is not the leading character; Michael Burnham is, which means that the alien character is not the lead’s subordinate (no matter how friendly they are), but at different points her rival, equal or superior, which already makes for a different dynamic before we bring the personalities into it.

Then there are the first basic traits of Kelpians the audience learns about, the baseline from which the individual personality gets developed, if you will. With Vulcans, via Spock, it was the Vulcan insistence on logic over emotion (which makes inevitably the majority of Spock’s dramatic scenes those where this is challenged), Klingons are a warrior culture (so a great many of Worf’s dramatic scenes are those where he has to figure out how to reconcile his idea of his culture – with Worf’s, there’s the additional complication that due to having been raised by humans, he in many ways is more Klingon than Klingon precisely because he never lived in the Empire beyond his early childhood – with also being a Federation officer ), with the Ferengi, it’s greed (so again, the Ferengi characters are put in situations where this is challenged), etc. With Kelpians, it’s fear.

Spoilers for the first season abound )
selenak: Made by <lj user="shadadukal"> (James Bond)
[personal profile] makamu wanted to know my favourite text dealing with spies other than The Americans, and I’m torn. On the one hand, I have a continuing deep fondness for the tv show Alias, and not just because it has one of my all time favourite characters in it (as a villain/occasional ally), Arvin Sloane. I like most of the ensemble, even the two seasons I have fundamental issues with (3 and 5) also contain elements I really like (the third season has some of the best Bristows (both Sydney and Jack)/Sloane scenes in them, the fifth remains the only example of a show I can spontanously think of where the fact that the leading actress got pregnant was written into the storyline in a way that really worked with the character she played, didn’t take from her agency one bit, and advanced the show’s general themes. As has said by someone other than me first, Alias is at its heart a twisted family romance, and Sydney’s complicated relationship with her parents is at its core, so for her to, in the final season, become a parent herself (and also a mentor of a younger agent, which allowed the show to keep Sydney involved with its trademark action scenes – via mentoring and comm link – in the months when Jennifer Garner wasn’t capable of participating in them physically) really brought things full circle.

But still, Alias isn‘>t my choice here. Nor are Bond movies – any Bond – which I have a soft spot for as well, and in a few cases outright love. But they’re not my favourites. No, my favourite is a book. Not a Le Carré novel, much as I appreciate the tropes he brought to the genre, several of his characters, and a great many of his positions. (I don’t know what it is that keeps me going from like to love with Le Carré’s books, with the arguable exception of his collection of autobiographical essays, The Pidgeon Tunnel.

My very favourite text that deals with spies is the novel Es muß nicht immer Kaviar sein („It doesn’t have to be caviar“) by Johannes Mario Simmel. It wasn’t his first novel, but it was the one which made him famous and remained one of his most popular novels when he was a bestselling writer in the German-reading world for decades. And it’s both a spoof of the spy genre and a witty entry in it, not to mention a neat take on the Schelmenroman, „trickster novel“. Does it have flaws? You bet. Despite it’s late 1930s – 50s setting, it’s very much a 1960s novel in terms of gender depiction, with our hero being irresistable to women and most of the female characters being all emotion. (The novel's hero isn't a hypocrite about his lack of monogamy, though; when he finds out his girlfriend at a time also has an affair with another guy and wants to keep them both, he goes with it.) Also, while Simmel himself was as anti-Nazi as you can get (his father was Jewish, and most of his paternal family was murdered as a result) and in his more serious novels often uses rich West German or Austrian industrialists as villains who have a bloody Nazi past, you could argue that the way he allows his trickster hero, Thomas Lieven, to avoid getting blood on his hands even when he’s temporarily forced to work for a branch of the German secret service (not the Gestapo) is cheating.

All this being said, I still adore this novel. Why? Because it’s hilarious, deeply humanist and committed to its pacifism. Our hero, Thomas Lieven, starts out as a German banker (of a private bank) working in London (he left Germany just before the Weimar Republic ended), fond of good food (he’s a passionate hobby cook) and women. When he’s tricked by his evil compagnon into going back to Germany under a pretense, the plot is set in motion, as his partner has framed Thomas who ends up arrested, told he only can avoid prison if he agrees to go back as a spy, then, as soon as he is back in England and reports just this, disbelieved and forcibly recruited as well, and when he’s taking off to France to avoid spying for either nation, he only can stay there for a few months before the French secret service who believes that with two secret services after him, he really must be hot stuff as an agent, forcibly recruits him as well. And that’s before WWII starts, at which point our hero decides that if he wants to make it out of this madness alive, he really has to be one step ahead of each secret service. The fun of the novel lies in Thomas outfoxing each secret service (well, most of the time; each at some point gets a hold of him for longer, too), seducing and persuading people not by using weapons (he actually does manage to avoid killing anyone, of any nation, though there’s one occasion where he realises that his actions have enabled others to kill), but by his cooking skills, charm and wit. In between, Simmel provides us with heist plots, code decyphering, double and triple identity adventures, prison breakouts, recipes printed in full which infected a lot of the novel’s readers with the urge to cook (including my teenage dad, who drove his mother crazy by insisting to prepare a salad a la Thomas Lieven), lots of suspense and a hero whose conviction to survive is only matched by his determination not to kill other people, including those who try to kill him. (He’s fine with screwing them over and/or landing them in prison, though.)

Simmel includes some historical characters – for example Josephine Baker, whom Thomas is appropriately smitten by and awed of, and who saves his hide at one point after the Deuxieme Bureau, having tricked by him twice, really wants to kill him -, but most are fictional. The various upper hierarchy spy handlers, be they English, German, French or American, pre, during or post war, tend to be depicted as a neurotic, self-important bunch whom one is not sorry to see conned. (Though you can tell our author likes the French best because the French spies more often than not have a sense of humor while the others do not.) (Oh, and the scene where Thomas gets trained as a secret agent is a great spoof of toughing-up-the-hero-montage scenes in its own right, not least because what he learns is not what his trainer wants him to learn but the opposite. For example, they want him to renember his cover identity when suddenly woken up at night, but but he learns is to use ear plugs; instead of learning to make a meal out of mice when sent into a survival camp, he thinks ahead and smuggles delicous food with him, and so forth.)

There was a German movie version which I never watched much of because it was a let down from the start, with Thomas changed into a naive innocent stumbling around instead of a trickster planning his cons deliberately (that’s German 60s cinema for you), but not an English language one, despite the novel making such a big splash when it first got published and remaining an enduring bestseller, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. The very premise goes against every Anglo-American WWII era pop culture cliché, and even if Thomas Lieven was changed from a German living in Britain to an actual Brit (or American), that would still be true. Also it wouldn’t work. Take the part where he for plot reasons gets a list of various Allied agents and their contact passwords in his possession. That he doesn’t want the Gestapo to end up with the list is a given, but he doesn’t want to hand it over to either the French (whose list it originally was) or the English, either, because, as the narration tells us, it’s not Hitler who would get killed if he did, but a lot of his countrymen. So he provides representatives of all three secret services with faked lists while destroying the original one. If you want to argue that pacifism, great cooking and refusals to kill don’t defeat brutal dictatorships, I’m with you, but I still like that this fictional person stuck to his not-guns in this enduringly entertaining favourite text of mine dealing with spies.

The other days
selenak: (The Doctor by Principiah Oh)
With 50 years plus of canon to pick from, this list by necessity has to be divided into subcategories. It's also not a "best of" list, and highly subjective.

Cut for length. )

The other days
selenak: (Mystique by Supergabbie)
To be frank, I’m not keen on them being integrated all. For a variety of reasons.

Now, if the X-Men hadn’t been split from the MCU from the get go due to earlier deals, this would be different for. I like some of the cross connections in the comics, i.e. Jean Grey having been instrumental in Jessica Jones‘ recovery from Killgrave, for example, and the lengths both movies and tv shows had to go through in order to avoid the word „mutant“ along as there was no Disney/Fox deal was ridiculous.

Then again: sometimes it worked out well thematically. Since the MCU Maximoff twins could not be Magneto’s kids, the MCU had to provide another explanation for their powers, and Steve identifying with them, making that connection about volunteering for being experimented on by German scientists, was one of my favourite scenes of his in Age of Ultron. (It’s also what made me believe he’d recruit Wanda later. Now, the fact the MCU thereafter treated Wanda as a blameless waif with no blood on her hands until the not intended by her deaths from the opening of Civil War, instead of someone who had been a voluntary Hydra experiment/member and who had at the very least the responsibility for any deaths and injuries caused by her releasing the Hulk in Johannesburg, which hadn’t been Ultron’s orders but her choice – that’s another matter.) (This is why I’m into fanfiction in which Wanda talks with either Tony or Natasha about the blood in both their ledgers respectively.) (Otoh I avoid stories which go into the other extreme of making Wanda an evil madwoman, usually in order to woobify Tony. Do not want, and I’m speaking as a fan.)

Back to the Maximoffs: X-Men movies have the superior Quicksilver, imo as always. In fact, this take on Pietro/Peter might be my overall favourite in any medium, and if in an intended integration of the movieverse X-Men with the MCU, he were to be for the axe, I’d hate that. And yet I cannot see how MCU Wanda Maximoff and her dead brother can co-exist with X-Men Movieverse Peter Maximoff who may or may not have a female twin in addition to the younger sister we see him with in the same ´verse. One of them would have to go, and this makes me fear for the one who wasn’t until recently owned by the Mouse.

Another issue, which [personal profile] andraste recently mentioned in a comment: the Maximoffs aren’t the only characters which in the comics go back and forth between X-Men and Avengers comics (and teams), and the way this happens always brings up a premise problem. When Hank McCoy/Beast in the comics is a part of the Avengers, he’s a popular member in a popular team. When he’s an X-Men, he’s part of a team which, to quote the famous tagline „defends a world which hates and fears them“. Now, mutants being treated as tolerated outsiders at best and far more often persecuted and discriminated against is so much part of the central X-Men premise that I don’t see how they’ll ever give it up, in any depiction. And you can fanwank that superheroes who weren’t born with special abilities but aquired them artificially are easier for the general population to accept. But since any line up of the Avengers usually includes a mutant or two, that doesn’t really work.

So, if, like the comics, the MCU and the X-Men movies take place in the same universe again, you’re not just left with the usual problems even within the MCU logic – aka a Watsonian explanation for „why doesn’t superhero X faced with problem Y ask superhero Z for assistance? - , but with additional ones like: why would the public see a difference between Spider-man (identity unknown, and thus also whether or not he’s a mutant), Thor (alien with superpowers, extremely popular on earth, all the more so for not having been involved in Civil War), and whichever X-Men will be around in future movies? Yes, prejudice is irrational, and the popularity of the Avengers in general took a dive post-Ultron and even more of one through and after Civil War, but Homecoming is set post Civil War and there the Avengers and superheroes in general are still treated as pop culture heroes by most of the characters. How that should square with a society where two thirds are wary or all „ew, mutants!“ is beyond me, even if the movies unlike the comics avoid letting characters like Beast swap teams now and then.

In conclusion: my hope is the X-Men movieverse continues to be treated as separate from the MCU, though the MCU is welcome to call mutants mutants now instead of „people with enhanced abilities“. My fear is that this won’t happen, and the result will be a mess.

…then again: what do I know? I also thought we really didn’t need another version of Spider-man (Peter Parker edition), and certainly not in the MCU, and changed my mind about this as soon as Tom Holland! Peter had his first scene in Civil War, loving him like no screen Spidey before him. So maybe TPTB will pleasantly surprise me again.

The other days
selenak: (Londo and Vir by Ruuger)
Well, there can be only one, can there? And no, most definitely not someone from the Highlanderverse.


Seriously though. How I love Vir Cotto from Babylon 5, let me count the ways. He's kind, good, funny, loyal without ever giving up his own judgment (and acting on this). Imagine Sam Gamgee in a relationship not with Frodo but with, hm, Boromir who managed to get hold of the Ring? Denethor with a sense of humor and a bit more compassion? (there isn't really a good equivalent to Londo in LotR canon, so this will have to do). If Londo starts out as seeming comic relief only to become, in turns, antagonist, antihero and tragic hero, Vir starts out as seeming comic relief to the seeming comic relief and ends up surviving hero and renewer of a broken world. In my post last year about the four ambassadorial aides, I already talked about Vir and his role in the narrative a lot, so let me just add that when Londo, in The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari, wonders whether it wouldn't be better to die now than to face the awful future he knows is ultimately ahead of him (thanks to the death vision he's had for many years), wonders what actual reason he has at this point to go on living, his head!Vir tells him "I would miss you", and Londo decides to go on living. I can identify. If I had a Vir in my life, I'd return from almost death, too.

The other days
selenak: (Dragon by Roxicons)
I feel this question demands answers in different categories, such as:

a) Animals which are fictional in the sense that they, these particular individual animals, never lived (so, for example, a novel in which Bucchephalus, Alexander the Great’s horse, plays the leading role would be out) (not that Buccephalus would be my choice anyway)

b) Animals which are fictional in the sense that their species never existed (the inevitable Star Wars: The Porg’s Tale would be in)

There also should be subdivision c) for Animals which aren’t really animals but enchanted humans (think Frog Prince), but are in animal form for the majority or totality of the story and thus subject to animal rules. Here I’d also include someone like the Disney animated movie version of Robin Hood, for while fox Robin (aka Best Robin Ever!!!!) is a fox within the movie, he’s based on a human; ditto for Basil the Sherlock Holmes avatar, and so forth.

Bearing this in mind:

a) Well, the rabbits from Watership Down (the novel) are hard to beat in my fictional love. They are three dimensional characters, with their quirks, flaws and strengths, and I feel Adams makes them come across as animals, not thinly disguised humans. However, I can’t single out one more than the others in my affections, and thus I move on to fictional cats. Neil Gaiman’s fondness for cats inspired various memorable felines (some divine, some not), but my undisputed favourite of these is the one from Coraline. I knew I loved it the moment I read the reply to Coraline’s question about the name.

b) I’m as vulnerable to the allure of dragons as the next fantasy inclined person. My favourites among dragons include Fuchur (I think the English translation renamed him Falkor, but I never read Ende in English, so I only know by osmosis) from Michael Ende’s Never-ending Story, but even more an earlier Ende dragon, or rather, half-dragon, Nepomuk from Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer. (Cassiopeia the turtle in Ende’s Momo is nifty, too.) But there is a fictional animal in this particular sense that I love even more than any dragon: why, the last unicorn, of course, of Peter S. Beagle fame. No other unicorn ever made me love them except this one.

c) Matthew the Raven in Sandman (another Gaiman character, though his earlier human self came from The Swamp Thing and, I believe, thus Alan Moore), competing with Sheila the bird from the cartoon series Sindbad I watched as a child („Sindbad, Sindbad, schau, wieviel Glück dieses Kind hat…“), a girl changed into a bird pre-series who doesn’t get changed back until the end and tries to keep the kid version of Sindbad the sailor alive in between. The earlier mentioned Robin Hood the fox comes close, but not quite.

The other days
selenak: (Thirteen by Fueschgast)
Which was an okay adventure for our gang, and I'm amused about how Sheffield is the new London in terms of DW, but what I'll really remember about this special is the absolutely perfect Brexit gag.

Read more... )


selenak: (Default)

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