selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
As promised, a Yuletide (and not celebrity death) exception to the no more until February rule; I want to get these recs out there before the reveal. Incidentally, state of my own Yuletide tales: the two treats got lovely comments from their respective recipients, the official assignment recipient apparantly has had a busy week, but has now commented as well (and graciously).

On to other people's stories read during the last week in various fandoms:

Greek Myth:

The Faces of Helen: Helen of Troy from various povs. Interesting Helens are still a rarity; loved that and the interactions with her brothers, the Dioskuri, and Cassandra especially. Also a welcome rarity: sympathetic Paris!


A rift never destined to mend: More Iliad fragments, sharp and perfect. Oh, Andromache.


She whose beauty rivals the goddesses: Iphigenia and Elektra, before. Extra kudos for laying the basis for Elektra's feelings for her parents despite what will happen to her sister in a way that makes sense.


Jessica Jones:

On the road (to recovery): Jessica, Luke and Malcolm at some future point. Great take on all three of them, and I loved their interactions.


Luke Cage:

We are the ones we have been waiting for: CLAIRE. All the Claire centric stories this year are great, and this one also offers wonderful looks at her interactions with several other Marvel tv and cinema inhabitants.

My Beautiful Laundrette:

Maintenance & Repairs: Omar and Johnny, several years on, more mature in some ways, in others not at all, and still so very them.

New Tricks:

Lost Souls: Case fic! Team fic! Oh, I love it. It feels exactly like a good episode.

Rome:

Not one but two stories I've enjoyed equally, offering different beginnings for the Mark Antony/Caesar dynamic. Excellent voices for both characters.

The Start of the End of the World

Conquest

Shakespeare:

And play the dog: In which Margaret, early on, negotiates with the Duke of York and meets his son Richard for the first time. Excellent take on the Shakespearean versions of these characters.


Stranger Things:

Sugar Kisses: a lovely "Five Things" for Joyce and Hopper, who had one of those dynamics on the show where I didn't want them to become lovers now (because both of them certainly had more than enough on their plate emotionally and otherwise), but was hoping for something in the farer future, and this story delivers very well.

Yentl:

Mechaye Hametim: Haddass, Avigdor and Yentl working their way back together through the years after the show. Haddass pov, and I appreciated the author gave Haddass time to sort out how she was feeling about Anshel/Yentl, instead of letting her be instantly okay with everything.


And now, off to combat DRL once again! Oh, and I was going to make the annual "guess my stories" dare, but have gotten three correct guesses already without doing so, so, I figure it's way too obvious this year with all three of them. :) (However, I'm pathetic enough to hope for a few more readers before the reveal, especially for the Super Ambitious Wanted To Write The Definite Tale For This Fandom one.)
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
Unspoilery review of the earliest Jessica Jones episodes. That is, unless you consider the stuff the trailer already gave away as spoilery. Curse it, I want to watch this show NOW!


Rome:

In other news, I brushed up on more recent Rome fanfiction (more recent meaning: younger than a year or two), and lo, there's this bit of goodness:


Simple as Falling: Mark Antony/Lucius Vorenus, perfect voices for both men. Also, it's hot. Because in recent years I went "eh, can't see it" about a few juggernaut slash pairings in a few fandoms, I was starting to worry that my slashdar might be broke, which makes me check out a few older m/m pairings that I totally could (and still can) see, and yes, works every time.
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
Two stories by the same author, different fandoms:

Rome (and history):

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

Buffy:

White on White: and here we have a Spike portrait, just as sharply drawn, emphasizing his relationships with Dru, Angel and Darla, which is one but not the only reason why I was so drawn into it.
selenak: (Ellen by Nyuszi)
With the disclaimer that this is prone to change depending on mood except for the first two, and is in no particular order:

1) Scooby Road by [personal profile] luminosity. Still the most awesome vid of them all, not only if you're a fan of BtVS and of the Beatles, and I am both. My detailed ravings on it are here.

2.) Ophelia, a Babylon 5 vid. I'll forever be glad to have lured [personal profile] andraste into B5, and not just because she makes fabulous vids, but this vid - about the dead women and the way they return on the show - is definitely a part of why.

3.) Blank Space: a more recent favourite, to my mind, the best Doctor/Master vid to date, encompassing both Old and New Who.

4.) Savages: a magnificent vid that beautifully captures all I loved about The Borgias. (Not so coincidentally based on the first two seasons.)

5.) Virgin: it's Vorenus/Antony, yes, and I do have a soft spot for that pairing, but better than that, it's about Rome and Rome, and captures the essence of both.

6.) On your wings: Doctor Who again, this time a vid portraying one of my all time favourite companions, Ace. And beautifully so.

7.) The Unforgiven Ones: Battlestar Galactica, Ellen and Cavil, the Five and the Seven; a short vid that packs an incredible punch.

8.) We didn't start the fire: still BSG, this time on the hilarious side. I love this to bits, and the identifications (Lee as the Cather in the Rye! Laura Roslin as Richard Nixon! Athena as Lawrence of Arabia!) reliably crack me up every time.

9.) Half Acre: incredibly beautiful Six Feet Under vid that uses Claire's art to frame the entire show.

10.) Runner: aka the Connor from Angel character study which made me go "here I wrote lengthy posts about him and the vid makes all my points much better, and then some"!

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
Aaaand it's time for the remix reveal. I wrote:


Five Times Jesse Pinkman Met A Companion (The Breaking Who Remix) (11021 words) by Selena
Chapters: 5/5
Fandom: Breaking Bad, Doctor Who & Related Fandoms, Torchwood, Doctor Who, Sarah Jane Adventures
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Jesse Pinkman & Walter White, Third Doctor & Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Tenth Doctor & Sarah Jane Smith, Lance Bennett & Donna Noble, Jesse Pinkman & Martha Jones, Jesse Pinkman & Donna Noble, Jesse Pinkman & Jack Harkness, Jesse Pinkman & Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Jesse Pinkman & Sarah Jane Smith, Luke Smith & Sarah Jane Smith, Rani Chandra & Sarah Jane Smith
Characters: Jesse Pinkman, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, Jack Harkness, Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Sarah Jane Smith, Walter White, Gwen Cooper, Rex Matheson, Esther Drummond, Third Doctor, Tenth Doctor, Luke Smith, Rani Chandra, Gita Chandra, Jilly Kitzinger, Skyler White
Additional Tags: Crossover
Summary:

Jesse Pinkman keeps running into past and future time travellers. Or they keep running into him. Sometimes they even bring the Doctor along.



Which brought together two of my favourite fictional universes in a mad love declaration for both.

And I also wrote a tiny little thing for Remix Madness:

First Woman of Rome (The Claudian Remix) (506 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Rome, Historical RPF, I Claudius, Ancient History RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Livia Drusilla & Atia of the Julii
Characters: Atia of the Julii, Livia Drusilla
Summary:

There is more than one way to win. Livia doesn't need to attack Atia in order to destroy her.

selenak: (Emma Swan by Hbics)
Today's [community profile] fandomsecrets has, for about the fifth or sixth time that I recall, a secret involving Once Upon A Time character Regina Mills aka The Evil Queen and the fact that back in season 1, she had a non-consensual sexual relationship with a male supporting character (he was the one non-consenting). Now Regina did a lot of other villainous things (including ordering massacres), but I don't think any of them, with the arguable exception of her gaslighting her son, is brought up and argued about more. (I may be wrong about that, since I try to keep away from most OuaT fannish discussions unless I know the people in question.) Cue usual "oh no she didn't!"/"oh yes she did", as well as "if she was a male character, this wouldn't even be a question" (both from the "oh yes she did" side in the sense that a male ruler ordering a female prisoner who is revolted by him into his bedchamber would not be interpreted as anything but a rapist, and from the "oh no she didn't" side (which argues that male fictional rapists get excused all the time). In between, someone points out that Regina did a whole lot of other stuff which doesn't get argued about, and why is rape treated as the ultimate crime? Good question, and not just regarding Regina. It's the crime most often named when people argue why they can't root for the redemption of character X and/or the crime most argued to not even have been committed by X from people who want said character redeemed (or see him, and in rarer cases her, already as good).

Now I think that "more/less evil" isn't a criteria you can put on rape versus, say, murder. They're both heinous actions. But it's still worth noting that as far as fannish discussions are concerned, the killing score of sympathetic villains/morally ambiguous characters seems to bother fans a whole lot less than if their canon shows them committing, or trying to committ, a rape. At a guess, part of this is that fantasy violence (especially if the canon avoids showing much of the resulting dead bodies and gore) is easier to dissociate from real life, while rape is not. And then, there is probably the fear: "I like this character, maybe I even love him/her or fantasize about him/her, I want this character to succeed, to win, to be loved - but this character committed rape. What does this say about me? Therefore, this character hasn't really committed rape. The fantasy surroundings make it not count. Or I take the Doylist appraoch and declare it was the writers (whereas the character's other actions which endeared him/her to me in the first place were of course Watsonian and only the character). Or: the character was himself/herself a victim and so traumatized that she/he can't be held accountable for their actions. Or the ever popular: hero X did something just as bad, so there!"

I decided to do some self inventory and see which of the characters whom I like (in varying degrees ranging "mildly fond" to "love and adore") comitted rape in their canons, and how fannish discussion (if it exists at all) handles that. Let's start with the Romans, because if you are in a slave owning society, and among the owners, and also not in a show that deliberately avoids the issue, chances are that you're guilty as charged, but even so, some characters go above and beyond:

Rome: Mark Antony, definitely. One of his very first scenes shows him having sex with a peasant woman against a tree mid-travelling. I doubt he bothered to ask her first. There is also an episode in which he wants to have sex before getting out of bed, Atia is not in the mood and orders one of her slaves to accommodate him. Which btw means Atia is enabling said rape. Also a rapist: Pullo. Who is in love with his slave (later freedwoman, even later wife) when having sex with her but doesn't bother to ask for her consent, either and is shocked when finding out that upon being freed, she wants to marry a fellow slave (cue death of male slave). I'm fond of Mark Antony, Atia and Pullo. I think the only one whose actions get debated in this context is Pullo, with the argument being "but he thought Eirene was already in love with him!" and/or "different times". Well, yes, different times, and presumably he did think she was in love with him until disabused of the notion. He still didn't ask, and she was his property at the time, to do with as he pleased. The scene as shown also had her enduring, not responding, to his caresses.

Spartacus: nearly every Roman character, sooner or later, but re: the topic in question, let's stick with Batiatus and Lucretia, both of whom use their slaves as sexual toys for themselves and for other people. I don't think I've seen anyone saying Batiatus isn't guilty, but I did some some debate around Lucretia, specifically, her relationship with the gladiator Crixus. (The debate nexter brings up all the other slaves Lucretia and Batiatus use to turn themselves on at all.) The "oh no she didn't" argument usually goes thusly: she developed genuine feelings for him, then she thought he also loved her, and then there was that one time where she didn't have sex with him when he didn't want to because she was concerned for his life (plot reasons). This ignores that Spartacus isn't subtle about the whole ownership point: Crixus and Lucretia first start to have sex because she orders him to, he is her property, and the fact she doesn't insist that one time doesn't negate all the other times. (Not to mention Lucretia's reaction once she finds out Crixus loves someone else.) Lucretia is played by Lucy Lawless, and she was one of my favourite characters on the show. She's also, no question about it, a rapist. (Ditto, of course, her husband, whom I was also fond of, horrible person who he was.)

Moving on to contemporary shows with long lived characters:

Highlander: Methos, obviously. Universal fannish favourite, and for quite a while, he was mine, too. (Then Amanda overtook him.) (I still like Methos a lot, though.) He's also, no question about it, a rapist, over a really long time. And wouldn't you know, while fandom never tried to explain the pillaging part in "rape and pillage" away, or the massacring of "tens of thousands", au contraire, thought that Methos' Bronze Age raider past made him even more interesting than he'd already been, it solved the "rape" part by vilifying the surviving victim of same and/or write stories in which Methos was the one raped (by other characters), which made him so traumatized that he, da capo, al fine. Oh, and of course times were different.

Buffy and Angel: oh, the can of worms to dwarf most others, and I really don't want the discussion to end up in a reiteration of the Spike Wars, but it would be cheating not to bring the Buffyverse up. So: Angel(us): definitely a rapist, and not just in a metaphorical bloodsucking vampire way. (There are the servant girl in the Amends flashback and Holtz' wife, and the implication is certainly that there were others.) (And driving mortal Drusilla into insanity culminated in Angel and Darla having sex in front of her before Angel turned her; what do you want to bet they left it at taking her blood?) Spike: see above re: Spike Wars, avoidance of same. But even leaving out Seeing Red, he mentioned multiple rapes in Never Leave Me, which however often gets dismissed as "he just wanted to get Buffy to stake him on that occasion" (well, yes, but that doesn't mean he made that up; over at AtS, near the end of Damages, a key Spike self realization is his admittance that while he wasn't Dana's tormentor, he did do similar things to a great many other people). Darla: while we don't see her having on screen sex with an unwilling victim, she certainly gets a kick of watching her darling boy doing so. Faith: when about to strangle Xander, she sexually assaulted him as well (and he did say no repeatedly). I do like Angel, Spike and Faith, a lot. Darla is my overall AtS favourite.

Torchwood: my own assumption when watching the Torchwood pilot, in which, among other things, Owen uses a alien pheromene McGuffin to make himself sexually irresistable when going out) was that when he used it on the boyfriend of the girl he'd been hitting on, he made a quick getaway as opposed to having a threesome, so that on this particular occasion, no sex took place. However, the original intention certainly had been to have sex with the girl, who showed no inclination to respond to his overtures before he used the pheromene McGuffin. Which, yes, makes Owen an attempted rapist (and since I doubt this was the first time he used the McGuffin, I'd be ready to drop the "attempted".) Owen was my favourite TW character during the first two seasons.

Being Human: Mitchell and Hal, step forward. Definitely, like Angelus, guilty of rape in the literally sexual as well as the blood taking vampire sense. Neither of them were my favourites in their canons, but I definitely had times of being fond of both, and my Mitchell issues weren't due to him having raped people (also my Mitchell issues were brilliantly resolved by canon, but that's another story).

Once upon a Time: and we're back to Regina. Who isn't my favourite, but I like her and am certainly on board with her current storyline. In addition to being a multiple murderer, guilty of mental and physical torture on various occasions, and the kidnapper to dwarf all other kidnappers (it's hard to beat transferring everyone in Storybrooke from one dimension to another in order to play out her fantasy scenario, but Regina is also a kidnapper on the mundane literal level, see also: Hansel and Gretel, Owen), she is most definitely a rapist.

And now for the future - including the wretched Prophets of DS9 would be cheating, because while they do committ rape I never could stand them, and they're not fannishly popular, either, so they don't qualify.

Babylon 5: I was going back and thro whether or not to include this example, because it's not sexual non-con, and if you start to include fantasy metaphors, you don't have to bother to differentiate with all the vampires between literal rape and blood taking to begin with. But still: what happens in the episode Dust to Dust is a mental assault/violation which gets textually, on screen, called a rape (Bester, who ought to know, explains the effect of Dust that way in the exposition scene early on), so I'll include it. Anyway, the perpetrator, G'Kar, who hits rock bottom here, followed by enlightenment, is most definitely among my favourite B5 characters.


In conclusion: I seem to be fond of a lot of fictional rapists. (Or fictional versions of historical characters, in the Roman cases.) The fact they raped people isn't why I like them, obviously, but neither did it stop me from liking them (or prevent me from ever developing sympathy, in the cases where the rapes happen early on). Whereas I don't think there is a rapist among the few fictional characters I have a visceral loathing for, come to think of it, which presumably goes to show rape isn't one of my triggers, at least not in the sense of reacting with "I no longer like this character" or "I have to explain this away in order to continue liking this character". I think my own inner self justification for this, beyond "but they're interesting", is to keep their victims in mind (and in both Methos' and Spike's cases, write fanfiction from their pov). (The other day I came across yet another variation of "but how rude and horrid are the Charmings and the rest of Storybrooke for not wanting to have dinner with Regina mid season 2" . Err. Just about anyone from the Enchanted Forest, with the exception of Rumplestilskin who did his share to form her and besides is guilty of centuries more crimes, is justified in not wanting to socialize with Regina for the rest of their lives. ) (Though since Regina has interesting interactions with other characters, I'm glad some are around her anyway.) And not to prettify anything they've done. Especially when/if I want them to redeem themselves.
selenak: (uptonogood - c.elisa)
One of the great things about memes is that they can be inspiring. What I still regard as my best DS9 ensemble story came out of a meme. And now I have to say, someone absolutely needs to write this Rome story. It's like a crack in time and space that it doesn't exist already, I swear!

Also, clearly I need to do the meme in question myself. So here it is, borrowed from [personal profile] likeadeuce:

TROPE MEME!

1. genderswap
2. bodyswap
3. drunk!fic
4. huddling for warmth
5. pretending to be married
6. secretly a virgin
7. amnesia
8. cross-dressing
9. forced to share a bed
10. truth or dare
11. historical AU
12. accidental-baby-acquisition
13. apocalypse fic
14. telepathy
15. High School / College AU


Give me a fandom/pairing and a number, and I'll tell you something. (Fandoms are the usual suspects; I'll give most things a shot).
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
Blake's 7:

Compendium

Five games Avon and Servalan played with each other (and mostly lost). I always have had a soft spot for the twisted Avon/Servalan relationship, and find them both deliciously in character here.

Hamlet/Faust

How Luther laughed at the devil

Not a slash pairing, but a crossover of plays! And ten times more entertaining than when Gerhard Hauptmann sort of did it in his prequel play Hamlet in Wittenberg. (No, you didn't miss anything.) Official summary of this delight: "When a Wittenberg mathematics professor is possessed by a demon, there's only one man to whom Prince Hamlet can turn: the demonologist Doktor Faustus."

The Good Wife

Something to talk about

A Dana pov story that explores her while at the same time having a go at Cary and the way he relates to different women - Kalinda, Diane, Alicia, Wendy Scott-Carr, and of course Dana herself.


Greek and Roman Myths

The Dioskouroi

A story that uses the Castor and Pollux myth (brothers to Helen and Clytaimnestra, if you're not so up on your Greek mythology) to create a sci fi story with some wonderful world building. It's absolutely awesome, a treat both if you're familiar with the various Greek myths and if you've never heard of them. (For example, if you know who Jason is in Greek myths - he of the Argonauts, Medea's no good Greek husband - you'll get a kick out of the characterisation, but solely within the context of this story he works just as well.) If you're squicked by incest, I should warn you that this story has the twins, Castor and Pollux, as lovers, but that's handled very subtly, and left to hints; unless your squick is also a trigger, I would really advise you to read the story regardless, because it's just that good.

The death and resurrection of Persephone, in stages

A feminist rewrite of the myth of Persephone, and what's most impressive about it is that the actual actions were not changed from (many of) the myths - but the motivation and agenda, oh, that's such a very different story now. Brilliant.

Fairy Tales

Lovely, dark and deep

This one tackles Hänsel and Gretel, with Gretel as the pov character and center, focusing on her relationship with the witch. Who turns out to have another fairy tale identity as well. Really well written, disturbingly good.

Rome

Let it be

Despite having a song title by the Beatles, this one is not by me. :) It's Antony and Caesar talking shortly before the Ides of March. Considering how much the relationship with Caesar shaped Antony both in history and on the show, it's amazing how little it gets explored. Here we get a good glimpse.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Son of a Preacher Man

Jake and Nog through the years. Both get rarely tackled by fanfic, and I was delighted to find them and their relationship front and center here. Bonus for added Quark!

Tough Guide to Fantasy Land

A special limited time offer

A marvellously funny spoof of dark, gritty fantasy. Just the thing to read after watching Game of Thrones and/or reading G.R.R. Martin, among others. :)

Winnetou - Karl May

Okay. Karl May's Winnetou novels were the very, very first books I ever read, as soon as I could read, because my grandfather used to tell me stories from them when taking me along for walks, and so something in me shall remain eternally six years old, tackling books and being enthralled and thus not capable of sensible criticism when it comes to these novels by a nineteenth century German novelist who basically proved fantasy to be stronger than reality for a long time until reality caught up with him in a brutal fashion. And the first fictional character I ever cried for is the woman who gets explored by these two stories, one in English, one in German. Two character explorations of Nscho-Tschi:

Beautiful Dawn (the one in English)

Poetry in Motion (the one in German)
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
I've stopped reviewing Dexter and will stop watching once this season is over, but may I say, apropos the latest ep: 1.) Bad idea, writers/producers. Really bad idea. And 2.) Most unrealistic therapist ever.

On to actual reviews and more enjoyable fandoms. First a vid rec: Virgin is a fantastic evocation of Antony, Vorenus, Rome and Rome.

Then upon reviewing films and plays dealing with characters' lives, how they approach their subjects, and whether or not a satisfying story is the result:

Miss Austen Regrets (Film, 2008) )

The Oxford Roof Climber's Rebellion (Play by Stephen Massicotte about T.E. Lawrence and Robert Graves, 2006) )
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
26 – What is the oddest (or funnest) thing you've had to research for a fic?

In a competition between the Colombian drug trade in the 80s for Sacrificium (Alias, Jack and Arvin backstory) and the ways a Roman woman (well, a Roman woman who could afford a midwife) gave birth for Survival (Rome, and it's Atia giving birth to Octavia), the Romans win. It's the right foot of a hyena that gives them an advantage.




The rest of the questions )
selenak: (Catherine Weaver by Miss Mandy)
Yuuuuuuuuletide! And what an abundance of treasure it brings.

The story I got was my Wuthering Heights prompt (an examination of the relationship between Heathcliff and Hareton): Fathers and Sons. It's a Heathcliff pov, and the author pulls it off well, which I've always imagined to be extremely tricky.

On to a measly selection of the abundance of great stories in other fandoms:


Rome:

Kohl: which is the Antony/Vorenus story I always hoped someone would write, set in Egypt, fantastic take on both characters, with terrific dialogue. Extra bonus for letting Antony use the Caesar-in-Bithynia anecdote.

Gens Julia in aeternum: Wonderful portrait of Atia in her complexity and strength, and also of her relationship with Antony.

History

This Yuletide is definitely the time of the Borgias. Five stories featuring the most famous - or infamous Spanish expats to make it big time in the Italian Renaissance. Two that especially impressed me:

Mine Eyes Dazzle: Lucrezia-centric, secondary emphasis on Cesare, doing justice to the convoluted relationships within and without the family. A gem of a historical novella.

De casibus vivorum illustrium: this one focuses on Machiavelli and Cesare. And the fickleness of fortune. Good stuff.


Doctor Who Audio /History

Whatever You Want To Call It: Not for nothing does The Kingmaker regularly end up on the "best Doctor Who audios of all time" list. Among its many virtues: it's absolutely hysterical if you're even vaguely familiar with all the Richard III related historians' debates. This story, a sequel to the audio (I'm trying to keep the summary as unspoilery as possible), does a similar great job with the Shakespeare authorship debates. Clearly the answer to "who wrote Shakespeare's works" questions. :) :) :)

Arthurian Mythology

Camelot to Camlann: shared povs between Gawain and Guinevere in a compelling, vivid take on the story of Guinevere, Arthur and Mordred.

Euripides - Bacchae

Bakcheios: this one so far is hands down the masterpiece of all the stories I've read so far. I really hope the author will publish it. Using not only Euripides' drama (which tells the story of Pentheus and his clash with Dionysos/Bacchos) but also the myths of Semele and Acteon, this is a poetic, incredibly disturbing (in just the right way) tale doing justice the cruelty and power of the myths. If you read no other Yuletide story this year, read this one.

Sarah Connor Chronicles:

My Father's House Has Many Rooms: James Ellison, Sarah, Savannah and John Henry. Ellison pov's are still rare; rarer still are stories that deal with what I thought were among the most fascinating scenes of season 2, his relationship with John Henry, complete with the struggle about the theological implications of John Henry's existence. Nor does this story forget the s2 finale leaves Ellison with the responsibility for Savannah, and lets Ellison respond to this. Loved it.

Benjamin January Mysteries - Barbara Hambly:

Rescue: in which January's younger sister Dominique (aka Minou) is kidnapped, and it's January and Abisag Shaw to the rescue. Barbara Hambly's novels, which are set in a pre-Civil War New Orleans among the gens du coleur libre, as the non-enslaved black population was referred to, manage to create memorable characters and compelling relationships that feel true to the period, and come with a keen awareness of how everyone's status would inform every second of their lives. Same for this fanfic - January is the freed son of two slaves who was able to practice as a physician in Paris but not at home in New Orleans, while Minou is the daughter of their mother by one of her white lovers and basically trained to be a (rich) white man's mistress from birth, while Shaw is poor, but white and free in a very different sense than that of having to carry your papers all the time to prove you're no one's property. While the adventure plot unfolds, all those differences - and the affection that is there between the characters nonetheless - are done full justice.

Ladyhawke:

A woman's whole heart: set after the film. How do you adjust after having been a hawk, after having been a wolf? Treading a delicate balance between fantasy and history, this take on Isabeau (and Navarre) manages to be both romantic and challenging, and, incidentally, a proof that "established relationship" (and a woman in same) does not equal lack of tension or the end of personal goals. Beautiful to read, just the kind of sweeping, satisfying tale to end your day with.

Unconnected thoughts about fandoms I haven't read yet: yay, five DS9 stories, mmmm, lots of of Fringe stories, err, isn't "Social Network RPF" kind of a doubling of terms?
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
The Ides of March are upon us again. *waits for [personal profile] vaznetti to cry Cicero et libertas* Now, I already posted my favourite on screen depictions of the actual event and ensuing consequences two years ago, so this year you get some comments about fictional Caesars in general, before his (timely? untimely? well deserved? pointless?) demise. Book-wise, the biggest disappointment to me was what Colleen McCullough did in her Masters of Rome series. The first two novels, which deal with Marius and Sulla, are highly recommended by yours truly, but then the decline starts. Why? Because Ms McCullough gets into serious hero worship overdrive when it comes to Gaius Julius Caesar and proceeds to make him positively repulsive in a hilariously unintentional way. Now, say what you want about Caesar, but dull he was not, so basically to Gary-Stu him into infinity, imo as always, is worse than to write him as evil!rapist!Caesar who shows up in the occasional novel from the Gallic or non-Cleopara-Egyptian pov (and in Neil Gaiman's Sandman). And it's not that Colleen McCullough can't write captivating morally ambiguous characters - her version of Sulla is a case in point. But her Caesar is a picture book illustration of why falling in love with a character can be worse than writing said character from a neutral or even mildly hostile pov.

Going back to the acknowledged classics, we have Thornton Wilder's Caesar in The Ides of March. Wilder's novel, which consists of fictional letters, pulls off the amazing feat of finding credible voices for everyone (and considering "everyone" includes Cicero, of whom we actually have plenty of real letters to compare, that's no mean feat). He also proves you can write Caesar as highly intelligent without Gary Stu'ing him, and as efficient without ignoring the death-knell he dealt to the republic. (Because Wilder handwaves various death dates and lets Catullus survive within the last two years of Caesar's life, he lets Catullus make an interesting comparison between Caesar and Clodia Pulcher which I highly suspect was the author's attitude towards both.) Probably my favourite depiction of the man shortly before his death.

Meanwhile, depictions of the younger Caesar are harder to find (which is a shame because between being on Sulla's Most Wanted List for a while, that stint in Bithynia his opponents taunted him with later involving his relationship with the king, the pirates story and whatever his still debated role in the Catalina conspiracy was, he had a colourful life), aside from various Romam mystery series', such as Steven Saylor's starring Gordianus or Ford's starring Decius Metellus, where he lurks morally ambigiously in the background and increasingly comes to the foreground as the series go on. My favourite depiction of Caesar as a young man is a novel by Waltraut Lewin about Servilia (as in, Caesar's long-term mistress and the mother of Marcus Iunius Brutus). Set during Sulla's regime, it starts shortly after Servilia has married Brutus and makes her a crucial part of Caesar's escape from and eventual pardon by Sulla. Written for young readers, but never in a downtalking way. It's an engaging coming of age novel about Servilia who starts as a somewhat naive girl and ends up as a up-and-coming power player, while Lewin's version of the young Caesar is plausibly charismatic, bright, but also with the potential of being incredibly ruthless. Also? At one point, there's a threesome, and she pulls it off in a completely unsensationalistic way. Alas, I don't think an English translation exists.

Sidenote: one of my favourite anecdotes from history involving the younger Caesar and Servilia hails from a later time, the Catiline Conspiracy. When the Senate debated on the fate of the conspirators, and Cicero demanded the death penalty, Caesar held a speech arguing for life imprisonment instead, the Senate was deeply divided, and then Cato held a speech calling for the death penalty which saved the day for Cicero. While Cato was at it, Caesar received a note which he read and put away again. Cato demanded that the note be read in public, implying that obviously it must be from the conspirators and that Caesar's earlier speech was really because he was secretely in league with them. Caesar first refused, then handed the note over to Cato with a shrug. Cato read it, yelled "lecherer!" at Caesar and stormed off, because it was a letter from Servilia, who was Cato's half sister. Brecht, in his unfinished novel Die Geschäfte des Herrn Julius Caesar, uses that anecdote with the twist that Caesar was in league with the conspirators and Servilia wrote the note to distract Cato, as she knew he'd throw a fit, and thus save Caesar from direct accusation.

Back to fictional Caesars: film and tv show wise, there's a more recent leaden version in a tv two parter starring Jeremy Sisto, Klaus Maria Brandauer in a tv movie about Vercingetorix (not exactly type casting, but interesting; sadly, the film itself is not), Karl Urban as a young villain!Caesar in Xena: Warrior Princess (not historical, but entertainingly dastardly evil), Rex Harrison in Cleopatra (bringing in a nice Shavian wryness as well as rising hubris towards the end), Claude Rains in the actual Shavian Caesar and Cleopatra (great casting!), and Ciaran Hinds in Rome (one of the morally ambiguous Caesars, with a good mixture of moments where he's engaging and moments where he's chilling). I can't say any of them is my definite mental image of the man, but obviously I like some more than others. Which is good, because I'm sure popular media aren't done with the man in any age.
selenak: (Locke by Blimey)
Actors and the things they say, take 1:

Terry O'Quinn, in a recent interview:

Q: There is something pretty electric whenever there is a scene involving you and Michael.

A: It's a lot of fun. I talk about him so much that I think I better stop because people are going to think we're having an affair - "You guys better get a room (laughs)!" The truth is that it has been one of the best experiences. I love this cast. When someone hands me a call sheet and I see I am working with Josh, Evangeline, Mattew or Naveen, I am always happy. But I have to say with Michael, we are the closest in age and we have such a common history of work based on the theater pretty much, that I will be really sorry if I don't get to work with Michael more when
Lost is over. I've already told him we should get somebody to write us something right now so we can do it later."

I'm so on board with that plan, as the prospect of no more O'Quinn-Emerson scenes once the show wraps up feels me with deep fannish distress. They're such stellar actors, and have such amazing chemistry, that it would be a criminal waste if nothing more would be done. Scriptwriters of the world, get busy!

Actors and the things they say, take 2:

You know, I've always felt for Evangeline Lilly, who has been clear about resenting the love triangle storyline as much as any viewer did for years and wanted Kate to do more than just dither between Jack and Sawyer for years. So it doesn't surprise me to learn that spoilery for season 5 and start of 6 which caused her to comment ):

"Women have more to them than just cattiness and jealousy. There are a lot of women with empathy for each other. There is a thing called sisterhood, and they play brotherhood on the show a lot, but not sisterhood. We really, really wanted to show that women can be magnanimous and have these noble qualities they like to attribute to men. We aren't just shallow and simple and after men, we care about each other."


Sing it, sister.

Actors and the things they say, take 3:

From the Doctor Who magazine. Err, clothing spoilers for Matt Smith's outfit in his first episode? No spoilers otherwise.

Q: Matt, in Episode 1, you're still wearing David Tennant's suit, in which you filmed the regeneration.

A: Yes. Well, no. I was in a newer version than this, because this is the raggedy Doctor.

Q: How's it been altered? You're a bit better built than David...

A: FATTER?!

Q: No! No, no, not fatter at all!

A: My God!

Q: David is a very, very slim man.

Q: Whereas I'm rolling down the aisles! (grins) Yes, um, well, no, it's... I don't know how it's been accomodated.


Considering quite how skinny DT is, I feel for him. :)

Meanwhile, have two brief and great fanfics in two different fandoms:

Rome:

The Body and the Blood: Vorena, early in season 2. If you know what happens to Vorena early in s2, you know this is triggery, as it should be. Deals with the storyline and its impact on her in an unsparing, true way.

Buffy:

In bocca al lupo: in which Verucca the werewolf encounters Buffy post-show. Verucca is alive, go with it; the dialogue and characterisation for both women is excellent.
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
Yuletide sign-ups have begun! I took the plunge and joined this year. Found out there were some more fandoms I could offer without having to refresh my memory by research because I had watched/read the source material only recently. (And even written meta about them!)

On the other hand, I discovered that there are several German fandoms on the offering this year - Karl May's Winnetou novels, Michael Ende's Momo and Perry Rhodan (aka our longest running pulp Sci Fi series), and I felt a bit bad for not signing up for any of them, considering that Karl May was literally the first writer I ever read (Dad & my grandfather were fans and told me tales, so the first year in school, once I could read, I grabbed Winnetou I) and I still have a nostalgic fondness for those books, I do love Michael Ende and PR is a case of childhood & teenage nostalgia again. But the thing is, a) I'd have to reread because it's been so many years, and I just don't have the time, real life strikes again, and b) it would feel weird to me to write in English for these fandoms. Because I do hear the narrative voice and the characters in German in my head, you know? It's not so much that I first encountered them in German - I saw all Star Trek shows dubbed before I saw them in the English original, for example, and these characters do have their English-language voices in my head - it's probably that I can't imagine how they would sound in English at all. Especially Karl May's earnest Wilhelminian prose. Wie der Westman zu sagen pflegt. But if someone else were to try, that would be awesome.

Anyway. The list of requested and offered fandoms so far is here, and if even half of this gets written, it should be fantastic reading for the holidays. As for my own requests, this is as good a place as any to write the obligatory letter to the gracious soul who'll fulfill one of them.

Dear Yuletide Writer,

first of all, thank you! I hope you'll find one of the prompts to your liking. If you want to go in another direction with the characters, by all means, as long as nobody gets bashed and those I indicated show up in a prominent fashion. As for the shipping level, I leave that to your discretion - gen, het or slash is all fine by me. (Mind you, if, say, you pick the B5 prompt and come up with an X-Rated Bester/G'Kar/Londo threesome instead of a gen encounter I would be... surprised, but if that's what tickles your fancy and you can pull it off in character, go you!)

Generally speaking, I'm an ensemble fan; listing some characters but not others doesn't mean I dislike the rest in the respective fandom, it's just an indication of focus preference. I also appreciate when something of the world buliding makes it into the fanfic - for example, Rome was really good at getting the different belief systems and cultural backgrounds across, and A place of greater safety really manages to be about the French Revolution as well as about individual participants. (Considering that as a writer I'm far better at dialogue and character exploration than at a decent plot or atmospheric descriptions, I'm all the more in awe of people who excell at the later two.) Which doesn't mean that if you choose to write a sonnet instead of a 2000 words long adventure, I wouldn't be thrilled as well.

Again, thanks so much for signing up!
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
01. If you'd like, comment to this entry saying 'ICONS!' and I will pick 6 of your icons.
02. Make an entry in your own journal and talk about the icons I picked!

[profile] astrogirl2 gave me the following:
Icons, those icons... )
selenak: (Atia by Naybob)
Enough with the serious analysis, let me indulge in shallowness for this entry. Now, more than a year ago, when I looked back on two seasons of Rome, the HBO series, I mentioned as an aside that while I see the heart of the show in the bond between odd couple Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus as much as the next fangirl, and definitely think they come to love each other deeply, I just can't see it as anything but fraternal love, as their scenes lack any kind of sexual vibe in the eyes of this spectator. Whereas I do see the slash in basically each and every scene Vorenus has with Marc Antony. Alas, I am in a distinct minority in this regard, if fanfic is anything to go by, as there only about two Vorenus/Antony stories in existence, set very early on the show before any of the interesting characterisation I found inspiring has happened. (If you ask me, Egypt would be the obvious location, but hey.)

HOWEVER. Recently I got out my Rome dvds and listened to some of the audio commentaries. Kevin McKidd (aka Vorenus) does the one for the first season episode Spoils, Lindsay Duncan and the director do the one for season 2's Death Mask, and James Purefoy does the one for the last but one s2 episode Not even a god can stop a hungry man. Of the three actors, Purefoy is the one best read on the historical background of the show; I was delighted he mentioned the anecdote from Plutarch's Life of Antony I always thought was one of the best, about Antony and Cleopatra going fishing, Antony having a bad day at fishing and hence ordering a slave to secretly attach fish under water, Cleopatra deducing this and sending a slave of her own to attach boiled fish instead, which when Antony pulled it out revealed the game but made him laugh as well. Purefoy also makes a crack about the "stunted growth" of the Vorenii kids who in the 20 odd years that pass between the end of the Gallic War and Actium age only about four years (which I think is almost literally a comment [personal profile] vaznetti made in her reviews), and says he always especially looked forward to his scenes with Kevin McKidd, praising him as a generous actor who always brought several layers to those scenes. The director-and-Lindsay Duncan commentary rapidly falls silent once Servilia is dead because they become caught up in the episode, and before deals with the actual filming. The Kevin McKidd commentary has a lot of thought about Vorenus' and Pullos' arcs (they both hit rock bottom in The Spoils but in different ways, Pullo outwardly and Vorenus inwardly, until the climax of the episode, etc.) but also some fun anecdotes from filming (in the scene where Vorenus is with Caesar and Antony in the Senate, he, Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy had "a girly argument" about who had the prettiest toga, and McKidd won)...and the following background info. "Some years ago, in a film called Bedrooms and Hallways, I played a gay man who falls in love with a straight man who eventually loves him back. The straight guy was James Purefoy. So I have kissed James Purefoy. It was a pleasant experience."

Apparantly, someone with access to YouTube shared my reaction to hearing this news and uploaded the pleasant experience. Voilà:



selenak: (Dork)
It's Carnival over here, and while I mostly hide from it - due to being busy with work - I'm not immune to the splendour and excitement it can have - elsewhere. I was lucky and able to attend the two most famous carnivals in years past, once in Rio de Janeiro, twice in Venice. Out of nostalgia and because I've gained some new readers since then, here are links to the photos and reports from these occasions:

Carnival in Venice I

Carnival in Venice II

Carnival in Rio

***

[livejournal.com profile] artaxastra, check this out! First trailer for AGORA, a movie about female philosopher Hypatia, and the reconstruction of fourth century Alexandria looks amazing. The trailer starts with the lighthouse which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world...


***

In case you missed the Oscars or just want to watch this particular bit again: Hugh Jackman's opening number, complete with Frost/Nixon duet co-starring Anne Hathaway.

Speaking of the ever useful YouTube: ever since the BBC named the actress who'll play the companion in this year's second Doctor Who special, I've been thrilled for two particular reasons:

Casting spoiler )

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