Alexandria Leaving (8845 words) by Selena
Chapters: 5/5
Fandom: Hand of Isis - Jo Graham, Historical RPF, Ancient History RPF, Classical Greece and Rome History & Literature RPF, Roman History RPF
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa/Charmian (Hand of Isis), Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa/Julia the Elder, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa & Gaius Octavian
Characters: Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, Charmian (Hand of Isis), Julia the elder, Gaius Octavian, Octavia of the Julii, Livia Drusilla, Marcellus, Demetria (Hand of Isis)
Additional Tags: Aftermath, Survivor Guilt, Redemption

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa will always choose Rome. But he returns to Alexandria to confront the past. And he doesn't come alone.

This was the treat I wrote, inspired both by affection for the Numinous World novels by Jo Graham and by a decades long fascination with that particular century in Ancient history. I hope it works both if you've read Hand of Isis and if you haven't, but are interested in history.

Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa doesn't often get a starring role, in part, I think, because his life doesn't fit with the most popular tropes it could/should have fallen into and in fact downright defies them. He was the most talented military strategist of his generation, and yet neither tried to use that in order to make himself ruler of the Roman Empire, nor did he crash and burn trying. Nor was he someone who could only function in war: his "civilian" projects - aequaducts (including some that are still used, like the one getting water to the Trevi fountain in Rome), roads, temples, the change of the Campus Martius from a swampy health risk to to a park and buildings highlight of the cityscape, etc. - are impressive, and if Augustus by the end of his life could boast that he found Rome a city made of bricks and left it a city made of marble, it was Agrippa who had done much of the actual work. All this being said, Agrippa, while being as close to the Roman ideal as you could get in real life, can't have been without ambition: his three marriages were all proof of that (first he married money, then he married into the Julian family, and then he basically married the succession), and while he seems to have been content to be Octavian's/Augustus' right hand man, he definitely drew the line at the prospect of Augustus' nephew Marcellus being in command, leading to an estrangement betwen himself and Augustus that . Also, as I have him observe in less anachronistic terms than these, no one remains the second most powerful man of the world for such a long time in the most cut throat of surroundings if he doesn't know how to deal with power.

So Agrippa remains an enigma worth exploring to me. In Augustus-friendly fictions, he's usually the devoted sidekick without second thoughts; in Cleopatra-friendly fictions (by far the majority these days), he's either a brute ("Lily of the Nile"), the wrong age (the famous Elizabeth Taylor starring Cleopatra has him show up as a grizzled veteran with probably only two lines), or not present as a character at all. In the recent tv show Rome (definitely a Roman pov tale) he's basically Sam Gamgee who has wandered into entirely the wrong narrative for him. (Seriously, the actor looks a bit like Sean Astin as Sam.) And has an ill-fated brief romance with Octavia, which should make things awkward a few years later when he marries her daughter, but then said daughter doesn't exist in Rome.

Hand of Isis, which is narrated by Charmian, Cleopatra's handmaiden and in the world of the novel also her half sister, is an exception in that it's definitely on the Cleopatra side of things, but Agrippa, who has a supporting role in the narrative, is still presented as a tragic and sympathetic character. The one big change/addition the novel makes to history as far as Agrippa is concerned is to let a very young Agrippa be present among Caesar's staff in Egypt and to give him an affair with Charmian. (Spoiler: it doesn't end well.) However, he's actually not that often present in the novel (leaving dreams aside), and most important in the effect his siding with Octavian has. Because we're in Charmian's pov, Agrippa choosing to follow Octavian (whom Charmian despises, and who thus isn't given any positive qualities) is just barely comprehensible by Agrippa's Roman-ness.

This, then, provided an immediate fertile ground for me to grow my own story from. Agrippa from his own pov, which would explain why he does what he does, and would without refuting anything that happens in Hands of Isis also present a different take on both Rome and Octavian than Charmian has. Another important reason for me to choose this story to write, though, was that I've always been curious about Agrippa's later, post-Actium life, and about his third marriage, to Julia (Octavian's/Augustus' only daughter), whom I freely confess I have a huge soft spot for. Suetonius basically sees Julia as the occasion for massive slutshaming and no more than that, but I've always liked the take on her we find in Metrobius' "Saturnalia":

"She was in her thirty-eighth year, a time of life when if she had behaved reasonably she would have been almost elderly; but she abused the indulgence of fortune no less than that of her father. Of course her love of literature and considerable culture, a thing easy to come by in that household, and also her kindness and gentleness and utter freedom from vindictiveness had won her immense popularity, and people who knew about her faults were amazed that she combined them with qualities so much their opposite.
Her father had more than once, speaking in a manner indulgent but serious, advised her to moderate her luxurious mode of life and her choice of conspicuous associates. But when he considered the number of his grandchildren and their likeness to Agrippa, he was ashamed to entertain doubts about his daughter’s chastity. So Augustus persuaded himself that his daughter was light-hearted almost to the point of indiscretion, but above reproach, and was encouraged to believe that his ancestress Claudia had also been such a person. He used to tell his friends that he had two somewhat wayward daughters whom he had to put up with, the Roman republic and Julia.
One day she came into his presence in a somewhat risque costume, and though he said nothing, he was offended. The next day she changed her style and embraced her father, who was delighted by the respectability which she was affecting. Augustus, who the day before had concealed his distress, was now unable to conceal his pleasure. “How much more suitable”, he remarked, “for a daughter of Augustus is this costume!” Julia did not fail to stand up for herself. “Today”, she said, “I dressed to be looked at by my father, yesterday to be looked at by my husband.”
Here is another well-known story. At a gladiatorial show Livia and Julia drew the attention of the people by the dissimilarity of their companions; Livia was surrounded by respectable men, Julia by men who were not only youthful but extravagant. Her father wrote that she ought to notice the difference between the two princesses, but Julia wittily wrote back, “These men will be old when I am old.“

End of Metrobius quote. Julia and Agrippa had five children together, the last one born after his death, and their birth places were spread across the Roman Empire because she was travelling with him, which doesn't necessarily guarantee they had a good marriage, but makes it at least possible. Moreover, given what Julia's father and her third husband, Tiberius, ended up doing to her eventually, it was probably the happiest time in her life, and I enjoyed writing her in that phase, where she also made an excellent narrative foil for an older Agrippa trying to come to terms with his past.

I've always been a fan of stories about survivors of tragedies (with and without guilt to carry), who have to get on with their lives and have to decide what they do next, not by forgetting or ignoring the past, but by trying to reconcile it with the present. Agrippa, in my story, attempts to do this. Read on whether he succeeds...
Zinc Man (6007 words) by Selena
Chapters: 7/7
Fandom: The Americans (TV 2013)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Relationships: Elizabeth Jennings/Philip Jennings, Philip Jennings & Gabriel, Elizabeth Jennings & Gabriel
Characters: Elizabeth Jennings, Philip Jennings, Arkady Ivanovich (The Americans), Gabriel (The Americans), Oleg Igorevich Burov, Yuri Victorovich Silfigarow (OC)
Additional Tags: Case Fic, Afghanistan

Elizabeth and Philip are charged with tracking down a young soldier from Afghanistan who has gone rogue. But what will they find?

This was my assignment story. Incidentally, this was the second year in a row that I was matched on "The Americans". Not that I mind - I'm still relatively newly in love with the show, after all, and thus there are a lot of stories to tell - but it makes me wonder whether while five or six people requested The Americans, nobody else volunteered writing for them?

Anyway. My recipient, who to this day hasn't been heard of, had no Yuletide letter, Elizabeth and Philip as the requested characters, and a very short prompt: "„Just take these two and fuck me up with any kind of feels and I'll love you forever“.

Well, okay then, thought I, that would translate to me as "write something like the show". Which in turn translated into "write something with an actual plot relevant to the central E/P relationship, to the show's themes of identies and to the 80s setting". And really, due to me having read Svetlana Alexievich's "Zinky Boys" a few years back after she got the Peace Award of the German Book Trade, there could be but one choice. The Soviet/Afghan war has become more and more relevant to the characters on the show, especially in season 3, and while the writers enjoy drawing the obvious contemporary parallels, it's also something that feels right for a couple of Russian undercover spies who keep being challenged in who they actually are and what/who they are fighting for.

Some of the things I contemplated doing I eventually didn't write, for example a subplot in which Philip or Elizabeth would have to pose as FBI investigators in order to frame an alternate suspect; I abandoned the idea early on, because it would have been too distracting from the main plot (as a reader, I would have expected them to run into Stan, even though he's working in a completely different department). This meant that the only characters showing up in the story are actually Russians - our antiheroes, the OC they're pursueing, Gabriel, Arkady and Oleg. I do hope I did them justice.
With the new year impending: some slots at the January meme post are still free, so if you want to read me rambling on the topic of your choice, and I'm familiar with it, go ahead and ask there.

In Yuletide news, the recipient of my assignment story still hasn't commented, and doesn't seem to have an lj or dw (at least not under that name) one could check to verify whether he/she is busy, not/still online, or just plain displeased by the story. On the bright side, both the assignment story and the treat were recced by at least one person whom I don't know, which is very cheering.
selenak: (Omar by Monanotlisa)
( Dec. 27th, 2015 02:40 pm)
Gone Girl: Pick in the Ice: vicious and elegant. A possible future for Amy; Rhonda pov.

The Last Unicorn: Iron Bars: there are several great takes on the Harpy this year, and I like them all, but this one is my favourite, not least because of the mind games Mammy Fortuna and the Harpy play with each other.

Lawrence of Arabia: The Lusitania Variation: what is it with me and historical AUs this year? In this one, Churchill's letter re: drawing the US into WWI becomes public, with the result that British funding for the revolt in the desert suddenly is gone. And what then? Ali pov, great voices for him and Lawrence (their movie versions, that is), and best of all: co-starring Gertrude Bell!

Mabinogion Myth: All that's best and bright: Arianrhod in her own words.

Watership Down: The story of the doe who hid her kittens Beautiful and heartbreaking Efrafa tale (in both senses of the word), with Hyzanthlay as the teller.

Far Far Away: fantastic take on Silverweed.

The Wire: Upside down Kingdom: of all the various gangster & cop combinations the show did, Bodie and Carver scenes were perhaps my favourites. This story is a great example of why.
selenak: (Young Elizabeth by Misbegotten)
( Dec. 26th, 2015 06:56 pm)
State of my own stories: assignment: recipient hasn't commented yet, but nearly everyone else vocal in the tiny online fandom has, so I'm pleased as punch. Treat: recipient loves it, but not many other people seem to have read it so far. We'll see. Consider the invitation to guess and get a drabble on the subject of your choice if guessing correctly my cunning plan to get more readers. :)

On to stories I loved as a reader:

Fairy Tales/History: The Last Dancing Queen of England: in which the story of the twelve dancing princesses is applied to the wives of Henry VIII, and somehow fits marvellously.

Being Human: return back to your grave: fantastic take on the tense relationship between Nina and Mitchell, and a great character exploration of both.

Better Call Saul: if you ever ever learn you never show it: Jimmy and Chuck, growing up. Superb take on a layered sibling relationship.

Crusade: Stone Walls Do Not A Prison Make: Dureena and Max, trapped together. Will they manage to figure out how to rescue themselves before irritating each other to death? No, seriously, this story is so much fun and depicts one of my favourite Crusade relationships.

Dragonlance: Our Journey Winds On, Still: talk about messed up siblingn relationships. Raistlin and Caramon Majore in their co-dependent glory, in a "what if?" that explores what would have happened if Caramon had followed Raistlin into darkness.

Elementary: The Case of the Anonymous Benefector: in which Kitty Winter solves a case familiar to ACD readers, and ensemble goodness is had to boot. I miss the season 3 set up of Elementary, and this story is a great bandage on that open wound.

Matthew Shardlake Novels Agnus Dei: Guy, Tamasin, Matthew and Jack strive to deal with the events from the end of Lamentation. Brief, elegant and to the point, and breaking my heart in the process (in a good way).

Rivers of London: Not a tame tiger: sparring, verbal (and otherwise?) between Varvara and Nightingale. Bring on the war generation magical interaction, I say!

Troubling the Water: whereas this is adorable silliness between Lesley and Peter, and I love it, too.

Penny Dreadful: Behind the Wallpaper: dozens of AUs and yet not. All that could have happened/did happen/who knows? when Evelyn Poole opened a door in the s2 finale.

A Place of Greater Safety: Tick Tock: in which the mysterious author actually pulls off an alternate way the French Revolution could have gone, based on my favourite Hilary Mantel novel's interpretation of its chief figures. I'll say no more - find out how yourself!

Many more to come, but this is my first installment
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
( Dec. 25th, 2015 12:10 pm)
The archive has opened. Before I dive in, as much as family allows, this is the Better Call Saul story I got, and I strongly suspect I know the author, due to said author clearly knowing about my Beatles fandom. :) The two stories (in different fandoms) I've written are easily identifiable, I fancy, but then I think that every year...

After All These Years (12976 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 13/13
Fandom: Better Call Saul (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Saul Goodman | Jimmy McGill/Kim Wexler
Characters: Saul Goodman | Jimmy McGill, Cinnabon Gene, Kim Wexler, Howard Hamlin, Chuck McGill, Ernesto, Ed (Breaking Bad)
Additional Tags: Ringo Starr - Freeform, somewhat canon compliant, Pre-Canon, Post-Canon, During Canon

Jimmy and Kim through the years.

Short notes, due to Darth Real Life:

1.) Yuletide: finished my assignment, got it beta'd, posted it. Phew. I've also written a treat which was finished eons ago, but I had to refresh some canon and do some more research for the assignment , so that took longer. Anyway, it's done, and now I can start shaking presents, err, checking tags in order to guess what else will be available in the fandoms I'm interested in.

2.) Watched some vaguely rl related movies & series. To wit:

A Royal Night Out: pure fluff, which never pretends to be anything but, and hence is great fun. It's May 8th, 1945, and princesses Elizabeth and Margaret give their supervisors the slip to enjoy D-Day celebrations anonymously. The characterisations are all as expected for this kind of film (Elizabeth is the dutiful one, Margaret is the party animal ("it's not like I'll end up on the front page of the Daily Mail photographed drunk in the arms of a sailor at 2 am!"), the cynical soldier Elizabeth meets while trying to find Margaret reveals a heart of gold, etc.), and it's ideal to relax with on a cozy afternoon/evening.

Bridge of Spies: the latest one by Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks is the earnest Capra movie like hero, standing for decency in the Cold War. Mark Rylance is his client, Soviet spy Abel, doing a lot of stillness and wry stoicism in his few lines of dialogue. Our own Sebastian Koch plays GDR lawyer Wolfgang Vogel. Donovan is the type of role Hanks can do in his sleep by now, Spielberg's direction is as polished as ever, and the plea against hysteric xenophobia is endearing in its real life application, but it didn't really get to me emotionally, for some reason. Maybe it was the eternal US sunshine in the suburbs versus the eternal cold and bad weather in East Berlin (not symbolic AT ALL), and maybe I was distracted because half way through I thought, hang on, I've read about this story - only with Vogel (one of the supporting baddies here) as the main character and Donovan in a supporting role.

Marc Polo: visually gorgeous series, and with my journey through Mongolia only two years ago, I often felt a pang of wistful recognition (the landscape of Kazachstan, where they shot the Mongolia scenes, is really very similar to Mongolia), but hampered by wanting to be both a prestige series and a money maker serving the action movie clientele. So you have, along some great attempts to depict Song era Chinese and Mongolian culture (I love the reconstruction of Karakorum! And the fact they had both stone turtles there!), both separate and intermingling, a bunch of tiresome clichés (because we're in the Far East, there's lots of Kung Fu (can't have Asian locations without Kung Fu, can we?); naked concubines galore; and EVERYONE has daddy issues. The titular character is the sole European regular and actually used with restraint, i.e. while he learns kung fu, he doesn't win a single fight (i.e. he's not a White Savior), and there are entire episodes where he shows up only for a few minutes. If there's a problem, it's that even within said few minutes, he's bland, and the one talent he has to impress Kublai Khan with, the power of description, of bringing people and landscapes alive via word, isn't born out by the script. Sorry, scriptwriters, but Marco's lines when he's describing something are terrible, not poetic. (Oh, and Marco's storyline has nothing to do with what Marco Polo said about himself in the existing versions of Il Milione, but never mind that.) On the bright side, Jimmy Cho makes for a great Kublai Khan, and I love the Empress Chabi (smart middle-aged power players for the win!), and their relationship.
selenak: (Live long and prosper by elf of doriath)
( Nov. 4th, 2015 09:31 am)
Due to Darth Real Life, in all brevity, some fannish news:

1.) New Star Trek tv series: a cautious yay! ST always works better on tv, that's the format it was invented for, and a tv series won't have to come up with a save the world/universe - defea the supervillain plot every time. Plus it can develop an ensemble of characters. Also, Alex Kurtzmann has plenty of tv experience between Alias, Lost and Fringe. On the downside: if the cinema rebootverse is any indication, Kurtzmann (and not writing the tv series ex pal Orci) aren't good with alien races, which is an absolut must for any ST. (One word: Romulans. Oh, the indignity!) Then again, that could be because of the cinema format.

2.) BBC series based on His Dark Materias: also looking forward to it. I'm not in love with the Pullmann novels, but they, too, are far more suited for a tv adaption than for a cinematic one, hence failure of Golden Compass movie some years back.

3.) Yuletide: haven't started canon review for my assignment yet, but I've been possessed by the urge to write one particular prompt ever since spotting it, and this morning I got up early and finished a rough draft for a Yuletide treat.

And now: back to work.
selenak: (Hitchcock by Misbegotten)
( Oct. 31st, 2015 10:25 am)
Yuletide assignment: more generic than most I got - basically it amounts to "more of what canon does so well" (which I sympathize with, since I have fandoms where I want just that, too). I can work with that, since I love the canon in question (obviously) and it leaves me ample manvoeuvring room. But because there's no specific prompt, I'm currently at sea as to what the plot might be...

Meanwhile, I did a meme and fed it some of my stories in various fandoms. Fitting the day, the first result I got was this:

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

What surprises me about this is that the story in question was a Breaking Bad one, Blood Ties, about the relationship between Marie and Skyler. Mind you, I love Poe, but he's not the voice that comes to mind when thinking of either Breaking Bad in general or this story in particular.

Next, I tried one of my adventures into RPF, to wit, the one where Mary Renault meets Alfred Hitchcock, Saving Mrs Fleming. This led to vile slander:

I write like
Dan Brown

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Were it the real life prominent names? Hitch trying to lure Mary to the cinema side at the British Museum? I protest, anyway.

Still reeling, I tried a Once upon a Time story next, the one about Snow and Regina. Which had this result:

I write like
Anne Rice

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

As long as it's early Anne Rice, when she still had an editor, I'm good with this. (And suspect the result came through all the fairy tale related words.)

Anyway, it seems I write differently for every fandom?
selenak: (Jimmy and Kim)
( Oct. 22nd, 2015 09:01 am)
Dear Yuletide writer,

thank you SO MUCH for writing a story for me. I really appreciate it. Since we're matched in at least one fandom, we share at least some objects of enthusiasm. Let's see whether there are some more:

General likes and dislikes: I'm easy to please. As a writer, I'm a gen girl at heart, but as a reader, I'm game for anything - slash (meaning both m/m and f/f), het, gen, whathever suits your own preferences. Only one of my requests includes the wish for one particular pairing. While I admire people who can unite actual plot with character exploration, you don't have to; if it can be only one of the two, go for the character exploration. Regarding AUs: generally, I'd rather not with this years' requests. I'm fond of the characters in their particular setting and canon. Crossovers: depends on whether or not I know the canon. Feel free to browse through my journal in order to find out, if you want to take the additional trouble. I like a cool crossover as much as the next fan, but it would be wasted on me if I haven't the slightest idea who half of the cast is.

Speaking of the cast: while I love some characters more than others, I only requested fandoms where I like the entire ensemble. Which means that if your favourite isn't among the characters I mentioned in my requests, and you find away to weave him/her into the story, go for it. I love ensemble interaction!

Squicks: BDSM, parent-child incest, Alpha-Omega or whatever it's called, character bashing. Several of the fandoms I requested have canonical rape in them, and if you want to explore the effects it had on the characters in question, I'm okay with that. But please avoid coming up with new additional rape scenarios. As for uncanonical character death, if you must. It's not a squick for me, and you don't have to warn for it if the story demands it. However, DON'T do it as a form of character bashing, i.e. Character X annoys you, therefore X must die.

On to my particular requests:

The Americans )

Black Sails )

Matthew Shardlake Series - C. J. Sansom )

Better Call Saul )

In conclusion: I hope you've found a scenario that appeals to you, and look forward to reading the result.

Your grateful recipient
Last night, the Frankfurt Book Fair was opened, so in the next few days, it'll be books, books, books for me, and also politics, because as the opening speeches showed, the refugees (and certain infuriating people on the right) are so much on everyone's mind that you can't not debate. However, the fannish part of me did notice something:

All the accepted Yuletide nominations are up. I'm glad, because not only were all my nominations accepted but the coordination in the fandoms worked really well - Black Sails has 15 characters to choose form, The Americans 17. (!) (No one else nominated the Shardlake novels, but never mind, one can't have everything.)

Then there are a couple of fandoms I can offer in, and some I might be able to do a treat for if I have the time, but won't offer because it really depends on the prompt. Mind you, there are also a couple of fandoms where I would offer and every nominated character, too, but for the fact this could end up in landing me pairings I really don't want to write. The usual way to avoid this is to not offer one part of the pairing. The problem: take Bates Motel. I'd love to write about Emma, especially her relationship with Norma. I also would write about Dylan, in the context of his family. I just don't want to write Emma/Dylan, which is a popular pairing, so if I offer both of them, I have visions of being landed with just this combination. Penny Dreadful offers some similar problems, i.e. there's virtually no character I can't imagine writing about, but...

Anyway, that still leaves me with enough fandoms to offer. As for requests: I already have some pretty specific ideas. And now I'm off to the fair!
I seem to have done something wrong with my Yuletide nominations. I just checked whether or not they were accepted, and they came across as unsent altogether. :(

ETA: Thankfully, I worried for naught. I was instructed on how to look properly, and lo, the nominations were sent. PHEW.

Also I just returned from a great matinee celebrating Michael Ende (the writer) and his father, the painter Edgar Ende (the occasion is the 20th anniversary of Michael's death and the 40th of Edgar's), and while the matinee itself was fabulous, a great mixture of prose text excerpts and songs written by Michael Ende together with anecdotes by his illustrator and friend, plus an exhibition of Edgar's paintings, I learned something terribly sad. Now I've known ever since his original indignant interviews back in the 80s that Michael Ende despised and hated (the later term is not too strong in this case) the movie version of The Never-Ending Story, but I hadn't known until today there was an additional reason for this beyond "author despises film version of work due to it getting all he cares about completely wrong". Michael Ende and his wife, actress Ingeborg Hoffmann, lived in Genzano di Roma, and when the movie The Never-Ending Story hit the local cinema, Ende told his wife "you don't have to watch it" - he himself had done so at a preview in Munich, and had been vocally appalled - "but if you must, it's here now, it'll probably be your last chance". She went and watched. And got so upset that she got a pulmonary embolism and died. She literally got transported out of the cinema by the ambulance to her deathbed in the hospital.

There are a lot of authors who feel wronged by translations of their work into other media, and you might agree or disagree with this, but this event certainly sets a kind of morbid record for "author's life ruined by film based on his work"....
While pondering this year's Yuletide options, I received last night a wonderful, unexpected gift from last year, as one of my prompts from then has resulted in this terrific story:

Lydia Gwilt in the American Melodrama Novel, or The Bride And Some Other People In The Tomb (10462 words) by Blueinkedfrost
Chapters: 13/13
Fandom: Armadale - Wilkie Collins
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Lydia Gwilt
Additional Tags: Adventure, Mystery, Supernatural - Freeform, bloodthirsty murder, antihero protagonist, Mrs Alex. McVeigh Miller

Lydia Gwilt goes to America and has further adventures. There's a bride, a tomb, bloodthirsty murder, Spiritualism, monsters of various kinds, and maybe even a new passion for our brave antiheroine. Epistolary fic.

Lydia Gwilt from Wilkie Collins' novel Armadale is my favourite Collins character by far (she also was my first antiheroine, and remains a favourite redhead), and her witty, acerbic voice as Collins presents it in the various letters and diary excerpts that form his "sensation novel" is a big reason why. So I was delighted that not only did this author come up with a great adventure for Lydia, but one that followed the Collins precedent, voice wise. And managed an affectionate spoof of certain 19th century novel tropes besides. I loved it.
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
( Sep. 26th, 2015 03:26 pm)
Yuletide nominations are open! I also browsed the nomination confirmations and found several fandoms I can volunteer for this year in addition to those I was planning for. Excellent.

Vonda M. McIntyre about writing Star Trek novels. For verily, hers were among the best. Also, her beef with the third TOS season reminds me there's nothing new in fandom - it's exactly the reaction anyone has today when a current day series stops matching one's own ideas of characters. Cautious phrasing is deliberate: I've become disenchanted of shows myself, but I'm also aware that I've loved seasons which for other fans were hateful, and vice versa. And there's nothing more tiresome than someone insisting that you MUST despise season x/movie y/book z, and if you don't, you're doing fandom wrong. (Which is a mind set depressingly many people seem to share, says the woman fond of the Star Wars prequels, season 4 of Angel and Wesley Crusher, among others.)
On the 25th, Yuletide nominations start, so I'm pondering which I'll nominate this year. The Americans again, and I'm already coordinating that over at the community. Black Sails, of course, and here alas there is no community (that I know of, and I continue to avoid tumblr if I can). Since it would be lovely to have more than four characters to choose from, I have to ask: gentle readers of these lines, are you watching Black Sails and if so, would you care to nominate it for Yuletide in coordination with me so we can each nominate different characters? I like almost the entire ensemble! (And it's a huuuge ensemble.)

That leaves two more fandoms. I think I'm going to nominate the Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom in the hope that someone will write me a story about Guy, but I'd also take case fic, or a Tamasin pov story that fleshes her out, or a story set post Lamentation in which Matthew settles in his new job for Elizabeth, or backstory (young idealistic Matthew meets Cromwell, gets hired, maybe?), or, well, anything. Again: huge ensemble. If there are other Shardlake readers out there, would you be willing to nominate a few characters? It doesn't mean you have to write anything!

Fourth fandom: Agent Carter is out of the question due to the MCU connection, but Better Call Saul should qualify, and I want Jimmy & Kim, or Jimmy/Kim. Backstory, first season era story, Breaking Bad era story speculating what happened with Kim during that time, post Breaking Bad era story in which Kim meets "Gene" - don't care, gimme. Since I have no other wishes in this fandom, I'm game to nominate whichever other two characters you want, gentle reader, should you also wish for Better Call Saul characters at Yuletide. (Wait, on second thought, I do have another wish, but I don't think Daredevil is a tiny enough fandom, because again, MCU connection. But I still dream of that crossover where Jimmy temporarily ends up working for Nelson & Murdock.)

In other news: BBC Radio 4 did a radio production on Ava Lovelace, starring Sally Hawkins as Ada, Anthony Stewart Head as Charles Babbage, and Olivia Williams as Ada's mother, Annabella, Lady Byron. It was broadcast today, which means you can listen to it for another week at least here.
Happy New Year, everyone! Here are my two Yuletide tales:

Like the Fellow Says (7425 words) by Selena
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Americans (TV 2013)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Philip Jennings & Charles Duluth
Characters: Philip Jennings, Charles Duluth, Elizabeth Jennings
Additional Tags: Unresolved Emotional Tension, Backstory, Character Study, Non-Linear Narrative

He knew damn well that without these meetings with Philip, handing over information, trading sarcasm, his life now would be meaningless. He'd known that for a while. But what he hadn't known before was what Philip got out of it. Asset and handler: Charles and Philip through the years.

Some background rambling )

Saving Mrs. Fleming (10542 words) by Selena
Chapters: 7/7
Fandom: Mary Renault RPF, 20th Century CE RPF, Alfred Hitchcock RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Mary Renault/Julie Mullard, Alfred Hitchcock/Alma Reville, Mary Renault & Clementine Challans, Mary Renault & Alfred Hitchcock, Mary Renault & Alma Reville
Characters: Mary Renault - Character, Alfred Hitchcock, Alma Reville, Julie Mullard, Sidney Bernstein, Clementine Challans
Additional Tags: Mommy Issues, Character Study, Dark Comedy, Mother-Daughter Relationship

In 1947, Mary Renault's novel Return to Night won the MGM award. The director charged with filming it: Alfred Hitchcock. Where her book ended, their story began...

Aka the story I’ve been threatening to write for a while, and which Naraht kindly requested. It all started when Naraht hosted a discussion of Mary Renault’s novel Return to Night, and almost simultaneously the movie Saving Mr. Banks, aka the Disney take on Mary Poppins creator P.L. Travers clashing wit Walt Disney over his intended film version of her book, was released in Germany. In the discussion, someone brought up that Return to Night (today practically unknown compared with Renault’s other novels) had won the MGM award and so presumably at some point must have been intended as a basis for a film version. This made me wonder who the director would have been, and more specifically, which director would have been guaranteed to have the most entertaining clash of personalities with Mary Renault. And somehow, my mind produced Alfred Hitchcock.

The idea, cracky as it sounded, absolutely refused to let me go, especially when I started to brush up a bit on both Hitchcock’s and Renault’s lives. Not only were they both creative, interesting people with issues galore and very different attitudes towards creation, but they came each equipped with mother issues, and in Hitchcock’s case, with a partner who was just as interesting but would have been bound to clash with Mary Renault as well. (Sidenote: Julie Mullard, Mary’s partner, was an interesting person as well, but didn’t work with her on her books, and it was the life time collaboration that made the Hitchcock marriage so intriguing to me. So Julie gets a less prominent part than Alma in my story.) At first, I wanted to write an AU in which the film got made, but eventually decided with go with a more “missing interlude” approach.

There was the question of the setting. I gave up my original idea of letting Mary Renault go to Hollywood pretty soon, because once I had read Sweetman’s biography of her, I couldn’t imagine her spending money on such a trip, or the studio paying it for her. Fortunately, Hitchcock actually was in England for part of 1947, the year Renault’s novel won the MGM award (and the year before she left England and moved to South Africa) because of his last movie for David Selznick, The Paradine Case. (Otoh 1947 meant Naraht’s dream casting for Return to Night’s heroine, Hilary Mansell, would have been very unlikely, because Deborah Kerr was still too young then. This was her
Black Narcissus era.)

Once I had determined the year and place, the Renault meets Hitchcock(s) ball started rolling. With such vivid characters, the story practically wrote itself. I hoped the result would work both for people who were somewhat familiar with them, and for people who’d never read a single Renault novel or seen a single Hitchcock film. It’s certainly one of the Yuletide stories I enjoyed most writing. reverse order.

Call the Midwife: don't have much to say other than it was lovely as usual. I'm a bit torn on Avril doing something spoilery ) This was the first episode where we see old Jenny, whose voiceover was the narrative voice throughout and apparantly is here to stay, but I'm not sure whether the framing scenes with Vanessa Redgrave had any other point than to ressure us of this, given that young Jenny has left the show and it is now later seasons Blake's 7. :) Not that it wasn't nice to see her, of course. As to the rest of the gang, everyone was as endearing as always. Cynthia doing something spoilery ) This is still my comfort show, and the way it treats not just one but a myriad of choices women make as valid is a great part of why.

Now, as to Yuletide. I'm trying not to let the usual Yuletide angst get to me (i.e. repeating the "self, the recipient and a few others liked your stories on the first day, you can't expect more with small-even-for-Yuletide fandoms and no one having recced them elsewhere so far" mantra). Here are a few more stories I loved reading:

Euripides: Bacchae

Agave in Illyria: Half poetry, half prose, gorgeously creepy and cruel in its take on two sisters who went through some of the most gruesome fates Greek myths have in store.

Benjamin January Mysteries:

Escargots: casefic! With Rose as the leading detective, co-starring Olympe and Augustus Mayerling. Set while Ben is off in Washington, and immensely enjoyable to read.

Where there's a will: lovely missing scene about Chloe and Dominique making the transition to the friends we see them be in the last few novels.

The Musketeers:

Knife to a musket fight: in which Porthos gives Constance more self defense lessons. Fantastic friendship story, and the last line packs a punch.

Hilary Mantel: A place of greater safety:

Our wars will be our own: because if Camille, Lucille and Danton didn't have a threesome, they ought to have had.


Step into Christmas (the admission is free): Steph spends Christmas with Gethin and Jonathan mid movie; the story has the great characterisation and warmth the film did, and is lovely to read.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:

Start with the first ten: in which John Henry becomes. John Henry, Savannah, Catherine Weaver and James Ellison were the other family in SCC, and I'm always thrilled to discover fic dealing with that. This one manages to come up with a John Henry perspective which feels plausibly A.I., and specifically an A.I. which developes as radically as John Henry does. I loved it.

Watership Down:

The Mercy of Frith: The story of Blackavar, one of the most intriguing minor characters in the novel. Intense and marvellously written.

The Wire:

Whereever you go, there you are: Randy and Carver, years post show. Heartbreaking, yet also hopeful.
selenak: (Breaking Bad by Wicked Signs)
( Dec. 26th, 2014 10:40 am)
Just a first bunch, I still have so much more to read.

Breaking Bad:

These lifeless things: Skyler post show, looking back, trying to find a forward, with an emphasis on the Skyler and Marie relationship: as devastatingly intense as the show itself.

Dune: (Or rather, the tv version)

In the first days: Irulan and the twins. I've always had a soft spot for Irulan, one character I thought the tv version did do better by than the books, and here we see how the twins, and what happens with Leto in God Emperor of Dune, affect her.

Galaxy Quest:

Galaxy Gals : in which Gwen and Leilari give an interview, and it's not about their uniforms. As with all the Gwen centric GQ fanfiction posted in Yuletides past and present, this is great, and I love the look we get at how Leilari adapts to Earth. (And the art of lying acting.)

Historical Fiction:

Come the good peasant to cheer: AU. Edward the Black Prince--now Edward IV of England--has been king for four years. Now the peasants have rebelled, the Black Prince wants to declare war on them all, and his stubborn, determined queen, Joan of Kent, is desperately trying to prevent utter disaster. Great AU, and extremely entertaining historical fiction.

Hallowmas, or Shortest of Days: Richard II.'s second queen, Isabelle, was a child (something Shakespeare's play ignores); here she meets the ghost of her predecessor, Anne of Bohemia, and the result is amazingly endearing.

Penny Dreadful:

Aside from the stories I received, which I already recced:

Teranga: Sembene! This is the backstory of Sembene which the show hasn't given us (yet). Fantastic world building, and it's awe-inspiringly good.

A breath to notice: the unfolding Ethan and Vanessa friendship. Which I guess will become a romance in season 2, because I recognize set up when I see it, but in the meantime, I can enjoy them as platonic friends as in this story.

Twin Peaks:

Through the woods and far away: in which Audrey Horne rescues Agent Cooper from the Black Lodge. This is so my headcanon now.

West Side Story:

If it's sewing, she sews: Maria puts her life together, stitch by stitch. I love stories about grief and yet moving on, I tell you, and this is a fine one, taking full advantage of the fact that Maria, unlike her predecessor Juliet, doesn't die.
selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
( Dec. 25th, 2014 01:30 pm)
The Yuletide archive is open , and I got two wonderful gifts, both Penny Dreadful, and giving me the Christmas the show only teased us with in dialogue, plus wonderful Vanessa and Malcolm characterisations:

Light in the Darkness (1018 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Penny Dreadful (TV)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Vanessa Ives/Sir Malcolm Murray, Vanessa Ives & Sir Malcolm Murray
Characters: Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray
Additional Tags: Found Families, Strange Families, Christmas

Christmas, as it is, is theirs.

Some Shape of Beauty (1385 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Penny Dreadful (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray
Additional Tags: post-season one

Ever since she was a little girl, Vanessa has always found Malcolm at the heart of a maze.

No prizes for guessing the two stories I've written this year, because they're both screamingly obvious, but I'm enormously pleased both recipients liked them. Now excuse me while I go off exploring the rest of the archive!
selenak: (Bamberg - Kathyh)
( Dec. 23rd, 2014 02:08 pm)
The tree is standing and decorated, the APs are in dire need to relax, the cats are eyeing the tree speculatively, last minute issues keep coming up: in short: I'm back in Bamberg for Christmas. :)

This will not make for much online presence in the next few days, though I hope to post my nativity scenes photos like every year, and of course am so looking forward to Yuletide. Among many alluring prospects: 13 new Penny Dreadful stories to read!

Meanwhile, the radio version of Good Omens is up and about even for non Brits like yours truly to listen to, thank you, BBC. It's as delightful a hoot I hoped for so far.

Also entertaining: Paul Cornell about Doctor Who fandom , which of course includes the writers. I agree with many of his points, but on the less serious side, I get a kick out of him mentioning his internalized Russell T. Davies as editor, as in this paragraph:

This emotional conservatism, expressed in smaller, less ethically important ways, is a trait I recognise in myself, something I have to fight against to keep myself going. I think several creators of Doctor Who over the decades have instinctively realised that that particular fan gene is in opposition to creativity, and have therefore set their faces against it, sometimes too much. There are also those who’ve gone too far the other way. To be a good writer, you have to smash things up. To make great Doctor Who, especially, you have to destroy something someone values with every step. Those footsteps of destruction will, in a few years, be cast in bronze and put on a plinth for the next great story to destroy. Doctor Who lives because of that process boiling away in its cells. (Metaphors all over the place, fix it in the next draft please, love, internal Russell.)


selenak: (Default)


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