selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
This was the big one, the über-ambitious one, the „I want to write the ULTIMATE Penny Dreadful story" one.

To establish background: like many another watcher, the Penny Dreadful season 3 and show finale left me dissatisfied with our heroine’s fate. However, in my case fannish ire was strangely missing because I immediately saw it as a great set up for what would surely work as the perfect finale, pulling the various themes, dynamics and pot threads the show had established together. Seriously, my immediate reaction to watching was to check when we’d get season 4, because I was so absolutely sure this was the set up, not the pay off. When I found out this was indeed meant as the series finale, I knew I had to write what was in my head, but not at once. I knew it had to be a Yuletide story, and one that while using what I thought Vanessa should do next (yes, next; bless genre shows and their possibilities re: a certain state) as its central arc still also worked as an ensemble story, bring the remaining regulars (with two exceptions, I’ll get to this in a moment) together for a common goal while also exploring their shifting dynamics. Oh, and of course, this being meant as a finale story, it would have to pay homage to the show’s past and gone characters as well.
Now, since the show had established an Egyptian connection from the pilot onwards and had thankfully sent Ferdinand Lyle there in s3, the answer to how to pull all this off to me obvious from the start: use both Egyptian mythology and an Egyptian adventure setting. My one fannish regret was that I couldn’t include Lily, but there was just no way this could have been done without going off into a different story which would have to be about Ethan finding out what happened re: Brona. The other surviving Penny Dreadful regular who’d been there from the start but isn’t in my story is Dorian Grey, but a) he wasn’t needed in any way, b) the ending the show had given him was perfect, down to the, ahem, framing, and c) he’s my unfavourite.

Below you’ll find the result of these ponderings. And I am really proud of it.

Falling Towards Apotheosis (18025 words) by Selena
Chapters: 13/13
Fandom: Penny Dreadful (TV)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Vanessa Ives/Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler/Vanessa Ives, Vanessa Ives & Joan Clayton, Mina Harker/Vanessa Ives, Vanessa Ives & Claire Ives, Vanessa Ives & Peter Murray, Caliban & Vanessa Ives, Madame Kali | Evelyn Poole/Sir Malcolm Murray, Ferdinand Lyle & Sir Malcolm Murray, Ethan Chandler & Sir Malcolm Murray, Sir Malcolm Murray & Victor Frankenstein, Ethan Chandler/Hecate Poole, Vanessa Ives/Alexander Sweet | Dracula, Catriona Hartdegen & Sir Malcolm Murray, Sir Malcolm Murray & Dr. Florence Seward
Characters: Vanessa Ives, Sir Malcolm Murray, Ferdinand Lyle, Ethan Chandler, Victor Frankenstein, Caliban | John Clare, Madame Kali | Evelyn Poole, Hecate Poole, Alexander Sweet | Dracula, Catriona Hartdegen, Dr. Florence Seward, Joan Clayton, Claire Ives, Mina Murray, Peter Murray, Kaetenay (Penny Dreadful), Jeanne d'Arc | Joan of Arc, Sir Geoffrey Hawkes
Additional Tags: Epic, Post-Canon, Dysfunctional Family, Team as Family, Friendship/Love, Ancient Egyptian Literature & Mythology, Canon Compliant, Yuletide, Yuletide 2016, Fix-It
Summary:

As Vanessa's true plan to defeat Dracula is revealed, she and her friends find themselves on an epic quest that involves the living and dead alike.


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: (Cat and Books by Misbegotten)
Yesterday, I had time only intermittently to read my and other stories (and to check my comment box in a playing-it-cool-yet-fretting-away fashion  ). Still I come bearing recs; this is a great Yuletide so far.

The Americans:

My gift was in this fandom, a Martha exploration set in the last season’s climactic episode, so spoilers for this and Martha’s entire arc:

Among Strangers

This Yuletide finally produced more than one Americans story, which I love, and all five are good, but this exploration of a young Elizabeth/Nadya and her life in Smolensk is particularly awesome:

One Day in the Life

Benjamin January Mysteries

And still of a Winter’s Night

Wonderful case fic, in which Shaw asks Ben not just for his but also Dominique’s help, and all the usual suspects are drawn into solving a mystery that fits perfectly with Barbara Hambly’s novels.

Black Sails

Has a staggering twelve stories to offer, all of which I haven’t even read yet, but so far, this is my favourite:

A Certain Poetry

How Anne and Jack started – and they’re both perfectly drawn as younger versions of themselves who are in the process of discovering who they’ll be to each other.

Deutschland 83

Never rains but it pours

The Rauch sisters, Lenora and Ingrid. I loved this portrait of two different, complicated women who were arguably the most interesting characters of the show to me.

Fairy Tales

De Morte Prologus

“Gevatter Tod” – “Godfather Death” – is one of lesser (relatively speaking) known Grimm fairy tales (and btw one where Wilhelm Grimm kept changing the ending for from edition to edition); I adore what this writer has done with the Death-as-a-Godfather situation.
selenak: (Default)
Looking back to see whether or how I developed in terms of writing Yuletide tales.

2009:

My first year of writing, after being an avid annual reader of this ficathon. You had and have to offer several fandoms you can write in so you can be matched, and I threw in Ovid's Metamorphoses on impulse and as an afterthought. (Knowing my Greek myths and my Ovid, this was something I knew I didn't have to do much research for.) Wouldn't you know it, this was what I was assigned, and most satisfying it proved to write, too. Mind you, I was also initiated in the experience of Yuletide panic, when after the default date my recipient showed up as ungifted despite me having posted the story weeks before, but after some mails, this was cleared up. The recipient was happy and wrote lovely feedback, and so all in all, I had a great first time Yuletide experience.

Spinning Fate

2010:

In that year, DS9 was allowed back as a Yuletide fandom, so I listed it among my offers and promptly got assigned to a DS9 request. Which challenged me to write a version of Dax I hadn't written before, Ezri, a pairing I hadn't written before (Worf/Jadzia Dax), and a pov I'd never written before (Worf, who in my previous DS9 stories had only shown up in cameos). Just goes to show you can get challenged out of your comfort zone even in a fandom you think you've done all in already. Experiences like this are exactly why I sign up for ficathons.

Let It Be

2011:

Another year of a DS9 assignment. The lesson learned in this Yuletide was that even in a relatively big (for Yuletide) fandom, like DS9, popularity is by no means guaranteed. This story - about Odo and Quark, and the beginning of Odo's time on Terok Nor - got not as many readers as Let it Be had done, and was somewhat overshadowed by the other DS9 stories posted this year. Readers, I experienced writerly jealousy in a fanfic context for the first time. Also a Yuletide rite of passage!

Collaborators

2012:

The first year in which I wrote a treat in addition to my assignment. My assigned fandom was Sunset Boulevard, and the new Yuletide experience that year was that the original prompt had been very general, and by the time the recipient's letter was up, she'd forgotten she had requested Sunset Boulevard and wrote more detailed thoughts only to fandoms I had zero ideas about. Panic! However, contacting the mods resulted in Sunset Boulevard being talked about in her letter, which allowed me to write the Norma and Max backstory I'd been wondering about for eons, which in turn to my great relief resulted in a happy recipient who wrote lovely comments to every chapter of the story:

Lebenswerk

By now, I had enough of a certainty of how long it would take me to write a Yuletide story to write a treat as well, and even write it first. It was a story [personal profile] naraht and self had been daring each other to write for eons, about Alma Cogan. I still feel a bit guilty about writing RPF (though not guilty enough not to do it, obviously), but Alma Cogan has been dead for decades, which was liberating enough for me to this for Yuletide. I had been a bit concerned [profile] narah and I would be the only ones interested in the result, but this turned out not to be the case, which made me a happy writer.

Such an easy game

2013:

The year of the siblings! I ended up to write both my assignment and my treat about sibling relationships, which I was aware of, though I only noticed during the beta process I even had both pairs of siblings drink hot chocolate together in the comfort part of h/c. What can I say? It seemed to fit them. The assignment was in Breaking Bad, and in addition to everything else told me another Yuletide lesson, which was: better not request exactly the story you want to write yourself, or it will be a really weird emotional experience later. In this case, I had asked for a story about Skyler and her sister Marie for Breaking Bad, which I got, and had offered Breaking Bad with Skyler and Marie as characters, and guess which prompt I got.

Blood Ties

My other siblings tale of the year was another classic movie fanfiction, this time for The Godfather, and allowed me to explore the female pov of this very male-heavy tale, and a character whom both canon and fandom seemed to dislike a lot, Connie Corleone. This resulted in what is so far my most widely read Yuletide story, which I certainly hadn't expected. Cue beaming author!

Fuit Quondam


2014:

I had a new fandom to offer this year, The Americans, which I did get assigned to. Which was also the first time I offered to write for an unfinished canon. Now obviously I've done this often before, but not for Yuletide. It's one thing to dash off a story inspired by an episode which might not even be beta-read because it feels that urgent, and another to write for the most attention-getting of ficathons with months of preparation. The shared risk is that you could get jossed completely within said months. Luckily, this hasn't happened to me (yet); also, I got a prompt that allowed me to explore a guest character and his relationship to one of our main characters I had been wondering about for a while. Result:

Like the Fellow says

Meanwhile, doing shared Mary Renault book readings and debating with other readers had resulted in joking about possible film versions for some of the novels in question. This was also the year Disney released Saving Mr. Banks, their take on the clash between P.L Travers, author of the Mary Poppins novels, and Walt Disney, who between clashes bond a bit over Daddy issues. All of which led me to kid around with [personal profile] naraht about Hitchcock filming Renault, and them bonding over Mommy issues. Some jokes remain jokes; some just refuse to go away and want to be turned into actual stories. And thus I ended up writing the tale of Mary Renault clashing with not one but both Hitchcocks, Alfred and Alma, and reluctanctly bonding over mother issues:

Saving Mrs. Fleming


2015:

As with DS9, I ended up writing in the same fandom for two years in a row, which is why I haven't offered to write The Americans this year. (As opposed to DS9, nobody else wrote any Americans stories in the last two Yuletides, which, woe, because I do love the show a lot, and it's not Star Trek, it needs a building audience.) My 2015 prompt was a general one about the two main characters ("just fuck me up in the feels"), and thus I ended up writing casefic for Philip and Elizabeth, a story that I hoped would feel like a missing episode and tackle various s3 issues - the Soviet war in Afghanistan, our antiheroes' stressed relationship with each other and with their handler. The Americans reading Yuletiders responded very posivitely - except for the recipient, who didn't respond at all. Which was when I realised how lucky I'd been with my recipients from various ficathons, including Yuletide, until then. It's very frustrating if a person you've written a story for can't even be bothered with a "thanks for writing for me" note.

Zinc Man

The treat I wrote in 2015 was for my first book Yuletide fandom since Ovid, Ancient history as interpreted in Jo Graham's novel Hand of Isis. Which is slightly different than writing historical fiction based on whatever your own research has produced; you work with already established interpretations of characters, though of course there's still room for additional interpretation, especially since the novel is a first person pov, which means another character from their own pov can see things differently. Moreover, it was a chance to tackle Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, who, depending on whether the work of fiction is pro-Augustus or pro-Cleopatra, usually ends up in a minor supporting role as either Sam Gamgee in the wrong canon or a soulless minion, despite having been the Empire's second most powerful man in his lifetime. And I could write Julia, Augustus' daughter, in what was arguably the happiest time of her life instead of filtered through her later tragedy. It turned out to be a very satisfying writing experience indeed.

Alexandria Leaving


This year: three stories in three different fandoms, though two of them are sort of related, about which I'll chatter on post reveal.
selenak: (BambergerReiter by Ningloreth)
Reading through the 300-someting public Yuletide prompts in the surety of having already done one's bit(s) causes various reactions:

1.) Fandoms I'm interested in but haven't offered to write for:

"Ohhhh, I hope someone will write that! Hm, maybe next year I'll offer? Or do a treat? (Not this year, this year Darth Real life prevents it, and also, I've done two treats already.) Huh, all the prompts for this fandom ask for precisely the aspects I'm not interested in, so it's a good thing I didn't offer.

2.) Fandoms I'm interested in and have offered to write/have actually written for:

Oh, so many prompts in FANDOM X! All potential readers, I hope. Also, I hope other people will write the other prompts as there can never be enough FANDOM X fic, but dammit, I'm feeling competitive this year, I want mine to be the most popular this Yuletide.

3.) Fandoms I know about but don't feel strong about one way or the other:

Okay, that and this and that looks sort of interesting. What the hell? Why would anyone request *insert AU scenario removing anything that formed characters into who they were*`? Oh, this qualified as a Yuletide fandom? In that case, wouldn't Y also - must nominate that next year.


Next: checking the fandoms of stories already posted: oh, several already in Fandom Y! Excelllllent. Hang on, must check character tags. Ah, okay, figures/oh, really, that's a surprise! What tags - hang on. Should I tag for circumstance B as well in my story? But I don't want to, because then people will asume it happens in the story, and it doesn't, it's just referenced that it happened in canon, but it is a thing. Okay, never mind, stop shaking gifts, go back to Darth Real life.

In non-Yuletide readable matters, Simon Callow about being gay in Britain through the decades, what changed, what didn't. Compelling article.

On the air/internet for five days more for everyone to listen to: How the Marquis Got His Coat Back, a radio play based on Neil Gaiman's short story taking place after Neverwhere, starring the original Marquis de Carabas from the Neverwhere tv series, Patterson Joseph. Co-starring Adrian Lester as a character who is most definitely not Mycroft Holmes, honest.
selenak: (Peggy Carter by Misbegotten)
A neat thing about Halloween: it compels people to write fanfiction in some of my fandoms. :)

Agent Carter:

All Hallows: lovely, charming tale about Peggy and friends at a Halloween party. Just ideal when you need something ic to cheer yourself up.

Black Sails:


Unfinished Business: actual ghost story featuring, well, I don't want to spoil any watchers who haven't yet seen season 3, so: description under the cut )

Meanwhile, state of the Yuletide: wrote a treat, though not the one I'd been expecting to write. What can I say? Inspiration struck. And then I wrote a first draft of my actual assignment and sent it off to my beta, which means I'm now in the "omg, are the characters oc? Did I indulge my pet interpretations too much? Will the recipient hate it?" stage. And while worn out by the official assignment draft, I'm wondering whether or not I will manage the treat-I-planned-on-writing, despite rl crowding in on me in November and December (which is why I wrote the other ones so early).
selenak: (Flint by Violateraindrop)
New official trailer (after the teaser trailer from a few weeks ago) for Black Sails, season 4!




Completely trivial observation du jour: at last, Billy has joined the bearded brigade. When exactly did "growing a beard" become a tv marker of "getting more ruthless" (see also: Breaking Bad?) It wasn't back when Riker did it on TNG. :) Also, Max looks great on horseback.

More seriously: can't wait! And then I shall dearly miss this show once it's over, but it feels just right in terms of the story they're telling to have this be the final season. After all, if you pitch your main character versus the British Empire in 1715, then you do limit your options as to how long this can go on without suspension of disbelief snapping entirely.

Meanwhile, checking out the summary of requests and offers for Yuletide so far, I see there are plenty of sign-ups for Black Sails, which augurs well for at least some stories getting written.
selenak: (Sternennacht - Lefaym)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

thank you so much for writing a story for me! I’m greatly looking forward to it, and hope you’ll enjoy writing it. We share at least one fandom, and hopefully some of my ideas will be of interest to you.
General likes/dislikes: Generally, I’m fond of canon settings. By which I mean: I don’t want to read about the characters in a coffee shop AU, or a high school AU, or in a story where no one evolved beyond their pilot characterization and the plot went totally differently from there.

This isn’t an absolute demand. I’ve come across A U s which I have truly loved, and some had pretty cracky premises. So if you are truly inspired to write about, say, Lily Frankenstein’s adventures in space, fine, go for it. “If possible, canon era setting” is a guideline, no more.

On the other hand: no A/B/O, please. Can’t stand it. Also, no character bashing. By which I don’t mean characters can’t have negative opinions about other characters. But there is a difference between that and story intent. To choose a Black Sails example: Jack Rackham having no good things to say about Eleanor Guthrie post s3 would be in character and more than likely. Flint, otoh, passing judgment on Eleanor on one particular act given what he did to Mr. Gates would be hypocritical, and if the entire story is devoted to all the characters hating on Eleanor and Eleanor getting humiliated by the narrative, we’re definitely in bashing territory, and I want nothing to do with it.

Slash, het, bi, poly: I’m fine with it all, and you can write non-generic sex scenes, more power to you, I’m envious (I tend to go for the discreet cut between scenes not because I’m against explicit writing but because I’m not good at it), but I’d prefer it if the story consists of more than just an extended sex scene.

On to fandom specifics.

Penny Dreadful )

The Americans )

Black Sails )

The Last Kingdom )
selenak: (Seven by Cheesygirl)
Back home with the APs, busy unpacking, washing, and soon, ironing; still, I've just had a first look at the Yuletide fandoms and characters tag list, and am pretty excited, since in addition to the requests I knew I'd make some more will be possible, due to other people kindly nominating the fandoms in question. Also, I'll be able to offer plenty. Currently I'm composing one list of fandoms I can offer to write in without caveats, and another for possible treats which I could write in, but only if a prompt pushes a button (and if there's enough time, of course).

(I also noticed someone nominated Sunset Boulevard and specifically Norma and Max, which made me smile, since I've written that story some years ago.)

While hiking through the Southern Tyrolian mountains I couldn't get online often, but I did notice the announcement that Sylvester McCoy, the Seventh Doctor himself, will be joining the cast of Sense8 next season. This makes me wildly curious as to which character JMS has written for him. (And the W's, naturally, but JMS is the one whom I know actually watched Classic Who for sure, so.) Also, are there any DW/Sense 8 crossovers in existence? Given Freema A. playing an important role in s1, there probably are, but I haven't checked out the fanfiction for ages.
selenak: (Katniss by Monanotlisa)
Not only are Yuletide nominations now a go, but here is the Yuletide Confirmation Post, where you can see what everyone else (who comments) has nominated - handy, to avoid doubling, etc. (As I expected, for example, in Black Sails Flint, Silver, Billy and Vane were nominated immediately, and for The Americans Elizabeth and Philip - this is why I knew I wouldn't have to bother and could nominate someone else.)

Meanwhile, fanfic recs:

The Hunger Games:

From such great heights: Caesar Flickerman, the Tributes and Snow. Just how Caesar related to the people whose deaths (and occasional survival) he helped to sell, and where he came from is up for speculation, and this is a great reply.

MCU:

Snuff: Peggy finds a certain surveillance video. As someone who wrote a story in which Peggy also almost finds out the truth about the Starks' deaths, I'm always intrigued of how others do it if they don't go the AU route and keep it within canon. This version of the conclusions Peggy draws feels plausible.
selenak: (Flint by Violateraindrop)
ETA: it has been pointed out to me that the other condition, "more than a 1000 words per story", filters out a great deal, which means Black Sails is still below the 1000 works limit and thus still eligible. Yay!


The rules for this year's Yuletide: alas, with 1020 stories at the AO3 Black Sails is now over the magical 1000 fanworks limit to be eligible. Season 3 really inspired a lot more writing, which on the one hand, yay, but on the other, it robs me of a Yuletide fandom I meant to be request and offer. Ah well. It means I can nominate characters for The Americans after all, and hope someone will write either the Martha or the Gabriel story of my dreams for me.

In the meantime, here's a new Black Sails story I spotted this morning: a Miranda pov set during season 1, with spoilers for s2, though, so season 1 watchers who don't want to be spoiled beware:

Vain Empires
selenak: (Malcolm and Vanessa)
Penny Dreadful, of course. There's at least one idea I really want to write, and more than one I'll request. We should coordinate our efforts, oh flist/circle, to get in more characters. I don't think any of us need to nominate Vanessa, or Ethan, they are a given. Sir Malcolm is not, so he'll be one of my four. I also want Lily, Caliban/John Clare/The Creature, Catriona Hartdegen and Dr. Seward, so if anyone would take one of them among their PDs? Pretty please? I also hope urgently someone will nominate Lyle, but more due to sympathy than to a concrete story idea.

The Americans: I love the show as much as ever, but I won't volunteer to write it this year, because I've ended up as the sole person writing The Americans stories for two years in a row, and I want to try something else. Depending on the prompts and whether I have time enough, I might write a The Americans treat, but for my main assignment, I want another fandom.

Black Sails: Pirates! Someone else will undoubtedly nominate Flint and Silver, and Billy is also popular enough to end up nominated on his own. Ditto Charles Vane, Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny. I'll nominate Madi, Max, Eleanor and Miranda, who aren't shoe-ins. Would be grateful for Mr. Scott, the Queen and Woode Rogers.

Books: I'll nominate the Shardlake mysteries again, not leaving it to accident. Last year someone wrote a beautiful aftermath of Lamentation story; maybe they can be seduced into writing more? Characters: am still hankering after a Guy past or present tale, but other than that, I have only vague ideas. I'd ask for Matthew being Elizabeth's lawyer in the upcoming Thomas Seymor fiasco were it not for the fact that I'm pretty sure Sansom will write that novel if he writes another book, given how Lamentation ends.
selenak: (Romans by Kathyh)
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
Summary:

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...
selenak: (The Americans by Tinny)
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
Summary:

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.
selenak: (Guinevere by Reroutedreams)
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)
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)
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)
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
Summary:

Jimmy and Kim through the years.

selenak: (City - KathyH)
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)
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.

Profile

selenak: (Default)
selenak

June 2017

S M T W T F S
    12 3
4 56 78 910
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 2324
252627282930 

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated 24 June 2017 12:06
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios