selenak: (Uthred and Alfred)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

thank you so much for creating a story for me! I hope you'll enjoy the experience and appreciate the work you're doing - writing a story in a tiny fandom we share is absolutely lovely, and I'm guaranteed to be pleased by your gift, so don't fret. My prompts are just that, prompts, not absolutes; if you have an idea that doesn't fit with any of them, but features the characters I asked for, I'll love it with added joyful surprise.

General stuff )

Requests:

The Last Kingdom )

Borgia: Faith and Fear )

Logan )

Class )

In conclusion: no matter which of these you'll pick, you'll make me a happy recipient. Again, thank you so much - and see you at Yuletide!
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
Aka the European-produced series which debuted exactly in the same year as Neil Jordan’s The Borgias did, and got three seasons as well. I had seen the pilot back in the day and hadn’t liked it much, but as Amazon Prime put it up, I thought, why not. Also back in the day: at least two articles proclaiming Borgia (with each of the seasons having subtitles “Faith and Fear” (s1), “Rules of Love, Rules of War” (s2) and “Triumph and Oblivion” (s3)) being the superior show with more “historicity”, which put my back up, since I happen to be fond of The Borgias (well, fond of the first two seasons and two or three s3 episodes). That was another reason why I delayed watching Borgia beyond the pilot until this year.

Having now accomplished this, here are a few impressions: Borgia on the one hand does use a lot more actual events from the historical characters’ lives than The Borgias did (including such very Renaissance trivia as Lucrezia’s later father-in-law, Duke Hercole d’Este of Ferrara, collecting nuns with stigmata, I kid you not) , but on the other hand is no slouch when it comes to breathtaking dramatic license. (Cesare Borgia did many gruesome things, but I don’t think ordering pants made of the skin of his enemies was one of them. Also, I really doubt that a bunch of 15th century cardinals would have conspired to replace the Pope with his daughter, no matter how impressive a job she did when the Pope made her regent while he was indisposed. Michelangelo creating the David in Rome instead of Florence is almost harmless as an invention by comparison. And then there’s the drug addiction plot complete with cold turkey conclusion…) The first season suffers from several instances of telling over showing when it came to some important relationships. However, this was mostly remedied in subsequent seasons. And it was really interesting to see both the differences and similarities in the storytelling choices based on the same basic material. Not to mention that the series Borgia actually includes the decline of the family fortunes; Rodrigo dies mid s3, and the rest is Cesare’s falling apart until the series finale ending with his historic death and some other spoilery (not for history) stuff.

One of the biggest differences is the overall emotional arc for the Borgia family. In The Borgias, we start with the featured members more or less affectionately close to each other (even the Cesare-Juan relationship isn’t yet worse than mild fraternal rivalry), and end with them having outwitted and outplayed all their enemies, but lost each other in the process, or have their former closeness turned dysfunctional. In Borgia, otoh, we start with the Borgias dysfunctional and estranged (this Rodrigo hasn’t yet admitted to his children that they are his children but still employs the “niece and nephews” excuse even in private), it gets worse except in one regard from there until Juan’s death at the end of the first season… and then it gets better. From mid s2 onwards, there are family reconciliations all around, and for the rest of the show, the strong affection the Borgias have for each other are often their saving graces, so to speak. When near the end of the show Lucrezia’s third husband, Alfonso d’Este, ruefully observes to his wife that the D’Estes are worse than the Borgias and that she can show them how to be better (as in, a family), he’s not kidding.

A lot more spoilery ramblings and comparisons ensue )
selenak: (Borgias by Andrivete)
From [personal profile] intrigueing and [personal profile] muccamukk:

In a new post, list ten fic that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes, and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” works, or even all the same pairing or fandom, just the fics that have touched you or that stuck with you somehow.

I'm sure I could come up with ten more, but these are the ones that came immediately to mind (and which I could find again online!):

1.) From Me To Q by Julia Houston (Star Trek: The Next Generation). Star Trek in its first three incarnations is one of my oldest fandoms, and the time when TNG and then DS9 were broadcast was when I started to get aquainted with fanfiction, first via fanzines and then via the earliest online archives. Finding this particular story was like striking gold. It's TNG; it's plotty, like a well written episode complete with ethical dilemmas; it's Picard/Q (which was what I was looking for when finding the story) but uses the entire TNG ensemble well; it takes the most reviled of fanfic clichés, the Mary Sue, and gives it a highly original twist. (Well, back then it was original, for all I know, it's been often imitated since.) Also, the dialogue sparkles. In short, I fell in love, so much so that I gave Voyager, which I had almost given up upon, another shot, simply because Julia Houston back then was also writing Voyager reviews and I adored her writing that much.


2.) Last Set Before Closing, by Kat Allison. (Highlander: The Series). HL was another early online fandom of mine, and this story left me shaken and breathless the first time I read it. On the surface, not much happens in this tale, which is set several years after the series ended; Joe Dawson is very old, not far from death, and his mind has started to wander; Duncan visits. Behind that simple description hides one of the best and most gutwrenching stories I've read in any fandom, which at once gives us the relationship between Joe and Duncan, and how both of them relate to Methos, about friendship, about mortals and immortals, and at the same time manages to say something very personal to anyone who has an older relative. (Until then, I don't think I had ever read fanfiction tackling a rl subject such as aging, its physical and mental decline, so unflinchingly, and with a beloved character, no less.) Another reason why I love it is this: at the time when it was first posted, its take on Methos was pretty much unique and went directly against how most fans then wrote him. (Probably still does.) And yet I find it entirely plausible.


3.) Changed Utterly by Parda (Highlander: The Series). Another HL story. Parda was a writer I interacted with a lot during my HL days, both as a reader and as a writer. This story is still my favourite of hers, and at the time it was first posted struck me as one of the best meditations onf grief and surviving I had read i nthe fandom. It's set about a year after the show ends, wherein Duncan is still dealing with Richie’s fate, when he sees Cassandra again. Not present in body but very much in thought are Methos, Connor and Richie. What to do when you’ve both done and experienced the unforgivable is a question with a dozen answers and none, and all the characters here are dealing with it. Poetic and profound.


4.) Father's Heart by Fernwithy ( Star Wars). Still my favourite Star Wars story, many years later (this was written shortly after The Phantom Menace was released). Set between trilogies, it pulls off something a lot of people tried since, and does so in a credible way: Vader and the child and later teenager Leia forming a tentative friendship, which falls apart with a vengeance as she grows older and experiences the Empire at its worst. In addition to a terrific take on Leia and Vader, Bail Organa and his wife (who in this version is one of the former handmaidens, Sabé) as well as some original characters are compellingly written. ( Not to mention it caters to two of my narrative soft spots: non-romantic intense relationship, relationship that breaks up because of politics and ethics (and rightly so). ) I was only ever at the periphery of SW fandom, not least because I happen to like the prequels, but this story made me search for and read a lot of SW fanfiction for a while. It was years before I found its match.


5.) Freefall by Penknife (X-Men movieverse). This is an X2 AU, ensemble story, Scott pov, and one of the earliest [personal profile] penknife stories I read. X2 had just been released. As after X1, I hunted for stories that weren't Wolverine/Rogue. Hard to imagine for current day fans, but back then it was actually difficult to find Magneto/Xavier stories, or stories that featured Mystique in a prominent role, or stories that featured Scott at all. Bingo, thought I, when I found this one, and little did I know I had also found a favourite writer in many fandoms more. Oh, and I think this was the first AU I really liked (the twist is that Scott realises a bit sooner what's going on during the prison visit at the start of the movie, with the result that he and Xavier end up as fugitives together with Magneto and Mystique; it's Jean who gets captured instead). Until then, I had avoided AUs. After reading it, I gave them a shot.

6.) Ten Thousand Candles by Andraste. This is another early story by a future favourite writer; Charles Xavier post X2, trying to cope with all that happened (read: spoiler for big X2 twist )). Back then, Charles Xavier centric stories were incredibly rare; stories in which he wasn't either the wise mentor type or trying to win Erik back were even rarer. What he experiences in X2 is pretty horrifying, and I loved finding a story which addressed that. Of course, Andraste turned out to be the biggest Xavier expert in the planet, but I didn't know that then. :)


7.) Bed of Bones by Roz Kaveney (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): I had spotted Roz on a couple of Buffy discussion mailing lists (remember those?), but this was the first BTVS or fanfiction in any fandom tale of hers that I had read, and it was sharp, poetic, and made the First Slayer(about whom at this point we only knew what Restless had mentioned) into a fascinating character. I was wowed. It also raised my standard of expectation re: fanfiction creating mythology in present day or futuristic fandoms to no end.

8.) Queen of Spades by Astolat (James Bond: Casino Royale): Ah, ye golden days when the Craig Casino Royale had been released and for the first time in my life I actually went and looked for Bond fanfiction, because Dench!M and Craig!Bond dynamic in that movie had gripped me in and fascinated me. (I had also loved Eva Green as Vesper and her relationship with Bond, but not in a way that made me look for fanfic.) And again, I hit gold. I think this probably was the first Bond/M story online. It set a most pleasing trend - for the next few years, you could rely on Yuletide including some great and sharp Bond and M fanfiction. (And then came Skyfall which brought the avalanche of Bond/Q and the Bond movies were no longer qualified for Yuletide, but that's another story.) Now, most combinations that have one character in a position of power over the other character are hard to sell to me as pairings, but there are exceptions, and Queen of Spades made me realize Dench!M and Craig!Bond were such an exception for me, because wow. (It also made me realise that I had a new story or rather old story archetype, not necessarily always as pairings, I love the gen variations, too, but: Morally ambiguous queens and their morally ambiguous battered knights, bring them on! Though only if the Queen is the older of the two. Read: Dany/Jorah does nothing fo rme.)


9: Working Order by Eatscissors (Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles). John/Cameron is a pairing that intrigues me but which I find more interesting on the actual show than in most of fanfiction, because, imo as often, fanfic tends to simplify and dispense with much that makes this particular relationship so layered, starting with the fact that Cameron is a machine, no matter what she looks like.Some spoilery ramblings about John and Cameron on the show ensue. ) Working Order, by contrast, addresses this and the other issues between them head-on while also being one of those stories where the explicit sex is part of the character exploration instead of reading as just being there for its own sake. For a reader like me who often finds sex scenes (both slash and het) reading like involuntarily funny gymnastic mannuals, with the participants interchangable to other fandoms and thus not very interesting, this was an eye opener. Really well written.

10.) Petrarchan Sonnets from the Vatican by Petra (The Borgias): I was and am grateful for all the stories I got in exchanges, and often loved them to bits, but this one will always remain special. Its just that awesome. It's a story in the guise of a fake article about the discovery of sonnets between L.B. (now who could that possibly be in Borgias fandom?) and person unknown, female and apparantly her tutor. Complete with the sonnets. And the commentary. Absolutely delightful, needless to say, poetic (my Yulewriter's ability to compose Petrarchan Sonnets with clever allusions to events from the show's first season still stuns me), and full of subtlety, and the wit and love for language that the characters in question display on the show as well (and did in history). (And now I'm grieved again that the Lucrezia and Guilia relationship post s1 fell by the wayside on the show, but never mind me.) If I could ensure that just one bit of Borgias fanfiction survives, this would be it.
selenak: (Ellen by Nyuszi)
With the disclaimer that this is prone to change depending on mood except for the first two, and is in no particular order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December Talking Meme: The Other Days
selenak: Made by <lj user="shadadukal"> (James Bond)
Tell me I'm not going to write pretentious meta on the three last Bond movies, using phrases like "fire and water imagery", "the queen and her champion" and how Vesper is Eurydike but Bond isn't Orpheus, he's Persephone while Felix Leiter, Camille in Quantum of Solace and Eve in Skyfall are fellow knights who are also reflections of who Bond is at the respective points and that the fact the later two are women fits with the change that making M one brought to the overall narrative. I mean. Bond movies! You don't write pretentious meta about Bond movies, self!

Meanwhile, have fifteen adorable and extremely funny minutes of Judi Dench, Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem getting interviewed by Graham Norton (no spoilers):



Representative excerpt:

Graham Norton: "So, Judi, there's a lot of you being in charge. You like that?"
Judi Dench: "You bet. I love keeping naughty boys in order."
Daniel Craig and Judi Dench: crack up and clutch each other in hysterics



****

Meanwhile, in the Renaissance:

The Borgias:

The Borgias video of my dreams was made, and it is called Savages. There they are, the family plus Giulia and Micheletto, in their messed up beautiful glory. Spoiliers for both seasons!

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