bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
[personal profile] stultiloquentia clued me in to Readercon, an SF/F book-focused con that takes place locally: this year in Quincy. For my own mental health, I decided at the last minute to take a day off work and give it a try. Then it took more than a week to summon enough energy and semi-articulateness to write a post. Sorry about that.


- Meeting Rosemary Kirstein, author of the ongoing Steerswoman series! She spoke on a panel about how to motivate female protagonists besides trauma. No blockbuster notes from that session, but I went up afterwards along with a few other attendees to say how much I liked her books. She was nice. She mentioned how difficult it's been to pick up the next draft after her health scares etc., and agreed with a laugh that it's hard to sign an e-book since the series is largely out of print. Also I learned that it's Kir-stine, not Kir-steen.

- Meeting Kelly Link (author of Get in Trouble: Stories, among others)! She took part in a big, fun panel about "bad influences"—more on that in the next post—and agreed to sign books for two of us afterwards. Hilariously/embarrassingly, a combination of weeks-long brain struggles and being in passive panel-listening mode meant that I totally blanked when she asked me a few questions, like whether I write, what sources I've written fanfiction for and what town in Texas my friend lives in who recommended the book. *facepalm* At least her signing the other guy's book gave me the moments needed to recall a few books and TV shows I've written fic for lately; then we talked for a minute about The Vampire Diaries and how that introduced her to online fandom. She wore deep blue lipstick.

- Joining [personal profile] stultiloquentia on Saturday for lunch she arranged with people who turned out to be [personal profile] kate_nepveu, who runs Con or Bust, and [personal profile] yhlee, founder of [community profile] festivids, whose book Ninefox Gambit just came out. (I haven't read it yet but have it on order at the library.) I'd learned from the #readercon hashtag that [personal profile] yhlee was coming and I'd hoped to meet him, so lunch was serendipitous. And they knew my vids (!!!). An unexpected moment of LJ/DW/AO3-style fannish connection at a con focused on pro SF/F authors and editors and publishers. We talked SGA, metatagging, vidding, panel moderation, math and English education, storytelling in different media, recs for a project stulti's working on... They were both a delight to meet, if briefly. ♥ our people ♥

- Panel about robot narratives as slave uprisings, with bonus etymology + awesome Seder reference. Details to follow.

- Seeing Catherynne M. (Cat) Valente on a panel after our book club read Deathless. It seems Samuel R. Delaney was also a Readercon guest, but I missed him. :( :( Also Junot Diaz, obviously, but he's local and so I've been adjacent to him on many occasions, heh.


- Personal: I'd thought that, if anything, being around so much enjoyment and analysis of science fiction and fantasy texts would boost my motivation to get back to my own writing. Instead, I felt something closer to despair at the whole endeavor of publishing. So many authors and books I'd never heard of, current and past, even in my favorite genre; so many people struggling for their work to be recognized, or who've published numerous books to little effect… I asked myself, as I do every so often: What's the point? What are the chances of conceiving a compelling story, and telling it so well, that it rises above the voluminous mediocrity and makes a lasting mark? Is there a point to writing a book if it doesn't? Did I just go to a bad combination of panels for thinking about these questions? Does Readercon attract mostly a certain level of author that made this stand out to me? Is part of my brain simply trying to talk me out of attempting a novel one day because not trying is better than failing? When did I stop believing that I could produce something extraordinary?

(And yet, the satisfaction of producing a fic or a vid or a creative product for my job is often enough in itself, which suggests that it would be the same for a book, and I get all "eeee" inside when a single stranger compliments something I've made, especially if I trust their judgment. It's all very confusing.)

- Cultural: As a first-time attendee who didn't do her homework, I had no connection to the communities of panelists or attendees and only afterwards began to learn about other people's histories with the con (fx, I'd forgotten that Readercon was the one with the notorious harassment case), about what was going on around me, behind the scenes and in panels I didn't attend. I only witnessed a few of the instances of racism, sexism and lack of discussion on intersectionality that other attendees wrote about at length. I'd accepted that the con was book-focused, only to learn that others were expressing their frustrations with its reluctance to embrace other SF/F media and with some panelists' literary snobbery.

Further reading:

- The aforementioned mental health/biochemical stuff meant I missed Sunday's programming—panels on magic in space, blue collar SF and short story anatomy—the latter two of which seem to have been notable. Sad face.

Next post: Panel notes
bironic: Fred reading a book,looking adorable (fred reading)
Because at least [personal profile] stultiloquentia is interested. :) And before I get so far into Ancillary Mercy that the questions are all answered. (I am ~130 pages along.)

Spoilers for Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and one small thing toward the beginning of Ancillary Mercy )
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I have been meaning to post, and then I do not post. Such is the way of things.

Here is an entry about vampires.

Reading: I am leisurely rereading Anne Rice's Blood & Gold, a.k.a. the Marius novel. I hadn't revisited it since my sister first bought it for me in 2001 because it was so disappointing and dull. Thus it's been a pleasant surprise to find that it's not as terrible as recalled. I mean, it's not good, but there have been a few engaging passages and enjoyable character/relationship moments, and many things I hadn't remembered about Marius' history. Down to silly stuff like how he takes a nice hot sexy bath in the beginning with Thorne the Viking vampire.

Maybe it was Pandora that I really hated. Though I still rolled my eyes at the Botticelli worship and skipped Zenobia's Eudoxia's history, etc., and Marius' excuse for not going after Armand following the Santino disaster still rung hollow. If we start listing flaws, we will be here for a while. I continue to believe that stories involving Marius, and Armand, and probably others, are best told in third rather than first person.

Writing: Concurrent with the above, have been playing around in an old Mary Sue storyline where the girl who had been together with but then dumped by Marius gets turned into a vampire after a complicated (and, on reflection ~15 years later, not entirely logical) bring-her-close-to-death-so-Marius-has-to-decide-right-now plot set up by Armand.

That all was written already; this week I've been jotting down the scene where she takes her revenge on the humans Armand hired to hurt her. So she moves from being a victim to making them her first victims. It's been enjoyable to explore what the changes in her personality might be post-transformation.

Just as it's been enjoyable to contemplate how the story has evolved each time I've come back to it over the years. This feels like a more grown-up segment than the breakup fight I wrote when I was 20 (friends-locked, sorry), which felt like a more grown-up segment than the puppy love I wrote at 15. These Word documents are like an archaeological dig of my psyche, or like a diary in the form of melodrama.

The writing is coming out flat, though, as so much of my fiction has for the last couple of years. Something to do with not connecting to or conveying emotions, I suspect. I'm trying not to dwell on it, but rather to let the words come while they want to. Rewriting to change the POV from Marius to Mary Sue might do the trick, so we hear more of what's going on in her head instead of watching her.

Rereading this book has also made me realize I may have been better at capturing Marius' personality back in high school and college than I gave myself credit for. Which is nice.

Thinking: About how much the Vampire Chronicles may have influenced my feelings about polyamory and bisexuality, in addition to its more obvious role in my introduction to male homosexuality. So much of the VC narrative concerns men loving men, of course. But also men loving both men and women. Sometimes at the same time.

Because I read the books starting in my early teens, I'm not sure whether they shaped my preferences and showed me what was possible or whether I fell for them so hard because they articulated and affirmed how I felt or would have felt anyway. (I suspect it's the latter, in part because the books' obsession with Christian theology and sin and souls and damnation didn't rub off on me at all.) About how there can be such easy, deep, emotional and physical affection regardless of gender, and how vampires--a.k.a. individuals traditionally not considered in the mainstream--a.k.a. regular people--can love more than one person simultaneously. Without causing drama. Nor conflating bisexuality with promiscuity. A few exchanges in Blood & Gold brought the thought to light today, when Marius was telling Bianca about Pandora:

Excerpt )

It's all obvious and ordinary and wonderful to me now, especially after so many years in fandom where queer identities are the norm rather than the exception, but the awareness and the embrace of what I didn't see around me in real life growing up must have started somewhere, probably not entirely from within my head, definitely before college, and I wonder if this series wasn't a significant contributor.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
I find myself going back to reference these pieces by Film Crit Hulk often enough to want to bookmark them somewhere. Why not where friends might also find them interesting if they haven't read them already?

Archive, 2012 and back

(list likely to grow)
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
I had a great weekend at [ profile] con_txt. It was so nice to see friends again, and to make some new acquaintances.

I was concerned about the programming because I haven't been feeling enthused about any particular canon on the docket in a communal-fannish way lately, and because mass squee can be scary; but there turned out to be plenty of meta panels and entertaining moderators to make the experience enjoyable.

I also appreciate how, while con.txt is a slash con by definition, those of us who do not exclusively enjoy slash are welcomed and able to have discussions about a variety of sexual identities and relationship types in fandom (and life), plus gen topics.

In case you are interested, I jotted down some notes. Nothing fancy or thorough. has panel descriptions and mod names.

Werewolf Torts and Undead Annuities )

Small Fandom Dating Game )

Fannish Pictionary )

Vid Show )

Monetizing Fandom )

Inverting Tropes )

D/s in Fandom )

Not My Fandom's OTP )

Awesome Robots )

Checking in on the Fannish Diaspora )

Small Fandom and Between-Fandom Support Group )

Dubcon F***ing: How Does It Work )

Rule 34 in a Magical Universe )

Bi-invisibility )

Also attended a panel about tagging and another about AUs.

Note to self: Action items:

- DS9 essential episodes list for [ profile] corbae (post likely to follow)
- Riddick recs list for [ profile] monkey_pie (ditto)
- Read [ profile] bmouse's Garak/Bashir collection
- Check out stuff from Small Fandom Dating Game
- Figure out naming issue and start a new Twitter to keep in touch with fan friends?
- Grin and bear it open a Tumblr account???
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
These are the last days of my Golden Year, and in fact it has been golden. I quit a job that was slowly destroying me, took a big trip to new places, spent a year at MIT with some wonderful people, met and solidified friendships with a few LJers, and am embarking on a different career path. That last is frightening, but it's invigorating too.

I don't think tomorrow itself will be of much note, other than my dad and his girlfriend are driving down for dinner, but it's been a wonderful week leading up to it, and speaking broadly, I'm in a good place in life right now. Never mind that after next month I have no idea where I'll be living or working (or whether I'll be working), or that I'm now at an age I barely visualized when I was a teenager (back when I thought fifteen was the peak of existence), and have no idea if I'm living up to my own expectations about the speed of life's progress. Was I supposed to have a steady boyfriend by now, and a career, and a home? I have none of those; but whether it's justified or tenuous, I'm more deeply satisfied than I've been in a long time.

The rest of today is free. I'd like to write something, but I don't know what. Maybe will poke around with a vid, which uses a different part of the storytelling brain. Speaking of vids, this one by the incredibly talented [ profile] newkidfan that I just came across this morning is beautiful: Language (SGA, John, gen)
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (RSL neil window)
On the phone with my mother a while back, I mentioned how nice German sounds. She said she finds it too guttural. Since I used to think the same thing, I said maybe she associates it with all those brusque, crazed WWII speeches, and she just hasn't heard the right person speaking German. I was thinking specifically of Thomas Kretschmann, who has one of the smokiest, sexiest voices I've ever encountered.

So when [ profile] pun, [ profile] no_detective and I ended up talking about accents and languages when I saw them a few weeks ago and one of them repeated my mother's sentiments, I went straight for YouTube and we found this interview. Ja? They were convinced.

Last night I went back for more and found a second one for you. (Look, [ profile] no_detective, another behind-the-scenes video of a photo shoot.) If you don't have patience for the whole thing, he comes in at about 1:00, 1:40 and 2:50—and his voice joins him about five seconds later. I also enjoyed one of his English interviews, which are more common on YouTube, when he appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show in December and recapped his life story. (Highlights include Kimmel establishing that East Germany is no longer a country and not knowing how to convert kilometers to miles, and Kretschmann saying his hands are girlish but defending the manliness of "other parts.") And so on, blah blah.

Point is—second point is—that after surfing around for more clips and remembering exactly how attractive I find this man, something clicked in my head. Thomas Kretschmann/John Sheppard. Or rather, Thomas Kretschmann character/John Sheppard. Except I can't think of a character he's played who could cross over with SGA; they're all Nazis except for the CGI future sci fi guy and Dr. Frankenstein and the serial killer, etc. Which, God help me, made me seriously consider writing RPS Thomas/Joe Flanigan. Because there's too much hot there not to be exploited.

And similarities! They could connect over sports (TK was an Olympic-caliber swimmer, and obviously still stays fit; JF/JS likes climbing and surfing and so forth) and wearing t-shirts inappropriate for their age and chain necklaces (see also: second interview link) and big watches and being hot and come on, the hair. Rodney could not keep himself from mentioning the hair if he were to see the two of them together.

ETA: Something more serious that was hiding beneath that post.

Being Jewish, I did grow up with a keen awareness of the Holocaust and that the German government at the time was to blame for it. I remember disliking the sound of the German language because of all the recorded speeches we watched in history and religious education classes.

I also remember sitting at the seder table one Passover and deciding that I hated Egyptians because their ancestors had enslaved my ancestors. Or thinking about deciding to hate them, anyway. (Which was hard, because I loved learning about ancient Egypt. But that's beside the point.) But then in the haggadah there was a lesson about not carrying a grudge, about bestowing forgiveness for past wrongs, and about not holding an entire people responsible for the actions of a few -- or possibly I'm mixing that last part up with Holocaust education, but the moral is the same.

So I immediately dropped my half-fake grudge against Egypt, and at about that time, I also opened up to German language and culture. Which is when I found that I liked it quite a bit. Or I quickly learned to like it quite a bit. By college I was watching a lot of German movies and loving how I could pick up words and phrases because of the language's similarity to English. Before, I'd had no interest. And I fell in love with voices and bodies like Thomas Kretschmann's.

Then there comes another problem, towards the opposite end of the spectrum: should I feel guilty that I'm deriving shallow, sensual pleasure from characters who represent the very soldiers and politicians who perpetrated the Holocaust? Do I run the risk of too easily embracing something that caused irreparable harm in the past? Is it a kind of betrayal? That gets into very sticky territory -- perhaps the same kind that you enter when you find yourself "enjoying" reading/watching/hearing Holocaust narratives. I think it's all right, though. I have the history in mind, always. I don't love the voice of a Nazi character without that qualifier. I'm glad to have the dual perspective, mourning the harm that was done but being able to love the culture for what is good.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I've just spent the last, oh, half an hour or so, sobbing. First in my desk chair and then in the bathroom until it tapered off. Why? Because I finally settled in to read [ profile] cesperanza's amazing Written by the Victors*, and about two hours after finishing, in the middle of listening to [ profile] fleurrochard chant one of [ profile] aesc's apocryphal texts, I just broke down. The hell of it was, I'd waited until now to read the damn thing (and listen, I'm talking like Sheppard now) because I knew it would be a sock in the gut, between what I'd heard about the content and the expectation that it would throw me into despair about my own potential as a writer, and I needed to be in an emotionally stable place before diving in. Well, hell.

In which I try to figure out what exactly affected me the most, while trying not to set myself off again. Includes potentially spoilery discussion of 'Victors' and 'Freedom's Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose.' )

Which isn't quite the basis for a good cry that I'd expected.

* * *

I don't know. Enough about me (unless it's not just me?). What are some of the things that tend to make you ache, other than character death, in fanfic?

*Which, yes, is an SGA story and best appreciated as such, but it's also about history and academia and politics, love and loyalty, standing up for what one believes in against daunting odds, ordinary people and extraordinary heroism, culture and language, myth and legend, fans' relations to canon and canon's relations to fanfic and fans' relations to fanfic and fanfic's relations to other fanfic, and a dozen other things, all in 55,000 words. People: There's a constructed bibliography.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
I have friends who don't know each other who are entrenched on either side of a major fandom wank right now, and it is a very weird place to be. Not that it is about me at all, or the individuals involved*, but I find myself wondering at the social politics of it more than the actual issue at stake. Namely: How do you take a side? (Why) must you take a side? Are you responsible, as a friend and community member, to thoroughly verse yourself in the recent history of the wank and the posts it has spawned? Should you disregard all personal relations (if that's even possible) to attempt at least that much objectivity before approaching the situation?

*Except it is, because things have turned personal, as they tend to.

On the one hand, I have been on the receiving end of very articulate wank by respected LJ community members before, and I know it is not a fun place to be; that in the face of such reaction, one might become tangled in one's own defenses; and so my sympathies go to the people who are trying to deal with this right now, regardless of whether they are in the right -- if there is a right. On the other hand, from what little I've seen of the arguments, the opposition seems justified, and I suspect that if I didn't know the people they are criticizing, didn't know that they are good and decent and intelligent, I might more easily disagree with or dismiss or even insult them (though not publicly, I would hope) as others are doing.

And so I wonder: How can you side with the opposition when many of them personally attack others of your friends? How can you defend those under attack when you suspect that you agree with the people who disagree with them? Do you find a middle ground in which you defend your friends as people while potentially (since again, I'm not well-versed in the details here) disagreeing with their position? Do you stay the hell away from it all?

Or do you make a thinly veiled post about it and avoid the issue entirely?

ETA: I'm not looking for advice, really. But if you have been in a situation like this before, in any capacity, I'd be interested to hear how you dealt with it and how it turned out.

ETA 2: The argument seems to have just been resolved, although I'm sure it will take days for the ripples to fade. So while the questions aren't presently applicable anymore, they're still a good theoretical exercise, and sadly, will probably be useful when another situation like this arises in the future.

ETA 3: This isn't a House fandom issue -- you're not missing something!


Steering clear of wank is my usual modus operandi. It's taken a while to decide to post even this. It's doubtless related to my innate desire for mediation, my frustration with argument and debate, and frankly, my distaste for social politics in general. (The "who's mad at whom" game is childish and irrelevant, the thinking goes... at least, when you don't know the people involved.) On top of which, there's no way to win an online argument when it descends into wank, and there's certainly no way to achieve resolution when things reach these proportions. There are just bad feelings all around.

Anyway. Comments are screened.
bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (kretschmann thoughtful)
After a week's recess I finished the Bunker book -- anticlimactic after the mess of suicides, and more melodramatic than I remembered when I jumped back in, unless O'Donnell's tone changed when writing about the breakout. But it did boast a quote featuring, bizarrely, some sex advice from Hitler (e.g. "below the umbilicus, all men are goats or satyrs"), as well as a petty catfight between Hans Baur and Albert Speer. I don't mean that last bit to sound silly, though I did chuckle at it. Actually, I do mean it to sound silly, but I don't mean to make light of the men themselves. They and their actions shouldn't be reduced to a joke about bickering Reich officials, but at the same time they were men, people, humans, who had the same urges and flaws and strengths and stupid disagreements as anyone else.

About the dangers of dehumanizing the perpetrators. )

On the other end of the spectrum, I was sifting through LJseek results for "Thomas Kretschmann" and found not only actor slash (Kretschmann/Brody after "The Piano," for instance) but Nazi RPS. )

Thoughts, please?


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