bookworm

fanfic master list

Below is a list of my various fanfic and blog posts discussing different books, TV shows and movies. Feel free to poke around and read anything that strikes your fancy.

The fiction in particular often carries specific warnings and benefited from the help of beta readers and (in the case of some poetry) co-authors. Rather than trying to recreate this information here, please find it at the archive where the stories are posted. If you've helped me out over the years and I haven't properly thanked you, please let me know so I can correct it. Most of the links point to ArchiveOfOurOwn.org, which I joined several years ago, and while I've done my best to give credit where due, I do know my own limitations in this area and am willing to fix any mistakes.

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bilbo

(no subject)

I'm in a bit of a funk, writing-wise. I actually made a new-years resolution to write at least a story a month, and even if it works out as well as all New Years resolutions do, I think the spirit of it is something I'd actually like to follow through on.

Sherlock is the natural starting place. Most fic I read these days is in that fandom, and I've always felt I could make more of a contribution there than I have given all the fanworks I've enjoyed. But when I sat down to write, I found I just don't have much of a feel for the story they're trying to tell. I've just lot the point of it all; or maybe I've listened to too many people who each think it's an entirely different story. It's not even that I think the canon went wrong in a definite way and needs fixing. I've just lost the plot of it all.

ACD-canon is attractive, too, but as a writer I've always wanted to be in kind of dialogue with the themes and canon and whatnot, and the ACD fandom seems to have taken the Marry him, kill him, or do what you will to heart in a way I don't feel quite at home with. Not that they're really wrong- Doyle himself was so haphazard, I'm not sure what he was trying to accomplish beyond the money. Plus, so much of the Doyle fandom really knows their Victoriana in a way I simply don't, and I'm not even sure how to begin educating myself. It just seems like so much work to write in that period, and I've only ever managed to do it clumsily when I've tried.

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bilbo

(no subject)

I've been thinking a bit about the slightly Pollyanna-ish blog posts and news articles I'm seeing about how we've almost survived 2020 and 2021 will be so much better. I don't think it will be like flipping a light-switch, and I don't think everything will be okay, but I do have a bit of cautious optimism.

COVID-wise, I think we're finally turning the corner, at least with the strand we've been suffering under since last March. (Godspeed, Brits and everyone living Brit-adjacent lives...) We're not there yet, but I think we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I may be able to see a movie in person again one of these days.

(Don't tell Dr. Faucci, but I actually did when I was down south last week. Goodness, how I miss them.0

Not that it at all is worth the massive suffering, both in terms of death and illness and also economic suffering, but I think the prolonged lockdown made a lot of people slow down and re-evaluate their life choices (or lack of same). And I think that wiped away a lot of illusions about how some of the common assumptions we have for how life has to be is really the best approach, or even equally good for everyone. I've seen a lot of my male friends say they're suddenly much less blind to what their wives have to deal with regarding balancing childcare and domestic expectations and a professional life... just because they saw them doing it across the table from them. Or to take another example, as much a nightmare as zoom-school is, I think it has a lot of families asking if the assembly-line model of American schooling is really the best approach and what more customizable or individualized schooling might look like. And just because we've all been going through hard times together, I think there's a lot more awareness of how precarious life is for the American poor, how hard they work and how depenedent they are, but not because they're bad people. Just because society isn't looking out for them.

Not suggesting everyone is reached, by a long shot. But I think a lot of the reachables, good-hearted and fair-minded people who through inertia or just general business are a bit blinded to these needs, have been much more reached this last year than they usually are; and I see a lot of these kinds of people looking for creative solutions. At least they're admitting there's a problem. This makes me optimistic for 2021.

Politically, Biden isn't everything I'd hope for, but he's so far better than the White House's current occupant. He is someone I see people representing my interests being able to work with. And he plays by the usual rules, which has all kinds of normal problems and biases but is worlds better than the current exercise in raw power and avarice and shamelessness. So while there's doubtless loads of work to do, as an American I'm finally seeing a landscape where we can at least start doing that work.

Poor people are still poor- arguably poorer- but we're also recognizing instacart delivery-men and Walmart cashiers as essential workers. We're also much more aware of how interconnected we all are. Can you imagine that before 2020? And obviously that's a cheap way to get out of actually protecting them, but rhetoric matters.

As do stories. I think like a lot of people are more aware of how important stories are, not because we need to be entertained but because it's so deeply human. I'm thinking about how American society talks about humanities and other story-driven kinds of study as "less" than scientific or career-oriented one; well, we were all touchstarved and depressed and facing a kind of angst in the true sense of the word, and so many of us turned to our stories. I think at a deep level, a lot of people are more reminded of why that's so important to us.

I'd love to hear what makes you optimistic for 2021 too, if you have anything you'd like to add.
bilbo

(no subject)

Amazon came through with the Christmas cards and a new thick pen so I can address envelopes without my hand cramping. They're mass produced and not fannish, but actually very pretty. I'm thinking I might tape a blank one up on my own wall, right above the much sought-after Decembear calendar, for a bit of holiday cheer.

(We had a Decembear calendar when I was a kid. Each day a little cloth-and-felt-stuffed bear moves around the house looking in a different place for Christmas. Kind of like an advent calendar but without the chocolate. Sis got the original when we all grew up because she was the first with a house with the space to decorate. It's very cute and nostalgic, but also not being sold new any more and incredibly overpriced on eBay and the like. This year I lucked out after years of scouring and bidding, and landed one that was only moderately overpriced. At this point I'll take it and be glad of the privilege.)

So this weekend I plan to sit down with some artificial apple cider --the cheap little packets you add hot water to, but still-- maybe some ginger snaps, and address envelopes to my heart's content. If you'd like one and haven't already please PM or email me (marta-dot-fandom-at-gmail-dot-com).

Also, anyone know of any good Hallmark-style Xmas movies, for those of us without the Hallmark channel? Something on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime or the like? I'm in the mood.

bilbo

this week you'll e

If you're like me this week you'll be feeling a lot of pressure to be thankful and, 2020 being 2020, well. Maybe this will helps, and even if you didn't need it, couldn't we all use a cute kitty marching band in our lives?

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And in case I don't say it: happy turkey day.
bilbo

A smattering of light in dark places

Obviously I don't have a crystal ball and don't know how tonight's election will turn out. But I was surfing the Youtube and came across something to make me smile. John Stewart is asking Steven Colbert to lift his spirits, specifically for a Lord of the Rings quote about resiliency and hope amidst despair. And he goes on to quote the passage in the Return of the King about the Sam seeing the star twinkling above the grime of Mordor, with such passion and precision and just geekish gravitas, it took my breath away.

It starts around 7:30 in. Enjoy.

bilbo

(no subject)

A while ago I talked a bit about identifying black characters in Tolkien, and since then I've been making a bit of an effort to read blog entries and the like when they touch on Tolkien and race. This one really struck a chord. Well worth the read, especially if you're a white fan like me who's never had first-hand experience of this side of the fandom. (With all the usual provisos that this is just one person's experience, other fans may have different experiences, etc. Even so: very thought-provoking.

https://www.publicmedievalist.com/tolkien-fans-black-people/
bilbo

the politics of death

... particularly when the one doing the dying is a SCOTUS justice. Because I've been thinking.

First, I'm not surprised or even particularly dismayed that politicos are already talking about her replacement. Yes, Fox commentators are floating specific names, and yes, Sen. Turtle (R-KY) has confirmed he'll hold a vote on any nominees, but Democrats are also milking this for massive amounts of donations. This is not just a personal tragedy, both for those who knew the woman and those who are mourning what she symbolized in our own lives; it's a genuine political moment with public importance. Of course people are going to discuss those aspects.

I do wish we could put a pause button on those vital public conversations when it involves death, though. Pause the news cycle. Then when the nation has had a time to grieve, then we can discuss the political implications as fresh news. It would be a lot more humanizing and humane, though I'm not sure how you'd do it since everyone would have to agree to press pause together.

Democrats are talking a lot about the hypocrisy of Republicans, particularly the aforementioned Sen. Turtle, because when Scalia died back in 2016 there was such a pushback to even giving a hearing to Pres. Obama's nominee. And there is such a hypocrisy here, and it does need to be discussed. The problem is the way the Democrats are doing this is forcing them to be hypocrites themselves. It's one thing to say: hold on, you've completely switched sides in a brazenly political move. You can even do that in a way that doesn't give up the argument this go-round; for instance, you could argue that because mcConnell basically stole Obama's chance to have his nominee vetted, in this one instance and in the interest of fairness they should delay the vote until after the election voluntarily; or even give Merrick Garland a hearing for this nomination. Even if Congress resoundingly rejected him, they'd have to do it on the record, and it would be a good symbolic move toward acknowledging he'd been wronged back in 2016.

As it is, by insisting we delay a vote, they're really being just as hypocritical as the Republicans. I don't think they shouldn't fight, and I do understand the stakes! I'm all for anything that keeps trump from appointing another SCOTUS justice. But I still cringe every time I see Dems using the Rep playbook and buying into it just to use it against them.

But none of this would address the big issue, which is that there's such a perverse incentive to game the nomination process on both sides. Justices either serve until they die or try to hang on until a president of similar politics can appoint a like-minded replacement. Justice Ginsburg was dying of cancer. She shouldn't have had to served at the same time; certainly if someone had a slowly-deteriorating mental condition, like Alzheimers or just old-age dementia, they shouldn't be serving until they died. But on the other side, conservative commentators are talking about potential justice nominations from just two angles: have they proved they're reliably conservative, and are they young enough to be expected to serve for decades to come?

To be fair, in the opposite situation I'm sure there would be liberal/progressive commentators and politicians pushing for the exact same qualifications. I hope I'd be just as opposed to that as I am this. Firstly because justices are supposed to be qualified for something beyond their political leanings. Not to say they don't have biases and starting points that might generally make them more sympathetic to certain ways of thinking about politics, but "reliably conservative" is a big warning sign to me that a person is too nakedly political in their thinking to give a case the unbiased hearing that justice requires. And second, the age thing! I understand why, but jeez! That's just so depressing and obviously gaming of the system, but it also only seems to happen because the system is so easily game-able.

The obvious answer is to stop lifetime appointments and either appoint people for set terms or even elect them. I'm not a big fan of either because I think giving justices the security to make unpopular rulings is important. Can you imagine Justice Kennedy deciding Obergefell the way he did if he was facing re-election? And if the current president got to to appoint justices every ten years instead of whenever they die, it would only create more of a problem, not less.

One approach might be to set up a kind of judicial executor for SCOTUS justices) - in the sense of executor of a will, not a literal killer! Say Justice Ginsburg had chosen someone who when she retired or died would nominate the next candidates. Presumably this wouldn't be a politician who had their own partisan agenda in getting a SCOTUS justice on the bench with a certain base-pleasing ideology. Congress would still have to approve meaning it wouldn't be like some random person just selected the next justice; but they would have to hold a hearing and go on the record with why they think the person is unsuitable, and if they just reflexively refused to approve one nominee after another you'd hope there'd be political consequences.

The benefit? It would let justices have some control over their successors, so they could retire in good conscience knowing someone with a similar view of the law would go on advocating for their legal philosophy. There's be less drive to nominate justices just because they're young, and less reducing them to a particular political party. We couldn't say oh this justice is a Bush appointee or a Clinton appointee, when we're analyzing and predicting SCOTUS decisions you'd have to look more at the variety of their actual opinions. And because the judicial executor presumably wouldn't be a politician themselves, there'd be a lot less need to satisfy the base feeding into the nomination process.

Of course, it would also mean a lot more balance in the ideological makeup of the court, and as a progressive that's not exactly a happy thought. But it's not like we'd be cloning the current justices. Their executor would be someone they trusted with this, but not exactly them. There's also the fact that Congress's makeup affects who could actually get approved. So if Ginsburg had retired and a legal colleague who she thought would pick someone with a similar philosophy had been tasked with nominating her replacement, a more moderate candidate would probably be more likely to get through; whereas if it was under a more liberal Congress she might select someone with more liberal-friendly philosophies and history.

I don't know. Practically it's probably never going to happen. But the more I think about it, the more this feels akin to the Electoral College: long outlived its usefulness, totally out of kilter with the current political reality, and just something that needs to be changed.
bilbo

Wes thu hal, RBG

I've been deeply saddened by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. Others will think and comment on the politics of the timing, of how she's replaced and what this means for an already conservative-leaning court. I'll probably be one of those tomorrow. For now, I mostly feel that I've been sucker-punched in ths stomach and not sure what to make of it all, and just want to sit with that pain and confusion for a moment. What she accomplished and what she represented: her death will be felt by many justice-lovers and progress-makers around the world, I think.

I've been struck by a little bit of Judaica that's been making its way around the internet. The idea is, if the truly holy among us (the term in Judaism is usually a tzaddik) die on the day before Rosh Hashannah. They've lived out nearly every moment of each year that's appointed to them. I think it's tied to a midrash that Moses died in the day before a Rosh Hashannah. Here's the thing, though. I've not actually read any news articles arout when she died, and I didn't discover the news until late last night. If she died after sunset, she actually died on Rosh Hashannah, so she would have lived into the new year but been deprived of pretty much the whole thing: the exact opposite of being blessed to live out a full last year.

I don't know which is actually true, but the possibility has me thinking about how incomplete the world feels. Even with all the progress we've made so far, the current moment, as a liberal, is about the frustration of unrealized righteousness, the gaping hole between where we feel we could (and should) be and where we actually are. If she died after sunset on Rosh Hashannah, it feels like we were robbed somehow, even more than we were generally, denied another year of Justice Ginsburg working among us. But that seems fitting even as it's tragic and obviously practically awful, because she worked in justice. That's about recognizing where the world's gone wrong and collectively saying it needs to be fixed, applying some sort of punishment, preventing the bad actor from doing that in the future, maybe even righting a wrong. Justice is only needed in an imperfect world. God knows we live in one. And if Justice Ginsburg's life was incomplete, too, that seems fitting.

Of course all lives are, but being so close to the line makes me think about both possibilities, and maybe sitting with that idea is one way to honor all the work she did. It's the best I can manage just now, at any rate.