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

Mountains, Gandalf!

Check-in time!

I'm working from home. I'm one of the lucky ones who can: work gave me a laptop and my job involves staring at a screen and talking on the phone anyway, so I'm really ridiculously lucky. Work's actually a good deal more pleasant because keeping up my public face is exhausting all day (never mind the commute), and I can also do stuff like listen to Cabin Pressure all day on the computer not being used for work.

I'm not really set up for longterm work from home, though, so I've been dealing with a lot of lower-back pain from sitting hunched over a laptop all day. Also nothing fun is open! It's amazing to me how much I rely on movies and shopping and just people-watching on the bus. Have also been staying away from the Kid for social-distancing reasons, and that's no fun at all.

The big thing is probably that I'm mentally wiped out. I don't know if it's stress or just the ennui of living in my apartment all day long; I want to write (I really did intend to do at least a piece or two for BMEM!), quite badly, but I just... can't. Even blogging seems like too much effort just now. And you'll tell me there's no reason I have to write, which is true enough, but misses the point that I actually want to and am just too worn out to do it. Worn out with no objective reason (I'm not commuting, after all), and I'm stuck at home all day and all night anyway.

I don't know. It feels like the world's gone off the rails, and I'm not set up for living where I'm not</> navigating the great sea of people that is New York. It's wearing on me, and this is only after a week.

That said - I'm not sick, I'm not broke, I am so much better off than so many people. I am trying to be grateful. Would that it were so easy!

(no subject)

I got to see Onward tonight, which I'd been looking forward to months, which of course meant I was inevitably let down. It's a nice enjoyable romp and I'd definitely recommend any fantasy lovers see it at least once, though it wasn't as all-absorbing as Pixar movies usually are for me.

Doesn't mean it wasn't fun. I'd put it at the leve of maybe How to Train Your Dragon or Abominable, which is far from nothing.</p>

What I did love were all the Tolkien references! The movie's set more in the world of Dungeons & Dragons than what you'd call high fantasy in the Tolkien mode. But there are tons of clever references, and each one had me smiling. Putting this under a cut so other fans can enjoy discovering them. Did I miss any?

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(no subject)

I spent probably 2-3 hours tonight pulling together retirement-themed jokes and quips. My VP at work is retiring and our department is taking her out to dinner tomorrow, and I was asked to pull some together that people could read off together.

It's really pretty hard! Because so much of the jokes are about the pains of old age (which can be a bit dicey given that half the office is under 30 and M. is decidedly, obviously not; it feels a bit like having a white person recite lines from a Chris Rock special); and the rest are way too sexually risque for this kind of event. But I stumbled on an ebook on Amazon that had some funny little bits. Actually the bit I'm most attached to is Thorin's last words in The Hobbit.

(Does that count as a B2MEM entry, mods? See the Tolkien reference?)

(In all seriousness, go check it out if you haven't already. I have a definite idea for Day 1, if I'm ever not so worn out I can find the time. Though the idea's a bit grizzly even for me. We'll see.)

I owe you all a story or three about work. There's quite a lot going on that I'm not sure I can or should discuss (because, you know, the Internet), but to say it's been one heck of an emotional roller coaster would be an understatement. But it's also challenging in a good way, and I think if we can all survive the next several months I'll be in a much more challenging and rewarding (and, I venture to hope, valued) work-place, which counts for a lot in my book.

1917

If you've not seen it yet and are at all convinceable, please consider being convinced.

There are some nice minor parts for familiar faces (Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Andrew Scott), but mostly it's carried by these two young actors I'd never seen before slipping past the German forces to get a vital message to a British contingent. They certainly did an able job - affecting action but not hammy. In a lot of ways it reminded me of Frodo's and Sam's journey through Mordor in ROTK. And the characters had real differences and growed as the movie progressed in a way that made sense and kept me involved.

Its a war movie about trench warfare, so yes, obviously there's violence and gore. But it's not overly explicit. I'd compare it to the sequence in the third Hunger Games movie where Katniss returns to District Twelve after it was firebombed. The film's rated R, but I wonder if it couldn't have earned a PG13 rating with a little less swearing. If it was (say) a YA dystopia rather than a war movie marketed to adults. It didn't strike me as too far over that line.

At the moment I'm thinking about what it says about violence vs peacemaking and individual choice vs the forces that keep the masses pointed in the same direction. If you know much about WWI films, you're probably familiar with the trenches and the vast armies moving against each other in waves - there's just not the geography to allow them space to do anything other than carry on. That's different for the two characters at the heart of this, and for me one of the most moving scenes was easily when one of these two soldiers at the center of this movie is running across a battlefield, perpendicular to the charging line, no gun or pack but just so desperate to get his orders to the commanding corporal. It's an act of individuality and freedom set against the seemingly-unstoppable rush of the battallions as they run into battle. But it's freedom he only has because he's been ordered to leave his own regiment. This isn't a mission he ever wants! So it's a really interesting take on freedom and the singular hero versus the bulk of the army. It was beautiful and thought-provoking, though I don't really have any answers.

I was sure it had been overhyped, and to a certain extent it was, but it was also one of the quieter, most thoughtful, most character-driven war movies I think I've ever seen.

Take Me Out to the Holosuite

Kobe Bryant's death is in all the news today. Since I'm not a big sports fan I'm really not feeling it beyond sadness at such a young, unexpected death, but it does have me thinking about other celebrity deaths that affected me deeply. I think we really can mourn celebrities without knowing them personally, because we still relate to them and they still mean something in our lives even if it's only in one direction.

It has me thinking about Rene Auberjonois, the actor who played Odo on DS9 and who died last month. He was a huge role-model for me as a teenager. Something about him being so thoroughly an outsider but accepted for all that, and also the way he had this exploitable genius but was still allowed to mess up and have that be recognized. I connected with him the way a lot of fans did with Carrie Fisher or Leonard Nimoy. So yeah, I felt gut-punched for several days and still think a lot about that particular death. I'm not sure I grieve him but it certainly impacted me.

Anywho. I've been rewatching DS9 off and on over the last several months, and I'm finally to "Take Me Out to the Holosuite," where Benjamin leads the gang from DS9 in a baseball game against some visiting Vulcans. It's just so funny because most of the characters don't know the first thing about baseball. So really, this is just a long way of my saying if you haven't seen Odo as an umpire, you're missing out on some of the best bits of life.

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And because I also learned Auberjonois played the chef in Little Mermaid (just tonight when I was searching how to spell his name), I am now contractually obligated to share that song as well. Bon appetit ecoute!

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(no subject)

It's been just over a decade since I wrote my "Eating Stones" series.

The basic premise is that Aragorn, fleeing Gondor after his time as Thorongil and making his way through the deserts "where the stars are strange," he rescues a woman meant to be sacrificed to Morgoth. It's thematically darkish, certainly for what I was doing at the time, and was a sort of meditation on the way religion and faith, even centered on a twisted theology, can be sublimated into perseverance in the face of a really strained existence with not enough of all the things that sustain life (water, and food, and coin, but also something to hope in).

So it was always meant to be faith full-stop more than faith in, if that distinction makes any sense. At the time I was kind of coming out of at least the first level of some really deep, life-defining grief in my offline life, where I wasn't so dazed by it all that I could ask more philosophical questions. And because I was a lot more religious than I am now and in grad school in philosophy of religion at the time, the most pressing question was: given the basic logic of theodicy and also the idiocy I'd seen done in the name of religion, why the !@#$ wasn't I an atheist by that point. I wasn't (and I'm not), so this thought of what religion and faith would look like for people on the margins of a by definition corrupted worldview and power structure was... alluring, to put it mildly. Though really I've only written the tip of the iceberg.

I've been thinking about those stories this weekend. It's nothing profound or tragic! More, the Kid's just gotten back from a month away and she's Muslim and because this story was set in Harad there was always a Middle-Eastern flair to it in my mind. Though the Kid's not properly Arabic, the mind will draw its own half-stereotypical/racist associations at times. Also a lot of what I put into that story was drawn from a course on Arabic literature, mainly post-colonial poetry and short stories, and an essay I wrote on the different forms perseverance and a drive toward what my rabbi mentor would have described as tikkun olam (very broadly: the struggle to repair the world and continue/complete the act of creation).

I do wish I still had that essay somewhere! But the basic idea is still buried deep in my head, at least.

On top of which the song I listened to on repeat as I wrote "Turtles All the Way Down" (the story in the series that really does the most worldbuilding) popped up on Youtube last week, and I've been listening to it a lot this weekend. On top of which one of the Tolkien drabble comms has its weekly theme as frost, which has me thinking of course thinking of that line in "All that is gold does not glitter," but also about the reference in the Ainulindale (yes I am enough of a geek to have a favorite line from the Ainulindale):

He hath bethought him of bitter cold immoderate, and yet hath not destroyed the beauty of thy fountains, nor of my clear pools. Behold the snow, and the cunning work of frost! Melkor hath devised heats and fire without restraint, and hath not dried up thy desire nor utterly quelled the music of the sea.


So I am imagining a brother and a sister from that family driven out of their village away from their family by the events of Eating Stones (perhaps siblings of the OC who fled her slated sacrifice), and getting caught up in Sauron's mechanization and militarization in the years leading up to the War of the Ring, and eventually getting sent north for some reason and seeing frost for the first time. I'm not entirely sure of how to structure it or focus it into a manageable length, but hoo boy, the desire is there.

... And because I've blathered on this long, I am now almost contractually obligated to share the song. The song is "Shtiklakh," from King Django's "Roots & Culture" project. It's an oddly haunting but beautiful mix of klezmer and reggae and... something I can't quite identify, but it's good, no doubt. YouTube video and my own rough effort at a translation of the lyrics below the cut.

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I come to bury Christopher Tolkien, not to praise him

Christopher Tolkien, son of JRR Tolkien, is dead. Wes thu hal, sir, and Good Journey.

It feels a bit odd, almost sacrilegious, to follow that sentence with these next ones. A lot of fandoms divide over ships or adaptation-versus-original issues. Tolkien fandom, at a deep level, seems to draw the line over purity: how important it is to stay true to some perceived canon standard and how free we are to reach for new interpretations and readings. And in the Silm fandom in particular, that divide seemed to fall over how bound we felt by Christopher Tolkien's read of his father's work, versus if we preferred to take the sparser crumbs of JRRT's own world and build more on that. There was more freedom in that second path, but also I always felt more of an originalism, a kind of return-to-basics about what made Arda such a breath of fresh air for a world-weary twentysomething.

To be blunt, I thought Christopher was prim and stuffy and tended to suck all I liked out of his father's work. I was not a fan, and as soon as I discovered HoMe was a thing that existed, I was much more eager to dig into those drafts and snippets than the published QS and Akallabeth rewritten in Christopher's tone.

But time and maturity blunts the edges on all that, at least a bit. He was the steward of his father's legacy; and a steward really isn't a king, whatever Denethor might have thought (or wished). Part of it is I've been a steward to the memories other people leave behind, in my own small way, and I get how that can control how you interact with their legacy. I still think he was a cranky old fusspot for most of the time I interacted with him as a consumer of his father's works. But I guess I see more why his situation would amp up those tendencies. I also see it as a much more useful thing than I once did. Not so much that his father's writings should be consumed as he presented them, but that those of us not overly comfortable with the way he read him really benefited from having someone protect and develop his world. He's a useful point to orient ourselves against, contrapposto-style.

Plus, let's be frank here: the man has done a tremendous service. He worked hard to cull and develop and bring into publishable form so many drafts from so many different points in his careers, and give us all this coherent story. I don't necessarily think he was commercial, milking his father's works for all he could get out of them; rather, I think he genuinely cared about bringing those stories into the public in a way his father would be proud of, or at least comfortable with. And while I wasn't always head-over-heels for the final product, man, one has to recognize and appreciate the effort!

And as a great Akallabeth/Numenor fan, I can't really be too harsh on him for being almost slavish to his father's perceived intents. Because let's be honest: the Akallabeth really doesn't fit with the QS or the Ainulindale or any of the rest, does it? Someone exercising more editorial discretion would have chucked it or buried it in a HoME volume. He says as much in the intro to the Silmarillion: he only really included it because his father had been quite explicit he wanted it included. And my life over the last 15-odd years would have been so much less if that wasn't such a central part of the Tolkien fandom.

That's all about Christopher the old man, the inheritor of his father's kingdom. As a great fan of the Letters, I also have to remember and "bury," to the extent I can, Christopher the young man who went off to war and begged his father for more chapters by mail. Who helped pore over the maps. Who seems to have been both a support and a burr in the boot to getting JRRT to actually finish the damned thing. Forget The Silmarillion, we probably wouldn't have gotten Lord of the Rings (certainly it would have been in a much different form) if not for Christopher. And those letters between the two of them are always just so comfortable and interesting, they're easily among my favorite, and I think Christopher's and JRR's relationship was a deep and warm one. It makes me smile, thinking about the glimpses I've been given over the years there.

As an aside, not many people can claim to have a fanfic about JRRT and Christopher Tolkien, but I actually can! Sort of. The idea is that Christopher dies during World War II and JRRT must decide how (if) to continue on with his "mad hobby." It seems a bit bold to offer it up, as it got me kicked off one major fandom archive back in the day for not being respectful to the real people involved. But in my own slightly-heretical way, I actually meant it as an offering of sorts, to both men. So if you have a mind: Bronwe Athan Harthad.

Enough thinky thoughts and wordy words. Let me just close with these words: We still remember, we who dwell, in this far land beneath the Seas. You will be missed.

(ericadawn16 asked for my thoughts. Thanks for the prompting.)