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[sticky post] Fic Master Post

CURRENT TALLY OF COMPLETED FIC WORDAGE: 430,430
All Star Trek stories are Kirk/McCoy unless otherwise stated.
All Avengers stories are Steve/Tony unless otherwise stated.

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Obligatory Statement on LJ

I've been crossposting between LJ and DW since the servers were being moved to Russia; I've also deactivated my auto-renew account for lj because I don't want them to have access to my financials. I don't think the recent LJ TOS statement will be legally enforceable in the US, but I also don't foresee any organizations going to the mattress about it either.  That said, if LJ ups and closes shop, all my stuff is at my DW account: caitri.dreamwidth.org. 

Good night and good luck, I guess.
Do you ever have one of those days (weeks) where everything is ridiculous and just harder than it needs to be?

I've spent the morning going round and round with IT to work on the SFRD and it's driving me nuts. Like. I got the log-in resolved but now it's not letting me add or update records and I am THIS close to just giving up and going back to manuscript. *tableflip* BRING ME THE CURED AND TANNED SKIN OF A LAMB FETUS!

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Fic Amnesty: SPN: Whetstones for the Mind

I came across this while looking through some old files. I'm reasonably sure I wrote it sometime in 2011. I have no idea where it was going to go, but the pieces that exist cohere fairly neatly, so I thought I would go ahead and share.

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Thoughts on Facebook's Mess...

...are mainly wondering if that means people will come back to dw? (I wish for lj, but obvs not with the servers in Russia and all that.) I like this as a forum for sharing information so much more...

I keep wanting to write a post about Real Life and such but I want to do it without being whiney, bitchy, and/or snarky. There's enough negativity in the world without me adding to it, you know?

Guest Conversations!

I was a guest speaker on several episodes of Sci-Fi Lab to talk with DJ and Harper about the history of fandom with my friend and colleague Karen Viars. Much fun was had!

Episode 6: Fandom, pt.1: The Beginning:



Episode 7: Fandom pt.2 The Wrath of Mod:



Episode 8: Fandom pt.3 Curative Robots vs. Transformative Pirates



Episode 9: Fandom pt.4 Follow the Bouncing Disclaimer:

 
... and I keep reminding myself I DO NOT GET TO WATCH MORE NEXT WEEK.

In case you're wondering: Prime!Lorca was back but acting strangely Mirrory, Burnham and Saru got a message from Tyler BUT NO IDEA WHAT IT WAS ABOUT EXCEPT IT SEEMED BAD, and the cliffy was Stamets pulling Culber out of the mycelial network.

A Visit to the Int'l Printing Museum!

I survived my conference and it went well! So of course we had to go to the International Printing Museum because, uh, have you met me?





We got to pull prints on this replica Gutenberg press! It's...huge. But the platen was well-leveraged so actually pulling the bar was no big deal, and in fact, didn't reach back all the way to the cheek of the press, which surprised me and is something I'm not used to.

Anyway, I'm back home and trying to catch up! Which is, you know, always a work in progress...

Book Review: Dracula: Rise of the Beast

 Crossposted at The Future Fire.

David Thomas Moore (ed.), Dracula: Rise of the Beast. Abaddon Books, 2018. Pp. 308. ISBN 978-1-78108-666-7. $15.99.



Dracula: Rise of the Beast is an interesting and almost undefinable book. It is not a conventional fiction anthology, as all of the stories presented are held together through a joint framing device, but neither is it a mosaic novel, as the stories do not altogether cohere. That said, it’s a fascinating collection that talks back—not just speaks, but explicitly talks back—to Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel. Stoker’s Dracula was a figure as exoticized as he was threatening, playing on a number of English cultural anxieties ranging from immigration and anti-semitism to homosexuality and women’s roles in the new industrialist age. Moore and his stable of writers here—Adrian Tchaikovsky, Milena Benini, Bogi Takács, Emil Minchev, and Caren Gussoff Sumption—respond not just to the fictional figure and his historical counterpart, but to the cultural conversations around him as well.

The stories are framed through a series of “interludes” that take the form of email correspondence written by Jonathan Holmwood, the great-great-grandson of Jonathan and Mina Harker as well as a respected historian, to a correspondent named Dani Vӑduvӑ. The stories that follow each of these sections are presented as scanned files uploaded as part of the email, which are themselves letters from previous periods of time. Bogi Takács’ “The Souls of Those Gone Astray from the Path” is made up of letters between two rabbis, with a few notes from the nephew of one of them, from the fifteenth century, just prior to and after the death of Vlad Tepes. In addition to providing voices for medieval Jewish characters, who are all too often removed from historical narratives, the story creates a “secret history” in which the historical figure is a vampire who fakes his own death and continues the masquerade as his own son. (This last is a fairly common trope in vampire fiction, perhaps most notably used in Chelsea Quinn Yarbro’s St. Germain series.)

The second story, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Noblesse Oblige”, takes place a century later and includes excerpts from the journals of Erzsébet Bathory. Bathory is sometimes known as “the Bloody Countess” in real life and if historical accounts are true, she was one of the most prolific serial-killers in history; most famously, although this story was concocted years after her death, she enjoyed bathing in the blood of beautiful young virgins in order to stay forever young and beautiful herself. In Tchaikovsky’s version, a young Bathory falls in love with Dracula and takes awful measures to become like him. In some ways this is the most conventional story in the book; given the efforts by historians in recent years to revise and reclaim Bathory’s story—surviving manuscript evidence suggests that the Hungarian Palatine Thurzó was scheming for a transparent land-grab of the Countess’s property—a feminist revision of the story would have been welcome.

Milena Benini’s “A Stake Too Far” consists of a mix of letters, receipts, and accounts from the late eighteenth century. The story in the background here is the rivalry between Vlad, the heroic and elegant vampire beloved of his entourage, and his brother Radu, a stinking and starving remnant terrorizing the countryside. Significant parts of the story are told from the point of view of Magdalena Hranić, a widow with skill in healing as well as identifying the supernatural, since her husband was killed by Radu. Excerpts from the letters of unidentified authors argue that accusing her of witchcraft would lead to her loss of property and the accompanying growth of wealth for others, in the sort of cynical abuse of women that history is increasingly trying to reckon with, and reconcile. Working with the local priest, Vlad and Magdalena kill Radu, providing one of the only happy endings in this collection.

Emil Minchev’s “Children of the Night” marks a turn in the book, the point at which it became clear that this isn’t, after all, a mosaic novel. This story is told as a single long letter from Dracula to an unknown “Bogdan” who resides in London as Dracula makes plans to move there, implying that the story takes place in the late nineteenth century. What follows is a tale of horror, with some vividly gory scenes, in which Dracula meets Yaga, a supernaturally malevolent and beautiful woman. Their love spawns the three eponymous children of the night, daughters who are equally beautiful and evil, and whose needs for education befitting proper young ladies sets the stage for Dracula’s move to England. Attentive readers will identify these girls as the “Weird Sisters” from Stoker’s novel; on film they are often identified instead as Dracula’s “Brides.” (For additional fun trivia, the famous line regarding the children of the night is not present in the original British edition of Stoker’s novel, but appears rather mysteriously in the American edition, possibly added for unknown reasons by the American editor.)

The final story, Caren Gussoff Sumption’s “The Women”, takes place from the perspectives of three different women. Olivia Fogg Cruthers writes letters tracing the search for her missing father and his research into Matthias Corvinus, “The Raven King,” in 1899, in the course of which she befriends a young Romany woman named Mera Szgany. Lolo is a young Romany woman at university who writes long letters home from London to Bucharest and engages in a brief affair with Matthew Corbin, one that goes horribly wrong. Dani is a young transwoman, and her story is told through blog entries meant to chronicle her transition before it starts as a chronicle for her search for The Raven King, the sire of Dracula who has menaced her family for generations. These three stories are meant to reckon with the problematic portrayal of the Romany in both Stoker’s novel and its adaptations (though it could be argued it reckons as well with their broader portrayal in contemporary popular culture). In many ways, it also reckons with the misogynist culture of the Romany, in which forced marriages and purity laws heap personal abuse onto social abuse. Adding further intersections through Dani’s transition and her search for her own truth speaks to contemporary concerns as well as playing with the “chosen one” trope: What happens when the girl who is meant to save your people isn’t a cis-girl?

Dracula: Rise of the Beast may not work as a whole, necessarily, but each of the pieces that make it up play with the popular figure in interesting and revealing ways. While the authors’ willingness (or not) to push back against established narratives and characterizations varies, they all bring thoughtful engagement to both Stoker and Vlad Tepes. I particularly recommend this book to aficionados of vampire literature, who will likely get more out of it than other readers.

DIS Bonus Scene from S1 Finale

 Shared via Twitter and without an embed.

But OMG!!!!!!!

Also I still dig Mirror!Georgiou. Sure she's evil and would totes eat Saru, but daaaaaaaamn girl. *is weak*

This bitlet also makes me feel secure that we'll see her again, and shenanigans will ensue.

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FAMILY: Easter plans with dates, places, stuff.

ME: I'll be coming back from a conference, so have fun!

FAMILY: You say that every year!

ME: It's true every year. The conference PLANS it this way and has done so for FIFTY YEARS.

FAMILY: Subtext: We don't believe you.

ME: Subtext: Wanna see my plane ticket stubs, conference program, and paper?
The White House chief calligrapher has a higher clearance than Jared Kushner

Snip:

<i>The calligrapher's office plays a key role in White House diplomacy. The East Wing, which oversees the calligrapher's office, declined to comment on the role of the chief calligrapher or why a top secret clearance is necessary.

But former chief calligrapher Rick Paulus, who served in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations and had a top secret clearance himself, attributed the need for it due to the knowledge of the President's schedule, as well as the calligrapher's proximity to world leaders. When he was a White House calligrapher, Paulus told CNN, he "never, ever dealt with intelligence matters."

...

The office of the calligrapher began informally in the 1860s when first lady Mary Todd Lincoln delegated the task of writing White House invitations to a staff member, a position that eventually needed an entire staff, according to Matt Costello, a senior historian at the White House Historical Association.
 
In 1977, Rosalynn Carter formally established the Office of the First Lady, the calligrapher's office falling under the East Wing's social secretary.
As the US emerged as a global economic power beginning in the 1940s, Costello said, there was a "drastic increase" in state dinners at the White House. Those dinners, which included between 140 and 200 people, required handwritten invitations, envelopes, menus and place cards.
 
The calligrapher's function is intertwined with US diplomacy as the US hosts heads of state, demonstrating that the US is committed to working with or wants to improve relations with other countries.
 
Ahead of a state dinner, Paulus would delve into the history of the hosted country, its symbols, and its fonts, which calligraphers call "hands" throughout time.

"As calligraphers, we feel like we're playing an integral role. The invitation sets the stage for the whole event. Calligraphers are helping, simply, to set the stage for diplomacy," the former chief calligrapher said.
 
"Whatever happens, whatever conflicts they have, if you see your name beautifully written on a placard, your nation's flag on a menu, you can't help to soften up a bit," he said. "Protocol is about human interactions, and as calligraphers, it's our job to introduce creativity and beauty."

...

While the number of calligraphers in the office has ranged as high as eight at the beginning of the Carter administration, there are currently three full-time calligraphers in the office, including the chief calligrapher. Calligraphers Debra Brown and Becky Larimer do not have security clearances, per the data. White House salary disclosure data indicates that Blair made $102,212 in 2017, with Brown at $90,828 and Larimer at $70,100.
 
There has been change throughout the years at the office -- for instance, Paulus ushered Macintosh computers into the office in 1998. The deadlines have gotten shorter and aspects of the work has been taken into the digital era. Design and style has also changed over the years.
"I think there's a general misconception that things have been forever unchanging, but the calligrapher's office is one of the places that has changed with the times," Costello said.</i>
 
 Prompted by recently reading somewhere negative commentary on the Wonder Woman film because her power was love and compassion. Also ass-kicking, but also love. And right now I'm rereading Tamora Pierce's Alanna books and reading for the first time her Protector of the Small books, all of which involve girls wanting to be knights and performing heroics. But all of their heroics are centered around martial arts and what we would consider traditional bravery in terms of standing up to bullies, fighting literal monsters, and so on.

And what struck me is how we kind of have this narrative of heroism = violence, and therefore women heroes have to either 1) be born warriors (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wonder Woman), 2) be traumatized and become warriors (Jessica Jones, River Tam), or 3) choose to be warriors For Reasons (Agent Carter, Gabrielle from Xena), etc.

But like, there isn't much of a narrative for non-fightey heroics?

And then on the flip-side, slightly, you get stuff like Pacific Rim that does switch it up, with Raleigh being the emotional nurturing one, and Mako being the Traumatized and Opting for Warrior one.

And so I guess my main thought is to wonder: What does a non-fightey woman hero look like? Is she possible? 
 Where the distress signal from the Enterprise is because they have found Prime!Lorca accompanied by Mirror!Culber. Culber was with the Resistance and is in bad shape in Sickbay. Captain Pike is like, "We found these guys and they are supposed to be on your ship. Da fuq?" 

Burnham has to constantly run interference between Spock and Sarek.

Sarek has to mindmeld with Lorca, who IS Prime!Lorca but spent lots of time being tortured and on the run in Mirrorverse. He was found by the Resistance, and Mirror!Culber looked after him in typical h/c and also slashy ways. They are basically boyfriends.

Stamets is all "BAE!!!!!!!!!!!! ... Not my BAE. FML." Such angst ensues. But also Culber is drawn to Stamets, and double-angst because he also cares for Lorca.

Everyone on DIS keeps giving Lorca LOOKS and he's like WTF. Saru has to explain because no one else wants to.

For reasons because obvs Lorca and Culber have to stay on the ship. Drama ensues.



I got my paws on the new Discovery novel Drastic Measures, which is about young Georgiou and young Lorca and Tarsus IV. On the one hand, it's interesting, and Lorca has an edge to him that is intriguing but also very much because no one told the writer the man we saw was from the Mirrorverse. The author is also trying desperately to be contemporary political and has part of the situation on Tarsus be related to taking in refugees from another colony, but...he also doesn't work this in in a believable way. It just happened. I'm only part way through so maybe it will be relevant, but I doubt  it. Also, part of Lorca's arc is his gf is among those killed. Like, witnessing a eugenic genocide--not that they've talked much about eugenics--is bad but it's ALSO bad because a woman we never even see was fridged. :| This is why fic is better, man.

Recipe: One-Pan Salmon Asparagus Recipe

 From Natasha's Kitchen:

Prep time: 5 mins  Cook time: 15 mins  Total time: 20 mins 
Serving size: 6


Ingredients
 
For the Salmon and Asparagus:
 
2 lbs salmon filet, cut into six 6 oz portions
2 lbs (2 bunches) asparagus, fibrous ends removed
Salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small lemon, sliced into rings for garnish
 
For the Lemon-Garlic-Herb Butter:
 
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened (*see quick softening note)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp salt (we used sea salt)
¼ tsp black pepper

Instructions
 
Preheat oven to 450˚F with oven rack in top third. Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, trimming the paper to just fit so it doesn't go over edges of pan (this prevents the paper from charring under broiler).

Place salmon filets in a row down the center of your lined baking pan. Arrange trimmed asparagus on the sides of the salmon. Drizzle asparagus lightly with olive oil and roll to coat. Sprinkle both asparagus and salmon with salt and pepper.
 
In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together all ingredients for flavored butter. It takes a couple of minutes to come together but keep mashing and it will happen. You can also use a food processor for the job if you prefer.
 
Spoon ¾ of your flavored butter over the salmon and spread evenly (no need for perfection). Dab remaining butter mix over the asparagus. Top each salmon filet with a slice of lemon and bake uncovered at 450˚F for 10-12 minutes (a thinner fillet will take 10 minutes and larger fillet takes 12 minutes). Set the oven to BROIL and bake another 2-3 minutes to give the salmon a golden glow. Bake until salmon is flaky and cooked through.

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Miscellaneous Thoughts on Altered Carbon

 Spoilers for the whole show; discussion under the cut.

TL:DR It is messy and interesting.

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DIS "Take My Hand" Thoughts

1) I was fretting all day about this episode, wondering how they could possibly tie up everything in an hour. AND THEY DID.

2) Two inspirational speeches, and both made me cry.

2a) It hit me in the feels that during one of the speeches they panned to each person on the bridge: one white woman, two aliens, and everyone else was a POC. Just. MOAR TEARS.

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This show made me cry TWICE tonight. I just love it so much and am so sad there's only one episode left.

Also actual dialogue from tonight, at the scene in the mess hall:
Me: *tears*
Scott: "OH MY GOD This is why Starfleet will never win!!!!!"

Also also, is it terrible that I'm starting to get the same feeling about Black Panther criticism as I am about Discovery criticism? Like, "you say you hate x, but I'm pretty sure it's really about the racism." *wants to be wrong* *honestly doubts it though, sadly*

Anyway, was texting beforehand with a friend who loves the show as much as I do, when I came to the conclusion that in a couple years I NEED to do an edited collection of academic essays on the show, because I Am That Kind of Nerd. I just need to finish, like, a ton of other things first...

Confession

I'm guaranteed to get in trouble for this, but like--I've gotten to the point where I genuinely believe that someone complaining about the Black Panther movie is a bad human.

DIS "What's Past is Prologue" Thoughts

 Everything has to be under a cut for spoilers.

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