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[sticky post] Fic Master Post

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.

Book Review: Solarpunk

 Crossposted to The Future Fire.

Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro (ed.) & Fábio Fernandes (trans.), Solarpunk: Ecological and Fantastical Stories in a Sustainable World. World Weaver Press, 2018. Pp. 271. ISBN 978-0-9987022-9-2. $14.95.

Solarpunk is the latest in a series of themed anthologies—previous installments include Vaporpunk (2010) and Dieselpunk (2011)—edited by Brazilian SF author Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro. First published in Portuguese in 2012, the English edition was funded through a Kickstarter in 2017, and it provides an intriguing window not only into Brazilian genre writing but into the complicated politics of sustainability. “Solarpunk” as a genre has emerged in the 2010s as one of numerous forms of climate fiction, even as climate reality continues to change and converge a number of preoccupations. It has also promised a form of optimism at odds with popular dystopia, managing to combine hopeful science with a cynicism regarding human nature itself. As Sarena Ulibarri notes in the preface, while Americans view even the idea of a world economy of renewable energy as inherently utopian, in other countries it is a matter of necessity and survival: Brazil is one of the world’s leaders in renewable energy with 76% of its energy drawn from wind, solar, and hydropower, but it is far, far from being a liberal utopia. Consequently, the stories collected here run an emotional and genre gamut that is highlighted by the accompanying art work by José Baetas.

Several stories make use of dark humor to get their points across. ‘Soylent Green is People!’ by Carlos Orsi is a murder mystery which follows a private detective investigating the death of a biodiesel engineer and the disappearance of his aged mother. As one might guess from the title, it goes about as well as one might expect. Similarly, Telmo Marçal’s ‘When Kingdoms Collide’ reads almost like a satire, envisioning conflict between humans and human-plant hybrids called Greenies for their chlorophyll-containing DNA. The unnamed protagonist narrates both events and fury after the Swiftian murder of his girlfriend. ‘Sun in the Heart’ by Roberta Spindler is a smaller, more intimate story that likewise plays with the possibility of hybridizing human DNA, but more seriously. It concerns a family that faces the question of whether or not a beloved son is still human when he is, functionally, mostly a machine. It concerns the invention of nano-implants that convert solar rays into “photonutrition,” preventing the increasing numbers of cancers in an overheated world and solving the problem of diminishing food resources. Given the big questions asked in this brief narrative, they are too tidily answered, or not at all.

Other stories avoid tidiness altogether, and revel in it by playing with narrative conventions. ‘Breaking News!’ by Romeu Martins is presented largely as a transcript of online radio programming during one long night of protests and riots at a genetically modified organism greenhouse/factory plant. ‘Once Upon a Time in a World’ by Antonio Luiz M. C. Costa plays on similar themes, in which the politics and violence of the digital world crossover into the real one during an act of terrorism. Both stories are so near-future (per 2012) as to have elements that are familiar at this point. Gabriel Cantareira’s ‘Escape’ is a brief action tale in which the daughter of a tech conglomerate’s president is willing to join with “terrorists” to limit access to a manipulative new technology. The story told in the media is at odds with the reality, presenting the narrative as a “secret history” of someone at the right (or wrong) place at the right time.

André S. Silva’s ‘Xibalba Dreams of the West’ is another story that plays with time, this one by reimagining the rise and fall of the Mayan nation as a tale of the future rather than of the past. Religious mysticism combines with the modern security state to create a culture in which political dissidents are executed as sacrifices, but the problems of unsustainable resource and overpopulation remain. For a short story, it packs a lot of world-building and deft reasoning into its pages, and was my favorite of the bunch by far. ‘Gary Johnson’ by Daniel I. Dutra doesn’t go quite as far in its exploration of religious themes, but it is just as fascinating. It is also the most overtly fantastical of the collection, concerning efforts to prove the existence of the human soul—and how those efforts culminate in attempted genocide and murder as told through the letters of a former priest.

‘Cobalt Blue and the Enigma’ by Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro is the final as well as the longest entry in the collection, a novella told in nine short chapters. It plays with a number of elements familiar to genre fans, from high-tech armored exoskeletons created by the military-industrial complex for quadriplegic soldiers, to a space-faring culture with outposts on Jupiter and planned missions to Alpha Centauri, to a hunt for a seemingly supernatural creature. In many ways it is the most conventional story in the book, but in invoking so many of familiar, even beloved, tropes of genre, it brings us full circle, engaging with and highlighting the contributions of all the authors to this book.

Solarpunk is a wide-ranging collection of new Brazilian writing in translation, and for that by itself it would be a worthwhile read. That it tackles numerous aspects of and speculations on sustainable energy, renewable resources (or the lack thereof), and digital culture make it an incredibly pertinent volume for our world right now. Read it right this minute if you can; if you miss it, you might already be living in it…


I finished my consulting gig two days early! I was overwhelmed at the beginning by how much there was to do, so I pushed myself to be hard and fast as I worked. In a way, this is great, I have two days that can be leisurely visiting and so on; on the other hand, I am rather exhausted, and would quite like to go home now, I'm afraid.

I'm rather limited in the amount of work I can do right now, too, as I obviously didn't pack many work-related books. That said, I spent the afternoon working on a run-through of edits for an article I'm submitting this fall, so this is one thing done at least.

I'm also overstimulated. I've lost the habit of being surrounded by people for days on end. (This makes me sound like a hermit.) (Only that's not wrong.) I wish I could go cuddle with my animals and read quietly, or some such.


Traveling for a Consulting Gig...

...Which is hanging out with friends and my people, with most of my expenses covered and generally getting to geek...

...but also, lots of people interaction which I am not used to because I am an introvert who has spent a lot of the last few years working by myself...

...but it's so nice not to have to Explain Everything to my friends who Get It and also have their own areas of related but definitely different expertise...

TL:DR I am overstimulated and tired but also feeling "normal" in that way I only get to do a few times a year.
I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society when it first came out ten years ago, and it quickly became one of my favorite comfort reads. It's a story about survival and recovery, and above all about the power of reading to bring people together. The film version, produced by Netflix, only got about half of that.

The story starts in 1946 London, as the city and the world recover from WW2. Our main character is Juliet, a newspaper columnist whose collection of articles has just been released in book form; it is a popular book that is doing much, much better than her study of Anne Bronte did years before. Casting about for what to do next, she gets a letter from Dawsey Adams in Guernsey, who has purchased a book that once belonged to her and is writing (her address is in the book, and she has only very recently moved) to ask for help in finding a bookshop so he can buy a copy of Charles & Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.

This is where I sat up and grumped, "It wasn't Tales from Shakespeare, it was More Essays of Elia and a biography!" But this is why I don't have many friends and live on the internet. ANYWAY.

Charmed, Juliet sends him a copy of the book and the two strike up a correspondence. Letters with Dawsey make up for the middling romance with a wealthy American. (One thing I do appreciate is that in the film version Dawsey is hella hot.) Juliet decides to go to Guernsey and meet everyone she's been reading about in Dawsey's letters and write an article on the power of reading!!!!!!!!!

And then she gets to Guernsey and everyone is hella secretive and kinda weird and wary of her.

In the book, she has corresponded with everyone for months and they are all delighted to have her, and it's all about these kindred spirits coming together.

I feel the difference has something to do with shifting perceptions of journalists in 20fucking18 but what do I know.

Anyway Juliet wants to Solve the Mystery of What Happened to Elizabeth McKenna. As a reader of the book, you're like "Well someone got sent to a concentration camp during WW2, I'm pretty sure I know how this ends." As a viewer, it's not that different, even though all the characters are like "WE'RE JUST WAITING FOR HER TO COME HOME."

(FWIW in the book there is a gay Jewish character sent to the camps as well who survives and is already back home. He is totally deleted from the film which puzzles me a little and pisses me off a lot.)

Dawsey is the primary caretaker of Elizabeth's adorable kid, who Juliet also finds adorable, but she's all "WHO IS THE FATHER?????" Which we know early on in the book. There's no mystery. Why the screenplay writer decided they needed so many ~~mysteries~~ instead of just getting on with the story bewilders me, unless/probably they decided that people just talking about BOOKS would be too dull....in which case, why adapt THIS BOOK?

I digress. Middling American is charged with finding the missing Elizabeth because Americans have Google, or something. So Juliet gets to tell everyone that Elizabeth was executed and it goes exactly as well as you'd expect.

In the book, one of Elizabeth's fellow prisoners wrote to them, and there's a whole subplot about another survivor named Remy coming to Guernsey and trying to build a new life for herself, and everyone trying to help but good intentions not being enough, so she goes back to France to a program that will help her and other survivors. It was a good subplot about the difficulties of trauma, and it's a bummer the whole thing was cut.

(Also cut was a whole subplot about Oscar Wilde letters, which was adorable but kind of an odd thing to introduce in the final act.)

The rest of the film is about Juliet finally deciding to dump Middling American. In fairness, his offences in the book are altogether missing; it's clear he's a controlling, arrogant ass, and by the time he tells Juliet she shouldn't be taking care of Adorable Kid she's over with him and you're cheering her on as she tells him off. Why they cut THAT scene is beyond me. In the movie she .... just isn't into him. She IS into hella hot Dawsey, and since he IS hella hot you're like, what are you even waiting for? In the book Dawsey isn't hella hot, but he is a quiet, thoughtful and charming person, and Juliet is taken with him immediately but is convinced he has a thing for Remy. Both end with Juliet going to propose to Dawsey, who says "Oh God, yes!" and its adorbs. The movie does end with a lovely denoument of a picnic where Dawsey reads them Lamb aloud to Adorable Child and to Juliet.

So basically what we have is a movie where people who have a love of reading are suspicious of a writer, the books that are central to so much are largely eliminated, the worst parts of WW2 are likewise eliminated, and the Asshole American is toned way the fuck down.

I am left irked. Irked, I say!

Finished Luke Cage S2

 It took two months to get through 13 episodes. A lot of the writing is repetitive and sloppy, like they knew they didn't have enough actual plot and so decided to make up for it with lots of characters repeating conversations to other characters, or having flashbacks to scenes we already knew about. That said, the final two episodes did a lot of work and were well done, esp. in terms of what they did for various characters. Some cinematographic shots were straight up fucking incredible.

What particularly struck me as the season wore on though is how I became much more invested in minor characters. The relationship between Shades and Comanche was really interesting and had a lot of reverberations throughout the season. (I'm tempted to go look for fic.) D.W. spends an inordinate amount of time being comic relief and then speaks literal truth to power at the end. 

I'm more frustrated in what we didn't get with Luke though. Like, every character is bent on telling him who he is--or isn't--and by the time he "decides" in the final minutes it isn't altogether convincing. The scenes that felt most like development doubled as appreciation for the NYC skyline; in ep 8 (?) Iron Fist visits and takes him by Columbia to see the city from above to see the bigger picture, so Luke starts periodically going back there to think. It's pretty but it didn't quite work with the rest of the writing.

...That said, Luke's real superpower is making me not want to punch Danny Rand on sight. This is no mean feat.

Anyways, they left things in a really interesting place, and I hope S3 pays off on that. 

It Smells Like Fall!

It's been a little cooler this week, but more importantly, the air is starting to smell like fall--even if it's in the 80s out, you can smell that crisp bite of air! I am so ready for the time of pumpkin bread, apple cider, and fuzzy blankets!!

I remain absurdly stressed, but I got a bunch of things done this week. With any luck I can get some serious writing done next week before I head to Chicago for a few weeks. And I'm looking forward to visiting with friends for a while, too.

I wish I had the time/energy to seriously work on some fic--it was always such a great stress-reducer for me. Even only for an hour or so a night, I could completely go somewhere else in mind and not have to fret for a while, it was brilliant. *wistful sigh*


A Thought Experiment, Fic and Elsewise

 I just finished rereading Pamela Dean's Tam Lin for the upteenth time, a novel that always leaves me wanting more and equally baffled as to how to make more given the confines of place and story. This morning I was thinking about fic for it (of which there is some at AO3), and then I wondered whether fairy folklore inhibits queerness with its insistence on pregnancies, or not. 

I have been turning this over in my head and am still not sure.


Back Home

Conference went well but I still have So Many Deadlines because I am ridic.

Also slowly watching Luke Cage S2 and every time there's a scene of the Jamaican restaurant I basically have this pavlovian hunger response and all I want in the world is fried plantains and jerk pork, and there's none of either remotely near me. *cries*

Well Here We Go Again

I have to get up in the wee hours tomorrow (tonight) to head to the airport for a conference. Masochist that I am, I got my reminder for the shuttle, did some math, fretted at the length of time between projected drop-off and boarding (half an hour), and decided to Assume the Worst and rebook for an earlier time--so 3am instead of 4am. (Given that on last week's trip I got to be the Lucky Random selected for a closer screening, I don't feel too too bad about being paranoid, just pre-emptively tired.) On the plus side, assuming all goes well I can check-in to my room at the hotel and get a couple hours' nap before I have to Be Places and Do Things.

I am looking forward to this conference though; I am pleased with my paper and look forward to trying to be All Scholarly and stuff. I'm already all packed and have my alarm set, so I can try to take it easy--or at least as easy as one can when one is as anxious about travel as me (I am very anxious. I hate it. All these years of having to fly multiple times a year and I'm still not chill about it.), which is not much. So!

Not a Movie Review: Annihilation

 I was underwhelmed because I had just finished reading the book. It's very pretty? And I like what they did with diversity in casting and stuff, but....they Hollywoodized the fuck out of it.

I also spent too much time making it a really weird Padme/Poe time travel AU in my mind. >_>

DIS S2 trailer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not a Book Review: The Fandom by Anna Day

I have a weakness for books about fandom. This one had some great ideas but problematic execution. Basically a bunch of not!HungerGames fans find themselves transported to the world of the not!HungerGames and the only way home, maybe, is for the heroine to live out the story, including the obligatory romantic triangle and the tragic death of the main character/her. Hijinks ensue.

Now, this is all hella formulaic for 350 pages, and then the last thirty throws in a wrench, because it's basically about how the collective power of fandom can rewrite texts. Not!PresidentSnow is aware of this and 1) was aware of the ickier parts of fandom that romanticized the baddies, so he was trying to push that aspect of fandom to basically become canon, and this somehow made 2) the actual author kill herself, so the death of the author (!) ended up empowering all the fan authors. Basically the last chapters take on fan theory and toxic fandom and I dig it, and wish that had been way more of the book.

Movie Review: Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

 We've gotten a month-long subscription to HBO so Scott can mainline Westworld, but the first thing we actually did was watch Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael B. Jordan.

This version of Bradbury's classic is very much updated for our present political moment; not only is media consumption and drug use state-sanctioned, but so is social media/live news feeds. Takes place in some near-future after a Second Civil War has left 8 million dead and people are happily in thrall to limited knowledge. Resistance leads to loss of citizenship and vulnerability to state violence. So far, so too too familiar.

Clarice is transformed from an ingenue to a non-citizen who is creeped on by Michael Shannon's Beatty and loved by Jordan's Montag. She and Montag read Dostoyevsky in her shitty apartment and fall in love, and she eventually leads him to the other rebels who are also the living books themselves.

This leads to a significant plot deviation, one that I'm not sure works. In addition to memorizing books with each person taking on the identity of a book, they have also been scanning them and *handwave* encoding them in a strand of DNA called OMNIS that they inject into a bird. The climax is the bird flying to freedom across picturesque vistas and joining a giant flock as they weave beautiful pictures into the sunset, because the DNA can also move to other animals and humanity's knowledge will be preserved in the natural world while also being sent to Canada.

Except that was when Scott pointed out that if people were escaping to Canada anyway, what happened to Canada's books??

That aside, I can't say enough good things about Jordan and Shannon's acting. They did an exceptionally convincing job of friends/father-son relationship where genuine love is at war with obedience to state and self. Also they were slashy af and I kinda want to go looking for fic. >_>


I AM SO HAPPY OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


On Excavating One's Own Past

So a few weeks ago my Mom called to say she was downsizing and if I Really Wanted My Grandfather's Furniture I needed to hurry up and come to GA. Well it turns out that with three weeks' notice a flight to GA and a three day (eighteen hours' each) drive back with a Uhaul was Just Not Gonna Happen, but luckily I found a managable moving company that dropped off a "Relocube" and then picked it up again, and it arrived yesterday.

In addition to the furniture, Mom had packed a bunch of truly random boxings of my belongings, many of which I had forgotten about. There was a box of miscellaneous papers that included my first attempt at a fanzine (two typed pages with "news" about the "new Star Trek movie" eg. Generations and the current arc of the X-Men comics, plus what passed for witticisms about my teachers and classmates--I note that one teacher "finally" learned to say my name right, but damn if I can remember how he was mispronouncing it. "Cathern" maybe?), a handwritten draft of a short story, a bunch of Star Trek magazines, and so on. Also a jewelry box that holds several shiny keychains and buttons (I was such a magpie), some pieces of kiddie jewelry I remember from when I was very little (a little ring with a cat-face on it, a glittery unicorn pendant), and several metal pins that were awards of some kind that I don't remember at all; one for "English," one for "Essay," and one for "Science."

Anyway, it made me muse on how much, in a way, I ~haven't~ changed since I was a young teenager. I still love Star Trek and X-Men and spend a lot of time (maybe even more??) writing and sharing fannish news and musings about them--except I have more friends to talk about them with, even if I've never met most of them! Serious study/academics still matters to me--maybe even more so. Like, hello doctoral study and so on. There's something about that bitty little "Essay" pin that's so homely and cute I kinda want to show it to my dissertation chair for, like, proxy academic momma pride or something absurd like that.

I was so lonely as a young teenager. I was also stubborn af, which...actually ended up working out pretty well for me. I wish I could send a letter back in time and tell bb!me something like, "I know you're lonely and everyone thinks you're weird, but in 24 years you're going to be someone that people take seriously, who gets published A LOT, and who has a lot of people Who Genuinely Give A Shit About You." Wouldn't that be great?


Various Things

1) Amazon is in talks to save Lucifer and my fingers are crossed SO HARD.

2) My Academic Sister and I sent off a book proposal a few weeks ago and we heard back--they are "delighted" with the project and want to see the mss when we have it. Huzzahs!!!

3) I got a chapter for a forthcoming collection back for only minor edits, which was an immense relief.

3b) I SO overbooked myself this summer with deadlines and such. I don't know how I always do that, except that I always do. (Pretty sure it's my inability to say "no." But still.)

4) After much leeriness, I bought Moira Greyland's book The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon, an abuse survivor's memoir of her parents, SFF author Marion Zimmer Bradley and her husband Walter Breen. It's a harrowing read, and I'm glad to have it to read against Bradley's work; I still love her books, but I think art with problematic artists has to be in dialogue with one another for the reader/viewer. (Also it helps that the money goes to Greyland and not MZB's estate.) That said, while I am in sympathy with Greyland as a survivor, I think it's problematic af that she conflates all queer people with her abusers, and waaay too often she goes into anti-feminist and fat-phobic rhetoric when talking about her parents, SFF culture, paganism, and so on. But I also get that it comes from a profoundly fucked up place in her head as a survivor, so more than anything I just pity her.

Book History Thoughts

By way of a listserv thread that devolved from a CFP on ancient texts and into grumps about the field's current trend towards globalized contexts.

The core of the problem is that the field hasn't really evolved for decades because it was where all the white boys went to hide when the rest of us were talking about gender, race, class, colonialism, etc. It's telling that there's actually a deal of BH work on these topics that ISN'T published in BH journals because -ism cooties.

And so here we are in 2018, and like, last year TPTB decided to acknowledge that China was a place and women exist and so on. (Not Africa, though. Like the edges of the discourse are willing to go to India and Nepal but not Africa. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Sigh.)

(Also if I could go back in time I'd tell bb!me to go learn Chinese or Korean so I could do translations and read all kinds of neat things I...totally can't right now. Like, did you know that China had a flourish queer literature in the 18th c.? Me neither!! Want to read more? We can't. Because no one has bothered to actually do translations and publish them.)

But anyway so the field is stuck in this retro mire and needs to be dragged into the 21st century, which is really exciting, but the backlash is SO a thing. But bit by bit it shall change...

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