frith_in_thorns: October Daye - "An Artificial Night" cover (OD Toby)
December 10th // Masterlist

From [personal profile] glinda: The Mechanisms! Perhaps tell me why I should (or shouldn't) check out their latest album. (I love Once Upon a Time in Space but have never got round to their subsequent work.)

So first of all, I should say in response to the specific question asked, that while the band's musical and recording talent has increased with their two successive, albums, I still love Once Upon A Time In Space the most, by quite a large margin. High Noon Over Camelot was lots of fun, and I really enjoyed that one. Not personally a large fan of Ulysses Dies At Dawn, although there are a couple of individual songs in that which I liked.

At this point I should probably backtrack and explain a bit for people who aren't already Mechs fans! The Mechanisms are an explicitly queer music band, all of whom have personas as a ragtag band of steampunk space pirates on the starship Aurora. (They're all literally bionic constructs, so are immortal.) Each album they release is a complete story with songs and narrative, supposedly each about a different civilisation the Mechs have encountered in their travels. (…"Everyone dies tragically" is quite a common theme here.) They're also personal friends of mine, which I always argue makes me less likely to give a falsely inflated impression of their talent — a couple of years ago I had regular practice sessions happening in the room literally right over my head, and Mechs staying in the living room every second weekend, and I still love their music! ;)

If you're free in Oxford or London (or at NineWorlds or the Edinburgh Fringe!) you really should watch them live. The CDs are good, but their show is amazing. If you're not anywhere near, all their albums are both free to stream and pay-what-you-want to buy on Bandcamp.

Their first album was Once Upon A Time (In Space), and is a reworking of fairytales. It tells the story of the bloody revolution against tyrannical Old King Cole, and the tragic love story of Rose Red and Cinderella.

When I was a little girl, my mother always told me:
"Someday a Prince will come, my love."
But as I grew I knew it was a Princess who would hold me;
I looked to the stars for you, my love.


Since it has revolutions and lesbians, I was definitely primed to enjoy it! But I really do love this album. The songs are all great, and ridiculously catchy. (Lots of them are riffing off traditional/folk songs.) I love the main characters; I'm deeply invested in them and have loads of headcanons about what happened after the end of the album. (I've written several fics for this one.)

Next up is Ulysses Dies At Dawn. This one I have more mixed feelings about. It's definitely more sophisticated, in terms of music and recording quality, than the previous. It tells a story set deep beneath the surface of a planet which is entirely city, and slums, and gangs, and horrific technology, and takes place over the course of the night. Ulysses is being tortured to open a vault, and the songs are about the history and stories of both Ulysses and xe's tormentors.

I have to say, I didn't really click with this one. The gritty, dark music style isn't what I enjoy, and also all the characters are just really awful people — there wasn't anyone I remotely wanted to "win", which is a real problem for me when it comes to enjoying a story. I have to like people, and I really couldn't here. Also I found the vault reveal to be rather trite. But this is lots of people's favourite albums, I know! I do know that this is most of the band's favourite album, as it's apparently the most fun to play :P But yeah, I definitely don't dislike it, but it just wasn't my style at all in music or story.

Their third album, released a few months ago, is High Noon Over Camelot; Arthurian tales played out in a space station long fallen into Wild West-style anarchy. With this one we were back to characters which I could root for, so yay! I also like the much more upbeat music style of this compared to Ulysses. There are some wonderfully catchy songs — Skin and Bone seems to be a general favourite, as well as Holder of the G.R.A.I.L. As with the others, the album is full of lovely little nods to the source mythos, and manages a lot of hugely funny moments in among the death! I especially appreciated the triad relationship of Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere, which did not end in betrayal or otherwise fall apart :) Also the recording quality continues to improve, so on technical terms this is the best so far.

We're not pure of heart, but we're sure of aim
And our heads are filled with love and blood and whiskey.


There's also a small micellany of other songs, recently also released on Bandcamp as the album Tales to be Told. These include several origin stories for the Mechs themselves, which predate their first album release. Gunpowder Tim versus the Moon Kaiser is a great little mini-cycle, very atmospheric and funny. (Also I physics-picked/argued a lot about laser-based weaponry this, shhh I'm proud!) The Lotus Eaters is another of my favourites, and One Eyed Jack's, Jonny's origin song, is ridiculously catchy. Extreme mayhem cheerfully set to "When Johnny Comes A-Marching Home"!

In conclusion: best band of roving space pirates you're likely to hear. Go listen! Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that their little fandom also has a dreamwidth comm, [community profile] the_mechanisms. :)
frith_in_thorns: Hardcover books standing upright (.Books)
December 9th // Masterlist

No official topic for today, but I thought I'd share this. I have a Scriv page which is literally a list of song lyrics (and the very occasional fragment from other places) which I think would make good fic titles. I know some people hate lyrics as titles, but I really like them, for myself and for stuff by other people! (And for journal post titles...)

A few of these I've used; most of them I haven't. For several of the unused ones I have nebulous ideas about the kind of fic I'd fit to them, and a few have quite specific fics already attached in my brain which I haven't written. I will answer questions about specific ones if anyone's interested!

Cut for long list )
frith_in_thorns: Better Butter Bugs for a Brighter Barrayar! (V Butter bugs)
December 7th // Masterlist

From [personal profile] veleda_k: Favourite science fiction books (right now)

Bouncing around happily at the top are Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie, and if you haven't read them by now then seriously you should do it now :P The main character is a spaceship! They're about identity and building your own families and colonialism and space politics and race and class issues and loyalty and friendship and they are just so great.

The Vorkosigan series, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Which are about space politics (I really really love SFF politics okay) and disability and friends and family expectations and they are also a sheer delight. Bujold is just so good at characters in all the books she writes — I just love everyone.

The Newsflesh series, by Mira Grant (pseud of Seanan McGuire). These are zombie books, except that the zombie apolcalypse happened twenty years ago and all the main characters have grown up in a world which is adapted to the fact that zombies are just there. These books are about how fear is used as a tool of manipulation (vote for us! ONLY WE can protect you from the zombies! — no seriously there's a whole lot about the US's massive media-stirred Ebola hysteria which is so familiar in here), and also about journalistic integrity and zombie-proofing logistics and a load of really interesting stuff. After the three main books there's a load of e-novellas which Grant has written to keep filling in corners of her world.
frith_in_thorns: Mako Mori with an umbrella above her head in the rain (PR Mako Mori)
December 5th (totally) // Masterlist

From [personal profile] frayadjacent: Talk about some character types and/or story tropes that you love.

It's actually much harder than I thought it would be to generalise character types! But I think some things which generally hold true in the chars I love: competence, including in very specific areas; common sense; nice to people, and especially not making jokes at others' expense (this is why I can't stand Tony DiNozzo and am not very keen on John Sheppard); willing to do difficult stuff. Also I like male characters who have vulnerability to them and are generally more towards the femme-coded end — Spencer Reid, Neal Caffrey. But generally I have to like characters, and I don't enjoy canons where I can't like/root for the leads. Like Breaking Bad or ASoIaF. And I'm more inclined to really really love characters who are women and/or queer.

Story tropes I love very much link up with the character ones. I really enjoy characters bonding under outside adversity, and being braver and stronger and more competent than they thought they could be. Also this leads to hurt/comfort and I assume everyone reading this journal knows about my extremely positive feelings on hurt/comfort. (Although I have some new friends now! Hi new friends, I'm a h/c junkie.) I am sad when my favourites are upset with each other, although I do like grey morality. This was something which Battlestar Galactica did exceptionally well — having characters I loved on opposite sides of an issue and allowing the viewer to sympathise and agree with everyone and understand how they had all arrived at their different and valid points of view when only one could ultimately be acted on. (I think BSG is the closest I will ever get to a show where main characters make very unsympathetic choices sometimes but I still ultimately love them and love the show — I think because it also emphasised all their connections and closeness to each other even while awful stuff was going on.)

If I had to distill down to my favourite trope used in canon, I would have to point at the SGA episode Grace Under Pressure. It was a whole episode of my favourite scientist bb in an increasingly flooded submarine with a concussion trying to save himself while his friends also tried to save him. Many shows can learn from this.

(I'm definitely going to think of a million more tropes I should have added to this post as soon as I upload it, but I'm already SO LATE with it. Massive apologies!)
frith_in_thorns: Adama with his hands on Starbuck's shoulders (BSG Kara)
December 3rd // Masterlist

From [personal profile] sholio: Talk about a TV show which doesn't exist, but which you would like to see.

My ideal TV show would be sci-fi, and episodic, because then I could get properly fannish about it and hopefully there would be loads of fic to read and write. It would probably be fairly close in initial concept to Stargate Atlantis, because the setup for that was great — a small team of people sent into an alien tech city in an unknown part of the galaxy to set up a base and explore. However, this would not be a primarily military mission. It would focus on science and exploration and diplomacy and there would be lots and lots of interesting local alien cultures and there would be miscommunications and friendships and everyone really doing their best to learn. Also it would be international in a way that actually feels really international. And, again, sooooo much less military, although of course they would have some sort of security force.

One of the people in charge would be Amanda Tapping, because I am still utterly in love with her. However, she would be playing a character sort of a cross between Sam Carter and Helen Magnus. Also there would be someone purely trained as a diplomat or anthropologist.

Like SGA, the plots would focus on exploration teams. They would be mostly scientists, with one security/military person in case of hostile wildlife. She would be played by Katee Sackoff. The rest of the team would be trained scientists and anthropologists because again this is a peaceful exploratory mission, not one where everyone runs in to everywhere with massive guns. (To make up for this partial loss of drama, the environments/wildlife they encounter are way more varied and dangerous than on SGA.)

Dev Patel plays the up-and-coming young genius scientist who bounces with excitement at everything new he sees. Marsha Thomson is an archaeologist. Kate Mulgrew is the leader back on Earth. I fancast more people but I can't remember them.

One of the recurring plot points is really exploring the alien-tech city in which they base themselves. It has bizarre quirks of architecture and layout, and the tech is pretty quirky too. Lots of weird stuff happens! Also we get to see more logistics of the expedition — people serving duty shifts serving food and cleaning (people puzzling out how alien laundry machines work!), food supply and storage problems, power generation, people actually having to figure out how to interface with alien systems. Every now and then there would be entire episodes focusing on these mostly behind-the-scenes characters.

Now someone make this.
frith_in_thorns: Red teapot with a teacup (.Teapot)
December 2nd // Masterlist

From [personal profile] alasse_irena: Talk about alternate universes! What are your favourite AUs to write in? Why?

AUs are great! I really enjoy reading and writing them, and am really happy to ramble on in this post! I'm going to make a separation between Alternate Universe and Alternate Reality (what-if fic) here, just for clarity, and mostly talk about the former. Maybe I'll talk about the latter in one of my empty slots!

The point of them, for me, is that they're additional ways to explore canon characters away from the canon source. What if their backgrounds were even more contrasted than in the source canon? What if most of the canon problems they face could be solved with magic; what new challenges would they face then? What if they were penguins? (I was in SGA fandom. My "this is too ridiculous a scenario" bar is set pretty high.)

I don't think, though, that all canons work equally well with regards to housing AUs. I think it's about the relative importance of plot vs characters as the main driver. So I've never had any interest really in reading AUs for Battlestar Galactica, where the setting the characters are in (fleeing for their lives as the surviving remnants of genocide) is what they're reacting to and what drives the plot. It's hard to imagine putting them in a different universe without having to fundamentally alter lots of things about their characterisation, and tbh I'm not sure I'd be terribly interested, since those characters in that setting and having to make these choices as a result is what makes me love the show. On the other hand, White Collar has a group of characters in a fairly generic setting who pretty much drive the plots themselves as they make choices which are due to their personalities, and it's the relationships between them which are the most important parts of the show. So there's loads of room to explore things like varying the power imbalance between Neal and Peter, or giving some of the characters magic, or having them fight together to survive the zombie apocalypse, and seeing how the character dynamics alter.

My favourite type of AU to write, as people who've read my fic might have noticed, is canon fusion. I mean, I do like worldbuilding for myself! But something just pings my enjoyment about mashing favourite canons together! And in ways different from "char from X meets char from Y" — I'm not quite sure why exactly, but I actually don't often enjoy that. I think I just always feel some wrongness about people meeting other people whom they shouldn't.

Actually, now I'm typing this, I guess that canon fusions are my way of writing fic about canons where the setting drives the plot! Like, I love The Hunger Games but it's a complete plot already, so I didn't want to write about established chars — I wanted to throw in characters from other places and see what they'd do. Or Fallen London, which is an incredibly atmospheric setting but the player is the main character and others are described sparsely/enigmatically, a choice which totally works for playing the actual game but doesn't really inspire me to read or write fic about anyone. But throwing other characters in… well, I guess the 40k AU of Fallen London which [personal profile] sholio and I have written with White Collar characters speaks for itself there *gg* (Btw, since I'm talking about it, we literally just finished uploading everything we've written in this 'verse to AO3, including some bits that we hadn't previously published to our journals. Series link here And we're really happy how many people we've managed to get into playing the game via these stories!)

Also, canon fusions give loads of freedom to pick and choose the bits you like from both canons. As illustrated by the fusion WC fic I wrote with Bioshock Infiinte — I had major major major issues with the game, but really loved the wordjumping mechanic (which was pretty underutilised tbh until the last section.) So I got to play with that, and also got to play with writing a quite different version of WC's Elizabeth. Probably it's only a matter of time until I write a fusion with BSG…

I like other AUs too! I do really enjoy silly-cute AUs where everyone is in very different situations to canon. Bookshops! (I'm writing a bookshop AU right now after having become frustrated by how most bookshop AUs don't really feature the actual bookshop and running a bookshop enough :P) Fighting zombies! Running a farm! Where they don't know each other but all crash on an island together! Although I'm not a fan of coffee shop AUs, possibly because they're everywhere. Hmm, what other AUs annoy me… ones where all the characters are amazing and selfless and all run charities and stuff or basically earn their living doing similar perfect things which are not at all their personalities. Ones where the characters have never met before but immediately start treating each other as lifelong friends. Ones which have really cool settings and don't use them at all!

Tell me in the comments: what are your favourite AUs?
frith_in_thorns: Better Butter Bugs for a Brighter Barrayar! (V Butter bugs)
December 1st

From [personal profile] magistrate: To what extent does meta change how you write fanfic/build headcanons/etc? Do you find yourself adopting good arguments, or do you take a generally "my headcanon, my rules" stance? Has meta ever dampened your enthusiasm for something by changing your perception of that thing into something you no longer enjoy?

I really enjoy reading meta! And I'm eternally grateful to people who go through and analyse character motivations and little details about what they're probably feeling/thinking, because quite often I find it very hard to pick those sort of things up from watching a source. I mean, I get general characterisation and motivations and character voice from watching, but I'm just not very good at reading people beyond the basics. So I love reading stuff from people who are really good at picking up little emotional nuances and connecting them into the wider context.

Also, the above paragraph is really only true for visual fandoms. I don't really read that much meta for books, but when I do I find I'm not anywhere near as interested in reading other peoples' interpretations of characters. I tend to come out of books with really fixed ideas on characterisation and stuff, whereas with visual sources I'm far more fluid. I think this really does come down to the lack of ambiguity in text compared to live-action, and how much easier I find the former to analyse for myself than the latter.

True for both: meta is SO USEFUL for cluing me into ships! Seriously, even with eventually-canon het couples which have apparently had all the subtlety of being hit over the head with a brick, chances are that I am still completely and utterly surprised when they suddenly start kissing. Or when I stumble over the 50 million posts talking about how much UST there is. And then occasionally I do go "...oh yeah, there totally is XD" (Neal/Keller yep), but way more often I just accept that loads of people ship it and keep wandering on in confusion. This is one of the reasons I'm pretty much gen-only!

As for headcanons... I'm never quite sure whether I have the general concept of headcanons correctly, because I don't really seem to have them. Like, I have no idea where Peter grew up or what Neal's mother was actually like or loads of things which I've seen that many people have decided for themselves. But I do think I settle into a fixed idea of what characters are like which doesn't alter between fics unless I'm purposely trying something different, although it can be influenced by meta I've read. For instance, I know I've been consciously thinking of Elizabeth Burke as much more firm in her ideas for what she wants for her life from reading loads of meta showing how this is really consistant for her characterisation (basically I'm still annoyed by OT3 shippers complaining that she was "OOC" in the show in season 4. No she really wasn't.)

As for dampening my enjoyment... hmmm. I've definitely taken on board lots of meta analysing problematic stuff in media I watch/read. But, again, I like this sort of analysis -- I feel it lets me consume stuff in a better, more informed way, as well as sometimes helping me consciously try to fix/explore specific problems in fanfic. How to be a fan of problematic things is probably familiar to many of you, and I really like it. Acknowledge and call out problems, don't replicate them in your own work, and continue enjoying the rest. (One of the only shows I have literally stopped watching because reading the meta made me realise that it was even worse than I had previously thought was BBC Sherlock. I don't miss it.)

Masterpost (PS I still have quite a few spaces)
frith_in_thorns: Red teapot with a teacup (.Teapot)
Last year I started doing the post-every-day-in-December meme last year, but, um. Let's try it again this year.

Rules, as last year: pick a day and tell me what you'd like me to write about. Fact, fiction, weird imaginings, my Feelings on Yarn. You can also ask for more than one day, as my flist here is quite small (but lovely!).

December 01 - To what extent does meta change how you write fanfic/build headcanons/etc?
December 02 - Talk about alternate universes! What are your favourite AUs to write in? Why?
December 03 - Talk about your ideal TV show
December 04 - Identifying as autistic (flocked)
December 05 - Talk about some character types and/or story tropes that you love.
December 06 -
December 07 - Favorite science fiction books. (Right now.)
December 08 -
December 09 - Potential fics by song lyric
December 10 - The Mechanisms!
December 11 -
December 12 - Feelings on yarn
December 13 - Knitting projects :) Past, current, and/or future.
December 14 -
December 15 - If you could arbitrarily delete any one holiday tradition from another and institute another in its place, what would you do?
December 16 - One (or more) thing(s) you like about Winter.
December 17 - A fandom first that stuck with you
December 18 - Your Feelings On ......... Squid. And other tentacled deep-sea things.
December 19 -
December 20 - Feelings about knitting generally
December 21 - What have you always been curious to try?
December 22 - Your favorite wintertime foods.
December 23 - Favourite Fairy Tales
December 24 -
December 25 -
December 26 -
December 27 - Is there anything you desperately wish you could write, but haven't figured out how to yet?
December 28 - Things that make you feel cozy and at home.
December 29 -
December 30 - Winter pt 2
December 31 -
frith_in_thorns: Hardcover books standing upright (.Books)
I am picking up the December posting meme again, because I'm just that awesome!

[livejournal.com profile] imbecamiel asked, What makes you love a book?

The short answer to this is: characters. I need protagonists that I like and sympathise with. They don't necessarily have to be good people, but I still have to empathise with them (even if it's while simultaneously thinking, "Wow, you're a terrible person!" I'm having a problem coming up with an example off the top of my head, but the movie In Bruges would be a perfect one. If it were a book.) When I don't care about anyone I tend to wonder why I'm reading a book at all and wind up totally hating it. (See: Wuthering Heights.)

Also definitely important is the story itself, and the worldbuilding, and how both of those relate back to the characters. I like plots which are expanding, and uplifting, and end with the characters being better and deeper than they were before. I love stories which are difficult, and dangerous, but are ultimately about growth and joy. Sam Vimes and October Daye and Tiffany Aching and Miles Vorkosigan and Lirael and Tris.

There are some genres in which I'm more likely to find books I love -- sci-fi and fantasy over real life; although Anne Fine's All Bones and Lies is one of my comfort reads, and "traditional" male-dominated SFF leaves me cold. Guy Gavriel Kay's alternate history over actual history, with exceptions for Rosemary Sutcliff. Stories about women. Stories about young girls being powerful and changing the world.

I love... imagination. Patriarchal romance is boring when there are lesbian sky-pirates and bloggers documenting the zombie apocalypse and female faerie private investigators and Regency academic magicians and crystal dragons which are the secret hearts of mountains. I love stories which show that there's more, and characters who embrace that.

These are books which I love.
frith_in_thorns: (.Flail)
December meme. (I haven't started at the top of the list, as some of the topics require me to get my thoughts much more in order than they currently are! But I shall get to them all.)

~

01: Favourite children's programme - requested by [livejournal.com profile] leesa_perrie

More words than I was expecting )
frith_in_thorns: (Default)
This looks interesting. (Via [livejournal.com profile] embroiderama)

Give me a topic, and at some point in the next few weeks I'll ramble about it. It can be anything from fandom-related (TV shows, books, computer games) to life-related (aspirations, identity, political beliefs) to pizza preferences to whatever you want.

My rambles will probably be brief, or not, depending on the subject.

Also, I reserve the right to decline prompts that I don't feel equipped to meet (although my favourite compliment I have ever received was "The thing I like most about you is that you have a strong opinion on everything, and you can explain it in enormous detail," so I can usually find something to say :D)

Topics: you can get an idea from my tags/from the stuff I usually ramble about/from things you maybe wish I talked about more but don't. Lurkers, passers-by, etc, all welcome -- don't be shy. :-)

Topic list (mostly for my reference):
The October Daye series
Favourite children's programme
Peter/Neal
Hurt/comfort
Being poly
Post-anklet headcanons
The Mechanisms in Fallen London
What I like in an original character
What makes me love a book

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