Apr. 25th, 2017 12:37 pm
muccamukk: Bill and Twevle wearing forced smiles of distress. (DW: happyhappyhappy)
I made two non-spoilery icons for Doctor Who 10x02. Feel free to take and alter as you like.

muccamukk: A basket with a seal in it. Text: WTF!? (Politics: Phoque (WTF!?))
Enjoyed Doctor Who 10x02 "Smile." Though it's one of those situations where it's best just to coast on the banter and not really think too hard about the plot. It was one heck of a gorgeous episode in any case, and I do need a Bill icon from it. I'm still loving Bill's practicality and this slightly lighter, bouncier Twelve. Long may it last. They're having fun with not telling about the mystery so far, too (it's Gallifrey). Looking forward to next week.

Nenya and I watched Yellow Sky, which was a competent western staring Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter. It was only slightly rapey and a little bit racist, and had some nice cinematography, so I'm calling it okay for a Western.

We then watched Lust in the Dust Duel in the Sun, which I expected to be basically the same but in technicolor, and boy was it not.

To understand this movie, you have to picture this: The year is 1945, and our hero lies alone in a Florida swamp. He has spent months playing the happiest homesteader in history, despite the fact that his costars are 126 deer, 9 black bears, 37 dogs, 17 buzzards, 1 owl, 83 chickens, 36 pigs, 8 rattlesnakes, 18 squirrels, 4 horses, 17 raccoons and the world's most annoying child actor. Also Jane Wyman. He's not allowed to make out with Jane Wyman. It's a family picture, so the most he can do is put his arm around her shoulders, stare into the matte-painted sunrise, and say things like, "Golly, the Lord sure made a mighty fine day to plant corn on, ain't He?" (The director made them cut the "golly.") In between swatting mosquitoes, our hero writes to the man currently holding his contract. "Dear Mr. Selznick, Next time, please cast me in the opposite of this. Third billing is fine. Yours ever, Gregory."

Let it never be said that David O. Selznick didn't come through on that one! Below there be spoilers, and screenshots (including a regrettablely small amount of shirtlessness, and a regrettablely large amount of brownface). )
muccamukk: Close up of Rey wearing a beat up X-Wing pilot's helmet and looking up at the sky. (SW: Dream of Stars)
When the Star Wars: The Last Jedi teaser dropped, I watched it three times and then woke Nenya up and made her watch it. Nenya: That... doesn't really show anything new. Me: *wanders around cheerfully humming Binary Sunset theme for next two days.* Apparently I'm easy.

"Carrie Fisher Was a Script Doctor For Star Wars: The Last Jedi"

Star Wars - The Force Awakens - Rey's Theme - Violin vs. Machine cover.

Most of you know now I have a mixed relationship with Moffat's run, which has followed my mixed relationship with RTD's run. I watched the last two Christmas specials, liked the River one, was kinda meh on the super hero one, hadn't watched the last series with Clara because the previous series with Clara pissed me off so badly. I love Capaldi generally, but found that Twelve wasn't really my Doctor (though he was more my Doctor than Matt Smith, admittedly). I liked Clara, but her plots often made me want to set my hair on fire, so I bailed for a bit.

Doctor Who 10x01: "The Pilot." OMG! I LOVED THIS EPISODE! I love Bill. I love her relationship with what seems to be a kinder, lighter Twelve. I like Nardol and how he seems to be the one proping up the Doctor, rather than the companion doing all the emotional h/c stuff. Spoilers )

Apparently Kris Marshall is the odds on favourite for the new Doctor. Please no.

I watched Cape Fear, or rather I watched the bits of Cape Fear that weren't showing women being terrorised. It was a short movie.

Nenya and I watched The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, which we both really liked. There have been a million movies about white suburban malaise in the 1950s, and I guess this was one of the first. I really did like the focus on mental health, struggling to set boundries, and how much each little individual choice made up your character. It felt like it was about real people, not the pop version of what the '50s were like. I'm surprised they got all the gory and unglamorous depictions of WWII past the censors.

Nenya and I watched The Purple Plain, which was enjoyable on another level. It's a British WWII movie about a Canadian Mosquito pilot in Burma who is Sad Because of His Dead Wife, and Learns To Love Again. The plot was not all that, but it was reasonable in its depiction of the Burmese, and featured perspiration soaked and increasingly grubby Gregory Peck the Canadian, so I was well pleased. I was charmed that they'd obviously decided to hire him, knew he couldn't do a British accent, and therefore literally labeled him "CANADA" and called it done. (I have a weakness for RCAF Mosquito pilots as that's how my maternal grandfather spent the war, though not in Burma.)

TV Reviews

Nov. 2nd, 2016 03:49 pm
muccamukk: Sara in a beret and a lot of diamonds glancing back over her shoulder. (LoT: Undercover)
I'm enjoying Class a hell of a lot more than I've enjoyed Doctor Who in a very long time. I pretty well love everyone in this bar, and think there doing some very interesting things with the story. Also, hey, a cast of of six with exactly zero straight white dudes. Huh.

I don't have many episode-specific thoughts, but would like to see more tie ins to known Doctor Who stuff. Can we get Jo Grant? She's great.

Behind on Supergirl.

Legends of Tomorrow 2x03 - "Shogun." You know, as soon as I saw the title, I went, "Oh, god, here we go," and this episode was pretty much exactly that, or possibly slightly worse. Spoilers )
muccamukk: Rommie wearing a party hat and holding a noise maker. Text: "Warship" (Andromeda: War/Party)
I got some really lovely things. Lots of greetings and pictures and stuff, especially of lighthouses (so many lighthouses!), which was really great. Fandom is the best. Also, icons of naked ladies, lighthouses, a lighthouses, more lighthouses, even MORE lighthouses, and Misty Knight, a sweet Jess/Luke drawing, adorable Jess/Trish fic, adorable Brig&Liz&Three fic, a Sinbad/Gunnar drabble, a podfic of my Quantum Leap fic, and an Emma/Shalimar wallpaper.

I also wrote some things:

Title: Zen and the Art of Hair Maintenance (stocking link)
Fandom: Babylon 5 (Susan Ivanova & Delenn)
Rating/contents: G
Word Count: 275
Summary: Missing Scene from 2x07 "Soul Mates."

Title: Caught by the Light (stocking link)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien (Gimli/Legolas, Glóin)
Rating/contents: G
Word Count: 555
Summary: A lot of unexpected things happened at the Council of Elrond, but not even the Wise could have predicted this. (Soulmate AU)

Title: The Winter Soldier, in the Kitchen, with the Cybernetic Arm (stocking link)
Fandom: Highlander/Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Duncan MacLeod, Bucky Barnes)
Rating/contents: Teen (canon-typical violence)
Word Count: 795
Summary: Or, Five Times the Winter Soldier Killed Duncan MacLeod, and One Time Duncan Almost Killed him Back.

Title: Passing Fancies (stocking link)
Fandom: Doctor Who (River Song/Eighth Doctor)
Rating/contents: G
Word Count: 300
Summary: Snippet of River and Eight crossing timelines.

Title: Eight Notes from the End Times (stocking link)
Fandom: Jessica Jones (Jessica/Trish, Jessica/Luke, Malcolm)
Rating/contents: Teen (apocafic)
Word Count: 880
Summary: Jessica never expected to hear from Luke again, so it pretty well figured that this was what it took.

Title: Old Stars, Burning Bright (stocking link)
Fandom: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Original Character, Leia, Poe)
Rating/contents: G
Word Count: 810
Summary: The Resistance's newest pilot meets an old hand.

Title: Courting Gifts (stocking link)
Fandom: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien (Arwen/Éowyn, Arwen/Aragorn)
Rating/contents: G
Word Count: 1,025
Summary: Historically, the path to true love between Human and Elf never did run smooth.
muccamukk: Eight smiling and buttoning his shirt. (DW: Delighted)
I've been trying to keep up with Escape Pod and Pod Castle lately, well, by which I mean I downloaded all of their Artemis Rising thing last February, and am pretty much only listening to it now. My soft goal is to grab everything written by a woman, at least, and hopefully listen to it at some point. I'm close to caught up on Pod Castle, but really behind on Escape Pod. Are people here interested in reviews of short fiction podcasts? I've just sort of been sailing past them, but I could post at least a few sentences of thoughts?

I did listen to the Big Finish story The Diary of River Song which was excellent and exactly the kind of River Song adventure I want to read, plus a small amount of bad things happening to the Eighth Doctor. I really liked that they found a way for River and Eight to interact that didn't bust continuity (such as it is). I was worried that they wouldn't talk, but they way they got it to happen was excellent. I love them both so much! I'm behind on all other Big Finish stuff.

It has been suggested that more people do podfic, which was a thing I once enjoyed! I may try again.

Mostly I've been listening to Unreserved and In Our Time in a studious attempt to avoid picking up the audio book I'm supposed to be listening to.
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (DW: Bookworm)
Doctor Who 9x01 'The Magician's Apprentice': I don't like it. I think I'm going to sit this series out so all y'all don't have to hear me moaning about it.

Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below by Martha Wells
Another excellent series of adventures, most of which I hadn't read. The first featuring Moon on his own is a good standalone, and really underlines his later character development. The short stories in the middle add new points of view, a comedy bit, and some more world building. The anchor story is my favourite, with Moon and Jade as expectant parents, and a mystery afoot. The pacing is great, and there as so many fantastic character moments. It's great to see a whole story set in the court at home.

Great addition to the series, very much looking forward to the next few books.

Goddess by Kelly Gardiner
Quite a different style for me, alternating chapters of first-person deathbed confession with omniscient third for vignettes of her life. The confession bits could drag a bit, as they're mostly her arguing with her confessor, and it got a bit samey, but I adored the overall tone, and the characters had such strong voices.

Oddly it reminded me most of Kate Mulgrew's biography, in it's straightforward self-approbation and lack of interest in compromise. You can see how our heroine probably wasn't that easy to get along with, and you can see the mistakes she made, but by the end, I cared as little as she did. It's just really nice to see a woman saying, "Why yes, I am awesome."

I also really liked all the historical details and music references. Gardiner clearly researched her ass off, and the book has a wonderful sense of place. I look forward to what the author will do next.

(Disclosure: the author is a friend of a friend, and I had dinner with her after I read her books. She's very nice.)

Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) by Zen Cho
I had a lot of expectations for this book, being such a huge fan of Jade Yeo, and this happily lived up to all of them.

I loved both of the lead characters, how different they were, and how the author brought them together on points of sympathy. The omniscient third person narration worked very well in that regard. I felt deeply for both of them, and their dilemmas and concerns.

The world building was great, with a few horror elements to enliven what could be overly fluffy Regency court politics. I loved how Cho held the best answers for last, but kept up the looming sense of dread.

I'm kind of in awe of how many plots were on the go here, more so that Cho managed to weave them all back in, by the end. I wasn't sure she'd manage it, but all the international and inter-dimensional politics, plotting wizards, personal dramas, mysteries and romances managed to come together in the last few chapters. Neatly done, especially for a first long work.

I can't wait for the next one.

1914: Goodbye To All That edited by Lavinia Greenlaw
Enjoyable and interesting if somewhat puzzling. I'm pretty sure the solicit was "How you personally view the intersection of art and the first world war," which brought a predictably varied group of responses. Some essays are reflections of the difficulty of connecting with things that happened five generations ago; some on specific things that happened; some on the moral demands on an artist in that conflict, or in current conflicts; some a mix of those elements. Many included the work of the war poets.

I appreciated the effort to include the voices of more than England, France and Germany, and the book did contain a wide variety of perspectives, including Turkey, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and China, to remind the reader that it was a world war. I did feel that it could have included a handful more essays; there was nothing from the Americas, Australia or Eastern Europe made it in, for example. It's a slim volume, with each essay packing a punch, but a little more wouldn't have hurt.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
There were things I loved about this book, and things that didn't work for me at all. The latter were mostly deliberate on the part of the author, so it's not like they were bad, just not for me.

The main one on that list is the made up language stuff I spent a good deal of the time not having a clue who anyone was because I got lost in three syllable elvish titles. These titles meant things like "countess" and "adviser" and I see no reason they couldn't have been "translated" into English the way emperor and witness were.

Despite that, I loved the main character, who was sort of Jane Eyre Gets to Be Emperor: unfailing kindness and justice despite knowing largely cruelty. He consistently made the choice to be compassionate because he'd seen what a lack of compassion led to, and I loved that. A lot of the other characters felt a bit thin and stockish, but there was so much going on with Maia's internal life that others kind of got pushed aside.

I also liked the changing world, that the main political issue was how technology would change the trade balance, and the buzz of women's rights happening at court. It made the world feel lived in. I wasn't as impressed with the who species being white elves and black goblins, which felt a bit heavy-handed and tacky, more so than the book deserved.

I really hope we see more books about main characters who struggle to be kind and compassionate, and succeed, but this one wasn't totally for me.
muccamukk: A basket with a seal in it. Text: WTF!? (Politics: Phoque (WTF!?))
[community profile] femslashex nominations are still open, and will be for another five days. Get your pairings and poly groups in! Lots of exciting choices posted already.

Vid: Odds Are
Vidder: [personal profile] settiai (The whole gang)
Fandom: Star Wars Rebels
Song: "Odds Are" by The Barenaked Ladies
Content notes: Hugging!
Notes: I saw like the first episode of this show, and meant to get back to it, and then didn't, but if you ever want a vid to sell you on something, try this one. The vid is adorable.

Vid: 1941
Vidder: [personal profile] rhoboat
Fandom: Agent Carter (Peggy mostly, also Steve, Angie, Dottie, Jarvis, Howard, the boys)
Song: "1941" by Klaypex, featuring Virian
Content notes: Canon typical violence, a lot of fast cuts.
Notes: This is a vid in which Peggy beats the crap out of everyone and basically owns. It's amazing.

Vid: Survivor
Vidder: [personal profile] odessie
Fandom: Doctor Who (Brig, Sarah Jane, Amy, Martha, Jack, Mickey, Jo, Rose, Pretty Well Everyone and K-9 too)
Song: "Survivor"/"I Will Survive" by the Glee Cast
Content notes: JOY! (Probably some fast cuts? Mostly JOY!)
Notes: A celebration of companions having lives, before, during and after their relationship with the Doctor. Also, quite a bit of hugging. If this vid doesn't make a Doctor Who fan grin, idk what's wrong with you.

Now, I bet you've all been wondering about some of the more famous mythology surrounding the seal. Brought to you by a conversation about seal finger with the other lightkeeper.

1. Do seals have human voices?
Yes. Yes they do.

2. No, really.
Seriously! I can't speak to other species, though I expect it's similar, but certain times of year, the harbour seals we get around here get super chatty. Around mid-July through September, they start talking, and I swear to God they sound like people. Specifically, they sound like a woman's voice heard over the water. I have been on my own when I know for a fact I'm the only human in miles, and have searched high and low for where the woman is, only to eventually realise with the seals (I usually do this in July, when I've forgotten it's a thing). You sure can see where all the shifter stories come from.

3. Do seals follow people?
Yes they do. It's adorable. They'll swim along side you as you walk on the shore, and they also come up to you when you're swimming, though they swim away when you look at them.

4. Do seals smile?
Smiling is the default expression of the seal. Again, adorable!

5. If you touch a seal, does your hand turn into a flipper?
Sort of. Seals carry a micro-organism that can give you a condition called "Seal Finger." If you touch them, especially if there's blood to blood transmission, you can pick it up. It makes your finger joints swell and your hand become unusable. It can, in the end, be a bit flipper like. Though mostly these days people take antibiotics before it gets that bad.

6. Have you ever gotten seal finger?
No! Because I don't touch seals! However, I do know a guy who did, and it was super satisfying because he was more or less abusing a seal, and I feel he got what was coming. (He was trying to "take care if it," and wouldn't listen to any of the biologists tell him to knock it off, and then the seal died, and he got a flipper hand.)

7. Do seals abandon their pups?
No. Generally, if you find a seal pup on the beach, its mom has left it there in order to go fishing, and she'll come back to get it later (same as a fawn, but with more fish). Don't touch it. Under no circumstances pick it up, wrap it in your jacket, transport it out of a national park, and keep it in your bathtub. (True story, and different from the guy in #6. People are weird about seals.) If you do that, I hope you get seal finger.

8. But sometimes seals abandon their pups, right?
Okay, yes. Sometimes there are abandoned pups. Usually because something has happened to mom, or because humans have moved it and she can't find it, or because it's already sick, and mom's cut her losses. In which case, the seal pup will die of exposure. And then the eagles will eat it. And the black bears will eat it. And the crows and ravens will eat it. And the pine martins and mink will eat it. And the crabs will eat it. The carcases are basically down to bones in less than two hours, and after that something will eat the bones. And thus will continue the circle of life.

9. But that's really sad!
I guess? Seals are really cute, and I like them a lot. On the other hand, I like all the other animals too, and they need to eat. Harbour seals are not exactly rare (I support rescuing sea otters and other endangered species). Some die off of the pups is just the way it goes.

10. I'm still really sad about the dying baby seals.
Go watch the vids I recced. Most of them have hugging. Or, here're some tiny baby otters.
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (Musketeers: Milady Watching)
Icon from here. I'm not even much in The Musketeers fandom any more, but I can't stop getting icons. It's just such a pretty show.

This is rather fun. It works better if you choose one side or the other, rather than saying "I like both" a lot. Though if you don't like either, just say "no opinion," and it'll send them to the bottom. Anyway, my top ten results:
1. Loyalty Kink
2. 'Groundhog Day'/Karmic Time Warp
3. Amnesia
4. Seemingly Unrequited Pining
4. Actually Unrequited Pining
6. Sex Pollen
6. Hurt/Comfort
8. Fake Dating/Fake Marriage Accidentally Turns Into Feelings
9. Royalty/Arranged Marriage
10. A/B/O

Which, if you know me, is reasonably accurate.

On that topic, listened to Companion Chronicles "The Many Deaths of Jo Grant" by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright which certainly satisfied my needs for Loyalty Kink and H/C, and possibly Karmic Time Warp as well. I mean, listen to this tagline: "I wasn't going to let this happen. After all we’d been through, the Doctor wasn't going to die like this, on his knees, in the mud." Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

Have I mentioned that I like Jo Grant? A lot. Oh, in the interviews after, Katy Manning mentioned that it was recorded just after Nicholas Courtney passed away, and that she'd had trouble doing the Brig's voice without crying. I'm glad I didn't listen to it then. Also, when you interview Katy, she randomly changes accents and voices between her normal voice, her Jo voice, Iris Wiildthyme's voice, and a couple other things she's making up as she goes.

My favourite Katy Manning fact: the whole Doctor grabs his companion's hand and runs thing came from Katy being pretty well blind without her glasses, which Jo Grant didn't wear. So first time she tried to run by herself, she smacked into a tree. Therefore, Jon Pertwee always held her hand so that she could get safely across the set.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Another book everyone told me I'd love that I... didn't love.

It was fine. The plot was fast-paced and kept me reading. I liked Our Heroine quite a bit, and how grounded and pragmatic she was. I'm as down for a power fantasy tapping into Baba Yaga mythology as the next girl, and hey, power of female friendship and trees! So, fluffy adventure in the line of those fantasy novels I loved in the '90s (Mercedes Lackey comes to mind, as does Andre Norton). I probably would have adored this book when I was fourteen.

However, the world building was almost entirely Eastern-European Flavoured Handwavium, where magic worked or didn't according to the whims of the plot, there wasn't much in the way of a sense of place or culture past a bunch of... Polish(?) thrown about the place. Nice change from Latin, I guess. I found myself comparing the setting to Erin Bow's Plain Kate and finding it fell far, far short.

The women who weren't our heroine felt very lightly drawn, with our own black women getting stuck with Cassandra's role, and the antagonist having a lot of SPOILERY implications. Though, to be fair, there wasn't a lot of character depth or development happening anywhere.

And the romance, as mentioned on my status page, was not my cuppa. With apologies to Charlotte Brontë, gruff and emotionally constipated older man/wilful and unconventional teen girl feels a bit played out, and they didn't really have much chemistry anyway. I kept wanting her to get together with her female BFF, but alas.

Anyway, fun way to kill a weekend, may check out the sequel if there is one. I'm kind of played out on the dragons and empires books.
muccamukk: Bodie sneaking into a house, gun in hand; Doyle leans against the wall behind him, unconcerned. Text: Team Work (Pros: Team Work)
Did you know that you can download an audiobook J.R.R. Tolkein's The Silmarillion legally and for free? And that it is read by Martin Shaw (Ray Doyle from The Professionals), who does a very good job with all the silly Elvish and the thees and thous? Well you can. This is good, because I've been avoiding rereading for about fifteen years, even though I vaguely feel I should, but now I have a plotbunny that requires more Silm knowledge than I've managed to hang onto. Win/Win all around.

Listened to The Companion Chronicles 7.09 "The Scorchies" by James Goss. Which was an evil episode of the Muppets, complete with silly songs, staring Jo and Three. I now have "We Killed Him Dead" as an earworm; thank you, Big Finish. Completely hilarious. Katy Manning does quite a good Three voice, though her Brig could use work. Jo Grant is rapidly becoming one of my favourite companions.

Watched Quantum Leap "Maybe Baby" which has always been a favourite of mine because it's just so gosh darn cute. Lots of shirtless Sam holding a baby, and the heroine of the episode is shown to be a compulsive liar, promiscuous, and a bit flighty, but still 100% a hero and good person.

Also watched a bunch of Firefly because I was in a mood, and hadn't seen it in a while, ended up binging through "Safe," "Ariel," "Objects in Space," Serenity, and bits of "War Stories." I'm far less amused by the stupid fake Chinese than I was when I first watched it, and of the Confederate mythology, and, well, it's pretty hard to look at Adam Baldwin these days. However, I still love River and Simon and the absolute unbreakable tie there, and Zoe and Wash, and Kaylee, and the wisecracking and jokes. I am very fond of much of that story.

Watched the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee version of Sense and Sensibility which does a rather remarkable job of adapting the book. I think better than any of the P&P adaptations I've seen. I'm always very interested in how adaptations change things and slim them down for the movies. This one stripped out about half of the background characters (Lady Middleton, her kids, Miss Steele, almost everyone who lived around Barton Cottage) and also dumped the scenes in the middle with Edward visiting, and the duplicated ball in the London section. It also pretty well took out the parody of Gothic stories, by ditching the would-be non-deathbed non-confession and making Brandon's backstory less hilariously over the top. Mr. Palmer and Mrs. Dashwood (the mom) were both more sympathetic and reasonable. I did not recognise Imelda Staunton.

They tried to push the romances forward by having Alan Rickman pretend he could smile (no go), and frontloading the film with Edward's scenes (somewhat more effective). I think Edward/Elinor worked better for me than in the book in that they actually got screen time together, but Brandon/Marianne still did absolutely nothing for me, even though they seemed to make Marianne twenty or so, and put Elinor in her thirties. Shipped Elinor/Brandon slightly less than in the book, mostly because they cut a bunch of the scenes where they hung out post being ditched by their love interests. For all that, the relationship between the sisters is still the core of the story.
muccamukk: Jeff sitting with his collar unbuttoned, relaxed and happy. (B5: Fond Look)
First off, I forgot to mention that I got this first one from Remix Madness. I thought I had, but... no? So here it is now, and eight femme remix fic, and one random fic I really liked.

Ten Recs: MCU, Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, Star Trek: AOS, Babylon 5, Narnia, Leverage, Raksura, Stargate: Atlantis. )
muccamukk: Eight smiling and buttoning his shirt. (DW: Delighted)
Anyone seen the Amazon series Transparent? Someone just recced it to me, but I'm generally leery of comedies, and the main character is played by a cis dude. How does it do?

How about Astronaut Wives Club? I liked the book, and find the whole Mercury program culture really interesting, but can see so many ways it could go badly. Plus making a tv show about real people who are mostly still alive seems kind odd.

Finally gave up on The True Story of Canada's War of Extermination on the Pacific by Tom Swanky
This book is on a really important topic, but it's so poorly written and organised that you're more or less better off reading the summary and moving on.

The text skips between years and narrative threads at random, and leaves all in confusion in its wake. This is absolutely not helped by the author mixing commentary in with retelling, and never failing to use ten words and a flowery metaphor when two words would cover it.

It seems to be self-published, which is too bad, because the research is there, and with a decent editor, this could have been a really important book.

The short version is: when the Hudson's Bay Company discovered gold in the BC interior, they and/or their agents deliberately spread smallpox to make the land grab easier. The BC government at the time was up to its neck in all this, and judicially murdered anyone who had a problem with it, never mind that there was no treaty and they had no legal authority over anyone. I already knew this, but would have liked more details, and it was really frustrating to deal with a book that promised them and then kept tripping on itself. I just want it told start to finish in a readable manner. I also wanted a book that I could point to as a good source of BC history from a First Nations perspective. Oh well, another time, hopefully.

Listened to three Doctor Who: Companion Chronicles, which are short two-hander audio plays told from the PoV of various side characters.

3.11. "The Mahogany Murderers" by Andy Lane, with Jago and Litefoot, who were from some Four saga I haven't seen, but have taken off as stars of their own series. It's sort of an Odd Couple Victorian Adventure, and is fun for what it is, but I kind of don't need more Victorian Dudes, and didn't find it as good as The Scaryfiers which is more or less doing the same thing (in the 1930s), so may pass on following it up.

5.03. "Find and Replace" by Paul Magrs, with Jo Grant and Iris Wildthyme. The joke is that they're both played by Katy Manning, but the success of the play is that it never actually makes that joke, even in a nod nod wink wink kind of way. Also, it's a really sweet adventure that has some nice bits with Three and has Iris as a savvy operator and massive troll. It also stars Jo as happy in her own choices and loving her life with the Doctor, but not bitter or regretful that she's not with him anymore.

8.11. "The Elixir of Doom" by Paul Magrs, with Jo Grant and Iris Wildthyme. Same as the last one, but with Eight instead of Three. Sadly, we don't have Jo and Eight interacting because Iris keeps heading him of in case he tries to steal her assistant. I really liked the interaction between Iris and Jo, and how Iris keeps sort of sliding into heroism. Also interesting notes about class issues on Gallifrey. Katy Manning is adorable and talented, but she cannot do an American accent.

Definitely going to listen to more of these. What Companion Chronicles do you rec?
muccamukk: Uhura sitting at her station, her self in colour, everthing else in grayscale. (ST: Uhura)
I would give the grey whales of this area five stars. Excellent viewing. Though perhaps not today, as it's foggy.

Seattle Review of Books: Talking with Nicola Griffith about the importance of counting women's stories.

Listened to Dark Eyes 4, which was again pretty disappointing, though I didn't make me want to break things like 3 did. They're back to linear storytelling for the Doctor, which helped, and the first two stories which were just sort of the Doctor and Liv bashing about London and Paris were fun, but once we got into the Master V. The Daleks V. the Sontarans V. the Doctor, OMG! I don't care! (Though Eight did manage to get amnesia at one point which pretty well never gets old). I think my problem with this series is that the moment the Master shows up, the companions change from characters to game pieces, and the writers don't seem to realise that. Molly is hardly there, though she gets some excellent scenes in the last act, and Liv spends half the time as a hostage (though we were fortunately in a mind control free zone this time around). I want Doctor Who to be about the Doctor and the companions sharing the universe, not the Doctor fighting people all the time, and the companions as liabilities. Spoilers: Read more... ) I'd heartily rec the first two Dark Eyes stories, and then probably just skip the next two.

The house we're staying in while here has a really good SF DVD collection, so Nenya and I have watched, so far, Star Trek "Operation – Annihilate" which was the blueray one with the new special effects, though these didn't apply to the slug things that still looked like fried eggs. Anyway, good for h/c but had both Nenya and I yelling, "THAT'S WHAT RADIATION IS!" at the screen. Then we watched Stargate: Atlantis "McKay and Mrs. Miller" because Nenya hadn't met Jeanie Miller yet, which was still good, though I find my tolerance for Rodney has gone down since I was in SGA fandom. Jeanie's still aces though, and SAAAAAAAAAAAAAM. Also watched Quantum Leap "Honeymoon Express" which has one of the best Sam/Al scenes in it, and surprisingly good consent issues, considering it was 198whatever. Oh, and the villain was oddly hot.

At the rate I'm going through my (Probably Totally Pie in the Sky) Reading List, I fully expect to be through it by the time I'm forty, if then. Anyway, finished another one.

Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2) by Octavia E. Butler
I liked this one much better than Sower, it felt like it had more shape and more of a point. (Butler mentioned that it was meant to be one book, but got too long, so she basically hacked the first part off. Which kind of shows.) I really liked the lens of Lauren's daughter writing about Lauren as a way to come to terms with her mother and what she had done. It was such a fascinating relationship and one not easily resolved. Of the four characters that get first person voices in the book, each sees God, the world and the other view point characters completely differently, which is something a lot of books try for, but few manage so well.

Butler also said that the book was about what people did when faced with a broken country, and how different solutions came in conflict and how each worked out. Which is like jam for me, and I loved how what worked for Lauren wasn't what worked for other people, but that some approaches were obviously wrong, though you could see why people took them up.

On that note, Butler has come back around to slavery, and first person accounts thereof, so warnings for everything, OMG! It was really interesting to read this in the same year as Kindred, as it deals with some of the same themes, but at opposite ends of her career. I'm sad that Butler didn't get a chance to finish the third book, even though this one stands fine without and is a good ending.


-does the dance of joy-
muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (QL: I lift my eyes to thee)
Trying to listen to The Martian by Andy Weir, because I find people building things with science incredibly calming, which is working out. Mostly, however, I'm struck by how Mark would never, ever have passed the NASA psych evaluations that are required for a long-term mission. No one would put up with him. I think it says a lot about the author that he doesn't seem to realise that at all. I don't think he knows that his protagonist is an immature jerk who would never make it in space, because Wier's likely projecting himself and his peers into the story, and doesn't realise that that 's not what the rest of the world is like (and hasn't read Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth). It's of very little surprise that he mostly reads other straight white male authors like himself. Nenya (unusually uncharitably for her, but provoked by me): "Maybe they're the only ones who cater to his id."

I think the movie will be an improvement.

Book: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes by Chris Hadfield
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I know that pictures from space are an old hat by now, but this is a fantastic selection, and beautifully framed. Hadfield mostly likes dry places I think, so there's A LOT of Australia, and not very many islands in the Oceania section, but that's a quibble. I got this from the library, but will probably buy it once the price comes down.

Radio play: Dark Eyes 3 by Matt Fitton
Wow. That was disappointing. They tried to do everything that worked so well in the first two and totally fubbed it. The storytelling that was non-linear for most of the characters but followed a throughline for something else (in this case the Human-Eminence War) didn't keep me guessing as to what was happening and how it would turn out, it just made me not care. It was confusing, and since they kept resetting the timeline, there were basically no stakes and no reason to get invested in any particular characters. No matter what they did, it'd all get undone by the next story. Plus there was some really heavy-handed and gross Colonialism Is Bad, But the Colonised Are Dumb message in one episode, which.... It's not like the English shouldn't ever engage with their Imperial Past, but I've basically never seen Big Finish do it well, and maybe they should stop trying. Anyway, all that wasn't my biggest complaint.

In Dark Eyes one, the companion was basically also the McGuffen, the mystery of her origins drove the story, BUT they also let her have her own motivations, personality and let her influence events. The same was true of the second one. This time, Molly spent almost the entire episode either brainwashed, drugged or both, while the Master basically mined her body for its power. It was every bit as awful as it sounds. It also made it really hard to enjoy the Master's scenes. He's usually over the top awful, and that's fine, but this was just so personal and gross that it really undercut him. I just wanted him to die, not keep the Doctor on his back foot until the end when the Doctor finally won. Liv was also more or less a pawn the whole series, and Sally absolutely was. And so the fight went on between four or five dudes in power, who all used and fought over women. It was just terrible.

There are better Big Finish titles, and you can enter to win some by completing a survey here.

Movie: The Grandmaster directed by Wong Kar Wai, staring Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi
Very, very thing on plot, not much in the way of memorable dialogue (though maybe it did better in Chinese), but very, very pretty. This is a movie that aside from enjoying highly stylised kung fu fights, wanted to look at the actors' faces a lot, and also show rain and flowers and period hats. Mostly though it wanted us to look at Leung and Zhang, and I have NO problem with that. Totally fine by me. I appreciated that it spent almost as much time on Gong Er's story as it did on Ip Man's, even if the plot was all silliness.

Novella: Water to Wine (A METAtropolis Story) by Mary Robinette Kowal, narrated by Kate Mulgrew
You probably don't need to have heard any of the other stories in the shared universe to follow this one, as the woldbuilding is pretty standard, and the story mostly deals with local concerns.

It's about the youngest daughter of a vintner, her father, her sisters, and the challenges they have to deal with twenty minutes into the future. The story is pretty straightforward, and mostly focuses on the relationships between the sisters and their attitudes toward the vineyard. It worked really well for me. I appreciated that one of the sisters was queer, and that her wife was a major character as well. And, you know, read by Captain Janeway, so can't go wrong there.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by the author
Short, passionate and to the point. Again, I'm not the target audience, but I think it's the clearest explanation and exploration of race relations in America that I've read. As with his first book, it didn't have much to do with women, though they're mentioned as peers more here, but he seems less to be ignoring them then intentionally not wanting to presume to speak for them, which I can respect. Toni Morrison called this, "Required reading," and I can see why, but I can't think of much else to say.

I didn't put this in my posted review, but listening to this book had an odd side effect. I don't want to read any more about race politics in America. Not because I think this book is definitive and I'm done learning, though it is very good. And not because I don't think they're unimportant. But I kept feeling this urge to turn back to my own country. I felt the same reading about the women's movement in The Secret History of Wonder Woman, that I know more about America than I do about where I actually live.

It's so easy to get sucked into American media, and I don't think it's wrong to do so. A lot of the pop culture I enjoy comes from there, so I think it's reasonable to read up on the background for it, especially when it comes to histories of violence and oppression. Plus, US stuff is so much easier to find, especially in audio versions, whereas Canada, which has a population smaller than quite a few states, is a little more catch as catch can. However, I am going to try read more of my own history for a bit, especially First Nations stuff. -picks up a book about Nazi Germany-. Or not.
muccamukk: Blue Beetle grinning as he lands. Speech bubble: I did it with science! (DC: SCIENCE!)

Here's a pretty colour-enhanced picture of Pluto. Still waiting for the post flyby ones, though it's nice to know that New Horizons made it fine. I'd like some more pictures now please. Also a year and a half's worth of Science News articles about all the things we now know, and bonus bickering planetary scientists. Also, media outlets, please stop saying that Pluto is the most distant planetary body and the last NASA will explore. What is Eris? Chopped liver?

Relistened to Dark Eyes. I don't think I have any new opinions, so I'll just link to my previous review. I do think the whole series has too many Daleks, and Molly is the best. I also really liked Dark Eyes 2, save that it ended in a cliff hanger. Well, and the Doctor's actions in the first section felt more like Seven than Eight, though I suppose it's about Eight getting slowly slowly sucked into the Time War, with both the Daleks and the Time Lords stepping up their fuckery. They were trying to talk about the morality of collaboration at times, but it didn't really come together as one theme, and may need to wait for the next too episodes for me to properly say how it worked. I did feel that the structure was fantastic and made good use of time travel, with us seeing the story linearly for Liv and out of order for the Doctor, with each episode almost standing as its own story. Liv's a great companion, and I love that we saw her and Molly together so much. I kind of ship them now. This is a good regeneration of the Master, but he kind of just came in at the end and felt a bit pasted on, and I found the action climax a bit confusion. It may have worked better on TV.

If you're curious about what Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee is like, and don't mind spoilers, you should check out [personal profile] selenak's review and discussion of its themes. If you do mind spoilers, click through to her DW, and she's cut the big ones. It's made me more interested in reading it than the original NYT panic attack.

5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us) by Puckmatz
I think this essay has good advice, if pretty basic stuff for bb allies, but is actually more of a rant than an advice piece (as you can probably tell from the title). Good read, anyway. I hadn't thought much about the pressure Jenner's coming out put on a lot of trans activists. Not that I think Jenner shouldn't do whatever she wants, but it hasn't really been an, "all visibility is good visibility" situation for everyone. (Even if I think that the events of this year have brought a lot of people, and media outlets, up to like... not really 101-level awareness, but maybe middle-school awareness? Which isn't bad in and of itself.) But man, doesn't sound like it's fun to be near the centre of that whirlwind.

Examine Your Priorities by Natalie Luhrs
Women tend to boost signals of both women and men about equally, men boost mostly other men. And it’s frustrating. Though I do think that poking an author via e-mail and while liveblogging the whole thing on twitter is more performance art than trying to have a genuine conversation with that author, but the point remains.
muccamukk: Eight from Night of the Doctor, looking sombre and beat up. (DW: Battered)
Though not on comments.

Starting prep for the next round of [community profile] femslashex, which will have pretty well the same timing as last year. Need to find my notes for changes. Need to work on my remix.

Watched The Judgement at Nuremberg, which was pretty good, though I'm sure if you know much about the trials, it was probably maddening? IDK, I liked it. I liked the arguments about ethics, and that it was basically three hours of that, and the acting was good. One thing that stuck with me was the translation set up, though they changed everything to English pretty quickly because of time and actors (we are thus spared Judy Garland trying to speak German). But thinking about it, imagine being on trial by people who do not speak your language. Even with translation, there's such a huge power thing happening there. Small part of the movie, but very striking to me, though mostly because of how much I've been reading about colonialism lately. [personal profile] valtyr had warned me about the actual holocaust footage, which I'm glad I knew about going in. Oh, and bb!William Shatner was a dish. There so much nonsense surrounding him, that I always forget how beautiful he was when he was young.

I finished out the Eight and Lucie series, finally.
"Deimos"/"The Resurrection of Mars" by Jonathan Morris: In which we play musical companions, and Eight explicitly says that he doesn't want to be like Seven because he's tired of screwing over his nearest and dearest. Probably a little too meta for me, and I'm not sure I believed how easily everyone went with the Monk. Always fun to get chased around by Ice Warriors though.

"Relative Dimensions" by Marc Platt: The Doctor has Susan, Alex and Lucie home for Christmas. It does not go exactly well. I'm not sure I completely believe how neurotic the Doctor was in this. On one hand, it was gloriously dysfunctional and funny, but on the other it seemed like it was a bit much. Always interesting to have something set entirely in the TARDIS.

"Prisoner of the Sun" by Eddie Robson: Filler episode, but a really good one. I like the choice of giving the robots Lucie's voice so that Sharidan Smith could be around, and all the twists and turns and people changing sides was super fun.

"Lucie Miller"/"To the Death" by Nicholas Briggs: I always forget how absolutely BLEAK the end of the EDA is. I mean, wow, that's a hell of a death toll. And I don't like it. Spoilers ) I know this is all set up for Dark Eyes, but it was too dark for me. This is not what I want in Doctor Who.

On to Dark Eyes, which is so much more cheerful!
muccamukk: Eight smiling and buttoning his shirt. (DW: Delighted)

The Diary of River Song

An epic four-hour adventure that takes River Song across space and time, seeking out the secret rulers of the universe.

More details to follow soon!

Directed By: Ken Bentley
Cast: Alex Kingston (River Song), Paul McGann (The Doctor), Alexander Vlahos, Samuel West

muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (DW: Eight/Rose)
Paladin of Souls (Chalion #2) by Lois McMaster Bujold, narrated by Kate Reading
For some reason last time I read this, I not only didn't review it but only gave it 4/5 stars. I also remember almost nothing about it, so it's possible I had the flu or something. Clearly my judgement was impaired.

In any case, this is a fantastic book, partly for the reasons I loved the first one, the thought to world building, the relationship with the gods, and a middle-ages secondary world that actually feels like the middle ages. But mostly it's about the emotional journey of the characters. You root for these people like no others because they're so gloriously imperfect, but still trying.

I love Ista and her path to redemption. The book doesn't shy away from her having done something wrong, even under extreme circumstances, but it's also all about second chances, even for people who don't want them. And, hey, it's about a middle-aged mother and widow who goes off to get away from it all and ends up saving the world. Which is pretty great and not something you see that often, especially in high fantasy.

The reader of the audio version is very good, incidentally. Now I'm off to listen to the third one.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
On the whole, I loved this book. It's about a tiny bespectacled secret agent and her hulking Viking PA trying to solve mysteries while negotiating local politics, international politics, religion, family loyalties and a long history of colonialism. Also the history of history. Plus the fought sea monsters, which was great.

The characters were smart, interesting, conflicted and felt very true to life. I loved the author's way of describing people in a few often humorous lines so you got a real sense of them. The book had a great sense of place as well, with the partially and miraculously destroyed city, and its possibilities of magic.

The tech level was interesting, probably late-19th century, but along side a ferociously repressed magic system, and it all fit together neatly. The author obviously put a lot of work into getting the consequences of the changes and overlaps to work, which I appreciate. It's not a world of stasis.

I will say that our token bisexual character was somewhat heavily drawn. Half the time it felt like he was queer because it was symbolic (he's divided between two things, GET IT!?) And I'm kind of over tragic queers who are picked on by their religion. I don't need them in my secondary world fantasy.

Otherwise, excellent book, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

I'm up through "The Dancing Men" in Sherlock Holmes. Still the best adaptations.

Listened to a bunch of Eight and Lucie adventures since I last mentioned them.
"The Cannabalists" by Jonathan Morris: Fairly entertaining if you like goofy robots. The evil robots were possibly too mean to make enjoyable listening.
"The Eight Truths"/"The Worldwide Web" by Eddie Robson (who is letting me down here!): like with having women involuntarily morphed into monsters, I feel like there should be limits on the number of episodes in which the main companion is brainwashed for the majority. Though poking fun at Scientology is fun I guess, and it was nice to hear the Headhunter again. Plus we're rid of the series' arc plot which was annoying and pointless.
"Death in Blackpool" by Alan Barnes: This is a really good episode, and very well acted, and drives the plot of the rest of the series, which is interesting and gets into the Dark Eyes storylines later. It is however premised on the Doctor's very questionable actions a couple series back, and that bit always seemed a bit like plotites. However, mostly I really like this one.
"An Earthly Child" by Marc Platt: Poor Susan. She always gets in terrible predicaments in the spin offs. Here she is many years on, widowed, with a teenaged son who doesn't know he's half alien (played by PMG's own son), and stuck on an Earth utterly ruined by the Dalek invasion she helped defeat. This is somewhat a story of how that gets better, through her own and the Doctor's efforts, and it's lovely to see her and Eight interacting, but still very sad.
"Situation Vacant" by Eddie Robson (back to usual standards, yay!): Total comedy gold. The Doctor having (apparently) put out an ad for a companion does interviews, fights giant robots, and gets into all kinds of trouble. We meet Tamsin Drew, who I like a lot. The plot moves forward.
"Nevermore" by Alan Barnes: I must remember to skip this on relistens in the future. More or less entirely without redeeming features. They're trying to have fun with Edgar Alan Poe and being creepy, and mostly failing really really badly. I did like the comedy bit with the Doctor trapped in the Pit and the Pendulum situation, but otherwise, MEH.
"The Book of Kells" by Barnaby Edwards: Fun historical with Tamsin getting to actually do stuff, and the plot moving along. I especially liked the reveal at the end.
muccamukk: Eight from Night of the Doctor, looking sombre and beat up. (DW: Battered)
From the Eighth Doctor Adventures, which I'm back on:
"Hothouse" by Jonathan Morris: another tie in to an older series monster that I haven't seen. Still, it was a pretty good episode. I like the Doctor and Lucie trying to reconnect post-Orbis, and evil!Bob Geldof was entertaining.

"The Beast of Orlok" by Barnaby Edwards: Another good episode. I loved the inversion of Hansel and Gretel, and there were several badass women. The post-Orbis thread has more or less been dropped, which on one hand I disliked Orbis, on the other it's rather jarring to just sort of roll past it.

"Wirrn Dawn" by Nicholas Briggs: Would have been much better if it hadn't come right after Hothouse. I liked a lot of the ideas and characters, but there should be a limit on how often female characters can undergo horrific transformation against their will, and I think the number should be less than once a series. Lucie saved everyone though, so that was good. Possibly the Wirrn are also from classic Who?

"The Scapegoat" by Pat Mills: Set dressing Nazi's and people being horrible to each other. It wasn't horrible, but any value it had was rising above its material. It felt like it was trying to be a comedy about the Doctor foiling Dim-witted Nazis, and a creeping horror story about a Carnival of Wrongness. They didn't go well together, and neither quite worked. Nice Lucie moments, anyway.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield, narrated by same
While the self-help book aspect doesn't really gel for me on a personal level, it did help organise the book, and saved it from being Yet Another Astronaut Biography. Mostly it makes the book a comprehensive discussion of how astronauts are trained and why, how the shuttle and the space station worked, and how they work now, and the most complete explanations of how to cut your nails in space that I've ever come across.

It's also funny, interesting, and insightful. Great book for any space lover.

Beasts of Tabat (The Tabat Quartet #1) by Cat Rambo
I'm trying to figure out why I disliked this book as much as I did.

It didn't really have a plot, so much as a series of events, and I kept waiting for there to be a twist to retroactively shape it into a plot; it never happened. There was a twist, but it felt more like another event in the series than any kind of structural element. The twist was followed by a chapter of graphic torture and then a cliffhanger ending, which didn't endear me to the book, but I like Master and Commander books, and they're notorious for lack of plot and abrupt endings.

I think it was mostly that the book was remarkably free of kindness. Both point of view characters were extremely self-centred so even when they were nice it was to further their own ends, and they responded to screwing up other people's lives by running away and trying not to think about it. The secondary characters were either as bad or worse, and I just wasn't up for an entire novel of mean. Not my thing.

The world building was interesting, though horrifying, and I liked having an older bisexual heroine (even if there were some Tragic Queer elements), but that's all I got on this one. Won't bother with the next.


muccamukk: Spiral staircase decending multiple levels inside a tower.. (Default)

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