ailis_fictive: Ailis (Default)
[personal profile] ailis_fictive
This is not the Big Intro post. (I'm procrastinating.) This is Random Thoughts.

Speaking of procrastinating, I'm putting off finishing The Queen of Attolia because I don't want it to be done. And I'm kind of hating everyone I know who didn't sit me down and tell me to Read This Dammit. I've read three-volume epics that didn't pack as much Good Stuff in as this little 250-page YA book. I have The King of Attolia on a shelf looking reproachfully at me, and I'm almost scared to start it. For QoA I was rather thoroughly spoiled, and have actually read most of the rest of the pages, just not in order. (A book has to get me really worked up to make me do that...) For KoA...I know the basic plot-motif, but none of the actual plot or the end.

But what I actually wanted to say was...I came (finally) to this series after being reminded by a Vokosigan crossover. And in my head, the minister of war is Aral Vorkosigan. Just is. I've no idea what he's doing there, or, contrarily, how he ended up on Barrayar later, but...same person. (And now I really want Eddis and Gregor to sit down and have a natter. Though I'm not sure Gregor and Attolia would do as well. Or possibly they'd do even better, and I'm just scared to bend my brain that way.)

Second random thought of the day, pulled over from a comment else-journal and refined a bit. Even though I'm still not writing the essay. Though I may go hunt up some of the academic work out there on fanfiction.

One of the things I find really fascinating about fanfic is that we can tell the same story--not just the same core theme/idea ("becoming a parent changes your relationship with the future") but the same basic plot with the same characters ("Gregor learns the truth about the Escobar invasion")--in many different ways. It becomes a prism, light coming through in different ways, reflecting and refracting. As soon as I hit that image, though, I was reminded of the way I describe Criminal Minds--it's a fugue on certain themes, hung on an episodic crime drama. They repeat and reverse and refine a set of themes about good and evil, about survival and recovery. There's a little more variation in the actual storytelling but...not much. Now I wonder if *really good* episodic TV (and crime series, both TV and book, since they have *such* a defined structure) aren't doing something very close. Of course, any sufficiently large body of work by a single author will usually start to show something similar--we all have our elephants--but there is something different--and, I think, richer--about multiple people telling the same story.

I'm starting to get really interested in looking at the various fandoms I've read extensively in and brushed against, and figuring out what stories tend to...ah, develop the largest prism, and isn't that metaphor becoming unwieldy? But...there are stories that get told once or twice, and then there are the ones we converge on.

And I'm stopping now, or this will turn into that essay I'm not writing. Or possibly a thesis.

(and, post scriptum, if you happen on this or any post of mine months or years from when it's posted, feel free to comment anyway. I'm happy to get blast-from-the-past commentary!)

Date: 2012-11-27 12:26 pm (UTC)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
From: [personal profile] hedda62
I would have posted an answer to this sooner, but I was busy writing a sex scene in a "Lewis" story, the one where Our Heroes decide that they really are for each other, after six seasons of putting off declarations and feeling insecure (or five seasons or four or occasionally right after "Life Born of Fire"). I have, in fact, written this story before, and so have a whole lot of other people, repeatedly. Not that other stories don't get told in that archive, but it's a great case study for what happens when a lot of people see a pairing that isn't ever going to get shown on the screen (although clearly some of the writers and at least one of the actors have some investment in the concept), and we really really want to Tell The Story.

Frankly it's a lot more interesting when the story-told-over is "Gregor (or Miles) finds out about Escobar" or "Aral uses feudalism for the good of Barrayar and Cordelia challenges him" or "Helen Natalia Vorkosigan turns out to be a rabble-rouser" or even "Simon, in love with Aral, what are we going to do about that?" Probably because, though this is somewhat contrary to logic, it's a broader world for not being our real one, and it has so many corners and angles, and the rules are so rigid and yet can be flexed so many ways. You'd think within that everyone would find a totally different story to tell, but yes, we do keep coming back to the same ones. In some cases I think because we get set up by the author - the next generation finding out what went down at Escobar is the obvious one. In some cases it's more like an infectious disease passed around the fandom.

I like this way of approaching the issue; I'd been thinking on a more micro-level about what makes fic clusters among small numbers of participants, who pick up each other's questions and answer them, and reuse little motifs: for example, the reportedly off-hand way that Philomytha decided in AVD that Simon was born in a cold climate, which Raven then used beautifully in "the winters here are cold, and bitter" and I picked up (not quite remembering where it was from) and played with in "the heart is hard to translate."

On a not unrelated note and harking back to the first paragraph of this lengthy reply, it would be interesting to compare the stories that explore Aral and Simon's relationship, both the ones that incorporate a sexual attraction and those that don't, and see if the themes resonate similarly (although this might be unfair, since P. has written so much of that pairing, and her themes are assuredly consistent). Or Miles/Gregor, if that made a better study. I like that this fandom is not slash-obsessed, but it does connect itself to the larger fandom world in this and in a number of other ways. Or maybe I'm just a little preoccupied at the moment (again, see first paragraph).

(I have read The Queen of Attolia. I really need to get to the other books. Maybe while the winter is being cold and bitter, if we get that this year.)

Date: 2012-11-29 02:03 pm (UTC)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
From: [personal profile] hedda62
the way that certain shots or images, say, will crop up over and over again in a TV show

Or the way that TV shows do clever takes on classic movies (or TV shows), like (to use two "Person of Interest" examples since they're in my head) a long pan down a bank of mainframe computers that's much like the end of "Citizen Kane" or the referential scene in "Indiana Jones," or a gunfight set on a carousel a la "Third Man," a genre self-referencing that ends up being not quite so much like the communal holding and retelling of myths as like the use of quotations from Shakespeare, sometimes in and sometimes slightly out of context. I think fanfic does this too (I mean, it quotes from Shakespeare if I'm writing it, but more along the lines of being self-referential), but it also does the full-out mythology retelling-and-shifting.

But yeah, it is a PhD thesis. And I'm sure a number of people are out there writing those, but of course they all watch different shows or read different books than we do!

I agree with the whole plot-in-service-of-romance thing, generally, although it is always hard to compare specific examples. The Vorkosigan novels are such a sweeping saga with such a lot of plot that even if you just want to write romance, and you have any kind of duty to context at all, you're going to end up with a chunk of plot hanging on the romance anyway, even if it isn't actually in your story. Whereas Lewis is sadly episodic (I wish they would manage an overarching plot and continual snippets of backstory and such, but they don't) so whether you write a casefic or a character study or a domestic interlude, if you want to do romance that's where the focus will be; there's nothing else to grab. No matter how compelling a plot you come up with, it's going to feel like this week's episode or something that went on backstage of that.

Canon dictates form; form follows function; something like that. :)

I do like romance, too. I just sometimes feel like "so? Is that all there is?"

Date: 2012-11-29 02:44 pm (UTC)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
From: [personal profile] hedda62
Oh, and ha - I have to share that a brave Lewis writer has been reading my thoughts and has just posted here the story where they don't get together, where Hathaway wants and can't have. It is brilliant and I am so glad it's been written and most people will comment "so sad, oh why can't it work out, can I bribe you to change the ending." But again, context, because it's all about how love and loyalty are not enough. Aral and Simon in reverse with completely different baggage.

Date: 2012-11-29 07:57 pm (UTC)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
From: [personal profile] hedda62
Hurray, and yep, haven't looked at the comments recently, but there was already the one saying "Beautifully done and I am never going to read it again" from the same person who said that to me on my post-LBoF story. I do want to say "Woman up!" but everyone is entitled to approach fiction in their own way, of course.

Date: 2012-11-30 07:17 pm (UTC)
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
From: [personal profile] philomytha
Ha, I thought I was the only one who couldn't *do* visual fandoms! Words on a page are what my brain responds to, as you say. Though I can get to a visual fandom by reading a lot of fic for it, which helps create the characters and world as words in my head. But I don't find it easy or natural to translate pictures into words, somehow.

Date: 2012-11-30 11:45 pm (UTC)
hedda62: my cat asleep (Default)
From: [personal profile] hedda62
And there are some very interesting comments to that effect up on the story now. (No, I didn't write them. I'm equal parts "this is great, if sad, the way it is" and "they can still turn it into something that works, just not sexual" but mostly I am holding back and watching the fan response. *g*)

I posted something this summer on how weird it was to be going from writing fic based on books to fic based on visual media - in some ways I find it easier and in some ways it's much harder, but I was glad to find I could do it! The hardest part for me is the memory part - books you can flip through when you have to look up that wee bit of detail you've forgotten. Such a pain to do it with TV shows. But voices, I can do.


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