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Recommended Reading: “Let the Record Show”

I second everything John Pavlovitz says in this incredible piece. Just read it.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in mitchell

 

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Recommended (?) Reading About the US National Tragedy

I may out myself as some kind of masochist by doing this, but ever since the election went how it did, I’ve been unable to stop myself reading about it everywhere. So here are a bunch of things I thought were worth reading (feel free to share more in the comments as well).

In no particular order:

Yemisi Ilesanmi: Donald Trump’s America: A Win for Sexism, Racism, and Misogyny

Mano Singham: The revolution was televised after all, Let the Post-Mortems Begin

Dana Hunter: You Wanted to Know How Fascism Wins? Look in the Mirror , Regrouping

Alyssa Gonzalez: Compañero, We’re Done

Hank Fox: Well… Wow.

Kathleen Johnson: The King of America and the Killing of Hope

Martin Hughes: How to Grieve Trump: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance

Iris at Perry Street Palace: no title

Amy Roth: I Didn’t Vote For Him

Melissa McEwan: This Is Why We Supported Her, We Will Be Light

Peter Daou: News Media rush to whitewash their role in savaging Clinton’s character , More Americans voted for Hillary’s values than Trump’s

Matthew Facciani: Trump’s America is Already Terrifying

Peter Beinart: After Trump, a Call for Political Correctness From the Right

Joshua Benton: The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse

Amanda Marcotte: The Misogyny Apocalypse

PZ Myers: What happened?

I’m sure there’s more, I’ve definitely read a lot more things but these were the ones I saved up to post. Feel free to link more below. I don’t know, let’s wallow in despair or something. What am I even supposed to say?

(Edit: 11/12/16) Here are some more things to read.

Kaveh Mousavi: The US Has Elected its Ahmadinejad

John Scalzi: The Cinemax Theory of Racism

Martin Hughes: Don’t Tell Us to Hug the Smirking Deplorables

And here is a Change.org Petition to ask the electors of the Electoral College to be “faithless” and elect Hillary Clinton in agreement with the popular vote. It’s already at over 3.3 million signatures, though it could do with a lot more. I have signed it. While I understand if people are uncomfortable with this sort of thing – and if successful, probably would lead to some problems with Trump supporters shouting about “rigged elections” among other things – this is technically permitted by the system and, frankly, things are desperate. I don’t know if it will do any good, but please consider signing if you are comfortable with it.

(Edit: 11/14/16) In case you may not have seen them, I have been posting more links in the comments, and will no doubt continue to do so.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2016 in mitchell

 

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Cursed Child Detox Thread (or: let’s talk fanfic)

In the wake of Cursed Child and everything that entailed, I thought it might be fun to do a fanfic recommendations and discussion thread. Let’s share recommendations for post-canon/next-generation Harry Potter fanfics that put Cursed Child (and the original series for that matter) to shame, and maybe some time travel stories done right. I’ve got a fair number of these but I’d love to find more, so please post them in the comments if you have any.

Let’s get this out of the way first, obviously there’s Loten’s stuff, though I suspect if you’re reading us there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with it. I’m utterly incapable of being objective here; these stories literally changed my life because I’d never have met her without them. I love all of her fics but to stay on the theme of post-canon, Post Tenebras Lux is the obvious one (SS/HG, sexually explicit), Picture Perfect (the PTL epilogue I made her write), and a shorter, unconnected one called Here I Am Not.

I’ll also plug a couple of my own (very short) pieces, as far as post-war stuff goes there is “Et Tu, Brute“, “Overdose” and “Tabloid Journalism“.

The Golden Age” by Arsinoe de Blassenville. This is the quintessential cynical “reality ensues” post-canon fic, it’s well-written and realistic while still being a very pointed criticism of canon and “all was well”. I will say, however, to stay away if you are a fan of Hermione because this story is very hard on her and deliberately explores the consequences of her worst acts in canon (and bases her characterisation on those). I can’t say it’s wrong about later books’ canon Hermione, though, and it’s thought-provoking and a good criticism even if you prefer to interpret her character differently.

The works of Vera Rozalsky. My personal favourite of hers is “In Which the Princess Rescues the Dragon“, which is a long and nuanced story written from the rare perspective of Andromeda Tonks. It’s actually an alternate perspective of her other long story “Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation“, but I think it’s the stronger and more interesting one, and her Andromeda is a fascinating and well-rounded character with a unique perspective. She does have ships, “Amends” is Hermione/Neville and Hermione/Neville/Draco, which are not ships I’m normally interested in but she makes it work (and it’s largely out of view in “Princess” anyway). “Princess” also has a subtheme deconstructing love potions and dealing with their consequences. “Four o’clock in the morning” is also quite good, a shorter story not in the same continuity as the other two focusing primarily on the mental-health consequences the canon events should have had (also Hermione/Neville but it’s primarily Hermione-Draco friendship).

Questions and Answers” by little0bird. This is a very long-running next-generation fic. I hesitate to recommend/endorse this one because it’s epilogue-compliant and very much within Rowling’s value system (family uber-alles, it focuses on the characters as parents and the children’s growing up and eventually finding their way into heteronormative relationships, and does not address the Potterverse’s dystopian elements), but for what it is it’s very well-written and I think it’s probably as good as such a thing can be. Very much YMMV though (I do not agree with or endorse messages or characterisation that show up in this). I will also add that I had to hold my nose through every scene Hermione was in because Ron/Hermione squicks me and this fic is canon ships all the way (except, for some reason, pairing Draco with Daphne instead of Astoria).

Silence” by mortenavida. This is a short piece (and Dudley/Daphne) but manages to be surprisingly nuanced and interesting IMO.

The “Backward With Purpose” series by Deadwoodpecker. This is another one that I hesitate to recommend and will not endorse, but it is very well done for what it is. It’s a time travel story, Part 1 has Harry, Ron and Ginny travelling back from a bad timeline to try to create a better outcome, Part 2 stars Albus as time-traveller trying to prevent Harry dying an early death, and Part 3 (incomplete) I don’t think I’ve read because I got sick of it before then. I’m mainly mentioning this because it’s a well-crafted story that featured time-travelling Albus long before Cursed Child became a thing; this is another story that’s invested in canon ships (including a truly creepy version of Ron/Hermione that made my skin crawl far beyond what that ship usually does) and Rowling’s value system, but at least the time travel mechanics are well-thought-out and it did some interesting things.

Just because I like the genre, I’ll throw in a couple of other time travel stories. “Arachne” by sylvanawood and “The Traveller” by Somigliana are my favourite SS/HG time travel stories, and “The Apprentice” by Deborah Peters (though sadly unfinished and unlikely to ever be so) is by far the best of the “Snape is forced to relive his childhood” genre (it’s one of the only portrayals of Severus/Lily I can still tolerate, its portrayal of magical acadaemia is a thing of beauty, and it has truly memorable and compelling OCs. Seriously, when I reread this I do it more for the OCs than anything else, they’re fantastic). These three come highly recommended by me, and are relatively short if you’re turned off by massive novel-length monstrosities.

[Loten here, more to confirm that I’m still alive than anything else. I can’t contribute much to this one, Mitchell reads more fanfic than I do – the more of my own stuff I write, the more concrete my headcanons have become, and the harder it is for me to enjoy someone else’s vision. I also personally don’t like time travel as a genre, though Mitchell’s talked about some of these to me and they do sound pretty good. (Also some of my plotbunnies are post-canon, I really need to get back into writing again…)]

Add your own in the comments! Let’s be fanfic connoisseurs together and purge the taste of Cursed Child from our brains.

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2016 in mitchell

 

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An exercise in Magic: the Gathering fanfiction

Before anything else, I’d like to take the opportunity to apologise for my/our silence recently. Loten is trying not to be overwhelmed by work and moving house, and I… well, I don’t have quite as good an excuse, except for being overcome by stress and depression brought on by political news (between the fucking Brexit and the insane popularity of a moronic narcissistic proto-fascist in the States, this year just continues to get worse) and not having much energy for anything. I may end up doing some rants about that in this space at some point, if I can muster the energy. I swear we’ll finish Philosopher’s Stone soon.

In the meantime, perhaps to distract myself, I did a thing. I’m not sure if our readers will necessarily be aware, but I am actually a longtime player/fan of Magic: the Gathering (I’ve played since around 2001, holy shit that’s fifteen years). And for what it’s worth, I’ve been slowly corrupting Loten also. (For the record, to get an idea of the kind of role Magic has played in my life, it was a huge part of my experience at school. We taught the teachers to play and huge segments of the school still hold tournaments and such. People from an official Magic show even visited my high school and did an episode there a couple of years ago, which was really surreal for me to see.)

We’ve both been enjoying a lot of the recent storytelling the game has been doing, through the cards and short fiction on the site; they’re honestly getting a lot better at this as the years go by (the older stuff is very much of mixed quality though there are definitely some gems if you look), and I look forward to seeing where they go from here.

That said, there have been some things that irritated and frustrated me in the current story (when isn’t there something that irritates me in storytelling, nowadays?). To wit: in the service of larger plot, the story team seems to have decided the characterisation of two characters who happened to be favourites of mine would be an acceptable sacrifice. Which I find particularly unfortunate, because I understand exactly why they did it, and can’t completely fault them for it because the plot they did it in service of is actually pretty good. For a game that’s ostensibly about planeswalkers fighting each other, the story doesn’t focus on that sort of thing as often as it should, so to actually tell a story that’s explicitly about that happening and the huge environmental impacts it ends up having was honestly an inspired choice. But at the same time, they just had to ruin those characters to do it. (In fairness, not all of the new characterisation is terrible: what it really boils down to is that they were forced to act really stupidly on one or two occasions, such that the fallout from that could lead to the events the story team needed.)

So I decided I’d try to salvage something from it. I’ve actually been working on this thing for about two weeks now; I’d hoped to finish before last Wednesday, actually, because I wanted to preempt the next official story article before it could officially contradict me (I wanted my story to be consistent with the canon at the time of publication, even if I fully expect it to be contradicted soon). I didn’t quite manage that, but thankfully that episode didn’t change much and I was able to get it finished this week. I’m sure Loten is quite pleased I’ve finally finished it also, now that I’m no longer pestering her to look over drafts.

Here is the story.

I welcome any feedback, constructive or otherwise, as this is the first longish writing exercise I’ve attempted in a while (I’m hoping this gets my fiction writing juices flowing again after such a long hiatus but no promises). Likewise, I hope it doesn’t come across as too much of an apologetic for those who commit atrocities, as the characters I’m trying to redeem have been made to do some pretty horrendous and possibly unforgiveable things; I’m working with what I was given, and I do think these characters would likely have a somewhat detached perspective and I’m trying to be true to them.

If you’re interested but don’t know the necessary background, I’ll provide the necessary links (some of these are to articles I mentioned in the author’s notes that gave me the inspiration to do this, because I can’t link them on FFN; the rest are to the official short fiction connected to the story arc I’m working with).

Official Magic story column:

Main Magic story page (updates Wednesdays)

The Lithomancer
Stirring from Slumber
Sorin’s Restoration

Battle for Zendikar (BFZ) story index
Oath of the Gatewatch (OGW) story index
Shadows over Innistrad (SOI) story index
Eldritch Moon (EMN) story index

Imprisoned in the Moon (not a story article, card preview that revealed story points)

I should also mention they have collected the stories in ebook format as well: BFZ OGW SOI

Articles by vorthosjay that I mentioned in the author’s notes:
Catching-up for Eldritch Moon
Narrative: Nahiri’s Motivation
Nahiri’s Disappointing Endgame

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2016 in mitchell

 

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An important perspective on Rowling’s new rubbish

I became aware yesterday of this article by Adrienne K. at Native Appropriations (h/t Shakesville), and recommend you read it (these two earlier articles of hers she links to at the end are also well worth a look). She’s been writing about this since June 2015 so it’s probably negligent of me to only become aware of it now, but regardless.

I don’t think I’m really qualified to comment on how to respectfully handle writing about Native Americans in fictional milieu, so I don’t want to say much about it myself. She raises a lot of important issues I wouldn’t have thought of. My first thought was that it’s probably impossible to win, because the most likely alternative is to not include them at all and it’s probably better to acknowledge that indigenous peoples existed and mattered, but that’s an incredibly low bar to set and, as Adrienne points out, misrepresentation may well be equally problematic if not worse (e.g. let’s not forget what happened with Stephenie Meyer, and that now a lot of people only know about the Quileute tribe because of her bastardised werewolf mythology).

Likewise it’s not really fair to say “well, if you don’t want to be misrepresented, you’d better volunteer your time to explain everything to any author who decides they want to write about your culture”, that’s an undue burden to place on anybody… but what’s the alternative, encouraging them to do shoddy research and misrepresent you in problematic ways? Once again, marginalised people(s) just can’t win. I don’t know what the answer is.

But please don’t put too much stock in my whitesplaining of this, go read the original articles.

Quick edit to add: here’s another really good article on this, by Chris Lough at Tor.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in mitchell

 

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Recommended Reading: Masculinity as Anxiety Disorder

This rings very true to me.

http://uncannymagazine.com/article/masculinity-is-an-anxiety-disorder-breaking-down-the-nerd-box/

(h/t to commenter mockingbird at WHTM )

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in mitchell

 

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