I just told a recent Susanficcer, "This is one of the best treatments of Susan on here."

So I'd be a hypocrite not to link to it. Evidence's Crash
I've been wondering if I should stop going further up and further in through the Susan Pevensie tag on AO3. Well, I just hit the last page of the tag! This is pre-movie Susanfic:

Queen of Narnia, by kaydeefalls, is from 2005.

Imaginary Menagerie, by unoriginal_liz, is even older.

Growing Up by sheldrake ships Caspian and Lucy a wee bit, and deals with both Lucy and Susan in England.

All different, all good.

OK, I'm done. I can go back to the first page, maybe see if that Methos-in-Narnia fic has added a bunch of chapters....
LookingForOctober's Twice Gentle had no kudos and no comments on AO3. Well, now it has one of each.

Spiralled's Like an Onion Inside Out (The Doctor, the Queen, and the TARDIS Remix) is a Susan/(FinalRegenerationofthe)Doctor ship. Given that it is that genre, with whatever that implies--oh, it's just beautiful. Very true in style to both source materials, somehow?

Between by genarti apparently didn't start out to be Susanfic so much as SpareOomfic, but it's Susanfic all the same by the end.

Really I do other things besides read Narniafic, honestly.
I was reading KelinciHutan's The Trials of King Edmund, and at one point had to break out The Horse and His Boy, which I have perhaps unfairly fond childhood memories of, and reread it.

Well, it's not as much a mad series of dream sequences as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but it does seem to have very plot-dictated geography, and hinge on a confluence of events worthy of a Shakespearean comedy (albeit in the "fate" category rather than the "hilarious coincidence" category).

There is some...odd...setting work. Sometimes I find myself thinking the Narnians come off as a bit arrogant, and the extreme "evil culture" elements of Calormen seem to serve to make Narnia and Archenland just "less bad." Maybe.

But there are some neat ideas, some good lines, and Lewis's style is pretty breezy and quick. It's a short, light read in its way.

I also think that Calormen isn't just a ridiculous over-the-top cartoon version of authoritarianism, but somehow a metaphor for imperialism. It's just, I live in an imperialist country, and C. S. Lewis grew up in one, and it's important to understand that the English-speaking peoples of the world today are far more like Calormen than like Narnia.

I had forgotten most of the stuff with Hwin. She was actually the sensible one, mostly--which is then deeply undercut by the one line of hers I did remember.

Some interesting treatment of language. Not smart, not good, in fact kind of infuriating in a linguistics sense, but interesting technically. Come to think of it, I think it always did seem strange to me that the Narnians, Archenlanders, and Shasta all spoke very mostly the same language.

Liz Culmer might appreciate that I have a way to get Ilgamuth out of the battle at Anvard alive. I mean, it's pretty obvious how to do it, considering.

Incidentally, and connected both to the linguistics issues and to saving Ilgamuth for the sake of Liz's stories, if I do write more on this, I am going to have to change the reason that Lucy didn't have the cordial with her on the way to Anvard.

Because, seriously having Lucy's reason for not having the fireflower cordial with her be that the High King had charged her "not to carry it commonly to the wars"--that's really awkward.

Apparently, Jack was trying to riff on medieval western Europe, when roving bands of adolescents pretended to be governments and skirmished with each other a lot. And as a Wonder Woman fan who used to despise the old "purple healing ray," I sympathize with trying to write a story where there isn't a magic panacea available, whatever the case in one's previous works.

But for all that this was both supposed to be dire peril for Archenland and an engagement in which two of the Narnian royals assisted, I am bemused that protocol is portrayed as "leave that thing home."

And it would have been a moderately easy fix. I don't know what order everything was written in, but Jack had already established that Peter was on the northern border fighting Giants. So, it is a simple enough thing to have the cordial off with him.

Anyway, why is there generally assumed to be only one vial bottle of fireflower cordial? It's been a dozen years (probably) since that Christmas when Lucy received it--

--and I'm about to start ranting about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so I will stop here, for now.
I finally finished re-reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time since...childhood, maybe? Years, in any case.

I got to the end, and said, "Well, that was dumb."

OK, maybe that was flavored by other dumb things I was reading mixed in at the same time. And there are good bits, of course. But I am struck by the fact that the last chapter is a hot mess. The Four as adults kind of don't make sense, their high-falutin' language is absurd, and the idea that none of them seem to remember where they came from--not any of the four?--yeah, it's a mess.

It goes with the whole thing being a mix of children's horror story and lunatic dream sequence, a feeling I was getting from early in the book.

I re-read this how many times as a kid? No wonder I was a bit mad as a youth.

Now, I am being a bit cruel. There's some stuff to like, there is, and a fair bit I'd forgotten--including stuff to like--such as some pretty smart stuff about Edmund, who starts as a bad older brother, but isn't actually evil. But it seems such a strange thin book now.

Oh, well. When I was little, I used to read books like this a lot. Frank Baum, Lloyd Alexander, and the like. And at some point I lost the tolerance for them. As a teen, I went pretty hard into more visual forms, like comics and television, although I still read some straight-up text things. Ten years or so ago, I officially gave up trying to read novels (sometimes I forget). I wondered for a long time if something was broken in me.

Now I feel less bad about how much I moved away from this sort of book into comics and the like. It wasn't really as much a step down as I feared. No, I'm not really one for big serious realistic works, even now. At least not the fiction kind. (I do appreciate non-fiction.) But I really did mature beyond a goofy child's level...eventually.

The title page says, "A story for children." Wow, what poor children we were, to be given stuff like this!

No, that's a bit too harsh. But, but, but, Mr Beaver carries a lot of the exposition, while being a bit confused and basically being less than credible. That's awkward in a children's book, isn't it?

(started March 20, finished March 27)
Much of my January writing meme has been less than perfectly coherent. To some degree I'm just trying to give a picture of things that interest me, as a way of revealing more about my interests than I would just saying "hm" in the background. But I feel like I'm spending so much time dredging up old memories, or just describing things in an awkward and cursory fashion, that I'm not writing much analysis, nor much interesting, nor much that coheres as a whole essay.

In yesterday's post about C. S. ("Jack") Lewis I forgot something critical I have recently realized and really wanted to say:

Jack had a tendency to write his works with a fair bit of Throw It In, and sometimes I suspect He Just Didn't Care. More precisely, a lot of his fantastical work seems driven by coming up with a novel scene, image, relationship, or other concept, and using it, whether or not it was consistent with the rest of the larger work.

This can be a good thing. Narnia's world is hugely diverse, because Jack kept throwing new creatures in. It can be annoying, as when ideas that fit into an End of the World story led to The Last Battle, so we can have images like Stars falling from the sky. Never mind that he's closing the book on further stories, he has a cool image!

The first Narnia book treats Narnia as a land of Talking Animals who know not Men, contrasted to England as a land of Men who know not Talking Animals. The later books take this concept and show lands of Men who know not Talking Animals outside Narnia but in the same world (The Horse and His Boy) or within Narnia itself (Prince Caspian), thus making Narnia oddly curious in its own world. But that was what he wanted to do there. The Caspian-era books almost make Narnia a human kingdom in a fantastic world. And the timeline of Dawn Treader's backstory still seems confused to me. But it's Throw It In.

Similarly, the line in Perelandra which bugged me so much. Jack thought of that bit of "logic," so he put it in a character's mouth, because it occurred to him, never mind philosophical consistency.

It's different from a writer who worries and worries at things to make them more consistent. It does however mean that those following on, fans and ficcers, get stuck with what one threw in.
OK, let's talk about Jack.

I've been calling C. S. Lewis "Jack"--not "Lewis," not "Prof. Lewis," but "Jack," as if I knew him or something--for years. I used to call him "Jack Lewis" until I realized there are over a dozen writers who've actually written as "Jack Lewis" while he wrote under his initials. It's not nice, I suppose; I'm obviously not an intimate. Why do I do this? Oh, a sort of semi-dismissive familiarity, probably. Or maybe it's from a goofy way of speaking about famous people I picked up from my father. Or maybe it's mainly that that's what he called himself, and it seems correct to me.

Anyway, like a lot of people, I got to know C. S. Lewis's work through The Chronicles of Narnia. Read more... )

Edited to add: continued Sunday
philippos42: placards (hate)
Get outta Tashbaan, huh? I just read this chapter Friday (today when I opened the update page, yesterday by the time anyone will read it). I laughed.
"Pretend it is a story that you are telling your younger brother and sister. If you phrase it in terms of talking animals, centaurs and giants, any censor will just assume it is a silly game among children. I'll respond in kind and no one will be the wiser."

"You are brilliant, Edmund. That will work perfectly." She quickly tore out a sheet of paper from her notebook. "Let's just jot down a few names now that we know will come up so we have a common Key." She began quickly writing. "I'll use Lune and Iris for Father and Mum; Archenland will be New York. Mr. Stephenson, his deputies, the BSC, they will all, collectively, be Sallowpad."

That would have pleased the old Raven and the Chief of the Narnian Murder. "Use others from our network as you need," Edmund said, warming to the idea. "I will catch enough to know your meaning. What about Washington, do you want to use Cair Paravel?"

Susan frowned and shook her head. "Certainly not. Washington, by all accounts is a wretched, sweltering, mosquito-filled swamp. Did you know it is considered a tropical posting, like India?" [...] "Summers are horrid and winters are muddy. Their foreign office is in a place called foggy bottom. That simply cannot signify anything good."

Tapping her pencil thoughtfully to her lips, Susan finally announced, "Yes, I have it. Washington shall be Tashbaan, and President Roosevelt shall be the Tisroc."
All right then.
philippos42: zat on stage (escape)
Another day where I ignore the notes I have on Things to Write in favor of something that hit me today. Yeah, well, I'm going through some stuff.

I was feeling really down. I've spent far more of my life not working than working. And when somebody asks me why I can't work, if they ever do, what can I say? "Just call me schizophrenic and leave it at that."?

I had a job once that I partly liked, but I hated what I was building. I somehow went from quitting that job to feeling like the Devil, or God, or the Universe, or just my own spirit, somehow, wanted me not to work for any employer. That I had to chase some other dream that I keep changing, or backing away from. That was a while ago, and I have suffered greatly for it. But in some mad way, I feel even more strongly now, as my life is falling apart, that I don't want to be hired by anyone. I want to be listened to, and that is entirely different.

I'm very poor, and have some health problems associated with that, and I would rather come online and write under fake names where I hide my real problems then actually get a job, or even really deal with my problems. It's a kind of madness.

And today, I was imagining a situation where I try to beg for medical care so my teeth don't fall out of my head, and imagining trying to explain, feeling very low and speaking very high and squeaky, and saying I don't remember what but it was about how something all around me was against me. And then another part of me, an unbowed and red-maned part of me, said in a deep voice, "You gotta get out of Tashbaan."

I have been reading a lot of Narnia fic.

I think that for a long time, especially as a child, I thought of myself as like Digory, a kid in a more or less decent culture, who may have had adventures in Narnia, but was to grow up and fit into the culture he was born into.

But really, part of me is Aravis. It's been so long since I actually read the books, that I don't remember making this connection before. But yeah. I have felt for a long time disillusioned and even betrayed by the culture I come from.

People talk a lot of smack about The Horse and His Boy. I will grant that Lewis's cultural biases appear in a big way, and Calormen is a nasty sort of fairy-tale land with some dystopian qualities, and if you try to associate all of this you can get a picture that's insulting to people who, say, eat a lot of garlic or something.

But I think that showing a fantasy society as messed up in an over-the-top way can be a useful thing in fiction. Satire can exaggerate and make explicit things in our own lives. Brobdingnag and Lilliput are not wholly unlike England, and believe it or not, nor is Calormen. We all live in imperfect societies. There is injustice in my own country, and that injustice is properly ridiculous, and to learn to see brutal authority as ridiculous in a fairy-story helps us learn to scorn it when it is in forms we find subjectively normal.

My country is so corrupt that corruption barely registers as abnormal; it destroys its natural resources like a petulant spendthrift going broke out of spite; and I screamed about this when I was young until I gave up and lost my own mind. I live in a country as mad as Calormen, just one with less literal ritual arse-kicking.

And right now, I think maybe I am living in a place that poisons me, and I have to get away. How this metaphor actually works, I don't know. Is it my family? Is it my polluted hometown? Is it more abstract than that? Even something in my own mind?

And remember that Aravis had to leave not just Tashbaan, but Calormen entirely. Whatever that means.

Maybe it's all just nonsense.

Some would say that really, I'm like Rilian, with the internet my Lady of the Green Kirtle. I spend so much time online that it sucks away time to physically do and be. But that's an unhelpful metaphor, given that it is online, with my masks and fake names, that I am most myself, even if I often bite my tongue (and delete whole paragraphs) to keep up the mask. And at this point, the friends I most care about are largely my online friends, even if I am always half-hidden from them.

I have been reading a lot of Narnia fic; but more Susanfic, with the theme of learning to live outside Narnia, and the idea stewing that Susan was really the lucky one; no Aravisfic, actually.

But! I have just been reading a fic that presents a dystopian Telmarine culture out of an SF novel. So that's where it's coming from.

Still, while it is fair to say that my major problems are from my own faults, I feel that I am also responding (however unhelpfully) to a madness around me. And what I have been reading pulls this awareness out.

So, no, I'm listening to this, even if I have long since forgotten what it is to run like a young thing avoiding marriage to an old toad: I gotta get out of Tashbaan.
I may have been technically dreaming, or technically awake, or somewhere in between. I was lying in bed this morning, and I remembered reading something I read somewhere where Alan Moore said something rude about superhero comics and their fans. And I thought, "This from someone who wrote a pornographic work about Wendy from Peter Pan."

And then, thinking more about that, I thought maybe I shouldn't try and write the story I came up with last night, rooted in all the Narnia fic I have been reading, that was likely to say some unkind things about Prof. Lewis and sons of the Emperor-Beyond-The-Sea. Because it was like something Alan Moore would do.

So, that's today's post.

(Note: I have never actually read Lost Girls, so I just went and looked at the Wikipedia page, not knowing really much about it. Oh good lord, it's worse than I feared. Dreadful, sad, unimaginative, dog-Freudian, "deconstructive" claptrap. His treatment of Cthulhu was better than this, and it was mostly rude for rudeness's sake. So for reference, I thought the above quote without knowing how Lost Girls actually went, only that it had versions of a few children's book heroines, and sex in it.)

Well. That parenthetical is going to inform the rest of the post now.

You know, one thing I thought about doing to Narnia was having it all be a story that Lucy started believing and forming false memories from, but that pseudorealism's too uncomfortably close to the genre Lost Girls, now, isn't it? I mean, it's not the same, it's simpler rather than crudely sexualized, but it is a little like? I was just thinking that rewriting Aslan is a fraud as well as a self-important dick was perhaps too Moore-ishly "deconstructionist."

Moore has done good stuff. And clever stuff. Even stuff worth learning from and trying to (and this is a horrible term here, but go with it for now) emulate. But he's gone to the "dark reimagining" well too often. It's become his trope.

I think looking at this as behavioral reinforcement explains a lot of it, and yet sadly not all of it. He was inordinately praised for his darkfic of Marvelman, which led to work in America. Then he successfully reinvented Swamp Thing (which was already horror, but he changed a major premise, so it was still "rethinking"), and gained even more fans. Then his attempt to ruin all the Charlton Action Heroes in a dark reimagining got redirected into Watchmen--which was given a lot of critical acclaim because of the confluence of fans of superheroes and fans of grim pretension.

(So if he now regrets his 1980's "bad mood," and thinks superheroes ridiculous, what does it say about the fans of his Watchmen and Marvelman, and thus his reputation? Kicks the legs out from under it, I say.)

He then tried to darken up the Justice League and Marvel Family characters in something called "Twilight of the Gods Superheroes." He'd been rewarded for this sort of thing before, and made lots of money at it, so that was where his imagination went now. But making some expy of an obscure knockoff superhero into a sexual pervert was OK with editors, doing it to Superman or the Big Red Cheese was not done, and he didn't grasp that. It was just too far.

And he ended up breaking ties with DC, ostensibly for other reasons. So he tried doing more serious, real-world-based work for a while, perhaps a bit shy of trying that trope. So we got From Hell, and he started Big Numbers, which fell apart (his artists quit, and one destroyed his own artwork--so...that's a thing).

And then he found he could go back to his major trope, the one he will be remembered for despite the clever work of his youth: Trashing other people's characters. All he had to do was use characters in the public domain! So he produced League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I have read the first one. A few neat reinventions, but it was obvious to me that his Mr. Hyde was really more like the Hulk, not Stevenson's Mr. Hyde, and this was basically public domain superheroes in a lowest-common-denominator Alan Moore / Kevin O'Neill mode.

And then the little bitch whined that filmmakers would take "his" work--including League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which is all other people's characters, not even renamed expies!--and (gasp! shudder!) change things. What a twat.

OK. Let's be clear. Moore has written some brilliant stuff.

The first Moore stories I read were some of his Green Lantern Corps stories (quite good in some cases, if a bit wacky) and his Swamp Thing. His (I think they were his, but I won't swear to it) underwater vampires in Swamp Thing gave me the heebie-jeebies for a long time.

I first became really aware of his name as a writer about the time of Watchmen, I guess? I opened up the second issue to see a masked mystery-man raping one of his colleagues. I decided that was not for me, and I did not quite like Alan Moore.

I later read parts 2 & 3 of The Ballad of Halo Jones (I don't think I ever ran across part 1) and it was neat. Lovely Ian Gibson art, trippy science fiction--it went dark and violent in places, yes, but it was imaginative.

Alan Moore enjoyed a reputation for a long time as, "the literary writer in English-language comics." I myself hit a point where I decided that while I didn't like him personally, he was objectively at a level of skill beyond most comics writers I did like. (I would not make that claim now. I don't know exactly where that came from, actually. "Literary" and comics-good are different things, anyway.)

Well, other people have learned from his bag of tricks, and his head-and-shoulders-above quality was probably exaggerated anyway. And I am not a green adolescent, either. So his more recent stuff doesn't impress me at all now.

Alan Moore is one of those figures in comics, though. You can point to artists like Milt Caniff, Neal Adams, Arthur Adams, and Adam Hughes, and see how many imitators they gained. Moore is like that as a writer, to a scary degree. And I'm not sure that's even counting Jamie Delano, who is a little different animal I guess, but somehow got a career out of being hired by people who'd just lost Alan Moore. It's a pity that more people aren't getting the cleverness out there, though. Instead, we get Moore's dumb side: Dark "deconstructions" which are measurably stupider than the source material they are mining and fouling.

I'm not saying we needed Alan Moore, or that he was greatly seminal. A world without Moore would still have Harlan Ellison, Steve Gerber, Joe R. Lansdale--and perhaps a better known Jamie Delano. Weird horror would be doing just fine, and many of Moore's tropes already existed somewhere. He just was the Big Name, without another very different writer to stand as a strong alternative, for a Long Time. And that is a shame, just as a generation of comics artists trying to be Adams knockoffs (either of them) would have, without some countervailing artistic influences, been an even bigger shame than those generations actually were.

Anyway, when I call him, "the guy who created Axel Pressbutton," that's me being less than vicious.
Good, short Susanfic.

Here we see that Jack really missed a bet killing off most of the Pevensie family. Here we see all four Pevensie children grown up, past 80, and hilarious.

A "missing scene" which is a lot of narratively awkward internal exposition, but makes good points.

I'm also gradually working my way through one called, "Food for Thought," which is actually about real-world history so far, with lots of photos. Maybe more on this later.
philippos42: Paul Rudd (manly)
I have been reading a lot of Narnia fic this week.

I want to praise in particular two crossover fics; the first short and sweet, the second a sprawling novel in progress: Moriwen's What Is This, A Joke?--not a Narnia fic but an Aslan fic--in which William the Bloody meets Aslan; and The Peridan Chronicles by marmota_b, which tries to be as true to canon as possible while retconning Lord Peridan, which I take to be an utterly incidental supporting character I have forgotten from The Horse and His Boy, to be, well, Methos.

I've been going through the Susan Pevensie tag at AoOO, mostly, typically skipping stuff that is marked as smutty and weirdly deviant, or seems like it will be overlong. (I may have seen and closed unread two different fics that threatened to play on King Miraz raping one the Pevensie boys, ew.) I did read some of the grim "deconstructions" (really re-imaginings with terribly unsympathetic Aslan and Lucy), and they were moderately clever.

One thing that all this brings to mind is that C. S. Lewis didn't leave a terribly coherent continuity or built world to work with. He liked to throw things in, even to the point of radically re-imagining the setting as he went on, and not be super-consistent with himself; and that's good, really. On the other hand, he "threw in" a lot of stuff in the last book which was annoying (at least to me).

Another thing is that some of us (like me) have reacted to Lucy's characterization of Susan in The Last Battle a little too strongly.
philippos42: zat's bunny (comedy)
I largely gave up on fanfic years ago. Oh, I look at it now and then, but I don't expect to find anything good.

I did read a bunch of Yotsuba&! fic a while back. Some of it was OK.

Lately, though, I discovered a whole heap of Narnia fic at AO3, much of it recent. Years ago, I went looking for Narnia fic, and there wasn't much. Thanks to the movie fandom, AO3, and fic exchanges, there's now a fair bit. And some of it is all right.

One thing I am bemused by is that some people want to cross over Narnia with Middle-Earth and/or elves. Elves? In Narnia? Narnia has wiggles, humanoid stars, giants, and dwarves with one or two legs, but I don't recall elves, and I'm not sure they belong. And of course Middle-Earth is ostensibly the ancient past of elves and gnomes in a world that may be our own, while Narnia is a different reality accessed by cross-world travel in the recent past, so it feels off to me.

It shouldn't, I suppose.


Nov. 26th, 2011 08:23 pm
Movies, I've been watching good movies.

Well, not that much. But two weeks ago I was thinking, wow, I'm watching a lot of neat movies. But I didn't post about it.

The three from a week ago, when I was thinking about it before:

The Runaways, not too bad, not a great flick, but OK once you accept it's really about Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, and Kim Fowley.
Zero Effect. This is great. It's in the vein of Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe, but 1990's. Ben Stiller is much more sympathetic here than usual, and Bill Pullman may have found his best role. I tried to track down the 2002 TV pilot with Alan Cumming, but there are no prints out there.
The 2010 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that was OK. Boy, they keep hanging on to elements of the previous stories. That's going to make The Silver Chair hard. Then again, IMDb thinks that's slated for 2015 if at all.

Honestly, if the plan to next do The Magician's Nephew (which does refer back to the Pevensies at the end), then Silver Chair, and save The Horse and His Boy for when the original actors are older, that's pretty smart.

And I'm not sure there's a way to film The Last Battle that isn't surreal, Daliesque, animated, and horribly uncommercial.
Anyway. Tonight I saw Shooting Fish, which is another 1990's movie I apparently never knew about. Cute, clever, and had me guessing a little bit. And I thought, yeah, I should make a note of movies I have been watching.

I don't remember what all I've watched in between.
philippos42: (doctor who)
Written in November 2009, don't think it ever made it onto Dreamwidth, so reposting it now.

Fandom: Narnia
Characters: Susan

Read more... )



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