Fate, a Retelling About Retellings (and About Stickin’ It to the System)

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Fate is a story where a bunch of retellings of myths are jammed together and sent to bounce off each other like pinballs—where would be the fun if it didn’t get meta about the nature of retelling myth? Obviously you can see a lot of examples of this in the Heroic Spirits themselves: heroes reflecting on the way their story has been passed down, what impact they’ve had on the world, and all sorts of fun themes to do with legacy, tradition, and the nature of transformative storytelling. A Heroic Spirit, after all, is a myth given form and agency. Would they do things differently, if they could, with their new knowledge? Challenge the patterns of their past? Or would they stick to the “canon”?

I love when Fate plays around with this, but it doesn’t just happen with the kings and knights and monster-slayers: one of the best embodiments of this theme is Shirou, the original protagonist who started all of this, and who burst into the scene ready to break and remake the patterns embedded in the worldbuilding around him. Continue reading

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404 Witty Title Not Found: April ’20 Roundup

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So here we are, another month into opening updates and emails with “I hope everyone is doing okay in these strange times…” Do I still hope everyone is doing okay? Of course. Have the times gotten less strange? It’s difficult to say. I’d like to say I’m better anchored in this new social distancing set up: everyone around me is safe and well, some financial worries have been smoothed out (for now at least), and my productivity is back on track after a couple of weeks of an emotion I want to call bluuuuuuuh. I do keep getting into “wait, is it Wednesday?” conversations, but that happened before working from home too, because time is fake, so maybe that’s okay.

It’s raining, and it’s cosy inside. I’m writing words and making things. My cat is doing a really good impression of a loaf of banana bread on the windowsill, and I can hear little “wahoo!” sound effects from downstairs while my partner catches fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

On the blog:

Creativity, Discipline, and Eizouken (or: Everyone Needs a Kanamori in Their Life) – a reflection on the creative process (feat. some ruminations on my own PhD) and how important Sitting Down and Doing The Work actually is to it, and why that makes me appreciate Kanamori so much.

Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Heroes, Heartbreak, and Heists (in Space!) – reviews and recommendations of Not Your SidekickThe Disasters, and We Used to Be Friends, all of which made my heart happy.

The Trickster in Popular Culture – Presentation Edition! – the long-overdue recording of a presentation I gave in November 2019, bringing together much of my Trickster research and somehow managing to talk about how cool Villanelle is for a good chunk of an academic paper.

Save a Horse, (Do Not) Ride (This Particular) Cowboy: An Ace Reading of Arthur Morgan – a look at Red Dead 2’s main character through an ace lens, seeing what evidence stacks up, what the themes of the story gain from this, and why all that’s kinda cool.

Webzone:

The Cats movie is wonderful simply because T.S. Eliot, with all his hangups and political ideologies, would have hated it.

The Cats movie is wonderful because it’s ultimately a tale of celebrity hubris, money-grubbing, disrespect for the musical as a medium, and may well herald the end of Oscar-bait musical adaptations.

A panel on aro/ace representation in YA, starring some authors I’ve reviewed and some I’m currently reading, all with great things to say about the complex spectrum of sexuality and identity, what’s considered “queer enough”, and the joys of speculative fiction for escaping and having adventures.

Another digital panel, this one about queer rom-coms – the best and cheesiest tropes, the balance of authenticity and escapist cuteness, and the many intersections of identity that publishing can and should explore.

I think at this point anyone who’s spent any amount of time in The Fan Internet has at least heard whispers of the long-lost legend of MsScribe: the “gold standard of fandom drama”, to quote this very video, and a terrifying and beautifully bonkers encapsulation of early ’00s internet culture. Here the tale is laid out in its (almost) full glory (for the fullest glory, of course, read the original exposé). It’s a whole journey. Do take it with me.

So I know this is last month’s episode, but I only watched it the other day and it’s excellent. Oliver Philosophy Tube Thorn invites us to ask, what is the “purpose” of art? What snares lie in the delicate space between authorial vision and “meeting audience expectations”? And what does fan entitlement look like from someone who’s been on the receiving end of it?

In/Spectre – The Birth of a Modern Ghost – an intriguing look at the myth-making process, and how stories can change, evolve, and “become real” through people’s dedication to them, through the lens of In/Spectre‘s living legend of a final villain.

What We Remake – an examination of what modern remakes keep to remain nostalgic, what they have to change to stay relevant, and the tense space in between. How does a culture of remakes enforce an idea of “the canon”? What makes a good remake? The answer will be a little different depending on who you ask.

30 LGBTQ YA Books You’ll Absolutely Want to Pick Up This Spring– in which Dahlia Adler continues to keep me fed when it comes to publishing info and book recommendations.

Feiwel Series to Put New Faces and Spins on Classics – an announcement of an upcoming series of retellings of classic novels that directly tackles the idea of “universal stories” and the very white, male canon. The series will include a Treasure Island reimagining by C.B. Lee (yeah, I was just talking about her!) set in the South China Sea and featuring some queer adventures and a pirate queen or two; as well as other new takes that sound intriguing.

“We’re Everywhere”: Author L.C. Rosen on Platontic Queer Relationships – L.C. Rosen (who you may notice on the rom-com panel above) writes about the importance of writing queer characters being friends with each other as well as ending up in romances with each other.

And it was a new anime season (again! The horrifying passage of time!!) so be sure to check out the reviews! 

And that wraps us up for April. See you all soon, and take care!

Oh! And a massive thank you, too, to the couple of people who dropped a tip into my coffee account last month. I appreciate the hell out of it, and you, and everyone who comes back and consistently reads this little corner of the internet.

 

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Save a Horse, (Do Not) Ride (This Particular) Cowboy: An Ace Reading of Arthur Morgan

A while ago, when I dug deep into the appeal of a certain fictional outlaw and a certain fictional assassin, I made a passing mention to the potential of reading Arthur as on the asexual spectrum. While this is a thought that’s been bouncing around my head like an old Windows screensaver for a long time, and something I’ve thrown around with friends and loved ones a bit, it’s not something I’ve ever put down in longform. And yet, I thought, what is a personal blog for if not the occasional slightly eccentric, semi-academic deep-dive character study that may be of interest to yourself and maybe three other people?

In this post we’ll look at a few things: the straightforward bits, like analysing interactions from the text itself (it is a game mechanic that this man does not bone), broader story beats (for example, the narrative’s deliberate emphasis on non-traditional relationships and found family, a very ace-resonant business), as well as some other paratextual framing stuff such as what reading him as ace adds to some of the narrative’s themes, and the all important qualifier of resonance that I discussed in this post: I’m ace and I vibe with him. Let’s dive in!

Metatextual evidence:

Cowboys are not for the heterosexuals Continue reading

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The Trickster in Popular Culture – Presentation Edition!

Hey, guess who finally recorded and uploaded her presentation from last year’s writing conference? It’s a dive into the various shapes and forms the Trickster can take in popular culture, starring all manner of con artists, child geniuses, and… geese!

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Queer YA Mini-Reviews: Heroes, Heartbreak, and Heists (in Space!)

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Reviews, reviews, reviews! I keep writing them because I keep reading absolutely fantastic queer books! This time round I’m delighted to recommend these three, featuring superhero conspiracies, adventures in outer space, and the emotional tale of a friendship falling apart. Read on… Continue reading

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Creativity, Discipline, and Eizouken (or: Everyone Needs a Kanamori in Their Life)

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There is a pervasive myth of The Creative Genius: the great writers, or artists, or musicians, or filmmakers must receive divine inspiration, or perhaps are simply born with a unique knack for Making Art that mere mortals are not. Creators are still asked things like “where do you get your ideas?” as if a muse descends from the heavens and bestows them to a select chosen few. The idea of creation as work is, while more widely understood in today’s capitalist hellscape, still something a lot of people are wrapping their heads around. And yet, creative work is exactly that: work. That creative lightning strike is still part of the process, but you need to put in certain efforts to bottle that lightning and actually make it into something viewable by others.

In my last blog post about Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! I talked a lot about the sense of creative wonder, and I talked mostly about the characters Midori and Tsubame. This time, I want to talk about Kanamori Sayaka—the invaluable team member who actually wrangles that wonder and forces it to take shape, providing representation of an oft-understated aspect of the creative process: discipline. Continue reading

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Strange Times: March ’20 Roundup

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So… bit of an odd era to be living in, isn’t it?

I don’t have too much to report, really, save to assure everyone that I’m safe and well (albeit a bit frustrated… as someone living in a bushfire-affected area, I kind of find myself asking “hey, didn’t we just have a weird tense month where we had to stay inside all the time, constantly check the news, and exist in a weird limbo state of worry?”). I hope everyone reading this is doing the same, and doing what they can to take care of each other.

My household’s gone through some financial changes due the pandemic’s effects on the workforce, and while it’s not too serious right now, I figure it’s as good a time as any to throw up a link to my Ko-Fi page. If you enjoy what I do here, and you can toss me even a small coin, it means the world. I’m going to keep on writing about writing, and hopefully that brings at least a little bit of respite for someone in these weird times ~

On the blog:

A Little Bit Genghis Khan: The Enemies as Lovers Appeal of Killing Eve – in which Eve and Villanelle’s tangled up, sexual-tension-filled tale gives us the good old enemies-to-lovers in an original story, whereas this trope is most often found in fan spaces.

I Can’t Believe I Care This Much About Marvel Again (A Review of Loki: Where Mischief Lies) – in which the queer Loki novel is good, like really good, and I am so bamboozled that I write a whole post about it.

Webzone:

A brief rundown of the evolution of fanfic in the popular consciousness – where did it begin? How has the perception of it shifted over time and with the help of a few vocal authors? And why in the hell are there so many RPFs?

And finally, this bonkers exploration into an “advice” show, which aired on a channel so manly its promotional material is just a montage of bullets firing, motorcycles revving, and water dripping down cleavage. Is this a parody of itself? Were straight bros from the early 2000s okay? Kurtis Conner investigates (content warning for discussions of explosive misogyny, toilet humour, sexual humour, and rampant alcohol consumption). If I had to witness this madness, so do you.

Finding Asexuality in the Archives – an investigation dismissing the dismissive views to asexuality as “the internet orientation” by revealing the history of the identity and movement long before the ‘net even existed.

Escapist Young Adult Novels Offer a Breath of Fresh Air in the Current Political Climate – serious stories that dig deep into contemporary issues are important, but equally valuable are genre stories that provide a happy break from the “compassion fatigue” affecting young people in a turbulent world.

Nothing But Respect for Our New Anime Queen, Eizouken‘s Sayaka Kanamori – Kanamori good: an analysis.

Beyond Cinderella: Exploring Agency Through Domestic Fantasy – a look at lower-stakes fantasy that places its focus not on grand quests and physical power, but keeps its emphasis closer to home and celebrates different kinds of strength in the process.

Coronavirus is Keeping Friends Apart, but Games Like Animal Crossing and D&D are Bringing Them Back Together – in this hell world, at least we have increasingly creative methods of reaching one another online!

Plus, the latest AniFem watchalong is ToraDora! which has been very fun to listen along to.

I know I say this every time, but now it’s more important than ever: take care out there, and take care of each other. I’ll see you guys soon.

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