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Welcome to my fandom musings on Avatar: The Last Airbender and more. Here are some of my main posts (including outside links) grouped by category.

Fan fictionCollapse )

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Avatar: The Last Airbender EssaysCollapse )

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Academic drama

The last two weeks made ripples in water that had lain stagnant for years. It was mainly academic drama, but it got me thinking about my fiction writing as well.

You know those stories where you return exactly where you started but the choices made and growth experienced up to that point make all the difference? Planescape: Torment is a particularly epic example, but you can see it in a lot of "hero's journey" type stories. The hobbits' return to the Shire in The Lord of the Rings comes to mind. I'm sure you can come up with other examples.

That's sort of what happened to me over the past two weeks. I was trying my darnedest to graduate this semester while my advisor thought I wasn't ready yet. I poured everything into proving otherwise, working until 11 or 12 every night trying to put together a thesis that would pass muster.

In the end he decided I still wasn't ready, but he seemed genuinely moved by how hard I was trying and how determined I was. He sat down with me for an hour--on a day when he was teaching nine hours of classes--to give me extremely detailed feedback. I could tell how badly he wanted me to write a really good thesis, one that would make a difference.

Oh look! A giant teal deer!Collapse )

I was at a social occasion over the weekend with my professor, who told a colleague that I'm going to be graduating next semester. I like that idea. Maybe I'll make it and maybe I won't, but it sure is worth the effort. If I learned anything over the past two weeks, it's that my dreams are only as good as the sweat I'm willing to pour into them.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/66903.html


the poppet and the lune coverThe Poppet and the Lune (2011) by Madeleine Claire Franklin is a novel in the style of a fairy tale, with fantastic elements like witches, werewolves, spells, and a girl created from dead body parts.

Full disclosure, I got this book in audio form as a complementary review copy. About a year ago the narrator Elizabeth Basalto's sister was handing out audiobook review credits on the [community profile] books community, and I finally listened to the book last month because I had such a massive audiobook backlog to go through. This is my promised review.

Overall impression: the story was pleasant enough and the narration was okay. There are a lot of fantastic elements, as mentioned above, and there were genuinely clever and moving moments. However, I don't think the story followed through on what should have been its emotional core, and there were some Unfortunate Implications as a result. I will go into more detail on the story below, and there will be spoilers.

As for the narration,[personal profile] jeweledeyes who gave me the audiobook credit said this was her sister's first audiobook narration and it showed. Ms. Basalto's voice is nice and the delivery earnest, but I noticed some technical flaws and tics that I don't see with more experienced narrators. The performance, to my relief, was more solid than in the trailer video for the audiobook; however, it had the same airy quality that could be grating after a while. The repetitive intonation she used when she said "the patchwork girl," a very common phrase in the book because it refers to the heroine, was something of an annoyance. Still, I thought the voice and story were a good match, and wish Ms. Basalto well in her narration career.

In which I demonstrate why you shouldn"t give me complementary copiesCollapse )

In the end The Poppet and the Lune, despite clever uses of fairy tale elements and entertaining plot developments, undermined its own power by hollowing out what it held out to be its own emotional core. It is many things, fun, colorful, romantic, action-packed, and is also, ultimately, forgettable.

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/66625.html

Pern filk: Threadfall

So after tormenting Google Translate into making (rather awesome) gibberish of the Skyfall lyrics, I got what seemed like an obvious idea--a Skyfall filk set in the Dragonriders of Pern universe, titled "Threadfall." I couldn't find anything along these lines other than a fanfic or RP whose title used the parallel, so I wrote one while waiting for a plane to take me home.

Threadfall lyricsCollapse )

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/66524.html


Google Translate sings Skyfall

I had a good long laugh with the Google Translate Sings series [personal profile] chordatesrock  inroduced to me, and particularly loved I'll Make a Man Out of You. On a whim I decided to try the same with Skyfall. Here's a result of five or six layers of Google Translate:

I dropped from the sky...Collapse )

Dropping from the sky decoding? It sure knows what a Bond movie is about. Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/66133.html
As previously discussed, my first foray into Anne McCaffrey's Pern series was a couple of out-of-order volumes that I found alternately intriguing, boring, and creepy. About twenty years later, I made a second entry the way it should have been all along, with Dragonflight, the 1968 novel that started the series.

My impressions were as follow:

Two positives, two negativesCollapse )

In short, as Julie Andrews sang, the very beginning is a very good place to start. Dragonflight was a better start for the series than my original introduction, and it certainly had a lot of fun elements. The experience was marred for me, however, by the narrative playing favorites and getting into outright rape/abuse apologia. (Yes, it was published half a century ago. No, that does not make it harmless.)

Next up is Dragonquest, which I read once before and have almost entirely forgotten. I don't have the patience to re-buy and re-read it, so I think I'll follow along with Silver Adept's deconstruction instead.

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/65849.html
I read the Pern series only in part and badly out of order. A long time ago, and we're talking around two decades, I found Dragonsdawn and Dragonquest in a bookstore and read them one after the other. I found them a) to have some good ideas, b) boring in the execution, and b) skeevy as hell in places.

Discussions of rape and reproductive coercion.Collapse )

Fast forward to the present, where [personal profile] chordatesrock got a bout of nostalgia about the series and asked if I wanted to read the series, in proper order this time. I decided to see if that made things better, and hoo boy. If I thought the abusive relationship dynamic in Dragonsdawn was bad, Dragonflight would deliver much, much worse. Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/65510.html
I have been meaning to do a Mad Max: Fury Road post approximately forever since I've seen it (and you won't convince me there was a whole world, history, and civilization before it came out), but everything kept coming out as FTBRRLT MUST MARRY IT AND HAVE ITS BABIEZZZ. The only halfway coherent thoughts I got down were in a discussion with overlithe, so I decided to repurpose my comments into a blog post.

My thoughts on Fury Road are many and tangled, but one aspect among many is that it took and demolished common sexist tropes. Here are three major ones I can think of:

Spoilers, of courseCollapse )

These three, Plucky Girl, Damsel in Distress, and Women in the Fridge are the major tropes that Mad Max: Fury Road did an excellent job of dissecting along with a whole host of toxic assumptions about women and men. The best part is, as Charlize Theron (Furiosa) said, the movie didn't even have a feminist agenda; the story is feminist by way of being honest and truthful, simply by presenting women as people. I've read stories with feminist agendas and they tend to be dreary and moralizing as agenda-driven fiction tends to be. (Legend of the Last Princess, though a concept, is representative of the type.) The latest installment of Mad Max is driven not by agenda but by truth, and that's why it is among the best feminist films of all time.
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/65044.html
Following on the discussion of the highly rapey Sky Maiden and Woodsman story, I looked through my niece's copy to see it for myself. It was just a standard telling, but there was a page at the end of the book talking about the "lessons" for children. I read it, wondering if it put the problematic elements of the story in perspective.

I don't have the book with me anymore, but here's the general gist of the note:

Rage. So much rage.Collapse )

This is just one book among thousands, of course, and it does not by itself create culture. I wouldn't even care if it weren't part of a consistent message we are bombarded with, over and over from all directions. There is no need to censor the media we consume, but there is a need to question them. The only harm is in pretending that stories told to children are apolitical, because acceptance of the status quo as "harmless" is itself political.

Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/64934.html

Grandma reads granddaughter a rape story

Trigger warning: Discussions of rape and abuse

My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and sister-in-law's four-year-old daughter are visiting over the weekend. Just now I sat in my room listening to my mother-in-law reading her granddaughter what is, I now realize, a story of kidnap and rape. It's an old standby in Korean folk tales, The Sky Maiden and the Woodsman (reproduced here in animation), and obviously it was familiar to me from childhood, too.

The story begins when a woodsman saves a stag from a hunter. In gratitude the stag tells the woodsman about a spot where lovely women fly down from the heavenly realms to bathe. Steal one of their clothes as they bathe, the stag tells the woodsman, and she loses the power of flight and will have to be his wife.

My husband ambles into my room. "Yo, Mom's reading that story where the dude kidnaps and rapes the girl."

Hey little girl, storytime!Collapse )
Dreamwidth entry URL: http://ljlee.dreamwidth.org/64756.html


LJ Lee

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