Archive for October, 2001

Bitter Maggots at Midnight

Sunday, October 28th, 2001

I’m still midnight blogging. Pay no attention to blogger - I’m on my free hour of daylight-unsavings time. I was finally admitted to the playground at EnterpriseAndBeyond. I’m still afraid of getting involved in ENT, but I wanted to see the inspiration behind the bitter maggot blog. It took a bit of hunting in the archives–for some reason no one used the subject line bitter maggot–but I think I found the core of the issue.

No, I’m not going to rehash it. There are so many problems with fandom that the particulars don’t really matter anymore. Just as it doesn’t matter exactly why, when I take out DQ Babes in the Mirror-Mirror Universe and think of all the ways I could improve the story, I don’t fix it. Or rather, I don’t take it out in the first place.

If fanfic is a hobby, it should be more fun and less power-trips and clique-blowouts. If it’s a calling, then it should be more respectable, instead of a matter for jokes like that Back To The Future fanfic link someone posted to ASC. If it’s work, then I ought to own what I write, instead of living in Paramount’s legal penumbra. If fanfic writers are better than pay-per-fic hacks, why do people go on reading pay-per-fic instead?

I repeat, this is not a bitter maggot post. I’m just thinking aloud, trying to understand why I hardly write fanfic anymore, and trying to have something to say to Michael when I tell him I can’t write for his project. The reason, I think, is that it is his. I cannot share B’Elanna the Muse, not with him, not with jetcers, not with virtual seasons–not even with the Great Bird of the Galaxy, sometimes.

B’Elanna has always gotten me into trouble, for not writing kissyface, for writing canon instead of J/C, for writing Trek instead of the X-Files. I have to conclude that the people who complain about B’Elanna don’t have the muse. Anyone who asks why you can’t just fix it or toss something out of character into your story because it fits their arc knows not the muse. It’s one thing to be a hack if it means putting food on the table, but to be a hack for no reason, just to satisfy a clique of virtual people, is a betrayal of the muse.

It’s never wise to betray a god, not even an illusory one.

Wyrms, Parable of the Talents

Sunday, October 28th, 2001

  Puppy: off
  Word of the day: apoptosis

It’s the time slip, so I had to write. I finished Foundation - I’m still amazed at what writers used to get away with. I don’t think I’m up for the rest of the series. Whatever Asimov I read in my youth I shall henceforth consider enough. I also finished Wyrms by Orson Scott Card, which was not a bad book. He claims to have written fantasy, but if this mixture of science fiction and mythology is what he was talking about, then I don’t believe him. The standard fantasy parts - the fight in the forest, the boat ride down the river, the quest in general - were unimpressive in and of themselves. Without the science and mythology, the book would not have held up to the end. The beginning was rather promising, but the characters and the fantasy world seemed to grow less complex as the story moved on. That might not have been the muse flagging; maybe it was just me flagging. Yet Tolkien’s world never lost substance, no matter where the individual characters travelled.

Maybe it’s just too late to be critiquing books - just one more, then. Parable of the Talents disappointed me. The structure, that of an angry daughter’s commentary on her mother’s journals, just took away from the main story. I wasn’t dismayed when I reached the familiar ‘there’s no room in this book for an ending’ point, because I know Octavia Butler doesn’t end her books, she just stops. No problem. But it was a problem, because she tried to end it in the usual ‘no room’ way - a flash-forward into a future where the current difficulties have already been solved. I suspect authors do this when they don’t know how to fill in those missing months or years. So the issue of how Earthseed was finally spread was just skipped over. If Nancy Kress had done it, I would have supposed that she could never in a million years describe the spread of a religion. The truly disappointing part is that Octavia Bulter could have described it; she may be the only person in sf who could, but she could and she didn’t. Why not? She’s not lazy - usually her elisions are far better timed that this one. Also, I found the study guide at the end of the trade paperback edition of Parable of the Talents a bit much. Remind me never to do that.

Schizoid on Enterprise

Friday, October 26th, 2001

I’m back to midnight blogging, but I think I’ve gotten over my bitter maggot phase. No news is bad news on the job front, but I took the personality disorder test Liz mentioned, and I came out far healthier than I expected:

Disorder | Rating
Paranoid: Moderate
Schizoid: High
Schizotypal: Moderate
Antisocial: Moderate
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: Low
Narcissistic: Moderate
Avoidant: Low
Dependent: Moderate
Obsessive-Compulsive: Moderate

Schizoid: People with schizoid personality disorder avoid relationships and do not show much emotion. They genuinely prefer to be alone and do not secretly wish for popularity. They tend to seek jobs that require little social contact. Their social skills are often weak and they do not show a need for attention or acceptance. They are perceived as humorless and distant and often are termed “loners.”

If I genuinely prefer to be alone, what’s the disorder? Isn’t it a free country?

ENT: Well, on to Trekkier matters. I saw “Terra Nova” tonight, and I learned all sorts of things. For instance, did you know human children are immune to radiation? Dunno how I missed that one back in biology class. And that despite having faster-than-lightspeed travel, no one could be bothered to go 20 measley lightyears to check on a missing colony? So what if it would take 9 years? Bring a deck of cards. Better yet, bring a Vulcan to berate 24/7 for the whole 9 years there and 9 years back. You’d hardly get started…

A writer should never ask a question he can’t answer - it’s better to take your chances that the reader won’t spot the plot hole. So mentioning, as I think T’Pol did, that they could have just asked the Vulcans for a lift, for heaven’s sake, rather than let four hundred people die, was a big no-no. While I’m advising the Evil Twins, let me point them in the direction of the Daystrom Institute Technical Library, which they really ought to have checked before they pinned humanity down to seventy years plus at warp 1.5. I check DITL before I write anything brain-numbingly stupid. No wonder the poor things were so excited about warp 4.

Does Not Play Well With Others

Thursday, October 25th, 2001

I was up on the auction block again today (technically, yesterday)…or in modern terms, I had another job interview. I don’t interview well. When my boss tells me that, it just reminds me of second grade report cards saying “does not play well with others”. Tell me something new. Only time will tell whether I go on being a starving artist or get to be a well-fed artist until this company, like my last one (of the boss with the obvious comments), sinks in the quicksand that passes for the Boston economy.

This real-life example of how you never really escape grade school brings us back to the bitter maggot theme. Liz was kind enough to point me in the direction of ENT fandom, though I did have to beg for two days. I can’t help thinking that no one invited me to the ENT party because I said the wrong thing about someone’s eighties batwing hairstyle or something.

If ASC is anything to judge by, ENT fic is purely reactionary so far. Except for an excellent little T/Tu (funny how that still says Torres/Tuvok to me) by Seema and the ubiquitous Captain’s Dog’s Log, it all seems like an exercise in rehashing the episodes. Was it already a week ago today that I said, “I hate it when people transcribe the show and call it fanfic, without even the humorous stage directions provided by Jim”? And I was thinking of the millions of times I’ve read the Angry Warrior Speech in fan fiction, not a future of rehashes of the Alien Spore Paranoia episode.

Alien spores ought to be more fun.

Still Searching for ENT Fandom

Wednesday, October 24th, 2001

Jade’s latest story, Bygones is up.

No one’s told me the secret location of ENT fandom yet. I’m waiting…

Bitter Speedwagon

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001

It’s not really a blog without song quotes, so here’s a topical one from REO Speedwagon (of course) for my fellow bitter maggots:

So if you’re tired of the same old story
Turn some pages
I’ll be here when you are ready
To roll with the changes

Keep on rollin’, folks.


Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001

  Puppy: on
  Word of the day: variola

I guess I’ve always had a dim view of mankind. For example, I’ve always believed that my smallpox vaccination would come in handy someday. I find reports that my vaccination may have worn out rather disturbing–but I don’t believe it. I still have faith in the variola of older days. Someone higher up just doesn’t want me to write off everyone born since 1970; little do they know, I did that ten years ago.

And then there was nuclear war: I have to admit it’s been a while since I thought we’d wipe ourselves off the earth that way, but it seems the simple fears of childhood are back. Just today on the news I heard that a nuclear exchange is “likely” within the next thirty or sixty days, and it won’t even be us and the Russians this time.

Ah, the Russians–no one ever told me that they’d been trying to produce weapons-grade smallpox since the day mankind defeated the natural version. I just had a bad feeling… smallpox has a long history of use as a biological weapon here in the United States, most notably in the French and Indian War. At least then, it was more of the same old smallpox, rather than a plot to ressurrect something that took so long to kill. Immunization is not a modern phenomenon; the practice goes back to medieval times or further. It’s a very old dream only recently achieved, and fragile.

Putting aside the annihilation of mankind for the moment, I suppose it’s time to say something about Memory by LMB. Of course I loved it; but why? Memory immediately precedes my favorite LMB novel, Komarr, and may be seen as a dress rehearsal for that book. The situation is the same–an apparent accident that may or may not be a crime, which Miles ends up investigating in his new role of Imperial Auditor. Both novels deal with temptation; Miles begins Memory by sliding, ever so slowly, towards what could be considered a white lie or a huge betrayal, and even more temptations follow this initial battle. Both the temptations and questions of identity are more pressing in Memory, while in Komarr and the sequel, A Civil Campaign, the theme shifts to honor.

As a mystery, Komarr is by far the better book–there are plot holes in Memory, the pace is uneven, and the culprit is easily identified–but on the level of character, Memory does for Miles what Komarr does for Ekaterin–almost.

Bitter Blogbacks

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001

About blogging back, the latest fad: I blogged back to Liz’s bitter maggot blog entry (today), but you have to hit that little [comment] button to see what I said. I really, really hate hitting little buttons. [Insert tirade on click-taxes here, if you’ve heard it.] Anyway, here’s what I said; there’s a general question in there.

I feel so out of it. Where is ENT fandom, and how do I join? I really need another spirit-crushing bad fandom experience, you know. It’s been months already…

I completely agree with the maggot blog entry, even though I have no clue about the specifics Liz was talking about. I guess no one ever told her that the VOY definition of constructive criticism is “what I want to hear, the way I want to hear it”. Some things you learn the hard way.

I thought the same thing when J/C fandom went from tired and old to vicious and angry - it’s time to write that novel. Fame is the best revenge, right? Don’t you want so-and-so to hang her head in shame and say, “I drove her out of fandom, back before she was famous and beloved by all”? The problem is, so-and-so would somehow manage to take the credit for your Hugos. So-and-so’s are that way.

I remember when all this was fun, and here I am, old and bitter, living on the J/P and C/7 fringes of VOY, petrified of getting involved in ENT or Delta Fleet, missing Christine and all the other disappeared VOY people…

There comes a time when you have to consider that maybe fandom is just this way. Maybe Trek fans have always been stark raving mad. Maybe it goes back to sci-fi fandom, that huge clique that considers all outsiders “mundanes” and scolds newcomers for calling it sci-fi instead of sf. Maybe it’s time to go read some Ayn Rand and develop a healthy detestation for the other 98% of humanity.

Maybe it’s time to get back to that novel.

Life of Seven

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2001

Part of my research for the Seven Saga is a timeline of Seven’s life, especially the major nits. It’s housed at Wikifection, the C/7 wiki, so if you’re a nitpicker, you can add nits yourself.

If My Aunt from Minnesota…

Sunday, October 21st, 2001

Site News: My two very short stories are done. I just posted If Ayn Rand Wrote ST:VOY to ASC - it’s a very, very late response to Lori’s If My Aunt from Minnesota Wrote ST Fanfic challenge - and Au Naturel, another C/7 episode addition (guess the episode) to the CSFic list.

My favorite If My Aunt… story was Mike’s If Minimum Wage Cashiers Wrote ST:DS9 (though his Shakespeare parody is a close second). The title is a bit baroque. I would have said, “If Trailer Trash Wrote DS9″, but maybe that’s offensive in other parts of the country. Maybe that’s offensive here, too, who knows?