Archive for April, 2002

Insufficiently Yellow

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2002

I’m on the move with Moveable Type (obligatory link to your right). It took two days of tweaking to get it installed - not full-time tweaking, just the-boss’s-back-is-turned tweaking - but it’s lovely, don’t you think? And this is just the default template - just wait until I yellowize it. Then I’ll really be bloggin’.

The coolest thing I’ve found so far is the category archives - so, for example, there’s a page auto-generated for the entries I categorized as blog war. The easy import of all my blogger entries is a close second for coolest MT feature, though.

This isn’t even the only site update. I’ve also added a filk, The Simple Joys of Captaincy. I had the idea for that filk very early in my fanfic career - the last edit date on the file before Sunday was October 17, 2000. I feel bitter and old.

One thing I’m not bitter about, though, is the ASC Awards. People have been so nice, and I’ve never thought it was just a popularity contest. All contests, like all elections, are fundamentally unfair, but as Trek contests go, ASC seems pretty fair to me. I read (or at least started to read) almost every story in the VOY categories, and I didn’t find any that were unfairly neglected by the voting public. The only possible exception would be VS7.5, and I think it was pretty clear that that suite was just too much reading for the ASC public. Individual long works, like Meg’s Borg novel and “Lt. Keegan”, did get attention despite, in the latter’s case, being by an unknown.

Maybe people who gripe about ASC haven’t seen what goes on in er contests. For example, I entered two of my best-received ASC stories in a pairing contest - in fact, I wrote DQ Babes for that contest - and neither of them placed. I’m not usually surprised when I lose contests, but I thought at least “The Dance” might win in the friendship category. I’m not complaining either; I can certainly understand if people don’t have time to read fic by an unknown or if they prefer a different approach to the pairing. I’m just saying, as someone who’s worked the contest circuit, that ASC is as good as it gets.

Thank you Seema & company for all your hard work!

I almost forgot one last benefit of the April contest follies: 22 new quotes from fanfic.

Was there ever any doubt?

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Was there ever any doubt?

Which Voyager Character are YOU?

I didn’t even have to cheat. The best part of the quiz is the submit button.

Did I mention the Zendom Quotes article? I’ve been blogging so much lately (relatively speaking) that I can’t keep track.

Strange New Fanfic

Sunday, April 21st, 2002

Strange New Fanfic

It seems like I’ve been voting for the whole month of April. On the one hand, the big contests have been a good chance to catch up on the VOY fic I’ve been ignoring since the series ended a year ago. On the other hand, it’s been a lot of slogging through categories full of uninspiring fic, only to discover that the writers I’ve always thought were very good are still getting all my votes, and the writers I used to think were at least good for a few kilobytes’ amusement just don’t do it for me anymore.

I don’t blame them. The more I write, the more I beta as I read and little sins of characterization and style I once overlooked have become showstoppers for me. I rarely finish a fic for the plot the way I used to, if the writing doesn’t hold up.

I ought to be sorry for my loss. It’s not just fanfic, either - I’m finding it hard to dig up good scifi these days, and I used to read anything I could get my hands on. I was in a used bookstore last week (Avenue Victor Hugo on Newbury Street, if any locals are looking for used sci-fi - there’s more there than at Pandemonium in Cambridge) and didn’t find much that appealed to me. On a whim, I picked up Strange New Worlds IV - I don’t buy pay-per-fic, but in this case it was used so Paramount hasn’t made any money off me. (Sorry about the royalties, Penny. Tell me how much you would have gotten and I’ll mail it to you.) I was hoping it would shake me out of my fanfic doldrums.

At least the stuff was well-written, with a few minor exceptions. There was only one story in there that made me glad I’d bought the book - it was Personal Log by Kevin Killiany, a story about the EMH. Of course, Penny’s story was excellent, but I can have more and better Penny at the click of a link. I would give the awards out differently, too. Sticking to the pattern of at most one per series:

  1. Personal Log (VOY)
  2. A Little More Action (TOS)
  3. The Promise (TNG)

None of my pics actually won a prize, and I didn’t care for the stories that did win, especially the first place winner. The VOY prize recipient was one of the few crew stories in the book, and it wasn’t bad, though rather rushed and disjointed. I’m still not sure what happened - it was very much like an episode in its technobabble, plot holes, and brief, pat dialogue at the end.

What struck me most about the book, and therefore, I suppose, the contest, was the topics of the stories. They were mostly character vignettes, and they leaned heavily toward very minor characters, skirting, and often breaking, the contest rule that stories should be about main or familiar characters. Just to drive home the point, I’ll make a character code list of the main characters in SNW4:

TOS: an OC from the gangster planet with some Kirk, Spock and McCoy; David Marcus; tribbles and crew; a Horta; the Enterprise herself; Kirk; Scotty; McCoy

TNG: an old robot with some Picard and company; Kamin (Picard’s persona from “Inner Light”); Ro Laren; Ian Andrew Troi; Lt. Hawk (don’t ask me who that is)

DS9: Captain Proton; an OC doctor from the 1950’s (this story won, probably for its PC content)

VOY: A Borg Queen and Q (this was a TNG story); Gretchen Janeway (was she ever on VOY, or is she just a Jeri Taylorism?); Trevis (of Trevis and Flotter fame); Paris and Kim; the EMH; the crew; the crew

The structure of the stories was also weighed towards the unusual, with a third of the stories written in the first person, one with a tense shift, one in Borgvision, one in the POV of a heretofore inanimate object, one too terse to make sense, two written as journals, and even a Captain Proton script. I get the feeling the editors are as jaded by Trek stories as I am, and are going for the exotic like some third-year fanfic writer getting into slash.

I take this as evidence that SNW isn’t about fan fiction. No one would sit through these many OC’s passed off as non-MIS stories in a fanfiction forum. What it is, is more pay-per-fic - stories without any meaningful personal interaction between the main characters (with the notable exception of the Paris and Kim story), which branch off into OC’s because that’s the only way to slip a real story with real character development past Paramount.

A Quote

Friday, April 19th, 2002

Why don’t people understand that it is just as hard work to be a minor writer as a major one? - Robert Warshow

Summer in the Second Person

Wednesday, April 17th, 2002

You go to bed late, so you get up late, you eat breakfast late, and you get to work late. It’s already gorgeous out at ten when you get there, so by two, you decide an outdoor lunch is in order. You take a stroll around the block, noticing that it’s rather too warm to count as gorgeous, and you end up where the secretary predicted you would - on the green in front of the local library.

By now you want out of the sun, but the green is mysteriously bereft of shade. There are trees, yes, but they don’t seem to be casting any shadows. You wander a bit, investigating the situation (it’s a big green, and a big library - freshly renovated, the secretary said), until you find a tree of your own. The shade of its branches is better than nothing.

Yes, the shade of its bare branches - the trees on the green are in bud, and the fancy ones in flower, but it’s eighty-five degrees out in the bright sunshine and there are no leaves.

You think of the heat, still on in your apartment, because the landlord is legally obliged to provide it for another month yet. It was never really winter and now it’s suddenly high summer. It hardly snowed and now it’s not raining. You can’t remember the last time it rained. You think of the reservoir on the other side of the state, of the water that flows downhill a hundred miles to your faucet. When you get back from lunch, the secretary says we’ve ruined the earth.

My name is Jemima, and I am an INTP

Wednesday, April 17th, 2002

My name is Jemima, and I am an INTP

A few words from to explain the mystery of me:

In contrast to INTJs, an INTP will often make controversial, speculative points of argument, often annoying the discussion-partner, and make them in such a way as to leave the impression that he is very serious about what he says. In reality, the INTP is not actually even certain himself whether he really stands by what he is saying, but his Ne strongly suggests that there must be a core of truth there. The purpose then of his outspoken style of argument is to sharpen his own intuitive understanding by testing the reaction of the listener, and indeed to examine the logic of his own arguments in real time while speaking them out.

The Ne-Ti axis is a particularly useful configuration for an interest in Science Fiction. The Ne provides a fascination for abstract ideas while the Ti loves analysing the scientific concepts presented. Many an INTP is a Trekkie, particularly because Star Trek pays a great deal of attention to logical detail. [sic] Unlike much of the general population, however, INTPs take such science fiction series extremely seriously, showing the great relative importance attached to the world of ideas. Examples of fictional characters who INTPs have a natural affinity for are Avon (Blake’s Seven), Data (Star Trek: TNG) and Seven of Nine (Voyager).

Not that any of that excuses my behavior - rational argument never needs to be excused. It’s just another fine bit of purloined content for this long-inactive blog.

From the underground

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002

I’m still avoiding my mailbox. I finished voting in ASC, really, finally, this time. Although I can look through a story category and read everything that’s relatively good (and reread the ones that were really good), I find it much harder to face the author categories. I just don’t know enough about most authors to make a generalization about their work, and I don’t want to repeat what I’ve already said about individual stories.

The only thing I’ve gotten out of the author categories is the idea that I ought to be reading James Winter. I tried Barbara Watson, and I didn’t get far, unfortunately. I trust the people who’ve raved about her, but…it’s all comes down to time.

First sentence rule, people - the first sentence has to tell the reader where you’re going, and that they want to go there with you. Or the first paragraph, at least, and if you can’t do that, then the summary better promise a lot of Borg. Fandom is just like the editor’s desk that way - you have a very limited time to grab me, and them I’m on to the next NEW VOY.

Meg sucked me into her Borgstory - I never got the chance to say, “I don’t have time for this.” Barbara gave me that chance. I have my own fic to write, so I’m going to leap at any excuse to bail out of a story.

Speaking of bailing out, do I face the flooded inbox, or do I go back to voting in AAA? Only ten voting days left…

Tax Day

Tuesday, April 16th, 2002

Yes, folks, it’s tax day in Massachusetts. Yesterday was a state holiday - Patriot’s Day, on which we commemorate Paul Revere’s 26-mile run from Hopkinton to Copley Square, at the end of which he shouted “The British are coming!” and fell dead on the steps of the Public Library. Or something like that.

In any event, the post offices and regional IRS offices were closed, so the deadline to file was postponed until today. I wasted my holiday filling out US C-EZ schedules and calculating how much I’d paid in rent this year - though it was, of course, far more than the maximum Mass. state deduction for rent. That’s the price of living it up in the capital. There was one exciting moment where I read the wrong line from the 1040 into a worksheet, and thought I’d gotten an extra $300 refund. No such luck.

I spent the rest of the holiday finishing Buffy Anne, Supergirl, my latest, not particularly successful, Buffy filk, and arguing with zenites about smut. I’m afraid to go back to my inbox, actually - I don’t really understand why people who are so sure I’m wrong are so upset by the evidently wrong things I said. Go figure…

I can’t believe I voted the whole thing…

Sunday, April 14th, 2002

I can’t believe I voted the whole thing…

Technically, I’m not done with the ASC Awards yet - there’s best author, and I have no excuse like “I don’t read authors,” the way I did for “I don’t read P/T.”

If you must go and vote for me just to spoil my blog arguments, try not to make it so obvious. Sheesh, try to make a point around here…

Are They Blogging About Me?

Friday, April 12th, 2002

Are They Blogging About Me?

Someone mentioned a blog, and I surfed around a bit and read Lori’s half of her pseudoblogchat with Teague. I said something to Christine recently about why I hadn’t posted Thrive to ASC this year. Part of it was the time of year that I wrote it - I don’t have time to post or read new stuff during the ASC Awards season, which tends to last from February to April, somehow. Also, I have a different standard when posting to ASC than when posting to a newsgroup of J/C fanatics, for example. I shouldn’t say a different standard, I should say, I have a standard.

And that leads to the question, not of whether I underrate my own fic and am femininely modest about it, but of how one rates fic in the first place. I know I have a standard, but I’m far from knowing what it is. What disturbed me about “Thrive”? I told Christine I didn’t want to be an intense writer, that angst is to characterization as the drabble is to structure. (Ok, maybe I didn’t say that, but I’m saying it now.) I don’t go by what people like - I like my stories, every last one, every last word of them, but that doesn’t mean that I know how other people feel about them.

For instance, take the very best thing I wrote this past year, the tragic, inspired work that haunted me for weeks afterwards - Yesterday, When I Was Borg. It was a filk. I admit, from a technical standpoint, it may not have been as good as “Wreck of the Voyager”, but it’s my favorite nonetheless. So far, it’s garnered one pity-vote from Seema in the ASC Awards. (I’m not begging for more votes - they would spoil my point here.)

Now you can go and vote for “The Dance” all you want, but what am I to think of the reading public’s appreciation for 225k of “The Museum”, when they clearly have no feeling for even those few brief stanzas of genius in which Seven mourns, “Yesterday, the cube was green; a million burning stars, still waiting to be seen…”? Well?

That’s something of a facetious example, but I mean it to demonstrate that the author’s relationship to her work (and through it, to her readers) is something that can’t be easily pinned down to agreeing or disagreeing with the general opinion of fandom. In other words, maybe I’m not suspicious of my stories; maybe I’m suspicious of my readers.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely…