Posts Tagged ‘fan fiction’
* I’ve seen dumber things than a mayor offering to spend $173 million in tax money on a building for a private college that already has its pick of several arenas to play in—but not much dumber…. I can’t for the life of me imagine what Emanuel thinks Chicago is likely to get out of this deal, unless he really thinks that convention planners are just waiting for a 12,000-seat arena to hold their plenary sessions in, at which point they’ll start throwing wadded-up hundred-dollar bills at any Chicagoan they can find. At the very least it’s something to think about as the mayor’s appointees say they have no choice but to close the schools. Common sense on school closings.
* Good news for Gerrys: Pope Francis says even atheists go to heaven. That’s a load off.
* Precious bodily fluids: Portland, Ore., rejects adding fluoride to drinking water.
* Best Cities for Working Women in the U.S. Congratulations, Durham!
* Just stealing it from LGM outright: ESPN is a great corporation. It is ungodly profitable. It creates a mere 43% of Disney’s total operating income. Think about that. All of Disney, including Disneyland and everything else it owns. 43%. But you see, ESPN has recently acquired some lucrative properties, like more SEC football games. In order to show us more Vanderbilt-Kentucky football and build a crazy expensive new set, ESPN has decided to lay off 300-400 employees. This a mere 2 weeks after Disney’s stock reached an all-time high.
* And Octavia Butler reminds us introspection is kind of a pain.
* Two bad tastes that taste good together: Rand Paul filibusters drones.
* Apocalypse now: The amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the air jumped dramatically in 2012, making it very unlikely that global warming can be limited to another 2 degrees as many global leaders have hoped, new federal figures show.
* The entrapment defense rarely succeeds, both in terrorism cases and more quotidian (usually drug-related) prosecutions, largely because “entrapment” means something very different in a courtroom than it does in ordinary usage. For nearly a century, the federal courts have allowed a criminal defendant to dodge criminal liability by showing that the governmentinduced her to commit an unlawful act. Once the accused makes such a showing, however, the government still has the opportunity to prove that she was predisposed to commit the crime, even before government agents entered the picture. If a jury accepts the government’s characterization, other factors—the nature or size of the “bait,” the complexity of the government artifice, or the independent wherewithal of the defendant to commit the crime—basically don’t matter: the defendant is still guilty. This means that when entrapment is at issue, the personality, reputation, criminal history, and political or religious beliefs of the accused become the centerpiece of the trial. Post-9/11 juries have had little trouble concluding that the disaffected Muslims (and occasional anarchists) ensnared by the FBI have been sufficiently “predisposed” to engage in terrorism.
* #slatepitches: What SimCity Teaches Us About Real Cities of the Future.
* Ephemeral third ring of radiation makes appearance around Earth. If we lived in a comic book, I bet this story would be fifteen times as awesome.
* And the latest issue of The New Inquiry posits time is the fire in which we burn.
* A refreshingly honest business model: For-Profit College Recruiters Taught To Use ‘Pain,’ ‘Fear,’ Internal Documents Show.
* Snoop the Dogg is no more. I am Snoop the Lion, and I come to you now at the turn of the tide.
* University 2.0: MIT launches MITx.
* Gorbachev: What happened after the Soviet Union ended in 1991? Why were the opportunities to build what Pope John Paul II called a more stable, more just and more humane world order not realized?
* Chinese Century watch: China to put an taikonaut on the Moon.
* More ’12 election chaos in the making: Gary Johnson’s Libertarian Leap Could Complicate New Mexico in 2012. Here’s Obama’s game plan, with Virginia (okay) and North Carolina (uh-oh) as linchpins.
So, there’s this girl. She’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet. Every guy she meets falls in love with her, but in between torrid romances she rejects them all because she dedicated to what is Pure and Good. She has genius level intellect, Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks. She is consumed by terrible angst, but this only makes guys want her more. She has no superhuman abilities, yet she is more competent than her superhuman friends and defeats superhumans with ease. She has unshakably loyal friends and allies, despite the fact she treats them pretty badly. They fear and respect her, and defer to her orders. Everyone is obsessed with her, even her enemies are attracted to her. She can plan ahead for anything and she’s generally right with any conclusion she makes. People who defy her are inevitably wrong.
God, what a Mary Sue.
I just described Batman.
* And even conservatives hate SOPA. I think that’s everyone.
What’s been truly bizarre, though, is the way the mainstream has slowly headed in the same direction, and without anyone noticing it, we seem to have handed over our entire industry to the creation of fanfiction on a corporate level, and at this point, I’m not sure how we’re expecting the pendulum to ever swing back. I know people love to blame Spielberg and Lucas for creating the modern blockbuster age, but at least when they decided to pay tribute to their inspirations, they did so in interesting ways. Spielberg has talked about how his frustrations at hearing that only English filmmakers could direct James Bond movies led to the creation of Indiana Jones, and Lucas was working out his love of Flash Gordon when he created “Star Wars.” Those are healthy ways to work through your love of something, and absolutely make sense as important pieces in the creative process. What’s scary is how these days, filmmakers wouldn’t bother with that last step, the part where you take your inspirations and run them through your own filter. Now, instead, we live in an age where we are simply doing the source material again and again and again, and where original creation seems to be almost frowned upon as a “risk.”
Riffing on Alan Sepinwall’s recent claim that The Muppets is the greatest work of fan fiction ever made, Drew McWeeny declares we are living in the age of fanfiction. It’s not as bad as the quoted bit above makes it sound.
* Since yesterday there have apparently been small earthquakes in Los Angeles and Iran, and a large one in Peru. I’m ready to call it: S.P.E.C.T.R.E. has an earthquake machine.
* National Level Exercise 11: a high-magnitude quake hits the New Madrid Fault, which lies on the border region of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi and on which fifteen nuclear power plants sit. More scary news: Virginia Nuclear Plant Had Quake Sensors Removed Due to Budget Cuts.
* I linked this on Twitter yesterday, but it’s worth repeating: this short Portal fan film is pretty stellar.
* Hegemony watch: “The Chinese want to make Superman an honorary citizen.”
* Laughably Freudian symbolism watch: “Washington Monument may be cracked, could be closed indefinitely.”
* A big part of the problem is precisely that climate efforts so far have been almost entirely driven by liberal elites. It’s been an extremely intellectualized, top-down sort of undertaking, and as we saw with painful clarity during the climate bill fiasco, an elite-driven strategy isn’t going to cut it. Why Isn’t the Climate Left Stronger?
* As things now stand we are producing a generation of graduates whose lives are being wrecked by debts they will never be rid of (or, if they go into the Income-Based Repayment program, will be rid of in 25 years, which to be fair is only five years longer than the term of service for ordinary soldiers in the Roman Legions when that empire was at its height). The Road to Serfdom.
* And just for laughs wry, knowing half-smiles: How Hard Is It To Get a Cartoon Into The New Yorker?
The Hugo awards were announced last night. Boing Boing has the list, including Ted Chiang’s characteristically excellent novella “The Lifecycle of Software Objects.” I haven’t read the winning Connie Willis novels but I did just impulse-buy both for my Kindle.
I’m also glad to see Lev Grossman won Best New Writer for his very good (especially the first two-thirds) The Magicians; I got the chance to interview Lev recently about his excellent followup, The Magician King, which should be in this week’s Independent Weekly. We mostly talked about fan fiction, building off his defense of the genre in Time here. Look for that soon.
The only fan fiction I’ve ever recommended, and perhaps even read at all: “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality,” loosely organized around an alternate universe version of the J.K. Rowling novels in which (among other things) Harry’s adoptive parents were not the repulsive Dursleys but instead an rationalist Oxford scientist. The piece is written in accordance with the author’s self-established principles of fan fiction:
The First Law of Fanfiction states that every change which strengthens the protagonists requires a corresponding worsening of their challenges. Or in plainer language: You can’t make Frodo a Jedi without giving Sauron the Death Star. Read any book on writing ever and it will tell you that stories are about conflict; a hero too strong for their conflict is no longer in tense, heart-pounding difficulty. For example, Dark!Dumbledore and Dark!Harry both permit a Harry strengthened over canon – the first by turning one of Harry’s canon!allies against him, and the second by turning Harry against his canon!allies. The most spectacular application of this principle that I’ve seen is Harry Potter and the Wastelands of Time, in which Harry has gained all the knowledge of ancient Atlantis and has been through literally hundreds of Peggy Sue cycles in which he learns every possible twist of fate… and Voldemort, who unfortunately got to Atlantis first, has still won every time. The Mary Sue is not defined by her power, but by her lack of an even more powerful opponent. I mention this (1) so that you know I know it and (2) because the First Law of Fanfiction ought to be in a giant banner on every fanfiction site. The most fatal temptation of fanfiction writing is to think of how much easier some character’s life would be if they were a ninja. We are naturally inclined to think up ways to solve our characters’ problems for them, but must learn instead to make their lives more difficult.
The Rule of Rationalist Fiction states that rationality is not magic; being rational does not require magical potential or royal bloodlines or even amazing gadgets, and the principles of rationality work for understandable reasons.A rationalist!hero should excel by thinking – moreover, thinking in understandable patterns that readers can, in principle, adopt for themselves. As opposed to the hero just being a born “genius” who comes up with amazing gadgets through an opaque discovery process, or who pulls off incredibly complicated gambits that would fail miserably if the reader tried something similar in real life.
I found this strange and slightly wonderful mess (where else?) at TV Tropes, which points out that it’s a self-conscious Author Tract for self-educated AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky, who seems to take Bayes’s theorem as something like religion.
Of course “HPatMoR” is definitely not for everyone—I can only imagine what Alex will say if he takes the bait and clicks the link—but it displays that precise nerdly obsessiveness I find I just can’t resist. When a fan-fic writers imagines his souped-up Voldemort turning the outbound Pioneer 11 spacecraft into one of his many Horcuxes—well, look, I’m not made of stone.
I should also say this link is roughly the complete opposite of “breaking news”—the ongoing project is nearly a year old.
* The Virginia House of Delegates is tackling the real issues.
The House of Delegates is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a bill that would protect Virginians from attempts by employers or insurance companies to implant microchips in their bodies against their will.
The link goes on to explain how this is also protection from the Anti-Christ. It’s a two-fer.
* Somewhere, a research assistant is getting chewed out: Bernard-Henri Lévy was caught quoting a fictional philosopher in his recent book on Kant.
* ‘They are unembarrassed’: Rachel Maddow on GOP legislators who slam the stimulus in one breath and take credit for its spending the next. It’s an amazing segment; her list of hypocritical cash-and-trash Republicans seems to go on forever.
* North Carolina wants to change its history curriculum so that high school U.S. history starts in 1877. They’d miss the Civil War and slavery, but at least they’d still get to cover the Wilmington Race Riots of 1898, the only successful coup d’etat in U.S. history.
* 12 Successful SF Authors Who’ve Written Racy Fanfic. The winner? Joanna Russ of The Female Man fame.
* Daily Kos joins the Fire Tim Kaine caucus.
* And while you may have forgotten about Peak Oil, Peak Oil has not forgotten about you.
Persepolis 2.0 is a recaptioned remix of Marjane Satrapi’s original Persepolis around the current Iranian election protests. Via Boing Boing.