Stranger Than Fan Fiction

August 12, 2016

The lunatics have taken over the asylum

Marvel SW cross

There was a time fanfic was a much derided form of writing. It was separated from professional writing by an abundance of mary-sue characters, pretzel-shaped soap-opera plots and continuity so shoddy that sharks were jumped on cyborg dragons even before the shark made an appearance. Some would argue that we’re still living in that time. I’d agree except it seems like over the last ten years, Hollywood has been completely taken over by fanfic writers and almost every recent genre flick is an elaborate fan film. Except by virtue of household names in the cast and high production values, it’s difficult to distinguish a mainstream cinema release from a fan-made homage based on quality alone.

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Episode 166: SHERLOCK

April 19, 2013

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD SHERLOCK PODCAST

Is BBC’s Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, fanfic in itself or is it the most blatantly fanfic trolling series ever devised?

The sweet, tortured UST between Sherlock and Watson in this iteration of the classic characters is palpable. More than palpable, it’s almost maliciously tantalizing.

I say “malicious” because, don’t fool yourself, Sherlock and Watson are never getting into the sack. There will be no tender kiss. No drunken, passionate rutting. No death bed declarations of love. It’s not going to happen.

And not, I don’t think, because the producers are too chicken to make this the first openly gay Holmes/Watson pairing. I think, if they wanted, they’d go for it. Steven Moffat has brought the gay to TV already.

But I think they’d rather play Moriarty and just fuck with us.

Speaking or Moriarty, on the episode we forgot to talk about Andrew Scott‘s portrayal of the devilish criminal mastermind. I was never quite sure what I really thought of him. Even during a single scene—actually, during the delivery of a single line in a scene—I’d vacillate between finding him brilliant and disappointing.

True, part of me simply wanted the character to be the traditional older, chilly, more Terrance Stamp-ish type of menace. Instead Scott is (not surprisingly given Moffat’s involvement) more of a Dr. Who type. Obviously he’d be a time lord gone pretty bad, but he displayed that kind of silly, manic genius (contrasting, of course, with Sherlock’s reserved genius) that turns me off of Dr. Who as a character in general. I wouldn’t be shocked if they announce he’s the next Doctor.

Anyway, I was able to buy from his performance that the character was a criminal genius. But I wasn’t able to swallow he’d built and controlled the kind of criminal network Kaiser Soze would find daunting. Which is kind of integral to Moriarty’s character. You have to believe he could be, not just a genius, but effin’ Moriarty.

One final observation: The whole thing is some kind of alternate universe Pet Shop Boys fanfic, right? Right?

PSBvSHER


Episode 152: FIDDY SHADES OF GRAYSKULL

July 28, 2012

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD FIFTY SHADES OF GREY PODCAST

This episode is a little of the ol’ rough and tumble through the pages of fanfic turned “mommy porn” sensation, Fifty Shades of Grey, with fan-favourite co-host, Kathie (What Introduced Mandi to Fanfic, Apparently). She’s back and ready to dominate us as we delve into fifty shades of tangents while putting our hard limits to the test. All without agreeing on a safe word before hand, mind you.

Unless you’ve been under a rock for six months, you will have noticed a lot of chatter on the interwebs about a Twilight fanfic turned international best-seller. Some call it sexually liberating, some call it misogynistic drivel. Most just make reference to the tampon scene. (Of course, there’s a long history of menstrual sexiness. The fanfic writes itself in these ads from the 1950’s).

As with any book that so divides public opinion, there must be something to it, right? Well… there’s certainly a lot of ellipses.  We were actually a little surprised to discover how little there was to get upset about. In some ways, less then in Twilight. Sure, it’s the old girl meets boy, girl is emotionally controlled by boy, girl decided she can change boy story. But there’s a distinct lack of substance. It’s sort of like getting angry with marshmallows for lacking nutrition.

If you still don’t know what all the fuss is about, this tells you pretty much all you need to know.

And if you like the sounds of this…

…then you’re going to want to stick around for the easter egg where we’ve uncovered the encrypted holodeck logs of a certain Starfleet Captain.

And before you ask, no, we didn’t know about this video before naming the episode.


What Fans Love

February 14, 2012

In honour of Valentine’s Day—traditionally the worst day of the year for a nerd—here’s a graphic breakdown of the things nerds love and how much they loves ’em. Click to see it full size.


Episode 83 – Battlestar GalacTALKa Series Finale / True Blood

October 5, 2010


Those who’ve listened to the episode already know that we didn’t GalacTALKa about the finale very much. Perhaps not as promised, but pretty much as expected. It wasn’t our fault though. For one thing True Blood is a lot more interesting to talk about. Those are some characters you can sink your teeth into.

Fear not, further talk on the BSG finale, Daybreak, will probably jump its way into future episodes. Perhaps if we ever do a Diana Gabaldon special. Because I will have even less to say about Outlander than Mandi did about the BSG finale. Or exactly the same amount: “It’s fine.” Except that would be a complete lie. I had to put it down at page 76 feeling that it is the antithesis of “fine.”

But in case we never get around to a real breakdown of Daybreak on the podcast, here’s a few thoughts we had.

1) Question: Why didn’t the fans like the finale? I’m not exactly sure I understand what upset people so much. It was, as Mandi said with a slight sigh of resignation, “Fine.”  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to their comments at the time it aired, trying to stay spoiler-free, but now I’m wishing I did.

Because for anyone who actually enjoyed the series for what it was, Daybreak had to be pretty much the perfect finale. Which means it was only “just fine” but still, what did people expect? Did anyone really think the show would suddenly stop being an overly melodramatic soap opera with massive continuity flaws and hackneyed, plot-driven writing?

Perhaps they objected to the completely pointless flashbacks to before the war that slowed the pace down to a near standstill. Those scenes could all have been removed to the betterment of the episode(s). They only served to be pretentious wankery and did little to shed any new light on the characters.

So Apollo and Starbuck almost made-out when Zack was still alive? Is that supposed to be a character revelation that suddenly puts their relationship in perspective? If so, it fails miserably. It doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know about them.

Nor do Roslin’s ill-fated cougar episodes tell us anything more about her lonely, isolated personal life on Caprica. We got all that in the series, the way we should have—from her character development and in the subtext within Mary McDonnell’s portrayal.

Like any prequel, the flashbacks only served to weaken what was already there, not add a new layer of depth. Which is why they were probably so boring to watch. Perhaps, if you’d never experienced a single minute of BSG, they’d have been interesting interludes introducing you to those characters that added context for what was going on in the present. But if so, why the hell were you watching the series finale and not the debut miniseries?

2) It wasn’t nearly as religious as we’d been lead to believe. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it wasn’t religious at all. Instead it was purely mythological, a rehash of a thousand creation myths rolled into one. Based, again, on the outrage of fans at the time, I was expecting a heavy-handed Christian message tacked-on at the end or something.

But no, it was about as sci-fi as anything I’ve read or seen but with a lot less heavy-handed Christ imagery than something like Narnia, The Matrix or even Fifth Element.

Yes, religious beliefs do play a large role in the story for the characters. But religious beliefs play a major role for Bajorans, Vulcans, Klingons, Jedis, and Elves. There is clearly a “God” and “Angels” in BSG, but I expect it’s just some alien race like The Q.

But then, I’m an athiest and if I were confronted with a real life miracle, I’d probably think the same thing.

3) The opera house dream arc makes no sense at all. Well, it makes sense, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to working.

The strength of BSG is supposed to be the plot arc that sweeps over all four seasons. Which would be a great thing if it wasn’t painfully clear that they had no idea where they were headed from the start. The opera house/dream storyline highlights this best.

There is absolutely no point to Roslin’s or Gaius and Caprica Six’s connection to Hera. They don’t really save her. They don’t end up raising her, Athena and Helo are still alive. And beyond that, there ultimately isn’t even any point to Hera’s existence at all. She isn’t the one to point them to Earth, Kara does. Hera doesn’t convince Cavil and Adama to end the war, they more or less work that out on their own. If she doesn’t get eaten by a lion, Hera will probably just grow up to mate with a Neanderthal. Okay, great… So what? So is everyone else. After all the drama surrounding Hera, she ends up having no real significance? If there’s one thing the fans should have been upset about it’s that.

Of course, the writers and producers set themselves up to fail by, at one point or another,  alluding to almost every single character as being a possible Saviour figure. From Kara to Sam to Roslin to Gaius to Hera to Leoben to [insert character name here], they couldn’t all be the one who saves Humanity and Cylonity(?) from extinction.

Unfortunately, the writers didn’t tie the story up well enough so that they all played an equal part. Most of them were dead weight, dragging the plot down, by the time they finally reach Earth.

There’s no small amount of minutiae I could get into, but picking apart BSG’s minutiae is like shooting ducks in a barrel with Galactica’s cannons (which never really seemed to hit much, considering the continuous barrage of death they spewed). The above were the main points I noticed while watching the finale and, really, about all the consideration I wish to ever give the show again.

Perhaps in the future some nit-picking will emerge as we tangent off topic on another show, but for now we’re watching True Blood (which is like a really good Twilight fanfic).


Worse Than Fanfic?

February 24, 2010

Something has been brought to our attention which is actually a step below mary-sue fanfic. It’s ghostwritten mary-sue fanfic and it comes from www.bookbyyou.com. But the horror doesn’t stop there. They’re not even proper mary-sues! They’re mary-sues set in faux-fandoms!

For obvious copyright reasons they can’t just plop you into Bella’s spot in Twilight, but there seems to be a variety of Twilightesque titles at the moment. There’s also Pirates of the Carribeanesque titles and something that appears to be trying to suggest Star Trek. Vaguely.

Near as we can tell, there’s a questionnaire you fill out from which the characters’ names, hair and eye colour are changed to fit the IRL versions of you and your friends. Kind of like Mad-Libs, only more gingy.

Book By You does have “kids book” options and those could conceivably be really great gifts for children. Really, this sounds like an idea that would be great applied to Choose Your Own Adventures. That could actually be a lot of fun.

But the thought of a 35-year-old woman having herself inserted—by someone else or, possibly, a computer—into a pre-written pirate romance hurts the soul in a previously uncharted way. It’s stuff like this that makes the Cylons hate us.


Episode #35 – Star Trek Novels

October 16, 2009

When Mandi likes a thing, she needs more of that thing in whatever form she can get it. Before discovering Star Trek fanfic, it were the official novels. At one point she had the entire set.

I’m a bit different when it comes to my fandoms. I tend to only enjoy the original iteration. With films I often don’t even feel the need to see the sequels. Though, of course,  I eventually do. I just don’t feel the need. For me having that one perfect movie or book is enough.

So I generally don’t wait in baited anticipation for movie adaptations of my favourite books and reading about the Star Wars Expanded Universe never appealed to me (though I did dip my toe into the Thrawn graphic novels).  The same has applied to Star Trek books. I have more than enough Star Trek to watch and re-watch, why would I need, what I assumed were poorly written, novels on top of that?


But with Star Trek there’s a few extra Nerd Hurdles I needed to leap. Yes, the assumption of simplistic, cheesy writing is at the top of the list, but it’s due mostly to some of the worst book cover art outside of Harlequin romances.

Take Masks for instance. Floating heads over a volcano. And not just the usual nicely blended floating heads you might see on a movie poster, but these look like they were torn from another book cover and pasted on as an afterthought. Picard looks okay but what’s with Riker’s expression? He’s looking both drunk and constipated. I suppose that fits with my general feelings about Riker as a character anyway. Not the wall-eyed drunk so much but there’s something stuck up somewhere within him.

Which is one of the reason’s I’ve never jumped on the Star Trek bookmobile. They seem generally Riker intensive. They were also lined up on one of my highschool buddy’s shelves along with his Dragonlance books. Forever the two series have been intertwined in my subconscious. That’s not exactly true. They’ve been intertwined in the forefront of my consciousness, no “sub” about it. I imagine I don’t need to explain Dragonlance books are a hurdle for me on principle.

So what did I discover about Star Trek novels during the course of this rather tangent-intensive episode? You’ll have to listen (link at the top of the post) to find out.

Notes: I have since read up about Oliver Cromwell and the Princes in the Tower on Wikipedia.  So there’s no need to school me on English history. Well, there is a need. But not about those two particular subjects.

~ Jakob


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