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the island of conclusions

in which I catch up with the rest of the world

the island of conclusions

bright star

in which I catch up with the rest of the world

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bright star
In which I catch up with the rest of the world

By seeing Avengers and reading The Hunger Games (okay, listening to it, on audiobook).

Certain characters portrayed by Michael Fassbender notwithstanding, I’m just not a superheroes kind of person. The movie was all really well done and well cast, but it hit very few buttons for me, and I thought it was particularly canny move on the script writers’ part have Tony Stark doling out insults on everyone’s costume before one could formulate one’s own.

Still, I love me some Renner, particularly when he gets to do his trademark batshit stare--enough to even get over that costume (which looked part of the “Elves do it with Magic” routine excised from Magic Mike for being too hokey). I probably liked his fight with Black Widow and the subsequent make-up scene more than the rest of the movie put together (because yeah, no magic glow sticks or fantastical ontologies). But I know that that’s purely matter of taste.

Oh, and Mark Ruffalo was amazingly poignant as Bruce Banner.

Y’all can kick me out of fandom now.

I finally succumbed to reading (listening) to The Hunger Games because my older son ripped through the series and loved it.

And though I had all the problems with it I knew I’d have (and which had stopped me from reading it in the first place) I could totally see what all the fuss was about. The characters were almost uniformly engaging and the plot swept me along. It made a particularly good thing to listen to while running through my own much more manicured patch of the Appalachian woods.

But I had my usual problems with narratives based on games (something which has kept me from truly loving lots of things, from Harry Potter to Gladiator). I suppose you could say that the strategy was so overt in The Hunger Games -- it was so clear the when the “game makers” needed to spice things up, it was really the author who needed to spice things up—that it was almost a meta on the whole narrative strategy. But it still bugged me. My son and I had some heated discussions about whether certain things were narrative cheating or not.

(and it makes me think that my sons’ generation is much more comfortable with the idea that “reality” is organized this way than people as old as me).

It was also probably not a good thing that I listened to it at the same time as I was reading Karl Marlantes’s What it is Like to Go to War (more on this when I’ve finished it). Marlantes has some compelling sections on the pernicious effects of the idea of the “clean kill,” and as I read THG, I got more and more annoyed at the way the narrative sidestepped what seemed to be the central moral problem of the book: would Katniss hunt and kill other children in her pursuit of winning the games? The actual deaths and their aftermaths were probably as realistically described as is appropriate for a YA novel. But, although Katniss kills, she never does it “in cold blood”: it happens by proxy, by accident, in self-defense, and as an act of mercy. Twice, people are killed “for her.” She says she’s going to pursue the other tributes, but she never actually has to. I wanted to see her make an ethical decision and act on it. The fact that it never happens started to drive me nuts.

And, yeah, I love clothes and kissing as much as the next girl, but enough already, huh?

Ahem. I think this review demonstrates why I shouldn't read YA novels!

I know, I know, I'm a grump.

In more important news, there is a masterlist now for Running Hot II, with fics from H50, White Collar, Sherlock and SPN. There are many more fabulous prompts from many fandoms including Avangers awaiting fills at the post. We also have AO3 collections for this year and last year. If you wrote something last year and posted it to the Archive you can edit it to include it in last year’s collection (and please do!!)

ETA: and I have cast my vote against the evil amendment--cross your fingers, folks!
  • I am right in thinking that I've got time to write for Running Hot II aren't I? There's a couple of prompts I fancy, but I have other things I must do first.
    • yes, absolutely! It'll be open at least til the end of May, longer if people are still writing (and I never entirely close up the prompt posts)

      yay that you're thinking of writing something!!
  • *clings*

    No one is kicking you out of fandom!

    I wanted to see her make an ethical decision and act on it. The fact that it never happens started to drive me nuts.

    I read enough YA that I was mostly curious how the author was going to keep Katniss from having to kill anyone "in cold blood". I would have been (pleasantly!) very surprised if she had.

    Ender's Game is the only YA-esque book I can think of that I've read where the hero purposely and pre-meditatedly attacks, and even Orson Scott Card wimps out and tells us that it's because it's the only way to win decisively and never have to fight again. Even though the book is supposed to be anti-war, and it does examine a little bit what happens to Ender, to me it always seemed rather convenient that he gets to win, and THEN mourn, and in some ways the book spares him that choice as well when it matters the most.
    • *clings back* I wanna stay!

      That does become the narrative hook of the middle of the book, doesn't it?

      It wasn't so much that I wanted her to kill in a premeditated way (though that would have been pretty interesting). If anything, I more wanted her to decide not to--but then to really face the consequences of that decision, to have a more overt kind of resistance to the rules. It was interesting that the novel chose to have her learning to manipulate the representations of the games, but on the other hand, the killing thing was like having your cake and eating it too.

      I'm somewhat put off from reading the next book, but I'm sure I will, because my son wants me to.
  • Oooh, I heard a lot of good things about Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner!

    ...Wait, you know stuff about Magic Mike??
    • he's really good--kind of the most surprising thing in the movie (since one has seen most of the other characters before, or their like)--he has probably the best line at the end.

      Well, I have seen a "cop" stripper routine in the preview for Magic Mike, and stills of some kind tuxedoed action. i doubt they contemplated an elf routine--ladies don't dig elves all that much.

      everything I know is here: magicmikemovie

      Did you see last night's House? I haven't yet :(

      Edited at 2012-05-08 07:52 pm (UTC)
    • I think though that part of why Katniss doesn't go after the other tributes, is because she's better than that. Because allowing herself to see the other tributes as the enemy, rather than realizing as she did at the end with Cato, that he's just as much a victim as she is, is what allows the Capitol to win.

      The moment she lets herself get suckered into that kind of thinking, she loses and becomes just another of the capitol's pawns.

      At the end of the first book, she is put in a position of making that ethical choice, killing Peeta, or allowing him to kill himself for her sake. And she chooses not to, picking a third option, with the berries. She wins, because she won't play the Capitol's games, and it's that what makes her so important to the rebel's cause in the following two books.

      Now admittedly, my favorite of the three books in the series, is the third, with the first though I like it, being the least of the three.
      Either way, the series grows progressively darker after the first book. To the point that in the third book, Katniss kills an innocent civilian, even if there would probably have been another way of dealing with the woman without killing her. And we then see the effect of that kill on Katniss.
      • (still wondering how this ended up here instead of in response to the post....)
      • That is all really interesting! I'm glad to hear that about the other books--maybe I will read/listen to them sooner rather than later.

        I completely agree that she has to realize that the other tributes aren't the enemy--and that she does. I guess I just wanted her to make a conscious decision about not hunting and killing the other tributes (she plans to hunt them, but rescuing Peeta interferes). By the time she confronts Cato, he's first holding Peeta hostage then mortally wounded, so it's not quite the decision it would be if he were in sound mind and body. The times she really might kill someone--the boy at the beginning and then Clove--someone else ends up doing it for her (ditto with Foxface).

        The moment with the berries is really interesting, because it's perfect showmanship. She wins by playing the Capitol's game better than it/they can (they need a winner, she recognizes her trump card)--she wins by playing their rules better than they can, rather than refusing their rules. And by getting the audience on her side by faking (?) the romance with Peeta.

        All of which is not to say that she isn't a completely awesome character who kept me fully engaged and sympathetic. I guess I had an old fashioned idea she would break through the game scenario--but it sounds like the second two books maybe do that?

    • *headslap* OF COURSE there's a comm before the movie even comes out! I bet there's a kinkmeme all ready to go too!

      I have seen House. Hum *frets* when you see it give us a shout out, 'kay? we'll dicuss.

      In the mean time, I strongly recommend catching up to Grimm. There's been a couple of episodes that were just darling

      I'll leave you with Jeremy Renner: strong female character
      • Of course there is!

        I'm going to try and watch House tonight--I will make sure to post or write about it.

        And I am caught up with Grimm! Those two episodes were so darling! I loved Nick going to the Beaver convention, and Juliette cooking vegan salmon for Monroe. Can they all just move in together and cuddle, pls?
  • (no subject) -
    • No need to defend it--I could completely see why people love it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly myself (which is saying something for me and YA fiction). Plus, I love any number of things that are indefensible myself. It's me who should be apologizing for my inability to like things about games. And you know my taste for violence runs towards things that would never be allowed in YA novel....

      I hear you about being blocked! I was surprised I managed to get out a ficlet, hackneyed as it was. If you could prompt it would be awesome to have some hockey or Walking Dead prompts. If there's anything I can prompt that will tempt you, let me know! (Warrior? that would be some awesome fever!fic, just saying).
  • I haven't thanked you yet for restarting Running Hot. Thank you. I'm so glad you're doing this! I have an idea for a H50 fic that would work for two of the prompts, but I'm terrified of how long it would probably take to write it...

    I love your prompts, btw. It makes me wish I were in the fandoms so I could answer any of them.

    I'm sure I'm as grumpy as you (though I do enjoy superheroes)! I personally hate first-person, present-tense narratives. I don't mind them at all in third person, but the idea of reading something that's meant to be going on precisely that very second while looking out through someone else's eyes has always struck me as both silly and the author taking an easy out. Of course I'm neither published nor famous, so you may take several grains of salt with my less-than-esteemed opinion.

    Your comments about the novel being almost meta with the problems for the characters so obviously coinciding with the author's recognition of the characters needing problems (that was a complicated sentence) and the lack of moral decisions were fascinating. I guess the author couldn't reconcile having Katniss the hero actively trying to kill anyone. I can see that position, but I agree that Katniss' feelings on being forced to truly have to decide to kill in cold blood would have been great for her character however, not to mention likely more realistic for such a scenario.

    It's interesting that for you, novels that include games or are set around them feel less real to you than following different kinds of stories. I can see that for sure: how a conflict that's artificially imposed for the plot wouldn't feel like it was an organic part of it. I wouldn't say your feelings versus your son's would be a cause of the abundance of reality television, though, more because he hasn't read enough yet to have more sophisticated expectations of what a narrative should construe. :)
    • You're very welcome! I've been planning to re-start it for the past six months or so, but rl has been so nutty it's taken a long time.

      I say go ahead and write whatever grabs you--there's no time limit on when prompts can be filled--and more H50 fic from you would be great!

      I had the same problem with the first-person present tense narrative. It gives immediacy, sure, but every once in a while you're like, huh? Collins pulled it off, though, which is impressive.

      I guess the author couldn't reconcile having Katniss the hero actively trying to kill anyone.
      See, this is exactly what it felt like--which made the fact that she never needed to find out what her choice would be seem like a dodge on the novel's part. If she had, though, it would be a very different book for young readers--so, you see why I'm not great with YA fiction.

      I guess I don't like narratives in which the plot is indistinguishable from a game--they remind me not so much of reality TV as of video games (do this and you move up one level, or a silver parachute of goodies will arrive from the sky). If you like video games, I think your position would be different.

      That's probably why I like historical fiction best--because the plots there grow out of an actual context (if it's good fiction). If an author can make a plot seem to arise out of organic conditions of culture and character I like it better. I feel this is an old fashioned opinion.

      I have a lot more to say about the representation of killing, but I'll leave that for another post.

      I also think the way that Katniss can't tell if her feelings about Peeta come from her own heart or from the story being told about them up on the TV screens is kind of fascinating.

      Edited at 2012-05-08 10:13 pm (UTC)
  • You need to read *my* YA (sorta YA) book. "Forgotten"

    There isn't any drama to spice things up. It's the story of lives intertwind during the American Revolution. Plain and not so simple. :)
    • that sounds awesome! tbh, I very, very rarely read YA books, just a matter of personal taste, and wouldn't have read THG if my son hadn't insisted--but I will put that one on my list!
  • But, although Katniss kills, she never does it “in cold blood”: it happens by proxy, by accident, in self-defense, and as an act of mercy. Twice, people are killed “for her.” She says she’s going to pursue the other tributes, but she never actually has to. I wanted to see her make an ethical decision and act on it. The fact that it never happens started to drive me nuts.

    Man, and she didn't even talk about it in the movie. Does this change in later books?
    • It changes by the end of the final book--in interesting, if not entirely successful ways. The second two books are much darker, actually, and deal a pretty realistic way with trauma, torture and PTSD (well, for YA books). I was glad I kept reading.
      • Oooh, I am excited to read them, although I suspect there will be things that bug me.
        • there were many, many things that bugged me (I don't much like YA fiction to begin with), but I had to read them all, and ended up admiring the books!
          • I'm starting to sour on YA fiction--so often it seems to have really cool concepts, much more interesting than the average adult fantasy novel these days, and then the execution falls flat. Plus Sutcliff is turning me into a snob about style, which is nonexistent in a lot of current YA.

            But hey, cool concepts and flawed execution are what most of the fandoms of my heart are made from!
            • yeah, I agee--and I don't mind it in fic.

              it's just the soft-pedaling on content and style for a pre-teen audience starts to grate. If I'm going to read pro!fic I want adult issues dealt with in an adult way in adult length sentences. *iz a snob at heart*
              • I do mind it in fic--I actually tend to look for more specifically in fic because there's no market pressure to write what sells or pander to people's expectations (in pro fiction, you can't have your historically accurate Indian takeway in ancient Egypt, because reality is too unbelievable. In fanfiction, you can set your story in the ancient Egyptian Indian takeaway restaurant, because it's awesome). But yeah, if it's young adult fiction, it should at least be at the reading level of children's fiction 50 years ago, and it should deal with "adult" issues, especially those that face teens, well. And not having giant gaping plot holes or author ex machina or pastede-on romance is a plus. (Legit romance, no problem. But I feel a lot of YA authors end up including it because their editors make them, and it ends up weak.)

                *iz a snob all over*
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