Category Archives: fandom

Technology for a Better Life

If you are reading a fanfic on your computer, and the author names one of his characters

A) something twee, and

B) after someone you despise,

you can easily solve the problem with a global search and replace. What’s more, you can use this to deal with overly elaborate Mary Sue names, foolish errors in historical naming, and the like. (As long as you remember what you’ve done, and never write any reviews of scholarly articles based solely on your version, that is.)

Now, let’s see. Wouldn’t it be better if people didn’t use Merlin’s name so gratuitously to name their characters? Aren’t there a wide variety of other magicians about, like Michael Scott, Gerald Fitzgerald the Wizard Earl, Jan Tregeagle, Virgil, and Maugis? And wouldn’t it be better if everyone with a pretentious name were renamed things like Bob or Ann? So… if somebody is named, say, Pretentius Myrllllyn, you just rename him Bob Tregeagle or Mac Mogie.

Ahhhh. Much better.

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Because It’s There

I’ve always liked Vathara, who is one of the better exponents of the theory that any sufficiently interesting universe can be crossed over with any other. I don’t like all her stuff, but I couldn’t go to sleep last night until I finished “Shadows in Starlight”.

Even if you don’t normally like fanfic, this one you might enjoy. It is a work in which we learn what Rurouni Kenshin would be like if the people and situations had been born into the Star Wars universe, circa A New Hope. However, she also manages to retcon the chronologically-earlier first trilogy,  such that I don’t hate and despise all its works and pomps at the moment. (Though I still say Alec Guinness was thrice the Obi-Wan that anyone else could possibly be.) Anyway, tons of fun. If we have to have Those Other Movies, I’ll explain ’em to myself like this.

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“Inventor Rutili” Update

You know how you tend to have a certain picture in your head of how history was, and then you find out some little bit of information that brings you up short, like you’ve just tried to walk through a glass door?

In the Pope’s Easter Vigil homily this year, he said, “Gregory of Tours recounts a practice that in some places was preserved for a long time, of lighting the new fire for the celebration of the Easter Vigil directly from the sun, using a crystal.”

ACK!

I assumed that the “petram” “silicis” in the hymn was flint. So did everybody else, apparently. But the poetic images transition much more smoothly from sun to rock, if Prudentius were referring to using rock crystal to focus sunlight the same way a magnifying glass does. Heck, the whole Easter Vigil imagery is stronger, for that matter.

We just don’t want to think of the classical world as knowing so many of the same scientific facts we do, much less of the early Church as employing science and technology in the service of religion. But many of the Fathers loved natural philosophy as much or more than regular philosophy. Also, it’s much easier for a Christian to love the wonderful things God’s creation can do, than if one were a Stoic thinking of the world as a plate that can break or a Gnostic hating all matter. So heck, if the early Christians had had a “frickin’ laserbeam” available to turn the sunlight into something that could start the Easter fire, they’d probably have used it.

(*rub hands together evilly* And you know, I have seen some calculations that lasers were possible in the classical world, given a good enough gemstone… that is, a good enough crystal…. Heh! No, I don’t really believe the early Christians had lasers. But in an alternate Greco-Roman universe, it’d be a pretty obvious liturgical development; and it would be really cool if the Vatican did something like that now. Not practical for every parish, though. And I think the frickin’ Roman laserbeams wouldn’t really have been technically possible without some real improvements in all kinds of materials. So take this all as total fiction; but it was pretty cool in a fictional way in that one James Rollins novel, and I think it might have showed up in a few more sf historical novels.)

UPDATE: Thanks, Cassandra, for the correction! At certain hours of the morning, I apparently can’t remember what Latin goes where, and… um… I was kinda in a hurry to post before work, so I didn’t do a fact check. *bloggy blush*

So silex, silicis = pebble, stone, rock, flint, boulder, stone. Not sounding very much like “rock crystal”, is it? I suppose Prudentius could have been writing about it in a way which would possibly include both flint and rock crystal, but… I don’t know that I’m buying it.

Sigh. Another beautiful crystalline boat of theory sinks slowly into the West, under the weight of a boulder of fact. Taking with it my frickin’ laserbeam.

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Hornblower Audio Drama? Hornblower Fan Discussion Podcast?!?

Well, some people certainly are busy! And since I know that certain readers of this very blog are very fond of Horatio Hornblower, I have to link to it. Enjoy!

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OMG!

Rob Thomas is going to remake Cupid?!

Yes, it died too soon. And now it’s being reincarnated as a new pilot for faithless-but-repentant ABC, with new cast and new scripts but the same concept.

I assume that this time he’s going to lean harder on the “this guy is crazy” side, as it disconcerted him last time that all the fans were totally convinced that “this guy is a Greek god exiled to Earth”. Unless he’s decided to let go and let god. :)

But I don’t care. I’m sorry that our old friends won’t be there, but it’s such a theatrical concept that a recast won’t be too much of a strain. Besides, most people never saw the thing at all, let alone the most brilliant television episode ever to feature linguistics as a plot point. (Snif.)

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I Wish to Register a Protest.

Janet Kagan died on February 29, 2008. Of COPD, of all things, which explains why she hasn’t been writing much for the last ten years. But there were no global funeral parades, no memorial tailkinker jalapeno eating contests. In fact, I wasn’t even informed. What is the deal, people!?!

(All right, the date’s got style. But as for the rest, I disapprove.)

Still, I bet the angels are having a lot of fun, with her around.

If you don’t know who Janet Kagan is… well, she was the author of one very good Star Trek novel, Uhura’s Song. She was also the author of a good but hard to find sf novel, Hellspark, and the wonderful Mirabile series of stories about genetic engineering that’s a bit too creative. She also wrote a few more stories, which I mostly haven’t read. She won a Hugo for one of them — I did read that one, but it’s not a favorite.

If you go to her webpage, she has a couple of free stories still up.  You might want to go soon.

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Hopping Vampire Sighting!

The newest Power Ranger show (Power Rangers Jungle Fury)  just started a couple weeks back. This particular American sentai show has a rather interesting theme: Chinese chopsocky flicks!

Yes, these Power Rangers were student monks at a mysterious mystic temple. (Religion unspecified.) They’ve got some kind of animal spirit/kung fu martial arts style thing going, and the requisite demon unwisely released by traitorous jerk, etc.  This is crossed over with the requisite Power Ranger secret base and cover job — which in this case is a pizza joint run by their hippie, techie, foodie sifu. (I must confess that I’m fond of him. He reminds me of Yellow Springs when it was still fun.)

But there is also a group of enemy fighters with a poisonous animal theme, and called… THE FIVE FINGERS OF VENOM! They are pretty much a direct tribute to Five Deadly Venoms.

The forces of evil also feature faceless goons which are not the usual “putty men” or robotic troopers. These guys are HOPPING ZOMBIES/HOPPING VAMPIRES! (Alas, the American dialogue deliberately obscures this. But the Japanese footage is pretty darned difficult to misinterpret.)

I still think this whole unexplained monk thing is rather odd, especially as it’s been featured in at least a couple of American shows now. But the other chopsocky features are cool. Not bad for a Power Rangers show.

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