melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2017-05-22 10:56 am

FMK: Castle in the Air & Captain Blood + extra

I keep trying to write up my response to Castle in the Air but basically I really liked it a lot and it was great, also there was a very angry kitten, and the things I want to talk about it end up being complicated structural/worldbuilding questions that go beyond just this book. So I think I will just do a short three things capsule and save the drafts for more pondering:

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

1. I could have done without the random "marrying fat chicks is the worst fate in the world" bit at the beginning, even if she does sort of redeem it later by having them marry a guy who likes fat chicks.

2. It had more Howl's Moving Castle in it than I had expected based on poll comments, even if it was mostly [spoiler]. I think I would have done better either to have never read Howl or to have re-read it recently, though - as it was I kept going "That wasn't set up in Howl, was it? Wait, who is that again? Am I supposed to remember their justification for doing that because I don't remember it happening it at all." Also I think I would have been super-thirsty for more of the Howl characters instead of kind of wishing it had just stayed where it started. And if I hadn't read it at all I would've just gone with it.

3. The use of the Arabian Nights elements reminded me a lot of my reaction to reading The Great Bridge of Birds last year; it wasn't badly done and I can't point to anything I think was objectionable about it but somehow until they got back to fake-Europe it still felt like someone borrowing their friend's playset instead of writing stories that were deep-down part of them. IDK it's super complicated and needs to be written about by a much smarter person than me but yeah. Also writing stories about good and bad djinn and angels while stripping all religion out of the story - always awkward.

Contrast this to the other YA series I finished in the last couple weeks, Laurence Yep's Dragon of the Lost Sea series, which has been my nemesis since I was about nine because the library had ONLY THE THIRD BOOK, which BEGAN AND ENDED AT CLIFFHANGERS, and twenty-five years later I had still only managed to find one of the others, plus Yep kept publishing books with "Dragon" in the title that were super-realistic stories about the Asian-American experience and I am sure they were great and all but they did not have actual DRAGONS in them so that was a terrible bait-and-switch, Mr. Yep. Anyway I finally went wait, I am a grown-up and a librarian now so I can just ILL them if I want.

Dragon of the Lost Sea by Laurence Yep

1. Unfortunately the first two books while not terrible were not as great as my memory of the third book, so I was afraid the suck fairy had visited and put off reading the last two. But! It turned out the problem was just that unlike the third book, the first two were not narrated by The Great Sage Equal of Heaven aka the Monkey King, because anything not narrated by Monkey could not possibly be as good as something narrated by Monkey, just ask Monkey. Luckily Yep seems to have learned his lesson and the fourth one was also narrated by Monkey. \o/

2. That one did not feel like someone playing with someone else's playset, that used Chinese story in an American J fantasy novel and made it feel like home. I am glad I finished it, and I am very glad I had even just the third one as a kid to break up all of the fake-Europe default fantasy I was reading.

3. Did.... did I read that wrong, or was the endgame pairing f/f romance? I mean you could take the dramatic "I love you" confessions as, like, friendship or found family, but Monkey outright said the two of them had fallen in love and that's. That's definitely him sneaking in endgame f/f in 1992, right? Why did nobody tell me about this, I would have finished reading the series a lot sooner if I hadn't been half-expecting him to drearily pair her off with the long-lost prince instead of the long-lost princess.

I also read Captain Blood for FMK yesterday! It is another one that I really liked, and tbh I liked it too much to want to think about it in a critical way as opposed to a squee way. So here are three things for it too:

1. Written in 1922 set in the 1600s Caribbean so yeah, the best you can say about its handling of race is that its racism was passive rather than active - the Africans and Indians are all 1920s stereotypes used as silent scene dressing, but while it doesn't actively oppose their oppression, it at least never quite actively condones it either? And the portrayal of Spaniards as a vicious immoral race isn't great either, although in the 1600s Caribbean it's probably also not wrong. Given 1922 it could have been a lot lot worse. (Given 2017 it could have been a lot worse...)

2. Other than that (Mrs. Lincoln) it was SO GOOD OMG, it just. It was good. And the whole time I was reading it I could feel how every other pirate story I have encountered written since then was trying to be as good as Captain Blood. And I challenge anyone who likes cynical-yet-honorable antihero types to read it and not fall at least a little bit in love with Peter Blood. I think I need to see the Gregory Peck movie now.

3. For a story where every named female character (all three of them) gets menaced with rape by pirates at least once, it was very actively non-rapey in a way I so wish more modern books were. Like, say what you will about chivalry as a concept, but a world in which the non-evil male characters are super into not only consent but making sure the women never feel even mildly physcially menaced - like, every time there's an intensely emotional scene with Arabella and a non-evil dude, there's a least one point where the male character *explicitly notices* she is giving signs of feeling physically menaced because he's standing too close or she wants to pull away and he immediately backs the hell off and stays backed off and holy hell I wish that was just the standard for adventure heroes these days instead of "she is acting threatened clearly that means she wants me and it's time to move in."

It also managed to make "dude shapes his whole life around pining after a woman" actually work for me because he never, ever, even once blames her for anything he feels or does or wants - his tragic love is all on him and not her responsibility to deal with. yespls.

4. The bit about how the evil dude running the country will be gone eventually and you just need to survive in the meantime was something I needed rn yes.

Also despite 1922 Captain Blood was way better on both race and gender than the community theater production of Peter Pan I went to see a friend in yesterday, so, you know, that was a thing where they had elementary school kids wear feather headbands and say "ugh" lot, it definitely was.

Last weekend I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Dr. Strange, because I have the best friends.

Guardians of the Galaxy:

1. It was a fun movie about space battles, daddy issues, and found family. If you are the sort of person who likes fun movies about those things, you will really enjoy this movie.

2. I don't really like that the ending of the first movie - that we can hold this infinity stone if we hold it together - was undermined in this movie by Peter Is The Special Chosen One, but eh, at least they mostly pulled it off together.

3. I am also sort of weirded out by them parenting Baby Groot but I think that was mostly because I came out of the first movie teamshipping really hard and switching from that to him as the baby is... weird. (Totally something you would have to deal with in a relationship with someone like Groot, though.)

Dr. Strange:

1. I actually think they made the white lady as the Ancient One thing work? It helped that the Sanctum in Tibet was really clearly set up as a honeytrap for clueless Westerners and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Tibet. Like, if you were going to do that storyline at all, that probably did work better than attempting to make it authentically Tibetan could possibly have worked. It helped that basically all the Masters *except* Strange and Ancient One were POC (although there was still no reason they couldn't have been POC too, but you take what you can get in this fallen world, I guess.)

2. Also if you were avoiding this movie because Benedict Cumberbatch, there's a fairly long section where he gets repeatedly creatively and painfully murdered in a time loop, and I found it very cathartic. (My friend who likes him also really enjoyed that bit actually, but for different reasons.)

3. The people who designed the magic were clearly having SO MUCH FUN and were SO GOOD AT THEIR JOBS and it showed. I had no idea wtf was going on half the time in the magic battles, but they were REALLY PRETTY. Best magic effects I've seen in the computer-animation age, I think, although I could have done without the way-too-long bit where he was tripping out on the hallucinogenic honey.

Also I now really really need the story where Thor is fucking his way though all the Infinity Stone bearers. I may possibly even need to write it myself. ;_;

Let's see, what else have I been meaning to post about here? Oh! I did read Makt Myrkranna and Pale Guardian, did I post about them?

Makt Myrkranna, the early Icelandic Dracula translation, managed to be a better Dracula story than Dracula, I think. Vilma was great. Also possibly helped by the fact that Iceland has much more of a living tradition of revenants, maybe, so it felt more like it was part of a vampire tradition? IDK. Also I apparently now know enough Icelandic that I could immediately tell when the translation footnotes were screwed up and referenced to the wrong part of the text.

Pale Guardian was the new Ashers novel. 1) That continues to have the best vampire worldbuilding I have ever encountered, and she always follows it to the logical conclusion and makes it work, and she made it work on the front in WWI too; 2) The way James just accepts the fact that the London vampires basically treat him as one of their own at this point was really good character development? 3) He REALLY needs to catch up with the other two and realize he is in a poly triad not a poly V already.

...and that is probably enough.

Before I leave for Iceland on Sunday I still have both Becky Chambers books and two FMK to read and also to decide whether to actually read that Falco book I checked out right before I read the last one and she made it weird, or return it unread.
samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)

[personal profile] samjohnsson 2017-05-23 07:33 pm (UTC)(link)
surely they are not going to screw us out of seeing the actual "Thor learns Loki isn't dead" scene in the Thor movie?

...are we watching the same metaseries?

It seems to be somewhere after AoU, but clearly well before CACW. Beyond that, there's no real context. In some ways, it doesn't feel like it's supposed to make sense?