Notes from the Labyrinth
Unobtainium and Dragons' Bones
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ws: hamlet

This is the blog of Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison, a professional writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Sarah Monette is my real name; Katherine Addison is a pen name, intended to be transparent.

If you've found me here, odds are pretty good you're looking for something to read, so the following is--to the best of my knowledge--a complete list of everything I've written that's available online:

STORIESCollapse )
ESSAYSCollapse )

If you know of anything I've missed, please leave a comment!
16th-Nov-2007 10:15 am - Some things
ws: castabella
1. Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen reviews The Bone Key, which mrissa and stillsostrange have also recently confessed to liking. (Given mrissa and given stillsostrange, I consider this a very neat trick indeed.)

ETA: buymeaclue also likes it.

2. I have not abandoned the Due South episode analyses, but in the meantime I have a question for persons more knowledgeable about Canadian literature than myself. Is there a sub-genre of Mountie-lit, and does it replace or overlap with or otherwise have a relationship with the Western? Does Canada have an indigenous tradition of the Western (i.e., stories about cowboys and wild frontiers and lawmen and rustlers and robbers rather than stories about, say, Vancouver) or is that genre American?* I have a rather muddled idea about Due South and the Western, and it could use some grounding.

3. BPAL's Titus Andronicus (Dark musk and black amber with frankincense, red sandalwood, neroli and bergamot.) may be edging out Sin (Thoroughly corrupted: amber, sandalwood, black patchouli and cinnamon.) in my affections. Considering my unholy love for the play, this seems no more than appropriate.

4. Speaking of unholy love and Renaissance drama, if you're interested in revenge tragedy at all, I highly recommend Revengers Tragedy (2002). It's like the psychotic bastard child of Almereyda's Hamlet (2000, Ethan Hawke) and Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes), and like any self-respecting bastard in Jacobean tragedy, it takes down both its progenitors and does the Monster Mash on their faintly twitching corpses.

(N.b., our excellent local indie video store shelves Revengers Tragedy under Comedy. Be prepared.)

5. The Formerly Feral Ninjas are very odd little girls. I don't know if this is to do with being feral rescues, or to do with being warped in their childhood by me and mirrorthaw and heresluck, or if they would have turned out this way regardless. But definitely odd. They have Designated Petting Places. Outside a DPP, one does not touch the cat; inside a DPP, one MUST PET the CAT, biPED. The First Ninja will actually come fetch me and lead me with imperious mews to her DPP. Her sister, the Second Ninja, is more flexible about these things, and will designate temporary PPs as needed (You may pet me when I stand here as opposed to the true DPP: I am standing here! You must pet me!), although some places are simply Not Suitable and you will NOT touch the cat you icky biped. Neither of them approves of bipeds bending over them. The Second Ninja's DPP (the radiator cover in our bedroom) puts her at waist height, whereas to pet the First Ninja, even in her DPP (the front stairs), it is necessary to sprawl full length on the stairs and follow her as she weaves up them. Or down them, for that matter, although she's only persuaded me to do that once. What's interesting is that they have quite distinct and nontransferable DPPs. I've never seen the First Ninja in the Second Ninja's DPP at all, and while the Second Ninja perforce transverses--and often hangs out in--the First Ninja's DPP, she does not want to be petted there and attempting it will get you fled from as perfidious and untrustworthy and probably planning to eat cats.

Catzilla and the Elder Saucepan think the Ninjas are very weird.

*Yes, it is embarrassing how little I, as an American, know about Canada. Also embarrassing that I am, in this, typical of my countrymen and -women. :P
19th-Aug-2007 07:35 pm - Due South: Pilot
ds: fraser
Due South, Pilot
Original airdate
: April 23, 1994
Favorite line:
DESK SERGEANT: You like pigeons?
FRASER: I don't have much experience with them.
DESK SERGEANT: It's not that they're dirty. It's just that I'm starting to question their loyalty.

Spoilers for all four seasons of Due South below the cut.

They"ll hunt you to the ends of the earth.Collapse )
3rd-Jun-2007 09:40 pm - T-58 and counting
mfu: angelique
Today: 1,650 words

The terrible thing about writing is that it just doesn't get easier. It gets better, but not easier. My sulky inner teenage gothygirl says this is Just. Not. Fair.

From Spider-Man 3 we learn that when you are evil, you let your hair hang in your eyes. You wear eyeliner. Your fashion sense improves drastically, as apparently does your income. Not to mention your dialogue. And when you are practicing your dance moves on the sidewalks of New York, women find you sexy instead of looking at you like you are the world's biggest spaz.

I think there were some other things the movie wanted me to learn, but you know? They just didn't stick. Not like Tobey Maguire in eyeliner stuck.

Not to be crass or anything.
15th-Nov-2006 12:37 pm - Fight Club (1999)
btvs: buffyfaith-poisoninjest
I'm going to leave this up, because, well, truth in advertising, and it's good for me to be reminded that sometimes I fuck up a reading, just like everybody else.

However, after having people argue with me all afternoon, I have realized that I was wrong.

Fight Club starts with two characters, the narrator and Marla. Both of them are equally dysfunctional. Both of them are emotional vampires. We follow one of them (being the narrator) through a convoluted and surreal fantasia of hyper-masculine reactions to the anomie of the white middle-class cubicle drone. Tyler, and the men of Fight Club/Project Mayhem, are the outward flourishes of the narrator's inner fucknutness. Marla stays on the outskirts, providing a baseline against which to calibrate the narrator's escalating insanity, and okay, yes, it DOES matter that in the end he rejects Tyler and holds hands with Marla.

I do think there are ways in which the NARRATOR's view of women and the NARRATIVE's view of women get elided, conflated, and otherwise confused, but the thing I thought I was seeing is not, I now think, a thing that is actually there.

We apologize for the inconvenience, and maybe I'll just shut up for another two weeks.

::facepalm::Collapse )
mfu: ik-eyebrow
I don't think I'm going to shock anyone by admitting I'm a slavering David McCallum fangirl, nor by admitting that that's the reason I was interested in Sapphire and Steel in the first place.

This entry, however, is not about my slavering David McCallum fangirlness. We can all take that as read. Nor is it about how much I admire Joanna Lumley's acting chops. Nor even about the loveliness of the show's design, which takes its extremely low budget and makes it a virtue by essentially creating stage-plays for television.* I want to talk instead about the missing narratives of Sapphire and Steel.

spoilerific, if that bothers anyone about a twenty-five year old showCollapse )

*By which I mean there are three or four principal actors, the special effects are almost all done with light and sound (and some crazy contacts for Lumley), and the episodes feel like stage-plays. The action happens far more through the dialogue than any other medium.
18th-Sep-2005 06:38 pm - artifact
ws: hamlet
I was going through a box of random junk this afternoon, and came across a postcarrd of Snoqualmie Falls. [ETA: apparently I was gearing up for Talk Like A Pirate Day. Arr!]

No message on the back, nor any useful information; the caption reads: The Salish Lodge overlooks Snoqualmie Falls which plunges 268 feet to the river below. Photographer--Craig Tuttle. © 1992 IMPACT. Printed in Japan. I stared at it blankly. To the best of my knowledge, I'd never been to Snoqualmie Falls; I didn't even know where it was.

That was easily remedied via Google. Washington state, near Seattle. I've been to Seattle, but Snoqualmie Falls still wasn't ringing any kind of a bell, not even the chintzy kind they put on cat collars that always sound flat.

But the longer I stared at the postcard, the more familiar it began to look. Especially the Salish Lodge.

And then it hit me, and I ran another Google search: Snoqualmie Falls Twin Peaks. The Salish Lodge is the Great Northern.

That explains why I have the postcard, although I still don't have any idea when or where or how I acquired it, and I've jotted a note on the back Twin Peaks--Great Northern, so that when I find it again in another five or ten years, I'll know what it is.

Dale Cooper, I love you still.
5th-Aug-2005 10:33 am - pictures!
ws: hamlet
First of all, let me praise the work of Heather Corinna, who took the gorgeous author photo for Mélusine which will be reappearing on The Virtu. As hanneblank points out, Heather is having a one woman show in Minneapolis starting August 7th. I only wish I could go.

Secondly, pegkerr linked to We're Not Afraid, which is a lovely lovely site.

And thirdly, since Ace is starting to think about the cover for The Virtu, I spent part of yesterday morning looking for photo references for Mélusine. And it occurred to me that some of you might like the chance to see what I think the city looks like.

The vigil chapel in the Stephansplatz subway station. The workers uncovered it by accident when they were excavating for the subway, and whoever it was who was in charge (a thousand blessings upon their head) decided to (a.) preserve it and (b.) allow subway users to see it by installing a window in the station. This is a terrible photograph (the vigil chapel does not photograph well, being underground and dimly lit and, hey, behind a window), but since the vigil chapel is the ultimate origin of the Arcane, I want to give it credit. And if you are ever in Vienna ...

I spent three weeks in Vienna when I was fourteen. It and Athens are the only two major cities I've explored to any extent. Athens is not Mélusine, but it gives good cityscape. If you mentally edit out the belt of green in the middle and then squint the right way, it's a good starting approximation.

Breadoven and Havelock and the other more respectable parts of the Lower City probably look a lot like Boston. Or last century Seattle. I hope some of the more bohemian districts (Dragonteeth, Engmond's Tor, Candlewick Mews) have at least a few neighborhoods that look like they were designed by Hunderdwasser.

Peterskirche has Ver-Istenna's dome. Ver-Istenna's flanking towers aren't as tall, but that dome is exactly right.

And the more I think about it, the more I suspect that the Mirador has gaudy patterned roofs like Stephansdom.
20th-Jul-2005 11:09 am - narrative expectations
ws: hamlet
So heresluck has been watching Gilmore Girls, and I have been watching as well, in a sort of desultory in-and-out fashion. I like the show fine--it's entertaining and clever--but it doesn't trip any of my triggers.

Anyway, last night I wandered through the living room just as one character said to another, "Let me get my sweater," and turned toward the closet. And I thought, Oh no! No, don't open the closet!

But she did. And got her sweater. And they went out.

This moment encapsulates both (a.) why Gilmore Girls is never going to get much more than mild interest from me and (b.) a useful thought about narrative expectations, which I'm going to inflict on share with y'all.

Narrative expectations are the things that a reader/viewer expects to have happen in a particular story. In a romance, you expect the two main characters to fall in love. In a mystery, you expect a crime to be solved. In the kind of TV shows I like, you expect the innocent action of opening a closet to have terrible consequences, like a demon, or a corpse.

My narrative expectations are formed from immersion in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery. They are completely inappropriate to a show like Gilmore Girls, which while it has a very gentle element of fantasy (or, at least, that's my opinion of the town of Stars Hollow), never departs from what we might call Newtonian realism. The characters may be fanciful; the world never is. And because it is a very gentle show, people don't murder other people and shove them in dorm-room closets. It's just not the sort of thing that happens.

Assuming competence on both sides, incompatible narrative expectations are the most likely reason for an audience and story to part ways. An audience that is disappointed in its expectations is unlikely to keep reading or watching.* On the other hand, if a story can confound its audience's expectations--transcend them or defy them or trample them gleefully into the mud--the audience is likely to be enthralled. (A very small example, from the teaser for "Welcome to the Hellmouth" (Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1.1): our narrative expectation is that the two teenage kids who've broken into the high school to make out are going to get chomped by something nasty. This expectation is reinforced by the girl's nervousness, and then utterly upended when she herself turns out to be the something nasty.) Narrative expectations are based on narrative conventions--on things that customarily happen in a certain type of story--and therefore we are very comfortable with stories that fulfill our expectations. But we are delighted by stories that one-up them, stories that surprise us.

Like most things in story-telling, it's a high-wire act.

*I should add that blame does not necessarily accrue to the story. It may be that the audience has brought the wrong set of expectations to the table, like my knee-jerk reaction to opening closets. My warped narrative sensibilities are not Gilmore Girls' fault.
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