Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 15:30 on 21-03-2012, Wardog
I quite enjoyed Northern Lights because it seemed like fairly straight forward children's fantasy with airships and bears and Oxford (three of my favourite things) but The Amber Spyglass turned out to be as big as a walrus and basically about Pullman dissing the Catholic Church ... so I lost interest massively.
at 15:24 on 21-03-2012, Michal

I think Pullman
is re-telling fairytales
as well.

Ah yes, this bit of news. Another book for the "will probably never bother reading" shelf.

No, I didn't enjoy The Golden Compass, why do you ask?

Oh and there's ... err ... Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts which isn't remotely dark but how many fairytale retellings can the human race endure?!

Gregory Maguire seems to think we don't have nearly enough. Out of curiousity, has he written anything that wasn't a pastiche of something else? (It's related because he wrote Mirror, Mirror and all)
at 14:54 on 21-03-2012, Wardog
I am basically up for Bella and Thor because of Charlize Theron... she's being so very fabulous in the trailer that I am ... yes ...

I think Pullman is re-telling fairytales as well.

Oh and there's ... err ... Mirror Mirror with Julia Roberts which isn't remotely dark but how many fairytale retellings can the human race endure?!
at 14:22 on 21-03-2012, Ibmiller
Just out of curiosity - what other "dark, man, dark" fairytales are we getting this summer? I think Bella Swan and Thor (er...Snow White and the Huntress) looks halfway interesting (certainly moreso than Mirror Mirror, which looks pained and forcedly cheerful), but don't remember any others.
at 10:17 on 21-03-2012, Arthur B
Re: Prometheus trailer: Is the implication we're meant to get that the Space Jockey was flying to Earth to bombard it with facehugger eggs? Because on one hand, that's a fair enough premise for Prometheus, but on the other hand it ties in with one of my frustrations with the series: the way the movies constantly flirt with the audience by alluding to awful consequences if the xenomorphs ever make it to a well-populated place on Earth whilst at the same time never, ever having the balls to show that happening. (No, the second Alien vs. Predator film doesn't count because the lighting was so bad in that you couldn't see anything happening.)
at 09:31 on 21-03-2012, Wardog
Hmm, my reaction was DO NOT WANNNNNNNT

I occasionally want things I shouldn't - it's a vicious cycle of self-abuse.
at 03:48 on 21-03-2012, Michal
I'm a bit concerned by the von Daniken connection to Prometheus, but otherwise, it looks rather nice (I read The Chariots of the Gods in Elementary School and even back then I thought it was flipping ridiculous). A Alien prequel that invalidates everything after Aliens by its sheer existence can only be a good thing. Also, Space Jockies.

I was secretly quite intrigued by the Snow White and the Huntsman trailer, though I should know better!

Hmm, my reaction was DO NOT WANNNNNNNT.
at 01:07 on 21-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj

Well, I think I've found the one big movie I'm going to see this year.
at 22:00 on 20-03-2012, Wardog
I think it's going to be the summer of the Brothers Grimdark - there seems to be dark man dark retellings of fairy-stories coming out of the walls. I was secretly quite intrigued by the Snow White and the Huntsman trailer, though I should know better!
at 21:00 on 20-03-2012, Robinson L
Ibmiller: David Farland = Dave Wolverton?

Yes, that's him. Juneau uses both names to refer to him in the update to that execrable post explaining his "philosophy" of writing female characters.

Courtship is so bad it took Aaron Allston three books to make it even semi-interesting (and as someone who read it after Allston's prequels, it was an extreme letdown).

Well, it's been quite a while since I read either. I suppose I should remedy that fairly soon. I really enjoyed Han's showdown with Zsinj at the end, and Luke single-handedly piloting, copiloting, and operating the quad-guns for the Falcon a little earlier. The rest I could probably go either way on.
at 15:45 on 20-03-2012, Guy
@Alasdair, I think we have very different ideas about what "very diplomatic" means! Still, very astute comments by Moore, especially about the problems with Voyager. Fairly prescient about the problems with Enterprise, too, despite it not even existing at that point.

However, while reading it I kept thinking, boy this is a smart guy, he understands about the importance of not breaking an audience's trust, not fobbing them off with stuff that doesn't make sense, that isn't true to your premise; they could have used some of his advice over at Battlestar Galactica during its precipitous plunge in quality somewhere in the middle of season 2... oh, right. This is the man responsible for the "story doesn't matter, only character matters" philosophy that turned that series into a soup of contextless melodrama. Pity.
at 05:27 on 20-03-2012, Ibmiller
RobinsonL: David Farland = Dave Wolverton? Oh, dear. I think he certainly does fit Axiomatic's description of someone so bad they fail just by sucking. Courtship is so bad it took Aaron Allston three books to make it even semi-interesting (and as someone who read it after Allston's prequels, it was an extreme letdown).

Plus, in his "regular" fantasy short stories I've read, he continues on with his rather vanilla gender/society obsessions. Like, exactly the same without the lightsabers.
at 00:27 on 20-03-2012, Arthur B
That stuff he says about Voyager not remotely following through on its own premise is fantastic, I've been saying more or less the same thing for years.
at 21:15 on 19-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Stumbled onto this the other day: an o-o-o-o-ld interview done with Ron Moore around the year 2000 about his brief experience working on Star Trek: Voyager. He's very diplomatic about everything, but he manages to confirm a whole lot of what everyone suspected. He also manages to predict why Enterprise would suck too.

Man, the more I hear about the behind-the-scenes stuff, the more it seems like Voyager was just a death ship. It certainly explains why the episode compendium had almost no commentary on the process behind the making of the show in it.
at 06:13 on 17-03-2012, Axiomatic
Yeah, when I saw that, my first thought was, Someone's made a terrible imitation of a Tim Burton movie, and it's TIM BURTON!

Also, re: Juneau

"But through this, I figured out why there's so much argument. Too much emotions. Just like with racism."

at 02:33 on 17-03-2012, Arthur B
Someone made a hilarious parody trailer for Tim Burton's remake of Dark Shadows and they've really nailed Burton's tired-out aesthetic, worn-out ideas, and general lurch into being a total parody of himse- oh wait, that's the real trailer.
at 01:57 on 17-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Oh, hey, and some people with too much time on their hands made a map of Panem from The Hunger Games!

Now, I never read the books, so forgive my ignorance, but was it mentioned at any point that Panem was founded by Vladimir Tatlin? Because, in all honesty, that map implies to me that the books are set in a world where the United States was conquered, destroyed, and rebuilt by a cabal of immortal Russian Constructivists (which, come to think of it, would be a pretty awesome premise for a novel).
at 01:27 on 17-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Wow, I never thought this would ever be released in North America.

Probably should explain, shouldn't I? A few years back, I found out about The Company of the Dead though, and I was so intrigued with the premise that I had to read it. Naturally, while it'd won a few awards in Australia, there was no news of it ever coming out overseas, so I had to shake down a copy from an Australian bookstore.

To summarize briefly, everything gets set into motion by an American neurologist who gets shanghaied into some research work on a damaged time machine excavated out in the Nevada desert. Naturally, he ends up getting sucked back in time to the 1900s, and with no way back, he decides he's going to dedicate his life to fixing the 20th century up. Unfortunately, he only gets as far as 1912 before he dies on the Titanic, but he does make a few critical changes. The bulk of the book is set in an altered version of 2012, when the planet has been divided for decades by the armed standoff between the world-spanning empires/alliance systems of Hohenzollern Germany and Showa Japan, and where America itself has split into two nations permanently divided by the cold war. As for the plot, the book is a spy caper/thriller involving a bunch of Americans (including an alternate Kennedy scion) trying to come up with a way to avert the coming apocalyptic war between the superpowers through a search for that buried time machine.

Now, I read this years ago, and I kind of liked it then, but I do have to admit that the criticisms on that Tor page are on base. It's bloody long, but it's thriller-style so it usually doesn't feel like a slog. (The author mentioned that it originally started out as a short story he worked on for years that just snowballed, and it really does show.) When I read it, I always got the feeling that while it was a thriller at heart, it had some aspirations towards "art" that it was never quite brave enough to follow through on. It's really a book that's more for enthusiastic teenagers that older people.

That said, I do remember it fondly. Some of the allohistorical speculation amusingly out-there (particularly the idea about a seperatist Texas convincing a fair chunk of the other southern states to leave the union with it by wrapping itself in the mantle of the Confederacy), and I am a sucker for any premise that involves a German victory in WWI. (I still don't know why more people don't use this idea; Nazi victories are so overplayed, and letting Wilhelmite Germany win means you could get a pretty strange alternate version of Europe that would probably be more enduring than anything the Third Reich could've done.) And, yes, even the thriller bits are kind of fun.

Oh, and the original site built to promote the book is still up after all these years.
at 01:05 on 17-03-2012, Melissa G.
Oops, I formatted that wrong. O.o My bad.
at 01:00 on 17-03-2012, Melissa G.
>but I don't know what the appeal for women (mostly because the vast majority of this stuff seems to be male-to-female

My guess would be that because almost all the complex and interesting characters tend to be male while female characters are often tokenesque and under developed, that girls like to swap the genders around to see themselves better represented. In a sort of, "Why couldn't this character have been a girl" kind of way.
at 00:48 on 17-03-2012, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Awww - look gender-swapped Harry Potter! Part one and part 2. Hot sneering girl Draco is particularly delightful.

Wait...Rule 63 drawings that don't give you an overpowering need to bathe in Lysol? What madness is this?

Still, having encountered stuff like this in the past, it does leave me wondering. I can figure out the male motivations for creating/viewing this sort of material easy enough (curiosity, fetish, control, what have you), but I don't know what the appeal for women (mostly because the vast majority of this stuff seems to be male-to-female, rather than an equal split between the two).

Finally, on a tangentially related note, I thought this picture of a dragonified Isaac Clarke from Dead Space was pretty sweet. It's a dragon in an EVA suit; what more could you want?
at 00:36 on 17-03-2012, Michal
Juneau wrote something about rape.

Ow. My eyes.

This looked like just another unpublished-author-gives-advice-to-other-unpublished-authors-on-how-to-stay-unpublished blog, but... this...? :-/

Am not going to waste breath on 'im. Not worth it.
at 21:13 on 16-03-2012, Arthur B
Oh god he uses the Devil's Advocate excuse.

Sometimes, I really wish the Catholic Church had decided to call the person responsible for calling a prospective Saint's claims to saintliness into question (before then grovelling and apologising to the Saint should they be canonised) as the Pretentious and Aggravating Arsehole Who Should Be Fucking Ignored Forever. Then people would stop claiming to do that.
at 21:01 on 16-03-2012, James D
Holy shit. That is one of the most offensive things I've ever read. I can only imagine how angry a rape victim would be after reading that. I'll hold this Juneau guy while you work him over, valse.