Playpen

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 00:21 on 06-07-2016, James D
And please, please, please can we have at least one main character who's trans*/genderqueer/otherwise non-binary?

Good luck. I don't think Star Trek has even had a plain old homosexual.

Garak was originally envisioned by his actor as being omnisexual, which is why in his first appearance he blatantly flirts with Dr. Bashir, but just that was apparently too much and was dropped for the rest of the series.
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at 10:15 on 05-07-2016, Craverguy
I'm now imagining with some glee the reaction if Fuller took Robinson's advice and the sort of people who support Trump came to the realization that there was a prime time network drama with no straight white male cast members (except maybe one cast as an alien, and therefore loaded down with makeup and prostheses to conceal that fact).
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at 03:36 on 05-07-2016, Robinson L
Alasdair: I'd be willing to bet JJTrek and Bryan Fuller's new series exist so that both Paramount and CBS can produce new Trek content without having to talk to one another ever again. Which, I suppose, means that the TNG era of Trek wasn't another chapter in the story, but a self-contained little episode that has now ended. Speaking as someone who grew up on that era...it's a goddamn shame.

Ditto to that last sentiment; TNG and DS9 were great shows, and Voyager had many good points.

On a more positive note, I am cautiously hopeful about the new Trek series in the works. Whatever one things of the movies (pre- and post-reboot) I feel like serial television is just a superior medium for telling the kinds of stories which Trek is all about. Even really good movies are a side dish, not the main course.

Also, several months ago, ptolemaeus was very pleased to report that Fuller's ideal casting for the show is apparently Angela Basset for Captain and Rosario Dawson as First Officer. Though, as she was quick to point out, to be truly relevant to the current cultural climate as Trek was at its best, what we really need are prominent Arab crew members. I would go further and advocate ditching the "Outgrown these silly superstitions" credo and make at least one main character openly Muslim. At least one Latinx main character would also be strongly advisable given prevailing sentiment here in the U.S. And please, please, please can we have at least one main character who's trans*/genderqueer/otherwise non-binary?
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at 04:04 on 04-07-2016, Sunnyskywalker
My skin crawls every time the Ferengi say "Feeemaaales!" I think we have all actually met those guys.

Oh, the transporter accident that reveals Kirk's personality is half rapist! Which Spock thinks is interesting and useful! How could I forget...

Yeah, network politics and the shape of Trek does sound like it could be revealing. And sad.
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at 02:02 on 04-07-2016, Alasdair Czyrnyj
Sunny, you forgot that the machine that can put men's minds into women's bodies (and the reverse) is also canon.

But yeeeeeahh Gene was kind of a creep. You can find stories about the casting couch he ran back on TOS, and even on TNG his initial notes on the Ferengi had quite a bit about their sexual appetites.

Personally, the book I'm waiting for is the second part due out in August that covers the TNG era and the reboot movies, mostly because I'd like to know both how much of a mess Voyager actually was and just what exactly killed that era. I mean, we have Berman wanting to do TNG forever, Paramount wanting the franchise to be a moneymaking juggernaut in the face of all evidence, and the CBS/Paramount split, but there's gotta be more than that, right?

Come to think of it, the CBS/Paramount split probably completely changed the nature of Trek. When everything was in one house, there was no problem, but now that all the film content rights lie with Paramount and all the TV rights are with CBS, it's probably no longer possible to tell stories in the TNG setting since you'd have to go to the lawyers everytime you wanted to show an Excelsior-class ship or something. I'd be willing to bet JJTrek and Bryan Fuller's new series exist so that both Paramount and CBS can produce new Trek content without having to talk to one another ever again. Which, I suppose, means that the TNG era of Trek wasn't another chapter in the story, but a self-contained little episode that has now ended. Speaking as someone who grew up on that era...it's a goddamn shame.
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at 20:17 on 03-07-2016, Arthur B
I understand Kirk/Spock was basically the first really popular slash pairing too.
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at 19:09 on 03-07-2016, Sunnyskywalker
Changing topics, that oral history of Star Trek book looks like it covers some interesting might-have-beens. Toshiro Mifune as Spock's Klingon nemesis could have been amazing.

Spock being treated by a parapsychologist for pon farr-induced insanity, though? With all the sex they couldn't put on TV? That lends further support to the theory that TOS was, like, 50% PG-rated porn.

Seriously. Consider:

--Mate or die? CANON
--Alien queen wants to keep captain for reproductive and recreational purposes? CANON
--Military espionage forces Spock to hold hands really intensely with a sexy Romulan who slips into something more comfortable? CANON
--Icy planet with a sexy blonde who invites Spock to share her cozy bearskin bed? CANON
--Underground city of women that kidnaps men for reproduction? CANON
--Plant that suggestively blasts you in the face with pollen and leads Spock at least to declare love and then cut to a scene where he's changed clothes? CANON
--Leading men stripped to the waist and whipped by Space Nazis? CANON
--Space mail order brides for lonely space miners? CANON
--Love potions? CANON if you count the Animated Series

...and probably a lot more I'm forgetting. How many fanfic porn tropes are Gene Roddenberry's fault?
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at 00:05 on 03-07-2016, Sunnyskywalker
Did anyone else here read the anthology Long Hidden : Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History? Lots of really great stories from both new authors and established greats like Tananarive Due. Plus one of my favorite zombie story quotes ever, from a story about the aftermath of a failed 1514 Hungarian peasant revolt:

"He told his tormentors, with us there to witness, that each rebellion they crushed would rise again, and again, until the nobles were driven from the land. At the time it seemed a far-fetched thing to say. We would do right by him, even if we ate them one by one."

The publisher is running a Kickstarter for a sequel anthology, Hidden Youth. I figure most of you won't be distracted this weekend by my people's annual explosives-filled celebration of the 1776 Amerexit, so do check it out if you're so inclined!
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at 10:51 on 01-07-2016, James D
Fair enough! I'd certainly be interested in reading your thoughts at greater length. John Brunner seems to be mostly forgotten by the mainstream these days, only getting a few references here and there (in Shadowrun: Dragonfall for example there's a group called Die Shockwellen Reiter).
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at 08:28 on 01-07-2016, Adrienne
James D: I wasn't communicating clearly, i think. My position is that there's PLENTY of both action and "whoa awesome" moments in the book; they're just things that the book shows you on its own terms. (Or in your case apparently didn't, which makes me sad! But i know that no book is for everyone.)
There's a couple books i need to read before i try to write a review of Shockwave Rider, but once I am moved I plan to do that, and then write the thing and hope Ferretbrain will publish it. :D
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at 08:23 on 01-07-2016, Adrienne
Cheriola, Robinson L : Thanks for the congrats! I certainly never expected, at my age, to find someone i was interested in marrying, much less someone who was interested in marrying ME!
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at 04:08 on 01-07-2016, Melanie
the idea that a large majority of Tories would vote for Brexit but that Leave would nevertheless lose the referendum, thus providing Boris with compelling evidence of his sway over the party faithful while avoiding having to deal with the repercussions of leaving the EU (which he rather transparently doesn't really want to do).


Imagine that. It's been sounding like that was the reasoning at least some Leave voters, too, who are now surprised/upset that they won. That they wanted to threaten it without having to actually follow through. Or they thought they could be "strategic" with their voting and just make Stay win by a smaller margin--like, they simultaneously figured 1)that they could manipulate the overall results to make their little point, and 2)that their vote wouldn't really matter or have consequences. It's like the opposite of groupthink, except not in a good way.

Which I guess goes to show that you probably can't eliminate strategic voting purely with the right voting system.
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at 22:26 on 30-06-2016, Cheriola
I just saw that Fox (UK) is going to air "The Book of Negroes" mini-series under the less historically-based title "Someone Knows My Name", starting July the 17th. I watched that last year and highly recommend it. It's kind of like "Schindler's List" but with revolution-era African Americans fleeing to Canada, as the British have to give up control of New York to the likes of Washington and Jefferson (both big-time slave-owners, remember). Apparently the original novel is based on a true story - there really was a document called the "Book of Negroes" listing a few thousand ex-slaves who were evacuated by the British in return for loyalty during the war.

I'd be interested to read what the problem with Tamora Pierce is, too, aside from maybe a writing style not designed with adult readers in mind. I've never read anything by her, as far as I can remember, but I think someone recently recommended her to me when I went on a rant about the way even supposedly feminist female fantasy authors always fail to have their young, usually not pregnant, heroines deal with menstruation; or only ever mentioning it at all if it's necessary for some contrived plot point, like vampire/werewolf attraction or far-too-early-to-be-realistic-in-a-premodern-society menarche triggering a child bride plot. (This 'taboo' is observed even in novels that do mention other bodily functions a few times, or where the authors have no problem describing characters throwing up after drinking too much, for example. Which gives the very unhealthy impression that the normal function of the cis-female body is so dirty and shameful that girls shouldn't even think about it, never mind commiserate with others about the unpleasantness that rules a quarter of their life. And that, really, what the authors are saying is: "No, of course cis-gendered girls can't really go on adventures. That would be far too difficult and messy to even contemplate, especially under pre-industrial circumstances. Yes, even with magic - no need to give even a perfunctory explanation about a magical contraception artifact or hormone-suppressing herbal tisanes or whatever. Instead, lets just pretend girls are all just cis boys with tennis balls down their shirt. I don't care if you can't relate to that.")


And congratulations on your new tax status, Adrienne. ;P
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at 21:21 on 30-06-2016, Bill
The swift, efficient treachery practiced in the Tory party greatly contrasts with the ongoing bumbling of Parliamentary Labour's attempts to dispose of Jeremy Corbyn.
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at 20:12 on 30-06-2016, Arthur B
Given that his wife talks to him like he's a nervous child needing encouragement, I think he's more like Jim Hacker.
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at 18:30 on 30-06-2016, Craverguy
According to Johnson's people, Michael Gove edited and approved Boris's column about how Britain is and always will be a part of Europe, persuaded Boris not to cut any endorsement-for-Cabinet-spot deals with Tory MPs, offered Foreign Secretary to George Osborne behind Boris's back and leaked it to the press, and announced his campaign for the leadership without informing Boris ahead of time.

Considering that he used to be Chief Whip, I now suspect that Michael Gove is, in fact, Francis Urquhart.
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at 17:33 on 30-06-2016, Arthur B
(I should clarify that I meant the Rik Mayall sitcom with Alan B'Stard, not the news magazine of the same name.)
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at 17:22 on 30-06-2016, Janne Kirjasniemi
Well, whatever else, both The Young Ones and Springtime for Hitler are less boring than The New Statesman. Politics are more popular now than since whenever!
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at 17:19 on 30-06-2016, James D
Adrienne:
that's a deliberate stylistic choice!

So? Whether or not Brunner wanted The Shockwave Rider to be a chore to get through doesn't really matter to me as a reader. I am glad I read it, but I'm not sure I'd read it again.

I think part of the problem I had was going "back in time" after having read a lot of 80s cyberpunk (Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, etc.). The Shockwave Rider certainly had more substance than something like Neuromancer, but in comparison it just seemed really...uncool. A lot of its ideas are interesting, sure, the interrogator especially was a great character, and there's a lot to chew on intellectually, but there's basically nothing in it that makes me go "WHOA, AWESOME" the way there is in a lot of later stuff TSR influenced.

Maybe there's not a lot of nutritional value in "whoa, awesome," but a little sugar in your oatmeal makes breakfast much more palatable.
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at 15:45 on 30-06-2016, Craverguy
Boris's leadership bid was clearly predicated on the idea that a large majority of Tories would vote for Brexit but that Leave would nevertheless lose the referendum, thus providing Boris with compelling evidence of his sway over the party faithful while avoiding having to deal with the repercussions of leaving the EU (which he rather transparently doesn't really want to do).

I'm afraid I must disagree with Arthur on one point: this isn't The Young Ones, it's The Producers, and Brexit is Boris's "Springtime for Hitler."
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at 15:36 on 30-06-2016, Robinson L
@Adrienne: Glad to hear you're pulling things back together, and congratulations on your wedding and your upcoming move.
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at 14:21 on 30-06-2016, Arthur B
Gove is running, so far as I can tell, solely to spoil BoJo's bid. Lots of influential people in Tory circles were saying "Well, I have my reservations about Boris, but if he had Gove supporting him I think I'd vote for him". Gove's aides were literally pushing BoJo's bid and inviting people to the Boris campaign launch as recently as last night. So Gove declaring his own campaign spoiled things for Boris nicely.

I would not be surprised if Gove didn't actually bother campaigning, now that the job's been done.

We are in meltdown over here. In the space of a week British politics has gone from being like The New Statesman to The Young Ones.
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at 13:00 on 30-06-2016, Craverguy
Looks like Dan's old bête noire Michael Gove may be the next Prime Minister.
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at 10:17 on 30-06-2016, Adrienne
Robinson L: Nah, never gave up on it, just my life pretty well fell apart for a few years there. It's getting put back together these days, finally, although i got married and am moving to another country next month so things are still a little overwhelming. :)
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