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 00:33 on 17-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
Well, I guess that any originality of concept is pretty rare nowadays. That leaves the originality of the particular take on it and the anticipation of what the next big thing is. I just hope it's something that hasn't been done very many times at this point.
at 21:19 on 16-05-2014
, Arthur B
There's probably mileage in fictional takes on Jacques Vallee's Magonia hypothesis (the idea that 20th Century UFO sightings and close encounter experiences were the result of interactions with otherdimensional entities who had masqueraded as faeries and angels and the like in the past, updating their disguises to suit cultural trends).
at 20:47 on 16-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
evil nazi werewolves
Now this might be just overkill on the whole evil spectrum, but if we take this suggestion of Walter Sobchak's seriously:
"say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos."
Then would an evil nazi, a nazi that diverges from that ethos in a radical and systematic way, actually be kind of an okay person? This would be a good thing to know when confronting a werewolf.
at 20:36 on 16-05-2014
, Robinson L
Arthur: the first real source we have for a full-on werewolf-vs-vampire death grudge seems to be, of all things, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
Oh hey, yeah, I remember that one. I guess it did have some decent vampire v. werewolf action, at that.
Janne: Perhaps faerie-aliens?
Interesting idea - I like it.
Shimmin: you could do a story where the werewolf remains aware and in a position to plan during their transformation, while the vampires really are vulnerable by day, ferocious and not-that-intelligent by night, and bound by strange rules and obsessions.
That also sounds like a potentially engaging premise. I expect you could do some pretty neat stuff with it.
at 20:33 on 16-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
Interestingly, the thing with werewolves might be exactly that it needs the rage and ferality to be a threat, the image of the classical folk lore wolf as a monster. Nowadays people like wolves and are more aware of their qualities as social animals. A more realistic smart wolf becomes less monstrous. Although I do remember reading a novel where the werewolves lived in packs or families and regarded people as prey and they were quite monstrous. I can't remember the title or the author, it was a translation from English.
The idea of a werewolf as an evil, vampire controlling mastermind is a good one. Vampires are overpowered and have been pretty much removed from their folk origins as horrible and rather disgusting, odd behaving monsters. If there were more vampire fruit
in fiction, perhaps they would be regarded less awesomely.
Bigby Wolf from The Fables
is an example of an intelligent werewolf(technically). They also had a village of evil nazi werewolves at some point.
at 19:47 on 16-05-2014
I think it's also because somehow, vampires have developed from being bloodsucking parasitic corpse-things into suave, intelligent, manipulative beings that play a villain role, whereas werewolves have developed from being humans that turn into wolves (both fairly intelligent, social creatures), into deformed hybrid things overcome by bloodlust. The lack of control during the transformation seems important.
Physically powerful monsters tend to play second fiddle to intelligent ones, because that's a trope - it's a bit harder to conjure up a story where vampires are the lackeys of a werewolf, both because we aren't used to stories like that, and because an archvillain that's in a mindless rampage a few days a month is harder to explain. The werewolves' bestial nature makes it easier to position them as pets and/or slaves.
Now you could do a story where the werewolf remains aware and in a position to plan during their transformation, while the vampires really are vulnerable by day, ferocious and not-that-intelligent by night, and bound by strange rules and obsessions. In that case they might well work as servants to a werewolf boss.
at 13:16 on 16-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
Werewolves seem to always serve as second fiddle to vampire greatness. Are vampires just better monsters? It might be that whole association with aristocracy thing, vampires have style, whereas wolves are frightening, feral and dangerous, but also cute doggies. Such ferocity. Independently werewolves usually seem to focus on loss of control, to rage or animal urges or whatever(although I haven't seen all relevant works on this). Whereas vampires are a cooler sort of evil. And when they try to be nice, they're oh so tragic and moody.
In many ways, vampire fever is as strong as ever, which seems to have shifted to a more low key, but more serious tone, with Only lovers left alive, for example, making the rounds. Also Hannibal feels like a riff on vampires and that seems to be a popular show.
And this has gone on forever, the apex might've been Twilight, but it's been vampires this and that all the time! When was the last time that they weren't in fashion? Maybe with all of this attention on what is hype at any given moment misses the point that some things never seem to leave the spotlight at all. Still, it would be nice to see something else for a change. Perhaps faerie-aliens? I think one of the alien races in Star Control 2 was something like that. With that sort of cultural and temporal relevance, I can't understand why that is not a huge thing.
at 10:52 on 16-05-2014
, Arthur B
Depending on where you draw the line, it dates back from Underworld
, via Werewolf: the Apocalypse
and Vampire: the Masquerade
, to the later golden-age Universal horror movies where they got really fixated on doing as much crossover nonsense as they could.
In those, Dracula and the Wolfman meet in House of Dracula
, but they only have a brief, almost incidental conflict there because Dracula exits the movie comparatively early on (it isn't a very well-named film). It doesn't really depict the sort of full-blown grudge we're talking about here. Apparently Universal were considering making The Wolfman vs. Dracula
before collapsing ticket sales convinced them that the classic monsters were played out and the characters were retired except for self-parodying comedies.
So as far as I can make out, the first real source we have for a full-on werewolf-vs-vampire death grudge seems to be, of all things, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
. Most preceding stuff seems to either imply that woofles and vamps are on the same side or presents them as being essentially the same thing. (Dracula
turns into a big woofle, after all.)
at 06:00 on 16-05-2014
Eh, the were/vamp war thing was in the water long before Twilight - see the woofles and vampires of Underworld.
at 00:01 on 16-05-2014
Yeah. If there is, in fact, a significant uptick in interest in weres, then I have to wonder if that's due to Twilight, too (since it featured werewolves nearly as prominently as vampires and the main werewolf guy seemed to be pretty popular). Or if it might be partly a reaction to previous vampire popularity--either backlash specifically (what with vampires and werewolves being set against each other and all) or just people getting bored with vampires and looking for a contrast.
at 18:03 on 15-05-2014
Twilight has much to answer for...to judge by a conversation overheard at the pool women's locker-room last week, 50 Shades has finally made it to the pensioners or south-west Jerusalem. *sigh*.
at 22:15 on 13-05-2014
Ah, right--what I was trying to get at was just that I don't think the October Daye books feel particularly influenced by JS&MN but more by earlier stuff.
As to that question, though, I think there's another Next Big Thing in progress, and it's werewolves/werewhatevers. There's Teen Wolf, which seems to be pretty popular. Judging from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, there seem to be loads and loads of romances featuring werecreatures recently. And there also seems to be more fanfic than usual recently that cribs off... certain werewolf tropes (i.e. people's idea of pack dynamics, mating cycles, and soulbond stuff that I absolutely blame Twilight for).
at 03:20 on 13-05-2014
Well, JS&MN wasn't original, really, it was more a massive synthesis and reimagining. Apologies if I was claiming it as original - I was more thinking it was (and remains) the apotheosis of that particular amalgamation of Regency fantasy and urban fairy. But the question I was sort of addressing was "what is the next Big Thing," as pirates were in 2003-2006, superheroes from 1999 to present, aliens were abortively about three years ago, vampires from 2004-2010, dystopian teen fiction from 2009-present, etc.
And absolutely the followup is really minimal for JS&MN. Which I think is both good and bad - it means that when you talk about Regency Fantasy, you still have this masterpiece to point to and discuss - and that there's not a lot to really set it off.
at 01:15 on 13-05-2014
Sure, there are things that peek around the sides of it now - Mary Robinette Kowal's Regency fantasies on one side, and Seanan McGuire's October Daye fairy noir on the other
I wouldn't put it like that. I mean, fae in urban fantasy were already a thing before
Strange & Norrell (see: Merry Gentry series, Dresden Files, possibly more I don't know about (maybe you'd count the Changeling stuff from White Wolf as part of that whole thing, too; I'm not sure)). I think the October Daye books are much more along those lines (in general setting and tone, I mean) than along the lines of Strange & Norrell. And the fae themselves
in those seem a bit more "humans plus/minus" than eerie and alien. (Which I don't think is really a bad thing, just a different thing.) So I think the influence/followup is even less than that.
(Not commenting on Kowal's books, since I'm not familiar with them.)
...I can think of another, recent, urban-fantasy-involving-fae series, the Grave Witch books, but I can't exactly recommend
them (I remember the first two being reasonably interesting to me plotwise but being extremely irritating and unconvincing in the "romance subplot" department, and I think having some rapey elements?).
at 23:54 on 12-05-2014
I hope so, but sadly, as Jo Walton's piece at Tor.com notes (http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/01/what-makes-this-book-so-great-jo-walton-jonathan-strange),
it's kind of unlikely. While Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is a masterpiece (one of the few from the past twenty years, that I look back and say, "That was actually a masterpiece"), it wasn't followed up, by the author or the market. Sure, there are things that peek around the sides of it now - Mary Robinette Kowal's Regency fantasies on one side, and Seanan McGuire's October Daye fairy noir on the other - but they're midlist successes, not the kind of movement-starting blockbusters that would need to sustain a phenomenon (see also: Divergent actually managing to piggyback on Hunger Games).
at 17:49 on 12-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
I'm looking forward to BBC's Jonathan Strange thing. Perhaps it will spawn a veritable fae revolution! I don't know if that's a good thing, but at least it would be something else for a change. Depending on the take, the fae are sort of like vampires. Magical powerful creatures playing with mortals like they are lesser beings. But unlike vampires, which seem to popularly land on a good-bad spectrum of morality, faeries can have, depending on the take, an alien sort of morality, which might project as evil or good on a good-bad axis, but is different. On the other hand, the fae king in Jonathan Strange was pretty much evil though. Perhaps a romantic mega-bestseller or blockbuster might be more effective, to really soak people in faeries and encourage derivative works for years to come.
at 18:47 on 11-05-2014
Well, Butcher has those kinds of urban fae in his Dresden books, but even though he's pretty popular, I think he's been tried by the film peeps, and it didn't work that well. (Of course, even as a conservative, I find Butcher a bit skeezy, so it's not like I'm champing at the bit for his stuff to get another film go-around).
We are getting a Jonathan Strange BBC miniseries next year, and there's that Lost Girl series in Canada.
at 08:09 on 11-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
Captain Blood in Space sounds magnificent. On the other subject, perhaps the next big popular thing be elves of the fairie sort or something of that kind? They're a familiar enough concept and have a good basis in both folklore and spec. fic. literature (Tam Lin, Jonathan Strange, Gaiman &c.). The only thing needed is a breakthrough of some sort for all the other cultural manufacturers to copy to death.
at 23:23 on 10-05-2014
Does this mean we'll soon see that Captain Blood remake announced a while back? You know, the one that takes the action out from the 17th century Caribbean and sets the story in spaaaaaaaaaaace?
at 16:18 on 10-05-2014
I thought pirates were the big thing in 2003? Have we cycled all the way back?
at 10:05 on 10-05-2014
I think i'm ok (like anyone's asking :-)) with pirates being the big thing now. We've clearly exhausted vampires and Sherlock Holmes, civilizationally speaking.
at 19:24 on 05-05-2014
So, NBC is apparently jumping on the Black Sails bandwagon this summer with Crossbones. Which I'll probably watch instead because the pilot of Black Sails was so achingly poorly written and miscast. Which is a shame, since I really like Toby Stephens. Though John Malkovich as Blackbeard (Whitegoatee?) is probably also miscast, this time it's much more likely to be hilariously so. With the added bonus of Richard Coyle and Claire Foy!
at 05:31 on 03-05-2014
Moiety is actually a great word, and a really useful anthropological concept. Wright is ... not using it particularly well, there.
at 05:14 on 01-05-2014
, Janne Kirjasniemi
bullet-riddled former monsters
That would make a good name for a band.