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five things meme

Still not sick (and Philomythulus is much better) but self-isolation is proceeding on the one-good-day, one-bad-day cycle right now that I've seen other people report, and judging by the way this morning has started, it's Box Two today. So in the interests of distraction, the Top Five meme I've seen going around.

Ask me for my top five of anything, fannish or RL. Serious answers not guaranteed ;-)

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wherever i goddam like

On a lighter note, I have watched more of The Expanse and I can tell that I am going to be here 110% for the relationship between Avasarala and Bobbie. Terrifying political mastermind and terrifying space marine from opposite sides of a war bonding, and they're both women? I have waited all my life for this. I like Cotyar too, if you wanted to make it OT3 I could be convinced of that, but Avasarala was my favourite from the moment she appeared (I saw her described as the ultimate female power fantasy, and, yeah. Would give cash money to put her and Phryne Fisher in the same room, too, some kind of wardrobe singularity might occur). Bobbie grew on me slowly, but when she ran off to see the ocean I fell for her as well. And I adore Bobbie snapping right back at Avasarala, that is the best thing ever and Avasarala looks so delighted about it, like she's finally found someone tough enough to fight with her for fun.

But mostly I love Avasarala. I love her sitting on the roof, I love her swearing at important people, I love her listening innocently while people tell her things she already knows and then turning around and slapping them in the face with that, I love her sending little side messages that make other people dance the way she wants them to dance, I love her pushing and pushing and daring anyone to make her stop, I love her using her own sincere emotions as a trick and a trap, I love everything. I love Cotyar's long-suffering face when he tries to make her consider her security, and I love how she switched from wearing Earth colours to Mars colours when she woos Bobbie.

The rest of the show is good too, I like Holden and his increasingly disastrous crusade, I like Alex a lot, he is very cute, I like Naomi and Amos, I am just getting to know Prax but I like him too. And I'm enjoying the breadth of the storytelling and all the SF stuff and really all of it. I have bought the first of the books to read, but I'm still torn on wanting to experience the show as its own thing first or wanting to read along and do a compare and contrast in my head. Also I'm afraid that Avasarala in the books wouldn't be as awesome as on the screen, Shohreh Aghdashloo is amazing. Right now the forty minutes late in the evening when I can sit down with this show is definitely a bright spot in the day.

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Fic: Ariadne

So this is probably a good time to post completely plotless h/c fic that I wrote a while back and didn't post. If you ever wondered what my drawerfic looks like, this is a pretty representative sample of it. But writing these things makes me feel better, so maybe reading them will make other people feel better? IDK, it's worth a try.

Ariadne (1697 words) by Philomytha
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Vorkosigan Saga - Lois McMaster Bujold
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Simon Illyan/Alys Vorpatril
Characters: Alys Vorpatril, Simon Illyan
Additional Tags: Exhaustion, Hallucinations, Hurt/Comfort

Alys leads Simon out of a maze.

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Fic: Brown Eyes, Silver Eyes

So this is the other fic I wrote for Chocolate Box, for @karanguni, only a month late /o\. It would have been on time, but instead of a short action scene followed by a fairly straightforward sex scene, it turned out that Aral would. not. stop. talking, and it turned into a completely different story, with a lot less sex and a lot more of, well, everything else, but mostly angst.

Title: Brown Eyes, Silver Eyes
Length: 5000 words
Rating: M
Tags: suicidal character, alcohol, declaming revolution in iambic pentameter, hurt/comfort, competence, Escobar, angst
Summary: Aral goes drunk-flying in the Dendarii gorge. Illyan follows.

Brown Eyes, Silver Eyes on AO3

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reading etc

- I have been reading Victorian instruction manuals for household servants. The one for nursemaids has surprisingly sound advice on teaching kids good table manners, and also advice about feeding infants that makes me amazed that infant mortality wasn't higher. The one on being a good lady's maid is full of gems like 'it is a blessing to the heart and to the mind to have some one to love and serve' and lengthy digressions about lady's maids who started their careers of dishonesty by taking a pin from their mistress's workbox and ended by cooperating with jewel thieves and languished for the rest of their days in prison. Very Victorian, much moral, surprisingly good on the subject of keeping your temper when provoked and how to tell the difference between occasional annoyances and a complete personality clash. Also a brief mention of what to do if your mistress is subject to domestic violence, which is to say, pretend not to see too much and comfort her as you can. The one on being a laundry maid is utterly horrifying and makes me want to hug and kiss my washing machine. My dad's into family history and apparently many of my ancestors were washerwomen, god it must have been a shit life. There's no moral edification in the book for laundry maids, just a detailed description of the correct order for two women working together to wash about ten people's laundry in one day, with times for each task, instructions on when you pour out the dirty water and when you pour it into the next load of washing, and a note that at some point you have to stop and eat and rest but not for long. That one's peppered with advertorials for new Patent Machines for trying to make the process easier. I have to say, I have considered this and I would sacrifice my computer, tv, freezer, fridge, central heating boiler and oven before I sacrificed my washing machine.

- also just started reading the Hamilton biography, which is fantastic, and I never knew that Britain considered trying to swap the entire of Canada for Guadeloupe, but France considered that Guadeloupe was worth an awful lot more than Canada... Anyway, I've only read a bit of it so far, but I am deeply impressed with how Miranda turned it into a musical.

- still watching The Expanse and I love it, I adored Chrisjen's visit to Holden's mother and really everything she does is magic, surprisingly interested in Fred Johnson, still underwhelmed with Detective Hat but the rest of the cast is great and the plotting is wonderfully complicated

- after reccing The Flight of the Heron I suddenly had to reread it, and I still adore it. I'm now halfway through The Gleam in the North, which I haven't reread for ages because it's so painful and hence I've forgotten lots of it. I usually skip it and just read The Dark Mile which is a sweet romance and has a happy ending.

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Fic: lean on

I wrote a fic! For Chocolate Box, where loads of people left fantastic Vorkosigan prompts. I really wanted to write more treats but I had the flu half the time so not so much writing happened. And then when I did have writing time, well, my brain has a frustrating tendency to hare off in the wrong direction when I see a prompt: viz lots of people wanted Ivan interacting with any of Miles, Gregor, Aral, Laisa, Ekaterin, By... so I stared at those prompts for a while, and then came up with a plot bunny for Ivan talking to his mother instead.

But anyway, I finally got to use my favourite Aral/Simon quote as a fic summary for lean on aka the time Aral tells Simon not to use Miles as an assassin please. Because when I saw that conversation referenced in ACC, I went OUCH, and have been meaning to write it up as a fic sometime and finally did it. And I hope to finish the Ivan & Alys fic, and also something for @karanguni who continues to have the best Aral/Simon prompts and who I really hope isn't tired of me writing them yet.

And in my other fandom, False Value is out, I have read it, I love it, and I don't think it's spoilery to say: if you were frustrated by the lack of Peter-Nightingale interaction in some of the previous books, you are going to like this one. Longer review when I finish rereading it.

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A couple of things I have read/watched/etc recently.

The Spy and the Traitor, Ben Macintyre
Macintyre has a great line in tell-all real-life spy dramas; he's written several for WW2 and they're all very readable and fascinating, so when I saw this on the shelf in Sainsbury's I knew it wouldn't disappoint, and it hasn't. This is the story of Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB colonel turned MI6 spy, and his ridiculously dramatic and amazing life. Macintyre makes a pretty good case for him having saved the world from nuclear apocalypse. I fell quite a lot in love with him in this, and I suspect Macintyre did too. Also Thatcher did, which is almost makes me question my taste, but still, he was pretty incredible. The story of how he made a summit between Gorbachev and Thatcher a complete success because he was briefing both sides as the KGB's senior man in London and MI6's window into the KGB - if that was fiction it would be unbelievable. He literally took the Foreign Office's agenda for the meeting and fed it to Gorbachev and took Gorbachev's agenda and fed it to the Foreign Office, and Gorbachev was very surprised to find that it was easy for him to understand what Thatcher wanted and what she would do. Thatcher, meanwhile, knew that her briefings were going to Gorbachev, so she wasn't surprised. All this on its own would be pretty amazing, but then there's the story of how the KGB found him out, and how M16 activated a frankly ridiculous escape plan to rescue him and smuggle him back to England, which - well, I take my hat off to the woman known in the book as Caroline Ascot (a pseudonym). She was the wife of the MI6 chief in Russia, who foiled the KGB sniffer dogs on the Russia-Finland border by dropping some cheese and onion crisps on the ground by them, and then CHANGING HER BABY'S DIRTY NAPPY on the lid of the car's boot. Inside the boot, sedated and wrapped in space blankets, was Gordievsky. Because of course if you're smuggling the most wanted man in Russia out of the country, you take your baby with you.


Coriolanus (2011)
As recommended by absolutely everyone, and holy shit was this amazing or what. It is hands-down the best Shakespeare film adaptation I've seen. I adored the conceit of it all, modern-Roman-AU as only the Beeb could do it, using the same sets they use for political shows and just to finish it off, a cameo from Jon Snow somehow managing to give Shakespeare the exact intonation he uses for the news. I loved all the modern war-torn state feel to it all, it's such a fresh take on Rome and it feels true. I also got strong New Labour vibes from the tribunes, which I presume was intentional, and Menenius felt like he'd somehow walked out of The West Wing into this. But Fiennes as Coriolanus knocked my socks off, his power, his rage, his warrior spirit, totally and predictably failing as a politican. And the UST with Aufidius was off the charts, in their first duel, and then in the scene where Coriolanus offers him his throat, wow. You don't need to write the slash, Shakespeare's done it for you. And I adored Voluminia too, you can see exactly how she is his mother and exactly how hard as nails she is. I loved her attacking the tribunes and then walking off arm in arm with his wife.

Also, wow, is this the most Barrayaran play ever? I want to know how they stage it on Barrayar, and also the overlap between Aral and Coriolanus is striking.


The Expanse
I have just started watching this, I am three episodes in, I am not sure of anyone's names or what's going on, and I love it. I saw it recced as near-future space politics and drama and complexity, and so far it's delivering. It's set in a future in which Mars is colonised and independent and seems to be Space Russia, the asteroid belt is the Space Wild West, and Earth is Earth, crowded and running out of resources and considerably more underwater than it is now, and there's a cold war between Mars and Earth with the asteroid belt as their ping-pong ball. So far we've got three sets of characters, none of whose names I can remember: there's Detective Hat who is investigating a missing person case on Ceres that his boss told him to forget about. There's the crew of the Canterbury, currently prisoners on a Martian warship and trying to work out who blew up their ship and whether or not Smart Navigator Lady is a sleeper agent for terrorists. And there's Lady Alys But Really Scary, the powerful UN politician who likes torturing people, double-crossing people, and trying to prevent wars. (I like her a lot.)

Oh, and there are still Mormons in the future and they travel out to the asteroid belt and try to get people to come to their meetings. The whole show seems to have this level of background worldbiulding detail, I especially love the way the people on Ceres use water when they're having meetings, how they ostentatiously pour each other glasses of water or help themselves to water as a character thing, it fits so nicely. So far I am utterly curious about Mars and the Martians and what they're doing, and I really want to see Mars like we've seen Earth and Ceres.


And finally, I am probably the last person on the planet to listen to the soundtrack for Hamilton. But I have a trip to London planned later in the spring and then I realised we could go to a show and that Hamilton was playing and tickets were available, so I am going to go and see it live in the West End, and I thought I'd listen to it and find out what it was all about. And so I did, and by the time I got to rhyming 'Lancelot' with 'pants look hot' I knew that I was in for a wild ride. Mr P refuses to let me play it around him, he wants to see it completely cold without any clue at all what's going on (or any knowledge of American history) but I have had it on repeat for the past week whenever he's not around, though it's lucky some of the lyrics go by too fast for Cub to hear them properly ;-)

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