More from JK Rowling

Honestly, I’m not sure all this extra Harry Potter stuff has gone all that well with JK Rowling’s image, especially since some of the details I’ve heard about the possible plot of Cursed Child make it sound like she’s gone off her rocker.  But I did like the story about Ilvermorny posted to Pottermore yesterday.  It even prompted me to go back the website when I’d fled it after it sorted me into Slytherin.  I deleted my account, rejoined, and took the quiz again, which got me safely back into Ravenclaw.  Also, I’m a Thunderbird, which feels kind of odd, but then again, we still don’t know much about these Ilvermorny houses.

Actually, that’s the strangest thing right now: we’re getting sorted into these new houses, and clearly Rowling has figured how what they are and what kind of students they take, and likely beyond the vague notions in yesterday’s release, but why not tell us everything?  The only explanation I can think of is we’re going to find out the rest in Fantastic Beasts.  But that takes place down in New York City, and so far we haven’t been told or shown in the trailers if the characters are going to be traveling somewhere else.  Is Ilvermorny a single side trip, or are Newt & friends going to be wandering all around the country, sending MACUSA into hysterics at the thought of how many chances No-Majs will have of spotting or bumping into them?  And either way, why would the details of how the houses work be so important that Rowling feels a need to withhold them?

I suppose placing wizarding immigration history on the Mayflower is easy, because it’s a story everyone knows(with few enough details utilized that Rowling sidesteps how much of it is myth.)  But I do think it appropriate that America’s European-style magic school was formed by an Irish witch, considering the heavy Irish immigration this country has had in its history.  Even more so when its in Massachusetts.

The Martian, by Andy Weir

It feels strange to finish reading The Martian tonight, surrounded by news that puts the ugly side of humanity all on display.  I’d been introduced to the story through the movie, which had been a deeply optimistic portrayal of humanity, and the book is the same, although it is has much less portrayal of the world and more of just the central character.  It’s gain some, lose some; we get more of Mark Watney’s inner mind, and a lot more of his personality, but his universe gets thinner.

Indeed, one can see definite weaknesses in the book, especially if you’re not into highly technical descriptions.  Andy Weir has persumably done his homework, and arguably it makes sense for all these scientist characters to talk at length with all their fancy terms, and of course much of the story is told through Watney’s log entries, but still, the eyes of most readers are going to glaze over a lot.  Perhaps it works a bit better in those sections where suddenly we go out of the limited POV narration and into an odd scientific/documentary style narrative, where even Watney is referred to just as “the astronaut,” and it makes it easier to focus in on whatever mechanical affair is about to happen.

Mostly I now want to see the movie again.  Not even necessarily out of it being better, but just because I feel like I didn’t get enough.  And I don’t know if I would’ve felt that way had I read the book first.

So is Hermione canonically black now?

Jamie Parker, Noma Dumezweni, & Paul Thornley

What the future trio will canonically look like, at least once they’re in costumes and wigs?

So they’re doing a new Harry Potter play, and they’ve cast a black actress as Hermione.  By itself, that’s nice to see, but not necessarily something that means anything off the stage, any more than a white actress playing her in the films necessarily meant anything.  Maybe especially so because, what with it being a play, eventually it will be produced and performed in other places, with other actors in the roles.

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What I am Most Thankful for This Year

For me, 2015 has been the year I seriously took the plunge back into fanfic and fandom.  I was never fully disconnected, but in recent years I haven’t had much to do with it; I was focused on other things.  I was inching in already, thanks to the MCU in general and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but movies don’t come out often enough for me to go full-blown, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t the show most suited to it either(at least at first).  But then Daredevil landed, and I took the plunge back in.  I’ve written more in the past six months than I did during some years, and what I put on the backburner in favor of trying to become a published novelist, I now feel differently about.  For better or for worse, I am a fanfic author, that is my identity in life, and I’m learning to embrace it, once and for all.  I’ve never been ashamed, but now I’m proud.  Let the world scorn me or dismiss me for not being a respectable published woman(though I still might self-publish a book that is essentially Jane Austen fanfic anyway); I don’t give a damn.

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The last moments of Pottermore

And so Pottermore now has moments across all seven books, right up to the death of Voldemort at the end.  But to make it that far, they reduced the number of moments considerably; where once there were three per chapter, now it seemed they had one moment for every three chapters in Death Hallows!  Plus the moments had much less zooming, and possibly less contents in general.  That is especially annoying when one considers these are the big dramatic events of the saga; everything up to the end of book four is really setup, and yet book four is exactly where the creators of Pottermore started rushing to the end!  And really, I think most of us could’ve happily spent a few more years going through the moments of the books whenever they came to us.  It would’ve meant we’d get more out of the site and for longer too.  And when the artwork continues to be lovely, more of that would’ve been great too.

But at least now when we go back to the earlier moments, we can keep ourselves occupied finding everything we missed in them.  One of the smarter innovations as they went along was the bars in the thumbnails to let your know whether you’ve found everything there is to find or not.  Even if it generates frustration when that slider is almost all the way over, and it looks like you’ve got one more thing to find, but no matter where you move or click your cursor, you just can’t. find. anything. else.  Perhaps when we have done everything else on the website, we shall all go back to those moments and drive ourselves crazy a little more trying to find those one last hidden things.

There are other nice additions to the website as well.  Expanded moments(loving this whole concept of Hatstall), and it’s good to have the timeline of famous witches and wizards as well, even if they very deliberately fudged it to hide the problem of Merlin being at Hogwarts when it was supposed to be founded about half a millennium after his time.  With all the ones on the chocolate frog cards(why were there none of those in Death Hallows, though?) and other sources being so hard to keep track of, a timeline is a useful thing to keep them listed and in chronological order in relation to each other, and we even get some new names(that is a *lot* of Weird Sisters, although maybe the band lineup has changed during its history, and they didn’t all belong to it at once).

What do they do now?  More expanded info and such for special occasions?  More additions like the timeline?  Or maybe they could expand the later novels and put new moments in?

AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.

Two weeks after losing one great sci-fi/fantasy icon of our times, we lose another.

I first ran into Terry Pratchett in, of all places, Paris, when my family stopped in a bookstore and I found a copy of Soul Music in their small English-language section.  I was immediately stunned by the brilliance and depth and humour and intelligence of the world the author had created.  That was good enough, but one thing about Pratchett that has impressed me even more since was how even when he was already good enough a writer, he visibly got even more brilliant as the Discworld series went alone, and after relying on the reset button in his early books, even let his world develop and change, and reflect on our own even when it was absurdly funny.  He also created a version of Death that perhaps has transcended the series in how we view the Grim Reaper as a fictional character, especially once he brought him to his and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens, the masterpiece where two authors of fantasy humour combined their talents to create a true classic.

And even in departing, we got a final taste of his most famous character via Twitter.  He was brave in the end too, keeping the struggle up against Alzheimer’s and even still writing while in the grips of the disease.  Even so, he is gone far too soon, and that we have spent years braced for this makes it no easier to face today.  RIP.

Maybe I’m a little late talking about this

But something I’ve come to realize since the story broke that maybe Rowling had changed her mind about who Hermione should’ve ended up with(although when the quotes are put into context it turns out they aren’t quite as strong as first seemed): I’m a Harry/Hermione Friendshipper, maybe even more than a Ron/Hermione shipper.

I’m still the latter, certainly.  In fact, the idea that things still weren’t easy after the events of the book concluded, but they still had things to work through and growth as people to do, makes me care about it more than I would’ve otherwise; I’m more interested when it’s not easy.  But the days when their relationship was my main focus as a fan are long gone now.  These days when I reread the books or work on All The Extras, I find my favorite thing is the friendship between all three characters(as perhaps evidence by the final scene in part three of that fic, I suppose, with the platonic sharing of a bed).  I loved the dancing scene in Deathly Hallows specifically for that reason; I loved the idea that two people in love with others could still have that kind of bond.

So Rowling’s interview still makes me a little sad, that she doesn’t seem to see the particular value of that, although again, putting the quotes in context make them not as bad as they initially seemed out of it.  To me, Harry and Hermione didn’t waste any potential of their relationship with each other out of failing to be anything other than what it was.

In Memoriam

When I heard of the death of Ann Crispin yesterday, and then read on the Mary Sue that she’d written science fiction tie-in novels, I immediately thought I’d seen her name before somewhere, or at least the initialed version.  As I’d read my way through a number of Star Trek tie-ins during my teens and a few more Star Wars novels since, I went to that part of my bookshelf.  I almost thought I’d imagined it when I spotted the A.C. Crispin on The Eyes of the Beholders.  Of the many early Star Trek: The Next Generation novels I’d read, that was one of the ones that had stayed with me more, and I immediately had respect for her, even before I took the book down and skimmed through it again.

The basic plot involves a fancy space artifact making everyone go mad and also have vivid dreams/flashbacks to scenes from their past lives, which allowed Crispin to give us scenes like Worf’s last carefree evening on Khitomer before the bombing and the death of his family(the one that had stuck with me the most), Picard’s response to the loss of the Stargazer, & Data’s discovery by Starfleet; things that allowed her to focus on character in a sci-fi plot driven environment.  These were the sections I wanted to reread, along with the Selar/Andorian child subplot, and now I have a completely new appreciation for both that and for Selar’s backstory, both of them very much being women’s stories(the latter essentially spending all its time on three female characters, with Dr. Crusher’s heavy involvement in it), and ones that speak to current humans despite their setting, and the story of young blind Thala is personal to me now I understand myself to be disabled.  When I first read it I had no idea A.C. Crispin was female; it never even occurred to me to wonder about it, but now I understand that much of her novel I found in my sister’s collection is a woman’s novel, for all the “boys adventure” trappings of its main plot.

At least I know now.  Thank you, Ann.  I hope I have not read the last of you.

An open letter to the design staff on Pottermore

Dear Design Staff,

I am aware that you expect your audience to trend young.  That you understandably take exceptional measures to protect everyone on the site is indication enough of that.  I understand that such users will find things like casting spells and brewing potions and trying to keep Aunt Petunia’s pudding up in the air for 14 seconds appealing, and that there will be a lot of this on Pottermore.  That’s fine.

But as you are no doubt aware, there are a lot of older readers of Harry Potter as well.  Some of us started reading as adults, or some of us started reading when we were young and then grew up; remember this series has been out nearly 15 years now, and there’ll be a good deal of nostalgia users on Pottermore as well.  Because there are plenty of adult users that get a lot out of the site; we are getting the beautiful graphics and the memories, and especially all the new information.  We have been waiting patiently for the Founders backstory and your impression of the Chamber of Secrets, and the exercises we must complete are mostly obstacles we have to get through to get those.  And they can be fun, sometimes.  But only if they don’t take us too long.

And your garden gnome game?  I finally gave up after about half an hour in disgust.  It seems impossible to even get the gnomes to go in the right direction, and you can’t even be bothered to give us some advice on that.  And now I can’t go on, and I am very angry.  Heck, the way that exercise is, I doubt even the kiddies are enjoying it anymore.  I’m sure some of them are crying right now because they can’t go on either.

In short, you need to put in some provision in to let us skip these things if necessary.  Maybe a mercy rule, so that if we try it ten times and still fail, we can be scolded by Mrs. Weasley and then allowed to proceed?   It should not be necessary for us to spend hours and hours struggling at this.  That is not a good use of our time.

Yours Very Sincerely,

ThrestalPotion11131

P.S. Do be so good as to update your feedback form so I can make this complaint properly.  Believe me, your adult users notice such negligence, especially if they have something to complain about.