Game of Thrones 6.01 The Red Woman

601 The Red Woman

Quite excited that Game of Thrones is back on the telly this week (or last week, if you are States-wise – we get our ep on the Monday); and ever so slightly more excited than last year, because last year I was really Quite Bitter that there was no more Charles Dance. Alas, there is still no Charles Dance this year, but I’m at least used to it. And there was some bloody marvellous stuff in the season opener, including what is very much one of my favourite scenes of the series so far.

Most of The Red Woman is spent reminding viewers what happened last time, who’s still alive, and nudging everyone in the directions they’re at least going to be trying to head in for the rest of the season. Amongst the catch-ups are two wonderful scenes. The first, and my favourite moment of the episode, and one of the series’s high points so far, is the pay-off for a plot thread that began all the way back in season two: Brienne swears fealty to Sansa. My feelings as Brienne rode in to the rescue were pretty epic, but they seem hollow compared to how overwhelming it was to see them exchange the same oath than Brienne had given to Sansa’s mother, but here, Brienne has been through hell to try and keep her promise to Catelyn Stark, and Sansa has just been through hell. I remember, when I first read the books, thinking “oh, Sansa’s perfect gentle knight *does* exist, and it’s Brienne! Why are they not teaming up??” And now they are, and the sense of joy, of satisfaction, of delight, that after all they have suffered, they have found each other. Will it last? Oh, I hope so; but I’m not optimisitic. I hope, at least, Brienne and Sansa, and Podrick, will get to have a little time together, and a little happiness.

The other big yay for me came with Indira Varma’s coup in Dorne. I’ve been a fan of Varma for years, and I love her performance in GoT, and it’s exciting to see that she’s going to (hopefully; it’s GoT, I shouldn’t assume) become a bigger player this year. I was, natually, appalled at the sudden death of Doran Martell, for he is played by the wonderful Alexander Siddig (could he PLEASE get a nice fantasy show where he doesn’t die a horrid death? Thank ye), but so cool to see, once again, the trust and understanding between the Sand Snakes and their mother, and their vicious, efficient grab for control of Dorne.

Also very much enjoyed Ser Davos and Jon’s allies in the Night Watch teaming up, and Davos just being so damned practical and straightforward. And the way the situation pushes him and Melisandre together. I hope we’ve some scenes with just the two of them coming up, as I’m terribly interested in how their relationship’s going to develop. And if Sansa and Brienne head for the Wall, and they all join up, I will be ridiculously happy, since one of the main problems with the books, and parts of the series for me, is that the characters and plot threads become more and more disparate, and never come back together in a satisfying way. So now we’re getting proper pay-offs with new combos of characters on the telly? I am SO HAPPY.

Lena Headey was amazing as the ship carrying her daughter came sailing to shore. Bloody hell. Heartbreaking watching as she crumbles with grief and desperate resignation. Tyrion and Varys are always awesome together. I’m not a huge Arya fan, but I do love Maisie Wiliams, even more so after her performance in last year’s Doctor Who, and it seems that’s lifted my enjoyment of her character in GoT. Dany’s bit was mostly meh, but I think a good demonstration of the kind of double-edge there was to so much female power in medieval societies – they way that women could often gain power, and wield it for themselves, and their goals, but it was derived from their status in relation to men. (Part of why I think the Dorne stuff has the potential to be fascinating is that it has absolute primogeniture; the means used by Ellaria Dorne and her bastard daughters are rather different to how Cersei, Margaery, and Dany all wield their political power.)

The last scene, once I stopped pointing accusingly at it because it’s the same thing they did in Act I of the Inqusitor storyline in Star Wars The Old Republic, and remembered actually, that’s a pretty common fairytale motif and GRRM and/or GoT writers probably weren’t cribbing plot ideas from MMORPGs…anyway, the last scene, oh, I so want to see next week’s just to see where it’s going with Melisandre: is her faith truly shattered? Can she go on?  Will she find meaning elsewhere, or will there be something in the embers that lets her faith reignite? QUESTIONS. Questions I care about the answers to, yay!

All in all, an excellent start to the new season. And I am still V OPTIMISTIC that somehow Sansa, Margaery, and Dany will all come out of this ALL RIGHT. Yes. Ahem.


Bye bye, Blake


I was terribly to learn last night that Gareth Thomas, most famous for playing Blake in Blake’s 7, has passed away. His work has given me so much joy over the years, not just Blake’s 7 but really anything I saw him in (Children of the Stones is particularly winning), for he was a marvellous, charismatic actor. And this past year especially B7 has been a joy as I’ve been rewatching it for the Down and Safe podcast, and appreciated his performance anew.

I met him once, a few years ago now, and he was lovely. Kind, generous with his time, and terribly funny and interesting.

My condolences to all who knew him.


Everything I Love About the Star Wars Rogue One Trailer

Because GOODNESS, I would never have guessed I’d be so excited! And I love Star Wars, and Force Awakens was amazingsauce, and yet I was still so “hrrrrm” about the anthology movies, until the teaser trailer was released on Friday. And it was so good. And here is why; all the whys, for me, it was great:


Jyn! Omg, tis a woman! I know it’s a low barrier, but heh, women still don’t get half the roles in film never mind half the starring roles, so it was pretty awesome to see another Star Wars movie with a woman in the centre seat. (Sadly, the trailer suggests only one female supporting role, and many male ones, which is rubbish.) Also the actor playing her, Felicity Jones, is older than me. Which shouldn’t be a tricky barrier, but, again, starring roles for women over thirty? Not nearly as many as there should be.


Yavin IV!! Okay, so one the one hand, exciting because this is the New Hope rebel base but, um, I was excited because in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I have a house on Yavin IV. Well, a temple. And the walls? Look just like those walls you see here, to the left of the pic. Just like where I put lovely pot plants and sofas!

Shusht, it delighted me.


“Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”

Mon Mothma! Mon Mothma! This is when I got really yay. There aren’t exactly a lot of non-Leia roles for women in the original trilogy, but the coolest one is easily Mon Mothma, the leader of the rebellion.

And, look, the Bechdel-Wallace test isn’t a test for feminism; it’s like the lowest possible barrier for a piece of media to jump over for women’s representation, and the horrid joke is most can’t even manage that. So while, as a rule, I don’t really care if any particular film passes it or not, I do yay a bit at seeing it passed in the trailer; and the teaser trailer at that. Tis a rare sight indeed.


Oh, yeah, this bit where Jyn is taking down a squad of Stormtroopers. I think  I may have clapped, for it was pretty amazing. I cannot WAIT to see the whole scene properly.


A Star Destroyer! Yeah, I get a little whoosh of excitement seeing them. Some people believe the coolest ship in Star Wars is the Millennium Falcon. These people are wrong.

And what is cooler than a Star Destroyer?


A fleet of Star Destroyers! Orbiting a Death Star!


Look at them! With their X-Wing combat suits and smuggler-y outfits and hiding out in a forest garb! YOU LOOK LIKE STAR WARS. (More background women though, please.)


An evil cloak! Cloaks are awesome obv, but evil cloaks are best.


Yes. This is a confrontation that can only end AWESOMELY. And then it did. Space swords for the win!


But what’s better than a cloak of evil? A cloak of evil SWISHING, against a background of fiery destruction.


Imperial Honor Guard! These guys are insanely expensive to buy in The Old Republic (Yes, you can buy them, and then have them guard your Yavin IV temple.) That is because they are the coolest of all the Empire’s troops. I assume this clip means some Sith type action or Emperor appearance.


And then, just to hammer in the sheer shiny goodness, they hit your eyes with the loveliness of an AT-AT attack, in a jungle. And it looks so, so good. And explodey. Oh, AT-ATs, you are the Star Destroyers of the ground.


And the trailer ends with a shot of Jyn in an Imperial uniform. Rebelling against the rebellion, or just a really cool shot?

So, yes, very very happy about the new trailer and new movie.

Eastercon 2016 Con Report

A timely con report! Well, almost timely. Eastercon, aka Mancunicon, took place pretty early this year, since it takes place (clue in the name) over the Easter weekend. Also, (more name clues) it was in Manchester aka NORTHERER THAN LONDON, YAY. So my travel time from home was delightfully modest.Also, Manchester is a little bit good wtih its multiple connecting railway stations (yes, I know nothing about Manchester, shusht, it’s all new to me) so it meant that although the con hotel was sold out well before I signed up, it was still a very easy trip to the hotel, despite me staying some distance away.

This was the *checking website* 67th British National Science Fiction Convention. And my…fifth? Maybe? I’m not sure. I go intermittently, mostly when they have them more towards the middle of the country. And this was the first Eastercon where I volunteered for programming. Which was a bit scary, but mostly lovely. (In my head, Eastercon is all Proper Sci-Fi, and I am Doctor Who Sci-Fi, which is silly, for many, many reasons, including my brain deciding on a bizarre and arbitrary hierarchy of science fiction, and it deciding I didn’t get to be in sections where I’ve read and enjoyed and have opinions on stuff. HOW RUDE, BRAIN.)

Anyway, in order not to ramble on incessenantly about things like how I discovered I quite liked Stella Cider, it is almost the same colour as Irn Bru, did you know that? I shall conreport in the handy form of the unordered list. Voila:

  • The programming overall was pretty great stuff. I think I maybe got bored twice, and I’m sure one at least one of those occasions it was me not having had enough coffee and sod all to do with the panel. Stuff that I saw that I give a double thumps up to: Revealing History, Revealing Now – history in fantasy! Lovely people being RIGHT AND PROPER about history! Sometimes people say things about history that make me a little stressed (often starting sentences with “women never…”) and there was none of that here and lots of being excellent and knowledgeable and such; Whose Line Is It Anyway?  – I bought someone’s book cause it turned out they were V AMUSING at improv, which is obv how one should decide how to buy books; A Feminist Fantasy Canon  – audience member mentiond Naomi Mitchision; I cheered, on the inside, I am an introvert, dammit; Balancing The Creative Life – this mostly enabled a lot of my dubious procrastination choices WHATEV, that is surely a good thign, shusht; Public Engagement With Science – I’m not sure if that’s the right name, I can’t find it in my programme book, anyway, bunch of scientist talking and it was quite great. I love scientists getting annoyed about stuff, or disagreeing quite voraciously. It always feels like it’s IMPORTANT, to me anyway. I blame Star Trek.
  • There were at least half a dozen things I didn’t get to go to cause they clashed. Boo.
  • I left quite wanting to be an amateur quantum physcisict, thanks to Alex Lamb. (Who suggests reading loads of popular science books to get comfy with the concepts *then* worry about the maths; and if you can write two pages of code you’re pretty much there anyway….which I am totally prepared to take a leap of faith on and assume, yes, I too can understand quantum physics).  I have started on this EXCITING JOURNEY of SCIENCE with Quantum Physics FOR THE PERPLEXED. I totally bought it for the, um, scientific rigour, not cause the name made me lol. Anyway, the stuff it starts with is about the last stuff I remember doing at school (the double-slit experiment and how handy BUCKMINSTERFULLERENE (great name, or greatest name?) is), so I seem to have hit the right level. Soooooon, I will know all the mysteries of the universe!
  • There was a podcast panel that was perfectly lovely but also made me try to hide in my chair. Because the panellists were talking about what makes a great podcast and they all had clips of said podcasts and one of them brought a clip of Verity! and I felt both delighted and omg.
  • I feel like there should be more tea parties at cons. Strange Horizons had a tea party and it is a very excellent mag, made only MORE EXCELLENT by the fact they decided tea and biscuits for all! was a smashing convention plan.
  • I only managed to catch one of the GoH interviews, and that was Sarah Pinborough’s which was smashing stuff. Charming and funny, and I’ve read her fairytale books, but the interview made me want to go find more things she’d written what I’d like.
  • Awesome that Aliette de Bodard won the BSFA Awards for her novel and short story – I love her writing like pie; and if you read my post yesterday, you’ll know she’s probably my very favourite short story writer currently writing.
  • Book loot! The Tor novellas were freebies, ra! And I very much recommend this range. I’m on my fourth one now, and haven’t been disappointed yet (though none has yet managed to top my first foray, which was Paul Cornell’s Witches of Lychford). The Frank Herberts I already own, but these were in So Much Better condition than my copies, so yay:


Also, the very final activity at the con for me (and, frankly, what I now think should become a Final Thing At The Con tradition) was my first ever game of Dungeons and Dragons. It was pretty great.

Women Writers Who Inspire Me

There are several things on the Twitters today that are making me ARGH, but this is one of the less rage-inducing ones, and more eye-rolly, so I can deal. Anyway, this is the story, and with context, you see why I’m more eyerolls than raging even though I did maayybe yell “NELLIE BLY” at the screen. I mean, maybe he really doesn’t rate her, which, fair enough,  but I feel not rating Nellie Bly is in itself still worthy of an eyeroll. Or maybe no-one was still talking about her when he was a young man, she is quite a bit older than him. Then I read this quote from him: women writers “aren’t interested in ‘uneducated’ or ‘anti-social’ types.” Which is self-evidently a ridiculous thing to say in the way all sentences that begin with words that mean “all women think x” are, and I also yelled Nellie Bly again. (One of her most famous works in the undercover stuff she did in mental hospitals of the time, as a patient. In the 19th century.)

Peggy Hull? Dorothy Thompson? They were both war reporters, meaning the World Wars. I feel obligated to talk about journalists I admire since he’s a journalist even though the question referred to any writers generally. Those are names I recall offhand – I know there’re plenty more. And just, ugh, it’s bleh what he said, but many people are turning it into a positive by using it as a starting point to talk about the women writers who inspire them. Which is smashing. And I shall do the same, but I think I’ve written a post a bit like this before, so this time, it shall be an EXCITING GAME. Well, an exciting game for me, less so for you, lovely reader, though do feel free to join in. Anyway, the challenge will be this, I have ten minutes to write down as many women writers as I can who’ve inspired me in some way. I’m not allowed to look at my bookshelves or the Internet.  Also I have to write a snippet of commentary for extra, um, points. Yes.

Off we go:

Naomi Mitchsion – I wrote a whole essay about how she is great. SHE IS GREAT. Also, Scottish.

Hilary Mantel – Greatest living British novelist, probably.

Susanna Clarke – Clarke is totally amazing, and I wonder a bit if I don’t think she’s better than Mantel cause genre and maybe I have some unrecognised bias? This is clearly the time to be thinking about this.

Jane Austen – lolarious, and delightful and I keep Mansfield Park unread cause I don’t like the idea of No More Austen.

Mary Shelley – Pioneering SF, yay! It is ridic how much we can trace back to her ideas.

Margaret Cavandish – I think her Blazing World is the earliest prose fiction I’ve read. More pioneering SF!

Le Guin – Obv. Introduced me to a bewildering array of perspectives and ideas.

Butler – Same as above, but could feel closer and more immediate.

Aliette de Bodard- my favourite living SFF short story writer. Also, many spaceships.

Lois McMaster Bujold – Why are ALL the space novels not about Cordelia?? (Yes, I know, fans of Miles, I know, they’re great, but still, Cordelia.)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman – I had yellow wallpaper in my bedroom as a child, just to give *that* story ADDED JOY.

George Eliot – Ah, small towns and how little they change in 150 years.

Christina Rossetti – I know a poem! A whole poem not in Scots, and it is hers.

Elizabeth Bear – I’m still reading that trilogy with the moons being the heirs still alive and I’m going so slow because I don’t want it to end.

J. K. Rowling – SHUSHT. Those first three books, do you remember? And the week Goblin of Fire came out. It was pretty magic.

Enid Blyton – I think she instilled a lifelong love of small islands with secrets.

Jill Murphy -I love Rowling, but this was my first and most magical magic school.

Jen Williams – she writes the fantasy of my heart.

N. K. Jemisin – I’m reading the Fifth Season right now, I mean not this second, but right now. It is QUITE THE GOOD.

Naomi Novik – I was never too taken with the dragon ones, suspect cause I knew way too much re Napoleonic era and couldn’t gloss over stuff easily, but omg Uprooted? Ilu.

Margaret Atwood – made me angrier about things I should be angrier about.

bell hooks – makes me very aware of how much I don’t know or understand but that I should always keep trying. TWEE, but whatev.

Connie Willis – the writing is amaze (when it is not the Blitz, ahrrm), but she also made me totally okay with talking about daft things, for reasons.

Charlotte Bronte -NEVER EMILY.

C. L. Moore – first women SF writer pre-seventies that I really got stuck into.

Shirley Jackson – I don’t like horror, but I keep making exceptions so maybe I do really.

Diane Duane – ROMULANS.

Daphne du Maurier – I think I read Rebecca in four hours. QUICK FOR ME.

Katherine Addison – Hell yeah, cosy fantasy needs to be a subgenre.

Okay, I cheated a bit that was more like twelve minutes, STILL. Definitely not the worst list I’ve ever made.

Lost Season 2

Some time ago I finished watching season one of Lost, a mere decade behind the cutting edge of pop culture. Now, I’ve finished season two, ra, so at this rate, it will only be a few months before I’ll merely be four years out of date, hurrah!

Here be spoilers, for season two of Lost, oddly enough; and maybe a few for season three:

Continue reading

Hello, April!

Afternoon, readers!

I’m back home after a super lovely Eastercon, which will forever be etched into my memory as THE V FIRST TIME I PLAYED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS. That’s going to get a whole blog entry of its very own, just so I can keep all the embarrassing capslock of ridiculous glee to one space. (Playing Dungeons and Dragons has been on my bucket list forever. And, yes, it lived up to my only slightly OTT expectations.)

There’ll also be a con report at some point, but since I’ve been basically afk since I got back (away from this keyboard anyway, I work at a computer that doesn’t have all the lovely games on it) this is a nice, easy post to remind myself that yay, you can write on your blog and it’s not scary or anything, it’s lovely. Except this is also a little argh, since I’m going to share last week’s baking attempt with you. Attempt is the operative word there, for it was a smidgen of a disaster. The recipe said something like “leave lots of space between your dough balls” and my response was “hmmm, this baking tray could use more dough balls”. This, readers, was a MISTAKE. When a recipe tells you stuff needs space, IT NEEDS SPACE. So instead of a dozen or so delicious cookies, I ended up with one giant SuperCookie. It was, however, delicious. So some success! But also failure. ALAS.

On the bright side, I did have Easter decor, so can totally claim they were Easter cookies. If you too would like to construct a super cookie, or follow the actual recipe and get normal sized cookies, this is the one I followed. And even if you mess it up as much as I did, you still get yummy stuff that is most excellent with tea or coffee.

Also, twas Easter! Yes. My Mum gifted me a delicious Easter egg that was the sort of Easter egg I always thought Easter eggs should be. By which I mean the egg was delicous. It wasn’t cheap chocolate with some sweeties which made me sad when I was no longer a wee child but also not mature enough to think it wasn’t a brilliant idea to celebrate Easter with chocolate eggs (this time has still not come, clearly). It was magical egg shaped chocolate that had STUFF in the actual chocolate. Toffee, and banana! (Made by Choc-o-block, I think? Choc-a-blok? Something about chocks and blocks, anyway.)

Anyway, back to the word mines. Farewell!