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May 28th, 2010

Thrilling Hermione

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plant, Elskuligr

It’s been a while... For today, some Hermione goodness: I’ve seen the first story recced loads of times so if you’re a big Hermione fan, you probably know it already, but just in case here are reviews of two stories centred around Hermione: both from the point of view of a male character in love with / attracted to her, and both with a great plot and good characterization.

 

Dangerous, by BlacklotusCollapse )


The Heiress, by Heronmy WeasleyCollapse )

June 18th, 2009

 Just two little one-shots that deal with Slytherin and which happen to be great. Completely different styles and different stories, but both interesting in their own ways : these are not the stories you've read zillions of times already, these are truly original little pieces of writing. Definitely worth having a look.

Title: Anything But Slytherin
Author: IP82
Length: One-Shot
My opinion: Good
Genre: Alternate Universe / mildly disturbing
Rating: Restricted
Pairings: None
Spoilers: it’s mostly just based on the first book

 Author’s Summary: How could have Harry's sorting ceremony looked like if the first war against Voldemort went down a bit differently. Dark and disturbing.

More detailed summary: A very dark version of the sorting ceremony in a war-obsessed society, or giving a whole new meaning to the phrase “anything but Slytherin.”

Critique: To be honest, the style is not very good, but the idea is genuinely brilliant and the way the narrative is handled, with a very effective building up of tension, is quite good. Not a work of art, but definitely worth a read.

Where to find it: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4269983/1/Anything_but_Slytherin


Title: Grown Ups
Author: Mawaridi
Length: One-Shot
My opinion: Good
Genre: Romance ? A dash of teenage angst liberally sprinkled with humour? Or simply taking the unlikeliest of pairings and making it perfect.
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Harry / Millicent
Spoilers: Up to Order of the Phoenix

Author’s Summary: Growing up is lonely. So is losing someone you love. Two unlikely people find they have more in common than they realised.

More detailed summary: No real need for it really.

 Critique: I love this story. The characterisation of Millicent is pretty good, and the “love encounter” is treated with this perfect mix of utter non-fluffiness and yet great sensibility, it’s brillant.

 Where to find it: http://mawaridi.livejournal.com/109842.html




February 25th, 2009

Tea with Voldy

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plant, Elskuligr

Today I have recs for two very original fics that have fairly little in common except the way they characterise Voldemort is fairly interesting, hence the choice of my subject title.

 

Refraction, by MetisketCollapse )

 


 

Prince of the Dark Kingdom, by Mizuni-SamaCollapse )

January 5th, 2009

Fun Fics

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plant, Elskuligr

 And now for some humour:


Severus Snape and His Letters From the Edge, by Sylvie MoonbeamCollapse )

 

The Basement, by Marz1Collapse )

November 22nd, 2008

Fanfic reviews

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plant, Elskuligr

Well, it had been a while so here are two new reviews for Harry Potter fanfics. They're both novel-length, but otherwise quite different.

If you enjoy action / adventure and don't mind a bit of slash, have a look at:
The Shadow of His Wings, by MirabellaCollapse )

If you have a craving for a good time-travel story, try: 

Backward with Purpose by EllaCollapse )

 

 

 

 

October 13th, 2008

Sad but true...

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Source: XKCD.COM, A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language

September 8th, 2008

Poetry

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Trying to write a PhD thesis and being in more or less constant self-doubt tend to be synonymous, I'm afraid, not least when the said thesis deals with something as elusive as the style of ancient poetry (Old English in my case).

It is strangely comforting to have one's doubts confirmed and somehow gently mocked by a witty quote, which is what happened to me today.

I share the quote with you because I think it's thought-provoking and because I'm sure that
fpb  in particular will have much to say about it, given his opinions on the matter differ quite dramatically from Stoppard's if I'm not mistaken.

Poetical feelings are a peril to scholarship. There are always poetical people ready to protest that a corrupt line is exquisite. Exquisite to whom? The Romans were foreigners writing for foreigners two milleniums ago; and for people whose gods we find quaint, whose savagery we abominate, whose private habits we don’t like to talk about, but whose idea of what is exquisite is, we flatter ourselves, mysteriously identical with ours.

(Tom Stoppard, The Invention of Love)

July 18th, 2008

It's been a while since I last wrote any review, and these days I'm in the mood for darkness...
Both stories have much in common: mood, pairing, style, characterisation, etc.
Neither of them is hugely famous, but they're still relatively well-known so I'm afraid I can't claim I've found hidden gems, but never mind!
Incidentally, the second one inspired me for my fic Better Than Expected, even though the plot is completely different. It certainly gave me a taste for depressing stories showing Harry from Draco's point of view.



Dark Side of Light (Maya)Collapse )
Author: Maya
Status: COMPLETE
Length: Very long one-shot (it’s not chaptered, but it’s really quite long)
My opinion: Good
Genre: dark slash
Rating: R (sexual and violent contents)
Pairings: H/D
Spoilers: I guess it was written after Goblet of Fire, but it’s set after the war.
 
Author’s Summary: Maya's attempt at dialogue-only. Post-war, Draco-in-Azkaban, very dark, may be bad for your mental health.
 
Critique:
Let’s face it, I love pretty much everything written by Maya. This is one of her earlier works and not necessarily the most ambitious, so if I had to choose which of her fics is the very best, this wouldn’t be it (it would be Drop Dead Gorgeous!). That being said, it is a very good dark short-story. The plot is quite simple. The war is over, Draco is in Azkaban for his crimes and Harry is desperately lonely because pretty much all the people he cared for are dead. He comes to visit Draco several times: out of curiosity, boredom, desperation perhaps: his motivations are not all that clear at first, but we get a better sense of the situation gradually, when more information is revealed about both characters and their involvements in the war.
The fact that most of the story is made of dialogue between these two characters gives it the peculiar atmosphere of a minimalist play: two characters, one room and a lot of nasty things lurking in the background. The writing is not flawless: the handling of emotions in particular is much less subtle than in Maya’s later works. Still, its darkness is oddly compelling. The unstoppable movement from really bad to perhaps not quite so awful and then suddenly to unthinkable horror is rather enjoyable for those with an inclination for tragedy (in the broad sense of the word).
All in all, if you enjoy depressing dark stories and don’t mind slash, you will love it. If it’s not the case, you should probably stay well away from it, and from the other rec below as well.
 
 
Where to find it: Lasair and Maya’s old website, http://www.lasairandmaya.com/DSOL.html Maya has planned to take all her fics off the internet in the near future (autumn 2008) so it might not stay there forever, not to mention the site is moribund anyway.
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As Time Unfolds Us: A Memoir (Agnes Bean)Collapse )
Author: Agnes Bean
Status: COMPLETE
Length: 14 parts, all visible on the same very long web page.
My opinion: Very Good
Genre: dark slash
Rating: R (sexual and violent contents)
Pairings: H/D
Spoilers: Written after Half-Blood Prince
 
Summary: Basically, Snape and Draco Malfoy help Harry Potter escape from Voldemort and Malfoy ends up being a “guest” at the Order’s Headquarters. He has not turned to the side of light, but he has asked for asylum after fleeing from Voldemort. The author provides no summary, but the incipit is quite telling: “If you are reading this, you probably already know about me. You probably think this is a ploy to entice you with some heartbreaking sob story about all the bad things I went through, to make you realise that I‘m just ‘misunderstood’. It’s not.”
 
Critique:
This is the perfect follow-up from Half-Blood Prince, at least from my admittedly biased point of view. It shows much insight into the characters of Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy, and into where their loyalties lay (indeed, quite a few of the author’s guesses were confirmed by Deathly Hallows). In general, I like the character of Draco Malfoy, but nothing annoys me more than a story trying to pretend he just needs a hug to be nice and happy. The character described here has a part of darkness and is certainly not blameless, but he is not a monster either. You could say the story plays with the distant possibility of redemption before crushing it ruthlessly.
The choice of writing the story as an autobiography proves very successful. The narrator’s hindsight allows him to drop ominous statements here and there about the future, and his restraint let the feelings show without forcing them onto the reader. If there is one thing I’m not too fond of in that story, it’s the slashy passages: they’re not too too long, but they have more explicit details than I usually care to know about. Then again, it’s part of the attraction of the story that you can guess strong and varied emotions behind what could, on the surface, be mistaken as a mere sexual fling.
This story has much in common with the one above and will appeal to the same kind of people: if you love dark stories that leave you gutted, this is for you!
 
 
</div>

June 23rd, 2008

(no subject)

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plant, Elskuligr
This is an answer to a post by fpb  about abortion. I repost it here because it did not fit in one piece in the comments to fpb's post and because he deleted the first part as it did not meet his standards of scholarship.
fpb</lj> 's point is that there is a continuum between conception and adulthood and that full humanity comes at a rather late stage as a child only attains consciousness some time after birth so there is no sense in forbidding infanticide and authorising abortion. This is obviously a rather rough summary, if you want to read his more subtle point, read here.

Edit: I wanted an LJ cut to make this less ugly, but my computer won't obey me so...


First I would like to address once again what I think is a problem of method in the basis of your arguments, that is to say the way in which you tend to base your argumentation on universal statements.
I know I already mentioned that elsewhere, but I would like to do it again, this time with special reference to the body of your message.
“people like Singer are simply regarded as desperate maniacs”
As a matter of fact, I was taught Singer’s theories in philosophy when I was in secondary school and, of course, it does not mean we were actively encouraged to think like him because the whole point of philosophy is to look at authors’ writings critically, but the man was not presented as a raving maniac either. Actually, his ideas on specism left a powerful impression on me and I think he does raise valuable questions about the specificity of humanity.
“There is no legend of exposure that does not involve horror, guilt, and eventual ruin”
There are so many legends, it is rather incautious to make such a claim. I can at least think of one tale in which exposure occurs without any nasty consequence for the child, for the dad who abandoned the mother in the first place, nor for the mother’s father who decided that the child should be exposed. Obviously, the child is rescued and lives on, otherwise there would be no story, but nothing dreadful happens to those responsible for exposure, on the contrary (the tale is that of Thorstein Bull’s Leg, Þorsteins þáttur uxafóts).*
I think the point in these exposure stories, is not so much the fact that exposure is terrible although that’s certainly an element of it. I would rather suggest that it is used because it shows that no matter how drastic the precautions you take are, you can’t guard yourself against the power of a prophecy. And, in occasions where there is no prophecy, it is often a way to create an exceptional origin story for the hero, which sets him / her radically apart from ordinary people, in the same way that many heroes are orphans or unpromising children or, on the contrary, children of aristocrats or exceptional people. The abandoned children plot has the advantage of combining both: usually noble parents but a humble beginning because of their exposure.
 
I am being awfully long, and I apologise for this: I just wanted to call these points into question because I think they introduce important flaws in an argument which is otherwise interesting. I shall now move to the main point of your discussion, that is, does it make sense to consider that at one point a being is not yet human and can be destroyed without qualms and that at the very next moment it is a human being whose destruction would be murder?
 
First of all, I completely agree with the idea that humanity understood in its fullest sense is something which is only gained gradually and that there is a continuum between the conception of a cell and adulthood. I find this hard to deny.
At the same time continuity does not mean identity: in a rainbow, there is continuity from one colour to the next, both seeming somewhat blurred where they merge, yet the colours are different.
Now fixing a precise point after which the colour is orange and before which it is yellow is completely arbitrary.
Similarly, fixing such a limit for humanity is completely arbitrary. And yet, isn’t there a point where there is no human life, and one where there is?
I guess most people will agree (and here I’m afraid I’m going to succumb myself to the sin of sweeping generalisations; I shall try not to let it cloud my judgment too much) that refraining from having sex is not destroying a life, even if potentially that act could lead to the creation of life. Tertullian’s view that wasting sperm by masturbation is destroying potential future human beings is certainly not prevalent. The next step is the creation of a cell from an ovule and a spermatozoid. Is that the beginning of life? Obviously it is quite a big step, but is it THE definite step? On the one hand it is the creation of something which, although it lives in the body of another being has a different genetic makeup so I guess it has some independence. On the other hand its properties at this stage are about those of a bacteria. Admittedly, it has greater potential as far as humanity is concerned, but having sex also have greater potential for giving birth to a human being, yet not doing it is not destroying a life.
Basically this part of the argument all depends on whether you think that the creation of a cell from two cells constitutes the creation of a new life or not.
I would say it probably does. After all a bacteria is a life-form too. So this a life form with a potential for humanity, but which is not human yet.
Now I don’t think destroying the potential for the creation of a human being by refraining from having sex is murder.
Is the destroying of a life form which has a potential to develop from cell to human being murder?
This is an incredibly tricky question.
I would say it is not, but many people think otherwise so it would seem we have entered the blurred area where the two colours mingle.
To go back to your point about exposure: is killing a new born child murder? Many civilisations have done it. Even now, in some countries (Benin is one of them), children born prematurely are left to die because the medical means are not there to save them (and I do say ‘left to die’: nurses do not try to save them and fail but they see them, write on the register ‘born alive, non viable’ and throw the body away, which is a bit like exposure).
I know this sounds shocking because it goes against our ideas, but if you want to be thorough with the question of abortion, it is a point worth raising.
I think the fact many civilisations have accepted exposure as normal does not prove it is a good thing, but it does show that it might be close enough to the ‘blurred’ area for people to disagree on this point.
So it would seem to me that we are left with a blurred area between conception and the acquisition of a limited form of consciousness some time before or after the birth (after a few weeks or months, the beginnings of consciousness show in the eyes of a baby I think, and even earlier babies are said to perceive some things when they are still in the womb).
There are several ways of going about it. If you only look at it on principle, every position is possible. You could take it on the safe side and protect the potential child from the moment of conception.
You could decide that as long as a child has no consciousness it’s no more alive than a flower and that destroying it is fine.
Both positions and everything in between have been current in some societies at some point.
All are, I think, arbitrary.
If letting the cell develop into a child had no bad consequences on the mother, the child and potentially other people, I would say let’s be on the safe side and protect it from the first instant.
Now the right of a cell to develop its full potential has to be counterbalanced with the consequences of that decision.
Is it right to potentially bring ruin to a woman’s life just to be on the safe side?
I say potentially because of course in both cases we are dealing with the future which cannot be known. Not all unwanted pregnancies have tragic consequences, thankfully.
That being said, there is a strong risk and giving birth to a child is not a matter to be treated lightly.
As a consequence, I support the opinion that a compromise between those two rights, those of the mother and those of the potential child, should be reached.
According to me, a woman must be given enough time to realise the situation, take a decision and act on it.
On the other hand, a foetus that already moves, perceives some things and is reasonably healthy (I don’t want to go into eugenics but it seems to me carrying on with a pregnancy when the child is going to die a few months after it’s born is just cruel for all parties) should be granted the right to live.
 
The compromise is necessarily arbitrary, just like most legal decisions when it comes to matters of time. Should rape be punished with 20 years in jail or 19 or 21? That decision is arbitrary even if the decision it should be punished severely is not.
 
Therefore, some time between 10 and 25 weeks would seem reasonable to me, but the precise time is by necessity going to be arbitrary, and the decision is necessarily going to infringe both on the rights of women and on the rights of foetuses, though in varying proportions. As a consequence, it should be clear that the solution is not perfect, but it seems to me that no perfect solution exists, at least until we can find a foolproof, convenient contraceptive and ensure that all those who need it have access to it, which is far from being the case at present.
 
I apologise for the ridiculous length of this post, but the topic is rather serious and you seemed to demand your points to be addressed as fully as possible so that’s what I did.

* This point was contested by fpb as he apparently only meant to consider Greek and Roman legends, not those of other cultures. I don't think this affects the general argument all that much though so I did not emend this.

June 22nd, 2008

 Just a short note to let you know that the second chapter of my darkish Harry Potter fanfic is on Fictionalley now: http://www.fictionalley.org/authors/elskuligr/

I will probably edit it further in the future though. Any comment on how to improve it is welcome.
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