AEL: The Mill on the Floss, ST:TOS, LoK Turf War pt 1, Fledgling, The Deeds of the Disturber

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot — *deep breath* I made a decent amount of notes about this one, but the red veil of rage drapes across my trembling form whenever I think about it, so we’ll see how much (and how coherently) I manage here.

Just like the diaries in the previous entry, I didn’t get through this entire book this time. I’m not sure if I’ll retire it or just stop reading earlier into the book (when it’s only aggravating and not fucking infuriating yet) next time. Because this is the most maddening book I’ve ever read, and all the more so because it’s absolutely brilliant at the same time.

And I think it’s supposed to infuriate. I think the entire point of the book is, Look at the utterly inhumane way women are treated in our society, yo. No particular solution is offered, but to a modern reader that just reinforces the fact that they weren’t far enough along yet for any solution to be proposed. Merely trying to draw attention to the problem (somewhat from a position of power, since she was working under a male pseudonym) was the best the author could do.

But I forget I’m supposed to be truncating still. Let me try to sum up these notes.

From the first, Bessy Tulliver is described as “amiable,” and for this, thanks to the language Eliot uses in speaking of her, you almost immediately come to read “unintelligent and docile.” It’s only one of many snarky moments that quietly point out, again, what the society of the time did to its women.

The tale of St. Ogg and his boat is wonderfully symbolic and foreshadowing. In fact there’s so much foreshadowing for the drowning at the end that it defeats the notion I sometimes have that Eliot changed her mind at the last minute about having a happy ending and decided to kill her main characters off instead. The happy ending would have fit better with literary tradition, with the type of story she seemed to be setting up, but the drowning fit perfectly with the themes and the message of the book.

Another thing all the river symbolism and foreshadowing does is remind me of The Casual Vacancy again, which I think is not at all inappropriate. Just another Mugglemarch here :D

Tom is a loathsome piece of festering shit from the moment we first meet him. There are few literary characters I can recall hating so much. But it isn’t as if I like Mr. and Mrs. Tulliver or any of the miscellaneous aunts and uncles much better. In fact, I was revolving in my head a plan to try to come up with some of those pithy humorous single-line summaries of books that people do, and the only one I actually thought of was, “Terrible family fucks up daughter’s life and then they all die.”

I think anyone that has any magic going on in their life must read the scene wherein Mr. Tulliver has Tom write his despicable vow in the family Bible and react with discomfort or even horror, because that shit is straight up an evil spell. Interestingly, the narration mentions paganism shortly thereafter. Magic is historically a very feminine thing, and it’s Maggie that senses the wicked and dreadfully binding nature of what her father and Tom have done.

Stephen Guest is the quintessential Nice Guy, and I abominate him almost as much as I do Tom. Holy fuck, how I hate the ending of this book. I was sick with anger and despair when I got to the part where Stephen takes a huge shit all over Maggie’s morals and prospects and then dares to make generalizations about women based on her insistence on not being a heartless traitor like he is; but then when I got to the part where Tom proves himself the world’s biggest asshole, I was just done. I’ve read the ending before, but it’s possible I never will again.

Star Trek: The Original Series — I’ve been vaguely interested in watching this for a while, out of curiosity and because HoH Duo is such a big fan, and my interest recently increased exponentially when I realized that if I watched it I could then read plaidshirtjimkirk’s Kirk & Spock fics. And I discovered that it’s free to watch with Amazon Prime, and bam! Star Trek time!

It’s proven interesting not only because I’m partaking of a story and getting to know a world and its characters, but experiencing a cultural phenomenon. I’d read more about the Mandela Effect regarding Kirk than I’d ever actually heard about Kirk, but just from those articles about him I understood what the common misconceptions about his character are — and it’s been fun to see just how wrong they really are.

Spock is absolutely my favorite character, and his eyebrow is perhaps my second favorite. He’s so freaking adorable and funny. And I love his banter with Bones and constant flirtation with Jim. Also the way he pronounces words ending in (or sometimes just containing the syllable) “or.”

I’ve been throwing a lot of my random thoughts at psjk as I’ve watched, but we’ll see what else I have left. First off, it’s interesting to me how the Captain’s Logs are often narrated in present tense at moments when Kirk is literally incapable of making them. This turns them into somewhat gimmicky voiceover narration instead of part of the story, and that’s… actually kinda funny.

Scotty is often shown standing with his back to his station not doing anything — at least in his earlier episodes — and that’s pretty funny too.

The funniest of all, though, is the special effects XD XD XD There have been times (The Changeling ROFLWAFFLES) when I’ve been breathless and weeping with laughter. And a good story is a good story, so my enjoyment is not hampered by this… in fact, it’s kinda like Skyrim bugs: a totally unintentional additional factor of enjoyment.

Chekov’s hair is literally the WORST.

Uhura is adorable and I love her, but, DAY-UM, must it ever suck to be a woman in this world. Even if you don’t consistently fail at your supposed job or ever doing anything useful, your feminine weakness and pathetic womanly emotions are sure to betray you sooner or later. Even Uhura, written better than any other woman in the series, is the first to scream or cry or collapse in the face of danger or damage. Everyone else is downright painful and embarrassing to watch.

Besides the absolutely dreadful way women are written, my biggest complaint about this series is how frequently it trots out yet another advanced alien with the ability to alter reality. And it’s like, oh, this one’s a bratty child; oh, these ones are extreme pacifists; oh, this one’s a Greek god… JUST STOP WITH THIS PLOT DEVICE IT IS VERY TIRESOME.

I’m about halfway through season 2 at this point, and shipping (obviously) Kirk & Spock and Uhura & Chapel. Looking forward to more and more and movies and more. Yay for Amazon Prime!

Legend of Korra – Turf War Part 1 — So obviously I was happy about this. In fact I cried and cried. I was so moved by and engaged in Korra and Asami’s developing relationship, the reactions of people around them to it, the revelation that Kya likes the ladies, and the discussion that other Avatars have been queer (a foregone conclusion lovely to have canonically confirmed) that I was largely blinded to the rest of the story. I don’t honestly know whether the relationship stuff actually completely overshadowed whatever else was going on, but that was the impression I got. When the second volume comes out and I reread this first one, I may be able to form a more coherent and less starry-eyed impression.

Fledgling by Octavia Butler — Being so far behind on these AEL’s has taught me that I absolutely must make notes on these things as I experience thems. I’m improving on that score, and the stuff piled and piling up at the end of my list has plenty of notes… but a lot of these earlier items have nothing, and I’m cursing myself for it. So let’s see what I can remember about this book I read, like, a million years ago and didn’t bother to jot down one single thought about as I did so.

Remember when I complained about head-trauma amnesia being a cheap and stupid way to manufacture tension and withhold story elements in Garment of Shadows? I did not feel that way about this book. This is undoubtedly due to a number of factors (among them the fact that nobody in this book had previously specifically made fun of that very plot device), but in any case I was breathlessly caught up in Shori’s struggle for information and the mystery of past events.

As is often the case, the first-person narrator’s characterization is not very strong, but in this particular context (thanks to the amnesia), it’s more forgivable than usual. But the other, surrounding characters (specifically Shori’s symbionts) were petty clear and interesting to read about.

I also adored the world setup and all the details of the Ina. To my understanding, Ms. Butler had a tendency to create series of books without announcing her intention to do so at the time ofthe first book’s release, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d intended to write more in this setting, or would eventually have done so if she’d lived. And I tell you what, I long for more in this setting. The moment I finished this book, I went looking for fanfiction, but found almost none. And I am seriously tempted to write some myself, because I just love the potential of this interesting setup so much.

Another thing that interested me about this one is its numerous minor, superficial points of similarity to Twilight. As they continued to pile up, I started to think Stephenie Meyer must have ripped off Octavia Butler… only then I found the two books were released in the same year. Is there something about the Pacific Northwest that shifts authors’ thoughts toward vampires?

Anyway I loved this book, and it’s heartbreaking that Ms. Butler died before she could expand on the world it introduced.

The Deeds of the Disturber by Elizabeth Peters — Though this book (like all the rest in the series) is a lot of fun, it’s also one of the most frustrating. The first time through, you realize sooner or later that all the stuff going on with the kids is more than just Ramses being Ramses; every subsequent time through, you can see all the little signs all along, and it’s maddening to watch that embryonic demon Percy inflicting so much hell on poor Ramses — and Amelia unwittingly backing him!

I have a few Amelia Peabody fanfiction ideas I’ve been mulling over for years now, and one of them is about Violet running into Ramses after Percy’s death. It’ll be called Nasty, Dead, and it’ll be great. As soon as I figure out exactly what will happen in it and decide how I want to characterize the adult Violet.

But back to childhood and the Deeds therein. Ramses’ love for his parents may not actually be any more touching than any other child character’s love for its parents, but he expresses it so much more often and articulately that I am more touched. I’m also a bit perplexed, though, especially at his affection for his mother and especially after the events with his cousins mentioned above.

Favorite moment in this installment: it’s hard to choose from among the following:

“Up the O’Connells!” “And the Peabodys!”

“Good evening, Mama. Good evening, Papa.”

“Fortunately I brought along a little nitroglycerin.”

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