19 November 2009 @ 01:01 pm
No Place Like London  
Well, I did say as I'd be posting some of the old-building pictures I'd taken on my trips into the center of town next time I wanted to do a photodump, so here they all are tonight. If you happen to find old buildings boring, you don't know what you're missing and clearly I am a horrible geek when it comes to this stuff, but at least 'I'm interested in Victorian London' is the kind of geekery I can own up to in mixed company and not look totally ridiculous for it. Hell, it almost looks scholarly if I leave off the mad scientists.

It's kind of weird as the last time I formally studied the Victorians I was eight and doing the obligatory 'Victorian England' module in primary school, but the more I find out about Victorian London the more I find I want to know. Damn you, accuracy!

So, yeah. Photographs. These were taken on, I believe, three separate occasions over the summer, which just goes to show how very dilatory I have been about uploading them. Once was after dark - I don't have a lot of shots from that because I CAN'T SEE AND NOR CAN MY CAMERA WTF, and the ones I do have are kind of touristy, but I'm including them anyway because of the small fact that they've come out looking nice and I don't seem to have them up already. Odd, that. So, here they are as well just to provide a counterpoint to all the daytime shots of bits of London the average tourist never bothers with because unless you're a freak for old architecture like me they're a bit off the beaten track and not terribly interesting when you get there. I think Pall Mall is fascinating and awesome, but I wouldn't expect the people who came to see the adverts at Piccadilly Circus to agree with me.

There's a hole in the world like a great black pit... )

Cards on the table time: some of these, like the picture of Camden Locks, were taken by [ profile] rokesmith, as I didn't yet have my digital camera. They're the more washed-out looking ones amongst the bunch, as his phone camera isn't quite as good at compensating for light levels as my little point-and-click Kodak is. It may not always be the best of cameras, but it's certainly determined to make life simple for me, for which I thank it.

As for further expeditions into darkest Central London - I really need to go back to Seven Dials with my own camera - I guess it'll have to wait until there's slightly more daylight about (wtf November, seriously!), but I must say I'm still hopeful at getting a few more trips in. There's nothing quite like seeing a place with your own eyes, even if you do have what feels like nine thousand reference books on London a la Victoriane to be getting along with, some of which even have very shiny pictures. It gives a girl a better sense of scale, for a start.

Maybe I should ask for London in Old Maps for Christmas. I believe my father has a copy of that and I COVET IT.
Current Mood: i love this town!
Current Music: wrong - everything but the girl
12 August 2009 @ 04:57 pm
Why did nobody tell me this was awesome?  
I don't use this icon enough, which is a shame because it's an extremely pretty one and one of my especial favorites. I just keep forgetting it's there. Sigh.

Anyway. This post is made in my capacity as 'aspiring author' rather than Weiss Kreuz fanficcer or resident bringer of extremely TL;DR metarants about bad fan writing and/or Gaia Online. If anyone doesn't want to be bored to death as I go on about world-building and research materials and how there are these awesome sites I managed to get hold of with a little help from the knowledgeable, they may wish to look away now. I won't mind if you do.

Okay, anyone still here? Right then. One of the major aspects of the story I'm writing is Ireland. I know a decent amount about Irish history - not enough, but a tolerable amount - and about the same tolerable amount about the Irish in London. This is pretty good for a kick-off, but clearly not quite enough. Not when I know precisely nothing about Irish folklore and legends and I seem to remember Irish folklore and legends as being extremely interesting and pretty hardcore when they're not being misappropriated by fluffy Pagans.

So I took myself over to random_lounge on Journalfen, where clever people go to snark about things, and begged for some halp.

Hope this isn't too out-there, but does anybody know of any good books or websites on the subject of Celtic mythology and folklore? I'm trying to get hold of it for a story I'm in the process of researching, and I was wondering if anybody here could offer any pointers. Specifically I'm after information on Irish folk tales, heroes and myths - preferably not sanitized to make them kid-friendly - though more general overviews would be absolutely fine as well. I'm totally new at all this, and I don't even know where to start.

Any recommendations or hints on where to begin looking would be really appreciated.

After hesitating for a while over whether or not I dared speak up there - Journalfen communities intimidate me a lot, I never feel quite smart or witty enough to actually start posts there - I posted that begging letter yesterday, and since then I've got a good few responses. It's no epic rec post, admittedly, but this is actually pretty fortunate as I have a ton of history books to read as well... when they get here from Amazon, anyway.

I got linked to a couple of websites that I already love, and I'm just going to leave these links here in case anything happens to my bookmarks...

I've already read a couple of Irish folktales and I seriously love them already. The Irish version of The Gingerbread Man is very similar to the version that's better-known over here, it just seems to involve a cake rather than anything man-shaped, but it was the Irish take on the Cinderella story that I really flipped over. It's called Fair, Brown and Trembling and you need to read it. It is one of the most amazing fairy tales I have ever read - not least of which because it's about an awesome prince who has swordfights and gunfights and hangs onto fleeing horses by the riders' legs, not just a handsome one who dances at girls and moons over shoes. Now that's the kind of guy you marry.

[ profile] quietladybirman: there's an Irish version of Cinderella where they see the girl at Mass rather than a ball and then there's a swordfight
[ profile] quietladybirman:and the girl gets swallowed by a whale and it is SO MUCH MORE EPIC than the classic version
[ profile] rokesmith: Swallowed by a whale?
[ profile] quietladybirman: seriously, that is so much cooler than 'she goes to a ball and loses a shoe'.
[ profile] quietladybirman: in this version she loses a shoe because she's riding off and the prince HANGS ONTO HER FOOT.
[ profile] quietladybirman: Ireland, I love you.
[ profile] rokesmith: they knew how to tell a story over there
[ profile] rokesmith: That's a very Irish attitude to have really. "You'll have to fight if you want to marry her." "Alright then, let's be having you."
[ profile] quietladybirman: I know, seriously. How much more AWESOME would the Disney Cinderella have been if they used that version?
[ profile] quietladybirman:Less padding, less mouse singing, just asskicking, horsechases and whale fights.
[ profile] quietladybirman: and the prince is BADASS, not some effete thing who dances at her.
[ profile] rokesmith: Especially given Prince Charming is by far the most pointless prince.
[ profile] rokesmith: All the other ones have to do at least some fighting. All his work is done by mice
[ profile] rokesmith: And then he has a gunfight with a flipping whale
[ profile] rokesmith: And when that story says 'gun', it blatantly means a matchlock pistol or something.
[ profile] quietladybirman: exactly!
[ profile] quietladybirman: HE HAS A GUNFIGHT WITH A WHALE.

I've got a dictionary of Celtic mythology on order from Amazon as well now, and there are a couple of other things I need to look into getting a hold of. I'm planning on going into town and looking for a copy of The Tain sometime this weekend: I'd like to take a look through that before I buy it for some reason, though I do intend to buy it. Not so sure about The Mabinogen yet as from all I've heard that was a Welsh legend and I don't know how relevant it would be, but on the other hand I'm half Welsh and I'm curious as to what it says. Besides, since I'm here...

I also discovered that a poem my father used to recite to us as kids because my brother liked it and which I still pretty much know off by heart was based on the story of Oengus Mac Og. Suddenly I feel a lot more reconciled to having it in my head and am almost considering going and looking it up again to refresh my memory about what happens after he hooks a berry to a thread and before the girl with apple-blossom in her hair shows up. It's a decent way to get back to grips with his story, after all.

There's only one problem with all this. My sudden interest in the books I'm using for research after favoriting quite a lot of classic sci-fi appears to have confused Amazon to the extent it's asking if I want to read Pax Britannia: Unnatural History. Oh, God.

Also, who sings in Gaelic aside from Enya? She's the only one I know of, dammit.
Current Mood: cool.
Current Music: triad: st. patrick/cĂș chulain/oisin - enya
16 July 2009 @ 04:43 am
Book (Part III)  
I'm gonna try and make this brief as I'm goddamn exhausted, but I'm annoyed and want to rant a bit. So, speaking as someone who's heavily researching an urban fantasy novel set in London in the late Victorian era, I am getting well and truly sick of seeing the world Steampunk thrown around by people who seem to have absolutely no idea what the word implies save a) the Victorians and b) AIRSHIPS, OMG, and all too often they don't seem so sure on the first part, either.

It's getting to the point I don't want to even use the term Steampunk about what I'm hoping to produce, it's been misappropriated so often. Besides, anyone who goes into this expecting AIRSHIPS, OMG is gonna be disappointed.

Today's post, of course, has been brought to you by those geniuses over at Gaia Online and their noted tendency to be unable to brain because they have the dumb. No surprises, they're about as good at understanding a design aesthetic as they are at just about everything else they put their hands to, namely Not Very. Steampunk, to the average Gaia user, appears to consist of some combination of the following:

  • Sky pirates
  • Airships and airship battles
  • Cogs on EVERYTHING, regardless of whether or not there's any bloody clockwork there
  • People wearing goggles
  • Displaced 21st-century girls whining about STUPID SEXIST MEN
  • Solid Victorian names like Caprice Boselli, Asha Thorne, Emerald Underhallow, Alchera Sinclair and Billie Kol
  • Ridiculously drab brown leather clothing
  • Sky pirates
  • The entire world being redecorated in shades of brown, gold, copper and black
  • People with eyepatches and waistcoats
  • Sky pirates

And I say, what a waste! Now, I don't claim to be an authority on all things alternahistorical, or indeed anything more than a wanky neophyte who thinks everyone else is Doing It Wrong. I just think that this is stupid.

Personally, I want to read books about people who are people, not people who are sky pirates first and foremost and actual human beings a very poor second and exist largely as an excuse to wank on about a flying boat. I want my flange-technology to be at least somewhat believably flangey and socially appropriate, thank you, even if the standard of believability is an H. G. Welles novel about the year 1980. Simply put, the tech is all very well but I have no desire for it to overwhelm everything else in the story. The clockwork flange-power shouldn't be the sole point of it. There needs to be an actual plot and characters with personalities who don't just serve as distracting set dressing before OMG AIRSHIP!

I do love clockwork flange-power - I wouldn't be trying to write these damn books if I didn't. I just like it best when it's used sparingly and well and the characters are no more prone to gushing over it than we are over AIRPLANES GO UP GUYS. They live in this world all the time, they should be used to this stuff. Unfortunately for my sanity, it very seldom is.

Worse, I'm just getting sick to the back bloody teeth of hearing idiots go on about how steampunk stuff is just because it involves brass, Victorian engineering, leather jerkins, goggles, or all four at once. I've seen Gaia users claim that an item that allows them to equip a welding set is steampunk seemingly just because it's a fucking welding set. Old-fashioned goggles are also steampunk just because they're old. Clockwork toys? They're like TOTALLY STEAMPUNK GAIZ because they have COGS DAMMIT. For fuck's sake. I know all the cool kids want to be one of them steampunks these days but seriously, the steampunk aesthetic is about more than wearing goggles, pointless cogs and the color brown!

Worse - and the thing that sent me ranting in the first place, because there's always a catalyst - I saw someone claim that an early automobile was 'very steampunk'. No, no it's not. I know it involves Victorian engineering, brass, goggles and leather jerkins but for God's sake so did constructing the RMS Teutonic and that was just an ocean liner. Cool though that car looks, it's not even remotely Steampunk. It's a fucking car.
Current Music: baker street - undercover
Current Mood: get off my lawn sky pirates
05 May 2009 @ 07:55 pm
For the record...  
... I'm going to try and write a novel.

See, I've had this original idea and it feels damn good. It feels like it's going to work and be cool and fun and interesting and maybe even saleable, if I do it right, though God knows how I'm going to convince an agent of that. In my head it's got excitement and adventure and foul and bloody murders and things going boom and everything short of the proverbial 1,000 elephants. I love it and it scares me and I think I am probably not good enough a writer to pull it off but I want to do this because it's my book, dammit, nobody else gets to play with it.

Also, apparently it's set in London and to that end [ profile] rokesmith and I walked around central London for the best part of five bastard hours taking pictures of buildings. Or rather he took pictures of buildings while I said 'OOH OOH I WANT THAT ONE' every 500 yards. The end result was twenty seconds of video of a small London... well, road interchange is about the best word for it, just under fifty near-identical images of turn-of-the-century brickwork (except for the ones which were of the inside of a postage-stamp-sized London pub), sore feet and the sure knowledge that if it hadn't been for crappy convenience-store milkshakes we'd probably still be out there.

But you can't tell me this big old thing here (now apparently a Bench, whatever that is, but It's Always A Warehouse To Me) isn't cool because if you do I won't listen, I REJECT YOUR REALITY AND SUBSTITUTE MY OWN, that kind of thing.

So yeah, if I seem a little (or even a lot) quiet on the fanfic front lately, it's not just because I'm tired and uninspired and doing thinky voluntary job intern-who-writes-newsblogs type things and also having a real bitch of a time prising Ken out of that damn hole I put him down to see how he'd react and he now seems to have decided to hide from me in, because it's now having to fight for space with my would-be book. Fanfic is great, it's got Ken in, it's fun and squishy and it's like candy for my brain (with razor blades in) but... well, I have this whole sort of book thing in my head as well and I promise you it's fucking fantastic.

I have a million ideas for proper entries, but they'll have to wait because I got two hours' sleep and then went to work and I'm dead.
Current Music: the sound of silence
Current Mood: me = ded