Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2015 Edition

Usually everyone here at LGG&F gets along really well. We bond over our mutual love of justice and all things geek! But once in a while, chaos comes to our serene nerd community. When all of the good we try to do is abandoned and our writer’s room deteriorates into madness…

Actual depection of our writers room gif via imgarcade

Actual depiction of our writer’s room.
(gif via imgarcade)

I am, of course, speaking about Valentine’s Day, that heinous holiday that sends us all into a shipping frenzy as our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty as Empress of LGG&F to present to you this year’s bloodstained list. So put on your shipping goggles and prepare yourself for the 2015 Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom!

via gillianeberry

(gif via gillianeberry)

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Magical Mondays: The Mystical in Middle-earth

I consider the magic that takes place in The Lord of the Rings to be very unique. In many of the current crop of fantasy stories, a human finds out that he or she has a special gift that is construed as magic. He or she uses this newly-found gift to solve some problem, and there is your story.

11534_origThe magic in The Lord of the Rings is interesting to me because, even if magic might be used for the occasional good intention, it actually causes more problems than it solves. Furthermore, none of the beings performing magic are human, or even mortal.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Mary: The Patriarchal Feminine

Sassoferrato_-_Jungfrun_i_bönAs a Catholic woman, the Catholic Church has told me that the person I should look to and emulate as an example of my gender is Mary, the Mother of God. I always had a problem relating to Mary, however; this is perhaps heretical, but I used to feel like Mary didn’t do anything. She gave birth to Jesus, she has a few other scenes with the gospel, but that is mostly it. I also felt Mary has largely no personality. She passively and humbly accepts everything God or Jesus does. Now, in the Catholic tradition Mary is considered sinless, so you might argue I couldn’t relate to Mary because of that. For example, in fiction, characters who have no flaws are pretty boring, right? But Jesus is also sinless and I could relate to him just fine. Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus; he feels sorrow over Judas’s betrayal; he yells at God and attempts to bargain with God; he gets angry and flips the tables of the money changers. But Mary is always just humble and serene. At least that is what I thought—but I was wrong.

This version of Mary as the passive submissive female to a male church, savior, or god is what feminist theologians call the patriarchal feminine. This is a female figure who is lifted up as the ideal woman for a patriarchal society. Mary’s acting the submissive passive female to a male God and Christ, or even her husband Joseph, sends the message that if women truly want to follow God, then they too must be submissive to men.

Of course this version of Mary lifted up by the patriarchy is not in any way accurate. Mary is actually a very empowered figure. However, Mary as the patriarchal feminine is what we find in both theology and in pop culture.

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Less than two weeks till The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premieres in theaters, so the time is as good as any to talk about this trailer. If I sound a little less than enthusiastic, it’s because I wasn’t the biggest fan of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The new filming technology was fine, it was just… well, it was boring. And the book was emphatically not boring. The film was so boring I actually fell asleep in the last ten minutes and only woke up when Thorin was thanking Bilbo for saving him from the Orcs.

Thing is, The Hobbit was just one book—a relatively short book, at that. There’s no real reason the adaptation has to be three movies long. But since it is, it would help if Peter Jackson decided to flesh out the Hobbit world with interesting things. In the first movie we got an extended look at Radagast the Brown and cameos from Galadriel and Saruman, who were not in the book at all. In this movie Jackson’s going to add a side plot with Tauriel, a Sylvan Elf. None of these things are inherently bad, but they’re not related to the main plot of the Hobbit at all, and as long as they come off as detours from the plot rather than additions to the plot, they’re always going to feel extraneous. Is it fun to see Saruman and Galadriel again? Yes, but unless they add to the plot I’d just as soon rewatch all three Lord of the Rings movies, thanks.

Still, I am excited about Tauriel. She’s not a canon character, but Lord of the Rings is notoriously bad at women, and adding another woman to an almost-womanless cast can only be a good thing. From a storytelling perspective, it shouldn’t be hard to fold her seamlessly into the narrative, as the gang is going to be stuck in Mirkwood for quite some time. Having said that, I hope that Tauriel’s entire plotline won’t revolve around Legolas and his possible feelings for her, as the trailer implies. It would be a shame to finally have a female character in the Hobbit-verse, only to have her defined by Legolas’s interest in her.

So in Desolation of Smaug, I would love to see more of King Thranduil and the Wood Elves, and we should, since we’re getting to that part of the book. Lee Pace brings amazing sass to this role, and I was beyond disappointed when he only got a couple minutes of screentime in the first movie. Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug is going to be incredible, and I look forward to the explosion of Cumberdragon art after the movie premieres. I would also, obviously, love to see that possible cameo by Stephen Colbert that he’s been hinting at for ages.

On that note, I’ll leave you with Stephen Colbert asking Peter Jackson the nerdiest Hobbit question of all time. (For those of you who don’t want to reread the book, this is an excellent way to brush up on your Mirkwood history before seeing the movie!)

Sexualized Saturdays: Holy Gender Roles

One of the things I’ve always loved about fantasy literature is that it provides an escape from the real world. When I’m comfortably ensconced in a Robin McKinley novel or re-reading the Wheel of Time series for the ninetieth time, I am not worried about real life things like job hunting or school loans. It’s a mini-vacation from the suckiness of meatspace, and so it’s all the more depressing when some of the crappiest things in real life—sexism, racism, entrenched heteronormativity—show up in my fantasy novels.

Me encountering unpleasant -isms in my fantasy novels.

Me encountering unpleasant -isms in my fantasy novels.

One of my biggest frustrations in this sense is that, because fantasy novels seem to have become synonymous with “medieval stuff but with magic”, women are constantly relegated to the tasks and roles that would have been theirs during the Middle Ages. There’s a lot of embroidery and marriage-drama, and the female characters who do defy the gender norms are not met with societal acceptance or approval. Unfortunately, in the case of a lot of fantasy novels, even the mythical deities seem to have been stuck into very traditional gender roles. Continue reading

The Fanfic Was Better: Is Fanfiction Making Writing More Difficult for Authors?

tumblr_muzljqG8bL1rua3qvo1_500“I can’t believe this is the direction they are taking this show. Seriously, I’ve read fanfiction better than this.”

“This pairing in the show makes no sense. I mean in fanfiction authors would write novel-length fic developing their characters’ relationships, but the actual show just randomly hooks them with no development. It makes no sense.”

“Wow, this fanfic is amazing. The studio should hire this author to write for the actual show. It would be ten times better then.”

Chances are you’ve heard people say things like this, or maybe you’ve even said them yourself. I know I have.

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Fanfiction Fridays: They Say of Elves

I’ve always felt really weird about Lord of the Rings fanfiction, because LotR characters seem like such pretty, untouchable alabaster figures and I found it hard to imagine any of them doing anything as mundane and gritty as Having The Sex. But here’s the thing. A dirty secret, if you will. I have always, deep down, ever since reading about Legolas and Gimli’s legendary, paradigm-bending friendship, shipped the two of them juuuuust a leetle.

legolas_and_gimliI never sought out fanfic about them, but, like, eventually I had to get rid of the weird pedestal I was putting LotR on and realize that it was possible for fanfic to both do justice to Tolkien’s characters and still involve slash ships. I mean, come on. Their bond was so profound (yeah, I went there, suck it Destiel) that Gimli was the only dwarf in the history of Middle Earth to be allowed to enter the Undying Lands. Because Legolas wouldn’t go without him. If this was Star Trek, we’d call them t’hy’la, but hell if I know the Quenya equivalent of that. Anyway. I still can’t read a LotR fic if it’s not written in very Tolkienesque language, but, heyo, shocker: there are plenty of them out there that are both plenty shippy and very well written.

They Say of Elves by brancher is one excellent example of this, and one of my favorites of the Legolas/Gimli fics I’ve found. It’s a short, tightly written fic set midway through the events of The Lord of the Rings. Gimli finds himself growing overfond of Legolas, but fears making any overtures, as elves are rumored to be capricious bedfellows, masters of yarinige, not interested in commitment—while dwarves mate for life. The tension builds exquisitely as the two continue traveling and Gimli internally laments that he is caught between a rock and a hard place: either he sleeps with Legolas and has one moment of happiness before the elf casts him aside, or he remains chaste forever. The dialogue is fresh and both the characters’ speech and Gimli’s inner monologue still carry that Tolkienesque spark I crave, while also satisfying my desire for romance between this wonderful pair.

Check out brancher’s fab story here.

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