In last week’s Gloomscapes post, I was initially going to add one more picture of a broken window–the one I am posting now. But as I was looking at it, an idea started forming in my head and I concluded that not only did it deserve its own post, it deserved its own piece of fiction.
This is not meant to be a regular thing, I just got inspired. Enjoy! (Or not, as I say.)
Nobody knew how Zara got that stone.
The girls were kept in what used to be a convent. An imposing, forbidding stone building, newly installed security cameras in each corner. Thick walls, windows high and narrow, with bars on them. Little sunlight got through; the residential wing faced north. Inside, all the rooms were identical. Floors of dark hardwood, walls painted slate grey. A bed in each corner, metal-framed, with a thin mattress and an old worn-out blanket. No pillows. One single lightbulb hung from the ceiling. Heavy black doors were locked every night at nine o’clock by the guard on duty, unlocked again at six in the morning. The girls wore long grey dresses, starched white blouses with high collars and black shoes. The oldest ones were no more than sixteen years old. Those were the only ones who still remembered books, music, films and TV, videos, photographs. Now, all they were allowed to carry around was the Party Manifesto pamphlets. As if they didn’t know it by heart already, as if it hadn’t been engraved into their minds. To build and protect our homeland, be prepared. Always Prepared! Yet they carried it, every single one of them, dog-eared, covered with greasy fingerprints and doodles, here and there quotes and passages highlighted in neon colours, from the time before even neon highlighters were banned. Desperate attempts to mark their own individuality.
Afterwards, Zara’s roommates swore they didn’t notice anything unusual. Zara was a quiet girl who kept to herself. It seemed she had wandered off behind the gardener’s shed, the only place where such stones could be found, during the afternoon break, when even the strictest of teachers couldn’t deny themselves the indulgence of little rest. She hid the stone in her sock, at the back of her calf, no doubt thankful this time for the long skirt. She kept it there throughout the afternoon activities and dinner, until it was time to return to the rooms. Half an hour after the lights went out, she slipped out of her bed, clutching the stone in her hand, tiptoed to the window and with all the force she could gather in her sixteen-year-old body, smashed the glass.
Disclaimer: the above text is entirely fictional. The photographed building is not a former convent and no girls are kept there. The writing is merely a work of my imagination and was inspired by the picture of the broken window.
For this Valentine’s Day, let me talk about about my favourite fictional couples (or, as is the fandom term these days “ships”).
Originally I was planning to post just one photo for Valentine’s–a shot of two figures from my favourite series with a simple card in the background–but a comment I made on this Goodreads Facebook post inspired me to expand it a bit more. At least this gives me an opportunity to blog about my favourite things.
The Couple That Gives Me All the Feels
Jon Snow and Ygritte (Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire). Equally good in books and in TV show. And the only love story that can truly melt my cold, cynical heart.
The series has a lot of memorable quotes, such as All Men Must Die (which inspired my blog’s tagline) and Winter is Coming and–You know nothing, Jon Snow. She’s the one with the common sense, he’s the one with the formal education. She teaches him about the Wildling ways, he shows her castles.
If I could show her Winterfell… give her a flower from the glass gardens, feast her in the Great Hall and show her the stone kings on their thrones. We could bathe in the hot pools and love beneath the heart tree while the old gods watched over us.
~A Storm of Swords
It was not meant to be, but I like to think there is an alternate universe where they stayed in that cave. And there is–Kit Harington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.
Here’s the photo that I mentioned earlier:
Not Your Typical Couple
Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist from The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (the Millennium series). But not together as in together.
Lisbeth is one my most favourite fictional characters ever. She’s a brilliant hacker and she kicks ass. And she always look out for the vulnerable and the abused. I don’t ship her with Blomkvist in the normal way, instead I like to think of them as BFFs with benefits slash partners in crime. Besides, Blomkvist is a womaniser and Lisbeth is too much of a free spirit to settle down.
It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.
~The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest
In the English version they are played by Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig. I once saw a comment on YouTube video of the trailer saying “Lisbeth Salander is so badass, James Bond is her sidekick.”
The Couple That Should Have Been
Jo March and Laurie, aka Teddy Lawrence from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, who ended up not together because the author threw a tantrum.
Then do, for god’s sake. Ugh.
I recently read Little Women for the first time in English. I love Jo, but I’m not a fan of the book. Some passages made me want to throw my (quite new) Kindle against the wall and it’s not because of the obvious mismatching of couples. It’s the constant preaching. Dog forbid you want to have fun once in a blue moon or a day off work… but I’m not here to talk about that.
If readers and Alcott’s publishers wanted Jo and Laurie to marry, there was a reason for it and that reason was that she wrote them that way. Apparently Alcott meant for Jo to remain single but the publisher was against it, so okay, 3/4 through he story Alcott introduces some German professor or other who would become Jo’s match but why, why oh why oh why OH WHY pair Laurie with Amy? Amy, that frivolous little shit that burned Jo’s book? Gosh, I hate her. She should have died instead of the loving, kind Beth.
Some fans say that Laurie was too immature for Jo. But he could have grown up, done something with his life and then come back and try asking her again. Like, character development, you know.
I can somewhat accept Jo with her professor but I will never be able to accept Laurie with Amy. Ah, what the hell, in my mind he never stopped loving Jo.
Forever and Ever and Ever…
Of course, it’s got to be them. The One True Pairing–OTP.
Anne and Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables series.
Poor Gilbert, though. It took years of suffering and almost dying for her to finally realise he was the one for her. The romantic hero she had dreamed about since her childhood didn’t belong to her life the way Gil did… and turned out not to be very interesting after all. Gilbert may not have written poetry but he could make her laugh, he comforted her. He got her.
There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.
~Anne of the Island
There was that time in Anne of the Island when Anne’s bosom friend Diana secretly entered Anne’s story into a competition for the best story featuring a baking powder Rollings. Diana simply took Anne’s story Averil’s Atonement, which failed to get published in magazines, added a line or two advertising the baking powder and sent it–and the story won the prize. Twenty-five dollars, which must have been a lot of money then. Anne felt very ashamed because she thought it meant, how we would say now, selling out. So when Gilbert came to congratulate her and she confided in him and told him she was afraid that her fellow students at Redmond will tease her for it, he had this to say:
The Reds will think just as I thought–that you, being like nine out of ten of us, not overburdened with worldly wealth, had taken this way of earning a honest penny to help yourself through the year. I don’t see that there’s anything low or unworthy about that, or anything ridiculous either. One would rather write masterpieces of literature no doubt–but meanwhile board and tuition fees have to be paid.
Contrast this with Jo March’s professor who got all superior over Jo’s silly stories. Jo wrote them to earn some money and thus help her family, the point that completely escaped the educated professor. (Maybe that’s why he’s penniless in his forties.) What’s interesting is, when Anne rejects Gilbert’s first proposal, her feelings are very similar to what Jo goes through when she says no to Laurie. At least one writer with initials LM knew how to satisfy her readers!
Boys Love Boys
Barca and Pietros from Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
I know Spartacus is not to everyone’s taste but I loved it. It has everything; profanity, violence, nudity, sex. It makes Game of Thrones look like a weak tea.
From what I’ve seen on Tumblr, another gay couple from Spartacus: War of the Damned, Agron and Nasir seems to be the more popular one but I prefer these two. I was rooting for them so much and they had such a tragic end.
I do what I must, Pietros. I’ll return soon.
Girls Love Girls
Look who I just remembered:
Xena and Gabrielle. Friends? Sure, they were friends. That’s how it started.
Quote by the Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless:
Now it wasn’t just that Xena was bisexual and kinda liked her gal pal and they kind of fooled around sometimes, it was “Nope, they’re married, man.”
You know what, I changed my mind. I think Xena and Gabrielle are my OTP after all.
I thought I’d try a bit of experimenting with my blog. So I linked to an article that picked my interest, using Press This and hereby I share with you quotes from one of my favourite authors. In picture form.
I found the article thanks to a tweet by the @wordpressdotcom. Mentioning Isaac Asimov is sure to attract my attention, even though I only discovered his works about 4 years ago. (Well, I had been oblivious to many a cool thing until four-five years back.) Apart from being a prolific writer, Asimov was a humanist, a liberal, argued in favour of women’s rights and gay rights. In an interview with Bill Moyers in 1988 he suggested a system of learning which would involve computers hooked up to large libraries where people could find information on any topic they wanted. Sounds familiar?
In the above article, Charles Chu breaks down Asimov incredible productivity into six points. My most favourite is the first one:
Never stop learning
I couldn’t possibly write the variety of books I manage to do out of the knowledge I had gained in school alone. I had to keep a program of self-education in process. My library of reference books grew and I found I had to sweat over them in my constant fear that I might misunderstand a point that to someone knowledgeable in the subject would be a ludicrously simple one.
I agree with this so much. I’m a college dropout but learning and knowledge have always been important to me. I like to know stuff. When I was younger, it was mostly humanities, especially history. I’d learned about atoms, protons, electrons and neutrons from a children’s encyclopedia way before we started physics classes at school, but I regret to say that the school system at home killed any interest in science I could have developed. It is what it is.
The following quote describes Isaac’s approach perfectly:
It’s from an introduction of his short story collection Robot Dreams, where he basically calls himself stupid for getting it wrong about the rings of Saturn.
To be sure, no astronomer saw the truth about the rings in 1952, but what of that? An astronomer is only an astronomer and his vision is naturally limited. I am a science fiction writer and more is expected of me.
The story in question is The Martian Way–probably my most favourite in this collection and one of my most favourite ever. It just.. blew my mind how relevant it is today!
The remaining five points are also worth checking out, not just for writers but artists in general.
Before Star Trek’s Data, there was R. Daneel Olivaw
In fact I imagine Daneel Olivaw looking like Data, except with red hair.
The following is a speech by Elijah Baley to Daneel in the novel Caves of Steel:
Ah yes, the Medievalists. Nostalgic optimism sufferers, as my brother calls them. The good old days. *Eyeroll* Flushing toilet was once a new invention, you know.
The robot stories were my introduction to Asimov and they’re absolute gems, a joy to read. A quote by a recurring character, the amazing robopsychologist Susan Calvin, from the short story Evidence:
I get you, girlfriend.
Probably his famous work, which I will not pretend to have read past the first book. And even that I got to know via audiobook (does that count as reading, I wonder?) I liked it so much I bought the trilogy on hardback, as the series is not available on Kindle. Makes no sense to me, considering the aforementioned interview. Anyway, I give you a piece of wisdom from Salvor Hardin:
Someone definitely needs to give the publisher a big kick to make them release the series digitally. I do like my hardback edition though.