radondoran: Perry the Platypus in a musketeer uniform, wielding a saber (Default)
Episode Tags and Missing Scenes Slow Build Plays and Scripts Luck Sadness
Songfic Perpetual Motion Justice The way we were: Pre-canonfic Compare and Contrast
Epistolary fic: Emails, letters etc. Vignette Wild Card Character Study Stream of Consciousness
Honour / Prestige Surreality That Moment (incident / chapter / episode) in detail Hey, it's that guy: Minor characters Absences / Negative Space

The Tides of Time: meta re: AW80 and the Eiffel Tower
Remix Action and Reaction Minorities / Characters of Colour / Women in Canon - Please be careful not to use offensive stereotypes Peace

DYW 2013

Oct. 6th, 2013 10:41 pm
radondoran: Donald Duck in a winter coat and hat, looking at some papers (yuletide)
Dear Yuletide Writer,

Hi there! Thank you for writing a story for me! It's so cool that you are also interested in one of these tiny fandoms. I am writing this letter in case you want to look for more ideas, and also because I enjoy this chance to ramble on about my favorite canons, but feel free to totally ignore it if you're not interested. Mostly I hope you have a good time writing a fic that you like--whatever you come up with, I will be pleased as punch to read a fic about the characters I requested.

In general, I like a lot of different stuff! I'm a big fan of fanfic that really draws on canon, imitating the style of the source or expanding on details from canon. I like a story with a plot, sure, but I also often really enjoy fic that isn't very plotty--I like short pieces, vignettes, missing scenes, whatever. I like stories that are basically just characters talking about stuff. (Which might explain why I've got two Asimov requests this year, heh.) I like to find out interesting details about even the most apparently boring and mundane topics. I like adventure, exposition, humor, hurt/comfort, language, mysteries, science, slice-of-life, UST, wordplay, worldbuilding, &c.

I'm not really interested in reading explicit sex. I'm not a big fan of character death, characters having children, or transplant AUs: basically, I tend to prefer fic where the status quo remains more or less intact.

If you're a writer who likes to read up on their recipient, my main online presence these days is on tumblr, where I am reasonably active and mainly post fandom-related stuff. There's also my account on the AO3.

My requests, and accompanying fandom-specific rambling:

Gravity Falls, Stan Pines
Lucky Starr - Isaac Asimov, John Bigman Jones
Robot series - Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin/Peter Bogert
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) - Hermey/Yukon Cornelius

Gravity Falls, Stan Pines )

Lucky Starr - Isaac Asimov, John Bigman Jones )

Robot series - Isaac Asimov, Susan Calvin/Peter Bogert )

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), Hermey/Yukon Cornelius )

---

So, uh, anyhoo. As always, optional details are optional. Most of all I hope you have fun writing a story that you like--and I'm sure I'll love it too! Whatever you come up with, it will be so great to read a story in any of these fandoms. Thanks again, and happy Yuletide!
radondoran: Perry the Platypus in a musketeer uniform, wielding a saber (Default)
So the other day I was doing a Google search for ["isaac asimov" "red hair"], I don't remember exactly why, probably looking for examples of redheads in his works to see to what extent he plays on stereotypical tropes about redheads (I think the answer is a lot, and I'll probably talk about that in a post sometime…)… But anyway, I found this Random House study guide for schoolchildren reading I, Robot, and one of the questions caught my eye:
3) What do Mike Donovan and Gregory Powell look like? Without letting them look at their books, have your students describe the two in as much detail as possible. What color are their eyes? How tall is each one? What race are they? Then ask your students to prove their descriptions from citations in the book. Asimov gives only one physical detail about the two (in "Catch That Rabbit!"): Donovan has red hair. (emphasis added)
And I was like, um, hello, probably-now-Dr. Darryl Stephens of UC Berkeley, that's not true at all!

So I set out to find out exactly what we do know about Powell and Donovan's appearance. Now, it is true that we don't get a lot of physical description of the two field-testers--we certainly don't get vital stats like in Lucky Starr or height comparisons to the centimeter like in The Robots of Dawn.

But we do get a few details, and we can use them to hypothesize a few more. (And for some questions, we have to make wild guesses--but that's fun too.)


Read more... )

So, how would you answer Stephens's question? What do you think Powell and Donovan look like? Have you ever tried to draw or write them, and how did you approach the question of their appearance? Are there other characters, in any fandom, that don't get a lot of physical description, for whom you have to infer or make up details?


*"Runaround", "Reason", "Catch That Rabbit", and "Escape!". "First Law" is a spoof--and anyway, it contains no physical description of Donovan and no explicit mention of Powell at all.

(For completeness' sake, here is a table with all the lines from the stories containing physical descriptions of Powell or Donovan that I used in this post.)
radondoran: Perry the Platypus in a musketeer uniform, wielding a saber (Default)
"To Sun-center with the Sirian cobbers!"
Isaac Asimov's Lucky Starr series has all kinds of fun things going on with the dialogue. Probably a good deal of this arises from the fact that it's a kids' series, and so the characters weren't even free to use the mild damn and hell that show up in the Robot stories. That, coupled with the fact that the series takes place in a spacefaring society circa the year 6945, means that the dialogue is absolutely packed with fictional slang.

Most of the fictional slang is classic Asimovian astronomical future slang: "Great Galaxy!", "what in space", "Mars-forsaken". But there's one prominent word that shows up in the series that doesn't arise from outer space, and does not to my knowledge usually show up in real twentieth-century American English either. This word is cobber, the insulting noun used by Lucky Starr's Martian sidekick John Bigman Jones.

This post will go over some observations about possible real-world origins of cobber, and some analysis of Bigman's use of the term in the books.


So what is a cobber, anyway? )


And how does Bigman use the word? )

---

Um, yeah, so anyway, that's about everything I've discovered about the word cobber. If anybody's reading this, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the word, or about ridiculously specific linguistic elements from your own fandoms, or whatever!
radondoran: Donald Duck in a winter coat and hat, looking at some papers (yuletide)
(Originally posted on tumblr; copied here and backdated because I suspect the discussion of Asimovian oaths is going to be relevant to some later content here.)

Yuletide is over! (Alas! What am I gonna do for the next eight or nine months?)

I received a lovely fic about L. Frank Baum's Oz books: "From Gold Hill To Butterfield" by SailorPtah is a backstory for my favorite character, the Shaggy Man, taking place in a mining town in Colorado in the 1890s.

I wrote fic for Isaac Asimov's Robot stories: "Perigee" is Powell/Donovan slashfic with a missing robot. (Well, really it's more like missing robot fic with Powell/Donovan slash.)

It was so much fun to re-read and re-read the four Powell and Donovan stories ("First Law" totally doesn't count) in preparation for writing fic about these two! Now that reveals have happened, I am free to fangirl the stories publicly.

Asimov is a little free on the timeline for the US Robots stories; for instance, note how Peter Bogert starts out twelve years older than Susan Calvin, and yet he ends up pushing her into retirement. Fortunately, I didn't have to deal with that in too much detail, but I am a bit doubtful about the timeline of the Powell and Donovan stories--specifically, "Escape!". "Runaround" takes place firmly in 2015, "Reason" six months after that, and "Catch That Rabbit" six months after that. But "Liar!" takes place circa 2020 (since Susan Calvin is in her mid-teens in 1995 ["Robbie"], and is 38 in "Liar!"), and Peter Bogert isn't acting Director yet (but wants to be). Bogert has become acting Director by the time of "Escape!", so it must take place after 2020. And yet Powell and Donovan just don't seem to me to be five or seven years older in "Escape!" than in "Runaround". Perhaps as adventure heroes, they just get to be perpetually youthful, just as Susan Calvin is perpetually the "old lady", even though she's in her early thirties when Powell calls her that in "Runaround".

So I just went ahead and set my fic after "Escape!"--this meant I was safe in taking Susan Calvin off the planet, since she'd never left Earth before "Little Lost Robot". This also meant I could refer to Powell and Donovan's adventures in hyperspace, and that I could send Bogert to the Moon with Calvin without sending Lanning too. I went ahead and gave Dr. Calvin her iconic gray hair, and just didn't say anything specific about when this story takes place or how long Powell and Donovan have been working at US Robots.

One thing I did focus on while reading the stories this year was one of my favorite things about Asimov in general--the corny future slang! Here is my count of oaths in the Powell and Donovan stories:

 

M. Donovan

G. Powell

"Runaround"

devil

1

1

Pete

1

 

hell

 

1

Space

1

 

holy smokes

1

 

damn

1

 

holy space

 

1

“Reason”

nuts

 

2

damn [X]

1

1

Sizzling Saturn

2

 

Jupiter

1

1

devil

1

1

I'll be damned

 

1

hell

2

 

damn it

 

1

“Catch That Rabbit”

Jupiter

 

1

holy howling Jupiter

 

1

golly

1

 

devil

1

 

Jumping Jupiter

 

1

Jumping Space

1

 

Pete

1

1

“Escape!”

Holy Joe

1

 

Blazes

1

 



Total

 

M. Donovan

G. Powell

devil

3

2

damn(ed)

2

3

(jumping/howling) Jupiter

1

3

(holy/jumping) space

2

1

hell

2

1

Pete

2

1

nuts

 

2

Sizzling Saturn

2

 

holy smokes

1

 

blazes

1

 

Holy Joe

1

 

golly

1

 



Unsurprisingly, Donovan uses more oaths and a wider variety of oaths than Powell. I was surprised to find that they don't use half as many wacky space-themed oaths as I thought--I must have been mixing the Robots stories up in my head with the far cornier Lucky Starr series. (I should totally do a count of oaths in that series next.)

When they do swear on space, Powell leans more towards the planet Jupiter, while Donovan is the only one to exclaim "Sizzling Saturn!" (twice, both in "Reason"). Based on this data, I just went ahead and decided that "Sizzling Saturn" is Donovan's space-themed oath, and put it in his mouth twice during my story. In the final scene, I originally had him saying "Jumping Jupiter", but "Sizzling Saturn" sounds much more like him.

I also had each of them say "damn" once, and Powell says "Space" once and Mike twice, which is really more times than "Space" should appear in a Powell and Donovan story--but whatever, I like "Space".
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