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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