The Fades—Or How I Learned to Love the Sci-Fi Villain

Every story has an antagonist or some kind of force working against the protagonist and other main characters. Sometimes it’s a person, other times its nature itself or just a force. The idea of an antagonist is actually pretty ambiguous, but you’d be hard pressed to find a story without at least one.

And if you did you’d probably have a pretty boring story.

The Fades was a show I thought might have potential, but I didn’t give it a chance until I finally got to watch the whole thing in basically one sitting. Some of the elements were very average and cliché, but cliché happens because of something being tried and true.

What really impressed me about The Fades was the complex villain that I found myself sympathizing with, agreeing with and even liking some of the time. In fact I liked him a lot more than some of the protagonists in the end.

Too often I come across antagonists in movies or television who have little to no reason for what they do other than destruction or revenge. There may have been a little of that here too. But there was something genuine about a person who had been ordinary and who suffered merely because of the time they lived in. Many times the bad guy is made to be without any redeeming qualities, but this one had a lot of good points.

I don’t want to go into too many areas of the plot because the final episodes have yet to air on BBC America. But overall the show felt ambitious and refreshing. On top of that the humor was pretty well executed given the generally dark tone. (Leave it up to the British to make a really good black comedy)

Though I expected not to, the twin sister character really struck a cord with me too. I think she might have been my favorite. 

Fan Fiction: Then and Now

When I discovered fan fiction back in 1998 or 1999, around the time that FanFiction.net went live, I thought that it was the greatest thing in the history of man kind. The idea that people like me were out there writing free stories about characters that we knew and loved in situations they wouldn’t normally be in was the most astonishing thing.

It felt like someone had read my mind and composed my thoughts into an idea I couldn’t. Then they made a website. 

I read and posted in the community for a long time. But fan fiction at its onset was telling stories about adventures that couldn’t or simply wouldn’t happen in the actual medium.

Sure this depends upon the genre and fandom of the fan fiction in question, but for the most part I was finding things I wanted to read. Romance wasn’t something I hunted out. This isn’t an attempt to sound like I’m too manly for romance. But the idea of romance in a lot of these stories was just badly written clichés. Even my junior high self could see this. I have nothing at all against romance or being romantic.

Flash forward to a time after I’ve been working on original fiction and I’ve spent years away from fan fiction. I come back after a few ideas pop in my head and they’re too good to leave alone. I felt that I had to post them somewhere. What I see when I come back is a totally different picture from when I left.

Pairings. Everything is about pairing and shipping. Shipping, for those who don’t know the terminology, basically means this: the belief that two fictional characters, typically from the same series, are in an intimate relationship, or have romantic feelings that could potentially lead to a relationship. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction.

The word is derived from relationship and the above information was taken from Wikipedia. Fan fiction as it once was distilled over the years down to having shipping as its driving force. It’s the reason why a story gets written now. Plot is an after thought. I wonder what would happen if X and Y got together and this happened.

In these stories there are all manner of unsavory practices that come with the relationships that range from rape and abuse to things that border on the impossible like Vorarephilia.

All I really want to know is what happened to a time when people wrote huge sweeping epics about adventure, intrigue, and different takes on some of the ideas expressed in the original work. In some cases these stories were better written and longer than whatever spawned them. Sure there would be a little romance in most of them, but that’s the case in most fiction. 

And I’m guilty, I’ve read the stuff when it pertained to couples I get behind. But I would also like it to have some story, a real conflict that’s not the kind you find at any high school dance. Those are so hard to find these days and hunting down a decent one?

Well good luck.

It wasn’t always like this and I think that its important to note. Things have really changed and fan fiction has become a pretty widely known medium. It’s a far cry from its humble beginnings in Star Trek fan news letters in the 1970s and 80s.

I just have to wonder what’s making it mature in this direction?

Sherlock – A Scandal in Belgravia

Whereas the Christmas episode of Doctor Who left e feeling like it could have been better, the newest entry in the BBC Sherlock miniseries felt like I was watching a short well written movie.

I shouldn’t be surprised, show creators Steven Moffat (of Doctor Who fame), Mark Gatiss and Steve Thompson had almost a year and a half of time to work on the show. It shows in the quality too. The acting seems to have been stepped up a bit, the set pieces were very well thought out and the opening and the rest of the episode was chalked full of surprises, the last being the very end of the show.

Going to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but there’s a lot more sympathy in the Sherlock Holmes character and he seems more human now. The writing does a good job of this while still making him feel larger than life.

Rupert Graves (Detective Inspector Lestrade) and Louise Brealey (my absolute favorite, Molly Hooper) seemed to have stepped their game up in the acting department and we see much more of Una Stubbs (Mrs. Hudson). Even with the very complex plot and baggage from last seasons cliff hanger we see much more of the side characters and all of them just shine in it.

I don’t feel I need to say anything about Andrew Scott’s Moriarty other than its still as brilliant as ever and it really makes me believe that the character is an all out lunatic in a way that’s usually so hard with roles like this.

Long story short, if you’re not watching the new Sherlock series on BBC, even if you haven’t seen the first season you need to start. I know its just four episodes at this point, each being one and a half hours  long. It is still my favorite show and it proves that is completely possible to do so much with so little.