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Apr 23, 2014

Grammarchist posted:

I was not prepared to live in a world where I laughed at this movie, but the wheelchair fight actually had some decent comedic timing.

It seems way funnier now after doing this thread.


Apr 23, 2014

Oh, speaking of new threads, I spent a long time thinking about this. After Ready Player Two, I'm most likely going to do a much bigger and more recently controversial series: Harry Potter. No spoiler tags, a complete free for all, analyzing the series to determine how JK Rowling's views may appear in it, figuring out whether certain criticisms are truly accurate and to what degree, and figuring out how much of the famous foreshadowing is legitimate or just made up on the spot.

Jan 26, 2019


Cool, I basically learned how to read on Harry Potter so revisiting it with more critical eye is always very interesting. Especially in light of JKR's recent... statements

Inspector Gesicht
Oct 26, 2012

500 Zeus a body.

The last HP book certainly proved how much winging it there was over planning. A 400 page camping-trip, a second set of critical mcmuffins to find, and a very hasty conclusion.

I always thought the series lost its footing after book 3 because the wordcount exploded to no real benefit. Harry never got compelling enough to shoulder the entire story from his perspective. I didnt realize the troubling politics until years later.

The Bartimaues Trilogy felt like a more honest and scathing depiction of an upper-class wizard society; self-absorbed pricks who have no accountability and tend to middle with forces beyond their reckoning.

I'm reading the official english release of the Legend of Galactic Heroes series. It has issues like the wrong character-name being substituted, typos, and the sixth volume is pretty grating with the sexism until a war mercifully breaks out. What I do like, in addition to the chess-game plotting and political dialogue, is that the average pagecount is less than 250 (2380 pages total). It sometimes feels like a lost art for an SFF story to actually pace itself and wrap up nicely. Not get lost in endless minutia and extraneous side-plots like GRRM.

Apr 23, 2014

I think it'll be a really ripe thread for discussion because I also want to try and do a more....normal criticism? Like as far as I can see, Rowling's radicalization into a TERF was rather recent, so will there even be signs of that belief in the books? And the question of the goblins and their connection to Jewish stereotypes, as my preliminary research indicated, has turned out to be much more complicated and also tie into the films' production designers.

Speaking of the films, it'll also be a great opportunity to examine how they affected the books and vice versa, such as the casting of Alan Rickman as Snape and how it caused Rowling to redirect the character toward the end.

Inspector Gesicht
Oct 26, 2012

500 Zeus a body.

Subject matter:

7 books, 199 chapters, 1 million words

3 minor spin-off books

8 motion-picture adaptations, plus 2 from spinoff franchise

1 play-sequel

I highly doubt you'll lend any credence to the author's twitter where she says that wizards just shat on the floor before indoor plumbing was a thing.

Jan 28, 2013

Harry Potter seems like it could be interesting. My school actually kinda pushed those books out of desperation, since kids actually seemed to like it. We did have a small satanic panic about it though.

I personally never got into the series. The big bearded guy breaking into a lighthouse and turning an rear end in a top hat kid into a pig (to punish his parents) kinda turned me off the whole thing. So most of my middle-school reading was dominated by a bunch of ghost-story books from rest stops my uncle had collected from across the country.

Nov 8, 2009

Grammarchist posted:

Harry Potter seems like it could be interesting. My school actually kinda pushed those books out of desperation, since kids actually seemed to like it. We did have a small satanic panic about it though.

I personally never got into the series. The big bearded guy breaking into a lighthouse and turning an rear end in a top hat kid into a pig (to punish his parents) kinda turned me off the whole thing. So most of my middle-school reading was dominated by a bunch of ghost-story books from rest stops my uncle had collected from across the country.

And for me, those books came along at a time when I was getting old enough, and becoming politically aware enough, to start going "Erm... isn't this kinda alarmingly racist? And the wizards are all hopelessly out of touch upper class British aristocrats?"

Twilight is at least interesting as a look into the psyche of a repressed Mormon housewife who clearly seems to be deeply unhappy about her entire life being a Mormon housewife but has no idea how to express it even as it keeps leaking into her writing.

Apr 23, 2014


Alice hurled out the first pitch. Emmett, too eager, took a massive swing that whistled so closely by the ball that the air pressure disrupted the straight line of the pitch. Jasper snagged the ball out of the air, then whipped it back to Alice.

“Was that a strike?” I heard Bella whisper to Esme.

“If they don’t hit it, it’s a strike,” Esme responded.

Alice fired another pitch across the plate. Emmett had recalibrated. I was running before I heard the detonation as the bat and the ball collided.

Alice had already seen where the ball was headed, and that I was fast enough. It took a bit of the fun out of the game—honestly, Rose should have known better than to let Alice and me play on the same team—but I was intending to win tonight.

I raced back with the ball, hearing Esme call Emmett out right as I made it back to the edge of the clearing.

“Emmett hits the hardest, but Edward runs the fastest,” Esme was explaining to Bella.

I grinned at them, happy to see that Bella looked entertained. Her eyes were wide, but so was her smile.

Yes, that's how Meyer is doing Edward's perspective of the baseball game: dry recitation of the entire game.



Emmett took Jasper’s place behind home plate while Jasper took the bat, though it was Rosalie’s turn to catch. That was irritating; surely standing within a ten-foot radius of Bella was not that enormous a burden. I was starting to wish I hadn’t pushed to get her here.

Jasper wasn’t planning to see how fast I could run; he knew he couldn’t hit as far as Emmett. Instead, he caught Alice’s pitch off the end of the bat, driving the ball close enough to Carlisle that it was obvious he would need to be the one to chase it. Carlisle dashed right to scoop it up, then raced Jasper to first base. It was very close, but Jasper’s left foot connected with the base just before Carlisle connected with him.

“Safe,” Esme declared.

I will spare you from filling up time with descriptions of how baseball works.


Bella was leaning up on her tiptoes, her hands covering her ears with the v visible between her brows, but she relaxed as soon as Carlisle and Jasper were on their feet again. She glanced toward me, and her smile came back.

I could feel the palpable tension as Rosalie took her turn at bat. Though Bella was out of her line of sight while she faced Alice on the mound, Rosalie’s shoulders seemed to curl inward, away from Bella. Her stance was stiff and her expression rigid with distaste.

I glared at her critically, and she curled her lip at me.

You wanted me here.

Rose was distracted enough that Alice’s first pitch sailed past her into Emmett’s hand. She frowned more deeply and tried to concentrate.

How distracted does a vampire have to be to miss a pitch? When Bella was turned, just touching her was enough to make her start precisely backflipping all over the room.


Alice launched the ball toward Rose again; this time Rose got a piece of it, whacking it past third. I ran in, but Alice already had it. Instead of throwing Rose out, for which there was time, Alice whirled and bolted toward home. Jasper was already halfway between third and home. He put his shoulder down as though he was planning to knock Alice off the plate the way he had Carlisle, but Alice didn’t wait for him to charge her. She executed a clever half-spin, half-slide maneuver, gliding past him and then tagging him from behind. Esme called him out, but Rosalie had made use of the distraction to get to second.

I could guess their next play before Emmett traded spots with Jasper again. Emmett would hit a long sacrifice fly to get Rosalie home. Alice had seen the same, but it looked like they would succeed. I moved back to the tree line, but if I ran to the spot Alice saw the ball heading to before Emmett actually hit it, Esme would penalize us for cheating. I coiled my muscles, ready to race—not the ball, but Alice’s vision.

Emmett hit this one high rather than long, knowing gravity was slower than I was. It worked, and I ground my teeth as Rosalie touched home plate. Bella, however, was delighted. She clapped her hands with a huge smile, impressed by the play. Rosalie didn’t acknowledge Bella’s spontaneous applause—she wouldn’t even look at her, instead rolling her eyes at me— but I was surprised to hear that she was ever so slightly… softened. I supposed it wasn’t that remarkable; I knew how much Rosalie craved admiration.

Maybe I should tell her some of the complimentary things Bella had said about her beauty… but she might not believe me. If she would look at Bella now, she would see Bella’s obvious marveling. That would probably soothe Rose even more, but she refused to look.

Still, it made me more hopeful. A little time and a lot of compliments… we could win Rose over together.

Stephenie Meyer cannot gently caress off hard enough.


Emmett, too, was enjoying Bella’s excited amazement. He already liked her more than I’d expected, and he found this game more fun with an animated audience. And just as Rose loved admiration, Emmett loved fun.

What a profound analysis.


Carlisle, Alice, and I ran in while Rosalie’s team took the field. Bella greeted me with huge eyes and a wide smile.

“What do you think?” I asked.

She laughed. “One thing’s for sure, I’ll never be able to sit through dull old Major League Baseball again.”

“And it sounds like you did so much of that before.”

Then she pursed her lips. “I am a little disappointed.”

She hadn’t looked disappointed. “Why?”

“Well, it would be nice if I could find just one thing you didn’t do better than everyone else on the planet.”


Rosalie wasn’t the only one who groaned at that, but she was loudest.

How long will the goo goo eyes take? Rosalie demanded. The storm won’t last forever.

See? I'm with her!


“I’m up,” I said to Bella. I retrieved the bat from where Emmett had tossed it, and walked to the plate.

Carlisle crouched behind me. Alice showed me the direction of Jasper’s pitch.

I bunted.

“Coward,” Emmett growled as he chased down the ball, which was bouncing unpredictably. Rose was waiting for me on second, but I made it in plenty of time. She scowled at me and I grinned back.

Carlisle stepped up to the plate and leaned into his stance. I could hear his intention, and Alice’s prediction that he would be successful. I set myself, every muscle ready to surge. Jasper threw a fast curveball—Carlisle angled his bat perfectly.

I wished I could warn Bella to cover her ears again.

The sound it made when Carlisle connected was not something that could be convincingly explained away as thunder. It was lucky that humans were so unsuspicious, that they didn’t want to believe in anything unnatural.

Of course, Bella didn't notice anything unusual during her version of this except that it was loud.


I was running full out, listening through the echoing boom to the sound of Rosalie racing through the forest. If she moved fast enough—but no, Alice could see the ball landing on the ground.

I hit home plate before the ball was halfway to its eventual destination. Carlisle was just rounding first. Bella blinked fast when I came to a stop a few feet from her, as if she hadn’t been fully able to follow my run.

“Jasper!” Rosalie called from somewhere still deep in the forest. Carlisle flew past third. The sound of the ball zooming in our direction whistled through the trees. Jasper darted to the plate, but Carlisle slid under him just before the ball smacked into Jasper’s palm.

Esme called, “Safe.”

“Beautiful,” Alice congratulated us, holding her hand up for a high five. We both obliged her.

We could all hear Rosalie’s teeth grinding.


I went to stand beside Bella, lacing my fingers loosely through hers. She smiled up at me, her cheeks and nose pink from the cold, but her eyes glowing with excitement.

Alice was thinking of a hundred different ways to tip the ball as she picked up the bat, but she couldn’t see a way past Jasper and Emmett. Emmett was hovering close to third, knowing that Alice didn’t have the muscle to outstrip Rosalie’s fielding.

Jasper pitched a fastball, and Alice drove it toward right field. He raced the ball to first, grabbed it, and tagged the base before Alice could get there.


I squeezed Bella’s fingers once, then went to take my turn again.

This time I tried to get one past Rosalie, but Jasper tossed out a slow pitch, robbing me of the momentum I needed. I grounded the ball, but only made it to first before Rosalie blocked me.

Carlisle smashed the ball straight down against the rocky ground, hoping it would pop up high enough that I would have a chance to get around the bases, but Jasper leaped up and got it back in play too quickly. Emmett had me cornered on third.

Alice ran through the possibilities as she approached the plate, but the outlook wasn’t encouraging. She did her best, though, driving the ball as hard as she could down the right foul line. Jasper didn’t take the bait, not even trying to tag her out before he fired the ball back to Emmett, who stood like a brick wall in front of home plate. I didn’t have a lot of choices. There was no way to make it past him, but if our entire team got stranded on the bases—according to our family rules—that meant an automatic end to the inning.

This is so boring. Let's watch the movie version again.


I charged Emmett, who looked thrilled by my choice, but before I could even try to dance around him to the plate, Rosalie was already complaining.

“Esme—he’s trying to force an out.” This was also against the family rules.

Of course, Emmett tagged me, there just wasn’t any way around him.

“Cheater,” Rose hissed.

Esme gave me a reproving look. “Rose is right. Take the field.”

I shrugged, and headed to the outfield.

This is all stuff that never happened in the original. Why does it even matter?


Rose’s team did better this time. Both she and Jasper got around off one of Emmett’s big hits, though I was pretty sure she’d cheated. The path of the ball shifted in flight, almost as if something smaller had knocked it off course, but I was too deep in the trees to see where that projectile had come from. I had time to throw Emmett out, at least. Rosalie’s next long fly was too low; Alice was able to jump for it. Jasper got on base again, but I stopped Emmett’s line drive before it reached the forest, and Carlisle and I caught Jasper between us on his way to third.

As the game progressed, I watched for signs that Bella was getting bored. But every time I looked, she seemed completely engrossed. This was something new to her, at least. I knew we didn’t look much like humans playing baseball. I monitored her expression, waiting for the novelty to wear off. We had hours left in the storm, and Emmett and Jasper wouldn’t want to miss any of it. If Bella were weary, or too cold, though, I would excuse myself. I winced internally, thinking of how well that would go over with Rosalie. Ah, well, she would survive.

Manners wore thin as the score fluctuated, and I wondered what Bella would think of us, Esme’s warning notwithstanding. But when Rosalie shouted that I was a “pathetic, cheating tool” (because I’d known exactly which tree to scale in order to catch her fly ball) and later a “leprous swine” (tagging her out at third), Bella just laughed along with Esme. Rosalie wasn’t the only one hurling insults as we played, but this time Carlisle wasn’t the only person who wasn’t. I was on my best behavior, though I could see this irritated Rosalie more than if I’d matched her trash talking.

So it was a win-win.

I don't know what Bella thinks of it, because the only reference to it is them "razzing" each other during the original book and Bella never having any sort of reaction to it.


We were in the eleventh inning—our innings never lasted more than a few minutes; we wouldn’t stop at any particular number, we’d just end when the storm did—and Carlisle was batting first. Alice could see another big hit coming, and I wished that one of us were on base. Sure enough, Emmett—taking his turn on the mound—couldn’t resist trying to throw a fast strike past Carlisle, and thus gave him all the power he needed to crush the ball so hard it sailed far past where Rosalie had any hope of stopping it. The sound reverberated off the mountains, more like an explosion than thunder.

While that sound was still echoing around us, another sound caught my attention.

“Oh!” The sound huffed out of Alice as though someone had punched her.

Plot is coming!


The images were pouring through her head in a torrent. An avalanche of new futures swirled unintelligibly, seemingly disconnected from each other. Some were blinding bright and some so dark there was nothing to see. A thousand different backgrounds, most of them unfamiliar.

Nothing was left of the future she’d been perfectly confident in before this moment. Whatever had changed was big enough that it left no part of our destiny untouched. Alice and I both felt a shiver of panic.

She focused. Working quickly, she traced the new visions back to their beginnings. The churning images funneled into a narrow moment very close to the present, almost immediate.

Three strangers’ faces. Three vampires she saw running toward us. I darted to Bella, considering racing away with her immediately. But there were near futures of us alone, outnumbered.…

“Alice?” Esme asked.

Jasper rocketed to Alice’s side almost faster than I’d moved to Bella’s.

“I didn’t see,” Alice whispered. “I couldn’t tell.”

She was comparing visions now. The older ones where, tomorrow night, the three strangers would approach the house. It was a future I was prepared for; Bella and I were far away in that version.

Something had changed their plans. She moved forward, just a few minutes, into this new timeline. A friendly meeting was a possibility, introductions, a request. Alice realized what had happened. But I was fixated on the fact that Bella was there in this vision, quietly in the background.

"Did you hear that? It sounds like vampire baseball! There can be nothing else making that noise!"


We were all in a tight circle at this point, Alice at our center. Carlisle leaned close, putting one hand on her arm. “What is it, Alice?”

Alice shook her head quickly, as though trying to force the pictures in her head to line up in a way that made sense. “They were traveling much quicker than I thought. I can see I had the perspective wrong before.”

“What changed?” Jasper had been with Alice for so long that he understood better than anyone besides me how her talent worked.

“They heard us playing,” Alice told us; the strangers would reveal this information in the friendly version of events. “And it changed their path.”

Everyone stared at Bella.

“How soon?” Carlisle demanded, turning toward me.

It was not an easy distance for me to hear across. It helped that on a late, stormy night like this, the mountains around us were mostly empty of humans. It helped more that there were no other vampires in the area. Vampire minds were slightly more resonant; I could hear them from a greater distance, pinpoint them more easily. So I was able to locate them— aided by the landmarks I’d seen in Alice’s vision—but I could only catch the most dominant thoughts.

Now think about how many times it could have been relevant for Edward to hear thoughts from literal miles away.


“Less than five minutes,” I told him. “They’re running—they want to play.”

You're not going to believe it, but later it'll turn out that "James's coven plays baseball" is the least ridiculous thing they've all learned to do in their lives as savage nomads in the forest.


His eyes flashed to Bella again. You have to get her away from here. “Can you make it?”

Alice focused on one strand of possibility for me. Trying to escape, Bella on my back.

Bella didn’t slow me down very much—it wasn’t the burden of her weight but the need to move carefully so as not to hurt her that impeded me —but I wouldn’t be quite fast enough. This strand tied into the other future I’d seen: us surrounded, outnumbered…

The strangers were not so enthusiastic about baseball as to be careless. Alice saw that they would come at the clearing from three different angles, surveilling, before regrouping to present a united front. If any of them heard me running, they would come to investigate.

"There's no way they could have hit a ball out that far!"


I shook my head. “No, not carrying—”

Carlisle’s thoughts roiled in alarm.

“Besides,” I hissed, “the last thing we need is for them to catch the scent and start hunting.”

So, who here noticed in the original book that none of the new vampires could identify Bella as a human despite the later books establishing it as trivially easy?


“How many?” Emmett demanded.

“Three,” Alice growled.

Emmett snorted. The sound was so at odds with the tension that I could only stare at him blankly.

“Three?” he scoffed. “Let them come.”

Carlisle was considering options, but I could already see there was only one. Emmett was right: There were enough of us that the strangers would have to be suicidal to start a fight.

“Let’s just continue the game,” Carlisle agreed, though I didn’t need to read minds to hear how unhappy he was with this decision. “Alice said they were simply curious.”

Alice started combing through all the possibilities for an encounter here in the clearing, the images more solid now that a decision had been made. It looked like the vast majority were peaceable, though they all began with tension. There were a few outliers on the spectrum of outcomes where something ignited a standoff, but those were less clear. Alice couldn’t see what would trigger the conflict—some decision yet to be made. She didn’t see any stable version that would result in physical combat here.

But there was so much she couldn’t interpret yet. I saw the blinding sunlight again, and neither of us could understand where she was seeing.

Yes, Alice has seen the future all the way to Arizona.


I knew Carlisle’s decision was the only decision, but I felt sick to my core. How could I have allowed this to happen?

“Edward,” Esme whispered. Are they thirsty? Are they hunting now?

Thirst wasn’t in their thoughts, and in Alice’s vision, every second more clear, their eyes were a satiated red.

I shook my head at her.

That’s something, at least. She was nearly as horrified as I was. Her thoughts were, like mine, snarled up in the idea of Bella’s being in danger. Though Esme was no fighter, I could hear how fierce this made her feel. She would defend Bella as if she were her own child.

"No fighter"? How many kills did she get in Eclipse?


“You catch, Esme,” I directed. “I’ll call it now.”

Esme took my place quickly, but her focus was locked on Bella’s position.

No one was eager to stray deep into the field. They hovered close, ears all trained toward the forest. Alice, like Esme, had no intention of moving away from Bella. Her protective thoughts were not exactly like Esme’s— not as maternal—but I could see that she, too, would shield Bella at any cost.

Despite the sick feeling consuming me, I could feel a rush of gratitude for their commitment.

“Take your hair down,” I murmured to Bella.

It wasn’t much of a disguise, but the most obviously human thing— besides her scent and her heartbeat—was her skin. The more of it we could hide…

There's somehow even more after this.


She immediately pulled the band from her ponytail and shook her hair out, letting it fall around her face. It was clear she understood the need to hide.

“The others are coming now,” she stated. Her voice was quiet, but even.

“Yes,” I said. “Stay very still, keep quiet, and don’t move from my side, please.”

I placed a few locks of her hair in a better position to camouflage her face.


“That won’t help,” Alice murmured. “I could smell her across the field.”

“I know,” I snapped.

“What did Esme ask you?” Bella whispered.

I thought about lying. She must already be terrified. But I told her the truth. “Whether they were thirsty.”

Her heart thudded out of rhythm, then picked up faster than before.

Edward, you just caused a fatal arrhythmia!


I was vaguely aware of the others pretending to continue the game, but my mind was so focused on what was coming that I saw nothing of their façade.

Alice watched her visions solidify. I saw how they would split up, which routes they would take, and where they would reassemble before confronting us. I was relieved to see that none of them would cross Bella’s earlier trail before entering the clearing. Perhaps that was why Alice’s vision of the cordial if cautious meeting held firm. Of course, there were hundreds of possibilities once they were here. I saw myself defending Bella many times, the others always standing with me—well, Rosalie taking Emmett’s flank; it looked like she had little interest in protecting anyone besides him. There were a few fragile future threads where it came to a fight, but they were as insubstantial as steam. I couldn’t get a good view of the outcome.

I could hear their minds approaching, still distant, but clearer. It was obvious that none of them had any hostility toward us, though the one trailing the pack—the redheaded female Alice had seen—was skittish with anxiety. She was prepared to run for it if she felt any hint that we were aggressive. The two males were just excited about the possibility of some recreation. They seemed to be comfortable with approaching a group of strangers, and I assumed they were nomads familiar with how things worked here in the North.

Victoria is a ball of anxiety, James and Laurent are desperate to play baseball. Amazing.


They were splitting up now, doing their due diligence before exposing themselves.

If Bella hadn’t been here, if she’d rejected the idea of spending her evening watching us play… well, I probably would have been with her. And Carlisle would have called me to let me know the strangers had arrived early. I would have been anxious, of course. But I would have known I’d done nothing wrong.

Because I should have foreseen this possibility. The noise of playing vampires was a very specific sound. If I’d taken the time to think through all the conceivable contingencies, if I’d not accepted Alice’s vision of the strangers coming tomorrow as gospel—set my watch to it, so to speak—if I’d been circumspect rather than enthusiastic…

I tried to imagine how I would have felt if this encounter had taken place six months ago, before I’d ever seen Bella’s face. I thought I would have been… unperturbed. Once I’d seen these visitors’ minds, I would have been confident that there was nothing to worry about. Probably, I would even have been excited about the novelty of newcomers and the variation they would add to the pattern of our usual game.

Now I could feel nothing but dread, panic… and guilt.

Finally, I know what fanfic I need to write.


“I’m sorry, Bella,” I breathed just loud enough for her to hear. The strangers were too close for me to risk speaking at a greater volume. “It was stupid, irresponsible, to expose you like this. I’m so sorry.”

She just stared at me, whites showing all around her irises. I wondered if she kept silent because of my warning, or if she just had nothing to say to me.

There's just nothing in there.


The strangers reunited at the southwest corner of the clearing. Their movements were audible now. I shifted my position so that my body would hide hers and began tapping my foot quietly to the rhythm of her heartbeat, hoping to disguise it as long as I could by creating a plausible source for the sound.

No, you didn't have a stroke. Edward is tapping his feet to the rhythm of Bella's heartbeat to drown it out.


Carlisle turned to face the whisper of their approaching feet, and the others followed his lead. We would not give away any of our advantages, but would pretend to have no more than our extensive vampire senses to guide us.

Frozen, motionless as if we were hewn from the rock around us, we waited.

Dirt Road Junglist
Oct 8, 2010

There's a ghost in me
Who wants to say I'm sorry
Doesn't mean I'm sorry

I'm looking forward to the HP thread. Trying to maintain enthusiasm for picking at the minutiae of the narrator swapped version of Twilight has been hard. I'm not mad at it, but the novelty of Edward's internal monologue wore off ages ago, and I can only skim for minor changes Smeyer made after the main line finale for so long before my eyes go wobbly.

Again, not a slight on chitoryu12, I just very much look forward to new poo poo.

Apr 23, 2014

Chapter 22: The Hunt


By the time the strangers entered the clearing, their faces were already so well known to me that it felt as though I were recognizing them rather than seeing them for the first time.

The smaller, ill-favored male started in the lead, but he quickly fell back in a practiced maneuver.

He was focused on our numbers, singling out the threats. He assumed we were two or possibly three friendly covens, meeting for the game. He was very aware of Emmett, hulking beside Carlisle. And then me, obviously agitated; it was strange for a vampire to twitch in anxiety. None of them knew what to make of my cadenced tapping.

"What the gently caress is this weirdo doing?"


For the smallest part of a second, I struggled with the feeling that something was missing in his tally, but there was too much for me to concentrate on to have time to track down that impression.

The male in the lead was tall and handsomer than average, even for a vampire. His thoughts were very confident. His coven meant no mischief here; though, naturally, this large grouping of covens was surprised to be approached by strangers, he was sure we would work it out quickly. He, too, reacted to Emmett’s size and my tension, but was then distracted by Rosalie.

Even after the films, being very careful not to imply that Laurent could be black.


I wonder if she’s mated? Hmm, they do seem to be even in numbers.

Oh, he's just horny.


His eyes skipped over the rest of us, then settled on Rose again.

The female with the vivid red hair was tenser than any of us, her body nearly vibrating with anxiety. She had a hard time keeping her intense glare off Emmett.

There’re too many. Laurent is a fool.

She’d already catalogued a thousand different routes for escape. Currently, she felt her best chance was to sprint due north to the Salish Sea, where we couldn’t follow her scent. I wondered that she wouldn’t opt for the much nearer Pacific coast, but I couldn’t see her reasons if she didn’t think of them.

I found myself hoping the jittery female would break for cover and the others follow, but Alice didn’t see that.

So Victoria was established by Meyer in her Illustrated Guide as having self-preservation as her vampiric power. This apparently manifests in the form of calculating escape routes out of the tiniest threat.....except when James and Laurent are killed and she has to become the villain. Then she'll just repeatedly charge into enemy territory and narrowly escape over and over.


The redhead was watching the plainer male, waiting for him to run first. Her eyes danced to Emmett again, and she moved reluctantly as she followed the others closer.

The two males seemed unable to keep their eyes off Emmett for long, either. I found myself appraising my brother. He seemed even bigger than usual tonight, and there was something unnerving about his taut stillness.

Still the leader, Laurent, was sure of his plan. If our covens could get along with each other, then we could get along with his. Everyone would calm down and then we could all play. And he would get to know the glowing blonde.…

Two things. First, what do these characters look like? We don't know, because Meyer is still not trying to describe them. Even after having a whole film series and all of this time to refine her writing, she's still giving us completely blank villains.

Second, as we already know, James is the leader. Somehow none of the three are having any sorts of thoughts that would indicate this, allowing the story to continue with the mistaken assumption that Laurent is when a mind reader is present.


He smiled in a friendly way, slowing his approach and then stopping as he got within a few yards of Carlisle. His gaze flickered to Rosalie, to Emmett, to me, then back to Carlisle.

“We thought we heard a game,” he said. He had a faint French accent, but his internal voice came to him in English. “I’m Laurent, these are Victoria and James.”

He speaks French natively to the degree of having an accent after centuries but his thoughts are in pure unaccented English?


They didn’t appear to have much in common, this urbane traveler from the continent and his two more feral followers. The female was irritated by his introduction; she was almost consumed by the need to escape. The other male, James, was a little amused at Laurent’s confidence. He was enjoying the unpredictable nature of this encounter and was keen to see how we would respond.

Victoria is not just an expert at escaping, she's so insanely paranoid that she's almost incapable of being in this situation.....but still somehow becomes the villain later.


Vic hasn’t split yet, he was thinking. So it probably won’t come to anything.

Carlisle smiled at Laurent, his friendly, open face momentarily disarming even the frightened Victoria. For one second, they all focused entirely on him instead of Emmett.

Carlisle is supernaturally friendly.


“I’m Carlisle,” he introduced himself. “This is my family, Emmett and Jasper; Rosalie, Esme, and Alice; Edward and Bella.” He gestured vaguely in our direction as he spoke, not drawing attention to me individually or Bella behind me. Laurent and James were reacting to the information that we were not separate tribes, but I wasn’t entirely paying attention.

In the second that Carlisle said Jasper’s name, I realized what I’d been missing.

Jasper—lacerated with scars on every visible portion of his skin, tall and lean and fierce as any stalking lion, eyes brutal with remembered kills— should have been at the forefront of their assessments. His warlike aspect should, even now, be coloring this negotiation.

I glanced at him from the corner of my eye, and found myself… so incredibly bored. It seemed as if there could be nothing less interesting in the world than this nondescript vampire standing docilely to one side of our grouping.

Nondescript? Docile? Jasper?

Jasper was concentrating so hard that, had he been human, his body would have been dripping with sweat.

I’d never seen him do this before, or even guessed that it was possible. Was this something he’d developed during his years in the South? Camouflage?

He was concurrently smoothing the tension surrounding the newcomers and making anyone looking in his direction feel singularly uninterested. Nothing could be duller than examining this nothing male at the back of the group, so unimportant.…

And not just him… He was covering Alice, Esme, and Bella in the same haze of tediousness.

This was why none of them had realized yet. Not because of Bella’s disheveled hair or my ridiculous tapping. They couldn’t cut through the sense of overwhelming mundaneness to look at her closely. She was just
one among many, not worth examining.

Jasper was really extending himself to protect the vulnerable members of our family. I could hear his total concentration. He wouldn’t be able to hold it if things got physical, but for now he had Bella encased in a more clever protection than I could have imagined.

Gratitude swamped me again.

And there's Meyer's retcon to explain why none of the vampires noticed Bella was a human despite little attempt being made to disguise her! Not only is Edward randomly tapping his foot in time with her heartbeat, Jasper suddenly has the power to generate a boredom field.


I blinked hard and refocused on the strangers. They were affected by Carlisle’s charm, though they did not forget Emmett’s intimidating size or my intensity.

I tried to absorb the soothing calm that Jasper was exuding, but while I could see its effect on the others, I couldn’t access it. I realized that Jasper was presenting what he wanted, and that included me on edge, a threat, a distraction.

Well, I could certainly lean into that role.

Not only that, he's specifically excluding Edward from it! Jasper's abilities have a hyper focus that he will never display again in the canon!

As this book gets closer to the finale, when things actually begin happening instead of characters just dramatically voguing at each other, Meyer really starts to let loose with her changes to known canon.


“Do you have room for a few more players?” Laurent was asking, just as amicable as Carlisle.

“Actually, we were just finishing up,” Carlisle responded, his tone oozing warmth. “But we’d certainly be interested another time. Are you planning to stay in the area for long?”

“We’re headed north, in fact, but we were curious to see who was in the neighborhood. We haven’t run into any company in a long time.”

“No, this region is usually empty except for us and the occasional visitor, like yourselves.”

Carlisle’s easy friendliness, along with Jasper’s influence, was winning them over. Even the edgy redhead was beginning to calm. Her thoughts tested this sense of safety, analyzing it in a way that was strange to me. I wondered whether she was aware of Jasper’s performance, but she didn’t seem suspicious. It was more like she questioned her own gut feeling.

James was a little disappointed that a game did not seem to be imminent. And also… that the confrontation had eased. He missed the excitement of the unknown.

The thrill of learning the Cullens' weird family rules for baseball.


Laurent was absorbing Carlisle’s poise and confidence. He wanted to know more about us. He wondered what subterfuge we used to disguise our eyes, and why.

“What’s your hunting range?” Laurent asked. This was a normal thing, an expected question among nomads, but I worried that it would alarm Bella. Whatever she felt, she was motionless and silent as a human could be behind me. The rhythm of her heart, and thus my drumming foot, didn’t change.


“The Olympic Range here, up and down the Coast Ranges on occasion,” Carlisle told him, not lying, but also not disabusing Laurent of his assumption. “We keep a permanent residence nearby. There’s another permanent settlement like ours up near Denali.”

This surprised all of them. Laurent was merely confused, but anything unexpected seemed to turn to fear in the mind of the panicky female; for her, all the effects of Jasper’s efforts vanished in an instant. James, however, was intrigued. Here was something new and different. Not only was our coven immense, we were apparently not even nomadic. Perhaps this detour wasn’t entirely wasted.

Again: the main villain of two books, falling to panicking fear at anything unexpected.


“Permanent?” Laurent asked, bewildered. “How do you manage that?” James was pleased that Laurent had spoken, so his curiosity could be assuaged without any effort on his part. In a way, his reluctance to draw attention to himself reminded me of Jasper’s much more effective camouflage. I wondered why James would want to play it safe this way. It didn’t seem to line up with his desire for diversion.

Or did he, like Jasper, have something to hide?

Something that, perhaps, your mind reading could uncover?


“Why don’t you come back to our home with us and we can talk comfortably?” Carlisle proposed. “It’s a rather long story.”

Victoria twitched, and I could see that she was holding herself in place by will alone. She guessed what Laurent’s answer would be, and, oh, how she wanted to run. James gave her an encouraging look, but it didn’t alleviate her stress. Still, she would follow his lead.

Could it be this easy? It would be simple to split up if they accepted the invitation, with Carlisle and Emmett safely leading the strangers away. Thanks to Jasper, they might never realize what we were hiding from them.

I looked into Alice’s view of the future—a little more difficult at the moment, as I had to ignore Jasper’s potent veil of tedium, which tried, with energy, to convince me that there must be something more interesting to do.

Wait, now his boredom field is so powerful that Edward can't even read Alice's mind without getting hit by it?


Alice was focused on the closest possible futures. It surprised me that they all ended in a standoff now. A few of the possible fights were clearer than before.

So it would not be that easy.

In Laurent’s mind, I heard nothing but interest and the coming assent; James was in agreement. Victoria looked for a trap, rigid with dread. None of them had any intention to cause trouble or even examine our numbers more closely. What would change their minds?

I could think of only one factor that was so sure, so unaffected by any decision or whim.

The weather.

I braced myself, knowing there was nothing I could do. Jasper’s eyes flickered to me. He felt my new anguish.

“That sounds very interesting, and welcome,” Laurent was saying. “We’ve been on the hunt all the way down from Ontario, and we haven’t had the chance to clean up in a while.”

Victoria shuddered, trying to subtly catch James’s attention, but he ignored her.

“Please don’t take offense, but we’d appreciate it if you’d refrain from hunting in this immediate area,” Carlisle cautioned them. “We have to stay inconspicuous, you understand.”

Carlisle’s voice was perfectly assured. I envied him his hopefulness.

“Of course,” Laurent agreed. “We certainly won’t encroach on your territory. We just ate outside of Seattle, anyway.”

Laurent laughed, and Bella’s heartbeat stuttered for the first time. The movement of my foot faltered quickly, trying to disguise the variation. None of the strangers seemed to notice.

This is so dumb.


“We’ll show you the way if you’d like to run with us,” Carlisle offered, and only Alice and I knew that it was too late for his plan to succeed. It was so close now—her visions were racing to collide with the present. “Emmett and Alice, you can go with Edward and Bella to get the Jeep.”

It happened exactly as he said Bella’s name.

Just a gentle breeze, a mild flutter from a new direction, an aberration caused by the tail end of the storm swirling westward. So mild. So inescapable.

Bella’s scent, fresh and immediate, wafted directly into the strangers’ faces.

All of them were affected, but while Laurent and Victoria were predominantly confused by the delicious smell coming out of nowhere, James shifted instantaneously into hunting mode. Jasper’s camouflage wasn’t strong enough to deter that kind of focus.

There was no point in pretending any longer. As if he were reading my thoughts, Jasper pulled his concealment back in that second, leaving only himself and Alice still hidden. I realized it was better that he do this, that it would only alert these nomads to his extra talents if he tried to keep Bella obscured now. Yet I still felt a weak prick of betrayal.

What? No it wouldn't. Even you, someone supposedly very experienced with vampires with unusual superpowers, have been completely baffled by Bella showing pre-transformation signs of them. Why would these random nomads suddenly identify what Jasper is doing?


But that was only the smallest part of my awareness. Most of my faculties were overwhelmed with fury.

James thrust forward into a crouch. His mind was empty of thought besides the hunt, intent on immediate gratification.

I gave him something else to think about.

I crouched in front of Bella, ready to launch myself into the hunter before he could get any closer to her, all my abilities concentrated on his thoughts. I roared a warning at him, knowing only self-preservation had any hope of distracting him at this point.

My rage was strong enough that I half wanted him to ignore my threat.

Vampires are very cool and smart and it's totally great to turn into one.


The pinpoint focus of his eyes widened out, away from Bella, as he appraised me. A strange flicker of surprise wove through his mind. He was almost… incredulous that I had moved to block him. I could only guess that he was used to acting unopposed. He hesitated, wavering between prudence and desire. It would be foolish to ignore the others—this was not a contest between just the two of us. But he could barely resist my challenge. He wasn’t sure he wanted to resist.

“What’s this?” Laurent cried. I didn’t waste any attention for his reaction.

I saw the ploy in James’s thoughts before he moved. I was in place to block his new angle before the movement was finished. His eyes narrowed, and he adjusted his evaluation of the danger I posed.

Faster than I thought. Too fast?

He was suspicious of me now. Of all of us. Why hadn’t he noticed the girl before? She was so obvious, her apricot skin soft and matte in contrast with the shine of the rest.

“She’s with us,” I heard Carlisle warn in a new voice, friendliness gone.

James flashed a glance at him and was aware again of Emmett looming, massive and eager, beside Carlisle.

I was surprised at his frustration. James didn’t want to be careful. He was anxious for a fight. However—still poised to strike—he spared part of his focus to tune in for some movement from Victoria, but she was frozen with fear.

The villain. Of two books.


My own attention was compromised as Laurent finally reacted.

“You brought a snack?” he asked, disbelieving.

Like James, he moved a step closer to Bella, though his move was more instinctual than aggressive.

That didn’t matter to me. I twisted slightly, my eyes never leaving the greater threat, and snarled my rage in Laurent’s direction, baring my teeth at him. Unlike James, Laurent immediately retreated.

James shifted again, testing my concentration. I was in place to answer his maneuver before the motion was complete. His lips pulled back over his teeth.

“I said she’s with us,” Carlisle repeated, his voice closer to a growl than I’d ever heard it before.

“But she’s human,” Laurent pointed out. There was still no aggression in his mind. He was only baffled and frightened. He couldn’t make sense of this situation, but he realized that James’s ill-considered offensive might get them all killed. He glanced toward Victoria, checking her reaction much as James had. As if she were some kind of weathervane.

One that only points to "Run away now forever."


Emmett was the one to respond to Laurent. I didn’t know if it was Jasper who made it feel as though the ground shook as he took one step closer to the conflict, or if it was just Emmett being Emmett.

“Yes,” he rumbled, his tone absent of all emotion and inflection. The steel of his voice seemed to cut straight through the center of the confrontation, evoking a sudden chill in the air.

I was pretty sure that was Jasper’s work, but I didn’t split my concentration to be sure.

It was effective. The hunter straightened out of his crouch.

So many things Jasper could have done in the other books but didn't!


I read his reactions minutely, holding my defensive position against the possibility of a trick. I expected anger, frustration. I’d seen before that he was arrogant, not used to being obstructed. Having to concede to a larger force than his own would surely infuriate him.

But instead, a sudden excitement jolted through his thoughts. Though his eyes never entirely left Bella or me, he was cataloguing in his peripheral vision the threats facing him. Not with fear or annoyance, but with a strange, wild pleasure. His eyes still skipped over Jasper and Alice, seeing them only as numbers in a census. Emmett’s threatening mass seemed abruptly exhilarating to him.

“It appears we have a lot to learn about each other,” Laurent observed in a mollifying tone.

And then James’s inexplicable elation gave way to planning. To strategy. To memories of past victories. And for the first time, I realized—with dread and panic—that he was no mere hunter.

“Indeed,” Carlisle agreed, his voice hard.

I desperately wanted to know what Alice was seeing now, but I couldn’t afford to miss any detail in my adversary’s thoughts.

I listened as he remembered cornering target after target, as he relived the lengths of his more exhaustive pursuits, as he catalogued the opposition he’d overcome to get to his prey. None of the previous challenges were greater than what he was looking at now. Eight—no, seven, he corrected. A coven of seven—certainly with some talents among them—and one helpless human girl who smelled better than any meal he’d had in the last century.


Not the word I'd use.


He couldn’t start here, with so many protecting her.

Wait until they separate. Use the time for reconnaissance.

“But we’d like to accept your invitation,” Laurent was saying to Carlisle. James was only superficially aware of the conversation; he was absorbed in his planning.

Until Laurent added, “And, of course, we will not harm the human girl. We won’t hunt in your range, as I said.”

This broke through both James’s new exhilaration and his vigilant focus. He turned away from me to stare at Laurent with amazement, but Laurent was facing Carlisle, and he didn’t see as the shock turned to loathing.

You dare speak for me?

The heat of his reaction made it clear that the coven would not stay intact. I heard James’s resolution to use Laurent as long as he was convenient, but he would rather kill him than leave him behind when that usefulness was over. It appeared that his desire to destroy Laurent was based entirely on this one comment; I couldn’t find another source of resentment. James was easily provoked, I decided, and unforgiving. Perhaps I could use that.

James had no thought of Victoria choosing Laurent. I wondered whether they were a mated pair, but his thoughts didn’t give away any special feeling for her. They must have been together longer than the alliance with Laurent. They were the original coven, and he the interloper. It fit with how easily James contemplated disposing of the newcomer.

Meyer really bit off way more than she could chew with this series. She created multiple main characters with wondrous powers that make them complete game-changers for most scenarios....and then did no planning for how those powers would actually work logically. James being the coven leader was supposed to be a surprise, but Edward obviously had to identify this when they first showed up. And he just doesn't say anything.


“We’ll show you the way,” Carlisle said, less like an offer and more like a command. “Jasper, Rosalie, Esme?”

Jasper didn’t like this—separating from Alice, especially when things were going poorly. But he couldn’t argue with Carlisle now. We needed to present a united front, and he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Carlisle had no idea of the cover Jasper was generating. Jasper resigned himself to keeping up the concealment as long as necessary; if a fight was coming, he intended it to be an ambush.

He looked at Alice, who nodded at him. She was confident she wasn’t in danger. He accepted that but was still unhappy. She darted to Bella’s side. Without needing to discuss, Jasper, Esme, and Rose moved together to obstruct James’s view of Bella as they joined Carlisle.

James was not perturbed. His desire to attack had vanished. He was plotting now.

Emmett retreated last, his eyes on James as he moved backward into position beside me.

Carlisle gestured for Laurent and his coven to lead the way out of the clearing. Laurent complied quickly, with Victoria right behind. Her mind was still full of escape routes.

James hesitated for a fraction of a second, and his eyes returned to us. I knew Bella was invisible behind Emmett, but he wasn’t looking for her this time. He stared directly into my eyes and smiled.

Something caught his attention—Alice, uncloaked as Jasper moved away from her. There was a flicker of surprise as he took in her face for the first time, perhaps wondering why he hadn’t thought to appraise her before, but that surprise did not resolve into words before he turned and dashed after the others. Carlisle and Jasper ran close on his heels, Rose and Esme following.


Nov 8, 2009

chitoryu12 posted:

Meyer really bit off way more than she could chew with this series. She created multiple main characters with wondrous powers that make them complete game-changers for most scenarios....and then did no planning for how those powers would actually work logically. James being the coven leader was supposed to be a surprise, but Edward obviously had to identify this when they first showed up. And he just doesn't say anything.

She has no interest in letting the world she's built interfere with the story she wants to tell. Which on the one hand is fair enough, but on the other hand begs the question of why she gave all these people these stupendous powers in the first place. There has to be a more elegant way to accomplish what she wanted.

By dropping the pretense and making them all explicitly Mormon and the universe running on Mormon theological rules like how Orson Scott Card ended up writing the Ender universe.

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