So funny story. Anytime I do a long-form review, I type it up in Wordpad instead of composing it raw on the forums. Sometimes the total length doesn't justify it, but often it does, because the forum isn't an ideal place to dump 1500 words from scratch; among other things, I worry about web browser fuckery dumping the entire thing.
Guess what guy composed a full review of this thing three and a half months ago, congratulated himself on a job well done, and then simply never posted the thing?
So to the extent that anyone still actually cares, here it is. Also updated with materiel that became relevant over the passage of time, so I guess there's added value?
>She put this theory to the Phoenix Queen's prototype Auto-Doc
>as she emerged from its treatment enclosure.
>"Well, that's really outside my field," Auto-Doc admitted in his calm,
>unhurried synthetic drawl,
I was really, really expecting some species of "I'm a doctor, not a..." joke here. Not sure if disappointed, or pleased.
>Once there, she regarded herself in the mirror by her wardrobe for a
>moment. She was... not vain, exactly, but she liked the way
>she looked and was not above pausing now and then to admire herself in
>reflective surfaces. She knew she had a pleasing face, a poised and
>elegant manner, and a slim, athletic figure; they were part of her
>toolset, and though less relied upon nowadays than they had been in
>her youth, she took pains to maintain them anyway, because what was
>what she was trained to do with useful tools.
This whole paragraph really works on a lot of levels, especially the ultimate sentence. Nicely done.
>This task had never been all that challenging, and since Mojave, where
>she'd acquired a very handy bit of 21st-century black technology, it
>had ceased to require any particular effort at all. Nowadays,
>approaching (as near as she could calculate it) the biological age of
>seventy, she remained satisfied with what she saw in mirrors. It
>would've been nice if she'd managed to stumble across the PHOENIX
>modification sometime before the age of sixty, but she was well
>aware that there were much worse draws from the life-extension deck
>than perpetual, well-maintained early middle age.
You know, for something that isn't commercially available even for the truly, outrageously wealthy, people seem to stumble across pseudo-immortality quite a lot in Known Space. :)
>caught herself belting on her sidearm out of sheer force of habit and
>laughed as she hung it back on its peg by the door. She never
>really needed it much of anywhere, but she particularly wasn't
>going to need it here, tonight.
Editorial suggestion; you may want to embed a link to the forum thread about Azula's heavily modified That Gun in there, and in the inevitable omnibus, assuming the omnibus is published in html. It might provide interesting context to future readers. That said, I'm unsure of the aesthetics of doing so. I only mention it because it seems obvious.
>it was Admiral MegaZone, the supreme commander of the Wedge Defense
>Force. Azula had heard that he was present, but hadn't seen him in
>the wild chaos of the battle, and she was slightly shocked by his
>appearance, partly because he'd just loomed up out of the chilly
>darkness without warning, and partly because he looked like he'd just
>escaped from a lunatic asylum. (Having once done so herself, she was
>better-positioned than most to know what that looked like.)
It's adorable that Azula thinks she "escaped" from that asylum. :)
>It was an apple, plump and
>fresh-looking, its skin glinting a smooth, polished gold in the glow
>of the Queen's parking lights. It was far too light to be
>made of gold, and when she sniffed at it experimentally, it
>smelled like... well, like an apple,
I am rather embarrassed to admit I had to go look it up before remembering "Oh! Right! The Golden Apples of Idunn. They're not just a Greek thing. Riiiiiiight."
>"Well, well, look at all of you," she observed, smiling wryly. "All
>grown up for the afterlife. Agni, Zuzu, you actually managed to be
>handsome, didn't you? Stayed with the same tragic haircut, though, I
>see." Without giving her red-faced brother an opportunity to respond,
>she moved on.
Well, for a given value of "handsome." Objectively, Zuko was a pretty smokin' adult, even with the scar, but the fact that he looked almost exactly like his dad probably killed it for many if not most of his contemporaries. :)
>"He's right," said Ty Lee, nodding. "You're all grown up too."
> Reddening slightly, she added in a lower voice, "You look
Awwww, Ty Lee.
>Azula read that in her face and sighed. "What else do you want from
>me?" she wondered. "Shall I fall on my sword in shame? Would that
>satisfy you? I don't need your approval, Katara. I offer you
>peace in the spirit of this red day we've just survived. If it suits
>you to throw it in my face in payment for my crimes of old, then so be
>it." She rose from the table. "Just ask yourself as you nurse your
>old hatred - which of us is being spiteful now?"
Okay, that was a dick move on Azula's part.
The speechifying was all very pretty, and I have no doubt that Azula means every word. But... and this is something that would absolutely not have occurred to Azula, and would require someone like Katara or Zuko (or Sokka, when he was being particularly insightful)... forgiveness isn't a matter of being personally validated. It's for the transgressed against to decide what it takes for them to offer it, not the transgressor to demand it.
And generally speaking, absolution requires penance.
>So saying, she turned on her heel and left the feasthall.
Off course, Azula bails before there's a chance for any kind of riposte.
>A moment later Zuko reappeared from the other direction. "Everyone
>can relax, I found Aang - hey, where's Azula?"
>"Katara ran her off," Toph remarked.
>"Just like old times," said Sokka, nudging his sister with an elbow.
>"You guys are mean," Ty Lee said disconsolately; then she got up and
>went off in pursuit.
"I told you we should have brought the kids."
"Oh yeah. Absolutely, Zuko. Because introducing your kids to their aunt the war criminal would have made things less awkward."
> After all, you two were
>trying to be my friends, and I repaid you by treating you litle
>better than my enemies, even before the end."
>Ty Lee gazed silently at her for a few seconds, her grey eyes tinted a
>shifting green by the aurora. Azula assumed her long-lost friend was
>searching for words, or possibly preparing to punch her, which she was
>willing to accept - once - as her due after all this time.
>What she did instead was somewhat more surprising, and almost as
>aggressive, but considerably less percussive.
INT. DAY - PRODUCTION OFFICE
(GRYPHON and PHIL MOYER glare balefully at piles of scripts. So many scripts.)
Where! Tell me where pinch 2 is supposed to go.
Act 2 is wall-to-wall with this love story! We can't shoehorn in more!
It's central to the-
(TY LEE enters. She is fetchingly disheveled and her eyes are even more dreamily
focused than usual.)
(TY LEE approaches the desk.)
Uh... hey, Ty Lee. What can-
(TY LEE manages to hug both of them at once. This is impressive, given PHIL'S
height and GRYPHON'S build.)
You guys do such, such good work. And so cheaply! I've never been more excited
to see a project come in on time and under budget. Let me know if you ever need
(She kisses them both on the cheeks before releasing them and winks saucily at GRYPHON.)
Oh, and Zuko says you were right, the hardwood is much much nicer than the tile.
(TY LEE exits. PHIL and GRYPHON watch her go with dazed expressions. GRYPHON
turns to PHIL.)
Now -there's- a pinch 2.
(absently spooling a fresh sheet into a typewriter)
Yeah, that was pretty good.
It might just be because, like when you hint around the edges at Korra and Asami, you're completely pandering to my pre-existing prejudices, but that was pretty good. It wasn't the best rapprochement between Ty Lee and Azula I've ever read, but I'd say... top fifteen? And I know that doesn't like much, but I've read an awful, awful lot of stories about Ty Lee and Azula.
(Seriously, so many.)
>She was momentarily taken aback to see how tall
>Aang was as an adult - her mental image of him had still been both
>twelve and short for his age -
And the cheekbones. For such a round-faced kid, Aang ended up with some movie-star looks.
>"Sokka, darling," she said casually,
Man, Katara has probably had nightmares that began with those words and ended with firebending nieces.
>"Sokka," Katara said coolly, "please inform Princess Azula that it is
>not my policy to drink with tyrannical bitches such as
That's a dirty, filthy lie. Toph is sitting right there. :)
>"Fire princess 2, ice princess 1," she remarked with a broad grin,
>then elbowed Katara hard enough to jostle her a half-step toward Azula
>(who had uncrossed the stems of her two glasses and now stood holding
>one in each hand with a wry little smile). Katara (pointlessly) shot
>Toph a glare, then turned and stared at Azula in disbelief for a
>second; then, almost unwillingly, she cracked a little smile, then a
>bigger one, and then laughed and took one of the glasses.
>"Well," she said philosophically, "as one tyrannical bitch to another,
>I suppose I'll drink to that," and they tapped their glasses together
>and drained them.
I'm not sure I'm a fan of such a swift resolution here. It seems a bit... I don't want to say contrived, that's too harsh. Forced, is I guess the word? There's... a large chasm between Azula and Katara, one that was primarily dug by Azula, and I don't really feel it's been adequately bridged. With the others, sure. Zuko's love for his sister is unconditional. Aang doesn't hold grudges. Neither does Ty Lee. Sokka has surprising moments of zen when it comes to his interpersonal relationships. Toph is... Toph. Suki isn't here but I expect she would probably be filled with such vitriol as to make even even Katara blush a bit.
Katara holds grudges and is suspicious and demands substantial and repeated evidence of good faith before extending a hand, I think.
Yeah, sure, Azula helped Zuko kill their dad. I kinda feel like that's just the price of admission to Katara Land. If Azula actually wants to go on the rides, that costs extra.
Good story overall, though. It's definitely a transitional part of Desolation Angel; I get the impression a large part of it is setting up the last bit.