I had planned to review X-Men: Apocalypse this week, but due to software issues, I’ve decided to review a television program I watched while trying to fix my laptop. Not many know that I am a transport enthusiast. I love cars, trains and aircraft of all designs. My favourite aircraft of all, is the Avro Vulcan bomber. There is a grounded Vulcan in the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune airfield, East Lothian, as well as a Concorde and several hangers filled with amazing machines. Tonight I watched a repeat showing of Guy Martin: Last Flight of the Vulcan Bomber. I’d seen it when it first aired, but it was just as enjoyable second time around.
The show followed the final flight of the Vulcan bomber–XH588–which was the last airworthy Vulcan left in the world. She had a dedicated team who maintained her; a dying breed of mechanics who knew the ins-and-outs of every part of XH588, and quite obviously loved the beast.
Guy Martin spent time with the team as they prepared XH588 for flight. It was to be her final flight; a journey which would take her the length of the UK to fly past pre-determined landmarks. The farewell tour was well advertised, and many people showed up at the landmarks to see this amazing beauty fly past. We got to see Guy in a side formation with the Vulcan and a spitfire. Seeing the two craft so close, the hearty Spitfire looked tiny. Yet the Spitfire still flies and now, the Vulcan does not. Guy answers the question as to why the Vulcan was to be decommissioned while the older Spitfire remains active in the skies. Quite simply, it was down to cost and the depleting force of specialised mechanics left to keep her running.
The majority of the show was about getting the bomber ready for the final flight. Guy–a rough-at-the-edges motorcycle racer, was almost beside himself with glee. It was great to watch the excitement and anticipation flicker over his face whenever he looked at the bomber or helped tighten a bolt or fix a wire connection. He seemed as excited as I was when I first stood next to the big one in East Fortune, but he was able to touch it, work on it, get inside and scramble about it–something I’ve always wanted to do. All the way through the show, you could see the wonder in Guy’s eyes and respect for those who kept XH588 in top condition. I like Guy, he is down-to-earth and not scared to try things, as was seen when he taxied a Vulcan on the runway!
Not only did we get to see so much of this magnificent war machine, we were also given the opportunity to understand what it was like to be part of a Vulcan crew. Throughout the show we were introduced to the crew of XH588 and other Vulcan crewman. They spoke of their experiences with the bomber, what it was like to fly her and why their elite team were regarded with such respect. It was interesting to see so many people become emotional about a great hunk of flying metal, but this is what the Vulcan does to people.
By the end of the show, we saw XH588 towed out of her hanger on a foggy morning with doubts she would fly at all due to the weather. Despite this, her crew checked her from top to bottom, filled her with fuel and got her ready regardless. It was obvious they were all both proud and sad. They had maintained the bomber for so long, it looked as if they were saying goodbye to a friend or family member, especially when the weather cleared and XH588 was handed over to her flight crew.
When she took off, her screaming engines powering her gracefully in to the blue sky, my heart was hammering in my chest. To see her take that final flight was both beautiful and heartbreaking. As she flew over hills and cities alike, the camera caught sight of her delta-winged shadow swiftly moving over the ground. It reminded us that it would never slip over the landscape again.
Guy Martin showed us sides to the aircraft we could only dream to see, and every moment of the show, you felt you were there with him enjoying every second of contact with the machine. I will always love the Vulcan. I have other favourites aircraft, but will always regard the Avro Vulcan bomber as the most beautiful and much loved fighter planes in the world. The program is well worth a watch if you can find it!
F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE
I am not much of an artist. At best, I think I’m well above average but not even close to skilled enough to consider making this my career. As I’ve told Frankie, I think I will stick to what I’m good at, and my gift is the gift of words. However, I love art. Evocative works of art are incredibly powerful for conveying thought and emotion and a limitless supply of inspiration. I have a DeviantArt account and there are days where I just seek out art for hours upon hours to disturb my emotional center. Frankie and I have had more than one evening where we just fling fan art back and forth and sigh over it.
Today I want to highlight an artist that is very special to me. Their artist handle on DeviantArt and Tumblr is FireEagleSpirit. I love her style. It just strikes me as so complete and sleek. I could imagine an entire anime film done in her style no problem, and I feel like it would be the most gorgeous creation to see on screen.
I discovered FireEagleSpirit while I was writing Forever, a Naruto Fan Fiction love triangle set in the Founders Era. I was about halfway through and really starting to get into the unexpected feelings I had for the characters and what I was putting them through, so I was on the hunt for some fabulous fan art. It was Toka who led me to her gallery. Toka is a rarely depicted character, having only a couple of panels in the manga and as little screen time in the anime (incidentally, this is the reason I adore fan fiction…the fanfic community has developed her into this amazing bad ass worthy of respect).
But more than just Toka, she has Toka and Mito:
Mito and the Founders:
As well as this series that makes the characters look like they’re at a masquerade ball (gorgeous!):
And these fantastic black and whites:
She has also invented these original characters:
And she’s got a whole series of her own original characters:
All all, FireEagleSpirit soared straight to the top of my favorite artists list and remains there to this day. Her work is truly inspired and gorgeous, and every time she posts something new I just sigh in appreciation. Check her out on DeviantArt and Tumblr!
S.K. Balk lives in the frozen wasteland of Northern Michigan. She is the author of the dystopian medical sci-fi THE BLOOD OF NERYS.
This is a bit of a side adventure about fanfiction. But it’s also a story about writing the story in your heart and believing in yourself, and how good things can happen when you doubt yourself the most.
Something just happened to me, and it’s something that’s so amazing and incredible that I am not sure I can even adequately capture it for you in words.
Let’s start with the beginning… in the Naruto fandom, there are a few people who stand out in the community that just… everyone pretty much knows them. There are the fanfic writers who are well known for a particular style or a particular character. Then there are also a few artists who constantly produce works of fan art that are so incredibly good that they pretty much represent every good work of art for a given character.
These people basically become celebrities to the fanfiction community. If you read/write/draw the fandom and are even remotely serious about it, you KNOW who they are. You can’t help it.
So the story begins when I found a fan art. It’s an amazing, scorchingly hot fan art that redefined the way I saw a ‘Ship that I’d never even considered a ‘Ship before. It’s flawless. It’s wonderful. I’ve shown it to so many people I can’t keep count, like LOOK AT THIS PERFECT PIECE OF ART. It simply cannot be overstated. I bookmarked it. I saved it to my computer so I could easily share it with others. I saved it as my desktop for a time, just to keep having a look.
And then I read a fanfic from a friend of mine, and it sort of started to hint at this ‘Ship, and I told her she should write that one. She countered with “Why don’t you?” It was a ‘Ship outside my comfort zone for a couple of reasons. 1) It involves a character I fear ruining with my writing (he’s already flawless without my help) and 2) It’s a homosexual ‘Ship, which I had no experience writing and didn’t feel as if I had a right to.
But I respected this friend’s opinion, and we got to talking about it. And then I got to thinking about it. And then I was seized by an idea that would not let go. It was such a powerful, stubborn idea that I got myself out of bed and stayed up several hours into the wee hours of the morning on a day I had to work to write the first 12,000 words of it. Within 10 days, I was done writing it. All 53K of it. And then I edited it, and then…
… then I got in a bit of a snit with someone on Tumblr, who reinforced the feeling that I had that I had no right to write a homosexual pairing. They tore me to shreds because I defended a canon married couple in opposition to a popular M/M ‘Ship that included the husband in the fandom and agreed that it was odd how heterosexual women fetishize homosexual males by voraciously writing and enjoying the work (I still think this is weird… but for ME. If this is something you enjoy, no one should tell you not to). I’m a straight ally (err… mostly straight), and I was struck down so harshly that I stopped writing for a while. I almost deleted the story I wrote. I definitely sat on it for a long time. I ended up composing a 5K disclaimer about why I wrote the story and how you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.
And then one day, in a brief moment of defiance, I just fucking posted my fanfiction and shut the computer down. You know why? Because I wrote it. And I liked it. And the story had to be written so I did it. And one jerk on Tumblr wasn’t going to stomp on something that brought me so much enjoyment.
So now back up. Remember those artists I was talking about? The ones that are so amazingly talented that they’re basically famous in the Naruto fandom?
A few weeks back one of them lent their extraordinary talent to illustrate a scene from THIS fanfic. I came on here and blogged about it because I was so excited. It’s my background on my desktop now.
This is what happened to me today–
I logged on for a Tumblr break. I don’t love Tumblr because of what happened to me a while back. But I looked up at my toolbar and I had 2 messages. I never have messages. A while back I sent a picture of a Team SoloMid jack o lantern to Dyrus, so I thought perhaps he’d finally responded.
It was another of the brilliant artists, best known for their work with Itachi and Shisui. Two full messages, about how they would draw the whole story if they had the time. About how I’d mastered the dynamic of the relationship I characterized. About how convincing it was, and how drawn into the story they were when they were reading. About how I surprised them with every turn and kept them engaged throughout the entire story and never devolved into cliches. About how “that is so rare, especially with such a long story. It was also great to read language-wise. I hope I brighten up your day with this message because you deserve to feel so confident about your writing!”
I was in the room with my mother and sister at the time. I try not to discuss the content of my stories, especially given this one was one of my more… ahem… explicit ones? But I sat here and pushed my computer away. My stomach fell and clenched into knots. Because OMG, I know this artist. And OMG, they’re amazing, and-and-and… they LOVED my story? They want to draw it, more than once? It’s like any other big name celebrity casually strolling and fangirling about something you’ve done. I even said out loud, “Oh my gawd!” And I gasped a little and covered my face and looked around, completely shocked that life was continuing as normal even though THIS was happening. “This amazing artist just sent me fan mail. I don’t think you understand,” I said. [They don’t].
So just in case I’ve lost you throughout this narrative, let’s recap.
- I was inspired by a Fan Art from an artist I have great respect for to write a story.
- I wrote the story
- I almost didn’t post the story, out of fear.
- I posted the story.
- The artist of the Fan Art that INSPIRED the story just sent me fan mail.
The artist has no idea. Time to let them know.
Now excuse my while I go cry and/or throw up.
Note: I would post the artist for you, or the fan art, save I don’t currently have permission. Let me see if I can get it.
EDIT: Permission GRANTED! Here they are: Fifi-la-Fumeuse/MalignedAffairs DeviantArt Gallery
Here are a few more of their works: