Open Thread: Love Triangles

It's not that I can't handle a good love triangle so much as I would just please like advance notice that a book contains a love triangle. Can we start having, like, an FDA warning label for love triangles?


Suggested topics: Love triangles you hated, love triangles you loved, and love triangles where you wanted to toss one or more of the members off a bridge. Derail as desired!


Will Wildman said...

I cannot, off-hand, think of a love triangle I've ever liked. Partly because it's always very clear to me which option I prefer, and the alternatives presented just seem ridiculous to me. (I have already gone on at length about THG and why, despite being such a blatant triangle in structure, it never felt like one to me in an emotinoal or narrative sense. If I had come at it from a more traditional trangular angle, it would be no exception: there's the obvious choice, and there's the sociopath.) I think the only aspect of love triangles that I enjoy at all is trying to understand audience reactions and perceptions - who sees a triangle where and why do they disagree with me? It's enlightening.

Of course, now I'm starting in on a collaborative effort that will feature a love... hub-and-spokes? Sea urchin? It's not a polygon, because all of the interest is flowing one way, namely between the female protagonist and a considerable array of dudes who have concluded that, once you factor in the zombie apocalypse, she is the easily most attractive person for hundreds of miles in any direction.

Incidentally, since love triangles so often present a choice between the sweet-and-stable and the passionate-and-volatile, and I have a strong tendency to look at the latter and say "Why would anyone want to immerse themselves in that mess?", I would be intrigued if anyone has examples or Thoughts regarding the volatile characters being more attractive or a legitimately better choice. I'm introducing the troubled-but-cute guy in the current section and while the protagonist herself is like me in her initial 'not touching that powder keg' reaction, it does us no good if the reader feels the same way.

redsixwing said...

I usually don't like love triangles.
I made an exception for Kashi-Mashi, which has a love triangle and some aliens (not in the main triangle) as a plot. 13 episodes, full of weirdness, and with a main character who I'd consider to be on the trans* spectrum (though where, exactly, could easily be a subject of debate.)

In that one it was between sweet-and-unstable and passionate-and-stable instead, which made things a bit more .. even? The fun part was that I ended up hoping for one end of the triangle, SixSpouse ended up hoping for the other end, and then we both went "why can't they ALL get together? Geez" and proceeded to decide that that's how it SHOULD have happened.

kbeth said...

My understanding is that the stereotypical passionate-but-volatile love interest is supposed to be more interesting -- they make wittier conversation, they drag you into interesting and fun experiences, and they're more, well, passionate in bed (and of course they tend to be very attractive). Sure, sometimes the witty conversation turns into callous barbs, the interesting and fun experiences can be dangerous, and the passion in bed can be overpowering, but people are willing to ignore a lot to get to the higher highs. I think the key is that, at least in these love triangles, people are rarely thinking about worst-case scenarios; instead, it's something like "Well, everyone has foibles, so would I rather spend my life *really* enjoying his company sometimes and doing my own thing the rest of the time, or just being kind of contented all the time?" Of course, there is usually someone there to remind characters of the worst-case scenarios, but then the question is how much they care about that against the immediacy of the passionate love interest being really fun right now.

I actually thought THG subverted this a bit, in that whenever Katniss is with Gale, Gale is actually shown as a stabilizing force for her -- she counts on him to feed her family, going hunting with him clears her head, they know each other well enough that they can communicate almost completely nonverbally. Gale is passionate, but we never really see how that passion is directed positively toward Katniss. We see that he's miserable about the Peeta situation, and we see him being full of rage and anger towards the Capitol, but we never really see him positively pursuing Katniss, and I feel like the heightened emotion of the pursuit is really half the point of the passionate love interest. With Peeta, on the other hand, we actually get more of the confusion and volatility that normally goes with the passionate-but-unstable love interest. I'm not sure how intentional that was, but I thought it was an interesting way to switch up the normal emotional arc of the romance plot.

Lonespark said...

I hate love triangles. Perhaps I will be able to think of an exception, but so far no.

Part of the reason is I always think it's more of a polygon, that there are a few other someones also interested in the people in the triangle, and where's their perspective? But then also I think in life it works more like um, I dunno, a bunch of vectors, balls on a billiards table, or something? Like what matters is the people, but also hugely the situation, the circumstances both in terms of personal maturity/emotions/focus/etc. and outside things like commitments to family or job or The War or whatever.

I love romance stories but I hate for the obstacles to include love triangles. I hate it in het romance and I hate it in slash fic and I haven't read much same-sex romance but I assume I'd hate it there too. What I love is when Love Triumphs Over Stuff, and Stuff can be Zombies/Cthulu/The Mutant Registration Act/etc., it can be cultural conflicts, it can be emotional difficulties or other trauma, distance, time, doubt, etc., etc. Just not a rival and that's that.

Lonespark said...

Now I've been thinking about all the Love Triumphs Over Don't Ask Don't Tell stories I've read and how glad I am that's a quaint historical genre now.

Inspirational pic:

Timothy (TRiG) said...

I've surely, at some point, read a book with a love triangle, but I honestly cannot think of one right now.

No, wait, one Saint short story. That was fun. Silly, but fun.


Launcifer said...

Funnily enough, the thing that annoys me even more than love triangles is when the story goes to the trouble of setting one up and then quite conspicuously ignores it. I don't know quite why this annoys me so much, but I think it's not so much a case of playing with my expectations as it is doing literally all of the work and then not providing me with even the dubious payoff of a triangle.

Rainicorn said...

I remember being about 10 and deciding I was going to write a musical where the lead character couldn't decide between two men and wound up converting to a religion that allowed polygamy so she could marry both of them. At that age I don't think I'd ever heard of polyamory outside of references to cults and such, but I guess even then I found love triangles insufferable and wanted to subvert them.

Gelliebean said...

My problem with love triangles is that I've never read one where I really believed that one person just honestly couldn't decide between the two they were interested in. It's usually pretty obvious who the author's favorite (and therefore the One True Love) is going to be. If I were going to really appreciate a love triangle, it would have to be one where there was enough ambiguance that I couldn't be sure how it would turn out.

The only exception I can think of is a book by Emma Holly where the girl fell in love with two guys who had a pre-existing relationship with each other, and they ended up all three together at the end. I don't think that's a 'love triangle' in the sense that you have a lot of tension as to who the person in the middle is going to pick, though....

depizan said...

What would an example of that be? I can think of stories that include foregone conclusion love triangles (person C has no real chance because A and B are clearly going to get back together, or person A clearly has no chance of getting B back, because that relationship had gone south long before C turned up), but I don't know if that's what you mean. Well, and randomly deepsixed triangles, as in Star Wars. Why bother having the characters work it out if you can just decide two are brother and sister?

I'm not much on love triangles myself. If they're done well (that is, there's attraction going both ways with both love interests) what I want is for them to all end up together. If they're done poorly, it's just creepy. No reducing people to prizes to be won, or refusing to back off when interest isn't reciprocated.

Of course, I'd also like to see way more fiction that lets men and women be friends. (Or whatever gender and the gender they're attracted to. It is possible to have friends of the gender you go for, fiction, really, it is.)

Mime_Paradox said...

Question: would something like Aang/Katara/Zucco, where one leg of the triangle consists almost entirely of subtext and perceived chemistry count?

My very favorite love triangle, I feel, would have to be Minmei / Rick Hunter / Lisa Hayes (or Minmei/Hikaru/Misa, if you're so inclined) from Robotech / Macross. Sure, it's melodramatic like nothing else, you can easily tell when they pressed the reset button after the series got more episodes than they'd initially bargained for, and Lisa isn't terribly sympathetic during the series' home stretch, in the sense that you want her to realize that Rick isn't worth all the pining, but it still works, in its way. You can tell why Rick initially becomes infatuated with Minmei, why she can't requite those feelings, and how his growing sense of responsibility leads him to connect with the older Lisa. Then, after the two year gap, you can totally tell why Minmei would suddenly feel like she *has* to rekindle things with Rick, even though it's clear he's moved on.

jill heather said...

I liked the love triangle in Jeanette Winterson's Gut Symmetries.

Mime_Paradox said...

Question: would something like Aang/Katara/Zucco--where one leg of the triangle consists almost entirely of perceived subtext and chemistry--count?

My favorite type of love triangle would have to be the type where the “ideal” pairing isn't possible, and everyone has to try their best to love the ones they're with. Alma Garrett / Seth Bullock / Martha Bullock in (Deadwood)--where Seth isn't allowed to continue his affair with Alma because of the arrival of Martha, whom he'd agreed to marry after her previous husband, Seth's brother, had died-- are a good one of that type, as is Usagi/Noriko/Kenichi (Usagi Yojimbo), where Noriko and Usagi's samurai sensibilities and respect for Kenichi prevent them from acting on their feelings.

My very favorite love triangle, though, is probably Minmei / Rick Hunter / Lisa Hayes (or Minmei/Hikaru/Misa, if you're so inclined) from Robotech / Macross. Sure, it's melodramatic like nothing else, you can easily tell when they pressed the relationship reset button after the series got more episodes than they'd initially bargained for, and Lisa isn't terribly sympathetic during the series' home stretch, in the sense that you want her to realize that Rick isn't worth all the pining, but it still works, in its way. You can tell why Rick initially becomes infatuated with Minmei, why she can't requite those feelings, and how their separate lives lead them to drift apart and help Rick forge a connection to the older Lisa. Then, two years after everything goes to hell, you can totally tell why Minmei would suddenly feel like she *has* to rekindle things with Rick, even though it's clear that they're all drastically different people. Then, when it finally, ends, everybody realizes that things have turned out the way they had to, and that nobody would have been happy had they turned out any other way. Even as age has allowed the story's flaws to become more apparent, it's hard not to still appreciate it.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

Hang on, I've just remembered another silly love triangle in one of Richmal Crompton's Just William stories, rather hillariously unpicked by William himself. That actually was a pretty good story.


Ya Hiqei said...

Well this is going to come out of left field as far as readers of this blog go, but when it comes to sweet-stable vs passionate-volatile love triangles where passionate-volatile is the obvious option, I'm afraid I have to bring up Transformers of all things. No, not the terrible movies. The badly animated 80's show.

The contested : Starscream, the vilest character you'll ever root for because the universe hates him so you don't have to. Wishes to overthrow Megatron to become the new leader, and until then he will yell at, belittle, and backstab everything in sight. The sweet-stable : Skyfire, Starscream's long lost lab-partner and presumed ex, who has just been defrosted from the Arctic ice. Does not seem to notice what a terrible person Starscream is until Starscream shoots him in the face (and maybe still not then). The passionate-volatile : Megatron, emperor of destruction. Known for regularly beating his subordinates and constantly berating Starscream.

I think the reason that this "love" triangle could only work out in the passionate-volatile's favour is that the contested person in this case is passionate-volatile as well, and thus the watcher can't honestly expect him to choose a healthier relationship. Not exactly your usual girl-or-guy-with-a-choice. So in this case the answer as to "Why won't he just choose the healthier and happier relationship that doesn't end in his abuse and death?" is "Because he's an unstable person who chooses to live in a world of death and pain and treachery because, quoth him, 'It's much more exciting!' "

Also Starscream wouldn't ever pick the sweet-stable option becuse although it would be emotionally healthier for him, he is not only blind to that, but it would also deny him the one thing that makes his life worthwhile : the power-struggle to lead his faction. Starscream couldn't ever choose the healthier Skyfire option because it would force him to abandon the pursuit of power that he's dedicated his life to. And yes, that does imply that he naturally chooses the passionate-volatile "love" option of Megatron just so he can backstab, overthrow, and possibly kill him. And then, once he's at the top, his life would become meaningless without the struggle. It's a complex triangle.

Then again, these are robots we're talking about, and whether they can even fall in love is a strange kettle of fish, but as a character study I think it stands non-romantically.

Maartje said...

(Trigger warnings for magically easy pregnancy.)

Elfquest! I think that's where I got my fondness for unconventional relationships. I always wanted to have the type of family where I could sleep in a big puppy pile with my husband, my best friend, my sometimes-lovers, HIS sometimes-lovers, and our children. (And their wolves, but I'm not a wolfrider so it'd be a metaphorical puppy pile only.) Turns out, I don't want children, I'm an introvert who quails at the effort of maintaining multiple sexual relationships and have married a very monogamous man. Ah well. Still one of my favourite images.


Dewshine and Scouter are childhood sweethearts. One day, Dewshine meets Tyldak, who's on the side of the enemies. They 'Recognize' - a magical bond that facilitates reproduction - Dewshine gets pregnant and leaves Tyldak first chance she gets 'cause that is NOT supposed to be a good relationship. Scouter is like a father to the child. Years later, Scouter 'Recognizes' Tyleet and gets her pregnant. Rather than breaking up with Dewshine, Scouter and Tyleet choose to share soulnames (which usually happens when people Recognise) as though to say 'screw you' to biology. Dewshine and Scouter and Tyleet decide to go on as a triad.

The three final people are all sweet/stable.

Another one: Cutter-Leetah-Rayek

Rayek and Leetah are a couple. Cutter comes out of the desert and 'Recognizes' Leetah. (Also abducts her. Not too good with the impulse control, that Cutter.) She beats him up and demands to be returned to her people, and wants nothing to do with him. Magic spark thingy is of course hard to resist, and Cutter tries his best to be extra nice because he's sorry. Rayek, meanwhile, shows more of his pouty/assholish side, which is a bit of a turn-off. Both men are passionate and volatile, yet stable in their own ways. Cutter is the leader of his tribe of tough survivalists, and Rayek is much admired in HIS village. They ask Leetah to choose, and she can't because she honestly likes them both. (The reader is supposed to favour Cutter, of course.) In a contest to see who is the more worthy suitor, Rayek officially wins but disqualifies himself by being an ass, and takes himself out of the picture altogether by running away because he can't stand being second to anyone.

Years later, Leetah and Cutter meet Rayek again. They had thought he was dead, and it is a big surprise. Leetah and Rayek immediately go off together, and he carries her sleeping form back to Cutter hours later. (Dunno what happened, but I always imagined they had a physical reprisal of previous good times.) Nobody cares at all.

AcyOS said...

The only tolerable love triangle I can think of right now is Gil/Agatha/Tarvek in Girl Genius, and I only started liking that once "keep them both" started being floated as a viable option. There's no clearly identifiable "safe" option, for reasons of Politics as well as because everyone involved is a Mad Scientist liable to lose sight of what is and isn't acceptable behavior at the drop of a hat.

I also like the fact that Agatha tends to react in a ballistic manner to anyone she catches focusing more on her love life than on her "trying not to die or be forced into a powerless position" life. It's kind of awesome. :D

Edit: Oh, and I completely support the idea of a mandatory warning label for love triangles. I hate getting those things sprung on me.

Arresi said...

Worst: Torchwood. Every relationship on the show. I ended up strongly disliking about half the characters as a result. (In my dreams, Ianto, Tosh, and Rhys ditch the others, and go off to have cool adventures and take care of each other.)

Best: I don't mind Girl Genius' love triangle - I have a preference, but I feel like if it goes in a different direction, it'll be justified, and everyone will be happy.

Amaryllis said...

Triangle I hate: Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" novels, in which our heroine is dithering between a bad-boy cop and an even badder-boy PI. I lost interest in either of them long before Stephanie did, so I don't know if the situation was ever resolved.

Triangle I hate even worse: Lori/Rick/Shane from The Walking Dead. Where I am actively rooting for the zombies to eat all of them. (I can't say "eat their brains," because as far as I can tell they don't have any.)

Interesting triangle: Madison Scott Bell wrote a series of books set during the Haitian Revolution. One of Toussaint's lieutenants, the escaped slave Riau, takes up with Merbillay and they have a child. After a while, he tires of the discipline of Toussaint's army and heads for the hills. Merbillay moves in with Riau's friend Gouiaou and they have a child. (As black former slaves, marriage is an irrelevant question for any of them.) Riau comes back, there's some tension and an eventual confrontation between the men, but a tacitly-accepted polyandrous relationship evolves, and Merbillay has a third "child with two fathers." And nobody thinks the worse of her.

As a woman in a very violent society, she and her children needed the protection of a man; when one left, she chose another. But she was allowed to choose, and she was genuinely fond of both of them.

Actually, she was insignificant enough to be allowed to choose. Her story contrasts with that of another young woman, a beautiful mixed-race freedwoman, who is not allowed to choose for herself

Rikalous said...

The love triangle in Girl Genius is unusual in that Gil, who seems to fill the sweet-and-stable slot, is much more of a hothead than troubled-but-cute Tarvek. It ends up looking a lot more like sweet-but-violent Gil and sweet-but-Machiavellian Tarvek.

One thing I appreciate about the story is that the boys' relationship with each other gets treated as about as important as their relationships with Agatha, who they're both interested in, and the falling-out that shattered their childhood friendship was a matter of mad science politics that occurred years before either of them met Agatha.

Rikalous said...

I gather the TV Walking Dead triangle is playing out a lot differently than in the comics.

In the latter, Funar ybfrf vg n pbhcyr vffhrf va naq nggrzcgf gb xvyy Evpx fb ur pna unir Ybev. Evpx'f fba fubbgf uvz svefg. Ybev trgf fubg zhpu yngre, naq Evpx'f fgvyy nyvir naq fgvyy gur qr snpgb cebgntbavfg. Fb qrcraqvat ubj lbh pbhag vg, gung'f gjb sbe guerr, be mreb sbe guerr fvapr obgu Funar naq Ybev jrer xvyyrq ol uhznaf, naq jub xabjf vs gur mbzovrf rire sbhaq gurve obqvrf.

I am amused by the fact that Firefox only finds one word in the above paragraph to be worthy of the red underline of misspellings.

Launcifer said...

To be fair I've seen it more often in film than in literature*, so it may be a case of weird editing, but what I'm talking about is when a love triangle is effectively created and then summarily dropped with absolutely no in-universe explanation whatsoever. It might occasionally be a case of deploying the standard tropes and then consciously ignoring then in an attempted aversion, but I doubt it's been the case every time.

* And now I'm stuck trying to remember what examples I was thinking of when I wrote the first post but I'm coming up empty. Damn my flaky mind.

Launcifer said...

I gather the TV Walking Dead triangle is playing out a lot differently than in the comics

Only if it's not utterly stupid and devoid of personal chemistry in the comics. Then again, I'm half-convinced that the series hasn't explained the outbreak of the zombie apocalypse because all of the people initially infected caught the rage virus after being subjected to their own truly appalling television series. Still the zombie extras look like they're having fun.

hapax said...

I am thinking about the one m/m romance novel I actually managed to *finish* writing, and how a huge plot point was the fact that same sex marriage was illegal. In Connecticut

I keep mentally ticking off states in which I can no longer re-set that story. :-)

(My loathing for Lurrv Tripods is so fiery and all-consuming that I cannot discuss it without risking setting your monitor ablaze)

Cupcakedoll said...

ElfQuest is completely the reason my first big story ended in a happy threesome. =) I wonder how much of the modern generation's "nontraditional relationships are no big deal" came from all of us reading EQ and Mercedes Lackey in high school.

I also support triangle warning labels. Triangles themselves don't bug me much, but after randomly reading three in a row... the trope police called, they'd like to see some variation! Of course I can just wander out of the YA section, but I enjoy the current trends and want to read them all to find the best ones.

Fluffy_goddess said...

I certainly always thought relationships were dealt with better in happy genre fiction than "literature" in high school, so I too would attribute my anything-goes-so-long-as-it-works attitude to Lackey and her ilk.

Though I actually quite like threesomes. One of the best things I ever say about a story is that I walked away from it still liking the characters and happy with the way they turned out, but the stories I actually reread most often are the ones that make me itch to write ridiculous fix-it fic to turn a triangle into a triad. (Including Mansfield Park, but that is a triangle of sheer silliness and is much improved by turning to the movie versions.)

AcyOS said...

I love both those things about it.

Another thing I love: That their mutual attachment to Agatha, barring an outburst of jealousy or two, is something that's bringing the two of them closer together rather than becoming a(nother) reason to hate each other. It's one of the things that gives me hope for the OT3 ending, and also it's just really amazing in itself. I want that kind of thing to happen more often in fiction.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

*Adds Girl Genius to list of webcomics*

Camelliagirl101 said...

I'm reading a noir for school with a love pentagon. Harriet is Plyne's common-law wife, but he also has the hots for Lena who could really pick between him and Eddie, who is trying to pick between her and Clarice.

Reverie said...

It seems like there's been a love triangle in every YA book that I've read for the last four years, and while I didn't mind at first by now it's annoying. A bit of a pity too, because so many of those books were genuinely engaging just on their own- they didn't *need* a love triangle. It's been creeping into some of my (admittedly limited) TV too, though. The same generally applies.

My most hated love triangles are the ones from Fringe. I swear. Olivia/Peter/Alt. Universe Olivia, Frank/Alt. Olivia/ Red Universe Lincoln, Peter/Altivia/RU Lincoln, Current Time Line Olivia/Peter/ Previous Timeline Olivia (if they don't end up being one and the same)...... I swear, I'm so tired of it! I like Peter/Olivia well enough (its kinda sweet) and Alt Olivia/RU Lincoln, but all these alternates and twists and romantic drama subtracts from the whole story for me. ESPECIALLY the baby plotline.

Also didn't much like the one in the Hunger Games, but the only one that makes me rage is Fringe,

The only Love *Triangle* I've found semi-interesting was the Jem/Tessa/Will set up from Cassandra Clare's Clockwork series. I would love love love it if they all just said screw it and all three of 'em got together. Best possible solution, in my opinion. But given the Victorian setting and the author's previous works, I'm not gonna put much time into hoping for it. So failing that, I'd like to see Tessa with Jem, but the second book has already made it perfectly clear that won't last.

I kinda like how Marion Zimmer Bradley handled the tangle up in The Mists of Avalon with Elaine, Morgan, and Guinevere all loving Lancelot while Morgan also had a child with Arthur and Guinevere still felt some love for her husband. It felt like a very respectful and actually pretty realistic relationship to me. Not everyone ends up happy and with their true love; there's a sense of people doing the best they can. But I'm not sure that's a triangle so much as a polygon...

(also, please forgive if this ends up a multiple post. Disqus seems to be fighting me...)

Reverie said...

Oh.....and also on the 'Bugs Me' list should be the Jace/Clary/Simon and Isabelle/Simon/Maia triangles from Clare's other books (which I like less than Infernal devices, actually) , Owen/Nikita/Michael from Nikita and the mess that is Malcolm/Bridget/Andrew/Siobhan/Henry from Ringer, which is a bit of a guilty pleasure show. (There should also be that one French guy Siobhan is using in there somewhere but I don't know where to put him that he wouldn't mess up the chain...).

But again, I'm emotionally attached to none of those the way I am Fringe, so only Fringe makes me break down in tears of rage.

Amaryllis said...


No, I never read the comics, and that's not at all the story in the TV series. Although I suppose we can always hope.

My daughter watched the first season and enjoyed it, so I started watching with her during the second season. And we watched, hoping it would get better, as it got worse. This year, we're only watching to see how much worse it can get, and to cheer on the zombies.

And I see that I abandoned my post last night in mid-sentence; someone was talking at me. It's probably just as well, though. I'm not sure I can summarize Nanon's story in a few sentences here that would be suitable for general consumption. Suffice it to say that she and the men in her life smashed hard against the restrictions of race and class and gender while struggling to survive in a multi-sided, extremely violent war.

Amaryllis said...

Wait, which triangle? Edmund-Fanny-Henry or Fanny-Edmund-Mary?

And which movie version? The only one I've seen recently (for old-people's version of "recent") was that BBC adaptation with Billie Piper as Fanny-- worst piece of casting I'd seen in years.

Ana Mardoll said...

We just watched "Cracks" last night which has... I hesitate to call it a "love triangle". But Di loves Miss G who loves Fiamma.

The very great problem is that Zvff T vf gurve grnpure, naq fur raqf hc ubeevoyl nohfvat Svnzzn. Very "good" movie, if by "good" one means creepy, horrifying, and guaranteed to give nightmares.

Silver Adept said...

About the only polygon I can stand right now is Camille (Galenorn's Sisters of the Moon series), and that's still a bit "eeergh", mostly because of the possessive nature of one of the three. I think it would have worked better without him, but the plot at least gives good reasons why things are the way they are. I think that the serial monogamist sister and the freewheeling sister have better-written love lives. Of course, that could be because I'm till stinging a bit over the last book.

In any case, I think the "triangle" option is usually used as a surrogate for choosing between two possible futures, as mentioned upthread. I also wish there were more books and shows that ended with someone either getting both of them and making it work (I'm looking at you, Glee), or that didn't end with "Well, now that I've chosen, I'll never see that option again." Yes, avenues close when you make decisions, but could you be a little less final about it?

Fluffy_goddess said...

I was thinking Edmund-Fanny-Henry, but Fanny-Mary-Edmund would have definite appeal, too. I should write something for that someday.

As for movies: I actually rather liked that BBC adaptation. Not so much for Billie Piper, but for Tom, Mary, and Henry. Then again, I also liked the 1999 version with Frances O'Connor, which was a very different beast. Neither version bears more than a superficial resemblance to the book, but they both have their good points as entertainment. I wound up reading the book after I'd seen both those adaptations, and was actually disappointed. I'd thought of Fanny as being more fun, more adult, and more reasonable than she is in the book; I've heard Austen refer to Anne Eliot in Persuasion as the heroine who was almost too good for her to believe, but for me book!Fanny is the one who is ridiculously saintly and childlike.

Which is not to say, of course, that I didn't like the book. But I prefer a heroine with a bit more sass, and I think modern adaptations add a lot in, if only in voiceover.

Makabit said...

Wasn't that called "Paint Your Wagon"?

Makabit said...

Huh. I always liked Stephanie/Morelli/Ranger, but then again, I never took it all that seriously as a triangle--Stephanie and Morelli are meant to be together, and I'm fairly sure Ranger knows that.

Caravelle said...

Come to think of it there is a love triangle I can think of that I liked, the Achmed/Gwydion/Rhapsody triangle in the Elizabeth Haydon's Rhapsody trilogy. Rhapsody and Gwydion are each other's Twue Wuvs, and Achmed is a snarky anti-hero (or anti-villain, depending on the point of view) who does a lot to elevate the story from incredibly cloying Marie-Suetastic extruded fantasy product to pretty interesting fantasy epic.

SPOILERS (that I won't rot13 because I don't think the following paragraph spoils things much more than naming the members of the triangle already did)
Anyway, while Achmed and Rhapsody do grow to care deeply for one another there is never the slightest doubt that she'll end up with Gwydion. What I liked was the ending scene at their wedding - Achmed is asked what he thinks of this whole "girl you kinda love ending up with the hot guy you can't stand" situation - and his reply is (paraphrased) "I'm immortal. She's immortal. He's very long-lived... You do the math."

Amaryllis said...

@Fluffy_goddess: I know, book-Fanny is pretty irritating. I believe Austen was going for a Jane-Eyre kind of effect: poor frail female dependent who is nevertheless right. But sometimes it seems as if Fanny's timidity and physical weakness are supposed to be signs of her moral virtue; she's just more refined in every way than the more robust women around her. As opposed to Jane pointing out that externals of wealth or gender or strength have nothing to say about the fundamental equality of all human souls, one way or the other.

Still, Fanny is who she is. I read the book first, and I couldn't see book-Fanny anywhere in that movie.

@Makabit: that's the problem, I guess. It's perfectly obvious that Stephanie and Morelli are meant for each other, ever since they were in first grade. So why is she still dithering after eighteen books? Move on, already!

Lonespark said...

I am almost done reading Steam Powered 2:More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. It continues to be superlative fantastic awesome. I am definitely going to read the first one and track down more stuff by the authors.

Now I was trying to think if any of those stories have love triangles. But no. And there's a lot of variation in the kinds of relationships in the stories, so that just reinforces my opinion that triangles suck. Of books I've read recently, the closest thing to a "love triangle" was in a story in Nisi Shawl's Filter House where people were hired (or forced? Or in-between? Maybe they were prisoners?) to download their conciousness into bodies grown with the genetic material of other, more privileged people and colonize a planet. But they didn't have to download themselves; they could stay as formless conciousness living a virtual life inside the ship's computer, and the main character's lover ended up choosing to do that...and she was sleeping with another woman who had downloaded and then I guess they ended up in more of a relationship and going off to colonize the planet.

Makabit said...

I think it worked for a long time because Stephanie and Morelli were still growing together, and figuring out what to do with all the myriad ways she will never be a traditional Burg wife. And I think that Ranger is both sexually enticing, and has been someone who's taught her a lot about herself.

I don't mind it, somehow, because they're all good characters, but it is starting to get a little old--the story arc clearly demands that she and Morelli commit now. It is enough, already.

Fluffy_goddess said...

In some ways, I like book-Fanny: she's shy, and quiet, and doesn't know how to ask for things she wants, and I think the world does need more heroes that are neither Capable Extroverts nor Misunderstood Introverts. She's got her principles and she stands by them, and that's what makes her right in the end. The problem is, she stands on her principles in the most passive, least revealing way possible. Now, I can understand why she's reluctant to tell anyone that the reason she refuses Henry is that she loves Edmund -- she's probably been told repeatedly that she was not taken in to be a future wife for her cousin so don't even think about it, and also he's off his head about another woman. But she also doesn't tell anyone about the things she's seen that bother her about the play, or the relationships between various people, and she doesn't even tell the truth when the truth would be useful but uncomfortable. She reads like someone who has been emotionally and/or psychologically abused all her life and who is now too frightened to do anything but go where she is sent or whisper a yes whenever someone asks her a question, and I don't think we're meant to see her that way. Nor do I think we're supposed to see her as close-minded, which I definitely also see her as being -- she initially mistrusts Mary because Mary's first action when she meets new young men is to evaluate them for marital potential, and does so quite consciously. Since Mary's sole job as a marriageable young woman is to find a husband, and she's not actively trying to steal one from someone else, I'd say that's a fair thing for her to do when she meets a new circle of eligible people.

tldr: I think of movie-Fanny as the updated version of who Fanny would be, if Austen were writing today. Less watercolour-child-woman, more kind-and-obedient-but-with-a-sense-of-humour. Jane Eyre survives as a heroine, I think, because she has the courage of her convictions to back her up, and even if modern audiences don't necessarily agree with her choices, it's made clear that they are her choices. Book-Fanny never calls her surroundings on their hypocrisy, even in her own mind, so she needs more updating to become an accessible character.

Charles Matthew Smit said...

I guess I'm unusual for this thread in that I adore complex love polygons. I do, however, expect all the characters in them to be treated with equal respect by the author, rather than having it be, say, a story about an inevitable couple with a third wheel as the major obstacle to their eventual happiness if only they could see it. Actually, one of the few love triangles I'm *not* fond of is arguably the most famous -- Arthur, Guinivere, and Lancelot. Though that's largely because it's doomed, and all of the blame is usually heaped on Guinivere's shoulders.

Ana Mardoll said...

I love that scene. What is it Knives says? "I'm too cool for you"? It's letting him go (I was never a Scott/Knives shipper), but in such a way that's really coming into her own awesomeness. She's not a victim anymore; she's taking charge. I like that scene a lot.

Brin Bellway said...

I wanted to use italics and even a little bold text above; what kind of code does this board use?

That quote is in (I think I can get this to show up) <em></em> tags. (I'm told that "em" is easier for screenreaders for interpret than "i", same with "strong" instead of "b".)

Will Wildman said...

I love that scene. What is it Knives says? "I'm too cool for you"?

I'm very conflicted about that scene. Watching it, I just didn't believe her and I felt it was one more push on the whole 'you have won your prize/girl, go collect her' that was Not Welcome after I had so recently read the magnificent comic book ending. But if I try to ignore that, relegate Scott and Ramona to secondary characters, and view the story from Knives' perspective, it feels much better, in that, even though she isn't emotionally over him, she has decided that they would not work as a couple and she needs to move on.

I should reread it and see what I think of the comic book version of Knives; I don't recall being dissatisfied, but she didn't get the same kind of big scenes in the ending either.

Laocorn said...

>>> I'm told that "em" is easier for screenreaders for interpret than "i", same with "strong" instead of "b". <<<

Interesting... and more importantly, thank you! Do you know if there's a reference page or chart or something somewhere?

i test b test

Silver Adept said...

@Brin Bellway and @Laocorn

It's not technically bold and italics in strong and em, but that you want to say something strongly and with emphasis. Most web browsers' internal style sheets (the SS part of CSS) render strong in bold and em in italics, but they don't have to (you could make strong render in allcaps and em render in bigger font, for example).

The reason you want to use these (and why screenreaders like them better) is because your HTML code (which is what strong and em are) should be used to describe the structure of the page (where headers are, where the body is, et cetera) rather than the formatting of the page (things like bold and italics and font size). Screenreaders have style sheets, too, with audio cues - they know how to handle strong and em, but b and i don't really make any sense to them.

It's also why the tags b and i are deprecated and not part of the HTML standard any more, even though web browsers will still render them.

Cupcakedoll said...

Only marginally related note: I was in Hot Topic (looking for Sailor Moon stuff!) and they had a lot of Hunger Games movie merchandise including T-shirts of the boys that looked very much like similar Twilight shirts, like someone up there in Marketing decided to announce we shall be having "Team Gale" and "Team Peeta." Love triangles sell T-shirts?

Laocorn said...

Thank you, Silver Adapt ^_^

Silver Adept said...

@Cupcakedoll -

They do, indeed. They sell lots of knicknacks in this day and age. After the Twilight Fever dies down, we'll still have a useful TVTropes entry (Team X), but we won't have near as much merchandise telling people to declare an allegiance based on love interest. We'll go back to the usual divides - Rebels versus Imperials, Federation versus Dominion (or Klingons, if you're old-school), Alliance versus Horde, Final Fantasy VII versus Final Fantasy VIII (real answer: Final Fantasy IX. Seriously, people.)

Y'know, important stuff. *thbbbbbbbpth*

Rikalous said...

There is only one divide that truly matters: Han Shot First vs. George Lucas.

Whitney Barnes said...

"Now, I can understand why she's reluctant to tell anyone that the reason she refuses Henry is that she loves Edmund -- she's probably been told repeatedly that she was not taken in to be a future wife for her cousin so don't even think about it"

It's not said explicitly in the book, but I always thought that if Fanny confessed to loving Edmund, she'd be on the first coach to Portsmouth.

"She reads like someone who has been emotionally and/or psychologically abused all her life and who is now too frightened to do anything but go where she is sent or whisper a yes whenever someone asks her a question, and I don't think we're meant to see her that way."

I think we are. Remember, when she first shows up at the house, her cousins are talking about how ignorant she is to her aunt, and Mrs. Norris's reply is 'Well, you girls are very smart, and Fanny is likely quite stupid". And one of the last things Sir Thomas says to her before he leaves for Antigua is "I bet your brother will be disappointed at how childish you still are". 8 years of that will give one quite the inferiority complex.

BrokenBell said...

This seems like an appropriate place to mention how much I giggled with delight when I saw Ana starring in the very first edition of Shakesville's new Promoted from Comments feature. When I read the opening paragraph, Ana immediately leapt to mind as someone who would be perfect for it, and apparently Melissa had the same idea.

Otherwise, I just finished playing Analogue: A Hate Story, the new... Game? Story? Visual novel? Collection of fictional diary entries? The new thing from Christine Love. I thought it was pretty cool, but I have nobody else to talk about it with, so I was wondering if anyone else here had seen it. It costs moneys, around ten pounds/fifteen dollars, which initially seemed a little steep, but after playing more of it, and thinking about how much I enjoyed her shorter, smaller, free-er stuff (like Digital: A Love Story, which anyone with an interest in alternate-future AI stuff and a spare hour or so should totally play) I am completely satisfied with the price. It's interesting, and heartbreaking, and occasionally horrifying, and I really want to hear someone say words about it.

Ana Mardoll said...

Aw, thank you. *blush*

I've actually seen Melissa promote comments before, but I'm so touched that she picked one of mine to launch the Official Series. It's like winning a feminist lottery of awesome-sauce!

depizan said...

I suddenly totally want a T-Shirt that's got the half Republic/half Empire thingy you see on the SW:TOR website a few places. Because why should I have to pick an allegiance outside of game when I'm merrily playing both in game? (And yeah, I played both Alliance and Horde in WoW, too.)

Fluffy_goddess said...

"It's not said explicitly in the book, but I always thought that if Fanny confessed to loving Edmund, she'd be on the first coach to Portsmouth."

Yeah, it's heavily implied. And I believe her uncle boasts that nobody can accuse him of having been raising a wife for his younger son, somewhere in there, so it's not like she'd be ignorant of it.

I agree with your read on what's in the text, but not on the implications. Fanny reads to me like someone who is totally self-effacing Because She Is a Good Girl, not because she's been beaten down by life and a circle of silly relatives. We don't get much of her day-to-day life, which is fair, but it's really hard to judge her entire relationships based on first and parting meetings. Do her cousins tease her? Do they exclude her from activities she's interested in? Or do they all just drift in different directions? She's never allowed to forget the difference in their ranks, their social situations. Is that done kindly, or maliciously? By the end of the novel only two of her circle have really been punished -- should we then assume that the others were nice people who could've done better, and only those two were really cruel people? After all, the wicked are punished, the good are rewarded, and the middling are redeemed.

But would she be any different with a different upbringing. I'd argue no. (Aside from possibly being dead. The sister who was most like her died, as I recall, mostly from being too delicate to survive her parents' house.) She's Good no matter what situation she's in, nor how unfamiliar it gets, no matter what. And she's a Good Girl set off by a circle of silly, self-absorbed relatives, so she can triumph over their immoral temptations.

The traits of A Good Girl in an Austen novel are not the traits of a good character in my mind. My favourite Austen heroines -- from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion -- are not conventional good girls. They're smarter, or wittier. They pursue their own entertainments. They know their own minds. Elizabeth is clever but tends to run wild, Anne is overlooked because she is too old and too stubborn. They've got what I'm inclined to label Guts. Adventurous or introverted manifestations of those, but nonetheless. And then there's Fanny. She's meek, and obedient, and tries to like everybody and smooth out everyone's lives without ever telling a secret. Being good is her one over-riding characteristic, and I think it's what we're supposed to remember about her. Unfortunately, since I tend to think of people who are that shy and self-effacing and sweet as boring characters, I don't care for her. I prefer versions that at least imply she has a rich inner life, which I think most screen versions have to do. Bonus points if she gets to be snarky and funny when alone with people she trusts.

Amaryllis said...

Maybe, but "snarky and funny" just don't say "Fanny" to me.

I think we are supposed to regard Fanny's form of "Good-Girl-ness" as mostly innate. At the end of the book, after she and Edmund are married and gone, her younger sister Susan becomes the Resident Niece:
...and equally well adapted for it by a readiness of mind, and an inclination for usefulness, as Fanny had been by sweetness of temper and strong feelings of gratitude.... Her more fearless disposition and happier nerves made everything easy to her there..

Susan is "useful" where Fanny is "sweet," and yet it's Susan who becomes the most beloved of the two. Passive excellence is not as attractive as an active form of affection, joined with quickness in understanding the tempers of those she had to deal with. Granted, Susan's Mansfield is not the same place as the Mansfield of Fanny's childhood, with her cousins gone and her aunts and uncle not nearly so sure of themselves, but still, I think we're meant to believe it was the difference in temperament between the sisters that led to their different experiences there.

My favourite Austen heroines -- from Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion -- are not conventional good girls.
So is this where we start talking about Emma, Austen's "heroine that no one but myself will like"? After spending all that time with Fanny, it seems even her creator was ready for Something Completely Different.

(And I suppose, if you squint at it the right way, there's more than one Triangle in that book too.)

Mime_Paradox said...

Huh. While I love the movie, the way it handled that love triangle was one of the sticking points for me, since the movie is quite obviously rooting for Scott to get together with Knives, as shown in the original (cut) ending (which makes wonder just what Edgar Wright was thinking, since--HEY! Missing the point much?) On the other hand, I appreciate the finality the book gives to Scott's break-up with Knives--there's never any real question about whether they'll get back together again (they won't), which frees her (once she truly stops attempting to make her and Scott happen again) to head into her own arc. I also feel that the line "I'm too cool for you," describes Book!Knives better than it does for Movie!Knives. Movie!Knives never really gets beyond Scott!Stalker until the last ten minutes when she finds out Scott cheated on her, and never really gets opportunities to develop other dimensions; Book!Knives, on the other hand, manages to take both the good and the bad from her relationship with Scott, and uses it to improve herself. By the time the book ends, she has a job, she's made a bunch of new friends, and she's set to go for college--basically, she's in a much better place than Scott ever is.

Ana Mardoll said...

This is an announcement to announce that we are moving out of current!House next week and (hopefully) into new!House next week. If we can't close on new!House in time, we'll be living in parents' garage. :)

(OK, their guest room, but with our STUFF in the garage.)

Dav said...

There's no clearly identifiable "safe" option, for reasons of Politics as well as because everyone involved is a Mad Scientist liable to lose sight of what is and isn't acceptable behavior at the drop of a hat.

Und any plan vere you lose your hat is a bad plan.

chris the cynic said...

Good luck.

Jimmy said...

Do yourself a favor, don't get caught up in GG. The love triangle completely derails the plot, basically so Kaja Foglio can fulfill some creepy goal of being wanted by two princes. The story loses itself in a castle that the main characters are trapped in for over three years of writing. It turns from a somewhat decent steampunk webcomic to a painfully banal piece of fanfic. Not worth your time.

hapax said...

At any rate: by the end of that chunk of story, Hikaru came to realize that Kyosuke was pretty much just stringing her along. Mr. Deer-in-the-Headlights had done so through inaction, even if probably not on purpose, and Hikaru got to a have a speech about that

Which was also the best part of the Scott Pilgrim / Ramona / Knives triangle, and something I think the film actually handled better than the book.

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