So, we come to the last Once Upon a Con series post. The newest book – Bookish and the Beast is out now. You have no more excuses not to pick up these geeky contemporary retellings.
Today I am focusing on the thing that connects them all.
…and because I’m a geek here’s everything we know so far…
This post contains spoilers … you have been warned.
Starfield is a fictional cult science fiction TV show that spawned its own convention – ExcelsiCon, and is now getting a movie reboot (Starfield and sequel Starfield: Resonance and ?third film).
Each ‘Part’ in the each of books is proceeded by a snippet from Starfield.
In Geekerella – main character Elle’s father founded ExcelsiCon years ago and the story revolves around a cosplay competition with tickets to the Cosplay Ball and a meet and greet with the reboot’s star as the prize.
In Princess and the Fangirl – fangirl Imogen takes the place of Starfield star Jessica at her convention appearances which she tries to find out who is leaking the sequel’s script.
In Bookish and the Beast – a love story starts at the masked ExcelsiCon ball but the main story takes place elsewhere. In a library .. that has a complete Starfield collection.
Starfield Characters (and actors – current/original series)
Federation Prince Carmindor – Darien Freeman/David Singh
Black hair, chocolate eyes, brown skin, Blue uniform with brass buttons, shoulder pads with tassels, tails, and the Federation starwing insignia on the lapel, polished black leather boots, and gold crown of stars. Genetically enhanced with bones made of titanium. Heir to the throne of stars (?).
Princess Amara Avonrose – Jessica Stone/Natalia Ford/Ellen North (pilot)
Red hair in an Anorian braid, green eyes, (Galaxy Dress – glitter and dark purple dress – rich plum, soft and silky -yards and yards of it, like it could be made from the midnight sky and Starshine glass heels and gloves)
Starbright General Ambrose Sond – Vance Reigns/the late Arthur Boise
Long White-blond hair braided down one shoulder, pointed yet human cheekbones, gloved hands, golden eyebrows and sky blue eyes. Zealot of the Path of the Sun. Molten golden trousers. Lights embedded in his cape blink and sparkle, neon-yellow piping underneath his Noxian uniform (despite not being Noxian)
The Nox King – Robert Thomas Eddington/ ?
Black cape, giant ears, insignia of religion on shoulder. Amara’s father
Euci (Eucinedes) – Calvin Rolfe/Carl Thompson
Shark teeth. Carmindor’s wisecracking best friend/sidekick/navigator of the Prospero
CLE-o – not mentioned in reboot/Kiki Sanchez
A small robot
Zorine – casting not mentioned
Six armed, green skinned lesbian Llotivan with red eyes. Amara’s childhood best friend.
Noxian General casting not mentioned
Obscura – not mentioned in reboot
Vexel Day – not mentioned in reboot
Ingarians – race of aliens mentioned in script
Voltures – race of aliens mentioned in script
Prospero – Carmindor’s starship
Skystalker – Ambrose’s ship
The Noxian Empire
Plylantha – Princess Amara’s home planet – purple and blue and green “a pearl of a World”
Metron – the South Side is meant to be good
Arteysa Galaxy and its frozen tundra
Galactic Six and its moons
Andromeda Earth – homewarld of the Federation
The Black Nebula – world sucking abyss
Look to the Stars. Aim. Ignite (said by Carmindor)
The universe/horizon is wide. And I have a kingdom to rule. (Said by Amara)
Look to the stars and chase your destiny.
I hear the observation deck is nice this time of year. Only on the south side of Metron.
Starflame – used in place of a swear
Noxballs – I think you can guess when you’d use this one
Sol – god.
The Promise-sworn – the Federation salute (pointer and pinky fingers out, middle two together, thumb down) – You and I are made of stars
ah’blen/ah’blena – m/f/ term of endearment – my heart/my other half
Earthenders – what people from the stars call anyone who prefers a planet (staying in one place forever, stuck in their narrow ways)
Stargunners – Starfield fans
Wabba Wabba (Not sure what this is but it is referred to in the context of coral ‘Wabba Wabba flakes”and Do you wanna Wabba Wabba with me!)
The Brinx Devastation – presumably part of the Starless Wars
The Federation – galactic government
Joke: How do you get a one armed Nox out of a tree? You wave at it!!!
Supreme Intergalactic Empress/Highness
Solar Flux Capacitor
Path of the Sun – cult believes in harnessing the Black Nebula to become a god.
Starfield Theme Song “Ignite the Stars”
Look to the Stars! Look to the stars and see! Find out where you belong! And fight for it, fight for it, fight for love in s Starfield. A star field, a star field of light.
And we reach the stars, the stars, forever in the stars, the stars
Reach into the stars with me, fly with me, forever …
“If I can’t Love her” – Ending song
Starfield Books/Novelisations ‘extended Universe Saga’
The Starless Throne by Sophie Jenkins (To atone for the crimsoned of the Twelfth Order, Ambrose Sond escapes his lifelong imprisonment in the Mines of Mourning and is sent careening into plot that may destroy not only the Federation but everything he once loathed – until he finds a reason to protect it. Amara wears a golden dress on page 347).
12 The Cassius Sun
37 Starfield, A Shot in the Dark by Almira Ender
73 The Noxian Guilt Series
The Star Brigade
In the Night Abyss
The Broken Throne
To Nox and Goodnight
The Last Carmindor (final book before reboot)
Starfield: Resonance companion novel
Book titles mentioned but ? Starfield ones
Black Spire Bloodline
Heir to the Empire
Starfield Original TV episode titles
Elle suggests watching them in Chronological order rather than screening order – Ep 3, then 1, then 12, then 22 (Amara hates Carmindor, the Federation and the Interglactic Peace Treaty. She wants to make her father proud – then you see her redemption arc).
Ep 5 (The one where the general’s sawed off horns looked like boobs on his head according to Sage)
Ep 10 (The one with Carmindor in the shower)
Ep 13 “The Queen of Nothing” (The one where Carmindor and Amara first meet, and Amara has a braid in her hair)
Ep 14 “Better Space Than Never”
Ep 26 (The one where Carmindor was mind warped by a Nox)
Ep 16 (The one where the Nox king doesn’t wear a cape)
Ep 33 “A Nox to Remember” (The one with Amara’s coronation, a ball and kissing)
Ep 34 (The one where the Nox invaded District Elevan and Carmindor and Amara joined forces)
Ep 41 “Worse Than Death”
Ep 43 “From Amara with Love”/ “The Last Turn of Time” (depending on which book you read)
Ep 53 (The only episode in which Carmindor smiled)
Ep 54 ‘Black Nebula” (The episode Stargunners say didn’t happen)
Unnamed Ep (The one where Euci becomes possessed by the Balu’atho, an ancient Noxian blade, and goes bonkers)
Three Ep arc where Amara can’t be conscripted to the Path of the Sun because of her part Noxian lineage. Saves Carmindor from its depths and traps Sond is a cryogenic chamber.
If you loved the Once Upon a Con series here’s what to read next:
Unconventional and Theatrical by Maggie Harcourt – the UK’s version of Once Upon a Con with its own fictionalised franchise – Piecekeepers.
Fangirl and its spin off Carry On/Carry On Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl even gets a mention in Bookish and the Beast.
The Fandom and The Fandom Rising by Anna Day – in this series the characters even get transported to their fictional fandom’s world “The Gallows Dance”.
I have everything crossed for more spin off series based on the author’s own ‘in-story’ fictional worlds.
In the meantime…
Look to the Stars.
Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston – Once Upon a Con Series Book Review/Once Upon the Dark Side
Apologies that this is much later than I’d planned. Lockdown has been weird for me and reading. Anyway. I’m back on schedule and plan to release the Bookish and the Beast Review on its release day of Aug 4th and I’ll post my Starfield Special on Aug 5th.
Princess and the Fangirl Synopsis
Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary Fangirl on an impossible mission: to save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off in the Starfield movie sequel. The problem is, Jessica Stone, the actress who plays Amara, desperately wants to leave the franchise behind.
When a case of mistaken identity at ExcelsiCon throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must team up and trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover the darker side of fandom – as well as unexpected romantic possibilities. Can these “princesses” find a way to rescue themselves from their own expectations and redefine what it means to live happily ever after?
About the Author
Ashley Poston was born and raised in rural South Carolina, where you can see the stars impossibly well.When she’s not inventing new recipes with peanut butter, having passionate dance-offs with her cat Pepper 🐈 , or geeking out all over the Internet and at comic cons, she writes books and is the author of the Once Upon a Con series and Heart of Iron Duology.
What I Thought
I was excited to be back in the once upon a con universe and although we shift to focusing on different characters this time our favourites from Geekerella also make an appearance.
Where Geekerella was a Cinderella retelling this is a Prince and the Pauper one. Basically we have your parent trap switcharoo here with our two main characters stepping into each other’s shoes.
With Darien in book one and now Jessica in book two author Ashley Poston helps us see the real person behind the celebrity and I think that’s hugely important. It makes the romances that much more believable, and possible. Having been a con attendee now I think you do get that variety of ‘celebrities’, those who are more approachable (Darien) and fan friendly and those that can appear more standoffish. We get to explore the latter type here and we really get to understand the why.
Whilst we had some LGBTQIA+ representation in secondary characters last time, this time one of our main characters falls in that bracket. I spotted the nod to Simon versus the Homosapians Agenda (Love Simon) with the character name this time. I love intertextuality. I also love the enemies to lovers trope, if you are a fan of that too this book will make you happy.
We also get some proper intrigue and mystery in this story. Jessica’s script has gone missing, someone is leaking it online. Who is it, and can they stop them?
There are lots of little side stories and relationships that make this book such a fun read and it captures fully the joy of fandom and convention going – which is about the friends you make rather than the celebrities you spot.
Once Upon the Dark Side
And no this isn’t referring to Star Wars. At least not exclusively.
Poor Jessica definitely feels the dark side of fandom coming down on her in this book and you don’t have to look too hard online to see it there either. I’m going to touch on two aspects.
I focused on cosplay alongside my review of Geekerella and I want to follow that up by reminding everyone that Cosplay is not Consent. Ask to take someone’s photograph – they may want to pose to show their costume in the best light or they might prefer not to be photographed at all.
And do not touch.
Personal space needs to be respected. Maybe with social distancing this might become better accepted. Yes some of the costumes are skimpy, and some of them are also handmade and delicate. Do not touch unless invited. And any con worth their salt should have a code of conduct on behaviour and a place where you can report inappropriate people.
Same goes when you have photo ops with celebrities – ask before touching. They are people to who have a right to say no to your request and who may be dealing with their own social anxieties/ internal traumas. Some will be happy to sign but prefer not to have photos taken. And please don’t jump in front of their car to get them to stop (saw this at a theatre stage door once).
As fans of something some of us can have a tendency to think that it belongs to us. When in reality everything is an act of co-production. At times our expectations are unrealistic and in real life, as in the novel, responses can turn sour. If a character doesn’t look the way you expected them too. If a scene was cut. These are the things we love to dissect but sometimes it goes further and darker than this.
The Star Wars fandom backlash against some of its female stars in particular has been disgusting. If a character in an adaptation doesn’t meet up to your expectations or an author doesn’t follow through with your OTP (one true pairing) or they kill off your favourite character, by all means mention it in your review/analysis but a) don’t tag the person b) create your own “headcanon”. Do not demand that they change it. c) Do not issue death threats. I can’t believe I need to say it but I’ve seen it happen.
Next time I’ll be exploring retellings and fan fiction so back to a more fun topic.
Thanks to Quirk & Jamie-Lee and Stephen for hooking me up with an ARC of book three and giving me the opportunity to re-read this funtastic series. All opinions are my own.