Why isn't there More...?
by Lucy Gillam
You know, it's bad enough that inspiration hits when I should be grading papers. Now it's hit for a multi-part series. Sigh.
We've all been there: at Karen Nichols' wonderful links page, or Yahoo's search categories, staring at a screen that stubbornly refuses to cough up fan fiction for a particular show, movie, or book. There seems to be so much potential in <X> - you've got all *kinds* of ideas swimming around in your head. Why doesn't anyone else seem to see it?
So, today at the Fanfic Symposium, we will explore the timeless question of "Why isn't there more ...?", a look at several odd gaps in the fanfic world.
Before we begin, let me state a few fanfic principles I hold near and dear:
Your mileage will vary on all of these, of course (I mean, hey: there's a whoooole lotta Ares/Joxer fans out there. Joxer?!?!?), but they're good caveats to any exploration of gaps in the fanfic world.
- Liking a show and wanting to write/read fic about it are not the same thing. My all time favorite show is Babylon 5, and I honestly have no desire to read B5 fanfic. I'm not sure why this is except that something just gets lost in the translation for me. Ditto BtVS: many of the things I love about that show require the audiovisual medium.
- It takes more than just two hot guys to make slashfic work. The relationship must be believable (we've all seen pairings that just made us say "no way"), interesting (sure you could have Picard and Riker do the horizontal mombo, but who would care?), and lend itself not just to drop-and-replace sex scenes, but actual stories as well.
- Fanfic must always do justice to the original. If you're going to write M/K X-files slash, you have to deal with the complex (read: twarped and wisted) nature of the relationship in some way, shape, or form. If you're not willing to go to that effort, pick another show/pairing.
Having said that:
#1 Why isn't there more Matrix fic?
This past summer's surprise sci-fi hit would seem to be a natural for inspiring fanfic. We were given complex (and pretty) characters, a wicked cool atmosphere, and a rich plot that left *acres* of unexplored territory, even granted the reality of a forthcoming sequel. What is Zion like, and what will Neo make of it? What will Neo do with his newfound powers? How will the the rest of the Zionites react to "the One?" How will the sleepers react to the realization that the price of "freedom" may be nearly every creature comfort, including things they have come to think of not as luxuries, but necessities? What will the machines' next move be? And these are just "what happens next?" questions. They don't even touch on the backstory potential.
And then there's the slash angle. Sure, Neo and Trinity make a cute couple, but there was a whoooole lotta heat between Neo and Morpheus as well (hey, multiple partners works for me <g>). And was I the only one who thought Traitor guy was way more attracted to Neo than he was to Trinity?
And then there's the crossover potential. This universe could be crossed with nearly any other show/movie/book. Imagine Immortals finding out that they're not even "real" people, but programs in some cosmic video game - even worse, imagine MacLeod or, goddess help us, Methos discovering that their memories are completely false. Or a discovery by Morpheus&Co that some of the "coppertops" are literally inexhaustable power sources. Or simply imagine your favorite characters in your favorite universe learning that everything they think they know is a lie. How would they react?
And yet ... there doesn't seem to be a lot out there. What little I was able to find (and it took quite a bit of searching) was entirely gen, and many of the stories were fairly obviously Mary Sues. If slash does exist, I wish someone would point me towards it.
So why isn't there more? Darned if I know. I'd say it's the alienness of the universe, but that hasn't stopped The Phantom Menace, otherwise known as the Fandom that Ate Cincinnati (someone else said that somewhere - I'd attribute it if I had the short-term memory of a gerbil), which is, let's face it, a lot more alien. I honestly don't get it.
#2 Why isn't there more SG-1 slash?
Now, before you open that e-mail to direct me to the archive, I know there's SG-1 slash out there. I've read all of it. Twice. What I'm asking is, why isn't there more? Why does the TPM list produce more fic in a day than the SG-1 list does in a month? Don't get me wrong: I'm a quality over quantity kind of girl (although I've noticed that slower lists seem to have the same ratio of good fic to overall fic as the busier ones do - it's really quite depressing), but this show seems made for slash.
Let's start with the basics: three, count them, three attractive men, all of different "types," and three different, fairly complex relationships among them. I would say that Jack and Teal'c's warrior-buddy thing is probably the simplest on the surface, until you bring the slash angle in, at which point you have two alpha males trying to mesh together. Jack and Daniel (sigh - mental image) have a complicated history, over which they've clearly bonded. They've also got a certain surface antagonism, involving very different backgrounds and ideologies that clash Daniel's deep need for Jack's respect and Jack's protective impulses toward Daniel. And then there's Daniel and Teal'c. Whew! On one hand, there's an obvious bond: Daniel is probably the only person on Earth with whom Teal'c can really talk about any number of things, since he's the only one with any real insight into Teal'c's culture. On the other hand, getting past Teal'c's role in Daniel's loss of Sha're just can't be easy for either of them.
And then there's the infinite toybox that is the Stargate system. One of my favorite role-playing games is the game based on Roger Zelazny's Amber series, because the basic set-up involves multiple realities that are infinite in number and possibility: if you can imagine it, it exists. SG-1 strikes me as much the same way. The fic writer is free to stay in the familiar confines of late-20th century America if she wishes, or is free to create nearly any type of society.
So ... why isn't there more SG-1 slash? Again, I'm not sure. I suspect some of it has to do with access to the show: in its first run, it appears on Showtime, and then about a season later in syndication. And while I can't speak for other markets, it tends to be shown at very odd and inconsistant times where I live. Still, it seems like a ripe universe that hasn't even begun to be mined yet, and although Justine will probably kill me for saying this, I'm betting burnt-out Sentinel writers would find some fresh ideas there.
#3 Why isn't there more Sandman fic?
Actually, that question is pretty easy to answer: Neil Gaiman's Sandman series is pretty well-known as non-superhero comics go, but that's a bit like saying something is well-known for a PBS series. Mainstream, it ain't.
But, oh, the potential! I think this would almost have to be a crossover, just because Dream is very challenging to write as a POV/central character - even Gaiman told a good chunk of the stories from someone else's viewpoint, and Morpheus was often only a cameo. From the slash angle, while there certainly are established Sandman/DC characters one could slash with Morpheus (Hob Gadling springs to mind), there aren't many.
But the crossover potential is too rich to ignore. Like the Matrix, this could be crossed into ANYTHING (everyone dreams, do they not? And multiple realities are de facto in the world of the Sandman). And I for one would love to see how Morpheus would interact with anyone from Blair Sandburg to Methos to Dan Rydell.
So, consider this my blatant plug to all you who love dark and weird: get thee to the comic/sf section at Borders and get Preludes and Nocturnes and A Doll's House. Then write <g>.
#4 Why isn't there more... other people's suggestions.
These are little mini-laments from other folk.
- I-Spy slash. My friends assure me that not only was this show *very* slashable, but that Bill Cosby was quite hot in his younger days. I myself think this is sick and wrong, but that's mostly 'cause I loathe "Kids Say" with a firey hate.
- Earth 2 slash. The problem here is that the columnist hated this show, although I admit that might have had something to do with the endless rants of Gharlane of Eddore on rec.arts.sf.tv. However, even I must admit that Clancy Brown and Antonio Sabato might have made a tasty couple.
Got other ideas? Drop me a line. If I get enough, I'll do a follow-up column.
Next week: "Why is There So Much...", a look at TPM and other fandoms that exploded.
Lucy would like to acknowledge the contributions of Emily Brunson, Rachael Sabotini, Maygra deRhema, Miriam Heddy, and Seah to this masterpiece. She also gives free and unconditional permission for use of any of the ideas contained herein, as long as she gets a copy of the story ;).