On the Borderline
Early in the history of slash there were some slashers who thought
that hurt/comfort was closet slash and that eventually slash would replace
h/c.This prediction turned out to be wrong. The h/c syndrome has its own special attraction, and it's become a sub-genre within slash as well as having its gen manifestations.
Yet there are still stories that seem to strongly imply slash without actually going there. This is called pre-slash because the relationship described in the story seems to be traveling toward the slash destination.The pre-slash concept is fraught with controversy since we're talking subtext here, and as I pointed out in "Subtext Anxiety" no writers like to be told about something in their fiction that they didn't intend.
If someone writes a story of this type and follows it with an overt slash sequel, then we can safely call it pre-slash. The author has shown thatslash subtext in the original was intentional. Yet if you call something pre-slash when the author never intended it, then watch out.
Never mind that the characters seem just short of falling into bed, theauthor will trot out the classic argument against slash in general. " Don't you guys believe in friendship? " Yeah, I do, but I see nothing wrong with friends sleeping together. I think that friendship is the firmest foundation for a sexual relationship. Slash is primarily based on the premise that close friendship may be more than it appears to be. It is a subtext that we arereading into televised episodes of series and movies.
So when fans with a slash sensibility read gen fic, they may perceive the same slash dynamic that they saw in the aired series. This is especially likely if the story deals with their favorite pairing and the emotions between the characters seem especially intense.
Is it a good idea to inform the writer that you think she has written pre-slash? Only if you know that the writer's basic orientation toward slash is positive. If she has written slash in the past, it seems likely that she won't go ballistic--even if she doesn't see these particular characters headed in the direction of slash. If the story was written by someone who is well-known for disliking slash, it's best to keep your pre-slash imputation to yourself.