Why is There So Much.../Why Isn't there More...?
by Various Contributors
As promised, a revisiting of the Why is There So Much.. ./Why isn't There More... columns of 1999.
Why Isn't There More Queen of Swords f/f?
First off, I have to admit that the one-season Zorro rip-off "The Queen of Swords" wasn't all that good. The characters aren't very deep and the stories are mostly unabashed plagiarisms of various Zorro movies.
But that hasn't stopped a respectable volume of QoS m/m from being written. And I've written a rant about that as well.
The f/f potential is considerable. There are three beautiful women as regular characters. The central character is a woman, which it seems to me should inspire more f/f than m/m, but that doesn't seem to be the case in practice.
Finally, the lead character, Tessa Alvarado AKA the Queen of Swords, has an extremely slashy relationship with her gypsy servant, Marta. They embrace, they trust each other with everything, they worry about each other, and they even seem jealous when one of them gets involved with a man. To up the ante even more, Marta displays signs of jealousy over Tessa's friendship with another *female* character, the lovely Vera Hidalgo.
With all this, an exhaustive search on my part has turned up only two QoS f/f fics. One is about the obvious OTP of Tessa/Marta, and the other is about Tessa and Highlander's Amanda.
( http://www.altfic.com/subtextfic/queenofswords/ellaquince/nochedulce.htm , http://members.shaw.ca/elizawpg/Amanda.htm )
One person to whom I ranted about this said, "That one's perhaps a little TOO obvious. If it's been done, and done well, in canon, lots of ficcers don't bother to explore further. Plus, their relationship is very pretty, not messed-up. That messed-up angle is actually a big draw."
She has a point. But that ignores the massive popularity of Jim/Blair, Kirk/Spock, Sam/Frodo, etc. She prefers slashing "messed-up" relationships, but patently not all slashers do.
It's said that *Gone With The Wind* got written because Margaret Mitchell was a voracious reader who exhausted the public library during a long illness. One day her husband came to the hospital with a notebook instead of a new stack of library books, saying, "Peggy, if you want to read another book, you're going to have to write it yourself."
That's why I'm working on a QoS f/f fic. I just wish I wasn't the only one!
Why Is There So Much Queen Of Swords m/m
The fact that this show was a one-season wonder that admittedly wasn't all that great hasn't stopped a
respectable amount of m/m from getting written. And that really puzzles me, because none of the men in this story have what I would consider slashy relationships. Which forces me to digress and define what I consider a slashy relationship. Your mileage may vary.
I think that the best slash pairings are canonically either close friends or else arch-enemies. If they're close
friends (Jim/Blair, Kirk/Spock, Sam/Frodo), there's plenty of canon examples of their affection for each other that can be used to support the idea that they're lovers.
If they're arch-enemies (Harry/Draco, Mulder/Krycek), then their relationships already have a great deal of passion. They have strong feelings for each other. They're important to each other. It isn't too difficult in many cases to add physical attraction to these extant passions, and a lot of writers enjoy the heck out of finding ways to reconcile the characters enough to get them into bed together.
Further, two of my favorite pairings could be considered to combine both of these types of relationships. One, James Bond/Alec Trevelyan (Goldeneye), involves two men who were once close friends and comrades in arms, Fighting The Good Fight together. Then Trevelyan turned bad and they became mortal enemies. The other, Klaus and Dorian of "From Eroica With Love", which I've written many stories for, involves two men on opposite sides of the law -- a NATO operative and a professional thief. They have distinctly different lifestyles and values, and yet they can't seem to stay apart, and for all their differences and constant arguing, they display obvious respect for each other. In addition, they have intriguing amiable interludes that provide plenty of canon fodder for slashers like me.
So coming back to QoS, none of the men in this series have this kind of relationships. None are good friends. None trust each other. None are mortal enemies; the enmity depicted is more of the "he gets on my nerves" type. Further, none of the male characters on this show seem to have any respect for each other. They seem to all dismiss each other as twerps. Not the most fertile ground for a nice hot slashy relationship, in my view.
Why Isn’t there More seaQuest Slash
by Lorelei Jones
Okay, some people look at me blankly when I say "seaQuest DSV," but I have yet to meet a person who doesn't know exactly what I'm talking about when I say, "You know, the show with the talking dolphin." It's not that the source material is obscure, or even unattainable. Every once in a while, the SciFi Channel dusts off the series and trots it out either for a Chain Reaction or to fill the 6:00 am slot for a complete run. The show ran for three seasons (okay, two if you're a denialist, and I emphatically am), so lack of source material is definitely not a problem. Empires (witness TPM fandom) have been built on less.
Granted, it wasn't the best-written show, but...well, Smallville. The Sentinel. The Phantom Menace. Even select episodes (you know which ones) of Highlander. It's often been mused that bad writing is an attractor when it comes to fanfiction, and I'd have to say all the evidence I've seen points to such. There's more room to play, more to fix, more to interpret or reconcile or reinvent. I *do* think there needs to be some kind of "core of goodness" to work with, a foundation to keep both the show and the fic from unravelling completely, whether it's a basic continuity or a really good premise or characters with "hook," but I think sQ had that. At least as much as the shows I mentioned above (all of which, by the way, are also my fandoms, should anyone decide to take offense).
So, why isn't there more sQ slash? And why is most of what there is so bad?
For the first question, it could be that it's an ensemble show, and from my own experience, ensemble shows don't attract nearly as much slash as shows with a more OTP vibe. I often like to point out the sheer number of potential pairings on sQ, the variety of gorgeous men in close quarters with intense relationships. I've referred to the show as a slasher's wet dream
(pun intended), but maybe it's a case of too *much* of a good thing. Nobody really stands out as the definitive pairing. Yeah, there's a central relationship on the show, and some of us sick and twisted individuals see slash in it, but most loudly declare it father/son and move on. Since the bulk of emotionally intense scenes goes to that particular pair, maybe there's not enough "slash resonance" to catch the interest of a slasher who's not into May/December romances or Authority Figures or a vaguely
incestuous vibe. I'm into all those angles, so I really can't say. I'd love it if somebody else could.
As for the second question, I personally suspect it's because several violently anti-crit fans are very vocal in the fandom, and there just aren't enough of us pro-crit fans around to keep the balance. After being flamed for offering a story critique on a list that purported to be "crit-friendly" (so the FAQ said at the time), and after a discussion with that list's admin, I have started a pro-crit discussion list in sQ fandom, modeled after FCA-L, Prospect-L, and Critical Edge, to name a few. There are currently twelve members and the list is very quiet, but I like to think it's some progress. Now, to just get more people writing fic to discuss.
Why isn’t there more Batman fiction?
by Lucy, with massive contribution from Justine
Oh, come on. You knew this was coming, or you did if you’ve exchanged more than five fannish words with me in the last two years, because I can guarantee that at least one of those words was “Nightwing.” If you are one of the few people I haven’t extolled his virtues to, allow me to introduce you to Dick Grayson, the man who was the boy who was Robin, and is now a hero with his own city and his own title. Here . Go look. I’ll wait.
Now: why aren’t more of you writing about this guy? Or about Batman? or Oracle (Barbara Gordon, the former Batgirl who is now the information hub of the DC universe)?
Okay, actually, as with Sandman, I get the why on this one. Simply put, they’re comic book characters. And I don’t mean that writers think writing about a comic book is beneath them. I do think a lot of the high art/low art assumptions of the general population still exist in fandom, but I’m pretty sure that people who write stories about characters from a television show aren’t going to turn their noses up at comic books.
No, the real problem is that comic book universes are just damned intimidating. I mean, where do you even start? A few years ago, I developed an interest in one character – just one (that would be Nightwing). Turns out the guy is in like nine bloody titles. Thanks to trade compilations, I’ve managed to get a pretty solid handle on the last decade and a half, but I know I’m missing out on a whole helluva lot, even just in terms of actual plot developments. And as intertwined as even just the Bat-corner of the DC universe is, keeping up with just one character inevitably means branching out to others. There’s no way I can understand Nightwing without understanding at least Batman, Oracle, Robin, and Alfred, and then there’s the Titans, and Huntress, and…you see the problem. And each and every one of these people is in five or six titles as well.
And that’s just the present. Trying to muddle out the snarl that is Bat History is like trying to herd cats: every character has three origins, every plot point has four explanations. My perennial example: why did Dick Grayson stop being Robin and become Nightwing? Where did he get the name “Nightwing?” I can give you three different stories without even looking anything up.
And finding source material isn’t as easy as asking for tapes or buying a few books. Comics, even current issues, can be darned tricky to track down. It took me a month of phone calls and web searches just to complete my collection of the first 23 Gotham Knights, and we’re talking about comics that were less than a year old. It’s fair to say that the source would have to be pretty darned special to be worth all that effort.
Let me tell you why it is just that special.
First, we’ll dispense with the obvious. Pretty men. In spandex. And lots of them, of every age, body type (well, okay, they’re all pretty buff, but there is some variety), personality type, you name it. Plus? Some pretty kick-ass women as well.
But more importantly, there are such wonderful things as complex, dysfunctional relationships. About which, btw, the characters actually talk. You have secret identities. Mentor-student relationships in which the student has grown up, and thus a constant tension between the need for approval and the need for independence. Bad guys who leer over bound heroes (no, I’m not making that up).
You have this in actual canon. And these .
You have moments like Batman, after offering Dick the adoption papers, asking Dick to “promise [him] something,” then going to stand silently in front of that case which holds the uniform of Jason Todd, the Robin Who Died.
You have Bruce Wayne accused of murder, and all his acolytes trying desperately not to doubt him, and all of them except for Nightwing failing. And lest you think that is just too precious, you have the implication that Nightwing’s belief is as much about not being able to cope with doubt as it is about loyalty.
And the really cool thing is that there is all this is interesting as either slash or gen.
And did I mention pretty men? In spandex?