Amy R. (brightknightie) wrote,
Amy R.
brightknightie

Once Upon a Time Before Bottled Water (or An '80s Fandoms Fanfic Wallow)

I self-indulgently did little with my Labor Day weekend Saturday but read fanfic on the AO3 for dearly remembered ~'80s-shows (mostly Saturday-morning cartoons). I wanted the comfort of, first, stories written for shows I'd personally absorbed with my whole imagination, and second, stories written for sheer love of a canceled show's entirety (not in competitive argument over a still-in-production show's evolving direction), and, finally, not to be poked at too much for time passing.

I happily found such stories. What's in this corner of the AO3 seem to be mostly unasked, unrewarded labors of pure fannish love, and the rest written for Yuletide wishes. (Much of the surviving incompetent fanfic for these series probably sits in spiral notebooks in cardboard boxes in storage units, handwritten in childish but practiced cursive. And I know this because... ~grin~)

I was somewhat dismayed by the lack of variety in certain corners — oh, my dear BSG'78! it's not a sign of great fandom health that all two (that's right: two) Starbuck/Cassiopeia stories are by or for me (thank you, Malinaldarose!) — but that's doubtless an artifact of fandom age, too; diversity is the pulse of a live fandom, perhaps sadly ever fading in a canceled one. I cracked up when I spotted a Darien/Serena (Mamoru/Usagi to you) story tagged "rare pairing" (oh, sweetie, my heart goes out to your "rare"), and I first laughed and then sobered at the existence of an OMC/OMC Sailor Moon tale. I don't normally read Robotech fanfic (as with Trek and old-school Marvel, the pro stories are usually far more than enough for me; those are big canons not often in dire need of fannish mending... what Byrne did to Vision and Wanda forever an exception, of course), but I did yesterday, and enjoyed a satisfying little conversation between Max and Rick about Myria... and befuddlement at the high ratio of Masters to New Generation, Macross and Sentinals! (How did Masters win a renaissance? Do we all just think Dana gets in the way? But it's not like Bowie/Musica is all over, either! It's Nova. Surprise!)

Mostly, though, I spent my self-indulgent fanfic day inside the unforgettable realm of the cartoon Dungeons and Dragons (1983-1985). That was my show in its day, my turn choosing the channel on Saturday morning. (When I first bought the DVD set, I'd promised to loan it to Abby when I finished watching; I dragged my feet about whether and how to approach the unmade finale "radio show" — I have a thing about "closing" a beloved canon — so I hadn't yet shared when she died, and I'm forever sorry about that.) As I mainlined its fanfic yesterday, I noticed that post-unmade-finale is naturally a large percentage of the stories, a fannish touchstone obviously available only once that script became available.

So directly from that post-unmade-finale subgenre and my reading binge, I'd like to recommend "The Good Life" by [archiveofourown.org profile] Evidence (PG, ~19K words), as a rich, post-series story from Eric's perspective, with the protagonists back in the real world and suffering appropriate levels and manifestations of PTSD after their three-year struggle for survival in a pseudo-medieval fantasy realm dumped them suddenly back not only into the early '80s US, but into their own three-years-prior bodies. (Imagine suddenly being 15 again in the late twentieth century after reaching 18 on Middle Earth!) I would happily have kept reading that story for many thousand words more, seeing every character in his or her home or school, with parents or siblings or friends.

On the other side of the big subgenre divide is ignoring, overwriting or not knowing the unmade finale. There, I'd like to recommend the 8-story series "The Trial by Existence" by [archiveofourown.org profile] astolat (R, ~54K words). It's tagged Venger/Sheila, but if you can give it the leeway of calculating Sheila as at least 18 in the realm by then (otherwise, it's statutory rape on top of everything else; let's be clear and trigger-warned), that element pays off as a full-fledged plot device (not as a mere ship) in an effective, if ingenuous, way (having been responsible for FK's Light Cousins and Faithfuls, I feel that I know an angle like this all too blushingly well). However! That's not the point of the story (or of my recommendation)! What is the point is Eric's growth from cavalier to paladin, from ordinary knight to holy knight. Oh, yes, you can guess how delightfully that pushes my buttons; it is indeed a treat!

Curiously, Eric is the preferred perspective character across most of the fanfic. I hadn't expected that. As a child, of course I wanted to grow up to be like Hank or Diana, but identified with Presto or sometimes Sheila. As an adult, oh, yes, I get the Eric fascination. It's not utterly unlike Raistlin fascination, is it? Where many of us went almost straight from here, as I recall. Cartoon D&D to Dragons of Autumn Twilight, oh yes. The most outcast, the least wanted, the least trusted, but in many ways the most powerful, the most needed... the most potential, the deepest redemption. They all naturally had all the anxieties of their age and situation, but only Eric, habituated to insulation by his wealth in the real world, and Bobby, a child among children, got to voice it on a regular basis. Eric is a wonderful voice for cartoon D&D fanfic! But I'd like some Diana and Presto now, too, please. ;-)

One last thing? Among all the cartoon D&D fanfics I read yesterday, two referred to the characters, on coming back to the real world, buying/using bottled water (one from a grocery store, one in the amusement park). Anachronism! :-) In the '80s, in my part of the US, anyway, you got water from drinking fountains. If you paid money, you got soda pop (or maybe milk). Bottled water meant glass bottles that rich, pretentious adults ordered in restaurants on TV shows (if it meant anything at all; I don't think I'd yet heard of bottled water at that time). In the early '80s, for most of us, there wasn't yet any such thing as natural food, remember; everything was heavily processed and made primarily of unpronounceable chemicals, and that was considered very good, because: science!

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Tags: fandom:dungeons&dragonscartoon, fandoms_not_fk, fanfic:who:byyou, recommendation, recommendation:otherfandoms
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