wendelah1: (all the leaves are brown and the sky is)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xf_book_club
I'd been thinking about posting this so when it was nominated by an anonymous lurker, I decided to go ahead. It's a major new work by a talented writer. Dear Anon, thanks for the suggestion. I hope you will join the discussion.

Title: SN 1572
Author: prufrock's love
Email: prufrockslove@yahoo.com
Rating: NC-17
Classification: Novel, Post-colonization, Angst, Dark MSR, Other
Summary: After colonization and Earth's devastation, Scully remains in one of the few safe, walled colonies, remembering the past and praying for some future with Mulder. Whatever the hell Mulder has become.
Author's Note: A reworking of Negative Utopia


This fic follows the general outline of "Negative Utopia," which we read many years ago. If you want to see that discussion, here it is, along with a working link to the story: Story 76: "Negative Utopia" by prufrock's love. The changes to her earlier fic are more than substantial enough to warrant the re-titling. I loved "Negative Utopia," and, to be honest, I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this fic. I am happy to report "SN 1572" is also an excellent story, though not without its flaws.

Read SN 1572.

After you've read the story, please come back and let us know what you think. The nomination post is always open for your suggestions.

Date: 2015-07-03 04:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitlight.livejournal.com
I thought I'd commented on it at the time but maybe I wasn't a member when we discussed Negative Utopia. NU was the first fanfic I ever read and I remember it very fondly although I haven't revisited it in years. This should be interesting.

Date: 2015-07-03 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitlight.livejournal.com
I'm terrible at putting times into context, I know I was ON livejournal then but beyond that I remember nothing :)

somewhat spoilery response to story

Date: 2015-07-11 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zinnia03.livejournal.com
I have read many of the stories but seldom comment. Thanks for continuing to post these in the face of apparent apathy. I think we are out there but speaking at least for me, RL doesn't allow me much time to indulge myself in reading (I'm the half-hour before bed kind of reader these days), or even much brain space to think about the things I read when I get a chance to read them. This story I stayed up late to read over two evenings.

I didn't go back and re-read the original story but I remember it as being relatively short, sharp, and having a fairly hopeless view of the future. I was new to fanfic and devoured pretty much everything in my path at that time, but "Negative Utopia" is one that stuck with me.

I like this re-working of it for the way it fleshes out the post-colonization world. Also, it's unusual for Prufrock to write from Scully's POV - most of the stories I've read by her are Mulder POV. In them, Mulder often seems to view himself as somewhat inept and socially backward, so to see him through the filter of Scully - where she finds him almost as much of an enigma as he finds her -- is interesting.

I thought a lot of about the role of women in this story and correlating it to the kind of stuff that continues to happen in RL but I'm not very articulate about it. I can only observe that it seems that women will always be seen as a commodity -- something to be fought over and used not for their knowledge or skills, but as a mere fact of biology. And that a double standard still exists regarding women's choices. There seems to be a different perception of Lynne - where the concern is that she is being held against her will, and the pregnant woman outside the bunker (not even identified by name at first) who is pregnant and is "prostituting herself." The point is brought home many times that if Scully was not perceived to "belong" to Skinner, then some other man would lay claim to her.

I guess I could see Scully's decision in the end as a noble one -- to do her part to save the world -- to trade relative comfort and security for an uncertain life of great danger and no guarantees -- but that is a choice she has made over and over again to stay with Mulder.

Re: somewhat spoilery response to story

Date: 2015-07-18 09:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitlight.livejournal.com
I'm glad you mentioned the women's choices aspect of the story because I have been mulling this over myself. To be honest I was quite perplexed that when Scully was presented with a patient she immediately believed to be in captivity, the first thing she said (to the men she believed were the woman's captors) was that she would not perform an abortion. I'm not sure if there's something I'm missing there, but I also found the "prostituting herself" phrasing confronting. I think because these instances are presented from Scully's point of view - if one of the men in the story spoke like this, it wouldn't be as noticeable to me.

Re: somewhat spoilery response to story

Date: 2015-07-19 09:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitlight.livejournal.com
It's not so much that I have trouble with Scully refusing to perform an abortion, it's that that is her first thought and first action, before consulting her patient, before examining said patient, and in this scene the most important thing to Scully is that (the people she believes to be) her patient's abusers know that she will not perform an abortion. I have trouble with this because it completely removes the autonomy of her patient and also puts the needs/requests of the abusers above her patient's needs.

And this might still be consistent with the character created in this story, but this is the kind of personal change that I think turns the Scully that we know into a completely different character.

My issue with her phrasing of her disapproval of prostitution is again not with the belief itself, but the fact that she phrases it like she disapproves with the woman's choices. It's the end of the world! Does that woman have a lot of other options in order to get food, shelter, survive? Scully herself has had to sacrifice some of her sense of self to survive - can she really judge another woman so harshly?

Re: somewhat spoilery response to story

Date: 2015-07-21 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whithersoever.livejournal.com
You've touched upon something that wasn't sitting right with me, also. I knew Scully didn't feel like Scully, but I was having trouble figuring out exactly why. I think your comment gets it exactly right.

Date: 2015-07-14 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whithersoever.livejournal.com
I'm about halfway through, but I thought I'd comment on what I've read so far just to get the ball rolling. I took notes as I read, so sorry if my thoughts seem disjointed!

Disclaimer: I haven't read Negative Utopia, and I couldn't get into Hiraeth/A Moment in the Sun/Paracelsus enough to finish, though I did try. Also, in my real life I'm just a band director/musician with no creative writing training so my opinion is basically worthless!

I know pru has a large following, and I can certainly agree with and appreciate her talent for very fleshed-out worlds and unique, interesting plots. The majority of her writing in this story is smart (I will expound upon this point later); however, there has always been something about her characterizations that fall a little flat for me. There's definitely enough recognizable about her characters to tell an entertaining story, but there is rarely a time when I can 100% reconcile her Mulder and Scully with the Mulder and Scully we see on the show (jeez, I'm going to get crucified for this, but I also feel the same way about some of the works by other much-beloved authors, like syntax and penumbra). Of course that doesn't mean that I don't still enjoy reading these fics or find them well-written in other ways. I do! It's just that the X-Files is so much about these characters and their interactions that everything else is almost secondary for me, and it's difficult to feel invested in a fic if I don't recognize M&S. Having said that, I feel like this works in prufrock's favor in this story: of course Scully/Mulder/Skinner would be a bit out of character and/or unfamiliar to the reader in this new world they're living in after colonization. That makes perfect sense. I guess what I'm saying is I can appreciate these kinds of characterizations better when I know they're important or relevant to the story (as a side note, I would love to read some of prufrock's original fiction; I think she'd be excellent).

Love that Skinner is in charge of the colony. It feels believable and I like seeing his military background surface. Don't love the Skinner/Scully aspect, but that's just personal preference; I understand and appreciate its larger function in the story, even though the whole "Scully is a commodity" thing makes me uncomfortable (which, again, is probably the point: pru shows humanity/society pared down in some ways to its most basic, animalistic form post-colonization). It's an interesting concept for Mulder to "use" Skinner's body in order to be intimate with Scully. I don't know that everyone in that scenario would just be as immediately comfortable with it as they're presented in the story (and would Mulder really be selfish enough to influence their thoughts and feelings to get what he wants, even if it's at the expense of other important work being done in the colony? I don't know, but then again he may not be Mulder anymore, which would explain it), so that kind of put me off a little.

Pru has a tendency to get caught up in details, I think. Sometimes it works great and adds something to the story (like Byers never wearing his holster, loved that little bit of info), but other times it can make some of her passages seem too dense and slow the pace down. Right now, about halfway in, the pace is and has been too slow for me. I'm also not crazy about the writing style in the flashbacks to the beginning of Mulder and Scully's relationship in and out of the bunker. The romantic language/similes feel a bit cliche ("You're my girl" pleassssseee no, that really took me out of the story every time someone said some iteration of it), but I think this is because I know prufrock is absolutely capable of some beautiful prose (or possibly because I read way too much MSR).

(continued)

Date: 2015-07-14 11:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whithersoever.livejournal.com
(continued)

I love everything about Byers so far, and I can totally see him creating a census and trying to contact others with a ham radio. His whole character/character description is completely believable and just really great, interesting writing. I would love to read more about his journey to the colony as a companion piece to this. I'll be honest, I'm probably more interested in his backstory and efforts to contact others than the main plot up to this point.

I'm kind of disappointed that Scully seems to be a bit two dimensional in the beginning in that most events are just happening TO her, instead of being influenced by her. Even when she wants to go meet Mulder, she has Skinner drive her (doesn't really force him as he is willing and tells her as much). She literally wakes him up to tell him she has a gun pointed at him. For what purpose? If she already knew Mulder would be at the west gate (or could tell him to be there by thinking it, since he was listening) and Skinner (who she knew was untrustworthy re: Mulder) was asleep, why didn't she try to sneak out of the compound on her own somehow? This isn't the Scully we know, but again, I can understand that she may have changed post-col. Or maybe this is to emphasize her general lack of power within the colony, like when she states (a few times, I think) that she's not a prisoner? I imagine she will probably take more of an active role in the second half.

I hope this didn't come across as too critical! I'm enjoying this one for the most part, although I don't tend to read post-col fic. I'll be back with more thoughts after I've finished the whole thing (I'm dealing with some personal things right now so I'm not exactly sure when that will be, but just know that I am trying to be more involved!).
Edited Date: 2015-07-15 12:01 am (UTC)

Date: 2015-07-15 10:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ledez-dreams.livejournal.com
Hmmm. Although I love post-col stories, this didn't work for me, same as Negative Utopia never has. I do however have a hard time figuring out why exactly this is the case. I like the detail, and this story definitely fleshes out Negative Utopia in a way that complements them both. The world is described well and I find it quite believable. I have probably read and watched too many dystopian movies and books that I have a dim view of what would happen to the position and rights of women in such scenarios. So I did find Scully's position believable as well.

That being said though, I think it was Scully's lack of control in a post colonization world and her seeming acceptance of this. I suppose this is somewhat in contradiction to what I just said in the previous paragraph, but it does bother me. She relies on Skinner to protect her, and having to be labelled as "his" as a result, and she also requires Mulder's protection to an extent once she is reunited with him.

In general I agree that characters can (and probably should) be OOC in stories such as these, but this just one just seemed to take away Scully's fighting spirit a little too much. I know she exerted some authority as a physician back at the camp, but it almost seemed like an indulgence afforded to her, and this was proven when it became apparent that Skinner was actually preventing people like Byers from reaching her and he faked an injury just to come talk to her. (Incidentally, I agree with whithersoever that Byer's characterization was a pleasant surprise in this story, I very much enjoyed him). I suppose you could argue that this story picks up a long time after this new society has been going on, and that Scully would have had a long time to acclimatize herself, but I still think she could have had more agency. The best dystopian stories (in my opinion) feature strong characters that are trying to subvert the society in which they live. It seems to me there was an opportunity to give her more of an empowered role that the author didn't seem to want to take. I'm really glad the other reviewers are touching on this also, I agreed with most of what I've read here.

I also didn't really like that despite all the detail and building of this world, there really wasn't more to the plot than Scully wanting to be with Mulder, and Mulder wanting to be with Scully. I know it's not exactly that simple, but that is sort of what it boils down to. It misses out on the fact that the best thing about Scully and Mulder is that they have their commitment to each other, but also shared commitment to their work. The story sort of gives Mulder all the power and reduces Scully to a bit of a sidekick to him, the equality in their relationship seems to disappear in this world, which even if it's plausible given the circumstances, I don't like it.

I think I would have enjoyed the story much more had they been reunited earlier rather than Scully pining for him so much. The story then could have explored their relationship in a changed setting while simultaneously had them actually do something to learn more about the colonists, or fight back. Life during Wartime was an excellent example of this. So basically, I guess I just want a whole different story, haha.

Sorry also if my review is a bit vague and I may have also gotten some of the details muddled or even flat out wrong. I read this over a week ago and about halfway through found myself skimming more than actually reading. Which is unfair to the work, but I also didn't want to spend a lot of time reading something that really wasn't doing it for me.

Date: 2015-07-19 09:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] infinitlight.livejournal.com
I liked Negative Utopia when I read it back in the day, and the differences in this story (as far as I can remember NU - I'm a slow reader and I'm pretty sure if I try to reread I will still be here commenting in a month's time) were interesting in the expanded details - but overall I preferred that Negative Utopia felt like an end of everything, whereas SN 1572 is more hopeful.

I usually like hopeful! But I suspect I want a different story, too. Which is not to say this is not a well-written story, just that I wasn't really feeling it, either.

Date: 2015-07-21 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ledez-dreams.livejournal.com
I doubt I would have realized it before reading these comments, but I realize now that I prefer Negative Utopia on it's own. I actually did like that it was so bleak, and that it left a lot of detail and backstory out, as well as an uncertain ending. In a way it made that story more satisfying in how unsettling it was.

SN 1572, as was pointed out here by some, is trying to give Scully more agency, to flesh out the romance, make the whole story more hopeful. For me, strangely, it does rather the opposite. The ending, "Mulder and Scully riding off into the sunset with William riding shotgun" , HA, really leaves me feeling a bit empty, thinking… so that's it?

For some reason, I'm reminded of The Road, if anyone has read it/seen the movie. Now if anyone wants to talk about a bleak future, I have yet to find a scenario to top that one, wow. The end of that is rather heartbreaking, a family trying to keep a semblance of normalcy in the face of what is an almost certain end. And I love that book, although I don't know if I could bring myself to read it again.

The thing about fan fiction is you're writing existing characters rather than original ones. Readers are going to have certain expectations, whether they be justified or not, that will shape their opinion on the work. In this case, I guess I just expect more from Scully and Mulder.
Edited Date: 2015-07-21 08:58 pm (UTC)

Date: 2015-08-08 07:48 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hello hello! I hope its okay to leave a comment, I’ve never been a part of this reading group. I have known of its existence, and ages ago would pop on for a story recommendation here or there… and I am pleasantly surprised to see it still up and running! I used to love reading x-files fanfiction years ago, but only now has my interest re-sparked with the upcoming new series. I’m pretty out of the loop and have no idea who the good authors are anymore.

I’d never read anything by prufrock’s love, and I usually don’t care for post-colonization or post-apocolyptic stories, but thought what the heck, I’ll give it a go. I was surprised that it immediately held my interest in a way other stories have failed to. Clearly, the writing was quite intelligent, which ticks the first criteria box. As was mentioned in earlier comments, everybody has different versions of Mulder and Scully, different head-canon, and different interests in terms of story focus, plot and theme. What I’m most interested in is their relationship, particularly their friendship, and their transition from platonic to romantic around about the 7-year mark. Plot for me is really secondary.

Because it revolved quite generally around my personal story interests, I was intrigued to see, in a pretty realistic rendering, what would happen to these two characters when pushed to the absolute extremes of duress, trauma, loss, vulnerability and desperation, and how (if?) their relationship would endure. And how the characters themselves would endure, would change.

The versions of the characters in the flashback scenes did not entirely match my personal versions of them, but it was pretty close. What I didn’t buy was their easy sexual banter, particularly in the scenes set around season 4 (Scully telling Mulder the worst part of dying of cancer would be being flat-chested, Mulder commenting she had a ‘great rack and a great ass’ etc…) or even in the season 7 scene after the New Years kiss, Scully showing him a box of tampons. I certainly didn’t buy the timeline of the in-vitro attempts, (for me, Season 6 is way too early) and again their easy sexual banter, Mulder joking extensively about buying her a vibrator for Christmas etc… for me this is all very out of character.

But the ways they looked at one another, their friendship, respect and affection, protectiveness, that all rang true. As did Scully’s voice, the way her thoughts and insights were continually shaped and informed by her science, logic and intelligence, and the things she denied herself. I’m a bit of a sap for the two of them loving each other, and the scene where Mulder looks up at the star, and gives a speech about how she’s his best friend, she hasn’t precluded a romantic future with him, and it’s not ridiculous for him to want to protect her... man did that make my heart go pit-a-pat! Also the bit about how the universe didn’t want them on opposite sides of the couch.

So given the ‘real world’ the author established was relatively in-sync with how I see it, I was equally as interested to see how the characters would change when that world fell away into bleakness and violence and desperation. That post-apocalyptic landscape was constructed, for me, very thoroughly and realistically, and was populated with characters that felt very 3-dimensional.

continued...

Date: 2015-08-08 07:50 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
continued from 1st post...

Post-colonization Mulder remained a bit of a mystery, as he’s intended to, but I was disappointed that there wasn’t more insight into his transformation. The person he was and the person he becomes is so wildly different that I was left wanting more of an examination of his psychological and emotional state, even if Scully was happy to accept him without condition. He was tortured, traumatized, ripped from himself and from her and from reality, so his coldness, confusion, violence, indifference, self-preservation etc are all perfectly believable, but I was hoping more of the old person remained, locked up inside somewhere, and that through his reconnection with Scully he would regain something of his humanity. What humanity remained was entirely tied up in his relationship with his son, which is again, believable. And I guess you can’t expect too much of himself to resurface after only 3 or 4 days with her. You can forgive him for a lot, for having a son with another woman, for killing Skinner, using him for sex, for leaving Scully alone to pine and agonize, keeping her in the dark and taking her choices away in the name of her protection, for his violence and cruelty, and on and on and on, all under the banner of ‘he’s a survivor, not a monster’.

It fizzled out at the end for me. Where others said they were disappointed there wasn’t more to the plot, that it was only a story of Scully wanting to be with Mulder and vice versa, for me it disappointed that you never really saw them reconnect. What reconnection there was was way too subtle. (I don't mean them having sex, or him saying 'never doubt that I love you', etc.. for me it's his kindness, his gentleness, his affection and respect).

Maybe he’s too fractured to ever reconnect with her, and you can’t blame him if he is, but it’s what I wanted to see. Scully just accepts him for what he is, but without really understanding exactly what he is, what he thinks, where he’s been, what he’s done, what he wants (other than to raise his son), it’s hard to feel very satisfied with the ending. I get, they’re survivors, they’re together, they’ll figure it out, there’s hope because there’s a boy, she’d never be happy in the boring safety of the Colony, he might never be happy anyway, even with her (as was the case in the ‘real world), so hoorah for realism... I guess I just want for them something that’s impossible.

Anyway, I did enjoy the story and can always appreciate good writing, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I look forward to your future recommendations! And I hope my post wasn’t too long!

Cheers,
Kate

Date: 2015-08-09 03:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kate-11111.livejournal.com
Thanks for the warm welcome wendelah! I have created an account, as per your suggestion.

"Someone at Tumblr posted that Mulder and Scully had already been through so much, that for the mini-series, they just wanted to watch them brush their teeth."

Ha! Someone after my own heart. Of course you’re right about character and plot balance, particularly in a singular, self-contained work. But fanfiction will always have a parent source, it can’t be separated from the established series and plot, therefore any fanfiction work will automatically have a built in back-plot and much more leeway to focus on any element the author wants, even at the exclusion of others. It’s a small story within an established larger story. In my case, I look at the thing in the context of the whole... and we’ve already had so much plot shoved down our throats (much of it completely unwatchable towards the end of the series) that I tend to gravitate toward the stories that focus solely on the elements I like to see fleshed out.

Given everything that’s happened to them (each personal tragedy would probably ruin a normal person for a lifetime) I just want to say, far out, let them be happy together. I dislike the ‘mythology’ stories, I dislike the alien stories, simply because Chris Carter’s philosophy was ‘put something weird and scary on screen, make everything up as you go along, logic, planning and continuity be damned’ and what you end up with is a ludicrous, laughable mess. You can make any topic interesting if you do it well, but often the series did it very poorly. By the end, between Mulder coming back from the dead, babies, super soldiers, alien replacements, magnetite, killing off the Lone Gunmen, Krycek, mock trials, death sentences, ‘Dearest Dana’.. and on and on and on… them simply brushing their teeth would be a welcome reprieve.

But you’re right, the mini series is not fanfiction, and will need to be complete stories with all the proper elements in balance. And for me, the best of the series (Home, Clyde Bruckman, The Field Where I Died, Beyond the Sea, Elegy, Unruhe, Leonard Betts, Detour, Bad Blood, Tithonus, Jose Chung, Humbug, Quagmire, Pusher, Irresistible) was just that – complete, interesting stories with balance, that weren’t tied to the mythology. Just two FBI agents investigating weird happenings – mutants, cults and serial killers - whose bond is forged through respect for one another and the work. I hope that’s what we’ll see for the bulk of the new series.

Date: 2015-08-09 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kate-11111.livejournal.com
Thanks! Happy to join up and interested to see what discussions unfold.

It's interesting that the things that bore you about x-files are the things I love, and vice-versa! Character studies are my bread and butter. Romance may be predictable in that it has to, by nature, be consummated, but it's the journey to that end place which can be interesting and unpredictable and keeps me emotionally invested. I'm also interested in 'weird shit' as it pertains to the dark side of human nature, and I find things truly scary, bizarre or confronting when they come from our internal, not external experience (serial killers vs aliens). Add 'two pretty FBI agents' who also happen to be brilliant, multifaceted, compassionate and damaged, whose relationship holds up, for me, the ideals of true friendship and love - and you've definitely got me tuning in 9pm Sundays on Fox!

The mythology stuff isn't interesting to me because I don't find it remotely credible, even internally. I don't think of it as a puzzle, because a puzzle will always have a finished picture or solution you're aiming to construct. The myth-arc episodes certainly have mystery, but the worst mysteries are those that go unsolved or lose all semblance of integrity, purpose or direction. But, if I can suspend my disbelief, they are fun to watch.

I got hooked on this show during the summer of 1997 as a teenager, and had watched every episode (either late-night reruns or Blockbuster video rentals) in time to be on the edge of my seat for Redux. I spent all summer wondering if Mulder had really committed suicide in Gethsemane - talk about torture! It's really fun to revisit the show now, and read some good fanfiction, and I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed for the new series.

Also looking forward to the next story recommendation. Thanks for including me in the discussion and for keeping this reading group up and running!

Date: 2015-09-05 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] milagro-x.livejournal.com
I read this when the link was first posted on Haven and it was SOOO good. Like always, I was slightly put off by the /other elements at first, but then the story took over and that was brushed aside. It even taught me how to write MSR that has /other elements in the beginning.

Date: 2015-10-02 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fallonrose.livejournal.com
This is my new account, Wendelah, I was slightly put off by the scullyxskinner and mulderxmarita elements in the story. But it helped me get used to it and I've now written a story that has scully/other element in it that I would not have been able to write if not for this.

Date: 2015-10-02 11:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fallonrose.livejournal.com
This was my old account. So there's my point of view.

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