wendelah1: (But what of that?)
[personal profile] wendelah1 posting in [community profile] xf_book_club
The official global rewatch of The X-Files is long over, as is the six episode miniseries that followed (and inspired it), yet here I am, still slogging through season seven. I must have blocked out how bad the seventh season is. Since "Parabiosis" is the quintessential season seven fanfic, I thought it would be fun to revisit it. It's not my favorite of her fics--that would be "Fathoms Five," by a wide margin--but "Parabiosis" makes many, many readers's best-of list. "Parabiosis" features lyrical use of language and unusually vivid writing, plus a killer of an ending. (Thanks for that, Chris Carter.)

"You want to hear my mummy theory?" he asks in the bath.

"Hit me." The wet kelp of her hair sticks to his chin as she reclines against him. Earlier, she yelped and gasped, and knocked a candle, hissing, into the water. He smells hot freesia wax, wet woman's hair, female smells in his dingy bathroom.

"Our mummy has gone to Albuquerque."

"Mulder..." she growls and sighs. His arms around her slippery body ride out the upheaval. She speaks with exasperated precision. "A cadaver stuffed with natron reanimates and locomotes its way to New Mexico. How's it going to get there, Mulder, thumb down a dromedary?"

The mirror he wedged over the faucets is fogged, but in a water streak he can partially see her face, her eyes heavy-lidded, color in her cheeks. His dark head is above hers, his arms are crossed beneath her chin. She turns her head and idly licks a drop of bath water from his shoulder.

This isn't real, he thinks.

This cannot possibly be happening.

Let us know what you think in the comments. Please leave suggestions in the nomination post.

I'm linking to Gossamer because it has the cleanest formatting. Read Parabiosis, Part 1 and 2

Date: 2016-03-01 12:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] write-out.livejournal.com
All right, I'm diving into this one again. It's not my favorite Penumbra story (that would be Contact High. I know, I'm in the minority there), but it's right up there. I need to wash the taste of season 10 out of my mouth.

Just clicking on Gossamer makes me super nostalgic. I tend to be a one-fandom fic reader and so I've not read XF fic in ages (when I used to read it almost every day). The header is cracking me up: S/MSR/Rated R/300K. Ah, the memories! Makes me wish AO3 was around in those days, but I'm glad Gossamer is still up.

Okay, okay, enough with that. It will probably take me a couple of days to get through this entire story, but I will be back.

Date: 2016-03-01 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] write-out.livejournal.com
I just copied this out into Word (123 pages!) so that I can read at work when I have time (or let's be real, when I don't feel like working).

"Contact High" is a post-"Field Trip" fic. It's odd and lovely and sad. Some say it's OOC, but her Mulder and Scully always felt right to me. I just remembered that Penumbra's fics tend to end on a sad, melancholy note. GREAT. I better line up some fluff to read right after this one. I've noticed that some of the authors still in fandom have been posting their old stuff on AO3, so I should hunt some more fics down.

Am I a bad X-Phile if I admit that I kinda hope they don't?

Nooooo. Nope. No. If CC has anything to do with a season 11, I want nothing to do with it.

Date: 2016-03-01 01:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] write-out.livejournal.com
Right, fluff is not really a thing in the XF. :) I'll check out the humor tag when I'm done with this story. I think once I start poking around in Gossamer and AO3 some more, I'll start remembering stories I've loved. As much as S10 sucked, I loved seeing M/S and Skinner (barely, but still) again. It's making me want to watch the earlier eps and read the fic. It's hard for me to be active in two fandoms at once, but I can always make time for this one.

Date: 2016-03-03 02:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefrobrts.livejournal.com
Not my favorite style of fic. It's a bit disjointed, I know it's in a very poetic way, and the writing is beautiful, but lately I've just been in the mood to grind through original case files. S10 did nothing to fulfill my need for more good case files. Thank goodness for fan fic!

Date: 2016-03-03 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefrobrts.livejournal.com
I am enjoying reading (and writing) fic again, but not for S10, it just did not inspire me in any way. I'm working on a new fic, but I think it's going to be S3-ish, somewhere around Wetwired.

There's something about S10, M&S being broke up, Scully working at that depressing little hospital, Mulder doing whatever the heck he does out in his little house in the country, that just makes me incredibly sad for our favorite characters. I enjoyed bits and pieces of it, but mostly just enjoyed seeing them again.

Date: 2016-03-04 06:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefrobrts.livejournal.com
I post on AO3. I have stuff on Gossamer from back in the day, but I'm reworking those stories and reposting them on AO3 now, plus adding new stuff.


Date: 2016-03-04 04:38 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Occasional lurker (deleted my LJ ages ago), and I just wanted to thank you guys for keeping this community running. Parabiosis is my all-time favorite fic so thank you as well, Penumbra for a story that I've enjoyed time and time again. The characterization is top-notch and I just adore the little moments between M/S that we suspected may have been there but never got to see.

I also found season 10 disappointing, and honestly insulting for long-time fans - (30 sec of screen time together in the finale?! we're all here for the M/S dynamic, after all). I wonder if the new season had aired on Netflix rather than Fox would it had been more true to itself? Regretfully, it seems no matter how much we support the show, new endeavors like IWTB and Season 10 ultimately lets down old fans in an attempt to hook a new audience. I do hope Leiascully continues her Resident series as I thoroughly enjoyed Visitor and it helped ease the sting of S10.

Eventually I'll get around to posting my Top 10 fics (have to hunt some down) but can anyone recommend anything in the same vein as Penumbra's writing so we can savor the X-Files a bit longer?

Date: 2016-03-04 06:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefrobrts.livejournal.com
Worse than Fight Club? That's harsh...


Date: 2016-07-19 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] williwawz.livejournal.com
I found the episode, "Home Again" the most disappointing (hello-we already had a Hasidic golem, did you have to kill Mom to get a hug?).
While I found the graphic depictions of violence in Babylon overkill and didn't do enough to separate mainstream Muslims and Islam from the idealogical fanatics, it did try drag this unpleasant topic into the light and not just make us face it but rubbed our (USA) collective noses in it. The episode was trying to talk about finding a common ground on which to communicate and how a lack of communication causes failures (duh). Duchovny and Anderson rocked their parts, but DD blew it away on his shroom trip. What could have been fodder for the most epic Dante parables and meta-plane dissection has been overshadowed by interspersing clips of "the hairy-bearded Arabs are going to blow-us-up-oh-my". I really want to talk about the choice of music on Mulder's trip, what the different tripping scenes mean, why Scully didn't show up and what Tom Waits and CSM have in common. The *MESSAGE* was only clear at the end when DD and GA were able to make that conversation in the field their own. Could have been great if CC had made the bombers less foreign and more "lone-wolf". Still think the Shroom trip is the best clip of season 10.

Re: My Opinions About Season Ten

Date: 2016-07-23 02:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] williwawz.livejournal.com
Forgive me, I struggled and gave up on LJ quote formatting...
"And maybe you're being ironic but surely ISIS and Al Qaeda deserve worse than "unpleasant"? And I won't give Chris Carter credit for anything more than a too hasty borrowing from the headlines."

-Yes, that was my understating sarcasm coming out, I agree that CC was too blunt about transcribing inflammatory news headlines without going deeper. As for Anderson's acting, I certainly agree that she did not behave the same as the early seasons Scully, and something seemed deeply broken about her, but as a long time viewer I guess I am willing to forgive and explain that as a progression in her character's development. I can buy that Scully has been haunted by the choices she made and that life has worn her down, and that allowed me to accept Scully's more passive and fragile portrayal by Anderson. I've personally witnessed large changes to personalities and behaviorisms in the wake of loss or tragedy, so I can buy it. I still really miss the old hotdogging, "in-your-face Mulder" Scully of yore.

I don't think Mulder's character would change as much as Scully's because he never really stopped his quest for the truth and was not involved with his son "William" the way Scully was. The choice the adopt out the child wasn't his decision to live with (though the show indicated he still thought about the what-ifs). Mulder just became to paranoid recluse everyone expected of him. That and I think DD is a better actor.

I totally spaced on the garbage-monster similarity of "Home-Again" to "Arcadia": both monsters summoned to punish the "guilty" as well, thanks for mentioning that. Arcadia was the best of the three golem themed eps (is Chinga going to count too?).

I have to go for now...I'll hopefully be able to come back with some reflection on Mulder's trip.
Edited Date: 2016-07-23 03:01 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-03-06 03:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] discordantwords.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness, it feels like ages since I've posted anything here. I tend to be fandom-monogamous, and I've gone and gotten myself immersed in Sherlock (though the XF revival has drawn me back in.)

Years ago, when I read Parabiosis for the first time, I remember thinking that it was the best XF fic I'd ever read. A few years after that, I revisited it, and remember thinking that the characterization didn't feel as spot-on as I recalled. Just a change in perspective, I guess.

I like the free-flowing, poetic language. It makes this less of a single coherent story and more like a series of snapshots, moments that make up their lives. It's pretty and dreamy and, by the end, very, very sad.

I like the use of the mummy case as a bridge between all of those little moments. It was a nice technique and it works to bring everything together.

Date: 2016-03-28 12:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] discordantwords.livejournal.com
You make a very good point about the tonal shift between romance and grisly mayhem. It's a really, really difficult thing to get right.

But the mummy story works for me, particularly in context with the people Mulder and Scully have gradually become up through Season 7. They've grown more insular and strange, starting to really only make sense to each other. They're able to joke about monsters because they've spent seven years immersed in them. It is a little jarring, looking in from the outside, but I'd argue that it should be.

Date: 2016-03-09 09:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] badforthefish.livejournal.com
*waves* Hi guys!

It's been ages since I've been on LJ. Parabiosis is one of those stories that I never read entirely and that never quite work for me because I find the use of language, gorgeous as it is way too distracting for the story to flow in my head. I much prefer "Fathoms Five" which I think is the best fic Penumbra ever wrote. One of the most, if not *the* most talented writer in this fandom.

I've decided to wipe this revival from my mind. It was really terrible, I hated 3 of them and found the remaining 3 mediocre at best. And I didn't care much for the "new" fandom on Tumblr (though a couple of people did have some really interesting things to say about the show). Tbh, it's a relief it's all over and with luck those Gillovny, MSR obsessed lot will move on to the new shiny thing soon. I like this fandom better when it's small and cultish, away from the spotlights.

Date: 2016-03-14 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stefrobrts.livejournal.com
I'm with you on that. Soon it will settle down and it will just be the die-hards again :)

Date: 2016-03-19 08:19 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Oh, here it is! I read this years ago and then lost it. So pleased to have found this story again, it's fantastic.

Date: 2016-03-22 11:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] josiejames.livejournal.com
Delurking. OK, so I absolutely love this one. Penumbra is a favourite author of mine; her prose is just so gorgeous. I can certainly see what others have said about her being a bit *too* in love with the idea of Mulder and Scully, but I am willing to forgive her that because of the beautiful moments that she creates. I first read "Parabiosis" a few years ago and fell absolutely in love with it. Last year I tried to find it again but could only remember the line about Scully's morning sickness. Google wasn't very helpful, so I was thrilled to find this one here. Season 7 was so weird emotionally, and I think that's part of why I love "Parabiosis": it fleshes the arc out, gives us those moments that we all knew had to be happening between Mulder and Scully...

Date: 2016-03-24 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alleynyc.livejournal.com
I'm new to XF generally - started watching the series in Oct 2015 but started fic around S4 viewing. So I first read this in probably Dec 2015 b/c it is a friend's all time fic. - high recommendation. There's so much I like about it - the characterization is a biggie - but the poetic language left me actually lost (the opening going back in time took me probably 10 pages to figure out). I think for people who are more linear like me, she's tough to read. That said, the descriptions are often super evocative and I do love that.

Date: 2016-03-25 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Another lurker here. :) I hadn't checked the group for a while and when I saw (belatedly) that you were reading Parabiosis, my heart skipped a beat. Needless to say, I LOVE this story.

I think that quite a lot of how one feels about a story has to do with the frame of mind you're in when you read it. Your life circumstances, your mood, even your surroundings. I remember reading it for the first time and just smiling stupidly for much of the story because it was just so perfect. I read some of it in public and I'm sure that a lot of people thought I was a little crazy.

I understand the criticism about the vocabulary, but it didn't detract from the story for me. It's such a moody piece; it's dream-like and ethereal, and I feel like the big words make you slow down and really let things soak in.

I think Penumbra has a lot of tenderness for the characters, and it shows. It's such a slow simmer----long stretches where not a lot happens. This feels like a story that was written with a lot of love. (Like Fathoms Five, also a gorgeous and tender story.)

The X-Files at its worst was clunky, preachy, awkward, and silly. (Ooops, did I just say all that?) But the series at its best was dreamlike, dark, and lovely. It had gorgeous moments; I'm thinking of Scully's narration in 'Memento Mori,' for example. It's verbose and prosaic and transcendent. I think that's what Penumbra was going for.

The Lone Gunmen's party is worth the price of admission alone, I think! I really miss the '90s.

I just remember thinking after finishing it that "I'm so glad this happened. I'm so glad there was someone out there who felt this things, who loved the characters enough to give them this, and who went ahead and made this happen." I think a good story of any genre should make you think those things.

Date: 2016-03-26 11:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] write-out.livejournal.com
Thanks for the gentle reminder that I said I would come back and comment, [livejournal.com profile] wendelah1. For some reason, I had a hard time plowing through this one this time, so it took me a lot longer to read the whole story.

As I mentioned up above, "Contact High" is my favorite Peunumbra story. It's also about 1/3 the length, which I think helps make that story a bit easier to read. That all said, I still enjoyed this one.

Fox Mulder had quixotic theories, dark eyes, and he
was six feet of long warm bones in the bed. She had been making a fool of herself over him for years, staying in a ridiculous job because Mulder was tall and mumbly and had once tried to make her drink sardine juice.

I love that. I see others commenting on her lyrical prose and falling on either side of that fence. I like it more in "Contact High" (maybe because it's a shorter, less complicated story?), but it felt very familiar here.

All the bits with the Lone Gunmen are lovely. The visit with Scully's family reminded me a bit of JET's "Small Lives Awake" (that's the right author with the right fic, right??). I prefer the latter- one of my most favorite fics ever- but I always love to see Maggie Scully. Also, the bit with Teena Mulder when she goes to see Mulder and puts her hand on Scully's head is one of my favorite fic moments. For some reason, that one has resonated with since I first read it.

Reading this was a bit of a struggle- I really only read BBC Sherlock fic these days- and I had to dig deeper to reach my XF head space but I am glad I did. After I finally finished this one, I spent some more time on Gossamer trying to find old favorites.

Date: 2016-12-30 08:34 pm (UTC)
ext_84085: (x-files - our fandom speaks volumes)
From: [identity profile] lunayoshi.livejournal.com
Am all the late ever, but here I am, on a complete X-Files kick.

Th-this fanfic... as disjointed as it comes off as, holy shit, man. I haven't been exposed to many XF fics (or fanfic in general, too much fluff everywhere), but hot damn. It was a long, very very good read. I can't even with it. I just can't.

(Note the posting date. Note the time distance from Season 10. Note the latent optimism that comes from not having Season 10 fresh in one's memory.)

Thanks for posting! Browsing the SHIT out of this community now. Assuming it's still going, which I think it is. Time to revive my LJ. :D


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