[identity profile] emily-shore.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] xf_book_club
Our next story was nominated by [livejournal.com profile] memento1. Remember, if you want to suggest a story for discussion, you can do it right here in our nominations post. Any rating, pairing or premise... we'll discuss it.

Since our current selection is on the long side, I think it might be best to take it in two parts. We can start with book one, and move on to book two next week. This will allow for some fun speculation about plot developments as well as making the reading burden lighter.

Arizona Highways by Fialka

Summary: Visions of Melissa lead Our Heroes on a case confirming the existence of a series of Emilys. But does Melissa really have a message, or is it all in Scully's head?

Spoilers: Rewind to a time when no mud monsters have appeared and nobody is pregnant. Anything up to Season 6, Two Fathers/One Son. We begin just after...

Pairing: M/S

Rating: NC-17 to be on the safe side, but if it were a film it would go R.

WARNING: It's a ride. Buckle your seatbelt and hang on tight. That's all I'm going to say.


Let us know what you think!
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Date: 2008-03-06 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightlack.livejournal.com
Good God. I just finished reading the whole thing about two seconds ago, and when Fialka said it was a ride, she was not kidding.

More intelligent and/or coherent thoughts later! (I'll confine my comments to the first book for now, as per the instructions.)

:)

Date: 2008-03-06 08:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] memento1.livejournal.com
Good lord, you finished it already? I think it took me 3 days to finish, and I pretty much didn't do anything else. But it definitely is a ride!

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Date: 2008-03-07 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightlack.livejournal.com
I was fascinated by the scene where she calmly begins to destroy the little vials containing her ova. Very much more like Scully than the corresponding climactic scene in "Iolokus." Do other people think that scene was believable/interesting/long enough to deal with the issue properly?

I haven't read "Iolokus" yet, but that scene was probably one of my favourites in this fic. I loved the fact that most of it took place without Mulder's knowledge and wasn't set up as some big dramatic Thing. That made it even more chilling, somehow, and more believable. It's just like Scully, I think. To be quietly doing something of that magnitude in the background. Upon first reading it almost didn't feel long enough, and I felt like it lost some of its power once Mulder noticed her, but I've read it again and now I'm not so sure.

The Scully/Kresge thing made me a little anxious at first -- okay, it made me a lot anxious -- but because Fialka is clearly doing more with him than using him as an MSR speedbump, I calmed down eventually. I have a lot of respect for writers who can take former secondary/tertiary characters and work them into a plot as Fialka has done with Kresge here, so I enjoy watching it happen. I like his characterization a lot better in book two than I do in book one, but I'll talk about that later.

It's being justified well within the context of the story, but I personally don't like the idea of embedding Scully that deeply within the conspiracy from the start.

That was one of my favourite things about the plot, actually, because it got me thinking about canon in ways I hadn't before. Also, I guess, because I was involved in similar sort of 'tracking' studies as a child, I liked the thought of Scully et. al going through (far more sinister) things like that, too. :)

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Date: 2008-03-08 10:03 am (UTC)
wendelah1: (the open road)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
This story has the most amazing structure I have ever seen in a fan fiction work. It all fits together so perfectly. I am just in awe. Obviously from the title this is a novel about a journey, more than one, as the book is structured into two sections. It is Mulder's journey and Scully's journey. At the beginning they are so fractured by the events of Two Fathers/One Son that it is just painful to watch. Mulder knows something is wrong but he can't bring himself to ask. Scully knows what is wrong but she can't bring herself to tell him.

My favorite scenes so far:

I love the scene of the two of them up at the overlook for beautiful Sunset Crater. The memory of her first day back at the office. Her pain at seeing the basement office door, right back to its one nameplate status. She tries reaching out to connect. He doesn't even notice. The hurt of him forgetting her birthday. Again. The little reference to Deep Throat when she thinks about what her Dad told her when he was teaching her to swim: move or sink. We hear the telling of the Myth story. Mulder is Monster Slayer, but so is Scully, isn't she? Melissa is Child of Water, but so is Scully, and in a way, so is Mulder, since he grew up near the ocean as well. I think that Scully will be a bridge between the real world, Mulder's world of monsters, and Melissa's world of dreams. I think the dreams will become real and monstrous before it all is over. He tries to reach out to her, and then she collapses. Then the first vision begins.

He wants to save her, to help her, to get close to her. She just can't let him.

The last thing she needed tonight was him
hovering over her, smothering her with a concern that would be
withdrawn as soon as something else caught his attention. As soon as
she had begun to rely on it.

That was not going to happen again.


So there is her position. Where is Mulder? Well, right where he has always been, from the very beginning of their partnership.

She's tired, he told himself. And scared. To tell the truth, he was a
little scared himself. He relied on Scully's strength, on her ability
to hold things together, far more than he liked to admit. No matter
how much her recent stubbornness had annoyed him, he knew he needed
her to be exactly the steadfast, logical creature that she was. To be
the still center around which he moved, always knowing where to
return. It frightened him to see her so obviously shaken.


I think [livejournal.com profile] fialka has a much truer sense of how much he relies on her than did the show, which always seemed to downplay her investigative abilities, in favor of his leaps.

Then comes the conversation at the end of chapter three.

"I came back for you," he said. "I stayed with you. Please don't
forget that."

She turned her head so he could no longer see her eyes.

"I never left."


I have more to say, but it's two am and I have got to go to bed. I have so many notes. I see this as a key passage. So, I will revisit it, if not in this post, then the next.
Edited Date: 2008-03-08 10:05 am (UTC)

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Date: 2008-03-08 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lsugaralmond.livejournal.com
I have just finished book one, and WOW. I am pissed that I have to go and do housework now and can't just dive right into book two.

I have known about this story since it was written, but I've never read it, despite the rave reviews, because the idea of Scully/Other has always given me the heebies. I'm not an MSR-purist, I am quite happy with the idea of their relationship being platonic, but I find the concept of either Mulder or Scully being involved with somebody outside the partnership hard to reconcile. I guess I've just never seen it done convincingly before. But Fialka has come as close to convincing as I've ever seen in fic. I still don't like it, but I have to admit that it makes sense within the boundaries of this story.

So, needless to say I'm so glad that this community has finally led me to reading this fic. It is breathtakingly well-written and structured, and truer to character, I think, than some canon. As least in as much as it properly deals with the emotional fallout of these terrible truths, in a way the show never did.

The interior monologues of Mulder and Scully are so painful to read, their emotional turmoil so well-drawn, that you just wish that they could find some comfort in each other, instead of ever-increasing angst and trauma, and the fact that they haven't, yet, is a big part of what keeps me reading. But I am intrigued by the casefile too, eager to find out how it all turns out, and whether there will be any resolution for anybody (the way the angst has been going so far, I suspect not).

More coherent thoughts and analysis to come once I've read part two, and can look at the thing as a whole. For now all I am capable of doing is enthusing extensively.

Date: 2008-03-08 09:03 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (love in black and white)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
I still don't like it, but I have to admit that it makes sense within the boundaries of this story.

Yes, but not only that he is an important part of the journey for both Mulder and Scully. It ties back into Mulder's relationship with Diana, and Scully's feelings of betrayal. Kresge's relationship with both agents creates a symmetry and and a completion. Mulder, Scully and Diana were a triangle, one that created bitterness and division. Now there is another triangle, and we will have to see what this creates. Whereas Diana was darkness, obscuring truth and insuring betrayal, he is a mirror and a beacon, because of his past relationship with his own partner, his past history of love and loss. Everything happens for a reason.

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Date: 2008-03-08 10:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lightlack.livejournal.com
Some more quick notes before we move on entirely:

- Oh, I love the Gunmen. I love the "secret/underground source of help" role they play when given a chance, and I love it when dramatic fics can work in their loopy, geeky sense of humour without throwing a scene or dialogue or an entire fic off balance. "Buffy's Mortuary: You slay 'em, we flay 'em," was awesome, as was the ever-chivalrous and Scully-besotted Frohike immediately trying to compensate for Langly's silliness. Hee. I like Hickey!

- I could feel some of the scenes in this story working their way into my personal canon as I was reading. The most important of these isn't until book two, so I won't say anything specific, but I thought I should make a note of that now.

- Also, maybe somebody who's more closely acquainted with canon could help me here: the "The clock is running," "The clock is broken," etc. code-language, is that actually canon or did Fialka make that up? It fits perfectly, especially because I had no idea what they were trying to say to each other the first few times. Heh.

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Date: 2008-03-09 09:25 pm (UTC)
wendelah1: (Off balance)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
I have to talk about this scene before I move on to book two.

"Well, isn't stopping the Project what we've been trying to do all
along?"

"The thing is, Mulder...the thing I don't know anymore...is whether
that's the right thing to want. If the aim of the Project is to create
a vaccine to allow us, as humans, to survive some kind of viral plague
-- wherever it's supposed to be coming from -- is it the right thing
for us to try to stop that? Shouldn't we simply be worrying about
getting our hands on it to ensure equal distribution to everyone?"

"Scully, these men are monsters. How can you even begin to say we
shouldn't stop them, after everything you've seen, after everything
they've done to you?"

She rubbed at her eyes again, making them look even more raw. "I don't
know. I don't know. I thought I knew what we were doing, but the
longer I think about it the more it just seems like we've been used
all along, and I'm so tired, Mulder. I don't even know why I'm doing
this anymore."


It was interesting for me to read this scene, because I have had this identical thought myself. If there is a viral apocalypse followed by alien colonization on the horizon, shouldn't they be trying to stop that? This is where many of you will think I am a bad person. Although I don't justify the methods of the syndicate, at least a portion of the organization seems to want to try to save humanity. If Scully were to go to the dark side, this is what I would believe her reasoning would be. When the very extinction of the human race is what is at risk, don't normal ethical mores cease to come into play? Isn't it better to try to save at least some portion of humanity, by sacrificing the lives of a few individuals along the way? Not for the individuals, obviously, but can't this otherwise immoral act be justified pragmatically? And is Scully a pragmatist, and not an idealist? Mulder is clearly an idealist, he believes that "The Truth" is out there and that if he looks long enough and hard enough he will find it. I have always assumed that Scully, too, is an idealist. As a scientist, she may believe in a different version of "The Truth," one that can be found via the scientific method and not leaps of faith into the realms of the fantastic. But under the right circumstances, could she be swayed?

"Scully," he murmured, "There's only one thing in all of this that
I'm certain of. There's a little girl out there who needs our help.
Whoever sent us, we still need to find her."

She looked up at him with something he hadn't seen in her eyes in a
very long time. Something he might have once dared to call love.

"You're right," she said.

He nodded and slid out of the booth, before his own tears got the
better of him.


Well, one thing is certain, for Mulder, it all comes down to helping those little girls. His moral center is always clear. For now, at least, Scully does agree. I do sometimes just want to say to Mulder, "you need to look at the big picture, you need to stop the aliens! Or we are all going to die!"

Date: 2008-03-09 10:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] memento1.livejournal.com
This is where many of you will think I am a bad person.

Actually, I completely agree with you. Once I understood enough of the mythology to get that that's what the syndicate was trying to do, it created a really tough moral dilemma. They spend the whole series trying to stop the syndicate but never directly try to consider what should be done about the invasion itself. It's a question of if the ends justify the means. And that's a debate a room full of Ethics professors could debate at length and never come to a conclusion.

Late to the Party

Date: 2009-03-02 01:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petite0red0head.livejournal.com
So yes I get it I am year late to the party. But I just read this fic and I absolutely love it. I think it is perfect. I love the case file, I love the gunmen and the idea of being 'on the clock.' I love the Scully angst and the end when she empties her ove into the ocean. How devastating is that!? I love the simplicity and beauty of the moment when Scully tells him "I'm in love with you." So underplayed so subtle. In such opposition to (well the rest of the story) but to the time their intimate scene went horrible wrong. (I am so in love with Fialka I want to bear her strong sons.) The only thing I would change is Scully getting naked with John and going to bed with him. I would have had them clothed and talking or naked and shagging. In my experience men don't get naked and sleep with you all night without the happy ending. (Maybe I have known the wrong men.) But I do think the moment is well written and yes of all the Scully/others he is my favorite. I think I would have been ok and understood it if they had actually had sex. (Although I don't know it the moment with Mulder soon after would have been as powerful.)

Re: Late to the Party

Date: 2009-03-02 07:03 am (UTC)
wendelah1: (An Everywhere of Silver)
From: [personal profile] wendelah1
It is brilliantly told and my favorite XF fan fiction novel. I'm glad you enjoyed it, too.

Re: Late to the Party

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Re: Late to the Party

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