Oblique Reviews #10

Oblique Reviews #1
Oblique Reviews #2
Oblique Reviews #3
Oblique Reviews #4
Oblique Reviews #5
Oblique Reviews #6
Oblique Reviews #7
Oblique Reviews #8
Oblique Reviews #9
Oblique Reviews #10
Oblique Reviews #11
SUMMARY

STORY: Should Auld Acquaintance.
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: M. Fae Glasgow
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Vila
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? More Vila. I guess Blake didn’t quite know about all the organ harvesting.
EDITOR’S NOTE: perplexing
PROSE: see last episode
OVERALL: DOME CYCLE IV: There’s a coup and Blake’s in prison or something, I can’t be bothered to pay a lot of attention anymore.

STORY: Something to Live For
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: Sean Charles
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Vila appears to be… doing his own thing and allowed to have a life??
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? They’re not, actually.
EDITOR’S NOTE: none
PROSE: fine
OVERALL: The old ‘Avon thinks he killed Blake, but it was only the clone’ saw. Then Avon’s being held, first by Servalan and then at Freedom City, as a sex slave in exchange for Vila’s continued existence. (He feels he owes Vila one/doesn’t want to be the reason his last remaining friend/crew-member/responsibility gets killed off.)  Blake finds him there in a brothel, they rescue Vila and then Avon, and the future looks to be full of romance and adventure. In short, it is a story, with a plot and character relationships that make some sense and matter.

It’s not my favourite. It’s got a lot of stuff I’ve seen before, decently but not exceptionally well-executed. While the ‘making love with a prostitute in the dark and then realising you’re actually with your long-lost love’ feels Shakespeare-classic and is decently handled, it’s also a little inherently melodramatic. The story doesn’t give me enough of the emotional reactions I particularly dig to get me over that hump/make me excuse that entirely.

I want a little more of Jenna, and continue to eye-roll at Beautiful Prostitute Avon (THE MAN IS IN HIS 40s AND NOT THAT CONVENTIONALLY HOT). I wonder why I’m reading a sex scene between Vila and his brand new OC boyfriend who I don’t know or care about yet. The writer clearly has some basic story-telling/craft legs: this feels at times almost conventionally ‘episodic’. Ultimately it doesn’t do a ton for me, but not due to its being bad, really. It’s just not good enough.

STORY: A Spanking Good Time!: A Game of Tag, Part II
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: Caroline Dare
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Vila (basically no Blake tbh)
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? same as p1 really, except this time weird consent dynamics–ok at the end but uncomfortable for a while
EDITOR’S NOTE: seems to be insulting the fic as well as you
PROSE: unobjectionable
OVERALL: essentially no Blake/still no point, also I never want Vila to be here for this/hate snivelling weak Vilas and prefer more fun, with-it ones (and I know this is me, but while I like Vila a lot as a character I never want to think about him having sex/don’t find him particularly sexual)

STORY: Terminus
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: M. Fae Glasgow
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? Vila
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? Blake is hella dead, and by the end of the fic so’s Avon.
EDITOR’S NOTE: at least it’s short
PROSE: okay? ish?
OVERALL: Too MUCH dialogue in this one. I have rarely met an almost-all-dialogue fic that worked for me. This is, like many of them, really circular–the same 4 ideas over and over.

At the end of pg 5 everything goes mad in an unproductive way. I mean maybe I could buy this Avon MO, but the all-dialogue framework gives it very little room to breathe?

Avon goes a bit interestingly crazy on page 6.

What is the /point/ of the way Vila loves him in these things? It seems just there to like–frame Avon and present him in this Glow Of Love, supposed to pass from character to story-frame to reader. And I don’t have this relationship with this character. I love Avon, sure, but I don’t want to PERSONALLY love/schtupp him, and I don’t have a great deal of or interest in Glow of Absolution. It puts me the hell off. I also feel this really evacuates him. Without his weaknesses, how can his strengths mean anything? Without his rough edges, he loses definition: who is he then, beyond a moderately attractive man cathected out of all proportion?

Asked a friend who I thought might have more insight: “idk but I will say, as someone with an official Avonistan passport, that this ALSO does not work for me”

What’s Blake up to in this fic (pre-dying, obvs)? Not sure.

Can’t really imagine Avon saying ‘crap’. One line away from ‘shall’, as well. The ‘sitting’ thing at the end is like ???

Why are we lifting a Big Blake Line for Vila here and why? Idk, feels awkward/cheap.

Another AVON AND VILA HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER AAAAGES, I think? Which always strikes me as like–weird/why/why do you feel you don’t need to précis that at allll?

STORY: Terms of Surrender
MUSE OF FIRE RESPONSIBLE: Sean Charles
HAS POOR VILA BEEN DRAGOONED INTO THIS SHITSHOW? —
WHY ARE BLAKE AND AVON DOOMED THIS WEEK? Avon’s been raped by Federation troops who were torturing him for information and is pissed Blake didn’t prioritize him over a LOT of people getting killed. Blake points out that

1) that was a lot of people, and
2) giving the Federation what they wanted wouldn’t have protected Avon.

Avon is worried Blake largely acted out of concern for others rather than for him, though, and finds that unacceptable. They’re still together, but Avon’s lingeringly pissed. To an extent this is fair, and to an extent it is irksome. Shit’s happening to you, it’s not really his fault, your emotions are legitimate and your own and you can have time but also be accountable for your own shit.
EDITOR’S NOTE: none
PROSE: fine
OVERALL: The ‘what would you do under torture??’ question really interests some people, and me–not even slightly. It is like saying that without food, people starve: it’s not people doing anything particularly psychologically interesting. Everyone breaks just like everyone burns when set on fire, it’s just a matter of degrees/the clothes they were wearing at the time. Yes it’s impressive if you can hold out against some torture, and yes it says something about your character, but it’s also a question of training, etc., and everyone can be broken, and what they do when broken–isn’t particularly interesting (even as you’re likely to have a richer and more nuanced conversation with someone who’s sated or even a bit hungry than you are with someone who’s starving). So any time someone has BETRAYED SOMEONE!! in these stories by breaking under torture, I just raise an eyebrow, because that’s like saying someone can betray you by getting eaten by a bear. Also I am bored. Also why do we keep doing this shit, putting pressure on a never-good-in-the-first-place idea?

Weird typographical error where lots of sentences end in ?s for no reason.

This fic sets itself up to occupy a kind of complicated emotional place and make some weird manoeuvres therein, and that’s fine, but ultimately I’m not feeling the emotional through-line as well as I ought to be? I think I’d have to like–actively beta this before I could suss out how to tighten everything.

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