Forum: Sexuality in Middle-earth

Discussing: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Stories We Have Read (and Written)

This thread just started so that if we want to talk specific stories that we think worked/didn't work or that we're writing (or thinking of writing), we can do so without going OT in the other threads.

Slash fic, het fic, PWP, the oblique and the explicit: tell us what's out there and why it's out there.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Okay, two I'd recommend from ff.net (I haven't proposed them over here, because they're both fairly AU, and they're both pretty violent - although not explicit - slash. I like them, but they're not everyone's cup of tea).

The author's name is "Elisabeta"
The stories are "Sercë" and "Yessë"

Pairing is Aragorn/Boromir, and she's written a few others on this pairing, although most of them vanished in the great NC-17 purge.

These two work for me because they're just so ... right. Yes, the two characters are hurting one another, and yes, it's got some very D&S elements, but I can see it as being a conceivable way that the two of them would interact. They're both "alpha males" and to my mind, they couldn't readily "submit" in that way without there being a struggle of some kind. While a psychological struggle would be a little less messy (and while there are signs of the psychological struggle in there as well), the physical struggle serves as a very good metaphor for this element of their psyches.

(Me, twisted? It's taken you this long to realise this?)

I also like Ang's Hobbit tales ("Legacy", "On Merry Yule") for this same intertwining of the nature of sex and politics - the dominance games that can be played out using sexual ploys. It's very human, and through using those nasty little games that Sara plays on Frodo, Ang is able to depict very clearly the darker side of the hobbit natures. I particularly liked Esmerelda's manipulations, simply because there was that look at the way that women *did* try to grasp at power where they weren't allowed to grasp it openly. The use of sexuality and sensuality was something that really prised open the dark, gritty underbelly of Shire politics.

On a completely different note, little pieces of pure erotica like Isabeau's "Stud Fee" and "One Night", as well as Adrienne's wonderful "To Look at You" (for some reason "Closer to Fine" doesn't quite strike off the same echoes) or Sorne's "Afterthoughts" chapter in "The Bitter Gift of Compassion" work well on their own. They achieve their purpose, and they give further insight into the characters. I find it interesting that two different authors have made Elladan male-focussed-bisexual at the very least.

I'm actually reluctant to include "From the Other River Bank" as a slash piece - I'd be more willing to consider it as a psychological insight story, using sexuality as a lens through which to view Boromir.

Anyway, I'm getting odd looks from people at work, so I'll think some more about this one

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

On a completely different note, little pieces of pure erotica like Isabeau's "Stud Fee" and "One Night", as well as Adrienne's wonderful "To Look at You" (for some reason "Closer to Fine" doesn't quite strike off the same echoes)...

Funny you should say that...

I was just reading over these stories today and I decided the same thing. "Closer to Fine" comes off far more clinically than "To Look at You." I think the difference is in the POVs. CtF is told from Ninim's point of view. As a very experienced courtesan, she approaches sex with a very practical, workmanlike attitude. TLaY is told from Boromir's POV. He clearly knows a lot about sex, but it isn't his profession. While he does have a "job" to do, so to speak, deflowering a virgin, he's still able to immerse himself more fully in the act because it's not something he does every day.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Thanks for starting this thread, Dwim, since I was one of the people going OT on the other one.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

The author's name is "Elisabeta"
The stories are "Sercë" and "Yessë"

Pairing is Aragorn/Boromir, and she's written a few others on this pairing, although most of them vanished in the great NC-17 purge.

These two work for me because they're just so ... right. Yes, the two characters are hurting one another, and yes, it's got some very D&S elements, but I can see it as being a conceivable way that the two of them would interact.


I've read Elisabeta's fics, and in case people weren't aware, they're up at the "Fellowship" archive, a site devoted to the pairing A/B.

I have issues with the violence in those fics, and not because we saw particularly much of it. It's more that just as there's no need of the devil in Middle-earth (because there's a real one in Mordor, and he has minions that do well for lesser demons), I don't see characters who know anything about what it's like to be at war mixing war with pleasure and taking that as the normal way of having sex (for dominance or lighter purposes). If it happens, I tend to see that as serious warning of dysfunction, sexual and otherwise.

I'd be more likely to accept a scenario of counting bedpost notches between Aragorn and Boromir than I would accept that they'd take each other to bed and literally screw each other over in a fight for dominance. For one thing, why does this happen only between Aragorn and Boromir? Do we then have to think that either of them does this often, whenever someone challenges his authority, or to establish authority with underlings? That just doesn't seem warranted, yet that line of speculation is inevitable; it may not be argued against explicitly in the texts, but I can't find any strong evidence for it.

Aside from all that, these are all men who live in a hierarchical society--they've bent their backs to others before without going to blows, and should know how to concede gracefully, whether as a tactical withdrawal or as a real acknowledgment of another's supremacy. So sex, blood and dominance between Aragorn and Boromir don't really mix well with me.

I'm actually reluctant to include "From the Other River Bank" as a slash piece - I'd be more willing to consider it as a psychological insight story, using sexuality as a lens through which to view Boromir.

LOL! I think Ang has said elsewhere that she'd rather not class "Legacy" and OMY as slash pieces, whereas I'd rather class FtORB as such. Can we trade, Meg?

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Can anyone recommend some really good femslash?

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Meg - I'm actually reluctant to include "From the Other River Bank" as a slash piece - I'd be more willing to consider it as a psychological insight story, using sexuality as a lens through which to view Boromir.

Dwim - LOL! I think Ang has said elsewhere that she'd rather not class "Legacy" and OMY as slash pieces, whereas I'd rather class FtORB as such. Can we trade, Meg?

------------------------------------

Moving this part of the discussion back over to the "What *is* "slash"? thread - see ya there! :-)

Ang

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Unfortunately, no. This leads to something interesting - the writing of female desire.

There is damn little of it, or at least little that gets much respect.

Peruse the story lists - how many of these stories address female sexual desire in a mode other than falling in love with the hero and being rather conventional in that way? Very few. Though the proportion on HASa is much higher than on other sites, I dare say.

The Mary Sue is probably the most common mode for trying to address female desire in this fandom, and whatever opinion one may have of this genre (my opinion improves, no small thanks to your persistent championing of them, my dear Una!), one quality that is persistent (though not inevitable) in them is a very conventional presentation of female desire - namely, that the girl wants the guy and wants to live happily ever after. Given the writing audience, this very conventional, somewhat conservative, approach is to be expected.

The dearth of good fics that treat female desire in interesting, experimental ways is puzzling, given the huge numbers of female authors, readers, and fan participants. Estrogen levels are quite high around HASA, to be sure. I've set a few female characters up for treatment of their desires - Gilda's divided affections for Bilbo and Rory, Ula's obvious sexual aggressiveness and a great degree of certainty about satisfying herself, an allusion to a lesbian couple in Bywater, and then my perpetually in-process Finduilas-Denethor story, where I want to look at the women who have influenced him - yet I am finding it very hard to make these women and what they want the center of the story.

Women as political agents are, in some way, easier to write than women as sexual agents. Writing their wants and pleasures is more difficult than writing of the men on a number of levels.

Ang

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Not necessarily: female desire can be expressed pretty well with Tolkien's characters. Ever read an NC-17 fic with either Arwen or Eowyn in it. Just when they're in the heat of it all.........

Alright, in the two NC-17 rated fics I've read about Eowyn (and Faramir), the way female desire was expressed was actually pretty good. (considering the fact that sex in those fics took place in the grass--ick!)

Alright, shoot me all of you for my age. It was a dare and I didn't know what PWP meant!

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Niliwen, no justification needed. I (and likely most if not all in this discussion) know exactly what PWP means (although I didn't at first) and have read some anyway.

I'm interested that you have read some decent Arwen NC-17, because I have not found much of it. On the slash discussion I noted that I've seen well written and powerful slash, and the same for some het stories, but NOT much good Aragorn/Arwen stuff, whether NC-17 or PG-13 or PG; plotted or PWP. I have seen better treatments of sexuality between Eowyn and Faramir.

It causes me to wonder, is it the mythic and heroic nature of Aragorn and Arwen, as opposed to the more mundane presentation of Eowyn and Faramir, that makes it so difficult to explore their sexuality? (Oh-oh, bats nuzgul away with nearest object.)

In Tom Shippey's 'J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century', on pp 221-223, he discusses the natures of the characters by literary modes, and points out that Aragorn and the elves are on a different level, one above the other men in the story. (He puts dwarves in that class also, Ang, but I'm not sure of that.) The hobbits are portrayed at an even more familiar and comic level than men. So perhaps therein lies the difficulty. In his scheme the Sauron, Gandalf, and Bombadil are on the highest level of all as semidivine, and very mythic, and I think it's much harder to show sexuality for a myth. Obviously, Tolkien does in 'Of Luthien and Beren' but I think it takes a different skill.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

My absolute favourite slash pieces with plot are all the fics by Sasjah Miller (all of them are A/B and can be found at Fellowshippers). She writes in a style both easy and poetic and fairly within the boundaries of canon. Then there is of course Dwim's "From the Other Riverbank" which is the only good Boromir/Faramir I have read to this day. Ang's "Legacy" and "On Merry Yule" are must-reads for people who tolerate, but don't overly like the Little Folk. You will be taught a lesson with these fics, that is for sure ;) On the subject of het fics I must admit I have not read many and those which I have read were mostly over at ff.net and are now lost to me. They were mostly Eowyn/Faramir, because I can't deal with sex between Aragorn and Arwen. It is far too etheral, too other-worldly for me to bind it to the laws of nature and the physical world. Somehow, this is not the case with my favourite, although AU, Arwen pairing: Arwen/Legolas. Maybe it is that this pairing does not cross the boundaries between two races, but I can see sex in that relationship far easier than in A/A. Maybe my psycological explanation of Aragorn as a drifter between two worlds and world-views as well as morals, times and cultural developments is also part of this.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Hm. No Arwen/Aragorn, eh? I had the same problem for a looooong time, despite knowing that the couple obviously had kids. But curiosity got me in the end. Admittedly, I had to work to see them as sexual beings (which may be the complaint of people who say 'there's no sex in LOTR'--what they mean is that they have to work to find it for some characters, but once you do....). But as you do, you start to move away from the high tone of "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen" and to use that as a bare-bones guide to their lives.

May I suggest, if you want to try an experiment, reading chapter nine of "Dynasty"? It can be read (the first part, at least) as something of a stand-alone, since when I originally wrote it, it was a stand-alone that got incorporated into the appropriate story at a later date. Or you could read chapter 1 of the same fic for the suggestive banter if the bedroom is a bit too much A/A for you at this point. I'd be interested to see if you were convinced by the scene, or at least able to more easily envision the pair as a really married couple who love each other physically as well as emotionally.

Dwim's "From the Other Riverbank" which is the only good Boromir/Faramir I have read to this day.

[dryly] And it was also the first B/F written, so far as I know. I have to wonder, therefore, to what extent I am partially responsible for some of the more painful examples of that pairing.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I have to wonder, therefore, to what extent I am partially responsible for some of the more painful examples of that pairing.

It's all your fault, Dwim.

OTOH, FtoRB was (I think) the first fic I read that dealt with sexual themes, certainly the first that could be described as slash. And it convinced me that this could be done well and reasonably within Tolkien's world - sure, he would never have approved of it, but nevertheless it's not glaringly inconsistent.

There are different types of stories that deal with sexuality - those such as Ang's "Legacy," or Dwim's FtoRB, that are not graphic (or not necessarily so) and are more interested in contextualizing attitudes towards sexuality, explaining how that functions in ME societies - and then there are PWPs. I read both, for different purposes and using different standards of judgment. PWPs can be fun to read, without necessarily asking more - but many of them annoy me because the characters are, shall we say, characterless? That is to say, change a few names and you wouldn't be able to tell that the author claimed the story as a Tolkien fanfic. Then, for me at least, they're not even interesting as PWP. Luckily it tends to be the latter sort that also have enough mechanical errors that I leave after a couple of paragraphs...

Cel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

FtoRB was (I think) the first fic I read that dealt with sexual themes,

Bingo! I knew I had company. I know FtORB was my first, because I'd been avoiding all other erotica in Tolkien up until I decided to risk it.

Back on "label it slash or not" -- that's actually a moot point for me; I read a more broad range of stories than I write ...

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

The only female slash fic, set in the Tolkien universe, and that I liked, was "A word and a kiss", by Miss Kitty. It is Thuringwethil/Luthien (Yes, it sounds stupid. I read it because I wanted a stupid story in the first time. But it was not the case)

It is on the slash archive "Library of Moria", and you could find it through Google, too.

I like female slash, but I don't think Middle-Earth is the good place for it.

Oh, and in the archive here, there is an alomost slash fic Nienna/Nerdanel, "Solace", which is not bad at all.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Florence, there is a thread about femslash in my forum, if you're interested.

I'd second the recommendation for Solace.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I've read quite a few stories that I thought worked well, but I am noticing that you all seem to be talking up your own small circle of stories and that's it. I have read a few of them, not all, but can't say the ones I have seen here are remarkably better than some others I have read.

I note the original intent of this thread was to examine 'what's out there' but it's beginning to look like a mutual admiration society for a select circle of writers - not that that is a bad thing, but I wonder at the focus of both this thread and the board in general. If it was made as a temple to a few good authors, so be it, but the layout of the site is excellent and offers you the opportunity to do so much more. I just hope you guys aren't driving people away by seeming like an exclusive club.

I posted on another thread in this forum several explicit pieces that I thought worked, and described an approach that I thought was novel and worked for the problem of introducing OCs into erotica. I am not sure anyone will read them, either because of time constraints, lack of interest in het smut, or because they were not written by someone on this board, but I'll offer them anyway.

Harem smut page

Most are vignettes, or very short stories - written to titillate - nothing more. I would be curious to see if anyone else thought the approach these pieces use works or doesn't.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I've read quite a few stories that I thought worked well, but I am noticing that you all seem to be talking up your own small circle of stories and that's it. I have read a few of them, not all, but can't say the ones I have seen here are remarkably better than some others I have read.

I note the original intent of this thread was to examine 'what's out there' but it's beginning to look like a mutual admiration society for a select circle of writers - not that that is a bad thing, but I wonder at the focus of both this thread and the board in general. If it was made as a temple to a few good authors, so be it, but the layout of the site is excellent and offers you the opportunity to do so much more. I just hope you guys aren't driving people away by seeming like an exclusive club.


I don't think it's a problem Ariel. You have been complaining about how exclusive we are since the day you joined, and you're stlll here posting. Our membership keeps growing, so we must be doing something right. HASA is by definition an exclusive site, because it is a juried site and not a self-post one. But it is certainly NOT a temple to a few good authors--we have plenty of authors who have works here who are not even members. Our "own small circle of stories" are for the most part posted on other archives--I've posted on ff.net and Library of Moria both. When the archive was originally formed, the stories HAD to be posted somewhere else public to be considered for inclusion.

The stories that are approved into the archive from Beta now are generally published in other archives as well, once the authors are comfortable with making them public. We all want as wide an audience as possible, after all.

"Aragorn Stew" was published in several archives before it came to HASA, and "Stud Fee" was on Library of Moria first. We are all of us always looking for new good stories to recommend and include into the archive, but sometimes it's hard to find people's personal archives and the smaller collections of stories, even if you are searching for them. So thank you for the link. I'll check it out.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

You have been complaining about how exclusive we are since the day you joined, and you're stlll here posting.

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. But seriously, if you folks would rather I not post here, a simple request would be all that was needed. I know I can be an irritant at times, and rather enjoy stirring the pot, but if that sort of thing is not welcome, I would not be upset about being told to take a hike. Some places like a bit of conflict mixed with their fodder - some don't. If I have misjudged this forum, then I would prefer being told rather than continue to rub folks the wrong way.

I also wonder if there are only a select few that post on this HASA forum (compared to HA) and so, naturally, the posts here revolve around those few pieces that are mutually known and liked. I wouldn't have mentioned the observation if I was the only one who'd seen it - believe me - and I continue to post because I believe there are some excellent resources here and that the site's layout and software is fantastic! I proposed the 'Newbie Challenge' for the very purpose of seeing if I could entice a few more people to start posting here - and hope to one day soon get it off the ground (procrastination is an artform... and I am an artist.)

I am glad you are interested in the smaller archives and personal pages. From the reading I was doing, I wasn't sure if they would be received well or not. I don't know of many, but I may know of a few new ones, and who knows, you may find something in what I have seen that you all can like too.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I've read quite a few stories that I thought worked well, but I am noticing that you all seem to be talking up your own small circle of stories and that's it...

I note the original intent of this thread was to examine 'what's out there' but it's beginning to look like a mutual admiration society for a select circle of writers - not that that is a bad thing, but I wonder at the focus of both this thread and the board in general.


Ariel, look through all the topics in this discussion carefully. You will notice several non archive stories/authors mentioned, such as Sasha Miller's A/B fics, 'Winter to Spring' by Rose Red, and 'Of Elves and Men' by Tenshi No Korin. But I agree with Isabeau, if I see it somewhere, and I think it's really exceptional, I submit for the archive. The only reason 'Of Elves and Men' isn't archive is that she didn't give her permission.

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. But seriously, if you folks would rather I not post here, a simple request would be all that was needed. I know I can be an irritant at times, and rather enjoy stirring the pot, but if that sort of thing is not welcome, I would not be upset about being told to take a hike. Some places like a bit of conflict mixed with their fodder - some don't. If I have misjudged this forum, then I would prefer being told rather than continue to rub folks the wrong way.

Intellectual pot-stirring is great, and what the forums are all about. But you don't have to assume others are intellectually dishonest to achieve that. Nor do you have to assume you are being asked to leave everytime someone takes you to task for incorrect reasoning.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Intellectual pot-stirring is great, and what the forums are all about. But you don't have to assume others are intellectually dishonest to achieve that. Nor do you have to assume you are being asked to leave everytime someone takes you to task for incorrect reasoning.

Then the only alternative conclusion that I can reach is that the stuff I like has no appeal to the people on this board or my taste is just so bad as to be unparalleled. I have no problem with incorrect reasoning being brought to light, heaven knows, I am well aware of my own mediocrity, but it was more an observation than a conclusion. If you have seen things differently, then I welcome the examples of it. I am reading through many of the threads only now; I have the time, a rare if not unheard of occurrence, and am forming my opinions as I go. I would hope that the regular posters here would have a bit of tolerance for those whose real life concerns only allow them brief forays into the forum in depth. These threads are NOT the types of things one can read and respond to off the cuff.

As for my impressions, I am not a fan of personal temples or authors with big egos. Regardless of the quality of the piece, when I see a particular fic praised over and again, my tendency is not to review or comment on it, but rather to search out and find pieces that are excellent but unsung. There are a lot of those out there. In reading the starting post of this thread, that is what I thought was being looked for.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Regardless of the quality of the piece, when I see a particular fic praised over and again, my tendency is not to review or comment on it, but rather to search out and find pieces that are excellent but unsung. There are a lot of those out there. In reading the starting post of this thread, that is what I thought was being looked for.

I am always looking for excellent new reading material. By all means, tell others what you have found!

And if you consider it to be of that quality, submit it for the archive as well.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Then the only alternative conclusion that I can reach is that the stuff I like has no appeal to the people on this board or my taste is just so bad as to be unparalleled.

I review a lot of stories and I'm picky. I want a story to have "something right" about it that I'd want to recommend it to strangers (public archive) rather than "nothing wrong". One of the questions I ask when I'm voting "accept" or "reject" for HASA archive is "If Google led me to this site, if the story I picked at random was the first Tolkien fanfic story I ever read, would I like it? Does it stand on it's own? Would I read it to the end and see what else this HASA has to offer?" The public archive, what reveiwers vote on, is for strangers. I want to show off our best. My usual ratio is 4 rejects for 1 accept. Several times I've been outvoted. There's a lot of stories I look at in review that I don't check out and vote on. If I'm not sure I don't vote.

With that rule of thumb in mind, I don't remember ever voting "yes" on a PWP for HASA public. Maybe the Faramir & Eowyn have a horse race PWP. But I have read and enjoyed PWPs that are in General or Beta ... or are in the public archive, though I wouldn't have voted them there.

But, upthread, it seems you have a more general complaint about driving people away and being exclusive.

Have I ever voted "no" for an author I've beta'd for? No. But then they tend to ask me if I think a story is ready for the public archive. Additionally these authors tend to leave stuff in General that isn't good enough. There have been two instances where one of my beta friends posted a story that I didn't want to vote "yes" for, and I didn't want to vote "no", so I let other reviewers decide. (I was unsure on one because it was such a short vignette; the other was a plot twist that mucked too much, IMO, with the original.) OtOH, if a beta friend asked and I said "no" and they still put up for review, then I'd probably vote "no".

Any author can join HASA and put any JRRT fanfic into General; General stories can be recommended to other members of HASA. I believe the people who use the site most and longest are fellow HASA members, so there's much the site can offer.

Julie

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

So I stopped by this forum because it popped back up to the top of my "Discussions" list right about the time I got to the chapter in my own fic where I'd be writing some relatively graphic sex, and I wanted to see what others had to say on the topic in general. So, first, a shameless request for feedback - if any of y'all have been reading An End To Innocence and could tell me how chapter 12 works for you, and whether the sex seems gratuitous, I'd really appreciate it.

Now, about female desire in LOTR fanfiction. First, I want to mention a fic at ff.net that I think handles feminine desire very interestingly. It's not PWP, not by any means - the sex, when it's there, is integral to the story. What brought it to mind was Ang's comment:

Women as political agents are, in some way, easier to write than women as sexual agents. Writing their wants and pleasures is more difficult than writing of the men on a number of levels.

In Not Worth More Than Rubies, the female protagonist is acting as both a political and a sexual agent (if I understand what Ang means by "political"), and she's very clear and unashamed about her sexual desire, which is not based on a desire to marry and have kids, or even romance. Check it out.

So. There seems to be a great deal of f/f slash in other fandoms - Buffy and Xena spring immediately to mind, and Buffy, at least, also has a great deal of het and bi slash. It seems to me that the dearth of female sexual desire as a focus in LOTR fanfic may be in part because JRRT wrote so many more compelling male characters. Simple lack of female characters may cause the odds to go down that any given writer is going to particularly relate to one of them enough to write sex. But more difficult than that, I think, is JRRT's idealization of women. Women in LOTR tend to be so high up on their pedestals, so perfect and remote, that I think it might be difficult to deal with them as sexual creatures. It's quite a leap for many of us, I think, to imagine, say, Galadriel getting all sweaty with Celeborn, or Arwen going down on Aragorn. The men are already sweaty and rough, and to the extent they're on pedestals, they're all still at about the same height. It's easier to imagine them with each other than with these pure, shining paragons of womanhood (consider, as a side note, the very common use of the feminine to denote civilization and purity, while sex is often regarded as uncivilized and impure).

Now, apart from those reasons, why would female desire be either more difficult to write, or less compelling to the overwhelmingly female LOTR fanfic writers community? I'm thinking this through as I go, so bear with me.

First, I think women do, on the whole, tend to be more complex in their sexuality then men typically are. That's not to say that men are not complex creatures - I believe they're at least as complex as women are, though many of them deny it. But I do think that the percentage of men who can and do separate sex and affection is much, much higher than the percentage of women who can and do. So at first blush it would seem that this would be the reason - it's easier to write sex for men because you don't have to have all that stuff about why they want each other. But in a great deal of the m/m fic I see in LOTR fandom, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the two characters' affection for each other, or why they desire each other, and the angst and turmoil their desires and affections either cause or attempt to alleviate. So, there goes that theory.

The next one hearkens back to what I wrote above about there being more strong male characters in LOTR. There's an essay in a book about Buffy The Vampire Slayer ("Staking A Claim" by Esther Saxey, in Fighting The Forces: What's At Stake In Buffy The Vampire Slayer) which mentions an argument that "identification does not pass smoothly between reader and character, with a female reader identifying with the female character and desiring the male character....There was necessarily a gap, a fluidity, a crossing over of the emotional envestment in the characters that passed across genders."

I think that may be at the root of why there's so much more m/m fiction in LOTR fandom than either het or f/f. We write the characters in whom we have our emotional investment, and if we're writing sexuality, the human mind is definitely fluid enough to allow us to project our desires onto characters not of our own gender. So, because Tolkien provided us with more deeply drawn, complex, and accessible male characters, those are the ones we write, and they're the ones who get laid.

The human mind is an amazing place, and I think there's an argument to be made that what's being written in much m/m slash is feminine sexuality, regardless of what genitalia are involved.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Then the only alternative conclusion that I can reach is that the stuff I like has no appeal to the people on this board or my taste is just so bad as to be unparalleled.

Don't flatter yourself that your taste is so unique. People have different preferences in the sort of stories they like, both smut and non-smut. Having different taste from others doesn't mean yours is bad (or good, for that matter). You may not feel you are in the majority here but there are a lot of members not contributing to this thread who may agree with you. Who may also feel that they haven't enough time to contribute thoughtfully.

I don't believe that anyone who posts often is intolerant of someone who does not; personally, I'm delighted to see a new name in a thread I'm following, and though I post fairly regularly I by no means have time to read every thread that exists on these forums!

...when I see a particular fic praised over and again, my tendency is not to review or comment on it, but rather to search out and find pieces that are excellent but unsung.

I've seen you say this before. It's unquestionably commendable to look for new stories that other readers have missed. But I hope you are not refusing to read stories recommended by others simply because they are widely praised? My grandmother would call that "cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Since you like Hobbits, Ariel, and if you don't totally refuse to read slash, a Merry/Pippin romance that is well written is The History of Us by Daisy Gamgee (not on HASA and sadly seems to be left incomplete - at least she hasn't updated in several months). There are some aspects I disagree with, but granted that, the development of the characters is generally interesting.

Cel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

The human mind is an amazing place, and I think there's an argument to be made that what's being written in much m/m slash is feminine sexuality, regardless of what genitalia are involved.

A friend of mine, one of the few who reads fanfic and also happens to be gay, told me once that he found m/m slash to be totally unrealistic because it WAS about female sexuality. His opinions have definitely impacted my own, as I respect him and his choices, I have a hard time enjoying m/m slash (especially when it involves a character that I would rather see myself with ). I can't help but imagine what my friend would think of a piece and I just can't take them seriously.

But I still enjoy a good female protagonist and good female oriented stories. Probably why I enjoy Mary Sues so much (well, good ones, anyway). Thank you for the suggestion, Shadow - I shall check it out.

But I hope you are not refusing to read stories recommended by others simply because they are widely praised?

Oh, no! I read them when I have time. I tend not to read slash - but the only kind I actively dislike is hobbit oriented slash (that boy is MINE, Sam! Take your mits off!) the rest just doesn't do much for me. I will take a look at your suggestion - but will probably have to take it with a grain of salt as I do have a bias already. (kind of like you and angst, eh? .)

I am working my way through the archive and what I read at a time is dependent on what I am in the mood for at the time. A mention or two (or three or five) will recommend a piece to me, but I am less likely to comment on it to the author, figuring that the author has already had enough people singing his or her praises - and that my small voice will mean little or nothing to her. On the other hand, if I can find an author who has had few reviews, I am more likely to comment because I think they would value and appreciate it more.

That doesn't mean I won't recommend a highly praised piece to this archive - but I probably won't comment on it.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

A friend of mine, one of the few who reads fanfic and also happens to be gay, told me once that he found m/m slash to be totally unrealistic because it WAS about female sexuality.

Sexuality is such an interesting thing, and so defies easy explanations. Bear with me a moment while I ramble about this for a while.

I wonder if one of the reasons that many straight women find m/m sex so hot is because through our ability to identify with either man, it allows us to experience, if only vicariously, a level of equality of power that we don't tend to experience with men. Women are, let's face it, generally physically weaker than men. Even Chyna (former WWF/WWE wrestling star and *quite* a babe) isn't as strong as her male counterparts, for all she could snap the average guy like a twig. I'm not sure I've ever known a man past the age of consent who wasn't at least somewhat stronger than I am.

So, we're generally a bit weaker, and generally can be more easily overpowered. We also don't tend, as a rule, to have the skills to defend ourselves against someone who would overpower us. We're vulnerable in a way that I think many of us don't perceive men to be (which is not to say that they're not). And in sex, especially, as the recieving partner, I think we tend to feel more vulnerable, less powerful. We are the invaded land, not the conqueror, and though there are great arguments to be made that we are, in many ways, stronger - even by virtue of our femaleness (think the whole "bearer of new life" paradigm, for example) - never the less, we are the ones entered, as a general rule, not the ones doing the entering. In het fic, I think it can be more difficult for a female reader to identify with the male character, even if he's the character with whom she most identifies generally; with m/m slash, I think we can identify more easily with either partner, and thus can be the invaded land, if we like, *or* the conqueror, whichever we choose.

I wouldn't dream of suggesting that a desire to experience this equality, or to be the conqueror rather than the conquered, is the only reason any given woman might like m/m sex - there's also the simple fact that if one hot man is good, many of us think two hot men is better. Nothing complex about that. But I'm pretty sure that at least part of the reason I so enjoy m/m slash is because of the great appeal of being able to trade power the way that it seems men can - at least in the stories. A lot of A/B slash, for instance, has them battling for dominance - it's a battle that were I to engage in it, I'd most likely lose, and fast. Even with my mad grappling skills. ;)

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

And in sex, especially, as the recieving partner, I think we tend to feel more vulnerable, less powerful. We are the invaded land, not the conqueror,

Not always... - most of the best het pieces I have read explore the sexuality of the woman from her POV - and the ones that stand out to my memory are the ones in which SHE is the instigator, and the object of her desires is responding (in sometimes forceful ways) to her. Maybe I am wierd, but I like that kind of stuff. With m/m slash, I can't help but think, 'well, he's gay, so there's NO WAY he'd be interested in me'. Having known a great many gay men in the SCA and with my own rather 'alternative' lifestyle choices, it has always been made crystal clear to me that I, a female, wouldn't have a prayer of interesting them no matter how hot I was. When I come across a well written, believable m/m piece, I can't seem to get beyond that feeling of disappointment realizing that neither of these 'hot' guys would ever find lil ol' me attractive. Rather than feeling as if I am one of the protagonists, I end up feeling excluded and isolated - teased with a little glimpse of something that I can NEVER have.

Not exactly fun reading, in my book.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

...In het fic, I think it can be more difficult for a female reader to identify with the male character, even if he's the character with whom she most identifies generally; with m/m slash, I think we can identify more easily with either partner, and thus can be the invaded land, if we like, *or* the conqueror, whichever we choose.

I wouldn't dream of suggesting that a desire to experience this equality, or to be the conqueror rather than the conquered, is the only reason any given woman might like m/m sex - there's also the simple fact that if one hot man is good, many of us think two hot men is better. Nothing complex about that. But I'm pretty sure that at least part of the reason I so enjoy m/m slash is because of the great appeal of being able to trade power the way that it seems men can - at least in the stories.


I agree, especially with 'two hot men are better.' But you bring up an interesting point - I can't read anything where one of the characters is portrayed as 'girly.' I started to write feminized, and stopped. I don't have a good way to say 'given what I consider unattractive traits that are usually portrayed as belonging to women.' I can enjoy stories where they care about each other, love each other, lust after each other. But if they stop being what I feel they should be - strong enough to be warriors, unprissy enough to survive their journey - I won't like it.

I also feel the appeal of comparing how I might feel about a character with how one of his compatriots would feel. Aragorn/Arwen isn't going to feel like Aragorn/Boromir, or the author has gone astray, IMHO.

I suspect that is the problem with a lot of ff.net slash written by teenagers (not to say that some teenagers are not fine writers!). They are Mary-sues of a sort, and turn characters into themselves or their friends, with poor results for a readable story.

Bringing me to something OT. I notice almost all the PPC fics involve Mary-sues. I think the reason no one wants to join the Department of Bad Slash is that the reward is lacking - you don't get to kill the Sue at the end. There should be *some* compensation for those willing to take on this horrendous task!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I started to write feminized, and stopped. I don't have a good way to say 'given what I consider unattractive traits that are usually portrayed as belonging to women.'

"Sissified" is one description that removes it from the problem of using "femaleness" as a pejorative, (ie, feminized, effeminate) since after all the problems are those that are really caricatures of feminine behavior (though I have met plenty of people who lived up to/down to their gender stereotypes, often quite deliberately). I believe the word actually derives from an old Italian word for rent-boy, btw. I've also seen "wussified," using modern slang - no idea etymology of "wuss" but it isn't used as nor has obvious connotations of any gender-based insult.

Bringing me to something OT. I notice almost all the PPC fics involve Mary-sues. I think the reason no one wants to join the Department of Bad Slash is that the reward is lacking - you don't get to kill the Sue at the end. There should be *some* compensation for those willing to take on this horrendous task!

Actually the problem is, none of the Assassins want to *read* Bad Slash. It's been done: Miss Cam came up with a way of killing the Evil - it's considered "canon possession," and the Sue Avatar is exorcised in the name of The Powers and The Author, and then executed, and the tormented characters treated for trauma.

It's a messy and complicated process - and the worst part is that it requires reading the stuff fairly carefully in order to critique it. And the shoddy departmental-issue Neuralyzers knock-offs don't work all that well.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I note the original intent of this thread was to examine 'what's out there' but it's beginning to look like a mutual admiration society for a select circle of writers - not that that is a bad thing, but I wonder at the focus of both this thread and the board in general. If it was made as a temple to a few good authors, so be it, but the layout of the site is excellent and offers you the opportunity to do so much more. I just hope you guys aren't driving people away by seeming like an exclusive club.

Like, say, the Frodo's Harem site?

Nobody is preventing you from talking about the things you're interested in. To complain because other posters are talking about what they're interested in reeks of self-centered brattiness. You want to talk about other stories? Then type and post. —On this thread, on other threads. That's all anyone else here does.

And if nobody else responds? That's life. Feedback and commentary vs silent readership run at around a 1/10 ratio, based on over half a year's worth of statistics I've gathered —if that. Other people may be more shy than you.

But—

Combining these complaints of inattention with the accusations of hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, alternated with fulsome self-put-downs, and threats to take one's marbles and go home, creates an impression of intensely juvenile, attention-seeking behavior unfitting — and beneath — even the real teenagers who post here. You've done this since the beginning, long before I became an admin, so don't wilfully mistake this as some sort of "official" statement: you've simply gone past my personal threshold of tolerance for intellectual dishonesty.

You have things to contribute. Contribute them, without the hypocrisy, the false humility and grovelling, the blanket insults to all your fellow members, and the threats. Grow up, in other words.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Shadow wrote:

But in a great deal of the m/m fic I see in LOTR fandom, a great deal of emphasis is placed on the two characters' affection for each other, or why they desire each other, and the angst and turmoil their desires and affections either cause or attempt to alleviate. So, there goes that theory.

Just pointing the way to a site with a) lots of pictures (i.e., are you under the age of consent? Then don't go clicking on the links that seem likely to have graphics. Don't worry, the front page is fine, which is what the link leads to) and b) the theory that w.r.t attitudes towards sex, "Women form emotional bonds which create the intimacy which can (but doesn't always) lead to sex. Men have sex to create the intimacy which can (but doesn't always) lead to emotional bonds."

Given that it's written from the perspective of a gay man, I found that interesting, and it does seem to link up nicely to what you're saying. But this fellow also is of the opinion that in a sense, it doesn't matter--the story has to work, and some female authors 'get it right' psychologically, while others don't. Just as some male authors 'get it right' w.r.t. sexual psychology, and others don't. If 'feminine' psychology makes the story work, then the story works; if it's 'masculine' psychology that makes the story work, then what's to complain about? (Other than all the examples where the author didn't make it work, whatever theory of psychology one ascribes to, naturally ;-))

Also, although this would fit in the PWP thread in some ways, I'm putting it here, since it's more about the story than about its PWP status:

IMO, best example of a slash PWP that showed how sex *doesn't* work emotionally is Pluto's Brother Mine. Graphic, goes with the 'dominance' theory of sexual intercourse between men... and shows that that solves nothing, which is really what made it work for me. The author calls it a PWP "sex-fight-fic" between Aragorn and Boromir, and it could easily be labeled as such; it really comes down to the last few lines and how you take them.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Like, say, the Frodo's Harem site?

They have always been far more welcoming of strangers than this site has been, at least to me. Admittedly, most of the people there are interested in something no one here is, and it makes for a more select group. One would expect such a congregation to be more exclusive not less than this group... but I HAVE tried to become part of this group and have not suceeded. Can you say you have done the same in the harem?

And yes, it is irritating if no one responds. That is one of the reasons I will occasionally barb a post with something that might get a response. Nothing else seems to work. It does seem as if the core group is so wrapped up in their own mutual admiration society that someone from the outside isn't likely to be noticed unless they are fawning over one of your authors or pissing one of you off. (Since I don't fawn that leaves me but one option.) Yes, you have said this isn't the case, but it is the impression I have gotten.

I would also love to hear what you have viewed as intellectually dishonest. You are the second person who has said that, and I am curious as to what has given you that impression. As for false humilty - why on earth would you say that? That does upset me. I have ALWAYS agreed that I my stuff has no right to be placed amid some of the excellent pieces here - and I have never thought badly of someone who didn't want to read it. It is only FALSE humility when you don't inwardly believe what you are saying, and I can't see how anyone here could think that I don't. Would you rather deal with an arrogant so and so who acts as if her mediocre work was the best thing since Tolkien? Me either. Since I can't abide that type, I prefer to remain her opposite.

I like the site and think its architecture allows for some wonderful interaction and feedback - but that ONLY works if there is feedback. I have been very grateful to Lyllyn for the medical information she has given me - but I've seen newer posters with one or two beta and general stories get their discussions ignored while others have long threads on every story. There are a few that regularly 'meet and greet' new folks, and they are to be commended but it sure looks like those who are benefitting the most from the site ARE the ones who are either in the inner circle or who irritate you. Is that right?

Edit: Rather than take over a thread with hate mail, would some nice admin kindly move this response and the post it initiated (with the poster's approval, of course) into my own section of the forum? I will be creating a thread for that purpose.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

There are a lot of those out there. In reading the starting post of this thread, that is what I thought was being looked for.

Note, also, however, that it's "Stories we have read (and Written)"--so you will find both stories that we have read (be they by other authors on this site, or be they by authors not on this site) and stories that we, personally, have written. You will find both in this thread, and I started it primarily because, in other threads, we were drawing on stories we had written to serve as illustrations, which just encouraged discussion of those stories in and of themselves. Then again, on the slash thread, we had het discussions coming up which (duh) had nothing to do with slash, but had everything to do with finding well-written erotica or erotic scenes in other works, or good examples of particular het couples that we thought seemed strangely underwritten.

So be prepared to see new stuff and old stuff, to see people talk about stories they have written and stories that others have written. Some stories do get talked about more than others, and if you see a high number of list member fics, I'm going to go out on a limb, here, and sound snooty, and suggest that perhaps it's not just a popularity cadre, that there might be a reason for their appeal beyond the writers who wrote the stories.

That said, new stories are always a good thing, so link away, as it were. Just know that I don't usually follow up on hobbit links because hobbit romances don't do a thing for me most days. Find me a good Beregond/OFC fic, however, and I'll bite. BTW, do you know that the only Beregond fic I've seen is a Beregond/Faramir? :-( Someone has to be writing about this guy's family life, surely....

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

most of the best het pieces I have read explore the sexuality of the woman from her POV - and the ones that stand out to my memory are the ones in which SHE is the instigator, and the object of her desires is responding (in sometimes forceful ways) to her.

When I say that the receiving partner tends to feel more vulnerable and less powerful, I'm not talking in any way about who's the instigator, or who *actually* has the power in the relationship. I'm talking in strictly physical terms: the penetrated partner's body is being opened and invaded. That is, by its nature, a more vulnerable position to be in than the postion of the one doing the opening and invading.

As for the question of whether a gay man would want me, a woman, well, clearly he wouldn't. But I don't need to be able to think he'd want me in order to get off on the story. After all, these are fictional characters to begin with - if I start thinking one of 'em is hot for me, straight or gay, I'd better get my butt to a competent therapist. ;)

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

We are the invaded land, not the conqueror,

Well, I think that there's a very good case to be made that these 'male-dominated' paradigms of 'invasion' and 'conquest' are not appropriate for Middle-earth except in those cases where characters are given over to the Dark, either as individuals or from a cultural background - that they are not metaphors that even belong in the vocabulary on a general basis, for a number of reasons beginning with the profound fact that the Falls of sentient beings in Arda have no connection whatsoever, not even in the slightest degree, with sex or gender. There's no "war of the sexes" as a direct consequence of events in the Ardaverse equivalent of Genesis.

So any of that is brought or imposed from without by the reader/fanwriter, except in portraying characters like Melkor, Ar-Pharazon, the abandoned souls of Dor-lomin, or (one may safely presume) the inhabitants of Dark-dominated regions like Umbar. You won't find it in the originals other than as a sign and consequence of the Marring - portraying it as the way "Nature" intended, "The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls/Are their males' subjects and at their controls: Men more divine, the masters of all these/...are masters to their females and their accords"* is not in the canon.

(It is, of course, very easy to accidentally impose 20th-c pop culture assumptions on Middle-earth, and requires constant examination of one's work to keep to a minimum.)

It's also important to realize that most of the assumptions that are made about ME fanfic are not actually limited to this fandom - for several years now I've read widely in a variety of fandoms and genres to determine patterns. One thing which is interesting is that there's an ongoing assumption that the comparative imbalance of female characters is what discourages authors from writing them - but what about the fact that from many fans' point of view, swapping Arwen for Glorfindel to "attract them as women viewers" was a failure? That the A/L writers are often impelled to kill Arwen off, make her Evil, or otherwise eliminate her? And that this happens in fandoms where there are many female leads, such as anime sf series (some of which also conveniently provide ample same-sex couples.) This is a red herring, I think.

(The weakening and enfeebling of one character in a same-sex pairing is also a very common, cross-fandom occurrence.)

Two other things to consider: we are women, for the most part, and presumably we feel desire: therefore it is something we in principle should be able to write about directly. After all, there is a universal assumption that it is easier to write about what we ourselves have experienced than that which we have not.

This is, however, false, for several reasons. One is that doing so in a way which is not mere catharsis, mere self-therapy, but actually art, is very painful and difficult and requires both honesty and skill to transform the inchoate mess of our own tangled lives into real story, not an undifferentiated outpouring but a reconfiguring of elements good, bad and strange into something beautiful and universal. And it can be very embarrassing to do, not least because such self-honesty is not always pleasant, and because there is the possibility of real revelation, which there is not for most of us when writing about, say, climbing Everest (unless we are Jon Krakauer) or fighting in a battle or poisoning someone and so forth.

And also, as Celandine has reminded me, that readers will assume that it is a revelation, especially in regards to sex, which is less possible with the distance placed by writing protagonists of other gender.

The second aspect is that - and it draws on the previous - we tend more easily to write not from direct experience, and also to write in terms of shorthand, employing tropes, rather than rediscovering and struggling to delve into the realities we haven't lived through the primary experiences related by those who have. Hollywood is a great offender in this regard. Remember, one does not have to know anything, or much, about a subject to carry it off in fiction -- simply to know more than the audience. If it fulfills the expectations of the audience -- expectations themselves built on past secondary experience mostly or wholly of tropes -- then it will be accepted as "real."

There is a lot of shorthand out there for male sexuality, which is not necessarily any more accurate than the shorthands for war, for espionage, for medical staff, for aviation, for the Old South or the Wild West - but which is accepted and not questioned...except, perhaps, by those who have read such explorations of complex male desire as are to be found in the tortured characters of Joseph Conrad and Leo Tolstoy, to name two examples.

There is less shorthand out there for female sexuality, but the problem is less perhaps that there are fewer artistic models, than that we know they are inaccurate, that the fevered swooning and pulsing of a Catherine Coulter heroine is not terribly realistic, and so we cannot quite as easily accept and write the platitudes.

I would, however, also assert that the standard 20th century "subroutines" of fictional male sexuality & desire are no more applicable to all male characters in fiction than they are to all living males - Aragorn is not, and never will be, a Hemingway character, and to write him as such is simply to do violence to the paradigms established in LOTR.

I've read it said that it's impossible to imagine any of Tolkien's women having sex, because they are "too pure" and "ideal." I'd argue that this itself indicates a disfunctional view of sex as something degraded and degrading on the part of the reader -- and also that the assertion of the contrary indicates a case of imposing said 20th-c assumptions of interchangeable masculinity on the men in the story, for they are no less so.



*The Comedy of Errors, W. S., Act II.i, spoken by Luciana of Ephesus.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

But you bring up an interesting point - I can't read anything where one of the characters is portrayed as 'girly.'

Yup. If I want to read about a guy with someone who's "girly", I'll read about a guy with a girl. Dwin mentioned Pluto's "Brother Mine", and that's a good example of what I find different and appealing in m/m vs het slash - you're not going to find that level and type of power exchange between a man and a woman in most fics. I'm personally working on getting there, but I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to manage it. We'll see.

I'm all distracted now because I've just happened across Goldeneye on TV, and there's yummy Sean Bean goodness to be had. Oh, la!

Anyway, it's not that het sex can't provide the same sort of lustyness that m/m can, it's just that IME it's rare.

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

if I start thinking one of 'em is hot for me, straight or gay, I'd better get my butt to a competent therapist. ;)

Hey, man, this IS my love life we're talkin' about here!

I can only speak for myself, and of course we are talking about fictional characters, but that's one aspect that makes it hard for me to enjoy them. I don't suppose it's any different than someone's preference for Silm fics, Legomances or angst, but when you say you won't read one of those types, people don't usually start calling you homophobic.

One is that doing so in a way which is not mere catharsis, mere self-therapy, but actually art, is very painful and difficult and requires both honesty and skill to transform the inchoate mess of our own tangled lives into real story, not an undifferentiated outpouring but a reconfiguring of elements good, bad and strange into something beautiful and universal. And it can be very embarrassing to do, not least because such self-honesty is not always pleasant, and because there is the possibility of real revelation....

.....we tend more easily to write not from direct experience, and also to write in terms of shorthand, employing tropes, rather than rediscovering and struggling to delve into the realities we haven't lived through the primary experiences related by those who have. Hollywood is a great offender in this regard.


And therein lies some of the greatest work. Perhaps with a bit more encouragement and support, people would write more of this sort of thing. It's more work, and it can inspire some internal revelations, but to write in a fictional setting, you must have at least some aspect of the story that you really know. Even if it is just a side plot or a minor element in the story, I have always felt that that that part of the story that is 'writing what you know' shines out quite clearly in most stories.

In two paragraphs, you've managed to throw in five separate accusations that the people involved in this thread are purposefully engaged in a conspiracy to block unspecified persons (although the strong implication is that it's yourself primarily) out of the site.

What can I say? It's a gift.

If the implication that I'm the one being ignored is what is being read into that comment, then that is not what I intended. My own personal thread has far more than 2 or 3 replies (yes, I have successfully managed to piss off many people... go me!) so I don't consider myself in that group. I do tend to befriend newbie authors and others who like angst and have heard this comment. Perhaps I do have some idea what that feels like and it was being telegraphed into my post.

Ariel

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

I've read quite a few stories that I thought worked well, but I am noticing that you all seem to be talking up your own small circle of stories and that's it. I have read a few of them, not all, but can't say the ones I have seen here are remarkably better than some others I have read.

I note the original intent of this thread was to examine 'what's out there' but it's beginning to look like a mutual admiration society for a select circle of writers - not that that is a bad thing, but I wonder at the focus of both this thread and the board in general. If it was made as a temple to a few good authors, so be it, but the layout of the site is excellent and offers you the opportunity to do so much more. I just hope you guys aren't driving people away by seeming like an exclusive club.


Ariel, I'm in awe of you.

In two paragraphs, you've managed to throw in five separate accusations that the people involved in this thread are purposefully engaged in a conspiracy to block unspecified persons (although the strong implication is that it's yourself primarily) out of the site. Were you aware of this? If not, do you think you could maybe moderate your tone in future? Asking for people's friendship, tolerance or assistance while insulting them has never been a successful tactic.

Now onto the serious business of the thread. What I'd like to know is whether there's another site out there other than the Library of Moria that showcases slash (particularly Aragorn/Boromir, but any good slash sites would be appreciated). I'm not going to cast nasturtiums at anything. What I'd like to see is well-written (ie correctly spelled and punctuated, grammatically accurate, with paragraphs and three dot elipses) slash. Or het. I'm not too fussed.

Meg (off to look in the URL library as well).

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

What I'd like to know is whether there's another site out there other than the Library of Moria that showcases slash (particularly Aragorn/Boromir, but any good slash sites would be appreciated).


OK, Meg, for what it's worth:
1. Poster does not warrantee punctuation, garmmatical correctness, or quality of content.
2. Many of the stories have also been posted elsewhere.

Aragorn/Boromir archive
Fellowship

Mixed bag, no hobbits
Noire Sensus

And if you find good het, let me know, I've only found a few.

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Meg wondered:

What I'd like to know is whether there's another site out there other than the Library of Moria that showcases slash (particularly Aragorn/Boromir, but any good slash sites would be appreciated).

Well, I'm sure you know of Fellowship; stories of varying quality. Least Expected also has fics of varying quality, but it hasn't had a new entry in quite some time, I don't think. I suspect that when Amy Fortuna disappeared off the net, it sort of died. Don't know that for sure, though. Of course, it could also be that people hate the "must send in txt files" requirement--God knows after editting FtORB to fit that format, I was literally seeing stars... little asterisks floating before my eyeballs in after-glow green and red. And it *still* didn't manage to format all the italics properly! Grr....

Where else? Boromir: A Hero's Journey is likely to have A/B slash on it. Can't vouch for quality.

Have you checked Versaphile? They recommend fics, but don't archive them, and they have a pretty extensive set of filters to help you find what you want.

There's also "Sweet Sorcery" but I can't find the URL right now. It's movie-based slash, and sometimes (ok, a lot of times) it goes over its bandwidth allocation. And it's not very Netscape-friendly--use Explorer or Mozilla if you go there. It's a smaller archive, sorted according to pairing. Quality uneven, once again.

That pretty much exhausts my resources.

 

 

Wow. (was Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written))

My god.

So I went over to Fellowship looking for some yummy slash. I found something that - well, maybe it's just me, but it gave me vertigo, the writing was so good.

I must warn you, since I'm posting a link to it, that the sex in it is a squick for most of us.

A big squick.

Not rape. Exactly. But a big, baaaaaad squick.

However, the sex is so not graphic, and the writing so took my breath away, that the squick never had a chance to kick in.

I think part of what makes it so compelling to me is that it's an entirely other side to Aragorn than what I've seen before, yet (for the most part) is utterly, utterly real. In fact, so real that I suddenly wonder why more people haven't written this side of him. The other thing that makes it so compelling is the writing, which is breathtakingly good, I think. So many evocative and visceral images, such a gorgeous use of language, and I'd try to pick out lines that made me shiver and post them here, but the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts, it would do a disservice to the story to try to pick it apart and say "oh yes, this worked especially well."

I suppose maybe I shouldn't be posting the link here; it may be off-topic for this thread, because the point of the story really isn't the sex, but I can't help it. Since everyone here is a writer, odds are good that we all like good writing, even if the sex isn't what we dig, or isn't the point. And if I'm crazy, and it sucks, well, all I can say is that I'm currently struggling with the almost overpowering urge to steal this writer's perceptions of Aragorn and Boromir for my own, since s/he doesn't appear to have written any other LOTR fic.

Anyway. Unscaled Heaven.

 

 

Re: Wow. (was Stories We Have Read (and Written))

I think part of what makes it so compelling to me is that it's an entirely other side to Aragorn than what I've seen before, yet (for the most part) is utterly, utterly real. In fact, so real that I suddenly wonder why more people haven't written this side of him.





Well, that's because it's so movieverse as to be totally AU, with indications that the author hasn't ever read the books. Since in the books from the beginning we're told that Strider, for all his forwandered exterior, is tender and gentle with others outside of battle. (And Arwen *sigh* is not a princess, never was, never will be...)



And Aragorn -- won't sing?



"What news from the West, oh wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?"



Well-written, yeah, but -- not particularly helpful in realizing Middle-earth.



This is exactly what I mean by warning against imposing 20th-c paradigms. I can't put it any better than Dwim did up-thread in re heirarchy and control, except to point out that because both of them have been raised to be both soldiers and statesmen as well as being mature in years, they are not going to be acting like biker dudes ready to break bottles in a bar or go for each other with pool cues or beat each other down in the parking lot with tire irons in a dominance game.



(Nor is it plausible, for the same reasons, that with no deeper characterization to tell me why, they're going to so have the hots for each other that issues of future governmental authority and present security are going to fly out of their heads like Rhet and Scarlett in Gone With The Wind, or Julius Caesar and Cleopatra in all popular versions of their story.)



I'd almost wish to make it a prerequisite that ME fanfic writers read The Song of Roland, to give a glimpse of male interactions in a medievalesque setting, with paradigms of emotion, tenderness and overt affection. It would be of great benefit, I think, whether for writing slash or not.

 

 

Re: Wow. (was Stories We Have Read (and Written))

Well, you may be right, but I disagree with your assessment. I certainly believe that it doesn't fit what many - or most - think of as the paradigms set forth in the books, and it certainly would never had passed from JRRT's pen, but if one reads these stories as if M.E. were a real place, peopled by real people, with many others telling their stories, I think this doesn't have to be read as beyond the pale.

Yes, it's very different. But I don't think that makes it AU. Except insofar as slash is pretty much always AU.

Nothing in the story says that Aragorn wasn't tender with those outside of battle - on the contrary, it explicitly states that he was. "Aragorn dislikes goodbyes. He will perform them eloquently and appropriately: a reverent kiss and soft words for Arwen, a blessing for a dead comrade. Encouragement to scared Frodo, silent lament for fallen Gandalf. He performs them, dislikes them intensely." Now, JRRT doesn't give us enough of a glimpse inside any of the character's minds to know that what they do and what they feel are the same thing, so, I can buy an Aragorn who hates goodbyes. The only other place in the story that addresses tenderness explicitly is when the author writes: "Tenderness was never an issue; tender is saved for elf princesses and well-bred maidens kept pure for a ruling husband." In context, "[t]enderness was never an issue" clearly means "between Aragorn and Boromir", and as for the argument that Arwen wasn't a princess, well, it falls a little flat for me, even if we do assume the sentence refers to Arwen (which, actually, I hadn't) - it seems to me like a small nit to pick.

It also doesn't say that Aragorn won't sing - it says he will remember. Not stating "and sing" doesn't mean the author thinks he doesn't. I also think that the mention that Legolas will sing indicates that the author has read the books, since of course none of them sing in the movie, and very rarely in the fanfics I've seen. As for the bit about Elves sleeping with their eyes open and dreaming waking dreams, I don't know whether that's canon or fanon - anyone? is that in the books anywhere? 'Cause I don't remember it in the movie, but if it's fanon, then maybe that is an indication that the author didn't read the books. Or not, since I've read them a number of times and don't know.

As for the implied rough sex between the guys, well, I'm not sure we should all have to accept that there wouldn't be, nor that the Song Of Roland is the final authority on whether a couple of soldiers in the field might get it on in a not altogether hearts-and-flowers fashion. Human nature is a vast and varied thing, and just because many people would find something weird about warriors carrying the fighting into bed with them doesn't mean that no warriors do just that.

If you hate the story, that's cool, I can certainly understand why lots of people would, but much of your criticism seems hollow, or unfair, to me.

 

 

Re: Wow. (was Stories We Have Read (and Written))

I also think that the mention that Legolas will sing indicates that the author has read the books, since of course none of them sing in the movie

I didn't say the author didn't read the book, I said it felt like that (which is actually a much harsher criticism than saying it's unmarked movie-fic, like all but one of the half-dozen other stories on the Fellowship site I read at random.) Referring to Elrond as "king" or Arwen as "princess" is a hallmark of movieverse fic by book-ignorant writers, like references to Boromir having blond hair or Aragorn blue eyes, or the lack of capitalization of the word Elves.

I certainly believe that it doesn't fit what many - or most - think of as the paradigms set forth in the books, and it certainly would never had passed from JRRT's pen, but if one reads these stories as if M.E. were a real place, peopled by real people, with many others telling their stories, I think this doesn't have to be read as beyond the pale.

Yes, it's very different. But I don't think that makes it AU.


What would make it AU, if not going OOC?
It sounds like you're actually saying it's okay to make fanfic AU, which I agree with -- though there's a lot of disagreement over what constitutes a legit AU, and what is just original fic with names put in. But I say that in that case, an author needs to indicate that that's what's happening.

What I was trying to point out was, the reason why many others haven't likely adopted these characterizations is that they're totally OOC -- for the books. There's a little more room for positing such in the movieverse, because we don't get the same personal impressions of Strider from the other characters, and the character backstory is so different, from FOTR.

It also doesn't say that Aragorn won't sing - it says he will remember. Not stating "and sing" doesn't mean the author thinks he doesn't.

No, I don't think so. The "funeral" scene in Unscaled Heaven is clearly set up as a triple exclusive-or: Legolas will sing, Gimli will weep, Aragorn will think, having already said his final word of farewell.

As for the implied rough sex between the guys, well, I'm not sure we should all have to accept that there wouldn't be, nor that the Song Of Roland is the final authority on whether a couple of soldiers in the field might get it on in a not altogether hearts-and-flowers fashion.

This is "false opposition" btw, setting up an either/or situation as if these are the only two alternatives, and rhetoric, not logic, combined with another bit of rhetoric: there's no "hearts and flowers" in Roland, (though there are people being bisected), and I never said there were, or presented an either/or of violent agression vs yaoi-style "mushiness."

much of your criticism seems hollow, or unfair, to me.

The problem is the presentation of Aragorn as someone so control-oriented and selfish that it's important to him that Boromir not be able to resist him finally. Someone who is taken over by violence when he fights, and who divorces his personality as "warrior" and "civilian" to the point of a kind of fragmentation. The instances of "gentleness" cited from the text are simply presented as instances of a different kind of domination, one which Boromir cannot (being dead) refuse.

"Aragorn is too old to fool himself; this is not something Boromir would approve of, despite a yearning for a farewell to last through whatever journey lies beyond."

And the Aragorn who is obsessed with the "weakness" and "failures" of mortals as a race comes onlyout of the movie, (as does the Elrond who expresses similar sentiments in so many stories.)

"Boromir's presence—competition, discord, rivalry, lust—made it quicken, but never falter. This could be atonement. Always some past sin: thoughtless cruelty, an unnecesary kill, mistakes made in ruling Men, times he's failed his appointed, his chosen path. The mistakes of his father and his father before him, a long row of failures like shadowy ghosts standing behind him. "

Human nature is a vast and varied thing, and just because many people would find something weird about warriors carrying the fighting into bed with them doesn't mean that no warriors do just that.

Yes, but we're not talking about random warriors — that's my whole point earlier — nor even Pvt. Jim-Bob from Duluth; we have two specific characters defined as coming from specific backgrounds and upbringings very different from what your stereotypical soldier-of-fortune would hail from.

And to say, well, it's okay to make characters OOC in sexual situations because people are wierd about sex, as you seem to be arguing, is a cop-out, leading to the kind of thin characterization and shallowness of a (filmic) James Bond. A good work of fiction, fanfic or otherwise, attempts to integrate all aspects of the personality — including sexuality — into one unified portrait (except when describing a character in need of serious professional mental help, of course.)

Again, if someone tags a story as "movieverse" I can't argue with the characterizations so much, because in LOTR it's incorporated into the narrative and a lot of it is the mental impressions of other characters (as per Pippin comparing Denethor & Gandalf, or remembering Boromir.) And if it's tagged "AU", same thing. (I'm fairly lax in my standards regarding AUs.)

But if it's not, then I have to start out assuming that it's bookverse, and that the definition of the characters and their world so far as it's given in LOTR is the standard against which the fanfiction has to be judged. This is what sets off, say, FOTRB from most of the B/? stories in list or public archives out there, the effort to make a consistent, believable scenario given those givens.

As for the bit about Elves sleeping with their eyes open and dreaming waking dreams, I don't know whether that's canon or fanon - anyone?

Legolas "sleeps" with his eyes open during the chase of the Uruk-hai; though there's room for debate as to whether that is only "modern" Elves, or the only way they sleep: TTT, "The Riders of Rohan" — "...he could sleep, if sleep it could be called by Men, resting his mind in the strange paths of elvish dreams, even as he walked open-eyed in the light of this world."

Now, JRRT doesn't give us enough of a glimpse inside any of the character's minds to know that what they do and what they feel are the same thing

That's not really true either, but you have to read very carefully and realize that much of the assessment of various characters comes from the perceptivity (or lack thereof) of the characters around them, who may be more or less wise, familiar, or intuitive: contrast Frodo's awareness of Strider with Butterbur's with Bill Ferny's, and all of them with Gandalf's. (Unless the fanwriter chooses to assume that none of the characters are accurate or perceptive, which would I think warrant an AU disclaimer in itself.)

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Well just going through the comments, I can say that I'm one of the newbie authors who have attempted to post here in the past and decided to pull out because it was just too much trouble trying to get approved. I don't bear the site any malice but your review system left a lot to be desired and I often felt that my work was not entirely as bad as some of the garbage I have seen on some archives. Anyhow, I've gone back to posting on my own site and on ff.net butI have placed the link to it on the HASA site. I may not agree with HASA all the time but I won't deny that its usefulness for showcasing talented authors.

Anyhow, I write stuff set mostly after the War of the Ring. I do not consider what I write to be AU but since I do have OC's in my fics, I prefer to let people think that its an AU. Saves a great deal of hassle. For most part, I stick to canon. Yes I do marry Legolas off in one story, but by the time he leaves for Middle Earth, he isn't anymore. I wish there was more het out there because while there are characters that you can imagine in slash, Legolas, Haldir, Sam and Frodo. I find it difficult to picture Aragorn, Boromir and Eomer in any slash situation and is there any particular reason why the women are often portrayed so badly?

I think the story that I am proudest of is a story I wrote called the Patient. It was a personal challenge I set myself in seeing if it were possible to write a decent fic set in the modern era. I was finally innundated by one too many fics about Legolas and Aragorn falling into someone's closet or my friends and I find the Fellowship wandering in a mall....you know the kind (shudder..). The Patient is best considered an AU and builds on the idea that Tolkien liked the notion that Middle Earth and its happenings were somewhere in the past before recorded history. I set the date mostly around a 100 thousand years because that would be the approximate appearance of modern man on fossil record, between a millioin and hundred thousand years ago, there is large gap of human history that can be toyed with.

The fun I had in the Patient was not in recreating Aragorn but imagining what a modern version of him would be like. Since the fate of men in the afterlife was left pretty much an unknown, i went with the idea of reincarnation. Of course the character isn't written remembering that he was Aragorn and is a doctor in my story. Believe it or not, there were people who wondered why...

I think that if you dare to push the envelope a bit and write it well, a story will work so I will be returning to this AU for more experimentation...


 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Hi everyone, I was looking over this (long-dormant) topic and thought the discussion was really, really interesting. One of the things that especially caught my eye was the comment on the relative lack of fics that address female desire-- I'd noticed this, too. This issue made me immediately think of cupiscent's Jessed, recently up in the public archive. It addresses some aspects of female desire, albeit from a male perspective. Very brief but very interesting. Ali

 

 

Re: Stories We Have Read (and Written)

Although the female desire thing is in part societal, I think it doesn't help that LotR has so few female characters. Galadriel is the natural femme fatale ("all shall love me and despair!") but I haven't seen any erotica with her yet (not that I've been looking very long).

Eowyn, in what I have read so far, tends to be portrayed in terms of courtly love: noble, fragile, frigid. But I like to think of the Rohirrim as being better able to let their hair down, so to speak, and less inhibited than the Gondorians, so I have a feisty and lusty Eowyn in my story (which is in beta and I welcome comments), The Song of the Steward and the King (yes, mostly it's Faramir/Aragorn but Eowyn has her moments and the chapter "Eowyn's Hunger" can be a standalone piece of het).

As for good reads, I got started on this whole fanfic genre with the slash (Aragorn/Faramir but also there's one or two with Arwen/Eowyn) of cruisedirector

-Raihon 

 

 

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