Day #28. What is your favourite fan fiction story? (link if possible)
Day #29. Who is your favourite fan fiction author? (link if possible)
Day #30. What is the best alternate universe? (link if possible)
Day #28. What is your favourite fan fiction story?
Those of you who have known me for some time (since I was active in Pros) probably won't be surprised by my choice, as I've always spoken highly of this story, others may be surprised.
Again, (as with some of my favourite episodes) I know this may be seen as a somewhat controversial choice; in fact I think it's quite possible one of the 'Marmite' stories (eyes plutos_revenge). For me it's one of the few Pros zines I still have and from the moment I read it, it has been my favourite story.
It's Gentle On My Mind by Kathy Keegan. I'm afraid I can't give a link, because it is only available in zine format. It's actually five zines in all and does make one very long story *g* But sticking to the rules, I'll go with Volume 1 as being my all time favourite.
In March 2002 (was it really so long ago?) I wrote a review of the zines explaining why I love them so much (which I know one or two of you will have seen). I'll copy and paste that review here behind the cut. And I'm leaving my review of it as is - i.e. as I wrote it nearly ten years ago; I'm not going to polish it or anything *g*
I have read a vast amount of fanfic, both from zines and on-line sources, in several fandoms, and I have to say that this story is the best that I have ever read.
I have just finished re-reading it for the third time, and I know that it is something I will read again and again. If for some reason I had to get rid of all of my zines and could only keep one story, it would be this one.
From page one of Chapter One until the final page of Chapter Five it is a love story. A love story that has deep love, commitment, friendship, romance, passion, sharing, equality, tenderness, plots (both a main and several sub), partnership, humour, intensity, tension and great sex. It shows Bodie and Ray very much in love, and very willing to show that love. But in many ways, this is almost too simplistic a definition and description, as it shows the bad as well as the good. It shows the pain as well as the pleasure; the heartache as well as the joy.
It is a devastatingly simply story: Ray has a car crash that nearly kills him. The doctors believe that he will either die, or if he survives then he will be a vegetable. He does neither. He survives and is not a vegetable. However he is affected; his brain bled and various functions, part of his memory etc., are damaged/lost.
It is a story about Ray re-learning, and Ray growing up.
I confess that when I knew the brief outline of this story, that I was bothered by the thought of Bodie going to bed with a child. However, for me Kathy never makes me feel that. It is true to say that Ray is always mentally under the age of consent – both for heterosexual sex, let alone homosexual sex. Yet the child aspect never bothers me, because Ray is not a child.
Yes, Ray has forgotten a number of things and has to re-learn them, i.e. reading, and his life prior to the car crash, but even these things are not completely forgotten. The one thing he never forgets is Bodie and his life with Bodie, even though most of the details have been forgotten. They had been lovers for quite some time before the crash, and for Bodie to deny Ray would have been cruel. Ray does recall snippets of his life before the crash, and these snippets come out at the oddest of times, and get more frequent as the story goes on.
Kathy manages the whole story, the whole concept of this man re-growing, re-learning, in such a sensitive, open, caring, honest manner, that you do not see Ray as a child. The Ray you see is part of the Ray you see in the series; correction it is part of the Ray I see.
For me Ray Doyle is a vulnerable, in some ways almost innocent man, who hides a lot behind his clever wit, quick temper and idealistic streak. He is also hard and harsh and sharp, yet it is tempered with the gentler side. It is the gentle side of Ray that we see in Gentle on My Mind. We also see the idealism is still in place.
Bodie of the series is very overtly protective of Doyle, and this continues in Gentle on My Mind, it just gets taken to another level. And Ray is as fiercely protective of Bodie as he is in the series, only now he is if anything more overt about it.
Just as when they were partners they are very much the centre of one another’s world. They are protective, possessive, loving, caring, playful and equal. Yes, Ray is Bodie’s equal, because equality can take many forms. It does not just have to mean equal in strength, speed, equal number of times one takes the lead in lovemaking.
Equality is all about what works for each and every individual couple. Equality is about giving and taking, sharing, understanding, and ultimately no two couples will be equal in the same way.
I cannot fail to see that, in spite of Ray’s handicap, they are an equal couple. They would both die for one another, kill for one another, fight for one another, just as we see in the series. Neither would want to live without the other – especially Ray.
Ray learns so much that he is able to return to work, first outside of and then inside of CI5. And his relationship with Bodie is completely open and above board for anyone and everyone to know about. We see a lot of CI5, see the changes it undergoes, and see how Bodie fits into these changes. We see Bodie adjusting to a new partner, Murphy, and how he comes to trust Murphy and work well with him.
We meet a number of original characters in the story, as well as series based ones, and Kathy does a marvellous job with all of them. They become real people, not just names and descriptions on a page. We see them several of them from the beginning of the series, right the way through. We meet Ray’s family – his mother, sister and uncle. Cowley, Murphy and Macklin become key players from the series, especially the first two, but we also see Susan, Towser and a handful of others. Probably the most important original character is a man called Peter, an old friend and colleague of Bodie’s whom Bodie hires to go and live with them to look after Ray in the early days, and then later to drive him around and generally just be around. All of these people are, or become, very much a part of the Bodie/Ray life.
The story is not without a handful of faults – if we want to get really picky. Yes, there are Americanisms; there are a few inconsistencies (usually to do with Ray’s age, but then it is not an exact science anyway, and at any one time people are only really guessing at his age), contradictions, a few typos and spelling errors. But where they do exist, they are minor, and given the length of the story it is not surprising.
The zines were published by the Nut Hatch Press in Australia. Gentle on My Mind One, Two, and Three are available as separate zines; Four and Five are available both as a zine on their own, or as part of Encore One and Two. The layout of the zines is good, there is a well-balanced amount of white space, and the quality of the paper, binding and covers is excellent.
I cannot recommend this story highly enough, because it does give me everything that I want from a story. It is the ultimate in a love story, but a love story with so many layers that you come across a new one each time you read the story. Moreover, calling it simply a love story is far too simplistic; it is that and yet so, so, much more.