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Thread: Seven short stories starting 15th June 2018

  1. #101
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Walking At Midday by Quinara - Well this is the only story in this batch that I had already read, but I did give it a reread to see if my thoughts were the same. I want to emphasise first that I really like this writer. Her Turn and Face the Strain series is one of my favourite unsouled Spike stories. I like her writing style and character voicing. And whilst that is still true here, this story is still hit-and-miss for me.
    I agree with this.

    However, my quibbles are very different from Stoney's.

    I find Spike taking charge of dealing directly with the trigger to be the biggest change from canon, and from that agency I think the other things that happen differently make sense. Which is the whole point of the story, now that I think about it. Owning his challenges, not expecting anyone to save him, making choices rather than letting things happen to him — those are all things that Spike (and all of us) needs to do to be his best, fullest self. Which is not what happened in canon. Even when he saved the world it was in some ways a passive act. (Not all ways, of course.)

    I don't have a problem with him loving Buffy in exactly the same way he did before the soul. The differences I see post-soul are not in his capacity for and focus on love. It is in other things: seeing the wider consequences of his actions and self-awareness of his imperfections. Unfortunately, those things, while valuable, also tend to cripple him into inaction and are probably the way the First gets to him. Finding the balance is key to reclaiming his mastery over himself. Giving up his choices is playing right into the First's illusory hands, just as Angel's similar despair did.

    In writing this, I'm finding my quibbles with the story fading.

    Before I forget all about them, I'll briefly say that I found the Sphinx section not terribly clear or satisfying when I initially read it. There's so much detail in other parts, but it was sort of hazy and glossed over — which might be intentional. And there was a bit of repetition of themes that could have been scaled back, slightly. But otherwise, I've got very few complaints.

    Stoney's interpretation of the soul seems very definite, and not entirely clear to me. It's surprising that any fic meets your specific criteria. I'm definitely more ecumenical in my enjoyment of stories. I like souled, unsouled, multiverse, etc. (Probably not going to read hockey AU, though.)
    Weird love is better than no love Buffy Summers

  2. #102
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    Feeling a little bit under attack here. I don't have a specific criteria for fics. Generally I tend to read earlier season fics by choice because if a story is going off on a tangent I tend to enjoy it more when it is following less canon. But I read lots of different types souled/unsouled/human etc. Of course there is always subjective interpretation involved, but I really don't like post S6 fics where the meaning and significance of the soul is pulled down or seen as not necessary because I think that devalues it and the path that Spike took, what he gained with it. I really don't like it when Buffy is blamed for the AR and all the abuse in the relationship is laid at her feet or when Spike says the soul made little difference or he wishes he didn't have it. These are elements of why I tend to avoid later season fics because I've read some of those things in a lot of post S6 fics I've read. Spike changed very significantly when souled, as well as having character continuity. I've spent years hearing haters say that he didn't change at all, he didn't show remorse, he didn't care about what he had done etc etc. Hearing really venomous rants about how you can't tell he'd got a soul and how little change it made. I think that is just rubbish and there are many examples in S7 and onwards of how much it has changed him. So I tend to be frustrated when the very meaningful shifts that happened in him aren't there.

    I'd say that Spike loves differently when he is souled because his emotional capacities are deeper and different with the soul. He cares on a different level about what he has done and who he can be and that reflects in how he thinks about things, how he sees the world and those in it somewhat differently. That doesn't mean he can't still love as he did, I think it just expands and gains layers. To suggest that it's the same just with a few extras added on, the way it was put I felt really undermined the level of change we saw in him and in how he clearly felt. Sure this can just be the writer's interpretation or how they want to change things, but I don't like it personally. In S10 Spike tells Buffy that he didn't love her unsouled, not enough, that it was a selfish bastardisation of love. I think he is being hard on himself even if there was a degree of self-focus within his choices and behaviour but I can understand why the difference he feels would seem that stark to him and why the difference matters hugely to him because of what happened that prompted him to get the soul and how he felt about that once he had one. Both souled vamps draw a firm line between themselves and unsouled vamps when it comes to the capacity for choice and their emotions/morals I think. Fanfics tend to explore what they like and I enjoy reading them, I'm just not likely in truth to prefer them to what we got. That doesn't mean that I don't enjoy them still though. I had even given an example of another story by the same writer that was a favourite unsouled Spike story. I'm not as rigid in what I read and enjoy as it is perhaps comes across because of the way I'm discussing them after reading and my automatic tendency when doing so to compare to canon.

    We possibly do see elements of Spike's canon journey/character differently who knows, but I don't think that has anything to do with all this but the way I tend to relate things to canon and how I feel stories changed canon when I'm discussing them. I enjoy reading fanfics or I wouldn't have spent so much time reading hundreds of them, but I love the canon story and there aren't things that I personally yearn to change about it at all. I find fanfics interesting/fun and normally would just read, enjoy and move on. But when we're then discussing it I start thinking about it in a way I don't otherwise, about what was changed and what I think about that. I can just drop the critical side I suppose. On the plus side for you, I don't tend to keep up with the group and so won't be involved in many discussions.
    Last edited by Stoney; 26-06-18 at 12:21 AM.

  3. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stoney View Post
    Feeling a little bit under attack here.
    I apologize most sincerely! I really value what you have to say.

    And, I think we fundamentally agree about a lot, although we may word things differently. You said:

    his emotional capacities are deeper and different with the soul. He cares on a different level about what he has done and who he can be and that reflects in how he thinks about things, how he sees the world and those in it somewhat differently

    I said:

    The differences I see post-soul are ... seeing the wider consequences of his actions and self-awareness of his imperfections

    Which, I think, mean more or less the same thing. Amirite?

    I think it was the back-to-back stories which didn't work for you — because of the way the authors handled the soul/lack of soul — that made me think you had a specific criteria, which you would be perfectly entitled to have, obviously. I do wish you felt like writing your preferred version of things, because I think it would be awesome and interesting. But if you're satisfied with canon, I guess there's not much impetus to go there. Our loss.
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  5. #104
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    Don't worry about it, I wasn't sure it wasn't just me being too sensitive in how I was taking it.

    I'm not sure it's quite the same. I think we're probably talking the same about his general outlook and shifting perspective, but I think there is a literal emotional depth as well as capacity of understanding/morality that just isn't possible when unsouled. So unsouled Spike is able to feel a whole range of emotions, they are just a more shallow version of what he can when souled. There's a meaningful difference not just in how he views things but his capability to feel depth and breadth in his emotions over them. So although loving her remains constant he'd never view how he loved Buffy to be at the same level I don't think.

    The soul with Spike's characterisation often is an issue for me when we discuss stories because it's often a point that the writers wanted to change or play about with and I am very sensitive about what they say/do with that aspect when they do. But it remaining as per canon isn't something I want/need in a story. I suppose it creates a level of enjoyment issue for me because really I don't want to see it change, and it often limits how much I can love a story when it's being discussed. Unsouled fics where the main focus is on him not needing a soul being covered/accepted tend to be less enjoyable for me than ones where it's not the driving topic. It bothers me far more when it is changed when he is souled because it feels like a writer wants to openly correct canon on it as part of the purpose of writing. Rather than just have him not needing the soul they want him to experience being souled and then say it doesn't impact much. But if they go off on a tangent at S2 and keep him unsouled it bothers me less. I'll still prefer the canon path and generally think there are issues that are papered over in unsouled fics or extreme characterisation shifts used, but I can enjoy them anyway. I've read stories I've really enjoyed and my only complaint is that the writer inserts a scene where Spike talks about how little difference the soul makes and Buffy says how she doesn't think he needed it after the AR. If a whole souled story is clearly built around them coming to realise those factors rather than it being almost throwaway remarks or a side aspect, a scene that shows the writer's pov on the soul, it can really negatively impact how much I enjoy the fic. This one is a little in the middle of that because the exploration of how Spike wants to deal with what is happening for himself, his determination to face and tackle things instead is a really interesting alternate that I think works well for his character and actually slots into canon quite well. This appears to me as the main purpose of the story but what she does say about the soul not changing him internally much is a very big cross against it for me because I think of that as a very negative character opinion. Even though it isn't the main point/purpose.

    I really would have no clue whatsoever about what to write for a fanfic, as you say it doesn't feel like there's a great impetus because I don't want to change things. I read fanfics to generally spend more time in the verse/with the characters really, despite knowing most fics are going to stray in some very deliberate ways. But I'll willingly read most things, possibly even the hockey AU.

    It has surprised me how often people stop reading a story when they've started. I so rarely do that and would have to be pretty offended by something to want to just put the story down and not find out where it was going, or find the writing very literally too hard to read.

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  7. #105
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    It has surprised me how often people stop reading a story when they've started. I so rarely do that and would have to be pretty offended by something to want to just put the story down and not find out where it was going, or find the writing very literally too hard to read.
    LOL! I fall at the first hurdle more often than not! In fact, I own more books that are unread/unfinished than books I've read. I don't read for plot - I prefer to know the story before I read. To finish something, I have to get caught up in the flow of the language or the form has to interest me. It's why I rarely review and why I said I found the earlier fic "clunky". It was interesting to discover English isn't her first language (not a criticism). I'm guessing her syntax was too correct - I like language that's idiomatic in form and content (whether I understand it or not). I like BtVS because it's structurally interesting - the plot escapes me.

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  9. #106
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    I'm out a lot of today so I just wanted to pop on and post my thoughts on the last fic before I forget...

    In Such a Night by DactylGirl - I really enjoyed this. I don't often read fics that deliberately try to provide missing scenes and expansions alongside canon and as a lover of canon it is probably not a surprise this suited me down to the ground. But it is even better than that because the writer is brilliant. They have the voices completely and I could just picture the exchange on the roof as Spike tried to finish his reading and Buffy barely managed to wait before showing her impatience. It was a great little add on scene around the time before they started dating again and I think I'll have it as headcanon. Top fic, 10/10.

    So I was delighted to see it was the first of four fics set at this point in the comics and read them all straight away. The sequel In Focus was equally as perfect and adorable and the following two were great as well, although not perfect, still excellent. Basically I loved them and think the writer has a great feel for the characters and their underlying issues and insecurities and what it is that is driving changes in their dynamic. I will definitely find time to read through other stories by DactylGirl and am delighted there appears to be many more shorts set in the comic era. I don't know if they are all stand alones or are made to fit alongside canon like this group of four, but I'll find out.

    I'm still reading Wooded Path so I may not be back with the group for a while but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading these short fics together. I don't often read short ones and it was a nice change. Plus I gained some favourites, which is always fab.

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  11. #107
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    In Such A Night was great. Dactylgirl writes so well, with such a sweet sparse style, but telling you everything you need to know. A small moment perfectly captured. I think this is my favourite of these short fics.

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  13. #108
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    I am late on officially opening the discussion for our last short story. I am glad, you guys already started discussing this one. TriBel has not yet said anything and I don`t know why, but I fear, that she does not like this story at all....I have a little voice in my head, telling me so

    I am of course talking about:

    In Such A Night by Dactylgirl

    http://dark-solace.org/elysian/viewstory.php?sid=4049

    I`ll be back later with my own thoughts on this story.

    flow
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  15. #109
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    I can't add much to what Stoney and Priceless said. I think this - and the immediate follow up - are perfection. It's photographic - a snapshot of time and space (and I hadn't consciously thought of the sequel when I wrote this). Except, this moment would never be photographed because there are no expectations. It's so ordinary...and therein lies its timelessness. It's the extra-ordinariness of the quotidian...the ephemeral within the eternal. Everything about it is just right. I was going to copy some of my favourite lines then I realised the sum was greater than the parts.

    It could have happened and it's what makes a lie of S12. In fact, because of 12 the close has extra poignancy: "He did that playful shoulder bump thing again and she bumped back and decided that, you know what? All those questions could wait ’til later. She had time. She walked down the street beside, sneaking glances at him from the corners of her eyes and caught him doing the exact same thing. She smiled. They had time". It echoes their line in the Heather Nova song in Touched: "And it's all, an eternity, Hoping to learn only Love". FUJW.

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    In support of TriBel & Buffy & Spike #FUJW

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  19. #111
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    I'm not cussing Joss, well not completely, not yet, but I am loving DactylGirl. Top drawer stuff.

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  21. #112
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    Walking At Midday

    I love season7-Spike and I think he was captured very well. I think, Buffy was also captured very well until her sudden declaration of love, which surprised me a bit because it came out of the blue.

    I didn`t get, what the Sphinx was doing.

    I also didn`t get, why Spike was talking about the violence still being there. It seemed to not be a fitting word. If he was talking about the usual soulless vampire violence, well, that is certainely gone. We don`t see him killing humans randomly anymore and he never admits to have a desire to do so.
    If he talks about violence in his and Buffy`s relationship, I don`t see it either. They were definitely rough with each other, they were hurting each other emotionally, they were dragging each other down but they weren`t violent with each other until the AR. And that did not happen, because Spike had a deep inner desire to be violent, but because he had been misreading signals and had been deluding himself.

    It is still a solid story. Probably not 10/10 for me, but definitely one of the best, we have read this week.

    In Such A Night - I simply love it for all the reasons, you all have already mentioned. Nothing I could say could express my feelings better than TriBel`s post does.

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  23. #113
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    In Such A Night - I simply love it for all the reasons, you all have already mentioned. Nothing I could say could express my feelings better than TriBel`s post does.
    LOL! Nothing rocks my boat more than "the ephemeral within the eternal" - and I've a feeling I ripped that from Baudelaire.

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    I think in order of favourite to least favourite . . . and of course it's all completely subjective . . .

    In Such a Night by Dactylgirl
    A New Life by freecat15
    Pumpkin Spike by Sunalso
    Walking At Midday by Qunara
    Just A Little Death Wish by Acajou Amarth
    Present by Ladyoneill
    She Will Remember Him by moscow watcher

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  26. #115
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    My ranking:

    A New Life by freecat15
    Walking At Midday by Qunara
    She Will Remember Him by moscow watcher
    In Such a Night by Dactylgirl
    Pumpkin Spike by Sunalso
    Present by Ladyoneill
    Just A Little Death Wish by Acajou Amarth

    Except for the last one, I liked them all, though. Dactylgirl and Sunalso are very good writers, but not a lot happens in these particular stories, so I don't find them as memorable as others they have written. Some of the stories that I've ranked higher are, um, problematic, but chockfull of interesting ideas, nevertheless. Problematic works with this pairing, and I like to have my brain teased.

    This round was especially helpful in that I gained a deeper understanding of Quinara's story. Well done, all!
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  27. #116
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    I finally managed to catch up with A New Life by freecat.

    I have to admit that I usually am not really into Joan and Randy fanfics. The premise is, that we have two characters, whose memories have been erased. They are both a clean slate, so to say. Therefore we can never get the the real Buffy and we can never get the real Spike. And everything that starts to develop between Joan and Randy is strictly limited to Joan and Randy. It has nothing to do with Buffy and Spike.

    This is what happened in this story. Still it was well written and enjoyable to read.

    I loved the variety we gained by discussing several shorter fics in a row. I am all for doing this again some time in the future.

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  29. #117
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    Yes I really enjoyed reading the short stories together, it was good fun.

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    OK I realise I'm super late to the party ....
    but just read In Such A Night by Dactylgirl and fell in love with it! It's like perfume...and Buffy and Spike both keep their voices! I could see them, and that was a dreamy opening...what descriptive power Love the Shylock reference, love book-reading Spike, love the sensitive exchange between them, love the natural banter - yes, it's a moment captured in time, as has been already said. I also love how they're speaking at cross purposes, but Spike is both perceptive and sensitive enough to gauge how Buffy feels, and Buffy gets where he's coming from, they're both attuned to each other and it feels like it could really have happened off screen. And it's so romantic. *swoon*.

    EDIT - Wait, is there a sequel?? I only saw a chapter 1?
    Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 12-07-18 at 12:24 AM.
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  33. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpuffyGlitz View Post
    EDIT - Wait, is there a sequel?? I only saw a chapter 1?
    I know it's a lovely missing scene isn't it. And yes, there are sequels! There are three in fact. Here's a link to the series of four fics. The second is also lovely and the third/fourth whilst not as exceptional are still great. It's the best thing I've read in a long time and I'm definitely going to read the other stories by this author on the back of how much I loved these.

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    Thanks so much for the link, Stoney! I just read In Focus...OK, I am in LOVE with Dactylgirl! I'm hooked on her from now on. Omg.
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