Winter 2021/2022 Behind the Scenes Reading

Hello, hello! I have returned with another recommended reading list, this time covering what I read behind the scenes from December 2021 through February 2022. 

Finished: 

SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman – In progress last time, now finished! This is a really, really excellent introduction to the basics of BDSM. It goes into thorough detail without being overwhelmingly technical and discusses a wide range of practices while also acknowledging that it is only the tip of the iceberg. If this book interests you, there is plenty more reading out there. The back of the book has several lists of organizations, books and other publications where a person could get more information. 

That said, this second, revised edition was published in 1998, so contact information has likely changed in the 20+ years since. My general recommendation is, if something in the resources looks interesting, google it, because chances are it may still exist in some form, even the old urls. Other areas of the book impacted are the chapter on meeting people, discussions of internet resources, and HIV/AIDS safety. This revised edition came out right at the advent of online dating and chat rooms, so they aren’t covered in depth, and long before the advent of PrEP and PEP pills for pre- and post-exposure to HIV. 

Eat Prey Love/“Bambi” is Even Bleaker Than You Thought by Kathryn Schulz – This article is a really interesting look at the original “Bambi” story before Disney butchered it, now rediscovered as it entered the public domain this year. It caught my attention because, as I was skimming the article, it mentioned that there was a reading of it that saw the book as an allegory for the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe prior to World War 2 and that was more than enough to get me to read the whole thing. It wasn’t quite enough to get me to pick up an English translation of the book, but it was a fascinating read nonetheless. 

Marauders, issues 26-27, by Gerry Duggan and Marauders: Annual by Steve Orlando – We reach the end of an era with a major team swap. Bobby and Christian are going off for a romantic vacation, Pyro’s got a book tour and a horrible mullet (I still can’t get over Pyro as a romance novelist), and there’s a corporate shake up at Hellfire Trading. That’s said, while I’m sad to see my faves leave the team, I am excited to see that the new team isn’t going to be any less gay, as we’ve got Daken and some dude named Somnus who I’m not familiar with, but is in love with Daken, so I will be continuing to subscribe to the series. 

Harley Quinn The Animated Series: The Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour issues 4-6 by Tee Franklin – There’s so many wlw y’all, just oodles. On top of Harley and Ivy, these three issues give us Livewire and Nightfall, who are admittedly broken up atm, but still were a thing; Vixen and her girlfriend Elle, who is disabled and has a prosthetic leg; and Peaches, the stripper with vitiligo who gives Harley a lap dance and would really like to give both Harley and Ivy a private show. Anyway, from the queerness to the general diversity of background and side characters, I’m utterly thrilled and sad to see the series end, as I will not be watching the animated series anytime soon. 

Tut-Tut/Why King Tut is Still Fascinating by Casey Cep – An interesting article about the history of King Tut and the field of Egyptology, why King Tut still captures the imagination of people around the world, and how to grapple with the colonialist origins of Egyptology and decolonizing the field today. I would love to read something, article or book, that goes more in depth, because the colonialism inherent in the discovery of Tut’s tomb always horrified me, even as I was interested in learning more about the history. What Carter did to Tut’s mummy always makes my stomach turn.

Close Encounters/A Holocaust Survivor’s Hardboiled Science Fiction by Caleb Crain – I was fascinated by the conceit of Stanislaw Lem’s “Solaris” when I saw it used as an au setting for a fanfiction and further fascinated when I started reading it properly. It was dark and haunting, which is how I like my science fiction, frankly, and discovering that Lem was a Holocaust survivor made an awful lot of sense in terms of the book’s themes and musing on humanity and this article digs even more into that. This is a really great biographical sketch of Lem and his works and if you have even a passing interest in Lem’s books I’d recommend it. 

In Progress: 

The Wilds Beyond the Witchlight – My players have made it through the first chapter! We have left the Witchlight Carnival and moved into the Feywild, specifically the first splinter realm within Prismeer, Hither. This chapter is more complicated than the first, but is also a bit more guided, which is good for me the DM, because it means that I can actually make proper session plans now. The first chapter was very much a free for all exploration time at a carnival, so there was minimal prep I could do, which drove me a bit bonkers.

Sealed with Honey by the Magpie Artists’ Ensemble – This should have been included with the last list too, but it completely slipped my mind, due, in part, to it’s nontraditional story telling method. “Sealed with Honey” is a completely epistolary queer romance set in the 19th century. Simon Ward and Gabriel Shaw, two young men, one in England and the other in France, strike up a correspondence after an introduction from Simon’s sister. The story is entirely told though letters that get mailed out on a twice monthly basis. The first letters went out late last year and it’s been a delight getting the letters in the mail and seeing new and tantalizing details revealed. 

There’s no way to pick up the story at the moment, but I believe there was talk about offering the story as a bundle once the initial run was completed. Information about the ongoing story can be found on the “Sealed with Honey” Kickstarter page.  

Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance & Submission edited by Gloria G. Brame, William D. Brame and Jon Jacobs – This book is an interview collection about, as the title implies, more BDSM stuff. It’s another older one, so, as with “SM 101,” certain aspects have changed. I’ve only just made it through the introduction though, and it does look promising, but I have had to put the book on hold while I do some other research reading for a short story I’m working on. 

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett – A classic detective novel that I have long wanted to read. I love the movie and I love the old Sam Spade radio drama. I wasn’t prepared to be punched in the face on page four by the line “Her body was erect and high-breasted, her legs long, her hands and feet narrow.” I was expecting some sexism because it’s typical of the genre and of 1929, but this really just sent me.

Fusion FanFiction: Combining Two Canons

Two book covers placed next to each other "Solaris" by Stanislaw Lem and "Hunter x Hunter Volume 1" by Yoshihiro Togari.

Fusion when it comes to fanfiction, isn’t quite the same as an alternate universe fanfiction. There is definitely overlap, but what makes fusion different from a run of the mill alternate universe fic, be it a mermaid AU or a canon divergence everybody lives AU, is that it’s combining more than one canon. The case I want to discuss below, combines the canons of “Hunter x Hunter” by Yoshihiro Togashi and “Solaris” by Stanislaw Lem. 

“Solaris” is a science fiction novel that takes place on an alien planet, where there is this “living ocean” that is baffling scientists exists. This setting has been taken and fused into the world of Hunter x Hunter in the fanfiction “At the End of Everything” by patxaran on Archive of Our Own. 

Now it’s important to note that fusion doesn’t necessarily mean crossover. A crossover is a kind of fusion, but it’s not the kind of fusion employed in “At the End of Everything.” In “At the End of Everything,” it is the setting and elements of the plot that have been transposed onto the characters of Kurapika and Leorio. The setting, an alien planet and ocean in “Solaris,” becomes an isolated basin with a Lake Solaris in the fanfiction. There is a research base, with similarly odd and stressed scientists. There are unknown beings that have been created by the environment of the lake.

There is also no fictional science dumping in “At the End of Everything.” As I listened to the audiobook of “Solaris,” I kept getting distracted and missing things when it came to the long discussions of the fictional science surrounding the mysteries of the ocean. It’s something I found very reminiscent of “The Martian.” However, Kurapika is not a scientist and as he is the primary protagonist we don’t get the same science dumping that we get in the canon of “Solaris.” 

“At the End of Everything” is not finished as of my writing this and I don’t know how “Solaris” is going to end either as I haven’t finished it yet, but I am curious as to how both will pan out and how similar and different they are going to be.

However, “At the End of Everything” is perfectly enjoyable without any prior knowledge of “Solaris.” I had not even heard of “Solaris” until I began reading the fanfiction and it wasn’t until roughly 13/14 chapters that I sought out an English translation of “Solaris” to read. 

“Solaris” is certainly a bit dated and heterosexual, if you’d like to avoid that maybe just stick with “At the End of Everything.” At the same time, if you’re not into Hunter x Hunter, but like science fiction, “Solaris” is very fascinating. 

“At the End of Everything” can be found on Ao3 and the new English translation of “Solaris” can be found on Amazon. I would recommend either the ebook or audiobook as there is no hard copy of the new translation, and I have heard that the old English translation is subpar.

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