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After many days to cogitate, here are my thoughts on yaoi Torchwood, RTD, the whole shebang.

Dear Mr. Davies,

You like analogies, right? Many writers do. Here's one for you:

Imagine that I'm a fan of sport-- track and field, to be precise. And I've come to watch a patricular relay race. I like races, I may (or may not) be a runner myself, but I'm very familiar with them, and this race is particularly special, because I know that the baton (that this particular team I'm rooting for is carrying) is especially shiny! In fact, it was handed down from another relay team that I particularly like, so I'm excited, you know, weight of tradition and all. It's quite an honor. This baton has the name of the new team emblazoned on it; in fact, all they've done is switch the letters around. Instead of my beloved "Park Lamb" this team's called "Lampbark."

Okay, great. So I'm settling in to the bleachers now, excited, anticipatory, ready for whatever comes. The first runner comes on, and you know, they're not the best runner in the world -- a little overweight, maybe, and not great form -- but oh, man, have they got heart. So even though they look a little silly, from time to time, I'm okay. I'm there, still happy, still cheering. The second guy takes the hand-off, and he starts out pretty well, a bit too flash and full of himself maybe, but still, gets me rising to my feet, yelling, "go on! go on! yay!" And then, omg, just as he's about to hand off, he takes a tumble and FALLS. Not just a little stumble either, but full on face-plant. He struggles to his feet, though, and even though I'm wincing for him with that road rash all over his face, and I don't even want to look anymore because, whoa, gross! and I'm pretty sure they've lost the race now, right? Even then, some sense of tenacity makes me hang on... I mean, this guy had heart too, right, and hey, if you're gonna fall, do it with gusto and panache, eh?

And then, somehow, he manages to make the hand-off. I look at this next runner, and I think, okay. Great, good, perfect. Because he's beautiful. I know him of old (he used to anchor my beloved "Park Lamb") and I'm all like, oh, god, yes. Because this guy can run. AND he has heart, I think. No one else comes close. Now we're gonna fucking knock this baby out of the park.

AND THEN, he takes the shiny baton, runs a few feet with it on the track, and THEN SWERVES OFF WITH THE BATON AND HEADS OFF TO TACO BELL. And I'm like, wait, what? Meanwhile, around me, some people are also aghast with shock. Others are muttering, "well, but his form is so gorgeous. Look at the way he holds that baton! You've got to admire him," and I'm like, flabbergasted and stunned, and saying "well, okay, maybe, though I can't actually see his form very well since he's, you know, OFF THE TRACK, and who cares anyway, because it's not the RACE ANYMORE SINCE HE DECIDED TO BREAK FOR A GORDITA! Gordita! Relay! NOT COMPATIBLE." And it's not like I'm OPPOSED to Taco Bell per se, (although, I do think that there are better ways of having Mexican food!) but not when I came to watch a race. And the fucked up part, is that he's run off with the baton, and now the fourth guy is all, "uh,...wait...uh,... well, thanks for that, asshole!"

Maybe he'll come back with the baton, maybe he won't. But as a fan of relays, regardless, I think I'd have a perfect right to be pretty pissed.

Let me be perfectly clear. For the record, I do not think that killing Ianto was a bad idea. You respected Ianto. Jack respected Ianto, on screen. I don't think you were doing the tarantella of glee on his grave. I don't think that's what made the thing go off the track and head for fucking Taco Bell. I don't think ANY of the death was unjustified, necessarily, and I don't think that Jack running off for parts unknown was bad either. It was perfectly in character, and in universe.

Here's the problem. Basically, it boils down to Myfanwy.

I know, I know. You're thinking "crazy fangirl" now. But hear me out. Okay, I get that you wanted to blow up the Hub. I get that you wanted to take everything away from Jack, so he could leave. I get it, and it's fine.

But here's the thing. People loved her. And when you were writing, you didn't even know what happened to her. You didn't think about it at all! When asked, you said, "I think (big laugh) she must have been blown up in that blast."

Neither did you know or care that it made no freaking sense for the gang to not call Martha, it made no sense that Jack would react so NOT AT ALL to the fact that the brother he "saved" in the freezer was now dead, it made no sense that Jack the great con-man would need theft lessons from Gwen, that Lois could get passwords like that with no clearance, that humans would dismiss the military option out of hand, like anyone would do that, that THE DOCTOR'S UNIT who in previous episodes was ready to blow up the earth rather than have the human race enslaved, would not even try anything aside from handing over the children, like, wtf? IT WAS STUPID. (for the record, IT WAS EXACTLY AS STUPID AS THE STUFF PEOPLE POINT TO WITH TORCHWOOD SERIES 1 & 2, like for instance, "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" which is many people's favorite episode, and didn't make sense either! But that one, you squinted, and said, hey, it's Torchwood, it doesn't have to make sense, it's so great, John Hart is so awesome, the acting's fabuluous, it looks beautiful. "Children of Earth" was so unconnected to all that came before it, and I hear people saying "oh yeah, he showed great form!" BUT HE DIDN'T. If you're going to hold it to a higher standard (Torchwood, but REAL SCI FI), then do so! It still doesn't work.

You know what it reminds me of? Original fic writers! Who decide they want to get more hits on their webpage, so they throw in a little Gwen, a little Jack Harkness in order to get more attention. That is not looked upon so fondly in the fandom... shouldn't canon have an even higher standard?

But okay, even here. I give. So you wanted to depict the bleakness of humanity. You wanted to showcase the terrible reality that nothing can save us from our own worst selves. Fine. Okay, great. That's certainly been a feature of Torchwood, I'm okay with it. I think, like all other TW episodes, it could have been done in a more sensical fashion, but okay, fine.

It is fine for you to kill Torchwood and then regenerate a Torchwood 2.0 from the ruins. Or not. You do not need permission, or approbation. It is your privilege. Perhaps it is even demanded of you, if that is the story you feel you must tell. Anyone who tells you otherwise is simply stupid.

Death happens. Not all stories end well, especially some of the most beautiful ones. I accept this. But, let me digress for a moment. There's an author by the name of Sara Douglas, and despite being into doorstopper fantasy, I made it partway through one of her books, and then was unable to continue. And this doesn't happen to me much. Once started, I pretty much almost always finish. One time I googled her, and found the following and then I understood why I couldn't, questions of writing quality aside.

Why did I kill/maim/be cruel to 'x' character?

I am going to use Ray Feist's answer here: "Because I bloody well could". Because I'm the author and because it felt good for me and for the integrity of the novel at the time. I don't particularly like happy endings, and novels where no-one gets hurt occasionally makes for bland reading. Tension requires that the characters which readers get emotionally sympathetic with must occasionally die. Badly.

[...]

Is Faraday ever going to have a happy ending?

I would dearly like to squash her under a huge pumpkin studded with rusty twelve-inch nails so that she dies a lingering, painful death from blood poisoning and a badly leaking belly, and I reserve the right to do so any time I feel like it. (Of course, by the time you get to the end of "Crusader" you'll see that that is not quite the fate I've given her ... nevertheless, I've been nasty enough ...)

Do I like my characters?

Sometimes, sometimes not. As is apparent in the above question, I have never liked Faraday very much, and other characters I get seriously annoyed with... (Source.)


What I ask from a writer of meaningful texts, and tragedy, is very simple. I ask that you love your characters and your world. I ask that you be them, though they are not you. I ask that you mourn with me when they die, because you love them, and because it hurts you to do this to them as well, but you will, only because you must. If we use the divine metaphor, where you are the god of this world you've created, I demand that you be the kind of god that cares for the fall of a sparrow as much as for the death of a star. Or a person.

I do not respect you if you kill these things and experience no pain. I think, then, that you are a coward. And one that has no understanding of stories and their immense power.

I also do not respect you if your method of justification involves cutting down the community around you, and other writers and other stories. Your fans, many of them, are writers too. And not just of fanfic (though that is not a value judgement.) Also, they are scholars, artists, activists and most importantly readers. They too fight. They too think. They too are geeks in a mainstream world, curved in a world of straight lines. Their typing is not fundamentally, essentially different from yours. In quality perhaps. In quantity perhaps. But you don't always come out on the right side of that balance, and in the end, it's simply a matter of degree.

Respect them. Sure, there are the crazy ones. What lover of something isn't a bit mad? And some more than others. Even then, they just might have a point. They might make you better. They might keep you grounded.

Be a reader of your own work, with them. It might remind you...

...you are not alone.

Love,
Kali
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kali

August 2009

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