My 2007 in review
2007 was my first full year on LJ, and I thought it would be fun to look back and see what I've been up to. Not to mention that this will be a handy reference list for me if I ever want to refer back to something without trawling through endless archives... And some of you might spot something you haven't read, which is a bonus. :-)
On the second day of the year I wrote Buffy season 4: a question of identity, which analysed the season using the twin themes of identity and deception, as expressed by the various characters. Sample quote: "She starts out uncertain and insecure - you know you're in trouble when Willow is more self-confident than you are - and Sunday exploits this brutally. 'The Freshman' thus sets the tone for the season. At first, Buffy struggles to find her new adult identity by doing the things she thinks she's supposed to do. Be a normal girl. Have a normal boyfriend. She seizes on the Initiative enthusiastically because she thinks it can provide her with a ready-made cool new life, and she wants to be part of it."
This meta also featured my identification of the Greek incantation that Willow is writing on Tara's back in 'Restless', which led to the writing of a drabble, If ever before thou didst hear my voice afar, which is the only known fic I'm personally aware of which depicts Sappho of Lesbos as an evil enchantress. (If you know of others, please by all means mention them in the comments.) :-)
Another semi-original character I've written about quite a lot this year was Hiywan, the First Slayer before she became a Slayer. Before There Was A Slayer is a collection of three drabbles along with my notes, commentary and background information. Sample quote: Of course, the standard version of the story in Genesis isn't particularly empowering: Eve is a silly woman meddling with things she was told not to touch, giving way to temptation and dragging her partner down with her in her fall from grace. To fit the ethos of the Buffyverse, I wanted to subvert that message; depicting my protagonist's curiosity, willfulness and openness to new things as positive qualities. Before there was a Slayer, vampires and demons ruled the night and humans could only cower in dread; Hiywan's involuntary sacrifice in becoming the First Slayer changed the world. She took the fear out of the darkness.
On a totally different note, I also wrote An Interview With Willow, using a questionnaire meme that was floating around and giving my interpretation of her personality. Sample quote: Q: Is it wrong to have sex if you're unmarried? A: Well, it would be nice if some of us had the option of getting married to the person we have sex with... There's also a Director's Commentary on this interview.
I wrote a little bit of esoterica on the Book of Enoch, Nephilim and Grigori and their connection to the Slayer mythology, More Prehistoric Buffyverse Musing. Blame hobgoblinn for this one. :-)
And finally in the month came the first chapter of Hiywan's Story, the autobiography of the First Slayer. Also known as an embarrassing lesson in the perils of being over-ambitious, since I still haven't finished writing it and am not sure when I ever will. I still keep getting ideas for it, though, and I do know exactly how it ends. And what exactly it is that Hiywan does to ensure that for the next hundred centuries vampires fear the name of 'Slayer'. And why the Scythe is bright shiny red... It's just filling in the tens of thousands of more words needed to get from here to there that escapes me...
This month saw chapters Two and Three of Hiywan's Story completed. I also created a banner for the story, inspired by frenchani's holiday photos of Tanzania. And I did desktop wallpaper of the First Slayer, complete with a mini-tutorial on how I created it.
After writing about a cave[wo]man, I also decided to give my own opinion on the perennial question, Who would win in a fight: astronauts or cavemen? To find out my answer, you'll have to read the meta. (Clue: it's not the people who live in caves).
And finally, I created a vid, Faith the Vampire Slayer (Opening Credits) which was created to accompany frogfarm's virtual series. And I did a Director's Commentary on the vid as well.
March was a big month: Buffy Season 8 came out, and proceeded to divide fandom as badly as Season 6 did back in the day. I started a personal tradition by posting a long, in-depth review of 'The Long Way Home' Part 1 (also cross-posted to the Usenet group alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer: some of you may remember the AoQ reviews from a couple of years ago - and this was kind of my payback to that group.)
March was also the tenth anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I created some desktop wallpaper to celebrate. I also created a photomanip of Botticelli's Primavera with Buffy characters inserted (Willow plays the role of Venus; Buffy is Flora, Xander is Mercury, Faith is Cloris, Spike intrudes on the peaceful scene in the role of Zephyrus, and the Three Graces are Tara, Kennedy and Dawn... )
The line "Great muppety Odin, I miss that sex" caused controversy among readers of TLWH1. It also inspired me to write Norse Runic Verse, complete with alliteration and everything.
As a meme-type thing, I picked seven of my favourite Buffy moments, one from each season, and made icons from them. Also some Buffy/Willow icons, because someone claimed not to believe that anyone shipped that pairing...
And finally, I wrote a Willow&Faith short story, 1500 words, From Ancient Grudge. As a stylistic experiment, I wrote it entirely as dialogue: I've done this at other times with fic which is, in fact, a conversation or telephone call - but this is a proper story with action and movement and a plot, all carried through by Willow and Faith exchanging dialogue. I think it works pretty well. My other aim was to show how a relationship between them might work - I've always thought they would be a good match if only they could get over that whole "hating each other" thing. :-) Sample quote: "You wanna know what I thought when I first got to know you? Really? All your stories about wrestling alligators in the nude, and wearing denim and leather, and dating boys (and girls too, probably) and dropping out of school and talking back to grown-ups and doing all the things I fantasised about but never dared to actually do..." "Shit, Will, you never - " "Shut up! I'm ranting. Buffy and Xander were the only real close friends I had back in High School, and you came in and took them both away from me. And I couldn't really even hate you for it, 'cause you didn't do it to be mean or spiteful, you were just being you. Hell yes I resented you, but it was never 'cause I thought you were beneath me."
Another month, another review, of The Long Way Home Part 2. I also started another personal tradition, that of throwing in my £0.02 into the swirling debates - this time, on deprotagonisation of women, the male gaze, and the inherent incongruity of members of fandom who think calling a creative work "fanfiction" is a criticism - with Reaction to reaction to the comics. I also did a bucketload of season 8 icons.
Oh yeah, and I dived headfirst into the whole "is season 8 canon?" debate. The answer, of course, is "yes it is". Or to quote myself, "In other words, the S8 comic is an authorised spin-off. Which means it's canon for the Buffyverse the same way Angel is canon for the Buffyverse!"
Something a little bit different: to celebrate National Poetry Month I put together a 'vid' (using still photos, mostly manips of screencaps) to the poem No Second Troy by W B Yeats. When he originally wrote it back in 1916 I'm sure he didn't realise how perfectly the words fit the Buffy/Spike relationship in season 7...
And finally, I wrote Hell's Heart, an unofficial sequel to something beer_good_foamy wrote about Faith dying, going to Hell, but refusing to accept the situation passively. My story starts on the third day after Faith descended into Hell... At 1400 words, this is so far the only fic I've written that carries a warning not for bad language or sex or violence, but for heresy. :-) Sample quote: "You rejected the Light. Now you will have nothing. No kindness, no mercy, no hope. You have nothing." "You're wrong." The flaming sword swung, slicing through the air towards her neck, but suddenly, impossibly, her hand was raised, her weapon parrying the blow - and she hadn't even looked round. She grinned at him fiercely. "I still got faith." And she turned, and stared unafraid into the eyes of the angel, her blade lifting... I also wrote a Director's Commentary on this fic.
We start with my review of The Long Way Home Part 3. Willow's changing eye colour and the whole Warren retcon were the big controversies this month. I also speculated on the title of the arc, What Does It Mean? I was probably being too clever with this, but that's a long and proud fandom tradition. :-)
I also used Google Maps and seven years of geographical references to create an Aerial Photo of Sunnydale. This was mostly as an attempt to prove that it's possible for there to be a mile-wide crater in the middle of the desert, but for Sunnydale to still be within a short drive of the sea. (The Sunnydale High students at the beach party in 'Go Fish' drove there. Buffy, Faith and Angel all walk to the docks, but they're all supernaturally fast and strong. )
I also created two batches of icons. I have a long-term ambition to create one icon of the major characters from each episode they appeared in, to act as a chronicle of their changing appearance, fashion sense and hairstyle... but I'll probably finish that project soon after I write the final chapter of Hiywan's Story. Or the sun goes nova, whichever comes first.
Lots of people complained that because Warren is apparently a shambling, skinless animated monstrosity rather than being just dead, all Willow's sins are now completely exonerated. I created an icon to show my thoughts on that theory, which sparked off a bit of debate...
I also wrote a missing-scene story that explained how - and more importantly, why Amy saved Warren from Willow. 1699 words, This Isn't About Hate. I got a lot of feedback on this one. Oh, and just to confirm something a lot of people wondered about: yes, the vision of Amy's dead mother that spoke to her in the story was actually The First. Sample quote: "You sound just like me at your age." "We’ve had this conversation, Mom. I’m not you. Never will be. Never want to be." "You want my power, though, don’t you?" "What, turning somersaults and cartwheels? Ooo, yes please. Or, wait... no!" "Don’t be stupid, child. I’m talking about the magic." "I’ve got magic. I’m powerful." "As powerful as Willow?"
And finally, I created a badge and t-shirt for K-Club - the "People Who Don't Hate Kennedy' Club. Join today!
This was a big month for meta. First, I wrote an essay on Spike's Soulquest, focussing on an in-depth analysis of his speech to Clem in 'Seeing Red' and showing how he came to the decision to go and win back a soul. (And in doing so, of course, put paid to the silly idea that he actually went to get the chip out. ;-) ). I got 65 comments to this essay and a rec in the Sunnydale Herald; it's probably the most popular thing I've written... Sample quote: Back then it was all so clear: Spike's primal killer instincts were merely restrained by the chip... Now, though, he's not complaining about being unable to rampage and kill, which is a fairly simple problem. Instead, he's torn by unfamiliar emotions and problems he can't see an answer to. The problem is not that he can't hurt Buffy (and anyway, he clearly can hurt her): he's complaining that hurting her makes him feel bad. So what can he do? "It won't let me be a monster. And I can't be a man."
My other big meta essay was It's About Power - a statement which is almost the slogan of the series in its later seasons, being spoken by Willow, Buffy (twice), Amy and The First in different episodes. My aim was to show how the characters relate to power, how they use it and how it affects them, from the early seasons up through and including The Long Way Home (with a special focus on Amy). Sample quote: The danger here is not so much that those in authority will misuse their power. We know Buffy, we know how honourable and self-controlled she is even if the General doesn't. The real threat is that they'll use it in 'our own best interests', without actually asking us if that's OK. By trying to help us, they'll deprotagonise us, reduce us to children ourselves. Make the decisions and deal with the darkness so we don't have to. With this as the theme, the choice of villains for 'The Long Way Home' suddenly makes sense. After all, Amy Madison probably doesn't think of herself as evil - certainly she never used to. She was once Willow's friend, and in many ways stands as Willow's dark shadow. Faced with similar choices, Willow looked where the path would take her and chose - at the very last minute, granted - to turn away. Amy closed her eyes and jumped straight in.
Still on the subject of Amy and season 8, I also wrote Ten Reasons Why Amy Didn't Leave Sunnydale. My favourite is the last one.
I also wrote a review of The Long Way Home Part 4, of course. And an annotated script for Part One of the comic, which a lot of people seemed to find very useful. Would there be any demand for a similar thing for the later comics?
Still; on the subject of comics, I wrote a review of Shadow Puppets Part 1. But since I didn't review the other three comics in this series, we will Speak Of This No More.
I did write a Beck drabble, though, about the character Brian Lynch introduced in Asylum. All My Dreams End In Fire. It's dark and creepy.
So as an antidote, I also wrote a Spike/Dru ficlet (304 words) which is happy and fluffy. Well, as fluffy as a story about two mass-murdering psychopaths can be... Learning To Drive.
Continue on to Part Two....