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Part V

Sean Gaffney and his Senshi alter-ego Tomoe Hotaru have this to say from their review of Together Again: 1996 Chapter IV [posted to the FFML April 22/1998].


 ....

     HOTARU: But if Sean has a problem with John's [Biles] happy
                    endings eventually being undermined, you can
                    imagine how he feels about Mr. Davies'
                    universe.  For one thing, these stories are 
                    being written backwards.  If I'd come to this
                    story cold, and read the scene with Minako and
                    Kasuga Akane, it would have been incredibly 
                    sad.  I would have suspected that it would 
                    take Minako months to work it out.

     [SEAN begins sobbing again in the background.]

     HOTARU: But thanks to Chris releasing 2937, I know that
                    Minako will live in unhappy guilt and torment for
                    almost a thousand years, until Mr. Davies finally
                    mercifully allows her to die!  That's *much*
                    better, of course!

     [HOTARU sits up in her chair and tries to get serious.]

     HOTARU: We review these fics because Chris is a friend, and
                    one of the best writers we've seen.  However, I
                    think Chris is going to have to face a cold, hard
                    fact:  his universe depresses the FUCK out of us.
                    If Biles' is 'they lived happily ever after until
                    they died', then Davies' is 'they suffered mental
                    torment and anguish for a thousand years and then
                    MAYBE, if they're LUCKY, they might get a glimpse
                    of happiness.  However, more depression is always
                    around the corner.'  Even the other depressing fics
                    that we've read aren't as bad.  I mean, Bitter End
                    is incredibly depressing, but it's over in two
                    years.  These people are unhappy FOREVER.

     [HOTARU sighs, and puts her head in her hands.]

     HOTARU: This is coming out all wrong.  We love Chris' work.
                    When Act V comes out, we're going to read it as
                    well.  But it's going to take a while, because
                    Sean's worldview has a tendency to be 'things will
                    eventually work out and everyone will be happy',
                    and that is just not in tune with Chris'.  Chris'
                    universe is very realistic, and tragic, and
                    extremely well created.

     ....

Indeed, from Mr. Davies' posting pattern, we saw the Raye Trilogy (Five Minutes, None of Your Business, and One Moment Longer) before the release of Together Again: 2937 Chapter. From that moment on, we had already seen the references to the Usagi/Rei relationships, parts of the history after 2937, and even hints at the emergence of Serenity as Queen. Always, there was foreshadowing (for later stories... which were in reality, earlier [chronology-wise] stories). None of this detracts from the depth of Davies' writings, it does not weaken the arguments that his supporters as well as his opponents raise. It appears that it is very difficult to take a middling position about his writings; I know of those that dislike his writings with a passion, and an equal number of others that like his work with similar force.

This ability to raise a reaction is something that every writer (or aspiring writer) should reach for. There is nothing worse than reading a story that engenders NO feeling (positive or negative) from the reader. When a reader happens upon something that encourages a reaction, we should write to the author/creators to express ourselves. We often write to authors that have written fan-fiction that we may have felt sympathy to their character portrayals, or else, we might write to the author and denounce their portrayal of a character. Feedback is important to the entire process of enjoying a piece of fan-fiction -- how else are people going to be able to determine what has worked and what has not?

Just recently, on the alt.fan.sailor-moon newsgroup, Mr. Frank D. Barr conducted an informal polling of what 'worked' for people on web-sites: examples of Java applets, images, midi's, and other 'gadgets' that most Sailormoon web pages contain. Just as long stories with no plot lines, and no quality writing will turn the reader away, so will a poorly designed website that is filled with: 1) large graphics, 2) unnecessary use of Java applets, and 3) false (or deliberate) mis-information. But these 'sins' cannot compare to that of site plagiarism.

Most people consider site plagiarism akin to fiction plagiarism (at least in terms of Internet content and design). Recently, we saw the plagiarism of the nigh-legendary Sailormoon fan-fiction archive: A Sailor Moon Romance by another web-site. The uproar that ensued led to both an immediate removal of the site as well as public attention being drawn to web site design and linking. With the technology and ease of access that is available to us, it is very easy (and fallacious) for web-page creators to attempt to minimize their own creative involvement by linking graphics, music, movies, as well as stories from other original sites.

Most people on the 'Net do not go to a site merely expecting to see the same animated gifs, or the same background information as the next site. Creativity and individuality is what separates your site from the tens of thousands of other similar websites. What's even worse is when site owners will copy the best parts of various sites, and then implant them onto their own -- without acknowledgement, or caution. The copied A Sailor Moon Romance not only contained the same background as the original, but even the the trademark poetry upon the index page, as well as the original graphics. The original ASMR was not the only site to suffer from graphic thieves -- numerous other sites had their awards and animated gifs directly linked and embedded on the page -- attributing a level of quality that was not originally there.

There is a difference between direct linking of visual, sound or written sources as compared to providing a link to the original site. A problem with direct linking has caused several main Sailormoon sites to close down. I am pointing to the SM movie AVI site -- Ms. Haruna's Homeroom (originally haruna.simplenet.com). Without arguing the correctness of Simplenet's high end user charges, it is easy to see that a lot of the other SM sites with AVI's and midi's had tended to directly link to the Simplenet site as opposed to providing a link to visit the Simplenet site. Direct linkage of files, be they AVI's -- which tend to run to MB's or text files (which are smaller), means that the original archive site is paying the bandwidth costs and not the visited site. This translates to a high usage of server bandwidth without the correlating 'hits' upon the archival site -- something that means that someone else is paying the storage costs of these high density files and not the 'linking' web-site. In fact, when these pseudo-archival sites are closed because of the ensuing costs, a domino effect occurs among the sites that featured direct links to various files -- suddenly, movies are non-functional, text files are non-retrievable...

A point is made to web site owners: if you cannot afford the space and bandwidth to support midi's and AVI's upon your own site, provide a link to those sites that can, do not steal the efforts of others. Similarly, Sailor Senshi Page on Simplenet (sailorneptune.simplenet.com) suffered such abuses -- direct linkage to both fan-fiction text files, as well as a large collection of music and video images, with the result of the closing of the page on Simplenet and increased efforts to find server space for this collection.

There are free server sites available: the most popular free MB providers are: Geocities, Tripod, Xoom, Fortunecity and possibly: Crosswinds. Geocities is the most well-known; simply because close to two-thirds of the various animé web sites are hosted by them. Geocities, Tripod and Xoom all offer the basic package of free hosting and 11 MB server space. Crosswinds, on the other hand, offers free hosting and unlimited server space. Regardless of whether it is 11 MB of space, or unlimited, these numbers are enough to ensure that basic text files, and graphics will be supported. In fact, the MB's of space has almost quadrupled over the last year. Prior to this summer, Geocities' basic package offered 3 MB of server space, which was then increased to 6 MB (to remain competitive with Tripod) and then 11 MB (to compete with Xoom and Fortunecity).

Free servers mean that the revenue to support these efforts must be garnered from advertisements -- the nigh infamous Geocities and Tripod pop-up windows, or else other forms of advertisements (off-site ads on the Crosswinds servers). For those that complain about the sheer magnitude of advertisements, I offer the only alternative: pay for your own site and have no advertisements. There are no such things as free web pages without strings attached. There will be advertisements either on-site (such as Geocities, and Tripod) or else, off-site, such as Crosswinds.

All three of the main archival sites are not located upon any of these free servers: A Sailor Moon Romance, GSCP - Anime Fanfiction "Tuxedo" Will's Fanfiction Archive, and Jupiter Knight's Sailor Moon Page. John Hitchens The Best Sailor Moon Fanfiction on the Net site is a more selective site -- carrying only his top picks for each category of fan-fiction.

Most web sites carry either fiction of certain themes (i.e., focussing upon the Outer Senshi, or Inner Senshi, or single characters) or certain authors (tending to be the site-creator). Various sites have also featured specific favorite authors or stories. Few sites have managed to provide an over-arching view of SM-fiction. Levar Bouyer's site reviews fan-fiction by individual works. Chris Davies has reviewed fan-fiction from the archives of A Sailor Moon Romance but due to the increased size of the zips and the numerous parts of stories released, Davies has given up on reviewing the weekly zip. I myself, am continuing to review stories and authors. My focus remains on individual authors (or multi-story authors) and themed reviews.

The complexities of reviewing fan-fiction are matched only by the biases that the reviewer carries into the reading. The more the reviewer reads, the more comparisons are made. It is almost impossible to demand absolute impartiality towards reviewing from a reader of any significant calibre. What we (as readers and by extension, reviewers) can do is this: look for original story points - look for something that distinguishes this work from all the others available for reading. As a reader, I'm not looking for a new story everytime I read a fan-fiction, I concede that the number of 'original' ideas written of... are exceedingly rare. More importantly, an 'original' idea must be written well in order for it to be acceptable to the readers. Nothing is worse than having a wonderful idea (to the reader) ruined because of poor writing.

There are many that would argue that a good author cannot write a bad story. Similarly, that concept would extend to: 'good' stories write themselves regardless of author. The debate as to the quality of writing has been raging within the fan-fiction community for as long as fan-fiction has been written. Who are considered to be good authors ? What is considered to be good fan-fiction ? What criteria do we (as readers at large) use to determine the 'good' and 'bad' within Sailormoon fan-fiction ?


<=Go Back to Part IV || Continue to Part VI =>


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