December 27th, 2014


Yuletide gifts

This has been a curious Yuletide for me. First, I found myself writing a story without a recipient (though, in the end, I did find someone to gift it to), then I had an absurd amount of difficulty with my assignment (though I did finally manage to find the Missing Middle), and then—after successfully uploading one treat—I got hit by a tummy bug when I was working on a second. As a result, it was uploaded unpolished at 11:15 p.m. UTC on Christmas Eve, shortly before the deadline; and, when I then quickly spent an hour getting a bit more shine on it, I found when I had done that the recipient had already left a comment. (Eep.)

Leaving aside my embarrassing shortcomings....

I got three stories.

Two full length, and one in Madness. And all of them good'uns, too. May their authors be justly proud of themselves, for I am certainly delighted. Two of the stories, including my main gift, were written for Mary Renault's The Charioteer, and the third for Forever Knight.
NOTE: The following section is somewhat in error in terms of which story is actually my main gift. Looking more closely (in light of the comment I received), I now realize from the AO3 file numbers that it must have been uploaded before I finished my own assignment, which was certainly well before the due date. I guess the author must have re-dated it for some reason.

It's clear from the upload dates that "The Thousandth Man" is my main gift. A lovely fat 6569 words, it needs all that to delve into the character of Hugh Treviss, a mere throwaway character in the book, here fleshed into a man with a new-fledged career in British India. Just when he thinks he's beginning to get the hang of the job, he is confounded when his old schoolfriend Ralph Lanyon turns up in Bombay. The author knows a hell of a lot about the country; and I have a suspicion who s/he is—though I shan't say so, of course. (Hey, I might be wrong.) The treatment of Treviss's reaction to Ralph's sudden reappearance in his life rings as true as the setting.

"Boy Blue" I'm discussing out of order, really, since full length stories ought to take precedence, and it's a mere 400 well-chosen words. However, it is not only another Charioteer story, it is also about Hugh Treviss. Well, I suppose when one takes pains to include an extremely minor character in the tag set, it is not unreasonable for a writer to conclude that one has an interest. This story is set much earlier, just after the appalling scandal that led to Ralph's expulsion. As he and Treviss were friends, it is not surprising that the latter took it badly. The result is short but sweet. (Though I doubt if their housemaster would agree.)

Last, but far from least, is "Chasing Prey", which, at 8392 words, is a monster of a treat (and was uploaded on Christmas Eve, having no doubt left its author sweating about deadlines). Many fans are terrified at the thought of being faced with a request for casefic; but clearly this is an author who knows how to handle the genre. "Chasing Prey" is long and plotty, just as I love it. There has been a series of disappearances in Toronto, ending with the discovery of the remains of one of the victims; Nick and his partner have caught the case: so far, so good. However, the autopsy makes it obvious that a vampire is to blame, which brings a whole new set of complications. Throughout, we get the feel we are seeing real policework, from chit-chat at the station between Nick and Schanke, through their examination of the crime scene, to interviews with witnesses and suspects. And, of course, there is a nicely exciting denouement.

All three stories are gratefully received and thoroughly recommended!

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