Date: 17 Oct 2012 02:14 Title: Still, O Comrade
I'm not clear on some of the background, but the deep human themes do resonate with me. The search for identity, the making of oneself, the choice between birth family and family of the heart...all of those were very powerful. Thank you!
Date: 11 Jun 2009 13:02 Title: Still, O Comrade
Well developed, almost carved instead of written. That's my first impression. I like that you slowly developed the character until he reached a moment of declaring his own identity. It was both a melancholy and hopeful story, if that's at all possible. Kudos!
Author's Response: 'Almost carved instead of written'... high praise indeed. *smiles* The process of writing the story certainly felt that way. I'm glad it made that kind of impression. Thank you!
Date: 15 Apr 2009 11:39 Title: Still, O Comrade
Oh god that was chilling. And I seriously hope not canon. Poor Bones!
But beautifully executed. You built it all up with such skill and pounded the last lines into the reader's brain. You are a great writer, m'dear :D
Thanks so much for writing and sharing.
(still awake at 4.08am, but enjoying it :D)
Author's Response: I also hope it wasn't canon; McCoy's backstory was largely left for the expanded universe, and I wrote this strictly as an AU. Like several of my darker stories, it came from a dream (in this case, of a familiar stranger changing his name from Kirk to McCoy) and a strong desire to explain something unexplainable while still keeping true to the character. There are more in the works, but they're always excruciating to write. Thank you so much for your review; you've given my confidence a real boost! --infiniteviking (has school tomorrow but hey, it's only 11:12 over here ;D)
Date: 13 Apr 2009 09:29 Title: Still, O Comrade
Your response greatly illuminated the darker corners of your story, and thankyou for that. After your plot commentary, I have discovered a newfound appreciation of this astounding, ambituous work.
I will try my best to be more open to the presence of hypothetical characters in the future, who may have more to say than us non-ethereal beings. I may have also discovered that I am a 'place-bigot' and predisposed to feeling lost unless I know where the protagonist's feet are placed at every moment in the story. Of course, there are far more important ways of being lost than being merely 'lost in space', and far more meaningful ways of being found, too.
Perhaps the next generation of Star Trek entertainment, written or otherwise, will be more symbolic, even spiritual and, as a necessary result, with a higher 'opacity'. It would certainly follow from a fine Sci Fi tradition, Arthur C. Clarke's '2001: A Space Odyssey' and 'Childhoods End' coming to mind.Your continued success,
Author's Response: (First of all, sorry about that wall-of-text effect; I tried line breaks but apparently they didn't operate.) You're welcome, and I'm glad if I've helped you think in a new direction; these processes of discovery are always good to start, especially when it comes to writing. I find speculative -- hypothetical, if you will -- alternate-universe type writing fascinating because of the light it can shine on the canon characters or, through their shadows, on ideas or situations that weren't touched upon in canon, but I see what you mean about keeping characters 'grounded' in various ways. Staging is certainly an important tool to keep the waters from being muddied. Your comments about Star Trek's future are intriguing, and I'll enjoy mulling them over as the franchise moves forward. Thanks, and be well. --infiniteviking
Date: 12 Apr 2009 20:00 Title: Still, O Comrade
A good review is, at most, merely one person’s opinion. Despite re-reading a number of times, making notes as I go along, and concentrating on producing a well researched, polished, objective assessment, I still consider you the authority on this work.
I started this review by first reading Inherit the Stars. I was thoroughly entranced. ‘Beautiful’, ‘enchanting’, ‘uplifting’ all come to mind. Perhaps it set my expectations too high.
The story is one of a desperate search for identity by Jay/Len Kirk who was apparently schooled in a town where Kirk was the predominant surname. I’m not sure why Jay was so shamed by this surname, other than it was the name of the father he so disliked. His father seems like an utterly irredeemable character throughout the entire story with nothing whatsoever to commend him. If the father was truly that bad I doubt that Jay would have become as successful as he did. Such deep shame and guilt usually leaves children anxious and poorly adjusted for their entire adult lives.
The story succeeds in the first scene when it creates the world of what it is like to be a young beat-or-be-beaten boy in a rough and tumble neighborhood. So much of the daily scuffle, and who is really innocent and who is really guilty, flies under the teacher’s radar – but not a proctor’s. You really captured that; it started to make sense.
But in the second scene the same boy is dragging his blankets to a corner, making him sound five years old. This character transformation was brought about by Leo’s mere mention of ‘space’, and the whole scene was hard to swallow as a result. I was fully expecting some of Jay’s identity confusion to lift off the page to the reader, but not to the point where I doubted whether first-scene Jay was the same person a second-scene Jay.
At the end of the second to last scene was Jay/Len Kirk heading to court to change his name to Leonard McCoy in honor of Leo, or to the famous James T. Kirk? We can only speculate, but to me the final scene connects slightly better if Kirk became McCoy as there are three McCoy’s in the final scene to deal with, two of which seem to pop in from nowhere.
By itself the final scene is confusing. On one hand a revisiting of the beautiful expressive writing you used to such great purpose in Inherit the Stars, but on the other an inundation of pronouns that left me hopelessly lost trying resolve who He was. Again, we must speculate, and in this case the compounding speculations lead us toward confusion and away from understanding.
In the final scene, Captain McCoy appears to jump in from nowhere (is that Leo?). Then Leo was gone, and at the end final resonance is somehow found with the name Dr. McCoy (is that Leo?). At that point my wee noggin had taken a floggin. ;-)
This story simply needs a little more work to be on par with Inherit the Stars and I can’t think of anyone better qualified to do that than you! I’d be happy to give you my feedback on your next draft. There is such promise in this story, and you’ve already got it more than half done!Your Fan forever,
Author's Response: First, thank you so much for your thoughtful, detailed review, and also for the superlatives you apply to 'Inherit the Stars'. I am rather absurdly proud of that one, so that's much appreciated. That said, let me answer you point by point. 1) Jay's father, David Jay Kirk, is indeed a thoroughly irredeemable man in this story: abusive, controlling, and irrational. By the time Leo came into the picture, the junior Jay Kirk had been thoroughly brainwashed to believe that his father was the only one with the right to either name. On the other issue, while it's true that the emotional scars of shame and guilt are slow, if even possible, to heal, many people are able to lead outwardly successful and productive lives in spite of it: sometimes concealing their feelings, sometimes denying them, sometimes (if they're lucky) being granted the means and opportunity to repair their tattered spirits. People react to pain in so many ways: avoidance, stubbornness, short tempers, transference, locking themselves up, using it to propel themselves forward. In writing Jay, I tried to keep his reactions authentic; he doesn't bounce back at once, but stays in denial for a time, avoids the truth about what he meant to his father, faces it defiantly when it comes back to haunt him, and isn't done dealing with it yet. The story ends where it does because it's more concerned with Jay and Leo than with Jay and David. 2) I'm glad that part made sense. The root of the scuffle was Jay's attitude, which had up to then been completely shaped by his father; meeting another kid named Kirk, Jay treated him as he himself had been treated. Such children, and such neighborhoods, are so often more complicated than they seem. 3) While writing the story, I had no clear image of Jay's age. Nonetheless, children from broken or abusive homes frequently act above their age level in some areas and below it in others. Leo didn't just mention space; he waxed enthusiastic about it for days, and in a way though he meant well, his enthusiasm threatened Jay's budding self-image. Raised to blindly accept the treatment he was given, Jay had to find balance between his own wishes for himself and those imposed on him by others, and the conflict triggered the instinctive fear reaction of a younger child facing the violence with which his father had 'schooled' him. I don't think Jay realized that scrambling into a corner was an odd behavior for an eight-to-twelve-year-old. It was what he was used to. 4) Len Kirk had indeed gone to change his surname to McCoy, in honor of Leo. 5) On rereading, I'm afraid I can't see where the confusion lies. The story has been following Len (Jay) all along, and the paragraph is immediately preceded by his trip to the courthouse. By that time, Leo is dead, as implied by Len's reaction to the slaughter at the Neutral Zone (recall that the hospital scene took place shortly before Leo's shipping out on his assigned starship). 6) Accordingly, there is only one McCoy in the final scene: Len McCoy (previously Jay Kirk) is alone with his memories of Leo McCoy, the proctor who wanted to become a captain someday (he'd said as much in the first scene). Captain McCoy is a hypothetical, the ghost of the future possibilities that died with Leo. Len, after changing his name to honor Leo's memory, was smart enough to know that his talents lay elsewhere than command, so he decided to enter Starfleet's medical branch instead: hence 'Doctor McCoy'. Having left his father's name behind, he's free not to take Leo's specific path either; what he'll become from now on will be his own choice. 7) I worked on this story for almost a year before posting it, and can confidently say that no other piece of fanfiction had given me that much trouble before. Partly, that's because it was a confusing, AU-type concept from the beginning. It couldn't be taken any further without starting to clash with canon; I can't imagine, for example, what would happen when Len finds himself serving under a strong-minded, forceful captain named Kirk. To be true to itself, its outcome needed to remain obscure, but I was hoping the staging and action would remain clear. Though I must thank you again for your high opinion of its potential, the story -- as Kipling used to say they might -- finished itself 'with, almost, the water-hammer click of a tap turned off,' and I wish to leave it as it is. But I'm grateful that you took the time to lay out all of those points, and that you enjoyed my descriptive language in spite of the other issues. Thanks again, and take care. --infiniteviking
Date: 06 Feb 2009 12:21 Title: Still, O Comrade
Very odd, but intriguing. Is this implying that McCoy is related to Jim somehow? I gotta confess, after the kid changed his name half a billion times, I totally didn't see the ending and the reveal of who he really is coming.
Author's Response: I've wondered about that too, but it never completely fit with canon in my head either. ;) So there's no implication -- just itself and a mystery.
Date: 01 Feb 2009 22:02 Title: Still, O Comrade
As many times as I've read this... I still don't understand it. But I like it. Really, I love it. I don't get it, but I love the relationship, and the ideas, and the imagery, and the resolution. I probably should get it, but I might be thick. But still, it's a good story.
Author's Response: Heck, I wrote it and I don't entirely get it. It isn't one of those things where everything suddenly snaps into place -- it just hangs there staring at you, or at least that's what it did in my head until it was finished. But with all that, I'm glad it's something you can love. Thank you!