Fictionmaniacal

| Jan 9, 2008
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Blogger Corinne ScottI had a conversation with a friend when the first Fantastic Four movie came out. He was a big time comic book fan, and was really into the old Silver Age Jack Kirby/Stan Lee stuff. Anyway, he was going on and on about how awesome the movie was and I was like, “What, you can’t be serious?” He then spent twenty minutes trying, and failing, to explain to me why it was such a cool movie. Finally he gave up. “It’s the best we’re gonna’ get, so I have to like it,” he said, exasperated.

And that was my point to him. No, just because you’re a fan, you don’t have to like it. You don’t have to even tolerate it. And you certainly shouldn’t apologize for it. In fact, being a fan means you should ask for more, for better. Your standards should be higher than the rank and file, because you know what the Fantastic Four can be. But for some reason, when you’ve invested a certain amount of your identity into something, and especially if that something places you into a community that might be marginalized by society at large, you become more willing to take what’s available. You settle for “good enough”. You happily swallow the table scraps that are fed to you.

That’s how Fictionmania, and trans-fiction in general, makes me feel.

It wasn’t too long ago, a friend of a friend linked me a piece of trans-fiction while we were chatting in YIM. She assured me it wasn’t like the other stuff, that it was actually good. I was dubious. For starters, the title of the serialized piece was Camp Kummonawannalaya (spelling may vary), which apart from being gratuitous, was also very derivative (back in the days of the original ECW, there are a was a female wrestler who went by that moniker… and yes, I’m writing an article criticizing trans-fiction while simultaneously confessing a past fondness for professional wrestling. Savor the irony). Anyway, I decided to peruse part one of the story, just in case my friend’s friend asked me what I thought of it.

And guess what? It was total crap. Girl meets boy, talks him into coming to summer camp with her… except (wait a beat for the big surprise), it’s an all-girl camp. Hijinks ensue. Or so I presume… I didn’t actually make it to the camp.

Then yesterday a friend of mine points me to her blog. She reveals in this blog that she not-so-secretly has been writing a serialized story at fictionmania. Her stated goal was to see what would happen if something “real” were to make its way onto the site And being her friend, and especially since she directed me to this blog specifically, I figured I better give it a look.

And guess what? It too was total crap. Closet crossdressing guy takes a job at an office where he’s the only man. The women decide it would be fun to dress him up and make him work as a woman. Hijinks ensue. Or so I presume… I honestly couldn’t make it as far as the first day of work.

To date, there’s only been one instance of this particular formula that’s ever captured even a smidgeon of my interest in any way that wasn’t purely hormonal… a story called The Reluctant Girlfriend. I forget the author, or even where I saw it, but it was understated in comparison to most others… even tinged with a little sweetness. And although better than most, it was still ultimately puerile fantasy… a story in service to crossdressing, and not the other way around.

So here I am, like my comic book loving friend, wanting to like something. Unlike my friend, however, I am unable to do so. I want fiction I can relate to. I want fiction that is both literate and compelling, featuring one or more trans-protagonists, without pandering to this fan-fic level of juvenilia that seems to proliferate Fictionmania and the other story sites. I want a Fantastic Four that is actually good. And also that just happens to let Reed Richards accessorize better.

Can someone tell me where to find that?*

* And don’t anyone dare mention C.C. Olsen’s Deception. I haven’t read it, but I’m not going to shell out $10+ for any self-published book that features its author’s face more than twice on the front cover. I doubt that the term “vanity press” could ever be used more apropos. Of course, if someone wants to provide me with a comp copy, I’ll be more than happy to put my stagnating literature degree to use and review it for TG Forums.


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Category: All TGForum Posts, Transgender Opinion

Renee_K

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Comments (7)

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  1. says:

    Cheryl,

    There’s nothing about A Woman’s Passion that immediately triggers any skepticism in me apart from its inclusion in the genre of tg fiction, which alone isn’t a valid criterion for criticism. In fact, the gist of my essay here is that I believe there is room for good writing to be done on the subject…it’s an optimistic piece that just happens to carry a tinge of bitterness in not having found it yet.

  2. says:

    Dear Corrine,

    I would, of course, absolutely delight in surprising your skepticism (that there is any good tg writing) with my novel … or check some of my tgforum archived essays by searching on barrie.

    So, if you don’t want to spring for a copy of A WOMAN’S PASSION, write to me at [email protected] and I’ll send you a pdf edition. (Then, of course, if you hate it, just be gentle when giving me your take on it!)

    (If anyone wants to buy it, they can do so on Amazon or for less money at the very dependable booklocker.com.)

    Cheryl Ann “Cassie” Sanders
    Alan Barrie

  3. says:

    You’re probably right Cheryl. The market is responding to the demand, not vice versa, so the fans are getting basically what they want. I’d like to think the reason tg fiction isn’t any better than it is is because few enough people have seen good tg fiction to know that it can be better. But that’s probably me projecting.

    So it’s possible you could read my essay as a critique of the people who read tg fiction, in which case I’m basically saying they have no taste. And when I say no taste, I’m not entirely pointing at the content; even tasteful people enjoy a little titillation from time to time (see Ronnie, above). I’m saying that they actually seem to like reading really poorly written trash that hovers somewhere right below Star Trek fanfic.

    I haven’t read A Woman’s Passion, but I saw a few preview pages for it somewhere. The quality of the writing was superior to most of what you’ll find for free on the internet. Further comment from me is impossible at this point though.

  4. says:

    Corrine–

    Obviously, you never read my novel, A WOMAN’S PASSION!

    No … seriously … I’ll tell you a story from “straight” publishing.

    After the decline of romance magazines in the ’50s and ’60s, there was spectacular growth in formulaic romance novel publishing: think Harlequin and Silhouette in the ’80s and ’90s. Publishers pumped them out (and actually are still pumping them out); and their readers would read a half-dozen or more every month.

    The authors of these books absolutely had to follow very specific guidelines set by the publishers: you know: meet by page x, first kiss by page y, break up by page z, get back together by page aa, married on page bb, that kind of thing.

    And, in fact, if a particular book slipped through that varied the formula, letters of disappointment in that book would pour in, and that author pen name would have to be abandoned, because sales on that author’s titles would plummet.

    I’ll let you draw your own conclusions from your observations of tg literature and my little history from straight publishing, draw your own conclusions about the comforting or exciting or quieting, endorphin-generating effects of some kinds of reading for some readers.

    Ultimately, I’m disagreeing with you. I think for many readers, it’s not “settling.” Even if it’s not for you, “the market” is giving them exactly what they want and need.

    But, in any case, I sure do appreciate anyone who thinks about TG literature in a considered way. And I thank you for that.

    Cheryl Ann “Cassie” Sanders
    Alan Barrie

    http://members.tgforum.com/alanbarrie/default.htm

  5. ronnierho ronnierho says:

    I’ll admit to enjoying some of the titillation fiction that’s online, but very little. There are so few decent writers in the world, and no genre is exempt.

  6. says:

    I’ll check it out.

  7. says:

    Try “Being Christina Chase” at TopShelf. It’s a story about finding identity, only a small part of which is gender related.

    Maggie

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