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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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rec - history of maps by rageprufrock
children of dune - leto 1
I feel I should post something more interesting than I bought a new outfit to go with my shoes (that still are hard on the big knuckle of my foot, sadly) or I finally had a cinnabon and totally understand the hype, or that I have Godiva chocolate liquor and it's good, but honestly, not as great as I'd thought. Hoped. Whatever.

So I'll rec.

History of Maps by rageprufrock, Rodney, John/Rodney, sequel to Cartography by Touch. Which isn't up at her new site yet, but I'll be honestly surprised if anyone in SGA reading this hasn't read it yet.

It's even softer than the first, and more abrasive, because it's Rodney and he's merciless with himself, and it's lovely, and it hurts because it's about John, and Rodney's been with him on this journey just as alone and only able to watch. It's different and the same as the first--the same easy pace, the same uncomplicated life being lived, except everything is complicated now. I really--I just really love this story.

I sometimes blame Cartography by Touch for a lot of my newer--not quite squicks, more deep discomforts in SGA. I teeter between wanting to just dismiss all the amtdi's and non-cons from my reading completely and a weird curiosity if I'll react as badly to those as I did to the ones I read right after Cartography. Usually, I've found I can draw a line between wish-fulfillment fantasy fic and the real kind--but I'm barred from ever being able to stand John as a concubine, a sex slave, because I always flash back to this one and twitch. I remember a year ago composing long, inflammatory email to a few innocent authors who posted fic fairly close to this one and forcibly deleting them after. I try to avoid punishing other people for my neuroses. At least, not ones that aren't either blood related or trapped in chat with me. Or seriously pissed me off.

A lot of both stories hit me harder than I expected, because in a fandom where we have a tag for aliens made them do it, I expected a certain amount of desensitization and it surprised me--it surprised me with how hard it hit me and how long the echo of it lasted and continues to last. It surprised me and I wandered through fandom in a daze for a bit, hating half of what I'd ever written, like Cartography was the subtext beneath every word--this is the result of what I'd written, that this was the morning after, this is what they'd face, and I'd write it honestly, but I hadn't been honest. I'm mostly over that, because I'm not that masochistic, but I still read warily and avoid when I have to.

Both stories are the aftermath--the actual rape, how long it lasted, how it got to that point in the mission--is bits to puzzle together in jigsaw, never quite getting the full picture and never really wanting to. John's story is shy and indirect and set in metaphor when he can manage, his interviews with Kate the only light we see glaring down on what happened. I have strange, sick, latent Lit I desires to deconstruct John's interest in the marine biologists having to do with water and drowing in it and being finally, finally clean, but honestly, so much of the story is water--the flash flood of destruction and the marks left after on the walls at high-water point--that I wonder if that's even accurate. There's this entire train of thought of John and his relationship with water, but I'm drinking Godiva on a stomach that only possesses half a cinnabon, so really, no one wants to see what I'd come up with in this. John's hurt, even with his necessary distance, his tiny space--Pru called it claustrophobic, which is a word so apt I'm kind of half in tears of gratitude I didn't have to describe it--wandering through Atlantis in a body that he feels belongs to a stranger. In a city he loves and now has no context for. When someone defined him by the value of his ass without the person in the body considered or given thought. There's something there that knee-jerks pure sick horror from me.

Rodney's story is differently painful, especially after the quiet catharsis of the ending of the first; Rodney's recognition of what John is going through, changed by, is helplessly angry, and from the first story, his anger was directed at others, at himself, at anything and anyone who stood still for him. This one is more internal, the exploration of after where there aren't any signposts or destinations, only moving forward and moving on, and I think there's nothing that could hurt him more than that. For the man who fixes everything, there's nothing here that can ever be fixed, and he settles into that, realizing that his journey, like John's, doesn't have an ending, only a single line. He marks off signposts that don't exist, knowing each one only means a continuation, not an ending. He'll walk this with John for the rest of his life. And more than all of this, he wants to.

I really loved this one.

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Re: Cartography by Touch: Yes. Yes to every single thing you said.
Having read Maps, I sometimes want to go back to the DVD challenge and insert more commentary on Cartography.

I keep reading it again and again. I love she manages to make it very real in emotion but still so hopeful.

I've been waiting for History of Maps with an equal measure of excitement and dread ever since Pru said it would be part of her Valentines line-up. Dread because Cartography got me so very badly, right in the gut, and like you I couldn't think of anything else for ages after without using Cartography as a yard stick (not even exclusively fannish things, everything was affected by how it affected me) and excitement because that 'verse is just so rich and human and real that getting to see more of it feels like a gift. So now I'm back in that place again where all I can think of is John and Rodney and this journey they have to go on, and it's amazing and exactly what good writing should do, you know?

Yes. God yes, exactly.

There's something there that knee-jerks pure sick horror from me.

Me too. My kneejerk horror of the sex slave/rape type of story dated before Cartography. But yes, I love Cartography and Maps because they're about the reality, the pain, the wrongness of it. And the writing, the way she handled it, just makes me want to cheer, I have no words. God, it's like watching somebody pull off a perfect score in the Olympics.

Yes! It is! And she keeps hope for the future in it, so it's not a long, dragged out angst fest, but actual, well, *living*. And I still love reading it, and this one just adds to the loveliness.

I've had what I like to call 'consent issues' for a while. I know considering some of the conversations we've had you might be sort of in shock. :p

Everything Except Temptation was totally reactionary to a lot of the rape/slave fic out there.

*raises eyebrows* I am in shock.

But yeah, I do remember what you said while writing Everything.

I think I know specifically where the shock comes from. But in general I do NOT find stories that blow off consent without a word rather upsetting. I even dislike partners ignoring partners vehement nos despite obvious arousal.

I'm so terrible with words and Pru is just beautiful with it, and I love the stories so much, with the ways that issues were brought to the surface, and! *hands flap around*

Have you tried Scholl's Party Feet for your shoes? They saved me in a most desperate hour.

Huh, no. I may need to check it out.

I'd been having real problems with slavefic for a while, to the point where I was avoiding my favorite authors because of it. The flashfic slave challenge pretty much made my issues with that kind of fic pretty clear, especially because they all leaned towards making the slave (usually John, though a few times Rodney, too) this pretty little sex doll and it just made me deeply uncomfortable no matter who was on the end of the leash.

Then Cartography came along and put an end to any desire I might have to read even iffy non-con unless it was written as damaging. I realize most stories are just fantasies and fantasies are thoughts not realities, but that doesn't make them powerless. I think a lot of it was Cartography in the context of 14 Valentines. The whole appalling theme of people being degraded and put into boxes pretty much removed any ability of mine to enjoy anyone put in that place even for the length of a story. It's not funny or cute or sexy and I do think treating it as such cheapens it.

What you said. I had been having trouble with that kind of fantasy in any context for quite a while, but the stories in that challenge really brought it home to me how deeply I disliked it.

A thousand times yes. Both stories are so beautiful and so powerful and so real in a way that much of SGA fanfic is not. Which is not to say that the rest of fanfic shouldn't be there (and which is also not to argue that even SGA canon always treats its characters as real), but reading these two stories is like realizing that there's a whole other floor to this house we're all living in that few of us had even noticed. The metaphors, the slow unwinding, the lack of easy answers, the honesty of the emotions, all of them are absolutely gorgeous in Pru's deft hands.

They aren't easy stories, but they're true stories, and I love them so much for it.

Thanks for talking about them.

Yes, exactly. THey're not easy, but they feel true and honest, and I love them for that.

Cartography of Touch did its job so well that I will never, ever reread it. It would feel like I was purposely putting John and Rodney through it all again (as well as putting myself through it). It's about as clear-eyed and vital and devastating as fanfic gets. The sequel... in comparison, it feels more like something that we all wanted and needed to read, rather than something that needed to be written whether we wanted it or not. Which is *not* a bad thing -- I mean, we were probably all frantically constructing our fragile happy endings for them after Cartography, so it's nice to finally have a communal happy ending (or happy vector, rather?) that we can share.

I think of Maps as recovery from recovery--not as devastating, but continuous, which extended the theme of not something you get over, but something you live with and move on from, but also carry with you. It's--you kind of hit the nail on the head. I needed it--to see it from someone else's pov, and also to see that there is progress, after.

Also, it made me sigh into my hot chocolate a lot.

I started to read Cartography of Touch four times before I finally got through it last year (people kept saying how great it was so I would wait a few days or weeks and try reading it again) and hated it. Then months later I saw it again and re-read it and found what everyone liked about it. I guess I wasn't ready for it the first times. It just hurt to much to read. History of Maps is a good counterpoint for it and a much easier read-at least it was for me. it still hurt but not in the same way. The last paragraph is haunting but sums up both stories so well. The comparison between John and the library is just wonderful. Thanks for the rec.

*nods* History of Maps is much gentler, being teh continuing recovery, and a step off of the original. And yeah, Cartography hurt to read. God, did it hurt.

Cartography is, at the moment, *the* story of the subject in this fandom (Just like Rhys' All Over You series http://www.illuminations.nu/experimentv/stories.html is in the pop fic world.)

It's great that an author has the guts to actually skip the rape scene, because taking in the whole process, it's isn't interesting. This is the exact contrary to the wraith bate-type of non-con fics, where the rape scene is voyristically mapped.

With Maps, I first thought, Where is the metaphor? This needs a metaphor to keep the story together! and then I realized that this was Rodney, he doesn't *use* metaphors. Which actually makes the story hurt more, when Rodney can't spell out or organize his problem, which would be required for solving it.

*grins* Yeah, Rodney *wants* the organization, the ease of an equation, but cant' get it in this. Which I guess could be the metaphor for it, sort of.

I'm still re-reading them both. It just still completely blows my mind.

I was traumatized for a while by Anna S.'s Sentinel stories about rape. Especially the aftereffect of the rape and there just wasn't that much healing there, no way I could see that Blair could move on. I wouldn't suggest reading them, because the first one was very graphic. But I never felt like she was doing it because she got a kick out of torturing Blair, I thought, she was writing a story about a couple in love and then it all went horribly, horribly wrong in the worst way. So, sometimes it serves the story to write about rape and the reality of it, and sometimes it's like traversing someone's darkest kink, something I would rather not do. Some rapefic does exist because it brings the writer pleasure to write it and I just...that kind of thing is my worst nightmare. I've read both of Pru's stories and they were both so careful, with their quiet affirmation that there can be healing after such an event. I don't think it's neurotic to question writer intent, sometimes there's a world of hurt there, but shining a little light on a dark spot might be what fandom needs sometimes.

*nod* I've had that reaction to rapefic in SGA that's been written, and the non-con as well, and honestly. It's--uncomfortable in style, in the way that it's written that bothers me.

Make chocolate milk with the liquor. It will be the nummiest chocolate milk you've ever tasted.


*thoughtfully considers going to fridge*

Heya. Just another soul who can't stop thinking about Cartography & Maps etc and the new perspective on fics i've had ever since. But, apart from feeling a bit sickened about the semi-non-cons I used to enjoy (can't decide if I'm overreacting now or not), I have to tell you that reading a discussion about Maps with your perfectly beautiful icon of John gracing the page everytime you commented added to the thoughtfullness of the discussion.

When I think of Cartography & Maps...I ache.

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