This is the post I was supposed to make on December 1, for just_ann_now
, who asked me to talk about the Points series and maybe the Mathey/Lynes series too.
I first read Point of Hopes
many years ago, when it was still fairly new. I loved the characters and above all the worldbuilding; at the time I was a (post)graduate student in English Renaissance literature, and I loved all the details borrowed from real European Renaissance cultures and the way Melissa Scott (who has a Ph.D. in Renaissance military history) and co-author Lisa A. Barnett used them to build something new.
I appreciated the m/m subtext I thought I was seeing in the first book, but I never expected it to be followed up on. So when the second book appeared and the characters with the subtext had become an actual, canonical, textual couple, I was thrilled. Point of Dreams
is among the first sff novels I remember reading that not only had queer main characters but presented queer characters in a completely normal
way, not as warped or damaged or tragic. (Scott's novels still make up a considerable share of this lamentably, and now in 2014 almost inexplicably, small category.)
I can't comment on the newest book, Fairs' Point
, because I haven't read it yet.
The Points books are great for fanfic, because the universe is sufficiently complex that you feel there are interesting aspects still to explore. Also because one of Scott's weak points, in almost all her books, is relationship-building. Romances in her novels happen mostly offscreen, and even for non-romantic relationships, it's rare for her books to offer much interaction between characters that isn't directly related to the plot. (This is a pretty common issue with sff, in my opinion; the genre dictum that everything
must advance the plot deserves more skepticism than it gets.) Even the novella Point of Knives
, written specifically to show how Rathe and Eslingen became a couple, is a bit sketchy on the emotional development. Hence, big opportunities for fanfic.
(Side note: some fans of the British TV series The Professionals
are convinced that Rathe and Eslingen began life as avatars of Bodie and Doyle. I'm not sure how this idea started, but I'm not at all convinced. I don't see the resemblance, apart from Rathe being a cop who's not very tall and has curly hair, and Eslingen being tall with dark hair. The characters' personalities are very unlike their supposed models.)
I'm perhaps a little tired of Rathe/Eslingen fic, or at least I'd like to see people write about aspects of their relationship other than "how they got together"--which, as I've noted, has now been canonically addressed anyway. If anybody's considering writing fic about the two of them as an established couple, especially fic that shows us their relationship as a couple
and not so much the mystery-solving-partnership aspect, you have an eager audience in me, at least. Or backstory fic about either of them. Or fic about Istre, which was one of my Yuletide requests.
I don't know if I'll write in the fandom again, because I am the very model of a fannish butterfly these days. But who knows? Once I read Fairs' Point
I may feel inspired.
As for Death by Silver
, I enjoyed it almost entirely and will be glad to read Death at the Dionysus Club
as soon as I get the chance. I love the Victorian setting and what I can figure out of the magical system (it's a different universe from the Points books), and I'm just hoping the authors get a Britpicker from now on. The characters have a more developed emotional life and backstory than Rathe and Eslingen (possibly a little too angsty, but not overpoweringly so) and I was pleased to see less shying-away from showing the romantic and sexual relationship between them.
Sadly there are only two fics on the AO3. Why, fandom?
Argh, I feel like I'm doing a terrible job of saying anything interesting about Scott's work. It means a lot to me, in ways that are hard to explain apart from OMG LOTS OF QUEER CHARACTERS THIS IS AWESOME. But, you know, it is
awesome to have lots of queer characters with individual personalities and interests, in every class and profession, with stories that don't revolve around their queerness but don't silence it either. Also there's magic and Renaissance astrology and theatrical technology and fashion and gossip and politics and special Victorian gentlemen's clubs. Both series provide rich, rich worlds full of people and things, and I love that.