changes (Sentinel zine)
|Cover Artist(s):||Jean Kluge|
|Medium:||print, then see below|
|Genre:||slash, Disability Fic|
|External Links:||author's website|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
"changes" begins after "Ever After" ends, and slowly unspools the story of Blair's eventual recovery, making substantial use of the fanonical Sentinel/Guide connection.
It is a controversial zine for both its subject matter, and for past discussion regarding fandom and profit.
About the Art
The zine is available directly from the author, and includes the author's own illustrations. When the paper illustrated version finally sold out, Jean Kluge created a PDF version that she offered for sale on her website ($15 download, or $18 on CD mailed).
Available as a Download
From an email from Bast, the zine agent authorized to sell Changes, advertising its availability as a PDF file ($20.00 download or $24.00 CD mailed anywhere in the world -- the higher price includes agenting fees) was forwarded to the TSstoryfinders Yahoo Group in February 2009, prompting discussion both on-list and off regarding the question of selling fanfiction for profit.
The zine was made available as a download in October 2012 by Jean Kluge for a cost of $7.50. "Please note that the cost of the e-zine download helps to pay for the web hosting costs for this website which allow me to make the e-zine available."
Summary of changes
[changes] tells the story of Jim and Blair's efforts to cope with Blair's brain damage and incapacitation with warmth and humor, of their hard work and struggles toward his recovery, and of their courageous and miraculous reclamation of their life together. (And, yes, it has a happy ending, for those who've asked. We're not too proud to mention that.) Currently available as a fanzine; there are no plans at this time to post the story online.
Author's Notes: Contains a Long Summary of "Ever After"From the print zine:
"Ever After" opens with Jim and Blair in bed together; they are making love, and the relationship seems fairly new. Afterwards, they discuss some minor, but disturbing incidents of harassment that have been directed toward them at the Cascade PD, considering whether or not the incidents are going to escalate. (It is indicated that the two were out ted rather than having made the relationship public on their own.)
Two weeks later, they are on a stake-out together to try to bust a drug syndicate, and go into a warehouse to check it out. They become trapped inside with no backup as the police outside are murdered by the bad guys, who've been tipped off by a dirty cop who has it in for Our Guys because of their relationship. Jim calls for backup and gets the dirty cop, Henderson, on dispatch. Henderson pretends to have a bad connection, and Jim knows they're screwed. The bad guys come into the warehouse at that point, and as Jim and Blair are moving away, onto the stairs, Blair is shot in the right leg (the same as in "Survival"), and can't go any further without slowing Jim down and getting them both killed. He convinces Jim to go off on his own, that he's going to get out the fire escape door, and that they'll have a better chance apart. As Jim heads further up the stairs, he hears the bad guys corner Sandburg, shoot him in the chest, then drop him forty feet to the warehouse floor below. Backup finally arrives, and the bad guys are apprehended. In the hospital, the news on Blair's condition is not good. He's in a coma, on a respirator, and there is some pressure on the brain, and over the following days, has several incidents of cardiac arrest.... Jim finally gels suspicious, thinks the cop(s) who set this up are targeting Blair, as the incidents always occur when Jim is away from Blair's side. Simon reluctantly sets a 24-hour guard; he doesn't believe it's a cop. Shortly thereafter, Joel is on duty and is slipped a Mickey Finn in his coffee, and Henderson goes into Blair's room, disconnecting the respirator and electronically altering the monitors to transmit false information to the nurse's station. Blair is rescued just in time. Jim blows a gasket, throws out all the cops... and later that night, disappears from Cascade, somehow taking the comatose Blair with him. Six months later, we see a bitter Jim return to the PD, uncommunicative and there simply to do time until he gets his pension. He refuses to answer all of Simon's concerned questions about Sandburg. We see him go home that night, to meet a severely-impaired Blair Sandburg, who is functioning cognitively on about a four-year-old level, has seizures, and is walking with difficulty, and only with a full leg brace. Even so, this Blair is very attached to Jim, who takes full care of him (except when at work, when a grandmotherly, "Aunt Bea" sort of lady named Emma is Blair's caretaker). Blair, it is revealed, has been pestering Jim non-stop about going camping in the backyard of their current home, a cabin about an hour from Cascade. Jim finally agrees, and Blair is thrilled. After Jim puts Sandburg into bed in his room that night, and is in his own bed, he's feeling very depressed, thinking of all the things Blair will never do now - no Ph.D., no more travel to distant, exotic places, how they can't make love anymore - but comes to the conclusion that this Blair has a life as well, that he loves Jim unconditionally, that he's improved so much beyond the doctors' expectations, which had been grim (death, a vegetative state at best), that Jim can only try to look at the positive aspects and not dwell on the tragedy that can't be changed. The story ends with Jim saying goodnight to the memory of a whole, well Blair in his head.Changes is my response to the story; it opens three days after the close of "Ever After". I hope you'll be pleased with my alternate universe. Comments are welcome.
changes is a Response Fic to "Ever After"
In "Ever After," Blair is incapacitated in the line of duty. The story is slash, positing a relationship between Jim and Blair which necessarily shifts from romance to caretaking after Blair becomes incapable of adult decision-making. "Ever After" was originally published in Come To Your Senses #8, and then posted at the 852 Prospect archive once the zine had "timed out." "Ever After" was controversial within the fandom at the time.
Kluge set out to ameliorate the sadness she felt at the end of "Ever After."
Other Response Fics
One fan wrote a story as a reaction to the Professionals story with the same theme (Gentle on My Mind) and included Jim and Blair in similar circumstances. A Magical Christmas by istia is: "a crossover with The Sentinel and a mild parody of the Gentle On My Mind series of zine novels about a brain-damaged, childlike Doyle and his (squicky!) relationship with his guardian, Bodie... I wrote this story in a frantic, incredibly fun two-day rush as a birthday present for a friend. I was later told there's an actual story about a brain-damaged Blair, but I've never seen it; I was never in the fandom, just watched most of the episodes. I threw in Jim and Blair just to double the fun and because my friend enjoyed them at that time."
Reactions and Reviews
This is my last rec and I'm breaking the rules and 1. Reccing two stories, and 2. Reccing one that isn't available online, but I love this story just that much. Ever After is posted at the archive, and it was powerful enough to spawn not one, but two sequels by different authors. One has a more real world (I won't say realistic, because by TS standards, they both qualify as realistic)ending, and a sadder one. The second is Changes. I first read Changes a few years ago in one sitting. It was the zine of a friend, and after she sold it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I don't buy very many zines due to finances, but this one I bought full price so that I could have it. Incredible artwork and a wrenchingly beautiful story in which Jim and Blair heal each other in so many ways. Changes is about love and loyalty, and most of all about miracles-small ones and large ones. If you get a chance to beg, borrow or -okay, don't steal it-but if you get the chance, any chance, read Ever After, and then read Changes. 
Okay. This is IT. You know that "If I could have only one..." question? Well, this is the 'zine I would choose if I were stranded on a desert island. I have read this three times so far, and cried buckets each time. Sometimes from sadness. Sometimes from happiness. Don't sit down to read this without time to read from cover to cover and a family-sized box of extra soft tissues!
This is a sequel to Ever After by Myrna in Come To Your Senses #8. But you do not have to read that first. Jean has given the background for that story in her forward.I have to mention the art, too. I can't believe this woman's talent, but she also did the art-work for this 'zine! Beautiful full page sketches. You can see some of the art in this 'zine (you can buy the art, too!)... Changes, Hidden Visitor and Have You Hugged Your Guide Today are among the lovely sketches you'll see in this 'zine. 
I had some serious problems with the content of the Sentinel novel 'Changes' - I don't think a novel has seriously disturbed me as much as this in ages! A story about a man having sexual relations with another man who is brain-damaged and has the mental age of a child squicked me in ways I could go on and on about. This was so disgusting to me personally that I couldn't bring myself to finish the novel, after months of trying. ... I got an email from Jean Kluge about my comments about her Sentinel zine above. I opened it with trepidation, since I was expecting the mother of all flames, but she was actually very nice. She did point out that she has a lot of personal experience with brain-damaged individuals, and had done a lot of research for her novel. She said that she didn't feel it was fair to expect sexually active adults to become a-sexual simply because of accidents beyond their control. Was I claiming that mentally handicapped adults should not be allowed sexual relationships? Not at all. I wouldn't claim that. I can only say that I have no personal experience with such injuries, except among aged relatives who have had strokes and for whom sexual expression isn't an issue. So for me, when I read about a Blair who is coloring a picture for Jim using crayons, and then jumps in bed with him to get all hot and heavy, I get a little nauseous. It's too much like pedophilia for me. I know it isn't, and that isn't what Jean intended. I think it's just one of those types of stories in slashdom: One person's kink is another person's squick. And this was a squick I didn't know I had until I started reading this zine. I've since discovered that there have been big blow-ups about stories of this type in slashdom for years. Evidently a slash writer named Jane wrote a series of Pros novels, published as zines, about a Ray Doyle who suffers a brain injury, and Bodie takes care of him. Though having the mind of a child, Ray remembers loving Bodie, and expects to resume that part of their relationship, which they do. There were strong factions both pro and against these zines. I've seen some zine publishers, when requesting stories for zines in production, ask for "no brain-damaged, brain-injury stories." So there are definitely strong feelings about these stories. I read a Sentinel story on the SXF archive a few years ago where Jim was injured in an accident, and had to re-learn much of his life. In that story, it was a few years before Jim was mentally able to handle sexual relations with Blair again, but eventually they did so. That story didn't bother me at all. This one did. Like I said, I couldn't even finish the story. It hit a personal squick I didn't know I had. But I recognize that others really enjoy it, since a lot of people adore this zine. YMMV. But I will say this: Jean Kluge is a *great* artist, and her artwork in the novel 'Changes' makes the purchase of the zine worth it, to my way of thinking. 
There doesn't seem to be much point in reviewing this, since so many people have, lately. Pretty much, everyone says the same thing, and that's what I'm going to say here. I loved it. I thought it was a beautiful love story, where true love conquers all in the traditional style. No disrespect to Myrna, but I detested Ever After, probably since it was so well-written, and did exactly what it was supposed to: reduce me to tears. I read it once, and never again, and the first time I was going through Agent with Style's page, and saw the words, "sequel to Ever After", I never looked at it again. At least until the subject came up on a discussion list, and I started hearing all kinds of spoilers for it. I bought it a week later, and was thrilled with it.
It's fairly small print, but not overly difficult to read. The only gripe I have with it is, there's no protective plastic cover on it. It's got Jean Kluge's gorgeous piece "Sentinel and Guide" on the front cover, and I'm terrified I'm going to spill something on it, or tear it, or otherwise harm it. It stays safely in my bookcase unless I'm reading it, and as soon as I'm done, it goes straight back in there. No one touches it but me. Other than that, the zine is pretty damn near perfect. It's the zine to read if you're having a terrible week, and you need to be cheered up. Pick a day off, and read it, cover to cover.Why you should buy this 'zine: There's no way I can tell in mere words how much this 'zine has meant to me. It's the epitome of The Sentinel. It is about friendship. But it's also about the power of love. Why you shouldn't buy this 'zine: At the risk of being very rude...because you have very bad judgment! ;-) 
Beautifully written and illustrated, and (I think, still) available from the author. OK, I'll admit it, the initial premise turned me right off, but that's precisely the reason this was written; it was a fix-it for a completely unpalatable scenario. And darned if she doesn't make it all better, while writing one of the great classics of fandom along the way. A powerful, emotional read. 
One of the classics of the fandom... Why you should read this: This is one of just two or three Sentinel stories I've ever read that made my chest clench up tight, made me feel true empathetic anguish, made me cry. Someone, I can't recall who, once called this a rara avis, a true 'catharsis' story, and said that at the end of the story you feel a sense of release, of joy. I pretty much agree with that. What might throw you off stride: It may not be everyone's cup of tea--in fact, though this is mostly well-loved, I've seen a few strong critiques. You either accept the premise or you don't. It's a story crafted on carefully chosen terms, with a deliberate pace and focus. But even when I have issues with the pacing, or wordiness, or the length of attention given to a scene or subject matter, I'm also aware that these things serve the author's purpose. The thing is, respect for the characters permeates the fabric of this story, and demands that a certain respect be paid to the story itself--sure, I could pick at it using beta-vision and maybe mention some specific things that are less than perfect. I've actually done that on list, but I don't want to do it again here. Just read it, you maroon. 
- Profiting from fanfiction and Poll on profiting from fan fiction, accessed October 4, 2010.
- from the author, accessed November 26, 2008
- 2005 Rec 50
- Review of Changes, Sentinel Slash Library zine review page, accessed November 26, 2008
- review at SoHo Cafe
- Review of Changes, Sentinel Slash Library zine review page, accessed November 26, 2008
- from This is Katya
- from recs by eliade, 1999