A Marketable Commodity
|Title:||A Marketable Commodity, Or Would You Buy a Used Boy from this Man?|
|Author(s):||Judi L. Hendricks and Paula Block|
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
In it, Luke finds himself in the clutches of the evil Gerbashe, a whorehouse owner.
It is part of the Cori Beckett Star Wars series.
- Assault on Logaria (in Pegasus #3)
- Stowaway (in ...Scum & Villainy and reprinted in Pegasus #6)
- A Marketable Commodity (in Pegasus #4 v.2)
- Satisfaction Guaranteed (in Pegasus #5)
- Ships in the Night (in Warped Space #46)
Reactions and Reviews
Out of the whole zine, I enjoyed Block's and Hendricks' 'A Marketable Commodity' the best. It is a sequel of sorts to Judi's 'Assault on Logaria' in Pegasus III, and features her very interesting female smuggler, Cori Beckett. Luke and Han go to Llewion to buy some desperately-needed drugs for the Alliance. In order to obtain the drugs, they must dicker with Gerbashe, Cori's ex-owner. Luke ends up selling himself as a slave to Gerbashe on a delayed commencement contract. Han has ten days to buy Luke out of this predicament, is delayed by foul play on Gerbashe's part, and in the meantime some very, uh, not-nice things happen to our boy hero. The story is well thought-out, plotted and written. As I said, I liked it...but felt a little guilty about liking it. It is clearly, definitely a story for adults only. (Now I know all you "adults" are going to leap on it!).
[If] 'A Marketable Commodity' ... were a movie, it would probably get a PG rating, not an R or an X. At no point are we told in so many words exactly what Gerbashe intends, although we can accurately guess at it from the trend of the tale. There is not even any mildly obscene terminology, a weakness to which even the ThousandWorlds series is not always immune [to.] The scene between Cori and Luke only goes as far as it does because Luke is mainlined on drugs and Cori is getting the backlash; and between them, they do manage to break free before anything really dirty is done.
... whether 'A Marketable Commodity' would be PG-rated if made into a film ... well, I'm not in the habit of turning every story I read into a film in my mind. I was judging it solely on its merits as a written story. I stand by my conviction that it should be 'adult' rated in the medium in which it was presented. I admit to being stricter in my judgements than most fans probably are, and I wouldn't let my teen-age daughter (if I had one) read it. There's a good deal of explicity material in that story, in my opinion... The reason I like the story is that it implies a distain for the perversions of Gerbashe and his pleasure palace, and shows our heroes including Cori, (who's a terrific character) able to rise above the perversion and not allowing it to subdue them. Because of this, it has a place in the Star Wars tradition that Lucas has established -- good triumphing over evil.
I have to vote a qualified "no" on "Used Boy*. The writing was excellent, plotting tight, characters believable, and the alien Kyyche very interesting. Nor did the explicit material per se bother me . I'm all for good honest lust, and if it had been arrived at honestly, I would have enjoyed reading it. But the drugged love slave bit reeked of cheap porno cliche, and then the authors chickened out in the final clinch to boot. Tsk, tsk, just won't do. I hated to see all the writing talent wasted on something so slimy.
Re "Used Boy": first of all, the writing's improved, which means your grasp of your craft has improved with enviable speed...There was only one slight hole in the plot, you brought Cori in cleverly and for excellent reasons, and you resolved the problem neatly. I am not yet certain way exactly Gerbashe wants Cori backs o badly, and I object on principle to holes the size of a sequel. On the other hand, the reason that hole—the slave tattoo—is logical when Gerbashe's character is considered. Objection withdrawn. The last complaint is mare trivial, I suppose—I have noticed a growing cliche that male homosexuals are 1) fat, 2) old, and/or perverted. This is not necessarily true, and it's the only thing I find possibly offensive about the story. But I have read "Stowaway", and I recall that he was "that way" already, so at least you didn't twist him for the story's benefit. Yes, I would very much like to read a sequel. Bow long do I have to wait?
After reading issue #IV, I ordered III and had subsequently sent in a few credits for SCUM AND VILLAINY, so I read the Han and Cori stories in reverse order. Loved 'en. What's more I liked Cori as a character (I almost typed person) very much. She's a strong, competent woman. We're seeing more and more of these in STAR WARS stories—an idea whose time has come I guess. (Thank you George, for not making Leia a ninny.) Since you're not planning to put out further issues of PEGASUS (at least not till after TESB) I hope you'll continue to write. I for one would enjoy more adventures of Cori Beckett and her friend, with overtones. Besides, I keep wandering if she'll ever find ac o-pilot or if there will be another encounter with Gerbashe (he maketh the skin to crawl!) "Used boy" indeed. I will also add before closing that the two page drawing you did of Han and Cori jn PEGASUS III was absolutely gorgeous! As an avid collector and reader of fanzines, I've seen a lot of drawings, but that one is my favorite. Very fine, indeed.
Now on a "Marketable Commodity"...there are two things that bother me about this, so let me get them cut of the way first. Number one and most important is that damned radio signal. Bad. Bad. BAD! I don't know how near Kexie is to wherever Rajor is, but it must be damned close if that message—and Cori—can get to Han within a couple of days. Like, about the distance from—well, let's see. About 5 1/2 hours from Earth to Pluto (you would not believe the nonsense I've gone through in order to toss that remark off so lightly!)—so roughly eleven hours to get from "Is anybody out there?" to "Yes, who are you?" It would take two days just to establish that Han had a problem! There has to be some way of communicating via hyperspace. Radio waves are not going to cut it. Beta Centauri is 4.3 years away at lightspeed. At that rate, Luke would have finished out his contract by the time Rajor found somebody to carry the stuff to Han. And this this business of Han getting the hologram at the same time Cori breaks atmosphere—same problem. What are the distances in that galaxy, anyway? So the Falcon can make .5 past lightspeed—we have to assume that then they jump into hyperdrive. That means three drive systems:sublight, past light, and hyperspace. And all the physics involved in what can happen with those three systems. (Don't look at me—I'm a rhetorician! But not radio waves. Please, not radio waves. The second thing is the happily-ever-efter ending. I like Cori a lot, but I can't see Han as an "us," and I can't see Cori as an "us," either. I was really disappointed in this, because I see each of them as independant types. Yes, I can see Han getting jealous, but I can also see Cori telling him to stick it in his afterburner. What are they going to do, set up housekeeping in the Falcon? Is Han going to remain "true" forever more? (HAN SOLO? Cunmon awreddyl) Okay, so it's a difference of interpretation, but this doesn't sound like the Cori from "Logaria", and I liked her better. In fact, I liked this Cori just fine until she started comparing Han and herself with Luke and Leia. Anyway. Overall, I liked the whole thing (though reading over this, I'm not quite sure that comes through!), and I wish there was more of you to go around so that you could write and put out the zine too. (though on the other hand, this will give my budget time to recover...). I still would like to see a Han/Cori novel. I would like to see the sequel to "A Marketable Commodity" too, maybe my nerches will be buried forever (which wouldn't be that hard, really. I did like the story. I did. It's just that—). Was there something to be offensive about it, incidentally? Do you realize you've added a whole new dimension to the fantasies that rarely see paper? Bido oil, huh... hmmm...wonder how often Darthie needs a tuneup...
And to "Marketable Commodity". Had heard about it and turned to it first...very nice and enjoyable...Also, reasonable. Paula and Judi's stories are plausible, not only in being thought-out and with a plot that works, but in the relationships and the individual behavior. Their characters are always so...adult. Thank ghod. I found the sexual aspect of the story quite expectable for that segment of society and not at all exagerrated. In fact, I was relieved to see it handled so sanely. And I was joyous over the handling of Luke and Cori during their escape; it read true, so true. Which is probably why I missed a bit at the business with Han walking in on them—that rang a bit contrived and out of character. Seems to me that Han's own experience would lead him to wait for an explaination, however caustic his remarks might be. So. Them's the remarks. I still don't claim to be a good LoCer. I look at my opinions, such as they are, and really don't think they're worth an imperial credit beyond saying, liked the zine, enjoyed the zine, felt I held something tangible in my hands with this zine.
The nude Luke on the aforementioned page number is the best of the "Used Boy" illos. (Of course, being a confirmed Luke/Mark fan, I would believe that. Others of your editors would agree. Others may think her Han illos interspersed throughout the story are better.) Now, to the part of PEG IV that Z have bean putting off -- "Used Boy". I read that story, Mses Block and Hendricks, at the end of a very long work week, dead tired, at 12:30AM. By the end of the story, at 3:17AM., I was so—well, to put it tactfully, hyper, that I couldn't even think about going to bed. I probably would have gone out and run the length of town, if I had had my sneakers on at the time, to wind down. I haven't yet been disappointed by Judi Bendricks' stories of Cori Beckett. I was not disappointed by this one, which was assisted ably by Paula Block. I can't say anything else about it—outside of the fact that it is great, one of the best pieces of fan fiction to be set in type. Let George complain all he wants, Judi, Po. We'll just get Han to drop him off at Gerbashe's, that's all. And we won't bother to rescue him. The story was done with tact, and finesse, and class. You should be proud. And by all means—WRITE A SEQUEL!!!! 
"A Marketable Commodity" was a very disappointing story, one we were truly looking forward to as a Luke and Han adventure. We were let down on a number of points: It started out alright, good descriptions and interesting aliens. But the plot fell down completely when Cori came along. Han has to ask her to rescue Luke—he'd never do this—be already knew how bad it would be for her to go back to that planet, re your own prequel, "Stowaway". The logical thing would have been for Han and Chewie to take her ship, since as Han said, the Millennium Falcon would be recognized, and she could have delivered the drugs to the base. At least Cori could have taken Chewie along to rescue Luke—the Wookiee would fit right in with all the aliens at the Pleasure Palace, and could easily have thrown Luke over his shoulder and made away with him. But then, that would have robbed you of a chance at smarm, him? As would having ever sensible Cori (?) dress in something other than a scanty harem outfit. No one saw her anyway in the place! If they had, she would have been recognized no matter what she was wearing. At least she could have taken her blaster (there's no excuse for Luke parting with his saber). Then Cori takes off her cape before going over to where Luke's lying—the better to let Luke see her and go for her. She's sure not got much upstairs, considering she should know all about this hive—unless her motivations aren't the purest—something we doubt when she lets him paw her more than once—come on, after the first time you'd think the knowledge of ever present danger would cool her off! Way not put her cape on him at least, before he can touch her? Then she falls into bed with him on the ship—all in all a bit too handy a set up so they can be caught by Han. Surely one of them going a few mere feet to another cabin would've been within either's power, or even one sleeping in the cockpit? Or on the floor? Come on! The biggest let dawn is Corl's own idea that Luke's just as much to blame as herself. Luke is totally guiltless, innocent and above blame. Morally, he did no wrong and had no intention of doing wrong. Even the small incident before their final escape, when he later says he knew it was her, is due to the drugs and the oil and her acquiescence. She didn't exactly beat him off. It's entirely her fault, and not enough for her to confess that she "wanted" Luke, and this is why he shouldn't feel guilty. Unfortunately, no one told Luke he shouldn't feel bad about it—Cori just told him Leia would "understand"—she'd better, considering the way Cori jumped on Luke, but we didn't even get a chance to see her and the much awaited reunion of Luke and Leia. The least you could have done is to tack on a final scene between them. Luke is given no satisfaction for his trouble, for Leia's life no less, and we, the readers, get no satisfaction either. Cori doesn't care enough in the story that Han has a perfect right to be angry with her upon seeing Luke and her in bed together. He's not that dumb, ha knows the score. We cared more about Cori and their relationship than she did about him—she didn't jump up and run after Han to explain, she just sat there, the ever-confident Mary Sue, saying "He'll come around," for he must, since she's so important and well-loved by the hero, she can done wrong. Han should have returned just then only to throw her out of the airlock, much to both Han and Luke'a satisfaction. Why in hell did Cori leave Gerbashe his credits? He didn't uphold his end of the bargain, and while the rebels can't prosecute him, neither can he prosecute them if they don't pay up. Han would more likely have marched in there and blasted his fat face off. Waiting for a sequel story doesn't work. Too much was left to the imagination just what horrible things Gerbashe would have done to Luke. We dunno, maybe we're as innocent as Luke here, but the threat wasn't that powerful—if you'd had Gerbashe brandishing chains and a whip, something more kinky than homosexual rape, we would have been more ready to believe that Luke would be completely devastated. And we would have been more anxious for his escape. Luke was far too passive toward the existence of slavery. He didn't fight back enough while being captive. You just used him to play out your smarmy ideas. The whole idea of "A Marketable Commodity" is rather tasteless and demeaning to Luke as a viable character and a romantic hero. In "Assault on Logaria", Han's sex scene was at least a natural one, and -- he was allowed to be a man. Luke, on the other hand, is simply used, and given no sexual consciousness of his own. Given his own will, he'd never do the things he did—as a willful and sensual character be is a question the story story never tries to answer. You didn't deal with Luke's true feelings, his thoughts and emotions. The story wasn't about Luke at all; he was only used go the Mary Sue could have a smarmy sex scene, and he was used as no heroic character should be. One more point—the story is not a little smarmy, it is a lot, almost too much considering what George Lucas and Gary Kurtz asked fans not to write. It seems you've really lost any trepidation about using sex in Star Wars since you wrote the Peg in Editorial. If you plan to write a sequel—how about trying to develop the characters rather than using them?...
On to the juicy part, ie: "Used Boy". (I don't doubt the accuracy of the title, but you'd never believe it to look at him—all the inventory looks like brand new! PANT! PAHNT! Sorry, I have these lapses from time to time*) " I suppose I should begin with the most general observations before proceeding to specifics. It is Fantastic! Excellent! Beautifully written and tightly plotted, complex, exciting, and, most importantly, totally believable! I can only guess (with my pathologically evil mind) at the source of inspiration for the story. Was it a desire to write a really devastating lay-Luke story? I hope so, since that's certainly what you achieved! Most of the lay stories I've read so far have dealt with speculation about how Han Solo would be in the sack; and speculation about Luke's amatory abilities is long overdue (and, to my tastes, far mare interesting!) I really can't imagine bow fan fiction has managed to overlook a walking candy store like Skywalker—I wonder if it has anything to do with the costuming in the movie? I mean, Luke's tunic and puttees concealed more than they revealed—even in the final scene be was wearing tha bulky jacket (although those black pants looked promising), while Han always ware that open shirt and form-fitting jeans. I don't deny that the—er—material thus displayed seemed to be of very high quality indeed, but I would remind those who may have overlooked Luke because of his attire that the style of the packaging does not necessarily have anything to do with the excellence of the product. I certainly would not call any part of the story smarmy! Wall, Gerbashe would qualify perhaps, but he really deserves much stronger adjectives. But the story itself was not smarmy—exotic, erotic, sensual, frightening, and sexy as hell—but not smarmy! Luke is exquisite, so beautiful he made my teeth ache, and incredibly, given the circumstances, completely in character! The openness, generosity and care be displayed in all the various situations in the movie affirm that he would be a natural, easy, marvelous lover experience is not half so important in that area as basic character. How did you do it? Someone involved with the writing must really love the boy, or maybe just knows him personally. As steamy as the actual bedroom scenes were, they did not at all overbalance the tension and excitement of the rest of the story. The course of events was not at all contrived (even if it was, simply to get Luke in the sack—a laudable ambition). The threat to Verfallen was handled with a simplicity that made it even mare frightening, although I don't think Luke's concern would be so obviously limited to only Leia's welfare. I guess I'm still having trouble believing that Luke could really be in love with the girl—have you read Tracy Duncan's character analysis of Leia in Against the Sith #4? It's a very thorough and sensitive study of some of the basic personality problems. Leia may be a very strong, and maybe even dynamic, character (although she certainly seemed very static in the movie); but she still has a lot of growing up to do, and I think there's a real chance she won't manage it unless Luke matures enough to show her the way. More about that worry later... Han was perfect. So often I've seen him reduced to either a mushy idealist or an overbearing egotist. You've managed to maintain the fine balance between man and mercenary that makes Solo such a fascinating character. Please don't ever resolve him one way or the other—the conflict is the source of his excitement! It's very strange, and very wonderful, how a character that makes no particular effort to be likeable can be so irresistible! I reluctantly admit that I am beginning to like Cori Beckett, much as I have resisted it through reading Stowaway and Logaria. But despite the rather contrived and melodramatic overtones of her introduction—A Corellian smuggler? with a Wookiee co-pilot?, etc.—she has managed to become a very real, complicated, fallible, believable woman. (Just a thought in reference to her background and profession—would it be at all influenced by a familiarity with Modesty Blaise? there are some superficial similarities, although theactual personalities are quite disparate. Corellians are a stiff-necked, prideful lot, aren't they? It seems to cause them a lot of unnecessary trouble.) Every so often Cori seems to display a dangerous tendency toward becoming Superwoman, but she manages to muck up enough to retain her realism. But really—she's about as subtle and sophisticated as a jackhamaer, and she doesn't seem to learn from her mistakes very well. Compared to her, Luke is as polished as Cary Grant! But I like her anyway, I believe her, even her sometimes sappy devotion to Solo. Like Solo, she seems to have some trouble working through her pride to her basic feelings. Luke seems to be the only character whose actions are based on purely practical and realistic considerations. I like that treatment very much! The movie showed very clearly that Luke, for all his inexperience, is more adult than either Han or Leia—in that his words and actions are not encumbered or clouded by his ego. As Lymond said: "I really am past the age where I have to prove myself to anyone..." Which brings me to my only criticism of the story. As tough and sharp and pragmatic as Luke was during the body of the story, the treatment of his character in the epilogue seems very superficial. His actual thoughts and reactions to the experience are not really explored, apart from his brief conversation with Cori—which was initiated by her, not him. The possibility that the callura induced a form of amnesia seems to be negated by his consents on the ordeal. Be seems to remember exactly what happened, else why his speculation about what would have happened if Han had ocme to rescue him? (As tantalizing as such speculation might be to some of us more filthy minded broads, I feel compelled to describe exactly what would have happened with Han in the same situation: being much larger, stronger, and mare knowledgeable than Cori, Han, after realizing Luke's condition and despite Luke's behaviour, would simply have given the boy a good clip on the chin, rendering Luke completely unconscious, wrapped him in a sheet or maybe a tapestry—I'm assuming that bido does not penetrate through several layers of fabric—slung him over his shoulder like a sack of turnips, carried him back to the ship, deposited him on a bunk, and left the kid to sleep it off by himself. The only interesting possibility of such a scene would be the exploration of Han's feeling about Luke, the depth of his commitment to the boy, his pity and anger, and his hatred of Gerbashe. Very interesting—but then again, not nearly as exciting, or as flattering to Luke, as the scene with Cori.) But assuming that Lute does remember what happened, both with Cori and during the days of his captivity, his brief statement of apology and his preoccupation with Han's reaction seem to imply either a simplistic insensitivity that is not consistent with his earlier perceptiveness, or a level of sexual sophistication that is not supported by his history or previous behavior. His repeated protests that he and Cori didn't do anything are annoyingly juvenile and pedantic. Even given his inexperience. Luke is far too sensitive to think that the only definition of love-making is the actual act of penetration. The holding, the touching and kissing, the sharing and exploration, and most powerfully, the emotional involvement, all of which were overwhelmingly present in his encounter with Cori, are the real, lasting criteria of 'making love'. I can't believe that he could dismiss it as merely awkward simply because it did not end with technical consumation. His words to Cori touched upon the true moral issue of the situation, but he seemed to adopt her rationalization very easily. I am not a fan of prolonged, self-seeking anguish, but I do not believe that he would file it as finished business just because Cori and Han were reconciled and he was anxious to see Leia. The experience, however practical his original choice or however uncontrollable the later developments, has become a part of him, has revealed aspects of his character that he had never before acknowledged. He may not be willing to talk about it, but he would certainly consider its significance. Luke is not at all reluctant to grow up, and self-awareness is part of maturity, and is absolutely essential to achieving control of the Force. And of course there are the intimidating aspects of the power of the Force implied by his experience with Kyyche, although I hope that telepathy/empathy will not be used so liberally that it becomes a short-cut for valid character development, or a deus-ex-machina for resolving plot problems. (When Spock became a telepath—in Kraith, I think—he became a bloody bore.) The most exciting, and the most valid fiction is always that in which the hero learns from his experiences, grows and changes. Luke's words and actions in tits epilogue did not seem to indicate that he had learned anything about himself, or his friends, or even about the frightening variety of life in the galaxy. I realize that Luke is not a philospher by trade, but I would think that anyone so sensitive to the Force would possess a natural curiosity and awareness about the world and his place in it. I feel it was a serious disservice to Luke that this introspection was not explored to some extent. Perhaps it could figure significantly in the proposed sequel? Of course there most be a sequel—Gerbashe must be disposed of. I'm of course hoping that you will allow Luke the honor, although it seems custom-made for Han. But there's no need to remove that brand, you know. Physical reminders of past hardships (in moderation) can be devastatingly sexy! (Has anyone there ever heard of Francis Crawford?) 
Now, to the meat of the matter, "Used Boy": Oy, gevaldt! So this is what you all were whispering about at the con! Martynn had filled me in on the plot for awhile before the 'zine arrived so I wasn't quite so frantic to read it as I might have been, but honestly. Judi, it's the finest piece of fanfic I've read since "Resurgence". Only one problem for me, and that was in the end. The Han Solo I saw didn't have a jealous bone in him, and I wonder if he'd think for longer than oh, say half an hour about any such thing as 'you and me—with overtones'. Your Marybleedln'Sue is showing, Judi; but it wasn't at all distracting from the plot. Maybe it's my beady little mind, but I think you could have come up with a few more twists. I loved the feeling of "Oh, hell, here I have to bail Mr. Competent out of the fire again" that Cori has when she gets to Keade. So much for the Mr. Macho image, Solo.
That leaves "Used Boy" and I think I've Loc-ed it pretty comprehensively as the illos were being done. I did notice a few minor changes—all improvements in the final draft. A couple new alien adages & phrases ("worthless as barroa beans") which added a nice "other galaxy" touch; fleshing out of Kyyche (and an extra illo which was quite fine-why wasn't it signed?); additions to clarify the escape (Luke actually realizing what he's doing to Cori and her encouraging him)...I enjoyed reading it all over again as nuch as the very first reading—maybe more because I could see the changes. So let's have a sequel! 
Hendricks and Paula Block collaborated on "A Marketable Commodity" (PEG #4) , bringing Cori back as a rescuer of Han from a shipwreck and Luke frcm the slimy clutches of her former owner. While the story plays coyly with the chance of a sexual relationship between Cori and Luke, Cori is able to handle the situation (barely) and deal maturely with Han's childish reaction. Their overall relationship has been good over the years, they are real friends as well as lovers, and Cori is certainly capable of carrying a story by herself if the authors would let her. 
- from Alderaan #7
- from Alderaan #9
- from Alderaan #9
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from a LoC in Pegasus #5
- from the 1982 essay Visible Women