Age of Innocence

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Title: Age of Innocence
Author(s): Doreen Tracy
Date(s): 1995
Genre: slash, Sam/Al
Fandom: Quantum Leap
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Age of Innocence is a slash Quantum Leap story by Doreen Tracy.

It was nominated for a STIFfie.

It was published in Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #4 in 1995 where it has this note: "Warning! This story, and its sequel. "People Will Talk," contain extremely graphic sexual situations. Read at your own risk."

The zine's publisher said in the editorial in WBTYS #5:

I've rewritten this editorial several times, trying to decide what position I should take on the debate you'll read about in the Letters of Comment column: the use of

violence—S&M, actually—in QL slash stories. And I realized that it's not my place to take a position. Especially not in this forum, where what I say will not be countered by an opposite opinion. So, everyone must decide for herself what her limit is and go on from there. Doreen Tracy's two stories in WBTYS4. "Age of Innocence" and "People Will Talk," engendered a lot of discussion, and some people will skip right over her last story of the trilogy in this issue without even a second glance. But that would be a mistake. Without even a hint of S&M, Doreen has nicely tied up all the loose ends and brought the trilogy to a brilliant, if startling, conclusion.

Despite all the comments about this fic being a S/M, one, there is not one bit of consent offered by Sam Beckett for what is done to him by original characters (both male and female); that, and he is fifteen years old at the time.

Part of a Series

Reactions and Reviews

Sandy: This zine also has some of the most explicitly drawn scenes of sexual violence I have read in a while (they would have stood out even in B7, and were definitely more than I expected in this fandom...which, of course, is not to say I didn't like it). These were two connected stories by Doreen Tracy, who, I must say, really has a flair for torture.

Rache: Mysti has posted a "graphic sexual situations" warning before these stories, but quite frankly, it still left me unprepared. When I think 'graphic sex' I think of insert shots or maybe a (please pardon the pun) 'blow-by-blow' description. These stories actually contain 'graphic sexual violence and torture' rather than 'graphic sexual situations.'

Sandy & Rache: Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Sandy: My single biggest objection to this zine was character rape, (C: as opposed to actual rape) which we've discussed before as one of the most subjective part of reviewing. Maybe I just have too restrictive a view of Sam, but one story showed him driving, not just after drinking, but so drunk he passed out within minutes of arriving at Al's house. Do I believe that? Not without *enormous* build-up--an argument could be made that Bodie is more like to freakout and start shooting innocent passersby then Sam is to drive drunk...

Another example: in Tracey's stories, we are supposed to believe that Sam was systematically tortured for months in his teen years, and then again years later, without explaining how this abused creature became the sensitive, level-headed, resourceful, trusting, wholesomely-prudish Sam that we love in the series.

I also loved Doreen Tracy's "The River of Dreams" in WBTYS3 and "Age of Innocence" and "People Will Talk" in WBTYS4. I know these stories were quite different to the usual ones and maybe some people may disapprove in that they were more violent, more explicit than usual, but I for one really enjoyed them. After all, we are over 18 years old. [2]
All the stories in WBTYS4 were wonderful except "Age of Innocence" by Doreen Tracy. Although she did a good job of making me wish that Sam could have castrated Tristen, it was still too violent for me. [3]

Being a romantic, I cannot take Doreen Tracy's stories at all. She seems to be in the M. Fae Glasgow School of Writing — not so much entertainment as shock value. Each consecutive story seems to get more and more hurtful, to see how far she can go without actually killing Sam. As a nurse myself, I can attest to how physically dangerous some of the things she's had Sam live though can be to even those experienced in this type of relationship. I have to wonder if she sees the same Sam I saw, who was raised to believe in himself, and that there was nothing he wouldn't stand up for or to, and not need Al to save him each and every time.

I know there are some in fandom who enjoy S&M stories. I just happen not to be one of them, and I'm afraid I dislike them so much that I have to remove them from my copies and throw them in the recycler. But I'll worry about that if I ever get out of the fandom. But, hey, you're not editing these zines just for me and I know this. But I just felt I had to vent my spleen. [4]
The other story I thought was well written was the one by Doreen Tracy (actually, both the stories). This was very believable. I could see this happening to a young, innocent Sam Beckett. I don't believe this story in any way "glorified" rape or torture. It showed the pain and horror Sam experienced while being abused by this teacher. It showed that Sam survived! It may sound weird to say that I liked these stories. It's not that I like what was happening to Sam, what I liked was a story that caused me to think. That gave me something other than "sweet and lovely" things to look at. Gentle romances are fine and I love reading them. However, ugly things happen in life and it's good that a writer such as Doreen has the courage to write about them. [5]
All the stories in WBTYS4 were wonderful except "Age of Innocence" by Doreen Tracy. Although she did a good job of making me wish that Sam could have castrated Tristen, it was still too violent for me. [6]


  1. ^ In 1995, Sandy Herrold and Rache posted this joint review of the zine to the Virgule mailing list. It is reprinted here with permission.
  2. ^ a letter of comment in "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #5
  3. ^ a letter of comment in "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #5
  4. ^ a letter of comment in "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #5
  5. ^ a letter of comment in "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #5
  6. ^ a letter of comment in "Wham, Bam, Thank You, Sam! #5