|External Links:||Arizona Highways|
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In a 1999 or 2000 interview (Chronicle X Interview with Fialka), the author calls this story her "close second [favorite] because there's so much of me in it."
Spooky Awards 2000 Winner:
- First Place - Outstanding Novel
- First Place - Outstanding X-File
- First Place - Outstanding Angst Story
- First Place - Outstanding Scully Characterization
- Second Place - Outstanding Mulder Characterization
- First Place - Outstanding Other Series Character (Kresge)
Some Comments by the Author
With 'Arizona' I knew where I was starting and what the last scene was going to be, but I had no idea how I was going to get there. I kept trying to outline it, and couldn't, or I couldn't stick to the outline I had. Since the casefile had to drive the characters to do certain things, and I had no idea how to write a casefile, without the help of some seriously demanding beta-readers I think it would have made no sense. When I finally did outline the whole thing as it stood (just before the final draft) it all began to come together. It took a hell of a lot of rewriting, but I could finally see exactly what I had to do to tell the real story, the one the characters wanted to tell, not the one I wanted to force upon them. In fact, huge amounts of the second book were written and Panic!Beta'd on the day of posting. It was an exhausting and terrifying way to work but I think if I had outlined it from the start, so much of the depth and so many of the plot twists would not have been there, because they were things that jumped out at me as I wrote, things that led me off in unforseen directions. It became more honest emotionally than what I had originally imagined. I think I had to let Scully tell me her story first, before I could hear Mulder's, and before I could work out the details of the casefile so it drove them to do the things they did.
Reactions and Reviews
If you haven't read this yet, please allow me to politely ask -- "Why the hell NOT??" Because simply put, AH is one of the best fanfic stories I have *ever* read, and I'm not just talking about in the XF fandom. It's a universal classic, folks. We get amazing characterizations, as Fialka sends Mulder and Scully through figurative fire and forges them into harder, stronger, and yet somehow still hopeful, versions of themselves. There is also a fascinating and layered portrayal of Detective Kresge from the Christmas Carol/Emily episodes. The story itself is one of the smartest, most involved interpretations of mythology I've seen yet, spanning well beyond the scope of those eps and delving deep into all the scarier social issues CC&Co have really only flirted with for the past seven years. Trust me: you do *not* want to miss this fic.
It's a rare thing for me to lap up story installments as they appear and then sit thirsting until the next day. I think Jintian's already said it perfectly... the depth and treatment of Scully, Mulder, and Kresge in particular -- combined with the amazing backdrop of the Southwest and the Dineh culture and characters makes this unforgettable story a must-read! 
"Arizona Highways" is a new fiction I found on Ephemeral tonight. It's by Fialka - one of my favorite authors since "Backstop" was the first fic I ever read. It's huge - a novel legnth that will be completely posted by the 30th. Amazing characterization, beautifully written angst. I'm totally hooked and I can't wait for Book 2. Go to her site and check it out.
This novel is breathtaking, from its all too human and imperfect heroes to its action, suspense, and plot (and mark that on your calendar, I said "plot" without rolling my eyes). Scully is courageous yet afraid, Mulder is tough but sweet, and John Kresge is a man with more depth than any of us could ever imagine. This story has ruled my world for the past week or so, and if you haven't been tortured along with me during the ride, now is the time to read it. Don't wait! 
Have you been waiting a long time to sink your teeth into a tense Scullycentric adventure that has Scully actively investigating the things that have happened to her instead of just moving on to the next monster of the week? Want to read a novel that deals with the complex relationship between Mulder and Scully in a realistic rather than bubble gum fashion? Did you like Kresge? Have a hankering for a well written piece that has Scully facing all the tough questions and finds the voice of the characters we watch every week with all their features and faults perfectly? Look no further than our own Sister Fialka's masterpiece "Arizona Highways." Set aside some time and enjoy. You won't be sorry.
Scullycentric, so totally on character with a hard to write person like the tightly controlled Agent Scully, a good story of Scully's journey to find her Truth and herself.
"Plot? Who watches the show for plot? That's what 'Arizona Highways' is for!" 
Absolutely stunning look into what might happen should Mulder and Scully return to San Diego, on a request from Dt. Kresge - and a message from Missy.
Also, holy cow, that was one of the most involved casefiles I've ever encountered. I'm probably going to have to read it again another one or two times to make sure I'm keeping all of my characters/girls/conspiracies straight. But it was quite the awesome read... One of the best! And I have a special fondness for novel-length fanfic, because when I finish reading it I get to feel as accomplished as I do when I've finished a paper novel. :) 
It's really very good. I'm not quite sure how I failed to read this one before--I've had it on my hard drive for ages, but somehow I never got rolling with it before. Saying this is probably unfair to fialka, because it is a very original story, but in some ways it reminds me of a less dysfunctional version of "Iolokus." You know, a multitude of clones with alphabetically-linked names; men with shadowy links to Roush; and Scully trying to get control over her own reproductive capacities. I was fascinated by the scene where she calmly begins to destroy the little vials containing her ova. Very much more like Scully than the corresponding climactic scene in "Iolokus." Do other people think that scene was believable/interesting/long enough to deal with the issue properly?
In general I'm not yet convinced by the possibility that the Scully children were experimental subjects for the whole of their lives. Or rather, let me rephrase that. It's being justified well within the context of the story, but I personally don't like the idea of embedding Scully that deeply within the conspiracy from the start.
The Mulder/Scully relationship is handled very well in this story. I like the subtleness of it. The subtleness of Mulder's feelings for her and the reasons that their relationship hasn't developed into something more. Too many stories either have them jumping into bed without any provocation, or stretch the tease out interminably with lots of angst-ridden misunderstandings. The balance was just about right for me here. They felt like real people.I also--shock, horror--liked Kresge. I have to admit that I don't remember him from the episode at all... it may be, in fact, that I never actually got through watching the whole of the "Emily" two-parter. So I found myself thinking of him as the police officer who Scully helped out in Maine. Hey, it was something. Anyway, I found him more convincing than 90% of the Others in Scully/Other or Mulder/Other stories. I don't know why, but he had the ring of reality to him, and I actually found myself rooting for him. He inspired sympathy in me, backstory and all.
...I'm kind of an MSR purist, in spite of my best attempts to remain open-minded in fanfic. And, I mean, it's really a credit to Fialka -- the fissures in the M/S relationship are so realistic that for a minute or two there I wouldn't have been surprised if the Scully/Kresge thing had gone further than it did. Which is what made me anxious. That he wouldn't be a caricature standing in the way of MSR, but he could actually be made into a legitimate threat to it.
I also haven't read Iolokus (saving it for a rainy day, or more accurately once I hit it at ChronX), so I can't compare the two. But the destroying the vials scene was certainly very powerful, yet wonderful in it's brevity. It leaves the issue hanging a bit, which leaves me thinking and wondering about it. I agree about the subtlety of the MSR. It frustrated me at first, but it really allowed us to explore each of their feelings separately, and get into the story and characters before overwhelming it with romance. And I also fell for Kresge, which I didn't expect to. I really respect the authors that can make a believable Other that I actually end up liking/sympathizing with. He was three-dimensional, with a compelling backstory and a gentleness that makes it hard to hate him. I like lightlack's analogy of an MSR speedbump - once I realized he was more than that, I grew to like him.
This story has the most amazing structure I have ever seen in a fan fiction work. It all fits together so perfectly. I am just in awe. Obviously from the title this is a novel about a journey, more than one, as the book is structured into two sections. It is Mulder's journey and Scully's journey. At the beginning they are so fractured by the events of Two Fathers/One Son that it is just painful to watch. Mulder knows something is wrong but he can't bring himself to ask. Scully knows what is wrong but she can't bring herself to tell him.
My favorite scenes so far:I love the scene of the two of them up at the overlook for beautiful Sunset Crater. The memory of her first day back at the office. Her pain at seeing the basement office door, right back to its one nameplate status. She tries reaching out to connect. He doesn't even notice. The hurt of him forgetting her birthday. Again. The little reference to Deep Throat when she thinks about what her Dad told her when he was teaching her to swim: move or sink. We hear the telling of the Myth story. Mulder is Monster Slayer, but so is Scully, isn't she? Melissa is Child of Water, but so is Scully, and in a way, so is Mulder, since he grew up near the ocean as well. I think that Scully will be a bridge between the real world, Mulder's world of monsters, and Melissa's world of dreams. I think the dreams will become real and monstrous before it all is over. He tries to reach out to her, and then she collapses. Then the first vision begins.
She really has it nailed. And yes, she gives us nuance and complexity that is rare in fan fiction. Because it is hard (says the beginning writer...), really, really hard to write this well. I just love how we get to watch Scully's mind at work in this story. That was what was missing from the show, so many times in so many episodes. The show was so unbalanced, and the writer knew that, and she so she created all of this beautiful balance and symmetry to make up for what was missing in the series. I am kind of in love with this fic right now, so uh, the gushing will continue unabated.
I have known about this story since it was written, but I've never read it, despite the rave reviews, because the idea of Scully/Other has always given me the heebies. I'm not an MSR-purist, I am quite happy with the idea of their relationship being platonic, but I find the concept of either Mulder or Scully being involved with somebody outside the partnership hard to reconcile. I guess I've just never seen it done convincingly before. But Fialka has come as close to convincing as I've ever seen in fic. I still don't like it, but I have to admit that it makes sense within the boundaries of this story.
So, needless to say I'm so glad that this community has finally led me to reading this fic. It is breathtakingly well-written and structured, and truer to character, I think, than some canon. As least in as much as it properly deals with the emotional fallout of these terrible truths, in a way the show never did.The interior monologues of Mulder and Scully are so painful to read, their emotional turmoil so well-drawn, that you just wish that they could find some comfort in each other, instead of ever-increasing angst and trauma, and the fact that they haven't, yet, is a big part of what keeps me reading. But I am intrigued by the casefile too, eager to find out how it all turns out, and whether there will be any resolution for anybody (the way the angst has been going so far, I suspect not).
I adored the secondary characters here! I did not expect to get that attached to Jane, but her storyline and her perspective were so captivating, I really felt for her. And for a long time I didn't know whether or not to trust her, so I really became interested in understanding her feelings and motives separate from any way they affected Mulder or Scully. I really felt for her giving up everything she had ever known and having to start anew, not knowing how. In a way, I'm glad she got a child very much like hers, though it broke my heart to see Scully give Amy up.
And I was astounded by Caitlin. I grew so attached to that girl so quickly. She became so much more than the plot device she easily could have been, I was horrified and crying when she died. I did not see that coming, though it was strangely appropriate. Seeing her and Mulder open up to each other was really powerful, for me. I wish I could have seen their relationship develop further. Poor Mulder, loses Scully and Caitlin in such quick succession.As for the finale, the scene where Scully gives herself up was totally the climax as far as I'm concerned, but that's perhaps why I loved the denouement so much. So many fics make the MSR resolution the climax, I thought it very appropriate to this story and to these characters that it wasn't - that they couldn't resolve that aspect until they had resolved everything else. Scully was so traumatized by the time the climax hit, she (and I!) needed time to wind down before tackling that hurdle. I did wish Kresge was able to leave with things a little more resolved (poor guy!), but I don't know what's left to give him. I thoroughly enjoyed the end, but I have no trouble admitting that I am heavily biased ;)
It must have been a very difficult story to wrap up, and the whole rest of it (the first book, especially, for me) makes up for the kinda weak ending. But there's always been something that felt a little inadequate about it, just because of the heights it reaches in other places. I think part of it, for me anyway, is that I really dislike when Mulder and Scully take significant steps in their relationship "outside" their real lives. I feel like this happens fairly often in fic - people, for whatever reason, don't think they can take that last step in the relationship without taking them outside the contexts of their daily life and their jobs. So they consummate it on vacation, or during a brief exile/recovery period, like in this story. I much prefer when they deal with this at home, in their apartments, or in the field doing their job, wearing their normal clothes, and acting like their everyday selves. So that's why the wrapup sort of fails to engage me - first because all the rest of the action is finished, and second because of the setting, and (forgive me) what Scully's wearing, and the general story and character placement. But I love this story and think it's amazingly well done, so I'm sorry to only comment with my criticisms! What can I say; there's a ton of schoolwork I should be doing...
I think for me it is the structure of the novel that is the most interesting thing about it, not to take away from the plot or the M/S characterizations, the OCs or any of the other elements. I could just keep digging and digging and finding more about the structure that fascinates me. I could write about the water imagery. I could write about the progression of the MSR in how she and Mulder interact after her dreams. I know I am treating this like profic, because it is as well-written as any piece of fan fiction I have read in years. It is unusual for fan fiction to bear up to this level of scrutiny.
My conclusion is that I've been ruined by too much darkfic, and specifically by rivka_t. Given the abortive scene with Scully trying to destroy them earlier, I expected that the ova would have bitten the dust long before the end of the story. So I was rather surprised by the prettiness and serenity of the scene. I'm going to be sort of controversial here and say that I don't see such healing rituals as being Mulder/Scully style, somehow. Actually I think the happiness of the ending surprised me more generally. Not that it was out of place, but it surprised me.
Awesome. To be honest, it's quite simply one of the best I've read in a very long time - for any fandom.
So yes I get it I am year late to the party. But I just read this fic and I absolutely love it. I think it is perfect. I love the case file, I love the gunmen and the idea of being 'on the clock.' I love the Scully angst and the end when she empties her ove into the ocean. How devastating is that!? I love the simplicity and beauty of the moment when Scully tells him "I'm in love with you." So underplayed so subtle. In such opposition to (well the rest of the story) but to the time their intimate scene went horrible wrong. (I am so in love with Fialka I want to bear her strong sons.) The only thing I would change is Scully getting naked with John and going to bed with him. I would have had them clothed and talking or naked and shagging. In my experience men don't get naked and sleep with you all night without the happy ending. (Maybe I have known the wrong men.) But I do think the moment is well written and yes of all the Scully/others he is my favorite. I think I would have been ok and understood it if they had actually had sex. (Although I don't know it the moment with Mulder soon after would have been as powerful.) 
There are so many great stories, but in the end, I'm going with my desert island story. Nearly everyone in TXF fandom has read and loves Parabiosis; nearly everyone has read and has an opinion about Iolokus (for the record, I love it). But for some unknown reason, this masterpiece [Arizona Highway] has slipped under the radar. Maybe it's too long for today's graphics obsessed fans? All I can tell you is it's the best novel written in the fandom. Period. No other individual work comes close, not Parabiosis (lyrical writing, great characterizations, but there's no plot) or Sokol (a great plot, etc. but damn, that ending sucks--sorry, EC) or even Machines of Freedom, which gets better for me with each reading. If I had to pick an individual author for me that's going to end up a tie between Syntax6 and Kel. But for one single work? It's Arizona Highways, all the way. I would pay someone to make a podfic of it, just to get more current fans to give it a chance. Seriously. Podficcers. Name your price.
I have been walking around in a sort of haze with my insides completely tied up and on the verge of tears for three days as I re-read. And I can't stop thinking about it, so I figured if I wrote something down, that might help.
The story was amazing. The author does such justice to the characters and actually deals with the events of their lives (unlike the show which seemed to sweep huge things under the rug from one week to the next and which sometimes threw character consistency and development out the window; I know, we all know this, but I had to say it). She understands both characters so well - the good parts, the flaws, the quirks; and she gives them room to grow.
Whereas the show itself did not truly follow through with either the plot-line of Emily or the effect on the characters, this story does. It is honest in dealing with both Scully and Mulder individually and in their interactions post 2F/1S. It gives Scully a way through the pain of Emily and of what was done to her (abduction, stolen ova, experimented-on babies she didn't know about), albeit the way through is necessarily fraught with even more pain. And it gives Mulder a window to the hurt Scully feels (from the loss of Emily via him finding, loving, and then losing Caitlin and from the way he has treated her wrt Diana via Kresge - though not an exact parallel there). They are both changed by the events of the story and it's really this transformation that gives them a chance to repair their individual wounds and their relationship. (I lost it towards the end here: "Butterfly," he whispered, reaching up to stroke her battered face.)As much as I like stories that end with them together, there is almost always at least some suspension of disbelief involved if they have not in some realistic (read: difficult and emotionally wrenching) way dealt with their issues. This is one of the few stories that feels absolutely true. It's awful what they both have to go through, but it's necessary so they can go forward separately and together.
So. Arizona Highways. One of the best casefiles ever written and quite frankly, filled with heartbreak for both of our Heroes, for what happens to one also happens to the other (there is angst, but it relates mostly to the case). Grab a hot drink and put some good music on, get comfy on your couch - this is one heck of a ride.
Dear, dear Arizona Highways. I loved you, I'm sure of it, but I don't really remember you. I just remember this fic being another fic that has it all. Strong, smart, attractive M&S characterizations, but also vulnerable and at times prickly M&S characterizations. A complex, gripping plot (which I don't remember now, but which I'm quite sure I thought was awesome at the time). Lots of UST and lots of angst between M&S, but also an M&S who are mature, professional people who admirably fight their way through the crises they're dealt. IIRC, the eventual, final sex scene in this fic didn't quite do it for me, but apart from that I'm pretty sure I loved almost everything. The one thing I remember perfectly is Mulder having to buy shoes for Scully because something catastrophic had happened and all her clothes were toast. And he comes back with these tiny tennis shoes that practically fit on his outstretched hand, and he just cannot believe that Scully, who is so strong and tough and capable, has such tiny feet. I've always loved that.
“Arizona Highways” opens with Mulder and Scully walking through the Hoover building. Their partnership has been seriously strained over the past few months: losing the X-Files, their separation during “Tithonus,” her subsequent gunshot wound, and the events of Two Fathers/One Son.
The fic has a carefully constructed, symmetrical structure, one which even extends out into the episodes of the series, tying them into the novel. There are a number of scenes that are repeated, and it is these scenes which carry the thematic burden. “Arizona Highways” is a long, complicated, angst-filled, myth-arc case-file, but it is also a journey of healing for Mulder and Scully.I was absolutely blown away the first time I read “Arizona Highways,” which was for the XF-Book Club, during its first year. Eight years later, it’s my desert island fic, the novel I still consider to be the best in the fandom. If you’re only going to read one (more) fic before season ten begins, please make it “Arizona Highways.” 
2000 Discussion About Genre, Labeling, and a Jab at Fannish Alliances
When the story was first posted, several fans at alt.tv.x-files.creative objected to not being warned for some Scully/other content. At one point, the discussion also veered into one fan's speculation on one of the writer's fannish alliances, a topic that was hot at the time.
First of all. The *author* has a name. It's Fialka. If you're going to berate her in public at least have the courtesy not to call her "the author." Second - how far did you get before you made that astute assumption? Obviously not far enough. The story *is* an MSR - which I've been following closely. How dare you have the audacity to say she wasn't being *honest*. What kind of implication is that? Perhaps next time you should fully research something before making a fool of yourself in a public forum. Just a thought.
Sheesh if this ain't MSR, I don't know what is! Arizona Highways is a true MSR treat to read, the tone between M&S is perfect, the angst is fabulous, the plot is consistent, the dialogues dynamic. I just finished the first book, and I'm enjoying it immensely. This is adult relationships Fialka is talking about, no, the romance isn't perfect, yes Scully is able to feel lust and desire for another man. It was the first time in quite a while that I didn't wince at the 'I love you' line, because this one had no sap factor in it. And I thank this talented writer for this. :-) 
This sort of thing has to be taken in the context of the whole story, which hasn't all been posted yet. It is a very long story, and the sexual component of the Scully/Kresge interaction is tiny (remember, it wasn't even quite a one-time encounter) compared to the importance of Kresge in the later story. Kresge makes great sacrifices to help Mulder and Scully, and Fialka does a great job of showing his history and letting us see what he is thinking and feeling, thus giving an understandable background for why he does what he does. He is a good and honorable person, but without that history PLUS his feelings for Scully, we might not buy that he would make such sacrifices. Of course your complaint technically has merit, although I agree that you expressed it with a rude and uncalled for insult to Fialka. Had she included the Scully/other warning, some MSR lovers might have skipped this wonderful, deeply intense MSR. That would, IMO, have been a shame. I think Fialka did the right thing.
For some people, it does. Preferences vary. If there's a Scully/other "encounter", then, imho, it ought to be reflected in the headers. Of course, that's strictly voluntary ... but so is reading future stories by someone who had incomplete headers in a previous story.
To read that far into a story that is labelled as Mulder/Scully romance and then find out that it is actually Scully/Other is enough to make one feel cheated of their time and decided not to read any further. Or any more of this author's story. Now, a lot of you persist in saying this is an MSR story. Despite the M/S header (which means romance between the people on both sides of the punctuation mark -- since when does it NOT?), the author insists that is not Mulder/Scully romance. And despite the romance tag, I agree with the author. It is something other that Mulder/Scully romance -- and one of those things is Scully/Other. In a true-to-character Mulder/Scully story, Scully would most certainly, at this point in their relationship, NOT go hop into bed and have sex with another man. So not only is the story mislabeled, the characterization of Scully is very poor. Oh, yeah. Fialka, aren't you one of those Virginians? The Wicked Witch buddies and protectors? That ought to be enough to turn readers off, if that is the case.
>>Oh, yeah. Fialka, aren't you one of those Virginians? The Wicked Witch buddies and protectors? That ought to be enough to turn readers off, if that is the case.<< You know, there's a time when you just have to look at someone, not with a shrug or rolled eyes, but rather straight on, dead serious, and cold as ice, and say, "Fuck you." This is one of those times.
>>Oh, yeah. Fialka, aren't you one of those Virginians? The Wicked Witch buddies and protectors? That ought to be enough to turn readers off, if that is the case.<< That remark was childish, ignorant, petty, stupid, foolish, and host of other adjectives. You should be extremely ashamed. God knows, I am for you.
Put a sock in it, debalex [Becky C], you should excuse the pun. Unless you know for a fact that Fialka a) was 'protecting' the Witches or b) one of the Witches, you need to keep your fingers off the Send button. Having been on the receiving end of false accusations myself, I know how damaging they can be, and I know that they sting, so whatever 'disappointment' you may have had with the story not being your schmoopy woopy idea of twoooo wuv, get over it and keep your personal comments to yourself. I don't know any Virginians personally, so this isn't a case of defending a friend, it's a case of what's wrong and unjust. Yes, Virginia as a group does not equal Wicked Witches as a group any more than Bill Clinton represents all male Democrats in terms of morality or good judgement, or any more than Richard Nixon's behavior during the Watergate affair means all male Republicans are automatically liars. Get the drift? I hope so.
The story in question has a brief encounter between Scully and another man. So what? Why does it bother you so much that you need to make what sounds like an accusation of a scam or a deliberate rip off? This is a story. This is not mind control or a sly proclamation of an uber agenda. MHO, but I do not believe that stories need to warn readers of every single type of activity that occurs in a story. Sometimes not knowing is an integral part of the suspense and revelation. If this story was actually an S/O, then fine, call it that in the headers. But it isn't. There is no reason to put S/O in the heading unless it to protect the oversensitive and delicate reader. If you got as far in the story as where the S/O incident occurred, then it should have been very clear to you that this is not really an S/O story. It is clearly one of the finest, best written stories about the complex relationship between Mulder and Scully that I, at least, have ever read. Bravo to Fialka.
Don't be ridiculous. You obviously didn't read the story very carefully. Fialka knows whereof she speaks when she tags it MSR. Not to mention that it truly may be the single most brilliant fic I have ever read...
So Scully had a brief encounter with another man, so what, that's all it was. I don't think it takes anything away from what is turning out to be a really great fic. I'm anxiously awaiting for the rest of book 2 to be posted,and I hope that Fialka will undertake writing another novel in the future. I'm a hopeless ficaholic.
I agree with nearly all of this, and the other defenses of Fialka's labelling, except that in the haste to point out that the story is very much about the M/S relationship, I think people are minimizing the Scully/Kresge storyline more than is warranted. (I'd like to make it clear that I'm talking here about the structure of the story; I don't have any problem with the labelling. When I went back to her Web site to check, I was actually surprised to find it labelled "M/S"; I'd only remembered it as "XA".) I wouldn't call the sexual component of the Scully/Kresge interaction "tiny"; the interaction makes up a pretty large part of the story, and the sexual component of the interaction is significant. No, they don't actually have sex; but Fialka's Scully is fairly damaged, especially sexually, and for her to allow that much sexual feeling is a huge step. There's a deliberate and telling contrast between the nights Scully sleeps in Mulder's arms (where they both repress the sexuality of the connection so deeply it's hardly tangible) and the night Scully sleeps in Kresge's (where she has to explicitly tell him she doesn't want to have sex). Which is part of what makes the scene where Scully finally allows herself to feel the much deeper, stronger sexual and emotional attraction to Mulder as powerful as it is. Kresge's role in the story exemplifies two of things I find most extraordinary about it: the naked honesty about love and the skillful use of parallels in plot and character to point up the themes and intensify the emotional impact of the story. "Arizona Highways" captures perfectly the whole fascinating complex set of XF themes on love: the instinct to love is ineradicable; love is what saves you; love is terrifying. And the way Fialka keeps returning to this, over and over again, in slightly different ways, is wonderful. Probably my favorite example is the thread about Mulder, tenderness, and Caitlin Jenkins.
The story was NOT labeled Mulder/Scully romance. It did have an M/S tag, without the R ... this is how that's characterized in the xfc-atxc header guidelines: <<Mulder/Scully. (Sex, no romance.)>> Of course, it's up to you to decide if you agree or disagree with the label, or with the characterization in the story. If you've been reading this thread, you realize that most of the respondents disagree with you and believe the story to be the best kind of MSR. I agree with them. << Oh, yeah. Fialka, aren't you one of those Virginians? The Wicked Witch buddies and protectors? That ought to be enough to turn readers off, if that is the case.>> Yes, Fialka is a member of Yes, Virginia. So am I. If you feel so strongly that that is a turnoff, then why did you read the story, if you did? And if you took your own advice and chose *not* to read it, then you have no business commenting on it.
>>Oh, yeah. Fialka, aren't you one of those Virginians? The Wicked Witch buddies and protectors? That ought to be enough to turn readers off, if that is the case.>> Oh, lovely. Just lovely. Now, let me see: I could quit reading anything written by any member of a large and rather talented group of authors, because a couple of people have made unsubstantiated allegations against one or two members of that group, thus somehow rendering the entire group guilty. Or I could add one more name to my "rabid loonies" killfile. Gee, what a tough dilemma. I may need a while to think about this one. Becky C., whose killfile used to be totally empty.
I would definitely classify the Scully abduction arc as Mulder/Other. Why? Because there is a Mulder/Other encounter. Obviously it's not a Mulder/Other Romance. Just as in Arizona Highways there is a Scully/Other encounter that should have been, imho--that admittedly isn't worth a hill o'beans to the author, keyworded. Not because I don't read anything but MSR (because I read quite a lot of Scully/Other and Mulder/Other, thank you), but because there was an emotional involvement between Scully and the Other, again, imho. Yes, it was tied into some very complicated feelings for Mulder, and yes, the story is a fascinating and incredibly moving rendition of the Scully/Mulder dynamic (I was also under no delusions this was an MSR. That, at least, was clearly labeled). However, I feel that since the M/S part was keyworded, then the S/O part should have been. And to bring it all back to the example, yeah, if the Scully abduction arc were a fanfic, I'd want it labeled M/O, MS/UST. And, you know, I wrote the author feedback on this, and I really wish I hadn't. I very rarely criticize writers, and I feel horrible for saying anything at all. This whole thing on the newsgroup is just making it worse, because I firmly believe that the author should do what they want when they keyword a story. That is, if they don't want keywords, they shouldn't put them on. I also believe that if an author chooses to put more than the most basic keywords, then the keywords should be complete. Again, mho, which doesn't mean squat to anyone but me. It's the readers who need to watch what they read. Yes, Fialka's story will probably make some people think twice about reading a story of hers, and really, what is wrong with that? If they felt misled by the lack of keywords there is nothing to be done. I mistakenly thought writing the author feedback would make me feel better, but it didn't. Fialka has no regrets for her labeling, and readers should feel no regrets for not continuing to read a story that contained something they didn't want to read. That's what responsible readership is all about. Now, hopefully, I will wash my hands of this, with very little fanfare.
I understand fully that some people have problems reading a story that hints even a whiff of M or S/O. The whole omission of the keyword debate has its own merit on principle, I guess, although you could have phrased it a little less belligerently; What you could have done then is to stop reading as S/O part appears pretty early in the narrative. Frankly, however, I don't know how one could have stopped reading this amazing piece of work once one's started on it. It is one of the most rich, complex and moving stories I've ever read in the fandom. Fialka's Scully is flawed to be sure. We all know that she comes with a lot of baggage, even taking her arc from the canon. This story gives us her journey, her rite of passage through fire, and the way she rises above her frailty through the depth of her humanity and heroism. CC only wishes that Scully he projects on the show is this fully and heartbreakingly realized. The relationships in the story all have multiple layers of meaning; Scully and Jane as a flip side to Scully and Melissa (and I don't think I've ever seen Melissa so beautifully used in ANY fic, period), Mulder and Kresge's evolution from potential rivalry to alliance and respect, and the controversial Scully and Kresge element which I think was crucial to illustrate the degree of Scully's emotional torment earlier on as well as Kresge's later involvement in the story. The interaction between Mulder and little Caitlin had me bowling my eyes out, and the MSR......, God, I can't even remember when I last read a story that struck a cord this deep inside of me. I would hope that the controversy this whole keyword thing generated prompts more readers who are usually wary of S/O to give this story a chance. This one's going onto my all time classics list. And whoever brought up that whole witch hunt/YV thing, which is in exceptionally bad taste by the way; Who gives a rat's ass if they all can write like this? I think the quality of Virginians' writing speaks for itself. Fialka's going to become one of those authors for whose stories I am always going to be on the lookout, along with a bunch of her beta authors whom I already have on my radar.......(waving to JET, Marasmus, Punk M, Revely, cofax et al. If that's not the most kickass beta team, I don't know what it is.) Vonnie, who can't write worth a damn so probably has no business butting in the keyword debate, but delurking very long-windedly out of uncontrollable admiration for Fialka's work anyway.
Fialka wrote a wonderful story and she does not deserve to see a huge, trailing thread about something minor. What she needs and deserves and has earned are kudos for her remarkable work.
Fialka deserves a huge round of applause for this story. I found it to be complex, beautiful, sad, haunting, frightening-- in short, just a damned fine read. I thank her humbly for giving me such a good time, in the deepest darkest hour of hiatus.
Fialka, I was enthralled and completely engrossed by this story. I read the entire first part in one sitting (oy, my sore ass...) then did the same thing with the second part the next night -- till 1AM, and I had to go to *work* the next morning. I don't give a damn about what the headers say or don't say about this work. Actually, I barely give headers a cursory glance anyway. This story was brilliantly executed. This is probably the most accurate description of the M/S relationship I've read in a long time. I've seen both characters display this behavior on the screen and it was a joy to see how you put us inside their heads and let us know just *why* they were behaving in those ways. And can we all say kickass casefile?? When it comes to writing plot, I'm a miserable failure and I'm always amazed and excited when a fanfic author weaves a plot that keeps me wide-eyed and panting in front of my monitor. The conspiracy elements -- can I just say "Wow!!"? Too bad Carter can't use this on the show -- the conspiracy would be making a helluva lot more sense. The "romance" element (both pairings, I might add) was perfectly executed and in my opinion, appropriate for the story. The cliffhangers sprinkled throughout elicited quite a few gasps and pseudo-screams (I'm not a good screamer <g>) and I'm sure that my fellow IRC chatters were getting weary of my frequent interruptions of "OH MY GOD! I DON'T BELIEVE THIS!" while I was reading. And to top it off, the writing itself was just excellent, poetic at times. There were many times that I caught myself nodding and grinning, tears welling up, while reading a particularly exquisite turn of phrase. One (of many) that comes to mind:
- Her lips were wet and cold, but her
- mouth was warm, her tongue speaking its own language against his. She
- wrote poems inside his mouth until he had to pull away, clutching her
- close as the rain pounded on their heads, whispering his gratitude at
- last, in one simple word.
Beautiful, stunning work, Fialka. Thank you.For me, "Arizona Highways" will be placed alongside "Blinded By White Light," "Iolukus," and "Hide and Seek" as the best of the novel-length XF fanfics.
2000 Comments By the Author Regarding Labeling, and Other Things
Okay, now that the frenzy of final editing is finished...
The following should by no means be construed as an attempt to start a thread on the value/necessity/whatever of fic classifications. I have however, been a bit non-plussed by accusations that I was deliberately misleading readers in an attempt to get a wider audience, so I'd like to take a moment to explain how I arrived at the labels I chose.
>>>Category: X, A, M/S
>>>WARNING: It's a ride. Buckle your seatbelt and hang on tight. That's all I'm going to say. <g>
So, X and A are obviously self-explanatory. Now for the rest.
First, let me say I had a hell of time figuring out how to label this. I've been around philedom for a couple of years now and it seemed to me that most people had a far...well, happier idea of what was meant by MSR than this story entailed. I used the XFC faq, and from the available categories, chose M/S (sex, no romance). Although that too does not quite describe what their relationship is in this particular story, it seemed the most accurate. It's not really a romance, and they do have sex.
What I find most interesting about being accused of lying in the headers, is that the precise reason I did *not* label this MSR was because of the Kresge element. Without that, I probably would have.
Now, to this let me add that 'Arizona Highways' is essentially a thriller, which means that not knowing what is going to happen is a major element of the narrative experience, and I was posting it in sections designed to heighten the suspense. In other words, to give those that wanted to go along with it on a daily basis the best ride I could give.
Whether or not anything would come of the Kresge relationship was part of that suspense, therefore I could not add S/O into the tags without giving away a part of the plot AND misleading readers into thinking that this was what the story was about. This is not a story about Scully falling in love with another man -- she neither falls in love with Kresge nor actually has sex with him. It's a story about -- among many other things -- Scully accepting the fact that she loves Mulder, and has for a very long time.
However, there were certain elements I thought people might find disturbing -- though I was not expecting to get such flack for the Kresge element, I was expecting that people might be upset by Scully giving up her child, by the 'unsex' -- as my betas termed Mulder and Scully's first attempt, and just by my generally giving these poor people such a hard time <g>. I also left readers briefly in a place in which it was entirely possible that Scully had actually been killed, after which I had quite expected to get a host of messages screaming at me for not including a CD warning. Not a one.
Now, while I do feel that certain things -- specifically rape and CD -- should in most cases be warned because there are people out here who have actually experienced these things and may be truly hurt by encountering them unexpectedly in a fic, I just can't summon up the same feeling of necessity for things that essentially amount to a question of interest. If the fic is not interesting to a reader, no one is forcing that reader to read it. However, in consideration of the fact that certain elements of this story might be controversial and disturbing to certain people, I added a general warning, expecting that those who prefer a simpler MSRish kind of fic would put that together with the M/S classification and NOT read it.
It seemed to me that these headers were as complete and honest as I could be without compromising the suspense aspect of the story. If that was not enough for certain readers, apologies, but everyone's mileage does vary. I did the best I could, and I have no qualm with people who lost interest and bailed along the way. That is everyone's right as a reader.BUT. Before people flame an author in public for not providing adequate information, I might ask that you do actually read the headers accurately. I have no need to lie to people to get them to read this story. For one, I have no way of knowing how many people actually do read any of my stories, for two -- and more important -- if something is well-written it will find an audience. I wrote 'Arizona Highways' as a challenge to myself, to write the best XF story I had in me, and if no one but my beta team were to read it, I would still consider that fantastic experience to have been well worth the effort. It would never occur to me to deliberately advertise the story falsely in order to get people to read it -- that would be, in essense, to say I didn't think it was worth reading. As with everything, YMMV and thanks for listening. Yes Virginia I am, Fi 
- from Chronicle X Interview with Fialka
- Jintian at The Basement Office, October 2000
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- "X-Files Fanfiction 101: an introduction for newbies". Archived from the original on 2006-02-07.
- comment by lightlack at xf book club, part one, March 2008
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- comment by lightlack at xf book club, part one, March 2008
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- comment by wendelah1 at xf book club, part one, March 2008
- comment by emily shore at xf book club, part one, March 2008
- comment by wendelah1 at xf book club, part one, March 2008
- comment by lsugaralmond at xf book club, part one, March 2008
- comment by memento1 at xf book club, part two, March 2008
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- comment by wendelah1 at xf book club, part two, March 2008
- comment by emily shore at xf book club, part two, March 2008
- comment by leyosura at xf book club, part two, March 2008
- comment by petite0red0head at xf book club, part one, March 2009
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- comment by tri sbr at xf book club, part two, March 2014
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- Cassie, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Scarlett, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Liz W, alt.tv.x-files.creative,September 2000
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- winged, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Becky C, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Kim, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
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- zoot, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Lisby, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Foxsong, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Gayle, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
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- winged , alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- winged , alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
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- Vonnie, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Meg, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Kim, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Lisby, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- TrexPhile, alt.tv.x-files.creative, September 2000
- Fialka, alt.tv.x-files.creative, October 2000