Bomb Scare

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Fanfiction
Title: Bomb Scare
Author(s): Jan Lindner
Date(s): 1977
Length: 63 pages
Genre: gen
Fandom: Starsky & Hutch
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Bomb Scare is a gen Starsky and Hutch story by Jan Lindner. It was published in the first issue of Zebra Three.

While it is set during the series, it includes a Vietnam War backstory, and is a rare example of a story in which Hutch is portrayed as having served there as well as Starsky. It also contains numerous references to the first Star Wars movie, which came out the same year that the story was published.

This story won an Encore Award.

Reactions and Reviews

1978

Bomb Scare”, by Jan Lindner, is sneaky. On the surface, it’s a fast—paced adventure of a type familiar from the aired series: a none—too—stable demolitions expert busted by S&H while they were in Vietnam is out for vengeance, exacted with progressive viciousness against Starsky’s friends. On another level, it is a neat and well—turned examination of courage——what it is, what motivates it, how it affects the lives of those who do or do not possess it. "Aut prodesse aut delectare." Vergil would appreciate this story. [1]
"Bomb Scare" by Lindner, a cliffhanger that would make a fantastic episode... [2]

2005

I think it depends on how well the writer can convince me [of Starsky and Hutch having been previously in the military]. I guess in my mind I never really pictured Hutch in the military since the conversation in the Torino (The Plague) seemed a little one sided to me. Starsky's comments didn't get a "Yeah, me too." type of response from Hutch. BUT, having said that, I can get right into a story where Hutch was in Nam too. If it's done right. One that really worked for me is "Bomb Scare" I'm not sure off-hand if that's by Lorraine Bartlett, Connie Faddis or Jan Lindner. (I'm not on my own computer so my files can't help my bad memory <g>) All three ladies are EXCELLENT writers so I'm sure they won't mind if I confuse them. The fact that they both were Military Police and the story kept flipping back and forth from Nam to their present day helped me really get into the plot. Which was, for those who haven't read it, about someone they worked with in Nam who suddenly showed up. The story helped fill in some blanks that were missing from the (I think) purposefully blank slate we saw in the series. SO, [K], you can count me in on the military service if the plot rocks like "Bomb Scare". [3]

2006

Zebra 3 V.1. I thought the stories were quite good, especially "Bomb Scare" by Jan Lindnor and "Mojave Crossing" by Faddis. Both stories had an excellent feel of the series about them, very much like the Starsky and Hutch from Seasons 1 and 2, with some very nice h/c, good dialogue, quick wit and developed plots. The female character in "MC" gave me some trepidation at first but she sort of grew on me. There was one very poignant scene between S & H in "MC" that was quite beautiful and put tears in my eyes. Probably one of best scenes I've read in the fandom.

But, as much as I liked the stories, there was something missing and I can't really explain what. A 'distance' maybe? But that's not really true either because they're both perfectly in tune with each other. I found myself comparing the writing to similar story themes of today's writers, especially those I absolutely love (I guess *today* meaning, for me, the last 10 or 15 years.) For some reason I can't analyze, despite BS and MC being good stories, I didn't feel the deep emotional connection as I do with today's writers.

It seems to me, and I could be totally wrong because I haven't read everything out there, that earlier fan fiction was dialogue driven. Not that I want my characters internalizing for pages and chapters, but sometimes I want to know what's going on behind their eyes. And, I admit, I'm a big fan of big, lush, stories filled with lovely imagery, balanced out with excellent dialogue. [4]

2014

The first long story was “Bomb Scare” by Jan Lindner. It's very good, not only does it have a well-paced, well-written, well-structured plot, but it has well-crafted underlying themes too -- the whole thing is about courage...

The plot of the fic is about a military explosives expert who chickened out of completing an emergency bomb defusing years ago in Vietnam and abandoned his team to save his own skin instead, got lots of people killed, and whom Starsky testified against in the ensuing court martial, and now is Out Of Jail And Out For Revenge (TM) by mad-bombing various places and leaving them threatening messages and the like. Then he eventually targets Starsky and Hutch directly in a scheme to prove they are just as cowardly and selfish as him and they would totally abandon each other to save their own skins too...

The element that, in fanfic for movies and TV shows, is the biggest and most satisfying advantage fic has over canon, is probably POV narrative. Whether third person omniscient, third person limited, first person, or even second person, in a fic, the thoughts and motivations and observations of characters can be described and explained, and can do so without being rushed and structured to move at the speed of real life or faster. Bomb Scare uses this very well in the last part of the story to dwell on the characters' thoughts to create suspense and depth.

...In S&H fandom, there's a piece of fanon that is basically universally accepted, which is that Starsky was in combat in the Vietnam War. The only canon basis for this is a throwaway scene in "The Plague, Part I" where Starsky grumbles "Wait, wait, wait.... I thought I got done with this in the army" while on a tense stakeout waiting for some Big Shit to go down. Nothing else...

There’s an obvious reason for why it took off as a story topic – it’s Grade A Prime angst and h/c and bonding fodder. However, it’s so accepted that it's not just a story trope -- it's also used as a random, throwaway reference in fics that have absolutely nothing to do with Vietnam or with the characters’ backstories. It just gets tossed in as if it was a canon fact.

However this is where it gets weird: a quick google reveals that “The Plague, part I” aired in November 1977 -- and if this zine really was published in 1977 like it says, there's just no way the author saw that episode before writing this fic. Like I said, I wasn't alive back then so if anyone knows anything and can correct me, please do, but I can't figure it any other way. Even if the zine was published in December, I don't see how the fic could possibly have been conceived of, written, sent in, reproduced, compiled, and published that fast.

So unless I'm missing something here, the Vietnam backstory here has nothing to do with the canon reference in “The Plague” at all. It might be just this author going "hey, how about some awesome dramatic Vietnam War backstory fic! The timeline fits!" and everyone copied her. Perhaps it's just an example of reverse-Jossing, where Jan Lindner's headcanon just happened to be validated by the show after she wrote this fic and it morphed into fanon over time. Maybe the universality of this fanon is more because Vietnam was such a big part of the recent past in 1977; and because of how it fits Starsky’s personality – it may not be explicitly canon backstory, but you could argue it ought to be canon backstory, because it makes for a good explanation of why he is the way he is – his tough and accepting personality, his soldier-like loyalty, the surprising level of authority and intimidation he can project whenever he wants to in contrast to his equally strong natural cheerfulness and childlike streak. I can think of a few similar fanons in other fandoms that have worked this way.

Also, in this particular fic, Hutch was in Vietnam too, and actually met Starsky there. Hutch being in Vietnam occurs in a couple other really old fics I've read, but never, as far as I know, in more recent fics (by "more recent" I mean "anything since the late 1980s as far as I can tell"... c'mon give me a break, this IS a really old show, you know.) In almost all prequel fics, Hutch was in college (perhaps chanting "Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?" at student protests, if you want some added narrative flair) while Starsky was getting his ass napalmed off on the other side of the planet. So my theory is that somewhere along the lines, the fanon morphed and writers must have started connecting their Vietnam fic to that canon reference, which included only Starsky. [5]

References

  1. from Mahko Root #2 (1978)
  2. from Stardate: Unknown #4 (1978)
  3. from a fan on The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 2, 2005)
  4. from a fan on The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 18, 2006)
  5. for more of this review, and of Zebra Three in general, see Reading a 1977 zine in 2014: Zebra Three #1, Archived version