The Cost of Love

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Zine
Title: The Cost of Love (titled "Cost of Love" online)
Publisher:
Editor: Karen B
Author(s): Alexis Rogers
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1982 (story in Code 7 #2), a standalone fan novel (The Cost of Love in ?), a pro book called "Cost of Love)" with different character names in 1990), and in an anthology (Collected Starsky and Hutch Stories of Alexis Rogers) in 1996)
Medium: print
Genre: slash
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
Language: English
External Links: online here and here
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover of the Starsky and Hutch fanzine, artist uncredited
art from the fanzine; a variation was used as the pro book, artist uncredited

The Cost of Love is a story (45596 words) by Alexis Rogers that was published in four different forms between 1982 and 1996.

It, and many other stories by Alexis Rogers, was the first Starsky and Hutch slash fiction on the internet, and is here.

This zine won Alexis a Huggy Award in 1982 as "Best Writer."

The zine, in this standalone form, is not dated, nor is the artist [signed as "Jean," referred to as "Jeanie" in the online version] or editor named; they are only referred to on the last page.

Its Various Publications

the cover of the 1990 pro version of The Cost of Love
the cover of the 2005 pro version of The Cost of Love
  • It was published as a story in Code 7 #2 (1982)
  • It was published as a 112-page standalone novel (while the zine isn't dated, the art says 1982)
  • It was republished in May 1990 by a small, professional gay press, Lavender Press. In the book, Starsky and Hutch's names were changed to Kaffey and J.C. Covington. [1] Cost of Love book has 166 pages. [2] [3]
  • It was published in the anthology Collected Starsky and Hutch Stories of Alexis Rogers in 1996, the novel underwent rigorous editing before publication -- for example, an entire first chapter was removed at the editor's request
  • The "Pro" version was once again republished with a plain cover in 2005 by BearPaw Publishing, Stockton, CA. The tape bound zine is digest sized and contains 128 pages. ISBN 10: 097598120X / ISBN 13: 9780975981207

The Author's First Slash Story

From the introduction of The Collected Starsky and Hutch Stories of Alexis Rogers (1996): ""Cost of Love" was my first endeavor into the world of slash fiction and I had not planned for it to be anything but the story of Starsky and Hutch in Vietnam, the war being a more important issue for me than any type of sexual relationship. However, Starsky had other plans and since it was his story, it was told at his direction."

Similarities With "Graven Images"

Prior to the publication of "The Cost of Love," another author had published Graven Images, a Starsky & Hutch story with a similar plotline (Starsky's experiences in Vietnam).

The similarities between the two stories, published so closely together within a very small fandom community, led to some bad feelings and complaints of plagiarism. Alexis disagreed, pointing that her story had been written (but not published) by the time Graven Images was printed and therefore she could not have stolen the idea (which was hardly unique; many police officers in the 1970s were Vietnam War vets).

A fan in 1996 wrote:
I think that's really unfortunate (that Rogers] yelled plagiarism, that is). I've read both stories, and I think they're both fine (and _different_) takes on the "Starsky in Vietnam" issue. There are only a limited number of plots in the world -- what makes stories unique is what the author does with them. [4]
Trying to figure out where the line blurs between something that really needs to be worried about and just being plain silly. [snipped] Of course, the problem there is that we can't all agree on what is a serious problem and what's silly. The above, to me, is silly. I've heard other claims of plagiarism that seem shallow as well. ("See, I have Bodie and Doyle playing "The Game". How dare she write that, too!") I've seen several Starsky dealing with Vietnam stories, most of which that came out long before Jane ever even got into S&H. [5]

The Author's Thanks

From the last page of the zine: "Special thanks to the special people who helped with 'Cost': those who provided research information, especially the men who shared their wartime experiences -- and their vodka. To the wonderful lady who did so much of the typing; to the editor who strengthened my words; and to the illustrator, who gave life to my characters. And most importantly, to the lady who gave me S&H, S/H, and the support to continue writing. Without her, there would have been no story."

Contents

  • Cost of Love, novel by Alexis Rogers
  • Renegades, poem by Jacqui Wilson

Gallery: Art Samples from the Standalone Fanzine

In 1984, a fan wrote a filk called "The Cost of Love." Printed in Down to Earth. It was dedicated to Alexis Rogers was inspired by the story as it was published in Code 7 #2.

Reactions and Reviews: The Fanfiction

Unknown Date

Alexis Rogers' Cost of Love seems to be a story that fans either like a lot or don't like at all. I'm on the "like a lot" team. [6]

1982

'Cost,' the major story of the zine, is probably the best thing the author has ever written. She obviously did her homework on Viet Nam's unpleasant working conditions -- men I've known who were there have described it in much the same way. The story has good, healthy female characters as a balance to Vanessa's Royal Bitch, and manages to give the conflict a satisfactory emotional resolution. It's interesting and held my attention, and I think the editor should be given full credit for midwifery and minor authorship. However... the story is far from perfect. It has that delightful theme of Love-Your-Rapist, an idea against which I am strongly prejudiced. One might wonder if the actual Cost of 'Love' is supposed fo be one's self-respect. Still, Vietnam was an insanity, and one cannot expect rational coping measures. Science fiction allows 'one impossible thing' in a story and I think that we can accept Starsky's feelings toward Nathan under that classification. It is the author's treatment of Hutch that is my major criticism -- he is a character of convenience; helpless victim, damsel in distress, unconscious sex object -- and then, with no explanation whatsoever seducer. It makes no sense. He starts out homophobic and then drags Starsly into bed with him, with no perceptible reason for the change. (I refuse to believe that a case of hysterical amnesia would precipitate such a drastic change in attitude.) Hutch deserves better treatment. I think Cost might have benefited greatly from being published on its own after another rewrite or two. It's a damned powerful idea, but it's not quite 'soup. [7]
The plot] is nearly that of Jane Aumerle's Graven Images, but happening instead to Starsky; it is touch in L.A. (1973), what with S&H on a drug case, Vanessa divorcing Hutch, and Starsky going nuts with unrequited lust for his partner. Their actual past in Vietnam is told through flashbacks, which are heavy on the mud and blood, and the plot is advanced with such devices as dream-poems and song lyrics. In tone, too, CoL is about as cheerful and upbeat as GI was. Where the novelettes differ most noticeably is in style and clarity; CoL is far more readable, but its style is leaden. Alexis Rogers' protagonist is perhaps the saner, possibly because of his having had a lover during the war, Nathan Wise. But like GI, the plot's resolution comes improbably abrupt: after years and years of the protagonist's hopeless yearning, of committing murder for his beloved, of building his partner up into a personal god, the parter solves it for him, almost offhand, by saying in effect, 'Let's fuck.' I mean, there must be more to it that THAT. Yet CoL is decently crafted. The dialog sounds right and in character, the drug plot is good, and Nathan is an interesting character. The use of haiku at the beginning of each time-change section is intriguing, if a shade affected. Though it sometimes verges on stridency, CoL's emotion power is of the highest produced in this fandom. [8]

1987

I'll always remember how "The Cost of Love" gave Starsky and Hutch a life before walking a beat and how believable it was. [9]

1996

"The Cost of Love" was the first slash novel that I ever saw as a Pro(ish) Gay Mens Press novel -- I think it was before Mel Kegan's arrival. And hey, I kinda like it. When Nathan tells Starsky to kill Hutch...Ooh, that was good! [10]

1999

I love "Cost of Love," even though it's flawed. It's an incredibly dark, powerful story. [11]

2000

Stories like Cost of Love aren't being written anymore (and I hear you all breathe a sigh of relief) but that is a loss for the fandom. The characterization of S&H in Cost of Love, and most of Alexis' stories, does push the envelope on these men, and not always successfully. And yes, a lot of people didn't agree with that characterization. But still, it is very valuable. How can that be when people dislike it so much? Because it forces us to look at the characters anew, with a different focus. Because it stimulates views on how they can be portrayed. Because it pisses people off and makes them say, "I'm going to take that same plot scenario and write it the way it should have been written."

We are still discussing this group of stories written 20 years ago because they are challenging, different, edgy, and they force us to consider these tried-and-true characters in a different light. We *need* that in this very staid fandom. How many years can we keep portraying these guys the same way? We need new angles and new viewpoints, and yes, some of them we are not going to like. I've got several manuscript novels in my possession that I'm hoping the authors will allow me to publish. They're old, and they've been handed around from fan to fan, never officially put in a zine. The portrayals of the boys in these novels is very very different from what we're used to reading. Many fans won't like these stories, but that's okay. The writing is good, and more important, it's different. Old fandoms need things to shake them up. Starsky and Hutch need *different* angles, different story lines.

I think I may be the only person I know who has no trouble with the characterizations of either of the guys in this story (okay, well maybe a few). The experiences people have in their life change them in ways that are hard to account for. I am totally open to almost any characterization of the guys prior to the series. In this story, we see a lot of Starsky's development, and frankly, it is Hutch's willingness to accept his love for him, in my view, that makes him become the mature man we see in the series. The key, here, though, is that this is S&H *before* the series, before they become the men we see in the first episode. Therefore, anything is plausible. Because human nature is that mallable. Every time fans say, "that character would never do that," they limit a writer's options. (Of course, what they're really saying is "that writer didn't or can't make me believe that that character would ever do that," and the subset of this is, "I know this character better than any writer, and if he doesn't behave the way I *expect* him to, I'll never believe it." This is the real limitation for writers in fanfiction.)

But more importantly, the freedom to present the characters this way, and in the ways I have seen them portrayed in novels I have in my possession, which will not be greatly favored by most fans, the freedom to write like this is diminished these days as we are encouraged by our readers and our own hesitations to write what everyone prefers. I know the amount of vocal protest I received over plot developments in Total Eclipse were, frankly, often daunting. And I know I veered away from doing things that I *really* wanted to do because of them. Because I was told by many many people, "Starsky (or Hutch, pick one) would never do *that*."

Hey, anybody is capable of doing anything. You may not like it, but shit happens. People do stupid things. They do self-destructive things. Everybody does. And that's why I love Cost of Love. Because these guys make a ton of mistakes, they fuck up a lot of stuff, and they careen off each other in ways I would've never thought of. Suzan Lovett's A Fine Storm made me into an SH fan...but it was Cost of Love that turned me into an SH writer, something I had not planned on being. Because in that story I saw so many possibilities...possibilities I don't see as clearly anymore.

Do I think Cost of Love is perfect? Oh, hell, no. There were *many* things that needed better motivation to be more plausible, and what annoyed me was that they could've been easily better motivated! (Which goes right back to: "I'm going to take that same plot scenario and write it the way it should have been written.")

This story is incredibly well written, amazingly ambitious for a *fan* story, and has moments of incredible power, beauty, and honesty. I found this story so incredibly compelling the first time I read it that I couldn't put it down, quite literally. I snuck it into my desk drawer at work and read sneaky paragraphs every chance I had. When people would come into my office I would jump a foot as if I had drugs on my desk. I couldn't think about anything else when I read this. It amazed me. That was the kind of stuff I wanted to write (only with better motivation! ;-) ) I have far less problems with the motivation, characterization, and plot problems in this novel than I do with endless bouts of hyper-emotional sobbing men in much of the fiction we get today. I read it at least once a year to remind me of what I could do if I had enough guts.

As most of you know, I rarely read outside my fandom and as highly as I think of Cost of Love, it would not stimulate me to read any of Alexis' other stories. When I was new to the fandom (just a few years ago) it surprised me that everyone didn't think as well of Cost of Love and other difficult stories as I did, even with its flaws. Of course, it surprised me that anyone liked hurt/comfort at all, so you can see how easily I fit in. ;-) [12]
Alexis had a specific style in what she writes, like Agatha Christie. One either likes it or not. If we all wanted to read exactly the same thing then there would never be any ideas to spawn thoughts that push the envelope. [13]

2001

I _love_ this story. It's one of those, "if I knew how to write, I'd have written _that_" stories that makes me want to hang up my keyboard. [14]

2004

Why this must be read: This story takes in the past to explain the present. The story begins with the break-up of Hutch's marriage from Vanessa. A chilling note left for him reveals the love that he shares with his wife cannot equal the devotion he has for his partner.

"Your partner wants you. He can have you."

Starsky has some demons to work through, namely Vietnam and a man named Nathan David Wise. The story is entirely pre-canon, but the build-up of where these men came from to result in where they were when the series started is an interesting journey. [15]

2011

This was great. I really like your style. It was a different type of story. I enjoyed it a lot. [16]

Reactions and Reviews: The Pro Book

The Cost of Love deals with David Kaffey a man who's still suffering from the traumatic events that he underwent during his tour of duty in South Viet Nam. Over there Kaff was the submissive Sergeant to Nathan a domineering Captain who was also his lover.

Now he's home in Los Angeles and serving on the police force but has it bad for his straight partner.

The book is divided between flashbacks to Nam in 1967 and scenes set in the L.A. of 1973. The jungle scenes are primal and savage and there's an undercurrent of sensuality that leads naturally to the scenes of steamy lovemaking that ocurred there.

The L.A. stakeout scenes are cleaner and more civilized but Kaff's inner demons are haunting him more and more as he spends time with his beautiful blonde partner JC. As the two parts of Kaff's life grow ever more intermingled we begin to see why he's so haunted.

Overall a great novel by first timer Alexis Rogers. It's an engrossing and worthwhile read. [17]

Excerpt from the Fanfiction

Hutch cried out, breaking the reverie. Starsky walked into the bedroom and stood at the foot of the bed once more. Hutch lay on his side, clutching a wadded ball of sheet and blanket to his stomach. Perspiration lined his forehead and upper lip. "Starsk?" Thready whisper, softer than his own muffled heartbeat.

"I'm here."

"I don't want to be alone."

"You're not. I'm right here."

Hutch's eyes were closed. "Please, here with me."

"I can't."

"Please."

Do you know what you're asking? No, I don't suppose you do. "Okay, but just until you go to sleep."

Hutch slid over. Starsky sat down, pulling the man into his arms, and hoped his jeans would insulate his feelings. Hutch snuggled close -- too close -- his head on Starsky's chest.

"Feels good." Blue eyes opened, intense and innocent. "Always so good." Hutch's arms tightened, his head tilted upward, open mouth an invitation.

No! Please, no! You don't know what you're asking. Hutch's mouth attracted him like a magnet, greeted him like a welcome guest. He was lost in the taste of Hutch, the feel of Hutch, the love of Hutch.

"Easy. Shhhh." Starsky rolled them over. "Calm down. It's all right." What needed calming was his own body.

Excerpt from Pro Book

JC cried out. Kaffey walked into the bedroom and stood at the foot of the bed once more. JC lay on his side, clutching a wadded ball of sheet and blanket to his stomach. Perspiration lined his forehead and upper lip.

"Kaff?" Thready whisper, softer than his own muffled heartbeat.

"I'm here."

"I don't want to be alone."

"You're not. I'm right here."

JC's eyes were closed. "Please, here with me."

Do you know what you 're asking? No, I don't suppose you do. "Okay, but just until you go to sleep."

JC slid over. Kaffey sat down, pulling the man into his arms, and hoped his jeans would insulate his feelings. JC snuggled close—too close—his head on Kaffey's chest.

"Feels good." Blue eyes opened, intense and innocent. "Always so good." JC's arms tightened, his head tilted upward, open mouth an invitation.

No! Please, no! You don't know what you're asking. But JC's mouth attracted him like a magnet, greeted him like a welcome guest. He was lost in the taste of JC, the feel of JC, the love of JC.

"Easy. Shhhh." Kaffey rolled them over. "Calm down. It's all right." What needed calming was his own body.


References

  1. ^ The Book Shelf: Cost of Love, Accessed August 2009.
  2. ^ Barnes and Noble: Cost of Love, Accessed August 2009.
  3. ^ "Mel Keegan's Ice, Wind and Fire is not the only fan novel to have been rewritten and published, of course. There's another which is an almost word-for-word copy of an S/H novel. Afraid I don't remember the title or author of either the zine or the pro novel, but if you see it on store shelves you'll know it — the cover art is by a well-known fan artist (credited only as "Jean") and shows Starsky, Hutch, and Bodie. I don't think the third character in the story was meant to be Bodie (it's a wildly a/u version of him, if so), but it does make the cover memorable, and justifies my mentioning it in Fish & Chips... perhaps someone else knows it too and can identify it." -- from Cold Fish and Stale Chips #10 (1990)
  4. ^ comment by Jan Levine at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 28, 1996)
  5. ^ comment by Michelle Christian at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 28, 1996)
  6. ^ by jat sapphire at Starsky and Hutch Fanfic Recommendations
  7. ^ from S and H #37, a review of the story when it appeared in Code 7
  8. ^ from S and H #37, a review of the story when it appeared in Code 7
  9. ^ from Tell Me Something I Don't Know #1
  10. ^ comment by Sandy Hereld at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (September 13, 1996)
  11. ^ Flamingo, November 10, 1999, from ThePits, a mailing list, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  12. ^ comments by Flamingo, June 6, 2000, at VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with permission
  13. ^ July 9, 2000, at VenicePlace, quoted anonymously
  14. ^ February 13, 2001, at VenicePlace, quoted anonymously
  15. ^ a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  16. ^ a review of the story by Susannah Powell as it appeared online at Starsky & Hutch Archive, posted August 25, 2011, accessed November 19, 2012
  17. ^ Stephen's June 2011 review at Goodreads]