Eleutherophobia

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Fanfiction
Title: Eleutherophobia
Author(s): SoloMoon
Date(s): 2014-09-13 - ongoing (as of mid-2018)
Length: 232,571 words
Genre: gen
Fandom: Animorphs
External Links: On AO3: the Eleutherophobia series

On fanfiction.net:

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Lost WorldWar Games
City of Lost ChildrenTHX 1138
These Are the DamnedAkira
Ghost in the ShellTotal Recall
The Thing from Another World

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Eleutherophopia is a post-canon Animorphs fanfiction series by SoloMoon, a what if fic about Tom Berenson surviving the events of #54: The Beginning. The series has 12 fanworks. There's also a podfic series by AlcatrazOutpatient, podfic series on AO3 here, currently with 6 podfics.

Eleutherophobia has many original characters, which Sol names as allusions, often to other YA works. In her post Character Names in Eleutherophobia she says the names are references, as opposed to characters that have been crossed over.[1]

The Series

The summary for the series on AO3 reads:

Eleutherophobia: n., Greek, the fear of freedom

Tom survived Rachel's assassination attempt; the yeerk in his head did not. Now he's left dealing with his overprotective but traumatized parents, a little brother battling survivor guilt in a world that thinks he's a superhero, his terrifyingly awesome ex-neighbor determined to change the world, the girl from high school who he loved enough to follow to a Sharing meeting, and a whole bunch of other former hosts who think that just because a yeerk wearing his body once led a revolution Tom actually knows what he's talking about half the time.[2]

The series as a whole explores what being an ex-Controller would be like and how the Berenson family copes with the aftermath of the Yeerk invasion and their respective parts in it.

Because Animorphs was written in such a way that the town the Animorphs live in might be anywhere and because many of the main characters have no canonical last names, Sol has filled in much of that information herself. For example:

  • Their town being in California was revealed in #53: The Answer and Sol picked Santa Barbara for their town.
  • Many characters need to be given whole or partial names. Major OCs are listed below. For canon characters:
    • Cassie is given the last name "Day"
    • Marco and his family are given the last name "Alvarez"[3]
    • David is given the last name "Little"[4]

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Tom survives Rachel's assassination attempt; the yeerk in his head does not. Now he's left dealing with the aftermath of his infestation in a world that is still reeling from the revelations of the yeerk-human war, although all he really cares about is looking out for what's left of his shattered family.[2]

The Day the Earth Stood Still is named after the 1951 film of the same name, in which an alien lands on earth and demands humans either live peacefully or be destroyed to protect other planets. In the fic, Tom falls from the Yeerk-controlled Blade Ship and survives the fall to earth by morphing. He spends much of the fic held captive under suspicion of still being a Controller, waiting for three days to pass to prove there's no yeerk in his head anymore, thus 'standing still' for much of the fic.

Name origins

Essa 412
a yeerkanization of “Boy 412,” the main character of the Septimus Heap series. In my opinion, the second best treatment of the impact of war on children ever written into a modern fantasy series.[1]

This is the yeerk who controlled Tom for three years, also known as Visser Seventeen. Tom kills him in the opening scene of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and notes that Essa 412 hated Britney Spears, so Tom got in the habit of memorizing and singing her songs in his head to annoy Essa.

Tom uses it to refer to Essa in "The Day The Earth Stood Still" but he in "City of Lost Children."

Leslie Burke
the deuteragonist of Bridge to Terabithia. The character always reminded me of a younger Rachel, so I chose to give the name to the bearer of Rachel’s death.[1]

Private Burke is one of the soldiers who brings Anne Shirley in. She responds to Tom's pleading, asks his name, and is sympathetic to his plight. As promised, she comes back later in the day to give him the news: Jake and the rest of the Animorphs are fine, except for Rachel. The next day she comes after she's off-duty to tell him that Peace Accords have been signed and the humans won.

Anne Shirley
the main character of Anne of Green Gables, who often goes underestimated for the extent to which she is a tough, complex, socially awkward heroine written in 1908.[1]

Anne is the little girl who comes in half-morphed into a vulture, accompanied by four soldiers who put her into the cell next to Tom. She still has a yeerk in her head, Nistril 861, and goes through the fugue state before Nistril crawls out of her. Anne is five and a half and an orphan; her aunt comes to pick her up. When Nistril dies, Anne says she misses her. Nistril's parents were also dead.

George Little
the younger brother of the title character of Stuart Little. Mostly named because I wanted to give David a last name that implied cowardice without being ridiculously obvious about it.[1]

George is brought in after Anne and put on Tom's other side. The yeerk in his head is Sub-Visser Eight. He's David's father and used to work for the NSA before the yeerk in his head gave up state secrets. He and Tom talk about both being from Santa Barbara and he asks Tom to keep a lookout for David when he gets back to California. George heads straight to Fort Meade when he's let out.

Lost World

Two weeks after the end of the yeerk-human war, people struggle to understand the realization that the alien invasion came and went—and most of the world never even noticed. Tom, meanwhile, doesn't give much of a crap what everyone else thinks and just wishes he could go back to nice boring life before he had his brain got invaded and his kid brother went and became a war hero.

“Seriously, though,” David Letterman told a live studio audience. “It was a multi-billion dollar organization, had over fifty thousand members at its peak, and the best tagline they could come up with was ‘Sharing is caring?’ Sharing is caring? And no one ever thought that maybe, just maybe, it was being run by aliens? I mean, what was it going to take before somebody noticed that—”[2]

Two weeks after the events of "The Day the Earth Stood Still," Tom watches TV and settles on watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers and then the first Jurassic Park with Jake. They discuss the Jurassic Park, after which this fic is named.

True to Sol's committment to remain firmly entrenched in the late 90's era of the Animorphs, Tom flicks past a news report by Katie Couric about a man being cleared of a murder the yeerk in his head committed, an episode of Dr. Phil about an extramarital affair a yeerk had while in control of a woman's body, an interview with Joss Whedon about if the vampires in Buffy are a metaphor for yeerks, Steve Irwin meeting the hork-bajir, a mention of Joey Chandler from Friends being a Controller, Rush Limbaugh stirring up trouble, Morgan Freeman's voiceover explaining how yeerk biology works, and possibly Mika Brzesinski.

Name origins

[Steve] Carlsberg
the not-quite-antagonist of Welcome to Night Vale.[1]

Carlsberg is a character in some fictional military show on the TV, yelled at by a "man in fatigues and eyeliner" who's upset because, "If these new recruits were any younger, they’d be goddamned Animorphs!"

War Games

The yeerk-human war may be over, but the boys' struggle to deal with a late-night intruder into the Berenson household proves that adjusting to normal life after its end is not easy. Tom and Jake respond to a threat to the house in an utterly characteristic way.[2]

Set about a month after "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and therefore about two weeks after "Lost World."

City of Lost Children

With a yeerk in his head, Tom can only watch, utterly helpless, as his family falls apart. Tom's perspective on what happens to Jake during the war.

(Loose prequel to "Day the Earth Stood Still.")[2]

Canon compliant, set two years before "The Day the Earth Stood Still."

THX 1138

Tom's not an expert in neuropsychology, or child care, or much of anything outside of the best way to throw a layup. In fact, he doesn't have much going for him outside of a snarky attitude, a wealth of experience in being used as an alien puppet, and a determination to have his revenge on the yeerks by living well. Still, if a kid harmed by the yeerks needs his help, he'll do what he can.[2]

Set a month after "The Day The Earth Stood Still," so probably only a little after "War Games." Among other details in the fic, Tom finds Jake's collection of awards for his part in the fight against the yeerk invasion: "a Medal of Honor, a Victoria Cross, a U.N. Special Service Medal, a Purple Heart, and about eight other military awards."[5]

Name origins

Joey Costello
the deuteragonist of Tangerine, a story about two boys who have very different sets of troubles with their respective older brothers.[1]
Dr. Pendanski
one of the incompetent counselors from Holes by Louis Sachar.[1]
Jodi O’Shea

far and away my most pointed literary allusion. Jodi is a minor character in The Host by Stephenie Meyer, a book which I love (except for the extremely problematic ending, but I’ll get back to that). The Host is essentially a love story between a yeerk (Wanda) and a human (Ian) whose entire plot is driven by consent negotiations. It’s about Wanda and Ian wishing they could be together but knowing they never will because they can’t be without violating the right to consent of the yeerk’s host, Melanie. Melanie, meanwhile, is in love with a different guy… Who can’t be with her either without violating Wanda’s right to consent.

[SPOILER WARNING] Eventually Ian resolves this love quadrangle by putting Wanda inside a human (“Pet,” and don’t get me started on that name) who has been a controller for so long that she has forgotten how to exert her own conscious will. Wanda and Ian presumably do the horizontal tango using that host instead, AND THIS IS TREATED AS A HAPPY ENDING. Jodi O’Shea also meets the same fate as Pet: Jodi has forgotten how to feed herself or move on her own, so her own husband decides that they should just put her yeerk, Sunny, back in her head. Sunny claims that Jodi is brain-dead… But Sunny is also strongly motivated to lie. (There are also implications that Jodi’s husband becomes romantically involved with Sunny instead, a plot which is so horrifying it deserves its own blog post.) Most importantly, all the main characters are really happy that these poor hosts are vegetables. There is an entire subpopulation of humans who have become entirely dependent on their alien slave masters for survival… and this fact is treated as the solution to all the characters’ problems. It’s celebrated. And, yeah, both THX 1138 and Ghost in the Shell contain some pretty pointed commentary from me on why I find this ending to be so deeply unfortunate. [END SPOILERS][1]

These Are the Damned

Tom tries to encourage Jake's irresponsible side for once after yet another inane press event contains too much honesty for his liking. Stupid decisions about alcohol turn into overly honest conversations about controller mentality, war crimes, drunk birds, accidental cannibalism, the true meaning of irresponsibility, and what it means to have already fulfilled one's purpose in life by age sixteen.[2]

Akira

In which Tom Berenson learns that DNA allergies are a pain in the butt, that Jake has a surprising number of obscure and apparently useless morphs, that especially in this family stubbornness is not always a virtue, and that there's a difference between surviving the war and living through it.[2]

Name origins

Dr. Miranda Franklin
named for Miranda of Dr. Franklin’s Island. Kind of a pun on my part: the plot of that book involves one of the main characters involuntarily turning into an anaconda.[1]
Jennifer Murdley
titular character of Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, one of the books in Bruce Coville’s Magic Shop series who learns the very hard way to love herself.[1]
Mrs. [Hannah] Gruen
Nancy Drew’s housekeeper.[1]

Back to the Future

Someone decided to get the entire extended Berenson family together for some reason (i.e. tradition!) and now there are over twenty of these crazy people in one house at one time, three months after the end of the war. Tom, for one, is pretty sure he's not going to get through the day without stabbing someone.[2]

Ghost in the Shell

Tom isn’t quite sure how he ended up helping Eva run a support group for ex-hosts, or why his high school crush is still interested in him given their complicated history, or how he managed to become so fascinating to tabloid reporters, or why Jake feels the need to feel guilty for so many things that are not his fault.

But he’s going to have to figure everything out pretty quickly, because ex-hosts are dying at an alarming rate, and no one but him seems to notice or care. Much as he doesn’t want to get involved, Tom is pretty sure he sees a pattern emerging: that someone, somewhere out there, is getting the worst kind of revenge.[2]

Name origins

Mary Lennox
the main character of The Secret Garden, the first book without pictures I ever read on my own.[1]
Rose Rita
main character of The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring, and arguably one of the first genderqueer characters to make it into a children’s fantasy novel.[1]
Margaret White
the antagonist of Stephen King’s novel Carrie (fandom), obsessed with preserving the innocence (and thus the dependent ignorance) of her teenage daughter.[1]
Sophie Hatter
main character of Howl’s Moving Castle, who does in fact make her own clothes.[1]
[Mr.] Broxholm
the titular alien from My Teacher Flunked the Planet by Bruce Coville, one of the most awesome and profound children’s sci-fi novels I have ever read.[1]
Anita Psammead
a nod to The Five Children and It by E. Nesbitt, one of the first ever fantasy novels written for children.[1]
Miss Zarves
the teacher from Sideways Stories from Wayside School who doesn’t exist, because she was accidentally assigned to teach on a floor that was never built.[1]
Nikto 770
nod to the code phrase in Day the Earth Stood Still (the original movie, not my fic).[1]
Kit Rodriguez
the deuteragonist of the Young Wizards series, known for his passion and tendency to care deeply for others.[1]
Aristotle “Ari” [Mendoza]
Dante [Quintana]
main character of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.[1]
Gabriel “G.T.” Stoop
the main character’s mentor in Hope Was Here.[1]
Elijah Springfield
a teen detective from the Veritas Project series.[1]
Lydia [Bennett]
supporting character from Pride and Prejudice.[1]
Nick Adams
a recurring Ernest Hemingway character.[1]
T.J. Avery
next door neighbor to the Logan family in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.[1]
Cecily Tallis
the narrator’s older sister (and unwitting victim) in Atonement by Ian McEwan.[1]
Maybeth Tillerman
one of the main characters in Homecoming by Cynthia Voight, a book that critics like to describe as “the anti-Boxcar Children” for its unflinchingly realistic portrayal of childhood homelessness.[1]
June Boatwright
one of the protagonist’s mentors in The Secret Life of Bees.[1]
Caitlin Somers
a Judy Blume character from Summer Sisters.[1]
Alex Morales
Cooper-Trebond
shortening of “Alanna Cooper of Trebond” the name of the main character of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness series.[1]
Jesse Hauptman
the protagonist’s stepdaughter and mentee in the Mercy Thompson series.[1]
Timmy Dugan
lesser-known real name of WWII comic book hero Dum Dum Dugan, sidekick to Nick Fury and Howling Commando as part of the Marvel universe.[1]
Luke Castellan and Chris Rodriguez
two of the supporting characters from Percy Jackson and the Olympians. I wouldn’t say that Luke Castellan is the first meatsuit I ever fell in love with (despite him being basically a voluntary controller and also a human dumpster fire), but I would say that he made my tendency to care too much about meatsuits in general about 1000 times worse.[1]
“Cornelius”
okay, this one is in fact a crossover—that’s meant to be Tyler Durden, main character of Chuck Palahnuick’s Fight Club. He’s a schizophrenic, lonely guy who goes to support groups for various traumas that he never actually survived (usually under the fake name Cornelius) because that’s the only way he knows how to connect to people.[1]
Odette
the protagonist of Swan Lake and several subsequent adaptations, including Mercedes Lackey’s awesome The Black Swan.[1]
Rod Allbright
another character from My Teacher is an Alien, because I love that series.[1]
Officer Nice
a nod to the song of the same name by Vio-Lence, one of my few non-literary allusions.[1]
Gerald “Jerry” Cruncher
a guy who works as a porter (and remover of bodies) in of A Tale of Two Cities.[1]
Paul Edgecombe
main character of The Green Mile, a deeply conflicted prison guard who gets cast as Pontius Pilate in a modern-day gospel retelling.[1]
Kate Malone
narrator of Laurie Halse Anderson’s amazingly powerful novel Catalyst.[1]
Mae Tuck
matriarch of the titular immortal clan from Tuck Everlasting.[1]
Annie Hughes
one of the main characters from The Iron Giant.[1]
Kirsten Larson
one of the first characters from the American Girl series, an immigrant from Sweden who struggles to acclimate to the United States.[1]
Adah Price
one of the co-narrators of The Poisonwood Bible, a disabled polymath who loves palindromes and puzzles.[1]
Iris Chase
a society lady and heiress from The Blind Assassin, which chronicles family dysfunction and its unique impact on women over several generations.[1]
Dawn Schafer
part of the enormous rotating cast of protagonists from The Babysitters’ Club series, and one of my favorite characters as a kid.[1]
Henry Case
main character of the genre-creating cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.[1]
Parvana Weera
a tough, outgoing young woman whose struggle to keep her family safe during the American invasion of her home in Afghanistan forms the main plot of The Breadwinner.[1]
Raven Madison
main character of Vampire Kisses, who spends a little too much time in her intense fantasy worlds and not quite enough connected to reality.[1]
Mr. [Bob] Grey
pseudonym used by the creature also known as Pennywise the Clown and simply “It” in several of Stephen King’s novels.[1]
Ms. [Mary] Logan
mother of the main character in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, because I love that book.[1]
Karana Nicoleño
although Karana, the main character of Island of the Blue Dolphins, doesn’t technically have a last name, her tribe is historically referred to as the Nicoleño.[1]

Total Recall

As if getting subpoenaed to go testify at Visser One’s trial halfway around the world wasn’t enough of a pain in the butt, now Tom also has to put up with Jake and Cassie’s utter inability to communicate with each other like normal human beings. Worst Eurotrip ever.[2]

Name origins

Vicky Austin
main character of A Ring of Endless Light, a book about coming to terms with dying—and about the many complex shades of victim blaming that can occur in light of unquantifiable tragedy.[1]
Samuel Cornick
roommate to the eponymous Mercy Thompson of the bestselling Patricia Briggs series, a werewolf-doctor who continuously struggles to find meaning in an excessively long life and one of my favorite characters of all time.[1]

The Thing from Another World

From the point of view of the U.S. Military, Tom Berenson is an ideal candidate to act as temporary field commander and liaison for the Animorphs as they investigate a downed alien ship: he’s a law-abiding citizen, a legal adult, a morph-capable human who has a solid track record of catching murderers, and just about the only person for whom Jake Berenson has expressed open respect. From the point of view of Tom Berenson, putting him in charge of these crazy teenagers while also dealing with a brand-new species of deadly alien is the stupidest decision the U.S. Military has ever made.[2]

Name origins

Seth Clearwater
a minor character in Eclipse, one of the youngest werewolves of the Quileute pack.[1]
Captain William Nasland
one of the more obscure characters to hold the title Captain America; retconned into the role following Steve Rogers’s “death” in 1945. Acts as both a hero and a villain because he has a well-intentioned but also closed-minded idea of what Captain America should be.[1]
Allison Chapman
main character of Sharing Sam, K.A. Applegate’s lesser-known novel about teenage basketball geeks who back their way into understanding the life, the universe, and everything.[1]
Simon Grace
one of the main characters of the Spiderwick Chronicles.[1]
Giselle Villard
one of the main characters from the Mystic comic book series who is awesome, tough… and more than a little power-hungry.[1]

A Straight Line Down Through the Heart

Cassie is a lot of things: a former child soldier, a current leader in Resident Alien Affairs, the youngest-ever Special Assistant to the President. An Animorph. An advocate. A one-woman army. Sometimes, however, she just wants to be a teenage girl, the kind who takes a break from changing the world to go for dinner at her boyfriend's house. This is one of those times.

(Cassie's point of view on the post-war Berenson family.)[2]

A Straight Line Down Through the Heart (sometimes just called A Straight Line Down) is told in third person from Cassie's point of view. The title is from the song "The Origin of Love" from the 1998 musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is quoted at the beginning of the fic:

Last time I saw you we had just split in two. You were looking at me, I was looking at you. You had a way so familiar but I could not recognize, Cause you had blood on your face and I had blood in my eyes But I could swear by your expression That the pain down in your soul was the same one down in mine. That's the pain cuts a straight line down through the heart—we called it love. So we wrapped our arms around each other

Trying to shove ourselves back together.

The fic takes place during a dinner party thrown by Tom and Jake's parents and offers an outside POV on the Berensons, especially Tom and his relationship with Bonnie, and shows Jake and Cassie rekindling their relationship. Cassie's mom appears at the beginning of the fic.

Excerpt from Animorphs Fic: A Timeline[6]
Approximate date Canon event or fic
January 2000 The yeerk-human war comes out into the open
March 2000 The war ends
Day the Earth Stood Still
Lost World
April 2000 Ghost in the Shell begins
War Games
THX 1138
May 2000 These Are the Damned
June 2000 Akira
Back to the Future
February 2001 Ghost in the Shell ends
March 2001 Visser Three’s trial at the Hague
Total Recall
May 2001 Thing From Another World
March 2003 Ax disappears; Jake et al go looking for him

Chronological order

The fics above are listed in order published, which is the order they're arranged in by SoloMoon on AO3. In a tumblr post, Sol laid out her headcanon for the timeline of the series and where Eleutherophobia's parts fit in.

City of Lost Children takes place during the war, two years before The Day the Earth Stood Still, which would put it some time in 1998 by the timeline above. A Straight Line Down Through the Heart hadn't been published yet, but occurs last of all the currently published parts of Eleutherophobia and presumably soon after Thing From Another World.[2]

Fan Reactions

When asked about how she would write a Tom Lives AU, tumblr user lilacsolanum said,

This is a tough one because Eleutheraphobia is SO GOOD! I’m sure everyone following me has read it but if you haven’t, go do so right now. SoloMoon’s exploration of post infestation hosts continues to astound me. She sees all these corners I never would have thought about. Her work has pretty much directly influenced anyone and everyone who plans on writing post war former hosts. I love it and it is very good.[7]


References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 1.47 1.48 1.49 1.50 1.51 1.52 1.53 1.54 1.55 1.56 1.57 1.58 1.59 1.60 1.61 1.62 SoloMoon on her Animorphs blog thejakeformerlyknownasprince, Character Names in Eleutherophobia. Posted 14 June 2017. (Accessed 15 July 2018.)
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 fanfiction series on AO3
  3. SoloMoon's Lost World.
  4. SoloMoon's The Day the Earth Stood Still
  5. SoloMoon's THX 1138
  6. Sol on thejakeformerlyknownasprince, Animorphs Fic: A Timeline, posted 14 January 2018. Accessed 01 September 2018.
  7. lilacsolanum, answering "For your AU ask: Tom survives the final battle (a la Eleutheraphobia?)" Posted 15 January 2018. Accessed 01 September 2018.