Elusive Lover (Star Wars zine)

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Zine
Title: Elusive Lover
Publisher: Anoat Press
Editor(s): Cara J. Loup
Date(s): 1996 - 2001
Series?:
Medium: print
Genre:
Fandom: Star Wars
Language: English
External Links: Elusive Lover zine info
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Elusive Lover was a Star Wars slash zine, specializing in Han/Luke stories. It ran for five issues. Issue #4 won the 2000 Star aWards "BEST 2000 FOREIGN SW ZINE OVER 100 PAGES" award.

A special issue, a sister zine of AU Star Wars stories is Elusive Lover - Alternate Visions.

Fanfiction that appeared in the Elusive Lover fanzines, as well as online fanfiction, was archived online at the Elusive Love archive.

General Reactions and Reviews

I can't begin to describe the sheer beauty and depth of these collections of Han/Luke stories. Somewhat hard to find, so if you see one--GRAB IT! [1]
These are the zines that got me addicted. I own EL #2-5 and the AU edition. I don't care if zine #1 is online now, I'd still buy it if I could find it. These zines are simply...perfect. Throughout five zines, I believe I've found a total of two typos and maybe one grammar error. What makes this even more mind-blowing is the fact that nearly ever single person involved in those zines from the authors to the editors, is German. Non-native English speakers who put together a zine that reads infinitely superior to most native English speaking ones. I'm still in awe years later. The format of these zines is a two column structure in about a 10 point typeface. Not nearly as hard to read as it might sound. They also include poetry and artwork from breathtakingly professional to cutely amateur. What makes these such exquisite zines though, is the consistent characterization. The first zine has a couple shaky stories, but that's still recognizably Luke and Han there, and the zines just continued to improve with each year. The fifth (and likely last) zine is a study in how to tell a story and stay true to the characters. I know Han/Luke slash may not sound like your cup of tea, but once upon a time it really squicked me. The authors in these zines changed my mind with the unbelievably high quality of their writing. Give the website a try. Start with something by Cara J. Loup and see where it takes you. You're unlikely to be disappointed. [2]

Issue 1

cover #1 by Zyene
flyer printed in Bright Center of the Universe #9, image here is poor due to small size

Elusive Lover 1 was published in 1996 and has 179 pages. Cover by Zyene.

The fiction is archived online here

  • A Hard Place by Cara J. Loup - A brooding Han Solo wonders why Luke has disappeared from his life - and how to bring him back.
  • Talk To The Winds by Cara J. Loup - A lonely Luke Skywalker reflects on his feelings for Han.
  • Hard Feelings by Cara J. Loup - When Luke and Han meet again after six months of silence, unadmitted hopes and unresolved memories collide.
  • Turn of the Wheel by Cory Parsons - Stranded with Luke on a desolate planet, Han can't hope to escape unwanted dreams.
  • First Time by Cara J. Loup - After the battle of Yavin, Han and Luke explore the possibilities of rebuilding the Rebel base on Dantooine. Despite the best of intentions, Han finds himself drawn deeper into temptation.
  • Bloodfire by Theresa Kyle - When Boba Fett captures and drugs Luke on Ord Mantell, he sets a change in motion that no one had anticipated. Least of all Han Solo...
  • Run No More by Gwendolen - Luke thinks he has found sanctuary on Tatooine -- until Han arrives with an invitation to Leia's wedding.
  • The Healing by Cara J. Loup -On his homeworld Corellia, Han barely escapes an assassination attempt. But while Luke tries to keep him safe from a deadly intrigue, Han finds himself ensnared by an unexpected discovery...
  • Lessons by Gwendolen - Sometimes a teacher can learn the most important lesson from his student...
  • Where He Belonged by Elizabeth Stuart - Luke conjures a haunting vision of Han -- his lover?
  • Gavvin by CJ Ueberall - Han refuses to believe that Luke has been killed in the course of their mission, but the young man who looks so much like Luke goes by a different name and can't seem to recall anything...
  • Ghosts by Cara J. Loup - Han and Luke embark on a dangerous hunt for Imperial agents in the undercity of Coruscant
  • Shadows by Elizabeth Stuart -Han is tormented by jealousy of Luke's new partner
  • As Water Follows the Moon by Cara J. Loup - A mystical journey from Coruscant to Tatooine. Story briefly reviewed here.
  • Poetry by B'Erel, Cara J. Loup , E. Francis, Gwendolen and JK

Issue 2

table of contents issue #2, click to read
cover of issue #2, Zyene, nominated for a STIFfie

Elusive Lover 2 was published in 1997 and is 213 pages long. Cover by Zyene. Interior art by Zyene, Z.P. Florian, Christine, and Enednoviel.

Four pieces of art by Zyene were nominated for a STIFfie: the cover, page 5, page 6, and page 64.

The fiction is archived online here.

  • Precious Past (16 pages) by Cory Parsons - Memories and failed hopes haunt Luke and Han in the aftermath of Endor.
  • Alone (5 pages) by Jan - A young Luke mourns his recent losses and finds solace.
  • Probe (29 pages) by Cara J. Loup - After a dangerous mission, an Imperial implant is discovered in Han's brain.
  • Passing Through (13 pages) by Felicity Granger
  • Crystal Jedi (3 pages) by Elizabeth Stuart
  • Little Death (9 pages) by Elizabeth Stuart
  • Krabat (22 pages) by Cara J. Loup - Han's search for a missing Luke takes him to an enchanted world where nothing is quite what it seems.
  • No Way Back (8 pages) by Van Eijk -Han prepares the Falcon for the final jump.
  • Tenebrae (24 pages) by Cara J. Loup - An argument leads to unexpected discoveries.
  • Missing You (3 pages) by Gwendolen - Han explores his mind-link with Luke.
  • The Magic Of Second Glances (20 pages) by Keren Glass - During a secret mission on Tatooine, Han and Luke get in deeper than they'd expected.
  • Confessions (13 pages)
  • The Dancer (23 pages) by Cara J. Loup - In search of a group of lost Jedi, Luke meets a dangerous stranger.
  • Twin Moons (10 pages) - by Z.P. Florian - Han takes his newborn son to an exiled Luke.

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

"This review is a serious labor of love, I sure hope someone reads it, sigh...

I bought this zine because I read one story by Cara Loup in Concupiscence 5 (Manacles) and loved it. I think Cara put out the zine, and wrote much of it. I was pleasantly surprised by the other authors in it, too.

I don't really see much evidence on screen for Han/Luke (maybe two scenes in three movies), but you know, I don't care. A new universe, a good writer, and you get good fan fiction about the characters and the universe both. I'm now desperate to get Cara's other stuff (Elusive Lover 1 -- Morgan Dawn, EMAIL ME!!, and a novel in progress). I also got the urge to WRITE in this pairing, from these stories, which sure as hell hasn't happened in a while from stories alone.

A few words of warning for the grammar anal: Cara is not a native English speaker, I understand, and although there are proof reading credits in the zine, several of her stories had occasional minor English problems. They were minor (e.g., "news" is gramatically singular not plural, it's a mass noun like "water") and relatively rare. However, if you foam at the mouth when you encounter one of these problems, and can't read such stories, I frankly pity you because you will miss a wonderful writer's work. Yes, an editor other than herself would have helped.

The zine is formatted in very small font (maybe 8pt), so there is a huge amount of fiction in the 214 pages, plus some art and poetry. Overwhelmingly worth the cost. It took me a long time to get used to the German style of quotation marks in the typesetting (>>hi there,<< Han said); I kept reading it as some new symbol for telepathy, and although I don't object to new symbols, I do foam at the mouth when telepathy comes into the story. These stories were relatively telepathy-free, at least the bad kind of telepathy :-)

I'm only reviewing the stories I liked, which was most of them!

Precious Past, Cory Parsons: I enjoyed this look at the complicated triangle of Han, Luke, Leia. I am a jealousy fanatic, and this universe certainly provides built-in mucho kink for me! This features a Luke who is avoiding Han, because he doesn't want to interfere in their relationship, and doesn't want to admit to himself how difficult his feelings have made things for everyone. It also gives us some of Leia's thought process, which I appreciated.

Digression on the topic of Luke and Leia, as twins, and Han. I really loved _Brideshead Revisited_ (who didn't?), but I was so disappointed when Charles decides that Sebastian was just an adolescent precursor to his love for Diana (is that her name?). Waugh makes a big deal out of the brother-sister similarity and unfortunately settles on the socially acceptable pairing. I think one of the things I like about the triangle in SW is that it's possible to confront the same situation, only this time, in the fiction, Han ends up with the brother, after being with the sister first. (Yes, we can quibble about whether Leia is first, depending on when we place the attraction to Luke, or when we place the consummation. But either way, it makes some sense in my head, from Han's perspective. After all, we see him have a similar teasing, sparring relationship with both of them, and we sure know he's fond enough of Luke to save him during the trench dog fight and on Hoth, and to invite Luke to go off with him on the Falcon as another crew member. It's after all that that he starts focusing romantic attention on Leia.)

Probe, Cara Loup: if it's by Cara, it's good. It also has external plot. In this one, Han comes back from a mission in which he was captured and interrogated, and although all appears to be well, Han begins acting strangely on edge, and particularly resents the interest of various bureaucracy and command personnel in his adventure. They want to do a full investigation of what happened to him, which he resists. This is set against a background of established relationship between Han and Luke, but due to prejudice, they are having to keep this secret from the general public. It gradually comes out that Han, long ago, during another interrogation session, had had some sort of organic implant placed in his brain, which has altered his behavior in some ways ever since. The rest of the story is Han and Luke dealing with the possibility that they wouldn't be in this relationship if Han were in his right mind, and Han's increasingly insane behavior.

One of the things I like about these stories is the science fiction backdrop, which -- well-handled -- offers so many interesting plot possibilities. And Ways and Means to break down your favorite characters into emotional angst and physical mush, if you want.

Passing Through, Felicity Granger: again a good story using the universe background very well. This features a visit to Han's home planet Corel, and a look at his upbringing, while on a very risky mission. With the added touch of an old friend of Han's who Luke is immediately extremely jealous of. Yes, kink-of-mine alert, but it is very well done anyway, with a really nice detailing of Corel.

Krabat, Cara Loup: this one is much more mystical than I usually like, but well done, and heck, even I can admit that the Force is mystical and the stories are often going to be mystical too, in this universe. In this one, Han has come looking for Luke who disappeared on a strange planet three months ago. Han, who is not good at mysticism at the best of times, is confronted by a strange old man powerful in the Force who wants him to rebuild his (grain? or bone?!) mill for him, and makes cryptic comments about Luke's fate without telling him anything. The entire situation is frustrating, both for the reader and Han, and I think she does a good job of showing us Han's enormous insecurity about his relationship with someone so different from him, and the magical universe Luke lives in that he can't share. That's another good theme this universe offers.

Tenebrae, Cara Loup: I loved this story. This offers us good characterization of post-Jedi Han and Luke. Everyone is tired and cynical, rebuilding isn't working out the way everyone had hoped. Han and Luke are not lovers, Han and Leia didn't last. Luke lives in fear of the general public finding out who his father was, and has become distanced and remote to protect himself from this inevitability. Han is "sulking" publicly and being critical of everything that's being done to rebuild. The story starts with a big argument between the two of them about what they've each turned into, and then they go their separate ways for some time, each intending to apologize the next time they are together. Finally they end up on one planet, where Luke is doing exhaustive research on ways to contact the dead. This becomes an important metaphor for their frustration, loss, and inability to communicate. And here is one of my favorite paragraphs (no, she doesn't really use dashes all the time, but this is an important moment):

"Memory was an affliction, imposed on sentients to balance every sin, every missed chance -- and he remembered now, compulsively -- the sound of laughter in the Falcon's cockpit, the glitter of pride and affection in Luke's eyes, reflecting a first, shared victory. First to falter and fail in the hard grip of reality: that radiance of undaunted confidence. That smile -- rare and brilliant -- gods, why should he bother with recollection when all it ever amounted to was a casualty list? Why struggle so hard to bring something back?"

The Magic of Second Glances, Keren Glass: Luke stares at someone who looks like Han in a bar on a mission, and Han notices, of course. They already have a relationship, but neither of them is talking about it or committing to anything. Luke is convinced that Han is just casually involved, and he's trying to protect himself and putting up barriers regularly. There's an external plot here as well involving an old friend of Luke's.

The Dancer, Cara: another jealousy-based story, this time they're on a mission to track down a mysterious ship that disappeared with a bunch of Jedi on board a longtime ago. They encounter a male dancer who fascinates Luke, who turns out to be some piece of the mystery and very powerful in the force. Han wants to talk about love, and again Luke is afraid to, partly because he's afraid of passion and desire fully unleashed. He's made himself emotionally unreachable. This is apparently a sequel to something called "Ghosts" and is also "to be concluded." Sigh.

Twin Moons, ZP Florian: a baby story, Leia is killed but her unborn baby is saved, and Han becomes hopelessly tangled up in the needs of the Force-sensitive, telepathic baby. He takes the kid to Luke, who lives in seclusion in Vader's former estate, who helps, and Luke succumbs to his attraction for Han. [3]

Issue 3

Elusive Lover 3 was published in 1998 and contains 242 pages.

Table of contents #3, click to see larger version
cover issue #3 by Zyene
  • Evidence by Karen Winter (I am especially proud to publish a story that hibernated for almost 15 years and now finally sees the light of day. And what better way to open a zine? (Come on there must be more of you who gave Han and Luke a spin after you you'd seen the movies. Pull those stories out of your bottom drawer and send them here.") (7 pages)
  • Spirits and Bodies by Marie Blackpool, Archived version (15)
  • Passion by Gwendolen 40
  • Waiting in the Shadow by Van Eijk 41
  • Plague by Cara J. Loup 46
  • Voices from a Shattered Planet by Amber Skye 75
  • Vigil by Cara J. Loup 84
  • Perfection by Gwendolen 105
  • Legacy by Cory Parsons 106
  • No Way Home by Skya Starsinger 123
  • Discoveries by Gwendolen 144
  • Under Pressure by Keren Glass 157
  • Cold Fire by Amber Skye 181
  • Midnight Stars by Cara J. Loup 197
  • Survivor by Cara J. Loup 198
  • Bridges by Z.P. Florian 224
  • Sacrifice by Jeannie Marie 237
  • Artwork by Zyene (front cover), Claude, Z.P. Florian, Anja Gruber

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

See reactions and reviews for Evidence.

Issue 4

Elusive Lover 4 contains 320 pages. Cover by Zyene.

cover #4, Zyene
Table of contents #4, click to see larger version
  • Interlude on Hoth by Stardreamer 5
  • Gold by Jeannie Marie 8
  • Lost by Alexandra Jones 9
  • Life Mate by Jeannie Marie 58
  • The Dance by D.C. 59
  • Double Echo by Cara J. Loup 61
  • Business as Usual by Stardreamer 107
  • A Breach of Protocol by Irene Heron 113
  • Let's Talk About Dreams by Van Eijk 157
  • Forever in the Branches by Irene Heron 169
  • Counter Balance by Cara J. Loup 172 (AO3 link)
  • Laughter in the Dark by Irene Heron 223
  • Search Pattern by Vic Coopers 228
  • Dreaming You by Alexandra Jones 253
  • From a Hidden Place by Gwendolen 254
  • Tides of Madness by Destina Fortunato 256
  • No Regrets by Irene Heron 272
  • Discovery by Aquarius 277
  • Follow Me by Z.P. Florian 278
  • Starving the Dark by Alexandra Jones 300
  • Artwork by Zyene (front cover), Alexandra Jones, Jean Kluge, X, Sandra Scholes, Tina

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

'Counter Balance' by Cara J. Loup dealt with what would happen if the last Jedi in the galaxy took a non-Force sensitive as his lifemate, and what that would entail. If such a relationship results in a Force bonding for Jedi, what kind of effect would it have upon Han? Cara explores this idea in rich detail, and gives it a quite satisfactory treatment. Also, Luke questions the Jedi of the past in this story, and decides he has to re-think everything he was taught about the nature of the Force. I adored it!

In the story 'Search Pattern' by Vic Coopers, it is stated that it was common knowledge that Luke and Han were casual lovers between the events of 'Star Wars' and 'Return of the Jedi'. After Han and Leia break up some time after Endor, Han realizes that he already had the perfect relationship, he was just too blind to see it at the time. This story is also significant for including the figure of Wedge quite prominantly; even thought Han is Luke's lover, Wedge is Luke's best friend. And, we get some humorous anti-traditional-Jedi sentiment here, too. Luke's comment about suffering through all twelve volumes of Ki-Adi-Mundi's 'Concise Precepts of Jedi Philosophy' is a hoot! I like the way the author incorporated knowledge from Episode I so realistically into a post-RotJ universe. A great read. And both of these stories portray the deep love Han and Luke share! {happy sigh}

The third story is what I'd call pre-slash, since it is short and doesn't have any smut - purely PG. But 'Business as Usual' by Stardreamer is a sweet vignette that damn well should be considered canon, as far as I'm concerned! On the shuttle Tyderium en route to Endor (during 'RotJ'), Luke and Han have a private conversation, talking about carbon freeze, and artificial hands, and friendship. This one is just *so* true to the characters, you'll swear it was a missing scene cut out of the movie.

My other faves in this zine were the stories of Irene Heron, which are spread throughout the zine but are all part of a series. This series chronicles Luke and Han's relationship, the first story from Lando's PoV, the next from Chewbacca's, the next story from Leia's, and finally the last story from Luke's. Every story is true to the spirit of it's narrator, and demonstrates the way each person perceives the relationship between Luke and Han. My favorite, though, is the first one, 'A Breach of Protocol', in which Luke and Lando are sent to a planet to negotiate with them about helping the new Alliance government. Han broke up with Leia several months previously, and left Coruscant without a word to anyone. Luke and Leia were both worried about him. When Han meets up with Lando on the planet to give him a warning, he mentions rumors that Lando and Luke are now an item. Believing Han doesn't think he's good enough for Luke, and wanting to get his friend's goat for running out on them without a word, Lando lets Han assume the rumors are true. And then the fun starts!

Another highlight of this zine is the story 'Lost' by Alexandra Jones, which is a first time story set on Coruscant some time after 'RotJ'. Han is sick of everyone assuming that he and Leia are getting married, including Leia herself. And Luke seems somewhat depressed, when a strange Force-being begins haunting Han. A good action/adventure science fiction story with some romance thrown in.

Oh, and I just have to mention a certain story that had me pulling my hair out! Destina Fortunato's 'Tides of Madness' reads like 'Episode VII,' since it is a post-RotJ story that sets up the downfall of the Jedi Order, just like 'Phantom Menace.' Only in this version, Luke gets to play Qui-Gon. To say any more would be to spoil it. Now, I wouldn't call this one my favorite, since it was so dang DARK! I mean, I'm so in denial about certain scenes in 'Phantom Menace.' I'm 'happy-ever-after-ending-gal.' But this is a good story about how hubris and good intentions can lead to destruction. If I thought that this would be the future of the SW universe, I'd bail on it! Too much misery for me! But it was dang well-crafted. [4]

Issue 5

Elusive Lover 5 was published in 2001 and contains 324 pages. Stories by: Caryn B, Z.P. Florian, Keren Glass, Irene Heron, Alexandra Jones, Cara J. Loup and others. Cover by Zyene who won the 2002 FanQ Award for 'Best Star Wars Slash Artist.' 'From the Ashes' by Irene Heron also won the 2002 FanQ Award for 'Best Star Wars Slash Story.'

cover #5, Zyene
Table of contents #5, click to see larger version
  • From the Ashes by Irene Heron 5
  • Transitions 1: In Transit by Cara J. Loup 40
  • Transitions 2: On the Run by Cara J. Loup 47
  • The Promise by Alexandra Jones 64
  • Transitions 3: Limbo by Cara J. Loup 65
  • Transitions 4: Dust Storm by Cara J. Loup 72
  • Transitions 5: Tinderbox by Cara J. Loup 76
  • Reunion by Vic Coopers 144
  • Luke's Secret by Khylara 148
  • Gift of the Samaranth by Caryn B. 149
  • Han's Fear by Khylara 218
  • The Harkon Bet by Van Eijk 219
  • The Look by Khylara 230
  • Cabin Fever by Alexandra Jones 231
  • To the Rescue by Khylara 260
  • Happy Birthday, Old Pirate by Van Eijk 282
  • Codes of Courtship by Keren Glass 287
  • art by Zyene (front cover), Alexandra Jones, Enednoviel, Sandra Scholes, Tina

References

  1. Zine Reccomendations and Reviews;archive is
  2. Confessions of a Former Zine Slut/ WebCite
  3. In 1997, Lynn C. posted this following review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission
  4. Raonaid's Zine Recommendations, Archived version