Game Theory

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Zine
Title: Game Theory
Publisher: Sinister Triplet Press
Editor:
Author(s): Dee
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s): not credited
Date(s): February 1992
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links: online review
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front cover
another version of the front cover

Game Theory is a 97-page slash novel by Dee. It was inspired by Consequences, a well-known story by Tarot (the story that started The Game fanon trope). The story contains several uncredited black and white illustrations.

Summary

The author's afterward:
Once upon a time, there was a story named 'Consequences,' which may have the honor of having inspired more replies, sequels, and rebuttals than any other in this branch of the genre. I read it several years ago, and found that its conclusions bothered me. Here, after a lot of thought, is my version of, well, it might have happened like this....not that I believe for a moment that it would be a problem as easily resolved as I've written here. No offense is meant; I hope none is taken. All this scribbling business is supposed to be for fun, isn't it?


Gallery

Reactions and Reviews

I don't know if Dee is British or not, but I didn't notice (as a non-Brit reader) any particularly glaring non-Brit word or spelling usage, and typos are minimal. The covers are grey card. The front has two poorly reproduced pictures. I can't tell what one of them is; the other is a grouping of dice, cards, and chess pieces that pertain to the title of the zine, but relate to nothing within the story itself. There are a few interior illos of Bodie and Doyle; they didn't do much for me, but I'm no connoisseur of fan art.

The author says in an Afterword that the novel was inspired by reading Consequences, the well-known early Pros rape story by Tarot on the Proslib CD and now on the net. Consequences introduced into the fandom the concept of the "Game", from which this zine takes its name. The author says it was pondering the circumstances in Consequences and coming up with her own take on how such a situation might have happened and been resolved that inspired GAME THEORY.

The novel, then, is a partner-rape story. While the many sequels to Consequences that have appeared over the years continue from where the original story ends, GAME THEORY rewrites the rape itself in its own terms. The event--Bodie rapes Doyle--is the same, and the Game is alluded to as the underlying conditioning that prompts the rape, though it's never actually called the Game. The novel stands alone, but may achieve a more layered meaning with awareness of Consequences (which is hardly difficult to get as most Pros fans are probably acquainted with the story). In this sense, the novel is an interesting example of the "sharing" quality of fannish story-telling. The author was inspired by one story to write her own separate take on how such an event might have happened. That kind of textual interaction is one of the idiosyncratic qualities of fanfiction I personally enjoy.

In the end, however, I didn't enjoy this novel. I liked it more as a curiosity--for that sharing quality--than as an achievement in itself or for the tale it specifically tells. The story itself is simple. It follows the pattern of many partner-rape stories: the rape, the backlash, the slow reconciliation and recovery of the friendship, the eventual discovery of love. There's nothing wrong with this pattern. It is, indeed, one of the major reasons why I read partner-rape stories--to see what each author will do within the familiar parameters.

There are some nice things in the story. Bodie's response to Doyle's reaction to the rape is the element that seemed most fresh and touching to me. It's certainly the part of the story that moved me the most. The personal story is also interwoven fairly well with an ongoing case story that, while by no means striking or complex, does at least give a sense of their professional life continuing alongside the personal cataclysm shaking them up, and that their working lives are important to them both.

My problem with GAME THEORY lies almost wholly with the narrative choices the author made. The story is written entirely in the first person, but in sections that switch between Doyle's and Bodie's povs. It's harder with first person, imo, to make the voice sound like the character than it is with third person. First person gets much more intimately into the head of the character, recording thoughts with an immediacy third person can avoid, if it chooses. In this novel, the alternating narrative voices often seemed stilted to me, and the problem worsened the further I read.

Moreover, while the speakers are meant to be Bodie and Doyle in turn, their voices sounded the same, a flaw the choice of first person undoubtedly highlights. The more I read, the less the speakers came across as disparate characters; they also seemed increasingly less to be specifically Bodie and Doyle speaking and more a generic narrative voice.

The other problem lies in the choice to use each successive section not only to further the narrative, but to go over some of the same ground from the other character's pov. For instance, Doyle tells the story through the rape, the immediate aftermath, and his counter-move some days later. The narrative then switches to Bodie's pov. Bodie tells his version of the rape, the aftermath, and Doyle's response in less detail, and carries the story into the beginnings of the reconciliation phase. Then we switch back to Doyle's pov and go back over the same ground before being carried forward again.

It's an intriguing narrative approach. What failed for me in this novel ultimately was that it went on too long; by the end--which was never in doubt because of the familiar pattern--I was bored by the continual going-over the same ground, especially as the switch in pov didn't give any new insights along the way. The stilted voices and the lack of distinction between them exacerbated the problems.

All in all, I'm glad I read this zine, but I found it more an intriguing curiosity than a satisfying emotional experience. I became more bored than eager to follow along as the characters wended their way to their foreseeable destination. As always, other readers' mileage will vary. [1]

References

  1. by Nell Howell at The Hatstand/WebCite