Mojave Crossing

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Fanfiction
Title: Mojave Crossing
Author(s): Connie Faddis
Date(s): 1977
Length: 82 pages
Genre: gen
Fandom: Starsky and Hutch
External Links: online here in many formats [1]

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panoramic interior for "Mojave Crossing"

Mojave Crossing is an influential Starsky and Hutch story in the first issue of the gen zine Zebra Three. Written and illustrated by Connie Faddis, it is considered to be the first get'em story in the fandom. It is widely mentioned as the h/c fic that started it all.

This story won an Encore Award, a Huggy Award, and shows up on many fans' favorite lists; 1993 Virgule-L Fan Fiction Survey is one example.

The story begins shortly after the episode "The Set Up," with Starsky and Hutch and Terry Nash holed up in a hotel room, along with some Federal Agents, as they await the trial. Driven out by poison gas, a substance that affects Hutch more than his partner, the two escape and are on the run, where they join up with an OFC named Maggie Landis, an archeologist friend of theirs. They end up injured and are pursued across the desert, where great suffering awaits them.

This story was discussed in a 1988 essay printed in Tell Me Something I Don't Know! #11. The topic was how death stories could be used to explore different emotions in fanfiction. Some examples were Whom Death Could Not Part, Nighthorse, Delivered to Thee, It's Always Toughest, Invictus, Mojave Crossing, and Goliath.

Reactions and Reviews

issue #1, illo for "Mojave Crossing," by Connie Faddis

1978

'Mojave Crossing' is a sequel to “The Set—Up”, in which Starsky and Hutch cleaned out a nest of contract assassins with high but unspecified political connections. Not surprisingly, the bad guys turn out to be renegade FBI agents, who are, also not surprisingly, set on preventing S&H from testifying against them. The upshot is a harrowing trek across the Mojave Desert in high summer, in the course of which Starsky is blinded, Hutch is horribly wounded, and Maggie Landis, surely one of the best— realized female characters in fan fiction, learns something of the nature responsibility——to oneself, to friends, to society. It is an intensely emotional story, that addresses the reader on all levels of response, brain, heart and gut. The author nevertheless remains in full command of her material throughout. The tenderness of the hurt/comfort scenes in both exquisitely controlled, and entirely free of the steamy sexuality which mars so many K/S epics of the Contact school. [2]

1980

It isn’t easy being a fan when you’re male, at least to the extent that one might get involved without some people assuming you must be gay or weird. [This fan also writes that “Mojave Crossing” is the piece of fiction that got him hooked on fanfic. [3]

1981

'MojaveCrossing' is the best S&H story ever. What I want to know is, where were you, [Connie], standing when brilliance was being handed out? Somewhere near the front, I bet! Thanks very much for giving me so much pleasure. [4]
Many moons ago, before I knew fandom existed, my partner and I were writing all kinds of S&H. You name it, we wrote it—not particularly well, perhaps, but that's beside the point. And rarely did a tale get by without a good hefty dose of h/c. When you're gonna dent em, dent 'em good, was our motto—no way is Hutch going to cuddle him if he just tears a hangnail. Or vice versa. So Kick Hutch Week was followed by Stomp Starsky Week, and they and we got our jollies without any qualms of conscience on either side. Suddenly along came the Brave New World of Fandom, and we discovered there was a name for all this stuff. And we read 'Mojave Crossing,' and stopped writing h/c for a while, because we knew we couldn't top that. [5]
When It comes to fan fiction, a story must flow along smoothly with consistent characters. Since the character's traits and personalities are already established, stories which change them drastically just don't mak eit. Two of my favorite stories in S&H fandom are "Mojave Crossing" and "Reprise". (They both happen to be h/c also) The Starsky and Hutch in these stories both act they way they would if they were in a "real life" situation. The stories build up the suspense slowly and then give it to you with both barrels. Neither one of them drags through laborious descriptions of what they were wearing, location, etc. Only the facts necessary to the story are given. [6]
I don't believe that the next step, or rather, the missing step in h/c is the bedroom. Compare a story like "Mojave Crossing" in which the love (and I emphatically do not mean sexual love) between the two characters is conveyed so well, with some of the lurid mutilation/humiliation scenes- that allow the characters to sob, "I love you" only when death is moments away (presumably). What I meant to imply, what I will say now, is that scenes like these are very unhealthy ways of dealing with the emotions that occur between S&H. I perceive a sexual tension betweenthetwomen. Ibelievethatthewriterswhodealalmost exclusively (obsessively?) with h/c perceive that same tension, unconsciously, and are attempting to transmute it into more sociallyacceptableforms. What could become a sexual situation is neatly transformed into non-threatening titillation—no Mary Sues, no Other Women and no hint of homosexuality...at least most of the time. [7]
Many moons ago, before I knew fandom existed, my partner and I were writing all kinds of S&H. You name it, we wrote it—not particularly well, perhaps, but that's beside the point. And rarely did a tale get by without a good hefty dose of h/c. When you're gonna dent em, dent 'em good, was our motto—no way is Hutch going to cuddle him if he just tears a hangnail. Or vice versa. So Kick Hutch Week was followed by Stomp Starsky Week, and they and we got our jollies without any qualms of conscience on either side. Suddenly along came the Brave New World of Fandom, and we discovered there was a name for all this stuff. And we read 'Mojave Crossing,' and stopped writing h/c for a while, because we knew we couldn't top that. There from arose a problem— if no one gets dented, what happens to the emotional bits we love to write? So we were forced to stop and reexamine what we were writing and why, and the result of that was a step forward in the evolution of our writing. One thing, you might say, lead to another. Natural progression—h/c to [S/H]]. And I bet someone is now going to jump on me for that... [8]
Terri -- you brought up a good point. "How do you top that? " Which jelled something I'd been thinking about regarding fan stories -- get-ems and otherwise. If something is done so well that it is truth-for-your-own-universe, does that mean you shouldn't try to write a similar theme ? Take something like Starsky telling Hutch he loves him. In my mind, that happened in Mojave; that's a piece of unmentioned history in the things I write. But Marion Hale, for instance, had a different idea of how/when. Ten White had another. Both sets of circumstance involved severe physical trauma; neither (in my opin ion -- no slings & arrows intended, Teri, Marion) was as wrenching as Mojave. It's an adverse effect of having Mojave as the first get-em in this fandom -- but does that mean nobody else should write them? Or that nobody else should write stories with S&H in a desert? Granted, if you take the cumulative effect of all the stories of any one genre (from get-em to /) it's a little mind-boggling — but the accumulation distorts the individual ef fect of each story. Not all of us can write as well as Connie can, but I don't think that means we should stop. ((On the other hand, I'd be perfectly happy if hospital scenes were rationed, maybe one to a zine. The cumulative effect of all those antiseptic rooms does become staggering. -- but that's amatter of editorial judgement.)) [9]

1985

My earliest memory of the fan lit is lying on Connie Faddis's carpet in 1977. paging over the second draft of "Mojave Crossing" and thinking, what the hell is this stuff? It wasn't science fiction and it sure wasn't Star Trek. not even the K/S version. (Yet.) But since a quantity of people I liked to talk with were hoofing over into this new fandom, it was either hoof with 'em or forever hold my peace. [10]
Besides the wonderful hurt/comfort, the life and death situation they're involved in, "Mojave" is an important episode in the lives of Starsky and Hutch. In it they learn what they mean to each other, and to express their caring in a way never before shown either in the aired episodes or in fiction. Because "Mojave Crossing" was published in the infancy of SH fanfiction, it has become the yardstick by which all other stories are measured. Another story with hurt/comfort, life and death situations and an expression of love between the characters seems like a repeat of what Connie did so well. To be equally moving and powerful and memorable, a story must go one step further, have the characters learn something else, change their lives in some other significant way, or it's just a rehash that pales in comparison. "Wilderness" is competently written and well-edited and though I don't think it's quite as powerful a story, it differs from "Mojave" and stands on its own because of the cop story format, because we explore Hutch's guilt over Starsky's grave condition. [11]

1991

It's difficult to pin down just one all time favorite. I'll always have a special feeling for the first ever SH zine, ZEBRA III #1, because of the unforgettable "Mojave Crossing" by Connie Faddis. At our Paul Muni Special con, the tenth anniversary of SH, Carol Davis and I gave out the "Encore Awards", so named because every piece of fanfiction, art, etc. since the beginning of SH fandom was eligible. And "Mojave Crossing" is the story that won "Very Favorite Story Over All". Everyone, whether you're into slash or non, can enjoy and appreciate this beautiful hurt/comfort story... I'd read this zine years before actually getting involved in SH fandom. [12]

2003

Well, there is a lot more to "Mojave Crossing" then h/c so I'm sure [fans] will find lots of interest. I particularly liked the way the writer made "The Set-up" more interesting. On it's own that ep isn't one of my favourites, but this story, as a sequel "is" a favourite. Plus, I like the style of writing. No unnecessary words, but so much meaning to the ones that were there. I'm partial to a little action in what I read whether it's fan fic or pro fic, so I really got wrapped up in the chase, too. Her OFC was unthreatening but still an interesting addition to the story.... I'll always remember that final night on the desert when Hutch was trying to say goodbye and Starsky was trying to keep things light. Then Starsky not wanting to let go of Hutch when the rescuers arrived. My heart aches just thinking about it. [13]
Oooh, I just purchased an older zine and finished 'Mojave Crossing'. What a fantastic story and pictures! I definitely recommend re-reading that one for those who haven't in awhile. [14]
I just re-read "Mojave Crossing" this weekend and it truly is amazing h/c, not to mention just a really good adventure story. You really feel for poor Starsky through the whole thing, too. Like he didn't really have enough to worry about with his own injuries, Hutch goes and forces him into the most tender goodbye scene ever. [15]
Best h/c? Hmm, I know it's unfair to mention a zine story when a lot of you haven't had a chance to read this one, but for 25 years I've read "Mojave Crossing" for the wonderful h/c that it held. I'd never imagined that people I'd never met found the same emotion in these characters that I did...so I guess "MC" is my benchmark. <g> [16]

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. [17]

2014

This is a fic I'd already heard a LOT about before from ancient 1970s-80s reviews quoted on fanlore.org, and they were all raves: omg, this fic is so good, omg, the h/c is so beautiful. Omg this is so much better than that tiresome contrived cloying crap in other fandoms. Etc. I was very curious to read it, because it was history, but I was also pretty damn certain that "well, this is the first zine in the fandom ever, it's not like they had much basis for comparison back then" and so I lol'd politely at all the fangirling and took it all with a heap of salt.

Uh. Okay. So there are fics that are highly-praised and popular because they appeal to a big lowest common denominator, rather than because they are good. There are also fics that are well-loved by fans because they were The First Big Thing Ever and are perpetually seen through nostalgia goggles. And there are fics that are really good, but are so overhyped that they wind up being a huge letdown.

Mojave Crossing, to put it mildly, is not one of those fics. Everything hyped about it was woefully inadequate, not hyperbolic.

Okay, I'm not gushing because the fic was OMG THE BEST, because it wasn’t the very best fic I’ve ever read. It’s probably not even the very best Starsky & Hutch fic I’ve ever read, though it's up there. It’s not perfect or anything. Some (though very little) of the writing sounds dated, there’s a couple clunky places and pieces of dialogue that are unrealistically on-the-nose, and personally, I think the last chapter is just a tiny bit too Happy Happy Joy Joy (though I can appreciate the need for soothing after all the trauma in the main plot). It is, however, everything I love and have ever loved about fiction, fandom, and fanfiction, with no aspects that I have a real problem with, all condensed into one modest little story. Therefore, half the appeal for me was the way it made me make all kinds of connections about what I love most in fanfic in general...

[snipped, writer discusses the phenomenon of sublimity in writing]

...[Connie Faddis] knows how to use her writing as a tool to achieve a desired effect...the greatness sneaks up on you unawares, with the writer in complete control of her typing fingers and big red editing pen. Except in a few brief flashes, and then a longer, sustained blaze at the climax, it doesn’t exude mind-blowing amazingness from every pore or anything. 90% of its language is nice and crisp and clean and humble. It doesn’t have much symbolism or metaphors apart from the desert. Its format and narrative devices aren’t incredibly unique or creative. Its parameters are very modest...The part that makes it brilliant is how vividly the thoughts and feelings these particular characters would understandably have during these events are revealed without being overly wordy (not like I’m doing here!), and how honestly and unpretentiously they are tackled...

A good sign of its good writing is that it manages a very hard trope – the good OC (the archeologist widow I mentioned). A full believable character who is not just a 2-D prop for the plot and has her own arc going on, yet at the same time, is also a character whose existence is totally entwined with the "real" characters' story so the reader doesn’t go "yawwwnnn, why am I reading this? I don't actually care about her, I care about the main characters, can we get back to them?" Her arc is really crucial the story and to the character arcs of Starsky and Hutch in it, which is all about responsibility, and appreciation, and what makes something worth any pain or sacrifice, and their arc is crucial to hers...

Also she's an amazing narrative device: during most of the fic, Maggie is right there with Starsky and Hutch and her presence stops them from being exclusively focused on each other because they talk to and care about and interact and love her too. Her presence doesn't -- uh, what's the gen equivalent of cockblock? -- their feelings or the way they interact, but her presence holds their intensity down a bit because their feelings and compassion are generous and open and kind, not exclusionary and selfish and hierarchical, and it makes you like them as people even more because they care about and pay attention to her too. And then, when she does leave them all alone together -- it makes that giant wham of mutual electricity that has always been the most unique part of the partnership, as the emotional circuit suddenly closes, and the universe suddenly drops away and their whole world is each other and their existence is only each other, a hundred times more stunning and intimate.

Also, very importantly, is that the relationship is not static – not just threatened and regained. Their friendship is transformed and indelibly marked by the whole thing. They explicitly speak about it to each other and revel in it later on, in the hospital, and it brings them self-perpetuating joy and belief in themselves and each other that you can imagine lasting for the rest of their lives after the ordeal is over. It manages to not be a cop-out when they survive in the end, because it's all about acquiring new understandings of themselves and their friendship, new ways of relating, new views of the future based on their experiences – the part about the future is, IMO, really important for preventing that hard-to-avoid aura of cop-out-ness in h/c fics where it looks like a character is actually going to die.

At the beginning, the plot and the suspense and action are in the foreground. The beauty of the story unfolds slowly, layer by layer. It’s intensely emotional, colorfully dramatic, keenly perceptive, elegantly controlled, thoughtfully worded, and deeply heartfelt, all at the same time. The author loves good storytelling, but she loves her characters and source material even more. The love and emotion between the two main characters expressed in her writing builds and builds, suddenly blooming and deepening in crescendos of well-turned, never-too-wordy revelation, and becomes more and more open and emotional and lyrical and poetic and visual until it catches fire in the long climactic hurt/comfort scene -- Hutch is slowly bleeding to death from a bullet wound, Starsky is blinded and trying to comfort him, both of them are stranded in the desert, weak with exhaustion and exposure and dehydration, waiting for help to arrive before they die. And everything else is stripped away to show the extent of their adoration of and tenderness for each other, of the suffering from their injuries and strain and trauma, of the even worse suffering of not being able to save their best friend, and of the terror and desolation of knowing their partner is going to die.

This comes to the h/c, which is...wow. I've been in fandom, reading h/c fic, for eight years, and even I was really bowled over by it. It's very controlled and restrained, doesn’t try to reach for too much outside the modest scenario and at the same time doesn’t skirt around Starsky and Hutch’s thoughts or feelings within the scenario....

It's almost more like a deathfic than an h/c fic (but like I said, avoids the cop-out syndrome) – slow, sweet, dark, ruthless, and aching with love being ripped cruelly away by death. Their interaction reaches a fever pitch of emotional torque where it becomes, like I said before, luminous and hushed and delicately suspended in a little pocket universe, like so many great scenes in fiction where the interaction between multiple characters or elements in a story makes the scene more than the sum of its parts.

...after an exhausting stretch of struggling, pleading, cursing, arguing, darkly joking, fake-insulting, and undergoing the process of trying to articulate how much they love each other, Hutch has finally fallen unconscious after insisting on telling Starsky goodbye and is dying, and Starsky shields his body, whispering to Hutch that he will always take care of him, so brokenhearted that he rejoices in the realization that he is going to die too, and silently promises Hutch that he'll follow him into death and will be with him soon. Describing that doesn’t sound like anything unique, but because of how it's written, so characteristically straightforward, and the positioning of that moment after the scene and story that precedes it, it's completely, completely soul-destroying. It brings the number of fics I can remember crying over in my life up to a whopping grand total of...uh, well, four. I don’t cry very much, even though I’m easily emotionally affected by fiction. [18]

2018

Magnificent. This is an exciting story with characters and theme that were developed with so much insight. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this.

The questions that were tackled about the morality, futility and nobility of the job were done in such a brilliant way. Everything from the explosive plot to the gut wrenching dialogue to the superbly drawn characters tied together with great impact. I'll be thinking about this one for a long time.

I loved the character of Maggie, so fully alive, a treasure in a story filled with treasures. At first, I thought Maggie was a smart device to move along the plot and give voice to important thematic questions. But she became so much more.

Similarly, for Starsky and Hutch, their relationship unfolded as the story progressed. It felt as if I was able to understand them and their special bond more intimately as each chapter passed, as each moment became more intense. And it certainly got intense with great action scenes and descriptions of personal physical and emotional pain.

Thank you to Connie Faddis for writing this beautiful love story and to those who preserved and presented it here. [19]

References

  1. PDF download (uploaded with author permission)
  2. from Mahko Root #2 (1978)
  3. from S and H #11 (May 1980)
  4. from S and H #24/25 (1981)
  5. from S and H #21 (May 1981)
  6. from S and H #24/25 (1981)
  7. S and H #21 (May 1981)
  8. Terri Beckett in S and H #21 (May 1981)
  9. Jan Lindner in S and H #21 (May 1981)
  10. from Paula Smith in 1985 from the program book for The Paul Muni Special
  11. from Between Friends #7 (1985)
  12. from Frienz #13 (1991)
  13. comment by [J-1] at ThePits, June 3, 2003
  14. comment by [B] at ThePits, August 26, 2003
  15. comment by [D] at ThePits, June 7, 2003
  16. comment by [J-2] at ThePits, June 7, 2003
  17. from a fan on The Pits (mailing list), quoted anonymously (June 18, 2006)
  18. see this review for more about this story, and about Zebra Three in general: Reading a 1977 zine in 2014: Zebra Three #1, Archived version
  19. comment by marianrose at starskyhutcharchive.net