Night Music in B and D

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Zine
Title: Night Music in B and D
Publisher: Keynote Press
Editor(s): M.C. Gibson
Date(s): May 1998
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links: online flyers
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Nightmusic.jpg
sample page

Night Music in B and D is a 157-page slash anthology. It has a two-part overlay cover (the top cover has a circular cutout with the image of Doyle from the internal cover showing through.) The internal cover is a two-page foldout single piece of art by Suzan Lovett. There is no other interior art.

Something rare for this fandom, and for print zines in general, the title page includes some categories, or tags, for each story. They include:

Contents

Gallery

Regarding the art, one reviewer wrote: "....it's got a cutout peeking through to part of a *stunning* fold-out Suzie Lovett picture: "Night Fever." I auctioned a print of this at Escapade .... Doyle is asleep, sprawled three-quarters naked and oblivious (the cutout shows him down to just below the navel), and Bodie is watching him and longingly masturbating....Though I quibble with the perspective of the picture's rearground (is that a word?), the study of Bodie in the foreground takes my breath away, and the reproduction here does the picture every justice. You could easily pay the price of the zine for a print like this alone. Two pwps in the zine are based on it." Read the full review below.

Suzan Lovett, "Night Fever," centerfold part 1 "Doyle". Note: This image has been marked as sexually explicit and has been minimised.
S. Lovett, "Night Fever," centerfold part 2 "Bodie". Note: This image has been marked as sexually explicit and has been minimised.

Flyer

Reactions and Reviews

See reactions and reviews for Firewalls.
See reactions and reviews for Master Gardener.
[I Will Lay Down My Heart]: ...the story holds more than meets the eye at first.

After getting through the annual two weeks assessments, Bodie enjoys a quiet night at home. He and Doyle have drifted apart, both wanting different things from their relationship. One of them is in love, the other isn't.

Doyle comes over to Bodie's place they discuss the assessments and finally seem to want the same thing.

The ending threw me of balance, but it definitely suits the story. [1]
[art]: "Night Fever": a fold-out black-and-white frontispiece drawing by Suzan Lovett of a naked Bodie with his hand on his cock watching half-naked Doyle sleep nearby (note: possibly later editions of this zine do not have this fold-out illo; I'm really not sure). [2]
[zine]: Night Music only has one piece of artwork but what a piece it is! A large pen and ink portrait of Bodie and Doyle, Called "Night Fever". I have never so far been disappointed by the artwork of Suzan Lovett and "Night Fever" is no exception - it's lovely. This lady has a wonderful imagination and the talent to go with it Night Music's cover is blue-black with silver lettering and a circle is cut out of it, through which you can see a detail of the artwork, giving the zine a very classy look... [much more detailed information about the individual stories] ... This is a very well put-together zine, with plenty of meaty reading which should satisfy most fans. [3]
[zine]: Beautiful stories. Beautiful foldout Suzan Lovett print. Beautiful zine. One of the best Keynote has ever done. [4]
[zine]: Claimer: A disclaimer is a way of disavowing responsibility, of saying "it's not my fault; I had nothing to do with it." Well, this review is my fault, and I had everything to do with it. In it I say, as eloquently as I can, what I thought of the zine and why. I also ponder the nature of Pros fanfic in general. If you don't care what I thought, that's cool - hit Delete now (or, if you're on digest, search ahead to the next occurrence of "From:"). If you do care, that's more cool; let's have a conversation.

I think most fandoms develop their own kinds of story styles, their own particular issues and metaphors and emotions. Of course there's lots of variation within any fandom, and a fair amount of overlap among them, but there are certain emotional textures that just seem more appropriate for certain couples or shows than for others. When a group of K/S writers put out their first B7 zine a number of years ago, the stories felt...odd, to me, until they got the hang of the B7 "feel" in the next issue. The kinds of challenges and emotions a S/H story explores, and the ways in which it explores them, are likely to be quite different from how a Paris/Kim story, say, might develop. Not to mention a B/A Blake/Avon one. I was thinking about this quite a bit as I read this Pros zine.

Bodie and Doyle tend to talk a lot less than some other couples. Well, actually, that's not right. B/D fandom has two sides, perhaps; and in one the guys talk about their feelings a lot, discussing their relationship in loving and intricate detail. More commonly in my own collection of Pros zines, however (which, of course, reflects my own taste), speech is limited. Because it's dangerous. Bodie and Doyle as I usually think of them inhabit a hard-edged world, where life is often nasty, brutish, and short. Words can betray, and in the things that matter they're often beside the point. Bodie and Doyle often communicate on a level that's not merely beyond words, but that words might actually destroy. The only other couple I can think of just now who frequently approach this are Mulder and Krycek, and the dynamic there is different, of course; B/D and M/K start from vastly different places. (Which makes this similarity even more interesting.)

Anyway, like I said, I was thinking about this a lot as I read the zine. But before I get into discussing what I was reading, I'll cover what I was looking at: the zine's physical presentation.

Jane Mailander remarked in her MMC report that Keynote Press has stepped into the vacancy left by the much-lamented folding of both Oblique Publications and Manacles Press, and I agree. Like the other two, Keynote provides crisp, neat, readable zines with a minimum of typos. (There are some -- and would fanwriters and editors *please* get it into their heads that when you become unable to find something you *lose* it, you do not "loose" it! -- but not many; certainly far fewer than in DOUBLE EXPOSURE, which I complimented last month.) The font looks like 11 or 12-point Times with 14-point leading, in a single-column format; very readable, though perhaps not the most space-conserving. But I can read the photo-reduced OED without the magnifying glass; some fans will probably be grateful for this eyestrain-free layout.

The zine is marginally public-transit-friendly, if you're careful: the cardstock cover itself is an innocuous silver-text-on-navy, but it's got a cutout peeking through to part of a *stunning* fold-out Suzie Lovett picture: "Night Fever." I auctioned a print of this at Escapade and ended up outing one of my kinks to the whole con. Doyle is asleep, sprawled three-quarters naked and oblivious (the cutout shows him down to just below the navel), and Bodie is watching him and longingly masturbating. (My kink, in case you're wondering, is for the pattern of the sheet Bodie is lying on. All those little checks and doodads make my knees go weak. No, really.) Though I quibble with the perspective of the picture's rearground (is that a word?), the study of Bodie in the foreground takes my breath away, and the reproduction here does the picture every justice. You could easily pay the price of the zine for a print like this alone. Two pwps in the zine are based on it.

Another way in which Keynote Press steps into the binding machines of Manacles and Oblique is that I can rely on it, as I could on them, to produce zines I'm going to like: good, well-written stories that make me think, that don't always retread familiar ground. NIGHT MUSIC IN B AND D is no exception.

"Night Fever," by Georgina Kirrin (5pp.): As you can tell from the title, this is the first of the two pwps based on the Suzie Lovett illo. On a stifling summer night, Bodie, well, watches Doyle sleep and longingly masturbates. Some hot fantasy adds to both his pleasure and the reader's, and there's a hot little twist at the end, too. There's nothing too surprising, here, but it's effective. And not a word is spoken, not even in the fantasy. Mute longing, wordless ecstacy, silent fulfillment. This was where I started thinking about the place of words in Bodie and Doyle's communication.

"Transport Cafe," by Elizabeth Holden (18pp.): There's plenty of conversation between Bodie and Doyle in this one, but none of it -- well, almost none of it -- dares touch on what they're really talking about. The story alternates between a Friday night and the events of the previous week, moving forward through the days to the point we are already at when we start, so that our understanding of where they are deepens as we learn how they got there. It's an effective technique, and Elizabeth handles the structure adeptly. Her writing is, as always, spare and effective -- laconic, and yet able to create a scene with only a few lashes of description. The characters' harshness and fear, their need for each other and the need not to admit that need and yet to see it reflected in the other's need for them, it all comes through. And at the crux of the story: "He did not speak. It was clear he could not." And he doesn't need to; he is wordlessly known.

"While All the World is at Mistress Beaufort's Ball," by Adela Kingsbury (4pp.): This is an a/u, set in France in 1793. Doyle seems to be a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel, rescuing French nobility from the guillotine, and also doing some unclear kind of intelligence work for someone named Cowley; meanwhile he dreams of the beautiful young Bodie whom he met and fucked at a masquerade in England. This pwp looks like a sequel to something else. Actually it's not fleshed out enough to be a "sequel"; it doesn't quite stand on its own, there's too much reliance on background we don't see. I'd have appreciated some note about where the original appeared, if there was one.

"Master Gardener," by PFL (9pp.): Rough sex (not s/m, just ravenous) burns off the tension of a difficult op. Bodie and Doyle talk a lot in this one, but -- here's another weird parallel with M/K -- conversation about the job, about the ways they risk their lives, pretty much fills up time other couples might use for lovetalk. For Bodie and Doyle, this *is* lovetalk. (For Mulder and Krycek, that's a rather complicated question.) But the job cycles back to their relationship again, and Cowley's machinations come ever clearer. (Cowley is the "master gardener" of the title: planting, cultivating...pruning...) And the crucial realizations are never spoken. They don't need to be. Like Elizabeth, PFL can make the reader feel the emotion like a jab to the gut, without ever naming it.

"The Naked Truth," by Hestia (19pp.): The opening of this story is almost startling, in this zine: a bunch of CI5 agents, none of them Bodie or Doyle, sitting around humorously ragging on each other. Only here did I consciously realize how intensely, claustrophobically focussed on B&D many of the other stories are. That is *not* a criticism, btw; I'm just saying that they're what M. Fae has called "cozies," stories that, well, focus tightly on the two guys and shut out almost everything that doesn't impinge directly on them, often by physically limiting the story to the bedroom (or the car, or the isolated cabin, or whatever). The first few pages of "The Naked Truth" have a relaxed good humor and a conviviality that the earlier ones did not. However, the story soon also narrows its focus to Bodie and his angry obsession with Doyle and with what Doyle did on a dare at a CI5 party. Still, the more relaxed tone of the opening is echoed in the way that, in this story, the guys actually do manage to talk, directly, seriously, and lovingly. Eventually. Warm and cozy in the comfy sense, and as hot as the other stories.

"I Will Lay Down My Heart," by PFL (6pp.): Just in case the three or four honest, affectionate exchanges in Hestia's story were too much for anyone to take, here's a story directly about communication and how it fails: not because of anyone's fault, but because it's impossible. Short, hot, and unexpectedly bitter. What is it that Bodie thinks Doyle is saying, and what is it that Doyle himself thinks he is saying? In words, in actions, in the gasping silence of orgasm? We can never know, and neither can they.

"La Fievre de la Nuit," by Elizabeth Holden (2pp.): As you can tell from the title if you know French, this is the second of the pwps based on Suzie's illo. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's a bit redundant after Georgina's, being shorter and less intricate, less layered.

"Firewalls," by Elspeth Leigh (26pp.): This story is almost an anomaly in the zine, an outcropping of the other side of Pros fandom, the one in which Bodie and Doyle are openly, even lavishly, affectionate. It's a bit weird to encounter it here, in this company. On the other hand, maybe without it the zine would be too harsh, too severe, its emotions too unspoken and unspeakable. Even so -- maybe it's just the context (and my personal taste, which I've already admitted to), but bits of this one did feel overdone to me. It alternates between the show's time (in flashback) and twenty years later, when B&D are to all intents married and are co-controllers of CI5. (Now there's a popular piece of fan mythology that I've never believed was plausible. I can accept it, though.) The story traces, in parallel, the case that triggered B&D's realization of how they felt about each other, and a situation in the present that illustrates their work- and love-life and that turns out to tie into that long-ago one. The easy affection, even domesticity, in the present-day parts are plausible -- in twenty years, if they remain together but don't reach something like this, it's going to be pretty ugly -- but are laid on a bit thick for my taste; and having as many as four characters in the pre-relationship flashbacks watch them and wonder benignly when they will realize how lucky they are to have each other struck me as overkill. However, structurally the zine probably needed this story, as you'll understand when I get to the last one. I'd like to get Marcelle on a panel on putting a zine together and have her talk about this. And it's not a bad story, just a combination of not to my taste and an almost startling contrast. I'd be interested to hear if others, too, found it notably different from its surrounding stories, and if anyone liked both "sides" equally.

"Mistress Beaufort's Masquerade Ball," by Amy A. Morgan (5pp.): At first I thought this might be the story that Adela's is based on, but it's not; it's another pwp in the same alternate universe, taking place probably simultaneously with Adela's. Beautiful young (eighteen-year-old) Bodie goes to another masquerade ball/orgy and gets fucked by everybody in sight, while pining for Doyle. Although longer than Adela's (because it's got more sex), this one stands on its own less well; not only is the background unclear (who are this Bodie and Doyle, and how and why did they meet and part?), but material that ought to be part of this story isn't there (if Bodie has pined for Doyle for two years, and apparently remained celibate during that time, why has he chosen to re-enter the orgy scene -- quite enthusiastically -- now?). The scene has emotion, but the emotion isn't rooted in anything concrete.

"Seeing in the Dark," by Maiden Wyoming (18pp.): One thing that any rough'n'tough cop show like Pros is thematically ready to provide is hurt/comfort and angst. Ooh baby. In this one Bodie and Doyle are both blinded -- apparently -- and each believes, for a while, that the other is dead. When they find each other, much anguish, joy, and despair, and many gasping vows, ensue. I don't mean to be flip; this is an effective wrencher of a story, and I enjoyed every minute of the ride. But it's true that, effective and wrenching as it is, it's essentially a skilled version of a familiar story. (I could have done without the brief "Twenty Years Later" epilogue, especially following, as it does, so soon after "Firewalls.")

"Seeing in the Dark," however, as a familiar but angst-thick tale, is an excellent lead-in to Elizabeth Holden's "Duty Owed" (42pp.) which is a startling shocker, the longest and the pivotal (though final) story of the zine, the one that makes me put the zine down with a gasp. If the zine had contained only this story and ten purple-prose monstrosities I would probably still feel that I'd made a good buy.

Perceptive readers may have noticed that I've avoided calling this zine a "B/D" zine, although all the stories I've discussed so far are B/D stories. Well, Bodie and Doyle are lovers in this one too. Bodie and Cowley never even touch but twice: a brief, almost surreptitious brush of fingers in the hospital, and Bodie's arm offered to help an injured Cowley limp a few steps, and then withdrawn again as soon as possible. And yet this story is a Bodie/Cowley story at least as much as it is a Bodie/Doyle story. And it is more than either of those, more than the sum of those parts.

Other stories have tried to combine the two relationships. The archetypal ones that I can think of just now are Meg Lewtan's story (whose title I can't remember, damn it! Is is "A Beach to Walk On"?) in which Bodie is forced to choose between Doyle and Cowley (and the reader is never told what choice he makes), and Madelein Lee's "Carnal Interests" and "The Selling Hours" (and the third story in the sequence, "The Good Morning Soldiers," written a few years later; Christine also wrote an independent third story for the trilogy), in which Bodie juggles, somewhat frantically, the two conflicting relationships. "Duty Owed" follows neither path, but blazes its own directly into trackless emotional wilderness.

Bodie loves Doyle: unshakably, passionately, and devotedly, to the grave and beyond. And Bodie loves Cowley. Differently, to be sure; Elizabeth adds to his background in a way that motivates a loyalty as unshakable as his love for Doyle. There is nothing he would not do for Doyle, and there is nothing he would not do for Cowley, because to each he owes everything that he is, and everything that he loves, and everything that he knows. His strength, in this story, is both awesome and touching.

And Cowley loves Bodie. Cowley is in love with Bodie. Hopelessly; he knows it is hopeless, for far too many reasons that he can rap out with bitter calm. "If I am cold-blooded," he tells Bodie, refusing yet again Bodie's desperate offer of sex, Bodie's need to do something, to *be* something for him, "it is because I know my own heart, and how to be ruthless with it." Bodie and Cowley do talk in this story (as do Bodie and Doyle), but though their words are stark, even brutal in their honesty, they can never quite reach each other as they would like to. Through the space that holds them apart, through the sex that happens and does not happen, the nerves are stripped bare. Courage is the courage to be defenseless, and they -- Cowley, especially -- are brave enough that it hurts my heart to read this story. And in the end, there are no words. This is a stunning story, one that I would press on every B/C fan who avoided this zine because it's so heavily B/D. But I'd be prepared with kleenex, and for them to clout me one because the story has filled them with horror, and frustration, and pity. (Jane Carnall is visiting me next month. I can't wait to watch her read this.)

Last in the zine is a poem, "Ultra Vires," by Lynn Dhenson. My Latin is terrible; the title might mean something like "last man," or it might mean "ultimate strength." Or it might mean "mobile ghetto," for all I know, although I'm pretty sure it doesn't. An effective rhyme and rhythm scheme, a meditation on unshakable steadiness and desperate, wild blazes. It's an excellent ending to the zine, and an excellent postscript to Elizabeth's story. One of the better fan poems I've seen.

Overall, I recommend this zine highly, although those whose taste runs to happy love stories, sweetness and light (hearts and flowers, as we say in Pros fandom) probably won't enjoy it as I did. [5]

References

  1. from a 2005 comment at Crack Van
  2. The Hatstand offers their online zine overview of the zine
  3. from DIAL # 8
  4. Another very brief review
  5. In 1998, Shoshanna posted this review to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is reposted here with permission. It is also printed in DIAL #7.