Oyster

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search
Fanfiction
Title: Oyster
Author(s): jordan
Date(s): 2000
Length:
Genre: NC-17, S/Sk
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: online here

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Oyster is an X-Files story by jordan.

Story Header

CATEGORY: That's a good question. Skinner, Scully, and Mulder. All

rolled into one juicy delicious shell.

RATING: No one under 18, I hope

SPOILERS: THIS FIC IS REQUIEM FREE.

SUMMARY: Scully gets laid, but it's actually integral to the plot.

THANKS: for Barbara D, Ambress, Jean Robinson for their beta. Also to jadedcat for her consistent "encouragement" (bzzzt!) and mlb for loaning me a name. And especially to Tracy E, for being so kind.

FEEDBACK: Cash prizes drawn each Friday for best feedback. Offer not valid where prostitution is a criminal offense.

ARCHIVE: Okay for Gossamer, Spookies, Xemplary, Ephemeral.

Anywhere else, please let me know first.

Brief Description

From a fan in 2013:
Like all great western religious stories, "Oyster" takes place in the desert, in the modern day stand-in for Sodom and Gomorrah, Los Vegas, a land of waking dreams, endless heat and unquenchable thirsts. In her author's notes, Jordan states emphatically that "THIS FIC IS REQUIEM FREE." This is rather misleading; in actuality, "Oyster" is a re-envisioning of the end of season seven, and to a limited extent, season eight. The parallels are multiple and striking. In both stories, there are deaths and multiple abductions. There is an investigation in which Skinner, Scully and, of course, Mulder are all major players. To say any more would spoil the story for new readers. While "Requiem" inspired a lot of fanfic, "Oyster" is one the best stories ever written for The X-Files fandom. I recommend it without reservation. [1]

Reactions and Reviews

2000

I haven't read Oyster in full yet. Months ago, I read the first few chapters as a WIP on jordan's page. If the finished version is anything like the in-progress version, I'll be wiping drool off my keyboard for the next week. <g> Gorgeous writing in here, folks. I highly recommend giving it a shot. [2]
AU. Interesting little mind twister. [3]

2001

Check out 'Oyster'. It's a really fabulously well written work of art that I think you'll enjoy... [4]

2008

When this story was recced recently by rivkat on halfamoon, I couldn't believe that I had missed it for so long. In my opinion it is one of the classics of the fandom. It offers a mysterious casefile which Mulder, Scully and Skinner must all work together to solve. But it is so much more than just a casefile. There is sensitive characterization and lovely writing with vivid, quasi-hallucinatory detail. There is symbolism aplenty, and there is a mystical element that transcends the usual sceptic/believer dichotomy of the show. To say more would be saying too much. Read it. [5]
wow. that was really good. and kinda intense. to the point of, i have no clue what happened by the end. can you explain? [6]
...it is one of the classics of the fandom, and yet it gets no love. I hope this post will get more people reading and talking about it. [7]
Well, I have to admit. This isn't the kind of fic that I usually read (I am an MSR-junkie.) But far be it from me to deny gorgeous writing like this when I see it. Amazing writing, and I am so jealous I am ashamed!  :~D [8]
I read this story last week after it was recced over at halfamoon by rivkat, as having a strong Scully characterization. I liked it. I did. But I don't think I really understood it. Maybe someone can give me a hand with that. [9]
1) Yay Skinner! There are so few stories where Skinner gets to do any investigating that his role in this story meant I was pulling for it from the start.

2) What lovely style. The vividness and the quasi-hallucinatory detail in the story makes me think of Penumbra's writing. Yes, that's a very big compliment.

3) In The X-Files we usually are given a binary choice between the natural and the supernatural. Science or ghosts and aliens, take your pick. Scully or Mulder. What I liked about this story in the end was the way that it offers what I view as a third option, the surreal and the mystical. It would never have done to replace "Requiem" in the series, but it was frankly refreshing to see the story arc taken in a completely different direction. It reminded me very much of the conclusion of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, only that this has fewer interminable special effects shots. Which is all to the good. [10]
In her author's notes, Jordan states emphatically that "THIS FIC IS REQUIEM FREE." This is rather misleading. Oyster is a re-envisioning of the end of season seven and to some extent, season eight as well. The parallels are multiple and striking. In both stories there are deaths, and multiple abductions. There is an investigation in which Skinner, Scully and, of course, Mulder are all major players. Like all great western religious stories, Oyster takes place in the desert, in the modern day stand-in of Sodom and Gomorrah: Los Vegas. It is a land of waking dreams, endless heat and unquenchable thirsts. Instead of Scully fainting as happens in Requiem, we have Mulder continually zoning out and eventually disappearing altogether. Where does he go, and who, or what, has taken him? And for what purpose?

There is a narrative voice, who may be the author, or perhaps it is the alien entity responsible for the multiple abductions, who is trying to communicate through the limited consciousness of the people it takes. This is not a successful strategy, until it takes Mulder. Then something unexpected happens. Mulder figures out how to communicate with Scully and with Skinner. He somehow figures out a way to send them to rescue one of the abductees: Dr. Tracy Buckland. How does he do this? He goes deeper and deeper into the alien consciousness and sends out the missing persons one by one, all of whom have been trapped and inadvertently damaged by their encounters with the entity. Their minds are limited in a way that Mulder's is not.

But he can not save himself. Instead he takes over Skinner's body and uses it to make love to Scully, to give her the sexual pleasure and fertility that she sacrificed to be with him as his partner. "A woman is a vessel," says Tracy Buckland before they shoot her up with thorazine. Somehow this release of sexual energy, this intense union of the three into one, also releases the alien. Its ship is raised from the desert floor, and it leaves Earth far behind. But the alien cannot release Mulder without harming him in the process. Just as he is in "Dead/Alive," Mulder remains trapped between two worlds, "one foot in and one foot out." And so, "Mulder sits in the shade of the umbrella, watching the endless roll of the ocean. No rush. He drinks his tea, serene and thoughtful, waiting for the sound of human voices to call him home."

"Requiem" was the inspiration for many, many stories, and I believe that Oyster is among the best, and the most challenging. I loved its complex characterizations and its use of religious symbolism. It is a moving story of passion and sacrifice, which has much to teach us about transformation and the power of Love. [11]
Confessions time: I do really wish that there was a Cliff's Notes version of this story. Still, we can but try. Onwards!

To start with, my feeling is that this story is functionally intended to replace Requiem. It explains how Scully comes to be pregnant and how Mulder disappears. Unlike Requiem, it links those two explanations. It picks up the idea of Mulder and Scully's child as The One, and runs with it, making the concept a lot more transcendent and mysterious than the simple one of his genetic material being somehow valuable for alien-colonization-fighting purposes.

The whole story is about something too big and deep to be expressed in human language and concepts. It suggests that symbols and metaphors are the only way to approach whatever is happening. The two phrases that are used over and over again are "oyster" and "a woman is a vessel." The author explains a little bit about oysters here. The key passage in the story (in my opinion) is this one, right at the end:

Never dreaming that Scully is only a vessel, or that in her vessel is the true thing, the Scullyessence, a pearl that every year with Mulder has irritated to growth until it shines like a star in the galaxies. Or that now within the flesh of her body the seed of another pearl has been placed, not reproduced, but created. They never seem to wonder that where true life comes from, the animation in the eyes, the tenderness in the heart, the goodness of the human spirit, even though they endlessly pontificate about genes and morality. Skinner has illustrated that they are all too horribly aware of the dichotomy between flesh and spirit, which seems to exist in everyone in near total opposition. It's that opposition, that irritation, that creates the human soul. A very inefficient road to evolution, but give them another million years or so and maybe they'll have come up with something.

Mulder knows. He has seen the spark of divinity in mankind, and he knows that if one magic exists, there must be others. When he finds his way back, will he remember how to speak, how to tell them? If he does, will anyone listen? Surely not without proof, without "physical" evidence. Scully won't, except maybe at the instant she holds that proof in her arms and looks down into its eyes for the first time and recognizes, however briefly, that she has witnessed a true miracle.

Scully is the oyster; Mulder is the sand; the baby is the pearl.

It seems that it's also worth making the analogy to the Christian story. Word become flesh, and all that. Equally mystical and inexplicable (in a good way). If the baby is Jesus, then Skinner is the Holy Spirit, the conduit for Mulder and for all the power beyond. It's a good role for Skinner. He's always been the third person in the trinity anyway, and the story is all about moving beyond the Mulder/Scully, natural/supernatural dichotomy and towards... well, towards something else. As I said in my comment above, I love the surreal and mystical aspects of the story.

If you've seen Star Trek: The Motion Picture, you'll remember the way that Decker and Ilia merge at the end, combining human and machine in order to create some sort of new being. This is like that, only with Mulder and Scully. And without the widescreen special effects.

So, what is the "I" in the story? Given that people are being abducted and dying, the initial assumption is that it's some sort of malevolent force. Clearly that isn't true. Is it an alien or other form of life, somehow trapped on Earth, found by Tracy Buckland during her archaeological dig, and at the end released in order to travel onwards? Probably. As for the "why" or "how," we really can't say. That's the point, isn't it? Given the use of the term "miracle," I guess that one could just as easily reference some form of higher power.

Or maybe it is all some crazy story dreamed up by Skinner to explain to Mulder how he happened to get Scully pregnant.

"Sure, I slept with your partner while you were missing. But it was some mystical miraculous type of deal, and anyway we both thought that I was you at the time...." [12]
I'm terrified this makes me sound shallow, but it was too much for me. I felt confused through most of it, and missing Mulder (besides the point). I didn't get who the narrator was, or where people were most of the time, and why they kept slipping in and out of consciousness. And this is probably the point, so you can draw your own conclusions, but I guess I like more firm and solid understanding laid out for me. I never did like poetry analysis in school, even if sometimes the insights were deep.[13]

2009

Oyster is a great rec, though, if i hadn't read it already. i really liked it. it made my brains feel all warped and psychedelic and- and thinkish. *g* [14]

2013

I LOVE THIS! I got into XF when I was 11 (which I guess is an awkward time in any kid's life) and I was kind of an awkward, scaredy-cat kid, really unsure of myself. Scully honestly changed my life, she was such a strong female character and there was a serious shortage of them on tv, IMO. She inspired me to assert myself and stop being so scared of everything. I will love her foreverrr... I really felt like this fic was kind of over-my-head. I mean, I GET it, especially after reading the comments in the first posting, but... it's just not my cup of tea. I was really confused and had to read sections several times. It reminded me of Penumbra's work, very poetic but almost kind of... excessive? I don't know what the right word is. I'm not very skilled at analyzing writing. I felt like I needed a master's degree to [15]
Oyster reminded me of JET more than Penumbra. Penumbra writing is very poetic, but I dont get lost in the imagery (of Penumbra's work) like to do with JET or Jordan. [16]
Okay, so I thought about this a bit more. I think another thing that bothered me in this story was Scully's character and all of Skinner's internal dialogue about her. Scully seemed to be just there, not doing too much, and I got tired of all the sections of Skinner pondering her looks or her unbuttoned shirt or whatever. The ending, with the whole "woman is a vessel" thing, bothered me as well. I just hate the whole trope of a woman getting pregnant with a miracle baby or savior or whatever. IDK, I just like Super Strong Ass-Kicking!Scully better than Standing There While Men Gaze at My Body!Scully. [17]
There is a lot of super-strong etc, Scully on the show so what we tend to get in fanfic is a more introspective version of her than perhaps you are comfortable seeing. Scully is doing all of the things she normally does on a case: we just get to hear her internal monologue as she goes about doing them. I like seeing Scully as a whole person, with strengths and weaknesses. It makes her seem even more real.

IDK, I just like Super Strong Ass-Kicking!Scully better than Standing There While Men Gaze at My Body!Scully.

I have no problem with you disliking this fic, or any fanfic for that matter, or deciding this type of story isn't for you, but if you think "Oyster" is primarily about Skinner and/or Mulder turning Scully into a sex object, you're misreading it. [18]
I agree with many of the comments stating the similarity in the the poetic, imagery-esq writing to Pernumba's work. I was a bit confused, and about 3/4 of the way through I think it finally clicked in my head and the imagery was appreciated, instead of leaving me thoroughly confused, though it may be worth a reread in order to completely sit with me. All in all, I liked it (didn't love it, but that's ok). It leaves everything a bit open which is completely fine, but just not my cup of tea. But I appreciated the ScullyAngst over a missing Mulder, loved Skinner's role in this, and thought the sex scene was hot. Does anyone know if she wrote a sequel or follow up? [19]
I didn't find the language itself confusing. The concept of a completely alien mind possessing a human consciousness while it is in a dream state and taking them into another dimension of time and space? That was hard to wrap my head around--and still is.

I can't see the connection with Penumbra or JET that people here keep making either. In comparison to "Oyster," those authors are both writing very straightforward MSR. There isn't anything straightforward about this story. Because so much of it is told from the POV of the alien mind, it feels like it's drowning in symbols and allegory, which is as close to the alien consciousness as our minds can comprehend. It's disorienting, I believe, because it's meant to be.

Despite all that, I'm glad you were able to "just let go" and enjoy the story on its own terms. I liked Scully's characterization and Skinner's too. And yes, indeed, the sex was very sexy, but I thought it was also full of religious symbolism, not an easy combination to pull off.

She did not write a sequel, alas. [20]
The character’s observations were really strong. How Scully looked at Skinner’s arm in part 4 is very convincing. Sometimes, I have a hard time convincing myself of a Scully/Skinner relationship (mostly because my preference for msr is so strong), but that paragraph about his bone structure really struck me. I could see real attraction sprouting from that.

Men can't pretend that kind of gentleness; it's either there or it isn't. Great line and so true.

The start of Chapter 7 is a particularly moving paragraph. It is so real, because sometimes waking thoughts have such a surreal reality to them. The following is the first ‘dream’ passage that sets the tone for the rest of the story.

What if time had weight? That would mean it could be stretched and pulled out of shape, which would offer scary potential for distortions, but it would also mean that it could be proven to exist, that it isn't a human construct. Not like consciousness. How can consciousness ever be proven to exist, she wonders drowsily, if it has no weight?

This chain of though is almost nonsense, but it carries such a strong feeling. Keeping in mind that Scully is a scientist, it seems strange yet profound for her to have these thoughts, and we know right away they are coming from outside her character.

This may be reaching, but this whole story was reminiscing of all the Stephen King books I read in high school. I saw elements of It and the Dark Tower. The Dark Tower images seemed pretty heavy for me, especially the Man in Black.

Overall, this was a trip to read. The ending was so bittersweet, and very strange. The narrator implied things that are so powerful in the context of the story. The author did a great job maintaining tone. The abstract contradictory thoughts of the narrator were very powerful. The writing was highly poetic, and the imagery was very strong.

There is a lot more I can say about Oyster, but I just don’t have time. I’ll finish by sayings it’s elegantly written, original, and moving. Great read. [21]
This is a challenging one. And so many ways to start.

Earthy: Jordan adores Skinner. How to get him into bed with Scully without betraying Mulder and grossing out the msr contingent? Alien intervention!

Practical: This tale could be viewed by the salacious as a three-way. How to raise the tone? Literary style! Fortunately, Jordan's style, while literary, never seems to me simply decorative or showoffy. There are so many things a talented earthling like this writer can do that leave the rest of us both stunned and satiated.

Responsible: Jordan does not write smut biscuits. Therefore, we have here a real x-file, one of course never to be written up, and a second case about casino fraud and murder that we don't care a lot about but is a minor delight in its brisk resolution.

Okay, I'm abandoning the Cyrano riff. (Wendy said I had to talk; oh the pressure!) I'll go on record that Oyster is a great fanfic, one probably of the top three, maybe four, wait, oh hell I don't believe in numbering art anyhow. This is art.

The secret of the style is that it is consistent; we are immediately placed in an enchanted pocket environment, observed from without by an unidentified narrator. We (and it) watch Mulder and Scully eating oysters and listen to them discuss Proust. This is not Carter country. We learn that Scully really digs Mulder. We learn that Skinner digs Scully. The atmosphere is heavy with humidity and human desire for both money and sex. The temperature fluctuates, constantly reminding us of our bodies as the silken language titillates our minds.

Mulder disappears. He has, as he manages to hint through a fellow abductee, been kidnapped from reality. Unlike the other victims--the poor, dead maid, the maddened Tracy and John--he can deal with that. One leg in, one out, he balances and retains his identity. In one of many dream-hallucinations, Skinner sees "Mulder in the projection booth." He wants to return to Scully and make love to her. Skinner wants him to return and make love to Scully. Skinner also wants to make love to Scully. It all works out.

Someone said that no one ever really dies in science fiction. And we can surmise that everyone gets laid in The X-Files, as if fanfic hadn't informed us already. Oyster, however, is special.

Oh: in the original version on Jordan's site (?) there were some fabulous illustrations. As for the Dark Man, yes, he appears in Dark City (great flic) and also in the Buffy ep "Hush," which is the best thing they ever did. And Stephen King. EVERYTHING is somewhere in Stephen King.

I suspect Los Vegas in inherently surreal. Tim Powers did wonderful things with it.[22]
This story is one of my favorites, too. Strangely, it's the only one of hers that I would consider rereading. I don't like her Skinner/Scully fics, the stories she's famous for, at all (the sex is tedious, for one thing). Anyway, thank you for suggesting it as a rerun.

Since I know the story already, and didn't have to puzzle my way through it, the religious symbolism seemed even more blatant this time around. It works. Jordan pretty much spells it all out at the end so I guess I don't have to.

Jordan sets Mulder apart from Scully, even from the rest of humanity, very early on in the story. I wish the ending hadn't been so ambiguous. Generally I don't like stories where Scully ends up with anyone but Mulder, even if Mulder is pulling the strings. And I hate stories with miracle babies, too, hence my distaste for everything past Requiem. But this story is more like religious allegory than fanfic, so it pulls me along. I dislike threesomes, too, yet I'm crying by the end of this. Miracle baby, Skinner/Scully, three in a bed, having the most boring PIV sex imaginable: it's a story that shouldn't work for me at all-- yet it does. [23]

2015

OYSTER by Jordan is an anomaly; not many seem aware of it. In delicate, elusive narrative, Mulder is taken prisoner by an observing alien being who draws him into a subsidiary reality. Unlike weaker beings, Mulder copes. It takes strong medicine to bring him back into our world, and let's just say that involves the most original sex scene in this genre. One of. The atmosphere is magical and the subtleties are amazing. I'm a good-prose whore. [24]

2017

Sometimes you just gotta rec something that makes your jaw drop in the best of ways. Today’s fic is jawdroppingly beautiful writing, and for that reason alone, it deserves a read. But it’s also a completely new and original take on what happened to Mulder, where, when and why he disappeared, and how and by whom Scully ended up pregnant. Full disclosure, this fic kinda sorta features /Other. But at its heart, as always, it is very much an MSR love story. The way Jordan writes, though, full of religious imagery juxtaposed against the lurid setting where the story takes place, Las Vegas, the City of Sin might as well be another character in and of itself. It’s the perfect place for this story to play out. And while the author’s disclaimer states that it is a “REQUIEM FREE” fic, it most definitely isn’t, it’s just a totally reimagined Requiem. [25]

References

  1. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2013
  2. Alicia K at alt.tv.x-files.creative, June 24, 2000
  3. Cindy, alt.tv.x-files.creative, June 24, 2000
  4. Denise, alt.tv.x-files.creative, June 28, 2001
  5. rec at Crack Van, March 2008
  6. rec at Crack Van, March 2008
  7. rec at Crack Van, March 2008
  8. Denise at alt.tv.x-files.creative, July 8, 2008
  9. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2008
  10. emily shore at xf book club, February 2008
  11. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2008
  12. emily shore at xf book club, February 2008
  13. memento1 at xf book club, February 2008
  14. amyhit, I love you. Let's gather firewood. We'll light a fire on the mountain., April 4, 2009
  15. mementox at xf book club, February 2013
  16. mogster495 at xf book club, February 2013
  17. mementox at xf book club, February 2013
  18. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2013
  19. newo fic at xf book club, February 2013
  20. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2013
  21. mogster495 at xf book club, February 2013
  22. estella c at xf book club, February 2013
  23. wendelah1 at xf book club, February 2013
  24. rec by estella c at X-Files Book Club, October 2015
  25. X-Files FanFiction Sommeliers, Archived version