Painting the Clouds

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The Professionals Fanfiction
Title: Painting the Clouds
Author(s): Calliope/PD
Date(s): 1980-81 (paper circuit), 1983 (Blue Jay Press' publication), 1994 (Uncharted Waters #11)
Length:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links:

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Painting the Clouds is a Pros slash story with an unusual pedigree. Several descriptions of its creation are below.

first page -- first line: "Doyle hit the ground floor button in the lift and leant against the wall, face troubled, mind reeling."

Part of a "Series"

"Painting the Clouds" by Calliope' is part of the Masquerade series.

The other stories, in order are:

How this Story Came to Be

One fan's recollection of a list of Pros "pre-1981" stories:
The earliest list I have ... Work in progress on the list includes Painting the Clouds, which didn't come out till some years later, which was unfortunate, as it then seemed rather like a pale copy of Masquerade. But the author of Masquerade had written *her* story using the same premise and with the permission and encouragement of the author of Painting the Clouds, only she got it finished and circulated a lot sooner! [1]

One explanation: The original story was written by Calliope who could not finish it. Her friend, Tarot took the idea and wrote the circuit story Masquerade. Years later Calliope completed her version and it was published in the fanzine Uncharted Waters #11 (1994).

From a 2011 discussion of Masquerade:
Some friends and I had a discussion about Painting The Clouds a while ago. It can be found [link]. Scroll down almost half way. Here's what I said about it:

I have been told that Tarot and Calliope had discussed this story idea and Calliope started to write it. But when it went unfinished for whatever reason, she agreed that Tarot should go ahead and write her version, which became Masquerade. This was put out on the paper circuit. Much later Calliope published her own story in Uncharted Waters 11.

The lads are sent undercover as a gay couple to catch a blackmailing ring. Doyle is a singer and Bodie is a piano player in a night club.

Some more early fandom tropes mentioned here: Doyle is irresistible to all who see him, The Game (though not by name), B’s mercenary past troubles him enough to give him nightmares enough that he can’t keep a girl. The author obviously liked Star Trek; D wears a ST t-shirt, and he once attended a ST convention (with a girlfriend)!

In this story the neighbor couple plays a much more prominent role than in Masquerade, which I find unnecessary and distracting.

The main difference between this story and Masquerade is D’s attitude. Here he is fairly willing to go along with the necessary playacting to give the impression that he is gay, whereas in Masquerade the atmosphere fairly crackles with the tension between the lads as B seizes every opportunity possible to push his partner to the limit and D grows angrier and angrier. I find this story far more boring and less enjoyable. [2]
Another explanation:
[J] asked how some of the early stories came about, so I'm grabbing the opportunity to say something about 'Masquerade' by [Tarot] and Painting the Clouds by PD. I remember when the latter was published, some fans thought it was simply a pale imitation of Masquerade, which had already been in circulation for some two years. In fact, the original idea came from PD. Having seen Martin in "Cream in My Coffee", she listened to a lot of 1930s and 1940s dance band songs by the likes of Al Bowlly, Ambrose and his Orchestra, Roy Fox, Lew Scone and so on, and had she idea of Doyle going undercover in a dance band, singing their songs. [Tarot] also wanted to write a story along the same lines and so, with agreement on both sides, they went ahead. The problem lay in the fact that PD takes a long time to finish stories. By the time 'Painting the Clouds' came out, fandom had grown and many people had no idea that the two stories had started out from the same plot, at the same time, and with both authors' knowledge and consent. [3]

Clearly, fans at the time followed the publisher's 'no copying' demands as much as they did the "no copying this videotape messages" from the FBI. An example of this: at least one copy of the Pros circuit version (there is no author credit on the story) contains a front page with a copyright notice "1983 by Blue Jay Press" and a statement:

"A limited edition printing of 50. Copy number 33...Not to be copied or otherwise reproduced without permission in writing from Blue Jay Press. This copy of PAINTING IN THE CLOUDS remains the property of Blue Jay Press, who reserve the right to ask for its return at any future date." [Below in handwriting someone has written]: "[N], I don't have permission [to copy this story] and I don't care. It's Lewis B-day today and I'm being anarchic. (Just don't tell [P] or she'll yell at me)." Above in different handwriting: "K&J, [N] sent me a copy of her copy before I got mine....a year ago I guess, as Lew's' Birthday is May 27. Read this before Masquerade."

Reactions and Reviews

I have been told that Tarot and Calliope had discussed this story idea and Calliope started to write it. But when it went unfinished for whatever reason, she agreed that Tarot should go ahead and write her version, which became Masquerade. This was put out on the paper circuit. Much later Calliope published her own story in Uncharted Waters 11.

The lads are sent undercover as a gay couple to catch a blackmailing ring. Doyle is a singer and Bodie is a piano player in a night club.

Some more early fandom tropes mentioned here: Doyle is irresistible to all who see him, The Game (though not by name), B’s mercenary past troubles him enough to give him nightmares enough that he can’t keep a girl. The author obviously liked Star Trek; D wears a ST t-shirt, and he once attended a ST convention (with a girlfriend)!

In this story the neighbor couple plays a much more prominent role than in Masquerade, which I find unnecessary and distracting.

The main difference between this story and Masquerade is D’s attitude. Here he is fairly willing to go along with the necessary playacting to give the impression that he is gay, whereas in Masquerade the atmosphere fairly crackles with the tension between the lads as B seizes every opportunity possible to push his partner to the limit and D grows angrier and angrier. I find this story far more boring and less enjoyable. [4]
We begin with ye olde side-splitting trope of Bodie clawed by a cat. What is that about? No resemblance to lads I know. Bodie calls Doyle "flower." First appearance of that? Although the writing isn't terrible per se, it's mostly telling not showing. And there are some truly idiotic comments as when, mid-rape, Doyle notes that it's apparently Bodie's touch he craves and not just...HUH? Rape in general? Say what? Kidnapped, all Doyle can do is think about Bodie. Way too many children and cats for this reader. I'm not that hot on the gay undercover scenario, anyway, and the idea that Doyle would be posing as musicians in a 1930s style band?! How old was this writer? Or the idea that Doyle had been to Star Trek conventions? Puhleeaze. [5]
Painting the Clouds (37 pages) by Calliope, is a Professionals circuit story, and one which came as a very pleasant surprise to me. For a start I don't like B/D stories, and secondly I groaned when I read the description of the story on the contents page of the zine. Stories where partners have to pose as lovers having been done to death in about every cop show fandom there is, and a few science fiction ones as well. But Calliope really makes the scenario work. There is a plausible reason for Bodie and Doyle having to go undercover as a couple of gay musicians, and because this is a long story their own real relationship has time to evolve slowly. There are some nice little humorous moments in the story, but the depiction of the criminal underworld is quite hard hitting and realistic, though there's no graphic violence in the story. I'm still not a B/D fan, but this story drew me in. While I was reading I found that I really wanted them to fall in love and live happily ever after, Calliope made me care what happened to them, even though I don't like the characters. [6]

References

  1. from Felicity Parkinson at byslantedlight, Archived version, October 21, 2009
  2. 2011 comments at CI5hq
  3. from DIAL #15
  4. On September 11, 2009, a few Pros fans gathered together in blueamaranthe's livejournal to discuss "Power Play." The entire discussion was here, since deleted and purged. This is an excerpt by Metabolick.
  5. On September 11, 2009, a few Pros fans gathered together in blueamaranthe's livejournal to discuss "Power Play." The entire discussion was here;[ http://www.webcitation.org/66Sw0SFGi WebCite], This is an excerpt by Blue Amaranthe. See The Dreck wRECk - Reviewing Prosdom's Earliest Stories.
  6. from Late for Breakfast #25