Riding the Wheel of If
|Title:||Riding the Wheel of If|
|Date(s):||2000 (online), January 2003 (print)|
|Fandom:||The Phantom Menace|
|External Links:||Author's site
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Riding the Wheel of If is a Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan slash novel written by MrsHamill in 2000. The author's site describes the plot as: "...Obi-Wan, searching the dimensions with the aid of his traveling lightsaber, looking for his Qui-Gon." On March 22, 2000, the first episode of Riding the Wheel of If was posted to MA, and when it was finished, the story was more than 250,000 words long. About the idea for the story MrsHamill said: I had a very strange dream... Obi-Wan, walking into his quarters, and seeing Qui-Gon, who looked -- different somehow. Obi stands in confusion as Qui walks over to him, grabs his crotch and says, "You can't be my Obi-Wan; you still have your testicles."
It was published in print zine form in January 2003.
A sequel, planned for 2004, was published in 2007. Its title is Wheels Within Wheels.
MrsHamill's TPM epos gives the 'destined to come together' idea a different spin. Set after the end of the movie the story remains true to canon - Qui-Gon is dead. However, a grief struck Obi-Wan accidentally discovers his newly built lightsaber's ability to transport him into different realities; same place, same time, yet something is always different. Very soon it becomes evident that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon were meant to become a couple in every reality. Obi-Wan spends much time as an agent of the force to help achieve Q/O bliss, yet he keeps searching for the one reality with a Qui-Gon without an Obi-Wan to find his own happiness. Wheel offers a vast scope of attractive AU scenarios, from a medieval Coruscant to the Jedi Order as a bunch of assassins for hire, to Jedis as an actual religious Order. Obi-Wan's quest is what connects all the different AUs and as the story develops, it becomes apparent that he is not alone in his AU traveling. The evil Sith Lord himself tries to influence the balance of the force to his own personal gain in the different realities he visits. Information gathered in one reality might still be valid in the next one, which means Obi-Wan trying to figure out the Sith's agenda and his hunt for the Sith are additional cross-universe storylines that keep the tension through all the different episodes.
Wheel wasn't a one-woman operation for long. It soon turned into a shared universe with other authors joining in, having their own ideas about Obi-Wan's journey, and writing even single chapters of MrsHamill's novel.
Episode 6 of the main novel (also known as the "first arc") was written by MrsHamill and Hiperbunny
episode 8 by Merri-Todd Webster and MrsHamill
episode 11 by Master Eliz-Mar Von
episode 12 by Fox
episode 16: Heroes of the Galaxy by Nansi Alexander,
episode 17 by MrsHamill and Anna
episode 20 by Hilary
episode 21 by Mac
episode 22 by MJ Lee
episode 24 by Rushlight
episode 26 by ResQ
episode 27 by Dee
episode 28 by JayKay
and episode 30 by Emila-Wan Kenobi
The universe consist of four arcs. The first arc is the original Wheel that was later published as a zine. The second arc is Obi-Wan's marriage to Qui-Gon and the first stages of his healing, the third arc is The Clone War, and the fourth arc is Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon raising the Skywalker twins to knighthood. Only the first two arcs are completed but there have been stories written in all four arcs. About the stories that don't fit neatly into the timeline MrsHamill said: There are also 'spin-offs', or reinventions of the wheel (as Fox named them), [...] Two of them are in the first Wheel arc. One particular notable spin-off is Susan Anthony's What Happens Next that starts from the Wheel episode fifteen, Seeking an Audience. The novel was later published in a second Wheel zine.
Creator's Notes from the Print Zine
Everyone from Fox to my cat was whispering 'zine to me, and, while the spirit was willing, I really had no clue how to go about it. Actually, I had given up after working with Lori for a while and becoming overwhelmed. Then the marvelous Layna Ayre Andersen released Buying Trouble in zine form. The beauteous and extraordinarily competent Sian, when she sent me my copy of Buying Trouble, diffidently offered to do Wheel as a zine too. I wrote a long note to her, explaining why this was patently impossible — it clocks in at over 250,000 words! — and basically explaining my many reservations. Her response to that was "Well, you had to go and make it a challenge."
Less than six months later... well. Here we are. Like I said — a miracle.
So many people have contributed to this in so many ways, it would take another ten pages to properly thank them all. So I won't, andspare poor Sian another pound of postage. But I have to thank a few people, the ones that, without their being around this wouldn't have been finished. Hell, it wouldn't have even been started. Two of them I've already mentioned, Hiperbunny and Fox. Fox especially, since she edited every damn word of this thing twice. If there's a reason it's readable, it's because of her, trust me. The artists — like the gorgeous RavenD — who inspired me to bigger and better things and led my ego shamelessly. The other writers who contributed to this and to my muse — like Rushlight — and who really helped me finish the damn thing — like Emila and Jay Kay.
Art from the Print Zine
The art is by Ambersky, Barbara, Ebe, Eiluned, Fuumin, JadynK, Merle Decker, QorYnn, RavenD, Sian, and Ten-Ve.
One of the ideas expressed in the Wheel universe was that everyone has the potential for both good and evil. Following up on that idea, one fan had a closer look at the different versions of the charcters and ranked the characters according to their goodness in the different realities of the Wheel universe. "It occurred to me that perhaps the frequency with which a character is good or evil might reflect something about the writers' views about their innate tendencies toward good or evil. And since "Wheel" is really a microcosm of TPM slash fandom, that implies some interesting things about our collective impression of the various characters." Unsurprisingly the results confirmed that Obi-Wan was mostly good, Palpatine mostly evil, and that the fannish hivemind had a certain view of the characters that was reflected in this shared universe, only now there were numbers to prove it.
See the rest of the essay at Symmetry in "Riding the Wheel of If".
Recs and Reviews
Riding the Wheel of If by Mrs. Hamill is a truly delightful series where canon and AU continues to meet as Obi-Wan goes dimension hopping in search of Qui-Gon. It has spawned two very nice AU stories I really recommend; What Happened Next? by Susan Anthony follows Riding the Wheel of If's 15 episode and tells us how Chancellor Jinn found his Obi. :) The other one is called Heroes of the Galaxy by Emrin Alexander and follows episode 16. It's a sweet li'l story and funny too. :) 
'Riding the Wheel of If' - A post-TPM AU series by Mrs. Hamill and various guest writers. Since each part is sort of like a Sliders episode, some of the stories I loved, some were so-so. Some of these AU stories are simply brilliant, and the lessons Obi learns about the SW universe from visiting all of these alternate realities are well thought out and insightful. And hey, where else can we see Slash-Canon Obi-Wan visit places as varied as the Sith Academy universe, various other Q/O authors' universes (Kourt Crowe, anyone?), and even the actors portraying Qui and Obi? (*Not* actor slash - trust me.) Enough variety here that everyone should find at least one 'If' that delights them.
Qui-Gon is dead, and in building a new lightsaber, Obi-Wan accidentally finds a way to move to different realities, where he discovers many strange and wondrous things in his quest to be with his beloved Master again." This is the official summary of the story, and believe me, it's good. Read it, and don't be discouraged by the very different pairings in this one. You will most probably come to love it. 
Played with in the Star Wars fanfic Riding the Wheel of If, where in some alternate universes characters don't exist, and others even have them change gender. On the other hand, those versions of the characters that are the same gender are pretty much identical physically, and they're always the same age (per Word Of God; when one author wrote a story where Obi-Wan was younger the original author said that didn't happen and it was considered AU to the series). And certain events take place in most or all universes, and if Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon both exist they're usually together, but that's all just Because Destiny Says So. 
What if...*anything* could happen? Riding the Wheel of If, starts soon after the movie, as a mourning Obi-wan discovers he has the ability to travel to other versions of his world, and meet versions of Qui-gon that did not die. Not all of those meetings are happy ones... and some episodes co-written, or written by others. 
I generally don't read this fandom but when you're bored, you would read anything. The concept is slightly cliche but the plot is fairly interesting. This is like, several AUs tossed into one fic. Obi-Wan, distraught over losing his master, makes a new lightsaber. However, when he finishes it and tests it out, he is shoved into an alternate reality. The Force propels him through several universes, in which he must attempt to 'fix' it. At the end of the path, will the depressed Knight find what he is looking for? 
There are no words to describe this story. In fact, the word “story” alone is not enough to describe it. This is an epic creation of equally epic length that will keep you company for several days (even for those voraceous bookworms such as myself that can gobble down a couple hundred pages in a single afternoon) and which you simply cannot put aside until it’s done in any case. It’s hot, it’s heart-rending, it’s fluffy, it’s dark and disturbing, it’s funny, it’s parody and then it just is. It embodies everything that made the Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan pairing popular and then some. A must-read for every Star Wars slasher out there. 
I'm an absolute sucker for long books. I've read Les Miserables four times and War and Peace once. If a book can draw me in, I want it to go on and on, like the suffering caused by Britney Spears' singing. The same goes for long series of stories. Riding the Wheel of If is a Phantom Menace series written by Terri Hamill and several other authors. This series, containing thirty chapters and three or four "extras," also caters to my love of AU stories. A tribute to a novel by L. Sprague DeCamp, this series follows Obi-Wan Kenobi as he travels between alternate realities, trying to find one where he, and not his master, died on Naboo so that he and Qui-Gon can be together. (Think The Phantom Menace meets Quantum Leap or Sliders.) Plots like this are easy to write badly, but the overall quality of the series is quite good, with each episode standing alone well and the overall story arc adding an extra dimension to the whole thing. Some of the individual chapters are better than others, but on the whole it's a long, fun read. Slash. (Note: there is one "extra" that is on the Master & Apprentice archive but is not on the WOI site. It doesn't have the "Riding the Wheel of If" label in the title, but it tells what happened to the characters in one AU after Obi-Wan left. I can't find it. If you do, could you please drop me a line and tell me the title? It's the one from the alternate reality where the Jedi are characters on a TV show.)
My all-time favorite, and a must read for all Qui/Obi fans. Each story is unique in its own way, some with more twist than others. Knowledge of other TPM fics is not necessary, but since this *is* a travelling between realities series and Obi-Wan *does* occasionally stumble into other authors' sandbox... it helps to have read various other authors' fics in the TPM fandom first (ie. the Sith Academy Universe, Iaga/JayKay's "Knight Moves" Series, MrsHamill's "Jedi Code Breakers" Series, Chez Bunny's "Bonds of Choice" Series, etc). Summary: "Qui-Gon is dead, and in building a new lightsaber, Obi-Wan accidentally finds a way to move to different realities, where he discovers many strange and wondrous things in his quest to be with his beloved Master again."
Thirty episodes based off an interesting premise. Sometimes I wonder if the author deliberately tortures Obi-Wan as much as possible, because she can, and it gets either dark or silly at times, but it mainly retains the same high standard of writing. 
Riding the Wheel of If was reprinted in 2003 as a 354-page zine with two episodes written just for the zine publication, and 59 pages of color and black/white art (or most in full color?) including works by Fuumin, Barbana, QorYnn, Merle Decker, Tem-Ve, JadynK, Ambersky, Ebe, RavenD and Eiluned. The zine includes the complete first arc, aka the original novel by Mrs. Hamill with single episodes written and co-written by other authors. MrsHamill about how the zine came to be:
- Episode Thirty was posted and the long, strange trip was over.
- Or was it? Everyone from Fox to my cat was whispering 'zine to me, and, while the spirit was willing, I really had no clue how to go about it. Actually, I had given up after working with the wonderful Lori and getting lost. Then, the marvelous [darthhellokitty] released Buying Trouble in 'zine form. The beauteous and extraordinarily competent Sian, when she sent me my copy of Buying Trouble, diffidently offered to do Wheel as a 'zine too. I wrote a long note to her, explaining why this was patently impossible -- it clocks in at over 250,000 words! -- and basically whining my many reservations. Her response to that was "Well, you had to go and make it a challenge."
What fans said about the zine:
An AU-fixit story featuring Obi-Wan. Beautiful layout and format, lovely artwork, incredible story idea that's spun out into an amazingly complex plot. The only thing that stops me from putting this in the "best in fandom" category is the quality of writing between the different authors. The main author, Mrs. Hamill, is very talented and the other authors who contributed have much promise as well. A number of the side stories are shaky (one borders on RPS which is a personal squick but it also affects my rating of this zine) and even though this isn't out of AWS presses, there are way too many epithets here. It's all enough to keep the zine in this category. I'd have to say that this is overall an above average zine, but there's just too many small things combining to keep it from being an excellent one. 
- MrsHamill. From the introduction to the 'zine, January 2003. (Accessed 12 October 2009)
- Eshva. The Forest of Eshva: Symmetry in "Riding the Wheel of If", 2001 (?). (Accessed 12 October 2009)
- from DWYC Recommends, accessed November 28, 2012
- Raonaid's Home Page: Slash Links. (Accessed 16 November 2016)
- unnamed Geocities site, accessed November 28, 2012
- at TV Tropes, used to illustrate the trope, "In Spite of a Nail
- from Issues of Consent
- Journey to Another Place, accessed November 28, 2012
- from Quantea's Fanfiction Recs, accessed November 28, 2012
- MaggieFic: The Recs, 14 September 2000. (Accessed 20 April 2015)
- chiaroscuro v6 - T.O.T.O. (The Obi-Wan Torture Oasis), 15 March 2002. (Accessed 12 January 2011)
- redlinen, posted March 7, 2004, accessed November 28, 2012
- Information about the Riding the Wheel of If zine on the AWIT Press website. (Accessed 12 October 2009)
- Confessions of a Former Zine Slut from Sockii Press/WebCite