|Name:||saffronhouse (on DW and LJ)|
|Fandoms:||Sentinel, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate: SG-1|
|URL:||Good morning, Sunshine (author's site)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Martha is a name to be whispered with awe and wonder in Sentinel fandom. She has written some of the most incredible gen stories in any fandom which are repeatedly listed as top picks by readers of slash and gen alike because they are lush, deep, satisfying and emotionally rich. She is also infamous because of the degree to which she has stretched the bound of gen through the art of smarm, but I think it's about time a whole new world was invented for the way she can have completely het, manly men cuddle and cry over each other without it making you want to (a) puke or (b) tell her to leave that river in Egypt. Maybe we should just call what she does 'Mwarm' - or 'Marthaisation'. I dunno. Don't care. I love her stuff, I love her gen, and her slash (although I gave up on that utterly peculiar story, Beach because fucked if I could make any sense of it) ... 
Martha may be best known in the fandom for her smarm collaborations with Kitty, but her full-length drama stories are literature in the Sentinel fandom. Her writing is technically flawless, her characterizations always spot-on, and her highly original story lines will suck the hapless reader in for days. Start with Plank, then read the entire Tristes Tropiques trilogy (say that five times fast) but make sure you have a few days off before you commit yourself! (Her stories also make me hungry... read Cake and you'll see what I mean!) 
After lo these many years of taunting us with smarm, Martha has finally taken the plunge into the murky waters of slash; her succumbing to the Dark Side has left slash addicts everywhere celebrating. About the only complaint I have is that I'll never, ever be able to write this well, barring a brain transplant. 
Well, first, you should know that she is a master of both horror and smarm—she runs the gamut, and she runs it incredibly well. While I love all of her writing, because it all combines great and subtle artistry with fine characterization and emotion, some people will prefer one mood but might be less drawn to the other. So now I can at least become somewhat useful by identifying which story is which! I’ll also note relative length, because Martha has some wonderfully long and complex tales, and she also has some delicious short pieces. Again, she’s hitting both ends of the spectrum. And she writes gen and also slash; I’ll identify those which are clearly and intentionally slash or pre-slash (since much of the smarm can be read either way)...
“Grail” takes what can easily be a cliché and shows what a master of the craft does with it. From wet and cold to burning up, you feel every moment. Definitely gen and what she would call smarm. “Voir Dire” is yet another moment when the fragility of life hits Jim hard; smarm again, according to her definition, though I have to say that the sound of that term doesn’t do these emotions justice. “The Anthropologist on the Edge of Forever” is another precise and perfect portrait of the relationship between these two men. Gen or not isn’t clear—unless you think no kiss can be fraternal—and it frankly doesn’t matter, because this is about love, not sex. (It also incidentally addresses the question, just how useful is Star Trek as a guide to building a personal philosophy?) Not on her website for some reason is the perfect, pain-edged “In Thicket,” which depicts what might have happened (and probably should have happened) after Jim read Blair’s first chapter of his dissertation. It’s, ultimately, pre-slash.... She also has some fine collaborations, including examples of her definition of smarm, which is to say, stories about the nature of relationship, not intended to be sexual, although some could be read that way. “Drunken Goo” is classic in vino veritas. “Borneo Eyes” examines the fear we have of failing those we love. “Listening” explores the question: how do you deal with the fact that the person who eases your pain takes it into himself?
Writing on her own, Martha has three beautiful short pieces which use Jack Kerouac’s writing to great effect. “Kneeling” is itself a poem, set in the everyday world; “pre-slash” seems too sharp-edged a term for a piece that is so lyrical. “The Portable Jack Kerouac” can be read as either gen or pre-slash, and it is so beautiful, so perfectly written, so clear in its insights into both men that no one should miss it. “Something or Other” is an erotic continuation of that story, wherein Jim and Blair examine, among other things, what is it to zone; this is a sensual, sensory exploration which, as is always the case with her stories, is ultimately about understanding character. It also exemplifies, perfectly, the term “love-making.”
Martha also writes in a darker vein, but these stories are ultimately reaffirming and always show in the characters the fine qualities that drew us to them. They also tend to be longer . . . much longer, so leave enough time, because you won't want to stop once you've started one. They range from an examination of the all-too-human evils which fill the nightly news to explorations of the supernatural. I found them all well-worth the commitment of time and emotion. It’s not surprising that a number of these are award-winners. One of the many, many things I appreciate about Martha is that she’s not writing horror just to see how much she can scare or shock the reader. She uses this genre to explore the inner lives of the characters and to help us understand how they grapple with the bigger questions. “Plank” is the most reality-based and thus the most easily accessible of the longer works. The structure of the story serves the characterization perfectly, without ever seeming intrusive or artificial. It involves a Waco/David Koresh-type cult. She does a brilliant job of putting the reader inside the minds of both Blair and Jim. “Unsleeping” straddles the line of realism and the supernatural . . . and it may be the more familiar horrors which strike the reader most deeply. As an academic myself, I’m always interested in stories which use the University setting and show Blair as a scholar; fortunately, I’ve never had anything like the experiences chronicled here. “Ordeal,” “Snake Oil,” and “Cake” are listed as a trilogy, but each works perfectly as a standalone. “Ordeal” is another excellent character study, showing the conflicting tangle of emotions and obligations Blair feels as Jim’s friend and as scholar and student of The Sentinel; it blends spiritual elements with a realistic core. “Snake Oil” is definitely creepier. “Cake” is long and emotionally and chronologically complex, and it deserves the time it will take me to read it again . . . something to look forward to this coming weekend! If you need a step back closer to “normal” which still has a foot in other worlds, try her post-TSbBS collaboration with Lemon Drop, “Distant Journey, Unknown Lands”... Again, what matters here is the human story. She’s also done some work with SG1 and has a new SGA story out. “Lovely” is a TS crossover with SG1, with all the characters incisively drawn and the supernatural circumstances bringing out the very human frailties and strengths of each. “Danny Can’t Dance” is pure SG1, a character study which has Daniel Jackson and Jack out on the town for the evening, trying to sort out the aftermath of a particularly unpleasant occupational hazard. Even though I haven’t kept up with this series and thus didn’t know the events being addressed, the writing here is so effective that it simply didn’t matter. While these are on her website, the newest is over at the SGA archive “Wraithbait”...She also has three original works posted on her website. I just began them this past weekend with “Monkey Brains.” This is classic Martha, providing great characterization combined with her trademark creepiness . . . never shock for shock’s sake, but rather to help us understand a bit better what it means to be human. 
- Snake Oil (07/1997) The Sentinel. After Blair finally confronts old nemesis at an anthropology conference in Los Angeles, he and Jim bring more back to Cascade than just a touch of sunburn.
- Beach (1998-2001, WIP) The Sentinel. Collaboration with Kitty Woldow.
- Plank (05/1998) The Sentinel. Blair didn't mean to snoop ... but finding that box in the back of Jim's closet may cost him his life just the same.
- Unsleeping (07/2000) The Sentinel. Sometimes a sentinel can just hear too damned much. Tatters, part 1.
- Sinner's Grove (10/2002) Stargate SG-1. Sometimes too much of the host survives. (Jack gets infected with a mindcontrolling parasite while trapped with Daniel.)
- Lovely (07/2003) SG1/The Sentinel. Daniel Jackson goes looking for peace in the aftermath of "Absolute Power" and "The Light." Unfortunately, he goes looking for it in Cascade, Washington -- The Most Dangerous City in America. Part 2 of the Tatters series.
- Tatters (02/2005). Part 3 of the Tatters series. This part is crossover between Stargate SG-1, The Sentinel, Angel: The Series and the Cthulhu Mythos.
- The Shadow Over Chatsworth (02/2007) SGA/SG-1. Drs. Daniel Jackson and Rodney McKay go for a drive on a dark and stormy night.
- The Fall of the House of Sheppard (08/2008) SGA. Written for the SGA Big Bang.
- The Little Sister, SGA/SG-1, WIP. Film-noir-style AU set in a world where the Goa'uld conquered Earth. John Sheppard, PI, should have thought twice before he accepted a job from one Dr. Rodney McKay.