Sebastian (fan)

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Fan
Name: Sebastian
Alias(es):
Type: writer
Fandoms: Professionals, Blake's 7, Titanic
Communities: Foxhole on the Roof
Other:
URL: http://www.zeropanic.net/
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Sebastian was a legend in The Professionals slash fandom for her writing: lush and intense but not too dark, and widely considered one of the best writers in the fandom. A Brit, she started during the time of The Professionals Circuit library, but continued to write as zines became more popular in Pros fandom, contributing mostly to Oblique Publications zines. Many of her short stories were written with HG, another notable Pros writer of the time. For content, if not style, she was frequently mentioned in the same breath as Thomas, Courtney Gray and M. Fae Glasgow.

In Pros fandom at the time, it was common to have a favorite of the pair and make it clear which one was your favorite. Sebastian initially went for Bodie, but became a die-hard Doyley, strongly preferring him over "that other guy."

M Fae said that after writing the story "Going for the Shore", Sebastian got hassled for writing a scene where B & D smoke and Doyle uses drugs.

Though she was primarily known as a Pros writer, she also wrote slash in Blake's 7, and apparently later moved on to het Titanic fandom.

While most Pros fans loved Sebastian's work, a few took exception to her realistic and gritty stories. In 1998, fans on the CI5 List were discussing why Sebastian had taken a break from writing in the fandom: "I was told by two long-time Pros fans that Sebastian stopped writing Pros for 3-4 years because she got so much flak from fans for the heroin episode, and for making the lads smoke. She took to writing B7, but was later persuaded to return to Pros by fans who appreciated her talents. This may account for the abrupt end to both series, Adagio and Siren."[1]

Her Introduction To Fandom

In 2009, Sebastian shared some of her memories how she became a Pros fan:
"I first got hooked on the Pros in 1982, I can remember the very moment - I was watching Foxhole on the Roof the day after its first UK airing - recorded (on VHS, back in those not-so-good Olden Days) and doing the ironing - and something about it really grabbed me.

"What if, I thought to myself, passing the iron absentmindedly back and forth over the shirts, what if that one fell in love with that one and -

It took me some time to work out for sure which was Bodie and which was Doyle, and even longer that it was not C-Fifteen but CI5, but you couldn't doubt the enthusiasm, the passion, the enormous thrill and deep emotional joy I got from considering these two men and their strange bleak world.

I had 'form' in the world of fictional gay love, having been into K/S for sometime, and through it I had met a very good friend, ET, who lived near me. She had already noticed the boys and the slash potential, and she was a friend of O Yardley's, who very kindly invited us and about ten others to her house in London when we breathlessly confessed our new obsession."[2]

The Re-Writing Controversy

In 1996, soon after the The Professionals Circuit Archive started, Anne Higgins re-wrote a chunk of Sebastian's Catharsis to make a point on the CI5 List about Doyle's characterization in the story. The usual game of Telephone/Gossip led to people saying, "mostly what bothered me was the assumption that because someone didn't like how it ended, they decided it was okay to take the entire story and then tack on her ending as if she'd written the whole piece." It led to a long fannish conversation about whether fans had the 'right' to modify each other's work, which led to another long fannish conversation about the difference between fannish courtesy vs. rights and ethics. The fact that several other well known authors like HG ("Strange Days Indeed") and Pamela D ("Painting the Clouds") had done similar 'rewrites' was never brought up in the public discussion. See Remember Angola and Alternate Ending to Catharsis.

Even once the truth of the matter was clear, some authors were still upset by how easily their stories could be modified, now that there were plain text versions of their stories online. At least one author, Alexfandra, pulled her stories from the online archive because of it. In the aftermath, someone said to Anne, "Well, I'd encourage an essay rather than a 'redo' or whatever (geez, we don't even know what to call this thing, do we?!)". The word remix was still years in the future.

See also Responsefic and Remix.

Reactions/Reviews

1998

Sebastian loves unresolved endings. They're her thing. Look at "Et In Italia Ego", look at - damn, I always forget its title - the one where Doyle has to decide whether to marry the girl in the morning or not. He has sex with Bodie but we don't' get his decision.

>literary value apart, those unresolved points drive you crazy and also make the story unforgettable and always resonating obsessively in your mind

I think this is, in effect, what Sebastian wants the reader to feel - and probably what she wants to feel herself. I think the open-endedness of it all has an attraction, leaving it at that turning point or the fork in the road. A lot of her endings are about *possibilities*. We are not shown what could happen, we are told what might happen.... and the curtain falls.

This works very strongly and positively for me in the story I usually cite as my favourite Sebastian story, "Down by the Waterline", which on some levels is one of those stories where not much happens - well, Bodie and Doyle fool around sexually a bit but that's all. And it's all very sexy and poetic. (Don't let me sound as if I don't value that highly. Consummately. It's everything.) What it isn't, is emotional - that's the point. Their feelings are largely invisible, and largely unrealized even by themselves. But the ending - the skip in Doyle's walk, the possibility that their orginal assessment that they'll be sorry they did this tomorrow is wrong - that strikes me as incredibly moving and romantic. But it isn't a fact, it's a possibility.

It's as if Sebastian likes to write all her stories in the subjunctive.

Frustrating though this can be, I love it. Other people give cut and dried stories about what happened. Sebastian's stories are at least partly about what *might* happen even though she's not going to show you. [3]

2003

I have to say, I have read stories in other fandoms, and although of course there are great authors and great fictions, still I find that the quality of most writing in Pros is particular. Well, we do have the name of being a *very* harsh fandom that rips stories and writers apart (not true, but we do believe in criticism) and if this attitude gives us writers such as Sebastian, I'm all for it ~g~ [4]

2004

I might as well state my bias upfront: Sebastian is my favourite writer. If I could recommend only one author to be read, it would be Sebastian (there may be more than one writer by this name in fandom at large; this is the Sebastian who wrote Pros and Blake's 7 slash in the 1980's and 90's). One of the cool things about her writing is that a significant change can be seen in it over the years she was in fandom. She developed as a writer, increasingly producing more layered and complex texts. Hence, her later stories are more often recced. Her earlier work comprises mostly simpler, often sweeter, tales, many of them first-time situations: and they're just as fine in their way as the later ones, and more beloved by some fans than her mature work. [5]

2008

SQUEEEE!!! Sebastian has a website! I always wanted to know more about her. I imagined her as a little whitehaired lady (sorry, no offense intended), because she's one of the 'classic' Pros writers and because her fics have been written about 15-20 years ago, I believe, and even then she must have been a mature grown-up person, not in her teens or tweens, I think. Of course she may be even younger than I am (I'm in my fifties), but I can't help it, she's like Homer or Vergil - or perhaps Tolkien...? - anyway one of those people you absolutely cannot meet, because when you finally read their classical works they've been dead for a couple of years/centuries. I'm probably babbling... :isashamed: [6]
Sebastian's one of those writers you gorge yourself on in the early days of fandom. Her name comes up, you go look, you fall in and you read EVERYTHING. Then you go off and read a whole lot more by a lot of other writers and maybe you find yourself disagreeing with the way she writes Doyle sometimes.. So you don't read her stories as much as you used to. And then one day you go reread Perfect Day and it all comes back in one blinding sugar-rush and you remember why she earned all that love and repsect in the first place. Some litany to set the locks on Bodie's heart. Hey, it's what the story is; a litany to set the locks on a fan's heart. [7]
Sebastian is such an odd mix. I don't actually agree with much of her interpretation, especially of Doyle. And yet, she so often captures him in her words and descriptions. [8]
Sebastian's biggest strength as an author is painting pictures with words imo. When I read a scene by her it's like I'm right there watching it happen in every detail. [9]
... Sebastian has a real talent for getting her readers to visualise what is going on in her stories and, as I'm sure you know, sometimes weaves parts of a story around an episode. [10]

Notable works

The Professionals (some stories are available on the The Professionals Circuit Archive, some still in print and others are on her website):

Other Works

Blake's 7:

Sources for the list of Sebastian's works: fan fiction listed in the online Circuit library and Joan Martin's notes from 1996.

References

  1. fan discussing Sebastian in 1998 on the CI5 List, quoted anonymously with permission.
  2. Sebastian's memories posted on Hard-Facts.net dated October 20, 2009; WebCite.
  3. [MS], January 25, 1998, from CI5 Mailing List, quoted with permission
  4. from a 2003 comment at Crack Van
  5. from a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  6. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  7. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  8. feedback left in 2008 here.
  9. feedback left in 2008 here.
  10. feedback left in 2008 here.
  11. The story has been reviewed here on crack van dated August 20, 2011; WebCite. In 2008 and 2009, shootingtokill created photo-manip tributes to the story which can be read here; WebCite and here; WebCite.
  12. In 2008, shootingtokill created photo-manip tributes to the story which can be read here;WebCite
  13. The story was reviewed here at ci5hq on Feb 19, 2010; WebCite.
  14. In 2008, shootingtokill created photo-manip tributes to the story which can be read here;WebCite
  15. In 2008 fanartist shooting2kill combined photo-manips to text from the story. It can be viewed here; WebCite.
  16. In 2008 fanartist shooting2kill combined photo-manips to text from the story. It can be viewed here; WebCite. In 2006, the story was reviewed here at rec50; WebCite.
  17. Story has been reviewed here at prosrecs on June 13, 2011; WebCite.
  18. In 2008 fanartist shooting2kill combined photo-manips to text from the story. It can be viewed here; WebCite.
  19. On the origins of the series: "We didn't get much sleep at these weekends [at O Yardley's home]. During one of them I was in the bunk on top of HG. Trying not to wake the six others in the room we tossed ideas up and down between the bunks and came up with Two in a Bunk plus a story written all in letters, her taking the part of Bodie and me of Doyle, which we wrote back and forth by post once we were back at home." Sebastian's memories posted on Hard-Facts.net dated October 20, 2009; WebCite.
  20. In 2008, shootingtokill created photo-manip tributes to the story which can be read here; WebCite and here;WebCite.