Slash Fiction is Like a Banquet

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Title: Slash Fiction is Like a Banquet
Creator: Arduinna
Date(s): March 19, 1999
Medium: essay
Fandom: slash
External Links: at Arduinna's site; WebCite
at Sandy's site.
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Slash Fiction is Like a Banquet is an essay written by Arduinna in early 1999 in response to a mailing list discussion about the rash of very similar, often very short, stories being posted at the time.[1]

The central metaphor of the essay holds that the world of slash fandom is like a banquet to which we each bring a beloved dish...but once it becomes customary to bring lemon-garlic hummus from the store, everyone starts bringing the same thing, and as a result our feast is impoverished.

Some fans know it as "the hummus essay" due to the topic of hummus, as well its title on Sandy Herrold's site, Confessions of a Fannish Butterfly. On Sandy's site, the essay was called: "Slash is a banquet! (but all I can find is hummus)." [2]

Years later Arduinna offered insight into the origins of the essay:
I wrote it one Saturday during a list discussion on... er. A pan-fandom slash discussion list on onelist, which in my head is called "oneslash" but I'm not entirely certain that's correct. The memory, sometimes she fails me.

Anyway, iirc (it's been a while!) the conversation was one of the interminable rehashes of public discussion about stories, and whether it's okay to say you don't like a story or whether you should only ever praise things. As always, several people on the list were vehemently insisting that no one ever say anything negative in any way about any story, because omg, if writers are not praised to the sky at all times, they will stop writing! And then there would be nothing to read! (With the general implication being that if there were even a chance that someone might not be praised because fandom said it was okay to say you don't like a story, that authors would be too intimidated to ever post anything.)

A few of us (me, z_rayne, a few others) were trying to point out that sheer quantity isn't everything, and people have a right to have their own taste in fiction and say so, etc. And pointing out that if a writer is producing nothing but poorly written dreck, encouraging her just results in *more* dreck, and at least saying "um... spellcheck? maybe?" might make it more palatable. (The dreck in question, to clarify, was a spate of people posting what amounted to story *ideas*, without bothering to flesh anything out at all, posted as fast as they could type them up, and expecting to be praised for that.)

The return argument was that dreck was better than nothing, so quitcherbitchin', already, and be thankful that people were writing anything at all.

So I started writing up a reply. The arguments I'd been making, about stories per se, were just making people defensive, so I decided a metaphor was in order. And I was, um. Really hungry. *g*[3]

A Later Sort-of Similar Essay

"You Mean Everyone Brought Potato Salad?" is an essay by Merlin Missy. It has the subtitle: "Knowing What Your Audience Is Bringing to the Table Is Half the Battle." It was written in 2007.

While Merlin Missy's "Potato Salad" essay and Arduinna's "Hummus Essay" use food analogies and are about fanfic expectations and similarities, they take a different fork in the road. As it were.

Fan Comments

Do you remember the Hummus rant? The hummus rant grew out of Sentinel fandom, and the theory at the time was that too much communication led to the same story (same length story, same takes on the characters, same themes, same tropes, same fanon) being written by many different people (aka, everyone new thinks it's a hummus banquet.) So when you sit down at the table, there's a lot of stuff, but after awhile there's the feeling of 'that's it? where's the cherry pie? And I would kill for a hot dog right now.) In reaction, there was then a wave of 'dark stories' that would come out, but again, similar badfic characterization, similar takes on 'edgy' behavior, etc, etc, etc. Then another wave of some other variety of story--let's say post-betrayal fic, since everyone had to write it--and then another after that. [4]


  1. Author's personal memory, and also, accessed October 2, 2008
  2. The Rants and Rambles Page -- at Sandy's site. Accessed October 2, 2008.
  3. comment left in "Hummus Take Two", May 9th, 2007; WebCite
  4. comment by wickedwords at something's been lost in translation, July 5, 2008