The GDP Series
|Title:||The GDP Series|
|Date(s):||(?)1999-2004 (Fan comments date back as far as 1999, while the latest pubication dates give on the archived website are from 2004. Some stories may have been published later)|
|Genre:||Sentinels and Guides are Known|
|External Links:||Susan Foster's GDP Series (an original site)  |
Some of the stories are at Archive Of Our Own: GDP AU
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
The GDP Series is series of Sentinel fiction by Susan Foster, and one of the first popular Sentinels and Guides are Known AUs. It popularized many tropes that are now associated with both the AU as a whole and the related Sentinel AU in other fandoms.
The series and its worldbuilding has also generated quite a bit of controversy regarding the fic's depiction of slavery, BDSM, and the definition of gen. Fan commentary is one reason why some of the stories are no longer available.
"GDP" stands for "Guide Development Program."
About the Series
From the summary on the first story's page:
This story is set in the near future in an America very different from today, Sentinels are acknowledged and their abilities are used in everyday life in Police Work, Military, and Search and Rescue. Guides are thought of as second class citzens who's only function is to serve their sentinel, they become their property. Some guides turn rogue, and are hunted down by the sinster GDP, who have total power over them.
The TV Tropes description:
The GDP stories by Susan Foster is an alternate universe Sentinel Fan Fic series in which sentinels and guides are common and well-known to the public. Sentinels are widely respected due to their positions as protectors of society, and are given a status which is (largely) above the law. Their empathic guides, however, are treated as property, by the general public, sentinels — and by the sinister Guide Development Program, a Government Agency of Fiction in charge of training, organizing, and policing guides. The series follows Jim, a sentinel who never wanted a guide due to the inherent Unfortunate Implications of the thing, and Blair, who never wanted to be a guide for obvious reasons and who has about two years of serious trauma to work through (including rape and torture, so be warned, although very little actually occurs on-screen), as they try to make the most of their recent empathic bonding, and of their Crapsack World.
Lists and Primers
- the list of stories are here at Cascade Library; all fics were originally posted online; a few were collected later into some print zines: see Susan's Sentinel Stories. Some stories are no longer available as the author removed some due to fan discussion. 
- Sentinel Primer: GDP #2, Archived version
The GDP Series was very influential in the conception of Sentinels and Guides are Known AUs, as well as the Sentinel AU in other fandoms. Some tropes, vocabulary, and themes are so common that some readers of Sentinel AUs are often under the mistaken impression that these are concepts inherent to The Sentinel as a show.
- Genetically determined Dominance Hierarchies
- Bonding, and a period of isolation for the bond to take
- "After the initial bonding, sentinels and guides require a period of isolation together to confirm and strengthen their bond. This isolation should last a minimum of seven to 14 days, during which time the Sentinel will be particularly protective of his or her guide. The Sentinel will confront anyone who seems to threaten his/her "ownership" of the guide... The sentinel and guide generally settle into their bond and work through their differences during this period."
- Sentinel possessiveness and ownership
- "It is recommended that during this time no one attempt to talk to or touch the guide. He or she is considered by the sentinel to be his or her "property" and at this early stage of the relationship detection of another's scent on the guide could cause a violent reaction. Case history ....."
- Bond reestablishment
- "During their lifetime together, Sentinel and Guide will reaffirm their bond on a regular basis. This is especially so when either Sentinel or Guide is sick or injured."
- Specific 'powers' (and side effects) for Guides themselves.
- "When bonding, the empathic guide completely lowers all the natural barriers that shield him or her from the emotions of the people around them. While this enables them to become sensitised to their sentinel and capable of feeling their emotions, it also leaves the guide totally vulnerable to ambient emotion. A touch from a person not the sentinel can cause extreme pain. Because this pain would be transmitted to the sentinel, whose protective instincts are already on the alert, the sentinel is to be considered very dangerous. There have been cases reported when a bonding sentinel has killed someone who touched the guide, causing pain. When the bond has been sealed, the guide will again raise the emotive barriers and can be safely approached."
- Only a bonded Guide can calm down their Sentinel
- "An enraged, bonded sentinel is genetically programmed to respond only to his or her bonded guide."
- Intense emotional bonding that comes with a warning
The series introduced many terms that have been used in other fanworks.
- Sentinels and Guides are Known
- Senior Sentinel Prime
- Dark Sentinel
- Dark Guide
- Claimed and Marked
- Rogue Guide
- Empathic pathways
- Reaffirming the bond
Other Fanworks the GDP Series Inspired
- Conforming to Requirements (slash) by Fluterbev ("In a society where Sentinels are prized, and the inferior status of Guides is enshrined in law, Sentinel Jim Ellison doesn't want to Bond. His rental Guide isn't allowed to.") (includes podfic)
- Control Issues (slash) by Litgal ("In a world that knows, loves, respects, but doesn't trust its Sentinels, Jim is determined to hide his abilities. He won't submit to a guardian ad litem having custody of him in a legal system that ranks him on the same level as a child. He will not give up his control, not to anyone.")
- Exile (gen) by Java Head ("A 14-year old Blair is a rogue runaway empath in search of his true Sentinel.")
- Fate's Fallout (slash) by KC ("I've admired Susan Foster's AU GDP series for a long time, and found it refreshingly original, very inspiring. This story is based loosely upon that.")
- stories by Arnie (gen) but just barely
- Sentinel Corps by Rogue
- Planet of the Sentinels by Saul
- Latchstrings by Becky (2003) - according to one review, "This is another in the genre (yes, it's becoming a genre) of fanfic inpired by the GDP series...
Reception & Reactions
I love this series. I. Love. This. Series. What I love about this series is how Susan manages to walk that VERY fine line between smarm and slash. It's damn near impossible to do, but she does it. And she does it well. The series is intense, but then again, the world she's create is intense. Guides are damn near slaves and Sentinels their owners. Until one Sentinel/Guide pair start changing the world to suit them. If you like dark angst, you'll love this series. But a warning, if you try to read this in one sitting, you'll blitz out on it. So, my recommendation? Take day long breaks. Or at least hour, if you can't wait that long! -Lady Angel Loves... 
GEN, but still kind of slashy. This is one of the best AUs I've ever read. Sentinels are known and admired. But the guides are treated as slaves with no rights, controlled by the GDP. But when Sentinel Jim Ellison meets rouge Guide Blair Sandburg things start to change... A long angsty series with many parts. If you're looking for hurt/comfort fics this series is for you.-Kristina's Corner
A huge *huge* favorite series of mine. The author has done things I wish I could and has created an entire universe that is very enthralling (at least to me). I eagerly await each new story and reread older stories quite often. **This is mostly for the main series; the more recent stories aren't as good (IMO) and the Dark Guide subseries is becoming something uncomfortably close to slash fic.** -Becky's Fanfiction Recommendations
This is possibly the most well-known Sentinel AU out there. It's established many cliches of Sentinel fanfiction - bonding, Dark Sentinels, guides (or sentinels) as second-class citizens, etc etc. It's definately gen, but the bond between Jim and Blair is so strong that it generally satisfies even hardcore slashers. It does have its faults, of course, but in general it's a hugely interesting universe, with well-written stories. It's also massive. Each story is pretty long in itself, and I can't begin to count how many stories there are even in the main series, let alone all the spin-offs. Many of Susan's other stories are tied in some way to the GDP - and other writers have also played in her universe. I'm not sure if there's an actual list of all GDP-universe fics anywhere, there are just so many of them. The place to start, though, is Sentinel 101.-AU Recs by Lanta
Susan has created an AU world where Guides are essentially slaves to their Sentinels. Blair is a Guide without a Sentinel and doesn't want one. Jim is a Sentinel without a Guide who doesn't believe that anyone can "own" another person and therefore doesn't want a Guide. However, things change, and the two are forced to bond. Susan writes Jim in a very caring while at the same time very "covert ops" and intense way. Blair is written as both vulnerable and strong. The three stories she has so far (Sentinel 101, Sentinel Primer, and Living with the Past) are filled with h/c, drama, and excellent story-telling. Simon also plays a large part in these stories, and is written very well, which for me, is one more selling point. Wonderful stories in a series that I hope will have more installments to come.-Becky at Best of Sentinel Drama FanFiction
A parallel universe series set in a future America where the Sentinel phenomenon is well-known and Guides are treated like slaves. The stories are, so far Sentinel 101, Sentinel Primer, Living With The Past, Outside Looking In, Happy Americas Day, Forget Me Not, Sentinel Sanctuary and Sentinel Conference.
This is one for the h/c fans, definitely. So why did I keep reading? Particularly when there were times when I wanted to throw it down in disgust at what those sick bastards (who deserved to be struck by lightening) were doing. (And a feeling of horror, wondering how any freedom-loving people could have allowed such oppression to happen.) Well, it had a plot. And I admit I like psi things like empathic bonds.
Though the characters of Jim and Blair here are Jim-like and Blair-like, they are only partly the guys we know. This is because (a) Jim is a Dark Sentinel (a product of the author's own take on the Sentinel mythos, which has some aspects that I really Do Not care for - particularly the dominance/submission stuff, and the split-personality - geeze, I know that Sentinels are primitive, but they aren't animals, for goodness sake!) and (b) Blair is an empath, with consequent vulnerabilities.
This universe for some reason, reminds me of the Sime~Gen universe of Jacqueline Litchtenberg, with Sentinels as Channel-Simes, and Guides as Companion-Gens - with the same non-person treatment that Gens got in Sime territories. There's even an offhand reference to a religious sect which feels a bit like the Church of the Purity. However, the Sime~Gen universe is much better.
This author has a weakness of style - she has a tendency to repeat herself - phrases, descriptions - for example, saying that Jim only expressed two emotions, happiness and anger. Perhaps if I hadn't read them all one after another, I wouldn't have noticed. Or perhaps not.
So why did I keep reading? Egged on by hope that there will be a revolution? Not in this lifetime, though. (Another thing that reminds me of Sime~Gen). Though, actually, one gets the impression from the last story that the author is going to ignore the difficulties of the universe she's set up, and make things improve faster than is realistically possible. I've got mixed feelings about that. Anyway, maybe I'm just a sucker for empathic bonds. Or I had a bout of temporary insanity.
But if you're a h/c fanatic, you'll probably love it.-Kathryn A at katspace.com
[yinkawills at The Slash Slut's Recs]
As a slashaholic i dont read gen fics in the fandoms I like. A reccommendation on the archive for Sentinel slash fic (852 Prospect) made me curious to read Susan Fosters GDP series of stories. I went over to the Sentinel Gen fic archive Guide Posts and started with Sentinel 101.
Set in an AU where Sentinels and Guides are known, and Guides are under the control of the Guide Development Project, treated as slaves, this series is brilliant.
And, Im sorry, but it looks like slash to me.
Guides are empaths, and Sentinels in this AU are rather primal. They link with their Guides via a mental bond that is emotional, requires body contact, and is very intense. Perceived threats to a Guide tip Sentinels straight into an extreme BP mode where they could easily kill. In this series, one of my fave Jim characterisations- PRIMAL JIM!- is central. He's a total hardass, who once bonded reluctantly with Blair - who in this series is one of my less favourite versions, MUCH ABUSED BLAIR- is not above crushing the life out of any threat to him. Literally. The key sense featured in this series seems to be smell, and Jim is way more tactile in this AU regarding Blair and is always sniffing him too. When Sentinels here come across each other they behave like hunting animals vying for dominance. BUt you can gues who turns out the be THE Alpha Male over all the Sentinels in Cascade! This series has great plots, and so much hurt/comfort you, gentle reader will need to take painkillers. And it has Jim angst and Blair angst by the bucketload. There's even a secondary series where the Blair/Jim pairing of centuries ago is revealed, and in that AU, Blair is a kick-ass, trained assassin as well as shaman and healer who is quick to want to carve up anyone who even looks at Jim the wrong way. And I repeat, ladies, ITS SLASH. Even though the author has characters declaim that the Sentinel/Guide relationship is um not sexual, nevertheless, they are described as soulmates, two bodies but one soul, often sleep wrapped up in each others arms, and things are way too intense for all that -we are best friends and brothers -- shit.Definitely a case of DEnial being that river located you know whereSERIOUSLY THIS IS A DAMN FINE SERIES.
I like the concept of the GDP universe, but lately the writing has left me a bit cold, especially as it tends to run to long "bonding" scenes wherein you have to wonder how they get any work done, what with all that bonding going on. Plus, Susan has an unfortunate tendency to post without any editing of any kind, which really turns me off.-rhyo on fluterbev's DreamWidth
I found the *idea* of the GDP universe was good... the execution lacking. The writer does have some strengths (the original setup showed a lot of imagination, at times *too* much, and most of her her OCs are unusually good, though the baddies do share the melodramatic Victorian villainy that all too many writers indulge in), but she set up a universe of overwhelming harshness and then... seemed to baulk at the logical (indeed inevitable) progressions such a universe entailed. But one has to say that the idea *has* inspired some very good AUs of its own (some appallingly bad ones, too). Me, I'm simply not keen on the genetic/biological Sentinel/Guide thing anyway, so it's harder for me to get into them.-Sally M at Gen Fic Crit
[the_hobbet on Crack Van]
Imagine a universe in which Sentinels are valued for their abilities and feared for their protective, sometimes savage, instincts. To allow Sentinels to remain sane and function in society they are bonded with empathic guides, who become their property. The GDP, Guide Development Project, is a corrupt agency with full authority to find, train, and control empaths.
Blair is an empath who tried to hide his abilities in order to keep his freedom. Jim Ellison is a late-blooming Sentinel who is repulsed by the idea of owning and being dependent on another human being. But Blair is captured, first by psychotic Sentinel Alex Barnes and then by the GDP, who label him rogue and set out to break him. When Jim goes into a life-threatening crisis, the two are thrown together.
The GDP series, along with the associated Learning Curve, Dark Guide, and Dark Sentinel series, are very popular in Sentinel fandom. Nevertheless, I have been uncertain about reccing them. Susan's writing is often rushed and sloppy, riddled with poor grammar, plot holes, and typos (especially when first posted - the older stories have been mostly cleaned up). But she tells such gripping and emotional stories that readers overlook the flaws. The concepts in these stories have inspired many other authors as well, spawning a whole sub-universe of Sentinel fiction. I think it is a good idea for the interested reader to start here, at the beginning.PS. While classified as Gen the bonding scenes are sensual enough to satisfy many slash fans. Enjoy :-)
The AU that has spawned many other AUs. The author is against slash, yet the whole story is full of manly skin on skin bonding, so who cares? Jim is an unbonded sentinel. He must have a guide. However, guides here are completely the property of their sentinels and much abused both within and without the sentinel-guide relationship. Blair is considered a problem guide and has been horribly abused. Will Jim be able to bond with him? Will Blair ever be able to have a semi-normal life? Whole series and sub-series and other stuff on Susan's page.-read_mercutio on livejournal
[jane-elliot in epic-rants]
You can probably tell where my big issue is with these stories. The fact is, fiction in which supposedly sympathetic characters not only accept, but embrace slavery just rubs me the wrong way. Especially when many of those characters are black (frankly, in that case I consider it outright offensive). In the past I've been willing to give these stories a chance, but the idea that Jim and Simon are even remotely willing to accept a person as less than human and thus a slave makes me cringe. It's just so very, very out of character, not to mention character bashing. Some folks really seem to like seeing Jim and Simon (there are others, but Jim and Simon are usually the biggest offenders) redeemed by their slow realization that Blair is way too awesome to be a slave and therefore slavery must be bad, but even in the best written stories in this genre, the fact that Jim and Simon will initially accept the slavery (and abuse and human trafficking) leaves a bad taste in my mouth, no matter how 'happy' the ending is. Thus I'm passing on these fics from now on. There's plenty of Sentinel fics that have the characters treating each other like human beings to read instead.
To get an idea of how weird TS gen got, you should look up Martha's "The Beach" (I can't find a link right now) and other great works of smarm. Also the GDP series, because my God that was strange. It's basically slash where the author doesn't realize it's slash.-sineala in a comment on bigmamag's journal
Hehehe. I read that whole series "years and years" ago. Yes, Ive been around for long time. Anyhoot. Its def an intense and not for the faint hearted reading. I swear Ithought it was slash the first time round, but its NOT.
so all those longing intense emotional semi sexual bonding scenes where they lay in each others arms for hours.....yeah--thats TOTALLY HETERO! LOL. All that growling over protective Alpha posturing that he does when anyone comes close to blair, yeah.....totally NOT gay! lol.
having said that, good world building and those GDP officials....(shudders) def a good read if you like HURT and HURT and then Comfort!-batgurl10 in a comment on sentinelficfinder
This is it. The series that got me reading fanfiction in the first place.
I had dipped a little into some other authors starting with Beauty and the Beast and then on to Sentinel but it was Ophite who sent me to your website and this is the one that got me hooked! I started reading this over the Thanksgiving holiday in 2008 and finished about the second week in December. Then walked around for about a week doing the "great read depression drop" where you WANT more to read because it was soooo good for so long. I have the whole saga saved together as one big .doc file which is 1,039 pages long just called GDP - Susan Foster, sorted in rough chronological order. I then went on to read everything else on the site. No subscribing to an author in those days so I would check into your site every other week to see if anything new was posted.-desertrat in a comment on Sentinel 101
[abolitionist on Sentinel 101]
Oh, yes, the GDP. . .
That paean to human trafficking, which asserts confidently that being trafficked and degraded is quite a glorious thing, so long as you wash up against an owner you can learn to be compatible with.
The worst part of it is, it's not only mislead otherwise clearsighted thinkers into justifying their own control fantasies, it's now spreading and propagating in crossovers to other realms where new and viewers are learning seductively that degradation and objectification can look a lot like Romance and Fulfillment.
Use your critical thinking skills, folks - there are no happy endings in human trafficking and enslavement. No matter what frosting you put on it, this cake's putrid to the core.
The whole GDP AU is so well built and well thought out. I am currently writing a Sentinel/Hawaii 5-0 crossover. Eventually in my world, laws are going to get passed that take away guides' rights in some way, but I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to do it yet. So my question is basically: may I fanfic your fanfic? I'd love to write something about how the world got to the place it is in GDP. You would, of course be given full credit for your ideas. If you're not totally ok with this, it's no problem at all, and I certainly won't use your ideas without your permission. Thank you for your consideration and happy writing!-Alliemackenzie28 on Sentinel 101
- The GDP series on TV Tropes
- Susan Foster's GDP Series
- The Sentinel Primer
- Dark Guide Series
- Archived Version of Susan Foster's GDP Site. Accessed April 2019.
- Fan Fic: The GDP Series, see that page for tropes
- misspaperlilies said: What is this Sentinel/Guide business I keep hearing about?
- Sentinel Primer: GDP #2 and Archive Link. Archived Feb 2, 2016.
- Kathryn A at Gen Fic Crit, October 2003
- Lady Angel Loves...; WebCite and Wayback Machine. Archived Dec 1, 2002
- Sentinel Recs, Kristina's Corner and Archived link. Archived April 28, 2003.
- Becky's Fanfiction Recommendations: Drama and Archived Link. Archived Feb 18, 2007.
- AU Recs by Lanta and Archived Link. Archived Jan 17, 2008.
- Best of Sentinel Drama FanFiction on the Web; Archived Oct 12, 1999. Website was updated the day before archiving, and The GDP is a new recommendation by the author's own account. The rec wasn't on the list on the prior archiving date in Jan 1999. Review possibly written Oct 11, 1999; definitely written in 1999.
- Kat Space, 2000
- Slash Sluts Multifandom Recs Board: More Sentinel recs, Archived version August 2001
- comment by rhyo at New TS Fic Recs!, May 23, 2004
- Gen Fic Crit, October 2006
- Crack Van and Archived link.
- Sentinel AUs: Mercutio Reads!, and Archived link. 2006
- GDP Stories post in epic-rants dated Jan 29, 2010; reference link.
- This is quite homoerotic -- Due South shipping meta, posted January 2, 2011
- Epic Rants: Where Religion and Fanfic Collide, December 16, 2011
- comment in Susan Foster's GDP Series dated Sept 17, 2012; reference link.
- comment at AO3 (April 26, 2014)
- comment at AO3 (March 25, 2014)
- Sentinel 101 on A03; January 7, 2016]
- comment on Sentinel 101 at AO3; June 30, 2016
- Archived Link 2. Accessed April 2019.
- Archived Link 2. Accessed April 2019.