Nature Series

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Zine
Title: Nature Series
Publisher: AMC Press
Editor(s): Laura Pecks
Date(s): online: June 1998 (first part)
zine: September 1999 (first part)
online 1999 (second part)
zine: 2000 (second part)
Series?: Yes
Medium: online, print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: The Sentinel
Language: English
External Links: Nature Series (Speranza's Fiction)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Nature Series is a series of a net-published Jim/Blair slash fanfiction by Francesca. The first part, Nature vs. Culture, was Francesca's first Sentinel story.

These zines were sold as #1 and #6 of the Best of the Net series published by AMC Press. Agented by Requiem Publications with print and PDF ezine available as of 2018.

Zine

Issue 1

Nature Series 1 contains 208 pages. It is volume one of Best of the Net.

From the distributor, this zine is a "series of stories dealing with Blair and Jim’s sentinel/guide relationship and how it evolves into something neither dreamed of." [1]

Issue 2

Nature Series 2 contains 162 pages. It is volume six of "Best of the Net."

From the distributor, it "continues the series, covering the developing relationship between Jim and Blair, and how they survive a manipulative FBI agent who almost leads them into disaster." [2]

The cover and interior artwork of the zine is by TACS.

Awards

The series won/was nominated for the following awards:

1999 Golden Guppy Awards--Online Categoy

  • Best Short Story--Nothing On
  • Best Action--The Nature Series
  • Author of the Year
  • Best On-Going Series
  • Best Characterization of the Lead Characters
  • Best Use of A Sex Scene As Character Development

1999 Huggies

  • Best Dramatic Story Online
  • Best Writer

1998 Golden Slash Awards

  • Best Series
  • Best New Author

Nominations:

From the Author

From Slashcast Insider Interview with Speranza in 2012:
And I didn’t know how to [write fanfic] other than I thought, ‘oh well, I’ll write one and that will be my way of putting into the pot as it came around.’ It was like a contribution, you know. So I thought I know how to do this, so I’ll write a story and that’ll be my way of saying ‘Boy I have had such a good time’ and I thought I would just write the one and that’s not how it worked out.... Um, and really famous last words. ‘I’ll just write this one story’...Yeah... and it went on for kind of a while. Yeah... [How many parts?] I don’t – I honestly, I’d have to go back and check but I ended up writing this thing called The Nature Series which was at least 30 stories... I don’t know how that happened it was all kind of a blur. You know it was really it was like going back into a worn path it was like ‘this is so fun. This is about as much fun as you can legally have.’

Recs and Reviews

Unknown Date

An AU rec page would not be complete without Francesca's wonderful The Nature Series. If you haven't read it *gasp*, you've just decided what you're going to do the rest of the day.[3]
Francesca has a wonderful ability to do funny, bantering, believable dialogue. Jim and Blair grow closer as the series goes on yet they still argue, mostly playfully, and banter and grow as characters.[4]
A magnum opus, a true classic, everybody will have read it already anyway, so why am I still reccing it? Because it is the most elaborate alternate version on how the sentinel senses work and will ultimately develop that I have found so far. It puts a much greater emphasis than TS canon on shamanistic and Guide (with capital G) things, but that's fine, because it is consistent in its version and very well written. And I shouldn't forget to mention that it also draws a vivid picture of how their relationship might develop. And when you're through with the three arcs and their 29 stories that are published so far, don't miss the Cycles Series, with a look from 50 years in the future back on our favorite duo.[5]
It's the little perfections that make all the difference: the way Jim lets himself want things in Nature's Fireworks, the academic discussions in Nature's Conferences, the obscene phone call and Marxism over the morning paper in Nature's Boundaries, everything.[6]
A captivating AU in which Jim and Blair's relationship as Sentinel and Guide reaches all-new dimensions. Riveting action, hot sex, and mystical overtones combine to form a delightful action-romance-adventure that follows Jim and Blair's relationship from its initial rocky start and through the years of joy and angst and discovery that follow.[7]
Many rave about her Nature Series; I'm not as fond of those stories as I am of her stand-alones, as I find them to be naggingly unfinished — essentially the literary equivalent of a backed-up sneeze. However, the underlying premise of the series is intriguing, and the stories are worth a read, particularly the early ones.[8]

These series are just so damn good you have just got to hate her for being so damn talented. Where Candy might be my favorite author these are my favorite series. Just start at the top of her page really and don't stop until you hit bottom. Watch for warnings though, she does mean it sometimes. In these series we find the true power and mysticism of the Sentinel/Guide bond revealed. This series goes way AU, but it is so damn good you don't really realize it. She manages to weave a tale that is sortof fantasy/scifiish and you don't even catch it because it is so fascinating. One thing I liked was that no one was sortof delegated as the chick in this, they are both still guys and still fabulous. No cute pet names or anything that I can remember and both are still wonderfully masculine. Blair is his usual energetic, enthusiastic self and Jim is just as repressed as ever. He gets better though. Sortof evolves and changes. As things move on you even see them change roles a little bit. Gain a balance of power over one another, that is just fascinating and wonderfully. They are always fully equals in this and I loved that. Alters events in canon somewhat, but I don't mind when Alex doesn't get a chance at Jim.

I'm going to warn you that Jim and Blair are dead in the Cycles series. They both lived long happy lives together though and have returned as spirit guides to help another Sentinel and Guide. This story is set years after the Nature series. In which Blair left a very lengthy dissertation that was left to a predecessor to help future Sentinels and Guides. We are verging into het land here and it took me a long time to really get into this series seeing as Jim and Blair were dead, but they pop up now and again. It is just as well plotted out and engrossing as the Nature series though and a fit continuation of it.[9]

1998

[I] recommend Francesca's Nature series. If someone had told me before I started reading what some of the plot elements in this series would be, I would probably have screamed and run in the other direction, and that would have been a major mistake. So I'm not giving any spoilers. (Oh, and read the stand-alone stories, too.) [10]
I am thoroughly enjoying [this series], even with the telepathy and magic healing stuff... [11]

1999

I've been rereading many of my favorite long series of stories recently, and thinking: Is it inevitable with even the best writers, that eventually a series of stories veers gradually more and more away from the tv show and more to the author's own style?

Maybe that doesn't make sense. Maybe it would be better just to give examples, though of course, right now...my mind is blank.

Hmmm: TS--the Nature series,, HL--Shield Brothers, Pros--Party Spirit...

It's something like, 'they start with good stories, written by good authors, no further off characterization than most stories...and then by story 10, they've gradually created their own versions of the characters, and if a new reader just started at story 10, they'd think, "hmm, these are odd characterizations."

Or not. [12]

This powerful series of stories follows the development of not only the relationship between Sentinel and Guide, but also the supernatural powers of Sentinel and Shaman. The writing in all of the stories is compelling and consistent, the characterizations are expertly done and the whole series is addicting.

The first story draws you in. There is a rhythm to the writing, a sense of increasing energy that isn’t completely released at the climax of the story. The plot—Blair comes on to Jim, who reacts violently—is so well done, with such intensity, that you can accept Jim’s actions. While you don’t like what he has done, you can believe he is capable of it.

The remaining stories show Blair’s growth as he enters a program to become Jim’s official partner. Blair has difficulty accepting aspects of his decision to become a cop; for example, the necessity of carrying and using a gun. His skills as a Shaman begin to come on-line, and he must face unpleasant aspects of that as well. In one story he receives a horrifying vision of disaster and must find a way to avert it.

Jim matures throughout the series, growing to gradually accept his new abilities and the weird things happening to them. He also faces the changes in their personal relationship, at times guided by instincts that he doesn’t understand.

Lest we become bored with angst and mysticism, there are cases for the boys to focus on, and nearly every story has been spiced up with sex scenes that are not only steamy but relevant to the plot! In one scene, Jim is guided to draw symbols on his naked Guide, claiming him in a primitive ceremony that strengthens their bond.

If you need more after you have finished these, check out Francesca’s related Cycle Series. These are set in the future, when an anthropologist moves into the late Dr. Sandburg’s office and finds 18 volumes of information on Sentinels—the dissertation he never published. [13]

2000

oh, fuck it, recommending Francesca is almost totally redundant. Recommending the Nature series is even more so, since we're at the twenty-somethingth installment and if you haven't read it then you're probably never going to. But still, this page is more about my opinion than it is about anything else, and in my opinion, Nature's Revelations totally kicks ass. [14]

2001

I'm going to pick on the Sentinel writer Francesca, because I think she doesn't get picked on enough. Specifically, I'm going to pick on "Nature's Outing", which is certainly not the most egregious offense in the world as these things go.

Carolyn rubs me in all the wrong ways in this story. Granted, if Nat and I split and he ended up with another guy, I don't think I'd take it well, and Carolyn certainly has a right to be upset. It would have to be disconcerting, to say the least.

On the other hand, she's really, really nasty, and Jim later implies that she was like that a lot during their marriage, so it's not a one-time deal in this universe: she's the kind of person who rips into people in extremely nasty ways. And I don't see it in canon, and I *hate* seeing it in stories.

It's the repeated and regular occurrance of this kind of characterization of female characters that makes me feel that fanfiction in general, and slash in particular, has a misogynistic streak a mile wide.

Now, granted, part of my problem with "Nature's Outing" is that, when I read it (I just looked at the archive date, and it's the same day my first TS story was archived), there wasn't any sense of it setting up stuff for later on. That it *did* is what saves it for me--I mean, so many times bitchy Carolyn is just *pointless*--but that doesn't change my initial reaction to the characterization, and on re-reading, I still react that way (even knowing what comes afterwards).

Honestly, what happens in "Nature's Conferences" is what keeps "Nature's Outing" from being a story I can't re-read. No matter how much I like the dialogue and the pacing and the sex scene. The particular characterization of Carolyn (presented in "Nature's Outing" in isolation) is one that makes me feel like kicking people in the head (er, I'm kinda a bitch myself...) [15]

2003

Out of this world writing. A brilliant portrayal of Jim and Blair, fabulous writing, drop dead wonderful dialogue. Brilliant writer who is in a class of her own. [16]

2004

The "Nature" series is deservedly on almost every "must read" list of Sentinel fiction you're ever likely to come across. There are 29 stories in the series and I've numbered them for easy reference. Francesca has divided them into 3 main arcs: Nature Versus Culture to Nature's Celebrations comprise the first arc, Nature's Reversals to Nature's Conferences comprise the second arc, and Natures Correspondence to Nature's Blindness comprise the third arc. Francesca has advised that a fourth arc was planned but was never started. <g>.[17]

Francesca is a compelling writer with a terrific grasp of dialogue and a gift for crafting long and tightly-knit plots. Her Nature series is perhaps the best known and most influential AU in the fandom. Comprised of three arcs1, it explores the mystical facets of the Sentinel/Guide connection, achieves genuine character development, sex meaningful to the storyline and is composed of plot arcs both small and large.

The Nature series is so well known, in fact, I asked my flist what they think of it:

bastian1967 -- I really enjoyed the series. It is one of the few in Sentinel fandom that I have formated for my PDA so I can read it over and over.

mz_bstone -- It was a lovely au.

catmoran -- It's the definitive Sentinel novel.

swanswan -- My love for it is more of an on-going thing, as I re-read it pretty constantly.

korestemenos -- I loved it so much that I read it all in one weekend. Then read it again the same weekend.

princess_bunny -- It's the first fic I read in TS, and still the best.

rhyo -- The ultimate compliment - it *almost* made me like baseball in the baseball chapters.

tboy -- Literally the 1st TS fic I read, I was disappointed when the rest of fandom *didn't* follow the characterisation! I got over it. Then watched the eps, heh.

tobyfan -- It's an amazing relationship series that looks at so many realistic aspects of a couple working through their issues and problems. Plus, hot sex! [18]
Oh gah, this is where my Blair should have some sort of powers thing comes from. Best story[ies] in TS. [minus the most slutty one ever by Mailander] [19]

2005

This is an incredible series that explores the nature of the Sentinel and Guide and their connection. It's a long series, but it's constructed in pretty much stand alone arcs. This first story is a little dark, but don't let that scare you away. If you love the 'sentinel' part of TS, this series is a must read.[20]

2008

Francesca's Nature Series is quite possibly the most famous collection of stories in the entire Sentinel fandom. I think I've read all of them, but I never really got into them, mainly because the series lost me in the very first story.

So, what happens in the first story? After a fantastic night on the town (to celebrate Jim's birthday, I think), Blair makes a pass at Jim. Jim promptly beats the shit out of Blair, causing Blair's spleen to rupture. Blair runs away, passes out at the wheel of his car (due to internal bleeding), runs into a lamppost, and is rushed to the ER.

Jim, who isn't feeling much in the way of remorse, frankly, comes to the ER after Simon orders him there, magically heals Blair (no, I'm not kidding), and suddenly he and Blair are hunky-dory and well on the way to a sexual relationship.

I just...really? I mean, if *my* best friend beat the shit out of me, just healing my physical wounds wouldn't even begin to *touch* the emotional issues I would have. Frankly, I'm not sure I could ever forgive such an act, much less promptly make myself even more vulnerable to having my heart ripped out and stomped on.

Francesca states in her author's notes that the whole goal of the first arc of her series was to get Jim comfortable with bottoming. Frankly, I think she should have used that arc to get Blair comfortable with being within striking distance of Jim and Jim bending over backwards to make up for committing a felony (aggravated assault) on his best friend (honestly? I don't even remember him *apologizing* which...just...no). As it is, I never was able to get emotionally invested in the series, because none of the characters emotions felt plausible or real to me, not after the way they behaved in the first story.[21]
Ahhh. That sounds suspiciously like something I read ages ago... Then I reached for the brain bleach rather quickly.[22]
I read this series when I was first getting into The Sentinel fandom and every third rec was for these stories. For the life of me, I can't figure out why; honestly, if I picked up this series for the first time today, I wouldn't have made it past the first story.[23]

You've described exactly what turned me off this particular series: I couldn't get past Jim's uncharacteristic violence towards Blair, nor the fact that Blair forgave him so readily. The (IMO) out-of-character and unappealing behaviour of both the guys meant I didn't read further than than the first story.

It's a shame, because I generally really enjoy Francesca's writing, but for all the reasons you mentioned, I just wasn't able to buy this one.[24]

I could maaaybe buy Jim's violence (assuming we then got a ton of backstory to explain it, probably including a pedophile), but there's just no way I can believe that Blair would be so happy to believe the man who violently assaulted him just a few hours before. Just no way. Frankly, the whole thing made me feel very uncomfortable and if I hadn't still be reading a lot of Smallville slash (which takes disturbing to a whole new level), I doubt I would have read beyond the first story either. And, honestly, I don't think you missed much by stopping where you did. Unless you really like spirit guides and mystical healing, that is.

The funny thing? I adore Francesca/Speranza's Due South fics. I think she grew a lot as a writer during her Sentinel years and the DS fans got the benefit.[25]
I read the first chapter and went WTF? And ran away screaming. I did go back, reread, and continued with the whole series which I liked. But it's really her one shots that capture Jim and Blair for me. And her DS and SGA stories I like very much. You've articulated all the problems I have with the first story. It's just...off.[26]

2009

I got past it [the first story], though the stylistic errors were an issue, and I read it all, but I don't think I'd read it again, though I reread Francesca's short stories often and love them.

As you say, that's such a literal kick in the teeth what Jim does. Freaking out, maybe a single punch; okay, I can kind of see that especially as Jim was drunk, but what he did went way beyond that and it's not easy to accept happily ever afters that start that way.

I find a lot of the always rec'd fics in many fandoms to not match up to the level of buzz around them. I sometimes wonder if people actually read/like what they rec; if it's become almost automatic. There was this one fic in the Buffy fandom that was endless and epic and I could not get into it to save my life and people raved about it...then I met up with some fans, years later, it got mentioned and we all confessed we couldn't stand it/hadn't read it ::g [27]
Francesca's Nature Series is a series all on its own - gorgeously written, unique. [28]
If only there were more "head hop...first fic[s]" such as the Nature Series. I would be a very happy reader indeed. I didn't know they were Francesca's first writing endeavors. Very impressive if this be the case.[29]

I had far more squick issues with the first story in the Nature series where Jim, in a fit of homophobic rage beat Blair up to the point where he nearly died and then was given the power to heal him.

The power imbalance inherent in an abuser being the source of healing for his victim is stomach-turning.[30]
You know, I've never admitted this before, given the fact that the Nature series is so revered, but I couldn't get past that first story. I guess after all these years I should go back and read the rest of it, but I just don't want to if the "abuser is the source of healing for his victim" as [J] says. I just don't see Jim beating up Blair under any circumstances, especially in a fit of homophobic rage.[31]
It's taken me years to be able to get past that first story myself. I recently read through the whole series for the first time, after many failed attempts to do so. I have to say that the rest of the stories are absolutely brilliant, so I'm glad I persevered at last. She writes the characters so spectacularly well, and is just an inspired and immensely clever writer in general.[32]

Stories in the series

The First Arc

  • Nature vs. Culture.
  • Nature's Surprises
  • Nature's Fireworks
  • Nature's Visions
  • Nature's Sacrifices
  • Nature's Training
  • Nature's Trials
  • Nature's Celebrations

The Second Arc

  • Nature's Reversals
  • Nature's Relations
  • Nature's Visitations
  • Nature's Breakdowns
  • Nature's Return
  • Nature's Boundaries
  • Nature's Strategies
  • Nature's Momentum
  • Nature's Outing
  • Nature's Conferences

The Third Arc

  • Nature's Correspondences
  • Nature's Failures
  • Nature's Conspiracies: I
  • Nature's Conspiracies: II
  • Nature's Conspiracies: III
  • Nature's Conspiracies: IV
  • Nature's Ascent
  • Nature's Descent
  • Nature's Revelations
  • Nature's Recollections
  • Nature's Blindness

50 Years Later...The End

  • Nature's Cycles

References

  1. Lionheart Distribution
  2. Lionheart Distribution
  3. Dominique Elize's Sentinel Alternate Universe Recs
  4. from Whispered Words
  5. Rat Creature’s Alternate Universe Recs for The Sentinel
  6. Fanfic Recommended by cmshaw
  7. Rushlight's Recs: The Sentinel. (Accessed 01 June 2013)
  8. from This is Katya
  9. Slash Slut's Sentinel Recs; reference link
  10. the flambeau factory: recommendations 1998
  11. comment by Michelle Christian, on Virgule-L, quoted with permission (August 14, 1998)
  12. comments by Sandy Hereld, at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (January 11, 1999)
  13. by Angie T at Focus: Archived Reviews (July 31, 1999)
  14. comment by Calico at *anhedonian recommendations*, April 2000
  15. from Misogyny in Fanfiction (2001)
  16. comments at Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (May 24, 2003)
  17. Madrigal's Fanfiction Recommendations, January 3, 2004
  18. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  19. a 2004 comment at Crack Van
  20. 2005 Rec 50
  21. Epic Rants, July 2008, Jane Elliot
  22. Epic Rants, July 2008, serendu
  23. Epic Rants, July 2008, Jane Elliot
  24. Epic Rants, July 2008, makeanewworld
  25. Epic Rants, July 2008, Jane Elliot
  26. Epic Rants, July 2008, bleedtoblue
  27. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  28. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  29. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  30. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  31. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)
  32. comments on Prospect-L, quoted anonymously (March 2009)