Unfinished Melody

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Zine
Title: Unfinished Melody
Publisher: The Nut Hatch Collective, distributed by Entropy Press
Editor:
Author(s): Jane of Australia
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s): JJ
Date(s): 1988
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover of another edition

Unfinished Melody is a 176-page slash Professionals novel by Jane. It is an AU with a historical setting involving changelings and vampires. It includes 7 interior black-and-white, full-page illos by JJ.

cover
the acknowledgments page

It was later republished as original fiction. See Later Published as Original Fiction.

See List of Professionals Fanworks by Jane of Australia.

A 2000 Flyer Description

...a novel of the vampyre

Here is one from the "golden days" of Nut Hatch, when the zines came out thick and fast and the fandom was burgeoning. Always a favorite, and Number 2 on the "best sellers list" at this press. Here's the original "blurb" from the 12-year old flyer!

A story of the occult, of magic and dark temptation; of murder and the secret world of Mankind which has always existed, separate from the sunlight. The people of the night. It is 1892. Leaving the British Army after being injured on service in China, Captain William Bodie finds himself thrust into the glittering world of London's high society. There, he will meet a young Irish occultist. He will fall in love, and despite the best of efforts he will become embroiled in a world to which he is an alien; the world of the Changeling. Caught between two worlds, captive and fugitive at one time, Raymond Doyle is running from his past, searching for his future, hiding a terrible secret which Bodie should never have stumbled upon. [1]

From the Publisher: Kathy Keegan

From the zine:
This novel is from THE NUT HATCH CREATIVE WORKSHOPPE. Not for general sale: Get it from a friend. Get it for a friend. But no part of this novel may be reproduced in any way or form without permission from the publisher. Please do not photocopy it as a favour for your friend; the result is that she won't know it is/was a zine and not a circuit story, and will copy it for her friends, who copy it for theirs — ad infinitum. Got it?? This is a zine! And unless The Nut Hatch can sell its copies, we'll go broke and won't be able to do any further zines! Many thanks for your attention and your co-operation. This novel is copyright. -- Kathy Keegan, Publisher.

Here is Kathy Keegan as publisher, not editor, because I did not put one sticky little digit on the hand-written, scribbled manuscript. It was typed, and will be copied in the next couple of days. You have in your hands the author's finished product. I can tell you that the last section was rewritten for reasons of cohesion — not at the behest of any rough-copy reader, but to please the author.

You yourself must be the judge of our decisions, and we would like to take this opportunity to solicit letters of comment. As a rule, we get maybe three or four LoCs on any given zine, which is okay — a lot of people don't believe in them! This time, however, we'd love to hear from you if you have things to say or points to raise. And now, enough from me — Enjoy!

From the Author: Jane

From the preface of the zine:
This novel is a work of fantasy, but the occultism in it is genuine--as is the person of Madame Helen Blavatsky. All other participating characters are fictionalised, although many of the names mentioned as background to the story are very real.

Violinist Ysaye and coloratura Tetrazini were indeed performing. Alphonse Louis Constant did indeed write that book on the Tarot under the name of Eliphas Levi. The artists, composers and occultists otherwise mentioned speak for themselves!

The Intervention of the Sabine Women' does ineed [sic] hang in the Louvre. If you can, try and view a copy! Well worth the effort to track it down.

From the Artist: JJ

From the zine:

I don't want to take credit for DESIGNING the cover art, even though I did draw it. The lizard-on-incense-burner design is by Boris (cover of The Executioner; also appeared in one of his art books). But I did redress the whole concept!... As the Doyle-model in the sketches for this zine-novel, I'm basing the coiffeur on MS's hair in EAST LYNN. The costuming is drawn from two sources, both films you'll know: MS's HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and Christopher Plummer's MURDER BY DECREE! I hope you enjoy the results!


Sample Interior Gallery

Later Published as Original Fiction

It was later published as original fiction called "Nocturne." [2]

Summary of original fiction version: "Step into the glittering midnight world of the ancient ... the immortal ... the vampyre.

Intrigue welcomes Captain Vincent Bantry home to London in 1892: he's a veteran of the Far East, opium smugglers, Manchu warlords, but little in his experience prepares him for the young Irish occultist, Michael Flynn. Their future unfolds in the Tarot cards - danger, pain, struggle; but the end of their story cannot be told. And what of the past?

The mystery of Flynn draws Bantry into an occult world, alien and irresistible. Instinctively he knows Flynn is different, not merely beautiful, brilliant, exotic, but unlike any other man he ever knew. Soon Vince is caught in a tangle of deceit, danger, one jump ahead of the law, and seduced by the grandeur of a midnight world into which he's glimpsed ... and which he desires."

Reactions and Reviews

1997

Unfinished Melody is another vampire story; Doyle gets to be vampire again. This one is set in the 18th or early 19th century; it's been a while since I read it and I don't remember it clearly. There's lots of travel in this story; I think Bodie and Doyle get trapped all winter in the Alps. Lots of European locations, anyway, and more travalogue description.

In neither story [the other being Flesh and Steel ] do I find a Bodie and Doyle I recognise. I've no objection to character stretching; lots of people don't recognise the characters in Heat Trace, and I'll agree that its a big stretch, but I like those characters and the Bodie and Doyle in F&S or UnMel. just don't appeal to me. [3]
Unfinished Melody is set in England around the turn of the 20th century. Bodie is an army Captain just back from China and he visits an old friend in London. While there, he is introduced to the current fashionable society and meets one Raymond Doyle. Doyle is a mysterious character - he reads the tarot and suffers from a strange affliction that prohibits him from going out in the daytime. Bodie is fascinated and Doyle is - interested. The story follows their adventures which include a series of Jack the Ripper type murders and a mad scientist who gets all too interested in the exotic Mr. Doyle. [4]
What I liked about this was the way she gave a whole new slant on the group of which Doyle is a member (trying desperately not to give too much away here but you'll probably guess when you read the beginning). Again, a real page-turner. And [K's] right about the mad scientist bit - heart in mouth time. [5]

2000

Vampires ahoy! This was given to me many years ago and it is a beautiful alternative universe story set in the nineteenth century. Very briefly, the story is about he love affair between Captain William Bodie, late of Her Majesty's Army and Mr. Raymond Doyle, vampire. The vampires in this story are definitely the good guys and are extremely sensual, especially the gorgeous Chabier, the Parisian 'head' vampire. There is a plot, it's actually a good one but I'm not going to spoil it should anyone find this to read and the story is so well written that I can see 'our' Bodie and Doyle in this sexy pair. Summary - loads of shagging, vampires, Bodie and Doyle - what more could a girl want?[6]

2011

My first long Jane fic.

Not Pros at all. A touch of Bodie, no Doyle.

Interesting, but very, very narrative. Meaning not much dialogue, mainly long paragraphs telling me what's going on, and who's doing what and going where.

Liked the first third a lot, as Bodie meets Doyle. Loved the idea of Doyle's profession (occult).

Was slow in spots, but I liked the descriptions of London, Paris, and the other locales (of which there were quite a few). Those parts made the story visual for me, so it worked. I did get the feeling the author enjoyed showing her knowledge of the settings. Don't have a clue how accurate they are, but I didn't care when I was reading since it was interesting enough.

Liked many of the secondary characters, and I liked the vampyre aspect anyway since it's one of my things. I would have liked more lively vampyres! It was very "soft"... How do I explain that? The characters were generally shadows of themselves? Bodie was the most vivid character, with the most "life" (given that the others were the undead!).

Overall, 6 out of 10. :) I wouldn't read it again but I did enjoy it. I finished it which says a lot for me because I couldn't finish the last two zines I started. :) [7]

Much as I (occasionally) like occulty witchcraft supernatural stuff, I cannot square it with Pros, even really in AU. I've read a couple of Doyle as wiccan, or Doyle the follower of the Old Ways. Mmm. No. I blame Robin of Sherwood.

I have just finished a different Jane story last night, and the title has gone out of my head entirely, argh. But your description of long paragraphs explaining what's going on with less dialogue is spot-on. They're very good long paragraphs, but it's a noticeable characteristic in the writing. In whichever story that was, anyway - argh! [8]

It's been aaaages since I read Unfinished Melody, but I bought it and read it on the strong recommendation of someone and I've got to say that I was really disappointed in it after that.

My biggest squick with it was the way she portrayed Doyle - despite being the vampire of all vampires, and strong and powerful and fast and all, I seem to remember him fainting at the slightest thing, and swooning and weeping guiltily all over the place too. Bodie seemed to do an awful lot of carrying him around in his arms...

I did get the feeling the author enjoyed showing her knowledge of the settings. I don't especially remember this when reading it, but I've noticed it alot in other Jane fics, so don't doubt you at all! I tend to think it doesn't do the author much good (whoever it is), because the reader's being pulled out of the story to admire how clever the writer is, and that means you're not enjoying the story any more, and then... well. *g* I always think people are far cleverer if they're not continually letting me know how clever they are...

I love AUs and I don't at all mind vampire fics (well, good vampire fics... *g*), but... but they've got to match the lads, and I don't at all remembering thinking that this did...

telling me what's going on

Ah, maybe that was part of it - the old thing about showing readers, not telling them... *g* [9]
It seems a long time indeed since you read this fic. I have the zine and read it a few times. For one Doyle isn't the super-vampire, there are other people falling in that category. And the cases when he is weak, well he has good reason to be. I mean being the guinea pig for a demented and spiteful doctor would undermine anybody's spirit, wouldn't it? And I think it's also an understandable fear that a new lover might not be keen on learning that one is a vampire, no? [10]

My abiding memory is that Doyle, as vampire, was supposed to be stronger than any human - and in fact a quick flick through my copy finds this: "My bones are dense," Doyle said softly, "We become stronger and stronger, and consequently, heavier. I could break you like a fresh carrot." On the next page Bodie describes the advantages of being a vampire: "To live forever, be immune to illness and very strong, freed from the tyranny of my stomach?" So no, perhaps my memory was playing tricks about "vampire of vampires" but my meaning was that in spite of being described as a super-human being, Doyle's behaviour in the story is not that of a strong man (physically or mentally). I personally can't be convinced by a Doyle like that, he's not the Doyle I see in canon whose conscience bothers him now and then but is basically confident (to the point of arrogance sometimes), strong and sure of his place in the world. To convince me, vampire-Doyle would have to display those traits too, and I found them missing in Unfinished Melody.

On the same page, Bodie also describes Doyle thus: "How could I be afraid of you? You sat there and wept out of loneliness an hour ago, and swore to heaven you hadn't hurt the doe who fed you." I just can't see Doyle "weeping out of loneliness", or being so sensitive about something as practical as feeding from a deer, especially when he's been doing it for hundreds of years.

Again, when Doyle is hurt in the episodes, we see him struggle to stay on his feet, to fight back - for me a good AU will translate that sort of behaviour to Doyle's reactions in the AU story, and I just didn't feel that Unfinished Melody did that. It may be partly his behaviour beside Bodie's as well - Bodie is portrayed as the wiser, stronger (mentally) man who knows what's best for Doyle because Doyle can't quite be trusted to look after himself.

So whilst I agree that "being the guinea pig for a demented and spiteful doctor would undermine anybody's spirit" and that "a new lover might not be keen on learning that one is a vampire" I just can't see Doyle reacting in the way that he does in the fic - not as Doyle.

Obviously other people's mileage varies, as they say, and not everyone is looking for the same canon characterisation in a story. That's okay too, but I stand by my opinion! [11]

It works for me as original fic. It doesn't work as Pros. I read it with the mindset that it was original fic and so I was able to finish. If I saw this book in paperback, I'd probably say, sure go ahead and buy it.

As a Pros novel, I'd tell you to save your money.

If I must think of this as a Pros story, then I'd have to say Doyle was so annoying and whiny, I'd have to hate him. As an original character who happened to be named Doyle, he was all right. Even then, I admit he was a little to "fragile" even though he was physically strong. The the author kept telling me how slight, small or willowy he was. [12]

References

  1. flyer
  2. Nocturne by Mel Keegan; from a post at Seeking Pros list makers and readers of Mel Keegan's books; WebCite; also see Mel Keegan Online (older site via Wayback), also see Mel Keegan Online
  3. comment by Susan H. the zine on the CI5 List (January 29, 1997) quoted with permission
  4. comment on the CI5 List (January 29, 1997) quoted anonymously
  5. comment on the CI5 List (January 30, 1997) quoted anonymously
  6. Pillow Talk no.6
  7. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers); WebCite by sc_fossil, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011
  8. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers) by moonlightmead, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011
  9. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers) by byslantedlight, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011
  10. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers) by paintedhorse, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011
  11. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers) by byslantedlight, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011
  12. Unfinished Melody by Jane - Comments (possible spoilers) by sc_fossil, posted in ci5hq, August 23, 2011