Andrea Lyon's Visions Section.....
FFIC 101: INTRODUCTION TO FANFIC--
MY PERSONAL “QUEST FOR ISCANDAR”
by Andrea “Ande”
(Wicked Good Grrrl…)
How does a thirty-eight year old
female librarian originally from rural
I adored “Star Blazers” in my early
teens (outside of what was probably the sought-after demographic) and watched
it as often as I could when it was broadcast on WVII out of
I was seventeen when I stumbled across the term “fanfic” in Star Trek Lives! (Lichtenberg, et al.), but I never made the connection with my first “Star Blazers” scribblings.
I stopped writing fanfic by the time I graduated from high school and circular-filed most of my earliest fanfic during my Great College Frosh Purge of ’85-86. While I had other motivation and social problems that plagued my early college career, I wonder today if treating my creative efforts callously had so broken my own heart that I was unable to write at all for a time. In my later college career, I rediscovered and improved upon my ability to write, and even tackled (briefly) writing a fantasy or two. I was back on the trail again.
I didn’t encounter fanfic again—or finally acquire the name for this sub-genre of attic prose—until 1997. A co-worker showed me some of his fanfic, based on Sid and Marty Krofft and Hanna-Barbera characters. It wasn’t well-written, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him so. On the up-side, I thought, “Y’know, fanfic with H.R. Pufnstuf, Witchy Poo and the Bugaloos might be pretty good...done as a parody it could be hysterically funny…if the right person were writing it.” I saw that good fanfic came not from using the right characters--though that counts for a hell of a lot--but the ability to write.
I attended my first SF convention in 2000:
After that weekend, I began to seek my niche among the fen.
It was Arisia ca. 2002 that someone decided to schedule “Star Blazers” in the anime room. I hied me to said room in a fit of nostalgia. They played episode one from the “Quest for Iscandar” series. Just. One. Episode.
It was enough. It would still be enough.
I think I walked around pie-eyed and happily stunned for a few hours after, and even quoted Captain Avatar’s excellent “Idiots!” dialogue at least once to a delighted friend. I came up with the slightly icky metaphor that what had happened to me watching that one episode was like a junkie with twenty years of recovery deciding to hit it again for old time’s sake. I relapsed. I sought out sympathetic friends with recordings and players with the same desperation as the aforementioned junkie trying to score. As addictions go, “Star Blazers” is a pretty harmless one, with none of the nasty aftereffects of, say, smack, blow or crank. Good thing, because there doesn’t seem to be a methadone treatment for what ails me.
I kept up my mania for a few weeks and spent an evening watching “The Comet Empire” on VHS with a buddy, then it was all over...for a while.
The week of June 6th, 2004 I was surfing the on-line catalog of the library where I work. For some time I’d hoped to stumble across a catalog-holding of “Star Blazers” on DVD. That was the week I hit the number--the “Quest for Iscandar” series--and put in a network loan for Part One.
I thought I’d watch it and finally realize it wasn’t all that great or gripping and I could finally put my obsession to rest. Well, Fate laughed at me like “The Simpsons” character Nelson Muntz: “Ha-ha!” How had I forgotten I’d been so fond of angry-young-man Derek Wildstar? How had I forgotten the reverence I had for Captain Avatar, literally the Fisher King of the Star Force? Lord in Heaven, how had I never realized Amy Howard Wilson, the Voice of Nova, had such a great voice in that collection of great voices?
This is not to say “Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar” is perfect. Its artwork is flawed in spots, the translation and pacing is sometimes peculiar, and the continuity suffers on occasion. It is also heavily censored and outright bowdlerized to remove the violence, death, drinking and references to the former glory of Yamato, the mega-battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy. I also get the sense, especially when I’m watching Season One, that the original creators were making it up as they went along.
And yet “Star Blazers: Quest for
Iscandar” is very good. It was a
perfect tonic, somehow, for the last decade of the Cold War. In retrospect, it
trumps that other piece of nuclear-war-as-entertainment, “The Day After”
(1983). “The Day After” ends on a hopeless whimper-not-bang fadeout (“This is
When all might have been laid to ashes in a global/interstellar conflict…when at task’s end one still might die...or one’s work be all for naught...
“Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar” posited that humankind would survive, as long as one bravely lived and bravely loved like there was no tomorrow.
It was in 2000, well before I started watching “Star Blazers” again, that I became determined to come out of what I refer to as “the writer’s closet”. It just became time to write and to show my writing to the world. I hadn’t expected or planned that fanfic would become my métier for the time being.
My writing career as a fourteen-year-old had been predicated on secrecy and embarrassment because I was “writing about a cartoon”. When I started re-watching “Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar”, I remembered my long-vanished fanfic and thought, “I wish I hadn’t thrown it away, but I could try replacing it with better work.” “Star Blazers” in general makes my creative output wave-motion powered, and I’ve replaced several times over what I lost, even though most of what I have are just rough drafts. Maybe it’s all that raw, good stuff in “Star Blazers” that begs to be expanded upon that makes me write on it as copiously as I have. With any luck, I’ll make you forget you’re reading about a paint-and-celluloid world. This may be a slightly different “Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar” than what you remember—such is the nature of artistic license—but I’ll be as gentle as possible with changes I make. This is not to say I won’t put our favorite characters through the wringer…or even in the blender. God help me to finish what I started, because I’m going to be working on this for a while.
So set me up another sake, please, my friends…and I don’t mean “spring water”…and I shall fill your cups as well.
Please click on the links below....
TO ACCESS Wicked Good Grrrl’s work:
Part 1. O-BON FESTIVAL DAYS
Part 2. BITTER MEDICINE
Part 3. GHOSTS
Part 4. DARKEST BEFORE DAWN
NEW! A Christmas Special For Christmas 2008: MERRY CHRISTMAS, MRS. WILDSTAR
TO RETURN TO THE INTRODUCTION TO VISIONS....
Ms. Andrea “Ande” Lyon (a.k.a. Wicked Good Grrrl) is a
graduate of the University of Maine at Machias (‘94) and Simmons Graduate
School of Library and Information Science (‘97). In addition to her current fanfic project
based on “Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar/Uchuu Senkan Yamato”, her other
current SF projects include two W.W.II stories, one set in rural Maine and the
other an alternate history of the French Resistance based on “Cinderella”. She is naive enough about the
fanfic world that when a friend asked her if she’d written “O-Bon Festival
Days” on spec’, she gave him a puzzled
look as if to ask, “Is that how it’s usually done?” Ms. Lyon is also collecting personal history
for an autobiographical account, working title, Science Fiction Saved My
Life: The Adventures of an Off-Again-On-Again Fangrrl; this essay or parts thereof will likely be included in expanded form. She
likes attending SF conventions and reading and watching all that great
SF/fantasy that she “just found out about”.
While she’s not really ever done cosplay, she did wear, for one night
only at WorldCon ‘04, a marigold-colored v-neck 3/4-sleeve t-shirt with a three
equal lengths of black ribbon sewn on each shoulder, and has photos to show
said shirt exists; at thirty-eight, she’s a “bit too chunky for wearing the
equivalent of a bondage harness over an orange-yellow cat suit”. (Ms. Lyon has quite a mouth on her at
times.) She has--at this writing--a new
blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/wickedgoodgrrrl, working title Skylark Farm (“Good
Words Grow Here.”) that she may even start
to write in Any Day Now. She can be