Non-Canonical Replies

Since they were getting long, here are some responses to the last entry’s comments:

Scrollgirl said: I’m just not ready to say that, just because we don’t see it, it is therefore uncanonical.

The definition of canon is that which appears on-screen. Anything that doesn’t appear on-screen is not canon, for my purposes. (Jeri Taylor novels are not canon.) Anything we haven’t seen, such as a sexual orientation for which there is no evidence, is therefore non-canonical. I don’t think I used the term uncanonical, which is a bit stronger. If something contradicts the actual facts of canon, such as saying Tom is exclusively gay when in fact he had heterosexual relationships in canon, that would be counter-canonical.

I’m not saying you can’t make an attempt to found a non-canonical characterization in canon facts - just that it’s still non-canonical, and therefore not what I’m after in fanfic.

Caffey said: I certainly do believe in subtext or else the only VOY pairings I would care for and/or accept as valid (for lack of better term) were P/T and C/7.

I don’t care for P/T myself - they bore me. I do like some non-canon pairings, especially J/P and J/C, but that fondness is not based on subtext. Maybe because it isn’t, I rarely find J/P or J/C fic convincing, and so I don’t read much of it.

Fay said: What puzzles me still […] is what you would consider NOT to be non-canonical, short of copying out the scripts verbatim.

The example that comes immediately to mind is my fic 148, which is a Spike monologue based on the events of Bargaining and After Life. As far as I recall, there was nothing controversial about my characterization of Spike and I just followed along with the relevant canon events for the plot.

However, I never said that I don’t read non-canonical fic. What I don’t tend to read is fic with non-canonical characterizations. Non-canonical events are fine by me, in the form of parody, AU’s, and adventures that go beyond simple novelizations of canon events.

Katta said: There are, in general, the kind of ficcers who want “more of the same” [and] there are also the kind of ficcers who want a twist - they like what they see, but something is missing.

I certainly don’t mind more of the same, but I’m more interested in twists to the canon universe and situations (AU’s). I’m not interested in major twists to the canon characters (slash, angst, etc.).

eleanorb said: The divisions for readers […] are breaking down, at least in the eyes of SF readers who read far wider than the delimited genre and recognise the themes of SF whoever writes them and whatever it is listed as in the publishers catalogues.

I don’t see any such breakdown. While I mentioned that there are stories which are hard to classify, they’re the exception that prove the rule. A similar theme doesn’t make something sci-fi, because sci-fi isn’t identified by theme any more than mysteries or westerns or thrillers are. Mass-market genres are classified by plot - they are the bastions of plot in modern literature.

6 Responses to “Non-Canonical Replies”

  1. scrollgirl Says:

    I certainly don’t mind more of the same, but I’m more interested in twists to the canon universe and situations (AU’s). I’m not interested in major twists to the canon characters (slash, angst, etc.).

    This is just a suggestion, of course, but couldn’t you just read slash as if it were an AU? Think of the Wishverse in Buffy: we have a twist to the canon universe which results in a twist in the canon characters. You can’t write an AU and still have perfectly canon characters. (Well, you can if you drop a canon character into a different universe, like the Pylea episodes on Angel.)

    Basically what slashers do is extrapolate from the existing canon universe and canon characters, and write their fic as if it were an AU — an AU that really isn’t so different from the canon universe. Their slash universe would be like two steps away from canon, not a thousand miles away.

    Most of us slashers don’t consider slash to be AU. But if it helps you to understand what we’re trying to do, just pretend it’s an AU. (Or not, if you just really don’t like reading slash :)

  2. Jemima Says:

    Slash is not AU, it’s an alternate characterization. An AU requires, for one thing, an alternate universe. It cannot happen in the canon universe. Tossing Captain Kirk into the Mirror Mirror universe does not make him evil - the question is how the canon Kirk will deal with the non-canon situation, not how a non-canon Kirk would deal with canon situations.

  3. scrollgirl Says:

    Er, I think I’m just going to have to accept that you don’t recognise subtext to be deliberate artistic choices made by writers/actors. But I’d like to point out that Voyager can show subtext between J/7, J/C, C/P, etc. all at the same time. That’s the whole point of subtext - to imply, hint at, subtlely refer to something without spelling out in big block letters that, yes, Janeway and Chakotay are in love. One pairing does not negate another pairing, not when you read it on the level of subtext.

    It’s just that fanfic writers pick and choose the subtext they want to deal with, just as you pick and chose to write about Spike’s emotions in “Bargaining” and “Afterlife”. You could’ve written from the POV of the demon bikers, but you didn’t.

    I started to get too long explaining about AUs so I’m going to send an email, okay? But wanted to also say, this has been a very interesting debate :)

  4. Jemima Says:

    The argument of the C/7 fans, for instance, is that there never was any J/C subtext, that the J/C fans were completely delusional, and that what they call sexual chemistry is just friendly banter. It can’t be both in the show, only in different people’s minds.

  5. scrollgirl Says:

    How many different readings are there of Spike from Buffy? Is Spike the rebel without a cause? Is he the spurned lover who nobly quested for a soul to be worthy of his lady? Is he a manipulative opportunist? Is he a deluded child with a Peter Pan complex? Is he a vicious rapist who should be put down? Is he trying to atone for all the people he’s murdered, or does he feel he’s exempt now that he has a soul?

    Fan reaction to Spike is extreme and varied. But it all comes from the text. We draw evidence from the show: Spike’s dialogue and actions, Buffy’s behaviour toward Spike, the inflections James Marsters uses on certain words, the imagery, the themes supporting Spike’s story. It’s all from the text but we all focus on different things.

    No different from the fact that subtext of J/C, J/7, C/P, P/K, etc. are all there but certain fans focus on certain pairings. It’s really nothing more than a ’shippers war. Subtext doesn’t disappear simply because fans disagree on its interpretation.

  6. Jemima Says:

    Certainly the characterization of Spike (and Janeway) has been all over the map, but that has nothing to do with subtext. That’s contradictory canon, which is a separate problem.

    The point of my previous example was that contradictory subtexts can’t all be there. They may all be in fan’s minds, but two contradictory interpretations of the same scene cannot both be in the show. At best the scene is ambiguous in that case, but the J/C and C/7 fans don’t say that - they say that the “subtext” is clearly J/C or clearly not.