Remix reveal day! I wrote two stories this year: They Have To Take You In (A Sheepish Story)
and Follow the Story (One Queen, Bearing Gifts)
. I'm going to talk about each in a separate post.
---------------They Have To Take You In (A Sheepish Story):
1,700 words, June 2015. After the events of The Dark Is Rising
, the Black Rider calls the White Rider for help. This is only amusing for one of them.
Remixed from Strategic Sheep Purposes
, by Gramarye
Toward the end of the remix signup period, I took a look at the signup summary page to see if there were any requested fandoms (aka, fandoms in which people had already written stuff) that could use more offers to ease the matching process. Most of the unloved fandoms were things I either don't know at all, know only vaguely through internet osmosis, and/or have no interest in writing, but there was one request for Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising sequence. Which is not a fandom I have ever felt impelled to write in of my own accord, but is certainly one I love and know fairly well, and for which I'm more than willing to write responses to other people's Yuletide or Three Sentence Ficathon prompts.
So I said hey, why not... and of course that's where I was matched. *wry*
It was also where I was pretty much stuck writing, because all of Gramarye's other fandoms fall into my "don't know" and/or "don't care" categories. Which is how it goes, sometimes! The world would be a very boring place if we all loved exactly the same things.
Anyway, I read through Gramarye's DIR works, rapidly concluded that I had no business trying to write about Welsh politics in the 1980s and 1990s, and decided to elaborate on one of the many drabbles instead. Then the trick was choosing which
drabble. I copypasted several of them to a brainstorming file and spent the next three and a half weeks looking at them occasionally and sort of vaguely weighing options in the back of my mind.Strategic Sheep Purposes
is, oddly enough, the first drabble that really caught my imagination and the one I tentatively settled on as my target when I first read through Gramarye's archive. My usual fic exchange pattern calls for my first idea to get unceremoniously trampled by a later, more insistent plot bunny, but while I do still have half a notion to poke at the Jane-centric plot bunnies inspired by two of Gramarye's other drabbles, in the event I could not resist the sheep jokes, nor the chance to explain to my own satisfaction a question that began to bother me when I reread all five books in rapid succession: namely, what did the White Rider think of the Black Rider's dramatics in the first two books of the sequence, given that she apparently stayed well out of those disasters? (And in fact may have persuaded him to do likewise for a while thereafter, given the low level of the antagonist in Greenwitch
Also, the idea of two ageless personifications of darkness and evil acting as bickering siblings tickles the hell out of me. This may be a flaw in my character. *grin*
I feel that this was probably an obvious story to anyone who's read my other DIR work, considering my established interest in the White Rider and the way she balances her two lives/selves, but we love what we love and there's not much use pretending otherwise.
And now I'm just going to blather about the DIR sequence in general, because I have been sitting on these random observations for over a week now!
When I decided to refresh my familiarity with the series, it turned out to be cheaper to buy a complete box set than to simply fill in the missing books in my collection. This is weird and silly! Also, in theory I should only have needed to buy TWO missing books, but my copy of The Dark Is Rising
was eaten by book gremlins lo these dozen years ago and I kept forgetting to replace it, so in practice I had three titles to purchase. I never actually owned Over Sea, Under Stone
until now. The first omission never bothered me, but I do dearly love Greenwitch
and am glad to have had an excuse to fill that hole in my personal library.
On another side note, reading all five books in fairly rapid succession makes their time discrepancies screamingly obvious
. In-universe, the sequence plays out over a period of not quite two years: the Drews find the grail in late summer of Year One, Will joins the Signs over the Christmas season that links Year One and Year Two, Jane gets the translation key from the Greenwitch around Easter of Year Two, Will and Bran claim and use the harp around Halloween of Year Two, and the final battle happens shortly after summer solstice in Year Three. Which is all well and good.
In the first book, copyright 1965, the Drews use pre-decimal currency, meaning the book must be set pre-1971. By the second book, copyright 1973, there's a specific mention of a Mrs. Horniman "coolly disregarding changes in the currency" and handing out silver sixpences to the caroling Stanton children, which sets it firmly post-decimalization. And then by the fifth book, copyright 1977, Bran casually refers to Snowdonia as the "only place that didn't die of the drought, back in nineteen seventy-six," which means they are in 1977 at the very earliest, and quite possibly a few years further on given the phrasing. We've somehow stretched two years of events over at least seven years of real time. Even for the Old Ones, that's flatly impossible.
So when do
the events of the sequence take place? I think the best way to rationalize them is to handwave the pre-decimal currency in book one as an artefact of Early Installment Weirdness -- after all, that book was written as a standalone, and has some other oddities like Mr. Hastings (aka the Black Rider, one of the greatest Lords of the Dark) not being able to use a spell to breathe underwater, though Will can pull that trick easily in book three and he's far from the most powerful of the Old Ones -- and work backwards from book five, on the assumption that it's set somewhere between 1977 and 1980. But not much later than that, or you'd start running into Margaret Thatcher's fights with the unions, and I think that would've altered Mr. Stanton's dialogue in the opening section of book five.
Okay, I'm done babbling now. *wry*