daddywarbats (daddywarbats) wrote,

The Last Light - Extended Author's Notes and Commentary

As I've been archiving and editing much of my fanworks, I've also been working on streamlining author's notes and editing them where applicable.

In regards to The Last Light, this is something that's always been a goal, as it at one time had perhaps the longest author's note I've ever written and not for a very good reason.  Namely, The Last Light is, to date, the single most flamed piece of fanfiction I have ever written, subject to some of the most vitrolic poison I've ever had the misfortune to witness in over two decades of interaction with fandoms online.

And I completely understand why: it's a tragic horror that paints Sailor Cosmos in an unsettling and terrible light against the backdrop of a missing scene in Doctor Who.  Of the existing Doctor Who/Sailor Moon crossovers out there, The Last Light is the only one to paint a meeting of these two worlds as such and it is not something that sits well with some fans of the Sailor Moon franchise.

That doesn't mean I approve or tolerate the abuse I've gotten for writing it.

Worse, it makes trimming down the author's notes on that story quite... difficult.

The notes were added after I'd posted the story and were intended to further explain the thought process and basis for the story, as well as indicate which of the canonical concepts I'd been drawing on for inspiration.  I knew none of the individuals trolling the story really cared, but I felt that it did help for other readers, particularly in dealing with the context of the story and in understanding the thought process that went into it.  And, as several reviewers indicated, the amount of thought that went into the story was something that was impressive.  The length, however, had always bothered me and, time and again, I'd come back to it when I had a moment, trying to trim the fat as it were without sacrificing the meat.

I wasn't the only one who was bothered by the length.  One recent guest reviewer pointed out that I should just delete the comments instead of making a long-winded, tedious note (although, in not so kind a fashion).  After all, to paraphrase them, they're just comments on the internet.  Why should I even bother explaining myself when I can just delete the bad comments?

They are, of course, right: I can, will and do moderate the reviews that I am able to.

But they are also not the ones who have to see those messages prior to moderation.  Some of them have been positively vile.

Opening review notifications for The Last Light has become something of a Russian Roulette - do I get a review that's decent or do I get someone who has decided I need to be called a "stupid fucking bitch"? I never know.  I always look at the notification with nothing less than a bit of dread and it's with bitter resignation to just get it over with that I open the email to see what it'll be this time.  I catch myself sometimes regretting ever posting the story and other times having written it.

And that's horrible, because I am genuinely proud of that story.  It's well done.  I succeeded in what I set out to do with it, fantastically so.

I never intended this story to be anything other than this dark, Moffat-esque little bit of fridge horror with a subtle tragic feel to it.  It was designed and engineered to mimic the tonality of the then-current season of Doctor Who right from the start.  I chose the setting of the Cathedral at Sagittarius Zero for it's grand scale, it's eerieness, and it's connection to the events of StarS. It was literally the perfect place: unsettling and fantastical all at once.  Even the timeline referenced in the story is framed within the context of both the series narrative and the known temporal events.

For example, we know from The Beast Below that the Earth became unihabitable in the 29th century, due to intense solar flare activity, and that humans did not return for centuries, waiting for the earth to cool.  That episode was set in the 33rd century.  We know also that Chibiusa was from the 30th century and, specific to the BSSM anime, there was a natural disaster that required Neo Queen Serenity to freeze the Earth.  Furthermore, we know that Sailor Cosmos was from the far future, although how far was never specified, and that her war with Sailor Chaos had dragged on for quite some time, leaving only the two of them.  Presumably, Crystal Tokyo did eventually fall, either before or because of the fighting. Going back to the setting (40th Century), the state of the music box (tarnished, lettering worn smooth) and Sailor Cosmos's admission that she's been alone so long she's forgotten her name, the implication is that Crystal Tokyo had risen and fallen a long, long time ago.

I went one step further, as well, with the canonical Sailor Moon concept of the sailor crystals being empathic to their weilders, something that is repeatedly demonstrated in both the manga and anime, and developed it.

It wasn't a far leap, not really. There was already precedent in Doctor Who for psychic, empathic entities and species made of stone. So, for the purposes of this story, the question became "What if the Sailor Crystal itself wasn't just empathic, but rather a fully-realized sentient lifeform?"

Not one as we understand it, no, but something much more abstract: a highly psychic, empathic mineral entity existing in multiple states of potentiality, with the ability to affect changes on reality (in the form of "magic"). What if having a host was a part of its life cycle, a means by which it can find others of its own kind and reproduce?  What sort of drawbacks would it's host encounter? Would they be aware of them? Would the crystal even be capable of communicating on the same level as an ordinary human, in a way that we could understand? Where does it's power stop? Does it understand the difference between wishful thinking and a wish?

People have a tendency to see others as they want to see them. Now imagine gaining the power to warp reality on a global scale through this crystal medium. Are these people themselves or are they what they always wanted to see of them? Would they even be able to tell the difference?

This is part of why the Doctor reacts with such utter venom: yes, Cosmos offers him the opportunity to get his people back, but at what cost?  Would they truly be themselves or would they be defined by his idealized memory of them?

And therein is the rub: to some, this is me portraying the crystal (and, by extension, Cosmos as well) as evil, when, if anything, it is simply alien.  It is alien in a way that is, at is basest, unsettling and terrifying.  This is a parallel to the Doctor as well: he is at his most terrifying when his alienness is immediately salient (e.g. Family of Blood, Waters of Mars, et cetera).  Here, in this story, it is the sailor crystal's alienness that is deliberately highlighted.

Some people don't like that.  It's not a happy take on the Sailor Moon mythology and it throws a very dark cast on both Cosmos and the Cosmos Crystal, especially since it is heavily implied that it's the crystal doing the talking during the story.  However, dark takes are not necessarily a bad thing.  They have a space in the fandom and fulfill a specific need.  There are dark or vague aspects of the Sailor Moon series aplenty, from themes to unresolved plot threads, and it's a good and healthy thing to ask questions.  There's nothing wrong with examining the source narrative and asking about the implications.  There's also nothing wrong with exploring those through fanfiction, all the way down to the worst case possibilities or uncomfortable angles.  It is a valid part of processing the greater narrative.

It doesn't make the vitrolic comments I've recieved any easier to stomach.

In the long run, I've ended up with very mixed feelings about having written The Last Light.

I doubt I'll ever fully regret writing it, though.

Tags: author's notes, fandom - sailor moon, the last light
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