Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Into the Fire" - Tortall Fanfic Review

Following the previously reviewed Tortall fanfic "Out of the Frying Pan..." is its sequel, "Into the Fire" by Zurizip, posted August 30th, 2002--September 12th, 2002, left uncompleted. Xlelon, our Mary Sue protagonist, prepares to be sent into Scanra as a diplomat while some unknown enemy attempts to dissuade her with various attacks. Like with "Star Trekkies", the fanfic deals with the subject of 9/11, when meeting the incident's first anniversary.

The plotline about the enemy trying to persuade her not to perform her diplomatic mission is set up pretty well. Stormwings show up at the beginning to add a sense of foreboding, and then the Xlelon character suffers multiple mysterious attacks as the story goes on. It's not enough to make her an anti-Mary-Sue as the author seems to think, but it does make the story more interesting to read.

One of the attacks sends Xlelon into a fevered state where she relives her worst memory, which is 9/11. I think 9/11 is a rather unique tragedy in how it shocked the country so thoroughly, and I like reading all these various references to people dealing with it. It's similar to the Japanese short story collection After the Quake, about various characters dealing with the Great Hanshin earthquake.

However, I rather dislike the author's attempt to claim 9/11 as evidence our universe is more violent than the Tortallan. I feel like Guy in Galaxy Quest, asking the author "Didn't you ever read the books?" Aren't Ozorne and his Stormwings comparable to the Taliban, anyway?

On the issue of internal consistency, in "Frying Pan", Xlelon makes a reference to September that is met with confusion because Tortallans use a different calendar system. Then in "Into the Fire", we have...
Later that night, Xlelon woke without fanfare. She sat up slowly, surprising Baird and Daine, who had stayed the whole day.
"Could someone tell me the date?"
There was silence for a moment, then Baird found his voice.
"It is September the eleventh."
"Ah." She said calmly, "That explains it."
While nicely done as far as 9/11 atmosphere, it's a continuty error. Another one is that in "Frying Pan", Xlelon takes to saying "gods" instead of "God" immediately, but has difficulty making the transition in "Into the Fire".

Overall, it's really just okay. It's not good, but it's not horrible either. Like its predecessor, it's getting kicked off the favorites list.

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