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Week 1 - All that you do comes back unto thee by T. A. MacIntosh

Discussion in 'Book Club: Tales of the Slayer vol. 2' started by Foxy, May 8, 2017.

  1. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    Hello all,

    This is the thread to discuss the first short story: All that you do comes back unto thee by T. A. MacIntosh.

    Josh, the boy Wicca from season 3, does a spell to take revenge on his bullies in college and drama ensues.

    What did you guys think of this?
    What did you think of the writing style?
    Did you like that they took a character from another episode and give him his story?
    Could this have been a Buffy episode?
    What did you think of the message of the story?

    These are some questions that you could use to get you started, but you don't have to answer them! I have plenty opinions on this short story, but I would like to first hear what your views are!

    Fun fact: Did you know that Todd A. MacIntosh was the make-up artist for the show?

    Go forth and discuss!
     
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  2. Last Watcher

    Last Watcher Tweed Icon

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    Sineya
    Cool, I'll read that one tonight :)
     
    Foxy: Looking forward to hearing your opinion!
  3. Priceless

    Priceless She doesn't just fight evil, she redeems it

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    Well I have really mixed feelings about this. To begin with I thought the Wiccan guy was called Michael, not Josh, but I could be confusing two characters :oops:

    I didn't think much of the writing style, though it did improve as the story went on. There are sentences like 'The door was heavy and resisted opening. He took the stairs two at a time' - these sentence structures don't make sense to me and didn't seem to naturally follow. If the door didn't open, how did he get to the stairs? o_O There was also a 31 word sentence ( page 10 in my copy) that had no punctuation at all. That just irritated me. Another one was 'A soft damp mist had settled over the room - smoke really' - well is it mist or is it smoke? :confused: Last one; 'Little tingles at the back of her ponytail', it's a terrible line and makes no sense, why not just say back of her neck? Okay, so I'm being nitpicky, but it's these sort of things that stop me fully enjoying the story.

    Saying that, I actually did enjoy the story. I liked the idea of a vampire from ancient Egypt being called to protect a boy from bullies - it actually makes no logical sense, but it's a fun idea. Once the Scoobies entered the story it did become a more interesting read, with Xander and Giles having all the funniest lines, especially Giles saying 'What you have done was decidedly unwise', such a major understatement :)

    I liked the story more when it began to take some risks, especially by having Josh die, that was unexpected. I liked the way his death was handled in a real-world way, with the police and Willow coming up with a story to tell his family. Even more shocking was Willow, blaming Josh for his own death saying he was weak and careless and that couldn't happen to her or Tara because they weren't like that. And Tara says nothing! Their converstion really surprised me and was the highlight of the story, in that it had depth and showed them as real, complicated characters, which I didn't think the writer really developed with the other characters.
     
  4. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    The character is indeed called Michael in Gingerbread, but I think it is pretty clear that this is supposed to be the same character. Either this was a goof or there were some legal issues, but I think it is the former.

    When I was reading the story I felt that it read like a poorly written fanfic as there were way too much omission and descriptions. Yes, I noticed that as well and I occasionally lost the thread of the story and had to re-read a page or paragraph because of this.

    I enjoyed this story a lot too, but it reads ironically enough a lot like Inca Mummy Girl. This feels like it would have fit much better in season 2 or 3. I was quite shocked by Willow's harshness as well, but I thought the idea of her becoming desensitised to death and horrible stuff very interesting. This plot was never really explored in the show, even though it could have been rather interesting. I enjoyed how his death was dealt with as well and was surprised that they actually killed off the main character for this story. I think if someone else had written this and played with the ideas introduced in this story it could have made a fabulous episode in the season.

    One thing that did bother me though was the fact it was quite unclear when this was supposed to take place and therefore it was quite hard for me to guess how the characters would act. I loved Giles' in this story, he was just amazing and hilarious. I loved the message he gave this story and it was handled rather well in my opinion.

    I do agree with you and it feels like this: gay person is only interested in gay characters and therefore only develops them. I feel he should have paid a little bit more attention to the other characters, but for a first time writer this is not so bad at all.
     
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  5. Priceless

    Priceless She doesn't just fight evil, she redeems it

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    You are right, it does read like poorly written fanfic and I had to re-read some of the paragraphs because I lost the thread. Maybe the writer just needed a better editor?

    I like the thought that it explores Willow's desensitisation to death, I hadn't thought of it like that, which would have fit into S4, while the story really does seem a better fit for S2.

    I hope I'm not being insensitive when I ask this, but is it realistic for a college student to be abused by another college student for being gay? To me it felt a bit unrealistic, but I've never been in that situation and I assumed (maybe very wrongly) once you got to college that sort of nonsense didn't happen - or am I being really naive? What I mean is that I thought it happened more in schools, not in college, or is that just me being dumb
     
  6. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    The story definitely needed a better editor, because I have read tons of fanfics that have much better narration.

    Can you pinpoint why it feels like a season 2 arc to you? I am trying to put my finger on this, but I am struggling.

    I think this would have been a great plot for each of the characters. Imagine that at some point the Scoobies had found something so revolting that all of them basically had to reconsider them being so used to being around death. They could all have dealt with this differently. This is something they definitely missed out on in the show.

    In the Dutchlands :p I never have faced this in higher education, but when I lived in the UK I faced plenty of homophobia on regular occasions at university. I was asked if they could watch, that I needed to be with a 'real' man, if I am into scissoring, how I could contain my attraction to all women who were nearly naked, etc. I think being beat up over it is pretty extreme, but I mean it happens all the time, doesn't it? Here in the Netherlands a supposedly incredibly liberal and tolerant country 25% of all Dutch citizens find it offensive and sickening to see two people of the same gender kissing with one another. Flamboyant or openly gay men get beaten up frequently here as well.

    It does seem a bit extreme, because it continues the highschool trope, but I do think it could happen. I mean this stuff took place in the year 2000 and the Netherlands was already more friendly to gay then than America is now. How did you feel about the stereotype of him being flamboyantly gay? At least that's what it felt like to me when I was reading the story.
     
  7. Priceless

    Priceless She doesn't just fight evil, she redeems it

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    I think it must be the Inca Mummy Girl connection, because this story feels so similar. Plus S2 was when Willow began to get into magic, so would be making friends with other magical people like Josh.

    Fanfic gets a bad press, because I have read some wonderful fanfic that was extremely well written.

    I am really sorry that you had to face abuse while in a UK university. That makes me angry. People are such dumbasses, but I'd expect better from those getting a university education. The gay college student who's being abused isn't one I see or hear about very much, unlike the cliche of the gay schoolchild which we hear about all the time. So really I should give Todd MacIntosh more credit for raising an issue I honestly have never thought of before.

    Well this shows how little I actually picked up on, because I wouldn't have thought of Josh as flamboyant. What made you think he was flamboyant?
     
  8. Last Watcher

    Last Watcher Tweed Icon

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    Sineya
    Just finished reading this. It's an okay story, way too short for my taste, but not too bad in concept. It's far from being the best published Buffy story out there, & I can
    see why several of the other reviews have said it reads like a fanfic.
    I agree that it could really have done with a better editor/proof-reader, especially the first part, as it's quite clunky & difficult to read.
    There was way too much unnecessary description in some parts (for a short story) & none at all in others?

    Parts like......
    "Oh, for Heaven's sake." Giles pulled out a lock-pick kit. "I will attend to this. You two watch for the security guard." The lock was undone with alacrity.

    Just didn't flow at all. That last sentence is disjointed & painful. Also 'Alacrity' actually sounds like something Giles would say...was the writer trying to be clever
    by describing that part of the action from Gile's POV?

    I think the thing that annoyed me most about the first part was the continual use of his name (Josh did this & josh did that & josh thought this.....etc) The narration
    was about him & only him at that point...we didn't need repeated reminders of who he was.

    As has been pointed out, once the story switched to the Scoobies it seemed to relax into a more readable style. Almost as if (and I've been guilty of this myself) he wrote
    the Scooby part of the story first, as the idea came to him, then had to go back & add an introduction to set the scene....& in this case rushed it?

    To me this could have been expanded to be an episode.....but it's very much a Monster of the Week type story. But as it's set in UC Sunnydale, with Tara already
    accepted as Willows 'Friend', the MotW format wouldn't really work so it would need to be adapted to fit into the series arc......

    That's my thoughts on it so far...... :)
     
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  9. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    It was shocking at first, but I got better at dealing with it and got into quite some heated discussions. I think it is more difficult to notice in the UK and US because of the college systems you have got there. In the Netherlands you really have a 'class' with the same people for several years. This makes the uni experience much more intimate and therefore it is less likely that something of this level of abuse would happen. However, when I lived in the UK I genuinely felt invisible at times due to the freedom of picking your classes. I see the pros and cons of both systems, but that is why I think it is much less noticeable in the UK or US.

    When the character was describing him using make-up in highschool I think that is what gave it away for me. I imagine Josh to be a character that you can really see 'the gayness', you know what I mean? Would you have liked it if the story played more on the traditional gender roles? What if Josh had been like Larry, but still a Wicca and gay?

    I can see why you say this. How do you feel about the lack of involvement of Buffy & Co, because it feels like the only characters who were really developed were Tara and Willow?
     
  10. Priceless

    Priceless She doesn't just fight evil, she redeems it

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    When Josh was described as using make-up I was just imagining the Goth make-up Michael wore on the show, pale skin an black eyes. Do you think he wore more 'feminised' make-up? I do imagine Josh as quite camp, as I think that would be why Bruce would attack him, as I am assuming if he were more straight-acting, he wouldn't attract the abuse. When I started the story I thought Bruce was closeted, which was the only reason I could think why he would attack Josh.

    I also didn't understand why Josh wasn't happy with Buffy protecting him, but thought it was okay to raise an acient Egyptian spirit to protect him. Did that make sense to anyone?
     
  11. Last Watcher

    Last Watcher Tweed Icon

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    Sineya
    I guess it being a short story there is only so much Character development you can cram in. As he had invented a new character, & the story was really all about him,
    that left even less room for 'other stuff'. My guess is that (if he even thought about it) he came to the conclusion that he couldn't add character development for
    everyone. So he kept it to the main protagonists (Willow & Tara) & relied on the hope that everyone reading it would already be familiar with Buffy, Giles & Co.

    To really 'flesh out' all the characters you would have to seriously up the word count, which I guess was outside the remit of the book.......
     
  12. TarasBoyfriend

    TarasBoyfriend Unwilling disciple of Eyghon

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    Pretty much all of my thoughts on this story have already been stated here. I do have one thought I don't think anyone has touched on.

    For me, this story could never be considered a canon story for an episode because of the effects this would have had on Willow in the timeline of the show. I wonder if Josh's death would have been traumatic enough to keep her from dabbling as much in dark magic, even if she was confident in her attention to safety. I honestly wonder if Willow would have ever went dark if this story had been an episode.
     
  13. Foxy

    Foxy I am cookie dough!

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    Sineya
    Hmm, you raise a good point, but I think it is very likely that Willow could think 'that could never be me'. Many of the early warnings of the dangerous magic use were ignored by Willow. This was already at a point she felt comfortable using dark magic.

    You do make a good argument though. I hadn't thought of that!
     
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  14. Mylie

    Mylie Scooby

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    Finally read it!

    I have to say that while the writing itself wasn't very good, the way the characters were written was mostly right. Some moments made me smile and I absolutely loved the way Willow and Tara's scenes were written. I was able to imagine them played by Alyson and Amber in my head.

    The story was definitely set during season 4 (no Dawn), but it's weird because it's after Willow and Tara started to date but then Riley is nowhere to be seen and not even mentioned... weird.

    Will try to catch up on the other stories soon...
     
  15. Hawkbrother

    Hawkbrother Townie

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    Story had two common themes of horror fiction- the person who dabbled in the occult not really knowing what they were doing and getting into trouble, and the deadly Egyptian mummy. Could have been written for the old Weird Tales magazine, or been something written by Sax Rohmer.
    Is Josh really Michael from Gingerbread, or could he be another of that same circle of "different" kids? Not 100% certain.
    Was jarring when at the beginning of the story after Buffy rescued him, his remark about going to the prom and the principal, yet the story is set at UC Sunnydale. Colleges do not have proms or principals- must be he is referring to the past.
    It is true we think of bullying of gay or perceived gay students as something that happens in high school. But it does occur on college campuses. On the other hand, it depends on the campus. I would say it would be far less likely to occur at a southern California school than say one located in the Bible Belt, the South, or anywhere that LGBT people are not accepted by large segments of the population. Like Laramie, Wyoming where Matthew Shepherd was murdered.
    Agree that it was not the best well-written story, tended to drag or be awkward at times. But it also had its high points. Giles was especially Giles, like at the end when Buffy says she guesses civilization will survive a while longer and he says, " If thats what we may call it."
    Or when Josh tells him what he has done and he tells him it was " decidely unwise." Reminds me of how he reacted to Xander's break-up with Cordelia spell in Bewitched,Bothered, and Bewildered. If anything he was more ticked that time, with what he regarded as total foolishness on the part of Xander.
    And yes, it did read a bit like fanfiction, not that that is necessarily bad. Should it be part of the canon? Don't really now, it doesn't contradict anything- but doesn't add much either.