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When Qui-Gon Went Under the Microscope

As a companion to my previous post about the "pure vessel" metaphor and Star Wars Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn, and as another installment of my fan fiction retrospective, I thought I would mention some of the fan fiction works that to me have presented particularly interesting explorations of the Qui-Gon character and his relationship to the Force. I cannot possibly mention all of the Star Wars: The Phantom Menace stories I have enjoyed, but these choice few are among the very best.

* If I could recommend only one story to a Star Wars fan, I think it would be "The Magic Lamp" by Marnie. In this G-rated, general tale, Marnie finds a unique way of creating a conversation between Qui-Gon Jinn and Luke Skywalker without denying Qui-Gon's canonical death decades earlier -- or, for that matter, turning Qui-Gon into one of the infamous "glowing blue ghosts." Both characters ring very true here -- interestingly enough, Marnie rejects the Jedi Apprentice series as canon, and yet she paints a portrait of the Jedi Master that is very convincing even to this reader, who accepts the novels -- and the resulting dialogue reveals much about their different perspectives on the Force, Obi-Wan, and Anakin. What impresses me most about this short story, aside from masterful handling of the Qui-Gon character, is that Marnie moves the reader between moments of aching despair and true hope, and makes the reader believe that with the Force, all things really are possible. Consider it a "must read" story.

(Note: I hope Marnie will eventually complete her current work-in-progress fan novel The Stolen Ones, which presents another detailed portrait of Qui-Gon Jinn and a most interesting interpretation of his mentor relationship with Obi-Wan Kenobi.)

* Of the general stories I find particularly noteworthy, I also highly recommend "Departure," "Not A Place," and "First Principles" (together, Memories of Never Was) by Nym. These linked stories follow a newly-knighted and independent Obi-Wan and a Qui-Gon Jinn recovering from his grievous wounds on Naboo, both trying to negotiate their new relationship and understand what the training of Anakin really means. Nym's greatest strength is restraint, and these subtle stories speak volumes about the Master/Padawan connection.

Other "general stories" are as follows:

* "Pain" by Stacey Lee tells two parallel stories, one of Qui-Gon's early days as a lone Knight and one of his later mission with his Padawan Obi-Wan. The story explains how Qui-Gon helps Obi-Wan learn a difficult lesson he himself learned long ago. Qui-Gon's growth as a Jedi and the trust implicit in the Master/Padawan bond take center stage before a backdrop of violence, torture, and intrigue.

* "Survival" by Skye details how Qui-Gon survives his wound on Naboo and slowly fights his way back toward soundness. This story inverts the psychological caretaker/cared for dynamic between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and shows both reevaluating their positions as Obi-Wan becomes a Knight and Qui-Gon a Master once again.

These slash stories also require special mention:

* Meet Another by Torch is an excellent alternate universe novella in which Qui-Gon never took Obi-Wan as his Padawan, and Obi-Wan was trained by another Jedi. Years later, still harboring a bit of resentment toward the now-disappeared Qui-Gon for his rejection long ago, the now-knighted Obi-Wan discovers Qui-Gon being held as a slave on Tatooine. Badly used and scarred by his original abduction by Xanatos, who eventually gave him over to his present captivity, Qui-Gon is artificially cut off from the Force, and yet he still seeks to protect his fellow-slaves Shmi and Anakin and still believes in the prophecy of the Chosen One. This story directly relates to Qui-Gon's unusual connection with the Force and his points of disagreement with the Jedi Council. It is all the more powerful for Obi-Wan's awkward -- and, eventually, awed -- perspective on Qui-Gon. The story's successfully ambiguous and untidy ending strikes a satisfying chord, as this story considers the shades of grey surrounding the entire Jedi experience.

* "Forgotten" and "Forgotten: Roles Reversed" by Trudy West are fascinating character studies. Both spring from the same premise: a mission for a Jedi goes terribly wrong, leaving him enslaved, his memory deliberately erased. The other Jedi searches for him and "purchases" him in order to return him to Coruscant for healing of his body and restoration of his memories. The first story posits Qui-Gon as a slave used for manual labor and Obi-Wan as the Jedi who finds and rescues him; the second story switches the two, with Obi-Wan as a slave exploited for sexual purposes. Trudy West explores how the two Jedi would respond differently to enslavement and in the attempt to gain freedom, as well as how they each would approach the other if the situations were reversed. A terrific concept, these two stories provide interesting sketches of the two men's psyches and dispositions.

Other slash stories are as follows:

* "A Kind of Genesis" by Anna describes the revenge of Xanatos, as he captures Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan and tries to break them both. This story moves beyond H/C cliches in moments of real insight about Qui-Gon's demons and Obi-Wan's devotion. Anna's characterizations do not always match my understandings of the characters perfectly, but the times when the two diverge are still interesting to me -- and some of those moments are rather breathtaking.

* "Mos C'Ethra" by DBKate might be considered "pre-slash." It also takes a tried-and-true formula and rises above it. While on an unrelated mission on a distant world, Master and Padawan find themselves in the midst of a plague. Qui-Gon uses the last inoculation for Obi-Wan and, when the Master falls ill, charges Obi-Wan with peacekeeping duties in a city dissolving into anarchy. Qui-Gon's descent before Obi-Wan's eyes, as well as Obi-Wan's growth due to Qui-Gon's trust and need, are the hearts of this tale, which alone is worth a reading for the scene in which a delirious Qui-Gon mistakes Obi-Wan for a Xanatos bent on murder and revenge.

There are three remarkable slash series I should mention separately. Each is worth multiple readings for its insights into the Jedi world.

* The Exiles Universe series by Kass and DBKate following an aging Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon (who survived his terrible wound on Naboo) living together in the desert of Tatooine, watching over young Luke Skywalker. The characters are portrayed with singular sensitivity and thoughtfulness, making their older selves convincing and at times heartbreaking to encounter. Kass and DBKate infuse the most mundane details of existence with meaning. The devotion of the two, in the face of a changing universe and hostile exile, goes without saying, but the most remarkable part of this series is the attention given to the two men's different approaches to the Force and to the vocation of the Jedi. Certain stories retell previous ones from the opposite partner's point of view, fleshing out our understanding of these humble and forgotten heroes.

* The JAOA series (a.k.a. "Jedi Academy on Acid") by Black Rose, Gail Riordan, and others creates an alternate universe in which Qui-Gon survives Naboo but is nearly crippled, Obi-Wan assumes Anakin's mentorship, and Anakin eventually choses Han Solo as his own Padawan. I am particularly taken by the descriptions of the ways in which Qui-Gon achieves and undermines his own health, and of the aging of both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan under the constant threat of Qui-Gon's decline. Here again Qui-Gon's unique relationship with the Living Force is contrasted with Obi-Wan's more orthodox approach; moreover, the authors suggest how Anakin might have matured if Qui-Gon had played a role in his training.

* The Riding the Wheel of If series by MrsHamill and various other authors follows Obi-Wan after Qui-Gon's death on Naboo as he, quite unintentionally, opens a portal between parallel universes. Each story in the series puts Obi-Wan in another world. All Obi-Wan wants is a live Qui-Gon who will love him as he is loved, but what he finds are nearly endless variations on a theme: Qui-Gon as living while Obi-Wan has died, Qui-Gon as Sith, Qui-Gon as the last survivor of a Jedi extermination, Qui-Gon as a woman, etc. With Obi-Wan as the readers' constant factor in a series of wild variables, we watch as Obi-Wan encounters and is changed by different realities in which all of the facets of Qui-Gon's character can be explored.

There are easily a dozen more stories I would like to mention. (Ask me if you're interested!) But these stand out as particularly useful in the larger discussion of Qui-Gon as a pure vessel. Please note that certain stories contain warnings about violence, sexual content, and dark subject matter. If there are others you can recommend to me in the context of Qui-Gon's characterization, I would be most grateful!


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2004 04:48 pm (UTC)
eek! i have so much to read now! XD i'll never get around to actual work if you keep this up. ;) thanks!
Dec. 15th, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC)
i'll never get around to actual work if you keep this up. ;)

LOL! Never fear, I think I've covered all my pent-up Star Wars thoughts for the moment. :) I hope you enjoy them! Thanks for the reply! :)
Dec. 16th, 2004 06:10 am (UTC)
I have not heard of these books but I must check them out. I am a star wars fan also. Thanks for listing the names of wonderful books to read that goes back to star wars.
Dec. 16th, 2004 10:08 am (UTC)
Re: Hello
Hi! Thanks so much for your comments. It's great to know you're a Star Wars fan, too! The stories I recommended above are all fan-written works. I've also recommended some non-fiction Star Wars readings here. I hope you enjoy them! Can you believe the next movie is due out this summer? :)
Dec. 16th, 2004 12:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello
Thanks I will try that. Yes in May Star Wars comes out and I can not wait. I have been a Star Wars fan since i have been 16 and I am so glad that they went back to the beginning of the stories. I have all the movies expect for the last one and watch them just as much as the LOTRs but I get my charaters mixed up in star wars. OOp's but I love the stroies and can't until May gets here.
Dec. 16th, 2004 05:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Hello
I know what you mean! And at the rate time seems to be passing, May will be here before we know it! Although that makes me sad at the same time, because what will we look forward to next? I'm sure George Lucas will think of something! :)
Dec. 16th, 2004 02:58 pm (UTC)
Yay fic recs! Thanks for these, I look forward to going through all the ones I haven't yet read. I'd never read anything by Nym, but those 'Memories of Never Was' stories are wonderful. I wish she had written more of them.

The Magic Lamp is one that really gets under my skin. It's an excellent concept, and well done, and it feels like Qui-Gon - I just ache for a story where Qui-Gon could see the results of what he set in motion, that would explore his reaction to it all. My only concern with this one is that it is too short!

Off the top of my head, I seem to remember enjoying Qui-Gon's characterisation in Diane Coffin's 'Making Room', also: http://www.masterapprentice.com/archive/m/makingroom.html
Dec. 16th, 2004 05:17 pm (UTC)
I'd never read anything by Nym, but those 'Memories of Never Was' stories are wonderful. I wish she had written more of them

I agree!

I just ache for a story where Qui-Gon could see the results of what he set in motion, that would explore his reaction to it all.

Augh! So do I! And it's so tricky, because for things to unfold as we know they do, he can't be there for it, so the "survived Naboo" stories don't really work the same way.

My only concern with this one is that it is too short!

Yes! I wanted much more when it came to an end. Of all of these, I think Meet Another comes probably the closest to satisfying me in the same way, though its Qui-Gon is different due to the vastly different experiences he's had. "Magic Lamp" had a Qui-Gon I instantly recognized.

Qui-Gon's characterisation in Diane Coffin's 'Making Room'

Fantastic! I haven't read this yet, but you can bet I will now. Thank you SO much for the recommendation! If you think of any more, anytime, please let me know. I owe you one! :)
Dec. 17th, 2004 05:25 am (UTC)
Just a follow-up to say thank you for recommending Diane Coffin's "Making Room." It's wonderful! I like the "deal with the memory of Xanatos" stories, and this does it very well. And some of the interactions between Yoda and Qui-Gon, in particular, are priceless. Thanks so much for the suggestion! :)
Dec. 18th, 2004 04:44 pm (UTC)
I bounced over here from your comments in tpm100. Your two posts about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are very interesting and thought provoking. I'm looking forward to checking out all the links and recs that I haven't already read.
Would you mind if I added you to my friendlist? I'd hate to miss any more great discussions!
Dec. 18th, 2004 04:57 pm (UTC)
Hi there! ::waves:: Thanks so much for finding me! It's always great to meet another Qui-Gon fan. If you have any reading recommendations for me, please let me know. And please do friend me, and I'll add you to my friends list as well. Thanks! :)
Dec. 18th, 2004 05:28 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty boring, but you're welcome to add me!
Dec. 22nd, 2004 09:41 am (UTC)
Fabulous blog! And yes, it's great to meet another Qui-Gon fan - there's altogether too much Obi-worship in this fandom :) Can I recommend 'Zero', by Apache:


as a wonderfully elegant piece of writing, and a portrait of Qui-Gon that emphasises his 'passivity' as a pure vessel of the Force, while also making him truly awesome. It's one of my absolute favourites.

The Stolen Ones... a couple of months ago I would have said there was no chance of me writing any more of it, now I'm not so sure. I've been off in Tolkien fandom for a few years, but there are stirrings of renewed interest in SW recently :)
Dec. 26th, 2004 01:15 pm (UTC)
I'm grateful for the story recommendation: I haven't read "Zero," so now I will check it out immediately. Thanks so much! I'm thrilled to hear there's a chance we'll see more of The Stolen Ones, as well - although, of course, I certainly can't fault anyone for spending quality time in Middle-Earth! Thank you for your reply!
Mar. 17th, 2009 10:04 pm (UTC)
I would very much like to read "Zero" per your recommendation, but qui-gonline has been taken down (which I am very upset about, does anyone know why?). I was wondering if you had saved the story since you liked it so much, and if so, would you be willing to send me a copy?
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
I am still looking for it - I haven't been able to find it yet, unfortunately. If I do, though, I'll definitely contact you!
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
Thanks, we Qui-Gon lovers have to stick together!
Mar. 21st, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
Hey, I found "Zero" - someone was kind enough to e-mail it to me, in the same Word doc as its prequel. Would you like me to pass it along to you?
Mar. 24th, 2009 12:31 am (UTC)
Oooh, that would be fantastic! Thank you so much!!!
Mar. 16th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
Weee~ I only read two of your recs so far and those where just perfect.
So thanks for your rec list. I guess I like the others as well :)
Mar. 17th, 2009 03:32 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy these recommendations are useful to you. Enjoy the stories!
Mar. 17th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
Augh, it looks like there's some really good stuff listed here, but I'm supposed to be doing homework. This is really distracting! Anyone wanna give me a Force-suggestion to ignore it for the next few hours?

In all seriousness, though, I can't wait to get down to reading everything that you and everyone else have recommended. I feel like Qui-Gon is a generally underappreciated character simply because he was only in EpI, but we saw some glimpses into a truly complex and noble character there, so I am always happy to read things that explore Qui-Gon and his connection to the Force, the Jedi, and others.
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:27 am (UTC)
Best wishes with your homework! :) I agree 100% about Qui-Gon being underappreciated, noble, and complex. I don't know, but you might find this post of interest, although it was written pre-Ep III. At any rate, I'm definitely a fellow Qui-Gon lover. We're definitely on the same page!

Edited at 2009-03-20 12:27 am (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
Always nice to meet a fellow Qui-Gon lover! Going over to check out that post now...
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 2nd, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's always great to hear from a fellow Qui-Gon lover!

I highly recommend "Vigil" by potboy.

There are also two WIPs, still being updated, that I recommend from the Jedi Council Forums:

* "A Prison Without Walls"

* "Betrayal"

I'll put on my thinking cap and see if I can come up with some more, too!

Feb. 2nd, 2010 01:59 pm (UTC)
PS. And if you haven't read this post, you might find it of interest (I hope so, anyway!).
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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