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When Bodie and Doyle Did Wyoming

As I mentioned previously, I am currently involved in something of a personal retrospective of the fan fiction I have found to be most enjoyable, instructive, and noteworthy over the years.

So, without further ado, I'll begin in the universe of The Professionals, since I can reach the first zine in question if I stretch...just...so...

Title: Journey West
Author: Maiden Wyoming
Format: Stand-alone fanzine novel
Awards: Huggy Award for Best The Professionals Novel, given at ZebraCon 13
Year Published: 1997
Warnings: Slash, graphic violence, not for the faint-hearted
Availability: Not currently available, although until recently was advertised as available through Oblique Publications at The Waveney Zine Shop (might be worth an inquiry)

I read fan fiction about The Professionals before I ever watched and came to love the series. Journey West was not the first story I encountered from the CI5 universe by a long shot, but it has left such an impact on me that I now cannot think of the series without also thinking of this tale. Recently rereading this work, which is set in 1995, impressed upon me how timely and current its plot remains: an older Bodie and Doyle, brought to the United States, are abandoned to the machinations of domestic terrorists who plan to use the two operatives to strike against the nation by kidnapping the children of the President and thus controlling the Commander-in-Chief. Bodie and Doyle must walk a dangerous line between resisting the terrorists' plans and appeasing them long enough both to remain alive and to form alliances in the most unlikely of places. The resulting tale is dark, gritty, starkly violent, and often surprisingly poignant.

Maiden Wyoming manages to accomplish a number of delicate tasks in this remarkable work. First, she ages the characters in a meaningful and believable way, giving them credit for years of experience and training while also allowing them to recognize that they are no longer young. In fact, as the story progresses, they find they are quite vulnerable indeed, and the grim realities of this lead to some of the most moving passages in the novel. (A favorite line involves two youths identifying Bodie and Doyle from decade-old photographs: "But...they're supposed to be such hot shit. The big guy looks like he's about to fall over. The little guy's limping like my grandpa." Of course, both prove to be "hot shit," despite their wear and tear, almost immediately, but they also come face to face with their limitations and mortality in the process.)

Second, she revisits some classic themes from the series and brings them into even sharper, more dramatic focus: CI5's apparent abandonment of the "expendable" partners once they have served their purpose, Bodie's concerns over what he perceives as his own amoral nature as opposed to Doyle's inherent morality, the ongoing conflict between personal loyalty and professional duty. Maiden Wyoming captures the characters of Bodie and Doyle, their voices and thoughts, beautifully, highlighting their tragic flaws as well as their determined courage.

Third, she introduces new elements to the universe, including the backdrop of U.S. politics and Wyoming society (with a healthy dose of Native American culture), compelling but not distracting original characters, and a sexual element that develops with the story from a first-time slash scenario to a more mature gay relationship. These elements are secondary to the novel's basic sense of primal urgency as we wrestle with the kind of animals we are or can become when everything we know has been stripped away and all that remains is a no-win situation. The author's answers are drawn on a grand scale with unapologetically bold and bloody symbols. With its attention to the psychological, the spiritual, and even the supernatural aspects of the partners' peril, Journey West is a book not only about Bodie and Doyle's post-series future, but also about transcendent issues of life, death, and love. The West serves as a powerful metaphor for the unexplored frontier Bodie and Doyle face in their proverbial dark night of the soul.

Excerpt:

"What are you going to do?" Amanda asked.

Bodie folded his arms across his chest. "Well, luv, the way I see it, we have two choices." A tiny muscle near his left eye started to twitch. "We can do as our masters say, nick the kiddies and perpetrate the horror show of the century."

"What's the other choice, Bodie?" Ray asked.

"I die," he said. "You tell Paul Nicks about all this and blame everything on me. Amanda, you back him up, and Ray here will walk free." His arms swung down. "Think that's what we'll do," he said brightly.

And far more quickly than Doyle could react, Bodie had spun around and run up the stairs to the third floor bedroom. The slam of the door sounded like a death knell.

Doyle pounded upstairs, howling out Bodie's name. The door was locked, but three frantic kicks caved it in. Doyle started to rush in, but the sight of Bodie's leveled handgun, aimed at him, made him stop short.

On the floor at Bodie's feet lay all the remaining ampoules of antidote, smashed.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
katyabaturinsky
Oct. 13th, 2004 11:43 am (UTC)
Nice review. The story was not quite as much to my taste as it was to yours, but I did very much enjoy the quality of the writing -- it was extremely well constructed and paced, IMO. While it's out of print from Oblique Press, I think the zine is still available in plain text format from someone connected with the author, actually -- at least, it was until quite recently. I could check, if you know someone who would like a copy.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2004 11:54 am (UTC)
Thanks! I do recall it was a bit "primal" for some folks' tastes, but as I said, the symbolism of those violent acts and events worked for me, especially with the "frontier" kind of metaphor they maintained. I definitely agree about the construction and pacing.

I appreciate the fact you are willing to check on the availability of a text version. If anyone expresses interest, I'll be sure to follow up on that. One thing's for sure -- I'm not loaning out my copy! ::wink::

Just took a peek at your site: great recs! I will have to return and go through all the stories carefully. It looks like you have many good things to read and explore there. :) Again, thanks so much for your feedback!
katyabaturinsky
Oct. 13th, 2004 12:14 pm (UTC)
I agree with you about not loaning out your copy of Journey Home -- I'm that way with many of my Pros novels. (Although I'm so thankful for the terrific British publishers in this fandom; they keep things in print for years, and at very reasonable prices. So if things go missing, I'm not totally out of luck.)

I didn't actually mind the violence in Journey Home (that's one thing that doesn't bother me at all), but I tend to prefer Pros tales set in the UK. I did like them being older, I thought she handled that nicely.

And I'm sorry I haven't updated my Pros recs page in forever -- that's in process, but I'm hideously slow. (I'm just about ready to post an update to the UNCLE page for the first time in *gulp* a year, and that has taken me a very long time to complete. Pros will be much harder, as there is so much great old stuff that must be gone through. Oh, woe is me...all those stories to re-read...*g*)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2004 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'm so thankful for the terrific British publishers in this fandom; they keep things in print for years, and at very reasonable prices.

I remember that, from my days of wanting everything "NOW!thank you" when I first found the Pros. Hats off to those publishers!

I tend to prefer Pros tales set in the UK. I did like them being older, I thought she handled that nicely.

Oh, I see. Fair enough. At the time I first read (and reread!) the novel, I liked the fact the physical move added to the partners' sense of being isolated and abandoned. Plus, I really appreciate when authors paint three-dimensional Native American characters and cultures with respect and attention, as I believe M.W. did. But I can see how transplanting The Lads did significantly change the feel of the story. Good point. I'm glad you liked how she aged them, too. I have a feeling that's a running undercurrent among my preferred fanfic, especially in universes that are a few years (or decades!) old. It's such an intriguing idea, playing with how characters would age/grow/change, and what it means for their way of life.

And I'm sorry I haven't updated my Pros recs page in forever -- that's in process, but I'm hideously slow.

Oh, good heavens, but you've already done so much! Plus, speading out your updates means there's good stuff left to look forward to after I've gone back over what you've already posted. :) I'm grateful.
alicambs
Oct. 13th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
I liked this zine as well. I remember writing to the author and saying that I was still reeling over the body count, but that aside I thought it was a fascinating and well written story of Bodie and Doyle as somewhat older men. I got my zine directly from the author, and she asked me if I'd give her feedback and perhaps post a few words about it to the Pros Lit. I was so impressed I wrote a long review.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 13th, 2004 02:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, wonderful! I'm always glad to "meet" another like mind. As I just mentioned to katyabaturinsky above, I think the way M.W. aged the characters, making them still lethal, still sharp, yet newly vulnerable and aware of that vulnerability, was really my favorite aspect of this work. Some of the darkest humor, I found, occurred in the moments when either Bodie or Doyle had to go the extra step to prove himself to those enemies who at first blush questioned him just because of age and appearance. I'm so glad you had the chance to write a long and positive review of the work and recommend it to others. Thanks so much for your feedback!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )