Saturday, February 25, 2017

Alexis Fegan Black is Dead

Perhaps Alexis's greatest fault was that she expected the world to be reasonably fair, she expected people to be true to their word, and she believed it when her mother told her the cream rises to the top.

Alexis was very naive.

Having any such expectations from the world today is rather like expecting Donald Trump and his cronies to do something reasonable for the people they pretend to represent. Might as well wish in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one gets full first.

All of this started when I received a rather snottily worded letter from AO3 (Archive of our Own, for the mercifully uninformed) telling me that my works on the archive were in violation of some obscure (and petty) little "rule" which prohibits "advertising" on the site. (As of this writing, I've just received an email from the same twerp who deleted my works, saying "there can be no mention of any commercial works at all." Nothing like making it up as they go along. Any site that expects authors to contribute FREE material, and then makes it impossible for that author to promote herself, is not a site I would promote, and not a site I would encourage any sane writer to contribute to.)

When I looked at the specific work that had allegedly been reported as offensive, all I could find were the typical mentions any self-respecting author would make in the end notes, as a means to guide readers to her more recent works - such as what might appear on the author's website, blog or her author page on Amazon. I should also point out that the author page on Amazon doesn't sell anything. There are no links to put anything in a cart or buy it now. The author page is nothing more than a listing of the author's works - and a link to that page from the archive seems a tiny price to pay in exchange for the stories and novels I had uploaded for their readers to enjoy, absolutely free of charge. In order to actually buy anything from Amazon, a potential reader would have to click on the title, and only then would they see anything offered for sale. So for the "powers-that-be" (term applied very loosely) at AO3 to make an arbitrary decision that I was attempting to "sell" something on their precious little site is not only ludicrous, but downright stupid in the extreme. Yes, stupid - a word I generally reserve for Irish Setters and anyone with an IQ below 70. Sorry, but if the shoe fits...

When no issue exists, social justice warriors crawl
out from under the rocks in their mommy's basements
to create one. Haven't we all had enough of this?
So here's the thing... when I was asked (no, when I was commanded) to remove all mentions of my website, my Amazon page, my blog, etc., I found the demand so completely unreasonable that I could only laugh at the self-importance of whatever social justice warrior had "complained" in the first place. First of all, I have some serious doubts that there was ever an actual complaint. Reason being - the author is not allowed to confront her accuser, so any half-baked "admin" on the site could simply decide for herself (based on rumors or based on nothing whatsoever) that she was going to make a stink and threaten me with taking down all of my works, even though the complaint was based on only one of my works (Private Possessions).

So I gave it some thought, and made the suggested changes to the novel in question. I removed all potentially-offending links & mentions, tidied up the front and end notes like a good little girl bowing to the whims of some over-zealous spawn of The Entitlement Generation... and then this morning I received notice that all of my works had been removed from the archive. Actually, this comes as no surprise - not even the fact that Private Possessions was also axed, even though it had NO violations of the petty little rules of the petty little dictatorship that apparently runs the petty little archive.

So I guess that makes it personal, right? I mean... if 13 works are in violation, but the 14th is perfectly fine, why would all the works be removed even if one is not violating any precious policies? Yup, I'm going to say it's personal. I'm going to say it's targeted harassment, and I'm absolutely going to say this is just indicative of the kind of crap that caused me to leave fandom many years ago. I know at least a dozen other authors who post direct (and clickable!) links to their websites or their Amazon author page, etc) and never have they been targeted for this kind of harassment which suggests prejudice and possibly even bigotry at a level which defies explanation. I'm a gay woman, after all. Perhaps I should be an SJW in my own right and say I'm being harassed for that. Makes as much sense as anything else.

I had originally chosen to upload my stories (including two long novels!) to the archive as a gift to fandom, to express my love for Star Trek and my appreciation to the fans who read my works for years when I was still producing fanzines back in the dinosaur days before the first social justice warrior crawled out of the belly of a jackal. The real sad thing here is that removing my works from the archive really doesn't hurt me in the least. The ones who are hurt are the fans who clicked on those stories, read them with obvious joy, and left kudos numbering in the thousands. The archive isn't hurting me by removing my works. It's hurting its own readers - and for absolutely No Thing whatsoever.

There were other ways to handle this. For starters, they could just as easily have removed the entire end notes or front notes, if they were so terribly offensive to all those social justice warriors seeking truth, justice and Having Their Way. Hell, I wouldn't have given a fat rat's ass had they done so, since time has proven that the "links" actually served no purpose whatsoever. They certainly didn't increase sales by even a single book that I can tell. They didn't lead to a multi-million dollar movie deal when some lost producer found my novel and realized it was the Holy Grail of possibilities. They did nothing for me, other than maybe give fans a clue as to where to find my other books should they ever have even the vaguest of interest. (No one did that I can tell). So, what was the harm? And why remove the entire work when it would have made far more sense to simply remove the tags some self-righteous twat found offensive?

Yes, I am outraged, because this just dredges up all the reasons I left fandom in the first place. Sure, there are rumors of every description as to what Big Bad Della "did" to fandom. There are just as many stories from people she helped - with their writing, their art, their zine publishing, and so forth. Believe what you will. But the bottom line is that there came a day when I could no longer abide the back-biting, underhanded, duplicitous and outright lying that had become the norm in fandom, rather than the exception.

More times than I can count, unscrupulous zine editors lied to artists and writers in order to get those same writers and artists to write for their zines instead of mine. Unfortunately, most of those writers and artists never even bothered to ask me if the load of crap they were being fed was true. They simply swallowed it, hook, line and sinker, and pledged their allegiance to the liars at the same time they apparently sold their souls to the devil. No great loss - except for them. Because it really only validated what I had come to see over the years - Star Trek was no longer about the values and philosophies put forth on the show, but had apparently lost its true meaning and de-evolved into a shark tank of fangirls who were far more interested in "Shatner's package" than in anything remotely meaningful. Over the years, I watched even the genre of K/S de-evolve from stories about love into nothing more than sexual escapades between two characters who bore absolutely no resemblance to the Kirk and Spock anyone might have recognized.

During that same time period (very late 80s, early 90s) I was also seeing various articles in high profile magazines or newspapers talking about K/S, and occasionally some reporter would even ask the actors about their feelings on the matter. Both Shatner and Nimoy were always very gracious and never came out and said, "Don't do it," but the message was obvious for anyone who bothered to read between the lines. It made them uncomfortable - and who can blame them? It wasn't the fiction, one of them once said, but the artwork - which, let's face it, knew no restrictions. But be that as it may... I began to wonder if perhaps I was trespassing into someone else's life, and I certainly knew I had been trespassing into someone else's characters from the moment I wrote my first Star Trek fan fiction story at the age of eleven. No, it wasn't K/S, just a standard Mary Sue story, but those characters didn't belong to me, and they don't belong to "fandom", despite what many will try to tell you.

But in the big picture, I started having second thoughts about the "moral" implications of all of this. And when I combined that with the changing attitudes I had witnessed in the shark tank of fanzine publishing, I began to truly realize that I no longer wanted to be a part of it in any capacity. I'm certainly no prude. I've written some of the most explicit stuff out there in the world of K/S, and I have no regrets about that. I loved writing K/S, and still have dozens of stories and novels in my head... but I have no desire to write them because 1) I am a dinosaur and the ideals I hold about Star Trek would appear to be every bit as obsolete as the writer; and 2) The universe is ripe with so many possibilities that I don't need to trespass on the characters someone else has striven to bring to life.

There is certainly a split opinion of fan fiction in general. Some authors actively encourage it, while others have placed a "Do Not Touch" sign on their characters. Anne Rice, for example, expressly forbids fan fiction about Louis and Lestat, and personally I not only agree with her decision, I openly applaud it!  Why? Because as a writer, I know how important my original characters are to me, and while I would be flattered that anyone else might want to write about them, I would always feel that someone else's take on my characters would never be my take - and, let's face it, many writers are territorial, and with good reason. No one else can know what's in Anne Rice's head - Lestat is hers to do with as she pleases, and despite the cries of certain members of The Entitlement Generation, he doesn't belong to the world. He belongs to Anne until she says otherwise. Write whatever you want for your own entertainment, but when you start posting it to the internet because you believe you're entitled... maybe better re-think that and read up on copyright laws and what they actually mean.

Off topic, but such are the ramblings of a displaced writer. Let's just say that there came a time when I had to evolve and grow as a writer, or forever stagnate in the fields of fan fiction. And while I truly loved every story or novel I ever wrote as a fan, I don't think it's the be-all and end-all of a writer's career. My own life took a sharp turn to the left around 1992, when we moved to the desert and I embarked on a spiritual journey that truly and literally took me "where no man has gone before."  In order to devote the time and energy required by such an undertaking, I had to give up the pursuits that were no longer advancing me in the direction of my heart's desire. Sure, I still loved Star Trek. Still do. Always will. But I have watched fandom as a whole change (though not necessarily "grow" in any real sense). I'm sad to say that, and I hope I am wrong. I've made some good friends along the way, but I've seen into the dark and twisted hearts of others. I suppose that's true with anything in the world, but for myself, I am choosing to put the Star Trek I love and remember on a shelf, in a glass case, where no harm can come to it.

As for the archive... I can no longer support its "efforts," for I have come to view it as just another petty organization in a petty world. Hypocritical and self-serving at best. The publishers of tens of thousands of illegal works, yet they prohibit legitimate authors from posting a link to their quite legal books and remove an author's entire list of works on what appears to be a personal whim and personal vendetta.

I'm done. Simply. Finally. Absolutely... Done.

So it is without regret that I must announce...

Alexis Fegan Black is Dead.


If you want to read any of my fan fiction stories, a few of them are available on the archive at Fanzines Plus

You can also purchase out of print fanzines at Fanzines Plus.

To access my professional works, including male/male erotica and gay romance, please visit my Amazon Author Page

 Alexis Fegan Black