It's been 35 years since I started writing slash. I wrote a story longhand that had Capt. Kirk, Mr. Spock and Janice Rand all thrust into a situation where in order to save Rand's honor, Spock had to satisfy a raging Kirk himself.
I was barely a teenager at the time, but I knew what I liked. And when the fannish novels started coming out and the hurt/comfort stuff started to fill the void, the obsession grew. Imagine my delighted surprise when I discovered the classic K/S writers like Leslie Fish and Gayle Feyrer and I started buying fanzines like 'Amok Time.' (Oh, I still cherish my K/S paperdolls and my images of Kirk as Spock's love slave.)
Back then slash fandom was in a closet, and if you wanted to share, you did it by mail. The idea of writing something and making it instantaneously available wasn't even a remote fantasy back then. And by the time it became reality, I was so steeped in RL's problems and interests, it took me until the end of the year 2000 to really discover on line fandom.
I started off again writing 'Profiler' and 'Law and Order:SVU.' And then, because I was a big NSYNC and Backstreet Boys fan, I started reading (but not writing) boyband fanfic. It was in that unlikely genre that I was introduced to the concept of mpreg, and my immediate reaction was "Not!"
Then I read a fanfic by a guy I knew on line who had a gentle talent and a gift for story-telling. The story is called "Expectant
," and it's definitely worth a read.
Reading stories like this one started to convert me into a fan. Unfortunately, most of the good writers I know never finished their mpreg fics. Here's one, however, that is complete and worth a look, a crossover between the two big boybands called "Future BSB Fan
Last July I had major surgery and took several weeks off work, and I started writing fanfic again and re-visiting some of my old favorites and learning about new ones. I became a big fan of 'LOTR' for the first time, and I embraced 'Troy' and the possibilities of that fandom. And then I discovered 'King Arthur.' All of these genres lend themselves very well to what I consider the slash of this decade, mpreg.
Many fans turn their nose up at the concept of mpreg -- some are the same fans who have absolutely no problem writing or reading AUs that are so non-canon that they bear little or no resemblance to the genre being written. While I admit it's difficult to suspend disbelief when you're talking about modern-day heroes or real people, when you're writing fandom steeped in legend and mystique like the genres listed above, it's relatively easy if the writer has the proper imagination and skill.
While a reader might feel it in no way emasculates their favorite character, like Legolas in 'LOTR,' for instance, to shag endlessly with his comrade-in-arms, Aragorn, they could easily shudder at the idea of Legolas pregnant. Why? I've found that some of it comes from the characteristics necessary for a realistic pregnancy, such as growing a womb and a big belly or having swollen breasts. I've read the comments about my own fanfic take on this subject, and I know the complaints.
But my answer is, so what? When so many are writing hurt/comfort, bondage and even death fanfics, why is mpreg so much squickier? And if a reader doesn't like the concept, why not just leave it alone (the choice we all have)? Why make such a big deal out of denigrating the stories and the fans who do love them?
Because, yes, mpreg has lots of fans. I get more feedback for my mpreg stories than anything else I write, even the one-of-ones (non-multi-part fics). There are so many people out there who are delighted with the idea of Paris of Troy or Lancelot pregnant. They're moved by these men's plight of dealing with issues like morning sickness and disapproval of their friends or families. They grieve with Lancelot when his milk has dried up and he can no longer nurse, and they cheer when Boromir is finally able to achieve the impregnation of one of the Elves who live under the Cataracts at Rauros at the climax of the ceremony held for just that purpose.
Fanfic is about the suspension of disbelief, about taking something and running with it, and some of us choose to run a little farther or a little faster. It doesn't make us wrong, it just makes us different. And as long as nobody's fun is being spoiled, I'm not sure I understand the objection.
When I wrote a story called "Elf Trouble" for an mpreg challenge at a YahooGroup, I didn't realize the majority of the list was squicked by the idea of mpreg. I thought if they were asking for mpreg fanfics, they really wanted them. Regardless of having been around slash fandom for decades, I admit to being pretty naive when it comes to the Mysterious Ways of internet fandom. I've been put in my place a few times in the past year, rest assured. And it's taught me to be a bit more wary but no less enthusiastic about a genre that seems so controversial.
In fact, since slash is so much less controversial now, my rebel spirit is pleased to have a genre to write that so many vilify.
"Elf Trouble," by the way, which featured a pregnant Legolas who ran off to have Aragorn's baby, dropped with a thud at the intended list, but ended up getting lots of excited fans at other places; and I was introduced again to that phenomenon of fandom -- the reader who begs for more. Almost every reviewer begged for a sequel, and considering my long list of WIPs (works-in-progress), I was unable to comply -- at least so far.
Do I think mpreg is cutting edge? No more than slash, really. It's far less kinky than much of the stuff being written, and it can be angsty or not, depending on the circumstances. Fanfic readers seem to love angst, especially the Aragorn/Legolas fans, and I was able to humor them with "Elf Trouble" (which was originally conceived as a humorous story).
I'm no expert on mpreg. I don't read much of it, I admit, so I'm not sure just how the writers out there are getting their guys knocked up or managing to birth those babies. Just today I did a search for communities that feature mpreg, and I noticed the "badfic" groups list it as an interest. Since I don't believe in wasting my time on 'bad fic' when it comes to grammar or technique or even canon, I couldn't belong there.
Harry Potter mpreg seems most prevalent at LJ, and I have a feeling a lot of it is well done, but I'm not currently into that fandom, so I can't speak to it at all. I found a huge community for fans of punk rock bands, which delights me (since I got introduced to the idea via boybands). And I joined up at some of the generic mpreg communities and an LOTR community as an experiment, to see what the LiveJournal mpreg fandom is like. Most of my interaction has come from lists at YahooGroups. 470 LJ users have mpreg listed as an interest. Compare that with 465 who list slash, and it seems like it's not all that unusual after all.
The need to constantly declaim against one another's interests ("Oooh, that squicks me!") is one of the mysterious aspects of fandom. I guess we should expect that a concept stemming from the word "fanatic" (a person marked or motivated by an extreme, unreasoning enthusiasm) to be unreasonable. But why does it have to be snarky?
When it comes to fanfic (and fandom in general), I start to get a little cynical about ever achieving real accord; it seems as unrealistic as the concept of world peace -- or even a calm Thanksgiving holiday with the family. But I'm always reminded of an excerpt from an infamous writer and sexual philosopher from the 18th Century who most people assumed was offensive without ever having read a word of his work. He had something to say that I like to quote when it comes to reading fanfic:"Many of the extravagances you are about to see illustrated will doubtless displease you, yes, I am well aware of it, but there are amongst them a few which will warm you to the point of costing you some fuck, and that, reader, is all we ask of you . . . Rather, it is up to you to take what you please and leave the rest alone, another reader will do the same, and little by little, everyone will find himself satisfied."
"It is the story of the magnificent banquet: six hundred different plates offer themselves to your appetite; are you going to eat them all? No, surely not, but this prodigious variety enlarges the bounds of your choice . . . choose and let lie the rest without declaiming against that rest simply because it does not have the power to please you. Consider that it will enchant someone else, and be a philosopher."
--The Marquis Donatien de Sade
"The 120 Days of Sodom"
If fanfic is a "Magnificent banquet" with "prodigious variety" and slash is a tantalizing side dish, then mpreg might be considered its just desserts.
And if you don't have a sweet tooth, you might try being a philosopher and just letting it lie. (And if you think someone who uses the Marquis de Sade to justify an interest in mpreg is whack, you're probably right.)
For anyone interested in giving mpreg a try, here are a couple links to my own stuff. It's not poorly written, and I stick with canon (with the exception of the mpreg part, of course). If you only want to invest enough time to read a one-of-one, you might try "Winter Wheat
," where Odysseus knocks up Orlando Bloom's Paris (who you have to admit is pretty fem to start with). If you do, read the warnings, because it starts off a little rough. Or if you want to drag the whole thing out a little, I'm almost finished with the eight-part "Fecund Knight
," from the 'King Arthur' universe.
If you try it and find it not to your taste, I hope you'll excuse all of us who enjoy it, because that's really all I'm asking. Let us (pro)create in peace.ETA:
Sorry to say a couple of the links above don't work anymore. It seems Kevin's site is down. There may be other places to find these fanfics, and they're worth trying out.