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Date Posted: 19:42:31 07/28/05 Thu
Author: Clairel
Author Host/IP: 64.123.150.219
Subject: BtVS novel "Spark and Burn" (spoilers for the novel, but it's non-canon anyway!)

I've been meaning to post about this book, but I thought I would wait and see if anybody else brought it up first. Since nobody has, I'll start by saying that I was very disappointed in it. It's mostly a patchwork of bits and pieces from BtVS episodes and a few AtS episodes, with very little in the way of an original plot.

Just in case anyone is interested, I will summarize what little is original in the book. The author invents a story about Spike in 1942 in central Europe, trying to get away from the dangers of WWII and stumbling upon a bunch of demon-worshipers whom he agrees to collaborate with temporarily, in return for shelter from the war that is raging. The demon-worshipers are the same Machida cult that shows up in the BtVS season 2 episode Reptile Boy. According to the newly-invented "history" in this novel, the Machida worshipers moved from Europe to California after WWII, which is how you end up with Machida manifesting at Sunnydale's Crestwood College and granting favors to frat boys there.

After Spike helped out the Machida-worshipers in 1942, they double-crossed him by giving him papers, a car, and a chauffeur that were supposed to get him safely to Spain. But in fact this just ended up with Spike falling into the hands of the Nazis at the "free virgin blood party" in Madrid that he mentioned in the Ats episode Why We Fight. The bad guys had intended from the beginning that Spike would be taken captive by the Nazis. (By the way, according to this novel Drusilla had left for America a year earlier, and Spike had stayed behind in Europe to pack up her Victorian geegaws and see that they all got transported to her, which is why he was alone in Europe in 1942.)

This whole European flashback gets into the novel because the author is determined to work Spike into just about every season 2 BtVS episode after School Hard. While Buffy, Cordy, and Xander are running around Crestwood College during the episode Reptile Boy, Spike is supposedly spying on them from the shrubbery because he has sensed the demonic power in the Crestwood College fraternity and he realizes there are Machida-worshipers there. Then he hearkens back to his 1942 escapade.

That's just one example in this novel of a non-Spike episode with Spike shoehorned into it. In addition, the novel gives a twist on Inca Mummy Girl by having Spike lurking unnoticed at the Bronze while our characters are all there in costume. Supposedly Spike notices Willow in her Eskimo costume and thinks she's cute. Spike also notices Cordy in tropical costume acting bitchy to her date Sven, and the novel has Spike thinking that Cordy is like the snooty, arrogant London society women that he despised. The novel has Spike sympathizing with poor Sven, and in the Reptile Boy section he even sympathizes with Xander when the frat boys at Crestwood College humiliate him. The novel really plays up Spike's class-based resentment going back to William's humiliation at the 1880 party with Cecily. In the Reptile Boy section of the novel, Spike seems to identify a lot with Xander and feels they are sort of kindred spirits, which is kind of ironic when you consider later developments. From Spike's POV Xander is always "the lanky boy" or "the tall boy." (I never thought he was all that unusually tall.)

I should also add that the reason Spike was on the Crestwood College campus in the first place was because in this novel, the presence of Dalton as a vampire assistant to Spike in season 2 is explained by saying that Dalton was a normal human being till 1997, a professor of ancient languages at Crestwood College, who came to Spike's attention during his search for the duLac manuscript, whereupon Spike decided to have Dalton vamped so that Dalton would be his willing assistant. This doesn't set well with me, since I hzve always felt Dalton was somebody from an earlier era who must have been vamped at least 100 years ago.

But, like them or not (and I mostly don't like them), these are the original contributions made by the novelist. Other than these it really is just a patchwork of bits and pieces taken from various episodes. Hilariously, the novelist seems to have transcribed the dialogue as she heard it spoken, instead of looking at the actual scripts. This results in absurdities such as Warren/First (at the end of BtVS 7.1, Lessons) supposedly saying that girls are "all sugar and spice, no good for anything unless you're bacon"--and then the narrator adds an apologetic comment that a lot of the apparitions who appeared to Spike talked total nonsense. But of cours what Warren/First actually said at the end of Lessons was "no good for anything unless you're BAKING"--as anyone can tell who has cleaned the wax out of their ears!

Diane Gallegher doesn't seem to be an especially thoughtful or talented writer, and it's a mystery to me how she was chosen to write this Spikecentric novel, which had the potential to be so good if only it were handled properly. It really is a pity. A high-quality Spikecentric novel would be so nice to have.

Oh, I just remembered two other things that the novelist added: supposedly in season 2 of BtVS, when Spike had the amnesiac Buffy in his clutches in the Halloween episode, Spike moved slow because he was reluctant to kill the amnesiac Buffy, and his reluctance was because he wanted the glory of besting a Slayer in a fair fight and he thought killing the helpless amnesiac Buffy was too easy; and also in season 2, supposedly Drusilla had some special hatred of Joyce Summers and was constantly urging Spike to "kill the Slayer's mother." But Spike just couldn't bring himself to do it because he was so struck by Joyce's courage in defending her offspring when Joyce faced him down with the axe. Ooookaaay...I dunno, it seems kind of gratuitous and unnecessary, like so much of Gallegher's shoehorned-in material in this book...I'm not sure how I feel about the Joyce bit, really, but the bit about Halloween seems reasonable enough.

Clairel

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Replies:

[> You're so brave to take a bullet for the team :-) -- Eurydice, 20:53:51 07/28/05 Thu [1] (151.203.54.45)

You've saved me some time and money - thank you, thank you. And I'm right with you in wondering how the heck Gallegher got this gig. I've seen more inventive speculation than this on the boards every day of the week...although the bacon line is pretty priceless. Hope this wasn't too painful for you. :-)


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[> LOL. Sugar and spice and bacon. Yup, makes sense to me. ;-) -- ProfoundlyStupid, 22:21:01 07/28/05 Thu [1] (24.103.79.194)

The closest I come to reading Buffyverse fanfic, novels, or comics is when I read these synopses which, from what I've seen so far, are more entertaining (and cheaper too). I refuse to let anyone else horn in on my fantasy scenarios. For instance, I know the *real* reason Spike doesn't want to kill Joyce. When Spike first encounters Joyce (in the Summers' front yard in Becoming), Joyce echoes almost exactly what Spike's own mother said to him when she first saw Drusilla. Both mothers express worry over where their offspring have been. Spike's mother says "Who is this woman?" And Joyce says "Who is this man?" The similarities are just eerie. You can almost see the predatory gleam disappear from Spike's eyes when Joyce says that. Oh yes, it's just so obvious that Spike sees his own mother in Joyce, and Spike, being evil but still something of a mamma's boy, would never think of harming his mother's mirror image. Being impressed with Joyce's courage? Hah, utter nonsense! *My* reasoning is so much more reasonable. :-)

Now I'll just go away for a bit and think of more ways to demonstrate my superior grasp of the Buffyverse. ;-)


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[> LOL. Sugar and spice and bacon. Yup, makes sense to me. ;-) -- ProfoundlyStupid, 22:22:29 07/28/05 Thu [1] (24.103.79.194)

The closest I come to reading Buffyverse fanfic, novels, or comics is when I read these synopses which, from what I've seen so far, are more entertaining (and cheaper too). I refuse to let anyone else horn in on my fantasy scenarios. For instance, I know the *real* reason Spike doesn't want to kill Joyce. When Spike first encounters Joyce (in the Summers' front yard in Becoming), Joyce echoes almost exactly what Spike's own mother said to him when she first saw Drusilla. Both mothers express worry over where their offspring have been. Spike's mother says "Who is this woman?" And Joyce says "Who is this man?" The similarities are just eerie. You can almost see the predatory gleam disappear from Spike's eyes when Joyce says that. Oh yes, it's just so obvious that Spike sees his own mother in Joyce, and Spike, being evil but still something of a mamma's boy, would never think of harming his mother's mirror image. Being impressed with Joyce's courage? Hah, utter nonsense! *My* reasoning is so much more reasonable. :-)

Now I'll just go away for a bit and think of more ways to demonstrate my superior grasp of the Buffyverse. ;-)


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[> [> Sorry about the double post. Voy told me it couldn't post the first time. It's Voy's fault! -- ProfoundlyStupid, 22:27:12 07/28/05 Thu [1] (24.103.79.194)


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[> [> [> It's all that brown sugar, hickory smoked bacon - clogs the arteries -- Eurydice, 22:33:45 07/28/05 Thu [1] (151.203.52.81)

And now I'm totally shipping Spike/Sven - have a little trouble with the shorthand, though....Svike? Spen? Hmmmmm.....


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[> Re: BtVS novel "Spark and Burn" (spoilers for the novel, but it's non-canon anyway!) -- AW, 00:45:27 07/29/05 Fri [1] (4.131.7.104)

I've read most of the novels and comics and what I find better is to just use the library while only buying a couple favorites now and then.


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