Date: September 01, 2021 08:47 pm Title: To Build a Home
I thought this was a REALLY good way to wrap this up. Jim and Pam are safe, their family is together. We acknowledge the lingering loss of Dwight. The bad guys are defeated, the heroes are victorious... but it's also marred with loss, and focuses around loss - of life, and of innocence and self. This is not a world with clean victories, and I think your ending honored that.
Date: September 01, 2021 08:42 pm Title: Everything is Eclipsed By the Shape of Destiny
Well. I'm glad you didn't drag out Mac's fate too long. And I appreciate you giving Pam the opportunity to fight back in a world that treats women like commodities and spoils of war (and bringing around Chekhov's Boot Knife) without leaving us in much suspense as to what the endgame was. Not sure my poor heart could have taken that.
And I'm thrilled to see them turning the walkie around them after it caused so much trouble.
Date: September 01, 2021 08:31 pm Title: Nowhere Near
That it was a good choice to have the thievery just be opportunistic. Certainly the kind of world where you can have multiple bad things go wrong at once for totally unrelated reasons... even if they do end up tying together. And bringing back the walkie-talkie (a Chekhov's Gun I had long since forgotten about) was well done.
Well. Once again. Very happy to not have to wait for the next chapter.
Date: September 01, 2021 08:21 pm Title: A Coward Might Call it a Conscience, a Liar Might Call it the Truth
"It was the sound of Larissa emerging from the barbershop with the broken windows, blood covering her as she collapsed into Jim's arms sobbing." Well. That's an utterly merciless image.
I love the note of Jim and Pam "blaming" each other for their sons. Such a great detail, and such a nice, normal parenting note among all this.
Mike again just very naive in this chapter. Glad to see he's waking up a little. Curious about his backstory some, how he's avoided learning the sort of lessons about how the world is now that Jim and Pam learned not too long after The Day. And now that he's going to be a father I am extremely worried about his survival.
Brian's right about the literary comparison, but I appreciate the Alas Babylon shoutout.
"Jesus," Pete whispered loudly at the noises. "No, he's definitely not here, man." Pointed, but well executed. I'm liking this Brad character so far. Just an okay guy trying to make his way in a not-okay world. Although the casual suspicion that someone's got it out for him is... worrisome.
Thought it was a good touch to remind us that Mac was actually considered beyond the pale in Tent City after seeing so much debauchery and violence here - reminding us of the stakes, along with presenting a sharp contrast to life on the Farm.
"Love and fear come in equal measure, she realized with clarity. One cannot exist without the other." Ummm, ouch?
I'm really enjoying the forward motion on Isabel and Brian. Those kids deserve some happiness, dammit. Although again, much as with Mike, this makes me worry about Brian.
Date: September 01, 2021 05:35 pm Title: The Birth and Death of a Day
Awwwww. It wouldn't be Christmas without some quality JAM flirtation. This is a very cute moment at the beginning, and of course Jim wins at gift giving AGAIN. And Isabel/Brian as apocalypse!Jim/Pam is ADORABLE. (That being said, in addition to Chekhov's Rifle Sold to Human Traffickers, I now have to worry about Chekhov's Boot Knife.)
Glad we circled back to Mike. I'm feeling better about him now. Although I'm struck by how naive he remains this far into the After. About time he wakes up.
Date: September 01, 2021 03:44 pm Title: Holding On and Letting Go
Also very true to canon Toby, who is... just... not good at things. I'm really starting to understand Michael here. He really should've recognized this was going to end badly for him... especially with the limited number of people who could have possibly given that information to Mac. Not going to end well for him even if Mac cooperates. RIP, you evil snail.
The goose story is gorgeous, but I'm with Isabel. Did you have to tell it while they're actively plucking a dead goose? (Although she and Brian are VERY cute.)
Does seem like Jim's probably making a mistake by not at least starting to think about going on offense against Mac. At a certain point you've just got to fight. Actually kind of in character... not really the guy to think about throwing hands as a first or second option.
"With practiced ease, there was no space between them to define where one ended and the other began; just the existence of them. Singular." Rude. And VERY Jam.
Awwww. Welcome to the world indeed, Jack! We're happy to have you here.
Date: September 01, 2021 02:54 pm Title: With Shortness of Breath, You Explained the Infinite
You're really putting us through the emotional ringer here - a little Jam loving, Erin in tears (which... stung more than I would have liked), Pete waking up, Pam getting to watch a new blooming romance... and all before the plot really starts moving. You're keeping a lot of balls in the air with this one.
Really interesting getting a little deeper into Mac's head here, and how he's rationalizing his behavior. You can tell he's gained a degree of respect for Jim even as he's trying to manipulate him... in a way his efforts to destroy him are a weird sort of compliment. I'm wondering if Jim understands Mac the way he thinks he does. How much of the bit about his brother is pro forma, as opposed to making it personal for him?
Date: September 01, 2021 12:15 am Title: There's Nothing I'm Planning to Take
Awwwwwwww. We missed the birth! Glad Erin and the baby are okay. Love the name Joshua.
Oh, Jim and Pam. Nice to know they're still insatiably hot for each other in the After.
You did well contextualizing Toby here, both with the idea that he thinks there's something magical in finding her again and with the very real fear of genuine permanent loneliness in an already lonely, dangerous world. You don't feel bad for him, but you can see why he might feel bad for himself.
Although abandoning Sasha is really, truly beyond the pale. And it does strike me that he's shown not a whole lot of interest in her in this story. Wonder how he justifies that to himself.
Dammit, Jim! I told you, MINES ARE DANGEROUS. He never listens to me, Bored, it's VERY frustrating. Mac killing Carl to get to them was deeply chilling... really well-executed scene.
Date: August 31, 2021 11:41 pm Title: Kiss my Mouth, Hell is Here
*looks suspiciously at Toby re: the chickens*
BE GENRE SAVVY, JIM. THERE IS NOTHING GOOD ABOUT THAT MINE. ALL MINES ARE TRAPS. *sigh* Jim is being forced into a lot of dangerous decisions here, whether by external or internal need. I appreciate Jeff trying to put it in perspective for him.
“Have you been there before? I have." Yeah. I'll bet you have, Tobes.
“There wasn’t even a clip in that gun he had, the poor bastard.” Really strong choice here. There's a lot of classic apocalypse imagery on this trip, executed well, but this is maybe my favorite decision so far: reminding us that while there are people like Mac out there who are evil for the sake of power, there are other people out there who might do Jim and Pam and company harm because it's genuinely their best hope of survival.
“Does your female friend have another female friend?” Brian asked only partly joking. Toby chuckled, “Yeah she does, I’m sure.” Yeah, was definitely thinking about the reality you make explicit later on: Toby's "friend" is almost certainly not in the "friendship game" by choice, and Toby is presumably aware of that.
The image of this apocalypse shantytown run by a functional mob boss is chilling... and gives a lot more weight to the fact that Mac has been run out of town. Very much a Wild West feel here (including the casual murder over a card game), and you worry about someone who's evading frontier justice. Also makes me a think a lot about what exactly there is to lose for the folks on the farm - they're living a quite privileged existence.
Again... concerning that this Toby does not seem particularly distant from canon Toby. He's... kind of a dark character for a sitcom.
VERY relieved that this rescue went successfully. And that we found Isabel! (Actually kinda curious: what shaped your decision to use folks like Brian and Isabel in different roles like this?) Although I'm going to be keeping an eye out for the reappearance of the Chekhov's Rifle Traded to Free Trafficked Humans.
First of all, thank you soooo much for taking the time to review all of these chapters. It’s been fun to ‘re-read’ this with fresh eyes. And as always, I appreciate that you picked up on all the subtlety that I often put in hoping someone will notice.
Okay, so the Brian and Isabel thing. This is one of those rookie mistakes I talked about before. I thought it would be good, clever even, to have these minor secondary character’s names used. 🙄 But as they took shape in the story I realized that people would have in their head the characters from the show, even if these characters are actually not even remotely related.
All this to say no, this Brian is NOT the Brian from the show and never had been to me, just a poor choice of name really, and this Isabel is not the Isabel from the show.
So yeah, stupid rookie mistake.
Thanks for all the lovely reviews and I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Date: August 31, 2021 09:52 pm Title: In the Breath Between the Markers
I'd kinda love to know more about how the farm works on a day-to-day non-emergent basis and how that's changing, and how that community was formed and governed... that may be just my fandom of The Stand coming through, but I'm interested in the broader world you're building here.
Missing Dwight a lot in this chapter... and even moreso when we find Toby. Stupid apocalypse. (I also love that Angela is still distinctly Angelic rather than angelic, even after The End.)
So Toby is the big story here, but I'm wondering what's going on with Dr. Brooks, too. Just super dedicated to the Hippocratic Oath, or is he someone Jim needs to watch out for.
So I've seen enough spoilers to know that Toby is bad news in this story, but I thought you did well quickly introducing us to a guy who has been on a direct line of descent from, say, Season-4-threatening-Jim's-job-and-grabbing-Pam's-leg Toby. Actually kinda worrisome how short a trip that is from a sitcom character, to be honest. Anyhow. He's deeply creepy here.
P.S. Pam's "Jim-sense"? Perfect. And definitely something she brought over from canon.
Date: August 31, 2021 08:15 pm Title: If Pain Must Come, May it Come Quickly
"The when and where were still muddy as her mind scrambled to put the pieces into place but his arms, that she was sure of." Who do you think you are. What gives you the right.
Some intriguing hints at backstory re: Dwight and what became of Jim and Pam after his death. Looking forward to seeing how you work that in.
The care they have for each other shines through in this chapter, even amidst the change. It's hard to imagine our Jim as the guy who spends all night cleaning firearms to get ready for battle but very easy to see the way his world revolves around Pam. And I was really struck by the way the break in Pam's memory revolves around Jim, and not the end of the world as they know it.
Mac's focus on the farm is... interesting. Looking forward to getting a little more into his head, too.
Date: August 30, 2021 10:09 am Title: Monsters are Like Nightmares, You Just Have to Wake Up to Survive
This bedroom scene is lovely - such a nice evidence of their connection and the comfort they take from each other and also such a relatable parental experience. (A friend of mine always claims this is her kid's way of preventing new siblings).
The loss of the Philip v. Philip rivalry in canon due to the Halperts move is so sad. Whatever else is wrong with this world, at least they have that.
I mean... the tension and the atmosphere of this barn scene. Just. I don't know. You're a very good writer. The build-up here is very well executed... and the way it ends with the threat of violence escalated makes me very glad I'm reading this with it already complete.
Date: August 03, 2021 08:57 pm Title: For What I Am When I'm With You
STABLERGIRL REFERENCE. Maybe.
I wasn't sure about this opening at first, but I realized how it all fit together by the end of the chapter. It's a sort of manifestation of Jim's worst fears... and also a haunting look at the future looms over him as this story progresses.
Struck by the developments in the community, which I guess you can tell reflect some things I was thinking about last chapter... so they're capable of getting organized, it's just responsive rather than proactive. Which is a pretty good and subtle indication that this is a degree of threat they are not at all prepared for, something new.
Some, uh, moving stuff here with both Jim and Pete seeking to lose themselves in life and togetherness after seeing the loneliness of death. You are a wonder.
And then a very effective ramping up of the threat... not just lives taken, but children stolen for about as dark purposes as you can imagine. Eerie note to end on.
Okay so I actually sat here for a few mintues, skimmed the chapter, looked at Stablergirl's stories, sat here some more...THEN I realized you were talking about the chapter title. I didn't even think about her story named that but it is one of the few stories of hers that I've read. It's actually part of a larger Elizabeth Browning quote that I actually had in my own wedding, ironically, and it's always sort of stuck with me:
"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you for the part of me that you bring out.”
So the begininng sections were supposed to be flashbacks that give some backstory/context for something in the chapter or coming up. At least that was the idea that was probably poorly executed if it was confusing at first. Sorry about that. The threats that are coming will remain, in some sense, all the way into the next book.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Date: August 03, 2021 08:40 pm Title: With a Bullet and a Bet
I love this beginning here. Such a sweet moment of Pam enjoying Jim as a man and as a protective father.
You know, you mentioned the greatest danger being other people, and that comes so clearly here with how much the tension ramps up the second this random group of anti-social men appear. Also comes through that there are some challenges in a decentralized society. It's great if you want to call the shots for yourself - it also means there's no one in charge, no safety net, if things go wrong, and precious little reason for folks not to try to MAKE things go wrong.
The action sequence here was great. Really well-written, really captures the attention.
Yes, exactly and you see how easily things fall into chaos in V2. I've always thought it was interesting how precarious our perception of civilization really is and when there is a structure vacuum something always fills it, good or bad.
Date: August 01, 2021 09:20 am Title: You Know War, it Has no Heart
You're doing a wonderful job creating the atmosphere of post-EMP Pennsylvania - the description of the newly-silent world was stellar, along with the challenge of the genuine risk of starvation.
I also thought the pairing of the past experience with danger and the foreshadowing of the trouble to come was very effective... you give us a rumor, but also a taste of the terror at the heart of that rumor.
Author's Response: Yes, a storm is definitely brewing and any time you get complacent, things are bound to start to unravel. ;)
Date: July 31, 2021 10:33 pm Title: Dirty Water, Final Scraps of Light
Again, some really striking imagery here - Jim stumbling across first the hand wagon and then its owner, being able to get a glimpse of the person he was before... and then quietly returning to his group with nothing but the cans the departed left behind. Chilling.
Interesting to hear the timeline here, that this is several years post-The Day. So the wildness and violence here is not just the wildness and violence of a new society being born, but maybe something they have to accept as what the world will be for the rest of their lives. And I'm intrigued by the idea introduced here that the post-apocalypse status quo is already beginning to change again, and not necessarily for the better.
You've done well translating Pam and Jim's longing and living for each other into this very different environment. You've called to mind the vibes of deeply comic episodes like The List in an extraordinarily different context. You've got skills my friend.
Can't decide right now if I want to hear more about the death of Dwight or if this is enough information... looking forward to finding out.
The journey to the Farm was transformative for them all, almost more than the initial Day, and I wanted to show the smothering dark sadness as well as highlight the dangers of which they are somewhat isolated from now. In my rather beginners mind, I wanted this whole story to fall together in pieces in these first chapters, all of these different parts coming together to shape the bigger story.
One of things I hoped to convey was that Jim and Pam were still fundamentally Jim and Pam underneath all the darkness this world has forced on them and that their love would transcend that. :)
Date: July 31, 2021 09:52 pm Title: This is Home Now
This was a good organic way to introduce us to the world while still starting in that world fully made, complete with deeply disturbing and easy-to-picture imagery. I also thought you did really well with the psychology of people for whom the new, dangerous world they're living in still feels NEW, who are fully engaged to living in this world but still think of it as After rather than Now - the little details like Pam still thinking about how Jim likes her hair before inevitably choosing the responsible option.
Hmmmm. The talk about the complications of pregnancy and the new realities of childbirth and feeding small children in the after sound deeply foreboding.
*Sigh* I already deeply mourn the loss of Dwight on all sorts of levels here. I'm glad he at least got something of a chance to see his lifelong preparation for the apocalypse be rewarded.
Apocalypse fiction is always reflexively anti-urban. I mean, it makes perfect sense, but I feel like there's probably an interesting essay to be written about that.
Hmmmm. You did well making Mac and Johnny seem threatening without being cartoonish. Not looking forward to seeing those two again.
Thank you! This was my first foray into worldbuilding so I'm so glad it all worked. I really wanted to just drop you right in the middle of it and then fill in the back story as it went along. At least that was the idea. ;)
I've never actually given it much thought but apocalypse fiction *is* often anti-urban for a variety of survival reasons not the least of which humans are by far the most dangerous enemy.
Dwight's loss had a profound effect on Jim and I wanted to use that to shape who he is now. There will be bits and pieces of his story and influence making their appearence, even in V2. He is certainly not forgotten.
And yes, Mac and Johnny are...not nice.
Date: November 23, 2020 05:23 am Title: Epilogue
Holy, wow, um.
You've put me at a loss for words with this story. I binged through the final chapters so this encompasses everything since my last review.
You have a gift of bringing the words on the page (or screen) to life. How vividly I could see everything as I read through the story.
I am in awe of how you could take the characters and drop them into this strange new world with all its ugliness and despair and still make us feel their love. How you've added characters to the mix and made us know them almost as well.
I won't say much, there's too much but some thoughts.
My heart broke for what they all went through and I can't imagine taking a life, lives, doesn't change you, leave a dark spot inside - no matter how necessary and deserved.
But the ending was brilliant. It gave hope, showed that life still had lots of beauty and good even in this new world where so much dark existed. The return of family warmed my heart as did the promise of more new life.
Glad you decided to share and glad I decided to read.
If I were Paul Hollywood, you'd get a hundred handshakes to go with your jellybeans.
Author's Response: Thank you so much, Max, again! I am honestly so humbled and honored by the response to this story and it is an incredible feeling having something I've written elicit such a response in so many. Thank you SO much for your support of this story!
Date: November 22, 2020 04:55 pm Title: Epilogue
Not going to lie. I am really sad this fic is over. Like your other one, it is really special and unique and just great. I never want great content like this to end. But it has to. The ending was a really nice full circle and I'm going to miss this, the detail, and story so much. Thank you for such excellent reading.
Author's Response: Thank YOU for your support and encouragement of this story! It is a remarkable feeling to write something that has elicited such a strong response and has been enjoyed by so many. Thank you so much!