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Xander Harris, This Is Not Your Life

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Review of chapter "New Directions" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Really interesting variation, with Marcie as the one infected by cousin Jordy this time around. She's taking this well, all things considered, with plenty of support from Oz as well as the rest of the Slayer gang.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [13 Nov 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "New Directions" from (Recent Donor)tchizek
Review:
Oh major change of direction...no wolfy Oz.

Good chapter!

Tom.
Review By [(Recent Donor)tchizek] • Date [13 Nov 13] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "End Of A Chapter" from Xovervore
Review:
I only discovered this story recently (probably due to the new update), and have been reading it off-and-on over the past couple of weeks, and have now come to the current end. Very clever story; you have obviously put a lot of thought into the alterations you have made to canon - which now have really deviated heavily with the deaths of Drusilla and Spike, whilst Kendra still lives.

Will Warren become the (a) new Big Bad - after all he still has his supertech genius, even as a vampire (and I think we still need confirmation that he has become a vampire, and not simply assume it).
Of course, there are still a lot of canon baddies on the horizon - the Mayor, the DRI, Glory, etc.

A good, solid, entertaining story, that I look forward to a new chapter for.
Review By [Xovervore] • Date [30 Oct 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "End Of A Chapter" from (Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood
Review:
Clever thinking there. And the D&D references were well-timed. :-)
Review By [(Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood] • Date [9 Oct 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "End Of A Chapter" from (Recent Donor)tchizek
Review:
Interesting way of taking care of the Judge, although I think they still need to pound him to (smaller) scrap to make sure...and maybe see if Thermite would burn part of him. After all it was unknown the last time he was together...and it burns significantly hotter than anything that could be made at that time. Just a thought.

Tom.
Comments from author:
Thanks to the excellent work of my beta-reader, I have serious doubts about whether liquid nitrogen works that way in reality. But I know the technique works in the Buffyverse, because Angel and Wesley used it successfully against the demonic Haxil Beast (which was immune to decapitation and to fire) in the _Angel_ first-season episode 'Expecting'.
Review By [(Recent Donor)tchizek] • Date [9 Oct 13] • Rating [10 out of 10]
Review of chapter "End Of A Chapter" from RevDorothyL
Review:
I'm fascinated by all the changes in this timeline, now that it's not just the Judge that's history, but also Drusilla and Spike too, and possibly Warren as a vampire instead of just a lethal misogynistic robot builder. And questioning the Watchers' Council's efficacy and procedures (even if Kendra's not quite comfy with that as yet) earlier on can only be a good thing, I'm thinking.
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [8 Oct 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Big Talk" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Love the information sharing that didn't happen in canon, but can't help worrying that they STILL won't find out about Angel's soul curse loophole in time. But hey -- squee! for the Giles-Calendar engagement!
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [20 Sep 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Big Talk" from (Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood
Review:
One of the AU scenarios I've always been interested in is where Jenny actually did reveal her status/mission to the Scoobies *before* Angelus came out to play. It really would have spared everyone so much grief...

That said, now that they have a bit of advance warning, it might be a good idea for them to research that Vampire Uninvitation spell, just in case.
Review By [(Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood] • Date [20 Sep 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Changes" from Snorpenbass
Review:
I can't help but wonder why exactly all of these changes occur because *Xander* wasn't there. In what way did he ever stop anything good like the events shown here from happening? In fact, is this story just meant to show that everyone would have been better off without him?

Edit: Who are you proving wrong? Xander? Xander is fictional. His reactions and attitudes in the opening chapters are what you, personally, gave him in this fic. So you're proving who wrong again? Thing is, canonical Xander (on the show) never thought of himself as that important. A lot of fic-writers have had him mention his positive acts a lot, but that's not canon. Just because a writer has him mention how he had to drag Angel down to save Buffy doesn't mean he ever mentioned it. In fact, the only ones who ever mentioned the good he did was other characters (Buffy and Willow mentioned it once or twice). His own view of himself is fairly well encapsulated in his speech to Dawn in the S7 episode Potential. He thinks of himself as just a regular guy in the background, which usually he was. So having him expect that the world turned out bad without him is a bit out of character. In fact, it's a lot out of character. Something more true to the character would have been having him tell Clarence that the gang got along *fine* without him, and Clarence then proving him at least partly wrong.

But that's really not why you're writing this, is it?
Comments from author:
I don't know, maybe everything would have been exactly the same if Xander wasn't there, but then I wouldn't have a story to write, would I? So the first part of my answer to your question is that the point is to tell a story that's worth reading. If you find my writing clumsy or my plotting dull or my characterisation implausible, you've got good reasons to stop reading, although personally I'd appreciate any criticisms you'd like to give because I might learn something from them.

The second thing is that because I'm not just writing any old story but specifically writing a fanfic, a derivative work, it means (at least to me) that my story implies some kinds of comments on or reaction to the original. For example, I'm giving the characters of Amy and Jonathan different and larger roles from the ones they had in the original, and in that way I'm exploring, a little bit anyway, what those characters might have been like in different circumstances. Again, if you think that the way I've written those characters is unbelievable in itself or, if not that, fatally inconsistent with what they were like in the original show, you have a criticism which I would like to hear more about.

Also, taking that further, in some respects the way I've constructed the story comments on the way the original was constructed. In some cases those comments find their way into the mouths of the characters. Just to give one example, when Buffy (briefly) died, Kendra was 'called', and then Buffy was resuscitated, did the Watchers' Council realise they now had (unprecedentedly) two active Slayers? If they did, why didn't they make sure that their agents Giles and Zabuto were both aware of this? Wouldn't that have been an important thing to mention, don't you think? Obviously at one level the answer is that when they were creating 'What's My Line?' they had not yet thought about the role and functions of the Watchers Council, but I still thought the point was making.

So no, the story is not just meant to show how everybody would have been better off without Xander. Although Xander is not an agent in the events of the story, his interactions with Clarence Odbody are part of the story, and he's explored exactly that issue. If you go back to the earliest chapters you'll see him speculating about the ways he expects things to turn out worse because of his absence. Does that seem to you implausible for Xander's character? But how interesting would it have been to write a story where Xander predicted what would happen and then it happened? Surely it has to be more interesting to see Xander dealing with his expectations being crossed up? And, following that principle, you will see that when Xander, trying to come to terms with what he's experiencing, suggests to Clarence that everything seems to be better as a result of his absence, Clarence challenges that idea too, points out that what's 'better' is more complex than that, and gives Xander examples of people who have died in this story who did not in the canonical with-Xander version of events.

At a very early point in the story, when Xander had just been referred to the story of 'It's A Wonderful Life', he gave a list of some of the good things he had done in his life, and nothing in this story denies that those actions were good actions, so the point of this story is not that Xander was never any use for anything. Somebody who wanted to write a story to show that Xander was a complete and total waste of space might try writing a story where Xander isn't there and yet somehow everything works out in exactly the same way. I think that would be a dull story, and that's not what this is (obviously).

I think the first item that Xander gave himself credit for in that list I mentioned is the resuscitation of Buffy after the Master drowned her. Now, I could have reached that point in my story and written it so that with Xander not there Buffy is not resuscitated, the Master rises, the Hellmouth opens, and it's the end. I chose not to do that so that I could continue the story. If you think the alternative I adopted was implausible or in some other way unsatisfactory, please tell me about it, because that could be a fair criticism. But at the very least I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that other people apart from Xander might know how to do CPR. Whether any of them would have managed to be on the right spot at the right time is the question. Please note, however, that although I have made Jesse the substitute for Xander in that specific incident, I have not made Jesse a substitute for Xander across the board. I would see no point in a story in which Xander wasn't there but Jesse was and was just like Xander and did all the same things that Xander did. I have consciously worked to avoid that. There are places where I have deliberately used other characters, like Jonathan and Amy, to fill a slot in the story that was originally Xander's, to speak his lines or take his actions. I have tried to characterise Jesse in a way that is consistent with what basis the show did give for understanding how he's different from Xander, and if you can tell me how I've failed in that aim I'm eager to hear about it. My reading of the original suggests that Jesse should be more dull-witted and clueless and ineffectual than Xander, and I hope I've written him that way.

Finally, this isn't a story about Xander. I suppose there's a case to be made that part of the point of this story is 'It isn't always all about Xander', and there's a case to be made that that's a message being given to Xander, by Clarence Odbody and his presentation, within the story itself. But this story, like the original show, is a story primarily about Buffy; a story about many characters, but one in which Buffy plays the most important role and gets the most attention. So if you've got problems with the story I'm telling about Buffy, I'm keen to hear about them.

As a postscript, wherever the connection between the absence of Xander and the individual deviations from canon seemed to me potentially unclear to the reader, I have tried to have the characters (mostly Xander and Clarence) refer to them directly or indirectly so as to clear things up. But if you don't want to reread the whole story in order to understand the logic of the changes, I can easily give you the synoptic version. I did think all those points through explicitly and specifically because I wanted them clear in my own mind as background to what I was doing, so there'd be no problem spelling them out in writing if you'd like. Just let me know.

Edit: Since you bring up the question of why I'm writing this, I can tell you that I have two reasons. The first is guessable: I'm writing it for fun. The second would probably be harder to guess: I'm writing it because my daughter asked me to.

But I'm not writing it to prove anybody wrong about anything. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I think I'm doing that. I'm playing around with some ideas and exploring different aspects of them. I don't imagine that proves anything.

It is a presumption of this fic that Xander has seen and knows the story of 'It's A Wonderful Life', and given its cultural penetration that seems reasonable enough. In the film, Clarence the angel appears to George Bailey in order to give him a convincing demonstration of what a powerful positive contribution he's made to the world. I don't think it's unreasonable to create a scenario where somebody receiving what he recognises as an appearance of the same angel should imagine that the whole point of the occasion is for him to re-examine his life and see what sort of positive contributions he's made. Do you really think it would be more in character if Xander reacted in that situation by saying, 'Don't bother showing me what the world would be like if I had never been born, it would have been exactly the same?' (or 'I don't want to see what the world would be like if I had never been born, it would have been so much better, and that would just depress me'). Remember, Xander isn't having a social conversation with his friends (during which, you're right, he can show a generous spirit of self-deprecation). He's having a profound spiritual confrontation with an actual angel who has manifested solely for the purpose of guiding him through a powerful life lesson, where candour is more important than modesty or tact. The natural position is that the world would have been different if Xander had never been born, and given the context of the parallel with 'It's A Wonderful Life', it's natural enough to start looking for ways it would have been worse. (Although, even with that parallel, consider that the vision George Bailey is given by the angel in the film isn't of a world that's worse for everybody--it is, after all, a world that is better for Mr Potter.) In fact, the analysis Xander makes of the positive things he did in the canonical story line is a reasonable one for him to come up with in that scenario, and Clarence never suggests it's inaccurate. But then Xander hardly needs Clarence's story to confirm that analysis for him, does he? This story is about other things, not about proving Xander's analysis wrong.

More specifically, I think Xander's early-on negative reactions to early appearances of Jonathan, of Marcie, and of Amy are, given his experience of those characters in canon, plausible and in-character, but if you'd like to suggest how I'm wrong on that specific point I would be, again, interested to see more.
Review By [Snorpenbass] • Date [6 Sep 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Changes" from (Current Donor)vidicon
Review:
Well it looks like tonight at least there will be no groinal interface between Angel and Buffy. Wonder when Miss Calendar will cave and confess.

Thanks for writing
Review By [(Current Donor)vidicon] • Date [6 Sep 13] • Rating [8 out of 10]
Review of chapter "Changes" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Always happy to see a new chapter of this (and to see Buffy have more people at her birthday party and no Judge part to spoil things right off the bat, yet)!
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [6 Sep 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Health And Safety" from (Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood
Review:
Still enjoying this. Again, you're one of the few authors to take a "change a variable and see how it plays out" scenario this far and in this much detail. A rare treat.
Review By [(Current Donor)JanessaRavenwood] • Date [9 Aug 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "Health And Safety" from RevDorothyL
Review:
I continue to enjoy the way that things work out, with Buffy having a wider support network and often managing to dispatch the season 2 dangers a little quicker and with a bit less angst than in canon. :)
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [9 Aug 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "‘… But Wait Until You Really Get To Know Him’" from Senko
Review:
I have to admit why even the sunnydale police didn't find Ted's previous wives given Steins dislike of Buffy in later episodes.
Review By [Senko] • Date [15 Jul 13] • Not Rated
Review of chapter "‘… But Wait Until You Really Get To Know Him’" from RevDorothyL
Review:
Good to see Buffy getting more and better well-deserved support from her friends this time around, even while they still thought Ted was actually dead. :)
Review By [RevDorothyL] • Date [12 Jul 13] • Not Rated
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