Monday, July 1, 2002

The Road to Glory

The Road To Glory
T. Novan and Blayne Cooper
Renaissance Alliance Publishing,
1930928270, 264 pages

The Road To Glory is a charming romantic comedy from two of Xenaverse's better known bards, Blayne Cooper, AKA Advocate and T. Novan. The lead characters, RJ Fitzgerald, a tall auburn haired handywoman, and Leigh Matthews, a petite chatty blonde trucker have a familiar feel to uber fanfiction readers. Cooper and Novan even point this out via a dialog between a very animated couple of squirrels. Yes, the squirrels from Cooper's Story of Me make a reappearance and observe:

The female followed her mate's line of vision. "The humans we spy on back home!"
"Not quite."
"The hair ..."
She squinted. "The eyes ..."
"Just a little different. But not much. Same builds. Same wonderful screen presence no matter the location or genre." She rolled her eyes. "We all know what they're going to look like.""Genetic mutations because of the inherent weakness of their race?"
"Or lazy writers." (41)

Leigh finds herself diverted to Glory, South Dakota, by a highway construction detour. At Fitz's, a diner just outside of the small town, Leigh falls in lust at first sight with RJ. She happily returns each week during her circular truck route. After several fast and furiously erotic encounters, Leigh invites RJ to join her on her week off in Seattle.

As these two women continue explore their feelings and each other, it becomes increasingly clear that nothing is quite what it seems in Glory or with RJ. The vacation week in Seattle is full of humor, romance, and revelations. There are amusing trips to shop, to dance at a popular lesbian club, to play the arcade at a carnival and even to visit a retirement community. Strangely at the latter RJ spends time with an old friend named Ruth and gives us insight into the varied roles of women in the military during World War II.

Wry and witty observations of American culture in general and particularly of scifi/fantasy fandoms are sprinkled throughout the story. For example, upon discovering that RJ still lives with her mother, Leigh asks:

"You don't attend Star Trek and Xena conventions wearing silly costumes and stalking the actors, do you?" RJ looked totally confused. "I have no idea what on this earth you're talking about." "Good." Leigh nodded. A girl couldn't be too careful. Serial killers were one thing. But those weirdo convention goers were something else. (89)

The Road To Glory is an enchanting story dealing with issues of love, death and finding the hearts desire. Readers familiar with the Xena fandom, particularly uber fanfiction, might have a greater appreciation of some of the humor. However, that familiarity is by no means needed to enjoy this story. All that is required is the time to indulge and a willingness to go for the long haul.
-MJ Lowe

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