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TheJediMasterEd


The Force is the Force, of course, of course, and no one can horse with the Force of course--that is of course unless the horse is the Jedi Master, Ed ("Stay away from the Dark Side, Willlburrrr...")!

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Feb
18th
2016

Listen: Rainbow Dash has come unstuck in time · 2:21am Feb 18th, 2016

What if you woke to find yourself fifteen years older and in possession of three children you don’t remember having by a wife you don’t remember first kissing.

Hollywood might play that for laughs—probably would, actually. But Bookplayer plays it very, very differently

(Spoilers? Possibly.)

The first thing you notice about Lost Time is that it’s very much like the show, in that it uses cartoon characters and a fantasy setting to teach important life-lessons to its audience. The difference is that here, the audience is twenty- to thirty-somethings. And the life-lesson is an inside view of marriage and family, from an outsider’s perspective. And Rainbow Dash—from before her kids, before her marriage to Applejack, before their first date—is the perfect outsider: superficial, self-centered and generally immature. She has to catch-up with all the growing-up she’s done in the intervening years while all the time hiding that fact from her kids.

(Yes, it’s a Rainbow-Dash-is-a-lesbian story. But it’s not another Rainbow-Dash-is-a-lesbian story because there’s absolutely nothing exploitative or trite or by-the-numbers about it).

And she does her best, she really does. Because from-the-past Rainbow Dash is still compassionate, greathearted, and determined not to fail. She’s the Element of Loyalty, after all. But how loyal can you be to a spouse who, four days ago, was just a hot friend you were hoping to score with? And how responsible can you feel towards children who are, subjectively, complete strangers to you?

And here’s where, again like the show, Lost Time isn’t afraid to go to some very dark and scary places--always in a way age-appropriate to its audience. Which means that the scary place here doesn’t involve monsters or dystopias, but a family in which one adult has suddenly, unexpectedly, lost all memory of family, and all the memories of love and devotion that go with it.

And that’s scary because it happens in real life. People have strokes or head trauma. They wake up one day hearing voices. They get Alzheimer’s. They simply and unremarkably fall out of love. Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, jack…

None of this would work if the story weren’t so technically accomplished: crisp, vigorous prose, supple and engaging storytelling, and characters that seem to have stepped right out of the show yet continually surprise you with their depth and complexity.

But this is more than good writing, more than affecting characters, more even than an eloquent and thoughtful study of family life, its frailties and its fragility. There’s literary value here, in the form of layer upon layer of metaphor.

Because in her predicament Rainbow Dash becomes a symbol for many things, from Impostor Syndrome to the Good Joe or Jane trying to figure out parenthood to the swelling army of men who refuse to “put away childish things” (such as children’s cartoons) though they be in their twenties or thirties or--ahem-- even older. And through her predicament one glimpses the wreckage of a half-century’s worth of kulturkampf over marriage and family, from the Mommy Wars to the divorce-riddled Boomer demographic to the complete absence of one parent, almost always the father, among blacks and poor whites. It’s stuff to make you think, and the thoughts will make you drink.

You start with the story, you begin to grasp its theme and intent, you parse its symbolism and then—you come back to the story again. A good story, a good scene, a good line, is more than the sum of its parts. However much you analyze it there are things about it that will stay with you, whole and flawless.

For me, in this story, that’s Applejack.

Because Rainbow Dash can’t miss what she can’t remember. But Applejack remembers the Rainbow Dash that’s gone, her spouse of over a decade, struck away at a blow. Rainbow Dash is in a pickle. Applejack is in mourning. And the worst of it is, she can’t even bury her and move on. She has to make nice with this diminished fragment, this cartoon of the person she loved. For the sake of her family and friends. And for her own.

That’s the thing I’ll take to my grave, the one that hits me like a phone call full of bad news every time I think about it: Applejack, the caryatid slowly buckling under her stone…

They moved the moon
(I feel so strange)
While I looked down
(Everything I depended on)
When I looked away
(Has been rearranged)
They changed the stars around
(I was counting on you...)

I haven’t finished the story yet—strange, no? I’m sure it will all come right in the end but I’m half afraid it won’t (a mark of good storytelling) and even if it does I’m…kind of afraid to finish and leave the world of the story. Because in our world it doesn’t always come right in the end. The good and innocent don’t always win through to the sunlit uplands. The sunlit uplands may not even exist. Neither may the good or the innocent.

So we tell stories about worlds where they do, worlds where moral and magical law have the force of physical law, as some fellow or other said.

Worlds where--to coin a phrase--friendship is magic.

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Comments ( 4 )

I have to read this

I haven’t finished the story yet—strange, no?

Now you have me scared that I won't stick the landing for you.

This was absolutely wonderful, I can't tell you how thrilled I am that you're appreciating it so much. I put a lot into this, and when you do that it's always a pleasure to know that someone is getting a lot out of it. Thank you so much for writing all this up.

I just hope when you're done you won't mind dropping me a few more words to let me know if it held up or if you wished it was stronger. I mean, you don't have to. No pressure. I'll just probably be holding my breath. :twilightblush:

You know... now I'm extremely curious about what the mirror version of "Lost Time" would be, with AJ having to adapt to a family she doesn't remember having, and Rainbow having to deal with the loss of ten or fifteen years of shared life...

I'm not reading this due to the potential spoilers for Lost Time, which I intend to read. But when I saw "Bookplayer plays it" I had a terrifying second where I thought she had that traumatic experience herself, and oh my god I never knew.
And then I realized it was just a link to her story.

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