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Summary Post for An Unhappy Man - a Life on Mars fic - dorsetgirl
February 7th, 2008
12:41 pm
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Summary Post for An Unhappy Man - a Life on Mars fic

‘An Unhappy Man’ is a Life on Mars fic containing some 30,000 words in eight parts. It is a character study of Sam Williams - who is he, and why is he the man he is? The story takes place in the days just before episode 1.01


The story was posted at [info]lifein1973 during the first week of February 2008, in the days leading up to the first broadcast of the follow-up, Ashes to Ashes. All the links below go to the original [info]lifein1973 posts.


Spoiler Warnings:     (1) The fic and the notes below contain major spoilers for Series 1 and 2 of Life on Mars. The story goes to the very heart and central premise of the series, so be warned - if you have ambitions to watch any part of either series unspoiled, DO NOT read any further!


(2) Although my notes below do not contain any spoilers for the fic itself, the comments at the end of this post do.


Rating and Genre:    Gen, White Cortina, ie nothing to exercise anybody’s sensitivities.


Characters:                DCI Sam Williams, DCI Frank Morgan, OC - Pete Martin


Background: After the finale of Life on Mars aired in the UK (on 10th April 2007), I spent some time thinking through what it all meant, then on 16th April 2007 I made this post at TRA (contains spoilers), exploring the idea that only 1973 is real, and that 2006 is just some kind of Utopian vision in Sam’s mind. On 19th May 2007 I started to write Sam Williams’ story, based on the premise that every word Frank Morgan spoke in episode 2.08 was the truth as he knew it.


Warning:         For people who are familiar with my usual stuff, I have to advise you that this is NOT my usual stuff. In particular there is no Sam/Gene interaction, and no sex. (I’d still quite like you to read it though...) I’m sorry to say that Gene doesn’t even appear in this fic, although I think it might become clear that he was in my mind at all times while I was writing this.


Disclaimers:   I don’t own these characters or their universe. BBC/Kudos do.


Lyrics to “Changes”and “Life on Mars”, both from Hunky Dory and copyright David Bowie, are reproduced here without permission but with no intent to profit or harm.


I have been fortunate enough never to have any contact with Children’s Homes. My impressions and descriptions here are therefore all guesswork and Tracy Beaker, and I don’t mean to cause any distress to anyone who has lived in, or worked in, a Children’s Home. In particular, St Barnabas’ Home for Orphaned Children does not exist.


I have invented Frank Morgan’s computerised activity-logging procedures for the purposes of the story, but I make no guarantee that there were such procedures in effect at the time. It just seemed to fit his character.


Acknowledgements: TRA member Jools, who gave me lots of encouragement and plenty of wonderfully positive feedback in the early (and late!) days of writing this.

and [info]lozenger8 who were both kind enough to read and make constructive comments when I lost my way and despaired of ever finishing this.

[info]jayb111 and [info]mikes_grrl both earn huge thanks for detailed and insightful beta’ing.


For most of the eight months I spent writing this fic, it didn’t have a title, then one day the words “Carlos Dominguez - An Unhappy Man” popped into my head. It’s a song by Paul Simon, and it languishes somewhere on a reel-to-reel tape in my loft, but it could have been written for Sam Williams.



Links:              Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning: Part 1 


Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon: Part 2a, Part 2b


Wednesday evening to Thursday morning: Part 3a, Part 3b


Later Thursday morning to Thursday night, Part 4a, Part 4b


Friday morning to Friday night: Part 5


Saturday morning to Saturday night: Part 6


Sunday morning to Sunday night: Part 7a, Part 7b


Monday morning: Part 8





It is my plan that one day there will be a sequel to this story. As yet unnamed, it comprises a number of missing scenes from Episode 2.08. I also have a couple of ideas for other stories in this universe in various states of completion.



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(7 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:February 27th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
This was absolutely brilliant - the way that you've played out the scenes from 1.1 with Williams in 1973 is just amazing - even before the red car whizzed past, I knew exactly how it was going to play out. And Sam's thoughts, so concerned with Pete and Morgan and going undercover, are still so eerily close to what 2006 Sam's thoughts of Maya and Raimes had to have been before that accident - it all ties together and matches up so perfectly, it's just amazing to see.

The roller coaster of emotions throughout the fic is just solidified in those last few sentences, and the song lyrics fit in beautifully with both of the songs and with Sam's thoughts. This was just amazing from start to finish. I am in total awe of your ability to spill Sam's emotions out, and and with completeness with which you've tackled everything, and the amazing way that it was tied together. Overall, very cohesive, very well planned, very descriptive with perfect characterization, and very well-packed, emotionally.

Definitely saving this fic to read again later, and I'm very, very sorry that it took me so long to read it. Hopefully I'll be able to read all of your new stuff right as it comes out, and I've noticed that there's more fic backed up on the comm for me to look through - I'm very sorry for the delay, and I can't wait to read - you've just done such a fantastic job on this, it was marvelous.
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Date:February 27th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC)
I'll answer all your comments properly later, but I've just got home to the biggest inbox ever and I just want to tell you I am so thrilled at your comments! I'm simply grinning like a fool here, and your wonderful comments have totally made it all worth while. You're right, it did take a lot of work - I started this fic back last May, when I had only posted one story.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments, I really am burbling with excitement here at the fact that you liked it so much!
[User Picture]
Date:February 29th, 2008 08:17 am (UTC)
Aaah - I loved it! Very, very well written!
[User Picture]
Date:March 12th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
I finally got around to reading this, and I have to tell you, I think this is one of the best, and I mean *BEST* Life On Mars fanfics I have read in a very, very long time :D.

Your take on Morgan's character is spot-on, and even chilling in his singlemindedness over putting one of his officers in a situation that could be damaging for him mentally. His interaction with Sam is believable and cunning.

You have a wonderful sense of description, the people you have scattered throughout this fic well developed and real. The pace of the story is delivered flawlessly, leading well into Sam's final psychosis which has him forever spending Life On Mars.

All in all, this is a wonderful, suspenseful work and I feel priviledged that I had the chance to read it. Bravo!
[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2008 04:09 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry, I can't think how I missed this wonderful comment; I normally work from the notification emails, so I'd better check those.

I found Morgan disturbingly easy to write; he pretty much supplied his own dialogue, as did Dr Whittaker. I did intend for Morgan to come over as cold and manipulative, so I'm very pleased that worked for you.

Before this fic, I'd only ever written Sam and Gene, so it was quite a challenge writing all these different characters, including the gradually-changing Sam personality. I'm glad they came over as believable. I'm just finishing a sort of short follow-up, which looks at what happens to Pete Martin after he leaves Manchester, and shows him thinking of Sam and doing his best to make sure he's OK.

I am absolutely overwhelmed at your wonderful comments; really, completely overwhelmed. No-one has ever felt privileged to read my fic before! *blushes* Thank you so much for taking the time to comment
Date:May 3rd, 2008 04:39 am (UTC)
I really love this fic, because it is just so damn -plausible-. But now I'm irrationally worried about Sam- when he goes back to "2006" and jumps of the roof, has he been recalled to Hyde and killed himself? Or is he catatonic and hallucinating? Course the real question is, which is worse? Really lovely story, and if you ever feel the nibbles of plot bunnies for a teensy tinsey little epilogue...
[User Picture]
Date:May 3rd, 2008 09:11 am (UTC)
it is just so damn -plausible

Thank you - that just makes me melt, because that was my one big aim with this fic, to make it absolutely true to what we know of Sam so that it's believable.

I do have a sequel planned out and more than half-written, and it's rather more than teensy! It covers quite a lot of what we didn't see in 2.08 and I hope will complete his story in this universe very satisfactorily. (And if it helps, remember I'm a Gene-and-Sam-together-forever girl!)

It's just a question of taking a very deep breath and committing the time to finish it. Finishing this one just did me in for a long, long time, and there were times when I thought I'd never write again.

Thank you very much for a lovely comment. And btw if you wanted to tell me who you are that would be lovely too!
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