With Strings Attached

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

"Don't worry," said John, "we've already brought the gods back, we're the gods of rock 'n' roll, remember?"

"Do a miracle and send us home, then," said Ringo.

"Sorry, I've used up me quota. Fuck!" John threw his seashell towards the ocean as hard as he could with his left hand, then sat up fully. "I don't care what our mission is. I resent bein' dropped here without so much as a `Would you like to go?' I may not even do whatever we're supposed to do, if we do have a job. We might not, y'know. Maybe some fuckin' Beatlemaniac just thought `Eh, wouldn't it be a lark to put the Beatles on another planet and see what they do.' Well, this one's not gonna do anythin', so fuck you!" John shouted at the sky, giving it the finger.

With Strings Attached, or The Big Pink Job is possibly the most famous single Beatles Real Person Fic out there, and certainly one of the oldest known. Aviva Rothschild, who wrote the first-ever bibliography of graphic novels, started writing Strings in 1980 at the age of 15 and just completed it in early 2009. It has been online since 1997 and is so well established that if you google the common phrase that is the main title, it comes up first. Half the story is available on Rational Magic, the author's website, and the entire work can be purchased as a downloadable PDF or a thick paperback book.

Strings is a serious (if frequently hilarious) epic fantasy--no Slash, no Time Travel, no romance, no Alternate History, and no Mary Sue. It's spring 1980, and the four ex-Beatles awaken on the strange planet C'hou, terrified out of their minds, sixteen years younger, and utterly clueless as to why they're there. As they struggle to make sense of their predicament, they must survive the dangers of two very different countries: Ketafa, a quasi-Victorian theocracy based on a fake religion, and Baravada, a dying magical anarchy whose inhabitants' fondest wish is to find monsters to kill. Observing all this are some quite fannish aliens, whose dialogue punctuates and clarifies much of what's going on, and who have their own little dramas taking place as events spin rapidly out of their control.

Ultimately, the four are spectacularly equipped to embark upon a quest that, if successful, will remove a curse that prevents the real gods from seeing Ketafa. Careering through three crazy universes (including a Crowning Moment of Funny day on an alternate Earth that combines Beatlemania, New York City, Xanth, and Harvey), they collect the three scattered pieces of the Vasyn, a statue that is the (sub)titular Big Pink Job. But restoring the Vasyn to Ketafa will be the most dangerous task facing them....

Notable for, among other things, its portrayal of the four ex-Beatles as real people, not as any of their fictional personas, who undergo genuine Character Development as the story progresses. Also notable for being a rare fantasy where the main characters are essentially Actual Pacifists.


Tropes used in With Strings Attached include:
  • Actual Pacifist: The four. They never initiate fights - in fact, they avoid conflict when possible - and while three of them do deal some minor damage to people in revenge for having been badly abused, none of them would dream of seriously hurting any living thing. The irony, of course, is that collectively they have been gifted with enough power to wipe out a city before breakfast.
  • Anal Probing: Discussed in the prologue when Varx is trying to convince Paul to go on a “great adventure”.

Paul: Is this one of those alien abductions where you're gonna probe me, then?
Varx (snorting): Gods, you Eartians are masochists. Believe me, if we really wanted that info, which we don't, we could do a deep scan right from our own universe and you'd never know it happened.

Death is cheap, life is expensive.