From the Editor-in-Chief: Good-Byes & Hellos, Fan Fiction Mania, And Time For A Vacation; and an Addendum
From the Guest Editor: Once Upon A Time...
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Fictitious Fans
From the Editor in Chief: Good-Byes & Hellos, Fan Fiction Mania, And Time For A VacationIt is the nature of things to change, and two years is an awfully long time to be doing something without interruption. This issue, therefore, is dedicated to change from within and without.
First, this is the 2nd anniversary issue. The show Xena: Warrior Princess is changing, and hence we are changing as well. We have cast our lots with the show, as it were, and now we are more than ever fixated on following it wherever it takes us. We are determined, like a cowboy on a bucking bronco, to stick with the show as long as we can. We have done it for two years and perhaps The Fates will favor us with at least another two.
Second, we are dedicating an entire issue to a type of fan literature which, by policy and practice, never appears in Whoosh! as a regular feature. Although Whoosh! concentrates on fan non-fiction, we are inspired by moments such as these and recognize that fan fiction is a critical part of the Xena fandom experience. We can bend the spirit of our ban and use the talents of our members to study, observe, and comment "non-fictionally" upon the phenomenon of fan fiction.
Third, like all organic organizations, the production staff at Whoosh! has a unique ebb and flow. It is with a heavy heart that I announce the resignation of Stacey Robillard from our Executive Committee. Stacey has to move on to concentrate on other projects and feels, since she cannot devote her all to Whoosh!, she must resign from the Committee, and serve Whoosh! in a less demanding role. Stacey will be continuing with us as an Editor-at-Large and as a personal advisor to me in my capacity as Editor-in-Chief. Stacey has written many of our best editorials and she has assured us that, when so moved, she will continue contributing articles and editorials. Also, she said she still has many ideas to share with Whoosh! and that eventually she hopes they will come to fruition.
Fourth, the void that was formed by Stacey's resignation quickly sucked in Beth Gaynor. Beth is our brand new Executive Committee member. Please do not feed her. Just kidding. You can feed her... just don't get her mad, okay? Beth has been serving Whoosh! for over a year and a half and literally worked herself up the ranks. She started out as a menial coder (hee hee) who worked for table scraps when she was lucky. She clawed and fought her way to the position of Highest Ranking Non-Commissioned Officer for Whoosh! by her service above and beyond the call of duty with her work on the Episode Guide and other aspects of production. Her tenacity caught the Executive Committee's attention and now she is one of us. Let that be a scary lesson to you all.
[Coder's note: Editors-in-Chief should be very careful about what they say about new Executive Committee members who are also the ones who put the Editors' Letters onto the Web. I just have this to say: Yes, please feed me. As often as humanly possible. Chocolate-chip cookies or pepperoni pizzas are particularly good to write episode commentaries or HTML code by.]
Fifth, because of the uniqueness and inherent diversity of such a topic as fan fiction, I felt it would be wise to enlist the help of an "outsider" in its production. Well, I did not have to search long because after seeing the pictures I took at the last convention, the esteemed and well-respected fan fiction writer, Bat Morda, all too happily agreed to Guest Edit this issue. (Those who contribute to Whoosh are sharing themselves and in reality, mutual 'tribute' describes this interaction between Bat and I much better than simple 'coercion' ever could).
Sixth, and finally, I am going to be taking my first official holiday away from Whoosh!. After two years, it is time. I will be taking off half a month and will probably not be on-line during this break. The episode guide will suffer along with my correspondence with members and readers, but I am sure people will survive two and a half weeks without an update on the episode guide or hearing from me. The journal will not be affected (at least not significantly). I will not be as directly involved in the production of the November issue as I have in past issues, but I am confident the staff here could churn out an issue of Whoosh! in their sleep with or without me. My vacation starts October 14th and continues through November 1. I will be in New York City for the exclusive Book/Simpson wedding and in Dallas, Texas. If you want to try to get together and have some coffee, send me an e-mail before October 10th.
Kym Masera Taborn
September 22, 1998
From the Editor in Chief: AddendumI realize this issue is slanted towards Alt and Uber fiction, but heck, it's my magazine. Also, I believe that those genres are the two most unique aspects about the Xena fan fic phenomona. Finally, I have a very special place in my heart for Uber.
My take on Uber is that the XENA writers unwittingly set it up for us in three stages.
First, they did DREAMWORKER (03/103). It was early on in the game, airing in September 1995. One looking at DREAMWORKER on its own would never suspect it as being the zygote that was to become Uber. But that moment where the ladies casually share a dream, although underplayed and the writers really never expanded much on it (it was almost a throw away), was a defining moment in Xenaology. Also, in the beginning, I don't think many fans found it that extraordinary. Yet, some did pick up on it and it added to the charm of the show and to the attraction the individual viewer had for the show. It was perhaps more subliminal than not. For me, DREAMWORKER was the first inkling of the soulmate idea. Gabrielle was not only in Xena's Dreamscape, and Xena was not only in Gabrielle's dream, but they shared that intimate reality -- and with surprising relative ease, disregarding the immediate stress surrounding them.
Then, DREAMWORKER seemed to be an anomaly. The soulmate kernal languished except for the budding moments of inadvertent subtext clues. Then the 2nd season REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202) was aired October 1996, just over a year after DREAMWORKER. That introduced the idea that even in alternate timelines, the ladies would find each other. When I saw that, I was immediately struck by the thought that I was watching the continuation of the soulmate theme birthed in DREAMWORKER.
The same week as REMEMBER NOTHING, LOIS & CLARK (remember THEM?) was airing an episode where Lois & Clark discovered that they had previous incarnations all throughout history. That basically got me thinking on this soulmate idea working not only in alternate timelines but through history as well. That is when I postulated that XENA SCROLLS (34/210) would be the final episode in this ground-breaking "soulmate" trilogy (DREAMWORKER = soulmates in their time and reality; REMEMBER NOTHING = soulmates in all alternative realities; and XENA SCROLLS = soulmates in all times). When XENA SCROLLS finally aired in January 1997 (in its sadly cut and jumbled form), although it wasn't as strong a statement as I would have preferred, there was enough in it to conclude the "soulmate" trilogy.
REMEMBER NOTHING aired in October 1996, XENA SCROLLS in January 1997, and then I read Della Street's TOWARDS THE SUNSET in June 1997. By the time I read TOWARDS THE SUNSET (the first completed non-Janice & Mel Uber fiction written), I realized that this fan reaction (UberXena) was a logical and artistically natural development from the "soulmate" trilogy. It excited the heck out of me. Maybe too much. But I could not contain myself. Before the month was out, several long-term Uber projects were being written by fan fiction writers who along with me saw the incredible power and artistic potential of this genre. It was one of the biggest rushes in my life. I was an observer of and, in a way, a midwife to, the birth of Uber. I feel nothing but privilege at having the fortune to have been there when the spark lit. I have nothing but respect and awe for those fan fiction writers who have embraced Uber fiction and have answered its challenge. And I am extremely proud to have been associated with the production of this issue. I thank WHOOSH's underpaid and overworked staff, I thank the IAXS' members, and I thank all our readers for their support. This issue could have never been possible without a large chunk of XENA fandom's participation and encouragement. Thank you all, again.
Kym Masera Taborn
October 1, 1998
From the Guest Editor: Once Upon A Time...
A portrait of the guest editor courtesy of J. Atwood
Once upon a time there was a Xenaverse without Fan Fiction. There were no stories to further the adventures of Xena and Gabrielle. There were no stories to clearly illustrate exactly what was going on in those bedrolls, although many said the answer was obvious. There were no stories to explain bizarre episode plot twists that made no sense. Fortunately, this sad dark time didn't last very long.
For lo and behold, there were some Xenites who put their quills (and keyboards) to parchment and started to write. These Xenites became known as Bards and they generally dug the name, except for the few who wanted to be called "Waldo" and they quickly wandered off and got lost. As the parchment piled up, many toiled to create gorgeous structures called Websites to house and catalog the pages. We call these Xenites "overworked". Mailing lists buzzed with commentary on the tales.
Discussions ensued, debate raged, and reviews resulted in making many bards nervous. Contests were held, awards were given, and many in the land shouted the names of their favorite bards from the rafters, pubs, and places they hung out. One even made bookcovers. Some bards were harassed and maligned for expressing their views, others were praised, and some bards got a bit of both. Some never looked at the word "bud" quite the same way again. Basically all was well in the Xenaverse. Bards wrote stories about a show where the suits wouldn't threaten them with heavy briefcases for doing it. The X-File Bards were jealous. As a token of friendship, some Xenite Bards tried to trade Joxer for the Cancer Man, but the X-Philers wouldn't go there.
The season came and went, when in the second season The Powers That Be, from their lofty tower, sent forth an unusual episode. Xenites, hooked on a show about Pre-Mycenean heroics, were treated to a view of the 1940s. Some shook their heads in disappointment, some in confusion, and a certain New Xealander was still ticked off she didn't get more close-ups. In the far off land of Burbank, one bard was turned into a puddle of goo and didn't solidify for two days. She recovered, although she had some new imaginary friends that simply wouldn't go away, persisting to persist despite her best efforts. And she occasionally called her dog "Argo".
Like a raging flood from the leak in Kenneth Starr's office, Uber raged across the land. Bards and readers alike rejoiced (except for the Xenites who didn't like Uber, but we're not talking about them). The sky was the limit with new characters and plot settings and there was a nifty way to ignore The Rift. This was good, because even though bards have great imaginations, it's still hard to explain why the Amazons ever let Joxer in their village in the first place.
The stories continued to pile up. Thousands of takes written by hundreds of bards had Websites bursting at the seams. Truly, there was something for everyone. There were westerns, science fiction stories, historical dramas, light comedies, epics, and the ever popular romances. Questions were answered: How on earth did Ephiny get pregnant in the first place? What was Xena's childhood really like? What did Gabrielle's father do for a living? Where did the chakram come from? And why don't bad guys die from brain damage after Gabrielle whacks 'em in the head with her staff? The only question not answered was why are there so many natural (not to mention convenient) hot springs in Greece.
One day, while contemplating questions such as these over a sandwich, it occurred to one Xenite in particular that there needed to be an in-depth look at the Xenaverse's home grown celebrities and the fruits of their labor. On a whim (or from some side effect of the sandwich), she asked the aforementioned Bard in Burbank to Guest Edit the fan fiction tribute.
"Why me?" said Bard asked.
"You're going to need some other excuse to explain why UberMadness isn't finished yet. You got any better ideas?" she replied.
"I'll get right on it," the Bard answered. So, with a sense of purpose and new lease on life, she went forth to ask, cajole, and beg some of the coolest people she could think of for articles. Welcome to the results.
The contributors outdid themselves with fantastic articles. Fan fiction has done so much for me personally, and I'm proud to have been a part of this tribute.
Peace, love and happily ever afters,
Whoosh! 2nd Anniversary Issue
September 21, 1998
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Fictitious FansFanfic is an interesting phenomenon. I haven't read much of it -- it just doesn't appeal to me personally -- but I do know that it occupies a significant amount of disk space on a number of servers, and a healthy percentage of fans talk a lot about it. Some fanfic authors are accorded star status by devotees of fanfic. But what I find most interesting about the phenomenon of fanfic is how it has affected fandom in general.
We are now about to begin seeing Season 4 of Xena and Season 5 of Herc. Herc has its online representation as well as Xena, but the Herc fans, while numerically fairly equal in terms of viewership, are vastly outnumbered in terms of online space. I found only two mailing lists explicitly devoted to Herc or "Herc-ocentric" topics, while I found 19 Xena-based lists (a few strictly for subtext discussions) and 12 lists devoted to actors who have appeared on both shows. Newsgroup representation is another example.
In the month of August, there were some 217 posts on alt.tv.hercules, while there were 3,549 on alt.tv.xena (according to DejaNews search results). The respective Netforums show a similar disparity. Today I was able to see the last seven days worth of posts on the Xena Netforum, but the Herc Netforum showed 19 days worth. The Herc people just post less often. What they lack in sheer number of electrons, however, they make up for in enthusiasm and civility (at least, from what I've seen).
Herc fans don't have a Joxer controversy nor do they get much embroiled in subtext discussions. There was a time when it was perceived that some Herc fans looked down their noses at Xena fans, but nowadays, it is my perception that the Herc fans are often more civil and less antagonistic in tone than some Xena fans. Even so, the vast majority of fans in either "camp" are nice, courteous, friendly, sharing, caring people.
In looking for Herc based fanfic I was able to come up with several authors and a few dozen samples of individual fanfic pieces. These numbers pale, however, to the Xena fanfic devotees. One site alone (Tom's Xena Page, hosted, as of today, 317 individual authors who contributed no less than 1,046 total pieces of fanfic (which includes poetry, stories, parodies, skits, and novellas). Content is diverse, but, going by categories and disclaimers on different sites, more than a few are devoted to exploring the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle in a way that you wouldn't find on network television these days.
And that leads to the "interesting" part of the phenomenon.
A number of fans, unhappy with the direction Season 3 went or simply in response to their own creative muse, have turned to fanfic as an alternative to the show rather than as a supplement to it. This is something I've seen before in other shows, but usually after the programme has run its course. Sure, some fans write fanfic about extant shows too, but the sheer volume and diversity of the Xena fanfic is noteworthy, especially in light of the fact that the show has at least two more seasons to go.
There are stories that could be episodes, not conflicting much or at all with the on-screen Xenaverse. There are stories that explore alternatives to extant episodes. There are stories that postulate future descendants of characters; stories that examine various relationship options between major and minor characters; stories in the past, present, future; and stories that crossover into other shows. And many, many stories about Xena and Gabrielle, as friends, lovers, and everything in between and beyond.
The only conclusion I can come to after examining all this is that the appeal of Xena to the creative muse is as diverse as the fan base that supports it. For whatever reason, regardless of sex, age, or orientation, Xena touches something in many, many fans that compel them to share that creative spark with others and add their drop of inspiration to the sea of fanfic that is out there. "And", to quote John Lennon/Paul McCartney, "you know that can't be bad."
July 26, 1998