Whoosh! Issue 47 - August 2000
Letters to the Editor


To write to the editor regarding your comments, observations, and questions about Whoosh!, send an e-mail to ktaborn@lightspeed.net and mark the subject "Letter to the Editor". All letters with the subject "Letter to the editor" are subject to publication and may be edited. Due to the volume received, some letters may not be answered individually or receipt acknowledged. Letters received after the 15th of the month may be reserved for the issue after the immediate new issue.




The Southern California Xenafest 6 was Great, But...
The 2nd All Fan Fiction Issue
Don't Forget Della Street: Standing the Test of Time
A Chronological Survey of the Fiction of Bongo Bear
The Other Side: Writing Alternative Xena Fan Fiction From a Male Point of View
Published Fan Fiction: A Critique of Emerson's Latest Xena Novels
A Very "Good" Thing For Fan Fiction
July Editorial
Kudos
Sexual Objectification In Xena: Warrior Princess
July Letters
More Pondering of the 5th Season
More Braining Gabrielle and Other Hobbies
More Centaur Genetics
Joxer Corner
The Christianization of XWP



Letters To The Editor



The Southern California Xenafest 6 was Great, But...

From: Christi Clogston
Sent: Monday, July 31, 2000
Subject: Letter to the Editor

To Whom it May Concern,

The Southern California Xenafest 6 was held on July 29th and this Fest stood out for several reasons. This year, the charity auction took in a record amount for Working Wardrobes for a New Start (a local charity that helps battered women find jobs). Xenites, XenaStaffers, and actors donated so many items to the charity auction that we had trouble getting through all of it. Incredibly generous Xenites, some who traveled from all parts of the country to attend this SCXF, donated a total of $5725! We stand in awe of this generosity and thank everyone who donated to the charity auction.

This SCXF enjoyed the surprise appearance of Claire Stansfield, Alexandra Tydings, and Paris Jefferson (and it was Paris' first Xena event of any kind). These women graciously spent their time with fans, taking pictures, signing autographs, and schmoozing in general. We hope that these talented women enjoyed their time at the SCXF -- it was a special treat for all of us to have them there and we especially want to thank them for joining our little party.

Robert Trebor joined us and graciously lent his talent as an auctioneer, a task he has taken on at previous Fests. It's hard to thank him enough for ALWAYS AGREEING to do this.

We enjoyed the presence of XWP Topps comic book cover artist Terese Nielsen, who allowed us to use her XWP painting published by Topps as our Fest T-shirt design, and signed comics for attendees.

An original XenaStaff supporter of the SCXF, Robert Field, gave the Fest attendees a sneak preview of the latest blooper reel. Over the past five years, he has made this something of a tradition at our Fest. This year, he did something exceptional and brought a second tape, an editor's cut from the upcoming Season 6 episode, "LEGACY". He aired this tape twice during our six-hour event. This was a special first peek of selected parts of an unaired episode and was another example of Robert Field's enormous generosity to the SCXF.

Finally, another reason that this SCXF stood out is because of a troubling event that took place during the day. One of the Fest attendees took digital pictures of Robert Field's sneak-peek presentation of LEGACY and, with the help of others, these showed up on Mary D's website. This was done even though Mr. Field announced that this content had to stay within the SCXF. The distribution of these pictures was direct violation of copyright law. While the screen shots have since been removed, the SCXF6 Warlords are extremely hurt, disappointed, and angry that this has occured.

Over the years, we've worked very hard to keep the trust of the XenaStaff. They knew we would never violate or take advantage of their generosity. It's obvious that the fans who did this cannot begin to imagine how hurt and angry we are that they have broken the trust we have built up with the XenaStaff over these many years. That is what really matters. Xenastaff can no longer trust that the Xenites at the Fest will abide by their wishes and not steal and distribute copyrighted material. They've said they don't blame us personally, but they cannot and will not take part in any future Fests. I'm sure that will apply not only to the Xenastaff but to the actors that also come to our fests.

And this is the real tragedy of this unhappy circumstance. We honestly don't think that Xenastaff or those who distributed this material are as affected by this as are the Fest organizers, and all of the people who would want to attend a fan-run event in the future.

On behalf of the So. Cal. Xenites, we would like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Robert Field, R.J. Stewart and Renaissance Pictures. But we especially apologize to Mr. Field. His generosity has always been extremely appreciated by all Xenites, not only those who attended the SCXFests. We are deeply saddened that the lack of respect caused by the actions of a few has tarnished Mr. Field's experience with Xenites.

Sincerely,
The SCXF6 Warlord Committee

Christi Clogston (cclogston@earthlink.net)
Lucia Correa (correa@inetworld.net)
Don Frozina (frozina@qnet.com)
Julia Gissel (Julia.Gissel@West.Boeing.com)
Shawne Keehne (batmorda@ix.netcom.com)
Elizabeth Monroe (dearcy@yahoo.com)
Rita Schnepp (schnepp@pepperdine.edu)
Melanie Villaraza (watersurferchick@hotmail.com)





The 2nd All Fan Fiction Issue

From: Janet Elizabeth
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000
Subject: JOXER FAN FICTION - THE SECRET SCROLLS

I would like to make you aware of a decided lack in your e-zine. While it has excellent writers, both on staff and freelance, your current issue of ALL FAN FICTION showed that WHOOSH is missing something crucial.

I wandered through this current issue in hopes of finding something about fan fiction that would speak to me as a fan fiction writer. The only article that even remotely had anything for me was the reivew of Ru Emerson's Xena "Quest" novels (see seperate letter regarding that article). The rest of the issue had nothing that spoke to the Joxer fan fiction writer.

Now you may not be aware that the Joxer fan fiction writer has any more special needs than an Alt writer, but we do. We don't see subtext, we don't have any reason to nor does it appeal to us. We write about Joxer as part of the three amigos; Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer. We have specific views on fan fiction and how it is written. We have our own circle of great writers, and no Missy Good is NOT among them. We also have very little representation within the online Xenaverse.

We are underground and hidden. We may be someone you know or just a lurker on a Xena mailing list. Sometimes we are lucky enough to be found by another secret Joxer fan and taken to a special place where we can express our selves with our fan fiction and receive the same feedback and encouragement that Alt writers receive.

There are hundreds if not thousands of us who care about and appreciate Joxer. We write fiction in where his true personality is realized. We make him into the character he should have been.

And yet, for such a large movement, there was no representative article in your magazine that spoke to this particular problem. I don't know the reason, but maybe when you announced your search for articles for this issue (and in all fairness, you do equally print pro-Joxer articles along with anti-Joxer articles) no Joxer fan fiction writers saw your call. Perhaps they didn't want to be pulled from their hiding places to be ridiculed by the general online Xenaverse population at large. Maybe they don't come to Whoosh because they don't get no respect? I don't know. But perhaps you would wish to rectify this matter and go searching for Joxer fan fiction writers to at least be given the opportunity to express their views of fan fiction in your e-zine.

Plainly put, if they don't come here because it is Joxer-unfriendly, then they don't know they are welcome!

Sincerely
Janet Elizabeth
Joxer fan and fan fiction writer

I made the call for papers for the fan fiction issue few months before and several times on the NetForum, alt.tv.xena, Xenaverse, Chakram, and a number of other lists, not to mention a notice on WHOOSH itself. As a policy, I only publish what is submitted. Also, since I do not "go searching" for other types of articles, I do not see a need to start now. The call for papers are open to any who are willing to do the hard work of writing an article. I am sad to admit that the Joxer papers tend to be not as well written as many other articles, but I run them nonetheless because there are such a dearth of articles on that topic. I find it ironic that WHOOSH is still accused of purposely avoiding Joxer articles.

--Kym Taborn
Editor-in-Chief/Publisher
Whoosh,org








Date: Sat, 8 Jul 2000
From: alexiares
Subject: WHOOSH 2nd Fan Fiction issue

I have always found Whoosh a bit scholarly in spots, but have also always appreciated the information, insights, and just plain cool stuff. Each issue clearly involves a hell of an effort, and a type of bone- deep bounce in your seat sort of enthusiasm. That does come through quite clearly, and keeps things down to earth. I like that too, although I freely admit that my down on earth time is often fairly limited. ;)

This particular issue is definitely impressive. I learned many new things (had no idea what a 'Mary Jane' in the context of fanfic was) and it actually gave me a meaningful look into literary criticism, since it was applied to material I can actually relate to.

Two things in particular caught my attention. Comments on fan fiction reactions to trends in the show, and wondering about various stories that are moving away from a focus on Xena and Gabrielle and moving others into the centre.

Fan fiction reflects the show in many ways, and some trends are so strong that writing against them is rare... for example the preponderance of dark to extremely dark fiction after the 3rd season. So much angst, and so little relief!

For those other stories without an X and G focus. They weren't really touched on, although it would be interesting to look at what archetypes and problems they tend to explore, since now the numbers of such stories are larger, and they may or may not look at the same issues.

I got to thinking about these things because of the articles on Bongo Bear and Della Street especially... authors who created and/or wrote against type or trend in the context of all fan fiction.

Thanks to you and all the hard working folks at Whoosh, Kym... another excellent issue that provides a feast for thought.






From: Barbara Mullins
Subject: A Few Observations
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000

My congratulations on another superb FF Issue.

An observation the Xenaverse and the Fandom are developing all the apparatus of classical scholarship I realized that when I noticed a couple of Whoosh articles where quoting previous Whoosh articles as primary sources(in linked footnotes no less). And it really helped to have read Christine's online PH.D..D.,

Having come late to fandom actually my first time. I had to fill in the blanks quickly,Whoosh was invaluable in that regard. It's hard or next to impossbile to particpate in an online discussion or Fandom if you don't know what is being referred to,or it's past history.

Two more observations,saw Dreamworker for the second time this morning, This ep is destined to be a classic for a number of reasons,including the introduction of the dreamscape as a method of plot constuction. TPTB did take chances and It did work: with Fishshticks they took chances and it didn't work. Both sides of the same coin.And that is what it takes and that is why we watch. And yes I intend on watching the whole thing thru this evening,this time.

Barbara






From: L Jones
Subject: Latest Issue
Date: Mon, 17 Jul 2000

You have excelled yourselves. I loved it - all of it - and ended up staying up until 1am to read it all!

Excellent.

LJ






Date: Sat, 08 Jul 2000
From: Laconia
Subject: July issue of Whoosh!

I've just finished reading the most recent Whoosh! issue on fanfiction. It had a lot of good articles that made me understand even better why I like Xena fanfic as much as I do, and it also gave me insight into the bards as well as the writing process itself. Thanks for putting as much time and energy into this issue as y'all did. Great job!






Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000
From: Linda Crist
Subject: WHOOSH Fan Fic Edition/ Feedback/ Long

Well, I promised to read every last word of the Whoosh! fan fiction edition, before I realized what a great undertaking that would be. Let's say I've read most of it...following are comments on each article with a conclusion consisting of general comments and questions:

DON'T FORGET DELLA STREET:

I have heard of this bard for the entire two plus years of my life in the online Xenaverse, but have not read any of her stories. I always knew she was a pioneer and an icon. I love traditional Xena and Gabrielle alternative short stories, and hope to find time to look up her work. Time to write versus time to read is a critical factor for me, so I tend to stick to a handful of familiar writers when I do read fan fiction. Perhaps I need to branch out some. I did not know she had written the first uber story. I always wondered who had come up with that concept. Now I know. That alone will be worth a read for me. The uber genre has made the difference for so many bards, from writing just for internet, to making the leap to getting published. It's such an important genre of fan fiction.

What I do like is the fact that you have included this "traditional" bard. There are a lot of new fan fiction writers out there, myself included . But when I am asked to name my favorite bards, I almost always have to go back to some of those older ones myself, such as B.L. Miller, L.N. James, T. Novan, and of course Melissa Good. Their work stays with me and I remember it in great detail, even though I haven't read some of it in a long time.

THE WORKS OF VIVIAN DARKBLOOM:

Okay, this won't be the last time you'll hear this from me in this piece of feedback. My first reaction was, "Who?" Now let me admit, right off the bat, I'm not a Mel and Janice fan, and about the only Mel and Janice piece I've delved into is "Homefires" by Roo (at MaryD's site). I enjoyed the episode, "The Xena Scrolls," but I hated seeing what I perceived to be a "weak" Xena archetype, although I loved the more "butch" Gabrielle archetype. But overall, it was not one of my favorite episodes. I think it was important for two reasons, though. It introduced a common fan fiction theme onto the show, that of eternal soulmates. And it was the show's first "uber."

However, perhaps as alternative fan fiction has done with Xena and Gabrielle's relationship, maybe the Mel and Janice writers have taken that initial relationship and developed it into something further than what we saw on television. Re-shaped it and molded it to be what they want it to be. Once again, you've introduced me to yet another genre of fan fiction I should explore.

Ah, when you got to the "Trailer Park" discussion, I said, "Oh, that's Vivian Darkbloom." No, haven't read any of it, I suspect because if you knew most of my relatives, you'd understand why white trash in a trailer park hits a little too close to home for me. LOL. But I've seen the titles of her stories, and that alone gave me a laugh on some days. I can see that she is cutting-edge, and has branched out from "traditional" uber. And by use of the phrase "traditional uber," I suddenly understand how much fan fiction has evolved. Another bard worth a look for me. Time, time, time, a new mantra.

BONGO BEAR:

Kym, I know you wrote this article, but it's the only one I haven't had time to read thoroughly. I heard of Bongo Bear for the first time about a month ago when several of her stories were posted at MaryD's site. I haven't read all of them, but the ones I did had me laughing so hard my sides ached. She is very, very funny. I got to meet her briefly at Dragoncon. Dry wit and a genuinely nice person. And, in that all-important time mantra, I can catch her stories a few at a time, because they each look like they can be read in one sitting.

ARMAGEDDON TIRED OF CONQUERING:

I wasn't sure why this was included. It did make me laugh. Out loud. In my apartment. With no one around but the cats. It reminds me of a piece Stacia Seaman recently did on the ex-Guards site called "Bad Fic," in which she wrote an uber that includes all the cliches one would associate with an uber.

So, my first big question. Why was no more serious article done on Conqueror fan fiction? Is it because it is a limited genre? Is it because people have grown tired of it? Maybe it is because no one took it upon themselves to write it. I have enjoyed a few Conqueror pieces, but I don't know enough about it or have enough interest in it to do a scholarly article on it.

My main comment on this piece is, "thanks for the good belly laugh, I needed it."

FAN FICTION FROM A MALE POINT OF VIEW:

This was a very informative article. And timely. As a lesbian (or sometimes I describe myself as bi-sexual, but that is a whole other discussion), I write alternative fan fiction. I have no desire to write a story that portrays Xena and Gabrielle as heterosexual or that has scenes of them involved in romantic relationships with men. So I have often wondered why a man would write alternative lesbian fan fiction.

Rooks has given me some wonderful insight and an answer to that question. And it gave me hope that there are more sensitive, accepting, open-minded men out there than I had originally given the world credit for. Living in the south (Texas), I tend to get a bit jaded in this area. It's nice to know that men can see the loving relationship between the two characters without turning it into some macho male lesbian fantasy fetish. Warms the cockles of my grrrrl-lovin' heart.

RU EMERSON:

I have all of her books but have read none of them. Every time I start to read, something online draws my interest more. Which sort of seemed to be the point of the article. Why, when there are all these very talented writers out there, is the only "approved" one, at least as I understood from this article, a somewhat mediocre writer who doesn't even seem to have a grasp on the main character of the show? It is XENA: Warrior Princess, is it not? Perhaps TPTB should catch a clue from Rob Tapert himself, and tap into the vast internet field of writers. Maybe they would sell more books that way.

And thanks for the heads up on the "Quest" series. I have so very little use for Joxer on the show. Why would I read about him in my spare time? Thank the gods Half Price Books will give me at least part of my money back. And it's almost sacrilegious that they would take the title from one of the most subtext-heavy episodes of the show, "The Quest," and tack it onto a trilogy featuring Joxer.

LZ CLOTHO:

"Who?" (again). And no offense to these bards when I say that. There are now hundreds of bards out there. Lots of people haven't heard of me either. No offense taken. I'd wager Melissa Good is probably the only one that EVERYONE in the fan fiction world has heard of. If not, they must have just crawled out from under a rock. Or just gotten their first computer. But I digress ...

I like LZ, from her interview. We have some things in common. Journalism degree. Only published in a non-fiction sense (her in newspapers, me in magazines). Both of us working our day jobs with dreams of writing fiction as a career. And she has to be picky about what she reads too. We share that whole "time" mantra. High five to you, LZ.

Yet again, another bard to take a look at. Especially considering the volume she has apparently produced.

MACHINATIONS OF XWP FAN FICTION:

I'm biased. Carolyn McBride is one of the ex-Guards, and I'm thrilled to see her work here. She has really captured what it's like to be a fan fiction writer. Great article. Nice to see the names of several bards I am familiar with in her article. And a very nice person online, too.

FAN FICTION OF CYCLOPS:

"Who?" (yeah, again). Oh. A fellow person of Irish descent. I like her already (okay, so I'm Scotch-Irish. Details, details). I will be looking her up, as I especially like traditional Xena and Gabrielle stories that expound upon issues or story lines from the show. I am a big fan of the show itself, and truly do manage to find something to like in every single episode. (Wasn't it interesting how they used that shell arm band to hide Alexandra Tydings' tattoo in "Married with Fishsticks?" See, you can always find something. ) Plus, I think I can actually find time to read three stories.

XWP, P.T. BARNUM, AND COPYRIGHTS:

Oops. I've been committing a crime? Didn't know that. What I liked about this article is that it reflects something I've come to love about Ren Pics, Rob Tapert, and company. They seem to understand that fan fiction and web sites, for the most part, can only do them good. How may of us, myself included, started watching Xena after going to the internet first? How many can honestly say they would sit alone in their homes, without benefit of their online buddies, and watch and dissect every last episode of the show? Not since "The Partridge Family" (and that was second - fifth grade), have I been so well-versed in every last detail of a television show, both on and off the screen, greedily gobbling up information on the stars, filming of the show, episode guides, and just about everything I can find. Then I bought every singlet issue of "Tiger Beat." Now it is "Xpose Special" and the official "Xena" magazine.

The internet is something that television must come to terms with. It isn't going away, and policing it is difficult at best. I guess the more grey area will be after the show is over. At what point is copyrighted material up for grabs? At what point does a production company step in and say, "You've crossed the line here?" In the case of Xena on the internet, it would be impossible to know where to begin.

HISTORIAN'S RANTS:

This was informative and interesting, especially the information regarding the Mel and Janice era. But I maintain that just as the show has fun bending and blending history, fan fiction writers do too. In my current story, I have done some major bending of Egyptian and Biblical history, and I did it on purpose. "Fan" can also stand for "fantasy."

And I'm sorry, but if I referred to the "leathers" as Xena's "aketon," I'd have fifty e-mails from people wanting an explanation. I simply don't have time for that. I suppose I could always footnote it, but it just sounds so much sexier for Gabrielle to peel Xena's "leathers" off. Hmmm ... "delicate fingers trailed a heated path down Xena's spine, as the bard made quick work of removing her ... aketon." Or, "Gabrielle reveled in the sensual feel of Xena's aketon against her naked skin, as the warrior slowly slid up her body." Nope, can't go there. (BTW, those are just examples off the top of my head. My stories are not PWP, with the exception of one. Most are full-length PG13/R novels.)

I do feel the writer's pain, however. When you know a lot about a particular subject, it is really annoying to read something about it when the writer obviously hasn't a clue what they're talking about. But, this is the Xenaverse. Such things are to be expected. It's actually a drawing card for me. I like watching the show and looking for the "bending."

MISSY GOOD:

I call this saving the best for last. Missy has done so much for the fan fiction world. And I owe her, even though we've had very limited interaction. Her stories are the reason I watch Xena, because I found them first. And she recently gave me the opportunity to participate in the panels at Dragoncon, even though she didn't know me at all. Very very cool. Because of that opportunity, I got to meet a whole lot of people that I had only talked to online before. It was wonderful to be around the merpups. They are a genuinely nice group of folks, and are a true picture of just how broad the spectrum of Xena fandom really is.

When I first found her work, sometime in early 1998, I quickly devoured it on many a sleepless night. My love for her work grew along with my love of the show, as I somehow managed to buy or tape all the episodes I had missed. As I watched, I often found myself wishing the show was, well, more like Missy's stories . I know I'm not the first person to feel that way. Now, I will get to see that happen next season.

What is so very cool, though, is that Missy has broken through the mysterious barrier that was raised between the producers of the show and the online fan fiction world. It is no longer the "kiss of death" for an aspiring writer to write fan fiction. She is blazing a trail for future writers. It may be too late to get in on writing for Xena, but there are many, many other shows out there that may now be taking a second look at what the fans say and think. Rob Tapert is a very smart man. He seems to understand how fandom and ratings and the internet all go hand-in-hand. It's nice to know that the executive producer of your favorite television show might actually care what you think.

What I love best about Missy, aside from her writing itself, is that she just did what she loves. She wrote. It all came to her. As far as I know, she didn't go looking to be published, or have several websites devoted to her work, or have her own fan club, or have a television series made of her books, or write for the show. They came looking for her. She is so totally unaffected by it all, much like Lucy Lawless seems to be of her own fame. That is very very refreshing.

Missy pulls it all together. Interesting plots that draw you in and compel you to read. Wonderful romance. Unique "elements" like the evil necklace and the crystal joining stones. A right-on depiction of the Xena and Gabrielle characters, as well as several very well-developed minor characters that I have come to love, such as Jessan and Cait. I tell people if they only have time to read one bard, Missy is it.

Thanks for the opportunity to read and comment.

Kindest Regards
Linda Crist






Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000
From: Susan Traugott
Subject: WHOOSH

Just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying the issue. Please keep up the good work. I'm looking forward to the next issue.






From: Trish Shields
Subject: Fan Fiction Issue
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000

I found it quite informative, actually. It was very well laid out, aesthetically pleasing, and very insightful.

I liked the amount of detail provided on the types and contents of the various types of fanfic.

It was good to see all the demographics covered in your articles. I was surprised by some of the findings.

And why wasn't I interviewed? Might have changed those numbers. heh.

Trish






From: Rose
Subject: Re: WHOOSH 2nd Fan Fiction issue
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000

I've been reading and writing a lot of fan fiction and other non-fan topics for most of my life on various subjects and it's been my experience that every fan has a different opinion on the subject. Some like it this way, some like it that way, some don't like it at all.

I have found that most fan fiction (not just Xena) is very poorly written. Some have been brilliantly written. But that matters not.

What matters is that every fan who has written *anything* has chosen to express their love for the show that they are writing about - be it Xena, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc. This is the heart of fan fiction. It's the sharing of themselves in the stories that they write with others like them.

Read, enjoy, and rejoice. Even when the series finally ends, Xena and Gabrielle's adventures will continue in the hearts, minds, and writing materials of the fans.

Rose





Don't Forget Della Street: Standing the Test of Time

From: Sue D.
Date: Fri, 7 Jul 2000
Subject: Bravo!

Wow!

I was just going to peruse, briefly, the latest issue of Whoosh!, before I went on to my main object. I didn't want to spend much time, but I've always been a fan of Della Street, and I was intrigued that the magazine would start off with an article on her. I rarely read fan fiction any more but I've never forgotten Della's stories Resistance and Toward the Sunset. Now I know why. I loved your analysis and it made clear just why the writing is so good. I know I'll begin looking for those same qualities in the novels I currently like to read. Thanks for an informative and entertaining article.

Regards,
Sue D.






Date: Mon, 10 Jul 2000
From:
LadyJaneGray
Subject: Letter To The Editor

First, I wanted to congratulate the Whoosh Staff , and contributors, on the Fan Fiction Issue. It was fun, educational, and challenged some of my preconceptions.

Christine Boese's article was especially stimulating, particularly her call for a more critical reception of fan fiction. For some reason ffic is felt to be beyond criticism. I've read all sorts of excuses: we like it just the way it is; editors only ruin great work; an artist has to heed her own inner voice.

Over the Fourth, I read Thomas Pynchon's book Slow Learner, in which he addresses his shortcomings as an author. Though Pynchon is unlikely to win the Nobel, he is one of the great living authors; nonetheless he tore into the pretensions and plain bad writing of his earlier works (including that college favorite, The Crying of Lot 49).

If Pynchon could have done better - couldn't we all?

But it's long been assumed that if you were to criticize a famous author like Missy Good, your body would go unburied, your bones gnawed by Merepups. For the sane, the thought alone suffices to inhibit the critical reflex.

Always willing to take a shot at a Sacred Wolf, about a year ago I lost my senses and had the effrontery to publish a critical review of Tropical Storm ( on amazon.com, and I did sign my name). I received in return a very gracious note from Ms. Good, saying that she was aware of the issues I'd raised, was working on those she agreed with, ignoring the rest.

It struck me as a Good Reply. There isn't a writer born who couldn't write better; equally, the writer has to be selective. While I still don't care for the type of fiction Ms. Good writes, I do recognize a person who respects her craft. Ms. Good would not be where she is, had she not worked to improve (I want to add, parenthetically, that I also don't care for hot-spicy foods no matter how sophisticated or well-prepared, all of which goes to show there's no accounting for tastes).

And so I think it would be interesting to see some serious discussion of why her stories do, or do not, work. Not so much for her benefit, but for ours. Writers serious about their craft have any number of resources, professionals willing to go through their work. Ffic writers don't seem to have the same resources, and -- personal opinion -- the field suffers for it.

Even the website Ms. Boese mentions is reluctant to make the hard judgements, those where it needs to be said "every other sentence in this work is a clich‚."

That said, Ms. Boese herself makes a fine beginning. It's up to the rest of the community to determine whether it would like its good authors to be even better. Alas, praise alone won't accomplish it.





A Chronological Survey of the Fiction of Bongo Bear

From: Murphy
Date: Thu, 6 Jul 2000
Subject: Hello!

I just read the article about Bongo Bear! This article is awesome! It is nice to see this much information about the bard! I have never seen such a complete article on a bard! Thanks! I will look into the rest!

Murphy





The Other Side: Writing Alternative Xena Fan Fiction From a Male Point of View

Date: Sun, 16 Jul 2000
From: Senachie
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Thanks for Rooks' fine article on alternative fan fic written by men.

I'm a male bard whose fan fic recently featured Lila, as well as Xena and Gabrielle, in a same sex relationship.

In my story, neither Xena, Gabrielle, Lila nor their Amazon companions think of themselves as lesbian, straight or bi. Perhaps that's because they inhabit a world in which gender exclusivity in matters of sexual intimacy isn't the prescribed norm. Though I can't say whether or not a heterosexual man might be qualified authentically and non-exploitively from plumbing the depths of a homoerotic relationship between two or more women, I do know that one reader said, "I knew right away you were a guy," while another said, "There's no way you could be a man." Happily, both readers were more engaged by the events of the story than the gender of the teller.

all the best,
Senachie






From: amazon
Date: Sun, 9 Jul 2000
Subject: Letters to the Editor

I was interested to read what Rooks had to say on the subject of male fan-fic readers and writers, especially as the questions he set out at the start were quite intriguing. But I was a bit disappointed to see the old 'moral hierarchy' argument trotted out.

You know: erotica good, pornography bad; loving sex good, mercenary sex bad; most women good, most men bad. I thought (hoped!) that old guff (sorry!) had been abandoned years ago.

Now, Rooks' views are his own and he's fully entitled to share them. I'd just like to put a different point of view regarding some of his contentions.

(Basically these are from para 7-9)

1. "seeing lesbians as purely sexual objects" is "highly sexist";
2. that "phallic imagery" suggests the story could not have been written by a woman;
3. Even PWP stories written by women are never about "cold mercenary sex".
I beg to differ! As a lesbian writer I've had Xena, Gab, Ephiny, Amarise and most of the Amazon Nation objectifying each other senseless and enjoying every minute of it. And they often reach for their phallic objects (or whatever else comes to hand in ancient Greece) with ne'r a thought for the symbolism implied. (And what is the symbolism anyway? It just feels good, yeah?). And where Callisto is concerned, 'cold' and 'mercenary' is pretty much what you get with her, IMHO.

I'm sure Rooks isn't implying that he's talking about *all* Xena fanfic. Obviously, there are exceptions to any generalisation. But am I meant to infer that hot, horny (or cold and mercenary) female-authored sex stories are an aberation that do women a disservice in some way? I think female VixenNet readers might disagree.

Amazon
http://www.vixennet.co.uk/fiction.htm

Thanks for the feedback. And no! I certainly don't begrudge women the right to enjoy stories that contain nothing but sex, with any level of emotion attached - even none at all. Just like men can enjoy erotica, women can enjoy pornography. It's two sides to the same stereotype in a way, isn't it? My point was not that pornography is in itself a bad thing, only the idea that pornography is the only thing which men can enjoy or produce.

As for whether or not that idea has been abandoned, I'd like to think it has, but considering how often male bards with gender-ambiguous names are immediately assumed to be women, I don't think that old guff is completely gone just yet. Hopefully it will be soon.

Yours,
Rooks










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