Cat Tales (Professionals zine)

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Zine
Title: Cat Tales
Publisher: Bound in Leather Press
Editor(s):
Date(s): May 1986
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: The Professionals
Language: English
External Links: @The Circuit Archive
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Contents

cover by J. Clissold

Cat Tales is a 196-page slash anthology with fiction by Fanny Adams. Artwork - J. Clissold (front cover) and Pat Cash.

In 1988, the author said: "'Cat Tales' was written for several reasons. I had discussed with Robbie Brown the idea of Doyle being a were-cat, and the desire to explore this idea further wouldn't leave me alone, so I began the original story. Then I found a universe taking shape around the story, and everyone seemed to have a story to tell, so I just listened and wrote it all down. [1]

Some of the stories, as circuit stories, are on The 1985 Hatstand Express Top Ten Lists.

Some Then-Debate

Many of the stories were circuit stories and when the collection was published, it was part of the debate whether fanzines would harm the circuit:
To be fair, I don't see fanzines undermining the fabric of fandom and ruining all our fun—that would be ludicrous—but I do wonder if B&D fandom will be as much fun five years and fifty zines down the road. It hasn't stopped me from contributing to all the planned B/D and B&D zines I know about, and I'm hoping to get Cat Tales Collected done by the end of the year, so you see, I am not against the concept...merely not totally for it. I assume that you zine eds are going to write fervent letters denying that zine publication will have any negative effect whatsoever, and in fact will prove, with evidence gleaned from the New England Journal of Medicine, that B/D zines will prevent cancer, heart disease and boils. Unfortunately, youze guys have this vested interest in zine production that makes your support a little suspect. What about the rest of you?[2]

An Announcement

"Cat Tales collected will include about 50% new material. You will not be paying for everything you've gotten on the circuit already. Plus, we're lining up some lovely artists to illo the stories. This is going to be a nice zine, folks. If you like the series, you'll like C-T Collected. Meow." [3]

Summary

From a distributor, Agent With Style: "Set against a backdrop of magical happenings and wild impossibilities, Ray Doyle discovers that he has abilities that defy the laws of nature. Dealing with being a shapeshifter is hard enough, until his lover, Bodie, scares him by making a man who dared threaten Ray simply...disappear. Wild talents can be dangerous, especially when the man displaying them growlingly insists he doesn't have them. Add in a prescient Cowley and an unruly Murphy who refuses to play by the rules and you have a thrilling mix of modern and ancient magic that will take you on the wildest ride yet."

Content

  • Cat Tales 4
  • Letting the Cat Out of the Bag 21
  • Nine Lives 36
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 60
  • The Persian of CI5 71
  • Belling the Cat 84
  • Cat's Cradle 120
  • While the Cat's Away 131
  • Manx Without a Past 137
  • It's Only a Beautiful Persian 145
  • Cat's Paw 176
  • Cat Among the Pigeons 189
  • Discovered in the Litterbox 194

Reactions and Reviews

Speaking of zines - every B/D fan should have CAT TALES in their library. Fanny Adams did a fantastic job combining realism, fantasy, and mysticism. I loved the zine. My only request is for more Beelzy stories. My cat even liked Beelzy, and she's very fussy. I wonder why though Doyle is just a plan ol torn cat, but Murph is a persian? I wonder who influenced you in that choice. The characters that were introduced were fantastic and added to the plot. And they even appeared throughout the zine. [4]
CAT TALES has a great deal to recommend it, of which the sexual permutations are perhaps the least interesting item. Which is not to say they are uninteresting. [5]
Ok, ok, this is cheating [as it was written by my friend]. I don't care. I adore Beelzy and Colette and Tal and Rev and Jamie and Dahout and everybody else.. .I love the touches of myth and magic and the Old Religion.. .1 love the way what started out as a bit of fun has become murky and serious and very complicated.. .and I have a distinct advantage here because I know what comes next! Well, so will the rest of you when Cat-Tales Colllected is published, tee hee. [6]
The CAT TALES series I have always found vaguely depressing and, truthfully, I never made it all the way through the CAT TALES zine. [7]
It is the sense of hurry up that makes me disappointed with Cat Tales, the zine. I enjoyed the circuit stories because they were fun, witty, had elements of the supernatural, contained interesting, other-than-Bodie-and-Doyle characters. The interpretation of Bodie and Doyle and their relationship as well as their powers added to the appeal. The detailed research provided a finely woven fabric of a backdrop. But, as pieces were altered somewhat and as new material was added to comprise a zine, I became less enchanted. As characters are wont to do, they created new problems, revealed new aspects of personality and power as well as new plot directions. None of these elements were accomodated in the final few pages of the zine, which left me frustrated and irritated. The zine was like a movie, where you've invested time and emotional energy, only to get to the end and find the film maker had no idea how to end the film so as to wrap up loose threads or provide a resting place, a sense of finality. The best example of this in Cat Tales is the scene where Bodie, frightened and fascinated with his power still, uses a thunderbolt to obliterate Doyle's clothes, resting in a chair. This is where I began to fear for the rest of the zine, where I began to worry. Indeed, the final pages proved out my fear. This is a moment that is extremely significant to the Bodie-Doyle relationship, and yet it is never dealt with. It was as if Fanny were meeting a deadline and had no time for the two or three chapters necessary to complete this work... And yet, I did enjoy a great deal about Cat Tales. The individual stories with their humor and well drawn characters such as Colette were most enjoyable. [8]
I've always had very strong reactions to Fanny's stories. The Cat Tales zine drove me nuts while still fascinating me. I spent almost an hour trying to describe my reaction to a friend. She managed, in one sentence to boil it all down by pointing out that not only is this a story, but it's a religious tract. As you know, religious tracts can be enlightening, or boring, or threatening and I wasn't pleased to find all of these reactions within me. It wasn't after all, my first exposure to the religion involved. The enlightening part came to me by looking out my front door. Wasn't I having trouble relating to a forest oriented religion? Could that be difficult to someone who has spent all of her adult life on the prairie? How much of this religion can be translated from the trees to the grass? I had the strangest impression that this religion could not endure here, that it would wither in the dry wind that blows almost constantly. I got the shivers just thinking about it! On the other hand, I found the idea of a were-cat great! I floundered my way through the part which seemed to be based partially on real people, trying to find out why they were there (that aspect seemed to have the feel of excluding the reader) to the end. This end seemed muddled or unfinished, as more obviously happens after that. Kinda like real life. Any story which can get so much reaction from a reader has to be considered significant. If I felt the message in the way of the story, I still had to acknowledge that it was directly responsible for one of the few religious revelations I've ever experienced. In my opinion, if a story does that to even one reader, it was worth writing. [9]
Yeh, we were trying to meet a deadline, and you're right about CAT TALES being rushed there at the end. That zine could easily have been (and perhaps should have been) twice as long - but we wanted to get it out on time, and, quite frankly, we were both getting a bit tired of eating/breathing/sleeping CAT TALES, and wanted to go on to other things. Still, I don't feel we compromised ourselves - no, not everything is neatly tied up at the end, but that's life, isn't it? Personally, I would have liked to delve more into the uses and abuses of power, but we had to stop somewhere. At least most of the relationships were worked out, and the characters were learning to deal with it all, by the end. Still, when I re-read the zine, I wish there was more. [10]
So... this is a story, comprised of 13 non-stand-alone short stories which have become chapters in the zine, wherein Ray Doyle turns out to have a touch of the magics about him, and regularly turns into a cat called Beelzy... I read one or two of the stories online, and found them quite amusing once I'd wiggled into my don't-take-this-too-seriously hat, but...

Someone gave me a copy of the zine itself containing all 13 stories, and various illustrations, and I began reading it prepared to be amused (if perhaps a trifle impatient) the whole way through. Every now and then for a change, and when I'm in the mood, I quite like a sort of crack-fic type story with the lads - I can do elves, I can do teddy bears, all of that, as long as it's in small doses and I know I can go back to my regularly scheduled reading of B/D fic. So I giggled at the thought of Doyle turning into a cat, and Bodie being all wtf about it. Only...

To be honest, after that first part of the first story, and the odd bit in the other stories, it all started to go a bit far for me. It turned out that Doyle was absolutely into Pagan religion, and he introduces Bodie to it, and eventually (in later stories) acquires a teacher to help him deal with being a werecat. She's a good, kind, wise black American woman, and whenever things get tough he heads off to America for her to sort it all out.

Then it turns out that Bodie has magic of his own - even more powerful than Doyle's werecat magic, as he is in fact the son of a Fairy King - and all he needs is to accept the love and understanding that is Paganism in order to be able to control it. Off we go to America again, for help with Bodie's problems this time.

All through this, Cowley is absolutely aware of the magic residing in his agents, and has used it upon occasion to help CI5. He's ever so understanding of it all, very sympathetic to the Pagan way of life, and very generous with free time for the lads to jaunt over to the States whenever they need help. In fact it turns out that there are many were-agents in CI5, and another one of them is Murphy. Poor old Murphy can't accept his "gift" any more than first Doyle, then Bodie could - but he also is taken off to America, where he learns all about himself and love and the world, and returns better able to cope.

There are original characters woven through the story, but I have to admit that I struggled with them as well. Doyle's teacher is Collette, and she works as well with various damaged "children" - Tal and Kev - and friends such as Bea and Dahout who all Learn Things Along The Way, and Dahout's lover Jeff, and her own lover Kevin who is wonderful and understanding and supportive. There's alot of talk about being family, and how grateful Bodie and Doyle are to have a family now... Alot of the learning also seems to involve various characters having sex with either Bodie and/or Doyle, and everyone being ultimately very understanding about it all. Trouble is, I felt as if the characters were ideals rather than actual people - they all learned to be a nice, clean kind of perfect - even if they were still damaged in some way, the damage made them somehow even more perfect...

The lads are rather "talky" for my tastes too - they both explain their feelings to each other, analyse them and describe out loud how lucky they are are that they've found each other, and Collette and how much they've learned to accept and so on... It's all a bit American-therapist for me - I just can't see the lads there at all, and I get bored with how good everyone is! It's almost... it's a pagan version of happy-clappy, somehow... I felt very much as if the emphasis was on Learning To Accept Yourself and Be A Good Person rather than on Bodie and Doyle, and to be honest that's not why I read slash... *g*

It was a bit of a battle for me to get to the end of this zine, and I felt a slight triumph that I had - despite everything, I read it all! I'm sure there must be alot of people who are perfectly happy with this portrayal of the lads, just... not me I'm afraid... [11]
I went through a phase of liking animal books like that, many years ago, but I've got to say I'm not very interested now... I liked the idea of Bodie dealing with Doyle-the-cat, because that could be funny, but there was too much other stuff in these stories to keep me happy.[12]
[It] sounds like exactly that kind of story I avoid like the plague *shudder* There is only so much AU I can stand (which is in the micro range) and this one goes far over the limit.[13]
See, I adore AU, but the lads have to be in character within that AU, which is a difficult thing to pull off, and I have every respect for writers who can do it without changing the lads' nature and/or character... It just didn't work for me here... [14]
I have a *really* hard time with elves and teddies and the like, and I'm not much a cat person I'm afraid - in life or in fic! So I doubt I'd have the patience for this. It does amaze me though, the flights of fancy a love of the lads can inspire in writers. [15]
I once read a bit of what I now realise must have been one of these - there must be one on the Archive somewhere? - and I didn't like it. I have gradually come to have a fairly wide-ranging tolerance for (small doses!) of things I would normally find unpalatable (like elves and such) as long as they're funny or intriguing or something - but I have to admit that the only thing B&D or CI5-ish I saw in this was the names. From your description, I suspect I won't be looking out for any of the others in this series either! The only thing Bodie would legitimately do as an elf is magically half-inch Cowley's whisky and Doyle's beer (can't remember the name of that story, but it's so what he would do!)[16]
It's the characterisation that got to me - and the fact that as soon as they found things difficult the lads would run off to America for help with their problems... Just don't see it happening, you know?![17]
I have the zine and I read about 3/4. I haven't gone the end. I find it somewhat mildly amusing, but really bizarre. It's one of those zines I'm so ambivalant about that if I finish it, fine. If not, *shrug* What I liked was the idea of Bodie having power. The idea that Doyle turns into a cat and is into paganism is the most ho-hum part. It's a bit silly that Bodie is so blase about Doyle turning into a cat randomly and Cowley doesn't have much personality. [18]
Yes! You know, that may be what bugs me most of all - it's so AU that it's not even close to the lads any more, whereas if it was an original fic rather than written as fanfic it'd be a much better read! I wouldn't have all these expectations, I could just go with it... Then again, other people say that about Larton's Bodie and Doyle and I absolutely adore them and totally see them as AU B/D, so I'm sure other people must think something similar about Cat Tales! [19]
I think that's why it took me nearly two years to get through too... Know what you mean too about them all being just a bit blase about Doyle's turning into a cat... and then Murphy... and Bodie being the son of a Fairy King... *g*[20]
In general, I have problems with AUs at all, so really didn't mind Cat Tales quite so much....although honestly, I think I prefer the more realistic AUs (say, where Doyle lost his memory and turned into the Chief :-) ), etc.[21]
I would say neither story is Pros or Bodie and Doyle, but at least Larton was somewhat interesting. I read Larton in about a week and for an original fic, it is such a sweet story, but so not Pros. I've been reading Cat Tales for six months and still haven't finished! So Larton is a charming original m/m original fic with two characters named Bodie and Doyle. Cat Tales is just a strange fic with two characters named Bodie and Doyle.[22]
I've read Cat Tales, and managed to make it all the way through, but found it quite bizarre and very un-Pros. The AU's AU, if you like. But this part of your summary made me laugh - Learning To Accept Yourself and Be A Good Person, mainly because I read it as "Learning to Accept Yourself and Be A Good Persian" which is just as appropriate![23]
I bought that zine 22 years ago. In fact, it was the zine that finally (after years of I-don't-*need*-*another*-fandom avoidance) sucked me into Pros fandom. Well, to be precise, it started with the artwork. I was strolling through the Dealer's Room at ZCon and saw some of the pieces up on the wall. I love fan artwork in all it's varied glory (mostly of the hand-drawn variety and not so much of the CGA stuff).

So, attracted by the art, I picked up the zine and thumbed through it, said what the heck and bought it. Then I went merrily around the room picking up other Pros zines that were available. (And when I went back to the hotel room, my friend--who also had been avoiding the fandom--went back and bought her own copies. Fans sure are strange sometimes. :-) )

I'm not much of an AU fan when they veer into the fantastical, but there was just something about this one. Here's a comment I made on a list some years ago: The story stands out even among the AU stories that proliferate in Pros fandom (a fandom that spawns AUs like no other fandom I've seen before or since) and is both original and compelling, making a hard-to-swallow premise go down very smoothly.[24]
I've got to jump on the bandwagon for the first half of the zine, especially for Bodie as twisted half-elf. I didn't mind Doyle needing a teacher and having her turn out to be an American. What did (and still does) get to me after a while was everyone falling into bed with everyone else! I don't think I would have made a very good pagan.;-)[25]
I had a similar problem with Hombothlay, although I'm told it's worth persevering - that's the one where they're rabbits a la Watership Down... *g* I can see Doyle as a cat, and there are places where FA has done a good job with that, and with Bodie's reaction, but she sort of let the original fic of it take over, and suddenly it wasn't the lads at all - werecats notwithstanding![26]

References

  1. from The Hatstand Express #16
  2. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985)
  3. from The Hatstand Express #7
  4. from The Hatstand Express #10
  5. from The Hatstand Express #10
  6. from The Hatstand Express #6 (1985)
  7. from The Hatstand Express #16
  8. from The Hatstand Express #16
  9. from The Hatstand Express #17
  10. from The Hatstand Express #17, the author comments on her zine
  11. 2008 comments at CI5hq; reference link
  12. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  13. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  14. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  15. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  16. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  17. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  18. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  19. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  20. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  21. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  22. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  23. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  24. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  25. 2008 comments at CI5hq
  26. 2008 comments at CI5hq
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