Discovered In A Letterbox/Issues 21-24

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Contents

Issue 21

Discovered In A Letterbox 21 was published in the Spring of 2002 and contains 52 pages.

cover of issue #21
  • the discussion topic is "Should writers be allowed to write a sequel to someone else's story without asking?"
  • regarding fans using other things for inspiration:
    As for written material, the obvious one is that of B/D stories based on films. I can only speak for stories written years ago when fandom was smaller and attitudes rather different. When Rhiannon wrote her story about an ex-soldier who'd lost his memory, being taken care of by an artist, she wasn't trying to deceive anyone about the origins of the plot. She simply assumed everyone would recognise it. These days fandom has changed so much, its probably safer if people declare when they've used a book or film as the basis for the story, otherwise they probably will be accused of plagiarism.
  • a fan wants to know the difference between those who "borrow" from fiction and those who borrow from art:
    But what is acceptable when an artist uses someone else's artwork? I'd always wondered why the illo by Suzan Lovett in Master of the Revels had Zax lying on the bed at such a peculiar angle. It's because it's a copy of a painting by an American artist. Only in this painting, the person on the bed is female. So, does that constitute 'idea theft?
  • a fan writes:
    As for writers writing a sequel to someone else's story without asking, well, I've done it and it's been done to me. Again, this was back when fandom consisted of the circuit for stories, so writers usually could not make contact with each other, other than through intermediaries, or by knowing the original writer in the first place. Obviously now that there are postal or email addresses for those who want to get in touch with writers, it does seem good manners to ask permission first and abide by the writers wishes. What happens, though, when someone reads a story, the writer has moved on to another fandom or cannot be contacted, and the reader has a burning desire to write a sequel? Should they desist? I'm not so sure any longer.
  • more on sequels:
    I do not think the issue is necessarily whether a sequel should be written by someone other than the author (without their permission), but whether or not or should published. I think that a number of people have a need to write a sequel to a story that might have disturbed them, upset them, or even made them really happy. They write it for their own pleasure/satisfaction, and they do not intend to share it with anyone else. I do not believe that there is a problem with this. If someone wants to write a story for publication be it in a zine or on the web - in another authors universe, then I think that it is common courtesy to contact the original author and seek permission. It may be that the original author already has a sequel already lined up; it may be that they are happy for someone to write a sequel alongside their own sequel.
  • on story length and terminology and what a fan sees as a trend:
    I am increasingly annoyed by the increasing number of sex scenes masquerading as stories. These so-called stories are not even PWPs, just excuses for sex. Frankly, with a few exceptions there are very few writers good enough to deliver the sex act as a sole product. And good PWPs are are more than sex, despite the misleading tide - I think of Georgina Kirrin's wonderful Night Moves which was a masterpiece of the PWP form. Sex scenes aren't a form. They aren't a story. I have grown to distrust something that can fit into the space of a single email box on a chat list and is called a story. Lacking character development, plot and structure - in other words, the definition of a story - what are they? I enjoy a good sex scene, well-written and well-delivered and within the framework of a story or a PWP. I even enjoy a good sex scene snippet... But these are not stories. I wonder how many of these so-called stories it would take to fill a zine?... If these are the product being produced today, is it any wonder that we're seeing fewer zines? Is it any wonder that net fic is roundly criticized?
  • a fan rants of what she feels to be some large differences between "netfen" and "printfen":
    Having just come from Escapade... I'm going to address a touchy topic: the generation gap in slash fandom. While age is not the only factor, because of the tendency for the young in years to be netfen, it does play a crucial role. I've never considered myself an elderfan, yet after attending the con and particularly the panel dealing with the gen gap, I now accept the label even though I've been in slash fandom less than a decade. Actual age and years in fandom seem to be far less important, than the way fandom manifests itself in the fan's life. Old fen are primarily (though not exclusively) con-and-printzine fen, whereas young fen tend to be solitary netslash fen. Many youngfen see no real point in cons, look blank when you mention mentoring, have no sense of community and think that the idea of fan ethics is laughable. They will not consider paying money for a zine when they can read all the slash they want "free" online. When challenged about the expenses of maintaining a computer and accessing the Internet, they rarely accept that those financial drains are part of the payment they make for the "free" slash. Many are militant about the overall freedom of the Net and have blinders on regarding potential legal dangers from copyright holders, governments and individuals who take issue with the concept of fanfiction and/or slash. They show little or no interest in the "history of fandom" and the traditions of our underground, outaw community. And, for the most part, they are thinner and prettier than we elders are. BUT they are full of energy and enthusiasm. They are the future and to sit snippily upon our aging laurels would be to doom slash fandom to a sorry and pitiful slow demise. Without fresh "voices" our beloved heroes will become silent or, worse, boring. Because something has always been done "our" way does not mean our way is correct. Sure, there are idiots among the youngfen. Well, I know a few elderfen who seem to rock along on one or less brain cells. Slash has survived us. I reckon it can survive the youngsters. And so can I.
  • another fan comments on the generation gap:
    It's interesting listening to discussions between older and younger fans on some of the Internet lists. Some of those who've discovered fandom via the internet don't seem that interested In the history of fandom, which is sad. But on the other hand, some of the old-timers seem to resent newcomers, which is equally depressing.
  • was fanfic better in the past?:
    I'm not totally sure I'd agree with [name redacted] that the fanfic I think of as 'best' came early on in my fandom life - in any of the three fandoms I'm involved in. Certainly after a while you begin to hit the 'I've read this idea before and I don't think it's quite as well handled as the last time I read it' syndrome - until you go back and reread something you're maybe remembering through rose-coloured glasses because it was in your 'honeymoon' period in the fandom, and that's when you realise it maybe wasn't quite as well developed as you remember.
  • less zines:
    I think that is the influence of the Internet. For some reason, stories in zines seldom received much feedback, if any; stories posted to the net tend to get more, although too often the writers of those stories only want praise; they dash off the story and post it, often unbetaed. And after about a year, many zine stories are posted, so a lot of people who are online wait for that. The modern perception, to many people who are online, seems to be that zineds are making a fortune selling their zines, because they have no idea of the costs involved; they see zines as a rip-off compared to the 'free' stories they get off the net. Fewer people buying zines, fewer zines published, and it happened very suddenly. About ten years ago, at a con with 2000 attendees, no fan editor sold more than 50 copies of any zine, whereas a year earlier you could guarantee sales of at least double that. Most zineds called a halt at that point.
  • one would have to assume that this fan is referring to Drawerfic, though that had a historical tendency to get away from fans' control:
    Should writers be allowed to write a sequel to someone else's story without asking? Yes, I think they should - after all, that is more or less what fan fiction is, but I don't think that they should publish the story in any way, including on the net, without the original author's permission.
  • this issue has a mention of The Phantom Edit
  • there is a reprint of the article Fan rebellion threatens "Stargate"
  • this issue has a review of Roses and Lavender #5, see that page
  • this issue has a con report for Escapade 2002, see that page
  • there is a flyer for Red Rose Convention

Stories:

  • Room Service by N. N. West - 2 pages
  • Days of Ducks and Roses by Kitty Berman - 2 pages
  • Intuition by NH - 5 pages

Drabbles (100 words):

  • Dr Who Crossover Drabble by The Hag
  • The Death-and-LOTR-Crossover Drabble by Cassie Ingaben
  • Murder Drabble II by Castalia
  • Deeds Not Words by Jane Carnall
  • Forever by Darby Brennan
  • The Comparisons are Odious Drabble by Rimy
  • Least Favourite Themes Drabble by The Hag
  • The Cowley Drabble by Nell Howell
  • The Cognitive Dissonance Drabble by Cassie Ingaben
  • The Explanatory Father Ted / Professionals Crossover Drabble by Derry
  • The Harry Potter Crossover Drabble by Cassie Ingaben
  • The Only-Cassie-Will-Like-This Drabble by Jess
  • Star Wars / Pros Crossover Drabble by Airelle
  • Triple Drabble, Part One by Rimy
  • The Pen is Mightier than the Penis Drabble by Jane Carnall
  • The Going Ape Drabble by Cassie Ingaben
  • No Angelfish by Rimy
  • Alphabet Drabble by Nell Howell
  • Comfort and Joy by The Hag
  • Words--They're All We Have to Go On by Luka (aka The Nameless Drabble)

Poetry:

Art:

  • colour portrait of Doyle by Castalia


Issue 22

Discovered In A Letterbox 22 was published in the Summer of 2002 and contains 51 pages.


cover of issue #22


inside art from issue #22, Skirt
inside art from issue #22, Joey Rodriques


  • the discussion topic: "One of our subscribers said to me: 'In talking about the catatonic state of Pros, a friend of mine said 'Pros is a fandom that eats its young.' I found that disturbing, yet accurate as well. This is not a fandom for wimps." The editor admits that many fans did not understand the question.
  • a fan writes about the discussion topic:
    In answer to the question as to whether Pros fans eat their young and Pros is not a fandom for wimps, I would have to say that, sadly, I agree. Maybe to say that it eats its young is going a little too far, but it is certainly not a fandom for wimps.
  • a fan describes her Pros fannish introduction:
    My very first experience of a mailing list was to arrive just at the height of a pretty vitriolic argument - and I have to say I thought then that I maybe had made a mistake and that all I would do was to lurk, find zines and not get involved. However, I also met some lovely people and have made some very good friends... and so individually, one on one, I would say that Pros fen are as nice as any other fandom members. I have been offered the loan of zines, I have had things taped for me, stories sent to me and other kindnesses, indeed people cannot seem to do enough for you to welcome you into the fandom and help you find things.
  • a fan, addressing the discussion topic:
    I have also been told who I should and should not like to read, and not just suggested but actually told outright, or told, 'it's okay to like xxxx at the beginning, but you'll grow out o f her!' Excuse me? I am incredibly easy going, but this sort of thing is designed to raise my blood pressure, and perverse little devil that I am, make me do just the opposite! I have found that there are certain authors who are not respected or liked, and that people are particularly vicious and outspoken about them, and thus I almost feel as though I should be ashamed that I like them. Not that this is ever actually said, but that is how it can come over.
  • a fan comments:
    Pros fandom is a hard-hitting fandom. I do not find it a terribly comfortable fandom to be in as a fandom, yet on an individual correspondence level I love it, and it is my main fandom without a doubt, leaving my other one almost paling into insignificance... I have not remained a lurker, but one of the sad things I have found is that a number of people are afraid to express the things that I tend to (that is to stand up for the more gentle side of fandom) on a list, preferring to write to me personally to say, 'I agree with you, but I dare not say so.' That to me is really, really sad, and surely not what fandom is/should be about?
  • a fan points out "a plumbing" point:
    Most of us have never been involved in male/male sex. Have I ever mentioned how pissed off I get when some woman at a con will ridicule writers who she assumes have never had sex? Because no matter how much sex she's had, nor how many toys she's played with, she has never ad male/male sex. So in that most of us are virgins.... Anyway so here we are with this image of gay male sex, our penises are in the shop, and we have a story to write.
  • a fan comments about women writing men:
    I think we, as writers, write what we know. Much of our writing is autobiographical in some way; we change our characters just enough to be able to identify with them. Some times this ends up being effeminization, infantilization or feminist. We see the world through the eyes of women, we share our fantasy with other women. Some of us prefer the veil of masculinity to be more concealing of the female within, some of us enjoy the hints of the feminine. The hints of the woman within in, that woman looking out of Bodie's eyes, who can appreciated the way Doyle vaults so smoothly over that boat railing.
  • more on plumbing and slash:
    Many years ago now when [name redacted] and I were first talking we decided that category romance really was lesbian literature, just one of the partners had a penis. Later, maybe a few years ago, it occurred to me that slash was also romance where both partners were female only both had penises. Strangely I don't think that's denigrating the genre, it's just how it seems to me. And I love it.
  • more on the discussion topic:
    I came to Pros from a kinder, gender fandom. They seemed to care about the characters much more than the people in this fandom care about B & D. No, I could be entirely wrong about this because it seems to me that the harder-edged people seem to control most of the lists. I say harder-edged since they seem to favor stories in which the guys are at odds or having a miserable time with each other.
  • a fan comments on the younger generation of fans:
    Perhaps their reasons for not buying zines include an inability to afford the outlay; us oldies tend to forget that we often have a bigger disposable income. It is a shame though, as much of the best fic is in zines - or should I say was - because o f course Pros has a wonderful online archive and Proslib is doing sterling work in putting a lot of the classics into the email library. [The editor interjects: "Can we all take a minute to bow down to St. Debbie and St. Francis of the email library?"]
  • a fan asks:
    And is it my imagination or is Pros still a zine-based fandom? There doesn't seem to be much in the way of new Pros stories coming out over the net. I'm basing this on the Proslib output which seems mainly to be classics rather than new stories. Also, most people I know who are writing are subbing to zines, not pushing it out on the net.
  • a fan addresses the discussion topic:
    One of the consequences of this kind of thing [strident comments by certain fannish faction] is that people from other fandoms tend to think that the vocal minority speak for the whole of Pros fandom - and nothing could be further from the truth. I suspect a large majority of Pros fans are not on lists and many are not even online. Many, I know, have abandoned the larger open lists because they consider the atmosphere on them to be (and I quote) 'poisonous.' I'm not sure I would go that far! But it does seem to me to be a shame that we have somehow frightened away the people who are perhaps less confident and less strident, and as a result their contributions have been lost.
  • more on the discussion topic:
    ... much of Pros slash stayed on the UK side of the pond for a while due to a variety of factors, not the least of which being that it wasn't aired in the US to any accessible degree. What videotaped material did finally arrive on US shores was so degraded in quality that most US fen had to take fanfic as canon regarding eye color or small scene details. And, as with all other fandoms, early Pros slash fanfic was painfully difficult to distribute because of the level of technology at the time. US fans were dependent almost entirely on written material to fuel their obsessions. And the written material that did make it over tended to be of high enough quality to make the effort of exporting and importing it worthwhile. (These are gross generalizations. Exceptions abound.) Further, distribution was controlled by a few "fen centers" where material undoubtedly underwent more sifting. (My conjecture only - not based on known fact.) The result was a body of work composed of reasonably literate material at the down end and incredibly fine writing at the top.
  • a fan says that those who complain the loudest about Pros being a "harsh" fandom are people:
    ... who seem to have no interest in improving their stories.
  • a BNF writes:
    The view that Pros is a fandom which eats its young is one I think best left to those who came to the fandom via the internet. I'm just grateful my introduction came via friends and paper - still does in the main, despite the net. Perhaps one of the reasons Pros fandom on the net is less than exciting is because there is so little new fiction put on the net. Not necessarily a bad thing in view of the standard of some net fiction but fiction is the lifeblood of any fandom.
  • regarding the opinion that fans shouldn't write in fandoms where they hadn't seen sufficient aired canon:
    I couldn't agree more except... When I started to write Rediscovered in a Graveyard I'd only seen four or five episodes at most - it was the fiction I'd read which had sparked my imagination because it had given the characters a depth not seen on the screen. I didn't have copies of any episodes at that time and we were so new to the fandom we didn't have any pictures; I do remember having a crisis of confidence about which of them had the dark hair and blue eyes.
  • another BNF writes:
    Still, I am a bit of a dinosaur; I'm a lot older than most of you and I still haven't felt any special attraction to the internet. I presume the "sex scenes masquerading as stories" that Sue complains of are to be found on the net. It only serves to convince me that I am not missing very much. Come to that, I don't see many zines either, so perhaps I am leaping to a wrong conclusion. Still, apart from the net I've never found a generation gap in any other aspect of fandom, thank heavens. I enjoy feeling a real sense of companionship with people of all ages, and long may that continue... Sorry, folks, but I wrote my first B/D story not having watched the series but being totally hooked by some of the fanfic I read. In those days you could fit the lot in one small folder, so you got a bit desperate for something to read and created your own. The very first one that I wrote was a sequel without permission, because back then all the stories were anonymous, and that anonymity was fiercely guarded, so if you felt you wanted more you got on and provided it. In fact there were just so few around that on occasion you deliberately left something open-ended to try to elicit a response and thereby get some things to read. I can remember the sense of elation when my collection numbered over 100 stories.
  • and there is a first mention of blogs and Live Journal in this letterzine, one which puzzles this fan for two reasons -- the lack of personal disclosure and privacy, and because it seems to be the reason the Pros mailing lists are so quiet:
    I have noticed with dread that an unusual, prolonged silence has fallen on all my mailing lists. It's not just the Pros mailing lists (which in a way is reassuring!), and it's not just me: worried consultations with fellow fans has revealed that this seems to be a widespread phenomenon. After more anxious consultations I think I have pinpointed a possible cause: it's them goddamned blogs and livejournals! Now, if you don't know what I am talking about, a live journal or a web log (blog) are what the name says: journals or diaries that people write and put them online for anyone to read... Now, I may be an old dinosaur, but I am fairly sensitive to issues of privacy, and I have a high embarrassment threshold: so the mere idea of making my diary public makes me queasy.... It is painfully clear that many authors doesn't really understand the difference between public and private writing and self-expression. Time and again, the reader is treated to embarrassing, detailed and utterly personal descriptions of yucky illnesses, nervous breakdowns and sexual dysfunction. I squirm for them, and I hasten to flee the site: there is definitely such a thing as Too Much Information (not to mention the fact that when the author is someone you know it's doubly agonising!)... what is worrying me is that most fans have started dedicating far more time to their LJ than to fannish discussion.... I think what is actually happening is that a growing number of fans are putting all their energies/time into LJ, and as a consequence they're not participating in the fannish conversation within mailing lists. In other words, people prefer to broadcast about themselves in loving detail rather than to discuss about a common topic of interest. I find this extremely sad.
  • about Live Journal:
    There are cool, dialogic ways to use a LJ, just like there are good web pages where the author contributes to fandom in various ways (putting up links to fiction, writing editorials on controversial topics.) You can even use a LJ to write a story: I have seen two examples so far, the best of which is the rather well-known and hilarious Very Secret Diaries of Lord of the Rings. It's a LoTR spoof where all main characters keep a diary written in the style of Bridget Jones). What I am worried about is how most people seem to prefer by far to tell the world, at length, about themselves, rather than engaging in a debate about common topics of interest. I don't care about relative strangers' operations and boyfriends: I want fannish discussion back!
  • a fan finds newer fans and Fan Campaigns to be a poor match:
    I find that newer fans (the online ones anyway) seem to think that their opinion really matters to TPTB of any series. To a degree the fans' views are important for the success or otherwise of a show, but a lot of fans nowadays seem to think they are the ones with control instead of writers and producers. When Michael Shanks left Stargate the SF/TV magazines like Cult Times/SFX/TV Zone/Starlog/Starburst were inundated with thousands of letters. Now I know ST was saved by a letter campaign, but that was a whole show, not just one character. Several of the mags commented on the threatening nature of a certain proportion of the letters received. This is not the right way to go about things, and certainly can only propagate the image of fans as weird obsessives. No matter how much a show/character is loved, it is still only a show/character and is the property of the creators and writers, be they good or bad.
  • regarding the lack of zines in Pros fandom, and the differences between zine fic and netfic:
    I miss zines enormously. Of course I paid out good money for stories that were less than brilliantly written, for artwork that was excruciatingly awful, for editing that was non-existent, printing that was illegible, and binding that fell apart in my hands. But I also bought zines that were wonderful in both content and execution. Some of them I've had for over 20 years and I appreciate and value them still. These days we have the internet and instant everything. Stories are posted to lists, sometimes as they are being written, without pause or reflection for revision, and sometimes equally quickly abandoned in mid-flow as the author decides on starting something new. And as has been pointed out, writers want immediate feedback (read praise, in most cases) and when they don't get it, take umbrage.
  • a fan says "no thanks" to netfic:
    As a reader, I have big problems with stories posted to lists, or archived. I cannot read text on the screen for any length of time. Therefore to be able to read a story, I have to download it, reformat it, check it for spelling/punctuation errors and print it out. I simply don't have the time to do this to any great extent. The result is that I read relatively little new fan fiction these days. And at least I have access to the net. There are fans around who do not and they are missing out on new stuff completely. I bought a zine recently in the form of a CD, but of course the same problems apply to it as to stuff on the net. Yes, it was far cheaper to buy than a conventional printed zine but I would willingly have paid the extra to have it all in a printed format, ready to read where and when I wanted to, i.e. not tied to my monitor. Unfortunately, I suspect the almost universal dominance of net stories as opposed to printed zine ones will continue, especially if, as [name redacted] states, those whose knowledge of fandom does not extend beyond the computer, are the fans of the future.

Stories:

  • Con-versation Piece by Felicity M. Parkinson - 3 pages
  • Penny for Them by NH - 4 pages
  • Discovered in a Garage by Castalia - 2 pages
  • 4am by Cassie Ingaben - 1 page
  • The Sad History of Beautiful Bodie by Jess - 2 pages

Drabbles (100 words):

  • The Stay-Me-With-Flagons-Comfort-Me-With-Apples Drabble by The Hag
  • The With a Little Help From The Hag Drabble by Cassie Ingaben
  • Discovered in a Cuppa by The Hag

Art:

  • drawing by Joey Rodrigues of Bodie and Doyle
  • drawing by Skirt of Doyle


Issue 23

Discovered In A Letterbox 23 was published in the Autumn of 2002 and contains 56 pages.

cover of issue #23
  • the discussion topic is "Do we need warnings on stories?"
  • a kinder, gentler fandom? -- one fan responds to another fan's statement that Pros fans don't like or are cruel to its characters:
    To point out a few stories in which the characters die or never live 'Happily Ever After' as evidence of a fandom that dislikes its heroes is to ignore the fact that Prosfen are capable of working with Bodie and Doyle at so many levels all kinds of siories are possible. Rather than being an indication of lack of love, this is a clear case of two characters who are not only loved but also respected as well. I enjoy HEA fluffy stories as much as the next person and tend, regardless of the tone of my stories, to write HEA, but a constant reading diet of sweetness would have made me sicken and gaffiate long ago. For a fan to come from another random into Pros and whine because of the depth and variety of Prosfic, is not only silly but rude.
  • regarding fan arguments:
    I've seen some ugly ones in the past... but not only in Pros. I really don't think Pros is unique in that respect at all. Any group, whether online or otherwise, will have its dominant and recessive personalities. What I have seen to be unique in Pros, at least in my own limited experience, is that people are not shy about saying so when they dislike a story.... Most of the other lists that I've seen only have positive story comments, usually of a vague son ("Great job, can't wait to read your next one"). People who do offer constructive criticism (politely) on those lists are sometimes met with defensiveness and hostility. Some lists actually have as part of their rules that you can't post feedback unless it's positive, but it doesn't seem to me that such a practice would help anyone become a better writer.
  • the value of fic feedback and criticism:
    ... many of the stories I have seen criticized on Pros lists were written years ago, in some cases by authors no longer active in the fandom. Such blunt assessments may help readers decide whether or not to buy zines containing those stories, but are they really usefiil to those authors? Moreover, it may be intimidating to new fans when they see stories they enjoy dismissed with something little short of contempt. I've had that reaction a few times myself: "Uh-oh. I liked that one. So what does that make me?"
  • about respecting what has come before, and the still-dangerous genre of slash:
    Now another of my many rants on newbies, youth and history: to understand slash and what it means for writers and readers a fan must be aware not only of fannish history but of social, political and cultural history as well. The civil rights of all marginal groups have been, in many countries, vastly improved during the last fifty years. To assume, however, that conditions existing now also existed forty, twenty, ten or even five years ago is anachronistic thinking. To ignore the sacrifices and effort made by others on the behalf of those living today is to do far worse: such attitudes negate the accomplishments and scorn the pain and suffering needed to achieve them. Netfen as a group seem unaware that only a few years ago to be known as a reader (much less a writer) of gay fiction would cost many fen their livelihoods and positions in society. Names are tossed around on the net freely and with no thought to the possible consequences to the owners of those names. For the most part this seems done out of ignorance. Or stupidity.... In reading and writing slash we are all on a knife's edge, and not recognizing that is dangerous to everyone. Deliberate ignorance is unforgivable.
  • regarding warnings:
    First, will be the ones that would keep me from reading a story if they were mentioned. The main one would be gen since I remember when I first started reading Pros I foolishly thought all stories were slash. Well read and learn. As for other warnings mine would include the following: three in the bed is a total no-no for me and graphic torture without the required comfort. Nothing irritates me more than to have an author put one of them through the wringer and skip over the comforting. I really dislike a story in which they become lovers but state that they can't give up women. I think they can give up women I just believe that the author is a little afraid to go all the way. Another major warning for me is that they are not together at the end of the story.
  • regarding warnings:
    ...for the warnings that some other people might appreciate but would make me want to read the story. Did someone mention a teddy bear? Oh dear, is that a cat I hear? I think his eyes are glistening with tears. Did he actually call him sweetheart? Horrors, they were nice to each other, Don't his ears look a little pointed to you? And my final one in this story, Doyle is not a bastard.
  • regarding warnings:
    For me they are definitely essential, and the more detail the better. I know that stating a pairing/fandom can't really be regarded as a warning as such, but it is vital as it means a lot can be deleted straight away with just a glance at that line.
  • regarding warnings:
    I don't want too many warnings, I just want the story to be about Bodie and Doyle. I have recently read one that was all about Bodie, and felt totally cheated as there was no mention of this, and while I like Bodie, I'm only really interested in him with Doyle.
  • regarding warnings:
    I don't see any reason why not if people want them and no one is forced to read them. Anyway we all flick through and sneak little looks at the end, don't we ... Don't we? Ahh, come on ...
  • a fan comments:
    ... this Pros-fandom-eating-its-young thing is disturbing me somewhat. Have I been missing something? These forceful, rather unpleasant, dictating son of fen do not equate with anyone I've met in the fandom. True, I steer clear of the time-gobbling monster of the mailing list, so its shadowy machinations orbit beyond my fandom interests. I suspect many 'arguments' exist solely in cyberspace and do not touch the lives of we zine lurkers. This isolates us, possibly removing us from the cutting edge of the fandom. Are we moving towards a split fandom? One environment for onliners and another for zinelurkers? And if we are, does it matter?
  • a fan comments on LJ:
    Nothing wrong with live journals, but please don't tell they are places of discussion as a mailing list is, because it is, simply, not true.
  • a fan answers the question of "Is there a gentler side to fandom":
    Yes, and it is manifested though fans' reactions not only to characters but also other fans (the sharing of stories, tapes online or offline, or the giving of emotional support, whether it be regarding writing or a serious personal crisis). I think that a Battlestar Galactica list I am on must be the most character-friendly list ever as regards comments - even unusual pairings are accepted if the stories are good - and the members really get involved in the stories, feeling for the characters and getting sad or annoyed on their behalf in regards to other characters' actions as the story unfolds. It is also a people-friendly list - when I first joined I received eight welcoming emails, which never happened on any other list.
  • about community and spats and support and the reliance on one archivist:
    In a fairly new fandom, when the listmom suddenly closed the list and archive after an online spat, a new list and archive were created almost immediately through the collaboration of several people. This list now has a very friendly feel as its genesis wasn't the result of just one person's creativity but rather a community project, as the fans rallied round to provide copies of the stories they'd written for or saved from the original archive. Without this collaboration there would have been no stories to read. On various lists, someone has only to show they're upset about something minor or a bigger personal real life tragedy, and they are soon receiving cyber hugs and condolences or support from people they have never met, but who feel for them.
  • a fan writes of slash and how it appears to at least one male fan:
    I've read some fascinating slash articles on the web, and I've even had a mini discussion with one of my betas who is male and gay. He writes, both Ultraviolet and Stargate, and while I'd would say his writing is perhaps harder and less overly 'romantic', it is not graphic, and I wouldn't know that he was a male writer. Perhaps he does better than some of us women in NOT 'feminising' the younger or smaller man... He also approves of much of what is written, although I would say his preference is for both men to be 'men' and to be given an edge. I would imagine he considers slash 'gay' romance. Certainly not porn.
  • Pros fandom as a fluffy one? --
    The characters we see on screen are hardened, unsentimental, often cynical men with a shoot first and ask questions later - if there's anyone still alive to ask - lifestyle that doesn't exactly encourage an open, trusting approach to personal relationships. Neither of them strikes me as particularly articulate when it comes to expressing emotion - much happier with deeds than words and liable to retreat into humour or evasion when things start getting too heavy. The fiction that has the most emotional impact for me is the kind that acknowledges all that and still manages to create a believable love story. And for that very reason, those stories tend to be ones that feature a fair amount of emotional conflict. But I feel that that element of- well, I'd call it realism - only enhances the romance and strengthens my belief in the depth of their final commitment to each other.
  • a fan writes:
    Yes, there is a highly standard of writing in Pros. Is that a flaw? I don't think so. I don't care to read about any two boys, just because I like slash. Good writing is as much about form as about content. Enough said. Dead horse. We've all been here before, haven't we?
  • a comment about RPS:
    RPS. No good. I don't like it, I don't approve of it. I consider it a personal fantasy about famous people. I do have those, but that's what they are, fantasies. Private, not public. RPS is for me at the level of scandal magazines, and just as cheap. Yes, I know, the argument is that a famous person is not exactly the real person. As long has it has the real name of the person, for me is the same thing. And why, then, would it be called Real People Slash otherwise?
  • a fan writes of one the differences between netfic and zinefic:
    ...no one's forcing me or anyone to read something they don't want to - that's what the delete key or back button on the computer is for. Actually this is one area where the net has a benefit that zines don't. Firstly in a media zine there may be only one or two stories of your fandom, so its a choice of miss out on the stories or buy a zine, 90 per cent of which you don't want to read. Secondly, often when you see a zine advertised you only get a paragraph of each story quoted, if even that -usually it's just a list of titles and no clue as to whether they are death/rape fics or whatever. So you may find yourself paying to be landed with something which wouldn't have been your reading choice. On the net on most archives you can see a synopsis, albeit one line, and a rating.
  • regarding an earlier comment that slash is a romance between two people who are "female but happen to have penises":
    I don't see it that way. Some stories do undoubtedly fit that remark, but for me, the characters don't have to be feminised emotionally in order to attest to their having feelings, and I am cettainly not of the opinion that only women are emotionally open. A large part of the attraction of slash for me (and what I regard as good slash) is that the characters are very much male and strong in themselves (not necessarily physically so) and that they're as equal as possible, whether physically or/and emotionally, and they balance each other.
  • why not het?:
    I don't read het romance as it just doesn't appeal, and if I had to give a reason I'd probably say that the pairings are never equal - they can't be in physical terms and rarely are in emotional ones, and I have never got a good sense of balance from any het pairing. I also think that women characters in fandom or professional fic are harder to write, which may seem strange since surely female writers should at least be able to create realistic women. However, unlike my easy liking of certain male characters, I have yet to really like any female character on TV or in a book, even those written by a woman. Certainly in books I have yet to discover a female that I can identify with or truly like - they seem to come off as a fluttering female/bitch/Wonder Woman, and in my view an overly-achieving or over-successful woman can be just as annoying as a helpless one. I certainly don't want my male characters feminised or weakened by comparison to a Super Woman. Despite the sometimes seemingly widespread belief that all women like romance, sentimentality and touchy-feely emotions, I do not wish to see male characters steeped in it.
  • a fan describes a community she has left:
    You asked about role playing. The list I referred to (and have subsequendy unsubbed from) was an ordinary list that included some who liked to role-play. It didn't have those who wanted to play pretending to be the random characters, but rather they took part in an ongoing saga of their own creation. It was an A-Team list which had designated the various fans (according to who their fave character was) as Hannipeeps, Temps, Murdockians or BABabes. Several people from the Murdockians chose to pretend to make a raid on the Temp side of the VA (Virtual Asylum) and their posts consisted of recounting their activities. I guess it was sort of like a round-robin story, or D&D without the pics. It all got very crazy and took up an awful lot of emails. Just before I left it had subsided somewhat as a couple of participants got waylaid by RL. It wasn't my scene at all.

Stories:

  • Monopoly by Kitty Fisher - 6 pages
  • Bodiocchio by Cassie Ingaben - 1 page
  • Lovely Bit of Mahogany by Hypolyta - 3 pages

Drabbles (100 words):

  • Untitled by Joan
  • The Where the Jungle Ends Drabble by Joan
  • The Female Factor Drabble by Joan
  • The Takeaway Drabble by Joan
  • The It's Only a Beautiful Picture Drabble by Joan
  • Cowley Songfic Drabble by The Hag
  • Long Shot Drabble by The Hag
  • The Little Drabble That Couldn't by Nell Howell

Art:

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 23

See reactions and reviews for Monopoly.

Issue 24

Discovered In A Letterbox 24 was published in the Winter of 2002 and contains 56 pages.


cover of issue #24
art from issue #24, Catlix
art from issue #24, Joey Rodriguez


  • the discussion topic is "So .. .What should be in the introductory pack for people new to Pros?"
  • the editor signs off:
    I regret to inform you that this will be the last issue. Ive thought long and hard about this, but I am no longer able to devote the necessary time to the letterzine... And whereas I could easily fill DIAL with cuttings from elsewhere, I am also finding it increasingly difficult to obtain original material - people seem very reluctant to contribute letters and fiction, and I no longer have the time or energy to chase would-be contributors. I've had a great time editing DIAL, which is why I want to quit while I'm ahead and have good memories of it. Our subscription list stands at almost 70, which makes it all the more sad that I struggle for letters. The internet has changed my life considerably - and for the better - but I suspect it doesn't help quarterly publications. I know people have busy lives and good intentions, but for whatever reason it's often been difficult to fill the letters column without my going after people with a big stick!
  • in this introductory pack:
    Since I "saw the light" via songvids, the first item in the packet would be a collection of songvids. Christina Pilz's work brought me in, and therefore her vids would star. The rest of the tape would hold other favorites. I'd explain the reasons for the lousy quality o f the old stuff and encourage any newbie to learn the viding craft and apply it the new DVDS. We need new Pros vids!... For slash fanfic I'd be particularly choosy, selecting only the best of the "old stuff" (e.g. Sebastian) and warning about the "worst of the classics" (e.g. Jane of Oz.)
  • regarding fans asking actors about slash:
    I'm convinced that the people who ask are usually anti-slash, and ask in the hope of getting an irate, 'how dare someone do that to my character' denunciation of the theme. It was certainly an anti-slash fan who sent copies of a slash Trekzine to both Shatner and Nimoy, in the hope that one of them would take to a lawyer, and the woman who asked Shatner about it at a UK con had been going around since the Friday night trying to get people to wear badges saying 'Fans against K/S'.
  • a fan comments on warnings:
    Unfortunately there are some people who object to giving warnings on their stories (because that ruins the surprise), and those are writers I won't touch even though I might be missing some damn good stuff. I know the arguments about 'enjoying the first discovery of where the story is going' but for me if I'm wondering where the plot is going I can't enjoy the story. Hence my habit of looking at the end first, even with warnings and even when something is labelled as a blatant PWP.
  • on closed canon:
    What I can't understand is the people who are actively writing in half a dozen fandoms, and are apparently equally keen on all of them, picking up and writing in new series as they come along... I couldn't even begin to try to write in a series that's still in production. I need to know all the canon before I can write fanfic.
  • a fan asks:
    Why do film and TV generate more fan fiction than books. Even with books such as Hornblower and Lord of the Rings, it seems to be the films that are the trigger. [Name redacted] and I were talking about this recently. The only conclusion we came to is that books are more complete. There aren't the gaps to be filled in the way there often are with films and especially episodic television series.
  • a fan wonders:
    What struck me though, is just how utterly uninterested I am in reading male/female sex, however well written. Just give me the guys doing the nasty on the desk or floor, or against the tree, or in the bedroll, or even in bed, and I am happy. So I wonder, has slash spoiled me for het?
  • a fan writes about writing torture, h/c and angst:
    You ask how you can hurt the one you love. Well, it is easy! I love to hurt my characters, in fact the ones I love best suffer the most. Non-con, rape, torture, I'm sure there are other vile things I've done to them, but they are always a few favourites. I love Doyle to suffer and Bodie to endure. I want Lex to angst and Clark to well, not quite understand. Why? Well, I think that hurt and pain, and how those things are reacted to, show a character's strength. I never, ever want my boys broken, but I want them tested to the utmost, and then still to be themselves. Trial by fire. Or heat to temper steel. Or beating a sword to make it stronger. The more they suffer, the more they can show strength and fortitude and love. Compassion and sympathy too. Deep emotions that don't often get stirred by doing the Tesco run or sitting in a pub over a quiet drink. Of course, a diet entirely of this strong stuff would be too much, but sometimes, it is exactly what I need - to write and to read.
  • printing for personal use:
    Printing net stories? I've got hundreds of them printed out! To the point where I'm running out of space, and becoming very picky about which ones I print - though I have the others in the computer.

Stories:

  • An Unfortunate Occurrence at the Municipal Baths by O Yardley - 2 pages
  • A Little Learning by POM - 2 pages
  • Can't Answer that Question, Sir by Castalia - 4 pages

Drabbles (100 words):

  • Drabble Zine Reviews by Nell Howell
  • The Hunter/Hunted Drabble by Joan
  • The Klansmen Drabble by Nell Howell
  • The Haunted Computer / Ancient Virtus Drabble by The Hag

Poetry:

  • Abysmal Doggerel, Cowley Style by Rimy
  • A Christmas Pome by Anonymous (aka 'Twas Christmas in the Workhouse)

Art:

  • color portrait by Castalia of Doyle
  • drawing by Joey Rodrigues of Alan Cade of The Chief
  • drawing by Catlix of Bodie and Doyle

References

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