The Terranova Situation
|Title:||The Terranova Situation|
|Publisher:||Almost Foolproof Press, Ann Teitelbaum (editor)|
|Cover Artist(s):||Maureen B. ("Mozart")|
|External Links:||WayBack Archive link for chapters 1-13 (vol 1-4)|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Terranova Situation is a sixteen-part slash story by Dar F. It follows the lives of the characters after the third season. Each volume picks up directly following the previous issue and is not intended to stand alone. The pairing is Frank/Vinnie but it evolves into Frank/Vinnie/Roger. It is one example of a long-running continuing story in fandom. The series has the subtitle: The Angst Cycle. The series received mixed reviews as it was being published - some fans loved it, others felt the series lacked characterization and contained too many logic and plot errors (see Reactions/Reviews down below).
The series ran for 16 issues between 1993 and 1998 with the last known issue leaving the storyline unresolved.
This series of zines has companion issues called "The Terranova Situation Companion" (sometimes referred to as "The Terranova Situation Concordance.") They were resource guides to the story. From Media Monitor: "At last, a handy guide to this massive novel. Features comprehensive timelines, floor plans, character profiles, photos, TerrSit-inspired fiction, and more. Will include free future updates as the novel progresses."
Publisher's summary: "Follow Vinnie and Frank as they struggle to rebuild their lives after the events depicted in the episode "Sanctuary". Joining them along the way are some your favorite Wiseguy characters (including Roger Lococco), plus many colorful original characters! At over 2,700 pages, The Terranova Situation has been "in progress" for over three years and is still going strong! Because of its length, The Terranova Situation is much more than just a Wiseguy "story": it is a whole universe devoted to exploring the lives of the people you come to know as intimately as your own family. Lighthearted, dramatic, suspenseful, sexy: The Terranova Situation will have you laughing, crying, on the edge of your seat, and swooning as you immerse yourself in the lives and loves of these intriguing characters. The Terranova Situation is an adult slash novel and contains graphic depictions of same sex relationships, starting with Vinnie/Frank and evolving into Vinnie/Frank/Roger by the end of Volume 2."
The Terranova Situation 1 was published in 1993 and contains 155 pages. This first issue contained photos of the cast, a brief episode guide, a timeline for Vinnie, Frank and Roger's life and work in the OCB, biographical details of the characters covering everything from height/weight, chronic health conditions, type of watches they liked to wear, blood types and erect penis size (both length and girth). A map of locations used in the story was also provided (the layout of Frank and Vinnie's house along with Roger's Loft). Even the eye color of one of the characters was discussed because, as explained in the author's note, although the actor playing Frank had blue eyes, the writer always thought they really should be a "warm brown."
This level of attention to detail, coupled with its divergence from the show's narrative and phyiscal canon, puzzled many readers and the zine was a popular discission topic among slash parties. Another criticism leveled at the zine was that the story's narrative flow was broken by long passages describing the characters moving, step by step, through fairly mundane tasks, like cooking or shopping. The series invoked either a 'love it or hate it' response among fandom, with strong opinions to be found on either side.
Summary: Picking up immediately after third season: Frank is hospitalized from a gunshot wound; Vinnie has a complete nervous breakdown; and Uncle Mike must help them both heal. And in the shadows, Roger keeps his hand in his friends' lives.
- I: Where Is The Healing You Promised Me?
- II: I Wonder Just Where I Belong
- III: Won't You Let Me Shelter You?
- IV: Livin' In The Real World
- V:I Wonder How We Can Survive This Romance
The Terranova Situation 2 was published in March 1993 and contains 119 pages.
Summary: "Vinnie is hospitalized after a suicide attempt; Frank has to juggle several personal crises; and, no longer willing to hide in the shadows, Roger moves to New York to be with them. "
- VI: Just Believe In This Love
- VII: Waiting For Somebody Like You
- VIII: I Can't Remember If The Lies Were True
The Terranova Situation 3 was published in June 1993 and contains 207 pages.
Summary: "Vinnie has come to terms with his feelings for Sonny and is well on his way to recovery; Frank is relaxing and indulging himself in the love he has been craving so long; and Roger is finding that allowing himself to become softer does not mean he's becoming weaker. Meanwhile, the love between the three men is deepening."
- IX: So In Love With The Games That You Play
- X: Endless Summer Nights
- XI: One More Chance To Live My Life Again
The Terranova Situation 4 was published in August 1993 and contains 181 pages.
Summary: "After suffering at the hands of the OCB, Frank and Vinnie return home to find them-selves facing a more frightening opponent: one who may change their lives forever. And once again, Roger must try to patch up his friends' lives."
- XII: It's Just The Way It Goes
- XIII: The Road Gets Weary When You're All Alone
- XIV: Nothin' You Can Do About It
The Terranova Situation 5 was published in October 1993 and contains 140 pages.
Summary: "As Vinnie begins his emotional and physical healing, Frank finds that there has been another victim of their recent upheavals: his son, Drake. He realizes his son needs him now more than ever, and he reaches out to rebuild his relationship with the teenager. Meanwhile, Roger's influence keeps the others moving forward, but he finds himself struggling with newfound emotions."
- XV: I've Gotten Beyond The Agony
- XVI: Fighting My Desire, Baby
- XVII: Will I Wake Up From This Nightmare?
The Terranova Situation 6 was published in December 1993 and contains 203 pages. Cover by Mozart.
Summary: "As Vinnie's life hangs in the balance, Roger reaches out to Frank in a way that forges the bonds of a lifetime. When Vinnie awakes, his improved mental state helps cement their relationship and lays the foundation for a "new" family. Roger is still plagued by conflicting emotions, and Frank must deal with Jenny, leading to a confrontation that has startling results."
- XVIII: Why Must A Generation?
- XIX: In A World That Doesn't See Us
The Terranova Situation 7was published in Jan 1994 and contains 115 pages.
Summary: "Family problems abound: Frank and Jenny have a showdown over Drake; Roger must make some important decisions about Travis; and Vinnie must reconsider his decision about fatherhood."
- XX: Old Wounds Die Hard
The Terrannova Situation 8 was published in April 1994 and contains 263 pages.
- XXI: Love is All It Takes 1147
- XXII: You Could Never Call It Bland 1219
- XXIII: Some Things Are Not So Easy To Define 1305
Summary: "Things are finally going smoothly for the guys...or are they? After Jenny agrees to let Drake live at the loft, she uncovers some incriminating evidence that leads to a confrontation between her and Frank that no one will soon forget. Vinnie is doing his best to support Frank, but his recurring nightmares are throwing him into a deepen-ing emotional turmoil. And Roger's luck has finally run out...."
The Terranova Situation 9 was published in 1994 and contains 208 pages.
- XXIV: Cat and Mouse 1411
- XXV: The Walls Are Tumbling Down 1513
Summary: "While everyone is settling into their new life, Roger finds the pressures of his new family more than he can handle. But with the patience and understanding of those who love him, he slowly realizes that this is just what he's been searching for all of his life. At the same time, Dr. Bulatti uncovers the secret behind Vinnie's nightmares and fears his patient may be in danger of relapsing."
The Terranova Situation 10 contains 183 pages.
Summary: " Vinnie fires Bulatti when he decides that therapy is just making him worse. Meanwhile, Frank and Roger's bond grows as they work to keep the family together while they help Vinnie recover."
The Terranova Situation 11 was published in 1995 and contains 150 pages.
- XXVIII: Fathers and Sons 1807
- XXIX: The Face Behind the Face 1877
- XXX: You Were There All the Time 1947
Summary: "Vinnie isn't the only one dealing with ghosts from his past: Jenny returns and wants to see Drake; Travis goes home to visit; Roger runs into an old buddy; and Frank gets a call about his father."
The Terranova Situation 12 contains 184 pages.
Summary: "The family moves into their new house expecting to find the stability they need only to find it filled to the rafters with relatives. Vinnie goes back into the hospital and finally finds the inner strength he needs to face his terrible past."
The Terranova Situation 13 was published in 1996 and contains 168 pages. Cover by Maureen B..
- XXXIII: Oh For a Moment of Forgetting 2141
- XXXIV: No More Fairy Tales 2245
Summary: "Deciding he doesn't like sharing his life with all the others, Vinnie starts suppressing his "inners" so he can resume his "normal" life. However, the "inners" will not be ignored, which everyone finds out in a pulse-pounding confrontation with the Hopeless One."
The Terranova Situation 14 was published in May 1996 and contains 144 pages. Cover by Maureen B. (Mozart).
- XXXV Just To Have This Day 2311
- XXXVI: Come Out of the Dark 2402
Summary: " After Frank, Roger and Vinnie help Tony and Robert deal with the kidnapping of their son, they find the unwanted publicity from the case has an adverse effect on their lives, leading to the three men going their separate ways."
The Terranova Situation 15 contains 121 pages.
Summary: " The past week's events have taken a toll on Vinnie and the alters, and as if that wasn't bad enough, the CIA has renewed its interest in Roger, and a chance meeting with one of the local street hustlers lands Frank and Roger in serious trouble."
The Terranova Situation 16 was published in August 1998 and contains 186 pages. Cover by Maureen B..
Summary: They say that things are always darkest before the dawn. If that's the case, the sun must be right over the horizon! Just when the family thinks Vinnie can't possibly get any worse, things happen to prove otherwise. Feeling helpless to treat his patient, Bulatti brings in a new therapist to work with Vinnie, a simple act which has amazing results. Could this be the miracle the family has been hoping for?"
- XXIX: Undo This Hurt
- XL: A Time For Miracles
The Terranova Companion 3
The Terranova Companion 3 is a 12-page, digest-sized resource guide that contains " timelines, floor plans, character profiles, photos, TerrSit-inspired fiction, and more. Will include free future updates as the novel progresses."
In 1996, Michelle Christian posted a lengthy critical review of the series to the Virgule-L mailing list. The mailing list welcomed critical discussions of fan fiction; however many writers and publishers felt unconformable with the concepts of fans writing reviews that were directed at readers, instead of writers (see the Feedback Debates).The review is reposted here with permission. Because of its length, subject headers have been added in bracket, along with bolding, to help guide the reader.
[Overview] "This is a warning: If there is anyone out there who does not like to read criticism of fan writing, skip this post. The following are my ideas and mine alone. If you disagree with me, then please feel free to say so. If you have problems separating criticism of the work with personal criticism of those wrote the work--something that I would never do--please do not read on.
Believe me, I don't want to start anything but I finally decided to do this for several reasons. I do normally do reviews and a few people have asked me why I haven't done one (or more) for TS. I know that there are a lot of new WG fans on the list now. And finally, I know that it would be very likely that, had Ann and Dar not joined the list, I would have posted this review of their zine some time ago. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I would be willing to post something if they weren't here, but not when they are, especially since I am such a staunch supporter of being honest about fanfic, both in editing and reviews. Now that I've probably either pissed most everyone off or made them extremely nervous, I move on to pissing off the rest of you. :-)
[Reviewer Disclosure]: I do not like TS. For several reasons, which include the characterization, the general writing, the crammed in feel of too many events taking place in too short a time and the lapses of internal logic that I see in several places. There was also a certain frustration value since I felt that there were many good ideas that had possibilities that weren't explored or were flooded out by everything else. The idea that Vinnie would have repercussions to his debunk, for one. But the ideas were either taken in directions I just couldn't believe or were crammed in with so many other things just made them get lost in the crowd.
[This Is A Limited Review]: I did read volumes 1-7 before I finally stopped. Now many people will ask, for very good reasons, why I would read so much if I disliked it so much. It can be probably summed up in three reasons: 1) I periodically go into fannish rut and what I don't read just basically hasn't been written. I always eventually get over this, though, and in a small fandom like WG that was producing way more readers than writers, there is such a thing as the only game in town. 2) I am an eternal optimist. I always hope that eventually it will get better. And with an occasional line or an idea would pop up to make me believe that it might, but for me, it never really did. And 3) I, quite frankly, have a masochistic streak. I also sometimes resemble that guy in the old joke who would bang his head against the wall all the time because it felt so good when he stopped.
With this in mind, I want to give the following reasons of *why* I don't like this series or at least what I read of it. I'm going to save characterization for last since it is definitely the most subjective of the bunch. IMHO.
General writing and logic. God may be in the details, but really, there are only so many I need, at least about household chores. There's too much tedium thrown in about them making a pizza or loading the dishwasher or scrubbing the toilet. Unless there's passion among the pepperoni, I don't need to know! Certainly not every time they eat, anyway.
There is also the time frame. While I kind of like the idea behind dating each section of a story that is so long and linear, there is too much going on in too short a time. Really, how many crises can one person deal with in a one year period? Even the show knew this, stretching out an arc that in real time was shown over half a season to actually take place over at least two years (Steelgrave arc). This is made all the more noticeable by the dating of each section which just seemed to shout at me "You mean there's only been that much time from when we started?!" (ie--Vinnie gets raped, has several nervous breakdowns, gets committed, gets out, goes into therapy, goes into couples therapy, goes into *triples* therapy, tests positive for AIDS, finds out it was a false positive, is put on numerous psychoactive drugs, is kidnapped/interrogated by a super-macho FBI guy, hears his biological clock ticking, goes into a coma, comes out of the coma, considers penile reduction surgery, considers donating sperm, considers asking his cousin Angie to become a surrogate mother for his, Frank's and Roger's baby, etc. Not necessarily in that order but all within a year.)
[Too Many Drugs]. I also feel that there comes a point when reference books are too much and should be taken away. The number of mood-altering drugs that Vinnie is taking while under psychiatric care is astounding and while I do know people who are manic-depressive, I know very few that go through that many medication changes in the short a time. Every time new ones are added to the list, they read like a grocery list, each one listed by name and dosage. In a related context, there is no time given between the taking of one drug and the start of another. It's boom! you're on this drug and boom! now you're on that one. It is always necessary for the human body to cycle out one substance before starting another otherwise you have the dangers of the two (or more) chemicals mixing in the system. This is very definitely Not Good.
There are at least two times that I was downright offended by the logic lapses/whatever in the story. One of the first was a throw away line about the fact that while Vinnie didn't enjoy sleeping with women (see characterization for more on that) the reason why he enjoyed having sex with Amber was because she could 'take him'. (I am *not*, repeat, *not* going to get into the whole dick-dimension thing.) After all, she had been married to Isaac. I read and re-read the line in hopes of finding an alternate meaning, but I couldn't find one. This line so totally took me by surprise, I had to ask several people if I was imagining the implication. Either I wasn't or we're all delusional. (For those of you only vaguely into the show or are just getting into it, Amber was a woman he had very passionate sex with and was even engaged to for a time. When he met her she was married to Isaac, an African-American man.)
[AIDS Portrayal]. Another thing that offended me actually ties into the internal logic thing at one point. I, at the time I was reading the series, was doing volunteer work at a local AIDS center. Among other things, I answered the phones. In all the questions I got, it was hammered into me time and again how much misinformation and sheer lack of *any* information there was out there. There is an entire plotline involving Vinnie testing falsely for HIV. False positives are *extremely* rare, though they do happen, more often from mixup in paperwork and laziness in testing (giving only one of the two tests) rather than actual false positives from the test itself. The fact that it is *vaguely* possible does give it leeway, though. However, the lack of internal logic of what the characters do, is what really boggled me. Roger, who had been a rabid practitioner of safe sex, always insisting that they use a condom no matter what in his sexual encounters, with Vinnie or with anyone else, suddenly stops using them with Vinnie. (At the time, they are not sure whether Vinnie was positive or not, but since he had been raped early on in the novel they were very aware of the possibility.) Roger is always the top, but when they are discussing safe sex at some point and Vinnie suggests that they were still conducting safe sex since Vinnie was always on the bottom, Roger explodes with , "Who told you that was safe sex?"
There is also *how* Vinnie found out he was positive. It is required for any AIDS test that the person report in personally to the place they were tested. Mainly, this is so the person can be offered counseling, whether the test turns up positive or negative. Vinnie was told over the phone. By his psychiatrist. When he was at home alone. When said psychiatrist and everyone else knew he was suicidal in the first place.
[Treatment of Alcoholism]. On a smaller scale, I would argue that Jenny, while far from my favorite person, as an ex-alcoholic, would never dismiss someone's drinking all evening by saying "It's just wine". I also seriously doubt that Jenny, even at her worst, would allow her *son* to get into a car with a man who she thought had had a little too much to drink. I realise, though, that this latter is getting into the realms of characterization. (This all refers to the one sub-plot with her homophobic and oh-so-cleverly-named boyfriend, Dick.)
[Gay = Good, Straight = Bad]. A side issue of this is that every 'good guy' in this is gay/bi. Every 'bad guy' or unhip individual is straight. There's a certain amount of reverse-prejudice in this that grates on my nerves seriously.
[Physical Changes To Characters]: The last point I want to make before moving on to characterization is the actual physical change they put the characters through. First of all, and possibly more arguably, they change Vinnie's hair color. I believe it's described as auburn, at least at one point. It *is* stated that Vinnie dyed his hair black when he ran away to Seattle as a form of disguise. Now, this is not arguing the hues of color. I can see some people saying that it's brown and some people saying it's black. We're not even discussing that oh, so, elusive descriptive word we can all agree on for Doyle's hair. But even taking into account that, when the light hits it right, you might say that Vinnie has some slightly red highlights in his hair, in no way would I consider it auburn.
What I really object to, though, is the very deliberate change of one of the character's eye color. It would have been different if the author had honestly thought Frank's eye color was brown when she was writing it. (They're blue, btw.) There have been discussions among the [actor Jonathan Banks] fans for some time about whether or not he wears dark contacts at times to make himself look more sinister for some roles. But in the intro, it's stated that she had thought that his eyes were brown when she first watched the show, found out later that they were blue later, but always 'thought of Frank as having brown eyes' and therefore kept it that way for the story. I'm sorry, but this totally does not work for me. It doesn't change the fact that his eyes *are* blue and that she knew about it when she wrote.
There is a difference between an honest mistake or a difference of opinion on shade and an altering of the actual facts. If you'd always thought Frank was Scottish and found out in the last episode he was Irish, would that work? Characters personalities we can arguing, eye color I'm not ready for, the Harrison Ford conversation not withstanding. And I have to admit that knowing that he had blue eyes made reading the story that much more confusing. ("'The brown-eyed man'? Who the hell's in bed with them now?!") The fact that altering Frank's eye color to brown means that each of her main characters have different eye colors--brown (Frank), green (Roger) and blue (Vinnie)--just seemed to make it slightly more convenient.
Characterisation. Okay, this is where it's going to get sticky, as if it hasn't already.
Vinnie--This is some of the worst character assassination I've seen in quite some time. Let me just hit the highlights.
First, I question the entire idea that Vinnie was manic-depressive to begin with. He could not have gotten past what happened with Sonny, much less make it all the way to Lynchboro before having a complete collapse if this were true. Secondly, the FBI is rigorous in its screening of deep-cover agents. Even if you argue that they care nothing for the ultimate well-being of their operatives, too wrapped up in a Machiavellian plan so twisted as to make X-FILES look like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, does it really make sense that they would put someone in deep cover who might not complete an assignment? For sheer self-interest, there is no way they would let someone in who might collapse and either babble everything or just fuck up their chances of winning. If for no other reason than they spend a huge amount of money and time training these guys and setting things up.
Another objection is the incredible lengths to which the authors go to try and explain away the various heterosexual encounters we know he had on the show in order to show him as a strictly submissive homosexual. I already mentioned the Amber thing. But most of the time he was just setting his cover and didn't really enjoy it. (Hid it well with Susan, didn't he? And Amber for that matter.) The one that gets me most, though, is the explanation that during their one-night together during the Pilgrims of Promise arc, he and Angie mutually masturbated each other.
Excuse me? I won't get into the whole Angie being a surrogate mother to Vinnie/Frank/Roger or Vinnie being a sperm donor so she and her new husband can have a child. That's where I left off...
Finally, what bothers me most if the extreme infantilisation of Vinnie in the entire thing. I am the first one to argue against Vinnie's maturity, but he;s been out of diapers for some time, at least, even if he can't seem to get all the way out of high school. The fact that he is such a completely helpless little thing, incapable of either taking care of himself or--more astoundingly to me--standing up for himself, even to Roger and Frank is totally out in space. Mr. Vinnie "Pain in the Ass 1990" Terranova?! Nope, sorry, I don't care how many nervous breakdowns he has. In many ways, if I accept this total change in personality, I have to look at the sexual aspects, especially the way they are portrayed in the story, as being very close to pedophilia. Pedophilia is wrong not just because of the physical safety issues, but is considered wrong because someone is taking advantage of someone else who is incapable of fully understanding what is going on and giving their complete consent.
Roger--Do I want a domestic Roger? No, but that's not the point. Actually, I see Roger as being the least compromised character of the three. He will still occasionally show his edge. But Roger with a sort of foster son? Shacking up with Frank and Vinnie (let alone contemplating matrimony, last I heard)? Getting a *puppy*? Eeek!
Frank--Frank being willing to walk down the street in full leather gear? Frank willingly going to a gay bar? Frank having public sex in said gay bar? Frank beating Vinnie? (We get back to the child abuse issues...)
I think one of the things that occurred that bothered me most was Frank's reaction (or lack of it) to [his son] Drake not only becoming sexually active at 14, but becoming involved with the 17 year old male hustler that Roger has taken under his wing. What little reaction of upset we see, is quickly beaten down by the others with a "What's wrong, Frank, it's good enough for you, but not for your son?" And Frank is ashamed because he thinks that's the answer! Excuse me, but I know very few parents that would be thrilled to know that their 14 year old child is sexually active, but especially sexually active with a prostitute. The fact that he's a *male* prostitute (which of course, points out the latent homophobia deeply ingrained in Frank as the story seems to be trying to say) is a minor little additive. And we're talking about Frank McPike here! (And did I mention Travis, the 17 year old, and Drake are shacked up in the livingroom while V/F/R are having fun in the bedroom with everyone's blessing?)That's about all the points I wanted to hit. This is by no means a complete listing of all the events that transpire, even in the first seven issues that I read. But I think that gives the general idea."
Reactions To The Reviews
After Michelle's review was posted, a lively and spirited debate erupted on Virgule. The author and the zine publisher disagreed strongly with the majority of Michelle's points and felt her review was factually incorrect in places. Others felt that the "review" was not a review, but an attempt to manipulate readers into disliking the story. Yet other list members thanked Michelle for her comments. As one fan explained, in her eyes what Michelle posted was a review: "A very interesting and enlightening one, I thought. One which finally explained for me why the opinions about TS expressed by the fans I know who have read (or tried to read) it have so far been quite negative. It provided a valuable service to those of us who have puzzled over the positive reviews for this work, by carefully and thoroughly explaining her opinion on the style, content, and characterizations of the writing. Now I have a better understanding of some of the reasons behind the negative reviews I've heard. "
A few long standing members of the mailing list reminded the list that Virgule had "a long-standing tradition here of discussion and of doing reviews. There have been fewer and fewer reviews and critiques done on this list precisely because too many people started howling and whining when something came up they found distasteful. However, we've all agreed to disagree occasionally, and...have pretty much agreed..[to]...delete posts they found unpleasant. I believe [Michelle] gave them fair warning." 
As with other debates about feedback and the role that feedback does (and should) play in fandom, many of the arguments followed well traveled paths that had been established decades before in letterzines such as S&H and Interstat. One list member echoed previous positions on reviews: "I think you are confusing a review with a LOC. Reviews are not for the benefit of the author; they are for the benefit of readers, both potential readers and those who have already read the work in question. (I often like reading reviews of something I have already read or seen more than of something I haven't.)"'
And, as with other debates over feedback, the 'review question' was never resolved. While Michelle and a few others continued to post reviews to Virgule, the debate over reviews continued with writers and publishers objecting periodically to reviews, while readers and fanzine buyers welcomed them. The Terranova Review Debate also prompted other mailing lists, such as Senad to initiate policies that made it clear that in depth discussion of fan fiction would not be permitted because authors "put time and effort into it [so] that comments about stories are likely to affect people on a very personal level."}}
- Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed Feb 12, 2012.
- Post to Virgule dated October 16, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
- Post to Virgule dated October 16, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
- Post to Virgule dated October 17, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
- Senad List Policy as updated in 2006, accessed Feb 12, 2012.