A History of Roswell Fanfic

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Title: A History of Roswell Fanfic
Creator: Kath7
Date(s): original year unknown, 2008 (reposted)
Medium: online essay
Fandom: Roswell
Topic: Roswell fanfiction, Canon couples and unconventional couples, AUs, crossovers, rating, Roswell Fanatics
External Links: Repost URL
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A History of Roswell Fanfic is a meta essay by Kath7 that focuses on the history of Roswell fanfiction, and which trends and pairings populated the fandom during its height (mostly focused on the Max/Liz side.

Part 1

"When I started reading, the first big "explosion" was Post Balance fics. Basically these were fics that were meant to put Max and Liz back together after Max took his "step back." There were a lot of fics that focused on the main six characters of Liz, Max, Michael, Maria, Isabel, and Alex and their overwhelming bond. This was very much inspired by Melinda Metz's Roswell High books I think. Melinda used to even post at Fanforum and share ideas with viewers, so that, of course, proved influential.

Probably the defining fic of this period would be "Us Six Against the World" series by LindaCrazy4Jason. ...This fic is particularly significant because it kicked off the "teenage pregnant" Liz, which has been a recurring theme. Some of the iconic fanon moments that Linda introduced were Liz craving Tabasco while pregnant...

The other fanon significant fics at the time were Danilise's Future arc series, which introduced the kids of the main characters as real, living characters, and the Roswell Elementary series at Roswell Underground, which was a defining Candy story..."
"Most other fics at this time were fluffy - "first time" or "hanging out at the Crashdown" or "having a sleepover" type fics. They were fun, but not particularly meaty or long-term satisfying. Looking at them now, they are mostly quaint and remind me a lot of where the One Tree Hill fandom resides right now in terms of fanfic. Fanfic wasn't yet to "fix" things, but rather just to write more stories about these characters we loved. It was during this period that a rivalry seemed to emerge between Dreamers and Candies over on Fanforum, mainly because of arguments about which couple was better, and who deserved more screen time. Ah! Those innocent days! lol This was sometimes reflected in fanfic by the more virulent writers: ie deliberate attempts to portray Liz as an out of character bitch, or Maria as an out of character ditz. Max and Michael seemed to mostly survive this intact. Very few of the "shipper" writers disliked the other male character. Most of it was centered on Maria and Liz. This seemed to disappear for a long while in the middle period of fanfic, mainly because I think the Dreamers had Tess to focus their hate on after a while, while the Candies had Courtney..."
"The second wave of a certain type of fanfics started in February of 2000, when spoilers about Tess began to emerge. This freaked out Dreamers to no end, and the resulting fics, explaining and dealing with Tess, were some of the best ever produced. These were the first true "fix-it" fics. The defining fic in this category for me would be Ash's Captivated by Darkness series, also at Crashdown. This was the fanfic that TRULY hooked me on fic. It was the first time a fic made me cry, and the sci-fi story that Ash came up with is truly brilliant. Hers was the first true "explanation of who the pod squad are and why they're on Earth" fic. She is also one of the first to have original characters play a huge role..."
"The third wave were post-Destiny fics, which, of course, started appearing immediately following Destiny in May of 2000. All of these fics were meant to "fix" destiny. This was when I started writing. This period of fic was a high point, mainly because all the fans were still jubiliant that we had basically convinced the WB to pick Roswell up for a second season. There is a lot of hope evident in the fics of this period. Sure, things were bleakish at the end of Season 1, but it had to be fixed in Season 2, right? And, in the meantime, we could fix it ourselves.

The defining fic of this type would, of course, be the magnificent Experiment series by LivE. ... The Experiment was something of a phenomenon in fanfic. I don't think we will ever see it's like again. The only two fics I think that had quite the same impact and influence were EmilyLuvsRoswell's Revelations and mockingbird39's Innocent, but I'll talk about them later....

Other works of importance in this genre are Carol's Epiphanies series, anything Canon based by Ashton, and the Homes series by EmilyLuvsRoswell."
"It was also during the summer of 2000 that UC started to make it's presence known. The terms "Polar" and "Ground Zero" and "Rebel" were coined around this time. I was actually very good friends with both the women who came up with the names "Polar" for Michael/Liz fics, and Ground Zero (later shortened to GZ because of its sad connection to 9/11) for Max/Maria fics. I was mildly mortified by the idea of UC at the time, so I wasn't that "au courant" about the big fics in those fandoms. However, everyone at Fan Forum at the time was aware of the Polar Novel...


Just a short word on AU at this time: it did exist, but was not flourishing as it is now. The main AU writer at the time was Ashton ... Her Mirror Images remains the only AU, non-alien fic I have really enjoyed."

Part 2

"The show returned during the first week of October of 2000. Spoilers and rumours about the "end of the world" concept, as well as the introduction of Courtney to spoil the Candy world, were well circulated by this time. Spoilers during Season 2 were often mostly true, with a kernel of untruth that often proved shocking to those who were spoiled. For example, there were rumours that Max and Liz would be back together by the end of epi. 3, then it was after Max in the City. When it kept not happening, people started to get upset with the Powers that Be. There was a disasterous incident involving strawberry applesauce being sent to the production office. Because we had been so successful sending Tabasco to the WB, why not send strawberry applesauce in support of Max/Liz, as well as Shiri, who was definately wallpapered in early Season 2? Anyway, a lot of the applesauce exploded en route, and it was...er, unfortunate at the other end. The producers were NOT amused...."
"the big theme of early Season 2 was, of course, "fixing the end of the world." The horror that was the idea that Max and Liz could never be together, as well as the fascination with Future(!)Max, brought a lot of writers out of the wood work, including Rosdeidre and Tasyfa. Rosdeidre's How to Disappear Completely series was a classic in every way. Ashton's Time Will Tell (the fic I most want finished NOW) was also another great spin on it. Ashton was also the first to truly investigate the idea of Vilandra's "great love." We didn't even know his name was Kivar when she started that fic.

A lot of the happier fics still existed though. This was definitely the era of "the saga." Most major fanfic authors wrote their longest, and most in-depth series, during this period. A lot of exploration of past lives etc. was taking place, particularly after the introduction of the dupes.

And, then, the "sex with Tess" spoilers started to emerge. Oy. And everything went insane. I won't go into the stuff that happened over at Fan Forum, but when the dust had settled, post-Departure, the once cohesive Dreamer ship had been firmly divided down the middle into two camps. This was solidified by the travesty that was Busted! It has never quite recovered.

But, the fic that emerged from all of this is often second to none. There were fics that fixed Departure, fics that made the sex a mindwarp (which is what it had been spoiled as being), fics that turned Liz into a badass who whipped Max into shape. Fics that killed off Tess in new and horrible ways. Fics that saved Alex. Anger was fueling a lot of the fanfic during the summer between Seasons 2 & 3."

Part 3

"As stated above, Season 3, post-Busted, was very disappointing for a lot of Roswell fans (specifically Dreamers, but Candies were not thrilled how all of M/M's growth in Season 2 was basically nulled by Behind the Music; nor were Gazers at all happy about the introduction of Jesse). Most had been horrified by the way the end of Season 2 played out (although the Michael/Maria arc at the end of Season 2 was satisfying), but were willing to give the writers a chance to fix things. However, when Busted! aired, and it was clear that they were going to whitewash the destruction that had been done to Max's character by his behaviour at the end of Season 2 (argue, as some will, that Liz was partly to blame for it, I don't think that anyone can deny that what we were shown of Max at the end of Season 2 and the beginning of Season 3 was in no way the Max with whom we had fallen in love in Season 1 and early Season 2). And, then, to add insult to injury, Liz's character was doormatted. The strong Liz we had known up to and through Season 2 would not have put up with the behavior Max demonstrated. Her excuse that "she knew what it was like to be with him, and without him, and she preferred to be with him" did not ring true with ANY fan, I don't think.

So, how did all of this affect the fanfic world? Well, it basically created five types of "fix-it" fics.

1) the "it was a mindwarp" school (of which I am a proud member lol). This group has also been referred to as "Max Apologists", even in fics where the sex WAS real. Not all "it was a mindwarp" fics make the sex unreal, any longer, but there is a definite feel to this kind of fic.
2) The "it was real, so let's deal with the consequences as realistically, and as in-character, as possible" school, (of which I am also a member).
3) The "Max is an ass, let's turn Liz into a stronger character, punish Max to the fullest extent we can, and hopefully continue to be a dreamer" school.
4) The "Max is a complete ass, Liz dumps him on it, and lets pair her with someone else" school. There were a lot of Loyalist (Kyle/Liz) and Polarist (Michael/Liz) fics that emerged in this period demonstrating this quality. They are the most popular UC/Liz ships I think (in canon).
Oh, I just thought of 5th school too: the "let's return to the magic of Season 1 and try to pretend that Seasons 2 & 3 never happened" school."
"Ships began to solidify, and began to demonstrate their disgust of other ships openly. It was not a pleasant period, and I think it still continues to this day, although a lot of people are tired of it, and we're trying to stomp it out here at Fanatics. I think most people are now of the mind that everyone has their own opinion, and they have a right to it. Very few people change ships these days, it seems."
"I have noticed a trend towards some Dreamers becoming Polars, and not reading Dreamer at all anymore. However, there is a large quotient of Polars who were never Dreamers to begin with. GZ became a force, I think, in response to Polarism, which is probably the biggest and most vocal UC ship. Not to say that GZ isn't a ship in its own right. It has been for a long time - at least as far back as Polarism. However, GZers tend to remain mostly loyal to their first ship - which is usually Dreamer - but can read a GZer fic without needing medical attention. lol I have not found this to always be the case with Polar. Converted Polarists seem to leave their old ships behind. It's very interesting to me. I think we can all come up with reasons why this is true, some of which are explored on the Polar vs. GZ thread on this board, so I won't go into it here. As stated though, not all Polars, or I'm sure GZ, were ever Dreamers."

Gazer and Candy at Fanatics, AU, UC etc.

"Fanatics has never been a main Candy destination for some reason (possibly because of the divide that existed between Candies and Dreamers back in the day it was created), and most of their HUGE writers (I think particularly of DocPaul and Chicky) have never posted here. We have had our own great Candy writers: Fehrbaby, shelbecat, RoswellChic4ever for example, but we have never had the overwhelming amount of Candy fics as we have in the other ships. It has always been slightly peculiar to me, being as the Candy ship is huge, and we'd love to have them here."
"... Gazer fic. Interestingly, up until basically the last year and a half, the Gazer fic was not a force to be reckoned with - at all. Alex and Isabel's relationship was often explored in general CC fics, but it was rare to find a Gazer fic that focused almost exclusively on Alex and Isabel. I can actually only think of one writer who frequents Fanatics who wrote Gazer fics: AlexEvans. He held down the fort on his own for a long, LONG time, having been around since at least the summer between Seasons 1 & 2. Maybe Gazers posted somewhere else, like the Candies, but I don't think so. The only Gazer board of which I'm aware is the Observatory, although the Eraser Room, and Dreaming Among the Stars seem to be heavily Gazer these days too. The last two are fairly recent communities though. ... but I think that the one writer who engineered the "rebirth" of the Gazer fic was StargazerUK. David started posting his fics a couple of years ago now, and since then, there has been a veritable explosion. It was almost as if there was a huge sigh of relief released by Gazers. Yes, there WAS a place for them here at Fanatics. This ship was often overlooked and maltreated by the show's writers, and it seemed a little wary to come out into the open, but since David started posting, there has been an overwhelming emergence of new Gazer writers. It is a great thing to witness, I must say. I think it also helps that a lot of Dreamers are also Gazers, so these fics have been met with open arms."
"Another fairly recent phenomenon in fanfic was the advent of the "issue fic." What do I mean by this? I mean fics that had people talking, and addressed heavy issues within them - infidelity, teen pregnancy, suicide, depression, main character death. I would say that these started appearing about two years ago, too. Not that they didn't exist before (particularly the "I'm pregnant with an alien's baby!" type of fic), but they have been treated realistically, and more in-depth recently. These fics have really struck a chord with readers - either positive or negative - and I know that a lot of people, including their authors, almost breathed a sigh of relief when some of them ended. Defining fics of this genre: Revelations by EmilyLuvsRoswell (where teen pregnancy was not a bed of roses for once), The Way that Love Goes by Deejonaise (where infidelity was examined), and Downfall by Breathless (where one of the main characters basically self-destructed, or at least she seemed to have at first). The writers of these fics took a lot of flack for them, but very few people could stop reading them because they were so well written, and the topics were tackled honestly.

Why did these fics start appearing when they did? I'd say because people were getting a little tired of the "fix-it" fic (although these certainly still exist), and we were moving away from the period when the show was on the air. As someone mentioned on another thread, we're almost at the point where the show has been off the air longer than it was on. And, yet, the fanfic community remains strong. It only makes sense that people would start moving in other directions.

Someone mentioned on the AU thread that this is one reason for the preponderance of AU fics these days (the AU board is currently DOUBLE the size of the CC/Canon board). I think people are finding some of the canon fics repetitive now, because we have no new fodder for the gristmill with the show off the air. Does this mean that new canon fics can't attack the same issues in new and original ways? Of course not. But I think this is one reason that people are heading over to AU more and more. There are two types of AU fic - the AU with aliens, and the AU without. The latter is huge now. This wasn't always the case. Before about two years ago, most AU fics had aliens - just used in new and interesting ways. That is not the case now. There are still alien AU fics, but they are in the minority. Some defining examples of this type though would be Spin by incognito and Maxeo and Lizziet by Breathless. ... One of the other "issues" that has arisen around AU/Non-alien fics, is that they are the ones that most often prove to be plagiarised, because it's easy to change the names of main characters to "Max" and "Liz" when there are no aliens involved. This has rendered some readers wary of them. This is unfortunate for those writers who write this kind of fic in good faith, but it is also a sad truth."
"Reasons for the overwhelming popularity of Crossover and UC fics these days: Crossovers have always been around, but they were never very popular in terms of readership.... Of course, Kzinti_Killer's Still Yours was a popular mostly Gazer fic before the recent rebirth of the ship). It is only recently that they have exploded, particularly crossed with one show, Dark Angel. I may be wrong, but I think there are several reasons for this, some of which were mentioned by DA crossover writers on the crossover thread a few days ago: 1) it is a new world to explore in cohesion with our beloved Rosworld 2) there are great characters 3) Alec, the character with whom Liz is most often paired when the fics are UC, is the complete antithesis of Max, and so, it's fun to write their relationship, particularly if the fic is set post-Season 2. UC has, as mentioned, been around almost as long as the fandom, but new UC fics seem to be popping up all the time. I think Polarism is still the largest UC ship, but GZ has made up a lot of ground since Midwest Max's My Beloved Wife. I think the attraction to UC is that you can build the relationship from the ground up. How can you write this and have it make sense with what we saw on the show? I know that's why I'm attracted to writing Alex/Tess. It's a challenge. With various ships and trends, all it seems to take is one fic that ignites the imagination of the reader -and thus the keyboard of the writer - to get a ship hopping."
"... There has been a very small number of post-Graduation fics, when you really think about it. Considering where the show left off, this is surprising. The ones that do exist, tend to either be future fics (quite considerably in the future), or just "happily ever after fics," or UC fics that change almost everything. There does seem to be a shortage of "the gang on the road" fics. I've often wondered why this is. Perhaps because people were mostly happy where the show ended? I'm not sure if that's true. Who knows? It's just slightly curious. Someone asked me the other day why I haven't written a post-Grad fic, which I haven't... When I thought about it, I guess I just decided I was mostly happy with where things ended, and, as Lolita mentioned above, happily ever afters ... are kind of boring."

Crossover

"A good crossover should use enough of both worlds that a reader shouldn't have to watch either show, in my opinion. I've been posting my OTH crossover at a OTH board as well, and quite a few people who have never seen Roswell have been reading it. It's interesting to get their reactions. But, if a writer is truly skilled, really, the story should be so well told, they shouldn't have to watch the show. ... they seem to be more visible than ever before. And I think that this can basically be attributed to one crossover fandom: Roswell/Dark Angel. It has just erupted. I mentioned above that if a good writer tackles something, it brings others to the table, and I think this was the case with DA/Roswell crossovers. The one person who should take credit for the phenomenon, particularly for the Extremer ship (Alec/Liz) is Calinia. I doubt any would dispute this, although I know there was a strong DA quotient over at Polar Attraction. But, at Fanatics, it was definately Calinia's fics."

NC-17 Fics

"Interestingly, they have always been around. For a teen aimed show, Roswell has always skewed older in terms of its fandom. Some of the originals on this board (Jenn herself in particular) were well known for writing NC-17. I think that stemmed from the combustible chemistry between the various actors playing the couples, as well as the fact that a good many fans were older than your average WB viewer. I think NC-17 has actually gotten LESS prevelant as time has gone on. There was once a time when most fics ended up NC-17. I have never written it... but for a few years, I was in the minority. That does not seem to be the case any longer. There has definately been a progression in the NC-17 fic department. The first ones I read (Us Six Against the World being another prime example) were usually "love" scenes. They are often graphic, but more what you might see in a romance novel than soft core porn. I was talking to a writer who no longer writes in the fandom the other day. She wrote in Season 1 & 2, and she was saying that she actually felt pressured to include NC-17 content in her fic, even though she didn't really want to. She still regrets giving in to that.

... Because it became something of an expectation that fics take on NC-17, I agree that writers became more and more outrageous in what they were producing in order to differentiate themselves. To the point where those fics were no longer accesible to people who don't mind love scenes when it is plot-driven, but find themselves turned off when it is just about sex. This, I think, resulted in a resurgence of the plot-driven, PG-13 fic. Most heavily plotted fics didn't include "on screen" love scenes anymore (at least the ones I read - maybe I'm reading the wrong stories lol). For example, characters in my stories have "cemented", as we eupehmise in the Rosworld, but it is always "off screen," or in a "fade to black" way.

I have noticed recently that plot-driven NC-17 scenes are re-emerging though..."

Katie/Jason and how it affected Fic

"... While the news certainly did affect the fandom, some being quite upset about it because they thought it affected what was shown on our screen negatively, it didn't really make that huge a difference in fanfic. I would say the only major difference it made, at least in dreamer fic, was that Isabel became a less liked character, but this wasn't just because of Katie. This had something to do with being force-fed the character in Season 3. The fact that she and Jason were dating made some suspicious that the extra screen time was because of him, but I doubt that was true. Katie is a good actress in her own right, of course, and Isabel was always the third lead on the show.


Anyway, because Isabel became generally less liked as the series progressed, this, of course, reared its head in fanfic, where representations of the character were less positive. This seems to have settled down now though, particularly thanks to the strong Gazer contingent now on our board. The thing with most of the Roswell characters is that they have always been three-dimensional. There are certainly portrayals where their negative characteristics are highlighted, over their positive. When Katie and Jason were dating, I think this proved to be the case with the character of Isabel in some fanfic."

Further Reading

  • A History of Roswell Fanfiction posted at RoswellOracle began as a rebuttal to Kath's essay, and then became a commentary on the Evolution of Couples in Roswell fanfic. The author returned to the post multiple times with updates on the popularity of ships at different times in this fandom's history.