Acquainted with the Night (Beauty and the Beast anthology zine)

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Zine
Title: Acquainted with the Night
Publisher: Therion Press
Editor(s): Nan Dibble
Date(s): 1990-1991
Series?:
Medium: print
Size:
Genre: het
Fandom: Beauty and the Beast (TV)
Language: English
External Links:
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Acquainted with the Night is a het Beauty and the Beast full-sized anthology of fiction by Nan Dibble. This zine has often been cited as one of the most controversial fanzines produced (along with Black Cover), presumably because it posits a romantic pairing other than the traditional Vincent/Catherine.

Fan Comments

Some fanzines have been controversial, Nan Dibble's "Acquainted with the Night" series for example and the notorious "Black Cover" zine; but, the infighting has for the most part not been about fanfic. It has been about the desire of some fans to impose their view of BATB on others.[1]
One of my current favorite hetero coupling is Vincent/Diana (Beauty and the Beast). If you want angst, pain, and an emotionally complex relationship, Nan Dibble's "Acquainted With The Night"is some oft he bestfannish writing anywhere. [2]

Issue 1

cover of issue #1
flyer for issue #1

Acquainted with the Night 1 was published in November 1990 and 198 pages and much art.

Summary from a flyer: "A Beauty and the Beast fanzine of quality fiction covering Vincent's whole lifetime. 200 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, PG-13. Fourth Season fiction - seven stories and two novelettes. Vincent meets his match - in all senses - in Diana. Also two stories of Vincent's youth: "Cat and Mouse" (novelette) and "Outlook." Art by Berwick, Farver, Gipson, Deavers-Kelley, others."

Regarding the story "You Darkness" -- one reviewer calls it "optional." Another reviewer's comments allude to it being in the zine but "can be skipped." Another reviewer comments on the whole zine and states there is no graphic violence in it.

  • Cat and Mouse (story of Vincent's youth, (novelette)
  • Changes ("When Diana's building burns, she and Vincent come to a new understanding.")
  • In a Dark Time
  • Dialogues ("Diana and Vincent discuss sex and death-by computer.")
  • Ghosts ("Trying to force Diana to surrender baby Jacob to him, Joe is visited by Catherine's ghost.")
  • Helper ("Lena has a rowdy wedding Below.")
  • Moves ("Diana gets a surprising proposition from Cullen and has a no-holds-barred argument with Vincent.")
  • Outlook (story of Vincent's youth)
  • Wildlife ("Diana and Vincent investigate the mating of large predators.")
  • You Darkness ("Vincent's worst nightmare comes true after he's captured by Paracelsus' followers. (novelette).")

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

Fourth season stories and novelettes with an ongoing Vincent/Diana arc. Some stories are humorous (“Wildlife,” for instance); some are very intense, but there's no graphic sex or violence, though violence is implied. Also stories of Vincent's youth. The reviewer considers novelette “Cat and Mouse” the best story yet about the origins of Mouse. Novelette “You, Darkness” is strong, controversial stuff. Pro writer.[3]
This zine is the first in a series that explores the developing relationship between Diana and Vincent. Stories tend to focus on the darker side of all the characters often making them harsh in comparison to what we have come to expect. This trend culminates in the last story, 'You Darkness,' which has Vincent captured by the bowers who are still under the evil influence of Paracelsus, long after his death. Drugged and placed in a situation beyond his control, Vincent rapes, murders, and mutilates 13 teenagers during an orgy and later struggles with his guilt. This story will be too intense for some readers and will mainly appeal to those who want to see Vincent's darker side closely examined. We would give this story a stronger rating than the PG-13 that applies to the rest of the zine. The author includes a warning and the story can be skipped without losing the continuity when reading the sequel. Other stories feature Lena, Mouse, Cullen, Joe, and Catherine's ghost also puts in an appearance. [4]
Hold onto your stomach — Vincent as a child molester has been written. Well, the thirteen boys and girls are tecnaged; but rape, dismemberment and disemboweling do count as molestation, don't they? "You Darkness" by Nan Dibble, as an optional story in her zine Acquainted with the Night 1. [5]
I was horrified to learn the contents of one of the stories in Acquainted with the Night. I can't fairly comment on it, not having seen or read it, but assuming it's as you describe ifs very hard for me to understand how writers could gain any satisfaction out of so distorting Vincent's character. (And that, I feel, is putting it mildly!) [6]

Nan Dibble's Acquainted with the Night series is an extraordinary creation. The author is an accomplished science fiction professional, and her skill shows in every sentence. Plotting, continuity and setting are all vividly realized. The storyline is fascinating, with several concurrent themes, and a sense of something vast always evolving and unfolding. The volumes run to about 200 pages each of closely printed single-spaced type, which means that quantity matches quality. The story is set up to go on indefinitely, with a few threads deliberately left hanging at the end of each volume, so that you can hardly wait for the next one.

All Acquainted lacks, in fact, is a warning sign across the cover Handle With Care: Explosives Inside. Most obviously, this would apply to the final story in Volume 1 You, Darkness in which the drugged and virtually hypnotized Vincent participates in a pagan cult orgy, ends up slaughtering his fellow revelers and begetting a child on some unidentified woman (apparently Lena, who was an agent of Paracelsus all along).

Rest assured. You, Darkness" is neither gross nor X-rated. To the contrary, it is part of a powerful elemental fable, haunted by the same "terrible beauty" as the Trilogy and the best of the Third Season. Dibble creates and sustains alevel of mythic grandeur. But if you are looking for stories of Vincent and Catherine achieving a happy ending, this is not for you. (On the other hand, Vincent and Diana do seem destined for good things.)

Dibble has come up with a powerful idea. Vincent is a multiple personality. The angelic Vincent we all love is dominant but he has an autonomous second personality, consisting of everything he fears in himself and has struggled to repress. This other, who acts out sex and violence for Vincent, is psychologically the "father" of Catherine's child — which is the reason that the "good" personality can't remember. He is, in fact, Vincent's Id isolated and personified. And he loved Catherine too. Greatly.

All this. I think, is implicit in the original story and the character, but has never been soclearly articulated or dramatized as in Dibble's stories. I've dealt with the theme in my own zines, but Dibble does it better.

Acquainted with the Night is definitely post-Third Season. Catherine is dead and Vincent's developing relationship with Diana is central. I've always loved Diana, but Dibble's conception of her character is not my own. There are things she says and does which I have trouble recognizing. There are moments, too. when Vincent also strikes me as out-of-charaacter. He and Diana get too damn talkative and jolly together. And I don't like what is done with Kristopher Gentian.

Quite a list of complaints, right? Ordinarily, they would be more than enough to turn me off. But in this case, they are more like flaws in a greatly beautiful face. The truth is, most other B&TB zines taste like weak tea next to Dibble's intoxicating brew. This is story-telling with class. And if Dribble wants her characters to evolve in startling new directions, to discover new possibilities, well, she has the right.

In summary, Acquainted with the Night is a vastly entertaining performance but to enjoy it, you must be prepared to: 1) accept Catherine (and baby Jacob) as essentially irrelevant 2) accept that Diana and Vincent will change each profoundly; 3) take lusty pleasure in both the horror and the ironic humor of their circumstances; 4) let Dibble lead where her inspiration takes her.

If you can do that, then you have a rare treat in store. Despite my quibbles, I find Acquainted with the Night compulsively re-readable and can't wait for the third volume. Its the only zine I know that carries the same atmosphere of poetic vision and original genius that made the series so enthralling.

I'd also like to comment on Barbara Goulter's review of Acquainted With The Night by Nancy Dibble. Yes, Nan Dibble is (in my opinion) an excellent writer. The fact thatthezine was well written was the only thing that kept mereading it. Having said that, I'd like to add that {again, in my opinion) what Nan Dibble has written is not B&TB. If s not even third season B&TB. It's not Vincent and if s not even Diana. As far as "You, Darkness" not being gross, I guess that depends on your definition of the word. The review describes "Vincent participating in a pagan cult orgy, ends up slaughtering his fellow revelers and begetting a child on some unidentified woman..." — that's pretty gross to me.
Diana, in Dibble's characterization, was a very unkind person. If I were a Diana fan, I would have found it offensive. She didn't have a charitable thought for anyone. To her, William was an obnoxious fat man, Lena was a bitch, and Catherine had ruined Vincent's psyche by letting him kill (something which, according to Dibble, he'd never done before). If anyone called me "babe" as often as Diana does Vincent, I'd claw their face off! I think that she and Vincent, as well as everyone else down to Father, Lena, Cullen and Kristopher Gentian are outof character—so much so that they are different people. Toenjoy this fanzine, Goulter tells us, we must "accept Catherine (and baby Jacob) as essentially irrelevant." Thaf s asking for quite a lot even if you are a fan of third season. Yes, "if Dibble wants her characters to evolve in startling new directions... she has the right." But, I want my characters (the characters I love and want to read more about) to remain in character! [7]
I'm an avid zine reader and read as many as lean. Although I prefer classic ones, I read them all. I think the comments made about Acquainted with the Night [in Tunneltalk] were very interesting. I think it's interesting that some authors like to write about Vincent's darker side and to generally make the characters suffer so much. I guess I've found that I like the "nice" stories, the ones dealing with Catherine and Vincent's romance. I think many readers don't want to see the characters put through so much agony. Even disregarding the "You, Darkness" story, which I feel was in keeping with the way the author saw the characters, I felt the two zines (1 & 2) portrayed the characters in a way unacceptable to me. They were never able to show me any reason why Vincent would have any feelings for Diana. In my opinion, she was a very unlikable character. [8]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2, Barbara Gipson

Acquainted with the Night 2 was published in May 1991 and contains 190 pages. The front cover is by Barbara Gipson.

flyer for issue #2

Summary from The Beauty & the Beast Buyer's Guide to Fanzines: "This zine picks up where AWTN1 ended. Vincent declares his love for Diana and the relationship progresses to the point where he's giving her nude swimming lessons. The exploration of Vincent's dark side continues when the Other emerges wanting to claim what he feels is rightfully his. Catherine appears in two stories: One is the retelling of her kidnapping by Paracelsus; in the other, Vincent travels to the Land of the Dead in search of answers. Could Catherine have come to him during the horrifying events with the bowers? Did they make love as he sensed they did? And why then, of all times, would his memory of what they shared come back? Other stories feature Devin, Lena, Jamie, Kristopher, and Vincent's teenage encounter with Jessica and her camera."

  • Touch and Go ("Vincent and Diana at last understand the devastating aftermath of "To Reign in Hell" - a story within a story.") (6)
  • As On a Darkling Plain ("Vincent journeys into the wilderness of his own heart - and finds Catherine there.") (30)
  • When the Pipes Were Silent (59)
  • Pawn's Gambit ("At a climactic council meeting, Vincent presents a major challenge to Father's authority.") (62)
  • Faith (71)
  • Simonetta ("Kristopher needs Diana's consent to paint her portrait; Diana would rather die, because of painful memories with which Vincent tries to help her come to terms.") (81)
  • Bimbo ("Diana fixes dinner in her loft to celebrate Devin's visit; Devin is less than impressed; provoked, Vincent delivers an appropriate - and effective - reply.") (99)
  • Portrait by Flash Light (118)
  • Mirror, Mirror ("Hunches and empathy collide after Vincent gets a letter from Paracelsus; the Other hunts "bowers"-the tunnel-dwellers Paracelsus led until his death...and since?.") (137)
  • literary references ("Take a peek first, so you'll know where to look if a quote mystifies you.") (190)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

The Diana/Vincent arc continues, featuring “the bowers,” formerly-and still-Paracelsus' followers. Diana is revealed as a latent empath to whom the “gift” threatens to be fatal; the Other puts in an appearance. Two novelettes involve Catherine; there are also three stories of Vincent's past. The standout story is “Simonetta,” in which Diana is incensed by Kristopher's insistence on painting her portrait. Somewhat of a cliffhanger ending of final novelette but AWtN-3 continues the story. Pro writer. Barb Gipson cover.[9]

Issue 3

Acquainted with the Night 3 was published in December 1991 and contains 211 pages. Art information: Art by Phyllis Berwick, Constantia, Jan Durr, Kriss Farver, Jane Freeman, Barbara Gipson, Michele Hawley, and Diane Leva.

flyer for issue #3

The author notes: "Although the fiction directly follows events dramatized in Acquai11ted with the Night 1 & 2, one need not have read the previous volumes to understand and enjoy the ongoing events."

Summary from The Beauty & the Beast Buyer's Guide to Fanzines: "The bower story line from Volumes 1 and 2 continues. Afraid that his nearness will cause harm to Diana, Vincent blocks up all entrances to Below and for three months he and Diana are apart. Eventually she moves Below but they live away from the populated quarters which helps her build up a tolerance to the effect of being "over peopled," and the relationship is consummated. The "bower baby" is born but Vincent refuses to give into the bowers' requests. After much suffering by all parties, everything is resolved in the end. Elliot (Stash) and Laura appear and the Other is featured prominently. Catherine is portrayed in a less than flattering manner ("Park Avenue Princess") in this zine."

  • Prologue: At Break of Day ("What did Vincent do when he awoke in Diana's loft, in her bed ...wearing only his socks? (short story).")
  • Epilogue At Evening ("What was Lena's fmal appeal to Vincent...before her wedding? (short story).")
  • The Parting of the Ways ("Why did Vincent enforce a long separation between himself and Diana...and at last come to her summons...only to say goodbye?")
  • Inside Out ("What unspoken secret caused Vincent's period of not recognizing things, not knowing people's names? What is "the calling"? And if, in the Maze, Vincent calls...will Diana answer? What happens when two people tum "inside out"?)
  • Threshold ("When Vincent was gravely injured, what promise did Diana make the Other to persuade him to bear the pain in Vincent's place? How did Diana reach and find Vincent, within, and bring him back?")
  • Heart's Desire ("After attacks on Diana, how does Vincent settle the threat posed by Paracelsus' followers, the bowers; and does he locate and claim his unwanted son?")
  • Esau

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

This continuation and resolution of the Vincent/Diana arc involves Diana's dangerous transition from latent to active empath and further developments with the “bowers”: tunnel-dwellers formerly led by Paracelsus. This 4th season zine is comprised of two short stories (a prologue and epilogue) and four connected novelettes, all in present time, describing the progression-and dangers-in the relationship between Diana and Vincent...and each of them with the Other. This is strong storytelling with an emphasis on psychological exploration and many connections and insights into the series itself. If you're interested in an examination and extension of the series' themes and characters, you'll find this zine series absorbing reading.[10]

References

  1. comment at Catherine, Diana, and Bad Endings (August 22, 2000)
  2. Kathy Resch, quoted with permission from Strange Bedfellows APA #3 (1993)
  3. from Helpers' Network Quality Fanzine Review -- 1997
  4. from The Beauty & the Beast Buyer's Guide to Fanzines
  5. from Tunneltalk (April 1991)
  6. from Tunneltalk (May 1991)
  7. comments by Barbara Goulter in Tunneltalk v.2 n.3, response by Ellie J in Tunneltalk v.2 n.4/5
  8. from Tunneltalk v.2 n.4/5
  9. from Helpers' Network Quality Fanzine Review -- 1997
  10. from Helpers' Network Quality Fanzine Review -- 1997