Alternate Ending to Catharsis

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Title: Alternate Ending to Catharsis (or "Catharsis Redo")
Author(s): Anne Higgins
Date(s): September 1996
Genre: slash
Fandom: The Professionals
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Alternate Ending to Catharsis is a Bodie/Doyle story by Anne Higgins. It is also referred to as the "Catharsis redo."

It is a responsefic to Catharsis, and it was written without the original author's knowledge.

The story was posted to CI5 List where it generated much discussion. The story was also discussed in a general fashion on Virgule-L and other private mailing lists. When the original list owners discovered that fans were discussing the stories on other lists, all discussion regarding responsefic was banned at CI5 List.

When this responsefic was posted, it was preceded by the explanation that if a story was edited and not intended as malice, it was acceptable to post such a fic on the CI5 list. The list owners made a point that responsefics written without permission only applied to fiction written by fans who were not current list members of the CI5 List (as that would be "in poor taste"), as those members were easy enough to contact, but for others, going to the trouble of obtaining their permission was not required.

Its Relationship to "Consequences" and Other Sequels

Some fans do not feel the story qualifies as a stand-alone sequel like many of the Consequences stories as it was created with the intent to rewrite the ending of "Catharsis". This point of view argues that even if most of the Consequences stories were written because the reader didn't like how the story ended, none of the sequels started 3/4 of the way through and replaced the original ending of the story. These fans also pointed out that none of the "Consequences" sequels erased the rape, and many were sequels that picked up just before the end to "Endgame" a story that nullified Bodie's and Doyle's deaths. In another example, "Before the Time of Crossing," magically gives Bodie a month or so to interact with Doyle's ghost in order to allow Bodie to come to terms with Doyle's death. This shows that there was a wide range of when and how the writers of the Consequences sequels continued the story, making the comparison of Catharsis redo and the Consequences sequels difficult.[1]

It Generated Its Own Sequel, and a Change in Listrules

In December 1996, a Christmas "pressie" story called A CI5 Christmas Tale was written in response to the responsefic and posted anonymously to the CI5 list. The story saw Bodie and Doyle being punished with scut work for objecting to an superior officer's alternative ending to an incident report. It then offered two endings - one sweet that ended with Christmas carols and the other grim, ending with Christmas carols and death. Some fans confused this second story with Higgins' original writing exercise.

While Higgins eventually posted her alternative Catharsis ending under her own name, the author of the " CI5 Christmas Tale" was never revealed. Because the story offered meta commentary on responsefic, a topic that had been banned by the list admins, members struggled to discuss the story, and it sank into obscurity.

It did prompt the CI5 list to amend their rules to require that death stories involving the deaths of Bodie, Doyle or Cowley taking place before or during the story to be clearly labeled when posted.[2]

Discussed on Virgule-L and Other Mailing Lists

It was during this time that Morgan Dawn brought up the subject of responsefic on Virgule-L. She did not mention any specifics regarding the story's title, author, or provenance:[3]

[Morgan Dawn]: So this topic came up on one list I am on -- and I'd love to get a fandom wide opinion.

Scenerio 1:

You read a circuit story, love it. It's written by (insert anon. author name) here. You want to write a sequel. Can you do it? What social niceties do you need to observe?

Scenerio 2:

Same thing, except this is in a zine that is outta print and everyone ever associated with it has moved to Saudia Arabia and taken the veil except for the copy editor who has converted to a very conservative religious sect. Can you write the sequel?

Scenerio 3: The zine is in print, the author lives in the same state and you have a friend who knows her (but won't give you her phone number). You ask your friend to have the author call you, but she never gets back to you. You hear rumours from other friends that she doesn't plan to write a sequel. Do you write one anyway, with some disclaimer?

Scenerio 4: same as No. 3 except you actually talk to the author. She sounds enthusiastic until you explain you plan to make it a Hogan's Heroes, Wild Wide West and X-files cross over. Then she says she doesn't want you to write a sequel because she might write one some day. When you ask her if you can put a huge disclaimer on the story, she hangs up. Do you write one anyway?

Feel free to create your own scenerio...[4]

[Shoshanna]: I pretty much agree with what Laura said. I think, if you want to write a sequel to another author's story, you ought to make every effort to locate that author and obtain her permission -- but the author has no real right to refuse permission, either. It's all a matter of doing it politely. And the original author *does* have the right to require that the "canonical" status of the sequel be made clear. So that a heading might read "MORNING BREATH by Mary Suefan; an unofficial sequel to NIGHT KNICKERS by Penelope Gumdrop." Or whatever the two writers agree on. It is intolerably rude to give the impression that the first author approved of -- or even wrote -- the sequel if that's not the case, by using a heading like "MORNING BREATH, the sequel to NIGHT KNICKERS." I also think that, as a matter of courtesy, the second author should make sure that the first author sees a copy of the sequel, if she wants to. Hell, I'd be dying of curiosity!

When good faith efforts have totally failed to locate the original author, then I think the second author can go ahead, with a clear heading as above.

If the original author says "Absolutely not, you may NOT write a sequel"? Well, I think she's got no right to say that. But if she says it anyway? Uh, it depends on how big a stink the second author is willing to make, and if she's willing to have this person hate her. After all, the first author doesn't have the power to censor or prohibit the story; no fan is able to do that to another fan. What's she going to do, firebomb the press that prints it? So at that point it's the second author's judgement call. (One option is to change the backstory just enough that the second writer's story isn't really a, ahem, sequel to the first story, it's just a story which assumes that certain events very similar to those in the first story had just happened, except of course it isn't an actual sequel to the first story, of course, because it was Jax who bought the tea in this one, not Lake, you know. Tricks like that.)

Fandom and fannish writing are a form of communication, of conversation. I have written stories, and elements of stories, that are conscious and deliberate answers to things other authors have done. This is one of the reasons why I like fanfic; the constant give and take within the community. I collect sequels to "Consequences," because I'm fascinated at how different people understood and adapted and felt a need to respond to the original. If someone wrote a sequel to one of my stories (as far as I know, it's never happened) that took the characters in a direction I *hated*, well, I might

hate her story, but I would be intrigued that she had understood what I'd done in that way. I might well insist on a heading that made clear that I personally did not support the interpretation the second author had made. I am still hoping to write a sequel to "The Earth That They Inherit" -- I know what happens and what the dramatic and emotional development is, and I even have it outlined, but this other novel thing kind of got in my way :-) -- and if someone asked if she could write a sequel to it, again, I would insist on clear labeling, but I don't think the fact that I'm hoping someday to write my own gives me the right to prohibit her. If someone wrote a sequel that was so damned good that I no longer even wanted to try to write my own sequel, because I liked hers more than any of my own ideas, well, that would kind of suck for me personally, I guess, but I don't think I'm selfish enough to say "I don't care about having *good* stories, I just want *my* stories!" I'd enjoy her story and wish I'd thought of it first. But that happens with lots of stories I hadn't been going to try to write, too, after all. And if she wrote a terrific sequel and I still wanted to write my own, well, nobody's stopping me, are they? [5]

[Sandy Hereld]: Someone (I'm dreadfully disorganized) said something like-- ~Writing in the slash community is part of a conversation.~ I loved that. A common question in our community is, 'why do you write slash' I think one of the unacknowledged ones is, 'enthusiastic readers.' For most non-best-selling authors I know, getting even their best friends to read their stuff is...hard. They give a manuscript to a friend, who *says* they'll read it, but they don't get a round to it, and you hate to push...your mom will read it, but your dad just says, 'well, I don't read a lot of fiction, honey' you mention you write to your boss, who says, 'well, show me something you've done' and then never mentions it again, and never gives you back the copy...

In slash, people are dying to read your stuff. (You may grow old and die waiting for a satisfying LOC, but at least you know people are reading it.)

One aspect of slash, is that the roles of Writer and reader are blurry. Some huge proportion of slash readers have written at least one slash story. A lot of stories start through conversations between friends, and many times more than one person at the same time writes a story born from the same idea (with varying degrees of acrimony...).

And as many people have pointed out, slash is founded on theft; on poaching. What is the difference between poaching from them, and poaching from each other...?

There is a limit to what we can control as authors. Courtney Gr*a*y once said she didn't want her stories in the electronic library because page layout was very important to her, and even things like which line the page broke on, had been carefully thought out in the original. On the other hand, her stuff is in the Pros paper library, and routinely stories in that library get retyped without anyone asking the author.

I think, you do what you can to be polite (ask around, ask permission), and honest, ('this is a totally unapproved borrowing of X's universe) and then you do what you do (and you jolly well accept the outcome, even if it's your friend not talking to you, or people saying you butchered something previously fine).[6]

[Morgan Dawn]: Well since you really didn't touch on the topic of plagarism as a general question -- in fan fic I am willing to tolerate a lot more "plagarism" than I would in professional fiction. I am thinking of "Professional Dreamer" by Pam Rose which was a rewrite of the movie "American Dreamer." I saw little that was objectionable in what Pam did because she was doing what all fan fic does - build on an existing storyline and tweaking the characters. She went one step further and borrowed whole plot elements to build her Dreamer.

Same with HG's Paper Flowers -- a rewrite of a novel set of Victorian England.[7]

Some people think that any story set in the same milieu is plagarism -- I mean what if I started a 20 part Pros series set in Elfland but called it the "The Punting-How To Travel To The Faerie Via The Thames."[8] That might be too close to the original. But any Bodie and Doyle elf story is not "stealing" from the original.

I define plagarism as the actual lifting of the words, changing names, and then claiming them as your own. Ideas and plot lines are too few and far between to be called plagarism when you borrow them or build off them (who was it who said that there are only 3-4 original plots in existence?).

Even then -- if during your rewrite of "Gone With The Wind: Kirk and Spock Battle Klingons in The Deep South," you happen to use some of the same dilagoue: well, it's plagarism, but I wouldn't mind. I'd giggle.

[Responding to a comment that a writer has a higher moral ground regarding their own work]: Well I disagree -- speaking as anyone (let alone a writer) gives one the right to an opinion -- but not to much else I am afraid. Unless you have a large weapon or are the the leader of the Armed Forces. Morality is rarely enforceable by might or the straightforward assertion that this is the way it should and will be.

[Can one be compelled to create a sequel to an illustration by Suzan Lovett?]: I wouldn't because I can't draw. How would one draw a sequel? In the original, Bodie has his hand on Doyle's butt, while Doyle has entwined his legs around Bodie's legs. In the sequel, we see Bodie's hand moving up to Doyle's face, while Doyle has lifted his right foot.

I'd also like to point out that Suzie often borrows from professional photos and artwork as models. The "Bodie in handcuffs" pose, for example, was lifted completely from a gay magazine photo ad.

[Sequels to fiction?]: I'd might write one as part of the conversation process someone else described. If the story moved me --or upset me -- then I would either want to finish it. If something was left unsaid, fill in plot holes (like we do with fan fic) or just "fix it." I might also want to build on it and go in a completely different direction -- like Brother's Keeper and Heat Trace by Helen Raven.[9]

[Jan Levine]: Okay. I didn't want to react to this without thinking, which is why this message is posted a day after you posted this message and your alternate ending to Sebastian's "Catharsis."

I think you have done a Bad Thing. I think that there is a major difference between writing a sequel (authorized or unauthorized) and rewriting someone's story because you didn't like the way the author chose to write it.

If you don't like a story, the proper answer is to write your own story dealing with the same issues, only doing it the way you think is right. I know that Maggie Hall, M.Fae, and Jane Mailander have all written fine stories based on this sort of inspiration. I don't think there's any justification for rewriting someone else's story. I don't think there's any author who's going to take kindly to being told, "You did this story wrong, and here's how to do it right" -- whether you're right or not.

And I think the permission issue is _much_ more of an issue with writing alternate endings than it is for writing sequels, or stories in someone else's universe. Even if you don't know Sebastian, fandom is a small enough community that it wouldn't have been too much trouble to find her.

Uh, leaving the merits of your argument [that Sebastian made two major mistakes in her story and it was too much to endure] aside, I'll point out that your writing style is entirely different from Sebastian's, which makes reading your contribution -- as an alternate ending -- too wrong to endure.

I think that the CI5 officers ought to rethink their policy [regarding responsefics]. I think that a great deal of undesired flak is going to rain down as a result of this policy. I have mentioned this particular issue in generalities to some friends in private mail, and I don't think that I'm overreacting.

Sorry, it's not that simple [to not read the post if I don't like the philosophy of writing a respsonsefic]. If I disagree with an opinion, I can agree to disagree. If I think that an action is wrong, I have to do what I can to persuade the person who did the wrong thing to stop doing it.

I can't condone the rewriting of stories (without the author's permission) any more than I could condone plagiarizing of stories.[10]

[Jan Levine]: To some extent, I think plagiarism is a red herring. Plagiarism is bad, evil, vile, and unethical. I was appalled to read on another list about one fan taking a Pros story, rewriting it minimally to turn it into Trek, and publishing it under her own name. Because media literature is essentially a derivative activity, I think it's very important to give credit where credit is due -- giving sources, or "inspired by," or whatever.

[regarding comments that Cost of Love and Graven Images were too similar]: I think that's really unfortunate (that she yelled plagiarism, that is). I've read both stories, and I think they're both fine (and _different_) takes on the "Starsky in Vietnam" issue. There are only a limited number of plots in the world -- what makes stories unique is what the author does with them.

Newbies on the Fidonet WRITING echo always seem to be paranoid that someone will steal their precious ideas (or worse, that some writer overheard them and that's why the latest Bruce Sterling novel uses _their_ ideas -- horrors!). Ideas are two for a nickel -- it's the writing that makes them special (or, too often, pedestrian).

[commenting on whether she would create a sequel to a Suzan Lovett illustration]: If only I could. *sigh* If I could just take that lovely Ilya/Napoleon picture and turn it into a Bodie/Doyle picture? But that _isn't_ the same issue for me. I'd still want it to be Suzan's work, and I suspect it's something that she'd be perfectly happy to do, had she world enough and time. And if someone does an illo inspired by one of Suzan's (not me; no artistic talent), it'd be an original work, even if it were inspired by another piece.

Well, [writing a responsefic] isn't the desire to turn an unhappy or ambigous ending into a happy ending, mostly. Well, maybe the ambiguous ending, especially if the seeds of the resolution are buried in the story. It's mostly stories that I view

as unfinished. Shoshanna's "The Earth That They Inherit," to you an already-mentioned example. This is a simple desire to know what happens next, though -- the story ends in such a way that _something_ more has to happen.[11]

Jan Levine]: [On the irony of the "Catharsis redo affair" being debated everywhere but on the list on which it occurred.]:

Hear, hear.

I find it further ironic that one of the listowners said (while admitting that it was a loaded word) that I was advocating censorship by my comments, while she was busy suppressing conversation on that very topic in this forum.

I will grant that it's the listowners' perfect right to do so; a list is not a democracy, and the listowners get to run it as they see fit. But I think that this particular implemenation is an unfortunate precedent and, in the long run, will hurt the list.

That's all I'll say on the subject on this list.[12]

[Morgan Dawn]: It's good that there will be some written guidelines soon on the new rules. Otherwise, this is what we might have seen on that story "CI5 Christmas Tale"):






  1. ^ Comments sent to Morgan Dawn in Nov 1996, posted anonymously with permission.
  2. ^ Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed Feb 3, 2015.
  3. ^ In fact, the identity of the story's author would not be revealed until two months later when Higgins posted a message to the CI5 List and revealed she was the writer.
  4. ^ post to Virgule-L, Morgan Dawn, September 25, 1996, quoted with permission
  5. ^ post to Virgule-L, Shoshanna, September 26, 1996, quoted with permission
  6. ^ post to Virgule-L, Sandy Hereld, September 27, 1996, quoted with permission
  7. ^ Paper Flowers was written by Kitty Fisher not HG.
  8. ^ This is a reference to Jane of Australia's elf themed Professionals series The Hunting.
  9. ^ post to Virgule-L, Morgan Dawn, September 27, 1996, quoted with permission
  10. ^ post to the CI5 List Jan Levine, November 19, 1996, quoted with permission
  11. ^ post to Virgule-L, Jan Levine, September 28, 1996, quoted with permission
  12. ^ post to Virgule-L, Jan Levine, November 24, 1996, quoted with permission
  13. ^ Morgan Dawn, December 20, 1996, CI5 Mailing List, quoted with permission