Cold Fish and Stale Chips

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Title: Cold Fish and Stale Chips
Editor(s): Kate Nuernberg
Type: letterzine
Date(s): 1989- mid-1990s
Medium: print
Fandom: The Professionals
External Links:
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Cold Fish and Stale Chips, edited by Kate Nuernberg, was a very unusual sort of zine, half letterzine and half writing seminar. It was a home for unfinished stories and story ideas, questions and commentary. Definitely stories were saved by it -- though probably just as often, having published the 'good bit' of an unfinished story and gotten comments on it, the desire to finish the boring parts was lessened. It was a little bit like the idea of WIP Amnesty on Livejournal, except that critical commentary was baked into the concept.

Description from Media Monitor: "Cold Fish and Stale Chips is a Pros letterzine which contains unfinished story fragments, story and songtape ideas, unpublished art, and comments on all that has gone before. Discussion on writing techniques and problems. Published quarterly in Jan., Apr., July, and Oct."

The zine won multiple Huggies during its run as well as a 1990 Fan Q.

The early issues, up to 13, tended to be mostly gen. After that, they included more of a mix of slash and gen. The letterzine ran for 22 issues.

Summary from the Editor

From the first issue:

Welcome to the first issue. Perhaps I should give you fair warning: This newsletter may be hazardous to your health. Stories may stop at any time, anywhere, without sufficient warning. It's as frustrating as hell. But as any of you know who may have seen my fliers, that was the whole idea to begin with. I thought I was going to do a whole zine. How can you have a whole zine of unfinished story ideas? You'd have to have a million of 'em. (Yes, I probably have about that many floating around in my brain, but we won't go into that here.) I think what you'll see in these thirty nine pages is great, and a good length. There're all kinds of ideas, suggestions, and brainstorms (in the British sense). Many, many thanks to all of you who entrusted me with your unborn brain children. Now it's up to those of you who are reading this to help us out. I hope that something within these pages will inspire you to do so.

"Our Purpose"

The editor states the mission of "Cold Fish and Stale Chips":

This letterzine is for all sorts of people:
1. Writers who want help and suggestions on a story.
2. Writers who want to get their ideas circulated, but don't want to write a "whole" story (remember -- a fragment can be a scene from the middle of a story, too).
3. Anyone who has an idea (or a fantasy) or wants to read someone else's.
4. New fans who have little point of contact with Pros fandom.
5. OId fans who do not have a support group (or one large enough). [1]

In 1992, the editor stated in another zine:

I regularly produce about 75 copies of my letterzine, including both subscriptions and tribbers (I like to think that more people read it than that.) I regularly have 10-15 contributors in any given issue, and they are-not surprisingly-usually the same group of people. Face it, fandom is a great spectator sport. To get my point (there had to be one), although we do discuss writing and critique specifically the stories that are included each issue, my Pros letterzine is fandom specific - it appeals to a particular audience and we discuss the show and the characters as well as writing (as well as offering stories - usually fragments-to entertain). [2]

Trib Copies, Submissions, and Guidelines

From issue #10:

Submissions: Any submission of at least 300 words wiII get a comp copy of the issue of Cold Fish in which it appears. General personal information is not included in word count, but you are invited to let us know about yourself. Song lyrics may be edited for space, but comp is based on what you send, not what we print.

Submissions can be for any or all of our features: story fragments, story ideas, songtape ideas, letters of comment, poetry or art (finished or unfinished). Comments can include any back issue; label for understanding. But please remember to look forward as well as backward -- we need new ideas, not simply to rehash over and over.

If you do not wish your name to be printed, it is your respoasibility to tell us. We do not print addresses. If you want only part of your letter to be printed, say so and be precise. We do not acknowledge submissions except by sending you your comp copy. Do not send anything you want back, unless you ask first.

The Questionnaire for Feedback on Fiction

Regarding submitted fiction ideas:

If you wish to submit a story fragment, please be as complete in answering our questionnaire as possible. Questionnaires should accompany submissions for inclusion in the same issue. Readers: To avoid having to print these questions after every story fragment, they are hereby officially included here. The numbers should always match with the list of answers:
1. Where do you intend for this story to go? Give us a short explanation of planned, yet unwritten, parts. (Synopsis a few sentences, paragraphs, outline, whatever. Not necessarily, scene-by-scene, although it could be.)
2. Why did you stop writing this story? Is there a specific problem or point(s) in your manuscript that you cannot resolve? More than one?
3. Why did you start writing this story? What feature of this story, or spark of an idea, appealed to you so that you picked up the pen?
4, Do you still want to include this idea in your story? Or has it somehow gotten lost by the wayside in favour of another inspiration?
5. Are there other points you want a comment on, besides what you consider to be your major stumbling block(s)? (from #2)
6. Do you plan to continue this story yourself? Would you like to see someone else write this idea?
7. Anything else you wish to comment on?
8. Do you wish to use your real name or a pen name?

Other Professionals Letterzines

Other Letterzines

For similar publications, see List of Letterzines.

Fan Reactions and Reviews

About three months after my first story ever was published, I stumbled upon Cold Fish and Stale Chips, a zine devoted to writing and fan fiction in the Professionals universe. Since I was still basking in the afterglow of being a "published" writer, I devoured the first three issues and confidently jotted down everything I could think of and sent it in. That letter marked the beginning of my formal writing education. Cold Fish has helped me learn to cope with a few minor problems: I didn't really know how to start a story, structure a story, or end a story. I didn't understand episode extrapolation, plotting, or how to switch point of view. I kept calling people "the smaller agent," "the ex-merc," or "the larger man,' -- which is confusing if you're only vaguely familiar with a fandom -— rather than using their normal, series-given names... Cold Fish has also given me the opportunity to immortalize several story fragments that probably shouldn't have seen the light of day, and, in retrospect, embarrass myself and my family for generations to come, as I learned what many of the hundred or so readers already knew. I've had a great time doing it. The amount and quality of the fiction varies, but the production values are great. Kate makes spelling and basic grammar corrections, weeding out the nastier personal comments and stripping out some of the redundant suggestions if pressed for space, but that's about it. The fiction tends to be raw, at a first-draft or second-draft stage, and no one discriminates gen from slash. So there can be a nice gen character study sandwiched between an a/u romance and an experimental stream-of-consciousness piece. It's not consistent, but it is fascinating. Sometimes the fascination's more like that of seeing shattered glass and blood on the highway than of reading fiction and, given the zine's avowed purpose, there's not a lot you can do about that. It does help you cultivate a great reviewing technique, though. "How to trash someone's child while being encouraging and truthful if somewhat schizophrenic. [3]

[Cold Fish and Stale Chips] is a wonderful letterzine, dedicated to writers in the Professional's universe. Send in your half written stories, the chapter that you got stuck on, also half finished art that went wrong, questions about British usage, ideas for song tapes you'll never make, ideas for stories you'd love to see someone else write, and more. [4]

Issue 1

front page of issue #1, original
front page of issue # 1, photocopy
"I call it "Rum-Tum Raymond", all done up in a costume from the Broadway show, Cats. All I can say is he looks pissed as hell at me. But I refuse to apologise." -- from the artist, Kate Nuernberg

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 1 was published in 1989 and contains 39 pages.

  • Introduction to this letterzine
  • Introduction to I Want My MTV column ("Carrying on with our theme of wishful thinking, this column could also be called "Songtapes I'd like to see, but don't have the Time, Equipment, Patience to do myself". Again, ideas are solicited from you for future columns. These can be as simple as a song title, or as complicated as a line by line description of which scenes you'd use for what.")
  • Introduction to Flesh for Fantasy column, a feature that encourages artists to post art and comment upon it

Draft stories and art:

  • A Chink in the Wall (part one) by Kate Nuernberg
  • Untitled I by Mysti Frank
  • Untitled II by Mysti Frank
  • Never Forget Me by Ruth Collerson
  • Untitled by Emily Ross
  • Untitled by Anastasia Browne
  • Fools and Children by Kate Nuernberg
  • Rum-Tum Raymond by Kate Nuernberg (Illustration in progress)
  • Walking Through Broken Glass by Kate Santovani

Issue 2

cover of issue #2
"At MediaWest this year, Adrian asked me if I'd take unfinished artwork. The idea appealed. Why should writers have all the fun? Or all the problems? Have you ever heard of "artist's block"? If not, you're not an artist. So here we have the first ever contribution of unfinished art."
front page of issue #2, copy

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 2 was published in 1989 and contains 44 pages.

The editor comments that "Some people do not like songtapes because they do not translate well to the written page. But obviously a lot of people do like them, because that's what gained us the most new contributions."

The editor writes:

One more thing: as in any other letterzine, the opinions expressed here by other people are not necessarily my own. I may agree or disagree with you, but I will not only defend your right to say it, but also let you say it on these pages. The only restrictions are bounded by other people's rights I will not edit anything out of letters except for personal comments to me. If you have one part of your letter you do not want printed, label it. Don't expect me to guess. If you don t want your name printed, I will respect your request, but you must tell me. Otherwise, I will print your name.

The editor wraps it up:

That's it for this issue. I hope you enjoyed it. However... if you felt as I did that you'd like to read more story fragments WRITE ONE! Or get it out of the drawer where it's been hiding since the year 1982. Or write a continuation of someone else's fragment. It doesn't have to have an end, either! See how easy it is? Just send it to me. That's the only way we'll get 'em in here, folks.

Draft stories and art:

  • Walking Through Broken Glass by Kate Santovani
  • Half-World Mercenary by Emily Ross
  • The Smartest Agent in the World by Kate Nuernberg
  • A Chink in the Wall (part two) by Kate Nuernberg
  • Flesh for Fantasy feature by Adrian Morgan (Illustration in progress)
  • Till Death Do Us Join by Mona Sechrest
  • A Little Learning is a Dangerous Thing by Ruth Collerson

Issue 3

cover of issue #3

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 3 was published in 1989 and contains 55 pages.

  • Editorial policy by Kate Nuernberg
  • LOCs, Various
  • Writing in "British" by Kate Nuernberg (Article)
  • Please, Mr Postman by Kate Nuernberg (Request to encourage TPTB to hire LC)
  • I Want My MTV feature (Various Songtape ideas)

Draft stories and art:

  • Castle in the Clouds by Eros
  • John 15: 13 by Debra Hicks
  • Untitled by Janet Walker
  • A Chink in the Wall (part three) by Kate Nuernberg
  • Flesh for Fantasy feature by Suzan Lovett (Illustration in progress for Master of the Revels)
  • Kate Nuernberg (Illustration in progress)
  • Leaving No Crumbs Unturned by Robbie Sturm
  • Don't Do Me Any Favours Anymore by Claudia Rufus

Issue 4

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 4 was published in January 1990 and contains 52 pages.

cover of issue #4
uncredited art, George Cowley
art by Kate Nuernberg: "This illo was done for a story that had been accepted by a proposed zine. Hell, the years came and went; the illo went, but the zine never came. I just discovered the illo in my files last month. Strangely enough, about the same time the story it was drawn for appeared in the Australian sine Backtrack. Now, if I'd only known.... But I didn't. And the editor didn't. So here it is."
  • article on writing about character by Kate Nuernberg
  • LOCs
  • the editor writes about pseudonyms and explicit sex:
    I realise there are all sorts of reasons for using a pseudonym, anonymity only being one of them. And it is certainly the business of the creator whether they use one or not. But it is interesting to me that someone who writes with a pseudonym wants to know why a zine does not have more explicit sex in it. The editors not only put their names on their zines, but also their addresses. They are the ones who deal with printers and send the material through the mail. Yes, all editors set their own policies and are not forced into doing anything they don't want to do. Regardless, (and I assure you I am not in the least bit upset nor trying to get personal with anyone) as far as Cold Fish is concerned, so far I have printed what I have received. It is possible that those who want to read explicit sex do not read Cold Fish. It is obvious that those who write it do not send it to me. Perhaps that is because I make no secret of my preferences. But let me repeat: I try to be as open-minded as possible. I like a good story. I also like sex stories with redeeming qualities, and perhaps a "fragment" would not have those redeeming qualities. I don't know. I haven't seen one yet, either way.

  • a fan comments on filks:
    Remember the filksong? I have seen these mostly in science fiction Fandom and firsthand in my previous incarnation as a Star Wars fan. For those of you who know all about filksongs, bear with me. For those of you who don't, let me try to come up with a definition: a filk is a song taken from one that already exists. The "borrowed" song has a chorus, a line, a feeling, a theme, sometimes just a melody, which lends itself to a new universe — characters or incidents based in media (TV, movies, or books). By rewriting, yet leaving parts substantially the same, you come up with a hybrid song that (in this case) is about the Professionals. Or Kirk. Or Sonny Crockett. (Sheila Willis does this very well, in many different universes.) At worst (although most of them are still fun to sing) you get a hundred hybrids taken from "sailing-ship-songs" that are now ditties about the Millennium Falcon. At best, you get an original about religious self-doubt that turns into a stunning song about one man's struggle to become a Jedi Knight. I have had a half-dozen ideas in the Pros universe, but not enough creative time to pursue them. It seems to me to be a valid creative outlet -- and much fun to sing them afterward. Songs have the echo of poetry, and a filk imposes a ready-made structure (and sometimes rhyme) on its writer that that person may not have the discipline to impose on herself. And there is always the freedom, which Tom Lehrer refers to in "Folk Song Army", of being able to fit a fourteen syllable line into one syllable if you sing fast enough and take only one breath. The best example I know of regarding all this is my own, rudely titled, "Gunga Doyle". It is taken from the Kipling poem and has the grace of being called a filk by way of the fact that Jim Croce once set it to music (the original, not mine). This has appeared in print previously, in the zine Discovered on a Rooftop.

Draft stories and art:

  • Trigger Man by Sue Wells
  • Thrones, Dominations... by Kate Santovani
  • Dream Lover by Emily Ross
  • The Swordsman by Dorothy
  • Anything but Chicken, by Alyx
  • Open Book by HG (a fragment that became a story in British Takeaway)
  • Empire of the Senses by Alys- incomplete
  • Don't Do Me Any Favours Anymore by Loretta Greco
  • Untitled by Courtney Gray
  • The Odd Couple by Kate Nuernberg
  • Untitled illo by Kate Nuernberg

Issue 5

cover of issue #5
draft by Suzan Lovett
art by eaf

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 5 was published in 1990 and contains 69 pages.

  • a fan comments on another's in an earlier issue -- the subject is pseudonyms:
    You high-handedly made certain remarks about a particular writer's use of a pseudonym. For shame! Very bad form and totally uncalled for. Was it simply because she made an honest comment about the zine lacking explicit sex stories? Yes, I believe so! It's most unfortunate that you did take it so personally. Any intelligent reader can read between the lines. Instead of being so defensive about your own personal preferences for a story, you should have supported [name redacted] comment and her right to say it. Isn't that what this zine is all about? If veiled, back-handed remarks are the only answers to honest insights, then CF&SC is surely not what it professes to be: an open, friendly forum for discussing ideas about B&D stories. I find it "interesting" that you didn't find Eros and HG's use of a pseudonym equally "interesting". Ludicrous? Of course it is!!

  • another fan addresses the same issue:
    My playful use of a pseudonym should have been nobody's business but my own, yet you chose to single me out -- indeed, to reveal that Dorothy was a pen name -- and to make an editorial comment on it. This in a fandom which abounds with writers who use pen-names or no names.

  • the editor responds:
    [Name redacted] is right: I should not have made my comments in the editorial, and should certainly not have pointed out that "Dorothy" was a pen-name. I do apologise and accept the responsibility for what I said. I had no idea that what I said uas so inflammatory. My remarks were ill-advised within the context with which I used them. But I would like to repeat that they were not meant to be personal. I believe my biggest mistake was trying to say too much in too few words... and left these words open for misunderstanding... Yes, I overreacted to a simple question. It is my fault that I was answering the question of many, in many other contexts, and chose this way to do it. I do not want this zine to become a forum for insults or personal comments and am very sorry that I was inadvertently the one who did this. I apologize to [names redacted] and anyone else I offended.

  • a fan comments about straight and slash fiction:
    I fully agree with you in hating the idea that anyone feels a story has to be slash. At one of the ZCon panels last fall, someone said there was no market for non-slash Pro's stories and several of us went right up the wall. I for one prefer "straight" stories because that's what I see in the series (and I've tried to see it the other way). As a friend of mine says, you play what you're dealt, I don't read slash in other fandoms because I don't believe it in those characters; the only reason : read it in Pro's fandom is because there's so little to read otherwise. Some of the slash stories are excellently written and I do enjoy them, but I'd prefer to read about the characters I know and like. Historicals and alternate universes are something else again. We straight fans may still be "in the closet" but we do exist, and may be more conation than is generally expected. Besides which, unless slash fans are flail interested in the sex, why wouldn't they enjoy a good straight story?

  • a fan comments on another fan's reading preference:
    You comment about preferring badly written slash to badly written straight because the latter is insulting to women. While that's true, you mean the former isn't just as insulting to the male characters?

  • two fans are curious:
    In Cold Fish people talk a lot about "the circuit". How does one find out more about this? [Name redacted] and I would like to leave our splendid fan isolation, and gat out a bit. Any help would be appreciated.

Draft stories and art:

  • Memorial by Eileen Roy
  • Future Present Understanding by Mystery Frank
  • Two Bits by K.D. Swan
  • The Odd Couple by Ruth Collerson
  • The Odd Couple, insert #1 by Frankie
  • The Odd Couple, insert #2 by Franklie
  • Don't Do Me Any Favours Anymore, continued by Loretta Greco
  • The Odd Couple, aka The Prisoner by Eileen Roy
  • Untitled by Robbie Sturm
  • Unfinished Poem by Emily Ross
  • A Chink in the Wall (part four) by Kate Nuernberg
  • The Odd Couple, continued by Kris Brown
  • Portrait of Doyle by Suzan Lovett (art)

Issue 6

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 6 was published in 1990 and contains 48 pages.

  • the editor writes that she welcomes letters about all sorts of topics, but not "straight vs. slash" and "library vs. zines"
cover of issue #6
art from issue #6 by eaf
art from issue #6 by Nuernberg: "Quite simply, the problem with this piece is that I was trying to take a very small photo of Bodie and enlarge it too much. By far, the easier pictures to do are the ones where the originals are large and include a lot of detail. When the finished product needs to be portrait sized, it is difficult (for me at least) to supply those details out of ether. You get a rather empty rendition of the face, and that can work against you as far as getting a likeness. This is a good example. The other basic rule of art I violated is that of choosing the subject. If you pick a very good likeness as your original, and your drawing is just a bit off chances are you'll get away with it. But if you pick a funny expression or an atypical one, and you get just a liitle off in your drawing, you are usually out of luck."
  • The editor writes:
    This might sound contradictory to our "stealing" of media characters, specifically two CIS agents, from a British TV show. But media producers, for the most part, have chosen not to legally pursue fan writers. I suppose they could if they wanted to (George Lucas did). But fantasy/SF writers have shown themselves to be more possessive. I can see their point. How would you writers, who have created A/U's around your Bodie and Doyle characters, react if you found out that another writer was writing in your B/D universe without your permission or input? Perhaps it's because most media settings are the work of myriad people, whereas most written universes (whether media-based or completely original) are the works of single creators. Comments anyone? At any rate, because I want to avoid legal problems with fantasy/SF writers, my all-A/U zine, "Other Times and Places" cannot accept stories placed specifically in a commercially-printed writer's established fantasy/SF setting. Use the writer's universe as a stepping-off place to create an original setting instead.

  • a fan has become inspired:
    I was listening to one of the Barry Manilow tapes the other day, and this song just cried out to me for a B/D songtape. I can easily picture the scenes I would use for some of the lines, others are definitely not so clear, but given time, I am sure I could find them. I've never attempted to do a songtape, maybe this will inspire me, in fact the more I think about it, the more I think I will.

Draft Stories and art:

  • Fragment, KIP by DVS
  • Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude by Ellen Farris
  • Don't Do Me Any Favours Anymore by Loretta Greco
  • A Chink in the Wall (part five) by Kate Nuernberg
  • Limbo by Sue-Anne Hartwick
  • Now and Forever by Ellen Farris
  • Trigger Man (...a Later Bullet) by Sue Wells
  • Sunshine on my Shoulder by Laura Wynne
  • Kate Nuernberg (art)
  • eaf (art)

Issue 7

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 7 was published in 1991 and contains 44 pages.

front page of issue #7
art in issue #7 by Suzan Lovett, a piece that ultimately was not used for Master of the Revels: "This is the first piece I started on when I buckled down to illo "Master of the Revels". With my summer long trip fast approaching and only a day left to finish the job, this piece also happened to be the last thing on board, yet to be completed. And only then I realized why, as other illos came and got their due and went, this poor thing kept hanging around. It wasn't going to work. I had started it too early, be fore I'd decided I'd have uniform, continuous borders on all the pieces to tie them together. (No, not the same border for all the illos. Something like an ongoing 'sto- ryboard' effect, actually.) And then I'd tried changing the whole composition of this thing to try and make it conform to the new guidelines. As a result, it got worked over so much that it now looks dirty, patched. Besides, I was never happy with Zax's face in the first place. Thus, it's a casualty. There is another illo now taking its place, illustrating not this scene anymore... but another one close to it. (Ever tried starting a whole new illo from scratch right before a deadline? Take it from me, do your nerves a favor and don't.) [6]
art in issue #7 by eaf
songvid suggestions from issue #7
  • a fan encourages another to use one of her OCs, though she has some stipulations:
    I also like [E F's] opening scene for Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude. [E], feel free to incorporate Sara Godley Bodie into your story. Creating believeable original characters is one of the harder tasks of fan fiction. The media characters are so firmly established and instantly visualized by the readers and it's very hard to develop characters who measure up to the series characters. So I'm very flattered that you found Sara (who only showed up in the photo album in "Crazy Quilt") interesting and real enough that you want to use her in one of your stories. If you're borrowing my Sara hook, line, and sinker you're ten years off in her age; she was born in 1890 and would be 75, not 65 when Bodie was 13. Increasing Sara's age also adds to her reasons for accepting Sir Long's offer to raise Bodie/ as it would be very difficult for a 75 year old woman to properly look after a highly active 13 year old. Sara could also have recently been told by her doctor that she's terminally ill (possibly some form of cancer). Sara would then see Sir Long's offer as a blessing; Bodie would be.well provided for after she was gone, and if he" went to stay with his other grandfather immediately he would not have to suffer through the death of yet another family member — I can see Sara keeping her illness from Bodie. Anyway, Bodie goes to live with his grandfather, and they have a series of clashes of will, both being stubborn and used to getting their own way. You mentioned needing a final straw as a reason for Bodie to run away. Bodie eventually finds out about Sara's illness at some point. Things can come to a head when Sara dies and Long tells Bodie he can't attend the funeral because he requires the boy's presence elsewhere for some reason. Bodie attends Long's function, then packs his bags, stops at the cemetery to visit his grandmum's grave and takes off for the merchant marine, or whatever.

  • a new fan comments:
    The elf story, Half World Mercenary, was a new one to me. From what I've been told, this fandom thrives on alternate universes and strange goings on. And you really love to trash these guys, don't you? Man, I thought we were hard on Harrison and Paul, but you are really good!!! In "War", the character of Ironhorse killed himself to save the lives of his friends, but why kill off Bodie (he seems to get it most often any way) when you don't have to. I know, great angst, right?... [She adds] I like"/" but not for sex. I enjoy a story where the fact that they sleep together is just part of the setting.

  • a fan discusses POV in a letter titled "Point of View: A Topic for Rational Discussion" -- one tiny excerpt:
    ... writers must make perfectly clear whose POV they are in. (Avoid grabbing readers by the scruff of the neck and shaking till they catch on. The real world should never intrude on a story.)

  • a fan tells this this zine's editor:
    I would suggest you do not give free issues, full stop. You are not a charity. Furthermore, this is a workshop zine where writers are trying out unfinished fragments of stories. Why should they receive a free issue when they are asking for advice in continuing with the piece? Nor do I think that letter writers should receive anything free. I write to a number of letterzines and do not expect to receive a free issue if my letter is printed. If, however, someone writes an article such as your Writing in British, then that's a different matter.

  • the editor points out that it's okay to be picky in this zine:
    As far as making grammatical and word choice corrections and suggestions to the writers— [R], stop apologizing for doing this. Yes, we all know that most of the offerings here in Cold Fish are not as polished as they might be when finished, but if you don't point these things out, some people might go around thinking they've done all right and never know the difference. I hope we are trying to educate as well as entertain here. I for one, and I've heard this from others, welcome this kind of comment. Just don't start correcting word choice in the LoCs. (Ever notice how much we use the word "interesting"? Or the phrase "I like this"?)

  • about TPTB and differing expectations about fannish appropriation:
    ... I don't think a distinction should be made in "stealing universes" between the printed word and shows on television. In either case, this is something that does not "belong" to us. The distinction comes in whether any creator cares if we are borrowing. Many do not. Some do. Apparently more professional writers object than tv producers. Yes, this makes sense when you think about it. Morally, we should listen to the creator's objections. Emotionally, it is difficult to do this, especially when we look at ourselves as a very small percentage of the population with no real influence or clout. Some producers choose to ignore us, some want to interact; there have been those who forbid part or all of our "borrowing". That is their right. There are also writers who encourage fannish participation. And, as you point out, there are those who don't. I don't want to get in a big discussion about this question. I just wanted to point out that the difference lay in whether the creator invites you to play in their backyard, not in what medium you are dealing with. Most don't want to know about it "officially"; as long as we don't call attention to ourselves, we are tolerated. As they say, it's easier to ask forgiveness than per mission. (Don't get me wrong: I uphold the right of any creator to tell us to cease and desist).

Draft Stories, Poems, and Art:

  • Fawlty Reasoning by Mystery Frank
  • Untitled by Alys
  • Whistling from MacBeth by Kate Santovani
  • Tell Me by Robbie
  • Been So Long on Lonely Street by Emily Ross (She notes that there is a prior segment in British Takeaway #2, though this is an error. It is in British Takeaway #3.)
  • A Dog's Life by Gena Fisher
  • Too Late by Robbie Sturm
  • Flesh for Fantasy, this time a full-page piece by Suzan Lovett for Master of the Revels, along with her commentary
  • art by eaf


  • Paperback Writer, article about writer's block by Kate (reprinted in A Writers' Exchange #1 as "Tackle That Block")
  • If I Can Dream (vague story suggestions from fans)
  • I Want My MTV (songvid ideas with lyrics, commentary, and suggested scenes from episodes)
  • Cammie, Tell Me True (fans ask questions about vocabulary, Pros fan news, phrases, fiction reviews...)

Issue 8

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 8 was published in 1991 and contains 30 pages.

cover of issue #8
art from issue #8, eaf
  • the editor writes:
    If you look at the following pages, you'll see that this letterzine is a little short. But since we've had some issues hit fifty and sixty pages, it all averages out in the end. Just one thing — you gotta write 'em if you wanna get 'em. You also may get tired of listening to me go on and on and on.... Well, you know the cure to that, too. And that's all I'm going to say about that. About my going on and on. I invite anyone to write their opinion on anything, at any length, the longer the better. I am grateful to all of you who express ideas. If I answer with a particularly long discourse, it is just that I'm long-winded. I also may be wrong (oh, horrors!) and invite rebuttal at any time. Specifically, I support [N B's] ideas about writing in other people's universes, and [C S's] on point of view.

  • a fan has been encouraged:
    Oh my! One of the reasons I've been enjoying myself so much with Pros fandom is that I didn't have the slightest desire to write the stuff. I was simply an avid consumer. Now, after reading through all seven issues of Cold Fish in quick succession, that's all changed. Thanks. (I think.) Now I've got this story hovering about going, "Write me! Write me!" and several little snippets fermenting in the dark corners of my brain.

  • a fan writes:
    My favorite type of stories always involve mixing either real life characteristics of the actors into the series, or crossing something else the actor has done with the main universe. Since I'm very new to this fandom I was wondering if anyone had done a story involving Bodie with the Beatles. It would be so funny to have a story where for one reason or other CI5 is mixed up with a Paul McCartney concert (death threat, bombing?), and it comes to light that Bodie knows the rock singer. Lew Collins was involved in the music business at the right time and place, so it would be easy to figure Bodie into the picture. How 'bout if young Bodie had met the Quarrymen, practiced with them and been accepted into the group, then the unfortunate event which caused him to flee England at the tender age of 14 occurred and Paul and John had to recruit Pete Best as their drummer. Doyle's reactions would be priceless — his partner, the fifth Beatle!

  • about writing in other fans' universes:
    Nice response to [N's] comments. I think you've persuaded me that the difference whether or not someone notices that you're playing in their backyard and makes a fuss over it. On a slightly related note, it seems that the Pros library contains a lot of scenes by one author and sequels by another. Is there some sort of implicit agreement that if a story is in the library, it's okay for other people to play around in that universe? In which case, those of us with a slash orientation just have to wait for all of the Neighborhood stories to show up there before we write our own versions.

  • more about other fans' universes:
    I know I'm taking this example to the extreme. I wouldn't do it. But what about the new fan three years from now who doesn't know any better, and starts writing slash sequels because "it seemed to be going that way". [the editor interjects: For your information, the Neighborhood stories from BT#1 and BT#2 are in the library. And if you, [A], want to write slash versions of any of the Neighborhood stories, you have my permission as long as I get a copy, and it's understood that I didn't write them (which would go for any story that I didn't write). This is an interesting point that I will say more on in the next issue, since I'm trying not to take advantage of my position as editor. I would like feedback from other authors as to how they would feel about other fannish writers writing in "their" universes.]

  • a fan chimes in on the debate, and argues a bit with herself, about whether to offer free copies of the letterzine to tribbers:
    As to the question of "to free or not to free" (give free copies of Cold Fish to contributors).... I agree that maybe the letter writers shouldn't get a free copy, but then again ... where do you draw the line? I'd say about 95% of the letters do contain helpful criticism for the people seeking advice on their stories — and after all isn't that the whole point of this zine? And remember, without the story fragments, "flawed" stories, "problem" poetry, filks, etc., there wouldn't BE a Cold Fish. It really is a zine written by the fans, just like a regular zine. So why not give trib copies? I know this isn't the regular procedure for letterzlnes, but then this was never a regular sort of letterzine, either. And there is at least one other l/zine that does give free issues to fiction writers: Partners and Friends, the Houston Knights publication.

  • a fan comments on a sort of early vid-on-paper: "Thanks to [name redacted] for matching video clips to her MTV selection. I like these the best when you get visuals."

Draft Stories:

  • Wee Bit o' Comfort by Sue-Anne Hartwick
  • Untitled by Ruth Schubert
  • Fragment from Close Call by Sue Wells
  • Flesh for Fantasy by Ellen Farris
  • ...And What I have Failed to Do by Kate Nuernberg

Issue 9

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 9 was published in 1991 and contains 41 pages.

cover of issue #9
  • a fan comments on fanon confusion: "I first got into this fandom through B/D stories in mixed media zines and then the lending library. I think it was over a year before I saw an episode and it was very confusing at times. I had no way to tell what was in the series and what was the author's addition."
  • a fan writes that "I've had a songtape idea for years: scenes of Starsky, Doyle, Blake , Tarrant to the song "Hair"; and Doyle scenes to "Good Morning Starshine..."
  • the editor writes:
    Cold Fish does not print anything that is currently or will in the future be in print elsewhere. A fragment is fine, or some scene that has been pulled, or something that is now out of print. As an editor, I call this double submission and would resent it if I were giving out free copies of a zine for something the readers have already seen. As a reader, I would object to paying for something I'd already read as well. I sympathise with the author who wants some feedback, or to start a discussion, but you'll have to figure out some other way to do this.

  • a fan writes:
    I am, perhaps, inclined to give more leeway to writers of fan-fiction than I am to people who write for pay. I think writing fan-fiction can give a writer a chance to get started when he or she might not have that chance otherwise. It also provides a place for those who have something to say but have no wish to go on to bigger, brighter, more profitable writing careers. Is the writing produced by beginners and amateurs less polished than one might wish? Yes. It can still be worth reading. I also think that anything which sparks creativity, which spurs people to get up and do something, make something, which gets people up off the couch and out from in front of the TV has to be a Good Thing. Tirade over.

  • fans comment more about fan fic sequels:
    Authorized' sequels... as long as it's made clear, either by byline or implicit textural clues, that the sequel is by someone else, I don't mind someone borrowing my universe. It's not like it's going to be returned damaged. I have to admit, though, that I would like a clearer statement in zines when the sequel is by someone else. In the Public Interest (I think) has a lovely Poison Apple sequel, which I don't think is by the original author, but I'm not sure. Good story, too, except for the ending, which I don't buy, nosir, nohow, noway.

  • a fan makes her wishes about RPF known:
    I am 100% opposed to bringing in anything like the actors' characteristics or real-world accomplishments into the fan-fiction (of ANY fandom. I didn't like Dr. Who running into Tom Baker at a con or Paul changing places with Avon or Shatner meets Kirk). I think this is treading on very tenuous ground because you will always get someone who will whine "How could you hurt/make fun of Martin, Lewis, Paul, Scott, stories for me (though, thankfully, we don't see it very much) because those stories tend to get sophomoric at best — smarmy or cloying at the least. That's not to say I have anything against, say, a Pros/New Avengers cross. Or the Pam Rose story "Double Vision", which brings in Skellen from "Final Option". That comes under cross-universe and, in that case, the universes mix. Now, I personally can't stand crossing Zax with anything but that's because I can't stand Zax; he's miserable excuse for a person with no saving graces whatsoever. But to have, say, Doyle attending a Martin Shaw play or Bodie double dating with Collins, brings in an element of "fannlsh cute" that I find a total turnoff.

  • more about fans writing in other fan's universes:
    I would be very upset if someone started writing sequels to my stories, or in my created universe in general, without asking me beforehand, and I'd want to approve it before it got published. This is because nearly all of my stories exist in one, continuous universe; I use facts established in one story in the next one, building and weaving until my characters and universe are complete. Theoretically (hopefully?), by the time someone has read several of my stories they have a rounded picture, although one of my goals is to make sure each story stands completely on its own no matter what. My Starsky and Hutch story, "Prometheus Unchained" coming out in PI3, for example, follows in the post-Sweet Revenge universe I set up for the next issue of Southern Lights, but stands on its own nonetheless. Someone writing in my universe something which is going to conflict with what I have established or wish to establish at a future time wthey were doing something I didn't want them to do. [blush].

  • one fan compliments another:
    [R], my dear, very good! So many people write hurt/comfort (or hurt, in this case) with no goal other than to trash the character of their choice, and no concept of the physical and/or psychological implications involved in their actions. Quite obviously, you do, using tried and true methods which would realistically break even the strongest personality.

  • a fan complains of the Everybody's Gay trope as she comments on another's story:
    [S-A H], you're absolutely right -- that story does not work as a Pros characterization. Setting aside the most AMAZING coincidence of THREE of the top macho guys in a top macho organization JUST HAPPENING to be homosexual ALL AT ONCE (Wow! I'm calling Ripley's on that one one!), the characterizations were off)...Speaking of Mr. Macho, Bodie bursting into tears? In Cowley's arms? And needing you-know-what then and there? Sorry, kid, it's just too much more that what the characters would allow even in the most extreme of all circumstances, and you're talking to someone who lives for the hurt/comfort of those extreme circumstances, so no one is going to go farther for the sake of a schmooze than I am...

  • a fan writes about other writing in other fans' universes:
    Also, what is the consensus about writing in other people's universe? I myself don't feel it's wrong, if there is a story or set of stories out there and I want to jump in, I wouldn't feel bad doing it. I would put across that it was my chapter and tell who wrote the beginning, give credit where credit is due. I was very shocked the other day because I got a letter from someone in WOW fandom who wanted to use part of a story I wrote to work in theirs. I had just discussed this at MW and [D H] had said the same thing. I just feel that if I created a universe and someone else started writing in it, that wouldn't bother me. I'd just write something else if I didn't like the way they had done it — the official version. If something you write generates ideas and discussions (verbal or written) isn't that something good? I like for people to think about what I write even if it's only a little dumb humor. And if they feel compelled to write, what's the harm?

Draft Stories:

  • The World in His Eye by Gena Fisher
  • Hidden Between the Lines by Kris Brown
  • Safekeeping by Ellen Farris
  • A Well-Used Room by Alyx
  • Everybody Loves a Clown by Kris Brown
  • The Hidden Heart by Gena Fisher (response to Consequences)
  • Quiet Time by Sue Wells
  • In the Rest Room by Alyx

Issue 10

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 10 was published in 1991 (most likely December, as the editor refers to it as a Christmas gift, submission deadline for the next issue is February) and contains 56 pages. The editor notes this issue is exceptionally large and compares it to a phone book.

This issue is the last one to contain "I Want My MTV," a feature where fans offer up song ideas, along with lyrics, for Pros songvids.

cover of issue #10
  • a fan explains her stance on a fan writing in another's universe:
    On writing a sequel to someone else's story, or in someone else's timeline or "universe": the issues here, for me, are twofold. First, writers should get appropriate credit (or blame) for their creations; a sequel-writer should not seem to have originated what she adopted from someone else, and the original author should not be thought to have written the sequel if she didn't. Second, it should be clear to readers, especially in an on-going series or "universe", whether some stories are "not in the timeline," are less authoritative, than others. There's a third point which is that authors have a moral, even if not legal, interest in their creations. So I think that anyone wanting to circulate or publish a sequel to someone else's story has the obligation to ask that person's permission. The original author has the right to require a credit line: "'Morning Headache' by Phillippa Hepplethwaite, a sequel to 'Midnight Joy' by Cindy Candy." If the original author is planning a series, or if she doesn't agree with the way her characters were used, she can indicate this in the credit line with "an unofficial sequel," or "not in the 'Night and Day' series." She may need to see a copy of the sequel before deciding on the exact phrasing. Given these protections, it's hard for me to imagine circumstances which would entitle the original author to refuse permission to a would-be sequel-writer. If she does, however, then the second author can write it for fun and only show it to a few friends, or change it so that it no longer relies on the first story. It's rude for the first author to refuse permission when assured of proper crediting, but ruder for the second to publish the sequel anyway. In some cases, this doesn't apply. If the first story was determinedly anonymous, or if thorough and determined search has failed to locate the author, then the sequel-writer need only state the original story's title and author, if known. And some stories are already in the public domain, so to speak: the best example I know is "Consequences."

  • another fan comments on writing in another fan's universe:
    I've been in fandom some years now and have literally hundreds of friends and/or contacts, many of whom have been writing at least half as long as I've been alive. I put the question about and the consensus has been so far universal with my own feelings on the subject. The words "plagiarism" and "stealing" were the less emotionally evocative ones used. "Why would they want to steal my universe?" "Why can't they create something of their own?" "I wish they'd plagiarise someone else." "I'd be very upset...." and so on in that vein. The exception was the one I mentioned last letter and that is if permission was asked beforehand from that universe's creator, as well as giving them final say as to whether the story sees print once it's finished in case the details go contrary to the creator's concepts or plans for further writing. Anything beyond that was greeted with extreme irritation and, if I must admit it, I would be horribly upset to be treated any different as well. So, please, if you're planning on taking someone else's universe to write in, ask them first and be prepared to accept a no. It is only courteous.

  • a fan comments on the possible double standard regarding professional writers and fan writers --
    There's a possible objection that I've seen raised to this requirement for permission, namely that we aren't bothering to ask permission of Brian Clemens or any of the other copyright owners and creators whose work we are appropriating, sometimes even over their protests. But I think the situation between fan writers is entirely different. For one thing, we are not in competition with Brian Clemens. What we do with his characters does not affect the way they are generally perceived; while an out-of-tune sequel, if not identified as unofficial, may disrupt the reception of further stories the original author wanted to circulate in that timeline. Also, there's little danger of people not knowing what was due to Clemens or whoever and what is original to the author; but there is a risk that fan writers will be Identified with stories they didn't write. (If someone wrote a sequel to a story of mine and didn't indicate on it that she wasn't me, I would be upset, because of the risk that people who had read the first one would assume that I wrote the second too. This would be true even if I liked the sequel.)

  • a fan comments on a pro novel that had first been a fanzine:
    Mel Keegan's Ice, Wind and Fire is not the only fan novel to have been rewritten and published, of course. There's another which is an almost word-for-word copy of an S/H novel. Afraid I don't remember the title or author of either the zine or the pro novel, but if you see it on store shelves you'll know it — the cover art is by a well-known fan artist (credited only as "Jean") and shows Starsky, Hutch, and Bodie. I don't think the third character in the story was meant to be Bodie (it's a wildly a/u version of him, if so), but it does make the cover memorable, and justifies my mentioning it in Fish & Chips.. perhaps someone else knows it too and can identify it.

  • fans discuss a story fragment in a previous issue in which Bodie cries -- one comment:
    Men rarely sob, they sometimes sniffle, but the 'cry' by their eyes filling and overflowing down their cheeks. To reuce most men to sobbing requires emotional devastation. For a man like Bodie to cry at all would be a loss of control, and a Bodie our control would be frightening. And dangerous.

  • a fan is thrilled to see a familiar name pop up as the author of a letter here:
    But, but... didn't I just see you in B7 fandom? WOW fandom? S&H fandom? Voyage fandom? Ghostbusters fandom? Alfred Hitchcock... no, uh, that was Lewis Collins. And here I was multi-tasking was for computers. I'll never be alone in any fandom I ever join. Wait long enough and you'll be there too!

  • a fan writes of the recent ZebraCon:
    Well, Zebra Con was interesting, but I was surprised by the small showing of S&H fandom. I haven't seen that show since it was broadcast but found it highly enjoyable. I made my friend [name redacted] sit through several episodes and had to endure her complaints of 'But they're NOT Bodie and Doyle!' But I really liked that show.

  • a fan has some updates for other fans:
    PROs cons and zines: IDICon in Houston is defunct, the concom got burnt out after doing the last one a few years ago and they haven't revived it yet. I think that Weekend in the Country is also no longer in operation; it was cancelled for this year (1991) at least. The zine list also has two people that I have discovered it is best to deal with in person only, with the zine actually in your hands: [L P] and [S W].

  • a fan quips about prolific fanfic writers:
    I also wonder how all those prolific authors write so many stories, especially Jane. How does she do it? I have three pet theories: either she's a wealthy widow who doesn't work for a living, or she doesn't sleep, or she's actually a dozen different Australian writers who collaborate ceaselessly.

  • another fan comments on prolific fans:
    Okay, here I go. I'm going to put my foot in my mouth and shove it WAY down my throat. My suspicion is that the majority of the most prolific writers in any fandom can be that prolific simply because they do not, as [A] does, "tune it up". Rewriting and editing yourself takes a lot of time. Let me add that there is nothing wrong with this approach, if that is the level at which you want to operate. An author may simply want to get the story and its emotions down on the paper. It can be very emotionally satisfying to the reader, an evocative and cathartic experience, even if it is not "technically" perfect (or even close to perfect). An advantage to this way of thinking is the fact that you can create for yourself a hell of a writer's block trying to "edit" before you've written.

  • another comment on prolific fans:
    Some of you in your letters expressed amazement and wonder over the more prolific writers in fandom. There is another important reason for this: these writers are committed and make writing an important part of what they do every day. I don't know their personal habits, and don't even have anyone specific in mind. But you can't write like that without that commitment. And it doesn't take being independently wealthy. It just takes a good, hard look at your schedule and a shoehorn to drag just that little extra time out of it. And a lot of stick-to-it-ness.

  • a fan is concerned about:
    ...the current trend of dissecting a person, a story to the point of nastiness. Yes, sometimes the author needs something pointed out or shown to her, but if I remember correctly from CF#1, the point of this zine is also to get published those little tidbits and unfinished stories that would otherwise never see the light of day. I have a bad habit of starting stories and letting them languish. When Kate started this zine, I thought I'd love to share some of my old tidbits with others, but I don't want them dissected to death. If you liked it, fine, thank you very much. If you didn't, tell me why, but don't go into a four-page discourse on the fact that France didn't have slaver boats in the 17th century! I don't want to rile anyone, and I'm sure some authors love to get that kind of feedback, but I just want to share some ideas with you guys. No hard feelings, okay?

  • a fan's concern over other Cold Fish fans getting too picky and serious in their feedback causes the editor to remind others to perhaps be more moderate and understanding:
    Thanks, [M]. I needed that. I have in the past pointed out that the authors who appear on these pages are writing on all kinds of levels. Part of what we do is print a piece that someone has just dashed off to express an idea. This is not polished writing that has been labored over, necessarily. Some people just want to share an idea and the fun. There is a lot more to be said for that sometimes than a laborious critique (although those are appreciated, too, and part of what we do here.) I think we could solve this by having the author tell us, on each individual piece, what kind of critique and comments they are looking for. And don't be intimidated to tell us that you don't want any feedback at all! Or if you don't want any comments on your grammar, thank you. That's perfectly legitimate.

Draft Stories:

  • Serbiton in Orbit, or Another Alternate Universe Goes Nova by Lois McDowell
  • Compulsions by Alys and Alyx
  • One Man's Poison by Liane Beck
  • Lonely Street sequel, segment #2 by Emily Ross
  • A Sense of Duty by Sue-Anne Harwick
  • Let Down by Shoshanna ("I'm currently working on a long story (I expect it to reach forty thousand words) showing the guys working through some complicated issues centering on their ideas of friendship, sexuality, and homophobia..." this is a draft fragment of some of Never Let Me Down)
  • Fire to Quench the Ice by Robin Goodfellow
  • Burnout by Eileen Roy
  • I Tried, Noel by Mystery Frank (a fragment meant to go in Across the Table, but the author admits she "couldn't seem to make it work")


  • I Want My MTV
  • Paperback Writer by Alys, about critiquing fan fiction as it is being written, how to edit

Issue 11

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 11 was published in 1992 and contains 58 pages.

cover of issue #11
  • a fan writes at great length of The Hunting, see that page
  • a fan writes of men crying:
    As for Bodie crying I still don't know. Fanfiction is so different from the aired canon and I don't mean just slash. I'd really like to see the guy just cut loose and bawl his eyes out (on the screen) but he's so good at the I'm-laughing-on-the- outside-but-crying-on-the-inside look, but when you write something it's so hard to put on paper the expression that would say it on the television. So, sometimes writers go over the top with the action to get the point across, especially when they're starting out (like me).

  • fan comments on a Pros trope and famous story:
    As any story which uses The Game as a base often loses me (cause I can't stand the very idea of it — it strikes me as a really, really macho dumb), I welcome a story that explores some other trauma. I personally am turned off by The Game. I keep wondering where did anyone get the idea that mercenaries bugger each other at all, let alone play a form of "rape poker?" Not saying it doesn't happen, but in Pros fan fiction it always seems to happen to Bodie. He rides with it or is twisted by it. I much more buy the idea of a lone rape attempt — much more traumatizing I should think than when everybody's going along with one game and you know you'll be on one end of the stick or the other but everyone is in the same boat so it is virtually "acceptable." But take a young Bodie, who's a good mere and mucho manly and have a loner attack him; yeah, I think that'd be more believable and likely to stick in his psyche.

  • a fan writes:
    You're not the only one who believes that "Jane" is a cooperative...!

  • a fan, [H G], writes about the current debate on writing in other fans' universes and unauthorized sequels:
    I've been interested by the debate regarding sequelling someone else's work. When it's happened to me I've taken it as a terrific compliment, as much for the fact someone else took my work seriously enough to think about it as for any other reason. I'm puzzled that anyone should get hot under the collar about the idea; we don't have a copyright on these guys, we just play with them (happy thought). As these days the majority of stories contain the author's name I don't see where the confusion could arise. Obviously, as [S] suggests, in on-going universes a simple "inspired by" makes it plain that the story is outside mainframe — as, oh joy, [L] has done. Incidentally, I'm looking forward to reading the other vignettes (and [K's] comments). As for asking the original author's permission, no one ever asked mine, nor did it occur to me that they should have done.

  • another fan has this to say about unauthorized sequels, this time tying their legitimacy to origin:
    On the subject of should you do a sequel to someone else's story. I have a theory about that! I think it depends on the source of the story. If you read it in a zine, it is possible, through the zine editor, to locate the au thor. You should definitely do so before you put out a story set in that per son's universe. For the most part, if you identify the origin and state plainly that it is a sequel not in the author's universe, the author will not mind. It is harder to write stories off the circuit. Often, the origin of the story is completely lost. Only half the time is there an author listed, a date is even more rare, and I have even read two that did not even have titles. Finding the author is harder here. People put stories into the circuit for different reasons than they put them into zines. Passing them around gives the author much more freedom to experiment, to show around only part of a story, to play with factors which might not be acceptable in a zine. It is less structured. At its best, it is very often one person's story, straight from the gut, flaws and all. A zine story has been filtered through at least one person: the editor. Very often this improves a story, at least in the grammar/typing/spelling areas. Some times an editor's typo or presentation, or late printing can harm a story. I know a fan who had parts two and three of a trilogy appear before part one because of an editor's problems. These things happen. If you want total control of your story's final form, though, it is best to pass them around. The stories sent out this way often get read more widely than those in zines. They go far and they go longer. But if it is in the pass-around format, it is in some ways more in the public domain than a zine-printed story, and it is more likely to have a sequel by someone not the author. Does anyone see this differently? At any rate, I think this is why older fans, who started with the zine-based fandom, might feel more strongly about somebody doing se quels to their work.

  • another fan has this to say about writing in another fan's universe:
    Since I originally brought up "playing in someone else's backyard" discussion, I thought I'd drop in my two cents' worth: I'd be flattered if some one wanted to write in a universe I'd created. It's not a big deal for me as I consider fandom to be one gigantic "shared universe" to begin with. However, the "visiting" author had better be prepared to let me act as "editorial consultant." ... If I did come up with a universe that I didn't want anyone else to play in, I'd probably rewrite the thing and submit it for professional publication.

  • a fan is looking for some condensation of fiction:
    There were a fine selection of segments this month, though I seem to have run out of space to do them justice in comment. Incidently, if stories, fragments of which have appeared in CFSC are going to be published in a zine or go on the circuit would it be possible to have a section in Cold Fish which mentions this? With the best will in the world I can't afford all the zines which come out, but there are some stories which I'd love to read when they're finished.

  • a fan comments on the current debate in this letterzine on POV and has a theory about a writer's nationality:
    On the subject of point of view, I have mixed feelings. It is one of my weaknesses, and I don't know as much about the subject as I would like. I do think some stories benefit from being told in a certain pov. I also do think first person is the most dnagerous for an American writing in a British based universe. With another pov it is easier to mask a natural ignorance which comes from basing stories in another culture/country. There have been perfectly wonderful stories written this way, in which the relationship was the focal point, and so the setting could be less specific. I sometimes think that is the reason for so many A/U stories— it is easier to write about what you know. At any rate, for first person, you must know what your character knows - - the names of everything, the attitudes, the slang, the very thoughts that a person of that background must have. It can be tricky. I think that is why first person stories are often relatively short, too (though there are excep tions to every rule!). So you have to pick a pov based not only on what you want to reveal about your characters, but on your own abilities. A pov which doesn't work can adversely affect the story to the point that the reader turns off. You also might have to choose pov based on your own writing habits. Some writers know exactly how their story will go from the first word. Others start with a basic idea and as they write, they build the story. Not knowing exactly which char acters or situations will be in the end result, it is better to start from a point of view which can be adapted as you go along. First person can get you into trouble if you realize belatedly that you can't say what you want to say with it, half into the story!

  • a fan discusses the problem of writing women in Pros fanfiction:
    ... the subject which came up in connection with the character of Cassie. I think it is be cause the type of women Bodie and Doyle are shown with are not the type which can be elaborated on and developed. To introduce an intelligent and interest ing woman, opposite of what they seem to go for, is hard because you have to go against known facts. The women they are shown having real relationships with, such as Marikka for Bodie and Ann Holly for Doyle, are not necessarily likable and they don't have much in conmon with Bodie and Doyle. To invent a woman likely to appeal to either of our heroes and appeal to the general readership as well is an almost impossible task, because you re going up against what is established in the show, and you are going up against the reader's preconceived notions of what such a woman would have to be. This makes writing a heterosexual love interest one of the hardest things a fan writer can do.

  • Alyx writes about Escapade:
    When we were at Escapade II last weekend, [A] and I managed to see the Cluedo episode you mentiond. It was fun, but thanks for the Collins warning. The con was great, and had lots of interest for the Pros fan. Oblique has a new B/D zine out, with each story set at Christmas and each one inspired by a Dickens novel! Would I lie? They promise that every story has a happy ending. I haven't read it yet but Nancy read one story aloud at the con — kind of Doyle meets the three Ghosts of Christmas — and it was great. The con had a lovely panel on Pros "canon." The panelists read things like: Doyle eats health food, and people decided whether it was from the shows or from fandom (or from Clemens' outline, but not backed up by the show.) The only ep the showed was "Rogue" (yeachhhhhh), and when I asked why, the concern said "Bodie's bone colored pants, I could just die..." and I let it go at that. Jane stories I have ever read, on a subject I didn't expect from her.

  • a fan writes:
    I will not get into the plagiarism case. I was one of the zine-eds who received a letter from Papasan Lucas years ago about the liberal use of his characters. End of subject.

Draft Stories:

  • Serbiton in Orbit: Chapter on "Like Breathing" continued by Lois McDowell
  • Untitled by Karen Eaton
  • Asshole on the Roof by Gena Fisher
  • The odd Couple--A Reunion by [L.P.]
  • Left Holding a Stuffed Bunny by [K.R.]
  • A Silent and Watchful Eye by Mystery Frank

Issue 12

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 12 was published in 1992 (submission deadline for next issue is December 1992) and contains 52 pages.

cover of issue #12
  • a fan comments on The Hunting
  • there is much discussion on the process of writing

Draft Stories:

  • Serbiton in Orbit, Chapter 2 "Time to Go Home" by Lois McDowell
  • Scrambled Dominoes by Sue Wells
  • The Field by April Pentland
  • Tested in the Crucible by Kate Santovani
  • A Chink in the Wall (part six) by Kate Nuernberg
  • Sword for Hire: A Tale of Long Ago by Felicity M. Parkinson

Issue 13

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 13 was published in 1993 and contains 36 pages.

front page of issue #13
  • this issue has an article: "Paperback Writer, Dot, Dot, Dot" by Joan Martin discusses punctuation in writing
  • the editor writes that due to real life issues, that she does not know the future of this letterzine after this issue
... I'd like to address what seems to be a recurring problem with this zine, but one that I was unaware of until it was called to my attention: some people are too intimidated to contribute to Cold Fish. They feel that their stories or fragments are going to get torn to shreds by overeager critics. Let me restate what my policies are, and see if we can come to an understanding. I try very hard not to include comments in letters that get nasty or personal. If I don't do such a good job at this, it is because I have been writing in fandom for nine years and I have developed a thick skin. I guess sometimes I don't think criticism is harsh when it might be to some people. I apologize for that. But, from the very beginning. Cold Fish has always been meant as a letterzine where writers can send their work and get comments on it. That is not going to change. That is what I am interested in doing as an editor. I am not interested in merely being a typist and distributor for people who want to see their words in print. That said, (and I hope I haven' t alienated anyone yet) Cold Fish is also a zine where fans can share their ideas and let other fans see unfinished work that might otherwise have languished in a drawer. This work is not polished, not slaved over, nor maybe even read twice by its author . There is nothing wrong So (and I repeat what I have said before) if you do not want your story critiqued, tell us. You will not be considered a wimp or a wuss. There are lots of reasons not to want to be critiqued, and none of us will assume that we know what yours is. However, be prepared not to hear anything about your story. Don't expect that if we like it we'll tell you, and if we don't like it we'll tell you nothing. Life's not like that and neither is Cold Fish.

  • a fan writes of fanac:
    Scholarship has discovered fandom. However one feels about that, the fact remains. The recent publication of Camille Bacon-Smith's Enterprising Women and Henry Jenkins' Textual Poachers make scholarship about fandom a reality. They're a beginning, not an end. The even more recent establishment of the Filk Archive as a part of the Eaton Collection at the University of California at Riverside is another step in making the work of fans available to scholars.

  • there is commentary about The Game and the notion of men talking to each other:
    Now [C] has a question: does anybody know what fan writer originated The Game? The concept of this whimsical past-time is so widely used and so deeply embedded in the Pros genre that some people believe it's canon, but somebody, somewhere, must have come up with it first. [C] has a Theodore Sturgeon Award for Incredibly Apposite Literary Inventions (so named in honor of the creator of pon farr and Sturgeon's Law) waiting for her, if she can ever find out who to give it to. Sure, The Game is fantasy; all this stuff is fantasy. If we were to eschew fantasy in favor of hard realism, do you realize what the first casualties would be? Not the sex scenes, necessarily, (though we'd probably lose the best ones!) but the "pub scenes," as Madame Editor has christened them. Like [L D's] lovely Bodie-and-Tom vignette from last issue. Want to know the sure-fire, dead-giveaway sign that a story is veering into fantasy? Quotation marks. The sad fact is, if you exclude sports and politics (and if only we could!), real men in real life do not Talk to Each Other. That's why they have wars. That's why they make 'G' movies with 17-minute car chases, and 'X' movies with 2-page scripts. And it's probably one of the basic reasons we invented fandom in the first place.

Draft Stories:

  • Home Fires are Still Burning by Gena Fisher (fragment for a story that ended up in Chalk and Cheese)
  • ... haven't got a clue by Kate Santovani
  • Serbiton in Orbit, Unusual Measures by Lois McDowall

Issue 14

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 14 contains 38 pages, date unknown, though certainly after July 1993 and before October 1993 (October is the deadline for the next issue's submissions). Many fans comment on there being a very large gap between issues #13 and #14.

cover of issue #14
  • a number of fans discuss how they physically write: longhand, typewriter, word processor...
  • a fan notes that a number of fragments from this letterzine became things published in zines: "Metal Fatigue (was an untitled poem)," "Open Book," "The Domino Theory," Home Fires Still Burning," and Never Let Me Down
  • "Paperback Writer" by Kate is a professional article from "The Writer" (January 1993) by Wendy Corsi Staub, in which Kate adds her own fannish comments
  • a fan includes many excerpts from a July 1993 article in Time magazine by Jonathan Tolins
  • this issue has a how-to article by Sue Wells about vidding with a VCR -- See Making Music Videos (1993)
  • the editor writes:
    Here we are again. Now #14 that we have managed our first issue, we actually have a schedule, and we will be forging ahead next year and for as long as anyone wants us to be here. I want to thank everyone who sent in letters and stories when I said I might have to quit (and apologise for the delay in feedback on their pieces) and those of you who sent stuff when I said systems were go again. If you notice there isn't quite as much fannish material here, it's undoubtedly because of the uncertainty of production. We have gotten rather "creative" with our features, but I think you'll enjoy what you see. Let me know; we're always interested in opinions... Since we didn't have quite as much to comment on for next issue, I thought we'd try some thing indulged in by other letterzines and see how it works: a topic for next time. Let's talk about Bodie and Doyle's families. What do we know about them from the show? What have fans done with them? What are our favourite stories where they use a family for these two (living or dead?) What are our least favourite inventions that fans have come up with? How do our invented families affect the personalities of the boys? Any and all comments and discussion are welcome, on any aspect of this topic.

  • a fan writes:
    Okay, I'm a snob, but I would hope that we as fannish writers would be above badly used techniques of television writers. Exposition, whether it is narrative or dialogue form, is still exposition and still stops the story just as dead. You've got an added problem if one character tells the other character something they both already know (which I've seen done on television). I like Alys' idea of letting the reader pick up on what's happening from contextual clues. Problem: this is not only hard to read because you have to pay attention, but it's hard to write. Are you really getting across what you need to say? Are your references too subtle? Are you expecting your readers to do too much work or make extrapolations you haven't really given enough info for? Best to let someone read this cold and see if they get confused or have questions -- don't coach them!

  • a fan comments on her disinterest in pleasing future acafans:
    ... on ellipses. I'm all for using punctuation correctly, but quite frankly, the last thing I'm going to worry about is whether my use of the ellipsis is going to get confused with some scholar's use thereof. I'm not writing my stories to be studied, I'm writing them to be understood by the reader. I wonder what the scholar would make of some of our old fannish traditions when no one had a computer or even a typewriter that could utilise more than one typeface. Internal word-for-word thought was rife throughout most fannish stories, and it was difficultto make it understood just when this happened. The practice of using double slash marks (//) - before and after the thought - became universal. [7]

  • Sandy Hereld writes:
    Definitely the best new stuff on the circuit is the final third of the Fox and Wolf universe - Jane Carnell's Bodie/Cowley trilogy. (Unfortunate title — Fanny Adams wrote a very unusual set of B/D stories called the Fox and Wolf universe.) The ending, "As Games Are Played" lives up to the high standard of the first two parts: "Lest These Dark Days" and "This Classical Dilemma". (Also, a warning: "Look Through Mine Eyes" is also by Jane Carnell and also B/C, but it is not in that universe, and it is one of the most wrenching stories I think I have read in fandom — don't read while depressed.)

Draft Stories:

  • A Rock and a Hard Place by Skye
  • Fragment by Joan Martin
  • Same Time, Different Channels by Sue Wells
  • A Reason to Celebrate by Londa Pfeffer
  • Two Unrelated Stories by Sandy Hereld
  • Deadlier Than the Male by Gena Fisher
  • On the Dark Side of the Glass by Kate Nuernberg

Issue 15

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 15 was published in November 1993 and contains 26 pages.

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 16

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 16 was published in February 1994.

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 17

front page of issue #17

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 17 was published in May 1994 and contains 25 pages.

  • a fan writes: "I recall heated, acrimonious discussion among B/D people when zines were first proposed, claiming that zines would do in the circuit stories. Potential editors said a) no, they wouldn't, b) who cares. Zines appeared and the circuit died. There's a moral in there somewhere, but lady knows what it is."
  • a fan writes of her own decline in writing LoCs:
    I think there has been a general slacking off in the LOC-ing department. Other than Cold Fish I haven't written a detailed LOC to a zine since (gasp) Chalk and Cheese 5. Why? I could take the high road and say, "Hey! I write the stuff, d'you expect me to do everything?" But the truth is, I've been too lazy to do it I keep on procrastinating and putting it off, and the next thing I know, the next issue of the zine's out and the whole cycle starts again. Anyway, I have resolved to actually carry through and start LOCing again. I hereby take the AL3LY pledge: At Least Three LOCS a Year -- anyone else want to sign up?

  • a fan writes of genre:
    I am not anti-slash because I write only straight stories. I've read a couple thousand B/D stories by now. and I've enjoyed or liked a good chunk of them. Based on their backgrounds, I can see that Bodie and Doyle could be gay and could end up with a sexual relationship. What I object to is the idea that this conclusion is INEVITABLE, that there's no way they can have a caring, committed relationship without it turning sexual. I don't see the televised Bodie and Doyle as gay and I don't write them that way. I try to write stories that fit in with the series portrayal of the characters, and at the same time deliver a story that is satisfying on some level to the reader.

  • on the universal story and epithets:
    I was intrigued by [S W's] idea about doing the same story as a Pros and a Starsky and Hutch. My dream is to figure out some day, for the fun of it, a universal story, which would work perfectly no matter what pair of names you slid into it. Basically, it would involve figuring out what each set of characters had absolutely in common. I've never done it. Not only do I suspect it would be a heck of a lot of work, but I think it might be too bland or washed out when it was done. Lots of "the boss" instead of a specific name and that sort of thing. A problem with that is It is opposite of what I like to see in stories. One of my pet peeves is a story in which a character Is too often referred to as "the blond" or "the smaller man" or some such. A few times a story is okay, but after six or seven (I counted over 100 in one story about five years ago!) times I start to really notice it and it disrupts the flow of the story for me.

  • the editor writes:
    I wish people would stop making assumptions. I make them, too, and I wish I would stop. In the last three issues of CF&SC, there have been six slash stories, seven straight stories, one statement that a critiquer doesn't believe slash (attached to no story in particular but her own), and three people admitting to other biases having nothing to do with slash. I'm sorry if anyone (feels a "vaguely antagonistic" air. Most of the contributors and critiquers to Cold Fish are slash, after all, because most Pros fans are slash. There is definitely no prejudice Involved when accepting fragments for publication — I take them all. The one exception was a few years ago when someone sent in half a page in which Bodie and Doyle get out of their car and walk to their front door, with very little by way of conversation. I wholeheartedly agree that an editor is not limited by her tastes, or even her readers' tastes, but by what is contributed. And let's face it, an editor's standards do change in relation to the timeframe available.

Draft Stories:

  • It's the Story by Gena Fisher (a Brady Bunch/Pros story)
  • Curse of the Full Moon by Annie Finagle

Issue 18

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 18 was published in August 1994 and contains 25 pages.

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 19

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 19

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 20

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 20 contains 60 pages.

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 21

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 21

Draft Stories:

  • unknown

Issue 22

Cold Fish and Stale Chips 22

Draft Stories:

  • unknown


  1. ^ from issue #10
  2. ^ from A Writers' Exchange #5
  3. ^ from a longer review in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #4. The reviewer gives it "4 trees." The reviewers in "Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine?" rated zines on a 1-5 tree/star scale.
  4. ^ Sandy Herrold posting to the Virgule-L mailing list in 1993, quoted with permission.
  5. ^ Hey, that zine is The Small Print #2 (1986).
  6. ^ from "Flesh to Fantasy" by Suzan Lovett in this issue of Cold Fish and Stale Chips
  7. ^ regarding "//" -- see Spockanalia