Cousins (Robin of Sherwood letterzine)

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Title: Cousins
Editor(s): Hilda Marshall (issues 1-14) and Susan Gavula (15 onwards)
Type: letterzine
Date(s): 1991-1993
Medium: print
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Language: English
External Links: Cousins online
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"Currently the most reliable RoS letterzine being produced, so a lot of general chatter about the show tends to work its way in here."
(from a reader in issue #7)

Cousins is a Robin of Sherwood letterzine that ran for fourteen issues. It is "a place for the Witches, pagans, nature spirits, fey-folk, and assorted elder kin of Sherwood to share ideas, challenges, dreams, and projects, and to stir up a little magic of our own.." It contains "Letters, requests for books/reprints/information, book reviews, announcements (text only, no graphics), and addresses. Anything else small within reason will be considered. I'd rather have Cousins be a pointer to text resources than reprint each source in its entirety. Brevity is not only the soul of wit, it's a lot easier on the budget!"

There was much very smart conversation in Cousins about religion, history, spiritualism, literature, music, and of course fanfiction, as it applied to the show. The LoC's language was almost always G-rated, and there was very, very little discussion about sex of any sort in Robin of Sherwood fanfic. The show's creator, Richard "Kip" Carpenter was an occasional (though lengthy!) contributor, something that had to have to been on the minds of fans as they read and wrote the letters. At least one reader backtracked on a previously stated opinon after learning Kip read and responded, writing, "I never thought that my flaky meanderings would be read by the Source Himself! I'm so embarrassed!" There was much mention of "what Kip requests" and that carried over to what kind of fanfic could be written, specifically slash, the big Robin of Sherwood no-no. More than one letter mentioned that the universe of Robin of Sherwood belonged to its creator and that its fans needed to always keep that in mind; many, many letters discussed how to write the characters, in relation to its creator's desires.

Issue 1 (November 1991)

  • much discussion on correct terminology and why the Goddess is never mentioned on the show
  • an article: "Paganism in Robin in Sherwood" by Ariel
  • a reader comments: "Go back to the early zines and you'll find a wide variety of storytelling. Go to any of the more recent issues and you'll get the same themes popping up over and over again. Not that this is inherently bad - there's bound to be some overlap of ideas sooner or later - but it is exasperating. I get the feeling that fanfic is beginning to fall into a rut, where certain beliefs are held as canon, almost as dogma."
  • is Robin a witch, a pagan, a Christian, what are his origins?
  • why did Marion stay in Halstead?
  • there is a call for fanfiction have more diversity and a fairer treatment of Robert

Issue 2 (December 1991)

  • The issue's word word of the month: "Pagan"
  • the letterzine's publisher says, "I'll publish as often as A) I have enough material and B) I can get to a copying machine and afford the postage. There's no set subscription fee, but the more postage contributions I get, the more frequently I can publish! Thank you for the stamps."
  • "Check out past issues of Herne's Stepchildren (the letterzine), the The Journal of Friends of Robin of Sherwood (shameless plug), and Spirit of Sherwood's newsletter On Target. All of these have included pieces on medieval life and customs, costuming, food, history, etc."
  • a reader says, "As for possessing extra abilities in fanfic--like Hilda, I would be bored if the characters had to be drawn completely as they were on TV. So little of ourselves would go into them, then, and they would never come alive--just be poor copies of Carpenter's creations."
  • someone writes: "I don't think that characters yelling nasty things at Marion in zines means that the writers themselves feel the same way about her. Most RoS fan writers are women, and what woman hasn't been slapped in the face with accusations of never having loved someone when she won't knuckle under to his every demand? Which of us hasn't succumbed to the temptation to consider our every motive false and tainted, when this is the image of women presented to us from Day 1? By living out these accusations through an admirable and strong character like Marion, riding them out, and proving them false, writers can tap into an inexhaustible font of shared experience and keep us glued to the page."
  • "In case anybody hasn't run into "Mary Sue" yet, she's an annoyingly perfect female character written into fan literature to give the author's fantasy personification a proper debut into the universe in question. Come to think of it, I don't expect that anyone who enjoys fan literature hasn't met Mary Sue!"
  • a sort-of con report: "Cousins' first material- plane circle at Visions '91 (all 4 of us!) was quiet and steady, almost subsonic. We invoked the spirit of Friendship, and set up a strong, gentle transdimensional "goodwill node" to attract those with good intentions and to be invisible to any who might be frightened or hostile. It was as though we had managed through sheer desire to reconstruct the awesome power of love that we felt at Herne's Con I and II."

Issue 3 (February 1992)

  • contains 13 pages
  • this issue's Fun Word: "Tanist"
  • does Kip read this letterzine? "As to whether Kip Carpenter's a Pagan - he's confirmed for Weekend in Sherwood. Ask him. (And while you're at it, ask him if he thinks Cousins is silly! Not that I care...)"
  • "As to originality [in fanfic], this is a touchy area. What is original? No matter what plot line you come up with, someone, somewhere, sometime has done the same. And when you start with a preconceived universe, similar themes and ideas are bound to come out. Perhaps we come out with the same details or conclusions because they are implicit in the show, which should be the only real "canon" in the fanfiction - what was actually said or shown on screen. How you interpret that is up to you as a writer."
  • "It is unfair to Kip's [show's creator] creative abilities to force his characters into certain molds that we desire. Perhaps he based them loosely upon archetypes, but they are his own creations. Which brings me to the next point, making the characters more than what they are in the show. Sorry, but as a writer I strongly disagree here. These characters were created by Kip and should remain within the bounds he created. True, he does not have ownership of the legendary characters, but as they are represented in RoS, yes he does. Generously, he has given his permission for us to play in his universe as long as we remain true to what he created (he told us this at Son of Herne's Con). Therefore, a writer must tread very carefully when attributing to a character abilities that were never manifested in the show... Unless you keep the characters true to the show, then you are creating your own characters and panning them off as RoS."
  • "You say that 'Robin' is 'Welsh male anatomical slang?' Well, this book [Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets] refers to the rhyme 'Cock Robin' and says that the term 'cock' means exactly what we think it means. 'In Cornwall, Robin meant...a penis. His surname Hood or Hud referred to the symbolic pine log planted in Mother Earth as a sacred pillar.' So there you are!! There must be a side of him we didn't see on HTV."
  • "I'd like to have seen Robert speak of his reason for becoming an outlaw. There was a serious credibility gap there. In general the TV series seemed to not want to probe past the surfaces. Is this a general failing of TV...they want the characters to stay the same cardboard cutouts week after week?"
  • "But how do you judge who's simply rejecting overly restrictive archetypes and who's violating the basic essence of one of Kip's characters? Where do you draw the line? One of the most wonderful things about RoS is that the characters are simultaneously well- defined and appealing to the imagination... I'm still not in a position to tell you that your 'what ifs' are less valid than mine. Kip certainly doesn't seem to mind, as long as we stay away from out-of-character slash. If your conjectures are just too far off the wall, you'll get your triple bounce-back in the form of incredulous laughter or the dreaded LoC."
  • one of the LoCs was sent on a "Macintosh floppy disk," something the editor felt was worth a mention
  • "I personally don't like using specific characters from the show as directional spirits - it's like cramming them into shoes that don't fit (although Will and John look comfy enough.)"
  • "Please feel free to photocopy Cousins as much as you want and give copies to people who you think might enjoy it. I only ask that when you give someone a copy, it be a copy of a whole issue so that people can get a good solid feel for what we're about and have the address in case they want it; and PLEASE cover the "Who We Are" section with a sheet of white paper when copying. Herne, Lord of the Trees, doesn't want us encouraging unsolicited mail!"

Issue 4 (March 1992)

  • this issue's Fun Word: "Transdimensional"
  • "I don't like the idea of putting labels on people, dividing up the fandom into pagans and non-pagans - us and them. The harmony among the diversity and the tolerance and interest in each others' beliefs is what makes this fandom unique. Look at what a diverse group the Merries are. That they live and work together for a common good is the true magic in the series... I think it doesn't really matter when it all boils down to it. Though we have shared experiences and thoughts, everyone has their own perspective and that is what makes life interesting."
  • a suggestion that historical questions be submitted to On Target as it has two experts willing to answer questions
  • a reader writes, "Everyone I've met in RoS fandom is extremely open-minded and tolerant, no matter what their personal beliefs."
  • there are "new writers coming into the fandom all the time are re-exploring the same themes, which explains some of the repetition. Sometimes I wonder if fan writers have kept up reading other people's fan-fic but it has been some time since they have actually sat down and watched the show or read Carpenter's novelizations, hence the adopting of certain fan-fic ideas as canon. I'd like to see more stories featuring the characters as they were on the series, the complex human ones I love. Don't fan-fic writers realize that by deifying Loxley and giving him special powers they are making him much less a hero?... Many stories have Guy turning good. I think the reason may be that the writer may feel attracted to him in the show and feel a need to justify that to herself by finding the good in him."
  • "I'd like to read stories with good copies of Carpenter's characters put into situations previously unexplored. That is fan fiction. If you are going to do something that is a complete departure from the series, I don't feel you should try to pass it off as Robin of Sherwood. Go out and write something completely original in that case. Oh, certainly writers can and should put something of themselves into their fan-fic - the part that drew them to the series itself in the first place. Not something that doesn't belong there."
  • "In nearly every story where Robin and Robert meet, it's always Robin who ends up in the mentor role, while Robert is the one getting all the advice. This is another trend in fanfic that I find personally irritating. Robin made a fair number of mistakes as the Hooded Man - why does he so often become this font of knowledge in fan stories? I like Robin, but I dislike seeing his character made into a paragon of wisdom at Robert's expense."
  • "While it's true she [Marion] does have to swing a lot of the feminine archetypical stuff on her own, don't forget the contributions made by the wonderful guest characters (as I mentioned above) who take the burden of perfection off Marion's shoulders. In this light, perhaps we shouldn't come down so harshly on original female characters in fanfic. It's hard to come up with a good female character when you're afraid she's only going to be stuck with the Mary Sue label!"
  • on the subject of the RoS canon in TV and fanfic: "I think the show left an awful lot of blank spaces to fill. In my last letter I wondered why TV shows in general rarely delved into character and were very shallow on continuity, etc. A friend of mine answered this by telling me that many different writers do the episodes, so each writer must leave the characters pretty much as he found them. That explains a lot! To me the show is merely the tip of the iceberg. It only gives the barest of clues; it's the fans who have expanded on them and created a lot of the things that are accepted as canon."
flyer from Tree of Life #3, click to read

Issue 5 (April 1992)

  • this issue's Fun Word: "Syncretism"
  • "I'm afraid I may have to agree to disagree with your opinion about making the characters more (or other) than they were on the show. Exploring and developing character is where the fun is - to me, at least. There are many aspects of the band's personalities that Kip probably had neither time nor the budget to show. As an author, I really want to try and get inside the band's heads, try to dig a bit and come up with the unusual."
  • "Arrowflight is gone, along the lines of 'I shot an arrow into the air/It fell to earth I know not where.' The editor never answers her mail, even when you include a SASE."
  • "I admit there are some themes [in fanfic] I never want to see again - the "Gisburne turns out to be a good guy," for instance - but there must be something there for all those people to keep writing those stories. The Loxley-is-perfect genre or the let's-get-Marion-out- of-Halstead theme or the Robert-tells-Gizzy-they're-brothers series really seems to strike a chord in new and old viewers... but let's give people a chance to explore characters in ways that they choose. You can always write a LoC if you disagree, right?"
  • "What's a Harry Stu??"
  • "I read the comments about what is Robin of Sherwood and what is not with great interest, since I am a writer, but have not yet attempted anything in this fandom, though I've written for years in other fandoms... I would say that there certainly seems to be enough within the parameters of the aired series to allow any writer a lot of scope to carry on with. However, question: Does this mean that extrapolation from or explanation of points raised in the series, but perhaps not really explored on screen, must be avoided? If that isn't avoided, does it change the story from being in RoS to being some kind of A/U hybrid that is Robin Hood, but not Robin of Sherwood? Is there a zine editor out there with some guidelines for a novice in this fandom????"
  • "You make a good point about harmony in fandom, [C H]. Let's not ruin a good thing. I've heard so many nightmare stories about internal dissent that has broken up clubs in other fandoms."
  • "Get-em stories were developed as a requisite bit of character suffering that heroes had to go through. Plot-wise, you can also create suspense by having your hero tortured as opposed to killed outright, so that an accessory character can then perform an elaborate rescue. This is why so many villains tend to be sadistic maniacs and why no 'baddies' ever get mistreated in fanfic: nobody would care! Also, torture often leads to hurt/comfort situations."
  • "You're right about the anti- Christian vibes in fanfic: some people take it too far. It's not the beliefs, but the corrupt practices, that I think most people are opposed to. Like Robin's telling Hugo that he doesn't respect the Church 'while you're in it'."
  • "There will be a Cousins gathering/informal ritual held some time during Weekend in Sherwood. Time and place yet to be announced, but have no fear - it won't conflict with any other neat con stuff happening at the time."
  • "I guess I feel honored to be publishing Forbidden Forest that "shows a side of him (Robin) that we didn't see on HTV." Actually, all sides, if you check out the illos, too. Without getting into a whole discussion about pornography vs. erotica, I will say that one of the reasons I wanted to put out that kind of zine was because of the Pagan and magickal elements of the show. A lot of Paganism is tied up with sexuality (i.e. fertility rituals) and I think we've proven we're grown up enough to handle that part of the show without giggling."
  • "Quite right about how RoS characters are handled in fan fiction. I don't like reading stories where the characters are so omnipotent or powerful that they lack all credibility. However, you have to be flexible because some artistic license is allowable. I'm sure there are quite a lot of good stories out there that Kip has read and thought 'why didn't I do that?' If you tread on eggs and worry about how the series' writers would have handled a character in a given situation, you defeat the whole purpose of fan fiction."
  • "You're getting overprotective of free speech in fan fiction!... You're right that we shouldn't pigeonhole the RoS characters to such a degree that they can't breathe, but certain writers tend to go overboard, too. Yes, "what if" is our life blood, but if I wrote a serious story where it turned out that Robin was really from Planet Skyron in the Galaxy of Andromeda, I would HOPE that people would take offense. Making him a Sidhe is just as outrageous and in my opinion just as offensive."
  • "I hope that Cousins is a place where we can all share our diverse beliefs and learn from one another... I like to think of it as a safe place to discuss things that might be considered offensive elsewhere, and a garden for plot ideas."
  • "I still think that telling people directly, or through LoC's, that their stories don't make sense after the fact is a much smarter strategy than trying to tell people what they should or shouldn't write. An important part of me would still be asleep and undiscovered if I hadn't read a couple of specific "Robin-as-Sidhe" stories that were blatantly untrue to Robin as a character, and I shudder to think that had this conversation taken place but a few years ago, Cousins might not exist."

Issue 6 (June 1992)

  • this issue's Fun Word: "Gnosis"
  • the show's creator, Richard "Kip" Carpenter, sends a tape to the letterzine's editor, and she includes the transcription. It is often very pointed, sometimes cranky, goes on at great, great length and eloquence to comment about a few prior issues at length (often addressing individual fans): "The curse of writers is the VCR. I think I'll probably have that on my tombstone, because programmes that basically are meant to be watched once have been watched again and again, and all of the faults have been obviously very clearly revealed. I am flattered that the fan fiction has arisen from this, because anything creative that happens from a television programme, which you just sit and watch and is a very uncreative activity, must be good... [much, much, much more]... I thought I'd actually created rounded characters with a bit of depth to them. If they were merely cardboard cutouts, I doubt if there would have been the outburst of fanzines in the States that there has been, and I don't think you can put it down to a desire to fill in the characters and round them out... And what do I think of Cousins? I think it's terrific! I don't think it's silly at all. Not that I care what you think. You don't care what I think." and he says, "Marion is a Mary Sue, I knew that when I wrote it...Yes, there are not enough women really in the show. I'm going to correct that if we do King Arthur, because we've got a lot of permanent ladies in that."
  • a reader has a lengthy reply to Kip's "letter," and says, jokingly, "Well, Kip, you've come smack up against the Number One occupational hazard of the hypertalented writer. Your characters have gotten away from you."
  • "My friends are into the GENIE computer network and there's been just tons of RoS activity there lately. It seems there's a big upsurge in interest."
  • "The members of our community (and I count everyone in RoS fandom, and not just the few of us who gather in these pages each issue) are as diverse as the people I mentioned above, but we seem to share, with very few exceptions, that same tolerance and respect for others."
  • "I think you are right about Marion - that most people like her but Time of the Wolf sort of messed things up. Kip once said if he had known there would be no 4th series, he'd have never ended it that way."
  • "To add my 2 cents to the discussion about 'what is this letterzine for?' Some people think general RoS discussion should be saved for 'generic letterzines.' Well, I'd like to point out that the other letterzines come out a few times a year, while Cousins comes out every month! This makes Cousins the only zine where it's possible to carry on a halfway coherent discussion, and that's why this zine has become my main vehicle for general chatter about RoS."
  • "I'd like to assure you that you can do [write] just about anything you want. Getting it published may be the difficult thing. Editors ultimately determine what goes in their zines, and they can reject stories, just like in real life. However, there are zines which will print 'adult' themes; Apocryphal Albion prints what-ifs and alternate universe stories... Most zine editors, I think, would prefer that you keep the characters 'feeling' the way they felt and were portrayed on the show, but this sure as shootin' doesn't leave out explaining points raised onscreen or extrapolating from said points. There are so many things a writer can do!" & "Don't forget Sherwood Tunnels, if you want to drop the Merries into a totally different environment or pull an unlikely visitor into Sherwood. Dianne Smith likes surprises!"
  • the editor explains this emoticon: ":-) Folks - that there is is Smiley, a nice, easily typed way of saying, "I'm smiling/laughing/joking."
  • a review of Enterprising Women
  • "There are no limits whatsoever on what you can or can't write in terms of fanfic. However, there are limits to what editors will accept. (The only thing that's really taboo in RoS is homosexual relationships between explicitly heterosexual characters, which Kip has asked us to refrain from creating.) Exploring the unexplained, overlooked, or underdeveloped aspects of any show is one of fanfic's reasons for existing! Of course, people may disagree wildly with your interpretations, but friendly debate is one of the most enjoyable activities in fandom."
  • "The only true no-no in our fandom is slash (this comes from Kip himself), otherwise you are free to wander wherever the muse leads you. However, most editors try to keep the stories in character (depending on their view of the character.) By all means, explore, explain, and extrapolate those points raised in the series. That's what fan fiction is all about! And I believe everyone has the "right" to tell their version of the story, whether or not someone else has previously covered that material."
  • "I like some Mary Sue stories. If a Mary Sue character is obviously a clone of, say, Alice; and she shares both Alice's unfailing sense of direction and Alice's poor eyesight, then all I can say is, "Way to go, Alice!" But if she has Alice's knowledge of botany but not Alice's inability to keep her mouth shut, I start to yawn. An idealized version of anyone is not a character."
  • about Forbidden Forest: "If I may take the liberty of guessing about the pseudonyms in 'Forbidden Forest', I'd say that we're grown- ups stranded in a kindergarten, and those who used pseudonyms may have done so to avoid having their future work dismissed on the grounds of their having written something erotic in the past."

Issue 7 (August 1992)

  • the issue's Fun Word: "Cucullatus"
  • "Arrowflight has apparently been resurrected. It was out at Mediawest in reprinted form. I think Deb Walsh was selling it with Anne Wortham and Leah Rosenthal. We'll try to get more details."
  • "You are right about exploring and developing the characters as seen on the show. But the point is not to make them into some completely different, alternate version of the character by totally disregarding the series and doing something so removed from what that character as seen on the show would do. Does that make sense?"
  • "The ritual [proposed for Weekend in Sherwood sounds a bit complicated, 'showy' and inaccessible to the uninitiated. Simplicity may make it more accessible and physically easier to conduct in a hotel room... I for one am allergic to some incense. It also may not be a good idea to burn incense in a hotel due to fire laws, smoke alarms, and the smell lingers in the carpets and curtains."
  • "You're right about the anti-Christian vibes in fan-fic. You make a very good point about some folks taking it too far."
  • Cousins is a letterzine. By its nature then, it should discuss whatever its letters contain, and I agree that it should not be boxed into any limited topics of discussion."
  • "Wow, if your friends are that closed-minded that they wouldn't respect your religious beliefs, how do you cope? It must be extremely hard play-acting for them. True friends should respect your beliefs as you respect theirs."
  • from a male writer about Marion in the nunnery: "I know I am going to create a little bit of uproar, but it is a thought... I am almost certain that a person writing a story like this would be flogged whereas a person writing a sexy Robert story would be applauded. If so, why do you think that is? I'm sorry, but I feel that there is a double standard here, and why is it that there are so many women in this fandom so quick to defend Marion's 'honor' when they eagerly accept Jason's Beltane rompings? I'm puzzled over this..."
  • an extremely rare slash fanfic mention: "If you want to read a story about Robert as a Pagan/Christian, see my slash story, 'The Successor', in No Holds Barred #1. (Available now from Kathy Resch There are two other RoS slash stories in the issue which deal with De Rainault and Gisburne as lovers. Mine is about Robert being secretly initiated by Robin as Hooded Man five years before Robin's death."
  • "Why is slash more out of character than anything else? This implies certain prejudices about the character traits of gay men and lesbians. I don't believe that my slash stories are any more out of character than anyone else's RoS fiction, and a good deal less out of character than some of the lulus I've read about Robert leaving Sherwood. Why isn't slash a valid alternate universe?"
  • "The reasons why writers torture their characters - this phenomenon is called hurt/comfort: We hurt them terribly for the sake of the comfort that happens later. In some cases, hurt/comfort is a repressed need to depict a slash relationship, yet some slash writers (such as myself) are still engaged in the hurt/comfort syndrome. I torture my characters to test them to their limits and reveal their strength. I don't believe in villains, and I can't get interested in characters who don't have complex motivations. The worst torture scenes I've ever written are Guy's memories of what his mother's husband did to him in The Shadow Twin. I dredge up these memories from the depth of Guy's mind in order to help him recover from his abuse. There is always an important narrative purpose in what I do to my characters."
  • a fan pulls back on a previously stated opinion: "Ooh, I never thought that my flaky meanderings would be read by the Source Himself! I'm so embarrassed! I must confess that that was probably my remark about 'cardboard cutouts' and the TV series... If Mr. Carpenter is still listening, I would just like to tell him that any critical remarks I made about the show were made in a spirit of I care enough to criticize because I love it so much."
  • "On to Mary Sue yet again: some of the tell-tale signs of a Mary Sue character are complete physical perfection, intelligence and spunk, quite often an improbable name for 12th or 13th century England, athletic strength, magical powers, and usually romantic entanglement with one of the male characters. While I think readers should keep an open mind about original female characters, if the character is so perfect she makes the presence of the outlaws almost negligible, well, you've got yourself a Mary Sue."
  • "I see a lot of out-of-character stories in zines that don't book themselves as "Alternative Universe" (don't get me started on Guy Turns Good!) but the only character trait I expect from a gay or lesbian character is attraction to members of the same sex - which I don't expect from any RoS character besides Tom, Dickon, and maybe the Sheriff, any more than I would expect Marion to fall madly in love with Owen of Clun of her own accord, or Tuck to run off with that woman from the Beltane feast. Beyond this, though, the main reason that I wouldn't pay money for a RoS slash zine is because people whom I consider friends have specifically requested that their characters not be portrayed as gay. Whether or not they're laboring under antiquated ideas, in my experience "enlightening" people by jabbing them in their sore spots doesn't work!"

Issue 8 (October 1992)

  • this issue's Fun Word: "Wedbedrip"
  • the fan who was compiling "The Sherwood Network" has given up the project. "It was intended as a database of RoS fans, along the lines of the mainstream SF 'Fandom Directory.' This project has been scuttled, due to the fact that only 25 people sent in forms. I guess we really are too specialized (translation: small) a fandom, and we already have plenty of contacts in Spirit of Sherwood, Friends of RoS, Herne's Stepchildren, Cousins, etc."
  • a fan announces a new book: 'Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture' by Henry Jenkins. "Yes, someone has written a 'scholarly' book about fans!"
  • an announcement for a RoS convention called Greenwood #4. It was to be held in August '93 to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of RoS. Location: the Shepperton Moat House Hotel, Shepperton, which is just outside London. Robert "Kip" Carpenter was a guest at Greenwood #3, perhaps others.
  • a fan remarks on another's suggestion that Marion had a different lover: "Marion finding a lover in the convent - You and other fans may be up in arms at this suggestion, but why would Marion's lover necessarily be a man? How about a nun? There have always been lesbians in convents, you know. I can even find a plausible motivation for Marion being more comfortable with a lesbian relationship. Marion may have told herself that she'd never love another man after Robin, but if her lover was a woman she'd be far less likely to feel unfaithful to Robin's memory. It would also be logistically easier to have a relationship with a nun in a convent. There are far more opportunities for meetings. Yes, but is it out of character? Well, there are numerous cases of women who were married and seemed to be completely heterosexual taking female sexual partners. It is possible that these women were bisexual and simply hadn't been aware of it. Who's to say that Marion isn't such a woman? Who's to say that any of the characters in RoS couldn't be bisexual?"
  • a fan makes a point that other shouldn't refer to actors as their characters. "I would never use the actors' names unless I'm discussing their performance. Calling the characters by the names of the actors could lead to confusion. Perhaps I feel that it's so important to clearly separate the characters from the actors because I write slash. Yet whether or not we are writing slash, we really should remember that neither Michael Praed nor Jason Connery are really Robin Hood. Robin Hood is a fictional character. Whatever we say in our discussions here, or whatever we write in our stories about either Robin or Robert, none of it has anything to do with the actual men who played these roles. We all know that intellectually, of course, but fans sometimes get swept away emotionally in the illusion of the actor's performance and forget the distinction between the characters and the actors. Apparently, some of the RoS actors also have difficulty making this separation, since they think slash fiction reflects on them. I am sorry, but slash has no more to do with them than any other idea that we might have about their characters."
  • "Looking at RoS fan fiction, I think that the 'Celtic twilight' theme explains many of the notions that fans seem to have about Robert. 'Celtic twilight' is an idea that used to dominate in fantasy. It's the belief that magic is fading from the world. I doubt it ever did. What we call magic is the glue that holds the web of life together ... I wish RoS fan fiction would dump its baggage. 'Celtic twilight' is such a limiting perspective."
  • "Have any of you noticed the way some 'literary' SF fans look down on fan fiction and especially media fanfiction? I started out as a lit fan and aspiring pro writer. Now whenever friends from my SF Writer's Workshop ask me 'what are you writing these days?' and I tell them I'm writing RoS fanfiction... I have to brace myself for the inevitable condescending statement of 'you can do better than that!'"
  • a fan reminds another fan who says she writes RoS slash, "You may or may not be aware that Richard Carpenter has requested that fan writers not create homosexual situations using characters who are heterosexual in the TV stories. I feel that we are fortunate to have the series creator so actively involved in the fandom, and don't think it's unreasonable to honor this one request he's made. He also mentioned that homosexual relationships involving characters such as the sheriff, Philip Mark, Tom and Dickon - or your own original gay and lesbian characters - are fine by him. Personally, I have no objections to slash as an alternate universe in other types of fanfic. My only objection to it in RoS fanfic is, again, that Kip has asked us not to. He hasn't put any restrictions on other types of wildly out-of-character pieces (e.g., Guy turns good; the sheriff converts to Judaism; Robert breaks into Halstead, rapes Marion, then runs off to Scotland to become High Priest of the Loch Ness Monster Coven), which is why there are so many, as you aptly described them, lulus of stories out there."
  • the above fan then comments: "Your thoughts about a bunch of rabbis getting together to worship Lilith in her primal state sounds like incredible fodder for a fan story. Wow! I hope someone takes this one and really does something nifty with it."
  • Why so many Robert stories? Two fans weigh in: "Thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts on why so many Robin stories have him dealing with an external enemy, whereas Robert so often has to contend with 'the demons within.' It may be for precisely this reason that there are slightly more Robert stories. There are a lot of loose ends with the Robert half of the series. Some 'zines - issues #2 and #3 of Longbow come to mind - are almost 100% Huntingdon pieces." AND "After Weekend, I came to the conclusion that so many people write Huntingdon stories because, and please don't maul me, Robert can be something of a blank slate, whereas Loxley has a definite defined character."
  • how the circle at Weekend at Sherwood turned out: "It was so great to see everyone at Weekend this year, even if we were all jammed together in a room for the circle! I thought it rather impressive the number of folk who came - it would have been rough to fit any more people in there. Too bad we had to lose Kip to a previous 'official' engagement."

Issue 9

Issue 10

Issue 11

Issue 12

Issue 13 (August 1993)

  • this issue's Fun Word is "Sarcasm... so when people start talking crazy, look for the Smiley-face!"
  • "I think if I ever did DS9 stuff I'd write about Kira. Lest people think I am just sadistic as an author, I should point out that I empathize more with a character who is pulled in different directions than with one who always knows what he or she wants and should do."
  • "As for fanfic and copyrights, I believe Misty Lackey had some legal difficulties regarding a fanzine and one author that caused her to have to abandon a book she was working on, and there were all sorts of legal headaches, and in that case I side with Misty. I can't blame her for becoming wary... MZB has of course solved this to a certain extent by running her own zines and the anthologies (which to me seem to be merely pro zines. Wouldn't that be nice... to get paid to write fanfic?)"
  • a reader notes: "Hey, I notice these discussions are getting farther and farther from RoS."
  • "Robin & Marion as a 'super couple? Yes, all the fanfic portrays them this way. Which is why unless one is into stories about great sex... they're kind of boring to me! I hate to say it, but happiness is boring in fiction."
  • a reader responds to another's letter in a previous issue: "I disliked your implying that Kip is somehow a hypocrite for writing a series about characters who fight oppression, then requests fans not to portray certain of those characters as homosexual. As a writer, the characters' sexual preferences (like everything else about them) is his prerogative."
  • "Regarding 'gay characters deserving to die': plenty of characters get killed in RoS, and to the best of my knowledge, none of them except Philip Mark are gay. In fact, their sexual preferences are irrelevant."
  • "Your discussion of slash and literature is right-on.... I also enjoyed your thoughts on Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations and fanatics."
  • "Have I read anything other than Linda Frankel's RoS? (I'm gonna ignore that "pseudo," OK?) Yes. I have a fairly large stack of zines, and the novelizations as well. I've read and thoroughly enjoyed stories and poems by many Cousins... It's just that I happen to like Linda's best, because I can relate to her work in a more personal way, by projecting myself into the stories in a way that I find impossible with the above- mentioned excellently-written and exciting stuff. I enjoy almost all the fanfic I've come across - but Linda's work brings a different level of enjoyment."
  • "Saxon elements in RoS as to whether it's the series or the fanfic? My opinion: the series opens the door in a lot of ways (the music, the presence of the Round Table, etc.) BUT fanfic goes way beyond... probably because a lot of fanfic writers seem to be themselves British Wiccans."
  • "While one of the joys of fanfic is being able to explore the characters in more depth than the televised series allowed, I have to agree with Kip's letter that the best stories are those in which the characters are true to what was shown on-screen. I don't mind when an author expands a bit on a character or a situation, but there are limits as to what I'm willing to believe."
  • "The people who ask "why write fanfic to begin with? Why sponge off someone else's material?" A fan raised this question a couple of years ago in Herne's Stepchildren, and someone wrote back with something to the effect that 'it's the same impulse that causes you to sing along with a song on the radio rather than just listen passively or go away and compose something completely new.' And as Kip has pointed out, in writing fanfic, we've taken something that's essentially a passive activity (watching TV) and turned it into a creative process."
  • "As for the historical Robin being gay/having had sexual contact with another man - well, you have a point. If as an outlaw he'd spent his time living outside the 'normal' social & moral boundaries, his thinking might therefore not be the same as that of someone who had - & it's possible that a homosexual relationship might not have been untenable to him."
  • "To Richard Carpenter re: gay villains - Unfortunately, there is a widespread belief in the general population that gay men are evil people who are likely to be psychopathic murderers, child molesters or transvestite bank robbers. This is consistent with the idea that someone who would break the taboo against homosexuality would have no oral code. When you or any other writer portrays homosexuals who are violent and cruel, you are reaffirming this stereotype and strengthening that negative concept of homosexuals in the public mind. You have a right to do this, but is it a socially responsible thing to do in view of all the discrimination that homosexuals have had to face? RoS is fiction, but it's important to remember that fiction has power to affect the way people think. This power should never be underestimated."
  • "I do not disrespect any Cousin; least of all Richard Carpenter. I do insist on having my own views and relying on my own judgment, however. Do you consider people respectful only if they agree with you?"
  • "I agree with what you said about the way in which 'mainstreamers' regard fanfic writers - and artists! Unfortunately, the only thing I can ever think of to say to those people is, to quote Blackadder, 'Sod off...'"

Issue 14 (October 1993)

The letterzine may have ended with this issue.[1]