Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Cofax7

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Cofax7
Interviewer: Andrea Horbinski
Interviewee: Cofax7
Date(s): July 17, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Cofax7
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Cofax7 was conducted in 2012 by Andrea Horbinski and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 2:16:55), and it has a written 72-page transcript.

It was part of the series: Fan Fiction Oral History Project also referred to as "a Fiction and Internet Memory Research Project," "the Fiction and Internet Memory Program," and "Fan Fiction and Internet Memory."

The interviews conducted for this project were used for the book by Abigail De Kosnik called Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

Okay, well, I think I was always a fan in the sense that, you know, I would get obsessive about various books or TV shows or whatever. Somewhere in the landfill, there's probably some really terrible poetry I wrote about Star Trek when I was fifteen, which—thank God—is in a landfill. And that would have been the early '80s, but I think I did not become aware that there was sort of a community out there until 1990, when I happened to be temping at a small software company, and they had Usenet access. And I had no idea what it was, but I just clicked on the icon, and I found this wonderful network of people talking about television and movies and books and oh, wasn't it marvelous? And through poking around there, I found other people who knew about the current TV show that I was obsessive about, which was Robin of Sherwood , and someone very kindly sent me hard copies of material from a con that had recently been held, and it included a whole bunch of flyers for zines, and I had never seen anything like this before. So people were writing stories — big, long stories — about those characters, and they were having sex! Oh my God! So that was like my first exposure to even like the concept that there was an entire community of fans out there who were out there doing that, but I didn't really—and I actually was writing some Robin of Sherwood stories for basically my own pleasure and the pleasure of the two friends I had convinced to watch the show with me. And that was it. And I still have copies of them somewhere. I think I typed them up, but then I went to graduate school, and I didn't have time for any of that, and then I got out, I had a job, and then I lost my job, and I came out to California, and I ended up having a lot of time on my hands. I was unemployed, underemployed, and I started poking about online again and found ... I was watching Buffy . Right? Yes, I was watching Buffy , and then I started watching The X-Files , and through Buffy , I discovered a couple of random archives—The Sunnydale Slayers, I remember that was one of them. But none of that really did it for it for me. I liked the show, and I didn't feel like I needed any, really any, fan fiction. But then I somehow stumbled into The X-Files— in the sixth season, no less—and got hooked and

ran around watching the reruns on syndicated channels,

... somehow, I found my way to a page maintained by Laura Burchard, who—I know what her LJ [LiveJournal] name is ( laughs ) now—but it was a magnificent page because she had a ... she basically did this for every episode in the show, and she had links ... she had a little summary of the episode, and then she had a link to the archived discussions on Deja News from the Usenet newsgroups. And then she had links to post-episode fan fiction for each episode, and then she had an entirely separate fan fiction, just general recommendations page, which was, looking back on it, not very long and really very broad-ranging. She had some odd stuff on it, but she also had a lot of the—what we now consider to be some of the classics, "Iolokus"

and so forth.

Farscape , when I first got into Farscape, the primary place, the center of gravity for Farscape, was the official Sci-Fi bulletin boards for the Sci-Fi Channel and the official Sci-Fi IRC server... they had a server, they had bulletin boards, and they had fic on the boards.

And they had this one totally crazy woman in the IRC server who ran it, who I will not name, but she was a trouble. ( laughs ) She was really difficult, but because the writers and the showrunners were all in Australia, and how they kept in touch with how the show was being received —because the show was not really well aired in Australia itself, they didn't do a very good job with it—so they were online, and they would sit in chat while the show aired sometimes, in some of the big chat rooms. And that was really entertaining. And they would have these big chats like at the end of the season, beginning of the season, whatever, and that's where a lot of information about what was going on with the show would get released. In fact, that's how the announcement went out about the cancellation. Because they found out about the cancellation the day they finished shooting the fourth season, and so they were going to have this big chat, and they did, and it's like, Oh my God. "Sorry guys, we've been canceled." So yeah, the Farscape showrunners were particularly savvy about the Internet, I think. More so than most other show people at least until recently.

there was this whole other group of people who didn't have a lot of overlap with sort of more traditional media fandom, that started watching ... that was all watching Buffy , and talking about it on the Salon Table Talk boards. And when Salon went pay-to-play, they actually ... they just shut down the boards, but they said Table Talk is no longer free, and you must pay. Then we decamped to some other people's forum for a while, and then we built our own board, and that's Buffistas.org, which is still going, and we have 1,500 registered members. We built it ourselves. We coded it ourselves. We manage it ourselves. We raise the money ourselves. It's all ours, and it's become so broad now, that it is primarily a social group. And people come and go, but there are still some people there that were there when I was there, originally, when we were still all on Salon , back in the day, and there's definitely some overlap. There's other fic writers on Buffistas, and people who run fannish websites, and people at—. Shrift and Nestra, who run Polyamorous Recs, are both buffistas.

Yeah, it's a great site. It's very sort of ... we're off in the corner, doing our thing, full of in-jokes, whatever. People have know each other for years. There's now babies born to people from the board who got married. Yeah, so it's a—really, it's now a—the community started in

1997.

They killed the character [of Daniel in Stargate SG-1] at the end of season five, and then the fandom imploded, or exploded, really, completely . And they brought on what's his—Corin Nemec as a new character to fill that spot, and it was like the Ray Wars. Because Jack/Daniel had been the OTP for two-thirds of the fandom, for the slashers in the fandom, and so that was like a huge deal. The Sam/Jack people didn't mind so much. Whether or not they liked Daniel, at least their ship was still there. But there are lists, which I think to this

day, do not accept season six stories.

A couple friends of mine set up a multifandom list called "Glass Onion" and had an associated archive, and we did some cool stuff. We did some public beta and that sort of thing. Really focusing on story structure. But it was about the time when people started to show up on LiveJournal, and at the very beginning, LJ was not for fic. It really wasn't. It was just journaling. People just used it for journaling, because nobody really knew what was going to happen. Writers just, "Oh, here's this other thing, and look! You could put up something and it'll have a static web page. And somebody can go to it. You could share it with people." Whatever. But it

seems like it happened really fast. Within about a year or two.

And then Shallott starting watching and resonant and Ces [Cesperanza]. Yeah, and, you know, people bitch and moan about the power of BNFs, but if three of the biggest and most popular writers in fandom start watching and writing for a show— That's a center of gravity. And I think, now that I'm thinking back, I remember having this conversation, it was after The Lord of the Rings had, after The Return of the King had come out, and the first wave of bandom had begun to trail off, and the LotRPS people and the bandom people were sort of flailing around, looking for something new.

And SGA showed up, and a bunch of people got into it, and a bunch of really big, well-known people got into it, and SGA exploded. So it

had to do partly with timing, you know, and it had two white guys.

I might have even posted something on [ [Wraithbait]]]. God, there's always archives out there with like bits of my stuff in it. I don't know where it is, and that was actually one of the great things—that was one of the—that I was really grateful to AO3 for, because the ... I wrote an enormous series of post-apocalyptic stories for SG-1 with some SGA characters in it, and they were gen—some of them were gen, some of them were het, one or two were slashy, and two of them were OT3. And because of the way the SG-1 fandom was structured, there was no single archive on which I could put them all...

it went on Area 51, it could be nothing more than PG-13. And if it was slash it had to go on Area 52. You know, it was shit like that. It was just—it pissed me off to no end that I couldn't put the entire series together in one place except on my own website, which is what I did. But it's nice, assuming the AO3 stays solvent and around, it's nice to have another backup to my own website so that if, God forbid, Shrift gets hit by a truck and stops paying her server fees, at least I'll have that stuff stored somewhere on the Internet, because it can't go on Fanfiction.net because of

the explicit content of some of it.


I am discomfited by incest. I don't want to read it. So there was—and I apparently, I have a reputation out there as being some real nasty person, because I said I don't like it. It makes me uncomfortable, and I don't like the way we normalize it. And I'm not going to rec it, and I'm not going to read it. And having said that publicly, I am anathema to—I don't know—people. Some people, anyway. But that was the big division in the fandom, was, did you do

incest or not?

You know, what was this distinction, and one of the things that I thought came out was that some of the professional writers who were aligning themselves with Elizabeth Bear and the Nielsen Haydens and everything, most of them seemed to be people with their own blogs, whereas you had the people of color and the media fans, and a lot of them were on LJ. And one of the distinctions I remember talking about was the difference between the power dynamic in a traditional blog versus in LJ, because on the surface, it looks roughly the same, except that—because if you have your LJ and you can moderate your comments and you can ban people, then, you know—. You can't edit their comments, though, which is one thing that most blog software will allow you to do. But the traditional blogs, it's sort of like the, you have the blog , and then you have the responses. And while you sort of have that on LJ, what I think people coming into the LJ and the Dreamwidth system don't understand is that every single one of those responses is themselves a link to an equal block.

[snipped]

The constant battles over who's a BNF, and all that, and the tall poppy syndrome that we all suffer from, leads to, even if you have something like the journal with the comments under it thing going, you can't shut down the conversation. You can't stop the conversation. You can't prevent people from going elsewhere and continuing it, in a site that is just as easy for anybody to find, and I do think that sort of played into how some people were unable to ... they were struggling so hard to get a handle around what was going on with RaceFail, because there was no central place

where it was all happening.

References