Homosapien

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Zine
Title: Homosapien
Publisher: Oblique Press/Homosapien Press
Editor(s): Julie "Stew" Bozza/Julien
Date(s): 1991-
Series?:
Medium: print, zine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: multimedia
Language: English
External Links: online review of the zine
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

The Homosapien series of zines were m/m slash, edited by Julien, from Australia. They were clean but simple -- fairly similar to Manacles and Oblique Press zines, but commonly including flyers for zines from other presses, an old SF zine habit.

As postage from Australia to the US is expensive, Julien originally had them agented in the US by Manacles Press; currently they are available from Kathy Resch.

Art has been included on Fanlore with the publisher's permission.

From an ad in Zine Scene: "A multi-media multi-literature slash zine brought to you by the people who gave you Samurai Errant (who believe that slash can't be celebrated in a closet). It sings! It dances! It shocks and delights! Its imaginative contents are guaranteed to stimulate even most the jaded of slash palates."

Issue 1

cover of issue #1
flyer, click to read story summaries

Homosapien 1 was published in July 1991 and contains 152 pages.

Artwork

  • Tim Howe
  • Jocelyn Munro

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

[Amber Ambiguities]: This is a Blake/Travis story, but don't dismiss it too quickly. It's an AU, because in canon they never come to any understanding, but it really works. I usually don't like the Travis character (in canon or otherwise), as he can appear a rather cartoonish (or worse, stupid) villain-figure, but this story works very well. It starts with the two of them unable to get out of each other's company (and without anyone else's), when Travis promptly ties Blake up and threatens him. Out of sheer boredom, they end up actually talking to each other, and then Travis explains to Blake that he (Blake) was gay before the Federation messed about in his head. Very good angst and even humour, and there are strong hints that Blake will go after Avon now he's got a clue what he wants. [1]
[zine]: The zine has 154 pages of text, of which 143 are devoted to stories and art. Although there is some white space, including blank lines between paragraphs, the type is small, clear, and dense. Typos are not a problem.

The zine has thirteen pieces by eight authors in eleven fandoms; one of those entries is a multi-fandom listing of undesirable slash pairings, another is in the form of a graphic story, and a third is a poem. The covers are red card and the zine has a comb binding. The other fandoms are Booker; Edge of Darkness; Eroica; Buckaroo Banzai; Nightflyers; Wiseguy; Blake's 7; Simon and Simon; the multi-fandom list; and Greek myth. There are some illos, including one small one of Bodie and Doyle that doesn't grab me.

HOMOSAPIEN has two Pros stories, both by Stew. JUST WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT is twenty-three pages and EVERY RISK YOU TAKE is twelve pages. They're the reason I bought the zine and the reason I keep it. Stew is a writer whom I generally like, though I usually wish she'd delve a little deeper, go a little further. Both of these stories, though, while somewhat slight, are satisfying enough to draw me back.

JUST WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT is set in the future. Bodie and Doyle, partners for twelve years, have just moved on from being active street agents to Administration; they're now acting as recruiters and joint Assistant Controllers to Cowley. This charming story deals with their handling of this change in their working lives along with the much bigger one of abruptly realising they have feelings for each other that go beyond being partners and best friends. It's a first-time story set when Doyle is forty.

The story would be straightforward if it weren't for the problem of Bodie's homophobia. Doyle accepts the alteration in their personal lives with equanimity, but Bodie struggles to come to terms with his new image of himself and Doyle. All the story's tension and interest resides in his reaction to the discovery of his feelings and how he works matters out.

EVERY RISK YOU TAKE is an AIDS story. Like all of Stew's stories, however, it has a happy ending; to anyone familiar with her work, the ending is never in question. This story is also--another characteristic of much of Stew's work--a first-time story. The author notes this story was the first she wrote, which may explain the number of familiar elements it contains--ones familiar both in Stew's work and as fandom cliches. For instance, the issue of self-identifying as gay is part of this story just as it is of Just When You Least Expect It. While the previous story deals with their moving into middle-age and yet discovering feelings for each other, this one charts their coming to terms with a major change in their relationship in the midst of a frightening health crisis.

Stew captures the emotional turmoil as the characters deal with the double-whammy of possible AIDS and newly recognised feelings:

"You know what sort of mate you had in me, Ray?If this was a bullet targeting you, I'd step in the way. If I could give you my blood and take yours, I would." Bodie paused, chest heaving to draw breath. "You want to throw me out tonight, Ray? Fine." But though he willed himself to turn, to set his hands on the doorknob, the locks, he couldn't. He stood, aware of his heart pounding, his blood racing, his body aroused to the point of bursting. And aware of Ray, only inches from him, all fey beauty, muscled sexuality, wildness to match his own. (p. 107)

"Fey beauty" is one of the cliches I mentioned, but I can live with it. There's also a lack of graphic sex in either story, which is another Stew characteristic that doesn't bother me, but might not meet other readers' requirements. Stew doesn't mine angst from situations in the way some authors do more deeply, but I usually enjoy the situations she sets up, and these two stories are no exception. Just When You Least Expect It is a particular favourite of mine amongst her work. [2]

Issue 2

cover of issue #2

Homosapien 2 was published in May 1992. It was also known as Homosapien, Too.

  • You are Receiving this Zine Because
  • The Right Place to Be by Arcane Annie & Stew (Professionals/Booker) 6 (Bodie quits in a huff after an Operation Suzie, and is too embarrassed to go back; Booker has quit somewhat similarly. Seeing how stupid the other's foolish pride looks, they both learn things about playing roles and 'what really matters.')
  • Do Blonds Really Have More Fun? by Barbara T (Eroica/Man From UNCLE) 24 (Set at a time when Solo and Kuryakin are having some problems. Major Klaus Von Dem Eberbach asks Eroica to help him with a job he is undertaking on NATO's behalf for U.N.C.L.E., which involves breaking into the safe of a rich Italian who was formerly a lover of Eroica. Eroica and Illya Kuryakin do the housebreaking while Napoleon Solo and the Major keep the homeowner busy elsewhere. Their job done, Illya and Eroica dally in the homeowner's large bed. )
  • Why Shouldn't It Be Me? by Jane Carnall (Myths and Legends) 29 (It has two biblical characters in it, a vignette with no overt slash content. A scholar named Matthew hears a wise Rabbi speak and vows to follow him.)
  • Burden of Dark by Stew (Batman) 30 (A young vagabond named Jesus is caught at the scene of a crime and Batman beats him up. Later Batman takes him home to Wayne manor and takes him in overnight. Jesus wants to become the next Robin. Batman has sex with him, then denies it happened and turns him out.)
  • Nightflyers by Tim Howe (Nightflyers) 34 (a graphic narrative)
  • With All My Symbiotes by Susan Douglass (Star Trek: TNG) 38 (femslash) (Beverly Crusher falls in love with Ambassador Odan, as in "The Host", our first introduction to a Trill. As he switches host bodies, she has trouble adjusting. Eventually she accepts Odan in a woman's body.)
  • Those Who Hunt the Night by Emily Ross (Those Who Hunt the Night) 43
  • Brand New Day by Jane Carnall (Blake's 7/Star Trek) 44 (Blake's pod makes planetfall after Star One. Blake, drunk and despondent, teleports to Spock's vicinity. They talk. Spock finds him interesting and in need of care. He takes him home and to bed -- first not for sex, then for sex.)
  • Valmont by Stew (Dangerous Liaisons) 49 (Told in letters/diary-form, a retelling of the movie, "Dangerous Liaisons" all from Danceny's POV.)
  • Now There Was a Day by Arcane Annie (Damiano) 56 (Damiano and Raphael go for a walk and express their joy in existence. They kiss and express their feelings.)
  • Watch Song of the Congerie by Emily Ross (Original Fiction) 58
  • Hanging in Time by Y.J (Man from U.N.C.L.E) 59 (portrayal of the hurt-comfort syndrome in Illya)
  • Young Tor Skylow by Tim Howe (Star Wars) 61 (a graphic narrative)
  • Submissive It Ain't by Dawn Woods (The Professionals) 65 (Bodie and Doyle sort out who's on top and who's on bottom and how each handles it.)
  • Puppeteer by Bryn Lantry (Blake's 7) 69 (Everyone has multiple motives, and no one truly knows their own minds, much less understands their crewmates. A bit alternate, set sometime in the months before Star One but after Blake has already got the idea in mind, a character study of Blake and Avon.) (This fic is an expanded upon version of what was published in E-Man-Uelle.)

Artwork

  • Tim Howe
  • Bryn Lantry
  • Todd Parrish

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

See reactions and reviews for Puppeteer.
[Burden of Dark]:

And now, while I don't read it regularly, the Batman that appeals to me tremendously is the Batman of the Dark Knight series. Dark, brooding, vengeful, tormented, vulnerable, bloody, all sorts of juicy things which open up all sorts of possible titles.

There was a slash Batman story in HOMOSAPIEN II. Burden of Dark by Stew, that fit right in with this. It was a deeply disturbed image of Batman, one who, it was intimated, had been in love with both of his teenage "Robins" and presumably had sex with them, as he did with the narrator of the story, a teenager himself. This story captivated me, and stayed with me for a long time after I read it, rare in a slash story these days. Does anyone know of any other Batman slash stories? [3]
[zine]: Before Michelle Christian joined the list, I did the lion's share of the reviews (boy, and am I glad she came along). I was looking at the archives recently, and found this review of mine in very first post of this list.... (Almost exactly 4 years ago--this list started Oct 19, 1992).

Begin Review

I just finished a great Multi-media zine called Homosapiens Too. It has an interesting variety of fandoms and crossovers; even more important, there wasn't a single story that stunk (though I liked some better than others, of course.)

Page count is

  • Pros/Booker 18pgs (Bodie/Booker)
  • Erioca/Muncle 5pgs (Erioca/Illya)
  • Batman 4 (Batman/street punk)
  • Nightflyers 6+ (cartoon, from the movie)
  • TNG 5pgs (Beverly/symbiote)
  • B7/TOS trek 5pgs (Blake/Spock)
  • Dangerous Liaisons 7pgs (Valmont/Danceny)
  • Damiano 2pgs (from the R.A. McAvoy books)
  • MUNCLE 2pgs the usual
  • Star Wars 4 (cartoon, original characters)
  • Pros 4pgs the usual
  • B7 50pgs (Blake/Avon)

Perhaps I should mention at the there was a contest for most outrageous crossover pairing.

My favorites were:

  • The Right Place To Be (Bodie/Booker) by Arcane Annie & Stew--Bodie quits in a huff after an Operation Suzie, and is too embarrassed to go back; Booker has quit somewhat similarly. Seeing how stupid the other's foolish pride looks, they both learn things about playing roles and 'what really matters.' They also have pretty good sex.
  • Do Blond's Really Have More Fun? (Eroica/Illya) by Barbara T. This definitely is set at a time when Solo and Kurykin are having some problems. The crossover is a fascinating one, and it works. (Anyone needing Eroica explained, just e-mail me. It is a pretty new/small fandom, but growing fast.)
  • Brand New Day (Spock/Blake) by Jane Carnell. Follows immediately after Blake's pod makes planetfall after Star One. A great Blake, and if not a totally convincing Spock, it's close. Worth it for this scene alone.
  • Blake "What do you like?"
  • "Anal penetration,"
  • "Which way round?" Blake inquired.
  • "I am a telepath. It hardly matters. Whichever way pleases you."
  • Valmont (Valmont/Danceny) by Stew -is a romantic, but very plausible retelling of the movie Dangerous Liaisons, all from Danceny's POV. For any that have read the book, you know it is told solely in letters and diary entries, so this collection of Danceny's diaries is very faithful to the original feel. It is also an amazingly concise retelling, squeezing the movie into 6 1/2 pgs.
  • Submissive It Ain't (Pros) by Dawn Woods is basically just a sex story, but one firmly based in the very different personalities of Bodie and Doyle. Nice idea, beautiful sex, slightly weak ending.
  • Puppeteer (Blake/Avon) by Bryn Lantry is a convoluted but beautiful story where: the action is in the emotions, everyone has multiple motives, and no one truly knows their own minds, much less understands their crewmates. A bit alternate, set sometime in the months before Star One but after Blake has already got the idea in mind, this is a wonderful character study of Blake and Avon, with Vila and Cally in strong supporting roles. Not my favorite type of story -- I think I prefer something a bit more straightforward -- but undeniably compelling and well written.

The other stories weren't dogs either...

  • The Muncle story, Hanging In Time, by Y.J. is a very disturbing portrayal of the hurt-comfort syndrome in Illya,
  • The Batman story will appeal to anyone who liked "The Dark Knight Returns"
  • With All My Symbiotes - Susan Douglass- female slash.
  • Why Couldn't It Be Me has gotten a certain amount of press as "Biblical slash." It does have two biblical characters in it, but it is just a vignette, and has no overt slash content.

A few caveats: I disliked the art in the first story, and was indifferent to the rest. I had a hard time reading the 2 cartoon sections; I thought the penning needed to be clearer, and the xerox needed to be darker for those sections.

With those few quibbles in mind, I recommend the zine highly. It has an interesting collection of stories set in an amazing variety of universes. The editor is joining a growing number of publishers in mention the word count -- 80,700, with 40,700 of it in Bryn's B7 story.

End Review

At the time I wrote this [review], there were just 7 of us [on the Virgule mailing list], and I didn't know Julien (Stew, back then) from a hole in the ground. But I still love (and reread) this zine... [4]

My rating system: One star: I was sorry I read it. Two stars: Waste of time. Three stars: Fun to read. Four stars: Excellent. Five stars: Utterly brilliant.

This starts with an item "You received this zine because", which I found delightful and funny even though I only got half the references. This is both the fun and the frustration of a multi-media zine, especially if it ranges widely in its content. As this one did. But I like that kind of eclectic variety and I was familiar with all but one or two of the fandoms represented here. I picked it up because it had three of my favourite sources in here -- Pros, Batman, and Eroica -- as well as "Dangerous Liaisons" (one of my favourite movies) and "The Man >From U.N.C.L.E.".

So was I happy with this zine? Yes, though I didn't like all the stories. I liked certain editorial quirks, such as the brief editorial waffle' at the beginning of each story to explain who was featured and what fandom they were from. Mostly I knew. But when I didn't know, the line of explanation was extremely welcome.

An offhand quibble: I couldn't think why all the titles were followed by ellipses and I found it vaguely annoying, which is why I left the ellipses out when listing the stories below. The print was a smaller than I feel comfortable with, but the layouts were clear and pleasant. The art ranged from superb to unremarkable.

In detail:

(1) "The Right Place to Be" by Arcane Anne and Stew - A Professionals/Booker crossover.

I may have heard of Booker but if so, I've forgotten. I've certainly heard of Richard Grieco but I don't recall what he looks like or where I heard of him. So I was at a loss as to the background of this story that puts Bodie in bed with Booker, and thankful for the publisher, Stew, for explaining at least the basics of what the source was.

The story: [spoilers here]

Bodie has left CI5 and has left England after a fight with Cowley -- he resigned, Doyle didn't. Bodie gets work in the States as a bodyguard for a young rock star named Moneek, whose other bodyguard is Booker. Booker is bi and attracted to Bodie, but Bodie rudely turns him down. Both discover that Moneek's father is into drug-dealing and that he murdered her former bodyguard. Bodie (after some resistance) goes to bed with Booker and confesses that he had some degree of sexual activity with Doyle and misses him dreadfully. They solve the murder mystery, and Bodie goes back to England and Doyle, while Booker returns to whatever or whoever it was he left.

Here was a Bodie I didn't like, and I am a major Bodie fan. This (presumably) gorgeous, brave and likeable man makes a pass and all Bodie can do is act homophobic? And then admits to being bi himself, adding hypocrisy to his crimes, and blatantly uses Booker for sex because Doyle isn't around.

That's not *my* Bodie.

I liked the end, though, when Bodie decides what he really wants (Doyle) and goes back to him. By then he is quite humanized and I was liking the story more and more. I also liked this passage:

[Booker said,] "The blonde at the bar -- she wanted to know your name. Didn't believe me when I told her." Bodie's disinterest shifted to mild curiosity. "What did you tell her?" "FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper."

Rating: Three stars.

* * *

(2) "Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?" by Barbara Tennison. (Eroica/The Man From U.N.C.L.E.)

The plot: Major Klaus Von Dem Eberbach asks Eroica to help him with a job he is undertaking on NATO's behalf for U.N.C.L.E., which involves breaking into the safe of a rich Italian who was formerly a lover of Eroica. Eroica and Illya Kuryakin do the housebreaking while Napoleon Solo and the Major keep the homeowner busy elsewhere. Their job done, Illya and Eroica dally in the homeowner's large bed.

There were lots of things I liked about this story, besides its good writing, besides the fact that it put two heroes I love together -- Dorian Earl of Red Gloria (a.k.a. Eroica) and Illya Kuryakin. I liked the characterization of Eroica, the flaming blond, and of Klaus, the upright, uptight Major he loves. I was thrilled with the characterization of Illya Kuryakin, whom I have come across all too often in fan fiction as delicate, victimized and feminized. I always thought of him a tough and dangerous -- he is, after all, KGB. So I was delighted to see here, possibly for the first time off the screen, a depiction of Illya just as I want him, masculine and forceful. As they initiate sex, Illya says to Eroica, "If you call me Klaus, I'll tear your balls off." The passage continues:

It was like a dash of cold water -- or truth. "Am I likely to do that?" asked Dorian, feeling the ridges of scar tissue on Illya's back. "I don't know. Are you?"

Of course he does, but Illya forgives him.

The only characterization I didn't like, or didn't understand, was that of Napoleon Solo, who seemed boring, straight, and rather clueless. Not the way I always see the Napoleon Solo of my imagination.

The plot delightfully tied together the international espionage angles of both Eroica and UNCLE, admittedly not difficult.

Rating: four stars.

* * *

(3) "Why Shouldn't it Be Me?" by Jane Carnell. ("myths and legends").

Story: A scholar named Matthew hears a wise Rabbi speak and vows to follow him.

This was a clever story -- a little too clever, maybe. It didn't really hook me till the very end, and that was striking.

Rating: Three, or maybe four, allowing an extra star for originality.

* * *

(4) "Burden of Dark" by Stew.

I generally like Stew's writing but I hated this story.

See, I'm a huge Batman fan. I think he is one of the few really sexy heroes to have ever come from DC Comics. (Ask me about Keith Giffen's Jo Nah and Brainiac 5 some time.) But there are a lot of versions of Batman, who is a character who has had innumerable writers and artists since Bob Kane fifty years ago, as well as several movies, several TV shows, and an animated feature. So only some of these versions are about the sexy hero I love -- look for names like Marshall Rogers, Mike Barr, Tim Sale, Denny O'Neill and Neil Adams in the credits. Avoid names like Michael Keaton and Adam West. My Batman is driven to the point of monomania, obsessed, dangerous and full of angst -- but he is a noble, tragic, heroic man in a demented world.

Stew specifically cites the Frank Miller Batman of "The Return of the Dark Knight" as her source, as well as an article I never heard of in a magazine I never heard of. Right. There have been lots of articles about Batman over the years.

Now, I love Frank Miller's work with a passion, I think Frank Miller is God. But I liked "The Return of the Dark Knight", clever as it is, much less than "Batman: Year One" or any of his "Daredevil" work. And Stew took the "Dark Knight" Batman, the aging, embittered Batman, and wrapped a strange dark story around him.

The plot [here be the spoilers]

A young vagabond named Jesus is caught at the scene of a crime and Batman beats him up. Later Batman takes him home to Wayne manor and takes him in overnight. Jesus wants to become the next Robin. Batman has sex with him, then denies it happened and turns him out.

Erk. This is not my Batman, the dashing brave guy I've been reading about since I was a kid. Can't get my mind around it, can't want to. It wasn't even Alfred as I know and love him. Uh-uh, I have strict standards for my Batman and this doesn't meet them.

First person narrative in this case didn't help.

Rating: one star.

* * *

(5) Nightflyers by Tim Howe.

Rather nice B&W art, but I found the lettering substandard and difficult to read. When it comes to comics, I think lettering is an extremely important art, as important as writing or art. I also found the story difficult to follow.

No rating.

* * *

(6) "With All My Symbiotes" By Susan Douglas. (ST:TNG, Beverly Crusher and Odan).

The story: [Spoilers] Beverly Crusher falls in love with Ambassador Odan, as in "The Host", our first introduction to a Trill. As he switches host bodies, she has trouble adjusting. Eventually she accepts Odan in a woman's body.

I liked the concept but didn't particularly enjoy the way this was developed; I didn't feel much understanding of Crusher or of Odan. I was left feeling there wasn't much here, they seemed such superficial people.

Rating: Two stars.

* * *

(7) "Brand New Day" by Jane Carnell. (Blake's 7/Star Trek TOS -- Blake and Spock)

First of all, I like Spock. Second, I don't much like "Blake's 7" and I particularly don't like Blake himself, but I adore Avon.

This story bludgeoned me with little surprises and I loved it.

The story: [ insert a spoiler alert here]

Blake, drunk and despondent, teleports to Spock's vicinity. They talk. Spock finds him interesting and in need of care. He takes him home and to bed -- first not for sex, then for sex.

I can't help feeling that Spock deserves better than Blake, but that's okay. I liked the way they approached sex -- Blake dreamily, Spock pragmatically. A good bit:

Blake gazed at him, and said out of the blue, "Will you go to bed with me?" "Why?" "Cause I want to," Blake said blurrily. He was very nearly asleep. "Your hands are nice."

This is followed by:

Spock... sounded as if he were used to drunken humans throwing themselves at him. "However, you snore." "Does this happen to you often?" ... "No. Usually I do not permit anyone who snores to sleep with me. However, you are the first to say you liked my hands."

Beautiful! For this and several other delightful passages this gets four stars.

* * *

(8) "Valmont" by Stew. ["Dangerous Liaisons"; Danceny/Valmont]

I loved this movie, which combined elegant wit and dark manipulations of the innocent by the reprehensible for base, usually sexual, motives. In the movie, the Vicomte de Valmont has seduced every woman in sight, particularly his partner-in-crime Madame de Merteuil, who induces him to seduce the innocent young Cecile de Volanges in order to seduce the good but guilt-stricken Madame de Tourvel (more easily remembered as Michelle Pfeiffer). Did you follow that? Good, okay. The complication in this story is that Valmont also seduces the young, naive and would-be-heroic lover of Cecile de Volanges, the young Chevalier Danceny.

This story is presented as journal entries, which fits nicely with the original book. It has the flavour of the movie delightfully -- the slow, disastrous understanding of evil on the part of the young people, and its seductive qualities.

I wish the movie had included these scenes; it would be an improvement on the already wonderful original.

Rating: four stars.

* * *

(9) "Now There Was a Day" by Arcane Annie. (Damiano/Raphael from the R. A. McAvoy novels, which I read but don't remember very well.)

Story: Damiano and Raphael go for a walk and express their joy in existence. They kiss and express their feelings (spiritual? Sexual? Emotional? All three?) transcendentally.

I usually don't like stories of sex with winged beings, but I'll make an exception in the case of an archangel. This was beautifully evocative, oddly objective.

Rating: three stars, with a tip of the hat for being different.

* * *

(10) "Hanging in Time" by YJ. (UNCLE)

Story: Illya is imprisoned and suffering, hoping Napoleon will rescue him. This relates to his musings about life about how he takes risks knowing Solo will save him.

Rating: Three stars.

* * *

(11) "You Tor Skylow" by K. Howe. Another graphic narrative, with Star Wars tie-in. I skipped this one because it looked difficult to read.

* * * (12) "Submissive it Ain't" by Dawn Woods. (Professionals)

Described as a "philosophical sex scene", I thought this was delightful -- it's about Bodie and Doyle sorting out who's on top and who's on bottom and how each handles it. Now, I'm usually of the "make it as equal as possible" school of thought for maximum sexiness, but that isn't exactly how it's played here -- the whole point being that (at least in this story) Bodie hasn't a submissive bone in his body.

Of course, I love philosophical sex scenes. It's one of my favourite kinks.

It was written in the first person, from Doyle's point of view, a tricky way to approach narrative that usually doesn't work for me. I might have been happier even here with third person narrative, but it still came across nicely.

This also did a nice job of presenting the excitement and adjustments of a new relationship. It was funny and it was sexy, what more could I ask?

Rating: four stars.

* * * (13) "Puppeteer" by Bryn Lantry. (Blake's 7; Blake/Avon)

This novella takes up the rest of the zine. I loved it, hated it, and it drove me crazy. I alternately thought it was brilliant and abysmal; loved the dialogue (which makes up most of the story) and was impatient with the story, which meandered a lot without going anywhere.

I liked the way it used the aspects of Blake that I most dislike -- the holes in his personality -- as part of the plot. And this was a mellower and kinder Avon than I am used to thinking of, which was a plus too. And for most of the story they are tossing back and forth clever dialogue of the kind I most love, playing a clever game of word-based one-upmanship that escalates as each character wins and makes counter-moves that reach nearer the emotional heart of each other and of the story. The story itself parallels this, as political intrigue against the Federation is carried out and the interpersonal theme develops a sexual edge that culminates in the seduction of Blake -- with a plot twist to follow, then another plot twist. Illusion and deception interwoven with half-truths and truths. Themes of suicide and sexuality carried out with acidic precision.

I love all these things. I adore clever, witty, snappy battles of dialogue. I love plot twists, especially ones I can't anticipate, and I didn't see these coming. And these twists made perfect sense in terms of character and setting. I like sex and suicide with a hard, detached edge.

For all of this, I'd call this a five-star story.

Unfortunately I kept getting impatient. I wanted the story to be more structured, more clear, less meandering. It puttered despite all the crackle and pop. The plot for the most part was boring and slow -- for which I'd call it a two-star story.

Drove me crazy.

Finally I concluded that I'd have been thrilled with this story if it had been, say, ten thousand words instead of forty thousand.

My favourite bit:

Waspish and unwise Blake snapped, "That will do with the strip tease." Avon smiled. "Honesty at last. I thought you'd never mention that you find me ruinously handsome." "You're not queer, you're just generally perverse. You only relish the bizarreness of it, don't you?" "I can't resist you undignified, Roj. When you bleed and lie and lose your temper. I like your pitfalls and your inconsistencies and your injuries." Asking, "May I?" he stroked Blake's ribs with the backs of his fingers, oddly deferential. "I like your secret, ignoble places. I want to be let into them."

Rating? I couldn't possibly rate this story.

* * *

Then there are letters of comment, which I always like to see.

* * *

The best stories in the book:

(1) "Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?" by Barbara Tennison. (2) "Submissive it Ain't" by Dawn Woods. (3) "Valmont" by Stew.

...With a special mention of "Puppeteer" because it was remarkable for all its frustrations.[5]

Issue 3

cover of issue #3

Homosapien 3 was published in September 1993 and is known as "Homosapien Trois."

  • Disclaimer by Stew (Special Agent Dale Cooper of the FBI files a report regarding the zine stating there is no evidence that "slash fans are seeking to subvert the government or the Constitution - they seem mostly harmless, from a national security point of view -- but I confess they may have had a subversive effect on my own tastes and inclinations.... Further, there is no evidence that the editor's or writers' intention was to break copyright laws in order to be malicious or to make money...In short, I see no reason to progress this within the Bureau as an official investigation....") (Twin Peaks)
  • Alcherings by Annie Stuart (My Own Private Idaho) 7
  • Flights of Angels by Debbie Hicks (Battlestar Galactica) 11
  • Catching Up by Stew (Indiana Jones) 19
  • Weills of a Summer Night by Barbara T (Eroica) 31
  • Never Pansies by Jane Carnall (Myth) 35
  • Hard, Harder, Hardest by Stew (The Hard Way) 37
  • Solo by Maggie Hall (The Professionals) 43
  • Look Away by Auntie Entity (The Professionals) 47
  • The Gentlemen Prefer Blonds Affair by Jane Carnall & Atropos (The Professionals/MUNCLE) 55
flyer for issue #3 from inside Backtrack #9, click to read
  • Married to the Job by Edwina Harvey (The Professionals) 61
  • Humble Beginnings by Auntie Entity (The Professionals) 63
  • The Do-It-Yourself Bodie/Doyle Story by Susan Douglass (The Professionals) 67
  • Lovemates by Jesse's Girl (Elfquest) 69
  • Midnight at the Lost and Found by Kari D'Herblay (The Three Musketeers) 75
  • Dale's Dance by Stew (Twin Peaks) 79
  • Fatalities by Bryn Lantry (Blake's 7) 99
  • Mephistopheles and the Hero by Bryn Lantry (Blake's 7) 102
  • A Riddle by Bryn Lantry (Blake's 7) 105
  • But, Batman...There is No Adventure by Arcane Annie (Booker) 107
  • Letters of comment from readers regarding previous issues.
  • Numerous fanzine and fan club ads

Artwork

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 3

[Solo]: The lads are living together as a couple. Doyle is reading on the sofa. Bodie tries to get him to have sex but D is too tired. B sits in an armchair and takes care of himself while he watches D, who despite himself is watching B pleasure himself. The description of B's masturbation is very detailed and erotic. [6]
[Look Away]: Bodie sustains a flesh wound to the groin, narrowly missing his important bits. The wound gets infected and requires frequent dressing changes. Doyle moves in with B to do the nursing. B has a hard time hiding the fact that he is turned on by D. He is uncharacteristically subdued; he doesn't want to get dressed, go out, or show any interest in sex. The CI5 doctor thinks that B shouldn't return to active duty until he's back to normal sexually. Cowley is worried about B. First he makes D buy B some Playboy magazines but it doesn't help. He then gives D money to hire a hooker for B! When it is finally time to take the stitches out D realizes what's wrong with B and gives him blow job. They admit they love each other. D uses C's money to take B out to a fancy dinner. They will now be a committed couple. [7]
[The Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Affair]: This is a B/C fic and Man From UNCLE crossover. Cowley meets Ilya Kuryakin (who is to attend a conference) at Heathrow. The lads are suspicious and follow him back to C's flat but C knows they are tailing him. They find out IK is C's old friend. Later B and C have sex and talk. B had been jealous of IK but is reassured he has nothing to worry about. [8]
[zine]: I read Homosapiens Trois last night on the plane, and liked it, but not nearly so much as I liked the first 2 (and not just because it doesn't have a long Bryn Lantry B7 story either...). [9]
[zine]: And, for the zine which surprised me the most -- Homo Sapiens Trois. I was expecting it to be good, and it was--the unexpected part came from two sources — a slash story about a Michael J. Fox character which was actually hot! (Michael J. Fox? Who'd have thought it?) — and a wonderful Eroica piece from [B] in which the song references were from "The Three-Penny Opera" — at last, song references I could recognize! (Do you know how frustrating it is to constantly read stories with tags of songs assumed to be common knowledge, which I've never heard of?!!) [10]

Issue 4

cover of issue #4, Shayne McCormack

Homosapien Foreplay, also known as Homosapien 4, was published in 1996 and is 135 pages long.

  • A Warrior's Honor by Stew (Geronimo) 6
  • Return of the Knights by Jane Carnall & Atropos (Pros/Star Wars/ST:TNG) 13
  • Decisions by Stew (Seaquest DSV) 34
  • A Rare Find by Debbie Hicks (Real Ghostbusters) 41 (reprinted from Crossing the Streams #1)
  • The Reality of Freedom by Stew (Thunderheart) 55
  • Reunion by Stew (Thunderheart) 65
  • Dancing in a Whirlpool by Debbie Hicks (Pros/Lethal Weapon) 71
  • And All For Love by Anna Vie (The Three Musketeers) 75
  • Oz Didn't Give Nothin' to the Tinman by Debbie Hicks (Star Trek: TNG) 79
  • AWOL by Aunty Entity (The Professionals) 85
  • With Friends Like These by Quill (Due South) 93
  • Encounter by Stew (The X-Files) 107
  • The Last Dangerous Universe by Jane Carnall (Multiple fandoms) 112
  • Better Not Look Down by Arcane Annie (Booker) 117

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 4

Recommended if you like the other shows in this zine [besides due South]. Probably $9 plus postage, no fuss zines with good value for money. [11]

Issue 5

cover of issue #5

Homosapien 5 was published in 1997, contains 136 pages and is subtitled, "Homosapien the Filth."

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 5

Reviewer's disclaimer: It's a review. That means it's my opinion about something. Sometimes I like stuff, sometimes I don't and I try to be as specific about why I did or didn't like something as possible. Just remember, salt to taste.

HOMOSAPIEN THE FILTH a 106,100 word (app 131 pages) multi-media slash zine.

Yes, it's another of the HOMOSAPIEN zines from Julien. Like many of the past issues, this has a rather ecclectic group of fandoms involved, from the normal TV series most of us know to smaller fandom shows to movies to literature. And all points in between. While this gives many people just that many more chances to like the zine, it all depends on how many of the fandoms you're into. Overall, the writing of this zine is of the solid stripe you'd expect from the previous issues, though.

"Due Voyagers" (DS/ST: VOYAGER) by Gillian Middleton--Before anyone gets off on the 'oh, man, who's slashed in this one?!' tangent, allow me to put your minds at ease: It's Fraser/Ray (the *real* Ray). In this case, it's au versions of the characters. Ray is one of the Maquis who were brought aboard and who happens to have been put with a certain Starfleet crewmember, one Ensign Benton Fraser. The story is cute and I didn't have any real objections to the characterization, but I really was wishing there was more to it. The feel of it is certainly of the 'we thought it would be a cute idea to put them there, but that's as far as the idea went' variety.

"The Things Men Do" (THE DEVIL'S OWN) by Julien--One of several stories I did not read. I haven't seen the movie and despite being a Harrison Ford fan, I have a near allergic reaction to Brad Pitt.

"Disinvolvement" (Pros) by Elizabeth Holden--A letter written by Ann Holly to Doyle sometime after the end of their relationship. I have to admire it for nothing else than the fact that it's much more sympathetic to the character than about 99.9% of the fanfic dealing with her.

"Immergence" (XF-Mulder/Skinner) by Gwyneth Rhys--A first time story set after "Paper Hearts". Works well within itself, even though I was completely frustrated by the episode (mainly the timing of it).

"The Loose Cannon" (THE LAST DON) by Julien--Again, I didn't see the movie and have even less knowledge of what went on in it than in THE DEVIL'S OWN.

"...Who Needs Enemies?" (DS) by Quill--A sequel to her earlier story, "With Friends Like These" in HOMOSAPIEN FOREPLAY, this story brings back the character of Phillip with the idea that Fraser is helping him with setting up a sting. The grand majority of stories from Quill, I have to admit not liking. The reasons range from slightly off dialogue to characterisation I simply can't recognise and almost all of them have a curious flatness to them. This is, unfortunately, not an exception. Aside from the flatness, the characters were doing things for the expedience of the plot which I could just not see them doing. There was no reason for Fraser not to tell Ray what was going on from the beginning and I really didn't see why he was so pissed at Ray for being pissed at Fraser. Since this seems to be the point of the story--which I'm kinda fuzzy on anyway--I have to say that it failed for me.

"Forgiveness" (THAT WAS THEN< THIS IS NOW) by Stew--Again, I haven't read the book (which is what this story is apparently based on) *or* seen the movie.

"Natural Defences" (SENTINEL) by Taylor Collins--Jim keeps having nightmares that keep waking Blair up. While I have no complaints about the story itself (though the plot device of one of them having nightmares and the other crawling into bed with him to stop them is quickly becoming cliche in this fandom) or the characterisation and enjoyed the story as far as it went, I felt like there was a great amount of story missing here. While the main reason in this story was to get the two of them together, I thought a larger part of the story was the dreams Jim was having and why he was having them. Yes, they're explained to an extent, but it seemed like once Jim and Blair got into bed, the writer figured that was all that was needed. I felt like the rest of the story was short-changed by this.

"Chances of a Lifetime" (K2) by Stew--You know, I used to think I watched a lot of movies, but I haven't seen this one either.

"An Audience of One" (Pros) by Aunty Entity--A sequel to the stories "Humble Beginnings" and "AWOL", which appeared in the two previous issues. In this story, Bodie figures out that Cowley has a lover (who he has had a spat with since George told him he slept with Bodie and Doyle) and he wants to find out who it is. I have a real problem seeing Cowley having a three-way with Bodie and Doyle, let alone Cowley as gay. I also have more of a problem with the idea that Cowley would cheat on someone. I just seem him as more old-fashioned than that.

"Ellipsis (as unsplinteres under a full moon)" (Macgyver/Murdoc) by Julie Kramer (and Jane Carnall)--MacGyver is held by a gang and rapes until Murdoc, who happens to be working for the gang's employer rescues him. Not a typical rape story (though that's not necessarily good) and not a typical h/c story, this is one of my favorites from the zine. I admit, I have a kink for this pair and am thrilled that others seem to be sharing my kink. And this story does not fall into the trap I see laid for all such stories: Getting them together by suddenly 'nicing up' Murdoc. If I have any real complaint, it's that the rape at the beginning doesn't really fit in with the rest of the story (don't worry if rape stories squick you--and don't bother if that's you're kink--since the rape is brief and not the focus of the story at all). I think it would have worked just as well if not better if the men had beaten the crap out of him and were just getting ready to rape him when Murdoc shows up. MacGyver's reactions to Murdoc's coercement--however much he may want him subconciously--don't seem quite right for someone who was just brutally gangraped not long before. That aside, though, it's a good story that cries out for a sequel. I have a feeling that Murdoc as a good guy would not necessarily be that Good. Which is the way I like it!

"Lonely Hunter" (Anne Rice's VC) by Thomas--Okay, I read the first couple books of the VC, but I can't say I was overwhelmed by them. Okay, I thought THE VAMPIRE LESTAT was great and damn erotic (make *that* into a movie and try to take out all the homoeroticism without totally rewriting it!), but I was bored silly with INTERVIEW (the book) and quickly lost interest in QUEEN OF THE DAMNED. Louis whines too much for me.

"Seeing Is..." (PROOF) by Michelle Christian--Well, I've seen this movie. It's an Australian movie about a blind photographer (Hugo Weaving) and his friend (Russell Crowe looking incredibly cute) and it's highly slashy and I can't say anything more about the story. It's pure pwp, though.

"Expect the Unexpected" (MEN IN BLACK) by Julien--I saw the movie and I liked the story!  :-) Nice little pwp set during and a little after the movie, this is a story about J (Will Smith)/K (Tommy Lee Jones).

"Homicide: Life on the Side" (HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET) by Pamela Rose--While I've only seen an episode or two and therefore don't feel comfortable commenting on the veracity of the characterisation, I will say that I really liked this story. It is Pembleton/Bayliss for those more versed in the series. Almost makes me want to see the show (do I really need to say that I don't need another fandom? Didn't think so.); certainly makes me interested in anything more Pam wants to write about them. Of course, I'll read practically anything by Pam.  :-)

So, overall, another ecclectic entry in the world of multi-media zines. Probably better for those who have seen many of the movies mentioned, but fairly solid writing throughout. [12]

Issue 6

cover of issue #6

also known as Homosapien Sux, was published in February 1999 and is 142 pages long, 120,400 words of fiction.

NOTE: the listing at Agent With Style does not include the [[Blake's 7] story. It is unclear if the story does not appear in later printings or if this is a typo by Agent With Style.

As had recently become style, warnings for the entire zine were gathered together at the back. The zine also included a small LOC section, including letters from Anja Gruber, Charlotte C Hill, Emma Hawkins, and Quill

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 6

See reactions and reviews for Five Easy Pieces and a More Difficult One.
[The Grey Twilight]: (blush). Now on the web (originally pubb’d in Homosapien Sux), it’s a dark look at Krycek’s obsession with Mulder, and how a man can know so much about another person’s motivations and yet so little about his own. [13]

Issue 7

Homosapien 7 has a cover by Suzan Lovett.

References

  1. 2002 comments by Predatrix
  2. froom Nell Howell at The Hatstand
  3. a fan's comments in Strange Bedfellow APA #3 (1993)
  4. On October 12, 1992, Sandy Herrold reviewed this zine as part of the first post to the Virgule-L mailing list. It is quoted here with permission.
  5. from a fan on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (March 3, 1997)
  6. by Metabolick at The Hatstand
  7. by Metabolick at The Hatstand
  8. from Metabolick at The Hatstand
  9. comment by Sandy Herroldat Virugle-L, quoted with permission, September 20, 1993
  10. from Strange Bedfellows #3 (November 1993)
  11. a fan on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (July 19, 1996)
  12. October 22, 1997, Michelle Christian, Virgule-L, quoted with permission
  13. Sandy Herrold. Issues of Consent: Sandy’s mostly"Slash Without Consent" link page, via Wayback. (Accessed 09 May 2015)