|Author(s):||RivkaT and MustangSally|
|Date(s):||January 1998 (first part)|
|External Links:||Iolokus Series (Fugues Fiction Archives & Recommendations)|
Iolokus Series (RivkaT's page)
Iolokus Series (The Nursery Files)
Iolokus Series (txt version archived on the Wayback machine)
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Iolokus is a seven part X-Files fan fiction series by RivkaT and MustangSally. The work, which is a grim AU spin on the show's mytharc, may be one (if not the) most controversial fan fictions in Philedom (see Fan reaction) because of the bleak characterization of Mulder, Scully and their relationship in the stories. It's considered a Fandom Classic by many X-Philes.
The first part of the series was published in January 1998. 
In 2013 and 2014, RivkaT explained that it was "written from a place of deep anger about what Scully went through," and that "This story was written in a fury of anger on her behalf, and a conviction that she too was entitled to be angry. I wish the show had let her be." 
The Iolokus series is made up of four novel-length stories and a single, shorter holiday-themed piece, Syadiloh, which, cleverly, is "holidays" spelled backwards. Iolokus itself takes its name from an island mentioned in Medea: "Iolokus is a misspelling of Ilokus which was the Greek island where the action of Medea took place. That might win you money on Jeopardy, but you must phrase it in the form of a question." 
Originally posted and archived with Vix te Agnovi as the third installment, RivkaT's site now lists it as the fourth and final novel, moving Res Judicata into third.A fan in 2009 posted:
A few days ago, someone was talking about fic and the phrase "most famous fic in our fandom" came up. I'm not sure what story she had in mind but surely "Iolokus" has to be a contender for that title. I have seen it nominated by many people for the best fan fiction novel, not just in our own, but in any fandom. I have also seen people say they couldn't finish it because Mulder and Scully were too "out of character." 
Painted across the barren and desolate reaches of Texas, the shadows of the Project put additional pressure on Scully and Mulder's already fragile relationship. After a hostage crisis raises more questions about the Project's breeding program, Scully begins her own investigation, leaving Mulder to choose between saving her and saving himself.
"The title reference was to an island mentioned in Medea, to which we turned for fairly obvious reasons. Take the warning seriously: extreme violence, including the death of children."
Iolokus II: Agnates
The horrific saga begun in Iolokus continues in the barren landscape of Texas. Mulder and Scully delve deeper into the genetic experiments done by the Project on the Mulder family. When the innocent, and not-so-innocent, legacies of the experiment are murdered because of who and what they are, Mulder and Scully are forced to face terrible reflections in a mirror broken into ten distinct pieces.
Iolokus III: Res Judicata
The saga that began in Iolokus ends not with a bang but with a whimper. Mulder and Scully are involved in possibly the largest battle of their lives - fighting the unknown minions of the Project in family court for custody of their genetically engineered daughter Miranda.
Iolokus IV: Vix te Agnovi
Without your family, what have you got? As Mulder attempts to deal with the mundane horrors of suburban life, his fragile security is threatened by the return of a less-than-savory relative. It's Father Knows Best meets Seven as the former X-Files partners reunite.
Chanukah in the Mulder-Scully household. A three part series:
- Syadiloh 1: Chanukah with Lawyers (Iolokus V)
- Syadiloh 2: Some Assembly Required (Iolokus VI)
- Syadiloh 3: Y2K (Iolokus VII)
One of the Authors Talks About This Story
In 2001 or 2002, MustangSally talked about this fic:
What started your writing partnership with Rivka? What was you two’s process for composing the stories?:
I feel like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: The Truth? You can’t handle the truth!
Seriously, I remember watching the episode, where Scully sees that her ova are being used by the Consortium to make mutant babies (I’m terrible with titles) and being profoundly pissed. Carter really missed the boat on some elements of the female psyche in a big way. I started thinking about how I would feel if I’d been Scully and that spun out into a plot line where she takes back her power over her choice to reproduce, a very political statement, really. I’d read Rivka’s stuff and found it deliciously dark and edgy and we’d corresponded a bit, so I sent her my plot outline and asked her if she was interested in collaborating. The rest, as they say, is history.Methodology-wise, I’d generally work up a plot skeleton, send it to her and she’d add, move, change whatever she wanted. After a couple of passes, the skeleton was pretty sound and then we’d just start writing whatever scenes caught our fancy. There wasn’t any of the "you write Mulder, I’ll write Scully" division and we’d often overwrite and edit the shit out of each other’s scenes. There was no ego involved as far as "these are my words, thou shall not touch"! In the end, the only weakness was the fact that Mulder and Scully have similar voices, but we just decided that was acceptable. There was a nice disorienting factor where you weren’t initially sure which one was narrating a scene. They would think alike, since they had a similar vocabulary and educational background, and had been partners long enough that they’d taken on each other’s mannerisms of thought – the way "old marrieds" do.
"The X-Files" was, itself, a mythological text for the culture throughout the 90’s. If you extend [Joseph] Campbell’s definition into the virtual world... the Internet has become a culture, and X-Files fandom one within it. If I might be so bold, considering the polarization that "Iolokus" consistently brings when it’s discussed in a public forum (along with the familiarity-bordering-on-common-knowledge place it holds in the fandom), I would say that "Iolokus" is one of the core Myths of X-Files fanfiction.
Can you see this definition in this piece? (and incidentally, I’m asking a critical question, so you are free to take my definition and operate from that – I’m the one saying it, not you, so you can take off from what I’ve said and not worry about owning the definitions or classifications yourself.) If not, how do explain the appeal – even for the ones who love to talk about how it does NOT work for them – of "Iolokus"?
The frightening thing about this question is how blindingly accurate it is.
Iolokus deliberately started out as a retelling of the Medea myth. I’m heavily into Jung and Campbell, and saw Scully as turning into this Medea/Kali figure who would destroy her children rather than give up control of them. At the same time, Rivka and I made a deliberate attempt to take the conventions of X-Files fanfic and turn them on their ass. At that point there were a lot of "first time" stories, so we had Mulder and Scully begin their sexual relationship before the story began, we concentrated on their alienation from others and from each other. We reversed the gender roles even more than they had been on the show with a highly masculinized Scully, and a rather effeminate Mulder. If you notice, Scully initiates all the violence, and Mulder initiates any attempt at emotional connection. It’s no wonder that in the first action scene she crawls through an air duct (vagina) with a rifle (penis) to shoot (penetrate) Bill who has taken the children hostage while Mulder tries to negotiate (nurture).
Lather, rinse, repeat.In the matter of the various Mulder clones, we were playing with the meta idea that every writer has a different vision of Mulder – gay Mulder, homicidal maniac Mulder, tough Mulder, whore Mulder, and crazy Mulder. Hence the clones.
What do you think of the idea that "Iolokus" could be an Anti-Myth, a text meant to move AGAINST what we feel is the desired interpretation of these characters?:
I think I just answered that.But we had such a good time finding and pushing people’s buttons. We tried to disturb, tried to show the characters as being really, really, really damaged people. Both Rivka and I took a very juvenile pleasure in rattling cages with that. Malicious mischief, really. 
Works Inspired By "Iolokus"
1998: At Time of PublicationIt's safe to say that Iolokus threw X-Files fandom into a frenzied uproar when it was first posted, and the fervor started up again each time a new installment was released. The series was so controversial that certain communities had rules against discussing it, as it only ended in tears, time and time again. From the WhyIncision FAQ:
Fans really were that divided on the subject. Iolokus's radical approach to Scully's characterization was considered insulting by some, and brilliant by others.
Q: I've heard there's some weird "Iolokus" ban. What's that about?
A: Although the list moderators haven't been around long enough to be classified as Bitter Old Fanfic Queens, (But, oh, how they dream of that day!) they have been around for 85 "Iolokus" discussions/flamewars on lists/boards/Usenet. That very demonstration of how passionately Philes would discuss fanfic led to this list's creation. Now it's the turn of some other stories. If curious, Google "Iolokus" on the atxc to read one of the previous discussions all the way from "Scully would never!" to "This is the best thing I've ever read!"
Kris and Shari of Chronicle X discussed all four books of Iolokus in one of their Can We Talk? segments, and both agreed that their feelings about the individual stories changed once they considered the series as a whole. And how they felt things that seemed unsettling or out of character when the stories were viewed separately became understandable and even integral to the series when taken as part of the larger picture.
Another fan wrote in 1998:
Kris: Had it been angst for angst's sake, it probably wouldn't be the huge success that it is. Part of these two women's stellar ability is to interweave little details that make a much more intricate whole...From the beginning of Book 3, Mulder was calling Miranda "Mooselet". And there was a little moment in the middle of the book, when during an exchange between Mulder and Scully, it became even more special.
Shari: Finally I could see this story as one entity and could understand how many of the things that were uncomfortable for me to read in the first three...and there were several...just how vital those things were to my understanding of the state of the characters and the road they traveled. Events and feelings gelled into a cohesive whole.
Another 1998 comment:
Finally read this thing...
Love it as a well and intensely written novel.Hate the characterization. Yeah, I know that the characterization is plausible, but normally I at least *like* Scully... And you guys brought out the side of Mulder that reminds me *way* too much of my ex. 
[Taking characterizations directly from the show] is the peculiar problem, the challenge, of fanfic. Someone else controls what happens to these characters, and sometimes they just aren't going to go where you want them to. Authors can either ignore what happens on the show, or they can work with what they've been given. In my opinion, the best fanfic takes the latter course: it doesn't ignore the events on the show, it takes those events and expands or re-interprets them.
For example, I don't think anyone was happy with the passive way that Scully was portrayed during the Cancer Arc. I mean, the woman's a scientist -- she's not going to just sit there and wait for someone to hand her a cure, she's going to be aggressively seeking answers. But what we saw on the show was only a tiny fraction of her "life" during that time, so in fanfic people were free to propose any number of assertive, proactive things that she was doing "behind the scenes". These proposals weren't actually inconsistent with what we saw on the show, they just went far beyond it.In fact, this is the whole point of fanfic, to me: to see how different people, given the exact same "data set" to work with, can come up with so many different unique and compelling theories to explain the data. I'm not a shipper, but I become one momentarily every time I read something by Paula Graves, because she weaves such a convincing 'shippy interpretation of what I see in the show every week. This is also one of the reasons why I loved Iolokus I and II by MustangSally and RivkaT so much. Most people prefer to build their theories around what they like about the characters, and they give the unpleasant data less weight -- they'll minimize an instance of Shrew!Scully (for example), by creating a situational interpretation for it, or maybe even conveniently forget about it, chalking it up to "writer error" at 1013 (this is the fiction equivalent of "measurement error" in the sciences). But Iolokus seemed to be built on the premise, "What if all the nastiness is the valid data? What if everything we like least about the characters is their *true* nature?" I thought it was a brilliant accomplishment that not only did they have this very original take on the matter, but even with incorporating the worst that each character has to offer, their interpretations of M & S were still people that I cared about. 
1999: Comparing "Iolokus" and "Tikkun Olam"
[Teddi Litman]:I'm not referring to Tikkun Olam here but there are authors that one can read as much for their stylistic elegance, wit or the sheer inventive unexpectedness of their language. I don't suppose anybody ever got a copy of Finnegan's Wake because it was a right little potboiler to buy granny for Christmas.... I think they do sit down and write something and think "how can I create something new and refreshing. How can I express myself in an interesting way while remaining intelligible" Sometimes - not very often I agree - that trade-off is worth it. Haven't you ever read anything and been startled enough to think, "flaming Ada, that's good"? (which is usually followed, in my case by "Bastard, I wish I'd thought of that"... I think that's an occupational hazard of reading stories by these two. I detested Iolokus for much the same reasons as you cite above until the fact that it seemed *everyone* disagreed with that assessment forced me to read again with a more open mind. Now I think I was utterly wrong and it's one of the best fics I have read - because the characterisations are so on the edge of extreme possibility (BTW I'm not trying to be smarmy by suggesting that rereading Tikkun Olam will have the same effect on you because IMO it is very much inferior to Iolokus and it won't).
[Theaker]:There it is! I'm going to say something a little shocking here: I think "Iolokus"* is overrated. <Gasp!> Don't get me wrong; I really, really enjoyed "Iolokus"; there is much in that series that is absolutely terrific. I have read parts of it more than once; and will likely continue re-reading it. The story has an intense popularity;a popularity that is so intense that yes, a great read like "Iolokus" can be clearly overrated. I have seen, several times, "Iolokus" held up as the *ultimate* X-Files fanfic, as the absolute best there is, as virtually *flawless.* That's overrated. I happen to think what is terrific about "Iolokus" well outweighs it's flaws; but it *does* have flaws. Yes, there are at least two or three people who posted here that they had problems with "Tikkun Olam" who were clearly *not* "Iolokus" fans; (The story has too many qualities similar to "Iolokus" that I don't believe this story could appeal much to non-Iolokus fans I'm afraid.) but I strongly suspect the majority of the people who stated they disliked the story are major, big time "Iolokus" fans. I really think this story is suffering a serious case of not-being-Iolokus. "Iolokus" is so greatly loved that it is hard to live up to. "Tikkun Olam" is similar enough to "Iolokus" (notably with the heavy use of metaphors and similar dark characterizations) that the comparisons are inevitable; but ultimately, impressions of the story will fall short for some "Iolokus" fans. I actually thought "Tikkun Olam" was a better story than the "Iolokus" series. <Gasp!> Oh, I think I *enjoyed* "Iolokus" more. As dark as it was at times, we had a much more "feel good" resolution. As much as we don't want to admit it at times, we are all suckers for the happier endings and ... well, more *resolved* resolutions. Oh yes, the happily-ever-after ending was very cleverly disguised; but come on, Scully was even talking to her family at the end ... grudgingly yes, but after all that happened, that's pretty darned "feel good", admit it!<G> I think "Tikkun Olam" though, was a little tighter, a little more unique, a little more daring, with more clear and universal themes. I thought it was just a little *better.* Just to clarify, I want to state when I write "Iolokus" I mean the whole series of stories including the "Syadiloh" stories; because I really think that's what most people mean when they mention "Iolokus." I do not think any of the individual stories are truly independent and complete. Only as a whole, is it complete. It is really not a series as I see it; but really a massive epic *serial* which is another reason I believe many comparisons to it tend to be a little unfair.
[swikstr]:Well, I feel like I'm perpetuating the beating of a dead horse here, although I really like that we can all discuss a story to this depth. But I feel like you're a bit too dismissive of Tikkun Olam with what you're saying here. I understand how you feel that the sex seemed to take the place of the plot and the story, but I agree with Teddi in that I thought TO was tighter and more clever, more original, than Iolokus. Perhaps it's because Tikkun Olam is a *concept* fic rather than a straight advance the plot in a linear direction story like Iolokus (which I thought had its fair share of weird sex scenes -- although not quite to the degree of TO, but take for example Scully and Marita's little encounter). Tikkun Olam is an exploration of what I consider to be an ingenious idea: how alternate versions of ourselves can be created in alternate universes, with each decision or choice we make. It is an exploration of what it means to call oneself a SELF. How can we really have any identity if our identities are so dependent on each little turn we take, out of a myriad of infinite possible turns? That was the question that made the story, for me, "better" than Iolokus. What Iolokus did with the Mulder twins dealt with identity issues, as well, but I didn't think it did so with anywhere near the originality and creativity of Tikkun Olam. I think there was plenty of "real plot" and "real story" here. The way that question gradually revealed itself as the central philosophical idea, through all of the surprising universe-switches and character changes, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire 25 parts. And someone in a previous message mentioned why Scully doesn't ever get the same kind of story, about the different kinds of person she may be given different circumstances. I thought Tikkun Olam did this quite well. It wasn't just Mulder we were seeing in different forms. We were seeing all of the other Scullys, too, every time he landed somewhere new.
[Teddi Litman]:I just can't seem to clam up on this thread ;) I will say that "Iolokus" is a very effective piece when viewed from a certain perspective, not the least of which is in its satirical qualities. I often wonder if the collective interpretation of this vastly popular work by the masses is really what the two authors intended. I also suspect that the story eventually went places on them that it was never really intended to go. And in the end, it speaks very subtly to the skill of the writing since so many people come away from this thing with differing reactions. But they still love it. On some level, the fic shifts more deftly than Eddie Van Blundht's visage to become all things for all people. Readers really see only what they want to see with this story from what I've been able to gauge. But frankly, each of the two writers has done stellar work on their own -- perhaps even surpassing the skill of "Iolokus." And that's my humble subjective opinion. Rivka's "Blood and Breath" and "Arcadia" would fall into that category. As would MustangSally's "Syntax and Measure." Her "All the Children are Insane" might be the best piece of post-ep characterization I've ever seen. Just thought I'd mention some other alternatives ;)
[Lavinia]:Ok, you have a point. There are definite points in the series that have a certain self awareness to them; and the wilder metaphors are indications of this. My main point was really to ask why certain aspects of the authors' style were suddenly unacceptable to a person claiming to actually like their previous work. A couple of people who were turned off by the metaphor use in "Iolokus" saw the same thing in TO and brought it up. Ok, that made sense to me: they found the metaphors distracting in "Iolokus"; they are *not* going to like TO either for the same reasons. However, then someone responded basically with: You're absolutely right. That's unforgivable. They usually do much better. *That* made no sense to me; because I was fairly certain that "better" meant "Iolokus;" and they did the very same thing in "Iolokus." Without going into specifics, I think the "Iolokus" series shows self awareness of being an "X-Files" story while TO has a more pointed self awareness of being "X-Files" *fanfic.* The real question is: do elements of self-awareness, some which could be classified as satiric make the whole story a satire? And ultimately, are satiric elements in a story that is not an *obvious* satire somehow "unforgivable?" Should such a story really be dismissed as "just a silly sex story" or something not to be taken seriously?
[swikstr]:Okay label me a sick, twisted person, but I rather liked it. There's been a lot of discussion about metaphores (and I mean a lot. You people know who you are.... Good job. Much more entertaining than listening to me LA teacher... That means.. dammit! I learned something!). I found that some of them were a little annoying and cringe worthy, but gave good mental pictures. And I suppose that's all that really matters. About the.. sex. *Shiver* I admit, I read this without really Iolokus (and I refuse to do so before I can prenounce it.) I have a low tolerance for people getting at it like bunnies. For me, after reading some fanfic, pretzels make me blush and run screaming from the grocery store. There's also been a lot of talk about the gratious sex. For me, I saw the sex as another type of metaphore for the kind of different types of parralel universes. From the sadoist/masochist, to violent, to threesomes, to lesbian... You could write a whole self help book on sex with this story. I didn't exactly enjoy the Hunter/Mulder/Scully pairing and found it disturbing and useless. *Meek glancing around for the flame thrower she's expecting to get in the face* But on the story level, the sex was a big driving point in the plot. The more screwed up things got, the more things got screwed. After finishing it though, I had to admit, that I really liked it. Only because the point was that it was so damn confusing. Damn, damn confusing. I almost dished my soup onto a plate. If you pay damn good attention to everything, you can really see it evolve. Complex was the word to discribe it. There's been talk at the end, it turned bad, but I think at the end, it just wound down. Well, there it is, my opinion. I enjoyed it on a *shudder* thinking level, but I wouldn't exactly recommend it to my fourteen year old sister. Lavinia Premonition *Who thinks that MustangSally and Rivka are going to have the last laugh*
[resurre]:In the case of "Iolokus," I think the answer is yes. But this isn't a hard and fast rule that can be applied to all writing. Not even to all satirical writing. From the very beginning of the "Iolokus" series, the two writers succeeded in breaking down much of the sacred mythology so beloved by [[1013|1013]] in it's treatment of individual characterizations and depiction of relationships on the series. The most obvious example for me was the cluster bombing of the overly-romanticized view taken by CC, Spotnitz and the rest of the merry men about Mulder and Scully as individuals, as well as their personal relationship with each other. And they went on and on from there -- right through to the final book -- which not only parodied 1013's vision, but also popular characterizations in fanfic as well. I can't even venture a guess as to whether this is what the authors intended or not. But I kind of hope it is, because it makes their accomplishment that much more deviously skillful. Furthermore, just because a piece is satire, that doesn't mean it can't function as a serious piece of dramatic fiction as well. I often refer to these two as the Jonathan Swifts of XF fic writing when it comes to "Iolokus." That's *my* metaphor and I'm sticking to it ;... Satire, if executed properly (and "Iolokus" most certainly falls into that category for me), is as serious a writing technique as you're ever going to find. We already have a name for writing that isn't to be taken seriously -- badfic. (And there are some very talented writers out there who do a very good job at writing, well...bad <eg>.) "Iolokus" isn't badfic. It's satire. Satire by definition (and excuse me for being didactic, but it's late <g>) is, "a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit." Anyone who doesn't get what I'm saying should go back and take a look at some of the more serious fan critique of 1013's foibles (the train-wreck of characterization known as "Emily" is a good example), and compare it to the portrayal of individuals and their relationships in "Iolokus." Then tell me that these two women weren't having a hell of a time writing this story at 1013's expense! Whether or not satire was their only motivation (or their only accomplishment) is a whole 'nother argument entirely. But as a work of irony, I think it's second to none in #X-Files Fanfictiondom|XF ficdom.)
I'd have to completely disagree with you about comparisons between TO and Iolokus (with the proviso that I may be talking complete bollocks - like I was yesterday when I said TO was far inferior <g>) I enjoyed both but I still think Iolokus is better. Overrated perhaps, but better. Neither TO nor Iolokus are flawless by any means. Both have parts that don't work and parts where the writers are just trying too damned hard for effect. Both suffer from sections where the writers clearly thought the story was getting in the way of the hot rumpo sex action (although both use sex as a means of revealing story also; in TO that is a central device, in Iolokus it's used as a means of revealing how a lack of communication is scuppering chances of a healthy relationship) But I think TO suffers more from that particular vice. Both stories are certainly over the top in the best possible way: over the top like the rollercoaster in that second when you know gravity's about to get its act together. They are long, lairy, daring and scary.... (Warning: Here's the bit where I may be talking a load of old clarts) I agree that for some people Iolokus was the ultimate ride. It had a bit of everything: case files, angst, 3D supporting characters, violence, hospitals, torture, it was dripping with sex and, best of all for most, it had a happy ending. With babies and everything. Blimey 8-) But IMO the reason I ended up thinking Iolokus was so splendid – and what constituted its major imaginative leap - was the way it tackled M and S. It had an incredibly dark reading of the characters that could also be grounded in the show you had seen - a pessimistic and downbeat rendition but a faithful one nevertheless. It was the ultimate daring extrapolation played out to its absolute extreme. I hadn't seen that before. (If it had been done before, then I apologise for showing my ignorance but if I tried to catch up on every bit of fic I'd missed for the last four years I'd have even less of a life than I do now)... TO was tighter yes, relentless, "pounding" to use one of the favourite words of these authors ;-). But one of the pleasures of Iolokus was its vast, busy sprawl. More unique - well not in terms of plot. Shifting universes caused by minor changes a character has made in the timeline is not an unknown device in sci-fi. Expressing those changes through increasingly outrageous sex scenes may be unique though (or it could be that I'm just not reading the right kind of sci-fi <g>) I also thought the post-invasion world could have been more sharply rendered. Perhaps I lack perspective here but sacrifice a few of those sex scenes and you could have got in a bit more about little things like, say, the fate of the entire bloody world. I also thought Iolokus had some wonderful supporting characters: chiefly Zippy and smart renditions of the old faves (like Margaret Scully, in which we are shown where Scully gets the control freak thing from) More clear and universal themes? Well I thought Iolokus was a more personal story to be sure but its themes - stated further up – were universal.
I kept hearing about Iolokus, and I finally gave in and read it. I'm glad I read it; the characterization, story, mood, and Mooselet (I'm sorry, I probably spelled that horribly wrong)... everything was wonderful. 
For anti-Harlequin nothing is better than the saga "Iolokus" by MustangSally and RivkaT. The talented authors take the concept of Mulder and Scully in a relationship, beat it to a bloody pulp, and then put on bandaids. This is soulmates on bad crack. Mulder and Scully are still together by the end, leaning against each other precariously. It's the only MSR babyfic that I would recommend to Noromos. I almost deleted this fic after the first chapter when Mulder thinks to himself he could hit Scully. No way! Later I was mad enough to take a few swings at them both, especially at Scully. She is (understandably) angry, bitter, and a mess. And she pulls Mulder down with her while she sets hares off to extract revenge. Proactive!Scully woohoo! But the roller coaster ride is only beginning. There's a serial killer, Ben and Jerry's, wonderful original characters, lawsuits, Samantha, psycho-housepet, twisted family betrayals, the Gunmen, clones galore, The Mooselet <snicker>, and mytharc, very lightly sprinkled with intentionally bad, unhealthy sex. You'll have to read the story to see if they ever get it right. <beg> I adored Mulder in this fic. (You'll have to read the fic to find out why it's *this* Mulder I'm hoping for this season). And this is a dark path I could see Scully tumble down around season 4 or 5. If you climb aboard the ride with them, wear a seat belt and hang on tight. Bring a flashlight. And wear dark comfortable clothing you won't mind throwing away. It gets pretty messy. 
Its probably the best of all XF fanfic but it really requires a whole weekend to do it justice. 
This is not for the weak of heart. Major angst and major character torture. You either love it or you hate it. 
Rec #1: This novel leaves the reader breathless with all of the twists and turns in the plot, not to mention leaving behind of feeling of "I wish I could write like this." This is angst and character torture at its finest - a Scully who is out of control and for once, Mulder is the one holding down the fort. You'll never be able to look at Rocky Road ice-cream quite the same way after reading this fic. Rec #2: Here's why I love it: Scully and Mulder on the edge, the dark humor, the heartstopping scenes (my favorite is in the Mutter Museum) the supporting characters, especially the Mooselet, the ANGST! and the perfect happy ending to one of the best rides in XF fic. 
It was the first fan fiction I ever read. This was a good thing, more or less. It's an epic four-part series (with a brief epilogue) that goes AU in the fifth season, some time after "Emily," and deals with issues canon never touched: Iolokus is the island on which Medea killed her children, and "Iolokus" starts off as the story of Scully's murderous maternal rage at having her reproductive choices, like so much else of her life, taken out of her control. The story is the dark underbelly of canon, with characters more damaged and more damaging and more full of lust and rage than we ever saw on the screen. It's told in sexy, sardonic, hard-boiled, sometimes purple style, Raymond Chandler with the heat turned up and the imagery and the plot and the sex never-ending. This story parodies every MSR cliché in the book -- and makes a workable serious plot out of them, not to mention roughhousing the mytharc into some semblance of sense. 
I remember this story! the million flaps about it! the never-ending debate about whether it was a Horrible Travesty or the Best Thing Evar! It was like, like the gay marriage of fanfic. Or something. 
I found Iolukus to be so out of character I couldn't get through it. It's one of those that is written well in the authors' style of writing (who really thinks in that many metaphors and similes, though?) but you might as well be reading original fiction. But the one thing about that story is it will be debated about for years so it must have made some impact on the world. 
I like Iolukus. I HATE the omgholdmyhandwhileitryandreadthis shit. But I liked the story. 
I don't think it's out of character. To me, it worked well if it were M&S as they'd actually be if the trauma they went through affected them, rather than a reset button every week. 
Well, it was an extension of character. They took certain traits and really focused on them. I liked the story, but, it was not a balanced version. I could see the TV characters in it, just to the extreme. 
Smug and over-the-top, not to mention insanely OOC. Must have been hard to write while simultaneouslypatting themselves on the back on the endless reams of OMGCleverness!!!! 
I have to agree with you on Iolokus. I've tried to read it a few times over the years and could never make it past the first chapter. I kept thinking "Who are these people who stole Mulder's and Scully's names." It really ticks me off when writers create totally original characters and try to pass them off as M&S. I realize that many authors put their own spin on the characters and that's fine as long as they are close to the established personalities. If you want characters that are nothing like the M&S we saw on the show then have the courage to make them totally original characters with different names instead of relying on the lure of M&S to draw in readers. 
...overhated: "Iolokus". Shippers adore it, slashers fear it. It was overly long and pretentious and weird--very weird--but no weirder than the show itself, no more pretentious than a lot of slash fic, and no longer than, say, "Life from the Ashes". It's not like you'd catch some incurable *disease* from reading it, which is how slashers treated it. I once had two so-called friends abusing me in chat at the same time because I confessed to reading this story. In 100 years, the Bush administration is going to be a few paragraphs in the history books. Mustang Sally and RivkaT are going to be forgotten *long* before that. 
I tried to read this story when it first came out and I was 17 or so. And I totally didn't appreciate it. I was too young and I didn't understand the emotion behind it yet. Then about 10 years later, I came back to the fandom and sat down to read it. And I read and read and read. Lost track of time, and had to call a friend's nanny to pick my kids up from school. There are a number of serious WTF moments for me, make no mistake. But it's long and that's just going to happen, you know? What captivates me about Iolokus is that the characters are so skewed and distorted in places, but I can still see them every time. This is Mulder and Scully given the gift of their (possible) emotions and reactions, rather than Mulder and Scully as week-to-week TV characters who need to keep things together. 
I've read thousands of fanfics over the years in at least ten different fandoms, and Iolokus is my gold standard.
And it's funny, I can easily pick out half-a-dozen things I really don't like about it (wrt to some of the above comments, there are plenty of places where I myself can't "see" the characters as Mulder and Scully (I have had a bunch of arguments with my dearest Phileish friend about it--she thinks the characterization is perfectly "them". We both love the story but for different reasons).
I love so much that it's so balls-to-the-wall, so unafraid and that it pulls out all the stops. It borders strongly on parody, but I think it's so well written and such a tearing good story that it's hard to be offended.... On my first read through (years ago, although I wasn't yet in fandom when it was published), I found these "difficult" scenes quite jarring and hard to take, but I continued to read because I was drawn in. I think I've read the whole story (including Syadiloh--do we count that?) two or three times, but I've read bits and pieces of the whole many times, and I think as time's gone on I am more able to accept the characterizations.
But I digress, as usual.
One thing I notice reading back through fics that I've enjoyed in the past is that I'm a reader who is easily seduced by pretty language and beautiful writing. Some of my favorite fics don't stand up to repeated rereads, despite being well-written and enjoyable to read, because for me a big part of fanfiction reading (as opposed to novel reading--I do a lot of that, too) is the emotional connection with characters that I already know well, and if the story doesn't resonate with those characters I think there's something missing.Iolokus is a different kettle of fish. I can accept its flaws, I think, as a part of the whole, and I've never really felt so swept along in the writing (1) (as opposed to the story) that I'm not rational about it. 
I just don't see the characters anywhere in these characterizations. Here, they're both so angry and cold and malicious, taking pleasure in the ways they can hurt and use each other. That a partnership or a personal relationship could function or be maintained this way is ridiculous. Even the ways they think about each other, or remember the past, are either malevolent or emotionally barren. Huge chunks of Mulder are entirely absent - his kindness, his empathy, his humor, his respect for his partner. Even his respect for Skinner or his fondness of Frohike. Likewise, while Scully of course holds huge pieces of herself inside herself, the Iolokus characterization is entirely off the mark. She seems a shell of person, shallow and bitter... and I don't believe either of them would treat sex with one another so casually, or use it as a weapon against one another. I love Mulder and Scully, but I don't even like either of the characters in this story. They're needy, ugly, abused and abusive, and beyond dysfunctional. 
So many of things you hate are what I love. *laugh* I read Iolokus not as though it's who Mulder and Scully are, but rather as though it's who they could have been. Sure, they're angry and cold, but not nearly as cold as canon tells us they must be. Bury Emily, next case. Put William up for adoption, make Skinner tell his father. That's absolutely chilling to me. But to love someone so much that when you're sinking into despair you trust them to stick with you even though you hurt them and punish them because you don't know what else to do? I can believe that of people who have become extremely codependent and insular. There are great gaping holes for me in places, and parts I don't buy at all. But as a complete package - particularly based on where this is set in canon - I can see it. 
I'm told to try and suffer through it by just about everyone, but frankly, I draw the line and Iolokus leaps over it. I'm fine with fiction (or fanfic) making me uncomfortable or challenging my ideas or preconceptions, but when it's being so obviously malicious (or trying so obviously hard to make an angry point), I get absolutely no enjoyment out of it. And if I don't enjoy it at all, overall writing quality will never be enough to salvage it for me. It just reads as a tiresome exercise that holds none of my interest. (YMMV to all, of course.) 
One of my favorite things about TXF is that it brought up widespread reproductive objectification and abuse of women and presented it as evil and wrong, even if CC could have done much, much better. I think "Iolokus" attempted to continue with that arc, but it failed miserably when gratuitously violent inner monologuing and the story's tone overshadowed any social commentary intended. You know? It rubs me the wrong way. I read it because of its reputation. Quite frankly, I don't know what others see in it to applaud it so loudly. I had a strong reaction to Scully's being medicated and eating herself sick, as well, but I will have to reread to remember what it was. 
Obviously, rereading Iolokus was a joy for me rather than a chore. Tastes vary wildly in this particular case.
I've read many highly thought-of and well-crafted fics in which Mulder and Scully cope bravely and respect each other and behave pretty much as heroes are meant to behave. The writers took the show, the characters and their readers seriously. Glad to have read them.
Probably won't again.
Part of the attraction of Iolokus, for those who dig it, is the transgressive thrill of kicking over the traces. Its writers treat Mulder and Scully very roughly, loading calamity upon calamity almost to the point, as Scarlet said, of parody. They are imagining the absurd situation of the characters as a cosmic joke, which really it it. (Have you ever tried to describe the X-File storyline to a non-fan? Including Mulder's three(?)deaths? And gotten the "c'mon!"?) It's loony, unbelievable stuff, and it will break your heart if you let it. But fans are not always forced to take it seriously. Sometimes the best response to a cosmic joke is to cap it.
Sally and Rivka may have manhandled their heroes, but at least they gave them good dialogue.
I think it's important to remember that Mulder and Scully do manage to love each other. Even in the real world, love is something that psychically injured people have to work hard to achieve. Their relationship is a long battle. It is triumphant. That much is serious.There's an element of light-hearted fantasy along with the angst that charms me personally. The multiple Mulders idea gives me a chance to see Mulder (and DD) in so many roles, and Scully complimentary adversorial ones. It's role-playing to the max, and very sexy. (Destructive, emotionally vacant sex scenes are fine with me, though I'd point out that anger is an emotion. For many reasons, actually, I think an Iolokus reader should pace herself. It's a frantic ride.) 
I essentially agree with what's already been said about Iolokus as an AU with a specific premise; while my personal view of the characters is quite different (though I must admit to having been very influenced since I read it), I can accept the grounds on which this story is built and let it run from there. This is not my Mulder and Scully, nor one I'd like to read about too often, but the overall vision is so compelling that I believe it. It certainly doesn't hurt that the writing just pops off the page- it manages to be at times gorgeously cinematic and yet fizzing with intellect and dry wit. Iolokus is probably why other first-person fics always fall flat for me. As I said above I don't think I can re-read the lot at the moment to comment more specifically, but I do remember being bothered in a nitpicky way by Scully coming off an SSRI (for perfectly legitimate reasons) and apparently feeling no 'withdrawal' (antidepressants don't cause genuine withdrawal, but in my experience dropping them quickly brings you pretty close to the DTs) or indeed any worsening of symptoms. But I may be remembering a little wrong, and as I said, minor nitpick. 
I must confess - the only reason I reread Iolokus is to read Book 4 and Book 5. I think the fic's great success and failing is that it takes Mulder and Scully in a completely different direction from the TV show, to the point where I don't think it's the characters we see on TV. And you know what? That's completely fine, because most of the time, the writers of the show didn't know who their own characters were anyway.
I remember someone once saying that Mulder sounded like a very feminist version of a man, and I agree. I think the Mulder here lacks the squidginess of heart and ineptness that he does onscreen. If you are squidgy and inept, you don't know you're squidgy and inept, and sometimes I think Mulder here is too self aware. But whatever. I love the writing. I love the Mooselet (I love that she's called the Mooselet), and she's exactly the kind of child you expect M&S to have. And M&S own descriptions of the Mooselet is hilarious.I do take issue to how quickly Scully gave birth in Book 5, and to the fact that they named their twins Bram and Cordelia. 
I never read this story back in the day, and now I'm sorry that I avoided it for so long.
Once I started reading I was powerless to stop, dragged along for the ride, pulled further and further down the rabbit hole. You've taken a familiar world and turned it on its head, created something somehow both alien and recognizable at the same time.I'd stop short of calling it enjoyable, but I will call it powerful, unforgettable, haunting, brilliant. Thank you for posting this. 
I never liked Iolokus - there, I admit it! It was too much angst for the sake of angst, y'know? 
[addressing fan who didn't like "Iolokus"]: *clutches heart* YOU HERETIC! ;-) Seriously I get it. Iolokus is extreme in its angst levels. But the second half of the saga - the more moving, funny, touching part makes all the initial misery and despair so worth it IMO. 
Back in the days many fic writers explored that dark path and gave us many incredible stories, the quintessential one being, of course, the infamous Iolokus. Stories where the characters' traumas weren't swept under the carpet of True Love (TM) Hot Sex, Domestic Life and Fat Babies. Stories where bad things happened to good people. 
I never liked Iolokus - there, I admit it! It was too much angst for the sake of angst, y'know? 
Iolokus is both excellent and terrible. Excellent in that I have to give the writers credit for the writing and their INSANELY BIZARRE imaginations. Terrible for just about every other reason, but I'm still glad it exists. 
I should make an icon that says: "My fandom has Iolokus", because we're so damn lucky to have something that manages to be both so beautifully heartbreaking and insanely unhinged. 
After all of these years, Iolokus is still the most polarizing fic in the fandom. I reread it a couple of years ago with a pretty critical eye and I still think it's excellent. I wouldn't describe the violence in it as indulgently graphic. But everyone has hot-buttons. 
I'm finding it hard to articulate exactly why, but it just pretty much revolted me from beginning to end. I read it because I heard how big a deal it was and how polarizing it was; otherwise, I may not have finished it. I found it over the top in a lot of different ways and not at all funny. I recognize the statement the authors were making, that it was good that they made it, and that it was done through good writing. But that's pretty much it for me. Oh well. 
What can one say about Iolokus without repeating everything everyone says about Iolokus? If fanfic can be iconic, Iolokus is iconic. It's novel, it's epic, it's dark as fuck but also darkly clever and witty. The writing doesn't seem to take itself too seriously, but it's also not afraid to take itself seriously when appropriate. And there's a sleekness even to the ugliness that's so liberally present in Iolokus, between the characters, and within them, and surrounding them. Iolokus is a whole new breed of beast, and it almost singlehandedly pried open my mind to the idea that there can be extremely different permutations of the characters I love, and that I can still love them in all their extremity. I've never particularly believe that hate and love are closely related, but Iolokus made me believe it, temporarily, with a Mulder and Scully who, at times, hate each other every bit as much as they love each other. There's tremendous potency in that dynamic when it's done well, and in Iolokus its done very well. The kind of fic about which people say, deservedly: buckle up. 
IOLOKUS is, I think, an acknowledged champion in the area of edgy, profane, non-canonical, and really dirty. It was a multiple-volume undertaking: an examination of a badly damaged Scully who can't stop fucking Mulder but can't become his girlfriend. Also, infanticide, incest, rape, courtroom theatrics, Philadelphia references, multiple Mulders, and a bona fide happy ending. This is a love-hate deal, but so many have admired it that it's impossible to ignore. A magnificent scramble of brutal behavior, funny stuff, and a kid called Mooselet that wins cutest-baby prize every time the question arises. C'mon: you know who wrote it. 
A few years ago, someone was talking about fic and the phrase, “most famous fic in our fandom,” came up. I’m not sure which story she had in mind but surely Iolokus has to be a contender for that title. I have seen it nominated by many people for the best fan fiction novel, not just in our own, but in any fandom. I have also seen people say they couldn’t finish it because Mulder and Scully were too “out of character.” I love it for its audacity and original vision, and because ultimately Iolokus is about redemption. And **spoiler alert** I guess I kinda lied when I said there were no happy endings in these recs. If you make it all the way to the end of this four-part saga, Mulder and Scully are very happy and very much together. 
Some works of fanfic carry a weight that is equivalent to or greater than canon in my mind. It's actually a series, which I'm torn about, because the first story is complete and perfect.... The sequels contain some stuff I find a little gratuitous (how Emmett lost his tongue—couldn’t it have been a car accident or something (cause those happen a lot too)?--, the behavior of Scully’s family (not that Mulder’s family fares any better, but then we already know Mulder’s family is fucked up) but they also contain original characters and scenes that I love and this saga is never boring. Equals any slash story I have ever read for… well, everything, but I was going to say good sex scenes. 
WARNING: This discussion is chock full of spoilers for all four books of "Iolokus" -- including quotations of several passages. Don't read this section if you don't want to know what happens. Also, this section is rated R for language. This IS a conversation... somewhat of a stream of consciousness one, so to help you keep track of who's speaking when, Kristina is in blue, and I, Shari, am in purple. [see original page for the colors, which are denoted by initials here on Fanlore]
[S]: In thinking about discussing "Iolokus", I kept recalling how I felt after reading each installment. Don't think I was aware until after I'd finished the fourth book just how much of an impact this... this epic would have on me, and not just that fourth book either.
K]: Oh, I think I knew. After book three, air conditioning and I didn't get along so good. And from book four to this day, I can't look a pint of Cherry Garcia in the face.
[S]: Luckily, my favorite flavor wasn't a key prop in some exceptional smut...
[K]: Shaddup. But in spite of the deflowering of my favorite flavor, it *was* exceptional smut....<vbg>
[S]: ... it was just bribery material, as Mulder well knew. <g>
"If you're a good girl there's some Chunky Monkey in it for you." I offered.
[S]: And despite appearances, Scully must have been a good girl an awful lot in "Iolokus".... Ben and Jerry's ought to hire MustangSally and RivkaT to promote their ice cream as much as their characters ate it.
[K]: The fact that "Iolokus" had that much effect (dammit, I never get this right...affect??) is the earmark of a truly great fic. Shoot, my cousin Miranda has begun responding to the nickname Mooselet. How's about THEM apples? <g>
[S]: It's effect, and you're right. I'd think a story would be a failure if someone read it and promptly forgot it. No chance of that with "Iolokus". I don't think I've gone a day since it came out that I haven't read at least a part of the whole epic.... usually something out of books three and four, though upon completion of book four, I went back and reread everything else. Suddenly the points of the plot that I had a little trouble handling the first time, weren't quite so traumatic anymore. I think it's because I knew the outcome of it all. Guess I get it from my spoiler hussy nature. ; ) But suddenly I could understand what the purpose was for much of the angst of the earlier books. It wasn't just angst for angst's sake.
[K]: Had it been angst for angst's sake, it probably wouldn't be the huge success that it is. Part of these two women's stellar ability is to interweave little details that make a much more intricate whole...From the beginning of Book 3, Mulder was calling Miranda "Mooselet". And there was a little moment in the middle of the book, when during an exchange between Mulder and Scully, it became even more special.
[K]: I still get chills.
[S]: And I hurt for Scully because here she was thrust into a situation that no one should have to deal with, and she was in such a damaged state, and yet she couldn't heal herself.
[K]:I'll tell you something...during my first reading, I didn't feel anything for Scully, I *despised* her. Which, if you know me, is enough to make me physically ill. Most of it was my own character preconceptions getting in the way. The rest of it was that I wasn't looking hard enough into their version of Scully to see that those character traits that I love about THE Scully were there, just not in the typical way I see them.
[S]: Oh, I think I was the same way. I *didn't* like Scully at the end of Book two, and I wasn't sure I recognized her at the end of Book One. Heck, she scared the beejeebers out of me in those! But in book three, I began to see MY Scully manifesting herself, and I could look back and see that she'd been there all along, but in much sharper relief. I'd just been seeing Scully in circumstances that, as much as they've heaped the angst on her, we've never seen before. So I really couldn't say that Scully *wouldn't* respond the way she did in Iolokus. And even when I wasn't always comfortable with what Scully chose to do, I loved that she actually *did* something.... their Scully was very proactive.
[K]: "Iolokus" is like the show in that way... the more effort you put into the reading/watching/experience, the more you get out of it. I wasn't willing to invest anything into their Scully because she scared me. However, as I read on and let myself FEEL for her, I began to see her hurts and her scars and how that affects (here we go again) a person. And I felt sooo much better with who she was.
[S]: Oh, exactly! I'm so grateful that I was enchanted enough with the writing itself to give the story another chance after Book two.[S]: I told myself that I wasn't going to read Book three, but of course I did. 
At some point (2001?), you could buy Iolokus gear.
- The work was initially spelled differently, which was changed with the third entry AgnatesSummary to Agnates (with MustangSally) at AO3
- Miranda's nickname "The Mooselet" refers to the fandom's nicknames Moose and Squirrel. Since she is taken more after Mulder, she became the Mooselet.
- 1998 Spooky Awards:
- Outstanding Portrayal of Mulder Angst: First Place - Iolokus series
- Outstanding Original Character: First Place - Miranda Scully -- Iolokus IV
- Outstanding Original Villain: First Place - George Naxos --- Iolokus
- Outstanding Drama: First Place - The Iolokus Series
- Outstanding Series: First Place (tie) - The Iolokus Series (tied with Momentary Lapses Series - Dasha K and Plausible Deniability)
- Outstanding Story in a Series: Third Place - Iolokus IV
- Outstanding Action/Adventure Story: First Place (tie) - Iolokus (tied with Antidote - Karen Rasch and Rachel Howard)
- 1999 Spooky Awards:
- Classics (or, Your Fanfic Education is Not Complete Until You've Read ...)
- "I don't know if it was posted here -- it's definitely on the mailing list -- and Mustang Sally and Rivka T _promised_ the rest of it would be available today. I'm checking my mail every bloody five minutes. Is anyone else on the edge of their seats?" -- Anyone else _dying_ for the rest of Iolokus?, Ann at alt.tv.x-files.creative (January 30, 1998)
- Archive of Our Own (March 23, 2013, February 14, 2014)
- Disenchanted Kingdom
- October 24, 2009, at XF Book Club; WebCite
- From the Summary of Iolokus A03
- from The Writer's Block Interview with MustangSally
- WhyIncision mailing list FAQ (Last accessed November 16, 2008.)
- Can We Talk?: Iolokus Series @ Wayback Machine (Last accessed November 16, 2008.)
- Iolokus II: Agnates 20b/20, comment by JenRose (March 22, 1998)
- Incomplete stories? Yay or nay?, Livengoo (April 13, 1998)
- from alt.tv.x-files.creative; archived link, July 26, 1999
- comment by Sister Emilie of the OBSSE at alt.tv.x-files.creative, 2000
- comment by Caer Ibormeith at alt.tv.x-files.creative, 2000
- comment by Cynthia Z-F at alt.tv.x-files, 2001
- comment by Anna at alt.tv.x-files, 2001
- Cindy alt.tv.x-files.creative, July 25, 2001
- Shippers in eXile -- still here!, May 3, 2002
- Fave fics part 1, Archived version, December 25, 2002
- recced at Crack Van, February 2004
- recced at Crack Van, February 2004
- likebunnies Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- coolredwyne at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- snacky at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- franthewndrhrse at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- anonymous at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- anonymous at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- anonymous at Fic_Hate, July 13, 2004
- comments by aloysia virgata on October 25th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by infinitlight on October 26th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by Kate on October 27th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by aloysiavirgata on October 27th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by leucocrystal on November 1st, 2009 at at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by notacrnflkgirl on November 1st, 2009 at at XF Book Club; [ WebCite]
- comments by estella_c on November 7th, 2009 at at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by sixpences on October 30th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by sangria_lila on October 30th, 2009 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by DiscordantWords at Archive of Our Own (2013)
- comment by xfdryad at xf book club, September 2014
- comment by badforthefish at xf book club, September 2014
- comment by estella c at xf book club, September 2014
- comments by badforthefish on September 18th, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by xfdryad on September 18th, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by rainatlas on September 20, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by badforthefish on September 21, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by wendelah1 on September 18th, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- comments by tri sbr on September 22, 2014 at XF Book Club; WebCite
- rec by amyhit at X-Files Book Club, October 2015
- rec by estella c at X-Files Book Club, October 2015
- 201 Days of The X-Files, Archived version
- Turned Vamp
- excerpts from a much longer discussion at "Can We Talk" at Chronicle X: Iolokus