Sympathy for the Devil

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Zine
Title: Sympathy for the Devil
Publisher: IIBNF Press
Editor:
Author(s): Sarah Bellum
Cover Artist(s):
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1996 (date on online version), 1997 (print)
Medium: fanzine, print
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: X-Files/Once A Thief
External Links: Sympathy For the Devil flyer, Archived version
Sympathy for the Devil online
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Sympathy for the Devil is an X-Files slash novella written by Sarah Bellum.

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The zine also included 'War of the Roses', a Once A Thief cross-over by Quill, as a companion piece.

The entire zine is 106 pages (80,409 words).

"Sympathy for the Devil" is 91 pages and focuses on the Mulder/Krycek pairing (with some Krycek/Skinner). It also includes Victor Mansfield and Mac Ramsey from Once A Thief.

"War of the Roses" is 14 pages and has a focus of Victor Mansfield and Mac Ramsey.

Other media and fannish characters appear in the zine: "Barbara Elkins, Chairman Pickering & Ms Getzloff are all characters from 'Date with an Angel', Wiseguy. Cody by Cody Nelson, Gil by Gillian Middleton, Jack by Quill. Mr. & Mrs. Emby, names borrowed from Mr. & Mrs. Emby. Victor Mansfield by Nicholas Lea, Mac Ramsey by Ivan Sergei, Li Aim Tsei by Sandrine Holt, The Director by Jennifer Dale — characters from 'Once A Thief."

The author's introduction to the online version: "(before I knew about beta reading and stuff, be aware this is quite badly written, but I keep it for history's sake.)"

According to an online flyer, this zine came free with the purchase of eXposure: e X p o s u r e, Archived version

Online here: Sympathy for the Devil.

The Sequel That Didn't Happen

From author in Double eXposure: "For those who asked, yes, there is a sequel to Sympathy for the Devil, and the boys do get their happy ever after. Whether or not this sees print is up to you. Remember - LOCs are the author's payment for all their efforts. Your feedback encourages them to write more. The more you backfeed, the more they write!"

This sequel was never completed. A fan in 2014 wrote: "Sadly, due to some highly negative feedback, the author never wrote the sequel." [1]

Summary

Summary: "A long twisted (in every sense of the word) novella, picking up after Apocrypha, referring back to Krycek's first appearance in Mulder's life, and onwards to Tunguska, Terma and beyond. Willingly and otherwise, Mulder and Krycek team up to fight: against mutual enemies; against each other, and against them selves. This is not a 'skippy' story. Krycek as a tortured and desperate man, betrayed by his country and beliefs, and willing to do anything necessary to survive and destroy those who destroyed him. Mulder as bitter and obsessed, and as perverted as he ever is."

From the Editorial

To get the most from this novella, and its spin-off, see the X-Files episodes; "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" and "Gender Bender" (starring Nicholas Lea), as well as the Krycek episodes.

Other episodes referred to, e.g., "Fearful Symmetry" (with the same actor who played Lois Cardinal) are not necessary to understand what's going on.

I would also advise getting hold of a copy of John Woo's 'Once A Thief (called 'Violent Tradition in the UK'), also with Nicholas Lea as Victor Mansfield, as I drew on these characters when I had to fill in some time at the end of this story. If you haven't seen this, contact the publisher, we'll try and arrange a copy for you. If you don't want to see this, don't worry, it's not important to the story.

Before you ask, yes, I have seen Tunguska and Terma - although I wrote this before those episodes came out and then adapted certain parts - but I didn't particularly like pulling the wings off of butterflies as a child: Deny Everything: especially Terma'.

[snipped]

My dear friend Quill was inspired by sections of Sympathy for the Devil and wrote a spin-off story. Can you say flattered! She follows the further adventures of our delicious boys, and I hope you enjoy her take on the characters! Of course, now I want to write a sequel to her spin-off... it never ends.

A Sequel to Sympathy for the Devil? I am, if anyone's still interested in this after wading through it, working on a sequel. No idea if/when I will finish it, but I have five years of their lives in my head, and I'd rather get it out of there and onto paper. There's not enough room in my head for my own life, never mind Mulder and Krycek's. Drop me a note if you are interested in knowing if this sequel gets off the ground or not.

Inspired Fanworks

War of the Roses by Quill: Inspired by Sympathy for the Devil. Quill takes the ‘Once A Thief’ characters (Vic and Mac, introduced very briefly in Sympathy) and continues their adventures, showing how their lives continue to intertwine with Mulder and the X-Files.

Reactions and Reviews

1998

Now, on "Sympathy for the Devil," I actually had a loc drafted in messy handwriting with lots of phrases like, "Flexible, precise prose" and "Beautiful clarity not only in the action but m the sexual motivations," and so on. The writing is remarkably good at sustaining a novella-length story, something not all of fandom, much as I love it for the very enthusiasm that dashes in without practice, can manage. I may have missed something (perhaps quite a lot), but I only recall a couple of charming short bits from you earlier. True, good comedy isn't as easy as it looks, but there's a whole different game in doing short pieces, than long and senous ones.

I did like your picking up Krycek (or, I hear from some sources, thought I'm not sure I swallow it, an anonymous character played by Nicholas Lea: might as well be Krycek, anyway) from the "Gender Bender' episode, giving him another layer of interest, for the reader as well as for Mulder.

I do see Krycek as the eternal outsider, in companson to Mulder at least, the tool of the powers-that-be, but someone who is aware of being used and doesn't like it: he tries to use it back at them, to make use of his forced position for his own goals and pleasures. This is a strategy women find themselves using in social roles, so it sets up a schematic comparison, though Krycek's personalily starts and ends as a man, clearly enough. It's just that men, as well as women, take on some roles simply as the way human personalities work under given circumstances. And, a lot more women than men are struck m some given roles.

Unfortunately.

...I was also glad to see a plot based on Krycek being brainwashed by the Invisible Irmer Circle, his confusion as to what or who he might have been originally, and consequently as to what anyone might be or become. This theme is basic to the show's arc-related episodes - anything can be true, anything can be false, regardless of evidence you've seen (or think you've seen). Take it one step over the line, and "life is but a dream" and the whole thing collapses - I might say, flies up its own ass - into solipsism or insanity. (I'm not sure the show hasn't gone over that line a few times, but it's privileged to duck back, having more seasons.) Handling that in a story with closure is a major challenge, and in fact I've only seen two others that didn't stick to characters (i.e., most slash, for instance) or adventures with miscellaneous paranormal phenomena. Incorporating that deeper level of such a multi-level show is also somethmg that shows off the writer's skill and perception. (One caveat: I haven't picked up much XF stuff off the net, as yet; I may not be familiar with this year's crop of significant advances in fanwriting. But three years of zines have provided a fair body of examples.)[2]
For a moment I was a little bit confused. Are Sarah Bellum and you one and the same person? I'll just assume it for now. You have to write a sequel!!! I mean, you can't leave us poor readers hanging like this. What happens to Krycek and Mulder? Will they meet again? (Well, they have to meet again, don't they?) And of course there are Vic and Mac. And so many questions about them. Is Vic Alex's real twin (then they would be identical, even their fingerprints). Or is he a clone? Or is Alex the clone? What happens with those two? And will they meet Mulder and Alex again? [3]
Sympathy for the Devil is incredible. The idea of a character who can be male or female is fascinating and I liked the way you have him use this to his advantage. I did think Skinner dumping him in Canada with no explanation was a little unkind, but it led to some wonderful moments. The description of Krycek's withdrawal into himself in the padded cell was incredibly effective. And the image of him wet and being stripped in a public place will stay with me for a long time. I think Sarah's characterisation of Krycek is very intriguing. He knows he's been brain washed, but still takes comfort from thinking Mulder is wonderful. Then when he comes to the realisation that he mustn't rely on Mulder, that he has to look after himself, I thought that was such a good way to resolve the situation. More please![4]
As for Sympathy fo r the Devil - I remember thinking early on as I was reading it - this girl is seriously demented, oh good! What a bizarre idea. Very inventive. [5]

Would you believe it? I'm finally getting around to writing you a LOC for Sympathy for the Devil! Yes, it's finally here. Prepare to listen to me rave. <g> I read this story when it first arrived (well, OK, after I'd rescued it from the clutches of friends. <g>) but it wasn't until I re read it today that I thought to write you a L.O.C. about it. So...

I LOVED IT!!!

There, will that do? <laugh> No? You want details? Hmmm, what made me love this story? <ponders for a minute and gets distracted by all the wonderful sex scenes in SftD.>

I loved the characters most of all, so lets start there. All my favourite characters from the show were included, you especially didn't forget about Scully. And a very intriguing Scully she was too. Your Mulder and your Krycek, most importantly, were both believable, merging the characters from the television screen with your own unique version of them. I wanted to believe <g> in them.

I'm not a huge fan of 'redeem the rat' stories, so I loved the way you kept the hard edge in Krycek. He was loveable and vulnerable, but he was still my favourite ratbastard. I could see what Mulder found in him to forgive and fall in love with but you didn't go overboard. Krycek's not quite sanity, the moments he sounded more sane than Mulder himself, all combined to make a very real and intriguing character.

The twist you threw in right at the start was a stroke of pure genius. Krycek as a female! You handled that so well. I find myself not really dwelling on this, simply because it seems to fall right into cannon, as if he was alwavs that way. A very good piece of writing!

And Mulder. Who else could love the complex, crazy and very imperfect individual of Krycek. but your complex, crazy and very imperfect Mulder. <g>

As to the story itself, and the plot (You mean there was a plot in between all that mind blowing, brilliant sex?) was realh well thought out and kept my interest nght the way through. There was enough conspiracy to keep me interested, but not too much that it took away from the focus on the characters. And it was believable (well, XF believable anyway <laugh>) plot.

Finally, the presentation. I know I got a copy that was damaged, but it didn't detract from the overall presentation of the zine. The typeface was very easy to read and the use of the XF font for the quotes (Did I mention I loved all those quotes! appropriate and some very funny, others thoughtful) gave a Wonderfull XF feel to the whole thing. The little red devil/alien on the front made me grin as well. The only thing I wasn't totalhly enamored with was the little sun type symbol surrounding the page numbers. That, however, is a very minor nitpick.

This IS the first zme I've ever bought, though I've seen dozens of them due to the generosity of friends, and I already know it's going to be a real keeper. I'm not letting this one get away from me!

Wonderful work, both in the writing and the publishing. [6]

I thought it was a very good story, well constructed and I was intrigued by the the way Nick Lea's appearance in Genderbender had been used. Mulder's obsessions are well used, as is Alex's more mercurial personality and his so innocent, wide green-eyed expressions.

Perhaps in a sequel Mulder would have to be more considerate, to work more on the relationship, and Alex would need his help to be more the person he should have been. I just loved the 'parting shot' concept. I can just imagine Fox and Alex 'bringing up baby' <ROFL> [7]

So, I've finished reading Sympathy For The Devil. It's a wonderful story! I can't say how much I loved it. It's beautiful, it keeps the reader in suspense, it's really hot and sexy, sometimes it's really fun, and sometimes it's rather sad... I could go on like that for a long time. <g> The emotions produced by Sympathy are so numerous.

But, what I find the most incredible is how Sarah Bellum manages to suspend the reader's disbelief. I mean, she takes 3 different characters, all played by the same actor, she puts them in the same story, she invents the most twisted plot and manages to make it perfectly credible in the world of the X-Files. It's a beautiful work. I really love the alternate universe she created for the characters, I love it much more than the story CC invented. I'm really happy Sarah denied Terma. Her story is much more interesting.

What do you mean by "odd feedback"? It's impossible people didn't like the story, I can't believe it. Sarah Bellum must absolutely finish her sequel, I don't know how many time I will be able to wait after the ending of Sympathy (smile). I want more!!! What a waste of talent it would be if Sarah stopped writing... She has written one of the most fabulous (if not the most fabulous) M/K fanfic I've ever read (with a little of K/Sk on top of it, it was even better <eg>). PLEASE (begging), tell her she has to finish it.

Sympathy is very demanding for the reader. It makes him think a lot, it is often unbalancing but it's what makes it interesting (that and the smutty parts of course <g>). Personnally, I prefer stories which demand an effort from me, I hate not having to use my brain while reading a story or watching a movie. If some people prefer things such as Melrose Place, they don't know what they miss. (smile).

The plot of Sympathy was so interesting, I never knew what would happen; I couldn't stop reading (I didn't sleep a lot while I was reading it ;) ), I was always wondering what the next twist would be.[8]
Sorry, I tried and tried and I could not get into SYMPATHY. When I got to the part where the Crychet metamorth stuck his finger to break his (its?) hymen so that Mulder would not know that he's a virgin, I could read no further. Runner up was Mulder assuming that just because a woman does not shave her legs, she might be a lesbian. (Many of the lesbaians I've known seen shave their legs. It gave me to pleasure to have to tell you this.) [9]

2014

Another one from IIBNF, and yes, I liked this one too. Again, slightly bizarre plot, but enjoyable. Sadly, due to some highly negative feedback, the author never wrote the sequel. [10]

References

  1. ^ The X-Files Fanzines, accessed March 7, 2014
  2. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  3. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  4. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  5. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  6. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  7. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  8. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  9. ^ from an LoC in Double eXposure
  10. ^ The X-Files Fanzines, accessed March 7, 2014