The Saga of the Missing Pages

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Zines were already common in Star Trek and Blake's 7 fandom, yet in the mid-'80s, when stories were first being written for The Professionals in Britain, fanfic was mostly just shared from fan to fan. The "circuit" was thus a way of trading stories around without the formality of publishing them as zines. (Pros began as a slash fandom, and the vast majority of Pros fanfic has always been slash, but the circuit had both slash and gen stories.)

Issue 6 of the The Hatstand Express (1985) was the first issue of that zine that that uses the phrase "the circuit" -- up until now, fans used the terms, "the network," "the usual sources," and "making copies for people."

One of the problems of reading The Professionals circuit stories in the 1990s, was that after they were copied and loaned and reloaned, pages would go missing. Mimeographed copies faded and became illegible. And because many of the original Pros stories were typed in Britain on A4 sized paper, photocopying them onto US onto letter-sized paper would also cut off the top and bottom lines.

Comments About Missing Pages

From Virgule-L

In April 1993, Alexfandra wrote:
"HELP! I've borrowed some Pros circuit stories from a local fan (who shall remain nameless. Hi, Sandy! How was DC?) and two of them are MISSING THE LAST PAGE!! So does anyone have "In His Majesty's Secret Service" (Lainie S.) and/or "Despite Consequences" (Pam Rose) who'd be willing to send me that final page? Thanks![1]
In May 1993, Alexfandra wrote:
Ok, once more I'm faced with a missing page from a Pros library story. This one's called "Just A Kiss", and it's missing the FIRST page! Anybody out there have it? Please? Pretty please? [2]
In June 1993, Susan, another member of Virgule-L wrote:
"Last night I started reading 'In Hot Water' as an antidote to too much M. Fae (brief review of ...as 3 3-pound notes tomorrow) and found I was missing page 23, part of a crucial scene. Help, please! [3]
And then again in June, Alexfandra wrote:
"Okay, the Missing Page of the Week is page 2 of Consequences"...anybody out there with idle fingers who feels like typing this in for me pretty please? i promise to be nice for at least 24 hours to whoever does this. well, okay, maybe 12 hours.
Also in June 1993, Lynn C. wrote:
Another Missing Pages Plea: if anyone on the list has pages 68&69 of 'Strange Days Indeed' I would be very pleased to receive them and I know at least 3 other people on the list who also want them, who I will pass them on to. Just think, if you can find those pages, you will be helping a significant percentage of the List in one mailing.... I will be sure to credit you to everyone those pages reach!
And another fan in July 1993:
" I had a fun weekend re-reading a bunch of slash stories and was reminded that I'm missing page 4 of "Of Tethered Goats and Tigers". Any assistance would be *greatly* appreciated![4]
Susan then took a closer look at her library copy of Of Tethered Goats and Tigers and noted:
The LIBRARY copy of Action of the Tiger is missing page 24 and page 59. The missing page 59 is especially upsetting because it is part of the scene where Cowley bursts into the hotel room to discover the lads in flagrante delicto. If someone can send these pages to me I will correct the library copy.""

Drinking Game for Reading Pros Fanfic

This continuous stream of missing pages and lines even appeared in one of Lynn C.'s "Pros Drinking Games"

Drinking Game for Reading Pros Fanfic
1. Take a sip at the start if it's a sequel that supposed to be better than the prequel.
2. Sip at any of these nicknames: "The Cow," "angelfish," "sunshine," "mate," "golly."
3. Sip at "sod" or "sodding."
4. Sip at every dropped 'h' in Doyle's dialogue.
4a. Sip at every dropped subject phrase in either of their dialogue (e.g.,_____"want you, Ray.")
5. Sip at mentions of malt whiskey.
6. Sip at descriptions of Doyle that involve green eyes, comparisons to cats, "sexy," "sensual," "slim."
7. Sip at descriptions of Bodie that involve blue eyes, muscular [body part], "creamy" skin, polo necks and/or cords
8. Sip if mercenaries are mentioned, especially mercs having sex with each other out in the bush
9. Sip at the word "copper"
10. Sip if Cowley has some internal monologue about how fond he is of the 'lads' or 'boys' despite their 'getting up his nose'
11. Sip if B or D tries to sound casual when inviting the other one to stay at his place for the night
12. Sip if they take a shower together
13. Sip if B has a massive hardon for D
14. If you live near [E], sip when you get to the rape scene.
15. Two sips when you get to the missing page(s). Finish the glass if it's during a critical scene.

Missing Pages Lead to Action: Retyping and Improved Distribution

It was not surprising that by July 1993, Alexfandra tossed out the idea of retyping Party Spirit, a lengthy series of stories.

A Houston based member of Virgule-L noticed that the Pros fans in her area had already started retyping old and faded copies of their circuit stories. She listed them [5] and then suggested that fans should pool their independent efforts.

She also suggested that the group put an ad in a letterzine for copies/disks of typed stories because who knew how many copies were already sitting on hard drives? The project was compared to Project Guttenberg. One fan joked that it should be called: Project/Slut-enberg.

Another suggested: "PROSE - PROfessionals Slash Endeavour." A third thought: "Project Scottish Cow?" would be funny (a reference to the character of George Cowley). Eventually the group settled on the more prosaic: "Professional's E-mail Library." By 1994, it was referred to as the "Online Circuit Library" or the "Pros On-Line Library" or the "Pros Email Library".[6]

By August 1993, the Professional's E-mail Library was added to the Virgule-L FAQ:

>>What is the Professional's E-mail Library?

Informal and semi-organized, the library consists of Pros stories which have been typed in by various members of the list for distribution via email to anyone who wants to receive them. All stories come from the Pros circuit library (run by Karen B.); we have permission to retype them.

Alexfandra maintains the mailing list of library "subscribers". New stories are typed in irregularly; volunteers for retyping are always welcome. To avoid duplication, volunteer typists should check with Alex before doing a story.
By Sept 1994, the coordinator, Alexfandra posted:
I've had a couple inquiries on this lately and thought, with so many new members, it would be worth posting to the whole list.

Since Spring of '93, various Pros fans on the List have been retyping circuit stories on their computers, then sending them to me for central storage and distribution. I've established a little "sub-list" of fans who have asked to receive these stories via e-mail whenever new ones are done. Everyone on the sub-list comes from the Slashlist.

All stories are Pros, and all are either from the circuit, or are non-circuit stories for which the author's permission has been received. There are currently 116 stories typed in and available, with new ones being worked on. Most are short stories, though a couple longer works have been scanned in, proofed, and made available, with more planned.

If you would like a list of the Pros stories currently available, let me know. I'll zap any or all that you want through email to you. If you also want to join the sub-list to receive any new stories as they're finished, just let me know. (Also let me know if your mail system can handle large files; if not, the really long stories can be sent in parts.)

Even if the stories are ones you've read, it's nice to have copies you can download and print out, and depending on your printer, wind up with higher-quality copies than the multiple-xeroxed versions available from the regular library. And I think the various typists have been very good about accuracy and proofreading. (If you'd like to volunteer as a typist, we'd love to have you join us in the Pros Email Library's Flying Finger Brigade.)[7]

References

  1. quoted with permission.
  2. quoted with permission.
  3. quoted with permission.
  4. quoted anonymously with permission.
  5. She listed: Endgame, Consequences, The Anniversary, Siren, Hyperion to a Satyr (part 1), and Boy for Sale.
  6. Source: Morgan Dawn's personal recollections, accessed Oct 15, 2016.
  7. quoted with permission.