The Terranova Situation

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Zine
Title: The Terranova Situation
Publisher: Almost Foolproof Press, Ann Teitelbaum (editor)
Editor:
Author(s): Dar F
Cover Artist(s): Maureen B. ("Mozart")
Illustrator(s):
Date(s): 1993-1998
Series?: yes
Medium: print, fanzine
Size:
Genre:
Fandom: Wiseguy
Language: English
External Links: WayBack Archive link for chapters 1-13 (vol 1-4)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
all fourteen volumes of the series with three of the companion guides
Detailed character descriptions, including favorite foods and sexual positions, as well as width and lengths of respective penises [1] (Note: these penis sizes do not correlate in the expected manner to listed shoe sizes.). Click to read.

The Terranova Situation is a sixteen-part slash story by Dar F. It follows the lives of the characters after the third season. Each volume picks up directly following the previous issue and is not intended to stand alone.

The pairing is Frank/Vinnie but it evolves into Frank/Vinnie/Roger.

The series received mixed reviews as it was being published - some fans loved it, others felt the series lacked characterization and contained too many logic and plot errors (see Reactions/Reviews down below).

The series ran for 16 issues between 1993 and 1998 with the last known issue leaving the story line unresolved. It is one example of a long-running continuing story in fandom. [2]

This series of zines has companion issues called "The Terranova Situation Companion" (sometimes referred to as "The Terranova Situation Concordance.") They were resource guides to the story.

From Media Monitor: "At last, a handy guide to this massive novel. Features comprehensive timelines, floor plans, character profiles, photos, TerrSit-inspired fiction, and more. Will include free future updates as the novel progresses."

In 1993, or earlier, some of this zine series had the serial numbers filed off and was republished as original gay male erotica, see "All Your Dreams Fulfilled".

Publisher's Summary

a flyer for issue #1-13
Follow Vinnie and Frank as they struggle to rebuild their lives after the events depicted in the episode "Sanctuary". Joining them along the way are some your favorite Wiseguy characters (including Roger Lococco), plus many colorful original characters! At over 2,700 pages, The Terranova Situation has been "in progress" for over three years and is still going strong! Because of its length, The Terranova Situation is much more than just a Wiseguy "story": it is a whole universe devoted to exploring the lives of the people you come to know as intimately as your own family. Lighthearted, dramatic, suspenseful, sexy: The Terranova Situation will have you laughing, crying, on the edge of your seat, and swooning as you immerse yourself in the lives and loves of these intriguing characters. The Terranova Situation is an adult slash novel and contains graphic depictions of same sex relationships, starting with Vinnie/Frank and evolving into Vinnie/Frank/Roger by the end of Volume 2.

Issue 1

The Terranova Situation 1 was published in 1993 and contains 155 pages.

This first issue contained photos of the cast, a brief episode guide, a timeline for Vinnie, Frank and Roger's life and work in the OCB, biographical details of the characters covering everything from height/weight, chronic health conditions, type of watches they liked to wear, blood types and erect penis size (both length and girth). A map of locations used in the story was also provided (the layout of Frank and Vinnie's house along with Roger's Loft). Even the eye color of one of the characters was discussed because, as explained in the author's note, although the actor playing Frank had blue eyes, the writer always thought they really should be a "warm brown."

This level of attention to detail, coupled with its divergence from the show's narrative and physical canon, puzzled many readers and the zine was a popular discussion topic among slash parties. Another criticism leveled at the zine was that the story's narrative flow was broken by long passages describing the characters moving, step by step, through fairly mundane tasks, like cooking or shopping. The series invoked either a 'love it or hate it' response among fandom, with strong opinions to be found on either side.

cover of issue #1

Summary: "Picking up immediately after third season: Frank is hospitalized from a gunshot wound; Vinnie has a complete nervous breakdown; and Uncle Mike must help them both heal. And in the shadows, Roger keeps his hand in his friends' lives."

  • I: Where Is The Healing You Promised Me?
  • II: I Wonder Just Where I Belong
  • III: Won't You Let Me Shelter You?
  • IV: Livin' In The Real World
  • V:I Wonder How We Can Survive This Romance


Issue 2

The Terranova Situation 2 was published in March 1993 and contains 119 pages.

cover of issue #2

Summary: "Vinnie is hospitalized after a suicide attempt; Frank has to juggle several personal crises; and, no longer willing to hide in the shadows, Roger moves to New York to be with them."

  • VI: Just Believe In This Love
  • VII: Waiting For Somebody Like You
  • VIII: I Can't Remember If The Lies Were True


Issue 3

The Terranova Situation 3 was published in June 1993 and contains 207 pages.

cover issue #3, Maureen B.

Summary: "Vinnie has come to terms with his feelings for Sonny and is well on his way to recovery; Frank is relaxing and indulging himself in the love he has been craving so long; and Roger is finding that allowing himself to become softer does not mean he's becoming weaker. Meanwhile, the love between the three men is deepening."

  • IX: So In Love With The Games That You Play
  • X: Endless Summer Nights
  • XI: One More Chance To Live My Life Again


Issue 4

The Terranova Situation 4 was published in August 1993 and contains 181 pages.


cover issue #4

Summary: "After suffering at the hands of the OCB, Frank and Vinnie return home to find them-selves facing a more frightening opponent: one who may change their lives forever. And once again, Roger must try to patch up his friends' lives."

  • XII: It's Just The Way It Goes
  • XIII: The Road Gets Weary When You're All Alone
  • XIV: Nothin' You Can Do About It


Issue 5

cover of #5

The Terranova Situation 5 was published in October 1993 and contains 140 pages.

Summary: "As Vinnie begins his emotional and physical healing, Frank finds that there has been another victim of their recent upheavals: his son, Drake. He realizes his son needs him now more than ever, and he reaches out to rebuild his relationship with the teenager. Meanwhile, Roger's influence keeps the others moving forward, but he finds himself struggling with new found emotions."

  • XV: I've Gotten Beyond The Agony
  • XVI: Fighting My Desire, Baby
  • XVII: Will I Wake Up From This Nightmare?



Issue 6

cover issue #6, Mozart

The Terranova Situation 6 was published in December 1993 and contains 203 pages. Cover by Mozart.

Summary: "As Vinnie's life hangs in the balance, Roger reaches out to Frank in a way that forges the bonds of a lifetime. When Vinnie awakes, his improved mental state helps cement their relationship and lays the foundation for a "new" family. Roger is still plagued by conflicting emotions, and Frank must deal with Jenny, leading to a confrontation that has startling results."

  • XVIII: Why Must A Generation?
  • XIX: In A World That Doesn't See Us


Issue 7

cover issue #7

The Terranova Situation 7was published in Jan 1994 and contains 115 pages.

Summary: "Family problems abound: Frank and Jenny have a showdown over Drake; Roger must make some important decisions about Travis; and Vinnie must reconsider his decision about fatherhood."

  • XX: Old Wounds Die Hard


Issue 8

cover of issue #8

The Terrannova Situation 8 was published in April 1994 and contains 263 pages.

Summary: "Things are finally going smoothly for the guys...or are they? After Jenny agrees to let Drake live at the loft, she uncovers some incriminating evidence that leads to a confrontation between her and Frank that no one will soon forget. Vinnie is doing his best to support Frank, but his recurring nightmares are throwing him into a deepen-ing emotional turmoil. And Roger's luck has finally run out...."

  • XXI: Love is All It Takes 1147
  • XXII: You Could Never Call It Bland 1219
  • XXIII: Some Things Are Not So Easy To Define 1305



Issue 9

cover of issue #9

The Terranova Situation 9 was published in 1994 and contains 208 pages.

Summary: "While everyone is settling into their new life, Roger finds the pressures of his new family more than he can handle. But with the patience and understanding of those who love him, he slowly realizes that this is just what he's been searching for all of his life. At the same time, Dr. Bulatti uncovers the secret behind Vinnie's nightmares and fears his patient may be in danger of relapsing."

  • XXIV: Cat and Mouse 1411
  • XXV: The Walls Are Tumbling Down 1513



Issue 10

The Terranova Situation 10 was published in April 1995 and contains 183 pages.

Summary: "Vinnie fires Bulatti when he decides that therapy is just making him worse. Meanwhile, Frank and Roger's bond grows as they work to keep the family together while they help Vinnie recover."

From an ad: "Picks up exactly where Vol 9 left off. Concerned when Vinnie comes out of his latest episode claiming he's no longer gay. After Vinnie fires Bullati, convinced that therapy is making him worse, the family starts to feel the strain of caring for him."

From another ad: "Picks up exactly where Volume Nine left off. Frank and Roger are concerned when Vinnie comes out of his latest episode claiming he's no longer gay. After Vinnie fires Bulatti, convinced that therapy is making him worse, the family starts to feel the strain of caring for him. When Bulatti's colleague suggests a radically new treatment plan, they all must decide whether it will help Vinnie...or push him over the edge. Meanwhile, Frank and Roger's bond grows as they work to keep the family together while they help Vinnie recover."



Issue 11

cover of issue #11

The Terranova Situation 11 was published in April 1995 and contains 150 pages.

Summary: "Vinnie isn't the only one dealing with ghosts from his past: Jenny returns and wants to see Drake; Travis goes home to visit; Roger runs into an old buddy; and Frank gets a call about his father."

From an ad: "Picks up immediately after Vol 10. Vinnie isn't the only one dealing with ghosts from his past; Jenny returns and wants to see Drake; Travis goes home to visit his family. Roger meets up with an old buddy, & Frank gets a call about his father."

  • XXVIII: Fathers and Sons 1807
  • XXIX: The Face Behind the Face 1877
  • XXX: You Were There All the Time 1947



Issue 12

The Terranova Situation 12 was published in August 1995 and contains 184 pages. As of this issue, the author had now broken 1.25 million words.

From an ad: "The latest installment of this ongoing Wiseguy novel by [Darlene F]. The guys move into their new house expecting to find the stability they need, only to find it filled to the rafters with relatives. Vinnie returns to the hospital, but with Father Pat's help, finds the inner strength he needs to face his past."

Summary: "The family moves into their new house expecting to find the stability they need only to find it filled to the rafters with relatives. Vinnie goes back into the hospital and finally finds the inner strength he needs to face his terrible past."

Issue 13

cover of issue #13

The Terranova Situation 13 was published in January 1996 and contains 168 pages. Cover by Maureen B..

Summary: "Deciding he doesn't like sharing his life with all the others, Vinnie starts suppressing his "inners" so he can resume his "normal" life. However, the "inners" will not be ignored, which everyone finds out in a pulse-pounding confrontation with the Hopeless One."

Another summary: "While the rest of the family finally settles into a normal routine, Vinnie and Jae start their work with Vinnie's "kids". Deciding he doesn't like sharing his life with all the others, Vinnie starts suppressing his "inners" so he can resume his "normal" life. However, the "inners" will not be ignored, which everyone finds out in a pulse-pounding confrontation with the Hopeless One."


  • XXXIII: Oh For a Moment of Forgetting 2141
  • XXXIV: No More Fairy Tales 2245



Issue 14

cover of issue #14

The Terranova Situation 14 was published in May 1996 and contains 144 pages. Cover by Maureen B. (Mozart).

Summary: "After Frank, Roger and Vinnie help Tony and Robert deal with the kidnapping of their son, they find the unwanted publicity from the case has an adverse effect on their lives, leading to the three men going their separate ways."

  • XXXV Just To Have This Day 2311
  • XXXVI: Come Out of the Dark 2402



Issue 15

The Terranova Situation 15 was published in May 1997 and contains 121 pages. The cover, by Maureen B, was nominated for a STIFfie.

Summary: "The past week's events have taken a toll on Vinnie and the alters, and as if that wasn't bad enough, the CIA has renewed its interest in Roger, and a chance meeting with one of the local street hustlers lands Frank and Roger in serious trouble."

Summary: "In this latest installment of this massive on-going Wiseguy novel by [Dar F], we find that the past week's events have really taken a toll on Vinnie and the alters. And as if that wasn't enough, the CIA has renewed its interest in Roger, and a chance meeting with one of the local street hustlers lands Frank and Roger in serious trouble."

Issue 16

cover issue #16, Maureen B.

The Terranova Situation 16 was published in August 1998 and contains 186 pages. Cover by Maureen B..

Summary: "They say that things are always darkest before the dawn. If that's the case, the sun must be right over the horizon! Just when the family thinks Vinnie can't possibly get any worse, things happen to prove otherwise. Feeling helpless to treat his patient, Bulatti brings in a new therapist to work with Vinnie, a simple act which has amazing results. Could this be the miracle the family has been hoping for?"

  • XXIX: Undo This Hurt
  • XL: A Time For Miracles


The Terranova Concordance

floorplan of the character's house, click to view, printed in vol. #1

The Terranova Concordance is a 12-page, digest-sized resource guide that contains "timelines, floor plans, character profiles, photos, TerrSit-inspired fiction, and more. Will include free future updates as the novel progresses."

Reactions and Reviews: The Concordance

The Terranova Situation Concordance (Which lists the page and date in the story line of every sexual act that Vinnie, Frank and Roger commit in the first 800 pages of TS...think about it.) [3]

Reactions and Reviews: Entire Fiction Series

1993

I find Terranova Situation interesting, and good one-handed reading, but I treat it like an a/u that just happens to be set in the same apparent universe as the actual show. The characters act and talk in ways that I can't see the aired characters doing (without brainwashing, AND drugs!) such as Frank being willing to be seen, in public, with a man wearing full leather slave attire (to say nothing of the hankies covering the scanties in the chaps...) But [D] does have a flare for both action and sex — it is definitely a page turner. [4]

Yes, I'm going to say it again: for all I lambast things like The Terranova Situation and Harlequin Airs, I'm still glad they're out there (and not in my closet. Ouch, ouch, stop slapping me across the wrist! I can't help being a bitch--I'm niceness impaired), even though I'll never touch either one with so much as a bargepole ever again. Listen, if I like watersports,

other people are entitled to be kinky enough to like a sweet, smiling, gently caring Roger LeCocko (and if you've read TS, you'll know why I've changed his spelling...). [5]

1994

The Glaswegian Pitbull Sinks Her Teeth In [the first six volumes].

(The dictionary defines this as a breed of dog with wide-set forelegs and a short stiff coat. Does this ring any bells? Oh well, here's her scathing contribution for the issue.)

Ah, yes, the Terranova Situation, TS for short. Where should I begin?

Let's start with the acronym. TS, for Terranova Situation. Also for Total Shit, Terminally Stupid, Toweringly Silly, This Sucks, This Stinks, Too Simpering and Too Sick.

Now, let's move on to what this story claims to be. "An adult love story featuring Vinnie Terranova and Frank McPike, and Roger Lococco." Ah-ha, you say, it's Wiseguy! Well, actually, no, if s not. It's supposed to be Wiseguy, and it uses Wiseguy names, but any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. You don't believe me? How about Frank McPike's eyes being a different colour? Vincenzo Terranova suddenly developing auburn hair? No big deal, you say, thaf s purely cosmetic. All right, so let me see you imagine the equivalent without laughing hysterically: Avon the Redhead. Bodie the Blond. Get my point? Oh, and forget the adult part: that only refers to the readers, not the characters.

Of course, to help those people who are unfamiliar with Wiseguy, there are photos and lists of information at the beginning of Volume 1, including such fascinating and tremendously important details such as clothing size, preferred underwear, shoe size and their zodiac signs. To be fair though, we do all need to know erect penis size, don't we? That's 6 "longx5" around for Frank, 7x4.5 (mustn't forget that all important half-inch, must we? Every little helps.) and for Vinnie, a mere 10"x7". No, no, don't wince, it's all right.

Vinnie's the first man in history to consider penile reduction surgery. Amongst the helpful details are Our Heroes' sexual preference: Frank is bisexual aggressive, as is Roger. But to make it all feasible, so that the two tops have somewhere to stick it, Vinnie is gay passive. Now isn't that convenient?

But wait, all is not as it seems! Despite discovering his homosexuality as a result of being raped in prison (why, isn't that how all men realise the truth about their sexuality? And isn't rape just the best way to discover the joys of being gay passive?), Vinnie eventually becomes gay active! This is just fine with both Frank and Roger. In fact, it's so fine with Roger that despite several pages establishing that hell would freeze over before Roger Lococco would ever allow a man to top him, guess what happens when we turn the page? Why, that's right. Roger invites Vinnie to top him. Keeping in mind that Vinnie's erect penis size is a whopping 10x7, Roger manages to accomodate Vinnie without lubricant, dilation or discomfort. Sadly, I must report that a few pages later, having once found it so easy to allow Vinnie to bury himself in Roger's virgin ass, the second time they try it is a time of pain and discomfort. Funny how bums tighten up after they've had their horizons expanded.

So, you ask, if Vinnie discovered he was gay passive because he was raped in prison, how did Frank McPike find out the truth about himself. Well, having read the first six (yes, 1,036 pages just isn't enough to tell this scintillating and rivetting story) volumes, I have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is catching. Just look at the evidence. Vinnie goes into prison straight, he emerges gay. Frank is straight for the first 44 years of his life, he finds out Vinnie is gay, and whammo, Frank's a fairy. Drake, Frank's 14 year old son, discovers sex with a girl. But then he sees his dad with his gay roomies and voila, there's Drake having it off in the street with a teenaged male hustler. See? It's definitely contagious.

One of the high points of this remarkable tale is the way people react to rinding out about Our Heroes' lifestyle choice. There's Frank's 14 year old son catching his dad and Vinnie naked in bed having sex (Now, this is before Drake has caught the gay bug: he's still after girls at this point). Seeing his father having sex, this 14 year old reacts like everyone else: he tells his daddy dearest to go right ahead, he doesn't mind. But then, perhaps he's caught the blase bug from Vince's mother. This devoutly religious good Italian Catholic mother doesn't so much as bat an eyelash when she finds out her only surviving son (her elder son, the priest, was murdered) is not only gay, but living with not one, but two men. Well, why should she be taken aback or have the slightest moment of dismay when she has to combat the attitudes of her era and her religion? Donohue has told her they're just born that way, and who would dream of taking the Church's word over Donohue's? Or perhaps Drake was influenced by his very own daddy. Frank McPike, the guilt-meister, the lapsed Catholic who puts himself through purgatory every day just because he ate something high in cholesterol, good old Francis wastes a whole five minutes arguing with his "Voice" (which is presumably his conscience but may be the beginning of the insanity which is the only way he could end up behaving as he does) over whether or not he should have sex with his subordinate who is also a man. Hey, what's 44 years of strict heterosexual ity? What's a lifetime's 'morals'? What's doubt? What's guilt? Apparently alien to his sexuality, for five minutes after thinking about having gay sex for the first time in his life, Frank is right in there (literally!): "You want me to fuck you, Vince?" he asked matter of factly. '"Cause you know I'd sure like to ram it into ya." Well, what's a spot of sodomy between friends and colleagues?

[snipped]

As I said, this is a truly rivetting story. I'd like to give you an excerpt (reprinted without permission):

[snipped]

(Uncle Mike is over visiting and has brought his infant with him.. I didn't ask why: I was too busy wondering how a man with two prosthetic legs who requires two canes to walk managed to stroll in carrying a baby and pushing a stroller at the same time. Meanwhile, apparently unaware of Uncle Mike's prodigiuos accomplishment, Frank and Vinnie have opted to change the baby's soiled diaper)

[detailed quoted descriptions snipped]

I have one or two suggestions, and funnily enough, they all involve the rest of this story.

There is more, but I really don't have the necessary vidousness to repeat all the details of how Vinnie finally managed to dedpher the daunting complexities of the modern disposable diaper. You know the type: the ones that can only go on one way. Yes, thaf s right, the idiot proof ones. Tells us something about TS's version of good old Vi nee Terr a nova, formerly the OCB's star undercover agent. My, how are the mighty fallen.

Taking a leaf out of Vince and Frank and Drake and Roger's book, I must confess the truth. The above excerpt is only because I couldn't bring myself to search for any of the bits where Frank does the dishes or the laundry, or most thrilling of all, where he cleans the toilet. What every slash fan wants, right? Frank McPike swirling the toilet brush round the bowl.

But let's say that as a reader, you're simply not interested in domestic details. Well, that's all right, you can skip the part where Vinnie and Roger buy furniture, and the bit where Vinnie and Drake buy a television, a computer and a recliner chair (complete with lap rug in Frank's favourite colour, of course) and then put the new shower doors in.

Let us go, instead, to the relationship of Drake, Frank's 14 year old son. Now, having been around all these gay men, Drake naturally decides to have sex with a hustler in the street. Well, then he has to bring the hustler home, and then Frank and Roger have to warn off the Bad Guys threatening all the local hustlers (Vinnie can't help: it was more than twenty pages since last he'd been hurt, so he had to be damaged again so he could go back into the wheelchair/on crutches/on suidde watch/on mind-altering medication, whichever applies to the current minute-by-minute crisis. But don't worry, none of it ever stopped him having sex four times a day.). Of course, Roger Lococco, who is suddenly such a sweet, well-adjusted, nurturing, settling-down kind of guy, as opposed to the sociopathic cynic we all knew and loved before TS came into our lives, dear old Roger invited the hustler to stay.

Now, I have a couple of problems with all this. You see, the teen hustler is having sex with Drake in the living room, and apart from a few protests, Daddy McPike is coping with this. Okay, fine, Frank is completely out of character everywhere else, why worry about it here. But then we have the revolting details, a literally blow by blow account of these teenagers having sex, including such maturities as Daddy McPike giving them ice-cream for dessert before the grown-ups retire to one room for sex and the boys retire behind the screen to have sex. More evidence that this is mature sex, not something verging on child pornography: the teenaged hustler calls Drake "little boy."

Oh, yes, teenagers call each other that sort of thing all the time, especially when they're sucking each other off. But to be honest, that's not my main problem with little Drake having graphic, repeated sex. It's not even the abysmal dialogue (the "older boy" says: "Lordy, I could suck your sweet dick for the rest'a my days".). It's the 'older boy's' name. I'm a Blake 7 fan. You can just imagine my reaction to 'Travis"...

What else did I hate about this story, all six volumes of it, the seventh looming on the horizon like a monsoon of soppiness? How about the bad writing? Or plot holes big enough for an entire fleet of Mack trucks to drive through— sideways. Or characters being incredibly stupid. [snipped] Underage sex. Repetitive sex. Boring sex. Unbelievably dumb dialogue. Amazing coincidences. Deus ex machinations all over the place.

And, of course, the fact that hardly anyone ever just 'said' anything. I'm going to open up a random volume (as if any of them read as if any part of them were planned) at whichever page it falls open at, and just list all the verbs used instead of a simple 'said'. Right. Here we go-pointed out, demanded, recommended, ordered, whispered, mused, asked, pressed, explained, mentioned, SAID, asked, demanded, reported, challenged, explained, asked, whispered, assured, urged, stated, advised, mumbled, pressed, whispered, teased, soothed, choked out, stated, SAID, offered, countered, demanded, replied, promised, countered, assured, added, complimented, ordered, asked, chastised.

Hmm. Perhaps that was just a fluke, just good luck on our part. Let's try again-demanded, teased, groaned, repeated, SAID mumbled, muttered, called out, greated, explained, replied, replied, pressed, shot back, added, directed, responded, taunted, asked, countered, pressed, countered, explained, probed. replied, added, stated, confided, allowed, confessed, admitted, challenged, objected, stated, SAID, explained,.assured, hedged, added, sighed, replied, recalled, stated, pressed, replied, reminded, explained, asked, queried, encouraged, admitted, chastised, challenged, answered, admonished, responded, explained, stated, challenged, replied, pressed, confided, added, challenged tersely, implored, assured, stated, challenged, stated, confided, confessed, explained, shot back, countered, stated, proved, asmitted, confessed, added, admitted, challenged, decided, encouraged, added, and finally, SAID—twice in a row!

And it wouldn't be half as bad if the above verbs were actually used in the right way... Believe it or not, all of this merely skims the surface of the horror that is Terranova Situation. I haven't begun to deal with the job-related part, nor the pages upon pages upon pages upon pages of verbatim therapy sessions. I haven't even begun to discuss the mere concept of Roger Lococco joining in on this 'couple's counselling'. That's rather like Avon going into joint therapy with Blake and Tarrant. Yes, I laughed a lot too. We haven't explored the depiction of Jenny, women in general (madonnas or whores, the lot of them), nor the paucity of descriptive phrases (in the first five volumes, there is only one peripheral female character who is not described as a 'pretty brunette'), nor even the complete lack of coherency. Nor have I touched on the cheap tricks that abound. Oh, no—a positive HIV test! Not to worry, it was a lab mistake. Oh, no— Vinnie's in a coma! Not to worry, his Mama brings him round by offering him dinner. Oh, no—Vinnie's being hunted by armed, ready-to-kill OCB men! Not to worry, Roger gets there in time. Oh, no, Vinnie's taken an overdose! Not to worry, Uncle Mike takes a sudden, inexplicable notion to visit him. And so on, and so on, and so on. What fun. What joy. What tripe.

But we can't leave TS without contemplating what I had once considered to be impossible, but TS has managed even this appalling nadir, there's too much sex. Yes, it's true, there is slash out there that has too much sex even for me. It's a terrible thing to read a slash story and be bored to tears with the endless, interminable and anatomically impossible sex scenes. It's even more annoying to read a slash story only to find that the sex scenes break what little cohesiveness the story has, the sex scenes throwing the story for a loop. The story line tosses off some notion—and along comes the sex scene to disprove it. An emotional plight is delineated, ad bloody nauseum, in one of the many therapy sessions. Very next page, there it is—sex that would have been traumatic at best and most likely impossible.

I could, like TS itself, go on. But unlike TS, I know when to call a halt. Pity that calling a halt isn't as contagious as homosexuality seems to be.

But now we leave TS behind. We say goodbye to Frank, Vinnie, Roger, Drake, Travis, Dr. Bulatti the psychiatrist and his boyfriend and son, we leave all the others, the nasty, vicious heterosexual men and the sweet, caring, tolerant and loving gay men. We leave Vinnie to his mission to help the teenaged male hustlers, we leave Our Heroes to confess, confide and assure their love for each other (but only every third page, of course—we wouldn't want to overdo it.). Without us peering over their shoulders, they can get on with the important business of having sex at least twice daily, thus freeing us from the necessity of actually reading more than two and a half pages without more meaningless sex. We can leave them to further explore sadomasochism, domination and submission, and who knows? Perhaps one day they might actually understand what the hell those things are about and dump the emotional, physical and sexual abuse in favour of good, old-fashioned healthy s&m. Let's think of them fondly, as the 14 year old encourages his father to fool around in the shower with his two male lovers, as they make jokes about "gurkins", as Vince's doting parents move back into the area. We'll sweetly imagine these East Coast Americans talking about shagging each other in those few moments when they aren't involved in the actual bonking. We'll bate our breath wondering what's going to happen to the evil straight man, and ponder why it is that every single gay man wants to have a baby. We'll furrow our brows as we contemplate how brilliant these men are, that they should know so much more about the transmission of HIV than all the doctors, clinicians and gay men's health associations—and thank God that slash fans are too intelligent to believe this dangerous misinformation about HIV.

So, at last, our bodies wearied by heaving around the huge mound of zines, our minds numbed by the deadening effects of over a thousand pages of unremitting crap, we abandon The Happy Families to their fate: contemplating becoming parents, perhaps getting another dog, possibly even considering redecorating.

How can we possibly bear to leave such convincing, intriguing, compulsively exciting characters?

It's easily enough done. Although the Frank McPike of this unfortunately ongoing story has no knowledge of anything let alone the law, we know that this story falls into a category prohibited by the Government: the Terranova Situation is cruel and unusual punishment.

(I've never known anyone who could write so much about nothing...except for the writers of TS. [6]

1995

I love The Terranova Situation so much. There's a constant evolution going on there. [7]

One Exchange in 1996

Michelle's Review

[Overview] "This is a warning: If there is anyone out there who does not like to read criticism of fan writing, skip this post. The following are my ideas and mine alone. If you disagree with me, then please feel free to say so. If you have problems separating criticism of the work with personal criticism of those wrote the work--something that I would never do--please do not read on.

Believe me, I don't want to start anything but I finally decided to do this for several reasons. I do normally do reviews and a few people have asked me why I haven't done one (or more) for TS. I know that there are a lot of new WG fans on the list now. And finally, I know that it would be very likely that, had Ann and Dar not joined the list, I would have posted this review of their zine some time ago. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I would be willing to post something if they weren't here, but not when they are, especially since I am such a staunch supporter of being honest about fanfic, both in editing and reviews. Now that I've probably either pissed most everyone off or made them extremely nervous, I move on to pissing off the rest of you.  :-)

[Reviewer Disclosure]: I do not like TS. For several reasons, which include the characterization, the general writing, the crammed in feel of too many events taking place in too short a time and the lapses of internal logic that I see in several places. There was also a certain frustration value since I felt that there were many good ideas that had possibilities that weren't explored or were flooded out by everything else. The idea that Vinnie would have repercussions to his debunk, for one. But the ideas were either taken in directions I just couldn't believe or were crammed in with so many other things just made them get lost in the crowd.

[This Is A Limited Review]: I did read volumes 1-7 before I finally stopped. Now many people will ask, for very good reasons, why I would read so much if I disliked it so much. It can be probably summed up in three reasons: 1) I periodically go into fannish rut and what I don't read just basically hasn't been written. I always eventually get over this, though, and in a small fandom like WG that was producing way more readers than writers, there is such a thing as the only game in town. 2) I am an eternal optimist. I always hope that eventually it will get better. And with an occasional line or an idea would pop up to make me believe that it might, but for me, it never really did. And 3) I, quite frankly, have a masochistic streak. I also sometimes resemble that guy in the old joke who would bang his head against the wall all the time because it felt so good when he stopped.

With this in mind, I want to give the following reasons of *why* I don't like this series or at least what I read of it. I'm going to save characterization for last since it is definitely the most subjective of the bunch. IMHO.

General writing and logic. God may be in the details, but really, there are only so many I need, at least about household chores. There's too much tedium thrown in about them making a pizza or loading the dishwasher or scrubbing the toilet. Unless there's passion among the pepperoni, I don't need to know! Certainly not every time they eat, anyway.

There is also the time frame. While I kind of like the idea behind dating each section of a story that is so long and linear, there is too much going on in too short a time. Really, how many crises can one person deal with in a one year period? Even the show knew this, stretching out an arc that in real time was shown over half a season to actually take place over at least two years (Steelgrave arc). This is made all the more noticeable by the dating of each section which just seemed to shout at me "You mean there's only been that much time from when we started?!" (ie--Vinnie gets raped, has several nervous breakdowns, gets committed, gets out, goes into therapy, goes into couples therapy, goes into *triples* therapy, tests positive for AIDS, finds out it was a false positive, is put on numerous psychoactive drugs, is kidnapped/interrogated by a super-macho FBI guy, hears his biological clock ticking, goes into a coma, comes out of the coma, considers penile reduction surgery, considers donating sperm, considers asking his cousin Angie to become a surrogate mother for his, Frank's and Roger's baby, etc. Not necessarily in that order but all within a year.)

[Too Many Drugs]. I also feel that there comes a point when reference books are too much and should be taken away. The number of mood-altering drugs that Vinnie is taking while under psychiatric care is astounding and while I do know people who are manic-depressive, I know very few that go through that many medication changes in the short a time. Every time new ones are added to the list, they read like a grocery list, each one listed by name and dosage. In a related context, there is no time given between the taking of one drug and the start of another. It's boom! you're on this drug and boom! now you're on that one. It is always necessary for the human body to cycle out one substance before starting another otherwise you have the dangers of the two (or more) chemicals mixing in the system. This is very definitely Not Good.

There are at least two times that I was downright offended by the logic lapses/whatever in the story. One of the first was a throw away line about the fact that while Vinnie didn't enjoy sleeping with women (see characterization for more on that) the reason why he enjoyed having sex with Amber was because she could 'take him'. (I am *not*, repeat, *not* going to get into the whole dick-dimension thing.) After all, she had been married to Isaac. I read and re-read the line in hopes of finding an alternate meaning, but I couldn't find one. This line so totally took me by surprise, I had to ask several people if I was imagining the implication. Either I wasn't or we're all delusional. (For those of you only vaguely into the show or are just getting into it, Amber was a woman he had very passionate sex with and was even engaged to for a time. When he met her she was married to Isaac, an African-American man.)

[AIDS Portrayal]. Another thing that offended me actually ties into the internal logic thing at one point. I, at the time I was reading the series, was doing volunteer work at a local AIDS center. Among other things, I answered the phones. In all the questions I got, it was hammered into me time and again how much misinformation and sheer lack of *any* information there was out there. There is an entire plotline involving Vinnie testing falsely for HIV. False positives are *extremely* rare, though they do happen, more often from mixup in paperwork and laziness in testing (giving only one of the two tests) rather than actual false positives from the test itself. The fact that it is *vaguely* possible does give it leeway, though. However, the lack of internal logic of what the characters do, is what really boggled me. Roger, who had been a rabid practitioner of safe sex, always insisting that they use a condom no matter what in his sexual encounters, with Vinnie or with anyone else, suddenly stops using them with Vinnie. (At the time, they are not sure whether Vinnie was positive or not, but since he had been raped early on in the novel they were very aware of the possibility.) Roger is always the top, but when they are discussing safe sex at some point and Vinnie suggests that they were still conducting safe sex since Vinnie was always on the bottom, Roger explodes with , "Who told you that was safe sex?"

There is also *how* Vinnie found out he was positive. It is required for any AIDS test that the person report in personally to the place they were tested. Mainly, this is so the person can be offered counseling, whether the test turns up positive or negative. Vinnie was told over the phone. By his psychiatrist. When he was at home alone. When said psychiatrist and everyone else knew he was suicidal in the first place.

[Treatment of Alcoholism]. On a smaller scale, I would argue that Jenny, while far from my favorite person, as an ex-alcoholic, would never dismiss someone's drinking all evening by saying "It's just wine". I also seriously doubt that Jenny, even at her worst, would allow her *son* to get into a car with a man who she thought had had a little too much to drink. I realise, though, that this latter is getting into the realms of characterization. (This all refers to the one sub-plot with her homophobic and oh-so-cleverly-named boyfriend, Dick.)

[Gay = Good, Straight = Bad]. A side issue of this is that every 'good guy' in this is gay/bi. Every 'bad guy' or unhip individual is straight. There's a certain amount of reverse-prejudice in this that grates on my nerves seriously.

[Physical Changes To Characters]: The last point I want to make before moving on to characterization is the actual physical change they put the characters through. First of all, and possibly more arguably, they change Vinnie's hair color. I believe it's described as auburn, at least at one point. It *is* stated that Vinnie dyed his hair black when he ran away to Seattle as a form of disguise. Now, this is not arguing the hues of color. I can see some people saying that it's brown and some people saying it's black. We're not even discussing that oh, so, elusive descriptive word we can all agree on for Doyle's hair. But even taking into account that, when the light hits it right, you might say that Vinnie has some slightly red highlights in his hair, in no way would I consider it auburn.

What I really object to, though, is the very deliberate change of one of the character's eye color. It would have been different if the author had honestly thought Frank's eye color was brown when she was writing it. (They're blue, btw.) There have been discussions among the [actor Jonathan Banks] fans for some time about whether or not he wears dark contacts at times to make himself look more sinister for some roles. But in the intro, it's stated that she had thought that his eyes were brown when she first watched the show, found out later that they were blue later, but always 'thought of Frank as having brown eyes' and therefore kept it that way for the story. I'm sorry, but this totally does not work for me. It doesn't change the fact that his eyes *are* blue and that she knew about it when she wrote.

There is a difference between an honest mistake or a difference of opinion on shade and an altering of the actual facts. If you'd always thought Frank was Scottish and found out in the last episode he was Irish, would that work? Characters personalities we can arguing, eye color I'm not ready for, the Harrison Ford conversation not withstanding. And I have to admit that knowing that he had blue eyes made reading the story that much more confusing. ("'The brown-eyed man'? Who the hell's in bed with them now?!") The fact that altering Frank's eye color to brown means that each of her main characters have different eye colors--brown (Frank), green (Roger) and blue (Vinnie)--just seemed to make it slightly more convenient.

Characterisation. Okay, this is where it's going to get sticky, as if it hasn't already.

Vinnie--This is some of the worst character assassination I've seen in quite some time. Let me just hit the highlights.

First, I question the entire idea that Vinnie was manic-depressive to begin with. He could not have gotten past what happened with Sonny, much less make it all the way to Lynchboro before having a complete collapse if this were true. Secondly, the FBI is rigorous in its screening of deep-cover agents. Even if you argue that they care nothing for the ultimate well-being of their operatives, too wrapped up in a Machiavellian plan so twisted as to make X-FILES look like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, does it really make sense that they would put someone in deep cover who might not complete an assignment? For sheer self-interest, there is no way they would let someone in who might collapse and either babble everything or just fuck up their chances of winning. If for no other reason than they spend a huge amount of money and time training these guys and setting things up.

Another objection is the incredible lengths to which the authors go to try and explain away the various heterosexual encounters we know he had on the show in order to show him as a strictly submissive homosexual. I already mentioned the Amber thing. But most of the time he was just setting his cover and didn't really enjoy it. (Hid it well with Susan, didn't he? And Amber for that matter.) The one that gets me most, though, is the explanation that during their one-night together during the Pilgrims of Promise arc, he and Angie mutually masturbated each other.

Excuse me? I won't get into the whole Angie being a surrogate mother to Vinnie/Frank/Roger or Vinnie being a sperm donor so she and her new husband can have a child. That's where I left off...

Finally, what bothers me most if the extreme infantilisation of Vinnie in the entire thing. I am the first one to argue against Vinnie's maturity, but he;s been out of diapers for some time, at least, even if he can't seem to get all the way out of high school. The fact that he is such a completely helpless little thing, incapable of either taking care of himself or--more astoundingly to me--standing up for himself, even to Roger and Frank is totally out in space. Mr. Vinnie "Pain in the Ass 1990" Terranova?! Nope, sorry, I don't care how many nervous breakdowns he has. In many ways, if I accept this total change in personality, I have to look at the sexual aspects, especially the way they are portrayed in the story, as being very close to pedophilia. Pedophilia is wrong not just because of the physical safety issues, but is considered wrong because someone is taking advantage of someone else who is incapable of fully understanding what is going on and giving their complete consent.

Roger--Do I want a domestic Roger? No, but that's not the point. Actually, I see Roger as being the least compromised character of the three. He will still occasionally show his edge. But Roger with a sort of foster son? Shacking up with Frank and Vinnie (let alone contemplating matrimony, last I heard)? Getting a *puppy*? Eeek!

Frank--Frank being willing to walk down the street in full leather gear? Frank willingly going to a gay bar? Frank having public sex in said gay bar? Frank beating Vinnie? (We get back to the child abuse issues...)

I think one of the things that occurred that bothered me most was Frank's reaction (or lack of it) to [his son] Drake not only becoming sexually active at 14, but becoming involved with the 17 year old male hustler that Roger has taken under his wing. What little reaction of upset we see, is quickly beaten down by the others with a "What's wrong, Frank, it's good enough for you, but not for your son?" And Frank is ashamed because he thinks that's the answer! Excuse me, but I know very few parents that would be thrilled to know that their 14 year old child is sexually active, but especially sexually active with a prostitute. The fact that he's a *male* prostitute (which of course, points out the latent homophobia deeply ingrained in Frank as the story seems to be trying to say) is a minor little additive. And we're talking about Frank McPike here! (And did I mention Travis, the 17 year old, and Drake are shacked up in the livingroom while V/F/R are having fun in the bedroom with everyone's blessing?)

That's about all the points I wanted to hit. This is by no means a complete listing of all the events that transpire, even in the first seven issues that I read. But I think that gives the general idea. [8]

Reactions to Michelle's Review

After Michelle's review was posted, a lively and spirited debate erupted on Virgule. The author and the zine publisher disagreed strongly with the majority of Michelle's points and felt her review was factually incorrect in places. Others felt that the "review" was not a review, but an attempt to manipulate readers into disliking the story.[9]

Other list members thanked Michelle for her comments. As one fan explained, in her eyes what Michelle posted was a review:
A very interesting and enlightening one, I thought. One which finally explained for me why the opinions about TS expressed by the fans I know who have read (or tried to read) it have so far been quite negative. It provided a valuable service to those of us who have puzzled over the positive reviews for this work, by carefully and thoroughly explaining her opinion on the style, content, and characterizations of the writing. Now I have a better understanding of some of the reasons behind the negative reviews I've heard. [10]
A few long standing members of the mailing list reminded the list that Virgule had:
...a long-standing tradition here of discussion and of doing reviews. There have been fewer and fewer reviews and critiques done on this list precisely because too many people started howling and whining when something came up they found distasteful. However, we've all agreed to disagree occasionally, and...have pretty much agreed..[to]...delete posts they found unpleasant. I believe [Michelle] gave them fair warning. [11]
As with other debates about feedback and the role that feedback does (and should) play in fandom, many of the arguments followed well traveled paths that had been established decades before in letterzines such as S&H and Interstat. One list member echoed previous positions on reviews:
I think you are confusing a review with a LOC. Reviews are not for the benefit of the author; they are for the benefit of readers, both potential readers and those who have already read the work in question. (I often like reading reviews of something I have already read or seen more than of something I haven't.) [12]

And, as with other debates over feedback, the 'review question' was never resolved. While Michelle and a few others continued to post reviews to Virgule, the debate over reviews continued with writers and publishers objecting periodically to reviews, while readers and fanzine buyers welcomed them. The Terranova Review Debate also prompted other mailing lists, such as Senad to initiate policies that made it clear that in depth discussion of fan fiction would not be permitted because authors "put time and effort into it [so] that comments about stories are likely to affect people on a very personal level. [13]

1996

Ladies:

I've been totally immersed in reading "The Terranova Situation" and if any of you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

I love long, involved stories with the same characters. And this is one of those. The story is powerful and well presented. The author's grasp of the material is impressive. If you're looking for good slash fiction, this is it.

I also recommend a large supply of chocolate and a box of tissues as you read. [14]

In the spirit of sharing opinions, I just wanted to politely comment that I disagree, at least regarding the first three or so volumes which, being a hungry WG fan, I read. I thought the characterization was poor ([Dar] was very openly, and appreciatedly, forthright about the fact that this is its own universe and (I think) an AU), and I never really found a plot. There were inconsistencies that I just couldn't relate to; characters' physical features changed, grammatical and structural errors (I'm a bit hung up on things like that), and scenes where I found myself saying "But this person would *NEVER* do that."

And that's my opinion, of course.

On the other hand, people I've spoken with who have enjoyed it have cited its close following of the characters' day-to-day lives (picking out furniture, housekeeping, cooking meals, therapy sessions, etc.), and added details like the floorplans to the family homes and the like, as things they very much enjoyed, so if you like stories like that then yes, it might be a good read for you. [15]

Published With the Serial Numbers Filed Off

From a September 1993 ad in GAZ: "Plastic Cow Productions has branched out! In addition to our adzine, we are now publishing mainstream gay erotica! SASE for details on purchasing or writing for our new anthology All Your Dreams Fulfilled."

In February 1995, a fan asked others:
I recently lent my two zines of generic gay fan fiction "All Your Dreams Fulfilled" #1 and #2 (which I had found announced in the Media Monitor [16]) to a friend who's into Wiseguy.

She called me to tell me that some of the stories in those zines seem to be more or less identical with parts of the Wiseguy zine The Terranova Situation. The names of the characters are changed, and references to certain situations removed. But many sentences are identical. The author names sound partly male, and partly like unidentifiable pseuds.

It looks as if the sex scenes from some slash zines were taken to be published as generic homoerotic fantasies.

Any ideas what happened here? [17]
A reply:
I can't say anything about "All Your Dreams Fulfilled #2"--I haven't read it, but just about every single scene in the first appeared somewhere in Terranova Situation. Word for word. Sometimes, they don't even bother changing the names. I was kinda ticked about the whole thing. [18]
A reply:
This looks like either a case of authorial republication, or of plagiarism. In case of the latter, it would be appropriate to inform the authors/publishers of THE TERRANOVA SITUATION, giving them all the details and contact information for ALL YOUR DREAMS FULFILLED, in case they want to pursue the question. Even if there are no official rules in fandom, plagiarism (which has happened before) is rude and tasteless in the extreme. Since "all your dreams fulfilled" is a quotation from a Wiseguy episode, however (one of the Profitt eps), it may be simply a case of the authors republishing in another format. How rude or tasteless this is depends on how much they ought to expect that the same audience would buy both zines. This is a continuum; fans would, I think, be really pissed if a publisher reprinted a story from SMUT #1 in SMUT #2, but generally cheer when a story from a zine is republished professionally. (I still remember the thrill of recognition when I borrowed a book of women's erotica from a friend and the best story in it was one of Gayle's K/S stories with the names (and Spock's sex) changed.) [19]
Confirmation:
Actually, the publishers (and subsequently, the writer) of TERRANOVA SITUATION know about "All Your Dreams Fulfilled"--they're the ones putting it out. That's what ticked me off: They were selling it side by side with TS. In their defense, they had intended to sell it in bookstores, but seems to me they should have somehow warned fen who had read TS that most of the material in AYDF were reprints from TS. [20]

References

  1. A fan in 1993 created a helpful visual.
  2. In July 1995 on Virgule-L, , one of the authors noted that over the past 2 years 5 months, [Dar F] had written 1,956 pages, which was a word count of 1,152,300.
  3. May 31, 1994, Sandy Hereld, Virgule-L, quoted with permission
  4. from Sandy Herrold in Strange Bedfellows #3 (November 1993)
  5. comment on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously with permission (November 19, 1993)
  6. from Strange Bedfellows APA #4
  7. quoted anonymously from Virgule-L (July 27, 1995)
  8. In 1996, Michelle Christian posted a lengthy critical review of the series to the Virgule-L mailing list. The review is reposted here with permission. Because of its length, subject headers have been added in bracket, along with bolding, to help guide the reader. The mailing list welcomed critical discussions of fan fiction; however many writers and publishers felt unconformable with the concepts of fans writing reviews that were directed at readers, instead of writers (see the Feedback Debates).
  9. Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed Feb 12, 2012.
  10. Post to Virgule dated October 16, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
  11. post to Virgule dated October 16, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
  12. Post to Virgule dated October 17, 1996. Quoted with permission. Name withheld upon request. <accessed February 12, 2012>.
  13. Senad List Policy as updated in 2006, accessed Feb 12, 2012.
  14. comment on Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (October 8, 1996)
  15. comment on Virgule-L by Michelle Christian, quoted with permission (October 8, 1996)
  16. Media Monitor was published by the same fans who created The Terranova Situation.
  17. from Virgule-L, quoted anonymously (February 25, 1995)
  18. Michelle Christian, from Virgule-L, quoted with permission (February 25, 1995)
  19. from Virgule-L, quoted anonymously with permission (February 26, 1995)
  20. Michelle Christian, from Virgule-L, quoted with permission (February 26, 1995)