What Is Fan Fiction? (02-03)
Origins of Xena Fan Fiction (04-07)
Fan Fiction Grows Up (08-15)
Newer Trends and Developments In Fan Fiction (16-22)
The Future of Xena Fan Ficton (23-27)
Lunacy has her own extensive site of fanfic reviews.
Introduction If you ask Xenites to list what they enjoy most from their involvement in the Xenaverse, fan fiction will likely appear near the top of that list. Unrestricted by time constraints, or censors or any of the other sensibilities imposed by film or TV, fan fiction allows for a fuller exploration of characters and themes and storylines making it incredibly appealing for fans. Xena fan fiction began appearing on the Net almost immediately after the series premiered and it has flourished ever since, giving birth to a number of different genres. Today, Xena's "bards" are some of the most talented writers writing the best fanfic on the Net.
What Is Fan Fiction? Fan fiction, as the term implies, can be very simply defined as fiction written by fans. The fiction can be in the form of short stories, skits, parodies, poems, vignettes, screenplays, or even novels. Fan fiction writers take familiar elements from the TV series, movie, or commercial novel they are fans of and create original stories based on their interpretation of those elements.
 Fan fiction became a popular term with the emergence of STAR TREK stories written by fans of the original series in the sixties and seventies, but the tradition itself is a much older one. Well-known scholar Henry Jenkins, who has made a study of fan culture, notes that "Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk". [Note 1] With that in mind, it is clear that fan fiction has probably been around for as long as humans have enjoyed storytelling. Contemporary fanfic bards are simply the intellectual and artistic descendants of those ancient storytellers who stood around campfires retelling the popular stories of their day and adding to these their own personal touches.
Origins Of Xena Fan Fiction
Tom's Xena Page hosts a vast amount of fanfic.
 The TV series XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS premiered in the United States in September 1995. Universal's XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS NETFORUM opened the next month as an online venue through which fans could meet and talk about the show. By November of that year the alt.tv.xena discussion group had also become available. It was through these two online meeting places that viewers first began sharing their fan fiction. With the early NetForum posts no longer available, it's impossible to confirm which was the first piece of XWP fan fiction ever posted, but by the Spring of 1996, it was already common to see on the NetForum at least one or two new fanfic posts each week.
 Throughout this first full year of the fandom, fan fiction became increasingly more popular as did the fans who wrote it. Visitor, Dancyer McCoy, Mlocket, Deanlu, Anon, Wishes, Enginerd and Tim Wellman among others became familiar names to NetForum regulars who would anxiously log into the site searching for that next story installment or just to see Wishes and Tim posting one brilliant piece of fanfic after another in their nightly wars with trolls.[Note 2] I, myself, fondly remember Anon's wonderful CHILDHOOD'S END as the NetForum title which first got me hooked on fanfic. Anon and these other early fanfic writers were soon attaining a new level of recognition as the fandom's appetite for fanfic continued to grow. Inspired by the character of Gabrielle, Xenites started referring to these writers as "bards" and a whole new class of celebrity was born in the Xenaverse.
 During this period, one major disadvantage of posting fanfic both on the NetForum and the alt.tv.xena discussion group was that older posts quickly disappeared and, in the case of the NetForum, permanently became unavailable after a while. Unfortunately, many early fanfic efforts were lost because of this, but two significant events in 1996 would help to ensure that fanfic became a more permanent part of the Xenaverse, paving the way for the popularity fanfic enjoys today. In June 1996 TOM'S XENA PAGE premiered on the Web. Managed by Tom Simpson, this site quickly became the first major fanfic archive in the Xenaverse.
 1996 also saw a growing awareness among fans of the subtext, which is now such an ingrained part of the fandom. The focus of many heated discussions during the series' first year, the subtext nevertheless soon gave birth to a genre within the fanfic known as alternative or alt fiction. These were stories which added a romantic element to the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, depicting them as lovers or potential lovers. Shared at first exclusively through private mailing lists, alt. fiction emerged into the fandom at large in the Fall of 1996 with the premier of Dax's OBSESSION page and the release of alt. classics like her own LIFE FROM DEATH and Bat Morda's BROKEN ARROW. Inspired by the show's subtext, alt fiction would quickly become a favorite with many Xenites, helping to legitimize that view of the show within the fandom and encouraging an understanding among fans that helped to eliminate much of the early dissent. Consisting at first primarily of first-time stories [Note 3], alt fiction now offers a rich variety of fiction and has been the catalyst for many of the genres which developed after it.
Fan Fiction Grows Up In late 1996, Xena fanfic had begun to emerge from its infancy as more and more bards started appearing and the quality of the stories began to steadily improve. A major turning point in the genre came with the sudden appearance of a fanfic tale called ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. A beautifully written, poignant hurt/comfort [Note 4] tale revolving around the dynamics of the Xena/Gab friendship, this is a story that would immediately revolutionize XWP fanfic, influencing many of the great bards writing today. The very talented lady responsible for that story, Rebekah, went on to write other wonderful stories, but it is as the writer of ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT that she really changed the face of XWP fanfic - making it into a serious literary pursuit for many bards and elevating it to the level which marks it today as one of the highest quality types of fan fiction on the Net.
 The first few months of 1997 would include a number of other milestones in Xena fan fiction. January of that year would see the release of another classic, highly influential tale - Word Warrior's magnificent TRUTH OR DARE. Featuring a very dark, troubled depiction of the Warrior Princess, this story added new depth to the character of Xena in fanfic, exploring a side of the warrior which the TV series had only briefly touched on and which prior fanfic tended to ignore.
 January 1997 also marked the opening of a Web site which would remain relatively obscure during the first month or so but which would go on to become one of the most visited sites in the Xenaverse - Xenos' XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN FICTION INDEX. During the very early days of Xena fan fiction, bards were only producing one or two new stories per week so it was easy for Xenites to find those, read them and remember where the stories were located. By 1997 this situation was rapidly changing. Recognizing the need for an index to all these stories, Xenos created an exceptional site which, on a daily basis, made available links to new stories and offered an impressive number of subject indices. Xenos also made available some of the first statistics on fan fiction. The following is a table which was originally at this site showing the phenomenal growth in fanfic from its inception through January 1998. Listed are the number of new stories appearing each month. [Note 5]
GENERAL ALTERNATIVE TOTAL Up to Jun-96(1) 52 15 67 Jun-96 1 0 1 Jul-96 3 3 6 Aug-96 14 3 17 Sep-96 19 3 22 Oct-96 19 5 24 Nov-96 29 8 37 Dec-96 47 7 54 Jan-97 60 31 91 Feb-97 54 39 93 Mar-97 66 57 123 Apr-97 55 59 114 May-97 38 43 81 Jun-97 54 54 108 Jul-97 53 69 122 Aug-97 56 49 105 Sep-97 41 58 99 Oct-97 65 57 122 Nov-97 53 40 93 Dec-97 63 58 121 Jan-98 54 44 98 TOTAL 896 702 1598
 Meanwhile, over on the NetForum, something interesting was happening with yours truly. In the latter half of 1996 I had started exploring the growing number of Xena sites and realizing that some really excellent fanfic was being posted directly to those sites. Knowing that many Xenites were limiting their Xenaverse experience to the NetForum, the librarian in me just couldn't resist the urge to start encouraging fellow fans there to expand their horizons. It started with posts recommending individual stories and then a Xenite named Xenak asked me for a list of story recommendations. It made me realize that with the increasing number of stories, Xenites were not only going to need indices but also reviews pointing them to noteworthy fiction. Thus in Feb. 1997 THE LUNACY FAN FICTION REPORTS first began appearing on the NetForum. Today they are a regular feature on a number of mailing lists while past reviews are archived on the LUNACY FAN FICTION REVIEWS page.
You can aspire to an Eddy of your own!
 In March 1997 three major fanfic events occurred. First, MaryD became the fanfic editor at TOM'S XENA PAGE. With a history of involvement in STAR TREK fandom, MaryD brought an admirable sense of dedication to the job immediately instituting a number of exciting changes. She started offering interviews with bards through a section named FROM THE BARD'S QUILL, furthering the growing celebrity of Xenite bards and giving potential new writers the opportunity to read about how established bards worked, where they got ideas from, etc. She also introduced the EDDIES - special commendations given to stories she felt merited recognition. MaryD would eventually leave Tom's page to start her own site with a fanfic page called THE BARD'S CORNER, which today is among the most popular and best managed fanfic archives.
 March 1997 saw the opening of the CALLISTO TALES fanfic site, the first on the Web exclusively dedicated to one of the supporting players on XWP. It was this month as well that marked the birth of one of the most popular genres in XWP fanfic when a story called IS THERE A DOCTOR ON THE DIG made its debut. Written by Bat Morda and inspired by the episode THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210), ITADOTD was an instant hit with fans immediately generating an interest in Mel/Janice stories. To this day when Xenites think of Mel and Janice they are more likely to envision the characters from fanfic than the originals we saw in the TV series.
 Mel/Janice fanfic was the precursor of yet another genre which emerged in 1997 - uber fanfic. "Uber" is a German term that literally means "over" but which is used in academia to refer to the fundamental essence of a concept or an idea or a character.[Note 6] An Uber-Xena story is one which takes the essence of the characters in XWP and places these in another time, another place, another reality. The TV series itself in fact provided us with its own uber-Xena episode in the THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210). A story involving the characters of Mel and Janice *is* an Uber-Xena story because these characters retain essential qualities of the original Xena and Gabrielle while existing in another time (1940's). In an Uber-Xena story, the characters do not have to be mirror images of the originals they are based on - both physically and spiritually there could be differences but again, the essence of the originals must be there. Taking Mel and Janice as examples once again - Mel is very different from Xena as is Janice from Gabrielle, but three things define them as Uber representations: Mel and Janice resemble their ancestors physically, they are identified as being descendants of the warrior and bard, and they share the same type of bond. The Xena and Gab-like characters in an uber-Xena story generally resemble the originals although they don't have to look exactly like them. In most uber-Xena stories they are presented as either descendants of the warrior and bard or reincarnations, but, again, these are not prerequisites. Suffice it to say that if you are a fan of the TV series, the characters in an uber-Xena story will be familiar to you even if they aren't exactly Xena and/or Gabrielle.
 It is difficult to pinpoint which was the first story in this genre because in fact there were a number of "firsts". Bat's ITADOTD was technically the first uber story, but since the term has come to be associated with non-Mel/Janice stories, Bat's ITADOTD is not typically viewed as uber. The writing team of Miss and Aisa in fact began publicly releasing the first uber tale called GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66, but they never completed this tale which has since been removed from the Web. Written in June 1997, Della Street's TOWARD THE SUNSET set in the Old West and featuring a dangerous gunslinger as the uber-Xena character and a school teacher as the uber-Gabrielle, then became the first completed uber story. However, it was not the first publicly available uber story on the Web - that title went to Bongo Bear's THE HITCH HIKER, which paired an architect and a military historian - modern-day decendants of Xena and Gab. It made its appearance July 22, 1997 just a couple of weeks before Della's story went public.
Newer Trends And Developments In Fan Fiction In the Summer of 1997, XWP fandom saw the first foreign language site, XENA: LA PRINCESA GUERRERA from Spain - featuring not only translations of English stories but original Spanish ones as well. More recently a German site called SYMBIONTS DEUTSCHE XENA FANFICTION PAGE has also appeared featuring again both translations and original works.
 By the Fall of 1997 Xenos had indexed over 1,000 stories including one of the most impressive achievements in Xena fanfic, the monumental ORIGINS by M. Parnell, and a number of novels by a certain talent named Melissa Good whose style of alternative fan fiction would soon make her the most recognizable name in the fandom after the actors themselves.
 Alt fiction in particular had expanded by this point to include many different types of stories. Bards like Missy Good and DJWP, author of the wonderfully entertaining A BARD DAY'S NIGHT were at one end of the scale offering very romantic, sweet, non-graphic tales, while names like LN James, B.L. Miller, Oversoul, and Phopas among others were bringing us spicier fare, and, still others, like Mil Toro, Katrina, and Catherine Wilson were extending this to explorations of power and darkness and the allure that combination can create.
 Nowhere has the popularity of fanfic and fanfic bards been as much in evidence as in the XWP conventions, which took place in late 1997 and early 1998. Fans often spent as much time discussing fanfic as they did the actual TV series, and when you saw Xenites gathered around gushing over someone, it was just as likely to be a bard than a celebrity. Today THE PALACE at the WHOOSH Web site regularly holds Bard chats, which attract numerous Xenites anxious to speak with their favorite fanfic writers.
 Fan fiction began inspiring artwork early on, but, this year in particular, fanfic art has really come into its own with a growing number of sites now featuring everything from simple drawings and sketches to detailed paintings and high quality computer art. With his popular Fan Fiction Covers, Barron was an early pioneer in this arena. Today his site includes graphic covers for many popular fanfic stories. The talented team of Xenites responsible for the Pink Rabbits Production site have used their writing and artistic abilities to supplement computer art with story segments. Xenite Barbara McClay has given us graphic representations of many popular uber characters. Jeanette Atwood has combined artistic and storytelling skills to create one of the most unique types of fanfic in Xena fandom - the delightful BATTLE ON! comic strip. Other artists like Lunar are creating artwork inspired by specific stories.
 In February 1998, no longer enamored with the series and because she had other commitments to fulfill, Xenos announced the closing of the XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN FICTION INDEX. From the short-term crisis that followed, as fanfic readers scrambled to fill the void, not one but three new indexes emerged. Shadowfen turned her own personal database into SHADOWFEN'S XENA:WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN FICTION INDEX, making available also what has become one of the most popular What's New pages in the Xenaverse. Three NetForum regulars, Del_kaidin, Absinthe and CN Winters organized a collaborative effort which would give birth to the ULTIMATE FANFIC DIRECTORY, featuring a number of helpful new subject indexes. With Xenos' approval, Bardseye and Xenabat unveiled the third index which was, in fact, a reworked version of Xenos' original under their management now and renamed THE XENAVERSE CODEX.
 1998 also brought new sources for reviews as Katrina began offering her BARD PICKS. Consisting of reviews contributed by different readers, BARD PICKS complemented well my own Lunacy reviews, giving readers the opportunity to read and contribute different opinions about stories. Just recently yet another source of reviews made its debut, DEL'S FAN FICTION REVIEWS by Del_kaidin.
The Future Of Xena Fan Fiction As the series moves into its fourth season, Xena fan fiction continues to both grow and diversify. The uber genre in particular has gained tremendous momentum due in large part to the uncertainty associated with the ending of the third season and the dissatisfaction many fans and bards felt with aspects of this past year. Uber stories allow bards much greater freedom with their storylines. Writers can ignore a great deal of the canon established by the TV series and still produce recognizable uber tales. The greater freedom means they can also be more creative. The uber genre has produced some wildly different tales from western fiction like Della's TOWARD THE SUNSET and Hobbes' THE CAUSE to historical epics like Bardwynna's GASLIGHT and PHOENIX series to the contemporary tales we're seeing more and more off these days. With stories like Wishes' extraordinary BATTLE, Paul Seely and Jennifer Garza's groundbreaking SURFACING, Vivan Darkbloom's hysterical LOVE AND DEATH IN THE TRAILER PARK and Sharon Bower's masterpiece LUCIFER RISING , modern day uber stories now include some of the best stories ever written in XWP fan fiction.
 One of my favorite recent developments is the growing number of stories based on "Xena the Conqueror" - the ruthless version of the Warrior Princess introduced in the HERCULES episode ARMAGEDDON NOW II (H73/414). Katrina jumpstarted this potential new genre with one of the finest stories ever written in Xena fanfic - THE STORYTELLER. In the weeks since, we have gotten some very strong, popular stories also based on that premise including Della's Street magnificent RESISTANCE, Mil Toro's spicy CONQUERING XENA and, most recently, AFTERMATH: THE TREE OF LIFE by XWP Fanatic. Combining an exploration of power and darkness with the theme of redemption, these stories are a natural progression from the warlord/slave [Note 7] genre which has been a part of XWP fan fiction almost since its inception.
 Today's Xenite bards are taking their writing more seriously than ever, striving to produce not only entertaining stories but good quality fiction as well. A number of Web resources have emerged to help them do that. A BETA READERS DIRECTORY is now available with a growing number of volunteers who will work with bards, reading their stories prior to publication, giving them feedback and providing other editorial assistance. Links to writing resources and other reference sites are now common throughout the Xenaverse Web sites. Tom's RESEARCH AND REFERENCE room, THE XENAVERSE CODEX and THE BARD'S REFERENCE LIBRARY all offer materials and links specifically geared toward helping bards. In keeping with the collaborative spirit that has always been a part of the Xenaverse, bards themselves are now producing how-to guides and manuals to help one another improve. THE BARD'S REFERENCE LIBRARY includes some excellent new contributions from bards, while long-time writers Ella Quince and Simahoyo both have recently opened sites, THE BLUE QUILL and THE WRITER'S TOOLBOX, geared toward the needs of Xenite bards.
 Xena fan fiction has grown from some 50 stories in June 1996 to the over 2,000 titles currently on the Web. The number of new stories has gone from 2-6 per month in early 1996 to over 100 new ones now regularly available each month. At one point bards could only post their fanfic at a handful of Web sites. Today over 100 sites make fanfic available, with new sites opening on a weekly basis.
 Fan fiction has always been instrumental in helping Xenites cope during rerun season. This past year it was one of the things that many of those viewers who were disappointed with the third season most frequently pointed to as the draw that was keeping them in the fandom. Fan fiction and Xena fandom are so closely woven together that it is virtually impossible to imagine what the Xenaverse would be like without our bards and the fiction they share with us. Thanks to the Internet and the individuals who created XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, Xenites can now gather around a huge electronic campfire and share their own visions of this wonderful story. It is a tradition that will likely continue long after the TV series ends, ensuring many adventures to come for the warrior and her bard.
Henry Jenkins. Textual Poachers: Television Fans And Participatory Culture, New York: Routledge, 1992. Return to article
"Trolls" is a term commonly used online in reference to individuals who visit a discussion group, chat session or mailing list with the specific purpose of angering or shocking those participating. To do this trolls will use insults, profanity and personal attacks or any other means by which they can disrupt the discussion taking place. Return to article
First time stories are a mainstay of alternative Xena fan fiction. These types of stories are simply ones in which Xena and Gabrielle make love for the first time. Some first time stories have Gabrielle as a virgin, but virginity in itself does not necessarily define the category. In the early days of alt. fiction first time stories did usually involve virginity because the character of Gabrielle in the TV series was assumed to be a virgin. Recently, however, what they tend to revolve around is Gabrielle's first time with a woman - specifically with the Warrior Princess. First time stories tend to be very romantic and passionate - often explicit as well. Return to article
Hurt/comfort stories are ones in which one of the main characters, most often either Xena or Gabrielle, is hurt while the other tries to protect and comfort the injured partner. These types of stories tend to inject a lot of vulnerability in the characterizations making the drama rich in emotion. Return to article
This table was originally available through Xenos' XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS FAN FICTION INDEX, which is no longer on the Web. The statistics were compiled by Xenos. Return to article
The term-of-art, uber-Xena, was coined on-line June 1997 by Kym Masera Taborn during private correspondences with fledgling uber-Xena authors. The writers and their beta/proof readers adopted the term and consequently, the uber-Xena genre had the distinction of having a unique name before any of the examples of the genre were available publicly on the web. As to why she chose that terminology, apparently Taborn had survived an aborted Ph.D career in musicology, and coined the term half-seriously and half-mocking of her academic experience. Taborn had also founded the webzine WHOOSH ten months earlier, as further revenge against her advisors and academic committee. Return to article
Warlord/slave stories are ones in which either Xena or Gabrielle (or their uber counterparts - see the definition for Uber-Xena stories) assumes a warlord persona while the remaining partner is placed in a submissive role as servant or slave. Most often in these type of stories Xena is the one placed in warlord mode, but a few have Gabrielle in the position of power. Warlord/slave stories rely on different types of plots to create the power shift in the relationship - sometimes amnesia is the culprit, sometimes the gods are involved, sometimes the warlord/slave relationship is one Xena and Gabrielle assume on purpose in order to fool enemies or in alt. stories specifically, as part of sexual role-play. In Uber stories the warlord/slave elements can simply be part of the regular relationship that is established between the characters. Warlord/slave stories present the gamut of emotions with some being quite poignant and at times violent, others being hysterically funny, and some being fiercely passionate and erotic. Return to article
- Lunacy. "The Xena Fan Fic Experience." Xena Media Review Issue 24, Aug. 11, 1997.
- Silver, Diane. "A Cyber History Of The Online Xena Community: Part 1 - September 1995 To June 1996". Whoosh! The Journal Of The International Association Of Xena Studies, Issue 13, Oct. 1997.
- Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans And Participatory Culture, New York: Routledge, 1992.
- RESOURCES FOR XENITE BARDS:
- The Bard's Reference Library
- The Blue Quill
- Tom's Xena Page Research and Reference Room
- The Writer's Toolbox
- The Xenaverse Codex's Writers Aids
- XWP FAN FICTION INDEXES:
- Shadowfen's Xena: Warrior Princess Fan Fiction Index
- The Ultimate Fan Fiction Directory
- The Xenaverse Codex
- XWP FAN FICTION REVIEWS
- Bard Picks
- Barron's Favorites
- Del's Fan Fiction Reviews
- Lunacy Fan Fiction Reviews
- XWP FAN FICTION ART
- Battle On!
- Barron's Art Galley And Fan Fiction Covers
- Pink Rabbit Productions Digital Art And Story Fragments Page
- Xena Fan Fiction Characters Portrait Gallery
- The Xena Fantasy Artwork Archive
- Xena Warrior Princess Artwork
- The Xena Warrior Princess Fantasy Art Gallery
In real life I'm a librarian and Internet trainer. I've been hooked on XWP since the Warrior Princess appeared on HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS. I first ventured into the Xenaverse in late 1995, joining the NetForum where I was soon exposed to XWP fanfic. It was love at first read! I've been a faithful reader and bard groupie ever since. In 1996 I started doing fanfic reviews in order to keep Xenites on the NetForum current on new fiction. Today the Lunacy site on the Web features hundreds of reviews while the reports regularly go out to a number of mailing lists. My other interests at the moment include the TV series STAR TREK VOYAGER and Terry Moore's comic book series STRANGERS IN PARADISE.
Favorite episode: REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202)
Favorite line: Xena: "Gabrielle, you are a gift to me". A SOLSTICE CAROL (33/209)
First episode seen: WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308)
Bongo Bear, "Don't Mind the Ladies: Lesbian Fanfic as an Old-Fashioned Romance", Whoosh #48 (2000)