Whoosh! Issue 46 - July 2000

By David Simpson
Content copyright © 2000 held by author
Edition copyright © 2000 held by Whoosh!
1877 words

Introduction (01-03)
"Tickling Trout" (04-07)
"En Suite, En Fin" (08-15)
"A Perfect Fit of the Shoe" (16-19)
Conclusion (20)
The Stories

The Xena: Warrior Princess Fan Fiction of Cyclops


[1] Cyclops is a worthy successor to the great literary tradition of her native Ireland. Her writing style is mature, assured, and demonstrates a great command of language. Her Xena stories all tie in closely with the style of the show and display an original imagination that gives them a special magic all their own.

[2] Cyclops responds to and makes explicit the Xena/Gabrielle subtext that many fans see in the show. In her stories Xena and Gabrielle are in love and become lovers. Her treatment of their love is explicit, but subtle. Her fan fiction manages to be both romantic and earthy at the same time.

[3] All these are "first time" stories in which Xena and Gabrielle finally admit their feelings for each other and make love. This is now a well-worn theme of Xena fan fiction, but each of these stories treats the subject in a very different way.

"Tickling Trout"

But what about the one that got away?

Xena can catch fish in a variety of ways.

[4] Consider the story "Tickling Trout". This has many of the traditional elements: frustration, uncertainty, and the contrast between the experienced Xena and the innocent (well, fairly innocent) Gabrielle. However, Cyclops combines these elements with ideas of her own that have their roots in the magical side of the show, and thereby she creates something unique and special. The end result reads like a romantic comedy episode from the series, or at least how such an episode could be were there no restraints operating for the show's creators.

[5] Cyclops captures the cadences of the characters and the style of the show perfectly. She gets the readers to relax as they recognize the familiar territory of the Xenaverse. Then she fuses the various elements she has borrowed with her own ideas to forge a light-hearted, lyrical tale of lust and love.

[6] The story begins on one of those dusty Greek roads we have come to know so well. Despite the tension between our heroes, this is not an angst-ridden drama. Even this stage of the story is treated with deft humor. To ease the situation the characters decide to break their journey and indulge in their favorite respective pastimes of writing and fishing. Then the writer develops a way for them to communicate their feelings for each other and to consummate their love. Described like that, it sounds like a very conventional tale, but Cyclops introduces a completely original twist that sets the story apart as a triumph of the creative imagination. Her way involves a lake, an assortment of deities, and an elaborate mixing of the planes of reality to bring the whole tale to a very satisfying conclusion.

[7] In "Tickling Trout", Cyclops uses her sympathetic understanding for the romantic tribulations of her proteges to produce a celebration of love revealed and joyously consummated.

"En Suite, En Fin"

[8] "En Suite, En Fin" reworks the theme in a very different context. In this "fill-in" story, the author gives her view of events that took place between the episodes THE BITTER SUITE (58/312) and ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313). Many writers have felt the need to explore this time as it has the air of unfinished business both between Xena and Gabrielle, and between them and the Amazons. This time Cyclops' treatment is singled out, not so much by the originality of her approach, as by its power. This is a much darker tale, as it explores fully the difficulties that appear to be inherent in Xena and Gabrielle's life together. Although Illusia has re-united them, they discover that there is still much to be resolved. Cyclops has the characters work out their inner conflicts during their stay at the Amazon village.

[9] This story is mostly written in a more conventional style, but Cyclops is able to use it to engage the reader's emotions fully in the drama. She adopts the usual convention of assuming that the reader knows what the characters look like and what kind of world they inhabit so that she can get on with the important business of exploring their feelings towards each other. Such is the intensity of her writing, that by the end, one feels that one has shared all the highs and lows that our heroes have experienced. Indeed, Cyclops' treatment, in its themes and its emotional depth, has the feel of an episode from Season Four. For many, there can be no higher praise than that.

[10] A particularly moving passage is a letter written by Xena for Gabrielle to find. Once again, Cyclops demonstrates a mastery of stylistic variation by convincing us that this is a letter that was written by Xena. Here is a typical extract:


A team again, no secrets, no walls. No pretending to myself that you were a little girl who needed to be protected from life. You are so far from the wide-eyed kid who followed me to Amphipolis nearly three years ago.

[11] The writing is terse and robust, yet expressive - just what one would expect from the Warrior Princess.

[12] Cyclops carries us with her assured feel for these familiar characters' voices. However she builds on that by introducing convincing new characters of her own and merging them smoothly with the existing cast. She is able to bring her creations to life and convince the reader that they are just as real as the characters we already know. A good example is the grizzled blacksmith, Hippodamia:

She might have been shorter than Gabrielle, but she was as wide across the shoulders as Xena and had spent all her adult life hammering iron and bronze and shoeing horses. Xena had seen her squeeze the life out of the Amazons' enemies with protracted bear hugs.

[13] Although Xena and Gabrielle are the central characters, Cyclops also explores the relationships going on around them and uses them as a counterpoint to the high drama going on between the leads. This stops the story from becoming too claustrophobic and at crucial points gives some light relief to the dark mood, which would otherwise become overwhelming.

[14] Throughout the story Cyclops also explores fully the erotic side of their relationship in loving detail. Her sensual and sensitive approach leaves the reader delightedly sharing their joys:

Gabrielle closed the last few inches and claimed Xena's mouth in a tender kiss. At first afraid to move in case she woke up from an impossible dream, Xena at last began to respond hungrily to it. As she moved her hands from behind her head, they both shifted and lost their balance. The bard ended up sprawled across the warrior's prone body. "Mmmm, I like this," she purred, worming her way upwards for another kiss ...

[15] While this story treads on somewhat familiar ground and does not attempt any major flights of fancy, the writer's sure grasp of the appropriate style makes it stand out as a classic of its genre.

"A Perfect Fit of the Shoe"

[16] "En Suite, En Fin" is written in a mostly conventional style but for one special touch. A very amusing part of the story is told from Argo's viewpoint. This technique is further developed in "A Perfect Fit of the Shoe". In this story, Cyclops demonstrates her versatility by deploying a unique style that is pure fun.

Granting our wish that Seasons 4 and 5 were a dream.  Hey, now that *is* a Fairy Tale!

Fairy godsmother Gabrielle.

[17] This story follows the style of the episode IF THE SHOE FITS (80/412), but Cyclops takes it to a new extreme. She gives her imagination full rein in this Xenaverse pantomime and creates a whole cast of new characters. Part of the fun for the reader is spotting familiar faces among these, although Cyclops does not make it too difficult. She has the ability to transpose the behavior of familiar characters into a very different environment and make them instantly recognizable.

[18] Although this is a simple tale, the writing is deceptively sophisticated. Here are a few examples of the author's creative use of language:

Poor Megolaus was caught between a Roc and a Griphon ...

... her dactyls were perfectly formed ...

"You've never heard of Klonos? ... He's the Known World's God of Genetic Engineering."

[19] Cyclops takes a time-honored plot and adapts it with her own ideas to create something fresh and new. Just what these ideas are will be left to the readers to discover for themselves. To whet the appetite, though, the concept of the Total Amazon is introduced, and Argo is a key player this time. Here is a little sample of her thoughts:

At first Argo felt rather nervous and upset by Their Antics, because it seemed to her that her Two Most Favorite People in the Known World were attacking each other. Luxinda had stripped Tirella of every last piece of clothing she was wearing with Indecent Haste. Given how little now remained of the Once Floor-Length Skirt and the Originally Voluminous Shirt, it would have been impossible to prolong the process to anything approaching Decent Haste. Even for someone with as Many Skills as the Princess ... The Next Stage in Proceedings took some figuring out.


[20] These are the stories of Cyclops. We have seen one theme given three very different treatments, and a range of styles skillfully deployed. The author has shown that she can reproduce faithfully aspects of the show and blend them with her own ideas to produce work that is refreshing, entertaining, sexy, and moving - in short, everything a fan could look for in the realm of Xena fan fiction.

The Stories

"Tickling Trout"

"En Suite, En Fin"

"A Perfect Fit of the Shoe?"


David Simpson David Simpson
Silenus is a fat, balding, ugly, permanently drunken, permanently horny old satyr. Legend has it that he possesses great wisdom but will only share his insights reluctantly and after much persuasion.

His alter-ego is David Simpson, male, 51 years old, married to Claire for 23 years, with two children, Ian (19) and Elizabeth (14). He lives in a small town just north of London, England. He has spent most of his king life fiddling with computers on behalf of a world-famous photographic company. (Hint: think yellow!)

I leave the reader to ponder which traits these two characters have in common and which are merely wish- fulfilment.
Favorite episode: Cheating like mad here. Most loved episode: THE DEBT (52-53/306-307); Episode that made most impact on me: MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311); Most inspiring episode: ONE AGAINST AN ARMY 59/313).
Favorite line: Xena: "It's about love." THE DEBT (52-53/306-307); Runner-up: Xena: "It's all in the wrist." PURITY (96/506)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101), first UK terrestrial broadcast July 1997. That is, unless you count the Hercules trilogy (May/June 1997).
Least favorite episode: THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER...(56/310). For some reason it didn't hit my funny bone. It just seemed like a lot of silly running about. Perhaps it suffered from its position as the third "light" episode between THE DEBT and MATERNAL INSTINCTS.

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