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Last update: 12-26-01

The Über Heard Around the World
Theoretical Background
Pioneers of the Genre
No Longer a Bastard Child
Indexing the Über
The Future?

The Über Heard Around the World

ÜberXena EXPLODED into the XENA fan fiction world June 14, 1997. A spark that caught on like a wildfire, ÜberXena would within a year become a serious rival of the traditional XENA fan fiction (Classic XWP) as found on the internet. Attracting some of the most talented and popular bards (authors of XENA fan fiction) and by periodically outnumbering it in production numbers, ÜberXena had no difficulty in asserting its uniqueness and inherent power into the conventional XENA fan fiction scene.

Theoretical Background

ÜberXena fan fiction was first theorized by Kym Taborn (who also coined the term ÜberXena to describe the genre) and followed by others (notably Deb McGhee, who criticized Taborn's use of the term ÜberXena as too limiting and expanded on it significantly) the same month after the first completed ÜberXena was released on a private mailing list (June 14, 1997). Under Taborn's theory, ÜberXena was the logical outcome of the path taken by three episodes of the internationally syndicated TV show, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (tm).

The first episode was DREAMWORKER (early first season), which set into motion the idea that Xena and Gabrielle were so close that not only did they share a dream with ease, and not only did Xena exhibit an intense need to protect Gabrielle, and not only did Gabrielle demonstrate her complete faith and confidence in Xena, but that there was also a mystical aspect to their relationship. It was clear that these ladies were not just friends, but they were FRIENDS. This aspect of their relationship is referred to "Soulmates Type 1".

The second episode, REMEMBER NOTHING (early second season), demonstrated that Xena and Gabrielle would come together (i.e., find each other) regardless of which timeline the Fates would allow. It was now clear that these ladies were "destined" to find each other regardless of the circumstances which happened under their control or beyond their control. This aspect of their relationship is referred to as "Soulmates Type 2".

Finally, the third episode, THE XENA SCROLLS (mid-second season), showed us that Xena and Gabrielle's descendants would also be subject to the REMEMBER NOTHING irresistible impulse to find the other. It was now clear that this special "something" which bound the ladies went beyond their specific lives. This aspect of their relationship is referred to as "Soulmates Type 3".

In June 1997, XENA fan fiction writers took the concepts presented in these three episodes, and made the leap that the characters of Xena and Gabrielle were in fact archetypes that could be explored in different times and diverse cultural backgrounds. This phenomena could also be seen as an attempt at rewriting women's mythology of the past -- creating new versions of past, present, and future, and using Xena and Gabrielle as the archetypal hero and companion exploring these new views of the old stories and stereotypes previously dominated by male characters.

Pioneers of the Genre

The first recorded proto-ÜberXena was not found in the Xenaverse, but on a Hercules fan fiction website. This Uber was written sometime in January 1997, a full SIX months before the first attempt was made in the Xenaverse (THE XENA SCROLLS episode was first released January 13, 1997). This phenomenal discovery is on the order of the Vikings reaching the New World centuries before Columbus. What do you think? What would a proto-ÜberXena be doing hanging out with the Herk crowd? Read "A Meeting of Chance" and see how it resembles an Über in superficial ways but completely misses the soulmate theme between the ÜberX and ÜG. It is sooo close that it deserves a cigar, but it misses the Über Boat by a mile. If you have time, be sure to read it because the Xena and Gabrielle characters could have been anyone. The person who wrote it is promoting is as the first Uber, but it is not. The characters are interchangeable. It misses the whole point of an uber which is the soulmatedness between Xena and Gabrielle, and there is nothing really between the reincarnates of Xena and Gabrielle. Infact, there really is nothing between Xena and Hercules, so you cannot call it a X&H uber either. In my opinion it is an interesting fantasy piece which is interestingly close to an uber, but is not one.

The first recorded attempt at a true ÜberXena in the Xenaverse was a non-web posted never completed serial short story called "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" by Miss and Aisa, which was released on a private mailing list in early June 1997. The first completed ÜberXena was a western by Della Street, called "Toward the Sunset", which was posted on a private list on June 14, 1997. The first complete ÜberXena posted publicly (which was written almost simultaneous to Street's western), was "The Hitch Hiker", by Bongo Bear. It was posted on July 22, 1997. This date was the official date the world was first exposed to ÜberXena, and we call it International Über Day to honor that event. We also salute Bongo Bear for publicly posting "The Hitch Hiker" and initiating one of the most exciting and creative movements within all of fan fiction culture.

In the short span of a summer, the new fan fiction genre had produced everything from short stories to complete novels ranging from westerns, pirate epics, futuristic cyberpunk, shogunate Japan, and contemporary drama, to the retellings of time honored stories such as Robin Hood, King Arthur, and even Sherlock Holmes.

Before that amazing June, however, there had been fan fiction written about Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas (descendants of Xena and Gabrielle in THE XENA SCROLLS), pioneered by early XENA fan fiction writer, Bat Morda. Many people consider these works about Janice and Melinda to be Übers. However, in our opinion, these stories are Proto-Übers. Many are more concerned with the characters being descendants of Xena and Gabrielle who are periodically subject to possession, than actual explorations of the archetype idea, although there are many Janice and Melinda stories who do have strong Über aspects. Since the stories are based upon show canon and as a rule follow the process of traditional fan fiction stories based upon media genre, they are considered in this Über Index to be Proto-Übers.

No Longer a Bastard Child

Since the development of the ÜberXena concept by XENA fan fiction writers, the show XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS has acknowledged their dedicated efforts with the episodes BETWEEN THE LINES (mid-fourth season) and DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN (late fourth season).

BETWEEN THE LINES assimilates portions of the Über concept into the show's canon. In BETWEEN THE LINES, Xena and Gabrielle are shown to be soul mates and destined to meet up in different lives in the future and also discover that they have done so in the past as well. If that ain't CLASSIC ÜBER in a nutshell, I am the King of England. This aspect of the relationship is referred to as "Soulmates Type 4".

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN completely co-opts the soulmates motivation for the Über. In BETWEEN THE LINES, Xena was reincarnated to re-battle Alti, and Gabrielle came along because, well, she was Gabrielle and she butted herself in. In DEJA VU ALL OVER, no such impetus exists. The Übers discover each other when Ares sets up a scam to flesh out the current re-incarnation of Xena, only to discover the Übers for Gabrielle and Joxer on the way. All Ares wants is some notoriety in the 1990s (creating the Y2K problem apparently is not enough), and believes the current Xena incarnate can aid him in his self-centered goal. In the midst of this, the Über Joxer recognizes in the text that all ÜberXenas and ÜberGabrielles are soulmates. The ÜberXena in this incarnation is a male, while the ÜberGabrielle is female. This apparently allows the creators, in what appears to be their goal, to safely imply a budding romantic relationship between the Übers, as indicated by a kiss on the mouth. This is the most blatant co-opting of the Über fan concept by the canon writers. The Übers are neither descendents, nor possessed by the spirits of their Urs (the initial ÜberXena and ÜberGabrielle who presumably started the whole cycle), but instead are merely inspired to deal successfully with the conflicts of the episode only after they discover their Überness. This show finally merges the fan Classic Über with the show's previously ala carte approach in the past with Canon Über. However, it does so at the price of dropping the same sex dynamic of the fan based Classic Über.

The last scene of DEJA leaves no doubt that Xena and Gabrielle are soulmates and their soulmatedness (for whatever reason) returns to this mortal plane, whether to do karmic battle (BETWEEN THE LINES) or just go about their business basically unawares until someone like Ares tries to exploit the mysterious process of Über production. The only thing saving the identity of Classic Über (fan created Über) from the complete assimilation by Canon Über (Über demonstrated and explored on the show), is that Classic will no doubt continue the same sex soulmate theme. At this time we do not see any significant fan movement to shift Übers to a heterosexual context. If the show continues to explore the Über themes, that is where we predict most of the development of heterosexual Übers will be done. This heterosexual aspect of the relationship of Übers is referred to as "Soulmates Type 5".

Indexing the Über

In this ÜberIndex, we have developed a tentative list of Über Categories for our use:
  • PROTO-ÜBER: Proto-Über is for the most part Janice and Melinda stories such as those pioneered by Bat Morda. Many of these cross-over into CANON ÜBER and CLASSIC ÜBER moments, but rarely at the same time.
  • CLASSIC ÜBER: Classic Über is inspired by the implications offered by the episodes DREAMWORKER, REMEMBER NOTHING, and THE XENA SCROLLS and developed by XENA fan fiction authors independent of XWP canon (i.e., anything appearing in the TV show). Della Street's "Towards the Sunset" is a classic example of Classic Über.
  • CANON ÜBER: Canon Über is inspired by the aftermath of THE XENA SCROLLS, BETWEEN THE LINES, and DEJA VU ALLOVER AGAIN . Some of these stories cross-over into PROTO-ÜBER.
  • FAUX ÜBER: Also known as NEAR ÜBER (just think near beer), Faux Über stories are Überlike (explore similar ideas) but do so by having the actual Xena and/or Gabrielle character in a different time and/or place. Many of these stories have Xena or Gabrielle as immortals, body possessors, or time-travellers. The future body possession has canon recognition through the episodes THE XENA SCROLLS and BETWEEN THE LINES. Some could argue, as well, that BETWEEN THE LINES was just a time traveling body possession and is a Faux Über and not a real Über at all, and that Canon Über only exists in Proto-Über and in DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN. However, that is a very conservative position and definitely a minority one as well.
  • MISSING LINK ÜBER: In the case of Bongo Bear's "The Hitch Hiker", the modern day ÜberXena (Alex) and ÜberGabrielle (Gwen) share possession of their bodies with the spirits of the original Xena and Gabrielle. This plot device follows the Proto-Über canon set in THE XENA SCROLLS and BETWEEN THE LINES and places it dangerously close to Faux Über. Yet Alex and Gwen have reasons of their own to be attracted to each other, thus following the soul mate concept inherent to Classic Über. This example of Classic Über with Faux Über aspects which also relate to Proto-Über ideas and by definition touch usually upon Canon Über concepts as well, Bongo Bear's "The Hitch Hiker", presents a transition from pure Proto/Canon Überness to Classic Überness best described as a MISSING LINK ÜBER. Also striking about "The Hitch Hiker" was not only did it create the missing link between Janice and Mel Proto-Übers to Classical Über, but it also was the first contemporary setting for a completed Über.

  • POST-ÜBER: These are stories which were originally Übers, but have been sanitized in order to exploit the archetypes in the work, thus allowing the stories to be reborn as non-derivative works. Examples of this are Missy Good's "Tropical Storm" and B.L. Miller's "Accidental Love".

  • ÜBERESQUE: These are stories which originate outside XENA fandom but have some archetypal resonance with the concept of ÜberXena. Examples are the films "Aliens: Resurrection", "Thelma and Louise", "Batman and Robin".

The Future?

Über is still an art form in a state of becoming. What we are attempting with this website and Index is to document a current stage in its development and to speculate where this nascent subgenre may go. We are already in the midst of Über authors taking their Übers and sanitizing them in order to exploit the archetypical nature of the genre, and thus allowing their labors of love to be reborn as non-derivative works (shall we call them Post-Übers?). There is even a post-Über in development as a movie project. What the future may bring, who knows? Vivè la Über!

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Copyright (c) 1999-2002, Kym Masera Taborn, WHOOSH!

Welcome to Über über Alles, a website dedicated to the indexing of every single Über ever written or contemplated.

This site was originally created by the ÜberRoos Family July 3, 1999, but nationalized by WHOOSH! on November 13, 1999.