MY FAVORITE LAWYER JOKE
A Retrospective of the works of Abyss
As Nietzsche once wrote; ‘the longer you stare into the abyss, the longer the abyss stares into you.’ The only difference in this case is that this Abyss is likely to pie you in the face while you’re gawking.
Likely one of the best known and most popular writers in the field of X-Men fan fiction today, Abyss is a force the like of which has never been equaled. There have been funnier stories than his, there have been zanier conversationalists, and there have been people who have managed odder ideas then his. However, none of them have been able to do it all simultaneously, with the sheer manic energy of Abyss. Matchless in his use of comedy and situation, Abyss has demonstrated time and time again that his skewed take on the X-verse.
However, it would be unfair to judge Abyss sheerly on the basis of his comedy. While it is his main claim to fame, Abyss possesses a uniquely well developed literary ability. Pale Reign Over Geshem is easily one of the most effective and intriguing takes on the ‘Elseworlds’ concept in fan fiction. Featuring four Cyclops’, pulled from various corners of the comic continuity, it blends dark humour, intelligent dialogue and fast paced action into an engrossing epic. Hardly the work of a one-trick comedian. In fact, in other works such as SFX and Nightbirds, Abyss has shown an empathic and deep ability with characterization. Many darker psyches and life-views are featured in these works, with skill that matches any in the field today.
Abyss was also the first to bring his ‘avatar’ into the realm of ‘Subreality’, abet in a rather odd way. As a regular on RACMX, the newsgroup dedicated to the X-books, Abyss began in a post thread that would later form the brilliant Abyss In Chains story;
Mister Sinister found out about me calling him 'Sinny', invaded my apartment with his lackeys, and started doing experiments on me. To pass the time between sessions, I learned how to email with my toes. Same old story, happens every day...
Okay fine..., I noticed a plethora of SPAM on acff, and feeling rather silly, I wrote a quick 'flame_ffic' about Professor X sending the X_Men after the spammers who posted a 'hair club for men' ad. Really, it was nothing. A whim.
Three paragraphs total. 10 feedbacks in two days. Ten. I kid you not. Of course, most of them we just 'LOL!', but still, it was a kick. And look who was writing! Neon Nurse... Darqstar... RubyLis... 'Big Names'! How could I _not_ be stoked? A little later Jarissa, a name long since disappeared from racmx, posted a message to the ng about how we 'cheered our heroes'. And she mentioned Sinister. And at the end, she apologized for 'wasting space' and invited me to flame her for it. And purely as a joke, I posted a 'response', from Sinister. She posted back. So did I. A few others got in on the fun, Dave Warner, Brucha, Rubylis, to name a few... and 'HELP! I'm being held prisoner...' (later named 'Abyss_in_Chains' by Kielle or Lori, if I recall correctly) was born. And I swear to you, through it all, I was just kidding around. So needless to say when Lori asked to archive it, her archive having started upon the end of Hawk's, was more than a little stunned.
It would be that bizarre meta-story that not only brought Abyss is first big fame, but that set the stage for future writer inferred stories. However, Abyss has always been something of a trend setter. His brilliant continuation of the Pre-Game Show format won great praise in the awards and his most famous piece, It's Not The Fall That Kills You (It's The Beer And Bunny Slippers) introduced the outrageously popular Bunny-slippers to the world.
There was this one email to Lori McDonald where I commented on 'lifeguarding in high_heel bunny slippers'. Lori's response was to curse me for making her spit milk on her screen. Then Kelly and Seagle introduced 'Maggot'. And as a joke, I 'animated' my bunny slippers and asked my circle of fellow fficcers to suggest names. Dandelion suggested 'Wink_Wink & Nudge_Nudge' and the name stuck and they became ongoing irritants...
Ahem... 'participants'... in my emails.
"No, I'm still not going to get you your own accounts."
Shortly after, (February 1998), I read 'A Cold Dash of Subreality', which was my intro to the SC. Inspired, I wrote It's Not The Fall That Kills You (It's The Beer And Bunny Slippers)... and then things got REAL weird... people liked them. In the span of two days after posting 'Beers & Bunnies'
I had almost 30 e_mails. Letters of praise. Letters of shock. Letters addressed directly to the slippers. Letters proposing every deathmatch from Maggott's slugs to various readers' ex_boyfriends.
What probably topped it all off was when a whole bunch of fficcers cooperated on the Comic Book Fan Fiction Awards '98 and the slippers were written in again and again. Mostly drunk or trouble_making.
"Right. It's not your fault, you're just written that way. Sure. Uh_huh."
Any rate, the way I see it, we all have a basic need to believe in something greater than ourselves. Something that is above our mundane lives. Something small, cute, and furry, that will wiggle their little plastic noses, blink cute little plastic eyes, then chug a barrel of Guinness and rip the face off the person that REALLY ticked us off that day before firing up a cuban cigar and watching 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.
Of course, maybe that's just me.
And, somehow through all of this incredible creativity and originality, sits a sharp insight into the world of fanfiction itself. Praised as one of the most effective beta readers and idea catalysts in the field, Abyss has a remarkable handle on the nature of our little corner of creativity.
I came into the scene when there were a lot less people on the internut. Consequently, there were a lot less stories to choose from, so it was easier to sort the good from the bad. There are a whole lot more people on-line now, hence, a whole lot more stories to browse through, in every genre, not just X-book ffic. That's a good thing, actually, because while there's a lot more bad fanfic, there's also some amazingly great stuff. Ffic is also a lot more accessible now. Once there was just Hawk's archive and the Untold-L mailing list. Now there's way more to look at, mostly because of Kielle's CFAN, but also because of the plethora of archives, messageboards, mailing lists like OTL and IRC.
As always, the most telling window into the mind of someone is the nature of their work, and Abyss’ makes his mindscape an interesting trip. He has one of the strongest single bodies of work in the genre, and one of the most eclectic, completely avoiding any stereotyping or pigeon holing some of the other more popular writers have been locked into. Abyss romps through the whole of comicdom as his twisted playground, and refuses to be tied to any one area. With an equally strong narrative, emotional, empathic, and comedic ability, Abyss is sure to continue to surprise us with new depths and angles in works to come.Old Wounds, New Nightmares is one of Abyss’ frightening little dives into the rich Elseworlds concept. Set after an apocalyptic confrontation, it features the shattered remains of the X-franchises rebuilding themselves. The only hitch is that virtually only X-Force was able to survive the holocaust. Dealing with the interpersonal aspects of the team with deft ability, Abyss weaves together a frightening but completely plausible storyline out of the existing canon. Especially well done is Cyclops, permanently scarred but in control of his powers for the first time ever. He’s left with teens who do not necessarily trust him, being placed in danger by him. One of the great fan-fiction examples of the nature of the X-Men leader. The reactions of the members of X-Force are equally real, with new feuds and troubles coming up between them. Likely one of the tightest possible worlds written of yet, canon or fanfiction.
If there was anyone who could swashbuckle like Nightcrawler, without the tail of course, it’s Abyss. Skulls And X-Bones is a complete romp in the waters of the 17th century Carribean Islands. Abyss sparkles, jumping from one newly revamped X-character to another, each with a panache and roguish air which makes this story an absolute joy to read. Cap’t Logan runs the fastest, meanest, toughest crew of pirates against the fanatical church forces. In a story full of thieves and ship battles and corrupt governors, the pirates have all the Errol Flynn style flair and energy. This story is simply a lot of fun. There are moments of excellent character development and interaction, but the true quality of this story is in the manic energy in which it proceeds.
It’s impossible to talk about Abyss’ work without mentioning the big one. It's Not The Fall That Kills You (It's The Beer And Bunny Slippers) is one of those works which becomes the instant classic. By far the widest known and most popular of the Subreality Café stories, it runs totally amuck the world of fanfiction in a mystery without equal. Even pros like Warren Ellis know about the bunnyslippers now, and this story was the defining moment of them. Basically, Abyss is found dead, and the Scribe wants to know whodunnit. This begins a search through the bizarre backwoods of fic with characters drawn from everywhere to help. Abyss himself appears in the story, without the usual Mary-Sue troubles since he does die fairly quickly. Told with tight humour and manic zeal, the piece is so outrageous and improbable that it delights with it’s content. If it could be said that Abyss has an opus, this story is it.
And, in final words, how would Abyss like to be remembered by the fanfiction community? Well, words from the bosses themselves;
"No, personal bartender to the bunny slippers is NOT what I had in mind."
One way or the other, I suspect Wink_Wink and Nudge_Nudge are most likely going to be my legacy (coughcough... Piotr, it that you?). And that's fine. because as far as I'm concerned, they symbolize the basic things about fanfic I've always tried to hold to; 1] don't take yourself too seriously, and 2] more importantly, Have Fun.
"Right... and periodically drink heavily."
Keep the faith...
The recommended book for this month is Tom Clancy’s "Rainbow Six". While I have long been a disparager of the style of ‘Go-America’ style military writing of which Clancy specializes, I found myself drew totally into the shifting plot and tremendous range of characters and subplots he skillfully creates his book out of. The book is based around a multi-national terrorist response team. In the process of defusing several tricky hostage situations, they get drawn into a plot by eco-terrorists to unleash a virus called ‘Shiva’ which will wipe out the majority of the human race. Written with exceptional skill and tight narrative, it draws the reader directly into the heat of battle with the characters. The important thing is that the exhaustive technical descriptions fail to slow the pace of the work in a significant work. Highly intelligent fiction in any genre.
The recommended CD is, of course, the lasted offering by ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic, called "Running With Scissors". From his usual pop parodies like "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" and "Jerry Springer" to his original works like the NIN styled "Germs", the album pops and sparkles in over the edge comedy. Al has made a career of creating what no one ever thought of out of songs, and this is one of his strongest albums. His "Polka Power" in which he polkas some of the biggest hits is almost gut-rattling in absolute irreverent humour. Even after 20 years, Yankovic has shown that he still possesses the same creative drive to stay up with the Gen-X music scene, even taking shots at icons like Eddie Vedder, A fun romp for anyone.
The recommended website is UrbanDawg. Not only is it run by my brother in law, but it now carries my commentaries on modern culture and entertainment. Go in, register, and read my reactions to Geri Halliwell’s newest video, post SpiceGirls. The site is looking for material of all types, so interested parties can get in touch with me and see about a little more exposure.
Well, I have a stack of fic to go through and a Con to get through as well. As always, comments, questions, reviews or, at the risk of being terribly repetitive, reviews of my own work are welcomed at this address Well, off to wax the cat.