Me, Myself & I



Wednesday, 29 July 2020 20:44

Admin Story Spotlight Theater #18




It's over. It's finally over!

Sorry for the outburst, but today I managed to finish one of the worst projects I had to dela with in the last three years, so what better way to celebrate than taking a deep dive into the backlog of our Library. Looking at the past entries, especially by LFan and me, I noticed that we have covered many of our moste esteemed authors, but there are a few that haven't received this honor yet. so let's fix it with:

They're All Mine Now by Ace191

Now, I have to be honest, when I think of Ace's stories this is not the first one that comes to my mind. Ace is very well known and respected for his long-winded story Turnabout is Fair Play and the even longer collaboration with Argonaut that gave us The Supergirl of Smallville. If you're starting to see a pattern, it's because there is: Ace is the absolute master of almost pure unadulterated Silver Age style fun, so it's no suprise that many of his stories features some very classic tropes and characters, especially Lois Lane and Lana Lang as Superwomen.

I can already see that some of you are turning away, thinking that you already know the punchline and all the tropes. Maybe you're right, but I want to point out that Ace is one of the few writers here that tried to break the mold of the classic Kryptonian-esque Flying Brick, even without renouncing to his undying love for Silver Age characters. Two of his stories actually featured one of the most unexpected classic superwomen of all: Star Sapphire.

No I'm not gointo tell you which ones: go look into the library, Ace's stories start at the bottom of page one of the "Sort by Author" section.

Those of you that know me better would be surprised to discover that They're All Mine Now is among my favorites and yet it is. The story itself is almost pure action, with the resident superwoman rushing from one emergency to the next, looking insanely good while taking on bank robbers, a building on fire and suicide jumper. There is no plot twist (well almost, more on this later), no deep dive into the motivation of the characters and no clever world-building. It's purely action-driven self-indigent story and I think it's a testament to Ace's skill as a writer how he managed to lure me in.

Given what I already said I'm kind of hesitant to spoil the little plot twist at the end of the story, since it really adds a lot of value to the entire plot. Let's just say that Ace didn't stray to far from the beaten path.

One final warning before going: this story was written in 2011, just a few months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and Ace made a pretty direct reference to it.

Wednesday, 08 July 2020 20:16

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #15

Last week I told you that this spotlight was going to slow down.

Well, it seems that this community conspired to make me a liar, since we got a couple of new collaborators that will try to fill this spot in the near future, giving me enough time to catch up with RL job.

Still, today's spotlight is both special and a bit of a cheat (kind of appropriate). As I said before my goal was to highlight great stories that didn't have the recognition they deserved, so I was kind of hesitant to include one from an author that won multiple workshops in the past. Then again, this is a story from 2005, even before the current incarnation of the site, so it deserves a bit of polish.

The Premeditated Providence by DKC

This story has a special place in my heart. It wasn't the first work of DKC I've ever read, but it was the first that really hooked me. DKC works on a pretty well-known set of tropes. In the past I praised some author for handling the erotica element of our genre in a more subtle or nuanced way, this is not the case. DKC's girls are very overt in their sexuality, they don't make any excuse for it and they rarely need to. In the hands of a less skilled writer, this would be a great turn-off for me, but The Premeditated Providence works this element into the story in a way that is both perfectly in line with the universe and the theme. The two main characters aren't insanely beautiful, sexy and powerful just because, they wished so. Beautification is a really tricky element of our genre, which is often written as an ancillary side-effect, but here it's deliberate and that is something I really enjoy.

Speaking of wishes, one of the things that really hooked me for good are the opening lines: "Not male, not female. It was what it is. And what it is can not be explained by modern science or acknowledged by it. It drifted through the universes invisibly stopping at worlds that teamed with life and technology. Often these worlds and the lives on it would not survive its presence. The entity would not harm the world itself but rather allow free will to decide the fate of an entire planet. It would be hard to understand what its true intent was, for it delivered exactly what it promised. And what it promised was for neither good nor evil. It perhaps felt pleasure in uncertainty, not knowing what would happen in a universe that was as predictable as an egg dropping to the floor. Millions of worlds later it approached the blue planet and randomly selected two that it would reward its gift to and watched with an infant's curiosity, watched a fate that was not intended to be."

For me, this opening is straight out of The Twilight Zone and just like that show, the story tosses a pretty mean curve-ball to the reader. Like in many other pieces by DKC, having two supergirls on the scene is a recipe for havoc and destruction on an untold scale, but this time the resolution isn't a simple tug of war. Remember how I said that the characters are insanely beautiful and sexy... well, without spoiling too much (I hope) this is going to play a pretty big role.

Now DKC is still very active in this community and actually announced a few weeks ago that Infinity Crisis, one of their (I've learned not to assume a gender) stories will be fully re-edited and re-published soon. Personally, I'm also hoping to see another of DKC's projects come to fruition: in the final paragraph of their long-winded epic The Project there is a direct reference to The Premeditated Providence, which means that there might be a potential for future crossovers and mayhem.

Thursday, 02 July 2020 00:36

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #14

Before we start this installment of the Admin Spotlight Theater there are a couple of announcements:

  1. Both LFan and I hit a pretty rough spot with our respective day jobs, which means that this feature is going to officially slow down a bit. Most of you probably already noticed that we are already doing it almost bi-weekly.
  2. To compensate and broaden our selection we have already asked some of our moderators and collaborators a little bit of help, as soon as their first pieces are ready we would be able to provide a new, more consistent schedule.

Ok. The administrative stuff is out of the way, let's get this show on the road and this week I'm featuring a story that left many readers puzzled at first, starting with its title, which isn't exactly something that rolls off your toungue:

Armada, All-Powerful Queen Of Portland by Castor (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

This was one of Castor's first pieces on this site and, I'm not going to lie, at the time it looked extremely weird. The story had most of the tropes of our genre and yet it felt completely different from everything else we have ever hosted. The story had an extremely slow pace, without any apparent big reveals or crazy stunt. This particular style of narrative is pretty much a staple of Castor's writing, but, for me, it never felt more substantial and appropriate than in Armada. It's easy to turn away saying "boring", but in a way that's exactly what the first couple of chapters aim to. This is not an end od the world scenario, it's a slice of life comedy built around a superwoman doing the least slice of thing possible: taking over a city and establish it as a separate nation because she cares about it.

Now before going any further. I understand that this particular story, especially the last chapter, might be problematic right now. Castor wrote it back in 2013, way before any of us could ever imagined events like those that transpired in these last months. So I urge you to take this story as a simple moment of fun, not an attempt to further any kind of political agenda and whatnot. Any similarity between this story and the events of the Capitol Hill Zone in Seattle is purely coincidental.

Moving on, the slice of life impression is compounded by another of Castor's trope, changes of scene. There is a crapton of small changes of scene detailing how the rest of the world reacts to the insane idea of a super-strong, flying woman declaring herself Queen of Portland. These reactions go from the funny to the extremely serious. My favorite is, probably, the moment we see a completely false and yet completely believable tabloid title about her harem. What really got me here is that this is seeing such a classic supervillainess trope being used in reverse, to characterize Armada in-universe, rather than to the reader.

Still, these scenes aren't just some funny intermissions, they set the path toward Chapter 3. This is when the shit hits the fan and the illusion of the slice of life is shattered. Chapter 3 open with a (literal) bang and goes on to provide us the biggest plot twist of the entire story. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but this is really what made this story for me. Without the final revelation, Armada would have been an interesting, but limited take on another genre. With it, many of the stories plot holes suddenly make sense and our (as in readers') perspective get flipped upside-down.

Personally, I don't think I've really enjoyed any of Castor's stories more than Armada. Out of all of his extensive production and numerous experiments, this is the one that really set the bar for me.

Thursday, 18 June 2020 10:46

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #13

Sorry for the delay, but curve balls keep coming over here.

I had a really hard time choosing a story to feature because I didn't want to give another spotlight to one of our most esteemed writers, until everyone else has five minutes of fame... and LFan beat me to two names on my short list. Hence, I present to you:

Linda's Transformation Part 1 & Part 2 by Oogber

Over the last weeks, LFan talked about his Mount Rushmore of stories. I really never developed such a concept, but I recognize that some stories really set the standard for some scenes. This one is the one that really has my favorite transformation sequence, bar none.

While the transformation itself takes only a very short amount of story, the gimmick used by Oogber is nothing short of perfect. It plays with a very old and very significant quirk in the human perception (no, I'm not going to spoil it for you) and uses it to great effect to convey the idea that neither we, as readers, nor the character really knows if this transformation is repeatable or what caused it. This is brilliant for a first chapter, because it gave us a beautiful (and very sexually charged) moment that opens many possibilities, instead of closing them.

The follow-up is just as good. Linda is a really fun character, who isn't really good or evil (except, maybe in high school terms), but her curious and mischievous personality creates some great moments with her friends and rivals. She's clearly not into the superhero game, but she isn't trying to take over the world either. She just wants to have fun, to enjoy her powers and their many delights, in particular her super-sexiness. This is a trademark of Oogber stories, he's one of the few writers that really manages to convey how powerful a superwoman's sex appeal can be. Thanks to a brilliant use of fragmented descriptions, interspaced with very short bits of dialogue, he gave us the real impression of the sensory overload experienced by those close to Linda and what "a face that launched a thousand ships" really means.

I really want to tell you more about this story, but I fear I might go into spoilers territory. What really put Linda heads and shoulders over many others origin/discover stories is the quality of writing and how real Linda felt to me when I read this story for the first time many years ago. For me, writing a truly morally neutral character is one of the greatest challenges an author can face and Oogber pulled it out beautifully.

Although we haven't seen one of his stories over her for a while, Oogber is still very active in this community, especially on our Discord server, and has a DeviantArt page where he published a number of other short stories, including four new chapters of Linda.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020 00:00

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #11

When I started this series, one of the guiding principles was to favor single-shot stories over series or, at the very least, include stories that didn't have a dedicated shelf in our Multi-Chapter section. This, of course, ruled out many stories I love, which will probably appear in future installments, if my partner in crime LFan continues to feature great series for the past, like Serena. Today I'm going to cheat a little and include two stories that are a gateway to an anthology, rather than a series proper:

 Argonaut's Mightora & Mightora Meets Tyrannor

These stories were the first of a series of one-shot -- one might say "episodes" -- where our friend Argonaut injected some major supergirl action into some classic Hanna & Barbera cartoons. I admit that among all the cartoons he worked on Mightor was the most obscure to be. I don't remember watching even a single episode of it as a kid (opposed to Space Ghost and, of course, Scooby-Doo), but maybe that's why these two stories really hit my imagination... or maybe it was the exceptional illustrations by TGK ;)

Anyway, one of the things that made me love these stories the most was how Argo found a way to organically insert his leading lady in the setting without breaking it. In actual fact, he found a way to insert her in a very specific moment of a very specific episode, creating the illusion that in a slightly different world these stories could have been made into the series proper. Of course, many moments in the stories are absolutely PG-13 at the very least. I have to give Argo credit for one thing: he's never vulgar or gratuitous when including sexual elements. All his stories are titillating, but always in a very delicate way and Mightora his no exception. Despite the rather frequent references at the effect of statuesque prehistoric superwoman, all the interactions remain very faithful to the style and the spirit of the old Saturday morning cartoons.

Just like those old cartoons, the real drive of these stories is action. Seeing or heroine spring into action by transforming under a boulder and fighting dinosaurs it's spectacular, insane, over the top and absolutely a joy to read and imagine. It also fit the mold to a T. In no moment I felt pulled out of the immersion, in no moment I felt one feat was too outrageous or silly, because I really felt like I was watching a cartoon and I was ready for anything. As I said these stories were part of sort of anthology, Argo later tackled Space Ghost and three episodes of Scooby-Doo (Zombie in the Endzone, Taking down a Ghost Clown and Charter Fright). Even so, I think that it was with Mightora that he really nailed that perfect combination of harmless fun, absurd situations, humor, superpowered action and little sexual innuendos.

I know for a fact that Argo is still around, lurking in the shadows of our community, even if he didn't write anything new since 2016. I've not gave up hope that one, day I would see one more story from him pop up in the backend feed, but until then, Argo, thank you for all the fun.

Wednesday, 13 May 2020 16:47

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #9

Sorry, for the delay on this installment of Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders, but life just threw me one of the worst curved balls of the last three years, to say the least. Before anyone asks, this has nothing to do with the Covid-19 situation, nor any bereavement in the family, but it still makes me angry. So, I really needed a trip down memory lane, looking for a good story to cheer me up and I actually found three, The Ultrafemme Series:

Ultrafemme by Anterion

Ultrafemme: Reward and Punishment by Anterion

Ultrafemme: Gemini by LaraFan, JNW550 (a.k.a. Stoneyman) & Ultragirl

This series is rather unique in our library because it wasn't the brainchild of a single author, back in the day Anterion gave us an open-source setting centered on a regular mad scientist, Doctor Julia Brooks, and gave all of us free reign to write and expand it. It was a unique idea and it proved fertile ground for a rare three-way collaboration between some of the most esteemed contributors of the SGInc site: LaraFan, JNW550 and Ultragirl teamed up about a year later to create Ultrafemme: Gemini, the so-far final chapter of the story. Of course, these entries are very different for tone, perspective and content.
The original Ultrafemme story is a first-person narrative, told through the surviving tapes of Julia Brooks original experiment. It's a very clever use of this medium, that gave the entire story a very Doctor Frankenstein feeling. Julia's methodical self-examination before and after the experiment is absolutely spot on and makes one of my least favorite tropes of our genre (the painting of the picture) fit perfectly into the story and the psychology of the character. It makes crystal clear that Julia is very much amoral and focused on the result, she doesn't care about the mean, only the ends.
Reward and Punishment, shows us even more of far Julia is willing to go for the sake of SCIENCE! (sorry, I couldn't resist). While Julia is still the engine that drives the plot, she takes a back seat and allows her guinea pigs to take the center of the stage. I'm trying not to spoil too much about this episode, but I adore the fact that Anterion (and later the others) clearly established that the Ultrafemme experiment is repeatable. Julia isn't the lucky recipient of a one a billion freak accident, she worked to gain her powers and now she is testing their limits, by giving out altered samples of the formula to other women. She isn't just a superwoman herself, she aims to spread the wealth.
Gemini, starts on the same premises of Reward and Punishment, once again Julia and her formula drive the plot, but she isn't the central character. Once again someone receives the formula and things go south, but for a very different reason. In Reward and Punishment, it was Julia poor judgment and willingness to experiment that cause an insane ubergirl rampage, this time is something more personal... a matter of family.
All the entries are exceptionally written in their own right and I think this series has something from everybody: mad science, transformations, sibling rivalries and more.
As far as I know Anterion never closed the invitation to others to write more and I really hope that someone would pick up and tell us more about Julia Brooks.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 14:10

Admin Story Spotlight Theater #7

Unfortunately, this last week hasn't been kind to LFan, who is, apparently, swarmed with stuff to do at work. As a result you got another dose of Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders and, hell, I've been dying to present this story. As I said before, in the early days of SGInc, Serena was the story that really got me into this genre, but when died and SGInc became SWM... I wasn't happy. I had discovered this community less than two years ago and seeing it going through such a massive change was kind of disconcerting. I stayed for the stories and one that really pushed my buttons back then was:

The Goddess Club by Willow

Two things really hooked me and reeled me in. The first was the setting, in 2005 I had just stopped reading superhero comics (mostly for monetary reasons), but I was fully into the idea of a shared superheroic universe. The hints at a larger world, no matter how small they were, that Willow dropped here and there were perfect bait for me. The second and most important is the main theme: I just love the "Dating Catwoman" kind of stories because of the implied level of conflict they came with and seeing this trope delivered with such a steamy action sequence was a joy to read. Of course, the story doesn't go too deep into the implications of this kind of situation, but the potential is all there, ready to explode in a superbattle of insane proportions.
Willow is still an active part of this community and is responsible for the titanic effort of creating a conclusion to AK's much-beloved Superior Girl, but she (or he) only produced one sequel to The Goddess Club. Family Reunion came out in 2006 (much to my joy) as part of one of our workshops and won. This new chapter expanded the setting once again, implying that there was a lot we didn't know about this world.
Willow, if you're reading this, I would love to see more of Phaedra, Bridgette and all your character.
Tuesday, 21 April 2020 23:36

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #6

After featuring one of my relatively recent favorites, I decided to go as back as possible. I discovered this community during the final year or so of the old website and of Larafan's first experiment Supergirls Inc and I think that the first story that really caught my eye was the often praised Serena by Yohashuan. While I can't deny that was my first real dip into the genre, it's not the story I want to feature today. This one is from the same time period, but from a completely different author and perspective. For the Woodclaw's Warehouse of Wonders, allow me to introduce:

Titaness Part 1 & Part 2 by Stoneyman a.k.a. JNW550

Titaness is a story that might surprise those that know me well. More often than not I tend to write (and enjoy) stories that dwell into the lower end of the superpowered spectrum, because I like the struggle and the hard choices needed to come up on top, but this early foray in the upper echelons of superwomen really captivated my imagination. The set-up is very basic, but I think the description of the transformation in the first chapter really pushed the boundaries of what I considered an erotic description back then. The scene is hotter than a volcano and to this day it remains one of my favorites in terms of details. The main character is insanely overpowered and carefree, without stepping into the typical slippery slope of evil. She comes out as egocentric, but ultimately good-natured, in a very She-Hulk way.
Chapter 2 opens up the narrative even more, introducing a second superwoman and moving the clock forward a few months, giving us a little glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes... but unfortunately, the story is incomplete. While JNW550 is still an active part of this community -- he posts daily on our Discord server under the name of D3adelite -- he left the writing field a long time ago. I know for a fact that every now and then he puts together some small vignettes, but he hasn't posted a new story in years. Even so, his corpus makes him one of our earliest and most enthusiastic contributors. 
Tuesday, 07 April 2020 20:47

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #4

When I look through the many stories of our site, one of the hardest things to do is finding a common theme that isn't just "my favorites over the years". Even restricting the choice to my (criminally small) list of favorites, I still have trouble to figure out a path, so for this week of Woodclaw'sWarehouse of Wonders, I'm going to feature a story that isn't particularly old... (April 2015... WTF), but it really never received the love it deserved:

The Lioness:  The Blacksite Affair by AuGoose

I admit I have something of a vested interest in this story since I was a beta-reader for it and I spent a crapton of time discussing it with AuGoose on the site chat first and on Discord later. In his intentions, this was meant to be the first installment of a long-running series featuring the titular character in a series of paramilitary/espionage missions. Many of the ideas were later channeled into AuGoose's Quantum Tarot series (also very worth reading), but Lioness has a rather unique approach to one of our favorite elements: how to cope with powers. More often than not, our heroine and villainesses tend to come in one of two flavors: some gain a pre-installed guide on how to use their powers from the start, others have to figure out everything by themselves. Lioness is a very intriguing third choice: a character that supplements her really high power level with some hard-earned military training, trying to blend the line between our genre and military fiction.
Now, this might look weird to some, after all "Supergirl vs Military" is one of the most common tropes we use and it's absolutely present... with a twist.
Instead of being a blunt item trashing enemies by the dozen, Lioness is a surgical instrument, trained to hit her target with maximum force and precision. Some superbeing might be insanely powerful, others might have received the best training available, but Lioness is the complete package: powerful, skilled and with an entire team to support her... while working on their own agenda.
As I said I've a vested interest in this story: I know where AuGoose wanted to go with it and I hope, one day, to see it come online.
Until then, stay safe, people.
Wednesday, 18 March 2020 18:54

Admin Story Spotlight Theatre #2

After LaraFan got the ball rolling, I found myself wondering which story to choose. Over the years I’ve read way too many stories to remember than all, some were really good, others awfully bad (and I can tell you very few of the bad one got a pass from yours truly).
Anyway, I didn’t know which one to recommend, so I turned to my favorite list and picked from there. Of course, not all the recommendations of the Woodclaw’s Warehouse of Wonders will come from there, but for now, allow me to introduce:

Super Secret Agent by JKIJ

Out of all the underappreciated stories on this site, I believe that this particular piece really deserves a special place. JKIJ really has a gift for writing some light and effective narrative, with plenty of humorous moments that actually enhance the plot, instead of bogging it down or feeling tacked on. What makes Super Secret Agent really stand out is how he was able to seamlessly blend our favorite genre into a Bond-flick without twisting things out of shape.

Let’s be honest, there are so many beautiful women in the Bond franchise that any writer would be hard-pressed not to just pick one's favorite, give her superpowers and let her run amok, making fun of agent 00-Ultimate-Male-Power-Fantasy all the way. Instead, JKIJ worked his magic the other way around, using this particular supergirl to justify one of the franchise’s most unbelievable elements: James Bond’s luck. As the old saying goes behind any successful man there’s a great woman… well, behind Bond there’s a woman so much greater than him in every possible way that she could (and she has) make or destroy him easily… without him even noticing.

This last bit might turn some people off, but hear me out: It. Just. Makes. The. Story. Better!


Because, when you finally see this girl going all-out you know that the shit has really hit the fan. Also, knowing that 007 is oblivious to all of this it makes the entire story even sweeter, because you can absolutely picture that big reveal moment (teased at the end), which would really make or break him.

Unfortunately, JKIJ hasn’t been around for a long while. He last visited the site in 2013 and I have no idea what happened to him after that. I would have loved to see a sequel to Super Secret Agent that would tackle Mark Twain’s personal variation of the old saying: “Behind every successful man, there is a woman… And behind every unsuccessful man, there are two.”

(also bonus point to JKIJ for using Judi Dench as M)

Page 4 of 5

Who's Chatting