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.