VH1 Presents: Behind the Fanfic

A recent episode of VH1 Behind the Fanfic (brought to you by Wild Side of the Window) explored the decline and fall of the ambitious Collaborative Carnage project. Here are excerpts:

In the early part of the century, Rob, Stephen van Ham, and Steve (and Purple for one chapter) got together and started writing a round-robin Diablo fanfic/parody which SvH named "Collaborative Carnage." The plot was complicated and incoherent, and involved a lot of people going strange places and doing strange things. Despite spawning at least two sequels ("Collaborative Carnage: The Next Generation" by Tempus Fugit, Steve, and later, Rob; and "Collaborative Carnage: Try Deux" by Rob and SvH) the story never reached a conclusion.

Historians and fanfic critics may point to many reasons for the eventual breakdown of the ambitious Collaborative Carnage project: The long-simmering "Old Trek" versus "New Trek" feud; Steve's obsession over not scoring with SilverRaven in high school; Rob's inability to spell "chaos;" Stephen van Ham dating Yoko Ono, and so on.

But the truth is, it all boiled down to that killer of many of the great collaborations of the past: Creative Differences. By the time Collaborative Carnage imploded, the authors were submitting longer and longer chapters, each determined to exercise ultimate control over the  storyline. Rob and Steve were like fire and ice, with Stephen van Ham as sort of the luke warm water between them (Purple's role remains unknown, but the most popular speculation is that Purple was either an oily semi-transparent foglike substance, or green Jell-o).

Ultimately, Stephen van Ham was the first to leave Collaborative Carnage, possibly at the urging of Yoko. Without SvH to mitigate Steve and Rob's mutual excesses, the end was near. Rob and Steve struggled mightily to pull the story in opposite directions. Steve was interested in creating a more conservative, "purer" character-driven fanfic, closer to its Diablo-inspired roots. Rob, the younger half of  the duo by far was interested in pushing the creative envelope and creating a deeply personal epic that explored his own budding sexuality, and, more importantly, the sexuality of his fellow authors.

In a second blatant attempt to bring the storyline under his control (the first occurred after Rob's "Battle of the Boojum" chapter which Rob began by abandoning the Adversary storyline and the Elsie storyline. Steve retaliated the next chapter -- even though it should have been SvH's chapter -- by resetting the storyline back to the end of his last chapter, incorporating only a few elements from "Battle of the Boojum," notably ULTIMATE EVIL and the evil twins.), Steve introduced a plot device (which he actually called a plot device) to eliminate story elements that he felt were extraneous. These included themes central to Rob's vision for the story, including Pokemon and the Steve/SvH slash piece he had been trying to work into the storyline.

Rob responded the next day by writing a Steve/Drew Carey slash piece, a Steve/George W. Bush slash piece, and a Steve/pink elephant slash piece into the story. This led to, among other things, the now-infamous thermonuclear flaming of Rob by Steve, and, ultimately, Steve dropping out of the Collaborative Carnage project. Steve cited his reasons for leaving as a desire to pursue other projects and to spend more time with his family. Privately, however, he expressed concerns that he would either kill Rob or end up in bed with him.

Now a collaboration of one, Rob quickly shelved the remains of Collaborative Carnage and moved on to other projects that would give him greater freedom to probe deeper topics such as the sexuality of Stephen van Ham, Steve, Rich G., Pikachu, and many others.


Personally, I think VH1 didn't do a bad job overall, but I think they should have focused more on Yoko's role in the breakup of Collaborative Carnage. Also, for the record, I think I was much more likely to kill Rob than end up in bed with him. It's all water under the bridge now.

However, I've had some ideas about Collaborative Carnage, and I want to finish it. I'll be calling it "Just Plain Carnage" and it starts with a rewritten and expanded Chapter 31.

Stay tuned. Buy Wild Side of the Window.

Originally published to alt.roundtable June 21, 2002

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Last update: Tuesday, April 20, 2004 06:16 AM
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