Superguy Frequently Asked Questions

(last revised February 8, 1997)

Hello and welcome to Superguy -- one of the most... interesting ... Interactive Fiction mailing lists out there! We hope you enjoy your stay, but we realize you might have a few questions about what the Heck is going on here.

So, we have ourselves one of those Frequently Asked Questions lists that will help you figure out just what is going on! Enjoy!

Separate Parts To This FAQ

  1. Introduction
  2. Subtopics/Posting Guidelines
  3. Ground Rules
  4. Regular Series
  5. In-Jokes
  6. The Multiverse
  7. Authors
  8. Archives

Part One: Introduction

Contents Of This Part:

  1. What is the Superguy Mailing List?
  2. What is Interactive Fiction?
  3. How do I Subscribe to Superguy?
  4. How do I Unsubscribe to Superguy?
  5. Who owns Superguy, Anyway?
  6. Just how did this Superguy Thing get Started, Anyhow?

1) What is the Superguy Mailing List?

The Superguy Mailing List is a mailing list devoted to interactive fiction. It is not meant for commentary on that or other fiction, but instead purely for the dissemination of Electronic Literature for the enjoyment of its readers. Superguy is primarily (but not exclusively) devoted to fiction in the Superheroic Genre -- usually light fiction, being either humorous takes on or outright parodies of the genre. In recent years, more serious fiction in the Genre has also appeared on the list, and has become fully acceptable.

2) What is Interactive Fiction?

There are many different answers to this question, and indeed, there is an entire newsgroup devoted to the subject over on the Usenet. And as Superguy isn't a theoretical discussion group, we'll instead answer what Interactive Fiction is on Superguy itself.

In general, Interactive Fiction (on Superguy) refers to dynamic fiction, where the writings of each author on the list helps shape the writings of the other authors to varying degrees. Rather than present fiction in a vacuum, Superguy encourages authors to post in established continuities and shared universes, which in turn encourages authors to work within certain assumptions and therefore think about aspects of writing that might not otherwise have occurred to them.

There are three different types of Interactive Fiction used on this list. The first (used in the Superguy and Metaworld Subtopics) is 'Shared World Interactive Fiction'. In Shared World Interactive Fiction, the authors of different stories work in a single universe. While their stories might or might not ever directly interact with one another, dramatic events are usually referred to or have an impact on storylines all across the subtopic. Furthermore, Shared Universes have common reference points which different writers can use freely, which in turn gives a feeling of continuity to the Subtopic. Occasionally (and with increasing frequency) crossovers and collaborations between authors have strengthened the Shared World concept even further.

The second type of Interactive Fiction (used in the Sfstory and Author's Altiverse subtopics) is Gestalt Interactive Fiction. In Gestalt Interactive Fiction, a single story is being told, with separate storylines really being subplots of the whole. There is little rhyme or reason to it, but it is implicit in this type of fiction that each subsequent Author won't contradict previous Authors. In its purest form, Gestalt Interactive Fiction is first come, first served -- but as a practical matter, it is politer to call "next," if you can, or to concentrate on subplots unrelated to other people's subplots.

The third type of Interactive Fiction (used in the Round Robin subtopic) is Consecutive Interactive Fiction. In this style of fiction, a set group of authors agree to write a single story in a specific, preset order. When each author's turn comes up, they must build on what has come before (not contradicting the past), but have absolute power in determining what happens next. The similarities between Consecutive and Gestalt Interactive Fiction are obvious, but the hard and fast order of Consecutive Interactive Fiction allows the author to take his time and develop the story, without fear that someone will usurp the plot out from under him.

3) How do I subscribe to Superguy?

There are currently three different method to subscribe to the Superguy Mailing List, with a fourth on the way. Each method breaks down to what service you have available.

Internet Users: You can subscribe to the mailing list through the Internet by sending mail to
. The subject line of the mail can be omitted. The body of the letter should contain the following:


Where email address is optional. Only bother with it if you want the list to send mail to an address that isn't the one you're sending from. If you have no idea what we're talking about, it's safe to leave it off.

Usenet users: If you have access to the Usenet (also called NetNews and about three million other things) AND specifically have access to the bit.* hierarchy, you can receive the Superguy Mailing List by subscribing to the newsgroup

. When you read news, you will find all submissions made to the mailing list will appear as posts on the Newsgroup. This is especially useful if you don't have the disk space to receive Superguy as mail. If you do not receive the bit.* hierarchy, you will have to subscribe to the Mailing List via one of the two methods given above.

America Online Subscribers: We are in the process of uploading the Superguy Archives to the Electronic Magazine section of America Online. After we have fully updated the archives, new posts will be regularly added to the Superguy directory in Digest Format. To read the most current Superguy posts, one will merely have to read the issue of Superguy with the highest number.

4) How do I unsubscribe to Superguy?


Seriously, though -- if you think you've had enough of Superguy, don't have the time, or whatever, then you can unsubscribe to the list the same way you subscribed. If you are an Internet subscriber, follow the instructions given in 3) above for subscribing, but replace the string

. Or save the message you get when you subscribe -- it will also have directions. Either way, you will stop receiving posts. Really. We know when we're not wanted. If you are reading bit.listserv.superguy on the Usenet, unsubscribe from the Newsgroup the same way you do any other newsgroup, according to the protocol of your software.

5) Who owns Superguy, anyway?

The list owner of Superguy is Russ Allbery (
). He is not a moderator or editor of Superguy (we have no such things). All this means is that he is the person who runs the machine the mailing list runs on, and takes care of things on the technical end. Problems should be reported to him. We'd also like to thank him for everything he's done for us.

6) Just how did this Superguy thing get started, anyhow?

Superguy started life as a sequel, actually. In 1987, a mailing list was created on the late, lamented UMNEWS server at Bitnet Node MAINE called Sfstory (also known as Sf_Story). This was a humorous Gestalt Interactive Fiction list that was moderately popular for a while. One of the readers of this list, Chris Wilcox (called "The Creeper") thought it would be fun to spin off a similar list called Superguy, which would be a Super Hero parody. As UMNEWS allowed new mailing lists to be created very simply, he up and did it in 1988.

There was a flurry of initial activity on the list, but then it very nearly died. The Creeper himself had stopped posting to it some time before. However, an enterprising young man without a life named William R. Dickson ("Pickle"), then the writer of the "Dangerousman" series, recruited new writers and campaigned hard for its continued life. In many ways, he kept Superguy alive until Gary Olson ("the Swede") and Bill Paul ("The Man with Two First Names") had begun writing. These two authors -- easily the most prolific of all time on the list -- kept the list going in lean times and inspired other writers to keep the list healthy.

During this period, the University of Maine decided to close down the UMNEWS server. However, the software and all the discussion lists were moved wholesale to the NICBBS server at node BITNIC. This was the home of Superguy for a very long time, until NICBBS was shut down without warning, after some wise soul decided to use the NICBBS server to post six megabytes of pornography in one continuous stream, which had the effect of bringing the entire Bitnet and several sites of the Internet down in a cascade of erotica of varying quality.

This was almost the end of Superguy -- to the point where Bill Dickson sent what he assumed would be his last series, "Ramrod: Media Darling," to the subscribers of Superguy on an individual basis. Various plans were discussed, until finally Bill Paul and Tad Simmons managed to get the Superguy Mailing List created at UCF1VM in October of 1992. We have been there ever since (with the exception of a brief flirtation with the Listproc software which ended up an abysmal failure). At the time of the Mailing List's creation, it was also decided to merge the (almost dead) Sfstory Digest with Superguy, and create a new, serious fiction topic (Metaworld). Thus, the Subtopic system of Superguy was created.

In 1994, the bit.listserv.superguy newsgroup and America Online Superguy directories were created, taking a step to bringing Superguy to a whole new world of readers.

Our most recent milestone came in 1996, when we had our final reckoning with bitnet. After holding in all our mail for two weeks, we decided it was time for a change. Superguy was moved to Eyrie, where it performs fabulously. Thanks, Eag. All indications at this point seem to lead towards Superguy continuing a firm growth into the future.

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