XXY: The Marvel Mutant Genderswap Project
An alternate fan fiction universe in which all of Marvel's mutants have changed sex. Here's the ugly homepage!
UPDATE August 15, 2000!
Smallish update, because the list has been virtually dead.
What is XXY?:
XXY is a shared world universe, set in an alternate to the Marvel Universe. In that it's similar to many collaborative fanfic universes on the web, such as Marvel-X or X-Writers. The differences between XXY and all other shared worlds are that:
- XXY is not released as monthly "issues." We are a prose project, and we don't seek to pretend that we're really a comic book when we don't have the major advantage of comics, ie, pictures. Instead we try to exploit the resources that the prose form gives us. So instead of being monthly short stories, the XXY Universe can be better thought of as a sprawling, evolving, multi-threaded novel.
- XXY involves changing the universe from the "beginning". Our theme is simple-- mutants are all of the opposite sex than they are in the regular Marvel Universe, through random chance-- but this means that changes to the universe take place as far back as the arrival of the Celestials. Rather than picking a jumping-off point in current continuity and then writing continuous stories from that point forward, we are creating an entire alternate history. So we jump around a lot. XXY stories don't necessarily take place in chronological order.
- XXY writers have responsibility for characters, not "books". Individual writers will take charge of a particular character, and be responsible for swapping them, designing their current personality and the way they fit into the XXY universe, and then everyone else can write that character with the input of the "adaptor". So instead of one person being in charge of the "book" "X-Factor", many people have characters in the team X-Factor, and the tales centering around that team may be collaborative efforts, or written by one person but beta-read by all the other writers.
What are the rules for the XXY Universe?:
All mutants gender-swap unless there is some truly compelling reason why they can't. If anyone can think of a way to make the character concept workable with a swap, then there isn't a truly compelling reason.
Psionic entities which may or may not be mutants gender swap if the author thinks they should. But they're psionic entities with no bodies, so who cares?
Non-mutants do not gender-swap. There are the following exceptions to this rule:
1. The non-mutant had a child with a mutant. Since the mutant swapped, obviously the non-mutant must too in order for the kid to exist. (Example: Gabriel Haller, briefly the husband of Carolyn Xavier.) Not all non-mutants in this situation must swap; it's a matter of the discretion of the adaptor as to whether they want to keep the offspring. (Example: Although Erika Lehnsherr's children Wanda and Pietro exist in swapped format, and therefore so did their human parent, I decided not to swap Crystal the Inhuman-- so the child Luna is simply never born.)
2. You can reasonably pretend that the non-mutant really was a mutant. (Example: Erika Lehnsherr's first-born child, Ari Zwirek, was a son, and it was his tragic death that set her on the path to becoming Polaris.)
3. It would make a really cool story, and the alternative isn't nearly as interesting. (Example: Christine Summers, swashbuckling pirate queen, is probably a human, but it's so much fun swapping her that we're going to do it anyway.) There are limits to this. No, Peter Parker is not a girl. Neither is Victor Von Doom. Or Cain Marko. Because the sex bias of the original Marvel Universe leaves us with a disproportionate number of female characters in XXY, preference will be given to swaps of humans that give us more male characters (example: Moira MacTaggert swaps into Malcolm Kinross in order to keep the relationship with Carolyn Xavier, even though there was no child of that union, because we need more men.)
Time travel and alternate universes have very little effect on continuity. The physics of the XXY Universe are slightly different than of the regular MU; whereas the regular MU has "porous" barriers to the rest of the multiverse, and therefore time travel and dimensional travel are very easy, in XXY they are damn near impossible. You cannot travel through time bodily in XXY, only astrally, and if you travel to an alternate dimension, it is really, really hard to get back home. So storylines that revolve around going back in time to change the future don't happen, nor do we have a plethora of future travellers hanging around.
What's the theme of XXY?:
One of the thematic contrasts here is that mutants have always been the only group of superhumans in the MU that are equally likely to be male or female (as a general rule, you get to be a superhuman by either being born a mutant, or being exposed to some sort of radiation or chemical which transforms you, and men are far more likely to be exposed to radiation and chemicals than women are.) By making Xavier a woman and a feminist, we draw explicit parallels between the canonical Xavier's quest for equality of human and mutant, and a female Xavier's interest in sexual equality as well. Carolyn Xavier's team of superheroes is almost all female, not because the male mutants aren't out there, but because her contacts as a feminist and a female educator in an age when most prestigious schools were just starting to go co-ed would lead her to recruit more women than men. By making Xavier's chief nemesis a woman whose life has taught her that people who don't have power get stomped on, and who leans heavily toward radical feminist thought, we draw parallels between Magneto's extremism in favor of mutants, and our Polaris' extremism in favor both of mutants and of female domination. The ideological conflict becomes not merely mutant/human equality vs. mutant domination against a backdrop of human domination in society, but with the male/female factor thrown in as well. It wouldn't be terribly realistic to do this with any other set of Marvel superheroes (or DC, for that matter), but X-Men, which has always been about civil rights, equality, and being alienated from society, fits beautifully.
This doesn't mean that XXY is a feminist polemic, though. Some writers may choose not to explore that particular theme. Basically, XXY is to feminism what normal Marvel mutants are to civil rights-- it's an important theme, but the stories are really about people in spandex beating on each other. :-)
How can I join in on creating XXY or reading the stories before they hit the net?:
If you want to create or adapt a character:
You must also be a writer. If you don't write your character, you put a burden on everyone else to. People who have created or adapted a character who then don't write that character may lose the character.
You have to be a team player. This is going to be a nightmare to coordinate, since everyone's history interconnects with everyone else's.
You have to recognize that a ripple effect will spread from early continuity, altering it. A lot of things are going to be different. Certain characters may never exist, certain teams may never come into being.
I have elected myself continuity editor, because, well, I spoke up first. If someone else wants to run their own gender-swap universe, go ahead, but this one's mine. I don't want control over all the characters-- good lord, no, I'm having a hard enough time with just the first set! But I am in charge of coordinating everyone's different "creations" of characters, and making sure stories don't contradict each other.
If you only want to lurk, or read the stories before they hit the net, or beta-read, or do artwork:
You are welcome to join the XXY List, our mailing list, by clicking on the link or writing me. Most of the characters are already dibsed anyway. Lurk, or feedback, or do whatever you want. The above rules for writing apply only to character creator/adaptors.
Where can I read the published stories?
The officially published XXY stories are all here, at XXY: Tales of Another World.
XXY artwork is here at the XXY Gallery, which includes all the artwork we have so far. If you want to do art, just coordinate with the creator of the character.
Where can I get the "unpublished" stuff the writers use to create the universe?
If you're a writer on the project, or if you don't mind spoilers, incomplete stories, retcons, and wildly varying styles, you can check out the "unpublished" stuff below - the timeline, the list of characters, the warmups and silly little bits of fluff we practice with, and the stories in beta.
Benchmark: The Beginning of the Modern Age: This benchmarks the original members of X-Factor, the Mutant Menace, and the two old ladies whose lives are well mapped out, Carolyn Xavier and Polaris. There may be future benchmarks created which cover the New Mutants and Gen X, or which cover Tiamat and the other immortal or long-lived characters.
Timeline: Since we jump all over the universe in our writing, we create a timeline as we go for the shared universe, so that everyone's stories can be fit into it without contradicting continuity. Here's the latest version of the HTML'd timeline, which is usually several months behind where we are on the mailing list.
Character Dossier: The Adapted: MU characters who are altered to fit the XXY Universe-- either by genderswapping, or by having the circumstances of their lives change by everyone else's swaps-- appear in this dossier. It's currently really huge, and undergoing revision.
Character Dossier: Original Characters: This one is for the characters that don't come from the MU (some of whom may look familiar, but trust us, they're different characters.) There's also a brief table for people who just want to look quickly at the original characters.
The Dibs List: This lists who has created what characters, and therefore what MU characters are still available to be adapted.
Warmups, Follies and Stories In Progress: This page includes brief storylets that the authors are doing to get a handle on their own characters and demonstrate the character to the other members of the group.
To join the mailing list just click on the link and send a blank message.
Are there any XXY links besides this one?:
Some participants have their own XXY pages.
Neat Stuff I Made: A subdivision of Jeffrey Harlan's Home Page, Jeff's XXY pictures are all available at this site, starting with this page, including assorted logos.
Carolyn Vaughan's Picture Page: Includes pics of some of Carolyn's XXY characters.
Fictional Art: Karolina K. Phillips' art for fan fiction includes several XXY pics. Click on the "Illustration" link.
How do I create a character?:
The rules for creating new names and new code names are flexible. You can take someone else's code name if you want it. You can confuse the readers utterly by flipping two people's code names or real names (the child with white hair who would grow up to have super-speed was the girl, so got the preselected girl name Wanda; the child with brown hair who would grow up to have probability powers was the boy, so got the boy name Pietro; Magneto is a really obvious name for a guy with magnetic powers, but no woman would ever use it or a variant of it, so Polaris and Magneto switch names). Keep in mind certain guidelines, though:
To make it easier for the readers, try to keep the names vaguely similar to the original ones.
But, try to choose names that aren't totally far off in connotation as well. For instance, Charles is a very popular male first name. Charlene and Charlotte are much rarer, so I went with Carolyn, a more distant variant that's much more popular. When it came time to make a name for the female Toad, I tried to pick one with pretty much the same connotations, for women, as Mortimer has for men. (I hope women named Bertha aren't offended; my great-grandmother's name was Bertha, so it's nothing against people with the name. :-)) Try to pick similar language groups as well.
For code names, it isn't necessarily deadly that the name doesn't match the sex of the mythological figure; banshees are female, and that never stopped Banshee. However, I felt Cyclops just sounded way too masculine. I did think Mystique was okay for a man, though.
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