An Introduction to SiFiction
Hello everyone. I'm Alaric, and I'll be your guide on this magical mystery tour of the concept of SiFiction.
Ryan asked me to write this guide for you all, since I kinda helped develop the concept along a bit, and that's a good enough
excuse for me. He also made the mistake of telling me he'd pay me per word. That should let you know what you're in for.
Definition of SiFiction
might be asking yourself, what on Earth is a SiFiction? Well then, allow me to explain, since I'm here. SiFiction is a term
used to describe an original work of fiction that uses members of Sodor Island Forums as characters. That's pretty much it.
The content of these stories can be pretty varied, although the majority of SiFiction is humorous in nature.
Pronunciation of the word is dependant
upon the individual. You can say either 'S I Fiction' or 'Sif-ic-tion'. It's up to you, I don't really care. I did make up
the word though, so every time you use it, you owe me about 5 packets of spaghetti. But I will also accept other foodstuffs.
The earliest known works
of SiFiction came from Stuart7, but unfortunately I don't really know much about them because I wasn't part of the community
when he wrote them. However I have been given some information from the man himself, so let's see if I can avoid making a
complete pig's ear of this.
Back in the days of Hyperboards,
Stuart would write Thomas stories, but, and this is the twist, these stories would also include members of the forum! That’s
right, your old pals like Stuart, Aidan and Ryan were actually part of the Worldwide Engine Protection Squad, or WEPS for
short, which sounds kinda like a drink. “Give me some WEPS,” you might cry.
So what did WEPS do? Well,
I’m guessing they protected engines. Worldwide. They were a bunch of crime-fighting super studs, or so the legends say.
I’ve never read any of these, but I would like to at some point, just because they sound fun. Stuart has actually expressed
an interest in reviving the concept at some point, so who knows what the future may hold for WEPS?
Knowing the forum like
I do, I think I can guess what happened next. Probably some people started writing their own stories that involved themselves
and others. I know Ryan wrote ‘Laggan and Sodor’ around this point, which involved a whole host of characters,
including his Laggan Railway characters and SiF members. And no doubt it was a smash hit. If it was anything like the sequel,
then I’m sure it was.
SiF Audio Adventures
On the 24th
of November 2005, whilst walking to a bus stop, one young man had himself an idea. What better way to celebrate his first
Christmas on SiF than to do a holiday-based audio for all its members. And as he thought more about it, it occurred to him
that maybe, instead of using fictional characters, he could get the members to just be themselves, and base the story around
that. In case you haven’t guessed it yet, the young man was me, and the idea was ‘The Quest for the Missing
Here for the first time
available to the public is the original e-mail as sent to Ryan on that very date.
had a couple of ideas for the "Flying Railway" thing that you might like to look at.
I've had this idea for a Christmas audio drama starring members of SiF as themselves. Would you be interested in such a thing?
Considering you're one of the main characters, if you're not then the whole thing falls through. I've attached a script that
you can look at, to help you make a decision. Of course, if you're not interested, then just say so and we'll forget
the whole thing.
to the nooch,
Hayes/Atticus Essexton, King of Winter, Esq.
An e-mail was sent to both Ryan and Christopher, as they were the only
ones in the script at the time. Both members agreed it would be great, and would love to take part. Jimbobdunnie and the Old
Bean also expressed interest when the script went to them, and from there the project was on.
On the 23rd of December that same year, the audio was released
on Sodor Island Forums to a massive response. Well, a response, anyway. But you can read all about it in the SiF Audio
Adventures section of the site, along with the follow-up project ‘A Very SiF Summer Holiday’.
But for some reason, for
a very long time, nobody was writing stories about the members. Until a plucky young boy from the North-East of England
sat up in bed one night and said to himself, “Good Heavens! I could do a parody with the forum members!”
And then he went to the leprechaun Finnius Flagge and partook of some gold dust which enabled him to write one of the greatest
parodies in the world.
Admittedly this tale contains
a number of errors. I didn’t say ‘Good Heavens’, and I wasn’t in bed, I was about to take
a bath. I wanted to spare you that image. Now you can’t get it out of your minds, can you?
In a nutshell, I ended
up writing a parody called ‘SiF and the Special Visitor’, which used to be in the Parody Pack, but now
it isn’t (Mainly cos it's here now, Alaric! *-Ryan!). It took
the premise of the story ‘Paint Pots and Queens’, but replaced it with
the idea of the Thin Admin being interviewed by a newspaper reporter (Based on the real life incident of Ryan being interviewed
by a journalist from the New York Times. Has that actually been printed yet? I haven’t been keeping track). It
was, to be frank, a smash hit.
Round about the same time
(I believe either immediately before or after the parody), SiF Mod theHalford wrote an account of the SiF Party.
Ingeniously he managed to include just about every member of SiF at the time, or at least the ones that were posting regularly.
I myself could not go to this party, but I did send my assistant John Cleese to take my place. If I remember correctly, the
Wombles came to do the tidying up. The thread actually went on for about 11 pages after the initial post, which is quite a
lot of pages, but then the thread got locked and put into storage for going way off-topic. Pity really. I wouldn’t mind
reading it again.
These two stories led
the way to a new age of SiF member stories. The SiFiction Renaissance had begun.
Earlier this year, SiF
forumer Bono wrote a story based on a dream he’d had. It was called ‘Knights of SiF’, which, as
you can guess, was about members of SiF written as though they were knights in the time of Camelot. The band from the lands
of SiF fought against the Black Knight, a not-entirely-subtle portrayal of ex-SiF Mod Peter Sam, and the land
of ESF, based on the now defunct Engine Sheds Forums.
The story was the first
form of SiFiction to be longer than one post, being a complete story that lasted for quite a number of chapters. The combination
of this plus the Pythonesque (It’s a word, look in your copy of the Oxford Dictionary) style of writing led
to the story becoming a complete success. The general form of SiFiction had been set.
The forum knows a good
thing when they see it. ‘Knights of SiF’ soon led into other members taking their own stab at a SiF member
story, as they were known back then. Can’t remember any of the early ones off the top of my head, though. Bono did follow
up the story with another, imaginatively entitled ‘SiF on Titanic’. And if you can’t guess what
the premise of that is, then you must be either two loaves short of a bread bin or a member of Dan Snell’s latest forum.
SiFiction carries on to
this day and age, with new ones popping up all the time. The majority, like Stepneydude and Jimbob’s ‘The
Salmon Adventure’ or Truro’s ‘Power Rangers: Pencil Force’, tend
to be humorous in nature, which fits the style of the forum in general. Some of them, such as ‘Rogue’
and it’s sequel ‘Renegade', are serious works. These two in particular, in my opinion, are some of the
best ever works on the forum. The guy writing them is a genius at his craft. What’s his name again? I think it’s
Anaric or Avaric or something.
And of course there are
many other works I could go on about, but because this has become way too long I shall finish.
As a Concept
The great thing about
SiFiction is that it’s a way of getting everyone in the forum involved. Any member is eligible to write or star in one,
which really brings together the forum as a community. Unfortunately, there is a point of people including the same members
in every SiFiction, leaving out the majority of members who could be included. Some measures have been taken among authors
to reduce this, but the fact remains that there is a certain sense of familiarity with the personalities of members as developed
in the earliest SiFictions that is easier to work with than developing different forumers. In truth, we only have ourselves
to blame for this, and it is essential we work harder towards ensuring diversity among SiFiction casts.
So I’ve waffled
on for way too long, and if you’ve stuck around this far, well done to you. My fingers are starting to develop Carpathic
Tunnel Syndrome from all this typing though, so I’d better stop. I shall conclude with this thought: SiFiction is one
of the easiest things to write, because your characters are already laid out for you. If you need someone for a role, there
will always be a suitable candidate. All that really needs to be focused on then is the story, the basis of all literature.
And that’s why SiFiction means so much to me. Because it’s a great way to tell a story.
So what are you
waiting for? Go read those fabulous bits of SiFiction!