ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year 2016?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How would Mulder & Scully celebrate New Year?

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TONY: “Well this year might not be their best given a viral alien apocalypse has happened. It may even be worse than fighting zombies before a quick snog. Let’s assume though Mulder got better & the aliens buggered off – I reckon they’d probably just quietly get very drunk in one of Mulder’s basements and start going over old times.”

PAIGE: “By trying to work their way through the Times Square crowd so they could find … the son of Fluke!”

SARAH: “A bubble bath and a nicely chilled Champagne.”

TONY: “And Skinner?”

CARL: “I’m not sure Mulder is the type to go for a big celebration, so most likely they’d just stay at home and watch a film. They might have fun investigating some of the folklore around New Year in other countries. For instance, in ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten demons away. Also, in Chinese mythology there’s a beast called a Nian that comes out of hiding around New Year to attack children. Could make for a scary standalone investigation.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

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Reasons X-Philes Should Be Cheerful About 2017

Carl Sweeney helps us end the year by talking reasons to be cheerful next year… one, two, three!

2016 will be remembered for many reasons, but if you’re reading this then it’s likely that one of the things that affected you this year was the release of new episodes of The X-Files. The year to come may not offer anything quite so exciting on the immediate horizon, but there are still a few things we can look forward to.

We’ll get an update on Season 11, one way or another

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You’ve probably heard the whispers that negotiations for new episodes, which had appeared to be progressing nicely, may have hit some sort of impasse. We don’t know how this issue will be resolved, but at least we are likely to get some clarity. Representatives from Fox may be asked questions about the future of The X-Files at a Television Critic’s Association event in January.

IDW Publishing will continue to impress

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Those of us reading the Joe Harris-penned comics can expect more interesting stuff this year. Upcoming issues are set to include an intriguing tale about the Smoking Man’s involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, as well as a Skinner-centric story. If you haven’t read the IDW comics before, now’s as good a time as any to start.

Check out our previous X-Cast shows talking to comics editor Denton J. Tipton & artist/writer Matthew Dow Smith, who should–all going to plan–be back on the show during 2017!

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Elsewhere, January will see the publication of two X-Files novels aimed at a younger audience. Jonathan Maberry’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ and Kami Garcia’s ‘Agent of Chaos’ will shine a light on events in the life of teenage Scully and Mulder, respectively.

Jonathan will be on The X-Cast in January talking about these novels, and we will be doing podcasts discussing the books in detail.

A new critical look at the show

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Some of you will have read Darren Mooney’s excellent articles at The Movie Blog. Those of you who are unfamiliar with his work would be well advised to spend some time getting acquainted with his careful analysis of all the 1013 series. Darren’s ‘Opening The X-Files: A Critical History of the Original Series’, to be published in June, will doubtless be as impressive as his online work.

Darren will also be discussing the book when he reappears on The X-Cast in 2017.

The X-Cast will continue to go from strength to strength

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The podcast will continue to bring you the same eclectic mix of reviews, interviews and other features. On Twitter, our ongoing Tournament will continue to ruthlessly eliminate episodes until a winner emerges, and we’ll be starting to countdown every week the results of our Episodes Poll we ran at the start of December. We’ve got a lot of exciting things planned for this blog, too, which we’ll reveal as the year progresses.

Remember… trustno1 (except us) 😉

You can follow Carl on Twitter @csweeney758.

INTERVIEW: George Ivanoff on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘An Eye for an Eye’

A short interview with author George Ivanoff on his contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…

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THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

GEORGE IVANOFF: Jonathan Maberry had two slots open up for the anthology and invited members of the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers to pitch for them. I submitted two pitches and one of them got through.

TX-C: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

GI: Yep! Loved it from the moment it showed up on TV. So getting the chance to write a story for this anthology was a big fan-boy moment for me. It also gave me the excuse to buy it all on DVD as a tax deduction. Research! Research is so important!

TX-C: This is easily the strangest and creepiest story in Secret Agendas – what were your inspirations for the use of eyes?

GI: Thank you for your kind words. My favourite episodes of the series were the stand-alone creature eps rather than the conspiracy mythology based ones. And I love the “is-it-a-monster-or-isn’t-it” approach. So that’s what I wanted to write. As for the eyes… well, eyes are such a sensitive part of the body. And I’m very squeamish about eyes. The best starting points for creepy stories are the things that creep out the author. And the thought of a creature covered in stolen eyes creeped me out in a BIG way.

TX-C: What made you start ‘in media res’, as it were, with Mulder toward the end of the story?

GI: It was simply a case of wanting to start the story at an exciting point. And given that the story falls very much into the “is-the-monster-real-or-isn’t-it?” category, I figured that the first scene should make you think that it is real.

TX-C: There are some definite Biblical & religious overtones with Orvell, not to mention hints of historical abuse – what made these form part of his character?

GI: Once I worked out that the story would be about an optometrist and stolen eyes, the title just popped into my head. “An Eye for an Eye” is a biblical quote, so that led me to finding other biblical references to eyes; and that resulted in me wondering about how to turn the biblical references into a cause. I take a dim view of religious extremism (extremism of any sort, really), which so often is the excuse for all manner of horrible behavior. So I used extremism as the starting point for the historical abuse. And it all came together to form Orvell’s back-story. Even in a fantastical story, there needs to be believable historical motives for a character’s behavior.

TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?

GI: No! I believe in science. 🙂 But the paranormal makes for exciting story telling!

Many thanks to George for his time. You can follow him on Twitter @george_ivanoff.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black

REVIEW: The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘An Eye for An Eye’

Tony Black looks at the eleventh story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, ‘An Eye for an Eye’…

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Written by George Ivanoff

Edited by Jonathan Maberry

Hands down, this is the weirdest and creepiest story in The X-Files: Secret Agendas. No question. ‘An Eye for an Eye’ is short, sharp, punchy and really really strange from George Ivanoff, revolving around something we take for granted on a daily basis – our precious two eyes. Set during the first season much like the last story, Ivanoff begins in media res with Mulder right in the middle of an incredibly unnerving situation as some kind of bizarre creature made up of eyes begins sucking his eyeball out of his socket, before snapping us back in time to how the agents came to face such a truly weird creature, amongst the weirdest The X-Files has ever given us.

Ivanoff’s writing is to the point but really engaging throughout, reading fast and fun, and he manages to nail Mulder’s headlong exuberance to believe the weirdest explanation in contrast to Scully’s measured response, as they begin investigating people from wildly different backgrounds who’ve had one of their eyes sucked out of their heads, before forgetting how it happened in the first place.

It’s a quick tale which is more interested in getting us to the climax than dwelling on the investigation, with Ivanoff’s writing being heavily dialogue-based as Mulder & Scully meet the victims (but he does get in a nice homosexual couple, and a welcome touch given this is set mid-90’s) and then find the perp, but it’s the encounter Mulder specifically has when they do come face to face with the monster here that makes the story; it’s disturbing, very weird, and suggests historical child abuse may be a causal factor, plus it’s all tied in with Biblical & religious overtones, which you can imagine given the title. The ending is icky & trippy and would really give you the shivers if you saw it on screen, which any good X-File should do.

Another fine story here from Secret Agendas, which rockets along from George Ivanoff and delivers a supremely creepy and strange villain, good character interactions, sprightly plotting and a memorable climax. ‘An Eye for an Eye’ may also make you wonder if you should ever wear glasses ever again!

Check in later this week for an exclusive interview with George Ivanoff about his story!

Rating: 8/10

You can follow Tony on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: What would be your ideal X-Files Christmas episode?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

What would be your ideal X-Files Christmas episode?

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TONY: “I think I would go for something quite scary like Krampus. This came up in the FB group recently and I think M&S investigating a terrifying Christmas legend would make for a nice change of pace, as Xmas episodes of many shows are often softer. I’d want something really scary, throwing up and subverting classic Christmas myths, and leaving a sting in the tail!”

CARL: “An homage to It’s A Wonderful Life with Duchovny in the Jimmy Stewart role could be a lot of fun. Mulder, at a low ebb at Christmas time, would be visited by an angel (Deep Throat?) who’d try to convince him of the good deeds he’s done during his life. This would be a nice opportunity to bring back some people from the stand-alones that our agents have helped, as well as using some recurring characters in interesting ways (CSM would have to be the Mr. Potter figure, of course). This kind of story may not sound appropriate for The X-Files, but is it all that different from the likes of ‘Triangle’ or ‘Amor Fati’?”

TONY: “Man alive that sounds ace. It’d work, they’ve done fantasy episodes as you say. This *sort of* happens in this year’s Xmas Special comic from Joe Harris, but not quite as you describe.”

CARL: “I’m looking forward to reading that. I do agree with your suggestion, too. A scary Christmas episode could work a treat.”

SARAH: “Oh, wow, gotta go with Carl’s idea. I’d love to see that! Maybe it would make a good fanfic? Of course, you know I’d like to see something with Skinner. Maybe something along the lines of Die Hard.”

CARL: “Oh, a Die Hard episode could be fun. Instead of Nakatomi Plaza attacked by terrorists we’d have the FBI building besieged by SuperSoldiers. And instead of Bruce Willis in a white vest we’d have David Duchovny in a red Speedo!”

TONY: “Sans the speedo you could argue we got that episode with ‘Existence’.”

CARL: “Very true, and ‘Existence’ had a lot of elements of the Nativity story as well, come to think of it.”

BAZ: “Set it at Christmas and Existence would have been quite a good festive episode. I also love the idea of Krampus, delivering a really great monster story.”

SAM: “Lethal weapon? M&S as Riggs and Murtaugh?”

BAZ: “Surely that’s Mulder and Doggett as Riggs and Murtaugh?”

SAM: “Hmmm… I suppose… Scully as Lorna?”

TONY: “Lorna was Rene Russo right? We’d also need to throw Tom Braidwood in as the Joe Pesci character!”

SAM: “Yeah! This shit is writing itself!”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

INTERVIEW: Lauren R. Forry on The X-Files: Secret Agendas – ‘Stryzga’

A short interview with author Lauren A. Forry on her contribution to The X-Files: Secret Agendas anthology, out now from IDW Publishing…

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THE X-CAST: How did you come to be involved with Secret Agendas?

LAUREN A. FORRY: Total. Blind. Luck. In 2014, I saw a post from Jonathan Maberry about this upcoming series of X-Files anthologies on the Horror Writers Association Facebook page. Two authors had needed to drop out of the project, so to fill their slots he was accepting pitches for stories and the offer was open to anyone. I’d had some short stories published by that point and had signed with my agent, but my first novel hadn’t been accepted anywhere yet, so I really doubted if a pitch from me – a nobody – would make the cut.

I thought about it over the weekend, and I still wasn’t sure if I should submit. When I tried to think of a story idea, I hit a total block. Then that Monday morning, I was walking my dogs before I went to work and the start of a story popped into my head. As I drove to work, the story really quickly began to take shape, and I realized I would be an idiot if I didn’t at least submit a pitch. The worst that would happen is that I’d hear “no,” and, like any writer, I’d already heard that plenty of times.

When I got to work, I sat down at a computer and started typing up my pitch. I teach at a local college and was in the tutoring center that day. I didn’t have any student appointments, so I kept working on the pitch and, after reading through it a few times, I emailed it Jonathan. I thought, well that’s that. At least I tried!

A few weeks later, I was leaving a movie theater and checking my emails. I had just seen Birdman and was in pretty good spirits when I saw an email from Jonathan. I figured it was the rejection. I had to read the email three or four times before my brain registered that he’d chosen my pitch. I literally stood in the middle of the theater, unable to move and with this stupid grin on my face, as all these people swarmed past me on their way out.

I responded, said I could submit the story by the deadline, and that was that. So it turns out, it really would have been a stupid, stupid decision if I hadn’t submitted my pitch.


TX-C: Have you always been a fan of The X-Files?

LAF: Oh, yes. The story of why I’m into The X-Files is actually part of our family lore now. I was eight when the show premiered, and you wouldn’t think it’s a show an eight-year-old should watch (and it probably isn’t). But my dad was a FBI Special Agent. He worked out of the Newark, NJ office and was, before his retirement, the East Coast Aviation Coordinator. FYI – nobody bullies you at school when they know your dad works for the FBI.

So I had grown up loving the FBI, playing with my dad’s badge, fingerprinting my family members, those sorts of things. And my dad loved TV shows and also the supernatural/paranormal. This is a guy who made 8mm short films about aliens when he was in college. So as soon as he heard about The X-Files, he was sold. In 1993, there weren’t as many procedurals on TV as there are now and really none that focused primarily on the FBI so that, too, was really exciting for him.

I very clearly remember standing in our kitchen and my dad saying, “Lauren, there’s this new show on about FBI agents. Do you want to watch with me?” (I was a pretty well-adjusted kid who didn’t scare easily and had a healthy understanding of real versus pretend. I was also writing my own stories about witches and dark blobs by that point and my favorite book was ‘Bunnicula’ by James Howe, so my parents already knew I liked weird, scary stuff.)

Dad and I watched the pilot together and every single episode after that for the next nine seasons. We lined up to see the first movie wearing X-Files pins and hats that my sister’s boyfriend had got for us (he worked at the movie theater). We would tape episodes with our VCR if we were going to miss them and always waited to watch them together. When, for an elementary school class assignment, I had to write to one of my heroes, I wrote a fan letter to Gillian Anderson. My parents helped me tracked down the address to send it to using the TV Guide. I never received a personal reply, but I did get a signed photo of Anderson and David Duchovny. Every time the “parental discretion” warning came on the screen, we’d always laugh because it was at my parent’s discretion that I was watching the show in the first place.

My dad sadly passed away in 2013, so he never knew about my getting to write Stryzga, and watching Season 10 earlier this year was the first time I’d watched new episodes without him. But I feel he may have somewhat had a hand in making sure I submitted my pitch to Jonathan.


TX-C: What made you want to use ‘Darkness Falls’ as a jumping off point for your story?

LAF: For some reason, and I might never know exactly why ‘Darkness Falls’ has always been one of my all-time favorite episodes ever since it first aired. I even have a YA novelization of it lying around my house somewhere that I got when I was a kid. I’ve always been drawn more to the monster-of-the-week episodes than the conspiracy episodes, and there’s just something about Mulder and Scully, still getting to know each other while being stuck in the woods with this mysterious, deadly force around them that always appealed to me. It’s a bit like a horror movie, with the characters getting stuck in a cabin in the middle of nowhere as they’re picked off one by one.

When I was trying to wrap my head around a pitch, I didn’t have much time to think about where in the timeline I should set my story because I’d wasted time trying to think if I should submit a pitch in the first place. So I thought, why not relate it to my favorite episode? I’ve watched ‘Darkness Falls’ probably dozens of times over the years, so I knew it well, and I realized that there was a natural break between that episode and the next, ‘Tooms.’ Mulder and Scully were in pretty bad physical shape, and they would have needed some time to recuperate. But ‘Tooms’ doesn’t address anything that happened in ‘Darkness Falls’ – Mulder and Scully are back in the field, in perfect physical condition.

So I thought, well, what happened in between? How long would they have needed to heal? ‘Tooms’ can’t be their first case back since ‘Darkness Falls,’ so what could have been their first field assignment since that fateful trip to the Pacific Northwest? My brain started filling in those gaps and a story started to emerge. The ideas flowed so easily, that’s when I knew I’d chosen the right timeframe for my story.


TX-C: You make a point of Mulder being very protective over Scully a key element of the story – was it interesting to write them so early on in their dynamic?

LAF: I found it fairly easy to slip into the mindset of their early relationship simply because there was less history that I had to worry about. Mulder and Scully have been through so much over the last 20+ years and along with the growth that’s happened during those decades, there is also a lot of emotional baggage to deal with.

So going back to a time where they were still getting to know one another – and know each other’s limits – was a lot of fun. They hadn’t yet dealt with Scully’s disappearance/abduction and coma. Mulder still didn’t know much about what really happened to Samantha and the conspiracy behind it. Heck, even Skinner and CSM don’t show up until ‘Tooms,’ so the characters felt a bit freer without all of that history weighing them down.

Also, because they’ve not yet experienced the worst to come, they’re still learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They don’t fully know, yet, what the other is capable of, and I wanted Mulder to become overprotective because he feels what happened to Scully in ‘Darkness Falls’ is his fault. In the last scene of the episode, when he’s standing over her bed and she’s unconscious, and he says, “I told her it was going to be a nice trip to the forest”? Like the doctor says, two or three more hours and she likely wouldn’t have made it. So here’s Mulder with a partner that he works well with, who understands him, who he’s developing a close bond with, and he almost kills her? He’s suffering from serious guilt right there!

We know now that there is worse to come for them, but at that moment, it was one of the worst experiences they’d had since they’d known each other, and I felt he needed to deal with the repercussions of that, and Scully, too.

TX-C: Where did the inspiration to use the Stryzga come from? Is it a myth you’ve been familiar with for a long time?


LAF: I actually started with the idea of a summer camp and wanted a monster that would fit in well with that setting. There is a camp in the Poconos that I went to for years as a kid and later worked as a counselor at, and I’ve always wanted to immortalize it in a story. Most of my descriptions of the camp in Stryzga, including the abandoned cabin, come directly from my memories of that summer.

So once I had that setting and developed an idea for what I wanted the monster to do, I searched various legends on the internet. The X-Files covered a lot of the major legends, like the Jersey Devil, so I had to find something the show hadn’t already used. I found the Stryzga the most intriguing, and the fact that it attacks night-time travelers and people who’ve wandered into the woods at night fit perfectly with a summer camp set in the woods.

(And I’ve been recently informed on Twitter of a typo I made in the spelling. It should actually be strzyga, so I apologize to lovers of Slavic mythology for screwing that up!)

TX-C: Do you believe in the paranormal?

LAF: I’m not a hardcore believer, but I’m not a total skeptic, either. I guess I’d say I have a healthy, if realistic, optimism that there might be ghosts and the like out there, but I’m not going to believe everything I hear. For example, I’m convinced my grandparents’ house was haunted, but I don’t think people have captured “real” ghosts on camera or a recording. I once burst out laughing at one of those real-life haunting shows on the Discovery Channel because these people had recorded a “ghost” screaming, and they played the original recording on the show. It wasn’t a ghost. It was a fox. I used to live in the London suburbs where there are a lot of urban foxes. When foxes scream, it sounds like a person being murdered. (Seriously. Search for screaming foxes online. It’s not a pleasant sound to hear at 3am, but it’s not a ghost, either.)

And as for aliens? Mulder would be disappointed in me, but I don’t think aliens have visited Earth. I did some research on the Fermi Paradox (if space is so big, and the possibility for intelligent life so prevalent, where are all the aliens?) for my next novel, and I believe that there has to be life out there somewhere, but it’s not come here. Yet.

Many thanks to Lauren for her time. You can follow her on Twitter @laurenaforry.

Questions by Tony Black, who you can follow on Twitter @Mr_AJ_Black.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Humbug vs Nisei / Triangle vs Revelations / Squeeze vs The Walk

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 22nd/23rd/24th

HUMBUG vs NISEI

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Tony: “HUMBUG – a comfortable victory for Darin Morgan’s first legendary comedy, if not quite his best.”

Sam: “HUMBUG for sure! Awesome episode. It’s one of those go to episodes for me.”

Carl: “I’ll eat a cricket if HUMBUG doesn’t win.”

Baz: “I think HUMBUG will win – it’s the first Darin Morgan classic and was a memorable entry in season two. Like 731, it’s a shame NISEI is up against a great episode because it forms part of an exciting mythology story, one of the best in season 3. But 731 is the stronger of the two and against the circus freaks, NISEI won’t win.”

TRIANGLE vs REVELATIONS

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Tony: “TRIANGLE – can’t see past it here, probably quite a rout.”

Carl: “TRIANGLE win. Won’t be close.”

Baz: “Absolutely (and not just because TRIANGLE is my favourite episode). It’s a fantastically experimental, memorable episode, not least because it pits Mulder against a Nazi Cigarette Smoking Man. There’s a lot of love for this episode out there, and understandably so. REVELATIONS isn’t bad, sitting in one of the strongest seasons (three) and with a dark tale about a serial killer hunting a boy with religious markings. It’s good The X-Files fare, but nowhere near the standard of TRIANGLE and honestly, I don’t think a lot of people remembering it that well. TRIANGLE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “Absolutely TRIANGLE!”

SQUEEZE vs THE WALK

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Tony: “SQUEEZE – absolute slam dunk for Mr Tooms, part 1.”

Carl: “Yeah, I have nothing more insightful to add. SQUEEZE win. I think I like The Walk more than most people do, though.”

Baz: “THE WALK is okay but SQUEEZE is the most memorable (and possibly best) monster of the week. There is no way Eugene Victor Tooms isn’t going to have a clear victory. SQUEEZE to win by a landslide…”

Sarah: “SQUEEZE will definitely not have to squeeze by on this one. It’ll win with a wide margin!”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

X-FILES FANFIC WRITING PROJECT – Writers Wanted

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Fan fiction writers who love The X-Files and its universe – WE NEED YOU!

For 2017, The X-Cast is looking to create a prose anthology inspired by IDW Publishing’s three books over the last two years (though in no way officially connected to or affiliated with them – this is strictly a fan project).

We’re looking for fans (or aspiring writers looking for some practice) to help us develop a series of prose stories set in the world of The X-Files which would firstly be released on the blog (and promoted on the podcast) and later collected into a free to download PDF e-book.

There aren’t many conditions on this either, beyond the following:

  • 6000-8000 word count.
  • No slash fiction
  • It has to involve at least one existing X-Files/Millennium/Lone Gunmen character.

To begin with, please respond with an expression of interest and a story pitch (a simple paragraph will suffice). We’ll then ask you to write the first 500 words of your story before we commit to giving it a green light, mainly to ensure you’re definitely committed to writing the story.

Incidentally, just in case you’re unsure about our own background with writing, please check out our fearless leader Tony Black’s own work as a prose writer here via the Fiction Vortex project. Last year one of his stories was published as part of a collection of introductory pieces in paperback, and he has an Amazon author page. So while no experts and certainly nowhere near as good as the IDW writers, we do at least have a *little* experience! 🙂

As an example, please find below the first draft of the first scene in Tony’s story for this anthology, called ‘ChronowerX’.

Please send your story pitch/expression of interest to us via email or via Facebook message on our page or Twitter message.

We look forward to any submissions and creating a really cool fan project!

The stories are out there…

CHRONOWER-X

FBI HEADQUARTERS
WASHINGTON D.C.
OCTOBER 23, 1996

“We’ve been here before, Mulder,” Dana Scully said, warily, as she listened to her partner present yet another case at her feet before she could even get her coat off on this crisp Autumn morning.
“Artificial intelligence. It’s the wave of the future, Scully,” replied Fox Mulder as he got up from his cluttered desk and, sleeves already rolled up on his slightly crumpled shirt, started rifling through a box across from his desk.
Scully placed her coat over the chair opposite where Mulder hatched all of his theories and skimmed through the Los Angeles Police Department file thrown toward her on the desk as he’d hit her with a barrage of theory. Just one day, she thought, a hello and good morning might be a fun change of pace.
“Robert Justman,” she read. “Fifty-seven years of age, no pre-existing medical conditions, married with two grown up children, found dead two days ago in his leased city apartment from a massive electrical discharge.”
“And who also happens to be one of the founding members of Chronowerx Industries,” Mulder said without glancing her way, still rifling.
“Am I supposed to know the name?” Scully asked, aware Mulder’s answer would in his head probably be yes.
“Chronowerx is one of the pioneering computer technology companies in the United States,” he replied. “As far back as 1969, when man was about the walk on the moon, they were building the first isograted circuit, one of the key building blocks of any modern home computer system.”
Mulder finally retrieved what he wanted from the box, an old black VCR tape, which he proceeded to place inside his VCR attached to an old TV on a stand, which he wheeled out from his adjacent research lab.
“So Justman worked for a technology company. It’s a hell of a leap to suggest an artificial intelligence is responsible for his death, even if we have seen technology suspected of as much through Brad Wilczek’s work.”
Scully still wasn’t entirely sure she believed the Central Operating System created by genius scientist Brad Wilczek was the result of an intelligent computer program, but she sensed Mulder was—as usual—saving the coup de grace and didn’t want to derail him.
“This is the same technology company whose CEO and primary founder disappeared three months ago into thin air,” Mulder said, now switching on the tape using his remote control. “And who also happens to be the second member of Chronowerx’s board to die in unusual circumstances in a matter of weeks.”
Closing the file, Scully crossed her arms as static appeared on the TV before them, before giving way to a news report showing hand-held camera footage of a hazy, brown night sky.
“What is this?” she asked.
Mulder nodded at the screen, as a news reader voice overlaid footage of some kind of UFO moving across the same sky.
“Incredible footage was caught just an hour ago by a man using his camcorder to tape a backyard barbecue,”
Scully moved closer to the screen, a little surprised at the crystal clarity she could see the unidentified flying object soaring through the clouds at low altitude. It was long, chrome and gray, with a domed, elongated spherical neck holding two jutting, blue struts at its side. It didn’t look like any kind of UFO footage Mulder had shown her before.
The news reader voice continued. “The massive, unidentifiable object does not appear to be a meteorite, weather-balloon or satellite, and one aviation expert we’ve spoken to has stated it is definitely not any kind of US aircraft currently in use…”
Mulder switched off the screen as Scully turned to him, confused.
“This footage was taken over the Los Angeles skyline just one day before Chronowerx founder Henry Starling disappeared. Every single source I know in video manipulation, including the Gunmen, can find absolutely no evidence this footage was faked. It’s the single most compelling evidence for an unidentified flying object in years, maybe even decades.”
“And you think this UFO is connected to Starling’s disappearance? To the death of Justman and the others?” Scully asked, in an incredulous manner which suggested Mulder was all kinds of crazy for even suggesting it.
“Pack a bag. We’re off to the City of Angels to find out,” Mulder replied, hoisting on his jacket and heading for the door.
With a sigh, Scully grabbed her coat and the Justman file and followed suit. Here we go again, she thought.

You can find Tony @Mr_AJ_Black on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Ascension vs Without / Providence vs Little Green Men

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 21st/22nd

ASCENSION vs WITHOUT

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Tony: “ASCENSION – by virtue of it being a legendary episode, though I don’t think it’ll completely trounce Without.”

Carl: “Yes, it’s hard to see ASCENSION not winning. Like you say, Without will get some support, though ultimately not enough.”

Sarah: “ASCENSION is classic. It’s memorable for many reasons. I think it’ll trounce WITHOUT.”

Baz: “I agree about ASCENSION; it’s the episode where everything changed as Scully was abducted, Krycek’s villainy was revealed and we had that thrilling cable car pursuit as Mulder races to save Scully and fails. WITHOUT is a good episode, progression the mythology post-Mulder and has a great body-snatchers vibe but it can’t hope to beat ASCENSION.”

 

 

PROVIDENCE vs LITTLE GREEN MEN

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Tony: “LITTLE GREEN MEN – absolute rout, let’s not even discuss it.”

Carl: “LITTLE GREEN MEN.”

Sarah: “LITTLE GREEN MEN.”

Baz: “As for PROVIDENCE, it’s a dull and frustrating season nine mythology episode while LITTLE GREEN MEN kicks off season two in style. No contest, LITTLE GREEN MEN will win.”

Andrew: “LITTLE GREEN MEN”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Tithonus vs Herrenvolk / Ghost in the Machine vs The Amazing Maleeni

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

December 20th/21st

TITHONUS vs HERRENVOLK

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agrarian_workforce_kurt_crawford_hybrid_series_herrenvolk

Tony: “TITHONUS – possibly regarded as one of the better standalone stories, though this could be close again.”

Carl: “TITHONUS. It has a lot of virtues including a great guest performance by Geoffrey Lewis. Might win this match handily.”

Sarah: “TITHONUS is a worthy adversary. HERRENVOLK is one of the weaker mythology episodes. I think TITHONUS will take this one.”

Danielle: “I think TITHONUS – a chilling MOW episode. There’s a lot going on in HERRENVOLK but nothing much happens.”

Andrew: “TITHONUS all the way. HERRENVOLK is boring, the only redeeming aspect being X’s assassination and the introduction of Marita Covarrubias.”

Baz: “I think TITHONUS. It’s got a great concept and the darkener nature of the episode if a nice contrast to the rest of the season six. HERRENVOLK is an okay mythology episode, though better than Talitha Cumi in my opinion.”

GHOST IN THE MACHINE vs THE AMAZING MALEENI

960

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Tony: “THE AMAZING MALEENI – just about but I reckon this will be closer than you might think, as more people will have seen GITM.”

Sarah: “I think GITM probably more recognizable but THE AMAZING MALEENI is a superior episode so I think it will surprise us and take the win.”

Carl: “Both flawed. I think the voters will probably reward the low-key charm of THE AMAZING MALEENI.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.