THE MSTING CANON
Hi! Thanks for visiting my site!
I’ve put this little thing together in an attempt to curate some of the highlights of the Internet fan creation known as “MSTing.” To, in the tradition of bored liberal arts majors everywhere, create a canon. If you are like me and already familiar with obscure Internet ephemera, I’m sure that you can jump right in, but for any newcomers, a brief definition and history:
MSTings are a form of fan culture surrounding the show Mystery Science Theater 3000. Instead of featuring the show’s characters sitting in a theater and riffing on bad movies, MSTings feature the show’s characters riffing on bad writing from the Internet and beyond. Originally starting out riffing USENET posts, conspiracy theories, and spam emails, MSTings eventually came to mostly focus on bad fanfiction (as well as some original fiction and professional screenplays), although there has always been a place for any textual product that could benefit from a good riffing. Over time, people even started to use non-MST3K characters and settings, with the term MSTing coming to define a particular format of writing instead of something strictly connected to Mystery Science Theater 3000.
A Brief History of MSTing
(Feel free to skip if you want to go straight to the MSTings)
This format started on USENET in early 1993, and for the first 4-5 years of its existence that is where the community was centered. In 1995, Web Site #9 was founded, and eventually became the MSTing repository of note. While most of the major projects were still posted to USENET, and most things anime related were posted on Shinji’s Vault of Anime MSTings, from 1998 onwards Web Site #9 was where everyone submitted their projects. In April of 2003, Michael K. Neylon, the admin of the website, took things down briefly while he moved the server on which the site was hosted. That brief downtime is now going on 15 years, with no updates from Mr. Neylon, and with its departure, the MSTing community, already anemic at this point, collapsed, and many MSTings disappeared from the net for good...or so we thought.
People eventually realized that through Google Groups almost all MSTings pre-1998 could be recovered via USENET, as well as many of the classics from later years. A website, The MSTing Mine, opened in 2004 in order to organize links to the relevant Google Groups pages, but the site did not host any MSTings itself, and by this point the damage had already been done, and the MSTing community as we knew it was gone.
That’s where this new site comes in. Google Groups will probably not last forever, and by saving these documents myself, I can, at least for a time, ensure their survival on the Net. As the demise of Web Site Number #9 taught us, investing too much authority in one site can be a risky proposition. With the help of The MSTing Mine/Google Groups, the handful of other MSTing archives still available, and a little luck with Archive.org, I have put together this page, something that I hope can serve both as an archive for fans of the format, as well as a primer for any newcomers who are curious as to what this whole thing was and (hopefully is) about. Dates next the to the MSTings mark when they were originally published.
If you have any recent works of your own, feel free to send them my way. I'm looking to make a page for new MSTings as well!
My Immortal (2019)- Jonah and the bots take on the most infamous fanfic of the past 15 years, in this brand new MSTing by your humble web site author. The student body of Hogwarts has been transformed into a bunch of Hot Topic wearing "goffik" vampires, and...not much else happens in this riffing of the epic story's first 13 chapters. --MSTing by Yesmar
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Eye of Argon (1996) - This is not the first MSTing ever, but it is certainly one of the most highly regarded. It is also a bit of an anomaly for a MSTing target: a piece of original fiction. For this reason, I think it is a great place to start. It’s not a piece of fanfiction, which brings a lot of outside baggage in with it that can at times be alienating to those not in the know. Instead the story, er...stands on its own. A fantasy narrative about the warrior Grignr, The Eye of Argon has been known outside of the MSTing community since the 1970’s. It is alleged that a game started at fantasy conventions during this time to see who could attempt to read the story for the longest time without laughing. Well, it’s not just the story that will have you laughing this time however, as Mike and the Bots drop in a few good riffs of their own. -- MSTed by Adam Cadre
This next section is a bit of a Choose Your Own Adventure. I’m going to touch on several recurring subjects or fandoms that were a frequent source for MSTings, and provide, if I can, some exemplars in that genre.
Sample Platter - Conspiracies, Rants, and other General Non-Fiction / “Non-Fiction”
Initially, MSTings occupied themselves with the ramblings, scams, and other errata of early USENET. Several different MAKE.MONEY.FAST MSTings exist, for example. Over time, as the Internet’s userbase expanded in size and complexity, this particular subject grew less prevalent, but, as I’m sure we can all attest, the Internet crank remains a consistent source of mockery, and a ripe target for some classic MSTings.
Does God Love You? (1994) - One of the first group MSTings, this one features a Q&A that could be coming right out of a Jack Chick tract. I guess some things never change. -- MSTing edited by Petrea Mitchell
Exposing the Darkness at Point Loma Nazarene (1997) - Point Loma Nazarene College might not be the best known college in the country, but that’s all the better for the devil worshippers and homosexuals using its campus as a playground. Or at least that’s what this rant’s author thinks. -- MSTing by David Hines
I Swear! Everything on TV is Geared to Feminizing Males! (1998) - The more the Internet changes, the more the Internet stays the same. At any given moment, there’s an 95% chance there’s an active thread with this title open on a message board somewhere. -- MSTing by Bill Livingston
Agent Action! (1997) - On a lighter note, are you a fan of controversial cloning movies featuring secret agents and large breasted beautiful women? Then you’ll love 1997’s most anticipated film, “Agent Action!,” a film which was destined to sweep the Academy Awards that year. What’s that? Titan-what? -- MSTing by Bill Livingston
The James Cameron Conspiracy (1998) - Speaking of a certain director... You might think that James Cameron’s movies are nothing more than big budget popcorn Hollywood action films, but you’d be wrong. They are much deeper than that. What’s that you say? The subtext on motherhood? Oh no, I mean their fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and exposure of MK-ULTRA projects. Duh. Followed by James Cameron - 33rd Degree Mason (1999) and James Cameron A Go-Go (2001) -- MSTings edited by Roland Warner
From the Ashes Arose Idiocy (2001) - The USENET rant type of MSTing had fallen somewhat out of vogue by 2001, but unfortunately, the events of that year brought out the worst in many, producing a variety of content ripe for mockery. Written just weeks after September 11th, this MSTing features several newsgroup rants posted in the aftermath of those events, from a variety of people across the political spectrum. One of the few MSTings to attempt any type of direct cultural commentary, “From the Ashes Arose Idiocy” deflates those calls to hatred by giving them the belittling they so richly deserve. -- MSTing by Darth Kirby
*WARNING* CONTAINS GRAPHIC/OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE
Hopping Mad Over MST3K (1993) - On a lighter note, here’s an early exercise in meta, before that term was widely used. Joel and the Bots riff on an article from the Ann Arbor News, which criticizes….well, Joel and the bots. -- MSTing by David S. Rice
Star Trek and Babylon 5 are DEAD! Long Live STARSHIP TROOPERS and the (real) Federation's Mobile Infantry! (1997) - I think that title says it all. -- MSTing by Matt Blackwell
Ray Wolfe’s Guide to ‘Eraserhead’ (1998) - Does anyone understand what the film “Eraserhead” is about? Well, Mr. Wolfe certainly does, and Mike and the Bots have some fun riffing on what might be some perfectly valid insights, and what might be...kind of a stretch. -- MSTing by Joe Blevins
President Clinton’s Second Apology to the Nation (1998) - Remember when a blow job was all the president of the United States had to apologize about? -- MSTing by Joe Blevins
Sample Platter - Star Trek
In the early days of MSTing, when USENET was the prime source of riffing material, there were few greater founts of content than alt.startrek.creative. These are the voyages of the newsgroup ASC. Strap in.
Treklander (1994) - The first MSTing ever attempted of something of this length, Treklander is pretty much what you’d expect from its name: a crossover between Highlander and Star Trek. And things turn out pretty much how you’d expect from that premise. -- MSTing edited by Petrea Mitchell
All Hell Breaking Loose (1995) - Q is up to his old tricks again, which this time appears to be limited to making the senior officers of the Enterprise act like a bunch of immature teenagers fighting about whom they want to date .--MSTing by Chris Ekman and Ken Applebaum
Trouble of Dwarves (2001) - A bit of a throwback when it first came out, there is something refreshing in this post-2000 world of crazy Internet fandoms to read a bad fanfic that’s about nothing more than the titular dwarves causing some mischief on the Starship Voyager. -- MSTing by pieceoftheuniverse
Sample Platter - Sonic the Hedgehog
Yep, the Sonic fandom has been the red headed stepchild of the Internet from its very beginning and has proved to be a constant source of material for MSTings.
Altered Destiny (1997) - In this fic, self-insert Keith joins up with the Freedom Fighters, and turns out to be just what they were missing in their fight against the evil Robotnik. -- MSTing by Joseph Nebus
FX Down to Mobius (1997) - In this fic, anthropomorphic ferret FX joins up with the Freedom Fighters, and turns out to be just what they were missing in their fight against the evil Robotnik. -- MSTing by Joseph Nebus
Jaded Views (2000) - In this fic, a series of new characters join up with the Freedom Fighters to fight an anthropomorphic badger named Jade, and well, you know the rest. -- MSTing by Joseph Nebus
Tails’ Lover (2000) - When a young fox’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love for one of his male companions, it’s anyone’s guess who might be the recipient. Although, on second thought, everyone pretty much has the same guess. -- MSTing by Kevin Frane
Sample Platter - The Marissa Saga
There is no fanfic author more infamous in the MSTing world than Stephen Ratliff. Starting in 1993, Ratliff penned a series of stories involving one Marissa Amber Flores Picard Gordon, a precocious youngster who by the time she is 21, has commanded multiple spaceships, served as a lawyer/peace negotiator/diplomat/matchmaker, become heir to the throne of Essex, been assimilated by the Borg, commanded Starfleet and won the Triple Crown...but she hates titles. The Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues, the selection below contains some highlights of her journey. I wouldn’t recommend reading them all at once, but instead coming back to this list as you go through the rest of the Canon.
Enterprized (1994) - All logic is to be ingored in this initial entry to the Marissa stories, where a confusing main plot involving time travel and the original Enterprise takes a back seat in most people's minds to the introduction of the Kids’ Crew. Apparently, Captain Picard thought giving preteens control of crucial parts of the Enterprise was a good way to give them experience and education. And apparently everyone on board hates these kids and their own safety, so they agreed. -- MSTing by David Hines
A Gul’s Revenge (1994) - In this immediate follow up to “Enterpized,” Picard adopts the newly orphaned Marissa, while the title character learns for the second time that doubting Marissa is a path which only leads to humiliation and regret. -- MSTing by David Hines
Away from Home (1996) - This mega-sized story features, not one, not two, but three different stories about Marissa’s encounters with a new, hostile, alien race. Be prepared for plenty of mindnumbing descriptions of hair ribbons and ship formations, along with the ignomious debut of Ensign Throwaway. -- MSTing edited by Mike Barklage
Time Speeder (1996) - In this story, possibly Ratliff’s most infamous, a teenage Marissa finds herself inexplicably in charge of a spaceship yet again, and is forced to follow time travelling criminals back to the 1990’s, as they attempt to halt the founding of Starfleet. Features appearances by the Clinton family, and the revelation of latent psychic powers amongst the Star Trek writing staff. -- MSTing edited by Mike Barklage
Premier Marquis (1997) - Ratliff Gas, one of the worst contrivances in the Marissa Saga, makes an appearance here, as a mutiny plot is overthrown by a bunch of youngsters immune to a mysterious gas which knocks out anyone over the age of 14. Also features Marissa's debut as a defense attorney. NOTE: A second group MSTING of this fic was released, also in 1997, which is notable for including every riff submitted. That can be found here. -- Both MSTings edited by Petrea Mitchell
All the King’s Horses (1998) - A prequel, back before that was a thing people cared about, this story flashes back to Marissa’s first days as Picard’s ward, as she visits his family in rural France, and goes on to compete in the Triple Crown. -- MSTing edited by Mighty Jack
The Field Trip (1998) - A rewrite of the first section of the “Away from Home” story, ten year old Marissa and the rest of the future Kids Crew are marooned on a hostil- actually, pretty hospitable world. Features the thankfully never returned to obsessions of Disney showtunes and soup. -- MSTing by Matt Blackwell, Dean Carrano, Bill Livingston, Michael Neylon, Tom Salyers, and Michael “Rottweiler” Wallen
The Seventh Fleet (1998) - Marissa’s in a war with the Romulans, and defeats them using nebulas or something like that. And there’s a babysitting subplot as well. -- MSTing edited by WereTorgo
Hail to the Queen (1998) - Believe it or not, the Marissa series actually has fans of its own, and this story was written by one of them. Marissa gets assimilated by the Borg, and things are…. actually not bad in this story which still gets riffed ‘cause, hey, it’s Marissa. -- MSTing by Matt Blackwell, Doug Earlham, Michael K. Neylon, Bill Livingston, and Steven Savage
Return to Glory (1999) - Diplomat Marissa tries to get the Klingons to join the Federation in their war against the Romulans, in a story whose most notable feature might be its final terrifying image...Marissa giving birth. -- MSTing by Bryan Lambert
Athena Prospects Mango and Papaya Versions (1999) -When the rewrite of Time Speeder first came out, there was such a rush to riff it that two separate group MSTings were released. And they both turned out to be pretty good. -- Mango MSTing edited by Matt Blackwell, Papaya MSTing by Matt Blackwell, Bart Fargo, Amanda Flowers, Sarah Heiner, Karen Kallestad, Jeffrey Ray Roberts, and TV’s Francis
Winning Love by Daylight (2001) - In this quiet little ‘fic, a finally exhausted Marissa recoups from her assimilation by the Borg on the planet of Essex while attempting to bond with her daughter and contemplate what all her many successes really mean. -- MSTing edited by Peter Milan
Before the Dawn (2001) - Another Marissa story by a non-Ratliff author that’s actually not that bad but still got riffed anyway ‘cause it’s Marissa. Nuff said. -- MSTing by Alex Gariepy, Eric Scheppers, Brian Dubick, Juliet Youngren, Douglas Gale, and Matt Blackwell
Royal and Prime Directives (2003) - One of the last MSTings posted on Web Site Number 9 before its collapse, this was the last major Ratliff work ever riffed, and it’s a fitting send-off. Many laughs are had at the expense of this side story from Marissa’s teenage years, where the Enterprise gets mixed up in the succession crisis of yet another feudal planet. -- MSTing edited by Bill Livingston
Sample Platter - Anime
Many anime MSTings were a little different in style than your average MSTing, which I’ll get to later. For now, enjoy these three, which are more conventional in tone.
Evolution in Cold Blood (1995) - One of the first, if not the first, anime MSTing ever posted, this one is a take on the more obscure Bubblegum Crisis series. In it, a couple of characters investigate a bunch of killer dinosaur hybrids in a futuristic Tokyo. You know, as you do. -- MSTing by Robert Coakley
*WARNING* CONTAINS SCENES OF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Orion (1999) - There's plenty of new Senshi afoot in this MSTing of two "episodes" from the title fanfiction series. Sailor Moon's queen of everything, obviously, and the new senshi have incredible powers, obviously, and two of the newcomers are lesbian lovers, obviously. -- MSTing by Antaeus Feldspar
Team Revelation (1999) - It turns out that the only thing missing from the wildly popular video game and anime franchise was Christian propaganda! Who would have thought that Ash and friends would be such a great conduit for the word of the Lord. -- MSTing edited by Alicia Ashby
Sample Platter - Comic Books
Back in the days before they had taken over Hollywood, comic books were just one source of many for riffing.
Jammers (1996) - A whole new group of X-Men show up and surprise, surprise, it’s up to them to save the day. -- MSTing by Omega
X (1997) - There’s not as many as in “Jammers,” but, once again, a new group of mutants show up (well, pretty much just one), and well, you get the picture. -- MSTing by Kelly Newcomb
A Legion Sized Meeting (1999) and Ancient Insane Kyptonian Case (2001) - Both of these original works are by Dr. Thinker, a writer infamous in the fanfiction community for his… “colorful” take on the English language. Neither of them are particularly long, but that’s probably for the best, as I’m not sure my brain would have the stamina necessary to diagram the grammar in these stories for much longer. -- MSTings by Matt Blackwell and Bill Livingston respectively
Sample Platter - Prose
Sometimes people write original fiction that’s just as lame as the worst fanfiction. Regardless, it's always good to have a change of pace.
Artifact (1999) - Two horny scientists end up unleashing an evil spirit that’s been hidden for thousands of years when they spend more time boning then paying attention to their archaeological work. -- MSTing by Kevin Pease and Craig J. Clark
*WARNING* CONTAINS SEX SCENES
Hostage (1999) - A terrorist, OF THE FUTURE, attempts to pull off a poorly defined heist with a bunch of poorly defined gadgets, in a Martian city OF THE FUTURE, in this story that’s really not so bad, but the author felt bad about writing it, so he got someone else to riff it. -- MSTing by Bill Livingston
Now that you’ve sampled the various fandoms and areas mentioned above, it’s time to move on from making fun of mere amateurs to making fun of professionals! PRO MSTings, basically MSTings of movie scripts/transcripts, were popular for a couple of years in the middle of the MSTing era, however Web Site # 9 took them down at some point in ‘99, and most of these have been languishing in obscurity ever since.
Star Wars: Special Edition (1997) - Certainly the most acclaimed Professional MSTing ever produced (even winning the prestigious Golden Hamdinger Award for Best Riffing), this work proves that something doesn’t have to be bad to be riffed. Also features a cameo by Obi-Wan who stops by the Satellite of Love. -- MSting by Joe Barlow
Batman Forever (1995), Batman and Robin (1997), and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1997) - The 1990’s weren’t exactly lacking in big mainstream movies that brought the cheese, and as you can see, such films were frequently a target for riffing online. -- MSTing of Batman Forever by Steven Savage and Daniel Sikorski; MSTing of Batman and Robin edited by Steven Savage; MSTing of MMPR by Catherine Johnson
Orgy of the Dead (1998) - It’s not just big name movies that got riffed. This transcript of an Ed Wood film from the 60’s got the MST treatment as well. --- MSTing by Joe Blevins
Titanic (1999) - One of the last PRO MSTings to be released, this one was not as widely seen, as it came out right before this format was removed from Web Site #9. This MSTing sat near the top of the charts for the brief time it was there, and proves once again that something doesn’t have to be bad to be riffed. -- MSTing by Kevin Ramsey
Manos 2 (1998) - This isn’t the script to an actual movie, thank God, but someone apparently took it upon themselves to write a sequel to the most infamous film to ever air on MST3K. Naturally, the resulting script was MSTed. Features an appearance by Torgo Jr. -- MSTing edited by Kevin Ramsey
Around 1997, as the MSTing community began to move off of USENET and onto traditional web sites, the style and substance of MSTings began to change. Longer form fiction began to replace the shorter rantings of USENET, the fandoms riffed expanded, and the MSTings began to mature, both in terms of adult content and in terms of the complexity of their style. Here are some examples of this advancement in form.
The Rangers of NIMH (1997) - One of a handful of MSTings that are in contention for Best Ever, this MSTing stood at the top of the charts at WS#9 for three years. It riffs on a crossover between Rescue Rangers and the Secret of NIMH, where everyone is horribly out of character, grammar and spelling are frequently disregarded, and while there’s no sexual content, the sweaty desires of the author hang in the air like humidity on a warm summer day. -- MSTing by Håkan Svensson and Kevin Pezzano
I’m Dreaming of a Coruscant Christmas (1998) - There’s not much of a subtext in this one as the Star Wars cast finds their Christmas (I know, I know) preparations frequently disrupted by a string of puerile gags and horny misadventures. -- MSTing by Roland Warner
*WARNING* CONTAINS CRUDE “HUMOR” THROUGHOUT
Let There Be Angst (1998) - There’s not much sex in this series of short, angsty X-Files stories. The characters are too depressed to do much more than sit around moping about the state of the world. -- MSTing by Pete Milan
*WARNING* CONTAINS SCENES OF GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, INCLUDING SUICIDE
Trials and Tubby-lations (1998) - There's actually no real adult content in this collection of several short Teletubbies fanfics. But I mean, come on, it’s Teletubbies fanfiction written by adults. The concept is so unnerving that you’re constantly peering around every corner just waiting for some weird fetish monster to pop out. The MSTing also tussles with the eternal question: Who the hell is Toyah Wilcox? -- MSTing edited by Matt Blackwell
MST: Video Night at Mako-chan’s (1998) and MST: When Worlds Collide (2000) - "Yo, I heard you guys like MSTings, so we put a MSTing in your MSTing." While some of his works have been mentioned above, Dr. Thinker is not just a conventional fanfic writer. He has also dabbled in MSTings, and they’re just as incomprehensible as his fanfics are. When confronted with this insanity, there’s not much left to do but riff. -- MSTings by Bryan Lambert and Alex Gariepy respectively
Out of Time (2000) - Sometimes people write straight fanfiction based on Mystery Science Theater too. And when that happens, the temptation to jump in with a MST can be too much to ignore. In this story, Mike Nelson gets replaced by a self-insert version of the story’s author, and a bunch of crossover hijinks ensue, including a visit from the one and only Marissa. -- MSTing edited by Bill Livingston
My Attorney (2001) - One of the only MSTings that could truly be defined as “experimental,” this story really plays around with the definition of what a MSTing is and pushes the boundaries of its own structure and content. Hard to describe, it’s probably best to just read this for yourself and see what you make of it. There’s truly nothing else like it. -- MSTing by Brendan Herlihy
Alternative MSTing Styles
As the MSTing community grew, it began to diversify, not just in terms of content and structure, but in areas such as tone and aesthetic. While most of the MSTings posted on USENET/Web Site Number #9 had the standard aesthetic that you've been reading so far, there were other sites, and other authors, whose styles diverged. One of the largest loci of MSTings with a different style was the site Shinji's Vault of Anime MSTings. I struggled with how to define this aesthetic, but whether you call it "alternative," "anime style," or "SVAM style," it was a distinct style that deserves representation.
These MSTings sometimes contain prose host segments, a more anime/video game-knowledgeable Mike/Joel and the bots, and are more likely to feature source material with graphic subject matter as well as characters besides the SOL Crew riffing on the story. While MSTings in this style usually contain several of the details that I’ve explicated above, the main thing which separates them from most other MSTings is the aforementioned tone which is hard to describe. I’ll get into more detail on non-standard MSTings later, but for now here are a few examples of some MSTings in an "alternative" mode.
Artemis’s Lover (1997) - One of the most infamous fanfics in the history of the Internet, this story has to be read to be believed. Meet Oscar, a self-insert 13 year old Peruvian with both male and female genitalia, who is in love with, and stalker to Artemis, one of the talking cats from Sailor Moon. The two eventually meet up, and well…...this is a lemon. You’ve been warned. If you are interested in reading about the further adventures of Oscar, he returns and takes on the Looney Toons gang in Oscar Toon (1998). --MSTings by Megane 6.7
*WARNING* BOTH STORIES CONTAIN GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT
Transitions (1997) and R*P*M* (1998) - The definitive author in this style was certainly Megane 6.7 and the two fics above were riffed by him. Included here are two more. In Transitions, an evil Joel on the Satellite of Hate riffs a good fic instead of a bad one, and in R*P*M* the Sailor Scouts team up in the loosest sense of the term with an American cop to fight a bad guy from the Spawn universe. -- MSTings by Megane 6.7
*WARNING* THE LATTER FIC INVOLVES MATURE CONTENT
The Mihoshi Incident (1997) - Mike and the Bots are joined on the SOL by a couple of anime characters to riff on a Tenchi Muyo/TNG crossover in this pseudo-non standard MSTing. -- MSTing by Timothy McLees and Jamie Jeans
As mentioned previously, as time went on and the MSTing community grew more complex, it became more and more common to see characters besides the MST3K cast tortured by reading bad fanfiction.
Better the Devil You Know (1994) - Believed to be the first non-standard MSTing produced, this work partly written by Kate Wrightson features ... Kate Wrightson joining Mike and the Bots in the riffing of a bad X-Files fic. -- MSTing by Richard Burton and Kate Wrightson
Shadows in the Mist (1997) - In an interesting reversal to the idea of a non-standard MST, this one features the cast of Voyager riffing on a MST3K fanfic. -- MSTing by Melvin Pollack
Expanding Negaverse (1998) - Believe it or not, but one of the most popular casts for a non-standard MST was the Space Ghost cast. And they were actually all pretty funny! In this one, Brak, Zorak and Space Ghost take on a Darkwing Duck ‘fic that’s actually not that bad, but it introduces a new character into the universe, so there’s always room to poke fun. -- MSTing by Bryan Lambert
A Baby Story (1998), A Darkwing Christmas Carol (1998), Interview with the Mouse (1998), Target: Buttercup (2000) - The most prolific and highly regarded Space Ghost MSTing author (or hell, MSTing author overall) was one Jen White. Ms. White mostly focused on shorter stories to riff, and mostly ones that were based on cartoons from the 90’s. Here is just a small selection of her works. -- MSTings by Jen White
The Mobius Chronicles #1 #2 and #3 (1998) - In addition to text MSTings, Jen White also dabbled in something that has never been tried before or since: a visual MSTing. Taking on an infamously bad Sonic the Hedgehog fan webcomic Jen White had the Space Ghost cast show up again, but this time in those familiar silhouettes that MSTies everywhere know and love. -- MSTings by Jen White
Name of the Game (1999) and The Adventures of goblins, talk showhost, bugaloos, witchie-poos and golden flutes named freddy in the labrynth (1999) - One of the most detailed non-standard MSTing series was “Pearl and the Girls,” which featured Pearl, Gypsy, Magic Voice, and a dragon named Scratch getting stuck on the SOL and riffing on a variety of targets themselves. Only 5 MSTings long, I’ve included the third and fifth entries on this list, the two which are generally regarded as the best. -- MSTings by Brendan Herlihy and Brendan Herlihy and Steve Weinberg respectively
Shinra’s Revenge (2000) - Over time, the casts of non-standard MSTings became larger and more diverse, such as this one which features a variety of video game and anime characters riffing on a silly Final Fantasy fanfic whose plot prominently features creamed corn wrestling. -- MSTing by RJak
*WARNING* CONTAINS CRUDE “HUMOR” THROUGHOUT
AVALANCHE Vs. Sailor Moon (2001) - A more complex continuation of the above, this work features the casts of three different non-standard MSTing series, all teaming up to riff on another silly video game/anime crossover, which this time features characters who fly by, um, farting. *WARNING* CONTAINS CRUDE “HUMOR” THROUGHOUT
Most of the MSTings listed so far have been of a minimal or, at worst, average length. The next ones however, veer more towards the lengthy side of things. I would not recommend jumping right in with one of these, but now that you’ve gotten your feet wet, it’s time to dive in with some of these classics.
Blood and Metal (1998) - David Gonterman returns in this Sonic the Hedgehog epic, as a brand new character and author avatar named David Kintobor joins the Freedom Fighters in their fight against the evil Robotnik, and well, I think you know the rest by now. -- MSTing by Shay Caron
Legend of the Red Eye Pentology (1998) - The Freedom Fighters aren’t the only cartoon rebels who have to suffer through the introduction of a new addition to their ranks. In this long story, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fall victim to the same fate. -- MSTing by Amanda Flowers and Matt Blackwell
Chaos Race (1998) - The Freedom Fighters show up to save the day once again in this one, after Knuckles loses possession of the Chaos Emeralds and the Floating Continent appears in danger of crashing into the world below. Everyone must split up in order to find them each Chaos Emerald and return the Continent to its heavenly position and while some diversions in this story are fun, some are...not so much. -- MSTing edited by John Berry
Under the Bridge (1998) - Who knew the world of Rescue Rangers fanfiction was filled with so much angst? This is actually one of the better written fanfics ever MSTed, but it’s an angsty Rescue Rangers fanfic featuring long lost siblings and convoluted descriptions of technology. There's no way that's not gonna be riffed. If you are interested in more MSTings of angsty Rescue Rangers fics, also take a look at The Dark Savior Saga (1999). -- Both MSTings by John Nowak and Matt Plotecher
A sorceror, A demon, and Emeralds (1998) - The largest MSTing ever completed at the time of its release, this non-standard epic features a bunch of wrestlers riffing on a darkfic where Sonic the Hedgehog goes evil and rules Mobius with an iron fist. -- MSTing by Alicia Ashby, Jamie Jeans and Justin Golden
*WARNING* CONTAINS MATURE LANGUAGE AND VIOLENT SCENES THROUGHOUT
Stolen Memories (1999) - In a sick bit of irony, this MSTing was originally posted on Valentine’s Day, and it documents, in graphic detail, the sexual awakening and eventual torment of a teenage Julian Bashir (of Deep Space Nine), by the members of an alien race of catpeople. -- MSTing edited by Michael ‘Rottweiler’ Wallen, Matt Blackwell and Anateus Feldspar
*WARNING* CONTAINS GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT INCLUDING SCENES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Dr. Minotaur and the Plight of the Utaalk (1999) - Jen White and the Space Ghost team returned for this epic about the titular character and his quest to do...something in a weird original universe with weird poorly defined original characters.* -- MSTing by Jen White
*Note: This MSTing only exists in partial fragments on the Wayback Machine. If anyone has a complete copy, please let me know.
The Misery Senshi Neo-Zero Double Blitzkrieg Debacle (2000) - Well, here it is folks. The largest MSTing ever completed, 1.3 MB of text, generally considered the best MSTing ever written, and the first part of a trilogy of MSTings of Peter Guerin’s work. Daria takes on Sailor Mercury’s powers while the latter attends med school in this crossover written in the style of a Tom Clancy technothriller. Features two separate appendices full of mind numbing information for which no one asked. -- MSTing by Matt Blackwell, Tyler Dion, Douglas Gale, Brendan Herlihy, Bill Livingston, Eric Schepers, Harold Tessman III, Rebo Valence, and Valeria
*WARNING* CONTAINS BRIEF INSTANCES OF ADULT CONTENT THROUGHOUT
The Return of the Lawndale Militia (2001) - This follow up to the work mentioned above is much smaller in scale, but in case you were looking for more obscure trivia to put you to sleep, don’t worry, this time it is peppered throughout in a series of delightful annotations. -- MSTing by Alex Gariepy, Bill Livingston, Brendan Herlihy, Anateus Feldspar, Matt Blackwell, Rebo Valence, and Abigail Springman
*WARNING* CONTAINS BRIEF INSTANCES OF ADULT CONTENT THROUGHOUT
The Triumph of the Retart (2001) - Things come to an end for Guerin with this story, a straight Daria fanfic, which somehow manages to be the most unrealistic one of all. When barely disguised author avatar and ADD sufferer David McAllister moves to town and runs for Student Council President, Daria gets caught up in a fight for equality, and also falls in love. -- MSTing edited by Matt Blackwell
*WARNING* CONTAINS BRIEF INSTANCES OF ADULT CONTENT THROUGHOUT, AS WELL AS A GRAPHIC SEX SCENE
-If you are interested in more MSTings of Daria fanfiction, also take a look at The Jane’s Crisis Tetralogy (2002). Not epic in scope, but it’s pretty great and I have nowhere else to put it. -- MSTing by Brendan Herlihy
*WARNING* CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT AND SCENES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE
Tom Swift and his War Tank (2001) - This entry in the Tom Swift boys’ adventure series is in the public domain, and thank God for that, because it allowed this MSTing to be written. The novel being riffed was intended to double as propaganda during World War I, and in a sick twist of fate the MSTing itself would be released only weeks after the events of 9/11, giving its exhortations of jingoism an added resonance. -- MSTing by John Nowak and Matt Plotecher
2003 And Onwards
As mentioned earlier, the collapse of Web Site #9 marked the end of any large centralized MSTing community, as well as the principal source of publication for most MSTers. Most works published afterwards were of a smaller, more limited scale, but there were still some larger scale works that were being worked on at the time the site went down, and which were posted online in the immediate aftermath.
Among them were two Lord of the Rings fanfics, which approach the franchise from two different, but equally poorly written angles. In A Brother, Captain, and King (2003), Aragon and Boromir's relationship is graphically consummated, while in Legolas, Back to the Future (2003-2004) a freak lightning storm transports Legolas from Middle Earth to the bedroom of a teenage girl, with all the suburban mundanity that would imply.--- MSTings by Dreelyn and Juliet Youngren and edited by River City Random and Typewriter Monkey respectively
*WARNING* FIRST MSTING CONTAINS GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT
That's not to imply that these works mark the end of conventional MSTings. Far from it. Short MSTings by Bill Livingston and Joseph Nebus, amongst others, have popped up on USENET over the past decade and a half. Prolific MSTers Megane 6.7 and Zoogz have continued to work on MSTings over these years as well, hosted on their website A MSTing for All Seasons, with some of their recent work found here.
Of course there have always been MSTing communities that operated outside of traditional pillars such as Web Site #9 and SVAM as well. One notable such group was Mystery Octagon Theater, a collaborative MSTing project wherein MSTings were worked on by a larger than normal team of authors, who would use various avatars and characters that they had created to riff mostly video game inspired fanfics. An archive of their works can be found here. ImproFicRoast was another similar group inspired by MOT, and their works can be found here.
There is also, of course, the online practice known as "sporking." While bearing many obvious similarities to MSTings, this practice appears to have evolved separately. Its roots feel planted moreso in the culture of "general" fandom, rather than evolving directly from the works listed here on this page. They were an influence on some, I'm sure, but the connection seems more tenuous.
And that, as they say, is that. With this site, I have attempted to document a certain tradition or set of traditions as best I can, and by excluding anyone from this write up I don't seek to denigrate them or their writing. Ultimately, some of the people and groups working in isolation have flown in under the radar. If there's any hidden classics lurking in the nooks and crannies of the Internet, I am eager and open to finding them and sharing them with you all.
I’d like to give thanks to the following people/entities…
...Keith Palmer, whose site The MSTing Mine helped preserve MSTing history after the collapse of WS#9, and which also proved to be an invaluable source of material for this site.
...Google Groups, whose USENET archives have been indispensable for this project.
...Tim McLees, whose site Everything What is Crap neé Shinji’s Vault of Anime MSTings provided the source material for many text files on this site, and which also remains the largest current archive of hosted MSTings.
...Matt Blackwell, whose Stephen Ratliff MSTing Archive was a great source for MSTings of the aforementioned author’s stories, as well as for Mr. Blackwell’s own indomitable body of work. He was also able to provide copies of several unrelated works I had previously thought lost.
...Archive.org and The Wayback Machine for recovering some of the above works.
...Joseph Nebus for providing me with a copy of my first completed MSTing.
...Eric Burns for writing “MST3K SUX!” the first MSTing to be posted.
...Michael K. Neylon. Despite the way that things ended, Web Site # 9 was the center of MSTing culture for many years. That can never be erased. Mr Neylon, if you’re still out there, I know that there’s no response that will please everyone, but please, if there are any WS#9 files that remain, let us know.
...and finally, to all the MSTing authors whose work is listed above. This could never have been done without you.
Contact: If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. The email addresses I used to reach out to most of the authors above were not....recent, to say the least. I'm also interested in hosting any new MSTings that might be produced, so if you have any, feel free to send them my way as well.