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retcon /ret'kon/ [short for `retroactive continuity',
from the Usenet newsgroup rec.arts.comics] 1. /n./ The common
situation in pulp fiction (esp. comics or soap operas) where a
new story `reveals' things about events in previous stories,
usually leaving the `facts' the same (thus preserving
continuity) while completely changing their interpretation. For
example, revealing that a whole season of "Dallas" was a
dream was a retcon. 2. /vt./ To write such a story about a
or fictitious object. "Byrne has retconned Superman's cape so
that it is no longer unbreakable." "Marvelman's old adventures
were retconned into synthetic dreams." "Swamp Thing was
retconned from a transformed person into a sentient vegetable."
"Darth Vader was retconned into Luke Skywalker's father in
"The Empire Strikes Back".
[This term is included because it is a good example of hackish
linguistic innovation in a field completely unrelated to computers.
The word `retcon' will probably spread through comics fandom and
lose its association with hackerdom within a couple of years; for
the record, it started here. --ESR]
[1993 update: some comics fans on the net now claim that retcon was
independently in use in comics fandom before rec.arts.comics.
In lexicography, nothing is ever simple. --ESR]
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