SCP Review: SCP-1000
Culture & Community
by Lack of Lepers
Editor's Note: This article contains spoilers for SCP-1000.
SCP's 7000 contest is upon us.
In celebration and revelry of this now-yearly but still exciting time, we here at Confic Magazine will be analyzing and reviewing each past "K-Con" winner. We'll do this each week for the next month. A few weeks in there will feature unrelated posts, such as our own winner, of INDIECON (see details at the end of the article). We will take a look at the past K-Con winners in chronological order, and will cover all by the time our new one, SCP-7000, is announced on August 29th.
Without further ado, let's look into SCP-1000 "Bigfoot". There will be two sections: one is titled "Objective" which deals with facts about the article; the next will be "Subjective" and will detail the author's analysis and review.
Word Count: ~1,996
Estimated Read Time: ~15 min
Posted: 2011-08-03 06:32
Rating: +1693 (+1787 / -94)
Contributor rating: 275 (+295 / -20)
Adjusted rating: 468 (+486 / -20)
Tags: 1000, alive, children-of-the-night, featured, historical, humanoid, k-class-scenario, keter, sapient, scp, sentient, serpents-hand, species, uncontained
SCP-1000 is a moderately long article, particularly for its time. The current containment procedures are brief, comprising of two paragraphs. Most of its mass exists in the description and addendum "Document Alpha-1596-1000: Missive from Director Jones". The article features crosslinks to The Serpent's Hand, SCP-2000, various Series III articles, and relevant tales. It established the tag "children of the night" — an informal name for SCP-1000's species.
Believe it or not, the current SCP-1000 was not the first in its slot on the SCP Wiki. As far back as late 2008, doubtless a time of lawlessness, the slot was occupied. At some point, this entry was culled, leaving the coveted slot available for the SCP Wiki's first K-Con.
The article that we know as SCP-1000 was written by WikiDot user, SCP author, and retired SCP Wiki administrator thedeadlymoose. It was thedeadlymoose's first SCP that wasn't a rewrite effort. It has been translated into 15 different languages.
SCP-1000 has undergone numerous changes over the years. Early versions portrayed humans in SCP-1000's zoos, or as pets. The term "amnesiacs" was replaced with "amnestics", and a use of "both genders" has been changed to "both sexes". A collapsible section towards the end of the article title "Ancillary Anomaly Reports" was added six years later to accommodate crosslinks, mainly to SCP-2000 and Series III articles.
Most infamously, the original picture was changed in May 2020 so as to be Creative Commons compliant. SCP-1000's original image was a frame from the 1967 Patterson-Gilmlin film footage, the epicenter of the Bigfoot hoax. (The caption of the original version was also changed to remove a reference to "unverified amateur Patterson footage".)
Early criticism of the article was around its similarity to Planet of the Apes "except with humans in the place of apes". The novelty of giving a pseudo-scientific explanation of Bigfoot was championed, as was the writing quality of the article.
In its original format, the conprocs and description were much shorter, with most of the information in the large addendum titled "Document Alpha-1596-1000: Missive from Director Jones". It was criticized for its then-polemicizing formatting; the data presentation was said to be too prose-esque, and that it made up too much of the article. Things were in the addendum that should maybe be in the description; this meant to many that the SCP entry did not abide enough to the strict, clinical format. As such, early reviewers felt as though the article — get a load of this — was essentially a tale masquerading as an SCP entry. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] The author made some concessions and removed portions from the addendum, adding them to the description proper, quelling some of these criticisms.
In 2017, the author — still tweaking the work to their satisfaction — would experiment "with reducing a little bit of clutter... cutting down some sentences to try to work more with implication than direct statements."
Editor's Note: It is interesting to see voting trends and norms change as well: one downvoter noted simply "sorry this is just to far out for me, downvoted"; and an upvoter commented "Bigfoot as SCP-1000 feels right, dammit." In the modern view, this upvote would not be allowed and disqualified as legitimate, as of the 6K contest's rules!
You can read more about the SCP-1000 statistics and the SCP-1000 contest here.
To begin to understand and approach SCP-1000, one has to know the premise of the contest that it won. The SCP-1000 contest's theme was "Folktales and/or Urban Legends". As such, the contest was populated by the most eerie, obscure, and odd elements within reach; white dogs, the green man, extraterrestrials, vampires, roving immaterial serial killers etc. On its face, the idea of the thoroughly-hoaxed "Bigfoot" probably resulted in some auto-eyerolls. And yet the effect of this article is surprising, even today. We'll look into how it achieves this, but the short answer is: skillful structural misdirection and effective worldbuilding. The result is a paradigm shift in how authors write and conceptualize SCPs, as well as the Foundation itself.
The containment procedures of SCP-1000 are directed, commanding, absolute, and foreboding. These do a good job of pulling the reader in, with such hooks as "Alleged sightings of SCP-1000 must always be investigated by MTF Zeta-1000, however trivial the claim." There is a note of near-panic in these procedures; the Foundation seems intent on controlling every aspect — even the slightest — of this anomaly and its potential interaction with the world at large. The designation of Keter implies a Series-I-esque auto-stake elevation, and a degree of complexity that would suggest these procedures are not as iron-clad as the Foundation always would like.
The absoluteness of the conprocs here seem to attempt compensation for that insecurity, foreshadowing the article's deeper emotional landscape that will become apparent in time. In a structurally brilliant move, these conprocs are one of many moments in this article (another being "Addendum 1000-466-X") glimpsing into the stack-overflow of the Foundation's false front back into the raw truth. That is to say, at multiple points in the read, the statements are as emotive and valid, whether interpreting the article on its surface, or from the perspective of replay value, after the central misdirection of this article has been enacted. It's a great joy to see these moments flash by the in-universe Foundation with a bit of unintentional transparency.
The description has the cold and hyper-scientific tone of early SCP articles, with mesmerizing specificity and classic Foundation investigational competency. The anomaly construction here is subtle, but profound — not only is this a quasi-modern variant of Homo sapiens, but our very diurnal and existential inverse, occupying the night opposite of humanity's day life. The author writes later, SCP-1000 are "our nocturnal siblings in the shadows."
This quickly and easily levers a versatile payload of emotions and setting; we often associate fear (especially fear of the unknown) with the darkness, and — to repurpose a rather overused line from pop culture — humans merely adapted to the darkness, SCP-1000 maybe was born in it and molded by it. It immediately makes a lot of sense that species competing with Homo sapiens would relegate themselves to the night, as an ecological niche to specialize in. Something about that is deeply unnerving. SCP-1000 is in its element when most of us are helplessly inactive.
The description trails off with some added demographical data, as well as an unlabeled discovery components, and finally with a road block noting that further information is restricted to higher clearance levels.
I love the procedural maturity and stewardship communicated in the next section, "Addendum 1000-466-X", where the Foundation backs off using "Procedure 516-Lumina" so that SCP-1000 don't get used to it, and thus render it an ineffective defense to SCP-1000's advance. The analogy I have is with antibiotic use; over-prescription and over-use of antibiotics encourages permanent bacterial resistance, or the creation of "superbugs". Antibiotic use needs to be judicious, so that these drugs can retain efficacy when needed. (This is why your doctor may not prescribe you antibiotics for your viral infection, despite your insistence!) It's nice to see such subtlety in the Foundation; that for all their power and resources, they still need to exercise this smart caution.
Next, a page brake in the format indicates an inversion of the article's entirety up to this point. It is almost literally the visualization of the major crease within the narrative and construction. A rudimentary header warns we are at Level 3 clearance, and casts the ubiquitous and omnipresent "Director Jones", presumably of later "Maria Jones" fame. This is the moment that the article converted most critics and became SCP-1000.
The most pointed inversion at this portion is the tone. We switch immediately from a hyper-clinical strictness to a loose, almost stream-of-consciousness story. The delivery is highly informal, something that early critics — so newlywed to its defining format in the rigidity of the early genre — would dislike. However, the delivery, depth, and skill of the storytelling here has a rustic charm to it that would win over most critics (at least, most who were critical for this reason). There is a camp-fire-story-like pull to this portion of the article, that brings the reader in to an intimacy starkly contrasted to the removed archaeology of the document, as it was before. You can almost feel the warmth, hear the logs crack, and maybe even the rustle of something well-adapted to the night; something big.
According to the discussion page, this moment is where the article transitioned from slightly-bumpy rolling to airborne fluency. The narrator of this portion tells us that we as readers have been lied to, but for our — or someone's, or something's — own good.
The misdirection reveals itself to be everywhere. It's in the intelligence ascribed to SCP-1000. The last line in the first paragraph of the description reads that they are equally intelligent to chimpanzees, and yet, the reveal notes their technological mastery of their environment, and stinger of the article ascends this into full-fledged written communication. Furthermore, the document suggests that SCP-1000 are/were perhaps more intelligent that humans, certainly at their special apex, while humans sat dully by "[blinking] in the Pleistocene sun". Upon new information as to the true nature of SCP-1000, their command of technology seems to be thoroughly incorporated and communal with the nature around them, as opposed to ours, which so often takes a destructive posture. Also, the "pseudo-disease" as an ancestral cognitohazard or memetic kill agent is an outright lie, designed to discourage insight into the true nature of SCP-1000 within the Foundation. This are some novel levels of dishonesty on the part of the Foundation, in the name of ethical utility... or so at least they believe.
The weaknesses of the article include a somewhat heavy-handed delivery of the set-up documentation. As with many two-tone articles that attempt to break the ankles of the readers, there isn't enough ambiguity introduced in the false documentation to arouse the suspicion of the reader. We are led hand-in-hand to a cliff, only to note we have already fallen off. This makes for character disorientation, tonal confusion, and architectural whiplash that can feel unsatisfying; as if the act of writing hit a dead end and suddenly recalculated its course. A tricky hazard of this style of presentation is that you risk alienating the audience, in that you have essentially been lying to them and possibly wasting their time with the first half of the set-up. Such an article had better have good reasons for this, and have an excellent payoff.
Additionally, some small components must be extended towards with notable strain in order to set them graciously in the in-universe delivery of the article. For example, there are numerous redactions and blackboxes in the false documentation. With the benefit of hindsight, these do not make much sense, except if we elbow some room for the justification that the Foundation is trying to seem as believable as possible to its misinformed personnel — and that the faux redactions help give this impression. Then again, some of these redactions — such as "an ██-class end of the world scenario with a minimum death toll of [REDACTED] and possible extinction of humanity" — both read out of place with this attempt, and don't make much sense anyway; if the death toll here is so bad that humanity would possibly be extinct, what is the point of redacting the actual number?
Also, the author had to clearly struggle with the source material in places. For example, what is to explain the fact that no science or casual discovery in the entire history of humanity ever came across remnants of these "vast shining cities, stretching across glaciers and penetrating the deepest caverns" housing some tens-of-billions of SCP-1000 instances? How could nothing of this vestigial culture been preserved, except for what the Foundation understands? These are treated with a thin handwave, the author stating matter-of-factly that:
"We left no traces. Not even our own memory. We turned one of the weapons on ourselves, wiped out any knowledge of SCP-1000 and the greatest civilization the planet had ever seen. Only a few humans protected themselves from the effect, kept the forbidden knowledge, just in case. The rest of us went back to being hunter-gatherers, none the wiser."
There is a large surface area of middle ground that is leaped over here, though acrobatically. This is surely an odd decision on the part of the ascending humanity and a rare moment of turbulence in the writing that seems to bash the control panel in order to regain tight steering. Again, we have to just sort of shrug into existence the fact that SCP-1000 instances can speak and write in English. But honestly, these treatments may be the best that are available to the author here, are are not enough concern to weigh the article down.
In honesty, I believe that the newer additions in the collapsible titled "Ancillary Anomaly Reports" weaken the article. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time — to give the article a coat of fresh paint so to speak, by crosslinking it to the new generation of articles (Series III at the time). But this comes off today as out of place (why do sequalae of SCP-1000 seem to be so highly concentrated in only Series III articles?). The crosslink to SCP-2000 also feels very contrived, perhaps a failed initiation of tradition linking K-Con winners in some sort of lore chain. As with most, similar contrivances, these potential connections are better left unsaid and as enchanting "what-ifs", perfectly at home in pure headcannon.
But the article works well despite all this, partly in how it leans into its own weaknesses with such abandon. The lines "Yes. SCP-1000 is Bigfoot" (originally flipped as "Yes. Bigfoot is SCP-1000."), and "Are we gonna capture and contain Batboy next?", and "I'm sure you've snickered" take the momentum of the aforementioned eyeroll and Judo-throws it into submission. Everything that had prior been fighting a suspension of disbelief is now enveloped and repurposed by an experience of storytelling that meets those readers halfway; in some cases more than halfway.
It does this by a spectacular display of footwork: "You think Bigfoot is funny because we want you to think Bigfoot is funny." Suddenly, the humor is re-contextualized, re-shaded, and reoriented totally into a horrific direction that absolves most if not all of the topical hesitations an article about a hoax monkey almost inherently has working against it. This I think, perhaps above any achievement of the article, is its most profound legacy. It is likely one of the best examples on the SCP Wiki of retconning pre-existing cultural lore and mythology firmly into the Foundationverse.
But the retconning of an IRL fiction into an in-universe fiction, dictated by an impossibly clever Foundation to cover a more disturbing truth, was a curve that few saw coming, but that after, no one lost sight of.
Another compositional flourish is the impregnation of this process of de-mythicization with the creation of more myth, here in the form of "a trickster forest god" who was pivotal for humanity's ascendancy to the "SK-class dominance shift in which humanity became the dominant species on the Earth", the "The Children of the Night", and "The Day of Flowers". It seems as though for as much mystery and larger-than-life emotions the author is deconstructing, the article is repleted with an equivalent placement of new wonder, of newly minted lore.
The ethics of this document are likewise deep. Humanity not only dominated a whole species to the point of extinction, but we purportedly made them much dumber in the process, and relegated them to the status of refugees from a genocide. Can you imagine the perspective of the few surviving Children of the Night? To see your whole civilization brought to ruins, and those who did it simply erasing their memory of it, with nothing even left as a monument, not even the consolation of a memory in your destroyers?
The article tactfully uses "the other" to hold up a mirror to our own humanity, or lack thereof, as if to say we are no better than how we treat things we wrongly believe ourselves disconnected from. The author delivers this in some perverted form of homerism horror that we can't help but want to be on the winning, gruesome side of: "Yes. SCP-1000 are just like us. That's what makes them so dangerous." It is an astounding feat to take the theme of the SCP-1000 contest, work with something so far-removed from ourselves as non-fictional things, and draw out psychological threads which we are startled to recognize connect us to those distant, fictional things.
Most readers who were not swept off their feet by the Level 3 missive state that they were won over at the last quote box, which ends the article. The cruelty of the Foundation is here contrasted to the almost impossible spiritual maturity communicated from some surviving SCP-1000 instances. These instances begin their communication by forgiving the Foundation for what it did to them and their ancestors. It seems the traditions of this eviscerated culture have not let go of its knowledge after all. For all the strength in such a move, the survivors are quick to let us know that this diplomatic extension has an expiry date. The luxury of co-existence and cooperation will not be on the table forever. This turns up the gas to maximum, and the tension that had been bubbling reaches a boiling point.
It is a masterful move to end the article at this moment. There are serious underdog tones here, something that always makes for a great story (or a great cliffhanger to a great story). We as readers know that the Foundation understands what the Children of the Night are capable of, and that truly, they were better at it than we are, and first. All things considered, the roles should probably be reversed. The Foundation should in all historical probability be operated by SCP-1000, and dominate this planet, rightfully. And yet that has been the anomaly in ways; it has been artificially interrupted, with an atomic payload of anxiety as humanity's consequence. (This point is my personal Q.E.D. to those early critics who faulted it for being too similar to the Planet of the Apes; SCP-1000 is a step beyond it.)
The article ends on this sudden staccato of emotional delivery, the implications hanging in the air like a chilling howl reverberating in the thick of the night.
All in all, SCP-1000 is a very complex and dense article that offers numerous entry points, and courses them into structural and emotional innovations. It incontrovertibly changed writing on the SCP Wiki, surely in its novelty as the first K-Con winner, but particularly in its sense and scale of in-universe operational scope. Of these changes, a fellow critical analyst remarks:
"[SCP-1000] is probably the largest scale article of its time... you can point at it as the almost certain critical event that gradually changes the small Foundation of Series I into the big Foundation of Series III and later. It also solidifies the partly deconstructive approach toward urban legends and conspiracies."
There are likely few possible worlds that feature a better SCP-1000 winner. It is a fine model for future K-Con winners to emulate and strive for the cultural effect and importance of. As one commentor put it in near-disbelief: "You managed. To make Bigfoot. Scary."
© Lack of Lepers
© Confic Magazine
Tune in for the month of July and August for additional articles about past K-Con winners! Next installment is SCP-2000!
Also, be on the lookout for Confic Magazine's very own contest winner! INDIECON is the first independent containment fiction contest. Article submissions end today 7/7/2022 (email: email@example.com), voting will begin tomorrow (in the SCF Discord), and a winner will be announced July 16th. The winning article will be posted as the weekly post the week of July 17th. Runner-up entries will be made available as well.