Industrial Zone is a long running furry Web Serial Novel series written by a user known as Iron-K; it's been published on a few websites over the years, but the main host for all the stories is now here. The main series is based on adventure-based game shows that were popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, starring furry characters instead of humans. Each story takes the form of an episode of a TV show called (unsurprisingly) Industrial Zone. It's become the norm for each story to be released over the course of about a year in six instalments.
Each episode stars four college-age furry contestants who are led around a huge immersive TV studio by the vulpine presenter, Alex. The set is divided into four main areas in a setup based loosely on The Crystal Maze. Each instalment covers one of the four areas, where the contestants normally take it in turns to complete a particular task in order to earn points. Failure to complete the task usually results in the furry character being engulfed in huge quantities of gunge, which is the other main element of the show.
Strictly speaking, being slimed should be treated as a punishment, but although all the characters react slightly differently, nobody seems to hate being gunged on the show, although given that all the characters all know what they're getting into this is hardly surprising.
For this reason, the stories are very popular both with the furry fandom and the Wet and Messy community, and yet have managed to remain lighthearted despite these two fetishes having a very high proportion of trolling within their communities. It's also generally free of adult material (again surprising, given the fetishes involved), although there have been a few exceptions in the main series and spinoff stories covering the lives of individual contestants outside the show are often more adult in nature.
As of 2011, there have been seven stories. The first four stories are set during episodes of the show's second season where the Industrial Zone was a giant space station and the contestants were trying to shut down a renegade computer. The most recent three have been set during the third season, where the space station has been replaced with a giant underwater lab. The undersea setting is largely just an excuse to increase the amount of gunge that gets thrown around on the show to a ridiculous quantity, and in one episode they actually lampshade how much time is spent making the slime in the first place. The show's own story has changed to purifying some "transformed water", though as with the second season, the story is deliberately pretty much irrelevant to the contestants who focus on the game itself and getting slimed.
In recent episodes, an additional instalment has been inserted between rounds 2 and 3, where a guest character is interviewed by Alex in a gunge tank. The guest then tries to avoid getting slimed (with obvious results).
Instalments are quite long (usually around 20,000 words each), so the publishing schedule is quite irregular, but the stories have a loyal following and its managed to keep going despite its distinctly niche appeal.
This series provides examples of:
- British English: The slime is usually referred to as gunge.
- Continuity Nod: Two big examples in the main series:
- The main character of Episode 1, Gwen, returns in Episode 4 to try out the shows latest gunge tank.
- Alexs girlfriend, a lizard girl called Blue, is on the shows production team and reappears toward the end of Episode 6; the tables are turned on Alex.
- Covered in Gunge: Pretty much the entire point of the show (and even the story).
- Thick slime of various colors is used as the main forfeit for losing a game.
- Early stories would occasionally use food, but starting with the third episode, this has been replaced with pie foam, thick cream of the kind thats usually used on pies.
- Fanservice: The shows uniform usually consists of swim shorts for male contestants and a bikini for female contestants, though more conservative options like a T-shirt and shorts are available.
- Furry Fandom: The other main point of the show.
- Pie in the Face: Surprisingly, given the shows reliance on mess, nobody actually gets a pie in the face, though this did happen to the characters from the first episode in a side story written by collaborating author.
- Rule 34: Not many canon examples, but they do exist.
- The first episode had Gwen, the dragon girl, who fell at the extreme end of enjoying getting covered in gunge. In the original version of the first episode she liked it so much that during one gunging that was unseen by the rest of the cast, she took off all her clothes and got a happy ending from the gunge. This was changed in later editions so she no longer had A Date with Rosie Palms. She still takes off her clothes though.
- Gwen returns in a spinoff story where she watches herself on the show with her boyfriend, and after confessing to him that getting slimed turned her on, the two of them decided to forgo the Saturday night movie and go straight to bed . . .
- The first episode also makes reference to contestants losing clothing to avoid the gunge, though the 'clothing penalties' are extremely rare, always optional, and continue to get rarer as the series continues.
- Additionally, the first episode references that sometimes they boobytrap the showers to gunge contestants while in the shower, but this has only happened once in the stories.
- Shout-Out: The title (and in more general terms, the entire concept of the programme) came from the real-life game show The Crystal Maze. Many of the rounds played on the show are adaptations of games from it or other British shows.
- Spin-Off: Several other shows set in the same universe have been written about. All of which involve gunge and variations on 1990s British TV shows.
- More recently fans of the series have begun to add their own additions to the IZ canon, a lot of it one-shot with at least one planned spin-off series - Backstage Crew.
- Not really spin-offs as such, but in between chapters of the main story the author will write installments of 'Saturday IZ' which is presented as a segment within another television show (on Saturday obviously).