Time has a lengthy article on fan fiction by Lev Grossman. The hook is Harry Potter, but it’s actually a pretty good overview of the phenomenon as a whole, from Muncle and Trek. I particularly like this bit:
Fan fiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.
I particularly love Grossman’s explanation of fanfic as a conversation, because it captures all the aspects. There’s doing it for the sheer love of the original work, but there’s also a great deal that comes from disappointment with what’s being offered by the creators (or, in our case, some of their hirelings.) Much of the fic in our own archive – they’re pretty much antiques at this point – came not only from love of Star Wars, but also frustration with what was being offered by the official sources – one author in particular, but if there’s one thing I won’t deny, it’s that the quality of the Expanded Universe, as it pertains to certain favorite characters, has always been a mixed bag. (And hell, I’d rather see someone put all their fannish angst into a fanfic than endlessly complaining about it on blogs and forums. At least it’s actually productive.)
Anyway, the article: Grossman even references sex pollen. Now that’s research.
3 Replies to “Time targets the wild world of fan fiction”
A great article Dunc. I just blogged it myself. Like you, I especially appreciate the observation that fan fic is a conversation among fans, and between writers and readers and reviewers and betas. There is an enormous bonding experience that comes from it
Towards the end it occured to me that it didn’t mention Mary Sues. Which is ok!
Wow, if this is for this week’s (the undelivered one) I may not have to toss Time right in the bin.
I think a big part of a lot of fic is filling a niche the author/creators have left. I don’t think Studio Foglio realizes there’s apparently a market/fandom for the character Wooster (besides me; they know about “Wooster’s fangirl” but I was apparently enough of a novelty to get gently teased about it) but I got a huge response (for Girl Genius fandom sizes) doing a fic/James Bond pastiche with him. Proportionally, bigger than I ever got for Star Wars fic (and there are still people favoriting those stories despite no updates for, oh, ten years running.) There are TONS of stories about the Jaeger “boyz”, who’ve dropped out of the current story run for several months. Vanamonde the senechal has a following. And while there’s some largely Rule 34 stuff about the main characters, there just isn’t much about the principles because we already GET that stuff. The richer the world, the less time the authors have to spend on the secondary and tertiary characters but the more fans want to hear about them. So we provide it.
I have to admit, the closer I get to publishing the more I get the unease some authors have about fan fic, but besides that I’d be a terrible hypocrite to say “Don’t touch”, it’s kind of a lot of the fun.
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