Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fan Fiction...or how I learned to stop worrying about the bomb and alan dean foster

Do a google for fan fiction and you will find that even now Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin live on. You'll blush at the further adventures of Buffy. You'll thrill to the ongoing adventures of the Jed, Granny, Jethro and Ellie May; the Professor and Mary Ann; and my favorite FBI agents: Fox and Scully.

The first impulse is to turn snobbish, but I can't. These fans churning out their pastiches are expressing themselves. They're keeping alive some of the most endearing characters given us by the glass teat.

However, if you insist on raising your nose, then you'll have to raise your nose at the beloved James Blish (who entertained fan fiction and who I believe was responsible for helping keep Star Trek alive long after most people had relegated it to a long dead curiousity). You'll have to turn away from all those Star Wars fans who kept the franchise alive. You'll have to shun the memory of Alan Dean Foster, who immediately after Star Wars wrote the continuing adventures of Darth Vader in "Splinter In The Mind's Eye" and showed that Luke and Hans continued to face the evil empire. You'll also have to shun the likes of the charismatic Harry Whittington, who pounded out a few Man From UNCLE novels.

People want to reimagine their favorite characters and to relive moments that have given them some joy. I say good. Go ahead...write the further adventures of Columbo. Keep alive self important wit of Maxwell Smart. Give us more days in the life of Jack Bauer. Copyright violation? Maybe. But you can't copyright love.

Quite frankly, I would love to write a James Bond novel. If there's anyone out there from Glidrose reading this, or Eon Productions, feel free to contact me. Hell, I've even thought of the opening line:

"He raised an eyebrow at her and smiled rakishly. "I don't believe we've met. My name's Bond. James Bond."


William Jones said...


I'm not looking at how to make money on your blog -- I just generally look around for that.

However, I do agree that many readers and writers look down their noses at fan fiction and shared worlds books. At the same time, as you pointed out, many notable authors do produce such material. Like all things, such a business has its ups and downs. Lack of control by the author, readers who often know more about the universe than the writer. And those convention panels were film and books and games collide.

But having the chance to add to some of the popular writings of modern culture seems like it would be a pleasure (at least at times).

I don't think the publishers attempt to sell this material as "art." At least the advertising doesn't present it that way. But that doesn't mean real effort hasn't been put into these books.

And there is the world of film novelizations. Many notable authors divide their time among personal projects and hired projects such as novelizations. It is a part of the occupation of writing today.


Stewart Sternberg said...

I probably should have devoted more space to a serious discussion of fan fiction, but I think I was waxing poetic.

One thing that has interested me in talking to other writers is how many of them started out or were inspired to begin by writing fan faction.

When I was in elementary school I remember sitting down and writing stories about Batman from the old television show. And if my memory serves me right, I was combining elements from Batman and other influences.

I think the gist of what I meant to get at was that first, I love that people are passionate enough about something to write; and second, I think there is a niche for such writing.

Anonymous said...

I remember the first really coherent story I wrote was a Conan piece in my 10th grade English class. The teacher singled it out and told us she'd read it to her friends and family. That was probably the first time I thought maybe I could pull it off and people might pay me.

Chuck Z.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

... Fan fiction has even spawned its own tropes, like the evils of "Mary Sue": a "Mary Sue" is a wish fulfillment character, a thinly disguised version of the author inserted into fan fiction:
"... and then Mary Sue and Agent Mulder embraced breathlessly and rode away on their pet dinosaur to many more adventures with their Ewok friends..."

I've avoided the temptation to write fan-fiction myself (too much work to do), though I did make a professional attempt at a Wesley/Illyria/Angel script for IDW comics. It was performed (for fun) at one of the Twilight Tales readings, but still unread by IDW as they are apparently swamped.

I will admit to enjoying the frisson of fan-erotica written by "Ann Douglas" and others. Now I know I'm not the only one who finds archetypal characters like Scully or Willow much sexier than whatever starlet is being rammed down our throats this week. The fictional characters at least have set personalities, and those personalities are no more fictional than those created for said starlet by People, Playboy, MTV and her publicist.

Thus we find amateur fiction about real people that is pure pornography, without the complications of personality-- and fiction about imaginary people that comes much closer to the higher standards of erotica, since the erotic scenes are dripping, you'll pardon the expression, with personality.
Thanks for distracting me from my work with this topic:)