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Posts Tagged ‘fanfiction’

an odd reaction in fandom

By now, everybody’s heard that Dumbledore is gay. That is not, I promise, what this post is about — just the inciting cause of the post.

To entertain myself, I took a brief look at Fandom Wank, wondering what kinds of reactions they were rounding up. (Answer: pretty much the ones you’d expect.) The only link I really followed was one to, where they were discussing the issue of “interview canon.” And there I found an attitude that really raised my eyebrows.

I’m paraphrasing here, because several posts I saw raised this point, each one phrasing it differently. But the reaction was something to the effect of, “Authors shouldn’t create canon in their interviews; it should all be in the books.”


Step back for a moment and look at that. Authors shouldn’t create canon . . . .

Imagine you are a non-fanfic-writing-individual. An author you like gives an interview. They reveal — in response to someone’s question — a detail about the story you didn’t know before, be it that so-and-so is gay, so-and-so grew up in a home with seventeen cats, so-and-so really likes mint chocolate chip ice cream. What is your reaction? Me, I’d think, “oh, that’s interesting,” and enjoy the sense that there’s a real world the author is writing about, that exists beyond the simple words on the pages of the books.

Now imagine that author answering such questions with “Eh, I don’t know.” Makes the world look like those old Hollywood facades, doesn’t it? A pretty front with nothing behind it. What you see is what you get. Kind of boring, really.

Authors shouldn’t create canon in their interviews.

That statement contains a giant roaring assumption that just boggles me: that fanfiction is some how an end goal for what an author does. That authors should be taking the desires of fanficcers into account when writing their books, when talking about their books, when answering the questions of fans. Why? Because apparently it makes things more complicated for the fanficcers, having to track what got said when and whether or not it should count as canon.

If the comments had been phrased in the vein of, “man, now we have to debate whether or not to count that as canon,” I wouldn’t mind. It’s a problem for the people writing fanfic; let them decide how to handle it. But the accusatory tone I saw in some of the comments . . . how inconsiderate of J.K. Rowling, to create canon in her interviews. Apparently she makes a habit of this. The nerve! To know more about her characters than she wrote into the books! To share that information with people when they ask!

Fandom wankery, indeed.

since we’re all re-reading Harry Potter anyway . . . .

Whether you’re a fanfic kind of person or not, you’ll probably be amused by this series of posts: “Eight Things That Severus Snape Isn’t”. The list is up to seven, with the eighth due tomorrow morning, but since I believe there’s a local meet-and-chat-about-Harry-Potter-books meeting tonight, it seemed an appropriate time to post it. (Fair warning: you probably shouldn’t click the link if you haven’t read the books, since there are some vague kind of sort of spoilers.)

clearing some tabs

Apropos of nothing: these earrings amuse me.

Apropos of fanfic: since I managed to attract much more discussion than usual the last time I talked about fanfic, I know there are more than a few of you who would find these two interesting. First, something about the whole FanLib wankery (which I presume you’re aware of), discussing fanfiction as a mode of cultural production. And second, a lengthy post from Making Light (home of the Nielsen Haydens and others), on the sucking pit of quicksand that is the question of legality and fanfiction, with a very useful section toward the end about the disclaimers people slap on their stories.

I don’t know if I’m as optimistic as part of that post is, about the likelihood of a given piece of fanfic being declared “transformative” if challenged in court, but it’s true — as far as I’m aware — about that being the real sticking-point. And when you look at it in that light, you could probably have an interesting argument about which is the more transformative work: Terry Brooks’ The Sword of Shannara or HobbitChick4Evar’s latest installment of her epic Frodo/Sam slashfest. One copies the plot of The Lord of the Rings point for point; the other does not. I don’t know which side of that argument I’d be on, honestly, or whether I’d declare either (or both) transformative — but the point is, I think the argument could happen, with good points on both sides.

(Having said that, hells yeah is “The Game of the Gods” transformative. That thing’s freaking brilliant. Middle-Earth fanfic and parody/critical typology of Mary Sues, all rolled up in one entertaining package.)

Anyway, I figured I’d toss those out there so I could close those tabs and stop having them clutter up my browser.

morning linkery

Given the amount of attention I attracted with my recent posts on fanfiction, I suspect that a larger-than-previous number of you would be interested in this article by Cory Doctorow, “In Praise of Fanfic”, posted on the Locus Magazine website.

For those of you not aware, Locus is the industry magazine for sf/f professionals, and Cory Doctorow is a leading light among pixel-stained technopeasant wretches, having released his first novel electronically, under a Creative Commons license. So this isn’t just an article saying “hey, stop spitting on fanfic;” it’s an article by a major proponent of liberalizing copyright, printed in a well-respected industry periodical. Which ought to put a smile on a few faces.

more thoughts on fanfic

I’m sure many of you have stopped going back to check my earlier post on fanfic for new comments, if you ever did so at all, so I thought I’d a) mention that the discussion is still going on there, and b) start a new post.

The reason for the new post is that my thoughts have had some time to compost, or marinate, or whatever the metaphor I want is, and I think I can articulate some things now that I couldn’t before. Most particularly, a few things I found myself saying to ancientwisdom over there.

Cut again for length . . . .

thorny thoughts

There’s a lengthy entry up by one cupidsbow discussing fanfic in the context of Joanna Russ’ How to Supress Women’s Writing. I spent a good fifteen minutes attempting to write a comment in response to somebody over there, but I’ve decided I’m better off doing so over here; the thought I’m trying to articulate is thorny and awkward, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to phrase it, and if I try to do so over there, odds are I’ll just piss multiple people off and find myself at the bottom of a verbal dogpile I didn’t mean to start. So I’ll chew on my thought over here, and see what I can get out of it. Warning; what follows is rambling and unfocused, and not entirely thought-out.

cut for rambly unfocused length