Thursday, May 17, 2007

Don't'cha Hate it When.../In Defense of FanFic

One of the hazards of being in a writers group is that sometimes you read things that you love LONG before anyone picks them up for publication. There are stories of Eleanor's, for instance, that I'm always surprised to remember haven't been bought yet, and when I bring them up at conventions or in conversation with other writers or readers I have to stop and say, "Oh, yeah, never mind."

Then there's Kelly's Urbana novel. Of all the things I've read over the years, that one haunts me the most... not because I think it's his best written book (that would be Black School, IMHO,) but because the magical system in it seems so... tantalizingly plausible. If you meet Kelly at a convention, ask him about it. If I tried to explain it here, I'm sure I'd get something wrong, but basically there are fey/fairy creatures who have adapted to urban life and whose magical influence can be found in things like graffiti, swirling garbage, and traffic accidents (among other things.) Anyway, I often find myself noticing things as I drive around town that make me think of these critters and I really, REALLY want Kelly's agent to hurry up and sell not only that book, but also the rights to a shared world anthology so I can go and play in his world for a while.

It's funny because what I want to do is almost like writing fanfic for a novel that's never been written. The only reason what I'd like to do _isn't_ consider fanfic is because 1) the book isn't published yet, and 2) I'd only do it if Kelly said it was okay and if we had some kind of share world anthology happening. I know that there's a lot of strong feelings about fanfic out there, but I for one have always found it a huge flattery. If someone loves my world enough that they don't want it to end, but want to write more and more and more stories in it... well, that's awesome.

Cory Doctorow had a column in Locus last month in praise of fanfic (it's actually reprinted on the site right now, if you want to read it use the link above). His feelings were much the same of mine. Fanfic is a big fat compliment. SF/F authors should be flattered and not shut these folks down for expressing their love for the genre this way. I actually feel the same way about slash, though I can more understand people's objections to that... though for me the same rules apply -- if you love my characters so much you want to imagine tawdry sex between them, well, have fun, kids!

What do you think? Is this a pixel stained techno-peasants kind of issue? Are there people out there under a certain age who can even imagine why anyone would object to this sort of Internet tom-foolery, or is it all in good fun with no consequences for the author and his/her copyright?


Kelly McCullough said...

Thanks for the compliment, Lyda.

On the subject of fanfic, I agree that it's very high praise and I know I would feel flattered if someone were writing McCullough world fanfic. As long as it's not for profit I see no harm in it, though not all publishers or writers agree on the subject.

From a creative perspecitve, it's not all that different from media tie-in novels, and I for one would happily write a few Star Wars books if someone wanted to pay me to write them.

Anonymous said...

There have been very few times that I've wanted to write in someone else's world.

Urbäna is one of those world I really want to write in.

I agree on the compliment, though I also want to note that I've seen alternate telling, vindictive stories written in those worlds, and those make me uncomfortable. If I'm going to write in another author's world, I need to remember who its Creator and God is, and be respectful of their domain. And unless it's a shared-world anthology or magazine with the original author's blessing, it shouldn't be done for profit or published by any recognized venue. I do believe that each individual author should have the right to control their own creative/intellectual property, and choose whether or not fanfic or slash is allowed. I can respect someone who says "Nope, not in my world."

Anonymous said...

You say "tawdry sex" like it's a bad thing. ;)