Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fragments: FanFic, Your Characters, and Blogs as Produce

Edmund Schubert blogged "Fan Fiction – Marketing Genius or Child-Molestation?". It's an interesting article. Edmund Schubert admits that he might be one of the authors who might permit fan fiction. However, he understands those who don't appreciate it. In particular, he makes the following argument against fan fiction:
"...there aren’t hundreds of thousands of people who want to take over the lives of my children, and those who want to make them have sex with farm animals (and other even odder stuff that happens in fan fiction) get sent to jail;..."
Although, I cannot validate his concern, it reminds me of what happened in Ted Chiang's "The Lifecycle of Software Objects". This story was nominated for a Hugo this year and the central promise are AIs created by a company that slowly learn and live inside a virtual environment. However, hackers break into the system at one point and make clones of the software objects and these are used by even more questionable groups in obscene manners. Effectively, resulting in clones of the software objects undergoing the same thing that's talked about in Edmund Schubert's argument above.

I would have posted the above comments on the Magical Words blog, but I tend to read blogs after their freshness date expires. Dean Smith uses the metaphor of produce to describe the book industry. Whether or not that is a valid analogy, the same idea applies to blogs. Although, posts exist on them forever -- at least until the author deletes them --, conversations only occur while the post is fresh.

I could force myself to read blogs every day and if I don't get to them a certain day, don't read articles published that day, but I'm not willing to skip to the front of the queue, and I'd rather read the articles on my time instead of when they were published.


  1. Earlier this year, Diana Gabaldon famously (or infamously) compared fanfic to white slavery and rape. Nearly blew up teh interwebz. She later deleted her blog post saying this, posting another that said, basically, "No fanfic of my work."

    I don't care if an author allows it or not, just state your opinion and life goes on. I do think that authors who talk about their "children" being raped or forced to do things that they, the author, would not otherwise have them do, well, those authors clearly don't understand fanfic. And so, they should just say, "No fanfic." Don't cause fanfare about a subject you're not familiar with. *Becky furiously deletes an entire essay on fanfic* *be grateful, LOL!*

    Last year, someone commented on one of my stories, saying how much she enjoyed it. Great. She then "paid homage" (without my knowledge or consent) to my characters by writing more of them.

    And then selling the story to a magazine.

    While I admit to feeling uncomfortable when I realized she had written fanfic of my work, I could hardly get upset. I'd be hypocrite. But profiting from it? WHOA, NO, NO, NO.

    I guess that's about where I stand on the issue as of now. Could change later.

    Blogs: I think you (and Mr. Smith) are correct. Let's say you became a huge, mega-selling writer tomorrow. Would your brand-new legions of fans -- millions of them, Aidan! -- go back through your archives to read stuff from 2009 and '10? Probably not. No matter how spectacular the material. The peeps want fresh and new.

  2. Even though a lot of it is bizarre (and that's me being charitable), I'm not sure it's possible to eradicate fanfic. I mean, it kind of pops up spontaneously in dark corners of the Interwebz, kind of like mold.

  3. I know what you mean about the "freshness date". I came to that post basically just a day too late, because I don't read blogs over the weekend. So my fabulously insightful* comment got no play in the conversation.

    *Note: fabulous insightfulosity not gauranteed in all states.

  4. Edmund Schubert emphasized his definition of fanfic is written by people for free to be read free. Anything else crosses the line into piracy.

    @Rebecca, you bring up good points. I agree, to some degree there is a need for blogs to be fresh. I'm just surprised at how quickly people stop reading/writing comments. But then I think blogs haven't really succeeded in bringing comments front-and-center as part of the platform to create a community. Although, RSS feeds of comments do help.

    @Loren, It reminds me a little of a publicity snafu I knew one company get into where they requested information be pulled from a web site. Although, they succeeded in removing the original information it provided more infamy and the information cropped up in other places.

    @Stephen: Fabulously insightful works in this state for some definitions of fabulously insightful ;) I thought you made a good comment. I can somewhat understand Orson Scott Card's annoyance with fanfic because of the way he often revisits the same story from different viewpoints and different ways. Where in the case of Harry Potter, it may interest one to read the books written. In the case of Ender's Game, it might decrease the desire for more visits into the Ender universe.

  5. Thanks for pointing out these articles, Aidan. The issues around fanfic fascinate me. People write them as if they can actually affect whether people write it, which they can't of course. No one can tell me what to write on my own home computer. They can only affect *how* it's shared, ie. whether people are allowed to post it somewhere publicly or just show it to their friends.

  6. @Jen, your welcome and you make a good point. Writing on your home computer isn't that different than just thinking about the characters and possibilities. I've certainly done that (although not in the ways that offend author's as described above.)

    I don't have a strong opinion on this subject because I haven't spent much time in the fanfic community. However, having read Ted Chiang's Novella, I noticed the similarities and therefore had to share.