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April 22, 2006

Annals of short-lived phenomena: Star Wars fanfic on Amazon
Posted by Teresa at 12:26 PM * 217 comments

Lori Jareo wrote a not very good novel-length work of Star Wars fanfic called Another Hope. Nothing remarkable there. However, she then put it into print without Lucas’ permission, and put it up for sale on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Powells.com.

The publisher listed for the book is Wordtech Communications, which claims to be “one of the nation’s largest poetry publishers” (“A New Paradigm of Poetry!”). Ms. Jareo is one of the people who runs Wordtech, so she definitely should have known better.

John Scalzi, who heard about this clusterf*ck from Nick Mamatas, wrote it up as The 2006 Stupidest FanFic Writer Award Gets Retired Early:

…[L]et’s see what she has to say about it in her “author interview.”

Q: Having set Another Hope in an already existing universe, I find myself wondering if there was any concern on your part regarding copyrights?

No, because I wrote this book for myself. This is a self-published story and is not a commercial book. Yes, it is for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.

Let me repeat this, just to savor the juicy cluelessness of it: “Yes, it’s for sale on Amazon, but only my family, friends and acquaintances know it’s there.” I feel myself getting stupider every time I read that line, but the good news is that I have a long way to go before I would be actually stupid enough to say that line myself.

I highly recommend Scalzi’s dissection of Ms. Jareo’s innnnnnnnnteresting concept of copyright law. He’s offered to start a pool on how long it takes for Ms. Jareo’s book to get pulled from Amazon, and has laid his bet down on “Monday by 3pm Pacific.”

Jareo’s website is down now, but as one of Scalzi’s commenter pointed out, Google still has it cached: title page / Another Hope main page / author interview / excerpt from book / about the author. There’s more; I’m sure you can find it.

The book’s listing on Amazon is still up as of this writing. The customer reviews are instructive. They’re nearly unanimous in their desire to beat on Lori Jareo with a big stick. Who’s posting them? Other fanfic writers.

A list of tags from their reviews:

bad fanfic, Very Very Very Illegal, the stupid it burns, weapons-grade stupidity, blacklisted from fandom, a moron, copyright infringement, Lucas is so going to kill you, lawyer up sweetheart, crazy like a fox, CRAP, Copyright Infringement, illegal and idiotic, is yoda gonna have to smack a btch, stupid people doing stupid things, a Chernobyl-esque mistake, copyright violation, fan fiction for sale, fanfic gone very wrong, needs a good lawyer immediately or possibly a psychiatrist, only living brain donor…

See it now or see it never.
Comments on Annals of short-lived phenomena: Star Wars fanfic on Amazon:
#1 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 01:04 PM:

Not to worry! Ms. Jareo has already anticipated all possible objections and responded to them, with the help of her 'interviewer.'

[please understand this is my sarcastic voice. And granted, copyright infringement...but she did it first!]

Q: I also wonder how far a writer is allowed to write in a world and to use characters introduced by another author?

If it’s not a commercial project, I don’t see any problem. George Lucas’ Star Wars universe is fertile territory for so-names “infinities,” or alternate storyline material. Thousands of people write them, and they are posted on hundreds of unofficial Star Wars-themed web sites on the Internet. Lucas himself said that as long as no one is making a profit, he thought such tributes were wonderful.

Q: Does your being an editor influence the way you go to work as a writer? If so, could you say in what way?

I made a conscious decision to remove my editor’s cap as I was writing this story. After so many years of being an editor, I wanted the creative freedom of being a writer. It took a whole new type of thinking to just write and finish the manuscript and leave the editing and business decisions for later. And once I got to that point, I was able to really write.

Q: What would you say to others who dream of writing a novel based on an existing world setting?

Writing such a novel is a lot of fun, especially if you have friends who are constantly saying, “Well, what if a certain character were put in a certain situation? I wonder how it would turn out.”
In 1999, that question was put to me, because as you know, the first three episodes of Star Wars were finally in the works. In these new movies, there are additional characters that could have made the older Star Wars universe even more exciting.
That’s what happened to me, as I found the characters of young Anakin and Padmé from Episode 1 and Ryoo and Pooja from Episode 2 impossible to resist. How would they grow and change over so many years? That is a fascinating question.

I do believe that relieves every concern people might have. Oh, yes.

( if I'm being rude to our kind facillitators in any unknowing way by posting this...well, I really hope I am not, and apologize profusely if I am.)

#2 ::: torie ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 01:23 PM:

she's an editor?? for shame...

#3 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Wow. The Amazon page is pretty amusing, but I just took a look at the excerpt. Now that's entertainment - that's some phenomenally bad writing there.

I guess she sees a technical editor's job as consisting of telling people all day long "be more specific about how this works" - evidently she's applying this principle to fiction.

Is WordTech a vanity press? Their front page sort of smells like it to me. As our hosts have said, nothing wrong with that if it's honest.

#4 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 01:59 PM:

I read the excerpt. *shudder* I tried to add the tag: "the goggles they do nothing!" but all amazon shows is "the goggles." Very sad.

-r.

#5 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 02:02 PM:

P.S. I have to agree with one of the reviewers - the idea of killing off Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker, the heroes of the entire series, off-scene... well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Maybe George Lucas could sponsor her, to silence all the complaints of "a fanfic writer could have done better than Episode 1".

#6 ::: Daniel Abraham ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Wow. As travesty goes, that one's lovely. I got to tell my wife about it and watch her eyes get wide.

Anyone want to start a pool on what legal penalties Ms. Jar-jareo is going to have to pay out?

#7 ::: Caro ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 02:12 PM:

::beats head against the desk::

The stupid -- it burns...

#8 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 02:22 PM:

I'd bet the page disappears from Amazon before noon Pacific on Monday. Sooner if anyone at Lucas has been reading here.

There was a once-published cartoon that got George's attention, many years ago. It was only published once because he made it *very* clear that he'd hang the next person who published it, himself. I think Ms Jareo is in the running for that honor.

#9 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 02:52 PM:

You can run but not hide on the internet.

http://www.journalfen.net/community/fandom_wank/928529.html

What I find odd is the debate of rationalizing of an illegal activity among those that like fanfic and want to legitimize it in various places.

#10 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 03:23 PM:

I just... I mean how... what would posess... I mean... Seriosuly, just... stupidity so dense it warps space and time...

#11 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 03:24 PM:

Please notice that this book has been up on Amazon since July 2005, and has an Amazon.com Sales Rank of #56,664 in Books (Yesterday: #39,951). Someone bought one or more copies, you betcha.

Did LucasFilms' lawyers purchase a box?

#12 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 03:36 PM:

Did LucasFilms' lawyers purchase a box?

If they didn't, someone probably sent them a few copies.

Fanfic isn't illegal, per se (I remember the beginnings of the Mageworld series, thank you very much, and bought the books because I remembered those stories), but this kind of stupidity comes under the heading of 'universal capital punishment'.

#13 ::: J Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 04:25 PM:

All I can say is I feel soooo much better about my own writing skills after reading the exerpt, but my left eye won't stop twitching. Gah.

#14 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Entertaining though in that bad writing encourages the most entertaining reviews. This line in particular from the Amazon reviews: "The author is going to look like Aunt Beru by the time Lucas's lawyers are done with her."

I suppose someone could write the autobiography of Jar-Jar Binks and claim it was satire, but this...

Yargh.

#15 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Lucas, by rumor, is very lenient with fan artists. Remember the pastiche TROOPS? Allegedly, Lucas contacted the people who made it and told them it's very good, very funny, and please don't do anything that would make it necessary for me to sue you. It's still out there on the Web, and they haven't been sued, so it sure doesn't look like he's a hard ass. Hell, even Paramount has supposedly given up trying to persecute -- I mean, prosecute -- fanfic publishers that maintain a low profile.

Does the fact that she copyrighted the material make any difference? I don't believe that fanfic writers can claim copyright even of their own prose, because it's in violation already.

All in all, I wonder if Lucas can ignore this even if he wants to. I know that copyright isn't the same as trademark (in which case she'd be in such a mountain of shit), but I'm thinking that even if he can't lose his copyright by failing to defend it, it is a really bad precedent.

Personally, I'd like to see him come down on her like a ton of bricks. Stupidity should be its own reward. Would it put other fanfic writers at risk? Commercial vs. non-commercial isn't really the division that distinguishes copyright violation, although fanfic writers will continue to insist that it is.

(Note, I have been saying things about copyright, and I am not a legal expert in the field, therefore everything I say could be wrong six ways from Sunday. Corrections welcomed.)

#16 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:20 PM:

I believe that even material that itself infringes on someone else's material is copyrightable, but I'm nearly certain that it doesn't matter.

#17 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:33 PM:

Oh, I don't know. It's...fun to watch. In the same way you can't look away from a train wreck.

But ye gods, that woman is as much an editor as I am!

#18 ::: Susan the Neon Nurse ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:35 PM:

What I thought was interesting (as a used book dealer myself) was a glance at the page of "used" copies. A dozen or so vendors purport to have copies to sell you at a discount rate. These are, of course, the bottom feeders who use web scraping software to find out what books are selling, snuffle up the info and then put on a listing for themselves. They don't ever HAVE the books, they just figure they will grab a copy elsewhere (from the publisher or a seller on a more modestly priced site) if they actually get lucky and get an order. You can look at their feedback scores to see how well this plan works in real life as far as buyers are concerned.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:54 PM:

My informal understanding of the copyright status of fanfic is that it's neither saleable nor in the public domain. You may be playing with stuff that doesn't belong to you, but you still own your own words.

#20 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:58 PM:

In an alternate timeline:

Dear Ms. Bauer:

My name is Lori Jareo, and I'm trying to find an agent willing to help get my Star Wars novel, Another Hope, published....
#21 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 05:59 PM:

The customer tags on the Amazon listing are entertaining. :-)

"Only for my friends and family." Yes. That's why it's listed on a very, very public database, instead of on a private website, or a friends-locked catalogue page at Lulu. A public database that you don't get into by accident.

I saw this via a couple of fanfic LJs yesterday. Some fanficcers can write very well indeed, and some of those fanficcers are currently devoting their keyboard time and command of language to expressing their opinion of this sort of terminal stupidity. They are not happy bunnies right now.

#22 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Good grief. Now, I'm a writer. I've written over 250,000 collective words in stories I'm trying to sell. But for this? I have no words whatsover.

I think the best nutshell summary is out of that list of Amazon reviewer tags: "weapons-grade stupidity". I couldn't describe this better if I tried.

#23 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 06:22 PM:

Lydy, you're actually right about the difference between enforcing copyright and trademark. Trademark owners have to be hardassed, because failure to enforce can be used to kill a lawsuit against a genuine baddie down the road.

Anybody who's read up a bit on the Inquisition may recall that they generally didn't start right off torturing accused witches; the "instruments" would be shown to the accused first, and their use explained, to give them a chance to confess first. Copyright enforcement generally works the same way, although in these modern times, the "instruments" are cease-and-desist letters rather than say, red-hot irons. More's the pity.

#24 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 06:51 PM:

Gods.

Years ago when I was working at Tor I had an instructive conversation with one of a pair of writers who had written a vast opus based on Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's St. Germain books. The clue-free young woman could not understand why Yarbro was being so mean about her selling her own book, because it was written in her words, and anyway it was an homage to the source material and anyway it was mean to pick on the fans who loved the work, and showed Yarbro didn't love her fans as much as they loved her work and anyway...

It looks like Lori Jareo is cut from the same but-it's-me-so-the-rules-don't-count cloth.

#25 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 06:59 PM:

Torie, it's worse than you think. Not only is she an editor, but she got her degree in Journalism.

#26 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 07:01 PM:

Fanfic is a violation of copyright no ands, ifs, or buts, covered under derivative works. It survives on the good graces of the rights holders who all have different breaking points to their patience when it comes to the legal smackdown. Why so many in fanfic try to convince themselves and others that it's legal and ok is beyond me.

#27 ::: Manon ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Why so many in fanfic try to convince themselves and others that it's legal and ok is beyond me.

Uh. Most of us explicitly state that we understand that it's not strictly legal. (Unless we write about stuff that's in the public domain.)

And then a nutbar like this pops up and trashes our collective image yet again.

#28 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 07:17 PM:

Teresa, could that listing on Amazon be there *without* the book being in Ingram or similar? If she already had a small press then she probably had a stock of ISBNs, but it looks as if she has gone to some trouble and expense to ensure that the book is available through Amazon as well as directly from her. Those are not things the normal fanzine publisher does.

#29 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 08:41 PM:

T.W., it's hardly a phenomenon limited to fanfic. Go all over the Web and you'll see people reprint others' copyrighted works with the disclaimer "I will take this down if the author complains", or posts on Slashdot insisting that as long as what you write is funny, it's "parody" and therefore exempt from copyright, it's fair use if you don't sell it, and so on. Then they get shirty if you point out that they are violating copyright, snipping "What's the harm?" and getting downright nasty if you suggest that perhaps they should simply have asked the author for permission.

#30 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:00 PM:
they generally didn't start right off torturing accused witches; the "instruments" would be shown to the accused first, and their use explained, to give them a chance to confess first.
But 'witches' were only part of the population terrorized by the Church-State combination. Galileo & others 'vehemently suspected' of heresy were shown the instruments (probably not fully wiped clean from their last use) as one of the steps to encourage recantation.

States of course also used torture or its threat routinely to obtain confessions, say if they had an anonymous tip-off about someone (after all, it could just be a business rival, or other beneficiary of their misfortune, or someone with a grudge, and sometimes even a mistake), as well as to get evidence from possible co-conspirators (people close to the accused) as to any suspicious goings-on. Fortunately, a couple of hundred years of fought-over social advancement means civilized countries don't do this any more.

#31 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:19 PM:

According to WordTech Communication's web site, their books are in Ingram, so I would guess that her's is too (since WordTech is listed as the publisher.)

What puzzles me is based on what I read at their web site:
"New Paradigm", "non-returnable", "importance of sales", "marketing tips", this is not a publisher to which I would consider submitting my work. (Well, I don't know much about publishing. Is this normal in the world of publishing poetry?)

Thanks to reading Making Light faithfully, all of these things read to me as saying that you're unlikely to sell very many copies of your book (since they don't seem to work on terms which might encourage bookstores to stock their books) if you publish with them. This makes me wonder if she might have meant it when she said it was just for friends and family? If it's not in the bookstores, who else is going to know about this, unless it has some sort of notoriety like, in this case, copyright infringement. Actually, I suspect Star Wars names are trademarked. If so, there is an issue there too.

Either way, making it available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Powell's was not the most intelligent thing one could do. Even rights holders who tend to look the other way when it comes to fanfic have to take action when something like this happens.

As everyone else has pointed out, she certainly seems to have enough experience to have known better (or at least to know how to make it available only to family and friends).

#32 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:30 PM:

Too bad she's not a member of a professional peer organization who can then strip her of any creditials for this. You, out of the guild now! I guess she goes onto all the writer's warning lists now.

#33 ::: Rachel Blackman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:30 PM:

Well, you know, we should be thanking her.

Because now, no matter WHAT blunders any of us might ever make or obstacles we might encounter, they aren't even close -- I don't think they're even on the same continent -- as this woman's little publishing escapade.

Accidentally submit a story two places at once? "At least I didn't try to sell fanfic on Amazon!" Get a rejection letter? "Well, at least my submission was legal!"

Instant silver lining.

#34 ::: Rachel Blackman ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:37 PM:

And gee, it would've been fun to see what happened if she'd submitted to PublishAmerica. Alas, then it wouldn't have ended up on Amazon.

Or, you know, anywhere else you can buy books.

#35 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:43 PM:

HA! Gee, fanfic writers are just like the MP3 file sharers, software hackers, pirates, etc. Always the same arguments, always the same results. Sooner or later someone gets a major case of the stupids and ruins the party for everybody else. My guess is that at the end of this buzz saw Lucas will “re-imagine” Episode IV and substitute the picture of Wordtech offices for the Jawa Transport after the storm troopers attack, and Ms. Jareo will resemble Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru when Luke goes back to the sand igloo. Anybody got marshmallows? I bet it’s going to be a glorious fire.

Oh, and Troopers was created as an entry into the Star Wars Fan Film contest sponsored by Lucas. Just to remind everybody about that part.

#36 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 09:47 PM:

There's certainly some cultural weirdness going on. Free, easy-access information makes for easy plagiarism (as I can tell you, from having to grade my students' papers by checking phrases on Google to see what they've lifted from websites). Our current entitlement culture has bred a whole generation that believes that they just deserve stuff. Hence, "it's free" and "I deserve stuff" meet on the web when people illegally trade music and software, and rip text off of other websites to paste into their own instead of bothering to write anything original.

If you bring up the little issue of copyright, you get this, "Geez, you're such a greedy jerk," response.

#37 ::: Dunc ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Steve Buchheit - TROOPS predates the Lucas-approved fan film awards. It was released in 1997, while the awards started in 2002.

#38 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 10:28 PM:

TW: Why so many in fanfic try to convince themselves and others that it's legal and ok is beyond me.

Writerious: There's certainly some cultural weirdness going on.

It's not some kind of inexplicable mystery, it's just the way humans are. Copyright laws (and similar laws) are only a few centuries old. The impulse to swap around story material goes all the way back before recorded history. It might predate our species.

Making up stories with the characters in your head -- even if they're immigrants, rather than native-born -- is a natural and common human impulse. Wanting to share your stories with other people, likewise natural and common, and now easier than ever. (The Internet makes publishing so easy that it's possible for people to fail to realize that they're doing it.) Realizing that some of the characters who've immigrated into your head are actually still enslaved subjects of their original land, that's something new. Not everybody gets that, and not everybody will.

Passing copyright laws and expecting everyone to go along is like passing monogamy laws and expecting that nobody will stray. It just ain't gonna happen.

#39 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 10:38 PM:

Yes, but fanfiction is older than the current culture of "free, easy access information" and downloading. I'm no expert (though some other commenters here are) & I know fanfic as a modern phenomenon is generally considered to have begun with the original Star Trek series.

There are many impulses behind the creation of fanfic, and thumbing one's nose at copyright holders is only a minor consideration, if at all.

#40 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 10:41 PM:

Dunc, true enough that Troops was released before the Fan Film awards. Thanks, was going from memory and didn't do the research.

#41 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2006, 11:55 PM:

I'd say fanfic goes back to Sherlock Holmes, at the very least. There is a long history of 'pastiches' among the Doyle fans.

#42 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 12:17 AM:

And it gets really weird when you get Holmes meeting Trek ...

I don't know how long fanfic has been around, but sometime before 1976, which is when I met it. It was doing quite well then, too, but it was pretty much ignored, possibly because a really large print run was still under a thousand copies.

#43 ::: Rachel Blackman ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 01:37 AM:

I actually agree with the entitlement thing.

Wanting to tell stories with the characters in your head -- even if, as was said, they're immigrants -- is natural enough. Where entitlement comes into it is when you feel you have a /right/ to spread the resulting work around in public. Or, more specifically, to do so even when the original author says 'please, don't post fanfic of my characters or in my world.'

For my day-job (alas, 'aspiring writer' does not pay the bills too well), I am a software engineer. The software I help write, we sell for $25 a copy. Fairly cheap. Further, there is a free version (which misses a few features) available.

And yet, there are people who don't want to pay... and yet feel they are entitled to the Pro version without paying. There's an entire website for a pirate group who exist solely to pirate each new build of our program and remove the protection from the commercial version, and redistribute it along with all the add-ons from our member site. They and their devotees feel they are entitled to have this software -- when we are slow to release a version, they whine about us 'not giving good service,' they crow about how wonderful new versions are when they come out... yet they never pay for anything.

Before this job, I worked at a video game company. Tons of people would pirate the games, and claim, 'well, if I couldn't have pirated it, I wouldn't have bought it, so you didn't lose any money anyway.' Which is a rationalization... what it boils down to is they don't want to spend money on things, but they feel entitled to have them.

Software piracy, music piracy, and suchnot have an air of entitlement to them -- and I'd say fanfic like this does, too -- because you aren't 'stealing.' Breaking into a house and taking a DVD player, stealing a car from a dealer... those things, the person is left without the original. But an MP3? A game? Characters from a book? Hey, the originals are still right where you left them, so no one loses, right?

And so people who wouldn't dream of stealing a car, or a DVD player, feel entitled to steal these things. Hence the 'attitude of entitlement,' I think. At least, that's my $0.02 + state sales tax.

#44 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 02:02 AM:

Well, I have for long thought that 'fanfic' is a new name for slight variant on an exceedingly ancient human variety of storytelling (storytelling probably being one of the earliest human characteristics, stemming from some of the markers of consciousness).
If you look at the raggeder quotation sites, retold anecdotes, urban legends and clarification sites where stories are listed, you can see some of the process which in olden days gave us mythology, folk tales & epics. Folksong & filking are quite similar processes too. It's only in the last few hundred years that commercial law & suchlike got involved.

#45 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 02:25 AM:

Epacris: I'm completely with you. Virgil was totally doing Homer fanfic, the story of Jason and the Argonauts was a crossover miniseries, and I am firmly convinced that the ending of Iphigeneia at Aulis was retconned. The words are new, but the concepts sure aren't.

#46 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 03:10 AM:

And Dante was doing Virgil fanfic.

#47 ::: wrye ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 03:26 AM:

Just how would this even get on Amazon to begin with? Wouldn't they have some sort of vetting in place?

#48 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 04:23 AM:

The trouble with Amazon starting to check is that they then have to check everything.

#49 ::: sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 04:37 AM:

I'm surprised by how casually some commenters are comparing MP3 filesharing to writing and posting fanfic (for free, that is--obviously, to attempt to profit from your copyright violations like the writer who inspired this thread is not kosher and is very very dumb).

Fan fiction, fan art, etc. are, whatever you think of their merits, additional material in an already existing (sometimes copyrighted) fictional universe. Fanfic is based on existing material created by someone else; pirated files are existing material created by someone else. If you download a song for free, you may be doing that instead of paying for the album, but if you read or write a story about Jar-Jar Binks and Lieutenant Mary Sue saving the universe from bad novelists or whatever, you're not doing that to save yourself the price of a ticket to the movie. (In fact, you've probably shelled out for a good deal of Star Wars merchandise by the time you start thinking about writing your Jar-Jar/Mary Sue opus.)

I do think that distinction is worth making, even if some find fanfic objectionable for various reasons nonetheless.

#50 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 07:21 AM:

Just how would this even get on Amazon to begin with? Wouldn't they have some sort of vetting in place?

The vetting that takes place at Amazon is this: "Has ISBN? Yes/No"

Which is, frankly, all that it needs to be.

#51 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 07:29 AM:

Oh... let's take another look behind those 'interview questions':
(a.k.a. The Apocryphal Interview)

Q: What was the easiest/fun part of this project?

The fact that the universe was already created for me.

Q: What was the hardest part?

Remembering how many y's to put in Kashyyyk.

Q: Do you feel that writing an apocryphal novel is much harder work than if you had created a universe or world of your own? What goes into writing an apocryphal novel anyway?

Well, since I've never created my own world...I can't really answer that question. As far as writing an apocryphal novel for someone else's universe, it's like stealing an idea...then using your own publishing company to fund its production. A complete waste of time and money. Completely ethical and oh-so-skippy-neat-o!

Q: Given the chance to write a script or a storyline on which a Star Wars movie would be based, what would be your ideal scenario or plot?
I think I may have just blackballed myself from ever doing work with LucasArts. Oh well, I have two more novels for this series :D .

Q: What do you think writers should take into consideration when writing science fiction?
Originality.Originality.Originality---and a good editor.

Q: How does it feel to have published your first novel?
Yippee! (?!) It was no sweat. I didn't even fear a form rejection.

Q. Does having this first novel create any tension towards writing subsequent books?
See above answer.

Q: Does your being an editor influence the way you go to work as a writer? If so, could you say in what way?

I made a conscious decision to remove my editor’s cap as I was writing this story. Unfortunately the cap was stolen by Bobba Fett and later eaten by the great and powerful Sarlac when Bobba fell in.

Q: Do you use any rituals/practices to stimulate the writing process?
I watch the director's cut of Episodes I,II,III all the time!

Q: What would you say to others who dream of writing a novel based on an existing world setting?
Start a small press first, then publish at will.
* * *

Stooopid hobbitsses. Styupid, styupid hobbitsses.

-=Jeff=-


#52 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:04 AM:

I suppose someone could write the autobiography of Jar-Jar Binks and claim it was satire, but this...

Now there's an audiobook I'd avoid.

#53 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:26 AM:

Q: How does it feel to have published your first novel?
Yippee! (?!) It was no sweat. I didn't even fear a form rejection.

This brings to mind one of my favorite interviews. Take it away, Jim Theis!

Because how many people have had their first story
published at16-even if it is in a fanzine or club-zine? How many professional
writers have written a complete story at so early an age?

#54 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:28 AM:

...just informed a few family members, friends and acquaintances. Oh, and made sure it was in their Parish newsletter:

Book News St. Timothy's members Kevin Walzer and Lori Jareo both would like to announce the publication of their new books. Kevin's book is called Austere Offices (ISBN: 1933456043) and is a book of poems about corporate life. Lori's book is called Another Hope (ISBN: 1933456027) and her book is a Star Wars-themed science fiction novel. Both are available on Amazon.com. Both Kevin and Lori will be reading from their new books at Over Coffee on December 3. Kevin begins reading at 7:00 p.m. and Lori follows at 7:30 p.m. Over Coffee is located at the corner of Clough and Eight Mile. There is a nice children's area and kids are welcome.

URL (bottom of page) http://www.sainttimothys.com/Pages_publications/Cross_Nov_2005.htm

Oh. I'm sorry. Have my Google skills(z) gone to the Darkside?
Wonder how long it'll take to clear Amazon.de?

-=Jeff=-

#55 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:49 AM:

Also available via international distribution in Korea, as well as Italy.

An amazing inventory display of books ready to ship to 'friends and family'. Thank you Canada for that link.

Oh well, my path to the Googling Darkside is now complete.

-=Jeff=-

#56 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 10:42 AM:

Similarly, the US analogue to the Canadian list.

#57 ::: Tiercel ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 11:07 AM:

It appears Amazon has deleted almost all of the comments, sadly. Evidently they'll only allow those that critique the work itself, rather than just mocking the author.

sylvia - Very, very well-said.

#58 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 02:56 PM:

If you want to do music analogies, fanfic is a lot closer to mash-ups. (In some sense you could say cross-over fanfic is an exact analogy to a mash-up.) A lot of independent creativity goes into some of them, and yet you always end up with something that could never be sold or distributed legally, because it directly and obviously incorporates other copyrighted works owned by aggressive enforcers of copyright.

As with fanfics, many mash-ups are notable only for the novelty factor, some just aren't worth listening to, and a few are really amazing works of art.

The Kleptones latest album, '24 Hours' is mind-blowing, and puts a lot of commercial works to shame. Their work keeps getting better with each album; Yoshimi was not bad, Night at the Hip-Hopera was pretty good, excellent in places, but 24 Hours is stunning. I'd say it's a pity that it can't be sold conventionally, except that the Kleptones clearly know exactly what they're doing and have made an artistic choice to work in this medium. (Same as some of the fanfic writers who are very capable of writing professionally, and do, but also love writing fanfic.) If you are not appalled by the whole idea, Google around until you find a Bittorrent or download site for '24 Hours', burn yourself the two CDs, and give it a listen.

P.S. This is the UK Kleptones; don't get confused if your googling turns up a different group with the same name.

#59 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 02:58 PM:

"Not only is she an editor, but she got her degree in Journalism."

A degree in Journalism is hardly a "Certificate Of Genius" (or "Modesty") -- and this case surely proves it...
;-)

Jokes aside -- sad as the "Fanfic Affair" may be, it's symptomatic of human nature. When a work of art becomes widely popular, people start to think of it as "theirs". Same thing happens with celebrities: the fans think of them as "theirs".

Shakespeare's HAMLET? It's a "Saga of Amled" fanfic. (The "Saga of Amled" was written down by the medieval Danish chronicler Saxo Grammaticus, and is in turn rooted in some ancient Indo-European mythology. A fanfic of a fanfic of a fanfic...) Not meaning to defend all fanfiction -- actually I don't really like the genre -- but I can see where it comes from.

And that excerpt from "Another Hope"... whoa! The book should be retitled ALL YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT STAR-DESTROYER TECHNOLOGY BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK.

#60 ::: Lawrence Watt Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Actually, I can understand the confusion about fanfic to some extent. Anyone who wants to write about King Arthur or Robin Hood can do so, and plenty of people have, and there's nothing wrong with that. I've written a novel for Tor that plagiarized The Count of Monte Cristo, and had no moral or legal problem in doing so.

The distinction that "those are public domain and Star Wars isn't" really isn't all that obvious to someone born after 1977; all these mythologies have been around forever, i.e., since before they were born.

For someone who claims to be an editor with a degree in journalism, though, it's a bit much.

#61 ::: PLN ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 06:14 PM:

I'm a bit baffled by how many people are conflating "what she did was clearly illegal" with "what she did was clearly immoral"; it's hardly an indefensible position to hold that there's no prima facie obligation to obey the law. And the "derivative work" right is one of the least defensible parts of copyright. Not indefensible, certainly, but if you're going to be against part of the bundle, that's a good one to pick

#62 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Too bad she didn't claim her novel was primarily intended as a transgressive satire of ANH, or she could've cited The Wind Done Gone as precedent.

#63 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 06:46 PM:

PLN, there's also a large helping of "what she did, and what she said about it, was clearly stupid."

#64 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 06:58 PM:

Clifton: "Yet you always end up with something that could never be sold or distributed legally, because it directly and obviously incorporates other copyrighted works owned by aggressive enforcers of copyright."

But then how is the sampling done by rappers legal? I've wondered about that for years.

#65 ::: Keith Kisser ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 07:20 PM:

Julie L. hits on something by mentioning The Wind Done Gone, namely the fuzzy area of intent. TWDG was intended as satire, a critique of both the original work and the strange fan world it has generated (I live in GA and was in Atlanta last week. Many Atlanteans have an unhealthy obsession with the work of Margaret Mitchell). Fanfic is different than satire. It comes wrapped in an implied desire to become part of the fictional world. The author of Another Hope is not critiquing Lucas work or deconstructing the Star Wars universe to make some greater sstatementabout the human condition or literature or mass media in general. She’s indulging in high geekery and hoping to score Whuffie.

#66 ::: Chris Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 07:26 PM:

Adding to an already extensive comments thread...

Clearly Ms Jareo is not in full possession of her faculties and fully deserves the public dressing-down she has received. I'm a little disappointed though by the number of posts here that say they *want* her to be sued by Lucas. What is it with the Schadenfreude? Why isn't it enough that she receive the cease-and-desist letter and that she ceases and desists?

The real harm that she has done is not to Lucas's intellectual property, which appears to have survived even his own best efforts to make it unsaleable. The real harm is that Ms Jareo is running a writer's workshop at what appears to be a respected program and is using Another Hope in her bio as evidence of her experience as an author.

Do I want Lucas to sue her? God no. Who the hell wants *more* encroachment by the intellectual property lawyers on public life? But the organisers of the West Chester University Poetry Conference ought to review their decision to allow Ms Jareo to run one of the workshops. Maybe she is still appropriate, but on the evidence at hand I would think she is quite possibly a very bad choice to be put in charge of a workshop aimed at beginning writers. People are paying $85 per workshop for this.

#67 ::: Nick Fagerlund ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 07:53 PM:

Linkmeister: They shell out royalties to the copyright holders.

#68 ::: Sarashay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:10 PM:

But then how is the sampling done by rappers legal? I've wondered about that for years.

Initially, it wasn't. These days, people who release music based on samples of other music have to go through legal clearances to use the samples and usually pay a royalty to the original artist.

Or they distribute it on the web and hope that nobody notices.

#69 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 08:23 PM:

Hmm. My guess for when that Amazon page is going to be down by is 10am Eastern on Monday -- and I wouldn't be surprised if it was down by 10am British Summer Time to be honest.

#70 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 09:35 PM:

The original links from Nick Mamatas' page don't work, as of 9:30 Eastern Daylight Savings. I guess that a Star Destroyer zapped a few servers; hopefully no innocent hosting sites were hit.

#71 ::: Redletter ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 10:52 PM:

Keir

And Dante was doing Virgil fanfic.

Dante wrote Gary Stu fanfic.


To round out the 'fan fic is in legal limbo' discussion, it all comes down to money. ::shrug::

#72 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2006, 11:13 PM:

Lawrence Watt Evans wrote: "I've written a novel for Tor that plagiarized The Count of Monte Cristo"
Did you actually lift chunks of the original French, or translated, text and plonk them straight into your book? Or did you just use the story and characters?
There seems to be a confusion between plagiarise (literal copying of the words) and what mostly seems to be in dispute here, which is using the invented world, characters, events & such in your work.

I'd like to keep the distinction, tho it's annoying there doesn't seem to be a simple single word for the deed discussed.

PS: Mr Watt-Evans, your authorlink from Tor goes to your old page. Altho the redirection works, it might look better if it was updated.
(Note to cat-vacuumers everywhere; checking links-to-you are correct is probably an excellent time-sucker-up; possibly with a higher temporal vanishing index than re-checking your links out. There is probably a tool that helps.)

#73 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 12:06 AM:

Redletter: Dante was writing Gary Stu fanfic

Too true. (And, by the way, I'd never heard the name Gary Stu before. Took me a while to figure it out.)

#74 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 01:36 AM:

Yeah, I suspected that when rap went mainstream (?) the usual royalty scheme (British sense of the word) took over, but in its early days I have my doubts that anyone paid much attention to permissions. I wonder whose record pushed whose buttons.

#75 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 01:38 AM:

Mez: LWE is using "plagiarize" in the broadest possible sense -- Dragon Weather and its sequels are inspired by The Count of Monte Cristo but the details of plot and character are quite different. Not to mention that the setting is not France but an invented fantasy world. IANAL, but I think that even if Count weren't public domain, the copyright holder would have no case.

#76 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 04:56 AM:

Quoth Mez: There seems to be a confusion between plagiarise (literal copying of the words) and what mostly seems to be in dispute here, which is using the invented world, characters, events & such in your work. I'd like to keep the distinction, tho it's annoying there doesn't seem to be a simple single word for the deed discussed.

I think the phrase is "derivative work". But afaik once the serial numbers are filed off (changing the names etc.), derivative works are legally in the clear even if the underlying structures are still recognizable-- Sword of Shannara, anyone?-- which really makes me wonder how the Mitchell estate phrased their Wind Done Gone case, other than losingly.

#77 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 06:36 AM:

Keith Kisser wrote:
"Fanfic is different than satire. It comes wrapped in an implied desire to become part of the fictional world."

Hmmm... when Virtual Reality technology finally becomes viable, will we see an explosion of Star Wars fan-VR ...?
;-)

#78 ::: Paul Clarke ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 07:21 AM:

Dante wrote Gary Stu fanfic.

Isn't part of the definition of Gary Stu/Marty Sam/Mary Sue that the character should be an idealised version of the author? The Dante in the Divine Commedy is constantly being criticised by Virgil and Beatrice.

#79 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 07:27 AM:

Somehow I missed Keith's statement before this, but surely it requires some minor tweakage for reality-based fanfic such as RPS (real-person slash). Still, the distinction between wish-fulfillment and satire probably remains, in that writers of Elijah Wood/Orlando Bloom smut probably have far more sandwich-filling dreams about their pair than writers of Bush/Chirac.

(RPS gives me the willies. Nevertheless, it exists.)

#80 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 08:37 AM:

Hmmm... when Virtual Reality technology finally becomes viable, will we see an explosion of Star Wars fan-VR ...?

Well, it's not quite VR yet, but there's Star Wars: Galaxies, which is an MMORPG. I have never played it, myself (my heart belongs to World of Warcraft), so I don't know how faithful the experience is, but it's certainly a step in the direction of Star Wars VR, if not "fan" VR.

#81 ::: Sarashay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 09:00 AM:

Linkmeister: I wonder whose record pushed whose buttons.

I don't think it was just one, but the one I remember distinctly was the track "Transmitting Live From Mars" by De La Soul, which used a riff from a song by The Turtles. One of the original musicians caught wind of it and the rest is litigation history.

#82 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 09:28 AM:

I know about Star Wars Galaxies. Oddly, a lot of people complain about the game's "experience" of being "in" the "Star Wars Universe". Turns out -- surprise! -- that not every player gets to be a Jedi.

Fanfiction runs into the same issue from the other direction: it makes it WAY too easy to become a Jedi...

#83 ::: Anna ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 11:08 AM:

There are several Star Wars-themed fan games, actually; SW:G is only one of the breed. I played on Star Wars MUSH for two and a half years, myself, as well as on the first iteration of SW:G; there was also one called Clone Wars MUSH. And nope, not everybody gets to be a Jedi on these games, though that isn't necessarily the goal of everybody on them anyway.

But then, "not everybody gets to have the elite position that all the stories in the actual canon are about" is true of just about all of the fandom games and groups out there. Fanfic makes it way easier than MU*'s to get your character into the position you want, sure--assuming you're writing alone. If you're in a group, you'll probably be dealing with some version of similar rules. Offline Pern fandom groups don't hand out gold and bronze dragons to everybody, either.

#84 ::: Lawrence Watt-Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 12:45 PM:

I don't have any idea what, if anything, I can do about the link to my webpage from Tor's site; that's Tor's problem, not mine.

Yes, I was using "plagiarize" in a broad sense, but there are a few bits in Dragon Weather that come pretty close to directly swiping paragraphs from the prison scenes in Count of Monte Cristo. It wouldn't be legally actionable even if Dumas were still alive and Count still under copyright, but it's close enough that I wouldn't have done it; it would have felt unethical.

Ms. Jareo doesn't seem to have the same ethics.

#85 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 01:51 PM:

Ms. Jareo doesn't seem to have the same ethics.

The Count of Monte Cristo is Public Domain, having been written in 1844. Had Walt Disney written Steamboat Willie, things might have been different, but as it stands, The Count is Public Domain. And while you are unwilling to "plagarize" a Public Domain work, it is completely legal, while Jareo "plagarized" a work still protected under copyright law. So, Jareo may not have your ethics, but what you're talking about doing is completely legal, while what Jareo did is illegal.

As an aside, wikipedia says that The Count is based on a true story, that Dumas found in a memoir written by a man named Jacques Peuchet. So, perhaps one could argue that while Jareo doesn't have the same ethics as you, she does have the same ethics as Dumas. I don't know how much Dumas lifted from the original, so it's just speculation...

#86 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 01:57 PM:

Dante did not write Gary Stu. Gary/Mary is an alter ego. Dante wrote in the first person singular, as himself.

Dante did not write Virgil fanfic. He did not use Virgil's characters or situations. He incorporated Virgil, himself, the author. Dante did use some fictional characters--Odysseus, for example--but most of the persons he used were quite real. (And I am not at all certain that Dante would have regarded Odysseus as fictional.)

The analogy would be to including George Lucas as a character in your novel. I suspect George's lawyers might have something to say about that as well, but not on copyright grounds, and perhaps not on very strong legal grounds of any sort.

#87 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Lawrence Watt-Evans: I was born in 1981, and I fully understand the difference between imitating the tone of a published author, and publishing fanfic. I don't think this had anything to do with ethics. In my humble opinion, this had to do with the gross stupidity of an 'editor' who has obviously never spoken to a legal department.

#88 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 02:23 PM:

"Just for friends and family." So, I've got to imagine that a letter like this went to same when she published it...

Dearest Family and Friends,

Please give Amazon twenny bux (each), so that you may read my brilliant Star Wars fanfic. A picture is worth a thousand words, so I am sure you will be willing to trade 20 portraits of President Washington (looking somewhat green) for 90,000 words! It's like getting 70,000 words for free! The things I do for you, my family and friends, it amazes even me. My work is over 77% free to you.

While I am sure there is no potential legal issue, I advise my friends, and indeed my family, to purchase at least one copy right away, so that if it becomes a collector's item, you'll have one to keep!

I look forward to the royalty checks and strong words of praise I am sure to be getting soon from my friends and family. Isn't that what friends are for?

If you find yourself with other questions about what would happen if two characters from someone else's story were put into a particular circumstance, I'm sure I can answer it for you for $20. I already have lots of Ideas about Legolas and Quickbeam!

Your friend (or family member),
Lori Jareo
aka Lorja Jacle


#89 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 02:45 PM:

One reason that Jareo's actions are being castigated as not only illegal but also immoral is that by her selfishness in wanting to make a few bucks*, she is potentially inviting a crackdown on fanfic in general, and therefore screwing over people who just want to have fun with their hobby.


* Her lying about this isn't helping her case either. "Friends and family", my shiny metal ass.

#90 ::: DJ Clawson ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Is this one of those things that's going to go off the market and I'm going to deeply regret not buying? Because I would be willing to pay a good 20-25 bucks for a copy of Night Travels of the Elven Vampire if anyone has one.

#91 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 03:02 PM:

The analogy would be to including George Lucas as a character in your novel. I suspect George's lawyers might have something to say about that as well, but not on copyright grounds, and perhaps not on very strong legal grounds of any sort.

Actually, I've heard that Mr. Lucas just adored this.

#92 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 03:23 PM:

As an aside, wikipedia says that The Count is based on a true story, that Dumas found in a memoir written by a man named Jacques Peuchet.

That's what he said about the Chevalier d'Artagnan, too. And Cagliostro (who we all know is not that Vinegar Joe Balsamic guy the Masons tried to fob off). And Cesare Borgia, who whatever else you can say about him at least made the trains run on time. And the Phantom of the Opera. No, wait, he didn't write about the Phantom of the Opera, that was Gaston Leroux, before he went into vaudeville with Alphonse. Well, never mind, I happen to know that one of the original "Corsican Brothers" was named Maria Susanna. I don't know what to make of that.

Anyway, I am only saying that we vaguely historical personages, wherever we are,* really do not mind very much being taken for a walk around the yard by writers, at least ones good enough to give us a few snappy lines. Julius Caesar has been dining out for a long time now on "'Et tu, Brute!' Of all the stand-ins for that particular verb I've heard, 'et' has got to be the funniest." As your King Louis the Vaguely Absent's favorite economist said, "In the long run, we're all oygeshpilt."

Yours very,
M. Planchet
Adventurous Supernumerary and General Dogsbody


*I have a nice flat in La Défense. Alphonse Donatien François, Marquis de Vous-Connais-What, is adjacent, but thank God he is downstairs. Comte de Richelieu says we are in Hell, but then he is what the English call a Eurosceptic..

#93 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Actually, I've heard that Mr. Lucas just adored this.

Funny stuff, that.

#94 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 03:41 PM:

we vaguely historical personages

get thee to a nunnery....

#95 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Mike, that's wonderful--"of all the stand-ins for that particular verb I've heard, 'et' has got to be the funniest." Indeed!

#96 ::: JoXn S Costello ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 04:28 PM:

Didn't Donald Kingsbury write and publish (to some critical acclaim) some Asimov fanfic with all the serial numbers filed off? In my opinion it was a much better development of the original Foundation universe than any of Asimov's (or Benford/Bear/Brin's) pre/sequel stuff, but nonetheless it seems as if under today's copyright regime it was just a hair to the "legal" side of the "copyright violation" line.

I don't know. It's clear that if a fictive work is of diminished coherence -- or even nonsensical -- when one hasn't read some source opus, then that work is at least artistically derivative. But should that be enough to make it legally derivative in terms of copyright law? If a global search-and-replace is enough of a legal fig leaf, why shouldn't fanfic writers just write "Garry Topper" stories. Others can then distribute a separate set of emacs and Microsoft Word macros which let readers remove the fig leaf. Or maybe fans would develop a taste for Garry/Snipe slash...

#97 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Didn't Donald Kingsbury write and publish (to some critical acclaim) some Asimov fanfic with all the serial numbers filed off?

It's a bit more original than that makes it sound, and IMO much more entertaining than Dr A's series (which has, also IMO, not aged that well). I have trouble with some of the measurement stuff being way over my head (at least the worst of it is in an appendix)! And the cover art is just almost worth the price in itself.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 04:49 PM:

John M. Ford: Everybody knows that Cesare Borgia didn't get the trains to run on time. Everybody who took the ferrovia in the Romagna or Lazio back in 1495 knows that the schedule was a joke, and the trains even more so.

#99 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Entitlement is not the starting point.

Storytelling is basic to our species. It's one of the ways we parse our experience of the universe. Whatever moves us or matters to us will show up in the stories we tell, whether or not we have a socially approved outlet for those stories. It might surprise you to find out how many writers have works of personal erotica tucked away in their unpublished-or-unpublishable manuscript trunks. There's no good way to get those published, but they write them anyway, because they're writers, and eroticism is an important part of our lives.

Good fiction gets under our skin. It can change the way we see the world. But whatever its effect, it's a significant experience. It would be a bizarre thing -- unnatural, even -- for writers to not engage with that experience. They always have. I could show you stuff centuries old -- heck, some of it's millennias old -- that's fanfic by any modern definition.

Of course, it would have to be a modern definition. In a purely literary sense, fanfic doesn't exist. There is only fiction. Fanfic is a legal category created by the modern system of trademarks and copyrights. Putting that label on a work of fiction says nothing about its quality, its creativity, or the intent of the writer who created it.

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction this year went to March, a novel by Geraldine Brooks, published by Viking. It's a re-imagining of the life of the father of the four March girls in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Can you see a particle of difference between that and a work of declared fanfiction? I can't. I can only see two differences: first, Louisa May Alcott is out of copyright; and second, Louisa May Alcott, Geraldine Brooks, and Viking are dreadfully respectable.

I'm just a tad cynical about authors who rage against fanfic. Their own work may be original to them, but even if their writing is so outre that it's barely readable, they'll still be using tropes and techniques and conventions they picked up from other writers. We have a system that counts some borrowings as legitimate, others as illegitimate. They stick with the legit sort, but they're still writing out of and into the shared web of literature. They're not so different as all that.

Fanfic means someone cares about what you wrote.

Personally, I'm convinced that the legends of the Holy Grail are fanfic about the Eucharist.

This really is a basic impulse.

I've never heard that George Lucas had a mad on for fanfic. I hope that's true, because he's probably the most successful bricoleur in late 20th Century narrative art.

Lori Jareo is stupid because she put her fanfic into print and put it up for sale on Amazon. I still can't quite believe that a working editor with a degree in Journalism could pull a stunt like that. That's as far as my condemnation goes. My only problem with her writing fanfic per se is that she's so bad at it.

#100 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:20 PM:

I've not read the book, so I'm not making any recommendations, but Tim Lucas's The Book of Renfield might be relevant to this discussion. It's a retelling of Stoker's Dracula from Renfield's point of view. The book uses the conceit that Dr. Seward is an unreliable narrator, whose phonograph diaries and transcriptions have been dishonestly edited. Lucas then presents the unedited transcriptions, which tell a different story. In practice, this means that huge chunks of Stoker's prose have been lifted verbatim from the original, with Lucas's new text interpolated. You can read an excerpt at the linked site. Stoker's prose is boldfaced; Lucas's is not.

Other than the typographical trick, this approach would seem to satisfy the hypothetical situation of plagiarizing text in the public domain. Or at least, it seems like the literary equivalent to hip-hop sampling or some kind of mashup.

(Obligatory disclaimer when linking to a commercial site: I'm not affiliated with Tim Lucas or his publisher in any way, and, again, have not even read the book beyond the linked excerpt. I do read VideoWatchdog online and lurk at the Classic Horror forums, which is where I heard about it.)

#101 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Teresa: Your last paragraph pretty much nailed it.
I suspect a lot of us have a story in our (figurative) trunk or in our head, wanting to get out but not publishable commercially because Someone With Large Lawyers would jump on us, regardless of writing quality. (I know that mine is not good writing, but I'm letting it stay where it is.)

#102 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:35 PM:

By the way, I have to disagree with Keith Kisser's statement, quoted by Yngve, that "Fanfic is different than satire. It comes wrapped in an implied desire to become part of the fictional world."

First, it's different from, not different than.

Second, neither of those characteristics is necessarily present in or absent from fanfic. Some fanfic is satirical. Much isn't. Some of it -- especially that dreck Mary Sue writes -- has an implicit desire on the part of the author to become part of the fictional world being written about; but not all fanfic has that, and that tangible desire turns up in non-fanfic stories as well.

#103 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:36 PM:

My only problem with her writing fanfic per se is that she's so bad at it: regrettable, surely, but not a prosecutable offense.

If only bad fiction were a prosecutable offense. I've read some stuff that makes me wonder just how much do I really oppose capital punishment. I realize there would be fundamental problems in determining what is and is not objectively punishable, given fiction's inherent subjective quality, however, I believe I've come up with a quite simple solution: Appoint me as sole judge and jury to the court of bad fiction. Given the possible repercussions of such an appointment, it would have to be a lifetime offer with a guaranteed salary for life so that politicians and the unruly mob that is the public would not be able to attempt to sway my opinion with monetary threats. I know such a thing would be a heavy burden, but for the small sum of a six figure salary, plus perks (list to follow) including Secret Service protection from physical threats, I'd be willing to dedicate myself to this sorely needed public service. Vote now.

#104 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Greg, there's this waiting list...

#105 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:42 PM:

there's this waiting list...

aw shoot. I better go tell my boss I was only kidding about the two weeks notice....

#106 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:55 PM:

TNH: I still can't quite believe that a working editor with a degree in Journalism could pull a stunt like that.

I think it depends on what you mean by "working editor". Lori's other Amazon credit is editor for 2001's My Search for the Son of Sam, published by Writer's Club Press/iUniverse (POD).

#107 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:56 PM:

Not only is there a waiting list, but you can't get on it without proving yourself by serving four or five years on the Crappy Folk Music Squad.

Or the Lousy Potato Salad Team.

#108 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 05:57 PM:

Greg: Appoint me as sole judge and jury to the court of bad fiction.

You want to be Oprah?

#109 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Or the Lousy Potato Salad Team.

I got food poisoning after eating some street-vendor food in Tijuana. Does that count?

#110 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 06:12 PM:

Fiction, Folk Music, and Potato salad are all taken? Fine, then put me on the "Bad Figs and Dates Detection Team for Wayward Adventurers" and add a large supply of monkeys to my perk list.

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 06:18 PM:

It's 3pm PST and it's still up on Amazon. Its ranking is dropping nicely, though, and the reviewers both gave it one star (although I'm wondering about the one who did it strictly on writing quality: didn't they notice the lack of permissions from Lucasfilm?).

Well, I don't have much luck with bets.

#112 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 06:55 PM:

M. Planchet-

Should you have occasion soon to speak with His Lordship Your Downstairs Neighbor, would you be so kind as to pass along that one M. Ducasse has just come into awareness of the idea of "Real Person Slash," and would the honorable Marquis be interested? - Though I hasten to add that it is possible Monsieur le Comte has misunderstood the term.

#113 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 07:49 PM:

M. Layman-Kennedy:

As a General Dogsbody, I am always glad to introduce persons of quality to one another, for a most modest considertation. And as M. le Marquis has never, in my admittedly limited experience of him, refused an introduction of the type to which you refer to anyone, or indeed anything, I can only suggest that you have gentlemen on immediate call to refurbish the boudoir in question.

You must excuse me now, as I am to accompany my sometime employer M. d'Artagnan and his associate M. Zoltan-Brust on an affair involving several cases of Tokaj Essencia and most likely a number of dead people. Fortunately, I wield a slashing mop, as you will learn upon the publication of my roman de cape et d'épée The Man with the Golden Gut, in which my actual role in secret affairs of state is fully disclosed for the first time. I trust that there will no trouble in such a publication, given what I read here, though the fine house of M. Retif de la Bretonne assures me that no difficulty exists.

#114 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 08:09 PM:

PJ: there are good reasons to put up a review that goes strictly on writing quality - Amazon has been removing those reviews that critiqued it on other grounds.

#115 ::: Darkrose ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 08:24 PM:

Teresa, thank you for saying what I would have said more articulately and with greater authority than I would.

As far as Lucas and fanfic, my understanding from the fringes of TPM fandom is that Lucas doesn't approve of fanfic. (He especially doesn't approve of fanfic of the Master/padawan slash variety--silly him!) Of all the fandoms to pull this in Star Wars fandom may have been the most likely to get Ms. Jareo in real legal trouble.

#116 ::: C. A. Bridges ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 08:36 PM:

The impression I had was that George wasn't fond of fanfic, but he tolerated it as a relatively harmless thing that helped his fan community. Don't know this for sure; it's rare that you'll find a creator saying out loud that he or she approves of fanfic. Bad legal precedent, there. He is, however, very fond of fan video, and even awards prizes to the good ones.

#117 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 09:41 PM:

TNH,
I have nothing to add to your eloquent explanation of the true nature of fanfiction. Wow. Well said.

On a related topic, the nytimes has this article...
Young Author Admits She Copied Another Writer with a really misleading title. It could be fertile ground for all of us to discuss the precise limits of what 'too much' appropriation is. The article give some comparison examples that are pretty interesting.

-r.

Oh, the title is "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" by Kaavya Viswanathan, pub by Little, Brown.

#118 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 10:40 PM:

The analogy would be to including George Lucas as a character in your novel.

Well, the analogue would be to create a George Lucas who really had been to the Star Wars galaxy, and put him in your work. And then go time and space travelling.

Actually, one is quite taken with this idea.

What if George Lucas were to really go to the SWG, and then meet various famous personages, in their interactions with the canonical characters?

Thatcher vs. Vader! Really, that would be fascinating.

#119 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 11:21 PM:

I think when it comes down to it, all writings are "derived works" of one sort or another, the question being more a matter of whether they were derived from Public Domain works or not. This doesn't mean the same as "there is nothing new under the sun", rather I see it as an ever cascading sequence of thesis+antithesis => synthesis, where some results are original, but still derivative in some way.

A lot of it is simply shades in a spectrum. Some works are derived 90 percent from one source, and 10 percent from everything else. That covers FanFiction and Shakespeare remakes. Other stuff might take character archetypes from 3 different stories, throw them into a world from another story, and create a new combination. It's still derivative in one sense of the word, it's just a question of how diffuse.

As for quality, I don't see why the label "fanfic" should indicate any sense of quality, any more than "horror" or "thriller" does. You can have sucky horror stuff, and you can have great horror stuff. Personally, I don't care for Horror or Fanfic, but that's just my general reaction to the genre's, which isn't the same as saying they're bad, just that I don't like them, the way I don't like seafood.

#120 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2006, 11:54 PM:

You think Thatcher vs. Vader scares me? Hah, I say.

#121 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 12:08 AM:

"I find your lack of . . . frankly, everything disturbing. To use an expression of my former master's, it is as if the Force belched once loudly and was silent."

#122 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 12:12 AM:

Good fiction gets under our skin. It can change the way we see the world. But whatever its effect, it's a significant experience. It would be a bizarre thing -- unnatural, even -- for writers to not engage with that experience. They always have.

TNH, well-said, and definitely one of the most intelligent comments I've read from anyone on the subject. (The whole thing, not just the bit I quoted.) I hope it's an essay in the making.

#123 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 12:20 AM:

Can you see a particle of difference between that and a work of declared fanfiction? I can't.

Why, you just aren't seeing that those books are literary and transcend genre, kind of the way Nicholson Baker's Vox escaped being actual porn purely because of who wrote it. I shall inform the Literary Snob Committee of your transgression forthwith.

Greg, "derivative work" has a specific legal meaning. People who want to get a good grasp on this stuff without learning it from the business end of a lawsuit are well advised to check out Nolo Press; they have a shortish book on trademark, copyright and patent that your local library in all likelihood has on hand.

#124 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 12:49 AM:

Ms. Teresa: Thank you so much for making that argument before I must go to Clarion. It's a brilliant defense for the type of writing I have been doing for most of my life.

If someone made that argument into a desktop image or a screensaver, I would use it. Um. Or if it would be ok for someone make that, I'd do it myself.

#125 ::: Dan Lewis ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 01:48 AM:

Amazon's Look Inside feature marks excerpt pages "Copyrighted Material", so I found it quite amusing that the first page of Ms. Jareo's novel consisted of the opening crawl from Episode IV.

Dante's character is much more complex than a Gary Stu. The poem is written by the real Dante from the point of view of a Dante-narrator reminiscing about a Dante-wayfarer's trip through fantastic realms. And that's just in the first nine lines.

#126 ::: Lalu ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 04:45 AM:

Um.... Did anyone ever tell her that as a writer you are SUPPOSED to proofread your stuff, and just because it's a fanfic that can be published on the internet does not mean that it is legal to publish an actual retail book? I'm an editorial journalism student at college and I hang my head in shame. Lady, go to college again and retake a course on publishing law and ethics. I don't know what crappy school you went to, but the world does not stop for "creative licensing."

#127 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 10:22 AM:

Teresa, I join in the applause.

Slightly off-topic but heartfelt: I wish there were a law against remaking already crappy movies from the Sixties and Seventies -- e.g. the new Love Bug, and now I hear they're remaking The Poseidon Adventure. (It's OK if the Simpsons do it, as in last Sunday's mini-episode. All three of those shipboard yarns were funny.)

#128 ::: Csilla Kleinheincz ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 10:41 AM:

It is a bit off-topic but in a sense it belongs here - it seems that terminally stupid writers are everywhere on the net.
is
Here a Hungarian writer claims that she has won the Nobel prize and an Oscar, too. What the most beautiful thing is, though, that she claims to have worked with Bulgakov and Virginia Woolf, both dead by the time of the supposed co-operation.

Of course, she lies, it was simply interesting to see that someone can be almost as stupid as Lori Jareo was. Or someone who sees other people as stupid.

Her excuse is her tender age and that she didn't violate any copyright laws when she published her book on Lulu. No one in her right mind would rip off something that crappy.

#129 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 10:50 AM:

Keir: Well, the analogue would be to create a George Lucas who really had been to the Star Wars galaxy, and put him in your work. And then go time and space travelling.

I take it you're a fan of Galaxy Quest?

Now that's how to do it ...

#130 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Greg, "derivative work" has a specific legal meaning. People who want to get a good grasp on this stuff

Must... control... fist... of... death...

#131 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 11:17 AM:

Teresa: "My only problem with her writing fanfic per se is that she's so bad at it."

In terms of literary craftsmanship, there's no natural law that says "Fanfiction=Lousy Writing." But I've got a bad feeling about fanfiction nevertheless. Fanfic-writing is like using training wheels.

There's nothing wrong with training wheels when you're new to using a bicycle. But at some point the training wheels should come off.

Almost every writer starts out by trying to emulate something else. That impulse -- to emulate, to seek comfort in familiarity -- is much easier to indulge in fanfiction.
To go from fanfic-writing to original writing is to take your first step into a larger world.

Search your feelings, Teresa. In your heart you know it's true.

#132 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Hmm. Does that mean that a lot of historical novels are fanfic written by history fans? I mean, what's the difference between writing novels about the rifle lieutenant you've made up meeting Wellington, and writing novels about the Jedi you've made up meeting Yoda?
And if you write historical novels in which an invented character sleeps with a lot of historical characters, is that slash? Or Flash?

#133 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 12:01 PM:

I have a very hard time with the idea that (oh, f'rinstance) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is an example of writing "using training wheels."

#134 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 01:22 PM:

Charlie Stross: just for that extra meta layer, there is Galaxy Quest fanfic.

#135 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 01:44 PM:

But at some point the training wheels should come off.

Oh, for. Why must they? Because the only purpose of writing is to sell it? Nobody tells the knitters I see on the bus that they should stop knitting unless they plan to open their own clothing shop.

Also, writing good fanfiction requires a lot of literary skills and techniques that are as difficult as those needed for original fiction--if different. It isn't, to quote an earlier commenter, equivalent to doing paint-by-numbers. And its purpose goes far beyond operating as "training wheels" for people who want to publish professionally.

Why does the (omg never-ending) argument about fanfiction always come back to the premise that something derivative cannot have any quality? And that that makes it by definition unethical?

#136 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 01:51 PM:

A.R.Yngve: But I've got a bad feeling about fanfiction nevertheless. Fanfic-writing is like using training wheels.

And published writers who sneak into the fanfic bars on the bad side of town and whip off a story or two? What, exactly, are they doing?

--

Actually, I don't disagree, completely. Sure, for some writers, fanfic is like training wheels -- and some of them will move on to your 'larger world'.

But another analogy might be that the fanfic writing world is like a world with lighter gravity. Sure, you can choose to build up your muscles and learn how to walk on Earth -- and you'll need to if you want to walk with the big guys -- but the low gravity means you can do a lot of cool fun things you can't do on Earth, so a lot of people don't see the point in moving on.

#137 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 04:32 PM:

from Amazon:
Availability: THIS TITLE IS CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE. If you would like to purchase this title, we recommend that you occasionally check this page to see if it has become available.

Should we hope that it doesn't become available?

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 05:50 PM:

All but two of the customer reviews have been deleted.

Today's Amazon.com Sales Rank: #12,901 in Books

#139 ::: hp ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 06:44 PM:

but the low gravity means you can do a lot of cool fun things you can't do on Earth, so a lot of people don't see the point in moving on

Or maybe, you've been to Earth, looked around, and decided that it wasn't your thing.

I know people in the fan fiction world who HAVE been published, with their own original fiction, in their own original worlds, and have decided to return to fan fiction. Because the fiction publishing world doesn't fulfil what they're looking for. That's not saying that either is better or worse than the other, but that different people want different things out of and for their creation.

#140 ::: Don ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2006, 08:02 PM:

I'm gobsmacked.

She's a precious little snowflake, she is.

#141 ::: P.G. Holyfield ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 01:48 AM:

"I feel myself getting stupider every time I read that line, but the good news is that I have a long way to go before I would be actually stupid enough to say that line myself." Great line.

You can't tell me this person took the steps to procure distribution (whether through Amazon Marketplace or through getting listed in Ingram's database) and didn't think there would be an issue... what a crock.

#142 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 02:28 AM:

Must... control... fist... of... death...

Look, you're throwing around a term that has both a colloquial and a legal meaning, and it's in the context of a discussion that includes legalities. I don't know why that incites you to violence.

#143 ::: Tobe ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 03:40 AM:

I don't think Virgil wrote the Aeneid because he needed training wheels or lighter gravity. But Homer was safley out of copyright by then, I guess.

#144 ::: Kevin Horner ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 07:34 AM:

Teresa,
Why are writers who attend writing clinics told not to write fanfic? The excuse given is that editors at book companies _hate_ fanfic, and "know who" the fanfic writers are... and thus will refuse to buy stories or books from people who make a name for themselves writing said fanfic.

#145 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 08:00 AM:

A friend of mine directed my attention to this page after I'd been told by someone else about Ms. Jareo's 'rewrite' of Star Wars IV. I was appalled by the whole thing, mainly because it puts other fanfic writers in a pretty poor light.

I write fanfic and I've done so for as long as I care to remember. Why do I write it? Because I want to know what happens next. I don't do it because I want to be a part of that universe.

It's fun to come up with possible scenarios. I was horrible in the beginning, but I do allow myself to believe that I've gotten better over the years. I would never try to sell my stories, though. Why? Because the characters I write about aren't mine. I try to stay as true to the original characters as I can and share my stories with people who like to read them.

I'm happy that someone strikes a blow for fanfic, because this Jareo-woman sure isn't doing us fanfic writers any favors.

Fanfic, to me, is like a hobby. It's similar to rebuilding models of great ships or planes or whatever. You put your own touch on it, but the characters should essentially remain the same.

Would I like to become a published author some day? Sure. But for now I'm happy just writing fanfic and I really don't see any reason for stoping. It makes me happy and there are some out there who like to read what I write.

All in all, I hope Amazon pulls that book soon. Maybe someone should tell Lucas Ltd about it? :) (sarcasm galore here)

#146 ::: Sofie 'Melle' Werkers ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 10:19 AM:

The excuse given is that editors at book companies _hate_ fanfic, and "know who" the fanfic writers are... and thus will refuse to buy stories or books from people who make a name for themselves writing said fanfic.

I can't speak to the publishing world, but from a fanfic writer's point of view, I must say I don't envy the person responsible of keeping track of all those fanfic writers. That would be an industry in and of itself. (Not to mention that the majority of fanfic writers use a pseudonym, and most cannot easily be traced back to their real identity, so I'm not sure how that would work, anyway.)

#147 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 04:59 PM:

As I recall, Cassie Clare (of the Very Secret Diaries) actually *got* an offer to write for Esther Friesner's Chicks in Chainmail series because of her fanfic.

I know Orson Scott Card and his writing workshops come down very heavily against fanfic.
Took me a few moments to find it, but here's his statement (along with one answer in a longer Q&A interview.

#148 ::: Sarah Mathews ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2006, 06:28 PM:

I know Susan Garrett got a book deal for the third Forever Knight novel because of her fanfic.

#149 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 09:00 AM:

Well, that's good for Susan Garrett, and I'm happy for her. Somebody has to write all those Forever Knight novels.

But suppose one *doesn't* want to write for a franchise/shared universe? What if one wants to do something entirely new?

Let me ask a question: If fanfiction writing is equally creative as "from scratch"-writing... if fanfic comes with no intellectual/creative limits whatsoever... then how come the following fanfic communities do NOT exist:

1. "Robot" fanfic: stories centered around robots/thinking machines programmed with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

2. "Heinlein Persona" fanfic: novels and stories that could have been written by Robert A. Heinlein, and are just as good as his best works.

3. "2001" fanfic: fiction set in the universe of Arthur C. Clarke's novels 2001, 2010, 3001.

4. Shakespeare fanfic: plays written in the unmistakable idiom of The Bard, exploring through deep tragedy and low comedy the many facets of human nature.

"Oh, come on," you say now. "You're just asking too much of fanfic. You can't expect fanfic to be THAT good."

But what if you wanted to write really, really well? Would fanfic help you do that, or constrain your creativity and skills in a set of artificial limitations?

#150 ::: mealworm ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Well, there's a ton of Jane Austen fanfic. Not good enough?

Frankly, the first three are a little thin on the character/emotional side. And for the fourth, the language is too remote.

#151 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 10:08 AM:

But suppose one *doesn't* want to write for a franchise/shared universe? What if one wants to do something entirely new?

(a) Nobody's arguing that EVERY wannabe author could or should be writing fanfic or that fanfic is a perfect preparation for every type of writing.

(b) Besides, I *don't* want to be a published author. I know several and read their journals and have decided I don't want to deal with agents and lengthy turnaround times anad page proofs and the rest of the scutwork. I want to write for fun and immediate gratification (by posting it online and seeing the number of hits and getting feedback) and move on.

As somebody else said in this or the other thread, I can enjoy cooking without thinking of it as preparation for opening a restaurant. I could play hoops without trying out for the Celtics, or knit without plans to sell clothing. So why treat fanfic as a "training wheels" stepping stone to publication, when most of the writers I know don't think of it that way.

(c) "Oh, come on," you say now. "You're just asking too much of fanfic. You can't expect fanfic to be THAT good."
And that conclusion is a logical fallacy from what you've previously posted.
Just because you haven't seen the kinds of literary fic you claim doesn't exist doesn't mean they're not out there. [And right now, I don't have time to look for them. Stories centered around Asimov's 3 Laws aren't necessarily fanfic, as those have been adopted by many others in the genre. I have seen other fanfic set in the "style" including some great drawing room mysteries. And I do know of a Bard slash community.]

#152 ::: C. Elisa ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 10:38 AM:

A.R.Yngve, there's certainly Shakespeare fanfic, though I don't think any of it is play-length and I doubt whether any of it really sounds like Shakespeare.

I don't know if any of your other three examples exist, but it's certainly not obvious to me that if they did exist they would be better than any current fanfic. I'm a little mystified as to what those examples are supposed to prove.

But, moving to what I take to be your main point, if anyone said that fanfic doesn't "constrain your creativity and skills in a set of artificial limitations" then they were obviously nuts. Of *course* it constrains creativity. So does the sonnet form, or haiku, or the limerick, or the novel. Or any genre. Providing a useful and interesting set of constraints for writers to work with -- or against -- is part of what literary traditions are for.

If you wanted to write really good original fiction, then writing fanfic would develop some skills you'd need but not others. It would also develop a few specialized skills that you'd never need in your publishable writing -- like the ability to convince people that the Kirk, Harry, C.J., or Magneto in your story is not just some other interesting character by the same name but actually the one they know and love. I don't think that "training wheels" is a very good metaphor for this.

#153 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:00 AM:

How about "Tam Lin" as a mashup of Shakespeare, Barrayar, and Pamela Dean via Jo Walton? (and the Wayback Machine)

#154 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 11:06 AM:

There's lots and lots of Chaucer fan fic, some of it so good that it was thought to be Chaucer's work until forensic scholarship of the twentieth century indicated otherwise.

And the various "continuations" of Austen and Bronte are certainly fan fic.

#155 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 12:13 PM:

writing fanfic would develop some skills you'd need but not others. It would also develop a few specialized skills that you'd never need in your publishable writing -- like the ability to convince people that the Kirk, Harry, C.J., or Magneto in your story is not just some other interesting character by the same name but actually the one they know and love.

On the other hand, there is plenty of published writing using historical figures as major characters, where you do have to convince readers of authenticity in just the same way. For example, Ron Goulart wrote and published a series of mysteries featuring Groucho Marx. [I haven't read them, but how does that differ in skillset?]

Similar analogy applies for recreating settings.

#156 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 12:18 PM:

how come the following fanfic communities do NOT exist:

1. "Robot" fanfic: stories centered around robots/thinking machines programmed with Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

There have been attempts at starting communities, but they seem to have been overwhelmed by fic for the movie.

There is a smattering of Foundation fic out there, some in traditional fic channels and some published in book form. (Yes, I consider Foundation's Friends to be birthed from the same impulse that gives us Harry Potter fic.)

2. "Heinlein Persona" fanfic: novels and stories that could have been written by Robert A. Heinlein, and are just as good as his best works.

Er, when did writing in the original author's voice become a requirement?

At any rate, what mealworm said. I could perhaps see something similar to men's action-adventure books set in the Starship Troopers world. Frankly, the people I've known who might have the interest to turn their hands to such an endeavor seem to get more satisfaction from Trillion Credit Squadron than from writing character-driven narrative.

3. "2001" fanfic: fiction set in the universe of Arthur C. Clarke's novels 2001, 2010, 3001.

Not open enough, I think. What story could you set there that wouldn't work in any other optimistic near-future setting? I have seen Rama fanfic, though.

4. Shakespeare fanfic: plays written in the unmistakable idiom of The Bard, exploring through deep tragedy and low comedy the many facets of human nature.

Heh. I've seen a couple of attempts, but the impulse never seems to last past the first 500 lines or so. There's a reason poetry teachers try to discourage their students from writing in archaic language, after all.

As an alternative, may I suggest Chaucer's Blog?

#157 ::: Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 01:22 PM:

2. "Heinlein Persona" fanfic: novels and stories that could have been written by Robert A. Heinlein, and are just as good as his best works.

Old Man's War, complete with damn-near Mary Sue authorial insertion. And it's a fine, kick-ass book.

#158 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 02:34 PM:

Well, that's good for Susan Garrett, and I'm happy for her. Somebody has to write all those Forever Knight novels.

But suppose one *doesn't* want to write for a franchise/shared universe? What if one wants to do something entirely new?

Plenty of fanfic writers have done that, too. Plenty of pro writers have done fanfic, either before or during their professional careers.

Shakespearean fanfic would be publisheable as Shakespeare is int he public Domain. To a certian degree, I thought The Lady's Not for Burning was just that; an attempt to write in a Shakespearean style and mentality that was good enough to publish on its own merits (Thoughy whether it was really successful at capturing Shakespeare is another question.).

#159 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 03:02 PM:

A William Shakespeare fanfic - excerpt from THE INCONTINENT'S TRAGEDY:

Always the worst of times
force the worst of choices.
Should one rise from bed at the wolf's hour,
and drag ones feet like prisoner's ball and chain,
and let one's water with a weary head,
and fail to fall asleep again?
Or stay in bed, half asleep, in bladder pains, trapped between the worlds of dream and waking life,
until one soils the sheets and makes them smell like a pathethic infant's crib?
What wonder is Man's body, that holds its water like a sieve.
For Man's control of water's nothing but a brief dry spell,
Between the newborn's moistened diapers
and the trembling aged man's Depends.

#160 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 03:09 PM:

Shakespeare fan fic --

Westside Story? Films like O?

Certainly there's Shakespearean fan fic in the eighteenth century, with all the alterate endings / rewrites by Dryden et all -- there's a very famous version of Lear where Cordelia doesn't die--I thought surely that had been mentioned, but I can't see in the thread.

I'm waiting for someone to opine that Shakespeare's oevre is Marlowe fan fic . . .

#161 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 03:31 PM:

Lisa Spangenberg: If I were sporting, I'd Kyd you not, but that is a mighty line, and outshines Lyly.

#162 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Featured on NPR- All Thinks Considered - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5367135 today with Lev Grossman of Time making so many of the same points covered here you'd think he'd read it here first.

All Things Considered, April 27, 2006 · This week, there are two stories of novels that draw too heavily on the work of other writers. Novelist and book critic Lev Grossman says that Kaavya Viswanathan deserves all the criticism she is getting.

But, Grossman says, Melissa Jareo (who wrote an unauthorized Star Wars book) is one of the unsung heroes of the wired, post-modern cultural universe: a fan-fic, or fan fiction, writer.

#163 ::: Robozilla ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Upon being awed by another creator's work, a moderately creative person may ask him/herself, "How can I expand on this?" A truly creative one asks, "How can I top this?"

#164 ::: Zorroasskickian ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 01:26 AM:

Ok- cruising the net looking for SW fanfic gets you quite a few sites SELLING fanzines for $25 or more each. I am assuming these people have more than one copy to sell- self published too. And I'll bet some of it is just as bad as Jareo's novel.
So aside from the high profile of Amazon, how is using the net to sell her fanfic make Jareo any more the copyright violator than these people?
And couldn't she just list this book on Ebay? Lots of fanfic on sale there too.
How about people selling Cafepress. items with SW characters on them?
Is it selling at all that's taboo? Selling in(magic number)quantity? Selling on a high profile retail site instead of your own? I fail to see the different degree of copyright infringement re. money when Jareo's book is offered for sale at LESS than the price of some zines being hawked on websites.
Maybe Jareo should claim the same right to sell her work online that so many others have- and just put up her own freesite to advertise it. If Lucas isn't moved to act against SW slash all over private sites, Jareo should be safe with simply mediocre fanfic on one.

#165 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:16 AM:

I think that you're seeing a sort of generation gap between the old ways of selling fanfic and the new.

There's an old "don't ask, don't tell" policy among most copyright holders regarding printed fanfic. If you had to type it on a typewriter, manually cut and paste, pay to have it Xeroxed, pay again to have it bound (or buy your own equipment), then drive to the nearest con to sell it (or take out an ad in another fan publication), you weren't likely to produce a big run of your Uhura/Chekhov romance anthology--and the cover price rarely covered your costs. In general, copyright holders considered these scarce and obscure titles to be so insignificant that it was cheaper just to ignore them.

The keywords here are "scarce" and "obscure." Take your hypothetical Uhura/Chekhov romance anthology online, start your own POD or e-book publishing house, get some ISBNs, and advertise on sites that reach millions of people every day--well, that's a whole other ball game.

So far, as far as I know, the people who are buying and selling the old printed zines via the Web are still escaping official displeasure because they're dealing in an ever-diminishing pool of old printed matter. Scanning an old zine into one's computer and printing on demand (or selling e-books) probably would result in at least a cease-and-desist letter, however. People who print new works of fanfic to sell at cons are on shakier ground, if I recall correctly, because Joe Fan now has an easier time producing something that looks professional in relatively large quantities. Still, they're minnows.

But, behold, I am young in the ways of fandom and ignorant of lawyerdom. Here is your grain of salt. Bon appetit.

#166 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 03:54 AM:

Quote:
"But, Grossman says, Melissa Jareo (who wrote an unauthorized Star Wars book) is one of the unsung heroes of the wired, post-modern cultural universe: a fan-fic, or fan fiction, writer."

Ah.
Jareo is "post-modern". That makes all the difference.

See, Kaavya Viswanathan isn't a "plagiarist", she's "post-modern". James Frey isn't a "con man", he's "post-modern".

Oliver North wasn't a liar, he was a "post-modern soldier" fighting a "post-modern" war. *1980s timewarp!*

#167 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 04:03 AM:

Post-Modern implies that she was doing it on purpose, reminiscent to Warhol, Jaspers, etc. I prefer `idiotic' for what she did, myself, as it has no meta-cultural irony overtones.

Of course, some feel that `idiotic' and `Post-Modern' are the same. I agree, sometimes.

#168 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 05:16 AM:

Stylistic imitations, of Heinlein or anyone else, are AFAIK perfectly legal to publish. You will find stories like this everywhere: they will just not be in the "ghetto", being written for love and no money.

Shakespearean homages of all sorts, likewise, are to be found in your friendly neighborhood bookstore. Heck, some of Neil Gaiman's Sandman counts for this.

#169 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 07:46 AM:

By the way... Has anyone looked into which subcategory of fanfic is the most popular among readers?

(There are things Man was never meant to know...)

#170 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 08:56 AM:

By the way... Has anyone looked into which subcategory of fanfic is the most popular among readers?
It's been a while, but last time I checked fanfiction.net, it was Harry Potter by far.

Caveat: FFN isn't the only place where fanfic is posted, and it's really only a good judge of recent fanfic. I'm sure if you looked back at all the zines and APAs, Star Trek has history in its side.

That said, reasons why Harry Potter is head & shoulders more popular:

  • The popularity of the source material
  • The lengthy gap between installments (one week between TV episodes vs years between books -- gives more time for speculation and more time to write epics)
  • The target audience is younger (there are a lot of kids writing Potter fic)
  • The versatility of the world. Magic is much more showy than in LotR, for example
    Um, I had some other thoughts but they slipped my mind.
  • Harry Jenkins of MIT has done academic research on fanfic and fan communities, if you're interested...

    #171 ::: beccaelizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 09:14 AM:

    Harry Jenkins of MIT

    Henry Jenkins

    Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture

    is the book I've got in my to read pile

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Jenkins

    #172 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2006, 10:40 PM:
    Thank you for your interest in Another Hope. The book has been removed from the Books in Print database and will be removed from book distribution channels ...
    #173 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 01:19 AM:

    "This isn't the book you're looking for. Move on."

    #174 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 01:38 PM:

    The Amazon page returns a 404 error.

    #175 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 02:12 PM:

    Here we have the ST Literary Agency (now known as the Stylus Literary Agency, part of The Literary Agency Group (that includes The Screenplay Agency), offering to represent a Narnia fanfiction novel:

    http://www.fortunecity.com/rivendell/perilith/179/ripoff.html

    #176 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 03:06 PM:

    If fanfiction writing is equally creative as "from scratch"-writing... if fanfic comes with no intellectual/creative limits whatsoever... then how come the following fanfic communities do NOT exist:

    Because fanfic thrives in fandoms that are full of holes -- poor plotting, inconsistent characterization, half-realized worlds are the building blocks fanficcers use.

    It's the tales where the *story* is good and the execution is iffy that that attract fanficcers. That's why Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter are big fandoms, and West Wing or Les Miserables fandoms are comparatively *small*. There's a lot of wiggle room in Wizarding Britain because JKR tends to wing her world-building (and can only count to hrair, which makes determining the relative ages of her characters impossible), while it's pretty well known how the White House works, if you look at the real thing.

    Also, fanfic about books is a lot rarer than fanfic about television or movies. Focusing on written works, when fanfic is more often about *performed* works, is only going to get you so far.

    #177 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 05:30 PM:

    neotoma wrote:

    "fanfic thrives in fandoms that are full of holes -- poor plotting, inconsistent characterization, half-realized worlds are the building blocks fanficcers use. It's the tales where the *story* is good and the execution is iffy that that attract fanficcers."

    Now there's an intriguing reply. Fanfiction abhors a vacuum!
    :)

    I can understand and respect that impulse, but... I don't share it.

    Because I think stories SHOULD be incomplete. There's something oppressive about a narrative that tries to cover every single minute and detail of its characters' lives.

    I believe Gödel's Theorem should be applied to fiction: reality cannot be fully explained and understood. Some part of it, of ourselves, will always remain untold.
    (For example: Can you remember your own birth? The most important day of your life, and you FORGOT it!)

    #178 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 06:34 PM:

    Because fanfic thrives in fandoms that are full of holes -- poor plotting, inconsistent characterization, half-realized worlds are the building blocks fanficcers use.

    I think I may agree with the concept here, but I can't buy any of the descriptors.

    There's room for fan fiction when the source material leaves such room. Series television (and series novels) almost always create larger worlds than the author chooses (or can) fill. There must have been other Lensmen beating the Material Cosmic Crap out of Eddore while the Kinnisons were center-stage; I'll bet cool things happened to some of them. (And, of course, other people, beginning in Smith's lifetime and with his approval, have written stories set in the Lensman Universe.)

    Some things don't leave that kind of room. There was actually a short-lived radio series called "The Lives of Harry Lime," with Orson Welles, about the early adventures of the character -- presumably when he was still a good guy (and the story doesn't work if he never was). But of course the Good Harry Lime is just another international adventurer. And we know what went on offstage in "The Procurator of Judea."*

    I certainly accept that much fanfic is inspired by what the writer perceives to be bad characterization and faulty plotting, and in some cases -- probably many cases -- evidence could be found to support this. But:

    -- This is the writer's assessment. To pick an example that's already widely known, a "happy ending" to "Puff, the Magic Dragon" in which Puff and Jackie get to live forever is to have not one single neuron attuned to what the song is about.
    -- In the case of ongoing source works, the source author may have things in mind that will, down the pike, cause the "sloppy plot" or "mischaracterization" to make perfect sense -- and if the author is subtle and skilled, cause the shift to seem obvious in hindsight.

    A "half-realized world" would be one that doesn't make complete sense from what's in the source. In this case, practically every novel ever written has been set in a "half-realized world." It's not the same thing as "Gosh, they didn't spend as much time as I wanted in the Slough of Despond. I'll bet there were neat monsters there that they could have fought." (Yes, that's a cheap shot, but so is the "half-realized" line.) Now, if you meant "incompletely filled-out" world -- or universe, since there must be thousands of Lucasian planets** we haven't seen in the fillums or books, that would be a quite different thing.

    Failures aren't "building blocks." You can't build on sludge. You can, however, carve a block that fills the volume the sludge occupied, and you can fill lacunae. The thing is, sometimes the gaps in the wall were left there for deliberate aesthetic reasons -- like, for instance, to reduce the overall weight. It is not always necessary, in a large, complex novel with many intersecting characters, to know what each and every one of them was doing at all points in the narrative. (I am in the middle of such a novel right this here minute, and suddenly I want someone who's been Elsewhere Doing Other Things to show up and say, "Look, I ate and slept and went potty a few times. Also there was this guy with a split-level hayloft. We have more important things to worry about than where the fandango I was." I probably won't, though. Another book.)

    Look, I'm not going to call anything a priori a bad reason for writing a story. But of the many reasons (all valid) for writing fan fiction, wanting to "fix what's broke" is among the less likely to satisfy anyone who does not precisely share the author's conviction as to what was broke in the first place.

    *Which I don't think I would classify as St. J. the D. Fanfic, though it seems that some folks might.

    **There is a wonderful story in this -- it could even be Trek fanfic, but that is the Left Hand Path Making a Rude Gesture -- and if I were Charlie Stross I would write it as soon as I could.

    #179 ::: Alta_J ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 06:58 PM:

    Zorroasskickian writes: SELLING fanzines for $25 or more each. I am assuming these people have more than one copy to sell- self published too. And I'll bet some of it is just as bad as Jareo's novel.

    Fanzines are arguably in that definitely gray area as opposed to the maybe gray of fan fiction in that the majority of fanzines (majority, not all) are compilations of the works of multiple fan writers which are assembled by a third party and then sold, ostensibly for cost, although that's arguable too depending on what method is used for printing and binding. (i.e. entirely self-published using your home printer and/or copier or printing then copying at work or kinkos -- or taking an entire galley to a local printshop and allowing them to do the work). Anyway, I think you get the point. The best regarded of the fanzines publishers (and by that I mean those considered more legitimate than others) are distributing and selling their zines for the approximate cost of the actual production and that price may or may not include shipping costs. There are plenty of zine producers who abuse that base-line understanding of what is and isn't acceptable and what's considered legitimate costs and others who regularly take a personal financial loss to produce something they love.

    But in most (again not all) it's not the writers who are selling their work -- they aren't being paid for their work. They are likely to get a trib copy or two but that's pretty much it.

    But Zines do come under more scrutiny and most of the C&D letters I am personally aware of have been issued to zine producers (regardless of whether they observe the base line cost recoupment or not) for just that reason. Accepting money for fan authored works makes them higher profile and yet zines are one of the oldest forms of fan wiritng exchanges out there.

    #180 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 07:31 PM:

    Alta, in places on the internet you find some folks very vocally defending zines as being more legit than other fanfic and many saying that zines have never had problems with a long proud history of acceptance, even passive endorsment. In other words spreading myths to the next generation.
    Over in Fandom Wank some one who does overpriced Harry Potter zines engaged in that arguement, it was messy and she came across as delusional.She sounded rather cult like in her arguements. The internet throws a bad kink into things because it is mass comunications and mass distribution. It is in it's own way a form of publishing and it is a public place.

    #181 ::: Alta_J ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 07:56 PM:

    T.W. the only thing I can say is that as avid a defender of fan produced works as I am, I'm also a firm believer that the commercial markets and the fannish ones should only ever cross over where the commercial markets allow -- you know unless some landmark copyright/trademark case sets it jurisdictionally in stone.

    The only even partial claim, as far as I'm concerned, zines have over other fan created textual work is both historical (they've been around longer) and in a few cases editorial -- but editorial oversight in zine production isn't universal and the quality of it, as in all things, varies greatly.

    Overpriced zines annoy the hell out of me because yes, I do know what it costs and the effort involved and I've been known to slap down more than one producer for trying to get even $15 on a single column, too much white space, single writer story that comes in at 100 pages with bad typesetting.

    I don't have an issue with fans recouping costs (for good or bad, agree or disagree, that's my line in the sand for the most part), and I like the physical appeal of a good zine the same way I appreciate a good book or magazine.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no great fannish consensus on anything, even among a single fandom, much less spread over the several thousand active fannish communities. So, while there are regular slap downs for the most egregious violators of common sense, there is not nor ever has been an appointed cadre of fannish police.

    But I readily admit that many fans can be and are delusional to the point of stupidity at times. And many of them are the ones you look at and say loudly, "Stop being on my side. You aren't helping." Because they aren't.

    And to those who think they've got tacit or implicit permission to sell their goods and wares, I have to admit to a certain amount of unattractive self-righteous smugness when their noodly little ideas get slapped from their heads with some authority. Arguably I wish they wouldn't do it at all.

    They, like Jareo, are screwing things up for the rest of us who are quietly agreeing with the original creators and sources in saying, "What's yours is yours, and what's mine is yours and thank you for not taking my (your) toys away. Here, let me buy another book/DVD/tie-in product to show my devotion."

    The only next generation of fans I can influence are those in my immediate circle and yes, fannish ethos and behavior are frequent topics in my circle, but there's a point where I'm preaching to the choir and we all sing a little off key most days anyway.

    #182 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2006, 08:18 PM:

    "The only next generation of fans I can influence are those in my immediate circle and yes, fannish ethos and behavior are frequent topics in my circle, but there's a point where I'm preaching to the choir and we all sing a little off key most days anyway."

    Take that choir on a world tour hon. Sell the t-shirt and autographed colectors albums. ;)

    #183 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 11:25 AM:

    The other thread got too long, so I'll try this one...

    In a perfect world, the relationship between J.K.Rowling and the people who write Harry Potter fanfic would be full of mutual respect and affection.

    But here in the real world, psychological tensions must emerge between the two parties. I don't need to ask Rowling how she relates to fanfic writers. But how do fanfic writers relate to Rowling?

    Does the fanfic writer see the original author as
    A) a competitor?
    B) A parental figure, to be rebelled against or negotiated with?
    C) A nuisance who steals the fanfic writer's place in the limelight?
    D) A creative demiurge to be deferred to?

    Or a mixture of all four?

    In any case, I can't imagine fanfic writers feeling entirely neutral about the original author.

    #184 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 09:26 PM:

    Now there's an intriguing reply. Fanfiction abhors a vacuum!
    :)

    I can understand and respect that impulse, but... I don't share it

    Yes, but if you are not curious about how the Jedi work, there are a lot of people who are and will come up with their own theories based on what was seen in the movies. Some of them will write fairly nifty essays telling about how the Jedi might work. Others will write stories showing how the Jedi might work. And some people will cosplay it out at conventions. It really depends on how people express their creativity.

    Lots of media fanfic works on the idea of "how does X work is tv series Y?" or "what would character Z from movie W do if stuck in situation v?"

    #185 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2006, 10:34 PM:

    Um. Lots of fiction works along the lines of "what would character Z that I thought up myself do in situation v?"

    That is, if fanfiction is driven by that impulse, then fanfiction is fiction minus n, n being greater than zero and defined as the number of elements that are borrowed.

    #186 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 03:04 PM:

    JKR tends to wing her world-building (and can only count to hrair[...])

    chuckle.

    #187 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2006, 06:19 PM:

    But how do fanfic writers relate to Rowling?

    Depends on your OTP, especially after Half-Blood Prince.

    Want to see the crazy in fandom? Just check out the Harry/Hermione fans.

    That is, if fanfiction is driven by that impulse, then fanfiction is fiction minus n, n being greater than zero and defined as the number of elements that are borrowed.

    Plot bunnies don't care about that distinction. Sometimes, you have to write out the fic just to get the characters to stop intruding on the non-fic story.

    #188 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 02, 2006, 03:28 AM:

    Shakespeare fanfic:

    Surely I'm not the only one here who remembers A Midsummer's Tempest?

    #189 ::: Amanda ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2006, 06:39 PM:

    (Dropping in after getting here through a link in an "Opal Mehta" debate.)

    More Shakespeare: He's a major main character in Harry Turtledove's alternate history book "Ruled Britannia", dealing with 'what if the Spanish Armada conquered Britain'. The book's also written with the dialogue in the proper Shakespearian language. Total "AU", to use a fanfic term, but it's really engrossing.

    #190 ::: Xopher finds startlingly blatant comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 11:36 AM:

    Yeesh.

    #191 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 12:06 PM:

    I categorically deny being the above commenter.

    #192 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 12:35 PM:

    I deny being you, too.

    Oh, wait, you meant...well, of course. You'd have to have spelled even your NAME incorrectly if you were!

    #193 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 02:17 PM:

    X:I deny being you, too.

    Oh, wait, you meant...well, of course. You'd have to have spelled even your NAME incorrectly if you were!

    Actually, we may be on to something. We can start a philisophical school of thought based on denial of being each other. We'd be denialists.

    #194 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: May 11, 2006, 11:32 PM:

    John M. Ford: To pick an example that's already widely known, a "happy ending" to "Puff, the Magic Dragon" in which Puff and Jackie get to live forever is to have not one single neuron attuned to what the song is about.

    I would agree with you -- except that the first time I ever heard anyone sing such a thing, it was Peter, Paul and Mary in concert. I was... well, taken aback. To put it mildly.

    #195 ::: Jonathan Shaw ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2006, 12:47 AM:

    Some people do spell it "Micheal", and with good precedent -- as I found out when, as a far-too-young teacher, I corrected a child's spelling of his own name.

    #196 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 12, 2006, 03:38 PM:

    Jonathan Shaw: Somehow, I don't think celebrated Irish actors (Micheal Mac Liammoir) are likely to be spreading comment spam....

    #197 ::: Micheál Mac Liammóir ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 02:09 AM:

    And had it been myself indeed, no doubt I would have put in the proper accents.

    #198 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 09:57 AM:

    if the main stream of character is not correct the original author must be perceived as a betrayer, a heretic.

    #199 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 12:59 PM:

    Micheál Mac Liammóir: No doubt you would have.

    #200 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 03:12 PM:

    OK, really stupid question here. How do you get the accents on when posting? (I have a U.S. keyboard without any.)

    #201 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 03:35 PM:

    well, could probably use entities, let's see:
    à

    yep that works in preview, suppose it will work in post as well, so follow this link:

    http://www.htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/entities/latin1.html

    the characters are represented by the & followed by a sequence of letters ending in a ;

    #202 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 03:36 PM:

    AliceB: It's a simple trick involving using the numeric keypad with num lock on. Also memorising the number required for the characters you're most likely to use.

    Look for the character map in your Accessories folder, and you'll see that each character has a numeric code which can be entered by holding down the ALT key and typing in the number from the keypad. For example, lower-case acute-accented 'e' (é) is ALT0233.

    #203 ::: Michael Croft ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 03:37 PM:


    Alice: You use HTML entities, like &aacute.;

    #204 ::: AliceB ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 08:08 PM:

    bryan, Fragano and Michael, thank you! The HTML information webpage is now on my favorites list, and I'm off to explore my Accessories folder.

    #205 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: May 13, 2006, 10:42 PM:

    Fragano: That only works on Windows machines, not for Macs. Of course Macs have fairly simple keyboard shortcuts -- for instance you can type option-u and then a letter to get the letter umlauted. E.g. ä. Or you can go to the character palette.

    #206 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2006, 02:04 PM:

    David Goldfarb: You're undoubtedly right.

    AliceB: Good luck!

    #207 ::: Micheál Mac Liammóir ::: (view all by) ::: May 14, 2006, 03:41 PM:

    Actually, I typed it in OpenOffice and pasted it in.

    #208 ::: John M. Ford spots the wonderful adspam ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2006, 07:30 PM:

    Because everybody knows that people don't mean it when they filter crap.

    #209 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 15, 2006, 10:20 PM:

    I sure wish there was some way of breaking the websites that post these things, instead of just deleting them.

    #210 ::: Andrew Willett sees further coment spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 17, 2006, 09:56 AM:

    I think we should find some way to put the phone number they so helpfully provided to its proper use, though.

    #211 ::: Fanfic Lover ::: (view all by) ::: June 06, 2007, 08:36 PM:

    Assuming she actually has a degree from a "real" University (not the kind you get spam from every day), I'd love to know which institution. If her ethics professor gave her a passing grade, TPTB should seriously review the syllabus and testing procedures for that class!

    #212 ::: . ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2007, 09:38 PM:

    .

    [posted from 222.66.57.38]

    #213 ::: Alicia ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2008, 11:33 AM:

    Oh! I like this, I read more info here about Star Wars. It's a bit more original than that makes it sound, and IMO much more entertaining than Dr A's series. I have trouble with some of the measurement stuff being way over my head! And the cover art is just almost worth the price in itself.

    #214 ::: amanda ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:13 PM:

    hello i was just wondering if you guys know where i can go to post criminal minds fanfiction just email me at s9amill1@tehama.k12.ca.us
    if you know. thank you.

    #215 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 01:47 PM:

    There's always FanFiction.net. It's called the Pit of Voles for a reason, but there is good stuff there if you care to dig (and like fanfic).

    #216 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: February 05, 2008, 05:08 PM:

    Guide to Criminal Minds Fandom on Live Journal. This includes several fic communities.

    #217 ::: Ludens sees old comment spam ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2011, 11:01 AM:

    #218 from "mermer"

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