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May 22, 2007

Fanfiction, Monetized
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:15 AM *

Latest entry in the list of Gosh Wow ideas: Making money from fan fiction!

Seems that a group called FanLib (read their press release) is planning to Bring Fan Fiction into the Mainstream. They got $3 million from investors, and they’re off, as if the Dot Com Bubble had never burst.

This got the reaction from fanfic fandom that you’d expect: “Synergy is all well and good until someone stumbles upon that Shrek/Gandalf/Harry Potter threesome BDSM fic and has an aneurysm.”

May I invite your attention to the remarks of AngiePen and Caer in this thread at Mashable?

Somehow I am unsurprised that Simon & Schuster is involved.

My prediction? They’ll burn through their investors’ cash (just like fandom.com did) and leave a smoking hole in the ground when they crash (just like fandom.com did).

Making Light generally approves of fan fiction. See, for example, “Fanfic”: force of nature; Annals of short-lived phenomena: Star Wars fanfic on Amazon; Namarie Sue; Literary Diggers; and much else besides (Mike Ford Occasional Works, Pts. 1-8 being examples).

It strikes me that FanLib breaks no ground and fills no need (other than the need of its investors to make money). As such, it will not prosper.

Comments on Fanfiction, Monetized:
#1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:45 AM:

If fanfic writers are living in and fixing up buildings that theoretically belong to other people, FanLib's the guy who shows up to try to collect the rent, even though he doesn't own the buildings and hasn't done any of the fix-up work.

#2 ::: jmnlman ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:02 AM:

I can hear the lawyers firing up their word processors.

#3 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:06 AM:

They have some at least tacit approval of various intellectual property holders, see their site for various indications of this.

I'd like to know which way the money is flowing here, if it is flowing between fanlib and the various IPs. Is, say, CBS paying fanlib or is fanlib paying CBS?

I can see good points and bad points about the whole concept and am sitting firmly on the fence until I'm convinced one way or another.

It is a very nice well-designed site, for what it's worth. But, well, I have some issues that I truly hope they'll address.

#4 ::: Admiral Ackbar ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:12 AM:

It's a trap!

#5 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:16 AM:

I started making popcorn as soon as I heard about it a couple of days ago...

Apart from all the other things already raised in various venues, I can see there being fireworks when a couple of the old fandoms with Views on warnings clash horribly with the current ethos of warning for absolutely anything that people might possibly not want to read. It's going to be *really* fun when My Fandom, known for its "no death warnings because because killing them all is canonical, deal with it" faction, decides to mess with people's heads.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:23 AM:

Woo! Look at what showed up in the Google Ads over to the right!

Yep, an ad for FanLib!

(This is an idiosyncratic reaction, but my instant reaction to seeing anything in a Google-ad is that it's a scam.)

#7 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:32 AM:

Julia: That would be Blake's 7, then?

My own trivial gripe about fanlib is that it's just going to encourage those godawful juvenile smushnames. There's no way to search by pairing (their search facility is woefully lacking in general), so if you're writing slash or het and want people to able to find your story, you'll need to tag it. You can't use slashes in tags, so for instance, instead of Buffy/Angel people are going to tag their stories "bangel". I've already spotted one "mcshep". Yuck.

#8 ::: telesilla ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:40 AM:

James #6:

I'm curious, was it just a text ad or one of these? Their idea of what kind of advertising appeals to fanfic writers is...bizarre at the very least.

#9 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:58 AM:

#8: It's one of those automatically-generated text ads, in the "Ads by Google" box in the right-hand column on this page. It's the second from the top right now in that box as I look at it.

The full text of the ad reads:

Fan Fiction
Showcase and Discover Fan Fiction Where the stories continue...
FanLib.com


Just like a PublishAmerica ad or a New York Literary Agency ad, or any of the other literary-related ads that turn up in those Google-boxes.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:00 AM:

that Shrek/Gandalf/Harry Potter threesome

No foursome of Captain Kirk, Captain Crane and Doctor Smith and the Robot? Oh, the pain...

#11 ::: Crysiana ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:16 AM:

Some people have also suggested that it's possible that the site is aiming to draw in fanfiction authors to trap them. While I tend to view that as an overly paranoid view (as companies could find fanfiction authors easily in other ways), it's another reason authors are going to avoid it.

#12 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:36 AM:

A huge honeypot to get the authors' names, addresses, and phone numbers? (What possible legitimate need could they have for the authors' phone numbers?)


-------------

Meanwhile, imagine my joy at discovering that Mary Sue Whipple is mentioned in the official history of Godawful Fan Fiction (http://www.godawful.net/)

(And here's someone who didn't get the joke: http://www.geocities.com/blablover5/fics/msw.html)

Ah, Mary Sue Whipple! When will we see your likes again?

That's what FanLib needs: More Mary Sue Whipple!

#13 ::: Kylni ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:44 AM:

Maybe I'm the only one, but after several years in fandom, anyone who not only spells "fan fiction" out, but uses a space (As FanLib does both on their site and in their ad), immediately screams "not in fandom" to me.

I suspect that any audience they gain is not going to be people who are in fandom now, but rather new people who stumble across it. This depresses me, because these people will then think that it is representative, while most anyone who writes quality fiction is likely going to stay the hell away.

#14 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:00 AM:

Maybe I'm the only one, but after several years in fandom, anyone who not only spells "fan fiction" out, but uses a space (As FanLib does both on their site and in their ad), immediately screams "not in fandom" to me.

What, you mean like what Uncle Jim did several times in the original post?

Making Light generally approves of fan fiction. See, for example....
Is this going to turn into one of those sci-fi vs. SF vs. skiffy faction wars?
#15 ::: Kylni ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:14 AM:

I didn't mean it in a negative way. I just mean that everyone I know who writes fanfiction regularly - at least in the anime/game part of fandom, which is where I hang out, though I don't remember noticing major differences in my forays into TV fandom - says "fanfic" habitually (or occasionally just "fic", or "fanfiction" if they're feeling elucidative). And I just noticed the other day when talking to a non-fanfic-writer friend that it looked odd when he spelled it "fan fiction."

And I feel like any archive run by actual authors, or people who interact with fanfic authors on a regular basis, would have used the compound word. That's all.

...And I may just be completely insane anyway, as it looks like my archive of choice when I'm not on LJ, FicWad, says "fan fiction," though it may be for parallelism - "original and fan fiction."

So really I may not have a point at all! Just an observation of dubious value.

#16 ::: Kylni ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Also, it must be getting late, because my close-reading skills are suffering. I did re-skim the original post to make sure it wasn't going to look like I was insulting anyone, and I caught "Fanfiction" in the title and a couple of uses of "fanfic," though yes, the two-word version is in there as well.

And looking at FicWad again, while the header says what I stated above, just below that it says "fanfiction and original fiction."

Maybe it's a matter of context?

In any case, I better get to bed, before I fail at this conversation any further.

#17 ::: marty ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:42 AM:

Jim says "Fanfic" as well as "Fan Fiction". I'm thinking that they are both legitimate -- The full "Fan Fiction", or the fannish "fanfic".

#2: I can hear the lawyers firing up their word processors.

To write legalslash?

#18 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:01 AM:

So the ultimate goal of the fanfic community is to become part of a corporation? (McFanFic ?)

This is wrong on so many levels.

#19 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:20 AM:

A.R.Y.: Methinks you've misunderstood it so comprehensively (especially in view of your response to Cory's article) that the only applicable advice is the Irish farmer's directions to the lost tourists looking to get back to Dublin: "if I was you, I wouldn't start out from here."

#20 ::: telesilla ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:54 AM:

A.R.Y. #18: A fairly large segment of the fanfic community has actually expressed a great deal of dismay at the existence of FanLib. The people who run FanLib are not part of the fanfic community and they are the one's whose goal is to produce McFanfic. Most of us in the fanfic community are content to do our own thing without any help from corporate sponsors.

#21 ::: Zarquon ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:58 AM:

#4, Shouldn't that be: "I've got a bad feeling about this"?

#22 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:25 AM:

*evil grin*

I've been throwing in my two cents' worth for the debate. I put up a list of seventeen questions on the Fanthropology community in LiveJournal (where one of their staffers showed up and said she was willing to answer questions). She has answered eight out of the seventeen questions I posted, as well as a supplementary one, and from that information I gleaned the following:

* The board of FanLib are self-selected, presumably on the basis of how much money they put in, rather than on any link to any fandom community.
* The board of FanLib are not answerable for their actions to anyone except possibly themselves for what happens to any venture capital they're given.
* The board of FanLib are not required to undergo any of the kinds of corporate oversight which is expected of a publicly owned corporation - it's a private company. [1]
* The board and staff of FanLib are totally unexperienced in the day-to-day business of running a large-scale multi-fandom fanfiction archive.

Given that so far they've failed to show *any* understanding of the fandom communities outside their own stereotyped views of what the average fan is (teenaged, brand-obsessed, easily fooled, and presumably male) I doubt they're going to get too far. It's going to be interesting... for Chinese values thereof.

[1] I don't know what the laws are in regards to overseeing the business practices of privately owned companies in the US. Could anyone enlighten me?

#23 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:57 AM:

Kylni @ #13:
Maybe I'm the only one, but after several years in fandom, anyone who not only spells "fan fiction" out, but uses a space (As FanLib does both on their site and in their ad), immediately screams "not in fandom" to me.

Whereas to me, with multiple decades of perspective, people who just use "fanfic" immediately scream "I haven't been in fandom long enough to remember when the primary medium was print."

#24 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:05 AM:

Slightly offtopic, but right below the Fanlib Google ad, there was this:

FanFiction Ringtones
10 Bonus Ringtones from FanFiction! Download Instantly. No CC Needed.

I'm wondering what that would sound like....

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Lord help us...filk ringtones.

#26 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:12 AM:

Re #3: They don't have permissions from all of the rights holders. At best, they've got approval from the few they've been directly linked with -- Ghost Whisperer, The L Word, a few others. Why? Because (as others have also pointed out) if they'd somehow managed to get formal approval from every rights holder -- or even a few key ones -- they would be shouting it from the rooftops. They aren't.

Moreover, they've got fanfic that goes against the known wishes of several of the rights holders. (Adult HP fic, for example, which JKR et al have requested be kept away from places where younger readers might stumble upon it.) No way do they have every rights holder's permission.

Oh, and on another topic -- Meg @ #22, did you see they've now got the FAQ down for revisions?

#27 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:18 AM:

Heard about it. I looked there once, and decided "never again" once I could stop my eyes from bleeding. I have to admit, I'm interested in finding out whether they actually *answer* some of the questions they've been frequently asked over the past couple of weeks.

#28 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:19 AM:

Back in my fanfic days, everyone I knew worked on the principle of: "If you keep your head down and don't turn a profit, they'll leave you alone." Now, maybe we didn't stand on particularly solid legal ground with that philosophy, but I am 95% sure that the very litigious fandom I was involved in last was fully aware of the site I ran, but did nothing about it. (And we even sold t-shirts and gym bags and sweat pants...but carefully priced them to collect no profit.)

Making money off of someone else's intellectual property sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I can't believe the folks running this site don't realize that. That's one of the downsides to internet fanfic: people are no longer being ushered into fanfic by people who can explain the history and rules to them.

#29 ::: Q ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:28 AM:

#2: I can hear the lawyers firing up their word processors.

#17: To write legalslash?

Clarence Darrow/Perry Mason FTW!

/shudder

#30 ::: Go Seaward ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:40 AM:

people are no longer being ushered into fanfic by people who can explain the history and rules to them

I'm not sure that this is quite as true as it seems. If you manage to find fanfic on your own, and stay away from a couple of traps like fanfiction.net, you'll probably be in places where people will mention to you if you've stepped across some boundary line. There are also some other pressures--many archives and fests have specific spaces for disclaimers, indicating that it's generally considered good practice (if legally dubious) to have one.

Mostly I'm just commenting to note that it's odd to be reading a blog I normally read from an RL perspective, and to come across people I know well in fandom in the post...

#31 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:42 AM:

James D. Macdonald at #6 wrote:

> (This is an idiosyncratic reaction, but my instant reaction to seeing anything in a Google-ad is that it's a scam.)

Aw shucks - I run the occasional Google ad myself for my lame undervisited sudoku site, and I don't want your money.

Well, yes, I supposed I do want your money if you have no further use for it, but I'm not actively soliciting.

#32 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:21 AM:

Making money off of someone else's intellectual property sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen, and I can't believe the folks running this site don't realize that.

Presumably they do, which is why they have it in their TOS that, if you get sued, not only will they not help you (which is pretty standard, though most sites which host fanfic don't go around in their FAQ trying to convince you that if you post on their site it's all perfectly legal because they're Special), but you have to defend them, "including but not limited to attorney's fees", if they get sued.

#33 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:24 AM:

Just as a comment, the cost to bid on the keyword "fanfiction" in adwords was $1.00 a click as of a few months ago. It may have changed, but I doubt it. There is lots of money in online advertising and fans are a prime target because we buy merchandise.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:24 AM:

See, Jim? I told you some of those were legit.

#35 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:25 AM:

#21:

No, it should be "It's a trick. Get an ax."

#36 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:34 AM:

#2: I can hear the lawyers firing up their word processors.

#17: To write legalslash?

#29: Clarence Darrow/Perry Mason FTW!

I was thinking more along the lines of "Copyright, etc. and Trade Marks (Offences and Enforcement) Act 2002/Sexual Offences Act 2003".

#37 ::: DavidS ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:46 AM:

To start off, IANAFFANR (I am neither a fan fiction author nor reader). It seems, though, like there might be room for a website that was honest and aware of the fan fiction community to provide enough value to fan fiction authors that authors would be willing to pay for memberships. I've been trying to think what such a site should offer -- does any of this seem valuable to the more knowledgable people?

* Binding agreements from publishers not to sue any author who complies with take-down requests (perhaps with an exception for obstinate repeat offenders). I would think these could be obtained for select authors, it seems to be the default behavior anyways.

* Automatic format conversion: upload in word, HTML, plain text etc. and your reader can download in any of them. Support for illustrated fiction.

* Searchable and customizable RSS feeds. If I want to know every time that someone posts a Sherlock Holmes/Harry Potter crossover, I can.

* Reliable backup servers, including verifiable date stamps to settle plagiarism disputes.

* If the site grows popular enough, cons organized for the members of the community.

I don't have any plans to carry this out myself, but when I see an idea done badly I like to think about how it could be done well.

#38 ::: Tenshi no Korin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:22 AM:

I am all for fanfic right up until the point where people start trying to make a living off of it. In my experience, people who make a solid income drawing or writing other people's characters begin to get a fair bit of derision from the community, feeling that it is sort of like hanging a neon sign on Robin Hood's hideout. It ruins the sneaky, quiet, (dis)honest love affair the rest of us are trying to have with other people's characters.

I've had a lot of fun writing fic, I've made a lot of friends and I've been running around in it, mostly in the anime/game scene, for ten years now. Made any money off of it? Not a damn cent. That's not what fanfic is for. In fact I lost some in my one obscure short-run Vagrant Story zine, because even I admitted that it's not a high demand series and I'd go so far as to say readership for it is almost nil. I printed the book because I liked my story and some Kinko's-employed friends had bound it for me as a birthday present, so I made a few copies for a convention art table and sold them under my cost. The ones that didn't sell then I sold online for a donation to the Humane Society's Hurricane Katrina Fund. After that, I still have leftovers. From an inital print run of ten. Not really breaking the bank, here.

Other zines I've contributed to have all been done by fans, for fans, at cost. When someone comes along, and tries to make a buck off of being a fan without going through the proper routes, they make the rest of us look bad, and call too much attention to us, to boot. It makes our "by fans for fans no profit" seem like we're lying.

We like to lay low, but that's not as easy as it used to be.

as an aside, fanfic/Fan Fiction is to me like the difference between saying 'pornography' and 'porn.' It depends. Are you in a courtroom, or are you actually looking to buy some of the product in question? One is formal and one isn't and it depends on your audience. I almost always say fanfic, because I'm talking to people who know what I mean.

However, if you say "porno," you just sound like someone's disapproving grandmother bewailing the current state of American morals.

And, I apologize for pairing name mashups. I'd love the etymology for that, actually. When my partner started using 'seifuu' as a handle on ffnet--referencing a Final Fantasy VIII pairing-- we hadn't heard of it anywhere else, but it must have been happening in other places to become so nauseatingly insidious so soon. This was in '99, and we never used it in earnest for fic-labeling, sticking to the tried and true (x) or (/) which we still use. It's bad enough when the names are in English, but the Japanese messes of English names squished together-- I'm thinking here of Pirates of the Caribbean pairings-- are a nightmare. If we had anything to do with starting that mess or even contributing to it, we're sorry. Really.

#5 Julia-- Obsessive warnings are one of the reasons we've stoped posting fic anywhere but our own site. It's gotten to the point where people want you to put the entire damn fic in the warning, so they'll know they don't want to read it, even though by reading the summary, they pretty much already have.

#39 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:24 AM:

DavidS: a lot of that is being planned as we speak (see LJ community Fanarchive). The only thing on your list I don't think has been mentioned is the "permission from publishers" thing; fanfic writers as a group prefer the current tacit agreement where by and large publishers and other copyright holders pretend we don't exist if we don't force them to do otherwise. (That's one of the reasons FanLib was doomed from the beginning, actually.) Optional subscriptions as a way of raising funds for servers and bandwidth if donations are insufficient is more likely than mandatory membership fees, too.

#40 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:29 AM:

I can see a for-profit fanfic archive format where there's a split in revenue between the intellectual property holder (IP) and the archive itself. And I suspect we may see this happen eventually -- there's a lot of money at stake here.

However.

There's a slight problem, as others have pointed out, with *content* ... and major advertisers have content restrictions. Google's are a bit draconian, and they don't even *define* adult content.

Also ... how many IPs want to look like they're making money off pr0n? A significant portion of fanfic is a bit strongly rated and that's the whole point of the fic. (Plot? What Plot?)

I sure wouldn't want the job of policing a legitimately for-profit archive for content. Strikes me as a bit of a thankless job.

OTOH, I would have no problem posting my fanfiction (which tends to be het/gen) on a for-profit archive if I knew a percentage of the profit was going back to the IP. Particularly if it was an individual author rather than a big corporation that was getting the moola. Because few authors make the money they deserve anyway.

Leva

#41 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Meg Thornton @ 22

* twirls cutlass *

"Har! Har! The pirates are here!"

The first thing I thought on seeing their site was "Oh, it's a vulture capitalist milking machine", and your post rather confirmed that. My guess is that the board, and whatever shadowy figures stand behind it, don't give a rat's hindquarters about fic, the fans, or any other primary aspect of this site. I think they're afters secondary aspects: a way to launder VC money into their own pockets, while simultaneously touting themselves as Web 2.0 gods, thus adding to their Wall Streetcred. As we all know, godhead of that type is somewhat transitory, but what the hay, Fimbulwinter comes, and we move on to the next universe.

Jim is probably right, this venture is going to augur in, sooner rather than later, I think, and the people who set it up won't care a bit. They'll be counting the currency on the way out the back door.

IANAL, but I believe that the precise responsibilities of an officer of a privately-held company are less determined by explicit law than by contract law applied to their (ostensible) hiring contract. For the owners themselves there isn't any control to speak of. And how much you want to bet that the angels' money comes in as a loan via a third-party VC consortium, thus muddling the trail even further?

Hmm ... Gordon Gecko fanfic anyone?

#42 ::: Tenshi no Korin ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:32 AM:

#37 DavidS-- There are lots of free fanfic archives online (some of which have most of those amenities) for sharing fic between readers. These are especially good for authors who have no website of their own. It was more relevant before the advent of blogs, and the quality varies wildly of course.

ffnet is now too dilapidated and wank-ridden to even be worth linking to, but ficwad is an excellent alternative.

Binding agreements would be a nightmare, though. The range of fandoms has no limit and trying to get those permissions would be several full-time jobs. the majority authors in my experience are happy with a don't ask don't tell policy, and turn the other way. There are a few heavily lawyered exceptions, and you will not find their names said kindly among fans. You also won't find fic for them easily.

Most ficwriters I know would regard any sort of pay-site with some suspicion.

#43 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:44 AM:

It is not axiomatic that profiting from fanfiction is impossible, or will lead to certain doom, or cannot lead to independently-creative professional work, it is simply that this is a thorny, rocky road, where the threat is the likelihood of notice by the primary rights-holder(s), and your only hope in that eventuality is their mercy or inaction.

Waving a banner does not help -- this is not Japan, FanLib is not Comiket, and just as not every circle is CLAMP, there's a big jump from "Free/In-Trade" to "Pay Even a Penny".

Even worse, I'd worry that getting the permission of SOME rights-holders, and then posting and charging for access to works derived from properties of rights-holders not contacted (or worse, contacted and who refused), is going to do more harm that good when the lawpocalypse arrives. It pretty well demonstrates that you were fully aware of the issues involved.

#44 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:45 AM:

Steve #31:

Aw shucks - I run the occasional Google ad myself for my lame undervisited sudoku site, and I don't want your money.

Well, nothing personal, but I've seen entirely too many sites, advertised by Google Ads (in one of my incarnations I follow Google Ads to see where they go and whether they should be blocked from that site), with micro-unreadable text all the way at the bottom of the page that says "By using this service you agree to have your cell phone charged $9.95 per month" or something similar.

So, again nothing personal, but if I wanted sodoku I'd just Google on "sodoku," because (idiosyncratically) when I see something advertised in a Google Ad if I don't see the scam right away I figure that I just haven't looked hard enough.

I may not be the only person who has that reaction.

#45 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:46 AM:

Bruce @41: I decided that Web 2.0 had gone Bubble, and not in a good way, earlier this month, when I saw this. (Don't get me going about the overrated advantages of ignorance in start-ups.)

This is just another cynical game of fleece-the-VC, and not even a terribly well-thought-out one. The only risk is that legitimate fanfic writers will be among the victims.

I'm sticking my savings in real estate. It may go down, but it's not going remotely as far as these carpetbaggers when the stock exchange music stops.

#46 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:04 AM:

Jim, re: adsense scam sites -- Google's cracking down fairly hard on the most egregious offenders.

There's a business model where scammers make a site with lots of ads, and a little text content, often ripped off from legitimate sites -- there was one that simply displayed the RSS feeds from my site, to my everlasting annoyance.

Then the scammer buys a whole bunch of very cheap ads and points 'em at the site.

Their business model is (a) buy cheap ads and (b) readers then click on more expensive ads on their site. This is called click arbitrage. And it's big business ... I've seen one scammer go on record claiming 70K/income with 75% profit/month.

Google is cracking down, of course, *finally*. Because this business model hurts them. (And annoys me, because, dude, they had nofollow on all the links in my rss feeds, in addition to stealing my feeds for their profit.)

And the end result is going to be a lot less scummy websites that drag down the value of adsense ads.

Google's also cracking down on some other areas of scamminess. I think they're aware of the noise-to-bandwidth ratio in the ads and are looking to improve things.

#47 ::: Admiral Ackbar ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:05 AM:

As reactions go, one can hardly go wrong with fanlib fanfiction.

#48 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:08 AM:

I've seen this before.

There are three types of people involved in this scheme:
- the FanLib guys, who probably do believe in their product, and are going to get screwed.
- upper level corporate management, who don't know much about the Web and know less about fanfic, but see this as a way to follow the trend and make big bucks, having been sold on this by -
- not-quite-so-high corporate management, who know that this is crap but see it as a way to bust out their superiors and make some quick personal profit before the whole thing collapses.

And there is my cynicism ration for today.

#49 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:12 AM:

#14

What, you mean like what Uncle Jim did several times in the original post?

When quoting or semi-quoting the FanLib people.

#20

The people who run FanLib are not part of the fanfic community....

That is intuitively obvious.

#41

Jim is probably right, this venture is going to augur in, sooner rather than later, I think, and the people who set it up won't care a bit. They'll be counting the currency on the way out the back door.

Time to get your bids in on the deadpool at Fucked Company.

#50 ::: Patrick ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:21 AM:

I am actually curious about Making Light's views on the business model of http://www.battlecorps.com/BC2/index.html

They seem profitable. They've been in business for some time, and they've been acquiring new properties. They seem to be kind of a merging of battletech novels with the battletech fanfic world, posted on the internet on a subscription basis.

I know few people are going to be up to date on the politics of the battletech fanfic publishing world, but I'm not a subscriber to their site and I've always been curious about it from the business point of view, and how they fit into the wide world of publishing.

#51 ::: MsCongeniality ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:35 AM:

I have to admit, I've been deliberately avoiding the FanLib site. Something about what they are doing and how it has been presented just strikes me as unpleasant and the type of venture I don't want to associate with in any way.

Besides, it's always so much more fun to watch these things implode from afar.

#52 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:39 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 45

O great Arachne, Builder of webs! I am gobsmacked by that 13-year old "entrepreneur". So Web 2.0 is all about Junior Achievement? And the writer of that fluff is "inspired"? Anyone want to bet on when we start seeing Web 2.1? My advice is to stand well back from the giant sucking vortex.

#53 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:43 AM:

#46

Jim, re: adsense scam sites -- Google's cracking down fairly hard on the most egregious offenders.

I don't see anything they're doing as ending the scamminess of WL Writers Literary Agency, PublishAmerica, or any of the other frequent Adsense advertisers. Hitting link farms and google traps isn't enough. There are enough scams that still fall on this side of the letter of the law to make going to any Adsense advertiser risky.

#54 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:58 AM:

The one fan produced derivative work I'm not averse to letting someone profit from is one-off artist alley sketches. I'm even pretty neutral on copying off some high quality prints of some of your art sketches and selling them to me out of a binder. Of course, 90% of that stuff is originally derived from Japanese works, and the companies that release anime in the U.S. seem to be very litigation-light... mostly because they understand the power of fan word-of-mouth.

What people don't seem to understand is that comiket and the doujin writers don't make any money. Anything they do make over their costs is used to finance the next book, or con.

I can't think of anything even remotely legitimate (other than hobby tables in artist alleys in cons) that makes a profit from fanfiction.

Well... hmm.

Actually, you can make a pretty substantial profit reselling doujin you import here. I wonder where that falls in the continuum?

#55 ::: Steve Libbey ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:01 AM:

I will be amazed if this site subsists for more than a year without vicious takedown demands from copyright holders. For every corporation who is enlightened enough to see that fanfiction helps to propagate a brand, there are three who regard it as a threat. Hello, Fox, I'm looking at you.

Plus, where's the fun in fanfiction if it has a corporate sponsor? No one wants to go see the dance band at the school gym... they want to sneak out to the punk rock show in someone's basement.

And the site is very web 2.0 in a grim way. As a web designer, I'm already sick of the 2.0 look. Can we move on to 3.0, with puppies and flowers?

#56 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:09 AM:

Can I briefly gloat? Halting State features Web π. (3.1415926535 ...) Looks like I got there just in time ...

#57 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:10 AM:

Somehow I am unsurprised that Simon & Schuster is involved.

That's no moon...

#58 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:13 AM:

Jim, #53 -- oh, publishing scams. Right. I think I've managed to ban most of them from my site ... Took a few months of whack-a-mole on the scam publishers, but I rarely see them anymore. Maybe one or two new ones a week.

#59 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:18 AM:

Actually, if you're going to link to Icarus, her subsequent post is better, summing up the FanLib story.

#60 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:49 AM:

I can't think of anything even remotely legitimate (other than hobby tables in artist alleys in cons) that makes a profit from fanfiction.

I've been following the Fanlib story pretty closely (was even approached by them last winter at some point--sadly I deleted the email, thinking it was a scam, which it was but not in the way I thought), and what's interesting is the way Fanlib keeps pointing to Fanfiction.net, Livejournal, and Yahoogroups as evidence that it's okay to make a profit off fic.

The problem there is that LJ and Yahoo don't tailor their business towards fic, and aren't out recruiting ficwriters; however FFN is a bit of a dodgy situation, since they went ad-supported a few years back and some people are claiming they're making a profit. I haven't seen any real data on that, but from a practical point of view (if not a legal one), FFN is a much weaker target than Fanlib would be. No venture capital there, after all.

Fanlib claims to have a lawyer on the board, and I would hope they've done the research, but when challenged on the legal status of fic, they dodge the question and just say that the IP holder would likely come after Fanlib first. Except as noted in Jim's original post, Fanlib's TOS requires the writers to indemnify Fanlib. (With what, pray tell? Half the ficwriters I know are underemployed or in college or grad school.) At any rate, Fanlib has not proved to anyone's satisfaction that they won't get sued by copyright-holders, and has not reassured their prospective content-providers that they won't pass the cost of litigation on.

Even if Fanlib settles, the situation could get very ugly, and nobody wants to see the general public's reaction to, say, HP Threesome chan tentacle bondage porn in the letters column of the average hometown paper. If it does go to court, oddly enough, the wackiest stories farthest from the original source are most likely to be protected, but that sort of thing is really impossible to predict...

The whole thing has really been a debacle in terms of community relations, complicated by the fact that the LJ-based live-action media fandom community is, by and large, female, and none of the decision-makers at Fanlib are either female or in any way conversant with the live-action media fandom community's history or customs. In fact at least one of the press releases implies that Chris Williams invented the idea of sharing fanfiction on the net. (The residents of alt.tv.x-files and the Trek usenet groups will be intrigued to learn this; it's right up there with some guys at Harvard announcing they invented fanvidding in 1996.)

The new fanfic archive project, spearheaded by Shalott, may well be able to pull off constructing a community-supported alternative, if the community can agree on what should be posted in it and how it should operate.

#61 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 11:57 AM:

I can't think of anything even remotely legitimate (other than hobby tables in artist alleys in cons) that makes a profit from fanfiction.

All those collections of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, or the occasional entire series of it? That one book about Little Women told from the perspective of the father, the 'finished' version of Jane Austen's last unfinished novel, the new Romeo & Juliet anime coming out...

I can never remember if 'fanfic' is supposed to cover fan works based on out-of-copyright works or not. The Les Miserables fanfic archive I've stumbled across on occasion suggests it should--there's certainly plenty of fanfic, good and not, based on works that aren't under copyright anymore--but a lot of discussion about making a profit on fanfic seems to assume that all fanfic is the kind based on still-in-copyright material. I suppose the majority of it is, but it's worth making the distinction about which way someone is using the term, when discussing legitimacy and profit.

#62 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:00 PM:

I'm not sure which of several possible threads is the one in which to bring up Simon and Schuster's *other* latest venture,[*] involving a prediction market for unpublished fiction. It all smacks of some really twisted reality show, to me.

[*] NYT site, may require some sort of registration

#63 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:22 PM:

> Halting State features Web π. (3.1415926535..)

Based on the model of TeX version numbers ?

#64 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:47 PM:

Alan: no, it's a comment on irrational optimism.

#65 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Fade Manley @61

Doh! There was a version of that post that the internets ate. That original version included a further qualifier, something like:

I can't think of anything even remotely legitimate that makes a profit from fanfiction (excluding fic based on works currently in the public domain).

But even THAT calls things into question. Is a commercially published star trek novel fanfic? (Hmm, it looks like there's some debate on that subject in the community itself.)

I suppose I conventionally think of fanfic as "derivative works produced by fans of currently copyrighted material without permission from the author." But that's not the real definition, it's just what comes to mind for me.

#66 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:03 PM:

But that's not the real definition, it's just what comes to mind for me.

For the heck of it, I went back to the OED's SF Citation project to see how they defined fanfic.

Here's what they came up with:

fiction, usually fantasy or science fiction, written by a fan rather than a professional author, esp. that based on already-existing characters from a television series, book, film, etc.; (also) a piece of such writing
You know, given that I know professional authors who write fanfic, that's not particularly helpful...

#67 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:03 PM:

I can never remember if 'fanfic' is supposed to cover fan works based on out-of-copyright works or not.

The people involved in Jane Austen fandom consider what we do "fanfic", certainly, though I agree that discussions on the legality of fanfic usually tend to leave out the fact that not all fanfic is based on works where copyright is an issue.

(And considering how many of the people writing Austenfic seem to have never read the original novels and instead are using, most frequently, the 1996 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as "canon", well.... But there's still a great deal of Austen fanfic that can be presumed to be 100% legal.)

#68 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:21 PM:

I'm reading on a few other places that are compiling information (mostly fandom_wank, for the entertainment value) that one of the original contests-with-prizes was based on volume of uploaded fanfic. Whether that's by number of individual fics, or wordcount, that's so amazingly prone to abuse I have no idea how they thought that was a good idea. They certainly don't seem to have anything in the abusive TOS to explain what they'd do in cases of plagiarism. (Even aside from the weirdness of trying to define the fuzzier edges of plagiarism when talking about fanfic. Ah, the joys of gray boundaries between things.)

I did a test search on the website, to see what they had available. I quickly discovered:

1) They don't have a category listed for the fandom I write in.

2) They don't have any way to search by rating, but...

3) You can turn on and off an 'adult' filter... through clicking a button that doesn't even make a pretense of asking you for an age.

Even if this were a legitimate effort by well-meaning fans rather than corporate goons trying to make a quick buck off the work of other people, I'd be pointing and laughing. The main point of a large archive site is to make it easy to find what you want to read. Incompetent search features rather negate the purpose.

#69 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:24 PM:

My guess is that the basic impulse behind FanLib's creation is the desire to duplicate the success of Web 2.0 content management systems like LiveJournal, MySpace, and Flickr. Its creators looked around and said, "Okay, what do people spend a lot of time doing on the Web which generates content but doesn't yet have an omnium-gatherum content management site? ... Aha! Fan fiction!"

I suspect Jim is right, and that FanLib's founders aren't all that different from some of the clever wights who looked at the DotCom bubble, decided that they too were going to become fabulously wealthy by running an online business, and only as an afterthought decided what they were going to sell. (My favorite: Garden.com. Don't get me started.) So far, I'd say the biggest difference is that their press release isn't written in dotcom-era gibberish:

FanLib Brings Fan Fiction into the Mainstream, Launches New Website with Major Media and Publishing Partners

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--FanLib®, the People Powered Entertainment(TM) company, ...

That's as opposed to all those entertainment companies that are run by dolphins. Also, "People Powered" should have been hyphenated.
...launches its flagship website today at www.FanLib.com. The online storytelling community destination fuses the power of the Web with the passion of the most avid entertainment fans.
Fuses the power of the Web? Has "fuse" become one of those words like "synergy" that you use to suggest that something exciting and profitable is going to happen as a result of your proposal, only you have no idea how it's actually supposed to work?

If anything can truly be said to fuse the power of the Web with the passion of the most avid entertainment fans, it's Television without Pity. Which has been around for a while.

FanLib.com provides fans with a new home to write, showcase, discover, rant and rave about their favorite movies, TV shows, and books.
Fanfic already has a lot of homes. FanLib isn't a noticeable improvement on them.
The launch of FanLib.com represents the coming of age of fan fiction, or "fanfic."
That's amazingly arrogant.
Fan fiction is the original consumer generated media -
There's too much to say about literary history here, and too obvious a thing to say about grammar.
- original works of fiction written by fans and based on their favorite TV, film and book characters.

FanLib.com launches with co-promotional partners including HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Showtime Networks, Simon & Schuster, and Starz Entertainment. The launch partners are heavily featured and have customized marketing integrated on the site while providing promotion for FanLib.com.

I'm not sure that means anything more than that they have an agreement to swap ads.

...

I went and poked around at the FanLib site. It's not that great:

All the fandoms are dumped into a single bin where they can only be sorted alphabetically or by number of fics.

Stories are categorized only by their primary subject. For example, stories based on Batman comics, animated cartoons, movies, and graphic novels would all be jumbled together.

The interface is slow, cumbersome, and burdened with unnecessary graphics.

The interface will only display ten stories at a time. Given that their Harry Potter section has over five hundred stories in it already, that's a problem that will only get worse.

Within a single fandom's worth of listings, you can sort by featured, most viewed, highest rated, newest to oldest, oldest to newest, most favorited, shortest, or longest; but you can't sort by author or title.

The submission form won't let you tag your fanfic as being based on a work they don't already have on their approved list. For example, you can claim that a piece of fanfic is based on A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, but not Anna Karenina.

You can only tag your fiction as belonging to a single "genre" from their preselected list --

action & adventure, alternate universe, angst, animation, anime, art, biographical, children, classic, comedy, crime/gangster, cult, cyberpunk, deathfic, drabble, drama, established relation, faith & spirituality, family, fantasy, first time, fluff, gay & lesbian, genderswap, genfic, historical/period, holiday, Hong Kong action, horror, hurt & comfort, miscellaneous, music & musicals, mystery, news/current events, politics/religion, PWP, real person, reality, romance, sci-fi, self insertion, slash, soap opera, sports, teen, thriller/suspense, vignette, war/military, Western.
-- which is insane. They're mixing up non-exclusive characteristics like length, style, genre, setting, emotional tone, and sexual content. They're combining politics with religion, but making "news/current events" a different category. They're allowing "real person" fic, which IMO is inviting trouble to come live with you. And they've left out known varieties like (O barf me out) mpreg, babyfic, songfic, wingfic, badfic, and mst3k.

Their codings for sexual content are a simple age-based rating -- all ages, 13+, etc. In a milieu where fans can assimilate codes like "fluffy AU non-PWP slash noncon underage mpreg OTP wingfic, some bloodplay, PG-13 except for one scene you can skip," that's way too low-res.

And so forth and so on. I'm sure there are plenty of detailed critiques out there. Mine is not going to be one of them. This is an enervating site.

#70 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:27 PM:

My first thought on seeing this was "Oh my, the Bubble is back."

It may be time to do what I only thought about with dotcomBubble 1.0, namely bust out a copy of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and see which ridiculous idea from the South Sea Bubble is ready to launch again. My pick for the last go-round was "company for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is"; given the high ideals and plan of FanLib being set forth here, I think this could still be a winner.

BTW someone was asking upstream about the duties and responsibilities of the board of a privately held company. They are not negligible - they mostly correspond to those of public companies - but a lot of board members are oblivious of them. If anyone is interested, I can expatiate at length on the subject. (I was formerly CEO, board member, and chairman of a privately held corporation which was unsuccessfully trying for VC money.)

#71 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:37 PM:

Joann (62), I heard about that yesterday from another editor. Someone's got to be putting funny stuff in the water at S&S.

#72 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Their codings for sexual content are a simple age-based rating

And their ratings conflate language with content, so that a story with a single use of "shit" in it is stuck into the Adult section, alongside the Dumbledore bondage tentacle porn. Oh, that's helpful.

I tried to look for the names of writers I knew, but absent searching for them one at a time, there was no way to scan the member list easily, so I gave up. I hadn't realized you couldn't sort by author name, which is deeply frustrating, and indicated of Fanlib's presumption that fic is fungible.

#73 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Their codings for sexual content are a simple age-based rating

And their ratings conflate language with content, so that a story with a single use of "shit" in it is stuck into the Adult section, alongside the Dumbledore bondage tentacle porn. Oh, that's helpful.

I tried to look for the names of writers I knew, but absent searching for them one at a time, there was no way to scan the member list easily, so I gave up. I hadn't realized you couldn't sort by author name, which is deeply frustrating, and indicated of Fanlib's presumption that fic is fungible.

#74 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Clifton, maybe it's time to get started reprinting Bubble Playing Cards.

In fact, this would be a good business for Charlie Stross's 13-year-old CEO to diversify into, once his chemistry card game is established.

#75 ::: janine ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:53 PM:

Fuses the power of the Web? Has "fuse" become one of those words like "synergy" that you use to suggest that something exciting and profitable is going to happen as a result of your proposal, only you have no idea how it's actually supposed to work?

It's the Underpants Gnomes School of Business Planning:

Step 1. Collect fan fiction.
Step 2. ...
Step 3. PROFIT!

#76 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:57 PM:

“history and rules&rdquo, huh?

In the late Seventies, Les Fish, original member of the Nameless Anarchist Horde (from whom a number of the SCA Horde tropes were stolen, but that's several other stories) and now Well Known Filker, introduced me to "slash", which I thought was very odd.
However, she was actually GoH at a couple of Trek cons. It also seemed weird to me to actually be PAID to be a Trekkie, but non olet.

“history and rules&rdquo, huh?
I guess it's like they say, “We'll KNOW that rock is dead when you need a degree to get a job in it.&rdquo

#77 ::: Canard ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 01:58 PM:

Charlie @45: This is just another cynical game of fleece-the-VC, and not even a terribly well-thought-out one.

Yeah, you'd think people would have learned by now not to try to fleece the Viet Cong.

#78 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:12 PM:

BSD @ 43, it's possible I'm just having decoding problems this morning, but are you emphasizing or ignoring one of FanLib's logical errors, that being their assumption that The Net=USA?

It's not Japan, either.

Or Australia, although the flimsiness of their selection process may well make some authors vulnerable to prosecution under that country's kiddie porn laws.

#79 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:12 PM:

#64 -- Wouldn't that be transcendental optimism?

#80 ::: Patrick ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:12 PM:

This may be me being naive here, but I thought the reason no one made money off of fanfic was because if you wanted to make money, you had to get permission from the rights holder, and if you have permission from the rights holder, you aren't writing a fanfic- you're official now.

#81 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:24 PM:

Is this going to turn into one of those sci-fi vs. SF vs. skiffy faction wars?

When I write Gernsback slash*, I call it "fanatifiction."

*I do not write Gernsback slash. I also did not invent the roman à sports fan when I did not write À la recherche du temps Purdue/IU, a ten-volume coming-of-age story set in the Boilermakers' locker room in 1972.

#82 ::: jmnlman ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 02:48 PM:

3:I did look at the site. Not really sure what this tacit approval means in practice. After all I rather doubt there is tacit approval for sexual explicit Harry Potter for instance. It only takes one rights holder to get mad.

#83 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:04 PM:

H.P. @ 81: Helpless quivering mirth.

#84 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:12 PM:

Charlie: Is it perhaps an early warning sign of the Singularity when you can just barely get an SF thriller into publication before most of the events and features it describes start happening?

#85 ::: Darkrose ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:24 PM:

Tenshi (38): And, I apologize for pairing name mashups. I'd love the etymology for that, actually. When my partner started using 'seifuu' as a handle on ffnet--referencing a Final Fantasy VIII pairing-- we hadn't heard of it anywhere else, but it must have been happening in other places to become so nauseatingly insidious so soon.

I think, though I'm not positive, that originated in X-Files fandom. Harry Potter is where I first encountered it, with the unfortunate Snape/* pairing names: Snarry, Snupin, Snucius, Snaco and Snack. It's also quite prevalent in SGA fandom, which has the result of making any pairing involving Rodney sound like something you'd order at McDonalds': "Hi, I'd like two McSheps, a McDex and a McWeir Happy Meal to go."

#86 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Patrick @80: There's still the matter of works out of copyright. Someone who writes their Javert/Valjean Les Miserables fanfic has as much "permission" to write it as the latest Mary Russel novel dealing with Sherlock Holmes does; but I wouldn't really call the former official, whether or not the fanfic writer in question manages to make money for it.

Or, in a different direction: I write fanfic for a roleplaying game's setting, and the owners of that game have made it quite clear that they're just fine with people writing fanfic and posting it online. I can't sell that fic (except maybe to them, if they ever cared to publish fiction based on the setting), but I could certainly put it on a website with standard Google ads and "make money off it" in that way if I felt like it. I'd have permission, and I'd be making money off of it (in theory--the fandom's not big enough that this is likely in practice), but it still wouldn't be "official", and it would still definitely be fanfic.

But then, I consider the Mary Russel novels, which seem to sell quite well and so presumably make their author money, to be Sherlock Holmes fanfic. So I may be using a different definition of the word "fanfic" than you are. I'd consider most approved tie-in novels for property fanfic too, except in the cases where it's clear the author was chosen for their name or connections and not because of any appreciation for the property, in which case it's usually just a bad tie-in novel.

#87 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Canard @ 77

Yeah, you'd think people would have learned by now not to try to fleece the Viet Cong.

Oh, but it makes such ideologically pure sweaters!

#88 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:32 PM:

Howard Pierce @ 81

I call it "fanatifiction."

Fundamentalist slash?

#89 ::: MWT ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:37 PM:

#65 Leah Miller: I suppose I conventionally think of fanfic as "derivative works produced by fans of currently copyrighted material without permission from the author." But that's not the real definition, it's just what comes to mind for me.

Hmmm. "Derivative works produced by fans of currently copyrighted material without creative control from the author." ?

#90 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:49 PM:

I think the sentence "Investors have $3 milllion dollars to publish fan fiction" sounds like a con man pulling out a flash roll to lure in the suckers and the uneducated.

#91 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 03:55 PM:

So I may be using a different definition of the word "fanfic" than you are.

If so, you're not the only one here who has a slightly different definition than most. My own view on TV/film adaptations of novels is that they are nothing but high-budget fanfic. They may be good fanfic, worthy of being fanficced in their own right, but that doesn't make them the same as the original source. Not even if you enjoy the adaptation more than the original--which is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, so long as you're honest about it.

But then, I spent a few years in a fandom where there was a great deal of outrage over the casting of a recent adaptation because the lead was played by someone with a significantly smaller bust size than the person in the same role for an earlier adaptation, when there's next to no physical description of that character in the book. With talk of boycotting and everything. That's naturally colored my views somewhat.

Someone even wrote a fic dramatizing my opinion of people who write in a supposedly book-based fandom and time after time include scenes that were never in the book in question. Some have bragged about never having bothered reading the book they call themselves fans of, in fact. (It also parodies a couple of other trends in the fandom, so some of the "mistakes" are very much intentional. But that's beside the point.)

Disclaimer: I would never actually treat books the way "I" do in that story.

#92 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:03 PM:

Fade Manley @86: Someone who writes their Javert/Valjean Les Miserables fanfic has as much "permission" to write it as the latest Mary Russel novel dealing with Sherlock Holmes does

And then there's the Japanese fighting game that's based on Les Miz partly by way of the musical (judging from the costumes).

#93 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Julie L. @ 86: And then there's the Japanese fighting game that's based on Les Miz partly by way of the musical (judging from the costumes).

I...

...wow. Right when you think you've seen it all.

I really have nothing to say to that one. I'm just sort of boggling here.

#94 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:19 PM:

Julie: That's just plain scary.

And now I shall attempt to refrain from further contribution to this thread, because I'm starting to freak myself out with my sudden burst of posts.

#95 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:24 PM:

Bruce, 88: Fundamentalist slash?

Actually, I was riffing on "scientifiction." But you knew that.

I'm not sure there's a real market for fundamentalist slash -- when I want to read about steamy homosexual encounters involving prominent fundamentalists, I check the news blogs.

#96 ::: L. L. Daugherty ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:46 PM:

Meg Thornton @ #22 and Bruce @41:

* The board of FanLib are not required to undergo any of the kinds of corporate oversight which is expected of a publicly owned corporation - it's a private company. [1]

Any start up that doesn't seem interested in appropriate board oversight or corporate auditing has 'you take his tricorder, I'll take his walllet' written all over it. I hope that VC wasn't interested in seeing a return on its investment.

Bruce, I think you hit the nail on the head. Puts me in mind of the Crimson Permanent Assurance.

#97 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:56 PM:

I found the website of FanLib's parent corporation (an all-Flash site) which has their B2B pitch:

Introducing the new, turnkey entertainment marketing service
That's right, the cover story comes off and it's all about increasing audience share and brand recognition through heavily moderated fan participation.

More @ my blog

#98 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 04:58 PM:

Meg Thornton #22: There's no more oversight for private companies than there is for private people: the shareholders set the rules. (The IRS does what it will.)

Clifton Royston #70: Look up "SPAC". Investigate. Be amazed.

#99 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:13 PM:

Lis, #97 -- hmph. Thanks for helping me decide which side of the fence to jump off on.

#100 ::: Another Damned Medievalist ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:15 PM:

I was kinda going to ask what Patrick at #80 asked .. Let me get this straight. 1) There's a bunch of idiots out there who think that they can make money from fanfic, even though fanfic is almost by definition not author-approved or author-authorised. 2) Several large publishers may or may not have their grimy mitts in the pot.

So ... there's a part of me that says, "this is a way for the publishers to try to make money." Another part of me says, "Gee, I wonder if it's being presented to the people who created the characters and worlds as a way of getting a cut of the money to be made from writing about their characters ... except that at the moment, no one is making money because it's ... fanfic? I find this illogical.

Also, well, I can see where fanfic and legit fic *do* cross lines ... fully-permissioned (Sorry -- I know that's not actually English) serialised Star Trek novels, for example. And I know some of those (and others of the same sort) are written by people who started out writing fic in those worlds. But it seems to me that, once they start writing into a legally organised canon, it becomes canonical, and not fic.

I'm not sure where I was going with this, except that I'm terribly confused. After all, even if JKR were, for example, to authorise G-rated HP fic as written for and presented on the Fanlib site, I can't imagine that she'd ever approve the slash or pr0n-y stuff. Ergo, the only fic that would make money (and I doubt that -- more that the publishers and authors would take the largest cut) would be the fic that has been redefined as canonical in fact, if not in intent.

Can someone explain to me why this would ever be considered a good idea for anyone? As it is now, the original authors can disclaim any involvement, the fic writers can continue to write for their own pleasure and for the entertainment of others, and no-one gets hurt. And no one is profiting from the hard work of others. Oh ... wait.

#101 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Seth @ #98: Surely you mean no more external oversight? The board is responsible to look after the shareholders' interests, and to see that the management does the same. While that doesn't mean they will do a good job of it, and many boards are really clueless, even in private companies the shareholders have some ability to hold their feet to the fire.

#102 ::: Kit ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 05:43 PM:

I hadn't realized you couldn't sort by author name, which is deeply frustrating, and indicated of Fanlib's presumption that fic is fungible.

There seem to be a popular conception that women who read romances never look for specific authors. Romance books are never sorted in the second hand bookshops I've visited, and I seem to remember that subgenre subscriptions are common. Just like fanfiction, romance readers are perceived as mostly female.

#103 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:17 PM:

There seem to be a popular conception that women who read romances never look for specific authors.

That would be news to the romance-reading friends I have, who keep telling me to read Carla Kelly and Laura Kinsale. Oh, and Loretta Chase and Jennifer Crusie.

#104 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Kit #102: Romance books are never sorted in the second hand bookshops I've visited

News to my local Book Exchange, which has categories of which I'd never conceived. Downright nit-picky, they are. Western Romance, anyone?

#105 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 07:40 PM:

There seem to be a popular conception that women who read romances never look for specific authors.

I am tempted to drop that into one or two of the other blogs I frequent, and then stand at a safe distance to watch the pretty explosions.

#106 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:05 PM:

Lis, you didn't reproduce the one bit from that brochure that will really make things explode.

"Completed work is just 1st draft to be polished by the pros"

#107 ::: Leva ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 08:43 PM:

FWIW, that brochure has a copyright on it 2001-2004 (thanks, MM, for pointing that out to me) and appears to be about contests they've run in the past. It doesn't appear to be about the current archive.

The brochure still has a stinky patronizing tone, and fandom certainly wasn't meant to see it. If that's their attitude towards fans, I want nothing to do with the company.

OTOH, they were targeting IP execs. Having had a few ... enlightening ... conversations with a few hollywood types over the years, it may have simply been written to target their customers' expectations. Because there's plenty of Hollywood execs who would cheerfully nod and agree with the sentiments and tone of that brochure.

Fanlib never should have posted that on the 'net. Allowing that brochure on the 'net, in and of itself, makes me suspicious of their opinion of the collective intellect of fandom. They are seriously underestimating fans on many levels.

#108 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:08 PM:

A couple further thoughts:

1) Henry Jenkins has written an excellent summary of the situation and what makes it troubling.

2) Even though FanLib's CEO was "too busy" to answer fans questions, he's agreed to be interviewed by Prof. Jenkins for publication in the blog (several people -- including me -- have already commented how symptiomatic this is of FanLib's disconnect). If you have any questions for the FanLib management, send them to Prof. Jenkins via the link above.

3) By this point, most of the experienced fanfic community seem to want no part of FanLib. People are warning one another. Unfortunately, that may leave the newbies and starry-eyed kids most vulnerable to getting burned. Any tips from dealing with some of the other vanity publishing scams on how to warn folks if this turns as sour as it's smelling?

#109 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:16 PM:

From the peanut gallery:

I've run out of peanuts. Back soon...

#110 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 09:17 PM:

JESR @ 78 - That was one of the questions I put to the FL staffer on Fanthropology. It was one of the nine questions she *didn't* answer (or at least, one of the nine she hasn't answered to date - must remember to prod her for answers to those...). As an Australian, (and a non-lawyer one at that) my understanding is that if an IP owner gets sufficiently narked about some of my fic, I not only face the Australian copyright laws, but possibly also our libel laws (degrading the reputation of someone), and those are modelled on the British ones, which means they're *nasty*. The only reason I'd be safe from the child pr0n laws is because I write what is described as "genfic" - and that's mainly because I'm lousy at writing sex scenes.

Another Damned Medievalist @100 - Again, this is one of the unanswered questions I asked. (The list is here, at my journal, along with the answers I've received). I wanted to know whether *any* of the profits FanLib are hoping to make would be seen by the original content creators - would J K Rowling see any of the money made through the Harry Potter fanfiction; would the Tolkien estate receive any money from the LOTR fanfiction etc. My own suspicion, given what I've seen so far, is that if FanLib ever *do* make more than is required to cover costs (web hosting, salaries, business essentials like yachts and so on) it will vanish into the pockets of the large media conglomerates (Oh Mr Murdoch, we have a cheque for you...) and very little will reach the original creators.

That, to me, is a pity, since the one thing I'd be more than happy to see if money absolutely *has* to be made from fan fiction (and please note, I don't agree that this is the case) is the profit effectively going directly to the original creators who inspired the fanwork. After all, it's their ideas that the fanwriters and fanartists are playing with - it seems only fair that if there's money going to be made there, they should get the lion's share.

Clifton Royston @ 101 - what's the case when the shareholders *are* the board? The strong impression I got from the answers I received was that these people had pretty much put in the money, and that they'd chosen the CEO through drawing straws. Either that or he supplied the treehouse where they're putting the site together (complete with the "No Girls Allowed" sign near the doorway).

#111 ::: Seth Breidbart ::: (view all by) ::: May 22, 2007, 10:24 PM:

Clifton #101, yes, the Board "oversees" the company. But the Board also runs the company. Aside from the IRS and, if the company is in specific fields, appropriate licensing authorities, nobody else gets to see "inside" a private company.

#112 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 01:01 AM:

James D. Macdonald at #44 wrote:

> Well, nothing personal, but I've seen entirely too many sites, advertised by Google Ads (in one of my incarnations I follow Google Ads to see where they go and whether they should be blocked from that site), with micro-unreadable text all the way at the bottom of the page that says "By using this service you agree to have your cell phone charged $9.95 per month" or something similar.

There are heaps of dodgy ones, no doubt about it. I think they've actually been getting worse lately too. I seem to recall that when they first appeared I didn't notice any sleaze - I guess it takes the weasels a little while to get onto the next new thing.

I notice in today's news that Google has promised to stamp outs ads for essay mills, which would certainly be a plus. No mention of getting rid of vanity publishing scams though.

I can't see policing their ads well being a terribly realistic proposition because of what is their greatest strength - anybody with a couple of spare dollars (me) can run ads on their network, and anybody with any sort of web page, no matter how neglected it is (me) can host ads on their page. With amounts of ten cents a day changing hands, I don't think they can afford to vet things properly.

> I may not be the only person who has that reaction.

Almost certainly not, but I live in hope. Anyway, I should shut up now, or talk about fanfiction...

#113 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:46 AM:

A naive fanfiction question here:

From my almost microscopic acquaintance with fanfic I've noticed a lot of sexual stuff, a lot of crossover stuff between different shows/books, and a lot of shorthand terms for different types of fanfic...

What, if any, is the accepted term for "more of the same - something just like the original, without any notable transgressions"? For instance, this would include most of the Sherlock Holmes stories written, but not the ones where Holmes and Moriarty turn out to be time travellers from the future.

For that matter, if there's a good online guide to fanfic terminology, I wouldn't say no. Thanks.

#114 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:55 AM:

Oh, do I feel like a fool.

I was rereading the ML threads linked in the OP and finally realized that this Mike Ford guy (encyclopedic mind, always interesting, crackerjack at occasional poetry--wonder what he does for a living?) was the John M. Ford who wrote The Final Reflection, How Much for Just the Planet?, and The Dragon Waiting, all of which I read until they fell apart.

And I missed the chance to tell him so. Because I wasn't paying attention.

#115 ::: Kit ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 03:23 AM:

That would be news to the romance-reading friends I have, who keep telling me to read Carla Kelly and Laura Kinsale. Oh, and Loretta Chase and Jennifer Crusie.

Hm. Maybe I should have pointed out that it was a misconception, but I thought that was obvious =)

#116 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 03:28 AM:

What, if any, is the accepted term for "more of the same - something just like the original, without any notable transgressions"? For instance, this would include most of the Sherlock Holmes stories written, but not the ones where Holmes and Moriarty turn out to be time travellers from the future.

If the author is trying to write in the original author's voice, that's a pastiche, IIRC. If the author isn't doing a pastiche, but did do his or her homework, you could call it canon compliant or simply well written.

But I gather that you're looking for something in the summary to warn you off of the stuff you would rather not read. "Pastiche" isn't usually used. If you're trying to avoid sex scenes, look for fics labeled "gen," not "adult," "het," or "slash." Avoid anything labeled "AU." This is supposed to mean "alternate universe," or a story about the consequences of one change in the timeline, as in "What if Boromir had taken the Ring from Frodo?" In practice, AU usually means "I like Elijah Wood's eyes and Sean Bean's shoulders and I also like stories about pop stars who have to balance their personal lives with their fame, so I'm going to put Frodo and Boromir into a story where they can play out my fantasies. Frodo, you're the Hannah Montana character this time."

Always remember that you're looking at a gigantic slush pile. Because everything is self-published, there is no valiant editor shoveling out the garbage and polishing the gems.* In general, if the tone of the archive's front page is juvenile or it looks sloppy, the stories won't be worth your time. Also, avoid any site that doesn't provide summaries, tags, or warnings. I speak from experience. Oh, my brain, my brain.


*There are fanfic sites with submissions standards. I have yet to see one that upholds them.

#117 ::: innocentsmith ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:00 AM:

Steve Taylor at #113 said: For that matter, if there's a good online guide to fanfic terminology, I wouldn't say no.

The Fanfiction Glossary

Though I do agree with #116 that if you're looking for "more of the same," you're probably looking for gen fic.

In regard to the slushpile problem...well, that's why rec communities exist. Every fandom is a little different, but you could do worse than to stop by the master list at LJ's newbieguide. If all else failed, you could just go to a rec or general comm for the fandom you're interested and ask for recommendations for gen fics. If you're polite and don't make a big production of "but none of that sex stuff, the people who write that make me sick" you'll probably get lots of suggestions and welcomes to the club.

...mind you, finding stuff for rare fandoms is always a bit of an uphill battle, so if you're looking for, say, Raffles fic that doesn't feature Raffles/Bunny UST, you may be screwed.

*It's also part of why fanfiction.net is not-so-lovingly referred to as "The Pit of Voles," or just "The Pit". That and the flame wars. People seem to currently be undecided on a name for FanLib, but "Pit of Weasels" seems to be a front runner.

#118 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:21 AM:

Jenny Islander and innocentsmith, thanks.

> But I gather that you're looking for something in the summary to warn you off of the stuff you would rather not read.

More to lead me towards what I do want to read which I feel (perhaps wrongly) is in the minority. Maybe I'm wrong there and it's just that slash, etc, attracts more attention.

> ...mind you, finding stuff for rare fandoms is always a bit of an uphill battle,

Tell me about it! I'm a big fan of Modesty Blaise (the novels, not particularly the comics) and every now and then I go searching for fanfic, since Peter O'Donnell's not likely to write any more. The only thing I've ever found was some Modesty Blaise/Buffy crossover!

#119 ::: Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:29 AM:

More to lead me towards what I do want to read which I feel (perhaps wrongly) is in the minority. Maybe I'm wrong there and it's just that slash, etc, attracts more attention.

Whether or not slash is in the majority (a subject of some debate), it's certainly easier to categorize, which makes it more visible.

Easier to compile a list of fics by pairing or plot-device than the more subjective matter of quality and tone which you're describing.

There are places like HP story finders where you can post a request and *ask* whether anyone knows of fic of a particular sort. [That's Potter-specific, but I'm sure more generic ones exist]

And who knows, maybe your request could spark a few plotbunnies and inspire a renaissance in the character. :)

#120 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:40 AM:

Steve @ #118:
I'm a big fan of Modesty Blaise (the novels, not particularly the comics) and every now and then I go searching for fanfic, since Peter O'Donnell's not likely to write any more. The only thing I've ever found was some Modesty Blaise/Buffy crossover!

Another Modesty Blaise fan! Hurrah! I haven't found any good fanfic out there either, though I bet I read the same Buffy crossover you did. I am mournfully collecting the strip serials now, for lack of anything else new. But there's just not enough room for O'Donnell's wit in the strips.

Did you see the straight-to-video "My Name is Modesty" flick? I just got it on DVD and was impressed that while they screwed up several details, they got a lot of it right. It felt good, especially after that terrifying 60s version.

#121 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 10:31 AM:

Steve:

Gen fic is generally more likely to include "more of the same", although even there, the label merely indicates "for general audiences"--ergo, no sex and limited violence. There's been some big discussions lately about the use of that label for episode-like stories for a show where sex and violence are common (say, Battlestar Galactica or Supernatural). No consensus has arisen.

X-Files fandom had a handle label for "casefile", which usually meant you got something like an episode, but gen could mean anything from "it's the end of the world" to "Mulder sits in a car and worries about his life." It's more of a rating than a genre, if you catch my drift.

Maybe I'm wrong there and it's just that slash, etc, attracts more attention.

Well, it does that, but even in fandoms where the slash runs free (like the Stargate-verse), it still generally accounts for less than half of what's being posted. It is, however, easier to spot, and you'll see a lot of plotty adventure stories that are also slash, even if the gay romance is not a major element of the plot.

If you're interested in trying fic, I can't encourage you strongly enough to stick with recommendations sites, but keep in mind that even those are geared towards other members of the community. Pay attention to how they label the stories, and to what they say about the story (if they say anything). Some recommenders are pretty open about whether a story is on the list merely because it hits one of their kinks.

Avoid anything labeled "AU."

I wouldn't go that far--it depends on whether it's an AU because it spun off from canon because the writer wanted to investigate what would have happened if, say, Sheppard never got off the Wraith Hive Ship in "The Hive", or if it's one of the stories in which Sheppard and McKay are cowboys in 1880s Wyoming... Different AUs, different purposes, and you can usually tell from the headers what it is.

#122 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:20 AM:

#118: Marcus Rowland has done a couple of Buffy/Blaise crossovers, but they might well be the ones you've already read:
http://www.tthfanfic.com/Story-6475/MarcusRowland+Counter-Coup.htm
http://www.tthfanfic.com/Story-8499/MarcusRowland+Related+Events.htm

#123 ::: John F ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:42 AM:

I can't think of anything even remotely legitimate (other than hobby tables in artist alleys in cons) that makes a profit from fanfiction.

I don't know if it counts, but I know of at least two Xena fanfics which involved 'reincarnations' of the main characters in another time that were actually published as books - outside of the context it's not completely obvious who they're reincarnations of, and it becomes a story about two women.

#124 ::: Adam Stephanides ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:45 AM:

I know I'm in the minority (and I'll state upfront that I'm not a member of fandom), but I think some of the anti-FanLib sentiment is overblown. If you look at YouTube's (FalLib's obvious business model) Terms of Use, the provisions of FanLib's TOS that have been most objected to -- the legal-liability provisions and the license for FanLib to display submissions "in connection with the website" -- are in there too, just as bad or even worse.

As for FanLib shining an unwanted light upon fanfic, I would argue that fanfic hasn't been "under the radar" for a long time. And if FanLib did provoke a bunch of cease and desists, it wouldn't mean the end of fanfic, or even of FanLib: the great copyrighted-materal purge of YouTube didn't shut down YouTube, or even stop people from posting copyright-violating material.

On the other hand, I can't deny that they've done a horrible job of presenting and explaining themselves so far.

#125 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 12:12 PM:

Adam Stephanides @ 124: Bad analogy. There are unquestionably non-copyright-infringing uses for YouTube: any home video of people's pets doing cute things, for instance.

In contrast, there is no _unquestionably_ non-copyright-infringing use for FanLib [*]. In light of that, a site (1) that is soliciting fanfic and only fanfic, (2) in order to profit the site not the authors, (3) contains vague handwavy comments to the effect that fanfic authors who post there shouldn't worry about being sued, and yet (4) has that kind of defense & indemnification clause . . .

In short: YouTube : FanLib :: apples : oranges.

[*] Note that I didn't say all fanfic is infringing. I just said there's a question about it.

#126 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 01:17 PM:

Gen fic is generally more likely to include "more of the same", although even there, the label merely indicates "for general audiences"--ergo, no sex and limited violence.

Interesting. The definition of gen fic I've always encountered is somewhere along the lines of "includes the full cast of characters in roughly the same proportions you'd get in the original" (ie, not focused on just one or two characters from an ensemble) or "not centered around a romantic-style relationship of any gender combination", depending on the fandom. I've never run across the use of "gen" as a rating in fic; IME it's strictly been a designator that often boils down to "neither het nor slash". You can easily have R-rated gen, for violence.

Of course, the definition of what exactly qualifies as "gen" (can you have a pairing if it remains in the background? only if it's a canon pairing?) is one of the topics that pops up on metafandom with some regularity, so I'm not surprised there are usages out there I haven't come across before.

#127 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 01:45 PM:

#123: I'd heard that Tanith Lee's Kill the Dead was based on two Blake's Seven characters, but doing some searching to try and confirm that, I see there are differing opinions:
"Parl Dro is plainly an Avon clone"
"Tanith has always denied that Parl Dro is Avon and Myal Lemyal is Vila, however she based the character of Parl Dro on her image of Paul Darrow (hence the name) envisaging him acting the part."

#128 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 01:58 PM:

I don't know if it counts, but I know of at least two Xena fanfics which involved 'reincarnations' of the main characters in another time that were actually published as books - outside of the context it's not completely obvious who they're reincarnations of, and it becomes a story about two women.

One of my favorite fanfic authors is currently in the throes of polishing a very, very good first novel for publication. It began as one of those fanfics that makes you hold your breath while you're reading it because you simultaneously want to see what happens next and just don't want it to end. It's interesting to read her blog entries about what it takes to transform fanfic into profic.

On the other end of the spectrum, there's an ongoing SF series at my library that appears to be mediocre fanfic with the serial numbers filed off. The first contact with an alien species is disposed of in a couple of pages so the heroine can start having sex with the alien. It hits all the standard adult-romance-with-a-manbeast fanfic highlights: psychic mating bonds, growling, biting, gotta have sex or die, anybody who preaches continence is evil, my parents just don't understand, etc., etc. It's on volume 5 or so. If I weren't a librarian's daughter, I might write a note inside the front cover: If you like these books, don't bother buying your own copies. You can get better for free at the library's Internet stations; just Google "Thundercats adult." (Caveat: I don't read Thundercats fanfic myself. But if there's any adult Thundercats fanfic out there, it's gotta be better than that stuff.)

#129 ::: cofax ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 01:59 PM:

I've never run across the use of "gen" as a rating in fic; IME it's strictly been a designator that often boils down to "neither het nor slash". You can easily have R-rated gen, for violence.

Well, I've seen it so labeled. But if you go back to "gen" as "for general audiences" or "what could be aired on screen", that sort of falls down. If you define it as "not het or slash", that works.

There are definitely varying interpretations on what gen is, and things are changing because canon now often includes both relationships and violence we would not have seen in canon twenty years ago. So under one definition, a Battlestar story that includes Lee and Kara having sex might be gen, but under another definition would be labeled het.

Me, I'd call it Bob. (tm Vehemently)

Unfortunately, we don't have consensus on what gen is.

And I've gone wildly offtopic from the original post. It's worth noting that Henry Jenkins has posted a list of the questions he's submitted to Chris Williams, CEO of FanLib--if they are all answered honestly and fully, I'll eat my hat.

It's also worth noting that Williams dodged multiple requests to engage directly with fans on their turf or neutral ground (such as a new LJ community), but is willing to speak with Jenkins, who for all his sympathy is a male academic and not actually part of the community in question. I'm sure there are logistical reasons for this, and yet...

#130 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:08 PM:

Jennifer Barber (94), please don't freak out. Your posts have been just fine.

Lis Riba (97), brilliant find. More on that anon.

Alan Braggins (122), you might want to try the list here.

Cofax (129), I've been thoroughly unimpressed by Chris Williams' handling of this dust-up.

#131 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:25 PM:

Jenny @128 - what's the blog of that author turning fanfic into profic? I'd love to read it.

#132 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 02:47 PM:

Steve @ 118, back when fanfiction was photocopied and stapled (not that long ago, really) I ran across a Modesty Blaise crossover with The Prisoner, where Tarrant sent Modesty and Willie to rescue Number 6 from the Village.
-Barbara

#133 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 03:01 PM:

Barbara #132:

I think I might just almost kill for that.

Does it say something about how I've just somehow not quite totally embraced the fannish nature that it had never occurred to me that there might be MB fanfic? Despite having all the books, one of them for 40 years?

#134 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 03:05 PM:

Alan @127: Ask Tanith Lee herself about Kill the Dead, and she'll say that she based the physical characteristics of the book characters on the *actors*, and the only connection to Blake's 7 is that being a fan of the show is how she's familiar with the actors. (I've been there for that conversation at a con.) She's written a radio play specifically for Paul Darrow and another actor because she could hear their voices as she wrote the lines, so she's certainly envisaged him playing the part as she's been writing something.

Nevertheless, a lot of fans believe that the book is an avatar novel -- not fanfic as such, but with characters loosely or heavily based on the fandom source material. There's a distinction here between writing something that's effectively filing the serial numbers off a piece of fanfic, and writing an avatar novel.

There's a nice discussion of one specific avatar at Barbara Paul's website, where she discusses how a character who wasn't intended to be an avatar gradually became one:
http://barbarapaul.com/holland.html

#135 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 03:25 PM:

I keep being reminded that fanfic, like fandom, contains multitudes. I've been in fanfic something like ten (gak) years, and the places I hung out were dominated by college-educated women, many of whom are now middle-aged college-educated women. That, therefore, is my image of fanficdom -- people much like my friends. I am friends with and/or respect a lot of ficwriters who are college-aged and older; almost none under that age, although of course they exist.

In non-LJ venues, especially fanlib.com's forums, I hear other fanfic writers complaining that the protesters are stereotyping fanfic writers as being adult females, and are marginalizing the male and teenage writers by so doing.

It's going to be a fascinating weekend at WisCon; I do appreciate Fanlib's timing. *g*

#136 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 04:18 PM:

Random thoughts after rereading the thread:

Marcus Rowland also is archived at Buffy Fiction Archive; The Crypt is a good site for its extensive list of fics but is hinky with some browsers.

I label what (little) I write to be gen, although my earliest and most extensive story contains what could be considered a canon ship (Angelus/Drusilla, for the record), and a few R-rated sex scenes. My feel for the distinction is that het and gen put romantic relationships at the center of the story, while in gen stories sex and romance take place either off-stage or are, at least, not the larger part of the story, nor the goal of plot development.

The writers on my friends list are women, for the most part, of my generation, more or less, college-educated or in college, as a general rule, but they also include at least one prolific fic writer of the male persuasion, and a not-yet-twenty-year-old woman who books rock band tours. There is a law student and a lawyer, a few copywriters, at least three college instructors, nurses, teachers, and a collection of women at home with their kids who are making their butter and egg money writing M/M porn for electronic publishers.

#137 ::: Jonquil ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 04:34 PM:

collection of women at home with their kids who are making their butter and egg money writing M/M porn for electronic publishers.

I saw that one at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and I was impressed. Slash goes mainstream! It's been okay forever for men to like woman-on-woman porn, but not the reverse.

#138 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 05:19 PM:

Re: Google AdSense.

HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) -- Computer specialist Didier Stevens put up a simple text advertisement on the Internet offering downloads of a computer virus for people who did not have any.

Surprisingly, he found as many as 409 people clicking on the ad saying "Is your PC virus-free? Get it infected here!" during a 6-month advertising campaign on Google's Adword, said the IT security expert.

"Some of them must have clicked on it by mistake. Some must have been curious or stupid," said Mikko Hypponen, head of research at data security firm F-Secure.

There was no virus involved, it was an experiment aiming to show these kinds of advertising systems can be used for malicious intent, Stevens told Reuters.

#139 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Meg @ 110: Oh no! Too Much Information dump coming up!

What you're describing is the normal situation for almost business start-ups, particularly if they're playing with their own money.

Quick overview of corporate governance: The shareholders, usually the people who put the money in, own the company. A company's main responsibility is to obey laws, and to return value to its shareholders. The shareholders' way to ensure this is the power to elect the board. The board is supposed to keep track of the management and make sure that it's doing both of those. Normally the board does not try to run the company day-to-day, but should try to understand the big picture, and look out for signs that trouble is on the way. In the last resort, it's the board's job to fire the management if they have screwed up irreparably and put in new management. All of the above is true both for private and public companies, new and old, big and small.

Naturally one of the best ways a shareholder can ensure his or her interests are represented is to be on the board him/herself. (If the shareholder is competent and knowledgeable, that is. If not, he/she is well advised to elect an honest outside director.) A VC investor will always put at least one rep on the board and may install some of the management.

When a company is small and starting, it is very common for the shareholders, the board, and the management to be all the same people, or drawn from the same pool. The formalities of "chain of command" I described above don't matter so much then. A few years down the road when there are new managers, perhaps more or different shareholders, or when some big trouble looms, it matters a lot that everyone is clear about how it works.

Note that nowhere in the above did I say anything about an obligation to fanfic authors, the employees, or anyone but the law, the board, and the shareholders. There isn't one in law, except as determined by contracts. Any other obligations the company may feel or be expected to uphold are "extra", as it were.

#140 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:24 PM:

Jonquil @137: the slash isn't quite mainstream yet -- we're (mostly) confined to the epubs for now. But my last book paid me just shy of $2000 in the first monthly royalty period. It'll tail off over the next few months, but those familiar with the SFWA membership regs will understand why I take that particular number seriously, even if my publisher doesn't meet SFWA requirements and isn't likely to any time soon.

#141 ::: randomsome1 ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:42 PM:

If you're still following along . . . Fanlib's apparently recently revamped their TOS, but still aren't doing so great. Problems seem to include ignorance of something called "safe harbor status," how they still want legal funding from posters even if said posters have taken stuff off of the site, and how they're still making money off of fanfic without properly addressing the problems over copyright law.

--Random, who was curious as to why her hit counter exploded

#142 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 11:53 PM:

Want to know how people (outside the SF community) make money off of fanfic?

It's how you get a job as a writer in Hollywood.

Pick a show, write a script for it, make it your best work.

Send to shows, other than that one (e.g. if you want to write for Cheers, you write a script for The Golden Girls, and send it to Cheers).

But that's a special case.

#143 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 01:32 AM:

joann @ 133 - It was a brilliant idea (and of course Number 6 refused to trust them and wouldn't come with them) but I didn't pick up the zine because I felt at the time that the execution was a bit flat. And the author got Willie's psychic ears wrong, I seem to recall.
Still, it's the only MB fanfic I recall seeing. I probably should have bought it just for that.
-Barbara

#144 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 02:23 AM:

Steve Taylor:

I'm a big fan of Modesty Blaise (the novels, not particularly the comics) and every now and then I go searching for fanfic, since Peter O'Donnell's not likely to write any more. The only thing I've ever found was some Modesty Blaise/Buffy crossover!

I think my brain just bent.

It's not because I've only seen four or five episodes of Buffy. (Nothing against Buffy: I've never had access to the boxed sets and I did end up watching almost every episode of Angel on cable when I was unemployed.) It's not the thought of Modesty and Willie among vampires, et cetera: if you're enough of a pragmatist to deal with Dina's gifts (or Lucifer's to take a more extreme example) it's not much more of a stretch to deal with Joss Whedon's supernatural beasties. It's not even trying to picture a conversation between Willie and Spike. It's trying to picture two thoroughgoing professionals like Modesty and Willie dealing with the Scooby Gang. (Not to mention what would happen if Buffy was stupid enough to try something physical against Modesty. I don't care what extra features Buffy got when she became a Slayer, she'd have to face an annoyed Modesty and an enraged Willie. I'd rather have my liver eaten by wolves.)

Barbara Gordon:

Steve @ 118, back when fanfiction was photocopied and stapled (not that long ago, really) I ran across a Modesty Blaise crossover with The Prisoner, where Tarrant sent Modesty and Willie to rescue Number 6 from the Village.

Well, that sort of makes sense if Number 6 was one of Tarrant's people--or was really Jack Frasier--but barring wearing SCUBA gear on land or a rebreather unit I'm not quite sure how they'd beat the Rovers...

#145 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:09 AM:

#134 "and the only connection to Blake's 7 is that being a fan of the show"

She wrote two episodes, so she's more than just a fan.


> distinction here between writing something that's effectively filing the serial numbers off a piece of fanfic, and writing an avatar novel.

Yes. But the description in #123 ("'reincarnations' of the main characters in another time") sounds more like the avatar novel case than the "serial numbers filed off" case.

#146 ::: Aquila ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:25 AM:

I don't know if it counts, but I know of at least two Xena fanfics which involved 'reincarnations' of the main characters in another time that were actually published as books - outside of the context it's not completely obvious who they're reincarnations of, and it becomes a story about two women.

And there's another 40 or so that don't mention reincarnation, but do use the characters' descriptions in various ways. I hadn't heard the term avatar novel before, that describes them nicely. I estimate that more than 1/3 of the lesbian romances that Amazon is currently selling started out in Xena fandom. I'd love to know the sales figures.

#147 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Steve @118 and Susan @120: Watch This Space. It may take me a few years to get round to it, but there's a novel in the Laundry sequence that's got a Modesty Blaise shaped hole in it. (As in: Modesty Blaise meets the cult of Cthulhu. With a couple of serial numbers filed into illegibility, of course ...)

#148 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Alan @145: My intended meaning was the only connection the *book* has to the show -- I see I might have been clearer in how I phrased it. I'm well aware that she wrote the scripts for "Sarcophagus" and "Sand". Those scripts are rather interesting, in that you could consider them an example of fanfic written by a pro. I've seen them discussed from that perspective, though I'm not sure if that was on a public area of the net.

#149 ::: Barbara Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:14 PM:

Bruce @ 144, I don't recall Rover appearing in the fic (one of the reasons it fell short, perhaps) but mightn't Willie and Modesty's ability to go into suspended animation help there? It depends what the Rovers can sense, of course.
SCUBA gear isn't a bad idea either.
-Barbara

#150 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Charlie @ #147:

Congratulations on just selling me the first two Laundry books.

I hope there's a Willie Garvin-shaped hole next to the Modesty Blaise-shaped one in the future book.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:40 PM:

Susan... I have heard of Modesty Blaise, but, for some reason, never read her adventures. Can you tell me what her character was about? Yes, I could google it, but you might want to spread the word about Modesty.

#152 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 04:59 PM:

Serge:

Modesty Blaise and her (non-romantic) partner Willie Garvin are wealthy retired international criminals engaging in freelance escapades for a secret branch of British intelligence. It started as a comic strip in the 1960s and went on to include thirteen books (eleven novels and two short story collections). I've been a fan via the books since I was a teenager and am now slowly collecting the strips as they're reprinted in nice big collections. Being comics-based, there are quite a few, um, unlikely elements (those sheep...), and villains of exotic names and personal habits. There are significant surviving prejudices of the era, but there are also neat gadgets and fights and general derring-do. The series takes awhile to really heat up - my favorite books are the middle ones. A quick google around can get you the names, and a number of them are in print or relatively easy to find used. The books have enough continuity that I recommend reading them in order.

The most prominent MB fans are probably Neil Gaiman, who actually was working on a screenplay based on one of the books, and Quentin Tarantino, who gave MB a shout-out in Pulp Fiction (look at what John Travolta's character has for bathroom reading.)

#153 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Susan... Thanks. Are the novels still in print? I just went to IMdb, wondering if MB every made it to the movies, and she did. There apparently was a TV movie in 1982 and a big-screen version in 1966 with Willie played by none other than Terence Stamp. (Yes, General Zod himself.)

#154 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:32 PM:

Susan... Oops. You already answered my question about the MB books's print status. I take it one could start in the middle of the series without any problem, since that's the section you recommend.

#155 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 06:48 PM:

Charlie #147:

Gosh, do I have to wait? What sort of bribery to move it up to the front of the queue?

(Seconding Susan on an insistence that a Modesty-shaped hole requires a Garvin-shaped hole right next to it. No, Brits will *not* catch me using his first name there. No, no.)

#156 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Serge @153: The Modesty Blaise books have been re-released in trade paperback over the last couple of years, and almost all of them are out now. I think that the later ones do tail off slightly, and there is in-series continuity even if each book is a standalone, so I would be inclined to read them in order if possible. If possible, don't read the final book first. There's an excellent guide to the series on Amazon

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Julia Jones... Thanks. Am I crazy, from the very few tidbits I've seen of the MB strip, to see her played by Audrey Hepburn?

#158 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 08:30 PM:

Just put in a request for the first MB book at the library. Weirdly, until y'all started discussing her, I'd kind of vaguely thought she was some sort of dull Broadway heroine. Actually, I'd pretty specifically thought Modesty Blaise was basically My Fair Lady in the 70s, blandified. Which is about as wrong as I could be. Why did I think that?

#159 ::: Adam Stephanides ::: (view all by) ::: May 24, 2007, 08:51 PM:

Kate Nepveu@125: First of all, I wasn't making an analogy. My point was that all the terrible scenarios that people are warning of with respect to FanLib could just as well happen on YouTube, and so far they haven't. And there's no reason to think they're more likely to happen on FanLib than on YouTube.

Second, it isn't true that there is "no _unquestionably_ non-copyright-infringing use for FanLib." If the copyright holder has given permission to post fanfic, it isn't copyright infringement. This may not be true of most of the fanfic on FanLib, but it's true of some.

I'm not asserting that FanLib is a good thing, or that it's a good idea to post on FanLib. I just think, as I said in my original post, that some of the concerns expressed have been overblown.

#160 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Barbara Gordon:

Bruce @ 144, I don't recall Rover appearing in the fic (one of the reasons it fell short, perhaps) but mightn't Willie and Modesty's ability to go into suspended animation help there? It depends what the Rovers can sense, of course.
SCUBA gear isn't a bad idea either.

It takes both of them some time to get into the slow heartbeat and breathing stage--that's demonstrated several times in the books. Considering the Rovers come after you fast when you try to leave, I doubt that either of them could keep enough oxygen going to their muscles to walk and slow things down enough to beat a Rover.

I suspect a rebreather might be a better choice than SCUBA gear, because I've been told it's quite a bit lighter than hauling SCUBA tanks.

Susan:

The most prominent MB fans are probably Neil Gaiman, who actually was working on a screenplay based on one of the books, and Quentin Tarantino, who gave MB a shout-out in Pulp Fiction (look at what John Travolta's character has for bathroom reading.)

Tarantino "presented" a version of Modesty's origin that was done cheap and on the quick by another director so Miramax could keep the rights for Tarantino to write and direct films featuring her. I have not seen it--it was dumped to DVD in the USA--but the reviews at IMDB.COM sound like the wrong actress, the wrong director, and a script that was only half right.

In theory Tarantino was to write and direct an adaptation of "A Taste for Death." Gaiman was to write an adaptation of "I, Lucifer." Now that the Weinsteins are no longer at Miramax, I have no idea as to what's going on.

Serge:

Julia Jones... Thanks. Am I crazy, from the very few tidbits I've seen of the MB strip, to see her played by Audrey Hepburn?

Well, Hepburn was the right height. General proportions are similar, but I don't know that the musculature was there--if she'd done Modesty she'd have had to have spent some time in the gym Christopher Reed went to between his soap opera days and Superman.

#161 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:49 AM:

Susan at #152 writes:

> There are significant surviving prejudices of the era

Homosexuality features only as an interesting quirk for a villain to have, much like having a hook for a hand. I can't recall them being racist as such, but there's some banter which would be considered... uncool by modern standards. I think, as you say, that it's a sign of the times rather than an indicator of O'Donnell's personality.

> Quentin Tarantino, who gave MB a shout-out in Pulp Fiction (look at what John Travolta's character has for bathroom reading.)

I had heard that the recent Modesty Blaise movie - the one set before The Network and Willie Garvin - was a quickie, made for contractual reasons so Tarantino didn't lose the movie rights to the series. I'd like Tarantino to do a movie - though I hope he can restrain his taste for gore just a little.

#162 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:00 AM:

Re-reading thrillers of the 1960s to 1980s, there's a remarkable decline in the general level of casual sexism and racism; you can almost trace the speed of cultural change in what's acceptable to say in public (and what's not) by reading a series start-to-end. I got a chunk of that when I was ploughing through Anthony Price's David Audley thrillers (that's on the menu for the Laundry, too); going back and reading the original Modesty Blaise novel (copyright 1963) is a remarkable experience purely for the social anthropology subtexts -- what the presentation of the scenario said about the author's view of the proper place of women in spy thrillers, for example. There are some nasty and weird subtexts about the feminine, violence, exclusion from social protections, and so on: and not, it seems, because the author was a raging misogynist, but because these were the cultural normative assumptions of the time.

... 'scuse me, I just got carried away psychoanalyzing my "fanfic". (Dammit, why doesn't Making Light permit s (strikethrough) tags in postings?) Don't mind me, I'll just go drool in a corner or something.

#163 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 07:02 AM:

Regarding homosexuality and villains, there are still some throwback authors out here. Last year SFX had me review a technothriller featuring an unpleasant hired thug who loves to watch SM videos and torture people. The final, subtle character touch: "He was a rampant homosexual ..."

Admittedly this came from a UK vanity press: The Book Guild, which I used to think was reasonably upmarket as such outfits go.

#164 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 07:04 AM:

Charlie Stoss @ 162... You make me think of Turner Classic Movies, and how fascinatingly weird it is to watch all those early 1960s battles of the sexes that starred Doris Day, especially since they were new films when I was becoming aware of the word. (Yes, being born in 1955, one goes thru a lot of Changes.)

#165 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 07:07 AM:

Susan @ 152... there are quite a few, um, unlikely elements (those sheep...)

What about those sheep?

Or is this something not discussed in public, in case there are children around?

#166 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 09:38 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 147

Astounding I never thought of it before, but you do realize, don't you, that we have to refer to the sequence of stories about Bob Howard as the "Laundry List"?

#167 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Darn typo in #164... It should say "...when I was becoming aware of the world..."

#168 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 10:44 AM:

General Modesty Blaise replies:

The only parallel with My Fair Lady would be Modesty's relationship with her childhood tutor. The usual comparison is that she's the female James Bond.

I'm sure I'm not unusual in finding that one of the best things about the books and strips alike is that it presents a platonic male-female best friendship - plenty of sex in the books (never written out explicitly), but not between Modesty and Willie.

The 1966 movie is bad, bad, bad, bad. I saw it at the Brighton worldcon in '87 and I just can't completely express the badness of its badness. Just don't go there. I haven't seen the 1982 pilot, but it made Modesty & Willie Americans, so I don't see any need to even try.

I have seen the 2004 movie, just a couple of weeks ago. You can get the DVD from Amazon. Honestly, I was impressed, though perhaps that merely reflects the very low bar of it being one hundred times better than the 60s version. Yes, they miss some details (shoes, why is she wearing SHOES??!?) and they create a gaping internal plot problem by merging Lob and Sivaji. And the actress is not nearly muscular enough. I was also visually jarred by her makeup style being modern rather than 60s - she doesn't look like a Romero illo. But overall, it really felt Right to me in many ways. It gets most of her backstory correct, and given that we are supposed to be seeing a teenage Modesty, the fact that the actress doesn't quite have the chops is less of an issue. And the moment when she rips her skirt and gives that kick...! I'd recommend reading all the books first so you catch all the references. (Garcia! That's Garcia! Squeee!)

Sexism: There's an interesting tension. Modesty kicks ass, and a number of male characters (even some fairly macho ones) stand back and admit that she does so more effectively than they do. But she is also explicitly presented as able to do what she does because she's Not Like Other Girls. Like Elizabeth I, she makes a point that she isn't challenging the rules, just being an exception to the rules. At one point she even refers to herself as being like a hermaphrodite. I don't think that's really backed down on until Last Day in Limbo. I manage okay with this, but I've had very bad luck pushing the books with female friends five to ten years younger than me - they just can't stand it.

Racism: sex-crazed Africans right out of King Kong. "Yellow peril" for the assorted enigmatic and inscrutable Asiatics. On the bright side, not all the Asians are villains (one is her highly competent "houseboy") and we do get a black good guy by - hmm - Last Day in Limbo. And interracial sex goes by without a blink.

There are gay characters and at least one bi, always bad guys, though I guess it's good that we have equal opportunity in villainry. They dive right on down into stereotype-land. The men wear makeup, have limp wrists, and are into things like flowers. The women are ultra-butch dykes who get a lot of heavy breathing in while beating up on Modesty. Reading the first fight in I, Lucifer makes me wince (paraphrasing: ooh, those pansies get nasty when you kill their boyfriends!). And Modesty says explicitly that she's "not a dike" [sic] because her hormones are "the right kind" and work fine.

The sheep: sorry, too much of a spoiler. Read the books.

Incidentally, I was trying to convince PNH to read these, even before realizing that Making Light was thoroughly riddled with MB fans. Everyone shout out to Patrick that he needs to get with the program, please.

#169 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 11:07 AM:

The sheep: sorry, too much of a spoiler. Read the books.

Will do. Meanwhile, it was pointed out earlier, that Audrey Hepburn wouldn't have been quite right as MB. Diana Rigg, then? (Yeah, I like casting movies, like having Katharine Hepburn as Lois Lane.)

#170 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Serge:
Can we have one more round of "Susan does not watch television", please? I caught the Avengers reference, but I've never seen an episode of of the show and almost certainly never will unless someone loans me a DVD and convinces me to watch it. So I have no idea if she'd be appropriate. If she's 5'6" with black hair and a long neck, possibly, but wouldn't she be well past 28 by now?

I did hear that Nicole Kidman was interested in the role, which makes me writhe in agony. Way too tall. But I also see very few movies, so asking me about casting will generally result in me shrugging in ignorance.

#171 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 11:28 AM:

Susan... True, but I figured you'd know about Rigg. Yeah, she's way past 28 now, but I was thinking of her in her Avengers days. I don't know that her neck is quite long enough, but she is 5' 6.5" tall.

Nicole Kidman?
Bleh.

#172 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 11:34 AM:

Correction... Rigg is 5' 8.5" tall, not 5' 6.5".

(Charlie Stross... Any chance that John Steed will show up?)

#173 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:07 PM:

> wouldn't she [Diana Rigg] be well past 28 by now?

If we can cast Aubrey Hepburn in a hypothetical film, we can cast a 28 year old Diana Rigg, surely?

#174 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:29 PM:

Drat. I called my local Borders about the MB novels and their inventory shows only the comic-strip... I mean, the graphic-novel titles, even though I used the correct ISBNs. I bet you that these are the novels, but whoever set things up in the catalog screwed up. (Wouldn't be the first time someone makes foolish assumptions, as the Luna line of fantasy books showed.) That's OK. I'll look elsewhere. Or ask a buddette in SF to walk over to Stacey's Bookstore.

#175 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:50 PM:

Susan:
The usual comparison is that she's the female James Bond.

"England's fabulous, feminine answer to James Bond", per the front-cover blurb on the first American edition of the first novel.


Serge:

The author's dream cast, circa when That Movie was made, is reported to have been Julie Christie and Michael Caine.

#176 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Serge: I refuse to plan a series more than n books ahead, where n is the number of prior books already in print/under contract. (Besides, I'm still in two minds about whether the Laundryverse will continue to pastiche famous authors or take on a life of its own.)

#177 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:54 PM:

Alan @ #173:
The film's not entirely hypothetical - not on at the moment, but presumably Tarantino retains the rights to make one. That was the whole point of tossing out "My Name is Modesty", to retain the rights.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 12:56 PM:

Paul A. @ 175... I'll have to keep that in mind when I read the books. But Julie Christie with black hair? Hmmm... One of her characters had black hair in Fahrenheit 451, if I remember correctly.

#179 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:20 PM:

"England's fabulous, feminine answer to James Bond"

What was his question again?

(Slightly more seriously, there's one or more very strange assumptions in that cover blurb that I can't quite figure out)

#180 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 01:56 PM:

Charlie @ 176... By the way, when is The Jennifer Morgue coming out in paperback (trade or not)?

#181 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:03 PM:

Serge: TJM is due out in the USA in trade in, IIRC, January (was originally going to be November but Halting State comes out in October). It'll probably be out in paperback in the UK around the same time. Details on my FAQ.

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:11 PM:

Charlie @ 181... Darn. That far away? I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy TJM in hardcover.

#183 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 02:58 PM:

Charlie Stross #176: Drat! And here I was hoping that there would be a Kai Lung-shaped hole somewhere....

#184 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:11 PM:

Fragano @183: Kai Lung? [*]

#185 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:14 PM:

Modesty Blaise? Claudia Black.

You know I'm right.

#186 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 03:55 PM:

Xopher @ 185... She was my choice too, but I thought people would call me silly. (For saying that. And I'm sure there are other reasons lurking around to call me silly.)

#187 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 05:21 PM:

I wouldn't call anyone silly for suggesting the Goddess Claudia for any strong, charismatic woman role.

Because it's wise to do so.

#188 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 05:34 PM:

JESR... Of course, some people might object that the Goddess Claudia is too old for the part. But she can act.

#189 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:04 PM:

imdb says Claudia Black was born 1972; is Modesty Blaise that Buffy-like that a woman in her thirties can't play the part?

I haven't thought of Modesty Blaise since my cousin was fan-boying her back when we were in high school, so forgive my state of ignorance.

#190 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 06:11 PM:

Charlie Stross #184: Take a look here.

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 07:08 PM:

JESR @ 189... I'm all for Claudia myself, mind you.

#192 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Fragano, that wikipedia article is very empty of information. As Charlie's blog says that he's 'Not dead, just working' I hesitate to point out that The Wallet of Kai Lung and Kai Lung's Golden Hours are available as Project Gutenberg books, as this will probably be too much information.

#193 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 08:21 PM:

Neil Willcox #192: You're right, there's a lot more information at this site.

#194 ::: Bruce Cohen, SpeakerToManagers ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 08:36 PM:

I second the motion to cast the Goddess Claudia as Modesty Blaise. Xopher, you knew that mentioning her would bring me to this thread no matter what I was doing, didn't you?

#195 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: May 25, 2007, 08:44 PM:

I would like to see Halle Berry as Modesty Blaise (if Angelina Jolie can play a biracial Afro-Cuban-Frenchwoman, then Halle Berry can play Modesty Blaise).

#196 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 02:03 AM:

Apropos Bruce Cohen @166, I found myself disappointed that the forthcoming Atrocity Archives-Jennifer Morgue omnibus isn't titled On Her Majesty's Laundry Service. ;-)

#197 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: May 27, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Sorry, s/forthcoming/just released/;

#198 ::: PoD ::: (view all by) ::: December 10, 2008, 02:19 AM:

Steve @ #118:
I'm a big fan of Modesty Blaise (the novels, not particularly the comics) and every now and then I go searching for fanfic, since Peter O'Donnell's not likely to write any more. The only thing I've ever found was some Modesty Blaise/Buffy crossover!
#120 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: May 23, 2007, 09:40 AM:
Another Modesty Blaise fan! Hurrah! I haven't found any good fanfic out there either, though I bet I read the same Buffy crossover you did. I am mournfully collecting the strip serials now, for lack of anything else new. But there's just not enough room for O'Donnell's wit in the strips.

Did you see the straight-to-video "My Name is Modesty" flick? I just got it on DVD and was impressed that while they screwed up several details, they got a lot of it right. It felt good, especially after that terrifying 60s version.

Since 1963 the character Modesty Blaise has been copyrighted and the various publishers who hold title to reproduce along with solo syndication tend to guard these rights. You will be hard pressed to find any fan fiction for this reason.

"My name is modesty" Was really shot because the rights for the movie were about to expire and be returned to Modesty Blaise Ltd. So the film company did some principle photography and then proceeded to shoot the whole thing.

The first scene is the only part that is O'Donnell's original and untampered writing and it's implied that one of the soldiers is Peter. The rest was taken from an orgininal script that was written by O'Donnell but never used since the producers gave the writing up to a team of young bloods... the exectution is for the audience to judge.

There are a series of ever single strip written, some 90 stories being republished by titan books. I think we have some 35 of these out so far. If you're hankering for some classic Modesty then these might sate your hunger.

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