Thursday, April 27, 2006

Fans and fiction

Wonderful commentary on tonight's All Things Considered by Lev Grossman riffing on the subject of literary plagiarism. I highly recommend it to anyone seriously interested in fan fiction, because that's what it's primarily about. Grossman argues that writers like Melissa Jareo (who made the boo-boo of trying to actually sell her unauthorized Star Wars-related novel on are the unsung heroes of contemporary fiction, fleshing out worlds originally created by other authors in innovative ways and doing it without any hope of riches or fame. Jareo's cease-and-desist order from George Lucas & Co. is contrasted with the recent Pulitzer Prize awarded to a novel that extends the story of the mostly unseen father from Little Women.

As a person who gets paid for some of my writing (under my real name) and doesn't get paid for some (including anonymous slash fiction), I found Grossman's whole take on the matter fascinating. It's sort of cool hearing a published novelist defend the amount of time that goes into writing a form of literature that has zero literary credibility. I imagine the majority of people hearing the radio story had no idea that fanfic exists before they heard the segment, and I myself had not heard about the Jareo situation. My heart sank a bit when I heard her fate--I do sometimes worry that one day my main site, my mega-epic batsaga, and even this very blog may be gone, since they're all devoted to characters owned by a giant corporation.

Though I must say Grossman's argument about doing it for love loses some ground when you recall that Jareo didn't just write about somebody else's creation, she actually tried to make some money off it.

And, let's face it, the vast majority of fanfic is crap.

But still!

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