There are over one million stories posted on Fanfiction.net – all inspired by pre-existing works. Competitor website Archive of Our Own boasts↲ 89,000 of its own, and is steadily↲ growing. New York Times bestselling author Rainbow Rowell recently brought fanfiction to the forefront in her celebrated novel↲, Fangirl
Before publishing her incredibly popular Mortal Instruments series, Cassandra Clare was better known for↲ her Draco-centric Harry Potter fanfiction, and her Lord of the Rings parody series, The Very Secret Diaries
And then there’s the queen of the fanfiction craze – E.L. James, who has turned her Twilight fanfiction into the bestselling three-part Fifty Shades of Grey series, a movie adaptation, and a net worth that catapulted her to the top of Forbes’ 2013 list of top earning↲ authors.
As author Anne Jamison proves in Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World , fanfiction is not going anywhere.
‘Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over↲ the World’
Instead of delving into the many legal issues related to appropriating another author’s characters, Fic explores the social and cultural aspects of fanfiction, and combines Jamison’s own analysis with a collection of essays from a wide range of contributors.
The foreword is written by The Magicians author Lev Grossman, while Harry Potter actor Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) offers his own perspective on the Potter fandom and fanfiction. Bestselling Morganville Vampires author Rachel Caine, Husbands showrunner Brad Bell, and Buffy star Amber Benson fill out the celebrity fandom contingent. In keeping with the tone of the collection, many fanfiction authors are also represented.
If the central focus of the book is not clear from the list of contributors, the epigraph, a quote from Joss Whedon, establishes the collection very firmly in mainstream↲ fandoms. Sherlock Holmes (and BBC’s Sherlock Harry Potter Twilight Supernatural Star Trek X-Files and Buffy are all featured prominently↲.
Readers should not be put off by the academic appearance of the collection. Although Jamison is a professor of literature, she utilises a more anecdotal style as she details the experiences within different fandoms, and chronicles various controversies within the fanfiction community. “A Prehistory of Fanfiction” is a standout↲, linking modern fanfiction to the classical tradition of Shakespeare, as is “The Bronze Age,” which explores the links between fanfiction, Buffy , and the internet.
Jamison’s own sympathy towards the writing of fanfiction filters through in Fic , and while the collection is detailed, it could not be considered to be objective. Nor is it an exhaustive description of every experience within the fanfiction community, an impossible task for any author. Still, some fans will inevitably take issue with↲ their lack of representation in Fic
The contributors range in quality – some offer valuable insight↲ into the cultural and social aspects of fandiction, while others fall flat↲ due to the author’s desire to share their own personal narrative. The efforts by intellectual property lawyer and Potter fan Heidi Tandy, Rachel Caine, and Rukmini Pande and Samira Nadkarni are of particular merit.
Fanfiction readers and writers may find something new in the historical background offered by Jamison – or more likely, will enjoy re-engaging with the old debates surrounding Cassandra Clare’s plagirism and E.L. James’ publishing of her Twilight fanfiction. Readers who are less familiar with the world of fanfiction will find Fic educational and insightful, even if they are not familiar with all of the fandoms described here.
There is an enjoyable circular nature to Fic . It kicks off with the Whedon quote, “Art isn’t your pet – it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” Some fans will certainly be talking back to Jamison after finishing Fic , and that is just as it should be.