Book review: ‘Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World’, from Shakespeare to ‘Sherlock’

There are over one million stories posted on – 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.

Continue reading…


Key Terms…
  • review ↔ resenha
  • boasts ↔ orgulha-se
  • steadily ↔ regularmente, gradualmente
  • forefront ↔ frente, vanguarda
  • novel ↔ romance
  • better known for ↔ mais conhecido por
  • craze ↔ mania
  • a net worth ↔ patrimônio líquido
  • catapulted ↔ catapultou
  • top earning ↔ com os melhores ganhos
  • Taking Over ↔ Conquistando, Dominando
  • Jamison’s own analysis ↔ análise próprio de Jamison
  • essays ↔ ensaios
  • foreword ↔ prefácio
  • quote ↔ citação
  • mainstream ↔ comum, de caráter geral, o meio dominante, corrente principal
  • are all featured prominently ↔ estão todos com destaque
  • put off by ↔ afastado/dissuadido por
  • anecdotal ↔ anedótica
  • a standout ↔ um destaque
  • take issue with ↔ ter problema com
  • valuable insight ↔ informações valiosas
  • fall flat ↔ caem por terra
  • historical background ↔ retrospectiva histórico
  • or more likely ↔ ou mais provável
  • kicks off with ↔ começa com
  • pet ↔ animal de estimação


boasts orgulha-se
They are all driven by shallowness and boast of their minor success ↔São todos movidos pela futilidade, e vangloriam-se de seus pequenos acertos
to boast of ↔gabar-se de
to boast, make great play of oneself’s actions ↔Dar uma de gostoso = jactar-se, dizer-se “o bom”, o melhor
steadily regularmente, gradualmente
The company’s advertising budget has been increasing steadily year after year. ↔O orçamento publicitário da empresa tem crescido ano após ano.
novel romance
My brother is writing his first novel. ↔Meu irmão está escrevendo seu primeiro romance.
better known for mais conhecido por
Wimbledon is better known for its tennis than the quality of its surfing beaches.  
top earning com os melhores ganhos
Needless to say, she didn’t make the cut for our rundown of top-earning women. ↔Obviamente, ela não apareceu nossa lista das mais bem pagas.
Taking Over Conquistando, Dominando
He was groomed from a young age to take over the family business. ↔Ele foi educado desde cedo para assumir o controlo da empresa da família.
You think that the language that you want to learn will take over the whole world? ↔Você acha que a língua que você quer aprender vai dominar o mundo inteiro?
mainstream comum, de caráter geral, o meio dominante, corrente principal
Climate change has hit the mainstream in Australia with media coverage at an all time high. ↔A mudança climática tem sido o principal assunto na Austrália, com alta cobertura da mídia a todo momento.
are all featured prominently estão todos com destaque
The economic and financial crisis featured prominently in the discussions between the ECB and the European Parliament. ↔A crise económica e financeira foi alvo de especial destaque nas discussões entre o BCE e o Parlamento Europeu.
It has purged itself of the progressive voices it once featured prominently.  
The economic and financial crisis featured prominently in the discussions between the ECB and the European Parliament. ↔A crise económica e financeira foi alvo de especial destaque nas discussões entre o BCE e o Parlamento Europeu.
a standout um destaque
She is a standout among the available candidates.
take issue with ter problema com
If you take issue with something in one of my fics, I will be happy to discuss it privately with you over email.
Tenho de discordar daquilo que o senhor deputado Sylla afirmou. ↔I have to take issue with what Mr Sylla said.
Assim sendo, manifesto expressamente a minha discordância com o Senhor Comissário em relação a este ponto. ↔I should therefore like to take issue with the Commissioner specifically on that point.
valuable insight informações valiosas
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing this valuable insight with me.  
But there are many books that offer valuable insight into improving one’s life.  
Solving the classical problem can give valuable insight into solving the quantum problem.  
fall flat caem por terra
if an attempt to influence people’s behaviour or opinions falls flat, it fails
The advertising campaign which had worked so well in the US fell flat in China.
Most of her jokes fell flat and her act was a disaster.
It used to be an amazing magazine, but it’s fallen flat on its face.
Eu me espatifei na lama ao cair da arvore. ↔I fell-flat smack in the mud from the tree.


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