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Someone Is Angry On the Internet

My position on so-called "fan fiction" is pretty well known. I'm against it, for a variety of reasons that I've stated previously more than once. I won't repeat 'em here.

My position is not unique. It is not universal either, I realize. Some writers actually encourage fan fiction (I know some of them, have heard their arguments), others don't seem to care one way or another (I know many of those). Many writers have no idea that it exists, no concept of what it is (in part because of the confusing term "fan fiction," which subject I will return to later), and have given the subject no thought. So there's a wide range of opinion on this matter, even among writers.

There are lots of us who oppose fan fiction, though. One such is my friend Diana Gabaldon, author of the mega-bestselling OUTLANDER series... and the occasional terrific short story and novella, some of which Gardner Dozois and I have been privileged to publish in our anthologies. Diana recently outlined her own feelings about fan fiction -- especially fan fiction involving her own world and characters -- in a series of posts on her blog:


Subsequent to Diana's first post, all hell broke loose. (As it seems to do more and more often on this "interweb" thingie). A thousand comments on her first two blog posts on the subject. It's all there, for those who want to check out the "debate." Which soon, alas, became heated, as hundreds of... what's the correct term here? fanficcers? fan fictioneers? fans of fanfic? defenders of fanfic?... arrived from all over the internet to take issue with Diana. A good number of them seemed to open their posts with variations on 'I don't know who you are and I've never read your books and I've never visited this blog before, but I've come by specially to lambast you.'


I have a colorful metaphor in mind to describe what this reminds me of, but I won't use it. Metaphors seemed to spark much of the outrage here. Writers have a natural prediliction for the colorful phrase, the striking comparison, but in political discussions -- and this is, at base, a political discussion -- that can lead to hyperbole, which can lead to anger.

So let me try to eschew all that and remain calm.

I am not going to rehash the arguments for and against "fan fiction." If you want to read those, go to Diana's blog. In between the shouting and the abuse and the endless restatement of the same three or four points by several hundred different posters, there's actually some fairly cogent posts on both sides, arguing the pros and cons of the issue.

I would like to say a couple of things that I don't think anyone else covered, however (and yes, I read all thousand-plus comments, though admittedly I skimmed some that just seemed to be more of the same).

As I said, my reasons for opposing fan fiction have been stated in the past. They are more-or-less the same reasons as those cited by Diana Gabaldon, and pretty much the same reasons that would given by any writer who shares our viewpoint on the matter. So I won't repeat them here. But I'll add a few thoughts.

One of the things I mislike about fan fiction is its NAME. Truth is, I wrote fan fiction myself. That was how I began, when I was a kid in high school writing for the dittoed comic fanzines of the early 1960s. In those days, however, the term did not mean "fiction set in someone else's universe using someone else's characters." It simply meant "stories written by fans for fans, amateur fiction published in fanzines." Comic fandom was in its infancy then, and most of us who started it were kids... some of whom did make the mistake of publishing amateur fan-written stories about Batman or the Fantastic Four in their 'zines. National (what we called DC back then) and Marvel shut those down pretty quickly.

The rest of us knew better. Including me. I was a fan, an amateur, writing stories out of love just like today's fan fictioneers... but it never dawned on me to write about the JLA or the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man, much as I loved them. I invented my own characters, and wrote about those. Garizan, the Mechanical Warrior. Manta Ray. The White Raider. When Howard Keltner, one of the editors and publishers of STAR-STUDDED COMICS, the leading fanzine of its day, invited me to write about two of his creations, Powerman and Dr. Weird, I leapt at the chance... but only with Howard's express invitation and permission.

So that's the sort of fan fiction I wrote. How and when the term began to be used for what is called fan fiction today, I don't know. I wish there was another term for that, though I confess I cannot think of one that isn't either cumbersome, vague, or prejorative. But it does bother me that people hear I wrote fan fiction, and take that to mean I wrote stories about characters taken from the work of other writers without their consent.

Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that's fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that... well, I think their wishes should be respected.

Myself, I think the writers who allow fan fiction are making a mistake. I am not saying here that the people who write fan fiction are evil or immoral or untrustworthy. The vast majority of them are honest and sincere and passionate about whatever work they chose to base their fictions on, and have only the best of intentions for the original author. But (1) there are always a few, in any group, who are perhaps less wonderful, and (2) this door, once opened, can be very difficult to close again.

Most of us laboring in the genres of science fiction and fantasy (but perhaps not Diana Gabaldon, who comes from outside SF and thus may not be familiar with the case I am about to cite) had a lesson in the dangers of permitting fan fiction a couple of decades back, courtesy of Marion Zimmer Bradley. MZB had been an author who not only allowed fan fiction based on her Darkover series, but actively encouraged it... even read and critiqued the stories of her fans. All was happiness and joy, until one day she encountered in one such fan story an idea similar to one she was using in her current Darkover novel-in-progress. MZB wrote to the fan, explained the situation, even offered a token payment and an acknowledgement in the book. The fan replied that she wanted full co-authorship of said book, and half the money, or she would sue. MZB scrapped the novel instead, rather than risk a lawsuit. She also stopped encouraging and reading fan fiction, and wrote an account of this incident for the SFWA FORUM to warn other writers of the potential pitfalls of same.

That was twenty years ago or thereabouts, but that episode had a profound effect on me and, I suspect, on many other SF and fantasy writers of my generation.

Okay, it was one incident a long time ago, you may say. Fair enough. Let me bring up a couple other writers, then. Contemporaries of an earlier age, each of whom was known by a set of initials: ERB and HPL. ERB created Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. HPL created Cthulhu and his Mythos. ERB, and later his estate, was extremely protective of his creations. Try to use Tarzan, or even an ape man who was suspiciously similar to Tarzan, without his/ their permission, and their lawyers would famously descend on you like a ton of bricks. HPL was the complete opposite. The Cthulhu Mythos soon turned into one of our genres first shared worlds. HPL encouraged writer friends like Robert Bloch and Clark Ashton Smith to borrow elements from his Cuthulhu Mythos, and to add elements as well, which HPL himself would borrow in turn. And in time, other writers who were NOT friends of HPL also began to write Cthulhu Mythos stories, which continues to this day.

Fair enough. Two writers, two different decisions.

Thing is, ERB died a millionaire many times over, living on a gigantic ranch in a town that was named Tarzana after his creation. HPL lived and died in genteel poverty, and some biographers have suggested that poor diet brought on by poverty may have hastened his death. HPL was a far more beloved figure amongst other writers, but love will only get you so far. Sometimes it's nice to be able to have a steak too. The Burroughs estate was paid handsomely for every Tarzan movie ever made, and collected plenty on the PRINCESS OF MARS movie I worked on during my Hollywood years, and no doubt is still collecting on the one currently in development... though the book is in the public domain by now. Did the Lovecraft estate make a penny off THE DUNWICH HORROR movie, the HERBERT WEST, REANIMATOR movie, the recent DAGON movie, the internet version of CALL OF CTHULHU? I don't know. I rather doubt it. If they did, I'll betcha it was just chump change. Meanwhile, new writers go right on mining the Cthulhu mythos, writing new stories and novels.

Cthulhu, like John Carter, is in the public domain by now, I know. But it wouldn't matter. Because HPL let so many others play in his sandbox, he essentially lost control of his own creations. That's what I mean by (2), above. The fan fiction door, once opened, is hard to close again.

A writer's creations are his livelihood. Those copyrights are ultimately all that separates an ERB from a HPL. Is it any wonder that most writers are so protective of them?

Those of us, like Diana Galabdon and myself, who prefer not to allow fan fictioners to use our worlds and characters are not doing it just to be mean. We are doing it to protect ourselves and our creations.

Furthermore, we HAVE to do it. That's something no one addressed, in those thousand comments about Diana's blog. There was a lot of talk about copyright, and whether or not fan fiction was illegal, whether it was fair use (it is NOT fair use, by the way, not as I understand the term, and I have a certain familiarity with what is and isn't fair use thanks to my own experiences with THE ARMAGEDDON RAG), but no one mentioned one crucial aspect of copyright law -- a copyright MUST BE DEFENDED. If someone infringes on your copyright, and you are aware of the infringement, and you do not defend your copyright, the law assumes that you have abandoned it. Once you have done that, anyone can do whatever the hell they want with your stuff. If I let Peter and Paul and Nancy publish their Ice & Fire fanfics, and say nothing, then I have no ground to stand on when Bill B. Hack and Ripoff Publishing decide they will publish an Ice & Fire novel and make some bucks. Peter and Paul and Nancy may be the nicest people in the world, motivated only by sincere love of my world and characters, but Bill B. Hack and Ripoff don't give a damn. They just want the bucks.

Once you open that door, you can't control who might come in.

No one would ever do that, I hear someone muttering in the back. Hoo hah. The history of publishing is full of such cases. Even the famously and fiercely litigious ERB estate was famously victimized back in the 60s, when someone forget to timely renew the copyright on a Tarzan book, and a bottom rung comic company noticed and promptly started up a completely unauthorized (and unpaid for) Tarzan comic.

Those are some of the reasons writers like me will not permit fanfic, but before I close, let me put aside the legal and financial aspects of all this for a moment, and talk about more personal ones. Here, I think, Diana Gabaldon absolutely hit the nail on the head in the latest of her blog posts on the subject. And here, she and I agree completely. Many years ago, I won a Nebula for a story called "Portraits of His Children," which was all about a writer's relationship with the characters he creates. I don't have any actual children, myself (Diana does). My characters are my children, I have been heard to say. I don't want people making off with them, thank you. Even people who say they love my children. I'm sure that's true, I don't doubt the sincerity of the affection, but still...

I have sometimes allowed other writers to play with my children. In Wild Cards, for instance, which is a shared world. Lohengrin, Hoodoo Mama, Popinjay, the Turtle, and all my other WC creations have been written by other writers, and I have written their characters. But I submit, this is NOT at all the same thing. A shared world is a tightly controlled environment. In the case of Wild Cards, it's controlled by me. I decide who gets to borrow my creations, and I review their stories, and approve or disapproval what is done with them. "No, Popinjay would say it this way," I say, or "Sorry, the Turtle would never do that," or, more importantly (this has never come up in Wild Cards, but it did in some other shared worlds), "No, absolutely not, your character may not rape my character, I don't give a fuck how powerful you think it would be."

And that's Wild Cards. A world and characters created to be shared. It's not at all the same with Ice & Fire. No one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me.


I have gone on longer than I intended, but I think this is important stuff. "Fan fiction" -- or whatever you want to call it -- has been around for a long time, but never like now. The internet has changed everything. Whereas before the fanfic might be published in obscure fanzines with a circulation of a hundred, now tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, can read these... well, let's just call them "unauthorized derivative works." (Except in cases where the writer has authorized 'em, which I suppose would be "authorized derivative works.") More than ever, we need some boundaries here.

I salute Diana Gabaldon for opening the debate.

And now I step back, and await the onslaught.

(But a word of warning. I'm not nearly as nice a person as Diana is, and this Not A Blog is screened and monitored by my assistant Ty. Diana was willing to let everything go in her comments section. I'm not. So -- my roof, my rules. Disagree, if you want. Disagree vigorously. Argue your points. But no name-calling, no abuse, no threats. And you can spare me the "I have never read any of your books, but now I'm not going to, and I'm going to tell all my friends not to read your books either" posts as well. Fine, you just want to read books by authors who support fan fiction, go ahead, do that, there are a number of very fine writers in that group, we don't need to hear about it here. No derailing the discussion, please. Let's talk about the issue, not tone. I'd love to see some rational discourse here, thanks).

(And yes, the title of this post is a reference to the classic xkcd cartoon that can be seen here: http://xkcd.com/386/)



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May. 8th, 2010 09:21 am (UTC)
Perhaps... it also depends on the quality of the author's work.

For instance, the Harry Potter universe. I think we as die hard (ex?) fans can say that we grossly overestimated the series - compared to my predictions, Deathly Hallows was no more than a cheap airport book. It lacked depth, plot, suspense, surprises, proper character development etc. etc. etc. I've read a lot of fanfics that are much better than the original series, especially because the writers took care to make the story/characters as authentic and believable as possible.
In a fandom that's as big as Harry Potter, still 99% of the fics are crap of course, but there are still more than enough fanfics that are really worth it to read.

I'm not saying that the author 'deserves' it - but that it might explain the popularity of some fandoms. (I don't think it applies to all fandoms - as LOTR wasn't exactly badly written... :P)

As for your works - I've never wanted to read fanfic about it because the story itself is good enough, it provides 'all I want' and I'm not left 'hungry' for more... (alright, I'd like to read Dances with Dragons but I can wait - I'm sure there's no one who can equal your quality of writing).
May. 8th, 2010 09:22 am (UTC)
I don't personally write fan fiction or even read it, a couple of people I know write whofic/HP but that's about all that I know of. If the author gives permission then fair enough, but if they explicitly say that they don't want it then people should respect that.
May. 8th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
I largely agree with what you've written, George, but I do have one caveat.

"a copyright MUST BE DEFENDED."

I think that you can't lose copyright because of a lack of defense. The copyright is always yours. I've never heard of a case of someone losing the copyright to their work, in the same way that someone could lose a trademark because they've allowed it to become so diluted that it's no longer protectable.

However, for those sharing the same quibble but who then use it to dismiss the argument entirely, I very much believe that your "easement" analogy fits. I think it's an entirely possible that a court could find that your copyright has been infringed, but because an author has encouraged the proliferation of fan derivatives in an uncontrolled way, the court sees no reason to award punitive or compensatory damages. So you may be able to stop the publication of a derivative, but you'll be out your legal expenses, without a dime to show for it.

Which, in principle, doesn't matter. But authors are not made out of money.

I think that's what's really at the core of the "copyright must be defended" argument. Not that you may lose your copyright, but you could very well lose your ability to receive just compensation for those who exploit your work.
May. 8th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
I realize, of course, that for an author, not being able to receive monetary compensation for infringement rather makes copyright protection seem much less valuable.
May. 8th, 2010 09:40 am (UTC)
Robert Howard (the original author of Conan the Barbarian, if I didn't manage to err once, or twice even - in the single sentence ;) ) - commited suicide. But rich he was - even without getting any money from Hollywood in his lifetime... if I don't err once more here.

In any case, you do know the story, I bet. In Russia, Lukianenko - the greatest commercial success in SF - kept ALL his books in the public online libraries for the first ten years, at least - free for everyone. There may be tonns of "fan fiction", too. Saves a lot of money on advertising, as I see it.
May. 8th, 2010 09:48 am (UTC)
First I want you to know that I was thrilled to read about Diana Gabaldon in your Not A Blog. I'm not a big romance reader, but I love the Outlander series.

I also want to say that I totally understand and respect where you both are coming from. I hate when characters are taken out of the authors hands, and am especially grateful that didn't happen with Brian Sanderson and Robert Jordan... but I'm off topic now. That's a totally different situation.
Anyhow, I appreciate that you keep your characters to yourself and don't let anyone bastardize your story. I look forward to your HBO series even more knowing how you stand in this subject, actually. Thank you, and I hope more of your fans feel the same way I do.
May. 8th, 2010 10:01 am (UTC)
I do not write fanfic. However, I read a ton of it. There are various reason why I read it, the biggest is that I love seeing other people's point of views on characters and situations. Also, there seems to be the assumption that readers won't be able to tell the difference between canon and fandom if they read fanfics. Most of the time, that's not the case. Sometimes it's just because the characters are so different from the original. And really? Why should I care if they are? That just means there's an extra set of characters that I love. And if the authors do manage to make the characterization right, then that just means I'm reading about these characters doing something in a situation that's completely different. It's fun. It doesn't diminish my love for the original work. It increases it.

(ok, I keep on adding stuff to my comment, so this entire thing may be a little disjointed, sorry!)

From what I've observed with various authors is that once they state that they don't allow fanfiction, is that the people who wrote them stopped. The reason they stopped was the same reason why they started in the first place--respect and love for the author and their written works. Obviously because the internet is huge, some people aren't going to respect the author's wishes, and those people should be yelled at until they stop.

What bothers me in Diana Gabaldon case(and not just her's, other authors as well), is her essentially calling all fanfics and fanfic writers to be immoral and disgusting. Most fanfic writers know the drill by now--if the author says no, then no. If she had calmly stated this in the first place, there would hardly be this sort of outcry. I have noticed in her subsequent posts that she's revised her tone and put a nice disclaimer up about how she does not want fanfics to be written of her work. I wish it had been that way in the beginning.

Ok, now more on the topic of fanfiction itself.

You mentioned the example of ERB and HPL and I wonder how it'd be different now. The hugeness of the internet can be a beneficial thing.

My trends with reading fanfics usually goes like this. I read in one fandom and from there I encounter a variety of writers, who write in other fandoms, and since their writing is so good, I'll read stuff in the other fandoms, even without knowledge of the orignal work.

Usually not long afterwards, I get invested enough that I seek out the orignal work and buy it. Which is how I ended up owning all 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 and 5 seasons of Stargate Atlantis. Or four seasons of Supernatural. Or why I'm starting to buy Buffy and Angel. Or why I like Iron Man. Or why I want to Deadpool comics.

When your favorite authors goes and starts writing in something unknown to you, you want to find the original work to find out what it's all about. The network between people is huge, and sometimes the author doesn't even have to write in that fandom, they can just mention how much they love these books, or love this TV show, and I'll go and check it out. It's not just authors that the readers connect to either, they connect with each other, and from there comes more recommendations. The majority of books and TV shows I've read have been recommended by fanfic writers and readers.

Fanfic does not always have to work against authors finiancially. Often these communities are huge, interconnected, and very enthusiastic. I mean, take the livejournal community Help Haiti. They raised at least $115,000.00 in a few weeks. This is a fandom run community, much of it which was raised by authors writing fanfics for readers. Or readers making stuff for other readers to buy. This is not an uncommon thing. Sweet charity is another fandom run charity.

Anyway, the bottom line is that if authors doesn't want fanfics written of their works, then fanfic writers and readers should stop.

I'm just disagreeing with the whole nothing good will come out of fanfic angle. Or that fanfic will take away profits. Fanfic can do the exact opposite.
May. 8th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)
I got here by way of kairosimperfect's LJ, rather than my own efforts - but I have definitely read your books and enjoyed them!

As you say, there are two groups of writers: those who encourage fanfic, and those who do not. Sadly, I think there are also two groups of fanfic writers: those who respect the wishes of their target writers, and those who don't see what the fuss is about and will do whatever they choose anyway, because it's a free world, isn't it? If fans are writing secret stories for their own amusement, and then hiding them away in the wardrobe, that's fine. But, if they're posting them on this internet-thingy for the whole world to read, that's quite a different kettle of fish.

I confess to being a fanfic writer, but what I've written there is confined to a single TV show. And when I found a story from another fanfic writer who had ripped off two of my original characters, I admit that the red tide of rage made me want to tear out the perpetrator's intestines and hang them from the nearest lamp-post, despite the fact that my e-mail to her was very polite.

I've also participated in a multi-author project based around that same TV show, in which I have introduced a number of original characters. You're right. They are like my children. Seeing other people do things with them that are just plain wrong was really hard to take.

Having said that, it has never occurred to me to borrow characters from an actual *author*. That has always seemed too much like theft or kidnap. Why would anyone want to do that when it's so much more fun finding out what adventures the author has in mind for them?

Now I'm writing my own completely original tales. It may be that they only finish up at the bottom of my wardrobe, although I hope not. But, my characters are MY characters, and I have learned that I will not take kindly to them being borrowed. I do not want the shiny rubbed off them by careless handling.

I applaud those who are less selfish, and who like to share their sandbox with others, but others do not have the same feel for these creations as their creator. I quite understand why you would retain creator-control, even when you give permission for someone else to play. And for the sake of the characters, I think that is a very good thing to do.

And the story about Marion Zimmer Bradley is definitely one to give an author pause for thought. With the number of people writing fanfic nowadays, it's almost impossible to imagine that a popular author's latest idea might not pop up in some form, no matter how tenuous the similarity, in an unauthorised fanfic. The idea of trying to navigate an original idea through a morass of similarities is more daunting than than even the lost revenue and the legal issues when a book has to be ditched.

Thank you for an interesting commentary.

May. 8th, 2010 10:42 am (UTC)
Just Another Opinion
This is the paper I wrote on the copyright issues with fan fiction, which was published by the MIT Press recently in the International Journal of Learning and Media. Instead of trying to summarize 40 pages of legal arguments, I'll simply link it. :)


As a note: No, I'm not a lawyer, though the paper has been thoroughly vetted by one. This is simply the culmination of an undergraduate research project gone terribly off track.
May. 8th, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
the thing is while waiting for a writer to finish a book fans dont mind reading fanfiction even during the gap between the 4 and 5 harry potter books there were many fan fiction books written authors should feel happy that the fans have something to occupy their time
May. 8th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC)
thank you for posting and sharing. Fan-fic writing is something I've had little exposure to and I appreciate being aware of the debate.
May. 8th, 2010 11:37 am (UTC)
I am myself a "ficcer", someone who writes fictions. BUT. I also agree entirely with what you say XD [oddity is odd].

I personally, would never write anything about characters from a book, and even less if the author stated that he's against it. The only reason why I write fics is because I do it with manga characters - and Japan is very different, regarding those, heck even doujins exist and that is so mind-boggling to me. I should be looking at how they handle this, especially since they are very protective over authors' rights.

To me, writing fics has been a discovery. The reason why I began was because I first and foremost wanted to become better at English - my English used to be terrible. This is also why I don't write in my mother tongue [I write my own story in this one, which is completely different from what I ever read - my pride's at stake, as a wanabe author]. The reason why I continued was to explore the characters - rereading the original ones, and getting them better. While at first, I borrowed them in their own universe, I also stopped doing that. I prefer writing them in alternate universe, just to have fun with them because I love them, and I want to meddle with them in situations they wouldn't be otherwise. I also like the challenges of giving something, and making it different from others - this is why my challenge is to write in historical settings, which is rather interesting, to say the least.

Heck, before jumping in my manga fandom, I had absolutely no clue about what fandom was [I also decided it'd be my first and last,t his thing is too tiring XD]. I had absolutely no clue that fanarts or fanfics even existed. I do find most fanfics... terrible, to be honest. I'm not a reader of those - I used to read a lot, to grasp the English better, but...

My personal take on fanfic is that it widens the audience, BUT it also distorts the characters' perception - most of the time, the characters will be vastly "out of character". People will think an idea of a character is "canon" when it's just a fanficcer that wrote it, and I think this is very bad. This is also why I fight to make people look at the true "canon" and the author's intent - those are always more, way more important than what I want as a fan, and what I try to catch.

I can understand what you say when you say that your characters are like your children - how funny is that that my manga's author declared that his manga was like that for him too? I have a daughter myself, but even with kids, stories, characters and how they grow eat up a large part of every author's thoughts. We live with them, that's undoubtable. This other author said something rather beautiful, while commenting on his fans' letters: that he scattered parts of his intent throughout the manga, and reading his fans' letters would give him the sensation that they are brought back to him. I think that this is like what an author feels while writing - will the readers get this? How should I write this part? Should I explain more, or let things vague?.. I'm off topic, aren't I? XD

If that can comfort you, I'd never look out for any fic about ASOIAF, because I don't think anyone can write it the way you do XD

Well... all of this to say that, even if I am indeed a fanficcer, I do understand your point of view, and what's more, I do approve of it. Weirdness at its highest, it seems.
May. 8th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
Let's see... I have read your books, I'm a great fan, and I'm still going to pimp Ice&Fire shamelessly to all and sundry. Because it's their writing I seek authors for, not their stands on global politics/space exploration/other contemporary issues.

Both sides have a point, and the discussion is a worthy one - it's the name-calling, abuse and threats that make it unsavory - but if we take you authors as Creators and your worlds/characters as Creation... it's only natural that (Wo)Man will start mucking around with it at some point in an attempt to modify it into what (s)he considers optimal environment.

It's your prerogative as The Creator to send in floods and locusts to drive the offenders off your Earth, but you can't really impose the same taboo on Mars, for example. So both sides are still good.

Creation of fan fiction (stories by fans of a world for fans of the same world) is a part of our nature - it's what we do as kids, when we role-play with our friends after reading a particularly engaging story - it's the publishing bit that is problematic. I've seen perfectly recognizable fan fiction stories published as original fiction with only character names changed, but also seen fan fiction stories which had nothing but the names in common with the original fandom. And some of them would make cracking good first novels, too.

So, instead of jumping for each others' jugular, perhaps a better course action would be to take one afternoon of your time and come up with 'To the would-be fan fiction writer' page. State your stand on fan fiction, but also do your 'accomplished author' magic: offer the fan fiction writers some pointers on transforming fan imagination to original imagination. Because we all start as fans of one mythos or another...

They, in turn, (unless they decide to build a colony on one of the neighboring planets, of course, which is a choice worth considering) can use your divine guidance to create their own piece of paradise in which to live and play happily ever after, or... well... go to hell.
May. 8th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
1st of all you're amazing for answering so many posts!
I actually don't have the time (or energy) to go through them if all to see if this has been covered, but I was wondering if you found cosplay or fan art flattering or not. It's definitely unauthorized use of your characters, but there's no story associated with it. Can you afford a distinction or is it a slippery slope issue?

(one day I hope to make it to a convention you're at to get my Wildcards GURPS signed)
May. 8th, 2010 12:24 pm (UTC)

Let me tell you firstly that my wife and I really enjoy yours and Diana Gabaldon's books.
we have all of them in Hardback, and I don't usually by hardback books because I'm cheap.

I haven't ever felt motivated to leave a post here but for what it's worth. We agree. Your intellectual works are your property and other people should not be able to literally steal that from you.

Please let Ms. Gabaldon know, that as long as you two keep writing them; I'll keep buying them.
May. 8th, 2010 12:27 pm (UTC)
*claps* Your argument against fanfiction is well thought-out, doesn't rely on emotions (much), and gives valid, legal reasons for not liking the practice/hobby. I respect your opinion and reasoning, especially as it pertains to books; having discussed the subject of fanfiction writing several times since Ms. Gabaldon's post, I think that fanfiction is particularly dangerous in the book publishing world because it's put out in the same media.

Two things:
1) When you say you agree with Diana Gabaldon's argument, I have to wonder why. My main objection - and the objection of many fanfiction writers I spoke to - was not her dislike of fanfic, but rather her highly emotional and deeply offensive use of language, comparing fanfiction to rape and other heinous things. I understand if it makes her feel violated; I was given to understand her characters are strongly based on herself and real people, after all. But for a copyright violation (in the view of some, such as yourself), I think referring to it as some kind of violent act against herself or her family is very extreme, and unfair to victims of such violent acts.

2) I would be curious what you think about fanfiction when the original work is not a written media (movies, music, tv), or in a different written media (comic books, manga). What about places where the original work is collaborative or not tied as closely to the media of fanworks, and thus under much less threat from fanfiction writers? Also, the characters are not tied as closely to one person and therefore there is less of a 'personal violation'.

And what about series with a huge number of tie-in novels and multi-media industries, like Star Wars or video games? What do you think of those, where the line between nonprofit 'fanfiction' and tie-ins starts to blur?
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George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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