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A Few Last Words

I've just locked the comments section of the previous post. We've had about four hundred comments since the post went up last night, and the whole thing is about to collapse under its own weight. I suspect that someone or other has already said everything that can be said on the subject, so now we're starting to go around in circles.

Also, with this many comments, it's becoming obvious that some of the later commenters aren't actually reading what went before. I'm starting to get asked the same questions over and over again -- what about Suvudu? what about the Vance book? what about fan art? what about role-playing games? All fair enough questions, but I have answered all of them in responses to earlier comments. Some I have answered two or three times by now. I am not going to answer them four, five, six, or twelve times, sorry. So if you've posted a question that has already been asked and answered, your post will likely be ignored or deleted. (Yes, I know it's a pain to have to read four hundred comments. Tough. If I have to read them all, so do you. That's the price of taking part in the discussion).

Some comments haven't been unscreened yet. There have been so many of them coming in so fast that it has been hard to keep up. A few have been buried by now, especially comments on comments on comments. Ty or I will get to all of them eventually, I hope, and everything will either be unscreened or deleted.

I want to thank ninety-five percent of the people who took the time to comment. I appreciate your thoughts, and even more, I appreciate the relative calm and thoughtful tone of this discussion, which never degenerated into the kind of ugliness I've seen (and am still seeing) in the comments over on Diana Gabaldon's blog, where the discussion has long since been derailed. I don't know how many minds were changed here, but all the major issues were thoroughly aired, it seems to me, and I hope this generated more light than heat.

There were a few issues raised during the debate that I'd like to address a bit further.

A number of commenters suggested that I was wrong in my assertion that copyrights need to be defended, and suggested that I was confusing copyrights with trademarks. Perhaps so. This was raised often enough that it is obviously something I need to look into further. There were also posters who agreed with what I wrote, however, including some who identified themselves as lawyers or law students, so I don't think the issue is as clear cut as the "trademark" folks are claiming. I'll investigate this, and if I was wrong about this, I will come back here and say so (eventually, this is not my top priority in life). If I was right, I'll come back and mention that as well.

ERB v HPL. I never said that allowing others to play with the Cthulhu mythos was the ONLY reason Lovecraft died in poverty. Actually, I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and not much of a Burroughs fan at all (though Melinda Snodgrass and I did once work on the screenplay for A PRINCESS OF MARS). I know a lot about HPL. His work has been hugely influential on modern horror. But my point stands. I could write a Cthulhu Mythos novel tomorrow, and I would not have to pay a dime to any Lovecraft estate (if such exists) or get their permission. I would never dare write a Barsoom novel, though surely PRINCESS is in the public domain by now. (The later John Carter and Tarzan novels may still be under copyright).

A few people have quoted or posted links to the other side of the Marion Zimmer Bradley incident, the account of the fan involved. Fine, two sides to every story, check it out. At this point, twenty years after the fact, it all becomes she said/ she said. But the version I posted was hardly "urban legend," as one commenter called it. It was the version given by Marion Zimmer Bradley herself in SFWA FORUM, what she told the rest of the writing community. If you want to believe she lied, well, that's your prerogative.

More thoughts as I have 'em. Just now, I have work to do.


May. 10th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
I'm not sure whether this answers your question exactly, but I've always viewed fanfiction as so - that it is about a fan's interpretation of the characters, rather than of the actual characters themselves. No one can touch the actual characters except the author/source creator; however, with fanfiction, a fan can explore and dissect the actions of a character or group of characters given certain situations. Which... one can argue isn't that different from a critical essay, it's just a different medium.

Sure, a lot of the situations can be just plain odd, but I feel the sentiment is the same. And sure, a lot of it is carried out terribly, but that's more an issue of bad writing.

The thing is, I'm pretty sure everyone has wondered at least once, "What if..." in something they've read or watched. And has possibly shared said "what if" with other fans to elaborate on where it might go, just because it's fun. The only difference between that and fanfiction is that extra step that turned that "what if" into an actual story.

But really, I think my main point is that fanfiction really, really isn't about the characters themselves. It's about my thoughts on the characters (and possibly the 'verse), translated into story form. I might not be "getting the character" as the original creator intended. However, whatever fanfiction I write, on some level it's basically about showing how my background and way of thinking influences the way I perceive these characters that everyone in the fandom knows, and perhaps getting discussion on how that differs, why they might agree with me, etc. We can't ever really know exactly what the original creator think, because no one has the exact same mental processes as anyone else. But what the fan community can get together and maybe through different interpretations of the same character, cause a few 'Huh, I never considered that scene like that before's or 'Oh wow, yeah, I can see Character A doing that when driven to that point's.

Sorry, that got a bit rambling and meandering.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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