A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a guy named George Lucas wrote and directed a movie called Star Wars: A New Hope. Maybe you've heard of it? I was seven at the time the movie came out, and completely blown away when I saw it on the silver screen. To this day, I think that the first (or fourth, depending on how you count them) Star Wars movie was what jump-started my obsession with speculative fiction. The following movies, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, only re-affirmed my love for sci fic, and for years following the release of Jedi, I and other millions of fans waited in eager anticipation to see what Lucas would do with the rumored prequel films.
Too bad he fucked it up.
Yes folks, I am one of those crochetedy old folks who looks at the latest trio of Star Wars movies and turns my nose up in disdain. How could Lucas screw things up so badly? I mean, I'll forgive a lot of things that man has done - hell, I don't even complain about that freaked out Christmas Special he produced, starring Bea Arthur for pete's sake - but Phantom Menace? What the hell was he thinking?!
I will not get into to what I think is wrong with Phantom Menace and the other prequel trilogy movies (whose names I can't remember and can't be bothered to look up). Suffice to say, the man who sparked my love of sci-fi made me scream with outrage over his follow up acts. In fact, it was one of those instances where I thought, "Jeeze Louise! I could write better than that!"
Which brings me to the actual topic of my discussion today - fan fiction. Ah yes, the guilty pleasure of geeks the world over. How many of us have longed to rewrite Phantom Menace, and get the story right this time? How many of us looked beyond Return of the Jedi to hypothesize what the future might be like for Luke, Leia and Han? Yeah, yeah, the latter actually did get done via a talented set of authors like Timothy Zahn who were contracted to write the follow up books since Lucas wasn't going to produce those movies (and here I thank God for small favors; I can only imagine how bad the last three movies might have turned out!). Still, why should those writers have all the fun? We all loved Star Wars and we all had our dreams about what the characters might have done, had we been in charge of their story.
Fan fic isn't limited to Star Wars, of course. In fact, I believe it got it's start with Star Trek. I know for a fact a certain sub-genre of fan-fic was born out of that particular universe. The entire m/m erotic romance genre should bow down in humble gratitude to those first writers who dared to create Kirk/Spock slash fiction. Verily, our roots lie there.
A not-so-careful search of the internet will reveal that fan fic, and especially slash fic, has invaded all sorts of beloved tales. From Star Trek and Star Wars to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, with many cross-overs in between, fans are creating the sequels they want for the characters they love. Be these chaste stories of action and adventure or wildly improbable tales of lusty elf/dwarf romance (Legolas and Gimli, anyone?), there's a whole slew of alternate universes out there waiting to be written.
Did a favorite TV show kill off the character you love? Bring him or her back to life through the wonders of fan fic!
Do you ache to see Snape and Lupin get it on doggy or werewolf style? Fire up that laptop and show us what you got!
Want to rewrite Phantom Menace? Go ahead! Please god, rewrite that awful tripe. You couldn't do worse than George Lucas, especially if you find some creative way to put Jar-Jar Binks' overly long tongue to use ("Meesa like oral sex!").
Of course, there are always issues to consider whenever you venture into someone else's playground. You are working with someone else's intellectual property you know, so don't sell it or try to claim the characters or setting as your own (piracy and plagarism are still piracy and plagarism, and should not be tolerated). Instead, just have fun. And to you creators out there who's work is being fan-ficced, keep in mind that's what this is all about; your readers and your viewers enjoying what you made. We love you, really. And that's why millions upon millions are out there rewriting and extending your stories, though if you fuck up, we'll deal with that too. Perhaps folks like George Lucas should consider it the Revenge of the Fandom Menace.
Nothin' but love, George. Nothin' but love.
A year or so ago, I wrote the only piece of fan fic that I've ever produced. Here's a snippet...
by Helen E. H. Madden
It was a dark and stormy night…
Thunder crashed as Mary Sue typed the words into her laptop. Though a real storm raged and bellowed outside her living room window, she paid it no heed. Wrapped up as she was in her favorite terry cloth bathrobe and fuzzy bunny slippers, she was perfectly cozy and content. What's more, she was in the zone.
The fan-fic writing zone, that is.
Tippy tap, tippy tap, her fingers danced over the keyboard, bringing her favorite characters to life. Lured by the sound of a writer hard at work, plot bunnies scurried out from under the couch to array themselves at Mary Sue's feet. They looked more like little bits of fluff than actual bunnies, but they were very cute and enticing. One jumped onto Mary Sue's lap.
"Oooh! You look like fun!" She scratched the plot bunny's fluffy little chin. "You know, those big blue eyes of yours remind me of… Frodo Baggins! Oh, and Samwise Gamgee!"
At that very moment, a crackle of electricity shot out of the laptop's screen and coiled around the plot bunny. As it pulled the squealing creature into the computer, Mary Sue gave a wicked smile.
"Oooooooooooh," the other plot bunnies murmured, and they huddled closer to each other.
"I think Frodo and Sam deserve a very special story tonight, don't you?" Mary Sue said to the bunnies, and she began to type even faster, her eyes alight with glee.
It was a dark and stormy night. Frodo and Sam huddled together for warmth in a cave outside Minas Morgul. They desperately wished they could be back at Bag End in Hobbiton, curled up beneath a mountain of blankets before a warm and toasty fire.
"Mr. Frodo, do you think we'll ever see home again?" Sam whispered in the gloom of the cave.
"I don't know if we'll ever see it again for real, Sam. But when you hold me, I feel like I am home." Frodo shivered. "I'm so cold. Don't let go of me, Sam."
Sam squeezed his fellow hobbit tighter. He opened his shirt and pressed Frodo's hands against his bare chest to warm them. "I promise, I won't ever let g-"
"This is Torchwood! Open up!"
At that very moment, the front door to Mary Sue's condo burst open. The writer looked up, blinking in surprise. The plot bunnies dove for cover as a tall, dark-haired stud of a man in a long RAF greatcoat strode through the splintered remains of the door. He was followed by scrumptious-looking younger fellow with puppy-dog eyes, dressed a dapper three-piece suit.
The tall man in the great coat drew out a very large revolver and pointed it at Mary Sue. "Mary Sue Smith, you're under arrest for possession of alien technology and infringement of copyright laws. Put the laptop down and step away from the plot bunnies. Now!"
"Oh… my… gawd!" Mary Sue squealed and clapped her hands. "You're Captain Jack Harkness! And that's Ianto Jones! I was just thinking about you guys. But wait, where's the rest of your team?" Before either man could answer her, another plot bunny jumped into her lap and was promptly devoured by the computer. Mary Sue giggled. "Hold on a sec. I've got to get this down!"
You can find the rest of the story here ;) Enjoy!