I know I’ve waxed sort of extensively about fan fiction in one of my past posts. But, in this post I wish to address the question, “What is Fan Fiction?” and give you my personal take on it.
According to this short definition on Wikipedia, fan fiction is:
Fan fiction (alternately referred to as Fanfiction, Fanfic, FF, or Fic is a broadly defined term for fan labor regarding stories about characters or settings written by fans of the original work, rather than by the original creator. Works of fanfiction are rarely commissioned or authorized by the original work’s owner, creator, or publisher, also, they are almost never professionally published. Because of this many fanfictions written often contain a disclaimer stating that the creator of the work owns none of the characters. Fanfiction therefore, is defined by being both related to it’s subjects canonical fictional universe and simultaneously existing outside the canon of that universe. Most fanfiction writers assume that their work is read primarily by other fans, and therefore tend to presume that their readers have knowladge of the canon universe (created by a professional writer) in which the works are based.
Whew! That was a mouthful which simply said: “Fan fiction is non-professional fiction written by fans, which is directly related to whatever genre they love.” My paraphase.
I first encountered fanfiction back in the 1960’s when the very first Star Trek series (with Kirk, Spock, McCoy) aired. I being a budding teen, loved the show so much that I begged my Dad for money to go to my first ever “Star Trek Convention” (which by the way was held at what was then The Statler Hilton Hotel, now the Penta Hotel, across the street from Madison Square Garden, NYC). This is where I was officially introduced to Star Trek Fandom, fanfiction and fanzines.
What were/are fanzines?
Back then they were hand typed (on a typewriter) and published magazines which contained fan written stories about Captain Kirk, Mister Spock, Doctor McCoy, etc. Five bucks got you a copy of “Maseform D” or “Spockinallia” to take home, curl up with and read. These magazines not only contained stories but fan artwork which were true masterpieces. I hear some of those old fanzines are worth a lot in the Star Trek fan market these days.
I was a regular book worm back then (still am . . . :+}) and I read everything I could get my hands on. At the back of every fanzine was an order form to send away for the next issue. Let’s just say, I had a regular postal operation going on at my house. . . . . . . .
With onset of the internet, what has happened to fanfiction and fanzines today? They are both still alive and kicking. At the last Science Fiction convention I attended (“Shore Leave” in Towson Maryland) there was still a fanzine table in the Dealer’s Room and the proprietress was doing a brisk business!
However, due to the cost of paper and production, fanzines are a lot smaller. Where they used to be 8 ½ X10, they are now half that size. As for fanfiction itself, it has evolved and moved to the world wide web. The website Fanfiction.Net is one of the largest and most diverse.
The Email address is: http://www.fanfiction.net
It contains millions of fanfiction offerings from every conciveable genre and sub genre you can think of. There are contributors, readers and reviewers from all over the world who use this site as a creative outlet. I used to contribute also, but stopped because (to me) the posting format is very difficult to manage. Occasionally, I go back just to lurk . . . :+)
How did I get into fanfiction writing? I used to devour every Star Trek paperback novel that came out. In my opinion, the first perhaps ten years or so, they were well written. After that, the quality of writing decreased to the point where I thought to myself: “Heck, I could’ve written a better book than this!”
If there is one thing I simply cannot stand is a poorly written book! Especially if it is supposed to be professionally written and I’ve paid my hard-earned duckets for it. . . . . . .
Right then I decided to take pen in hand and start writing my own stuff. I originally began began this in a club called the USS Exeter, which was back then a written role playing club.
We were all officers on a pretend Star Fleet vessel and we went on missions together. We were set up in teams and we would collaborate by mail. The Captain would send us a mission, then we would all write it from our viewpoint as a Security Officer, Engineering, Doctor, etc. We would then submit our collective results by mail which was then printed up and sent to all members in a monthly fanzine type magazine. Back then everything was hand typed on a typewriter, and Xeroxed. . . . . . . .
Back then EVERYTHING depended on Snail Mail.
This was definitely a labor of love for our “Captain” because most of the time the Exeter’s monthly magazine was over 100 pages, back to back!
Years later, I even tried my hand at producing and distributing my own fanzine of a sort. It was a short bi-monthly newsletter named “The Klingon Times”, which specialized in Klingon humor.
Production went on for about a year but I wound up shutting down the entire operation. Why? Time and money. I did not have either to spare, and it wasn’t fair to my subscribers (yes, I had subscribers) So I refunded my readers and buried the back issues somewhere in my closet. It was an excellent learning experience though. . . . . . .
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NOTE: In order to prevent this entry from becoming a thesis, I’m going to stop at this point, and will continue in another entry. I do have a tendency to “wax long”, but I don’t want to brutalize your poor eyes and mind. . . . . . . . .