The Time To Join The Game Is Now

I hope that you’re now a regular reader here. Furthermore, I hope that you’ve added this blog to some form of reader or feed aggregator. Every day you’re going to see more and more opportunities for getting involved, and I don’t just mean Call For Submission posts.

Take a look at what’s been posted over the last few weeks. New books getting published? That’s an opportunity because you reading that book and then writing a review is a big deal, both for you and for the author. You’d be wise to post it to your own blog, and then to the book page at Amazon; the former grows your audience, and the latter helps the author by spreading word of mouth. Win-win. The same applies to new magazines and anthologies.

Are there some relevant events–a signing, a convention, a meetup–coming up in your area? Spread the word; hype that up, assuming that it’s not thoroughly subverted to the enemy’s cause. All that takes is a little time to post to your blog and then spread the links to all the socials; you can do that over a lunch break.

Can you draw? Are you at all serious about getting good enough for people to cut you checks? There’s always room for more of you, as even the most dedicated of the professionals can’t do it all, and this is the time to get in and make yourself into the next Frazetta, Bradstreet, Takahashi, or Toriyama. Especially if you study the great art of the past and heed the wisdom within its frames.

I’m going somewhere with this. Do you remember the Parable of the Spoons?

A man is near death. As he leaves his body, an angel appears and puts him before two doors. The angel opens both doors, and in each is revealed a feasting hall full of people at table wielding spoons longer than their arms. At first they seem identical, but soon the differences are apparent: in one, they are crazed with hunger as they attempt ceaselessly to shorten the spoons so they may feed themselves only for the shafts to stretch anew; in the other, they take turns feeding their fellows using the reach provided, and all are satisfied and merry. The angel turns to the man and says “Now you see what Hell and Heaven are like.” The man survives, and thereafter dedicates his life to improving his people.

That’s what we’ve got to do now. You’ll be fed in turn by feeding others now. Get in the game. Now is the time.

Fans For The Dragon

I was there this year at the the second annual Dragon Award. It was not a very large crowd – partly, I believe, because both Jim Butcher and John Ringo were scheduled on panels at that same hour. I’m sure all their fans were at those panels instead, and maybe not even aware of the awards. Poor planning, but hopefully that will be corrected in the future.

However, it was a happy crowd of both fans and a handful of the nominees that were able to attend. We had wonderful presenters, including the late Jerry Pournelle. The winners were announced, with applause each time. There was no booing, nor no-awarding, and not a single wooden asterix in site. And while none of the people I knew personally won an award this year, there was no real sense of loss. For all those who won are excellent at their craft, entertain their large audience, and by the vote of the fans, were made winners.

The Dragon Award really is a fan award, straightforward and fun. Over 8,000 people voted this year, almost twice as much as last year! My hope is someday that number will double, then triple! And keep on growing, drawing in more fans, and sharing the fun of good, fan-loved, science fiction and fantasy! Til someday that auditorium is packed, and the teardrop of fire is seen as a great achievement, and gift from your fans.

I had a great time, and can’t wait to see what the next year brings. I have the list of the winners for the 2017 Dragon Award. But first, as is my custom as the official dancing girl of SVSF, I have another VICTORY DANCE!

Best Science Fiction Novel

Babylon’s Ashes, by James S.A. Corey

Best Fantasy Novel (Including Paranormal)

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, by Larry Correia and John Ringo

Best Young Adult / Middle-Grade Novel

The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan

Best Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel

Iron Dragoons, by Richard Fox

Best Alternate History Novel

Fallout: The Hot War, by Harry Turtledove

Best Apocalyptic Novel

Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow

Best Horror Novel

The Changeling, by Victor LaValle

Best Comic Book

The Dresden Files: Dog Men, by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, Diego Galindo

Best Graphic Novel

Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Wild Card, by Jim Butcher, Carlos Gomez

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series

Stranger Things, by Netflix

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie

Wonder Woman directed, by Patty Jenkins

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy PC / Console Game

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, by Nintendo

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Mobile Game

Pokemon GO, by Niantic

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Board Game

Betrayal at House on the Hill: Widow’s Walk, by Avalon Hill

Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Miniatures / Collectible Card / Role-Playing Game

Magic the Gathering: Eldritch Moon, by Wizards of the Coast

Great winners, all. Can’t wait for next year!

The Beginnings of Pulp

And a reminder that modern attitudes towards the pulps are certainly not new. This one is for the Castalia crowd.

Here is the estimable Mr. Tom Simon, in part 4 of his essay series “The Exotic and the Familiar”:

Up to the middle of the nineteenth century, while printing was relatively cheap, paper was an expensive commodity. It was made mostly from waste linen, and consequently, the quantity of paper manufactured could never exceed the quantity of linen that was thrown away. (You could make paper directly from flax fibres; but it was much cheaper to let the linen industry use the flax first, and buy up the worn-out linen afterwards.) Men and women made a decent, if undignified, living as rag-pickers – the recyclers of their time. Ragpickers scavenged all kinds of useful stuff from the rubbish-heaps of the world, but their chief stock in trade was linen rags for the paper trade: hence the name of their profession. So long as the supply of paper was limited in this way, books remained a luxury; literacy for the masses, a pipe-dream.

In the 1840s, separately but almost simultaneously, two men invented machines for turning wood into a fibrous pulp. One was a German, F. G. Keller; the other a Canadian, Charles Fenerty. This wood pulp, it turned out, could be used to make paper almost as good as linen-rag paper, and much cheaper. For a few years before this, a few small firms in London had been turning out cheap pamphlets containing lurid adventure stories for a mostly working-class audience. The new pulp paper allowed the pamphlets to be printed by the millions, and ‘pulp fiction’ was born. When The String of Pearls appeared, the usual thing was to release a novel in weekly instalments, and charge (in England) a penny for each issue. The stories were not chosen for highfalutin literary quality; they were written to please a large and not very sophisticated audience.

The English upper classes ignored the new medium. The middle classes, who feared anything that might diminish their advantages over the working class, hated it and sneered at it, dismissing all stories so told as ‘dreadful’. This was a calumny. As Theodore Sturgeon would certainly have said, nine-tenths of the penny serials were crap; but then, nine-tenths of the expensive books favoured by the middle classes were crap. The real sin of the penny dreadfuls was not that they were bad stories, but that they brought printed books within the reach of the Lower Orders.

Included in the article is a link to the also excellent G.K. Chesterton essay “A Defence of Penny Dreadfuls”.

Read the whole thing after the link! It is truly an excellent essay, as is the norm with Mr. Simon.

The Dragon Awards: A Win for the Superversive!

The Dragon Awards got handed out at Dragon Con this past weekend. Several other contributors here were present, and some had works up for an award. Before I get to the point, this: congratulations to all of you, gracious in both victory and in defeat.

For years we’ve had the so-called “Secret Masters of Fandom”, centered around WorldCon, claim that the Hugos were the voice of the fandom. (Or “Fandom”) Their subversive, corrosive, and dyscivic output of propaganda disguised as literature has now had the last of its illusions dispelled. The Dragon Awards clearly demonstrate what the world’s fans in their respective categories regard as the best in SF/F/Horror for the year- and, again, it is not what the subversives of WorldCon want us to believe.

That these cliquish, holier-than-thou, obnoxious, reactionary fanatics (“CHORF” for short) with their delusions of grandeur got repulsed for the second year running (when they didn’t quit the field pre-emptively) and repulsed so soundly that no one noted their absence until after the fact shows clearly what Brian Niemeier pointed out the other day at his blog:

Luckily, the final decision still lay with the vast legions of science fiction and fantasy fans. Shutting out the CHORFs was the only way to reverse the inroads they’d made and safeguard the Dragon Awards from political meddling.

And you guys came through with flying colors!

Take a look at that list of winners again. It’s wall-to-wall best sellers and fan favorites. In short, the most popular nominees won the popularity contest. The process worked!

For those pursuing the restoration of the Superversive, this is a fantastic sign. The audience has not abandoned the Superversive. Indeed, it hungers for it and wants more. Sure, there’s competition and not of of that is Superversive, but we aren’t shying away from that.

Now is the time to join the fray. Get in that seat, take to the skies, form up on the wing, and dive into the furball. We got a big win, and the enemy still doesn’t realize that it’s badly damaged and leaking fuel. Once they realize what’s really going on, it’ll be too late and the entire fortress of foulness will fall from the sky, hit the ground with a terrible crash, and immolate itself in the explosion.

The future belongs to those that show up and stand for what is true and beautiful. That’s the Superversive.

The Superversive In You: Joining The Chorus

Now that you’re aware of the Superversive’s existence in popular media across the globe, and you’re already sold on it, you want to join the choir and add to the chorus. Good. Welcome to the party.

But you’re wonder how, aren’t you?

There’s something you should keep firmly fixed in your mind, and that something is this: Two Hands.

In stage magic, the magician wants you focusing your attention on one hand while he does his thing with the other. The idea is that you engage your audience with one thing here and how, while you work on the other thing to get it ready for the reveal. This means having a short-term and a long-term operation going simultaneously; it’s the same thing as an A-plot and a B-plot in an on-going serialized story told on television or in comics.

That means that you’re wise to have something you can do right now while you work towards something you can contribute down the road.

Your long-term is your novels, your illustrations, your music, etc. that requires time and persistence to get up to professional standards prior to putting it out there for others to buy (or not). Even for the writers that post here, it’s still a hustle and will remain a hustle for years on end. Keep at it.

It’s the short-term stuff that I’m going to talk about here, because that’s how you can contribute here and how while building up that long-term thing.

  • Blogging: Especially if you want to make it as a writer, get into blogging. Post daily, and spread your posts as far and as wide as you can. From this point, many other short-term things are easily executed.
  • Reviews: Good God, the writers need book reviews. Illustrators need reviews. Podcasters need reviews. You’re already reading/watching/listening to this stuff, so take the time to turn your opinion into an essay and then your essay into a review. Then post that to your blog, and repost it to the relevant Amazon page (or other online store) page (as applicable).
  • Hyping: Spread the word about the things you love. Link to them on your blog early, often, and repeatedly. That novel? That movie? That picture? Find the creator, link to whatever their landing page is, and tell all who will hear that This Thing You Love is done by That Guy.

The reason for basing this out of a blog is that, once you get into the habit of daily posting, you will build up an audience over time. That audience will then be there for when you start doing reveals for your long-term projects, whatever they are, and you may be invited to guest-post to other blogs as well as become a contributor to a group blog (like I have, here). Your posts need not take a lot of time to do, especially once you’ve learned just enough HTML to not need to rely on a visual text editor to do the markups for you.

Your short-term hustle will also help you learn the basics behind getting the word out on your own long-term stuff when it becomes ready for prime-time; by helping those you love get the word out, you learn how to spread the word (and the love) for your own in turn, and the audience you garner will do the same for you when you take your turn at bat and swing for the fences.

If this sounds a lot like how a healthy community cultivates and regenerates its talent and productive capacity over time, building up its culture from below and building upon the deeds of their forebearers, you’re not wrong; it stands to reason that to achieve a Superversive culture, one must resort to Superversive methods. It seems so small, so humble, yet it moves mountains. Do it, keep at it, and take joy in the process; you won’t even notice the time go by before you see the results.

A Modern Day Fahrenheit 451

Classic dystopians have been seeing a revival lately. Oh, not the kind where people are interested in that sort of literature. No, it’s a revival in that they are being used as instruction manuals for modern day living. Or at least in some circles anyway.

Sept 24-30th is Banned Book week, which brings to light the practice of having books removed from mainly school libraries. When bookstores, public libraries, publishers don’t stock or publish a book, the book isn’t “banned”. But when a parent objects to soft porn being one of the few options that their child has for say doing a book report…it’s a ban. Go figure.

Honestly, I think places where children are captive audiences should have higher standards than Amazon.com or the public library.

Of course, this is coming from someone who was reading adult historical romance by the time I was in junior high. There were teachers very concerned that I was allowed to read such books, but had no power to do anything about it, since the books didn’t come from the school library. I either got them from the public library or bought them myself. And they were never read for the purposes of book reports.

But, I digress.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Product by Marina Fontaine feel like fitting books for this week. Thankfully, neither are likely to come true, at least in the form of government censorship anyway.

The modern day censorship as we’re starting to see is coming via social media bans and mob attacks. It’s rather pointless today to go around burning books since ebooks don’t burn very well.

 

While technically, there is nothing illegal about a company giving a platform for some and not others, it is concerning. It’s certainly in their best interest to ban someone who makes viable threats against other persons or someone conducting illegal activity using their services.

But, that’s not what is happening. The companies have decided to use their platforms to control the speech of those using the service. It wouldn’t be a problem if there were a diverse array of platforms to use and one could easily move to another platform.

However, there are limited platforms and they all seem to lean one direction. Those with icky opinions are quickly being shunned from all of the major platforms.

For example:

Facebook for some time now been heavy handed with opinions and ideas that are not PC. People on the “wrong” side (libertarian, conservative, right wing) have had their accounts revoked, posts removed, put in Facebook jail for the same offenses that those on the liberal side get no punishment for at all.

Twitter has been banning and shadow banning speakers with opinions they don’t like based on very vague conduct standards, while letting those they agree with harrass and threaten others all they like.

Google and Youtube have gotten into this game as well with banning and/or blacklisting speech they don’t like.

I suspect this will get worse as more sites jump on the bandwagon to signal how “diverse” and “tolerant” they are of their own opinions.

Yes, I can hear you, person without any skin in the game. If they didn’t say offensive stuff there wouldn’t be a problem. Offensive stuff shouldn’t be tolerated. 

These platforms are very much like the public square. People gather there and talk, argue, and debate. In the US anyway, anyone can go to the public square and spout off their crazy ideas (as long as it’s within legal limits) without concern for getting kicked out of the square. They might get others taking issue with their ideas, but the opportunity to change another’s mind is still available.

When companies who create an environment very much like a public square start censoring people they disagree with, it creates an environment very much like one where government is doing the censoring. Without access to the public square, speech is stifled.

 

There is hope, though.

New “public squares” such as Gab and MeWe are cropping up for those who have been kicked out or want to leave the censored platforms.

Publishers like Superversive Press, Silver Empire and Castalia House are opening up the doors to books that present stories that used to be mainstream, but are now unwanted by the Big 5 because they don’t promote society destroying ideas.

It’s going to take a while to get the infrastructure in place, but it will get there. The recent attacks on speech by corporate giants have been a wakeup call to many that there need to be places for all voices, not just the select few.

 

 

 

 

What Is Fan Fic?

What Is Fan Fiction?:
How to tell it from the other stuff

Approximately where I was standing,
when I described the fortress filling the horizon.

Here at the Wright Household, this article is legendary.

This is in part because I’ve been talking about writing it for at least a year and a half. It is more, however, because of my now-famous speech—in which I laid out for two of our sons the main points I wished to cover in such an essay.

It was December of 2015, and we stood on the ramparts at Bear’s Den in the Blue Ridge Mountains, looking out upon miles of countryside. As we halted atop the rocks, where the Appalachian Trail passes, I spread my arm, gesturing toward the open valley stretching beneath us and exclaimed:

“Imagine an immense black fortress, stretching as far as the eyes can see. The vast bulk rises up over the Blue Ridges, dominating the landscape. It is made of solid basalt, and it stretches for miles and miles. It has smooth sides with no handholds, crisply-cut crenulations along the top, and looming towers, from which a lookout could spot anyone approaching from any direction.

 “Now, imagine this fortress represents the personality and qualities of impressive characters, such as Dr. Doom, Spock, Snape, or Batman. Pick your favorite.

 “Each ‘stone’ of the fortress wall represents a quality about that character. Each was carefully hand-placed by the creators—writers, artists, actors, etc.—who helped shape the character. Together, these blocks of character developing, backstory, speech patterns, appearance, and actions form, in the mind of the audience, the titanic, solid edifice that make up our favorite characters.

 “Now imagine that in all that vast, impenetrable, solidness, there exists only one window. It is a round window, the size of a porthole.

“On one occasion, once, a candle passed by this window.

“This flicker of light, seen through the tiny window, represents the emotions displayed by our character, a brief glimpse of suffering or hope or love in an otherwise impassive character.

 “Fan fiction narrows the focus of the camera to that window. Sometimes, maybe, it shows a little bit of the basalt surrounding it. Instead of one flicker of candlelight, it fills the window with flames and fireworks.

 “It then relies on the fan to imagine that the fortress is still present, even though the enormous mile-long basalt bulk of the rest of it is never so much as glimpsed.”

And, this, folks, is—in a nutshell—the difference between fan fiction and the other stuff.

*

Before we continue, let us pause for some definitions:

Professional – a writer who gets paid.

Amateur – a writer who does not get paid.

Well-Crafted Writing – solid writing and storytelling.

Fan Fiction or Fanfic – what we are talking about in this essay.

For the purpose of this article, the term fan fiction has nothing to do with getting paid. Both professional writers and amateur writers can write solidly-crafted fiction or fan fiction.

*

Note: Just because fan fiction, as defined, is not well-crafted does not mean that it is wicked or stupid. It can be great fun to write, and millions of fans love reading it. Some fiction written by fans for fans is well-crafted and does not fit the definition of fanfic used in this article. However, even the badly-written stuff can be great fun.

If you love writing or reading fan fiction, don’t let me or anyone else interfere with your joy!

*

That being said, let us look at our fundamental question: How do you tell well-crafted fiction from fan fiction?

Some people today try to use sardonically apply the term fan fiction to anything that takes place in another writer’s background.

Using characters and locations from earlier works in one’s fiction, however, is an age old tradition. Writers in ages past were expected to build on what had come before them. If it were the case that anything written using someone else’s characters or setting was automatically fan fiction, we would have to refer to Mid-Summer’s Night Dream by Shakespeare as “Huor of Bordeux fan fiction.”

Or label every episode of Batman or Superman that was not written by the original creator of the character as fanfic.

Both of these things would just be silly.

I first started wondering about this subject when I saw someone refer to my husband (author John C. Wright)’s novel Awake in the Nightland as “Nightland fanfic.” I remember frowning and thinking, “Something’s not right about that.”

I doubly thought this when I heard Andy Robertson’s story of discovering John’s Nightland tales when Mr. Robertson was running the Nightland website. He described how he and a few other writers were playing at writing Nightland stories, basically writing Nightland fan fiction…and then, John, this writer he had never heard of submitted the real thing.

Andy Robertson recognized that there was a difference between fan fiction and what John had submitted.

This subject reared its head again with the publication of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The script was approved by the author. Thousands have seen the play, and, yet, the debate rages on: Is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child fan fiction?

The fact that a serious debate can take place on this subject regardless of the original author’s support shows that there is more to the issue than just ownership of the character.

What finally pushed me over the edge, however, was a brief, unpleasant foray into modern Marvel comics.

Marvel has replaced all the original heroes we love with new heroes of the same name who are different. This might not too bad, if the characters were noble and heroic, but they are not. The new set of characters emote. They stand around while others admire or adore them, and they do easily tasks that the real heroes found difficult.

There was something familiar about this kind of writing. I had seen it before. But it took thinking about it for a bit before I sat up and exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! They’re writing Marvel fanfic!”

For all I know, they actually hired fan fiction writers to be their current writers. If so, that would explain a lot!

So what is fanfic?

The key to understanding the difference between well-crafted writing and fan fiction is to remember the fortress and the window.

You can write about the fortress without mentioning the window. But, you can’t write about the window without depending on the reader to be picturing the fortress. Because the whole point of showing flames and fireworks in the porthole is to give the impression that these are the true passions secretly raging in the heart of the otherwise impassive character.

If the audience is not picturing an impassive character, the fanfic doesn’t work.

Fan fiction, by nature, is parasitical. Like mistletoe growing on oak, it cannot succeed without a host story, the work of the original creator, to prop them up. In this case, the oak is the “fortress”—i.e., the work done by the original creator/series/etc. to establish the character.

No one is amazed when Spock falls for Mary Sue—unless they believe the person doing the falling is the one true Spock, the emotionless Vulcan.

Because winning the heart of a Vulcan is exciting.

Winning the heart of Joe, an overly-emotional guy?

Not so much.

No one is amazed Dr. Doom is beaten by Gary Stu, unless they are picturing the character being beaten as the most impressive villain of them all, the tyrant ruler of Latvaria with his vast armies of robot Dooms. Actually being able to finally defeat Dr. Doom, at least without the use of squirrels, would be truly exciting.

But if Gary Stu merely beats Steve the Thug?

Not so much.

Basically, well-crafted fiction tells a story that is true to the characters and setting. Fan fiction puts the personal desires of the writer and the fans above the needs of the story.

Jason Rennie, publisher of Superversive Press, described it: “The bad stuff feels wrong because it is forcing characters and a universe into a direction it won’t naturally go. You need to do violence to the universe like some incompetent interventionist god to make it bend the way you want.

But the good stuff, like the [Monster Hunter International] add-on stories work because they fit in the universe and don’t do violence too it. They feel like they belong.

Lady Thor and Black Chick Ironman do violence to the universe to fit, as does Mary Sue etc.

But good “fan fic” like Star Trek Continues doesn’t do that.”

 Mr. Rennie defines fan fiction as “doing violence to the [fictional] universe.” What does he mean by that? What is the kind of violence that is usually done?

The first kind of violence is emotional.

I mentioned the tiny porthole through which a single candle passes as an analogy for the emotions showed by some stalwart characters. They act out of duty or purpose and do not let their emotions come between them and their goal.   Only rarely, at moments of high tension, do they occasionally reveal the single crack in their fortress-armor.

Fan fiction rips open that crack and makes the whole story about emotions—emotions that the character would never ordinarily express.

After prohibition ended in America, it became popular to have movies that glorified drinking, such as Philadelphia Story, where partway through the story, the dignified main characters would drink too much and suddenly blurt out what they were really thinking.

Or they would kiss someone that they would never otherwise have kissed.

Emotional fanfic treats the our characters as if they are perpetually drunk…or worse…so that they act without inhibitions, saying or doing things that the real character—the one that has to live with the consequences of their actions and who, usually, has some modicum of dignity—would never do.

Fanfic characters blurt out their loves, hates, romantic longings, and fears…personal things most characters would never reveal come pouring out of their mouths. Even worse than never reveal, things they would never feel come gushing out.

Other types of violence include:

Talking about nothing real—conversation limited to things like relationships, how awesome they are, and other simplistic conversations

Overly simplistic relationships: everyone is so buddy buddy, without the real differences of personality that every human relationship faces.

Super-cool wow wonder—a lot of time is spent on how much other people admire the character.

The ability to easily beat anything…quickly.

Years ago, John and I used to watch Star Trek: Next Gen, which we, for the most part, enjoyed very much. But they had one tendency that used to drive me crazy. In order to show how tough an enemy was, they would have the enemy beat Worf the Klingon.

Only, they never spent any time building the fortress that is Worf—ie, showing him using his great fighting prowess to win the day. They merely traded on the viewers knowledge that Klingons were tough in order to demonstrate how much tougher others were.

This went on for a while, with Worf being tossed around in a number of shows in a row. Then one day, emotional counselor Deanna Troy was possessed by an evil power, and—to show how EVIL the power was—she picked up and tossed…Worf.

And I jumped up from where I sat on the couch beside John and shouted at the TV: “That’s not Worf! That’s a Worf-shaped balloon!”

 And that is what happens in fanfic. It’s not Snape who falls in love with Hermione, it’s a Snape-shaped balloon. It’s not Sabertooth—the baddy who used to beat Wolverine to a pulp—that Wolverine’s adopted daughter beats up with one punch, it’s a Sabertooth balloon. (Wish that was fanfic. That one was Marvel.)

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with most fan fiction pieces. Sooner or later the reader looks up from the porthole where all these wild emotions are happening and exclaims, “This isn’t a fortress! It’s just a fortress-shaped balloon!”

Essayist extraordinaire Tom Simon offers both a historical perspective and additional terms that could be useful to future discussions on this topic: “Puts me in mind of the flap between Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding. Richardson more or less invented the epistolary novel with Pamela, which was a shamelessly sentimental and long-winded tear-jerker that even most aficionados of eighteenth-century novels now find unreadable. Henry Fielding wrote Joseph Andrews, a novel ostensibly about Pamela’s brother, but in a completely different tone – lighthearted, humorous, and salted with picaresque adventure. Richardson was furious, and called Joseph Andrews a ‘lewd and ungenerous engraftment’ on his own novel.

 “In the same way, we could fairly call 50 Shades a lewd and ungenerous engraftment on Twilight; lewd, especially. Wicked is an engraftment on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Fan fiction of the Mary Sue or slash types could be generally described as engraftments; whereas a genuine contribution to a canon grows organically from the characters and situations already developed.

“Perhaps we could reverse-engineer a terminology for this. The original source material would be root stories; sequels and prequels and shared-world stuff, if done competently and with respect for the root, would be branches; stuff that really does not belong, but is forced on out of fan-service, moneygrubbing, or sheer self-indulgence, we can call by Richardson’s term –  engraftments.

“This not only takes the pro-vs.-amateur question out of the equation, it is also independent of the authorized-vs.-unauthorized issue. For instance, The Phantom Menace may have been an authorized part of the Star Wars canon, but it is so different in tone and intention, and does such shameless violence to the previous canon, that we may fairly call it an engraftment on Star Wars – even though it was done by the same writer and director.”

 An author of well-crafted fiction is the servant of his muse. He listens to the words and wisdom the Divine Muse sends. He writes a story that honors the characters, plots, and themes he has been given.

A fan fiction author expects the plot and characters to perform for him. He, as we heard above, does violence to the source material. Or, at the very least, he leans on the source material for the force of his story, without himself adding to the “fortress.”

You have heard of people who are tone deaf.

Fan fiction is muse-deaf.