You may have heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the first installment of an erotica trilogy that began life as the alternate universe Twilight fanfic Master of the Universe. For fans, it’s a story that’s both delightful in the sheer amount of drama involved and a bit troubling in how visible it’s making a piece of fanfiction, considering the possible legal repercussions. For non-fans, it’s a story of a fan turning pro. But there was one particular non-fan’s reaction that intrigued me. Over the last week, Jason Boog, the editor of GalleyCat, has covered the story for both GalleyCat and NPR. Both pretty much ask the same question—“Will the success of Fifty Shades of Grey inspire more fan fiction writers to convert their work into straight fiction?” (In fact, the NPR piece assumes that “James’ success will undoubtedly spawn a wave of repurposed fan-fiction erotica in the coming months”.)
Any books you’re hoping to get for the holidays this year?
How about giving? Are you giving any good ones?
I have mentioned that I would like the newly reissued audiobook of Brideshead Revisited (as read by Jeremy Irons), but I don’t expect it. While I won’t say who gets what (just in case they read my blog, which I doubt), there are copies of Outlander and Friday Night Lights under the tree. I just really hate giving books that I personally haven’t read and think the recipient might enjoy, so I’m ultimately quite picky.
In June, I was alerted by my fellow The Lord of the Rings fans to NPR’s call to nominate books for their Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books. Setting aside the problem of conflating the genres—I mean, I get it, but it does mean a lot of good books in both categories will fall by the wayside—I enjoyed looking through the comments for new recommendations and, of course, taking the opportunity to peddle Jacqueline Carey’s The Sundering like it’s my job. (If you read and liked The Lord of the Rings, you should read it. End of story.) The nominations were counted, the votes were tallied, and on Thursday, NPR unveiled the fruit of its labors—their top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books (circa Summer 2011). I’m not going to copy the list verbatim—you can find a printable version here if you so desire—but I am going to talk about some of the selections that made it, be they good or bad in my book.
I find the panic over the rise of digital books overblown. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—until someone invents a ten dollar reading device that won’t electrocute you in the tub, physical books are safe. Yes, the industry is going to go through some growing pains to get used to it, but the music industry and the film industry have already been there and come out more or less fine. But digital reading is here to stay, and I find it immensely useful. I can’t split my focus between two print books, but I can split my focus between one print book and one digital book. With the addition of Iona the iPhone to my herd of electronics and my usual habit of reading digital books while blow-drying my hair, I’ve had plenty of time to think about digital reader apps and which ones are worth one’s time—and the two that I think fits most book bloggers’ needs.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
According to TVTropes (kiss your productivity good-bye!), Diana Gabaldon has mentioned that she can promote Outlander as a romance, historical fiction, science fiction, or military fiction—she seems to be quite proud of the broad appeal of her books. I have to disagree, and it’s not because of Gabaldon’s infamous issues with fanfiction (despite openly admitting her male lead being inspired by a one Jamie McCrimmon from Doctor Who). While Outlander is much better than I expected, it is solidly a romance—anyone expecting anything else is going to be sorely disappointed.
Back in the May of last year, Diana Gabaldon made a post on her blog decrying the evils of fanfiction, calling it immoral and illegal. (The post has since been removed, but it’s been archived.) While it’s every author’s right to ask their fandom not to write fanfiction, such a violent outcry seemed a bit odd, seeing as her male lead was inspired by a certain Jamie from Doctor Who. The best response to this kerfuffle was Aja Romano’s post, “I’m done explaining to people why fanfic is okay.” If you do nothing else today, read Romano’s post—it’s a brilliant and damning response, which I’ve taken to heart. In fact, I’m willing to take it one step further.
Fanfiction is, at its best, literary criticism.