So, it's the first Friday of the month already? Wow, how time flies.
Those of us who are a part of the SF and Fantasy community are well aware that everyone-knows-everyone nature of our little corner of the literary world leads to some interesting arguments. Most times, the best description would be "tempest in a teapot". These arguments burn bright and hot, and generally last about a month or so.
Sometimes we argue about genre boundaries, and things like "is clockpunk a valid subgenre or just someone being silly", sometimes we argue about mainstream issues (at least they are mainstream if you happen to be in the US) such as race, religion or gender. Occasionally, these arguments lead to a knew way of looking at things or a new current within the genre. Usually, however, they are forgotten after a few days.
This month's flap is unlikely to be forgotten after a few days, because it is one of those issues which flares up repeatedly.
Fan fiction is the act of using someone else's copyrighted worlds or characters to write your own stories.
Quite aside from the fact that these worlds and characters are protected by law, and belong to the writer, and not to the fan, different writers feel very differently about the practice. Some writers allow it, feeling that it is just a new form of free advertising (as long as the author isn't making money off of it). Others actively encourage it, while a third group hates it and will reach for their lawyer at the slightest whiff of fanfic.
The problem lies in the fact that there are huge numbers of fanfic writers (especially for the more popular sagas such as Star Trek), and while some of the writers just want to share their take, others are unscrupulous and want to sell their fanfic. Quality is another concern, as the editorial proces in most fanfic is... let's just say 'uneven'.
The final complication is the legal side. Fanfic, strictly speaking, is wrong. And if you're making money out of it, it's actually illegal and can get the writer sued.
So that's what we've been entertaining ourselves with instead of writing. This month's crop of interesting articles about the subject include Jim Hines' very well-researched piece regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley's experience with the fanfic community, as well as a letter from Robert Heinlein to Forrest Ackerman in which old Bob is less than charitable towards the fan community...
See you all next month, and I'll try not to write about arguments!