Sometimes, he has things to say about fan fiction.

This is the short version:

John Steakley’s novel Armor is NOT Starship Troopers fan fiction.

Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is NOT Lensmen fan fiction.

Charles Stross’ fantasy novel The Family Trade is NOT second-hand fan fiction of Philip José Farmer’s World of Tiers.

The Lord of the Rings movies are NOT fan fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels.

Novelizations of movies are NOT fan fiction of those movies.

The new Star Trek movies are NOT Star Trek fan fiction.

Diane Duane’s novel The Wounded Sky is NOT Star Trek fan fiction.

See a pattern here?  Merely being inspired by something else doesn’t make the inspired thing fan fiction, nor should derivative work be confused with fan fiction. Fan fiction is, by definition, a form of derivative work, but not all derivative work is fan fiction, not even when the person responsible for the derivative work is a self-described fan of the original.  The existence of authorized derivative works does not mean it’s okay for everyone to publish fan fiction of whatever they please. It is wrong to use the existence of authorized derivative works to justify stealing another’s creations with ‘its all fanfic, i can write what I want lol!!!’

There will be a longer version of this post later…

About Thomas Weaver

For several years, I’ve been putting my uncanny knack for grammar and punctuation, along with an eclectic mental collection of facts, to good use as a Wielder of the Red Pen of Doom (editor). I'm physically disabled, and I currently live with my smugly good-looking twin Paul, who writes military science fiction and refuses to talk about his military service because he can’t. Sometimes Paul and I collaborate on stories, and sometimes I just edit whatever he writes. It's worked out rather well so far. My list of non-writing-related jobs from the past includes librarian, art model, high school teacher, science lab gofer… Although I have no spouse or offspring to tell you about, I do have eight cats. I currently spend my time blogging, reading, editing, and fending off cats who like my desk better than my twin’s.
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9 Responses to Sometimes, he has things to say about fan fiction.

  1. Personally, I love the concept of fanfiction. Some of it is blatant pandering to the author’s personal wants with the world, but there’s also plenty of stories that fit within the world the author has presented, and take it in new directions.

    But like anything dealing with creativity these days, there’s a spectrum of gray that people want to make black and white. Some people rip off another’s work, and that’s bad. But far more take another’s work in new and amazing directions that the original author couldn’t have done. Some would call this inspiration, but using the author’s world is using the author’s world.

    It’s a major reason why I release my work with the explicit allowance for derivative work. I don’t want there to be a gray area, or a black-and-white morality firefight where no one can win. I just want to see someone’s creativity flourish, whether it be their own original work, or taking inspiration from someone else’s.


    • When I talk about fan fiction, I am NOT talking about stories that are INSPIRED by another’s. (Barbara Hambly’s fantasy novel The Silicon Mage is NOT Doctor Who fan fiction even though Antryg Windrose has some of Tom Baker’s mannerisms.) Nor am I talking about derivative works made with permission from the owner of the original. (Movies based on novels are NOT fan fiction, nor are novels based on movies.)

      You give written permission for anyone to create derivative works based on your stories. You have the right to do so, and I totally support your right to do so. I do not support any person’s right (because they don’t HAVE that right) to publish whatever they please WITHOUT express permission. (I hate to say something that may alarm you, but contemplate the possibility of some “fan” writing and publishing violent “slash” fiction about Ivan and Caleb before you say you’re totally okay with giving blanket permission to fan fic writers.)


      • I believe in free culture above and beyond what horrible maybe’s people might do with my characters. I also have faith that terrible distortions of my characters would be popular with an even more niche audience than my own. And beyond that, a niche so far divorced from my own that they won’t get in the way of me having great stories.

        I don’t like the obsession over “retaining control”. Culture has never been about control, at least not until Big Media said it was that way in the latter half of the 20th century. We remix, we derive, we steal. And in the final analysis, those who are actually creative will prosper, the raw copycats will not.


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