Fandom, for Community and Fun

Jeffrey Carl Faden posted his thoughts on fandom, and I have to say, I understand were he is coming from, and I feel like he just missed the point.

His main argument is that being a self identified a fan gets to enjoy the benefits of community, but are discouraged by the label to create stories and worlds of their own.

I couldn't disagree more.  I am a fan.  I have always been a fan, and I participate in multiple fandoms, and that has not stopped me from creating my own worlds and stories.  I would even argue that this exposure forces me to figure out how I can be more original.

I started writing fan fiction, and it was a great place for me to learn some of the fundamentals of story.  I will not repeat my old "fanfiction is what culture is" sermon again, but I still feel that way.

Fandom is the a world of like-minded people who help me discovery new fiction, music, and games.  They expose me to new ideas, and challenge my preconceptions.

Fandom is, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.  /rant

Second Look: Space: Above and Beyond

Space: Above and BeyondStars-5I barely remember watching Space: Above and Beyond when it was on Fox in 1995-96. My significant memory is from the repeated marathons of the show on the Sci Fi Channel. I am surprised in many ways that the series actually got made in the first place.

The show chronicles the adventures of the 58th, "Wild Cards," a group of marines fighting to defend earth from an advancing military threat in 2063-2064. While that might sound like standard Military Sci Fi, common fodder for TV, the frank and gritty look at the consequences of war on those who must fight it is like nothing I have ever seen before. Issues ranging from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to combat duty rotation are covered in a realist and gripping way.

One of the most endearing characteristics of the show is how well it translates the Marines' care to bury their dead, leaving no one behind on the battle field.

Each member of the 58th came into the service for a different reason, adding many levels to what could have been yet another Military SF series.

The one thing that surprises me the most is that this series did not engender a Firefly-like fan base to keep the series alive, even if only through fanfiction.

Thankfully, I rediscovered the series through Netflix, and it has traveled past the veil from a renter to an owner. If no one else is writing fanfic for Space: Above and Beyond, then I might have to start. If you have never seen the series, or haven't watched it in a long time, pick it up and check it out. I am so glad I did.

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Fanfiction and Culture

C.E. Dorsett Recently, I was on a board, and someone posted the question: "What do you think about fanfiction?" The questions angered up my blood, so I have to pull out my soapbox for a minute:

Fanfiction is a story that uses the characters and/or setting of an another writer to tell an original story. So we must accept that...

Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Fanfiction. Virgil's Aeneid, Fanfiction. Ovid's Metamorphosis, Fanfiction. Euripides, Sophocles, All of the Greek and Roman Classics, Fanfiction! Shakespeare almost exclusively used the settings and characters of others!

Most of what we consider classics today were written by people who wrote in a setting they did not create with characters created by others, in other words, FANFICTION! All primal storytelling is fanfiction, telling retelling, embellishing and adding to that characters and setting that the storyteller enjoyed. This is the art of a story teller. Virtually every folktale and myth falls into this category.

Before the modern tyranny of the copyright holders, this was a natural function of culture. Now it is a hobby of a few select subcultures. Stories give our lives and our world meaning. For the stories to remain relevant, they have to be retold and expanded in ways that are true to the original. This is how a healthy culture grows and evolves over time. The numerous copyright extension acts have crippled our culture. Stories, characters, and whole worlds have been lost to the commons. The culture is weakened.

For example: There is no legitimate reason that Star Trek: The Original Series, should still be under copyright today, 40 years after it originally aired. If the copyright expired on the original series, then we could still have The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and the others. But who knows how many great series we lost because they did not win the lottery to be Voyager or Enterprise. Just because the copyright on the first one expired would have no effect on the copyright status of the later ones. In fact, the iron grip of Paramount may have destroyed more great series that it could ever produce. Read the The Voyage of the Star Wolf series by David Gerrold.

It is a sad comment on our society that fanfiction is so rare. That our culture has been destined to atrophy under these conditions. With the advent of Creative Commons and other ways around the tyranny of copyright, there is hope.