So apparently, Amazon are starting to sell fanfic. Sell sell. For actual money. (As opposed to fanfic web cred. I have a slowly diminishing pile of that somewhere…) My world is on SIDEWAYS. SIDEWAYS I TELL YOU.
How is this going to work out? I have no real idea. They’ve only got three titles ‘available’ for playing with from what I can see, and none of them even sound like they’d interest me.
Now me, I’m up for this weirdness. That CC-BY-SA on all of my stories says I pretty much have to be. I can’t wave that flag around and then say ‘but this thing is bad’! That would be hypocritical to say the very least! (And I don’t want to anyway.) But it’s weird, as Red Dwarf’s Cat might say, with a capital Wee. For me, at any rate. I spent a lot of time writing fanfic, in that grey area of Fanon, messing with other worlds and weaving the threads into my own pattern. It was fun, it was good, and if I thought I could do it without risk of backlash I’d happily link it here. But I don’t think I can do that, and that’s why this is weird: outside of certain ‘permitted’ fic (Star Wars extended universe, Warhammer 40k tie-in books, Star Trek ditto, Doctor Who, all that stuff), I’ve never, ever known it get more than an author’s discreet nod and wink, and sometimes a lot worse.
And now Amazon are buying up rights and opening the playing field for everyone to not only write the stuff but sell it in a three-way profit arrangement.
That’s weird. (And I am tired enough to be rambling mildly incoherently, although that may also be a product of still being confused by all this, so now there will be a line break to hide the rest of this post.)
It’s not sanctioned sanctioned, like the SWEU. But it’s allowed. Under set conditions, even at a price. Which is weird. For the first time, fanon is going to be fighting for (e-)shelf space with canon, not just for brain space. For me, this doesn’t make much of a difference — see my previous post on degrees of canon. Hell, I’m prepared to dump entire sections of even ‘hard’ canon, if I don’t think they work. The moment my idea baby leaves my head and gets into someone else’s, it’s their adopted idea baby, and then everyone can have an imperfect clone of my idea baby, including of course me — it’s not like I’m going to get rid of the little blighter after so long spent bringing it into the world, after all! If I feel fine with adapting the ideas that are in my head to fit the way my head works (and saying I can’t is like saying I can’t rearrange or repaint the furniture in my own house because I didn’t hand-craft every last scrap myself), then I sure don’t mind other people doing it. I expect them to do it. I downright encourage them to do it; I’m a ‘nothing is so sacred it can’t be poked’ kind of person.
But wow. Weird. Way weird.
Over at terribleminds.com, there is a somewhat similar post, which is how I first heard of this. Apart from being about as ‘whoa the world is on sideways’ as I am, his thought is, does this lend canonicalness to the non-canon stuff? And I guess at first it will probably look a lot like that. And maybe the fic will even end up bigger than whatever spawned it. For money. Whoa.
But here’s the thing: sometimes already for me the fic is bigger. (I’m not going to name names, in case TROUBLE. I don’t know what trouble, or who for. But trouble.) I know it’s not canon, but I enjoy it more than I enjoy the canon. I don’t expect it to be consistent with anything except other fics by the same author in the same world (sometimes not even that, AU is a thing), and I call it like any fic in the form [Canon name]: [Fic name]. Huge kudos to the original author for taking this thing off the ground enough for someone who isn’t me to love it. (If I loved it, canon would have mental primacy for me too, after all.) And some also go to the dude who reshaped things in a way that I found utterly awesome. And if I was going to write a story set in that world, I’d be ficcing the fic. Nested fanfic? Anyway, my point is that if I think that way, probably a lot of other people do too. I’m weird, but I’m not that weird. So, the audience that this sort of fic-primacy thing is an issue for suddenly becomes a lot larger, maybe, but it isn’t actually a new issue.
Of course, if someone starts thinking that a random fic is actually hard solid canon and gets really confused when it’s not… I suppose that’s possible… but I just don’t see it happening, particularly not in my generation on down and particularly not since I’d imagine this will all be in a “Kindle Worlds” section. So basically a “fanfic shelf”. Even without a fanfic shelf, that really unrelated “Lensman” anime happened for some reason, but I don’t think anyone thinks it’s Lensman-canon, somehow. (I was SO disappointed. 😦 ) Heck, LotR-movie canon isn’t LotR-book canon, although at least those you can sort of squinch together if you go slightly cross-eyed on a couple of events. And don’t even get me started on when authors retcon and you have to decide which writing-era you’re going to retain for internal consistency. (I really dislike retconning.)
So yeah. It’s way weird and some authors are going to understandably be way way uncomfortable, and now my world is on SIDEWAYS. ‘Cause this just wasn’t possible back when. …Hey, maybe my habit of saying “Look, it’s the fanfic section!” every time I got to the tie-in books (many of which I love to bits) has just echoed back to me a billion times louder and confused me.
Way past weird.
Note to self, in closing: never write blog posts when tired — this is so full of sidetracks it’s not even funny. But wow, this is weird. I wanted to post about it.