Sunday, June 19, 2005

Fan fiction

I've said something here about fan fiction earlier - when I had a Tolkien binge - and I have written an article for Pulp about the Tarzan clones in which I also mentioned the ERB fan fiction. The theme has risen in Lee Goldberg's blog * and has sure raised some bad blood. He's had over 90 comments on one of his posts on the subject! And, boy, are they furious!

The answers are not very literate, to say the least. I especially like this one:

"Naomi rocks! You are stupid! Fanfic rules the earth! We are smater [sic] and better writers then you are one!
Fanfic writers will out-sell all other writers one day becaause fanfic RULES!
You will wither and die under our mighty brains and are pens!!!
If you knew what your talking about you would write fanfic but you don't! FANFIC RULES!!!!!"

That sums up the basic fan fiction writer for you, huh? No wonder Lee Goldberg is so pissed at these fellows...

Ah, just kidding. I don't really understand the urge to write fan fic about some new writers. What's the point doing new Harry Potters? Or Kay Scarpettas? Boooooooring (and it's just one way to participate in the marketing the new books and their bestseller authors, who certainly don't need any marketing).

But - this may be illogical or paradoxical - I can understand the idea of writing fan fiction based on some old stuff, say, Burroughs or Tolkien. It's no way to guarantee any good writing, sure, but at least you wouldn't be part of the business. Don't tell me that the fan fiction stuff is there to undermine the real thing - no no. It's just a way to take part in the consumer society. Now, write something set in the universe of, say, Otis Adelbert Kline. Where's the commerce in that?

I've been toying with the idea of doing some fan fiction myself. But only to stay in the world of the obsolete and obscure. I already have two stories about Mikko Jarmo, who is a private eye in the war time Helsinki. Jarmo was the invention of a pseudonymous Finnish magazine author Jaakko Ensio in the early fourties. Provided I find the time I'll write some day a new Tarsa novel - Tarsa being a brain child of one Lahja Talakivi, a Finnish Tarzan-clone from the era of the Winter War, a wild man born by wolves. I'll just add some twists...

But, now I could ask, is this fan fiction? There have been hundreds of Sherlock Holmes pastiches and parodies and I don't think Lee Goldberg has nothing against them. (May have written one or two himself, for all I know.) They have never been called fan fiction. For some reason, fan fiction is fan fiction because it's not professionally produced. Is that fair?

Heck. There seems to be no good answer for the discussion, but I guarantee that you cannot escape fan fiction, because it's at the core of our consumer society and the almost violent need to be somebody. You can imagine being there with J.K. Rowling or Patricia Cornwell if you write stories with the same characters, same setting, all that. And that's just what everybody wants.


I didn't mean to write this. Hey, we just got back from Pori where we spent the weekend with my mother. Weather was nice, and so were the Finnish flea markets and book stores. I saw some home movies my brother Matias (the man from the Demars, you remember?) has made with his buddies. Exhilarating. I saw the first two parts of the Blatnaja series, about a Russian hitman. The guys have dubbed the thing in pseudo-Russian. It's just great. "Faschist muschinaya!"

* Oh, I almost forgot. For the Finnish readers, the name Lee Goldberg doesn't mean much. He's an American novelist, specializing in tie-ins of the TV series (Diagnosis: Murder and Monk; I don't know if the former has been shown here) and non-fiction books on TV shows.

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