shakatany: Sleeping woman plus moon and stars (Spock)
In 1926, Hugo Gernsback gave name to science fiction (well actually he called it scientifiction but the fans protested and it soon became the name we now know). Almost right away fans started writing their own fics and many of them like Judith Merrill, Isaac Asimov and Frederick Pohl (who still is writing) became professionals. This trend--fan to pro--is still with us today.
In 1967 "Star Trek" became the first show to have it's fans publish fics inspired by it. One of the early ones was Jacqueling Lichtenberg who, with Kraith, was possibly the first to establish her own AU, complete with a story arc, wherein Kirk, for many reasons, is adopted into Spock's family. Another early writer was Jean Lorrah whose best known Trekfic was "Night of the Twin Moons" where Sarek and Amanda visited a planet ruled by women. Both writers later turned pro as I'm sure other Treklit writers also did.
In those days stories were printed in fanzines that relied on snailmail and waiting for a 'zine could be torture as the Post Awful Monster was known for it's sadistic tendencies and loved to delay, lose or chew up the 'zines. You youngsters are more fortunate. I've seen a new BtVS ep at night and the next day someone's written a story inspired by it. The one drawback is that no fanzine would publish an unfinished story and now there are countless unfinished, abandoned fics out there.
There are so many well-written fics out there where the author displays his/her awesome talents for description, plot and characterization that I wonder how many might eventually turn pro. Today I read a post by [livejournal.com profile] wen_spencer, one of my favorite SF writers, where she talks about writing and one of her points is "Writing is foremost STORYTELLING and if you don't tell a complete story, you're not writing. You're putting words on paper." Unfortunately there's a lot of that in fanfiction too.
shakatany: Sleeping woman plus moon and stars (Spock)
I am an inveterate collector of trivia and last night I came across some old notes. Ever wonder how slash came to be called slash?
In 1967 the first TVshow-inspired fanzine was published called "Spockanalia", which was centered on Star Trek (The Original Series), and unofficially approved by Gene Rodddenberry who knew he needed fan-support for his show. It was actually helpful in getting the series renewed for a 3rd season when fans wrote in by the thousands to keep Trek on the air. It was he who unleashed the genie from the bottle by not hindering the publication of the first fanfics.
In 1974, an Australian writer named Diane Marchant wrote a vignette called "A Fragment Out of Time" where she very circumspectly wrote about 2 lovers, one of whom was male. In 1975, in follow-up essays, she made clear that it was a story of Kirk and Spock making love. This came to be known as Kirk/Spock or K/S and then any fanfic dealing with 2 same-sex lovers was called slash. If ever there is made an award for the year's best slash I think it should be called the Marchant or the Diane or, if she had a nickname, something like the DeeDee or Shy Di. After all science fiction has the Hugo (for Hugo Gernsbeck) and mystery stories have the Edgar (after Edgar Allen Poe).
I recall the ruckus among Trekkies regarding the then outrageous idea that Kirk and Spock might be more than just good friends. And this was in the days of printed fanzines that were sent through the mail and therefore were not very explicit. We've come a long way baby. George Lucas was outraged that someone might slash his characters and threatened to haul writers into court but the fanfic genie was lose and there was no putting it back in the closet.
In the 30 years or so since then the printed fanzines (which were relatively expensive and often devoured by the Post Awful Monster) have been mostly replaced by the Internet where the freedom and anonymity of the web has allowed the fics to become ever more explicit. For more fanfiction history go here.
Whither fanfiction? In another 30 years, with advances in computers and CGI, we'll probably be making our own fan-written movies and shows that will be barely discernible from the actual shows with real actors. In a century those holodecks and holo-brothels of ST and B5 might permit us to actually "live" the stories which raises a certain point made in "B5: River of Souls"--what happens when "you" are actually performing in someone else's story? A scary thought.

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December 2012

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