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Fan fiction (also spelled fanfiction and commonly abbreviated to fanfic or fic when used in a singular sense) is fiction written by people who enjoy a film, novel, television show or other media work, using the characters and situations developed in it and developing new plots in which to use these characters. Characters and props from more than one media work may also be incorporated into a single fanfiction (known as crossovers). It should be noted that in the pre-1965 era, the term fan fiction was used in science fiction fandom to designate science fiction written by members of fandom and published in fanzines, as opposed to fiction that was professionally published. This usage is now obsolete.
Fan fiction has probably been with us since the dawn of time, first taking shape in the form of myths and folktales. Since copyright didn't exist in prehistoric times, a good storyteller could change or add to a tale any way he liked.
Written fan fiction probably dates back to Biblical times. An early example is the Gospel of the Infancy, a series of improbable tales about the Christ Child. While he is shown doing the occasional kindness to others, for the most part he is portrayed as a superpowered brat, whose mother Mary stands up for him with other people, while St. Joseph is a clumsy bumbler. Archaeologists say they have found Gilgamesh fan fiction, in that there are tablets with Gilgamesh stories on them which have little or nothing to do with the established myth.
Charlotte Brontë and her siblings wrote copious short stories, novellas, poems and plays in a fantasy-adventure genre. The stories are fan fiction about an actual person, the Duke of Wellington, and his sons. Later stories take off wildly into melodramatic romance, the Duke's elder son Arthur becomes a figure of almost supernatural charisma, and one can see foreshadowings of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights all the way through it.
Fans of Sherlock Holmes in the early part of the 20th century called themselves the Baker Street Irregulars. They write original stories and articles analyzing his life and work, taken from the perspective that Holmes was real. It was the Irregulars who gave the name canon to the officially recognized body of work from which they inspire themselves. At this time, the genre was generally referred to as pastiche. After the death of Arthur Conan Doyle, his son Adrian collaborated with John Dickson Carr, in creating new Holmes adventures. Many novels of Holmes adventures never dreamt of by Doyle have been written and professionally published.
Beginning in 1967, authors Lin Carter and L. Sprague deCamp wrote a lengthy series of novels based on Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian character. They called this work "posthumous collaboration", claiming they were working from Howard's notes left behind at his death, but over time it became clear they were making up most of it themselves. They also made massive changes to Howard's already published Conan material.
Modern fan fiction probably originated with Star Trek fandom which in turn inherited many of its practices from science fiction fandom. The first known published Star Trek fanzine is Spockanalia, published in 1967. This community popularized many traditions from the science fiction community that are still in place today, including the concepts of crossovers, zine culture and public feedback. They also originated the idea of the Mary Sue or annoying wish-fantasy character who appears in some juvenile fan fiction.
Other fandoms were active in the same period as Star Trek, including The Lord of the Rings, The Prisoner, Mission: Impossible, Doctor Who, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. As time went on, the various fandoms began to take notice of one another, and by the mid-1970s a more widespread distribution of such fan fiction began. Much fan fiction was originally distributed as individual stories to friends and family. Some fandoms didn't publish their own fanzines until the mid-1970s. In the case of Man from U.N.C.L.E., the show was cancelled in 1968, but fan fiction was not published until 1976 when a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story appeared in a fanzine called Warped Space, which usually published Star Trek material.
Prior to the Internet, even after the rise of the fanzines in the late 1960s, many people wrote fan fiction privately, without any idea that what they were doing was being done by anyone else and even in some cases believing themselves to be psychotic or possessed by demons -- this according to fandom historian Bjo Trimble).
Fan fiction has become much more widespread on the Internet, where it flourishes despite the possibility that it infringes the copyright of the film, book, TV show, or other media on which it is based. The Internet has widened the scope considerably, allowing many more people than previously possible to share and critique fanfiction. Even a few of the authors of the original works on which the fan fiction is based may be among the readers.
Archives of stories have grown in the web environment. Some, like FanFiction.Net, have millions of stories - all carefully organised and crossindexed, and freely available. The web has also encouraged events like annual awards, competitions and even conferences all based around fan fiction.
Major genres of fan fiction include those based on: Japanese anime/manga series; the book series Animorphs by K. A. Applegate, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series; J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings; science fiction serials (both on television and in film); other serial television (dramatic and even comedic); American cartoon series, such as Daria, and both DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Popular television series which have inspired fanfic include Star Trek, Starsky and Hutch, The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and "CSI". Even video games, such as the Final Fantasy and Street Fighter series, have become sources. It is also relevant to consider the formalised shared universe where the originating author actively encourages others to contribute to the development of the whole. Besides the Baker Street Irregulars, the most consistent and long-running shared universe has been H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos which has seen both professional and fan contributions for more than fifty years.
Some writers of essays about fan fiction (usually writers of fan fiction themselves) suggest that fan fiction is simply a new incarnation of amateur storytelling: amateur storytellers are still making up new stories about their favorite characters for "amateur," uncritical audiences, but now those characters are Draco Malfoy and Sailor Moon instead of Brer Rabbit and Hercules. That some cultures now view such storytelling as unusual and possibly illegal, and that professional storytellers now have much higher status and control, are considered inessential by proponents of the viewpoint. They consider modern fan fiction to be similar to a garage band: not quite a contribution to professional literature or music (although certainly a reflection of it), but a creative, devoted method of enjoyment.
Types of Fanfiction
Main article: Dōjinshi
Main article: Mary Sue fanfiction
Some fanfiction falls into the category of Mary Sue fantasies, in which a new "flawless" character enters the story and goes on to upstage the established characters. Often the Mary Sue represents an idealized author character. A Mary Sue can also be a character who, as well as being idealised, also becomes the character upon whom the central characters in canon become dependent. While the Mary Sue style of writing has some fans, it's generally frowned upon. The male form is 'Gary Stu', 'Larry Stu', or 'Marty Stu'.
A sub-genre of fiction in which an author pens himself or herself into the fiction as an author character. According to detractors, the author becomes a Mary Sue: flawless, omnipotent, and unable to make mistakes. In some stories, however, an author will make himself or herself more subject to human flaw. In comedic stories, the author usually retains their omnipotence, but is usually comically (or driving all the canon characters, more likely) insane.
See also: Author character
Another fan fiction sub-genre is the crossover story where characters of different media franchises interact. An example would be the human refugee fleet led by the Battlestar Galactica finding and entering the territory of Star Trek's United Federation of Planets and learning that not only does Earth exist, but it is a charter member of this interstellar political entity and so is potentially a more formidable enemy of the Cylons than they ever hoped. In fan fiction of animated series, one of the more popular crossover situations is a combination of Pokémon and Digimon. This is common because both series share similar traits: they are anime cartoons, their main characters are groups of children, and the children command monsters to fight each other in battle. Other common crossovers are between sources in similar settings, such as the two space-based television shows Babylon 5 and Star Trek; between two sources created by the same writing staff, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly; or between two sources which share common actors, such as Smallville and the Dukes of Hazzard (both of which feature John Schneider). At times, however, a fan fiction author will attempt a crossover between sources or characters which have practically nothing in common, sometimes with comedic intent; for instance, sitcom characters may find themselves enrolled in Hogwarts. In recent times, Kingdom Hearts parodies have become common, with the premise of replacing the characters of the game with one's of the author's devising. Kingdom Hearts also lends itself to the crossover genre due to the nature of the game's premise, with a number of Disney and Final Fantasy worlds placed within it. Because of the fact that new authors are often attracted to it, the crossover genre has the stigma of being one of the most poorly written story concepts.
Main article: Songfic
A songfic is a story, often a one-shot (a fanfic with only one chapter), where the lyrics to a song, or sometimes a poem, are included in the body of the writing, and in someway are connected to the story. For example, characters may be performing the actions described in the song, or going through the emotions described in the song. The lyrics may be used to reveal a depth to the character, or explain complex emotions. Other times it is used merely to set the general mood for the story. In some fandoms, especially ones inspired by printed, literary fiction, songfics are critically unpopular (much like Mary Sues). However, other fandoms, especially those inspired by fiction which normally attracts a teenage audience (such as TV teen dramas, like The OC or One Tree Hill etc.), accept songfics completely and are at times vastly popular in that fandom.
"Het" classifies a story which has as its main focus a relationship ("ship") between two characters of different genders. The expression is derived from the word "heterosexual" and is used in contrast to slash fiction and gen(eral). Het varies from innocent romance to explicit erotica.
See also: Shipping (fandom)
A "slash" story has as its main focus a relationship ("ship") between characters of the same gender. The expression comes from the use of the "/" symbol to designate Kirk/Spock romance from friendship fic (which used an ampersand "&") in the very early days of Star Trek fanzines. Stories with male/male parings are the most common. "Femmeslash" (also commonly spelt "Femslash" and very occasionally shortened to just "Fem") designates more specifically stories centered on a lesbian relationship, though some queer female fan writers now prefer the term "Saffic" (from 'Sapphic' and 'Fiction') for their romantic or erotic fiction, as they feel that the word "femmeslash" makes female/female fiction into a special case of male/male. Slash fiction varies from innocent romance to explicit erotica.
In anime and manga slash fictions, there are specialized terminologies in common use, often brought into English from Japanese language. The terms shōnen-ai and yaoi refer to male/male slash fictions, and shōjo-ai and yuri refer to femslash fiction, Shonen-ai/Shojo-ai refers properly to romantic relationships and yaoi/yuri refers to more sexual relationships.
Wingfic is a specific type of Slash fiction in which one, and sometimes both, of the two characters (usually both from a fantasy novel) grows wings. Usually the stories will involve the character who has grown wings feeling disgusted with their new form, and the other character must show them they are beautiful via sexual intercourse (sometimes in midair). This type of slash fiction may have started within the Domlijah fandom pairing (a real person pairing between the two actors Dominic Monaghan and Elijah Wood, who are not in fact at all homosexual). Wing fics seem to be slowly spreading to other fandoms, including Harry Potter and others.
Some hold the opinion that a homoerotic or homoromantic fan fiction is only slash if it is a non-canon pairing and neither character is canonically homo- or bisexual. However, others feel this view is rather narrow, and wonder what should one call canonically gay romance fanfic, if not the established word for homoromantic fanfic, which is slash. Those who read slash fic because of greater identification with homosexual romance than heterosexual and/or who favour the 'dead author' are likely to favour the latter view
Lemon and lime
Explicit sex stories, especially in anime fan fiction, are known as lemon. Lime is a moderated version of the lemon, sexual but not necessarily explicit. Lemons without much plot other than sex are also referred to as smutfics or PWPs ("Porn Without Plot" or "Plot? What Plot?") (see PWP_(fanfiction)).
Main article: Virtual season
Since television is responsible for a large part of fanfiction, it's no surprise that people have also written virtual seasons on their favorite shows. In this instance, multiple fanfiction writers will usually come together to produce a compilation of original fanfiction stories. Often, these writers and enthusiasts will elect among themselves producers, head writers, editors, and other traditional roles to aid in the coordination of the virtual season's material, direction, and continuity.
Main article: Alternative universe (fan fiction)
If a fanfiction story at some point completely changes the original's canonical storyline or premise (such as killing-off the main character, changing characters' motives or alliances, changing the setting, and so forth), it is known as an alternative universe fan fiction, or 'AU' for short. "Minor changes" to character personalities are not considered an alternate universe; instead these changes are called out of character, or 'OoC' fanfiction. Generally, to be considered an alternative universe story, the change must be extremely improbable to ever happen within the canon, or must be contradicted by new canon information that was not released when the fic was first written. An example of the former might involve a character becoming a rock star (in a story where such would be very unlikely). An example of the latter is writing a fanfic sequel which includes characters who are killed off in later canon installments of a series. Fan fiction is limited only by the author's imaginations. Draco Malfoy might find himself as a private detective in Los Angeles, hired by Harry Potter. Buffy might end up as a soap opera actress in Prague. Billy and Mandy might change personalities. Zim could be the Almighty Tallest.
Continuation is when fanfiction is created after a series has finished, with the series being a television series (series finale), a cinematic trilogy, a series novel, and so forth (although the series' spin offs and other franchises may continue). The continuation fanfiction then creates tangential storylines with the characters, or may elaborate on perceived incomplete storylines from the discontinued canon of the series.
Real person fiction
Main article: Real person fiction
Real person fiction is a type of fanfiction written about real people such as actors, politicians, athletes and musicians. FanFiction.Net was once the largest archive of this subgenre on the internet. On September 12, 2002, they enacted a policy change which eliminated most real person fiction from the site. The site still accepts real person fiction in several categories including the Christian Bible, Diary of Anne Frank and Celebrity Deathmatch. As a result of FanFiction.Net's policy changes, several different tools were used by the fannish community to archive real person fiction. These sites include FanDomination.Net, LiveJournal, Soup Fiction, AdultFanFiction.Net, EFanFiction.Net and FanWorks.Org. ( Fanartcentral.Net has a small collection of fanfic as well.)
It is worth noting that there is no such thing as an "original fanfic". The term is a misnomer that is sometimes applied to completely original works published online. It is inaccurate, however, because the work is not intentionally based on any previously existing story and is therefore not fanfiction. Not all amateur fiction is fan fiction, regardless of the fact that the popular site FanFiction.Net once had a section of original works (which has since been moved to FictionPress). Among anime/manga fans, 'original fanfic' is used to refer to an original work that borrows heavily from anime/manga themes and plot devices, and is often set in Japan, with the characters having Japanese names. In other forms, original fanfiction commonly refers to a story which takes place in an established universe, such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but uses none of the characters. Note, however, that some fanfiction authors at times publish a piece of fiction they have titled 'Original Fanfiction'; this mostly derives from the concept that these works, conceptly independant, have a (normally small) reference to some fandom (i.e., a normal dramatic romance story which starts with a character taking a train at King's Cross Station in London, Britain can be considered as an 'Original Fanfiction' in the Harry Potter fandom).
Similar to "original fanfic", "Uber" stories originated within and are almost exclusively limited to the Xena fan fiction community (though in modern times InuYasha fics like this have also started to sprout up). These stories are generally romantic or erotic in theme, and feature characters with the appearance of the central duo of Xena and Gabrielle, but placed in contemporary settings, with different backgrounds, names, personalities, etc. Uber stories rarely make any specific mention of or allusion to anything within the Xena canon but instead these stories center around the duo's relationship as perceived by the Xena fan community. There are many uber stories with reincarnation as part of the theme and most uber stories contain a sense of repeated destiny regarding the duo's relationship.
The term "Uber" was coined in 1997 by Kym Taborn of Whoosh.org, who notes that the sudden emergence of Uber fanfic arose following the 1997 Xena episode "The Xena Scrolls", set in 1942, in which the actors portrayed their respective characters' descendents, in an Indiana Jones-style treasure hunt. This explains why Uber is virtually unknown outside the Xena fanfic community.
It's unclear as to the motivations of an author to write what is effectively an original story with prepackaged character descriptions. One possible explanation of Uber's popularity suggests that by terming their work "fanfic", story authors may be assured an automatic audience they might otherwise find harder to establish. This explanation discounts the concept that it is the relationship/romance of the characters that has become central to the commonality of the stories.
Another possibility is that Uber has now taken the form of a community focusing around romances with similar themes, featuring the idea of soulmates, destined to meet. These stories can be considered to have thus moved out of the realm of fanfic, while maintaining the tight community and "rules" for plot and character creation.
Fanfic as pastiche
There is also fan fiction in the form of independent, fan-produced pastiches and parodies of established works, including film and video. One of the best known is Troops, a parody of the reality television show Cops starring Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers on patrol. Another lesser known film is Batman: Dead End, by Sandy Collora. It's small, but creates an interesting scenario between Batman and the Joker, not to mention a crossover with two of the most unlikely series ever.
Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Rice Burroughs both have fan fiction pastiche communities. This tradition comes from the establishment of literary societies, dating back to the 1930s and 1940s. These societies attracted both professional and fan writers. They practice a semi-professional level of publication of fan fiction of a higher literary nature, both in print quality, community expectations and orientation.
Occasionally one may see stories in fanfic sites that do not fit the normal definition of fan fiction because they are not written by people who are fans of their subject matter; rather, they are written to ridicule the subject by somebody who dislikes the characters featured in the story. The act of ridiculing or mocking the a story's characters is often called "bashing". There does not seem to be an established term for such stories. An example would be a Lizzie McGuire fanfic story that has as its description "Why Lizzie is a Dumb Blonde".
A variant on this is the 'Anti-Fic', where the character(s) that the author dislikes are killed and/or maimed. While character death is often a part or sub-genre of Fanfic, in an Anti-Fic the deaths exist only so the author can express their dislike of the characters.
Note that not all deaths are intended to express hatred to a certain character by an author, as there are occasions where an author will "kill" a character that they favour in order to gain sympathy from the audience.
Also note that some hatefics are intended to express dislike to the entire fandom using any means, including the character death mentioned above. For example, a person who believes that the Harry Potter series promotes the occult will write a hatefic in which the characters promote the occult.
There are also fan-made machinima webseries such as Red vs Blue. Based on the Halo and Halo 2 video game series, it chronicles the encounters of two groups of soldiers, the Reds and the Blues. This series has won several awards, is popular on the internet and has seen three commercial DVD releases.
Extending the canon
Some invented facts or situations are used so frequently in fan fiction, that despite not being part of the original product, they are seen by fans as part of the canon. This is sometimes described as Fanon (fiction), .
Main article: MSTing
MSTings (Sometimes called MiSTings) are fanfics written in the style of the television show Mystery Science Theater 3000. They are not fanfics in the usual sense due to the nature of the show they are based on. The simplified premise of the show is that a man and some homemade robots trapped on a spaceship watch a bad movie sent to them by a mad scientist who tries to take over the world. The viewer sees the silhouettes of the movie's trapped audience making humorous comments over the film. For MSTings, instead of bad movies, the source is generally bad fan fiction, though other kinds of text have been used such as rants taken off USENET or e-mail spam. The jokes are generally pop culture references, but some are "observational riffs" that point out the flaws of the fanfic such as bad continuity, poor spelling and bad grammar, and in the case of screeds or rants, logical fallacies, straw man arguments, and ad-hominem attacks. "Observational riffs" are discouraged by some fans, but are nonetheless popular. A relatively well-known MSTing is one written by Adam Cadre concerning an original sword-and-sorcery fantasy, The Eye Of Argon by Jim Theis.
Generally speaking, MSTers follow a code of conduct, though some places such as Fandomination.net have MSTings which clearly violate these "rules." One of the least respected rules is that MSTing authors should always obtain permission from the author(s) of the fanfics that they are MSTing.
Fanfics starring the Mystery Science Theater 3000 characters in traditional narrative formats exist, but are in the minority.
Although MSTings originated as MST3K fanfics some people have used the MSTing format with an original cast instead of the MST3K characters. Mystery Octagon Theater, ImproFicRoast, Elmer Studios, and the Nancing Pony (see Nancing Pony) are some of the more well known writers of Non-Standard MSTings, as they are called.
Main article: Drabble
Drabbles are not exclusive to fanfiction, but they are common to fanfic. There is some debate over the exact meaning of the term (anything under 1000 words? anything under 500 words?), but the generally accepted definition is a story of exactly 100 words.
Most fanfiction sites have an option to where you can review. Negative reviews are called flames. Most reviewers ask to not have flames.
According to current U.S. copyright, copyright owners have the right to control or restrict the publishing of "derivative works" based on their material, though they do not receive ownership of those works. The owner of the original work (film, TV show, etc.) therefore may have some legal power over fan fiction, though the laws as written do not address the issue directly.
Since American copyright law specifically protects parody, and also includes a provision that the specifically protected categories are not necessarily the only protected categories, fan fiction remains in a legal gray area. But even without an official ruling on the legality of fan fiction, the owners of intellectual property can exert a great deal of influence on fans. For instance, a cease and desist letter from an entity with deep pockets exerts a great deal of influence on a single person who can scarcely afford legal representation. Conversely, the bad publicity and ill will generated by attacking one's own fan base can give even a large corporation second thoughts about conducting a legal campaign against fan writers.
It must also be noted that, separate from copyright issues, many characters in American television and film productions are also registered trademarks of the producing company. However, this only requires that fan fiction producers make certain that their work cannot be confused with the trademark holder, and does not claim to be endorsed or produced by them; it does not ban the use of a character any more than the registered trademark status of Coca-Cola prohibits its mention here. Most authors avoid legal trouble by including short disclaimers at the beginnings of stories or chapters.
Also, fan writers argue that their work does not cost the owner of the source material any income, and often acts as free promotion, while fan writers themselves earn no profit. Legally, copyright (and trademark) infringement can still occur even when the infringers do not profit; however, the non-profit nature of fan fiction is important legally, because it limits or eliminates the damages that a court could find and also makes possible some defense against claims of infringement under copyright fair use.
Most major studios and production companies tolerate fan fiction, and some even encourage it. Paramount, for example, has allowed the production of two series of Star Trek fan fiction anthologies, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, a series of seven anthologies of fan fiction selected by contest, and Bantam's Star Trek: The New Voyages which followed Bantam's Star Trek Lives by reprinting stories from various fanzines.
A noted exception is Lucasfilm, which has threatened or sued many sites precisely because of their non-commercial nature. Strangely, though, the company encourages fan-produced films, and once made available a small library of sound effects.
Most writers and producers do not read fan fiction, somewhat ironically, for fear that they might be accused of stealing a fan's ideas. But many encourage it: J. K. Rowling, for instance, says she loves fan fiction of all kinds, though she admits to finding some of the works to be 'quite bizzare'. Douglas Adams also reportedly appreciated fan fiction based on his works, to the extent that some would say that there are scenes in So Long, and Thanks For All the Fish that seem to be inspired by fan fiction.
Noteworthy in regard to acceptance of fan fiction is Eric Flint, who has set up a formal site for the submission of fan fiction into his canon in the 1632 series at Baen's Bar and has to date published five issues of the Grantville Gazette featuring fan fiction and fan-non-fiction alongside his original work. Flint contends that this allows the expansion of the alternate history universe into something approaching the complexity of reality.
Also noteworthy is the series of Darkover anthologies published by Marion Zimmer Bradley, beginning in 1980 consisting largely of fan fiction extended into her canon. The author eventually discontinued these after a skirmish with a fan, which cost Bradley a book. This incident led to a "zero tolerance" policy on the part of a number of professional authors, including Andre Norton, David Weber and Mercedes Lackey. Some television producers have implemented similar constraints, one example being Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski. His demand that Babylon 5 fan fiction be clearly labeled or kept off the net confined most of the Babylon 5 fan fiction community to mailing lists. The repercussions of this incident are still being felt to date.
Anne Rice also aggressively prevents any fan fiction of any of her characters (mostly those from her famous Interview with the Vampire book) or anything to do with any of her books. Other authors do this, they claim, in order to protect their intellectual copyright, and prevent any dilution, saturation and distortion of the universes and people portrayed in their works.
One curious case is that of Larry Niven's Known Space universe. In an author's note in The Ringworld Engineers, Niven stated that he was finished writing stories in this universe, and that "[i]f you want more Known Space stories, you'll have to write them yourself." Internet writer Elf Sternberg took him up on that offer, penning a parody in which members of Niven's hyper-masculine Kzin species engage in gay sex and BDSM.  Niven responded by denouncing Sternberg's story in the introduction to a later volume and issuing a cease-and-desist for copyright violation. To date, Sternberg holds that the story is constitutionally protected parody , while Niven maintains that it is a copyright violation (but has not legally pursued the matter further). 
In Russia, where copyright laws have been lax at best, it is not uncommon to see fan fiction based on the work of popular authors published in book form. Sergey Lukyanenko, a popular science fiction author, went as far as to incorporate some fan fiction based on his stories into official canon (with permission of the writers of the said fan fiction).
In the United States, tie-in novels have the curious status of officially sanctioned, for-profit fan fiction. Series from Star Trek to Buffy the Vampire Slayer have numerous books that exist outside the canonical world of the series, much like fan fiction, but which have the official sanction of the show's creators. The refusal by Paramount Pictures (owners of the Trek franchise) to allow printed adventures to be considered part of the canon has led many fans to consider the books to be fan fiction despite their legal and licensed status. The official Star Wars book series is part of the continuity of the Star Wars universe, and cannot strictly be considered fan fiction, either.
In Japan the writing and even sale of fan fiction (especially in the form of doujinshi) is totally legal, and in many cases encouraged. It is looked on, more often than not, as a form of advertising, a similar attitude to that developed by many sectors of the recording industry toward tape trading.
The attitude of copyright holders toward incorporating fan fiction into the canon varies. It is generally the case that the writers hired for a television or movie are under strict orders not to read fan fiction out of fear that doing so will cause the copyright holder to be sued later for infringement. However, some copyright holders such as the case of the BBC and Doctor Who have mechanisms to allow for unsolicited submissions of stories into the official canon, and it is also the case that the writers of canon stories have sometimes been recruited from fan fiction writers.
Fan fiction timelines
- 1968: The "Ring of Shoshern" was circulating privately in Great Britain. While it would not be published until 1989 by Alien Brothers, it may have originally been written as early as 1969 or 1970.Source
- 1970: Slash has begun to show up on the scene, in underground, distributed by hand stories. While these stories were not published in the Star Trek community for another four years, Henry Jenkins notes that the Star Trek fan fiction community initially greeted this material with stiff resistance. It would take many years before this material was viewed as broadly acceptable in the Star Trek community, with some fen going out of their way in an attempt to marginalize this material by sending copies to various actors whose characters were being portrayed as gay. In one case, a fan sent a piece of slash to William Shatner hoping the actor would crack down on the material. According to several sources, the author consulted his lawyer who told him to let it go as it would do more harm than good to go after it.
- 1970 to 1975: Henry Jenkins cited this period in the early 1970s as having a slash fan fiction community with 90% female composition. This trend of females being the large majority of slash readers and writers would continue well up until the present time.
- 1974: "A Fragment Out Of Time" is the first known Star Trek slash to be published in fanzine. The author was Diane Marchant. The vignette was published in Grup #3. The language was highly coded and didn't refer to Spock and Kirk by name but rather referred to them as he and him.
- 1975: In "Halkan Council," Diane Marchant published an essay about Star Trek Kirk/Spock slash. The first public discussion of this essay occurred in the Star Trek letterzine, ""Grup" #4." as a reaction to the essay written by Diane Marchant.
- 1975: Star Trek Lives!, editted and written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston, was published. This book contained a chapter at the end of the book which examines Star Trek fan fiction and the Kirk/Spock relationship in fan fiction. This book is important because that last chapter helped formed a lot of the modern thought on slash fan fiction communities. Scholars still cite this source today.
- 1976: According to the National Library of Australia, the Star Trek Action Committee was formed as a Star Trek Club. This Star Trek Club held its first meeting in April. Members included Susan Clarke, Julie Townsend and Edwina Harvey. This fanclub would publish the Star Trek adult fanzine, containing both het and slash, Beyond Antares.
- 1976: In June, "Alternative: Epilog to Orion" is written by G. Downes and published in a fanzine. It was the second piece of Kirk/Spock slash to appear.
- 1978: Thrust was the first Star Trek anthology fanzine published to contain only Kirk/Spock slash.
- 1980: Slash was discussed at a panel at Media West.
- 1980: The Starsky and Hutch community in England veers into the land of slash. This happened when “Forever Autumn” was published in March. According to Langley and K. S. Boyd, this type of content later caused a disruption in the community as members worried about the reaction of the actors, networks and producers to this material if fen were to publish slash zines. They feared that those parties would acquire these materials and begin a crackdown to prevent the proliferation of this material.
- 1980 to 1984: The Professionals (a UK spy TV show starring Martin Shaw and Lewis Collins) fan community starts up as a primarily slash based community.
- 1980: Led Zeppelin fan fiction was circulating in fanzines. The early zines used the names Tris and Alex instead of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. This material was being circulated with an awareness on the part of the parties involved and was slashy in nature.
- 1981: Slash was being discussed in the Star Trek fan fiction community, as was to how people preferred to view the Kirk-Spock-Bones relationship. Verba cited a survey which said most people preferred to see that relationship as a friendship.
- 1984: Archives from net.startrek during that period show that discussion of slash, referenced as K&S instead of the current convention of K/S to refer to the Kirk/Spock relationship, was happening on the group, along with advertisements for various Star Trek fanzines.
- 1985: The term, slash, is used for the first time in the fanzine "Night Tonight, Spock."
- 1986: One of the first pieces of femmeslash was published this year. It appeared in the Women’s List 2. The story was a Star Trek story where Saavik went into pon far and started a relationship with a female Romulan physican. The story was written by Ouida Crozier.
- 1987: Based on analysis of Datazine by Verba, slash was beginning to occupy a large part of the Star Trek community. Datazine 48 listed 47 non-Kirk/Spock zines compared to 30 Kirk/Spock zines. Verba did another analysis Universal Translator. She found 144 non-Kirk/Spock fanzines compared to 58 Kirk/Spock fanzines.
- 1989: In the Eroica fan fiction community, Caged Flight 1: Le Coq d'Or was written by BT. It was slash. Sequels were published in 1992, 1993 and 1994. It was some of the earliest fan fiction written in this community.
- 1990: Slash appeared on-line this year in one of the first references to be found. This reference happened on Usenet in the Star Trek community. The reference was found in rec.arts.startrek’s FAQ.
- 1993: First slash mailing list created, run from a private list-serv on the East Coast. It was called "Virgule" (a reference to the / symbol) and membership was limited to women. It remained active through the 1990s, until more fandom specific slash mailing lists on Egroups and Yahoogroups became popular.
- 1995: Seven slash stories were posted to alt.tv.x-files.creative.
- 1996: On April 16, Michael Demcio's "Rhyme and Reason," premieres as the first Rescue Ranger fan fiction on Usenet. It was the first novel-length Ranger story, and the first story to explore the possibilities of the Chip/Gadget relationship, the first to provide real character development for any of the characters.
- 1996: Bambi was published. This was a slash zine about the Guns N Roses member, Slash.
- 1996: The X-Files fan fiction community begins to become more Mulder/Scully Romance centered and the subgenre being a dominant force in the organization of the community. At the same time that this is happening, the slash component, largely marginalized and kept separate from the bigger archives and alt.tv.x-files.creative, begins to form and grow. On July 31, Brenda Antrim's "Krychek" was the first piece of Mulder/Krycek slash, and between October and December, the Mulder/Krycek Romantics Association and the Mulder/Skinner Slash Society were created. These three events would be very influential in the X-Files slash fan fiction community.
- 1997: In December, slash reaches a critical mass in the X-Files fan fiction community.
- 1997: alt.fan.disney.afternoon discusses the merits of a Chip/Gadget relationship. This discussion leads to bitterness on both sides of the argument.
- 1998: On March 12, Sofie Werkers founded the Rareslash mailing list.
- 1998: On Alt.Startrek.Creative.Erotica.Moderated, related dialogue involves the issue of if slash and het need to be rated differently.
- 1998: The term, chick with a dick, enters fannish usage through the site God Awful Trek Fic. The term, used deragoatoryly, refered to male characters being written effiminately in male/male pairings in order to put traditional male/female gender roles on the same sex pairing.
- 1999: In September, Least Expected, the first Lord of the Rings slash archive, was founded.
- 1999: On May 19, the Master and Apprentice archive was founded at http://www.sockiipress.org/ma/index.html . Currently, this archive is the largest archive of Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon on the Internet with over 2,400 stories archived. This archive was also important in that it seems to have set the trend of writing stories based on media BEFORE the media hits the public.
- 1999: “Letters over the Sea,” one of the first pieces of slash published to the Internet and one of the more influential stories in the Lord of the Rings slash community, was published. It featured the Sam/Frodo pairing and was written by Gytha and Prembone.
- 2000: ER Realms of Slash was founded.
- 2000: RS-X, the Rare Slash Real Person Fic mailing list, was founded by Sofie Werkes.
- 2000: Citizens Against Bad Slash was around and giving awards in various communities along with promoting dialogue on how to write good slash.
- 2000: Willtara, a mailing list, was founded on January 30 of this year. It was created for the discussion of and posting of fan fiction related to the female/female slash pairing of Willow/Tara.
- 2000: On February 3, the hpslash mailing list was founded.
- 2000: In October, JayJay proposed the idea for the Snape Slash Fleet on the snapeslash mailing list.
- 2000: On November 2, the snapeslash mailing list was created.
- 2000: In December, the Snape Slash Fleet was founded. The Fleet connected seven sites for seven different Snape slash pairings. These sites and their pairings were: Black and Silver: Severus/Malfoys, Slug & Jiggers Apothecary: the Snape/Rareslash Ship site, King of Cups, Knave of Pentacles: Severus/Neville, Moonshadow: Severus/Remus, The Headmaster's Study: Severus/Albus, Thin Line: Severus/Sirius, Walking the Plank: Severus/Harry and The Snape/Weasleys Archive.
- 2001: The Blink 182 slash fan fiction community based at FanFiction.Net was producing early and influential works in the community. Among these works are Advantages of Alcohol, Letters After Death, In my Room, Defying Gravity, and Deafening.
- 2001: On July 28, the BibleSlash mailing list was created.
- 2001: On March 25, the hpslash community was founded on LiveJournal.
- 2002: On June 1, Armchair_slash, a mailing list for Harry/Draco fan fiction discussion, was founded.
- 2002: In November, the harry_potter_slash mailing list was founded. This list saw its volume peak in December of 2004.
- 2002: On December 12, the harrypottermpreg mailing list was founded. This community’s volume peaked around March/April of 2004.
- 2002: On May 15, slashpuppets was founded. It was one of the first, possibly the first, LotR RPS role playing community.
- 2003: XanderZone, a mailing list, was founded on March 17 of this year. It was created for the discussion and posting of Xander related fan fiction. Slash fic was and is not tolerated on the list.
- 2003: In January, the first Harry Potter slash zine was published.
- 2003: On March 17, the LiveJournal community hp_girlslash was founded.
- 2003: A search for “Harry Potter slash” on Google resulted in over 70,000 pages.
- 2004: On February 2, Blink_Slash, a LiveJournal Blink 182 slash community, was founded.
- 2004: On July 24, matag, a LiveJournal Blink 182 slash community, was founded.
- 2005: In March, skyehawke dot com, a generalist fan fiction archive with a large Harry Potter user base, banned all fan fiction with chan, that is fan fiction featuring minors engaged in sex acts, from their site. This was done after research revealed that Australian laws make the publication of such material illegal.
- 2005: On May 11, FicWad.com, a slash-friendly multi-fandom archive was launched. This was done after research revealed that FicWad.com wasn't in Australia.
Real Person fan fiction timeline
The following is a timeline of events in the Real Person Fan fiction community:
- From 1977 to 1983, Led Zeppelin fan fiction begins to circulate in fanzines. The early zines used the names Tris and Alex instead of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.
- During the 1980s, some ActorFic involving Paul Darrow (of Blake's 7) existed.
- 1991 - Duran Duran slash and het fic circulated in fanzines. According to Sidewinder, Duran Duran zine people said that Duran Duran were aware of the fan fiction. Sidewinder also notes that the RPF people at the time did not seem to come from the same community as "traditional fan fiction fans" were coming from.
- March, 1993 - The Nifty Archive came on-line. It is well known in fan fiction fandoms as a repository of boy band and celeb erotica.
- July 14, 1997 - The first Hanson fan fiction is written and posted to the Internet. It is titled "Hanson & Hugo" and was written by Ghostman 7 productions.
- October 15, 1998 - FanFiction.Net enacts a policy forbidding ActorSlash. The Musician and other real person fic categories continue.
- In January, an influential RPS discussion takes place on Rareslash mailing list, the list run by Sofie Werks. The discussion involved whether or not RPS should be allowed to be posted to the list.
- April 7 - Bindlestitch, a mailing list on Due South was created as an RPF-friendly location for the following RPS communities: due South, Hard Core Logo and Last Night.
- Between June and November, FFN-Slashers-Unites discussed the ethical implications of Real Person Slash.
- In July, alt.fan.david-duchovny debated actorfic, the ethics of it and why people felt compelled to write it.
- In December, Puppies in a Box, an *NSYNC fan fiction site, went live. This site was apparently very important in the history of the *NSYNC fan fiction community. The site is now defunct.
- [Summer]] FictionAlley.org founded to host Harry Potter fanfic rated G through R.
- July 28 - BibleSlash mailing list was created.
- Between December 19 and December 28, the tolkien_slash mailing list on Yahoo! discussed the slashy subtext between the actors in the movie. Subsequently on December 28, LOTR_RPS was created. It was one of the first or the first LotR RPF communities.
- May 15 - slashpuppets was founded. It was one of the first, possibly the first, LotR RPS role playing community.
- September 12 - FanFiction.Net removes all Real Person Fic from the site and bans all Real Person Fic that does not tie in to other media directly. They remove Musicians as a top level category. During the same period that they ban Real Person Fic, they still allow for RPF in categories like Diaries of Anne Frank, Survivor and Celebrity Death Match.
- March, alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer.creative discusses the legalities of actorfic.
- April 12, idolslash, one of the most influential American Idol fan fiction communities, was founded on LiveJournal.
- May 5 - current_affairs, a LiveJournal community for political slash, was created.
- July 23 - AFI_Slash livejournal community was created. It claims to be the first and only community. It should be noted that this community is small and FanDomination.Net has most stories and authors than this community.
- Between July and November, political slash went mainstream in the RPF community when John Kerry/John Edwards slash becomes all the rage.
- July 6 - johnxjohn, the Kerry/Edwards RPF LiveJournal community, was created.
Timeline of Mary Sue
- 1973: While Star Trek fan fiction had a number of stories featuring this type of character, it was not until 1973 that a name was given to the annoying writing convention involving that ubiquitous original female character who became involved with one of men of Star Trek. She would be named by Paula Smith in the Star Trek fanzine Menagerie #2. The story was titled "A Trekkie’s Tale." If you are interested in reading the story, it is reprinted in Verba’s Bold Writing. Paula Smith would go on to write several sequels to this story. This name and the character traits attributed to the character would stay with the fan fiction community for many years.
- 1974: "The Misfit (A Star Trek Romance)" by Sharon Emily is an example of an early story with a Mary Sue type character.
- 1975: "Double Double Toil and Trouble" by Nickkee Grayson is another example of an early Mary Sue that was published this year in the Star Trek fan fiction community.
- 1975: By 1975, the discussion regarding Mary Sue had begun. According to Verba, Paula Smith criticized a story that had been published in an issue of Warped Space. The criticism was because Paula Smith felt the story contained a Mary Sue. The Star Trek fandom did what we do in modern fan fiction culture: it kerfluffled over the issue of if fan fiction should be criticized. There were two sides to this argument. One said that fan fiction should be held up to the same standards as professionally written work and was worthy of the same type of analysis as other literary works; the other side said, wait, no, this is for fun and we should not criticize it. The end result of this discussion was that a number of fanzines refused to publish anything but positive reviews of other zines and pieces of fan fiction.
- 1978: "Pasadena Blue" by Paula Block is another example of an early Mary Sue. This story was published this year in the Star Trek community.
- 1980: Frustrated Star Trek fan fiction writer Virginia Zanello wrote story called “Side Trip” which answered the question of how would the crew of Enterprise act if an actual Mary Sue showed up on the ship. (Verba) This indicated a sense of Mary Sue fatigue happening in the Star Trek community.
- 1980 to 1988: The Blake’s 7 fan fiction community, based out of Australia, was going through a phase that other communities had gone through before. This period involved the writing of Mary Sues, with these stories being published in a number of fanzines. This phase would last several years. These Mary Sues were frequently paired with Travis as their primary love interest.
- 1982: In November, in the Blake's fan fiction community, “The Price of Freedom,” by Sylvia White, was published in Orbit #1. According to Sarah Berry, this was one of “the world's longest Mary Sues.”
- 1983: “Marisoo Tudewesque” by Sharon Macy was published. This story was another piece of satire, further mocking the Mary Sue type stories in the Star Trek community.
- 1985: Mary Sue begins to cross various fannish lines. One of the first references to her, using the definition established by Paula Smith on-line happened on Usenet. This term has also crossed fannish communities and is being used in the comic book fan fiction community.
- 1990: Mary Sue, where are you? This is an observation made on rec.art.startrek by Bob Mosley III. He noted that Mary Sue has been noticeably absent in the posting of fan fiction to the group. No posts prior to this mention her. This stands out given that there are very few other references to Mary Sue on Usenet prior to this date. Various zine communities had been struggling with Mary Sue for sometime but this was fan space where it was not an issue.
- 1996 to 1997: During this period, a long debate broke out on HLFIC-L in regard to the male version of Mary Sue. The debate asked the question of whether it was possible to have a male Mary Sue. After some consensus was reached that this was possible, the list reached another general consensus as to call this particular fannish animal. The name they arrived at: Marty Sam.
- 1998: The “Thundercats Mary Sue Litmus Test” was written.
- 1999: "The Labyrinth Mary Sue Litmus Test” was created by Alexa Close on July 30, 1999.
- 2000: The Protectors of the Plot Continuum are formed by Jay and Acacia to protest the influx of poorly written fanfiction and Mary Sues on the internet.
- 2000: Priscilla Spencer wrote the “Harry Potter Mary Sue Litmus Test.”
- 2001: In March, the “Sentinel Mary Sue Litmus Test” was created.
- 2002: “The Gatchaman Mary Sue Litmus Test” was created by Emby Quinn.
- 2002: By 2002, the definition of Mary Sue began to change as Mary Sue became further and further removed from her roots. In communities like Harry Potter and Good Charlotte, on sites like SugarQuill and FanDomination.Net, the community took their understanding of Mary Sue, which was filtered through several layers of various fen, and came to a new understanding. This understanding began to define almost every original character in fiction as a Mary Sue as they all could be said to have traits of Mary Sue. In communities where there was a distinct absence of canonical female characters and people, in communities like Mest and Good Charlotte, Mary Sue began to be defined as any original female character in fan fiction.
- 2002: The “Lord of the Rings Mary Sue Litmus Test” was written.
- 2002 to 2003: SugarQuill held a discussion regarding Mary Sue which started the trend of defining almost every original character in Harry Potter fan fiction as a Mary Sue.
- 2003: The “Inuyasha Mary Sue Litmus Test” was created by Mette Krangnes on April 23 of this year.
- 2003: In this year, various articles were written in the Les Misérables community about Mary Sue and some of the problems regarding her that were happening in the community.
- Collaborative fiction
- Shared universe
- Timeline of Harry Potter fan fiction
Fanfiction for several fandoms
- FicWad.Com An archive for many fandoms and original fiction. NC-17 allowed. Innovative story rating and filtering system.
- FanFiction.Net The biggest fanfiction site on the web. (No adult content allowed)
- AdultFanfiction.Net The biggest R and NC-17 fanfiction site on the web.
- Godawful Fan Fiction - The worst fan fiction on the web or your money back.
- Fanworks Inc
- Fan-Fics 'R' Us
- Fanfiction Directory - A directory for fanfiction websites.
- Blissful Ignorance - Anime fanfiction portal
- Freedom of Speech fanfiction
- Fan Fiction WikiCity - fan fiction in a wiki environment
- skyehawke dot com - Australian-based archive for multiple fandoms and original fiction where membership is awarded to authors of accomplished works.
- Keshi Freak and Other Random Things! A site dedicated to fanfictions from TV programs and PlayStation games
- The Distant Star: Amateur Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature Community
- Writing.com - A collection of all kinds of written works, original and fanfiction.
- Aussie Fanfic A forum for those who share a love for both Australian television and fanfiction.
- [www.jlaunlimited.com] - web site dedicated to fanfiction based on DC Superheroes/Justice League Unlimited
International Sites (non-English)
- Fanfiction Paradies Multifandom, German. All stories are betaread, so maybe suitable for people learning German.
- Fanfik.Pl The biggest Polish fanfiction site (all fics in Polish)
- Neon Genesis Evangelion Fanfiction Site dedicated to the fanfiction of the Anime Neon Genesis Evangelion in Spanish, authors in Spanish and translations of English, including Evangelion-R in Spanish.
Fanfiction for specific fandoms
- Ariasink for Sailor Moon fanfiction.
- ASMR (Moonromance.net) for fanfiction.
- The Misfits Fanfiction - based on Dragon Ball Z
- EvaFics.Org - Neon Genesis Evangelion fan fiction
- The Penultimate Ranma Fanfic Index - Ranma ½ fanfiction.
- Temple of Ranma's Senshi Seifuku - Ranma ½ fanfiction with significant elements of Sailor Moon fanfiction
- Tenchi Muyo Fan Fiction Archive
- Touka Koukan for Fullmetal Alchemist fanfiction.
- Suburban Senshi IRC - Comedy and drama fanfiction based primarily in the Sailor Moon universe, but also including elements of Doctor Who, Sakura Taisen, Dragon Ball, and others.
- Animespiral-Archive for many different animes
- Parley! - Pirates of the Caribbean fanfiction.
- Star wreck -In the Pirkinning - Star Trek fanfiction.
- The Seventh Dimension Highlander Fan Fiction Archive for Highlander fanfiction.
- The League of Extraordinary Fanfiction for League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fanfiction.
- Aria - A collection of Phantom of the Opera FanFiction based on the movie, book, and play.
- Bay City Library - Starsky and Hutch gen fanfiction
- Bite Me... Please? for Willow - centric Buffy fanfiction.
- The BtVS Writers' Guild - for Buffy fanfiction.
- Twisting the Hellmouth for Buffy crossover fanfiction.
- National LIbrary Largest database of West Wing fan fiction.
- NewsRadio FanFic Archive fan fiction based on the TV series NewsRadio
- Outpost Daria - Daria fanfiction, fanart, and downloads.
- Quadrant Delta - Joint interactive fanfic set in the Star Trek universe.
- TellTale Stories - Virtual Season 6 of Angel
- The OC Fiction - The OC gen- and het-centered fanfiction community.
- The OC Slash - The OC slash-centered fanfiction community.
- The Gossamer Project - The X-Files An extensive fanfiction archive with regular updates.
- The Academy of Bards - The Academy of Bards Large collection of Xena: Warrior Princess related fanfic covering the general, alternative and uber genres.
- Virtual Star Trek - A collection of script-based series set in the Star Trek universe.
- Tracy Island Chronicles - Comprehensive Thunderbirds fanfiction of all descriptions, maintained by huge fans of the original 1960s TV series.
- The FFNetMetalGear Forums - Action (Metal Gear etc) Fanfiction discussion
- The Domain of Netraptor - G-rated Sonic the hedgehog fanfiction
- IcyBrian's RPG Page - RPG (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy, etc) fanfiction and discussion.
- VGStories A small fan fiction website based on popular video game series
- Shattered Enigma Fan fiction and fan art for Blizzard Entertainment games
- The Golden Sun Fan Fiction Archive A growing fan fiction website based on the (Golden Sun) series of video games
- Red vs Blue Popular internet machinima series based on the more popular games: Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2
- Fiction Felicis
- Harry Potter Fan Fiction
- MuggleNet Fan Fiction fanfiction and discussion.
- FictionAlley - Harry Potter fanfiction and discussion, plus fanart and fan essays. The largest Harry Potter-specific fanwork archive
- The Sugar Quill - One of the oldest dedicated Harry Potter fanfiction sites, with fanfiction, fanart, and discussion. The Sugar Quill focuses on the canonical books, and on improving writing skills.
- La Société des Femmes Dangereuses
- Sycophant Hex - several Harry Potter fanfiction archives dedicated to certain pairings or constellations.
- Portkey - The largest Harry/Hermione Shipper site out there.
- The Unknowable Room - Harry Potter fanfiction without censorship.
- Henneth Annûn Story Archive: Lord of the Rings Moderated fanfiction archive.
- The Library of Moria: Lord of the Rings Slash fanfiction.