Book: ‘fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World’
Posted by VersusTheFans
Literary professor and fanfiction aficionado, Anne Jamison has taken on the wide world of fanfiction in her comprehensive volume, fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World. Covering topics such as its history, publishing and the current (2013) scope of fanficition, this collection is fairly accessible and easy to read–largely absent of pretentious academic jargon. In other words, at the end, fanfiction still sounds like community-based pleasurable reading and writing activity it is, thanks to Jamison’s obvious appreciation for and participation in fan culture.
The largest strength of this volume, aside from the positive and intelligent light Jamison sheds on the fanficition community, is the inclusion of essays from fanfic writers themselves across multiple fandoms. This includes Big Name Fans and Authors and others from Harry Potter, Twilight, Sherlock, Supernatural, Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more. The voices of women–the large majority of fanficition writers–are well represented and respected. These are people in the fandom trenches telling it like it is.
Disappointingly, there is no discussion about fanficition by and for queer women. There is plenty of discussion about slash (shipping of two male characters), largely written by and for women fans, but nary a mention about queer women. In such a large collection of essays, it would have been thoughtful, helpful and inclusive to include some discussion about the shipping of women characters. Femslash, if you will.
In the very last section of the book about conceptual writing (which can really be skipped), and the very last entry, Amber Benson’s (Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as well as a writer and director) makes an appearance via essay. Even here, despite Benson’s past portrayal of a very visible lesbian TV character, there is hardly any mention of queer women, though Benson does remark she helped write some Willow/Tara interactions for an official Buffy comic book series.
The omission and erasure of queer women in fandom while (male)slash is well represented sadly mirrors what often happens in fandom and in culture at large–the erasure of queer women characters and fans. In addition, a single essay about fans and characters of color also hardly seems enough, a point Jamison acknowledges in the preface to the essay.
Overall, the history of fanfiction and reading about different fandoms creates a larger sense of understanding about adjacent fan communities–ones we may never set foot in–yet are part of the larger fandom culture. The volume is well-written and researched, and the inclusion of fan writers across a wide spectrum of fan bases and opinions presents a fairly comprehensive picture for any member of fandom with academic curiosity about all that glorious fanficition.
Editor’s Correction: An overlooked essay in fic:Why Fanficition is Taking Over the World dedicates expert space shared between femslash and hetero fanfiction in the X-Files fandom. While more discussion on queer women and femslash/canon queer women would be lovely, the initial review was incorrect in asserting it was not addressed at all in the volume.