The Stories We (Re)Write

There are a few things I need to tell you before we begin this discussion.

  1. I like science fiction. I may have already mentioned this on occasion in this blog. Anyway the takeaway here is that I’ll give pretty much any sci-fi a watch, if it has a couple interesting ideas, even if it’s cheesy. On a related note I haven’t finished all of Star Wars yet and have barely started with Star Trek but the legacy they carry is exhausting, so bear with me.
  2. I like reading sci fi. See 1).
  3. I also like reading fanfiction.

Whew. That felt like a serial murder confession. No, it’s not that bad, obviously, but the idea of fanfic has gained an awful reputation because of things like Fifty Shades and Twilight. Also, it’s been said to suck because sometimes it really does suck, magnificently so. Please see My Immortal for reference. I don’t know who linked me to it, but it’s pure gold.

However, the point is, there’s actually some really good stuff out there. It’s well-written, nuanced, has at least a semblance of a plot, takes the characters and situations and reassembles them in a way that’s a) believable to the universe it inhabits, and b) extrapolates from it, imaginatively.

Yes, fine, I can hear you thinking, but why the hell would you read additional material about material that already exists and is copyrighted? 

Because, sometimes, the original canon practically demands it.

Let’s talk Harry Potter.

J. K. Rowling built a deservedly-beloved world inhabited by a host of creatures and mythologies which were partly invented completely by herself and partly adapted from other canons of legends. Some of her characters are honestly great. Some took a while to come into their own. Some never really did it for me (like, say, Harry himself). But she left so much unsaid, so much implied, that fanfiction came rushing into the void to fill it.

Okay, right, admittedly a lot of fanfiction begins with the desire to hook up, I dunno, Filch and Bellatrix Lestrange or whatever, so a lot of it is overt wish fulfillment. And let’s not even get started on the alternate universe fanfics because that takes the previously mentioned wish fulfillment to a whole other universe level (sorry).

But some of it, though? Some of that fiction made genuine and frankly impressive attempts to extend the universe and play with it. How does magic actually work in this reality? Where does magical theory come from? What are the possible avenues of non-bumbling, daily interaction with magical and non-magical folk? Like, what the hell was Muggle Britain doing while a creepy-eyed dude with a missing nose terrorized a significant proportion of its people? (Maybe that’s already been answered and someone who’s on Mugglenet can tell me.) Do the kids ever learn anything beyond basic trig and grammar at age 10 before they’re pulled out of math and into potions? Why the hell is everything so dangerous all the time? And so on.

Rowling didn’t need to answer these questions; I sometimes feel she shouldn’t be. Why should she? Or at least if she knows the answers there’s no need to tell us that. Yeah, it sounds like I’m delusional and want to remain that way, but hey, you know what? If she can makes stuff up, so can everyone else. And part of the fun of reading, of actually looking at words on a page, is being able to re-interpret the words into something that we can recognize inside our own heads.

Don’t tell me the movies didn’t take some liberties. Because they did.

(Did that sound like a sore spot for me? Maybe a little? Okay, fine.)

What does this have to do with sci-fi, you ask? I can’t tell you because about I’m about to fall asleep, but tomorrow, we shall talk a little about Torchwood and my relationship with fanfiction in that particular arena.


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