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Fanfiction authors have dreamed up countless sequels, prequels, and re-imaginations, riffing on a previously established universe (such as that of Star Trek, shown here), often sharing in online forums.Because fanfiction takes an interest in sex, gender, and politics—and because it critiques or reworks the source text, transforming characters and settings into different or minority iterations of themselves—it is by its very nature provocative, transgressive, and challenging. Both Rowling and Twilight’s Stephenie Meyer have broken ground in encouraging their readers to write and share stories set in their worlds, and both franchises rank near the top of the list when it comes to the most fanfiction.
We’re merely doing it in a modern context, in our own free time and for no money or fame, because we love the story and want more of it.Adaptations, illustrations, and reinterpretations of stories have existed as long as stories themselves. Then movies, television, tentpole franchises, and the internet came along, and everything was up for grabs.Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper is “Bible fanart,” and Milton’s Paradise Lost is “Bible fanfiction.” Shakespeare borrowed from countless other authors. Nearly everything in popular media right now is somehow based on pre-existing work (how many reboots is Hollywood making? ABC’s Once Upon a Time uses Disney/classic fairytale and literary characters, FOX’s Lucifer spins on Paradise Lost and the Bible, and Starz’s Black Sails is a prequel to Treasure Island—and this is to name only three shows that I have watched and written fanfiction about.As Game of Thrones looks to its eighth season, the show—strictly speaking—is no longer filming the books of George R. But as the show has passed the timeline covered in the published novels, it is writing its own narrative without the need to reference a pre-existing canon. Of course, it is still using the characters, world, and settings that Martin established (though its sometimes-drastic departures from the source material have been the cause of controversy before).Everyone can be both creator and consumer of fanfiction, offer their own take and theories on the material, and all contributions have the chance to be considered equally. An overwhelming majority of fan authors are women, and you only need to be a conscious person in the world to know how it goes when we try to play with the boys’ toys, or have any assertive online presence at all.A mob of white men with Twitter accounts are ready to magically disprove the existence of sexism at the drop of a hat, and when you add racism, religion, queerness, and other factors, it becomes even more fraught.From John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (published in 1667) to Game of Thrones (and many more examples) in the present, fanfiction has formed a fundamental part of our creative experience, and will only do more so in the future.In its simplest definition, contemporary fanfiction is the act of creating stories using the settings, plot elements, subtexts, and characters of a previously established fictional universe—from television, video games, movies, musicals, books, comics, or other sources.It can take the form of anything from brief imaginative snippets, to missing scenes of a TV episode, to standalone book-length works that are written as well as, or better than, many published novels—and all available for free.It is posted and circulated on dedicated fanfiction sites such as Tumblr.