10 Published Fanfiction Books That Aren’t Terrible

31 Aug


If you didn’t know, fanfiction refers to works by fans of television shows, movies, books etc. that use the source material’s storylines, characters or world to create a new work of fiction. It’s a generally overlooked sub-genre in literature – and perhaps rightly so. According to The Guardian:

Fanfic is seen as the lowest point we’ve reached in the history of culture – it’s crass, sycophantic, celebrity-obsessed, naive, badly written, derivative, consumerist, unoriginal – anti-original.

Fanfiction comprises one third of all content about books online. But you might not know that many, many works of fanfiction have actually become published novels or even entire series in their own right. I’m not talking about books like ‘The Hours’, or ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, or even ‘Ulysses’. These are derivative works but not really fanfic. Books like ‘Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters’ or ‘Android Karenina’ don’t really fit the bill either, as they contain most of the original source text.

Good fanfic should take an author’s fictional universe and tell us something completely different. Here are 10 examples that you should definitely check out before dismissing fanfiction entirely.

1. ‘Wide Sargasso Sea‘ by Jean Rhys

In my humble opinion, Jean Rhys is one of the most underrated writers who has ever lived. With ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, she aimed to give voice to, and humanise, the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Bronte’s ‘Jane Eyre’. However, Rhys remained characteristically unimpressed by the critical adulation that followed her belated ascent to literary fame, commenting: “It has come too late”.

2. ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ‘ by Philip Pullman

Pullman manages to say something new about who this (these) character (characters) of Jesus was (were), and asks questions that will resonate long after the book has been read. Also see: The Bible. That’s right. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were nonprofessional writers retelling the same story of the same character. Therefore, fanfiction’d!

war3. ‘Edison’s Conquest of Mars‘ by Garrett P Serviss

Lets take a look at a quote from this Cracked article:

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is credited as one of the most influential science fiction books ever written, having introduced ideas like super-advanced aliens coming to Earth and said aliens hating the shit out of us and trying to wipe us out. Even though it was published as a novel all the way back in 1898, it’s seen as the blueprint for every alien invasion blockbuster released more than a century later. […] In the same year, a writer named Garrett P. Serviss crapped out an unauthorized sequel to Wells’ book called Edison’s Conquest of Mars, in which famed inventor Thomas Edison turns the tables on the aliens from The War of the Worlds by flying to Mars and killing all of them with his revenge boner — it’s the Victorian-era equivalent of shameless straight-to-DVD crapfests like Transmorphers and Titanic II.

It turns out that this unauthorised fan sequel was one of the most revolutionary sci-fi novels ever written. Figures.

4. ‘And Another Thing…‘ by Eoin Colfer

Part six of three. This ‘sequel’ to Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series was commissioned with the support of Jane Belson, Adams’ widow. It was penned by ‘Artemis Fowl‘ author Eoin Colfer. I think the consensus is that it’s a pretty fitting tribute.

5. ‘The Testament of Cresseid‘ by Robert Henryson

This is a very early form of fanfiction. The story is based on Chaucer’s ‘Troilus and Criseyde‘, and like most fanfic, it seeks to elaborate on narrative gaps in the original work.

james6. The James Potter series by George Normal Lippert

The James Potter series is REALLY GOOD! Yeah! It explores the Harry Potter universe with fresh new eyes, and plenty of excitement. I’ve been reading it on my iPhone, though, which I would not really recommend. You can find most of the books online for free (as fanfiction should be, really).

7. ‘City of Bones‘ by Cassandra Clare

There’s a little thing in the literary/fanfiction crossover universe called “pulled to publish” (P2P). This is when an author takes their work offline to publish it for a profit. (There are many discussions online as to whether or not this practise is ethical and I’m not going to discuss it here.)

I haven’t read City of Bones, but I’m very aware that Cassandra Clare used to write very popular Harry Potter fanfiction – namely ‘Very Secret Diaries’ and ‘The Draco Trilogy’. These are both no longer available online. Now, I haven’t read ‘City of Bones’ yet, but I can guess who the male protagonist is based on! (So can this review.)

8. ‘The Submissive‘ by Tara Sue Me

Allegedly, this is the original fanfic which E.L. James stole most of her ideas for ’50 Shades of Grey’ that weren’t ripped directly from ‘Twilight‘. Read this if you don’t want to read ’50 Shades of Grey’, I guess. Or ‘Twilight’.

9. ‘The Aeneid‘ by Virgil

According to one reader:

I’m a huge fan of propaganda, but I think I may not be a fan of fan fic. I was going into this with the hope that it would be fun, extreme, Latin propaganda, but The Aeneid is really more Trojan War fan fic, IMO. It’s the Phantom Menace to The Iliad’s Empire Strikes Back. It is seriously lame. I think Akira Kurosawa could have made a pretty decent movie of it because he likes to have people frenzy. There’s a lot of frenzying here. The dudes are all chest pound, blooooood, and the chicks are all hair pull, frenzy, waaaaaail. And Aeneas is such a dweeb about the name-dropping. Like, “Oh, did I mention that Venus is my mom? Oh, did I tell you how freaking hot I am? Yeah, I was totally there when Odysseus scammed the Cyclops.” Give me a freaking break. Did you scam the Cyclops? No. Get over yourself.

Screen Shot 2013-08-28 at 23.57.14

Sorry reviewer, you’ve accidentally made it sound awesome!

10. ‘Lost Girls‘ by Alan Moore

This is what we call a ‘slash’ ‘crossover’. In this universe, Dorothy, Alice and Wendy all hangout in a hotel for a smutty few days. I think Alan Moore just wanted to make a graphic novel that would never in 1000 years be made into a Hollywood blockbuster…

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