Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World
By Anne Jamison
Foreward by Lev Grossman
Essays by Cyndy Aleo, V. Arrow, Tish Beaty, Brad Bell, Amber Benson, Peter Berg, Kristina Busse, Rachel Caine, Francesca Coppa, Randi Flanagan, Jolie Fontenot, Wendy C. Fries, Ron Hogan, Bethan Jones, Christina Lauren, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Samira Nadkarni, Rukmini Pande, Chris Rankin, Tiffany Reisz, Andy Sawyer, Andrew Shaffer, Heidi Tandy, Darren Wershler, Jules Wilkinson, Jen Zern
Available now from Smart Pop (BenBella)
Based on the long list of names above, I assumed that FIC: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World was a collection of academic essays edited by Anne Jamison. But no, it is a long scholarly work by Anne Jamison with periodic short essays by other people with various perspectives on fandom has a whole.
FIC is divided into sections based on several megafandoms. The first four, on Sherlock, Star Trek, Buffy, and the X-Files, are fairly well done. Sherlock and Star Trek both cover a great deal of pre-internet fanfiction, while Buffy and the X-Files cover the beginning of fic on the internet. The Harry Potter and Twilight sections are shakier. I felt that Harry Potter went by quicker than the other sections, and glossed over some things. Jamison glosses over Cassandra Claire's plagiarism (the most important being several pages of Pamela Dean's writing), trying to make it just a game and pulling out the old fic is basically plagiarism anyway. (It isn't.) There's an essay from Heidi8/Heidi Tandy that presents her as a totally reliable point of view instead of a figure frequently at the heart of controversy.
Then we get to Twilight. Jamison is clearly too close to the fandom to really give a good portrait. She is very clearly in favor of pull-to-publish, or P2P. The other side of the argument is given short shrift in favor of several essays by people who agree with Jamison's point of view. In fact, the authors of BEAUTIFUL BASTARD get an essay together in addition to individual essays.
But I must say that the essays are the best part of FIC. The essay authors make fewer pretenses about their biases and only focus on the narrow aspects of fandom that they are experts in. Jamison shows some of her ignorance just by what she chooses to include. Her megafandoms only include Western sources. The only fandoms represented are literature, television, and film. And why not throw in some discussion of small-to-medium fandoms? I read this book in December as Yuletide was happening. Now there's a big event that shows a wonderful slice of small fandoms all at once, albeit also mostly Western focused.
I was quite disappointed in FIC. I'm all for people taking a scholarly approach to fandom. But this is quite slipshod. The style isn't that great, either. The Sherlock section constantly makes reference to a fic that isn't excerpted. Am I supposed to stop reading FIC and track down this story and read it before continuing? As for when Jamison does excerpt fics, her glowing introductions generally leave me with secondhand embarrassment. Don't tell me that a fairly pedestrian set of sentences are going to totally make me see Edward and Bella in a new postmodern sex positive light.
There's some interesting history in here. But take Jamison's point of view with a grain of salt.