May 17, 2017

The World of Fan Fiction: Harry Potter Lives Again

The World of Fan Fiction: Harry Potter Lives Again

When I finally realized that J. K. Rowling probably wouldn’t be writing any more Harry Potter books, it took me awhile to learn that Harry Potter would live again. An introduction to the ever growing opened up new worlds, among them 526,085 entries in the Harry Potter section alone with many of them full-length novels. Fan fiction predates the Internet, but the Web makes it easier to generate hundreds of millions of words based on books, movies, TV shows, video games, plays, musicals, rock bands and board games.

Fan fiction teems with prequels and sequels, missing storylines and questionable plot lines. Imagine a full length story of the evolving and emotionally charged friendship between Harry and Draco Malfoy during their seventh year at Hogwarts, including a new perspective on life as a Slytherin. Read it in “Underwater Light” by Maya. What about a novel from the point of view of Lilly Potter in a story set when she and James were in school?  Emmyjean’s “Crossroads” follows their romance and gives a detailed account of their courtship. Delicate” is an appealing adult-themed story about Ron and Hermione’s daughter Rose Weasley, who hooks up with Scorpius Malfoy and has to grow up quickly to deal with the consequences. All of these stories are from the world of Fan Fiction.

Fan Fiction is a world unto itself, with its own rules, genres and conventions. It’s huge and ever evolving and constantly the subject of heated internal debate. Cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up have become mainstream modes of cultural expression and fan fiction is a part of that. It challenges everything we thought we knew about art and creativity. Nobody makes money from fan fiction, but everyone has their own opinion about whether loses money from it. Authors are deeply divided on other’s “borrowing” from their work. J. K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer have given Harry Potter and Twilight fan fiction their blessings.  Other writers for example Oscar Scott Card author of the classic Ender’s Game books consider it a violation of their copyrights, and feel that their characters have been kidnapped by strangers. “I will sue, because if I don’t protect my copyright, I will lose that copyright...So fan fiction, while flattering, it is also an attack on my means of livelihood. Do the characters belong to the person who created them? Is art about making up new things or about transforming what’s out there? You can see both sides of the issue and the legal arguments abound.

The fan fiction scene is hyper-diverse. You’ll find every race, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, age and sexual orientation represented there, both as writers and characters. There is, of course, a ton of sex in fan fiction. There are stories that take every character you can name and pair them up romantically, erotically, or pornographically. The market carries dark alleys to pursue, i.e. a genre called Mpreg, which is about male characters getting pregnant or "dubcon” (stories about “dubious consent”). Archive of Our Own website for example offers warnings such as “graphic depiction of violence”, “major character death”, “rape/nonconsent”, or “underage”.

What if instead of trying to kill baby Harry, Voldemort adopted him, raised him as Harry Marvolo and conquered the entire British Isle? What if on his first day at Hogwarts Harry had been sorted into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor? What if Harry were black or a vampire or a werewolf?  What might have happened if someone turned right instead of left? Welcome to the Alternate Universe in fan fiction.

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