"Why is this book, 50 Shades of Grey, so popular?"
March 15, 2012 1:17 PM   Subscribe

E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Master of the Universe, an adults-only Twilight fanfiction posted under the pseudonym Snowqueens Icedragon. The erotica re-imagining of Bella Swan as a 21-year-old college student and Edward Cullen as a 27-year-old billionaire -- with BDSM tastes -- was published by Australia's Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing in May 2011; names and details linking it to Stephenie Meyer's bestselling trilogy were changed (...for the most part). In recent months, the book has gone viral, selling more than 250,000 copies (over 90% in ebook format) and landing the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List. Last week, E.L. James sold republishing rights for the Fifty Shades trilogy to Vintage Books in a seven-figure deal.

The book's fanfiction origins and BDSM lite themes are undoubtedly huge factors in the book's success. According to The New York Times, the book has been called "mommy porn" and "Twilight for grown-ups". In Time Magazine, Erika Christakis asks "Why is it news that women like sex?" Jezebel offers some choice excerpts. In the New York Daily News, Frank Santo claims "It's all porn to me." Although book blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books disliked the book itself, "Since women's sexuality and reproductive health are under political attack here in the US of WTF, anything that supports a woman's right to satisfy her own sexual curiosity is all good with me."
posted by changeling (97 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Erotic Romantic E-Books Boom With Women. "Publishers are on to a dirty little secret: women are huge users of e-readers on which they are reading books they'd be embarrassed to open in public."
posted by stbalbach at 1:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not news that women like sex. It's news that this particular book is selling. It's the publishing firm's PR coup - and a very, very intentional one at that - that newspapers are talking about this particular book.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have a sinking feeling that my wife is going to be asking me to take her to opening night of the Fifty Shades of Gray movie in a few years.
posted by diogenes at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll admit I had never considered the "now I can read porn on the bus without embarrasment!" aspect of e-books before. Obviously a lack of imagination on my part.
posted by Justinian at 1:29 PM on March 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


adults-only Twilight fanfiction

I'm going to file this under "things I wish I didn't know existed."
posted by diogenes at 1:29 PM on March 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


I have a sinking feeling that my wife is going to be asking me to take her to opening night of the Fifty Shades of Gray movie in a few years.

Somewhere, Mickey Rourke is working on an eerily realistic "Mickey Rourke from 9 1/2 Weeks" mask.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm disappointed a Twilight fan fic called "Masters of the Universe" didn't end up being He-Man slash fiction. Look, we're in some pretty dorky territory here, let's just go all out. Bella/She-Ra?
posted by malphigian at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2012 [19 favorites]


You can strike gold by porning up any piece of literature for an E-reading audience. It's rule 34 in action.
posted by Renoroc at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2012


Women Now Empowered By Everything A Woman Does, including writing and reading shitty masochistic porn based on a trashy "young adult" book.
posted by grobstein at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm going to file this under "things I wish I didn't know existed."

Oh come on, don't be naive.
posted by pts at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to file this under "things I wish I didn't know existed."

You need to refresh your cache. I think you're getting the internet from 1965.
posted by griphus at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [20 favorites]


malphigian: "Bella/She-Ra"

And a child named He-renshe-esmeera-manatarms.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [28 favorites]


It's definitely a case of hype feeding hype. I'm not particularly into Twilight, or BDSM, or erotica, or fanfiction, but I read it a couple weeks ago based on all the buzz. It's readable, & addictive in a porny way, but there are some extremely grating quirks that suggest a lack of serious editing. (surprised?) For example, there are frequent allusions to the protagonist's autonomous "inner goddess" and "subconscious". Like, "My inner goddess is down on bended knee with her hands clasped in supplication begging me." A friend did a search on her Kindle and there are 56 mentions of her "inner goddess" and 80 mentions of her subconscious.

Also, she has a tendency to exclaim "Holy Moses!!" in the middle of certain scenes. It's really sexy.
Also, she often refers to her woman parts as, "....there." Italics & ellipses included.
I could go on.
posted by changeling at 1:36 PM on March 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


changeling: "...but there are some extremely grating quirks that suggest a lack of serious editing."

So... Laurell K. Hamilton for the Twilight fan, then?
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oooh, an erotic novel about a white couple in a maledom femmesub relationship.

Pardon my yawn.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:39 PM on March 15, 2012 [21 favorites]


Go on.
posted by Glomar response at 1:40 PM on March 15, 2012


If Cassie Claire can get published (and possibly a movie deal) using her fanfic of stolen and pieced together Buffy and Harry Potter works, then I can believe anything of fandom.
posted by FunkyHelix at 1:40 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


I would just like to say that, as a skull, I am available for...ahem...tasteful...photography sessions anyone in the Toronto area might wish to conduct as an accompaniment to their He Man fanfic. My rates are very reasonable, nudity negotiable.

Outcalls only.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [6 favorites]


The democratization of publishing !
posted by delmoi at 1:41 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Between this and Wesley Crusher: Teenage Fuck Machine I think I better get moving on my manuscript before all the buzz is gone.

My sordid, completely fictional tale of the inner workings of a "community Tumblr" staff ("Mark", "Jessica", "bp", and "cortex") must be told!
posted by m@f at 1:45 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Gonna add a layer of kink by pretending I'm a woman getting off on reading the book and hating myself for it, while hating myself for having to pretend I'm someone else to get off

Also, forwarding this to my lovely mother, who enjoyed the original series immensely
posted by MangyCarface at 1:46 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


(I haven't read the book and probably won't - just the SBTB plot summary):

If this book were targetted to a more male audience, the narrator would be a dude. The Edward-stand-in would still be a dude, and instead of a secret sex chamber it would be a secret, like, dojo where faux-Edward teaches faux-Bella-who's-a-man to fight off the secretly-evil forces of darkness. In other words, it sounds to me like your regular, super-popular coming-of-age-story but with sex.

Which, yes, maybe we should think about why 'discovering sexuality' stories are so popular with women (and IME, they are very popular), especially in the US.
posted by muddgirl at 1:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I didn't mean my comment to be dismissive of anyone's preferred kink, but save a few of the more overt references to BDSM practices, this seems like most of the bodice-ripping semi-rapey "overcome by a powerful man" romance books out there.

The Twilight fan-fic angle is just another way to reel in people.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I'm going to have to read this for the same reason I had to read the entire Twilight series: to make the most possible fun of it as accurately as I can.
posted by elizardbits at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2012 [9 favorites]


& also, having read the book, I'm having trouble getting outraged re: the book's fanfiction origins. I've read YA novels with whole lot more in common with Twilight, usually attributed to ~coincidence~. Fifty Shades & Twilight both take place in the Pacific Northwest. The main character, Anastasia Steele, is kind of klutzy. She has dark hair. Christian Grey, the 27-year-old billionaire (he's 27. and a billionaire.) does talk a lot like a 100-year-old vampire, but then he's 27 and a billionaire, and my interactions with 27-year-old billionaires have been limited, so what do I know.

Though I guess when we're talking seven-figure book deals, controversy gets a whole lot more controversial.
posted by changeling at 1:58 PM on March 15, 2012


Which, yes, maybe we should think about why 'discovering sexuality' stories are so popular with women (and IME, they are very popular), especially in the US.
posted by muddgirl at 1:55 PM on March 15 [+] [!]


Probably because we're all supposed to be hawt teenaged nympho virgins all our lives.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:58 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think I'm going to have to read this for the same reason I had to read the entire Twilight series: to make the most possible fun of it as accurately as I can.

yes go right now and report back thank you
posted by changeling at 1:59 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Probably because we're all supposed to be hawt teenaged nympho virgins all our lives.

Until we get married, when we're either completely procreative or sexless crones.
posted by muddgirl at 2:04 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


crap writing and cliche riddled. and yes, I downloaded a sample to be sure it was in the same line of Female Porn I offered in a course years ago along with porn classic...
posted by Postroad at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2012


The writer's real identity was outed by the Standard and the Mail over here in the UK last week which caused a minor kurfuffle for a couple of days (Radio 4 discussing erotica... oh my!)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:16 PM on March 15, 2012


Smut! Give me smut and nothing but!
A dirty novel I won't shut,
If its uncut,
And unsut.... tle.

I've never quibbled, if it was riddled.
I would devour, where others merely nibbled...

Okay I'll stop now
posted by Slackermagee at 2:18 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Fine, i get it universe, nothing but bondage slash from now on
.
posted by The Whelk at 2:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've read me a lot of fanfiction in my day, and a whole lot of AU fanfiction where the only thing the story has in common with the original source is names and maybe hair colors. It's kind of a clever trick to get people in fandom to read what is essentially original fiction that they'd never touch otherwise. And if you actually push it over to the other edge and happen to get rich off it? Well, good on you.
posted by whitneyarner at 2:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to file this under "things I wish I didn't know existed."

I'm going to file this under "things I knew existed but had always hoped I wouldn't have to hear about from The New York Times."
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The book is actually pretty tame as far as erotica goes, though I see it as a vast improvement over Twilight, which wasn't honest with itself about its own sexual undertones.
posted by Edgewise at 2:33 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've never quibbled, if it was riddled.

...ribald. For her pleasure.
posted by Sparx at 2:44 PM on March 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


Reading It.
For all intents and purposes, it's a jumped-up romance novel.

Can't Stop. Laughing.

(Barbra Cartland lies in her grave doing the Golf Clap)
posted by djrock3k at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


malphigian: I'm disappointed a Twilight fan fic called "Masters of the Universe" didn't end up being He-Man slash fiction. Look, we're in some pretty dorky territory here, let's just go all out. Bella/She-Ra?

And/or you could include a "remixed" version of Queen's Princes of the Universe in the slashfic trailer.

Here we are, born to be spanked
We're the masters of the universe
Here we belong, fighting to survive
In a world with the darkest powers, heh
And here we are, we're the masters of the universe
Here we belong, fighting for survival
We've come to be the rulers of you all

... it practically (re)writes itself!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:03 PM on March 15, 2012


djrock3k: For all intents and purposes, it's a jumped-up romance novel.

Makes sense. The Twilight series is just a "jumped-up" tween/teen romance novel? Make it a bit more "adult" and viola, a new market!
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on March 15, 2012


And my books languish on the ebook shelf.

Sigh.

Or maybe they lay seductively on the fainting couch, their Inner Goddess yearning to be touched.....there.
posted by THAT William Mize at 3:12 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


They need more sex, THAT william Mize. It's a simple little equation, that. :)
posted by Hildegarde at 3:22 PM on March 15, 2012


I don’t really understand why this is all over the news. Did someone, or a lot of people, just discover that there are erotic books? From the descriptions it doesn’t sound different from anything else out there.

Anyone who uses the phrase "mommy porn" needs a punch. No adult should ever use the word "mommy" in any context, I even think less of children who do.
posted by bongo_x at 3:25 PM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I miss the days when I enjoyed a trashy novel with some good sex scenes thrown in. Now I find myself fast-forwarding through the sex scenes if I'm listening to a book, and the erotic bodice-rippers I tried on my Kindle have all left me seriously bored. I just stall out early if I try reading them. (I also find it pathetic that more than one seems to be aimed at reassuring the overweight middle aged female reader with a bored husband that muscular young guys are dreaming of them.)

Fortunately I still like fashion magazines with superficial articles about hem lengths and hot hair styles. It's nice to know there is something junky that still appeals.

I thought when I got old[er]] I'd wear purple, not that purple prose would seem so tedious.
posted by bearwife at 3:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Great another novel that sexually subordinates women and makes them powerless objects whose sole function and source of satisfaction is to please men.

Oh wait, we're talking about a erotic porn parody of Twilight?
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:12 PM on March 15, 2012


You know I got some crap for writing really brazen, upfront erotica AND trying to tell a good story in the process (and parody Victorian erotica conventions) and I never got on any best seller list.

*grumble, bitter grumble*
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 PM on March 15, 2012


Sounds like a boring book, but if the writer didn't plagiarize actual lines from the original book (hiiiii Cassie Clare you will never live this down), or it's not a different writer passing the fanfic off as her own work (hola J.J. Massa): I say more power to the writer, y'all. The thousands of published Pride and Prejudice "retellings" that are basically "Lizzie & Mr. Darcy have lots of hot sex and/or solve mysteries" (hiiiii P.D. James yours is actually pretty good) haven't hurt Jane Austen's street cred / posthumous bankroll any.

I'm just disappointed that a fairly meh story gets the shiny hype instead of the awesome ones. Is this where we hijack the thread with AU pimping, or is that gauche? Because I have proclaimed my love for the gay Inception Vikings before. Or the Sherlock fic where Holmes and Watson are waterfowl. And that is why I love fanfic and fandom, that shameless embrace of awesome crack and the id. "I am bored, Internet; give me rentboys and angsty assassins and baristas; NPR with zombies; the required prison and high school and ice school AUs; the required crossovers with The Sentinel and Highlander and everybody joining the X-Men; and also Sherlock should totally be a very pompous swan and John his long-suffering duck sidekick!" AND IT WAS SO.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2012 [17 favorites]


ice SKATING AUs not ice school that would just be silly
posted by nicebookrack at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


NPR ...isn't....zombies?
posted by The Whelk at 5:22 PM on March 15, 2012


yes go right now and report back thank you

oh god so hilarrible
posted by elizardbits at 5:26 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


NPR with more zombies than norm:
Wait Wait Don't Eat Me
This American Life: The October Incident
Car Talk: Zombie Edition
posted by nicebookrack at 5:36 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


OKAY ON TO BOOK 2

i think i am going to need cake for this
posted by elizardbits at 5:58 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, the part of this story that interests me is obviously not the 'mommy porn' bit (ugh), but the fact that a book with an explicit D/S sensibility (rather than the implicit one of 80s/90s romance novels) has become super-marketable. Mainstream romance novel publishers continue to claim that 'niche' fiction (primarily 'kink' fiction and gay romance novels) don't sell, but I've always suspected that what they are really concerned about is alienating the minority of their market share which would be extremely turned off by anything that doesn't fit the trad. romance novel template. I think that some publishers have started 'erotica' lines under a different name, but erotica and romance novels aren't always the same thing.
posted by muddgirl at 6:01 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh god so hilarrible

did you really just go read it!? I think I love you
posted by changeling at 6:19 PM on March 15, 2012


Sounds like a boring book, but if the writer didn't plagiarize actual lines from the original book (hiiiii Cassie Clare you will never live this down), or it's not a different writer passing the fanfic off as her own work (hola J.J. Massa): I say more power to the writer, y'all. The thousands of published Pride and Prejudice "retellings" that are basically "Lizzie & Mr. Darcy have lots of hot sex and/or solve mysteries" (hiiiii P.D. James yours is actually pretty good) haven't hurt Jane Austen's street cred / posthumous bankroll any.

Word.

Now to go update my 15-year-old Ferengi slash fic. Seven figure deal, here I come!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:23 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. Maybe there's hope for the little "Adventure Time" fan-comic I did yesterday about Finn and Jake meeting a very sweet monster at the end of a river of spooge and gems.

Or mmmmaybe not.
posted by egypturnash at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2012


oh god so hilarrible

I believe the word you are looking for is "awfulsome."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:07 PM on March 15, 2012


Save me from what I want.
posted by d1rge at 7:17 PM on March 15, 2012


Or the Sherlock fic where Holmes and Watson are waterfowl.

I'm going to have to verify this.
...
Ah.

"The swan was willful and beautiful even for a swan, he thought."

Artist's recreation of same.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:19 PM on March 15, 2012 [8 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: " Now to go update my 15-year-old Ferengi slash fic. Seven figure deal, here I come!"

Oomox for fun and profit?

Oh god, that's probably been done.
posted by zarq at 7:21 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is there any other reason for oomox?!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Mommy porn" is a phrase insulting both to mothers and pornography.
posted by mothershock at 7:30 PM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "Is there any other reason for oomox?!"

Good point. :)
posted by zarq at 7:33 PM on March 15, 2012


There are undoubtedly people out there who are going to buy this e-book, and use some find/replace software to restore names like "Bella" and "Cullen" in an effort to make the book more "satisfying."

To each his or her own, but eww.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:35 PM on March 15, 2012


If anyone here would like to read some erotic romance with BDSM themes that is actually well-written, has interesting, complex characters, and absolutely zero mentions of an "inner goddess" or "... there" I can recommend Annabel Joseph's new book. It's like good chick lit with rough sex! And she actually uses adult words for body parts.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 9:03 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was funny watching the male anchors on Good Morning America skim through the book the other day. Maybe not what they were expecting when they went to work!
posted by dragonplayer at 9:12 PM on March 15, 2012


There are undoubtedly people out there who are going to buy this e-book, and use some find/replace software to restore names like "Bella" and "Cullen" in an effort to make the book more "satisfying."

I'm doing that with this very thread.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:14 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


sebastienbailard YES that is the waterfowl Holmes story (doubly hilarious because the whole thing is a faithful/cracked shoutout to "The Blue Carbuncle") but I had not seen the artist rendition of same!

*muffles squeals through fist in mouth*
posted by nicebookrack at 9:16 PM on March 15, 2012


And it's actually quite good?!!1!
posted by MartinWisse at 3:26 AM on March 16, 2012


oh god you guys

i was up until almost 2am reading this drivel

it is so bad and yet i cannot stop

i feel like i've been on a 5-day meth binge

send halp
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


There are undoubtedly people out there who are going to buy this e-book, and use some find/replace software to restore names like "Bella" and "Cullen" in an effort to make the book more "satisfying."

I can't visit fanfiction.net from work, but is Masters of the Universe not posted to the site any more? Would that be a requirement for publishing?
posted by muddgirl at 7:27 AM on March 16, 2012


ice SKATING AUs
This describes one of my favorite Stargate Atlantis AU fanfics - should I be embarrassed to admit that? I'm not sure if it's "worse" that I read fanfic or that I actually liked SGA enough to go looking for fanfic~

Also, I am all over that waterfowl Sherlock story.
posted by ashirys at 7:31 AM on March 16, 2012


Oh, god, how I hate this series.

Spoilers below.

I was basically forced into picking it up because various friends of mine have emailed me about it because they know I am a bdsm person. I have deliberately never read or watched Twilight, and I am told that I might like the Fifty series better if I did, but it is just yet another work that portrays bdsm as something to be cured. The whole story centres around the tension between Ana's desire for romantic love and Christian's bdsm sexual expression, as if you cannot have both. Furthermore it is all seen as a horrible secret, and there is no bdsm community in the book. Christian's bdsm comes from childhood abuse and later molestation by a female dominant when he is a teenager. Oh yeah, the only female dominant in the books, as well as the only other submissive woman, are portrayed as bat shit insane. Male submissives can expect the same scorn and othering they receive in the rest of the media.

There are really fucking dangerous elements in the books, particularly to the reader who finds herself aroused by it and wanting to try bdsm for herself. The absence of a bdsm community, the fact that Ana goes ahead and gets involved with a moody, unstable and unpredictable guy wielding a bunch of serious toys and a really quite rigorous slave contract, and the fact that she has to sign a non disclosure agreement meaning she can't bloody talk to anyone about it and get a sanity check presents a horrible example to the thousands of readers for whom this is their first exposure to bdsm.

Christian is a shitty dom. He sets up guidelines for himself and for Ana and then breaks the fuck out of them, he is inconsistent, impulsive and he is not in control of his emotions. He is yet one more stereotypical rich guy CEO dom with hundreds of employees and a bloody private jet. Where's the doms who are joiners or computer programmers or unemployed, or women or people of colour for that matter?

And Ana is a shitty sub. She admits she is a shitty sub, but gee, wouldn't it be nice if someone wrote a character who wasn't, if the characters fell in love alongside a d/s dynamic? Christian falls in love with Ana because she defies him.. in real life, bdsm people's roles can sometimes be part of their 'love languages' and all the shit that Ana pulled would likely make Christian lose interest.

I know many long term bdsm couples and poly groupings who really love each other and whose standards of respect and communication are some of the best I have ever seen. Their relationships change over time, like everyone's, and sometimes they get more d/s and sometimes less. But the arc of this series moves from a playroom to a big house with a baby on the way. Why not have both?

Bring on a book that normalises this stuff, where it is a spice, not a dramatic problem, where the characters are self confident in their sexuality, where a munch is as normal a place to meet the romantic object as the workplace or a nightclub. Perhaps I will need to write it myself.

I recommend Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series for something better. There's also the magnificent Story of O, that classic corrupter of youth, although it has its problems.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2012 [30 favorites]


Kitty Stardust: "Which, yes, maybe we should think about why 'discovering sexuality' stories are so popular with women (and IME, they are very popular), especially in the US.
posted by muddgirl at 1:55 PM on March 15 [+] [!]


Probably because we're all supposed to be hawt teenaged nympho virgins all our lives.
"

And Bella ain't even that haw...

Oh.

I see what you did there.
posted by Samizdata at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I see the ghastly phrase "inner goddess" one more time so help me I will shank the entire world.
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think you mean your "inner goddess" will shank the entire world.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


... gay Inception Vikings ...
posted by nicebookrack


This is relevant to my interests.
posted by RobotHero at 9:26 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Manchurian Lizard
posted by griphus at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2012


Bring on a book that normalises this stuff, where it is a spice, not a dramatic problem, where the characters are self confident in their sexuality,

Yes, definitely. I would read that.

But I also disagree somewhat with the critiques about the unreality of the bdsm in the book (which, full disclosure, I have not yet read). Sexual fantasy is always somewhere between unrealisitic and full-on crazy. I love Story of O as a book, but as a guide to kinky sex it is horrifically ridiculous. As a fantasy, though, that same crazy stuff clearly works for millions and millions of readers; making the bdsm elements over the top is what works for providing one-handed reading.

The reviews of the book make it sound like the writing is really low quality, though; I'm always regretful when poor writing is rewarded with strong sales.

I recommend Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel series for something better.

I'm not a big fan of her books, but you have to be impressed with any author whose books have inspired so many fan tattoos. I met someone once with a full backpiece, which struck me as an even better hint about one's interests than mentioning Secretary in your personal ad.
posted by Forktine at 9:27 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hell yes, gay Inception vikings is awesomeness. See also: generation kill teen squatters in 90s nyc.
posted by elizardbits at 9:51 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is relevant to my interests.

Oh hai, are you looking for the story where Arthur is a Viking and Eames is his Anglo-Saxon slave? Please heed the warnings on that one.

But yeah, this is the kind of story I was talking about before. It (I think intentionally) adheres pretty closely to the trad. historical romance novel template (while explicitly addressing how problematic that template is), except the main characters are both male (...and characters from a movie). There's clearly an audience for this kind of story - I wonder if it's marketable without the fannish tie-in.
posted by muddgirl at 9:58 AM on March 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm just blinking and backing away now.
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Edgewise: "The book is actually pretty tame as far as erotica goes, though I see it as a vast improvement over Twilight, which wasn't honest with itself about its own sexual undertones."

Undertones?!
posted by deborah at 11:21 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to think Twilight could have been a somewhat less ghastly (or at least more honest) series if only Stephenie Meyers had grown a pair and actually written out all her porn fantasies that were very obviously the background to the story, but then it occurred to me that she probably DID, and I got depressed about it again.
posted by elizardbits at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also I believe I shall do a dramatic reading of that Swanlock Holmes story for my entire office once everyone is good and drunk this afternoon.
posted by elizardbits at 11:33 AM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Elizardbits I DEMAND RECORDED PODFIC
posted by nicebookrack at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2012


ashirys: "ice SKATING AUs
This describes one of my favorite Stargate Atlantis AU fanfics - should I be embarrassed to admit that? I'm not sure if it's "worse" that I read fanfic or that I actually liked SGA enough to go looking for fanfic~"

DUDE I heart that story hardcore and I don't even watch Stargate Atlantis. That story is a reason why one of my fandom boredomroulette joys is fishing for new AUs in series I don't know but especially SGA (The Giant McShep AU List=helpful). Never seen an episode of any Stargate series! Never really plan to!

I think I got a taste for AU trolling first when I read "Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead" before I read "Hamlet." Who are these people and why are they in Denmark WHO CARES YOU LOVE IT OKAY GO

How much money would I pay for the official equivalent of "Patince, A Steady Hand," that awesome Arthur/Eames gay Viking story? Maybe not limited edition hardcover money, but definitely trade paperback money.

The (fab) author Helen/ish also wrote an infamouscritique (in SGA!) of BDSM AUs that is also hilarious.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:38 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


ALAS I have no podfic but instead here is Sir Ian McKellen dramatically reading the instructions on how to change a flat tire. (good bit starts at appox 01:56)
posted by elizardbits at 3:25 PM on March 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


The (fab) author Helen/ish also wrote an infamouscritique (in SGA!) of BDSM AUs that is also hilarious.

There are BDSM Audio Units? Do they use iLok?
posted by bongo_x at 3:50 PM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


AU=Alternate Universe
which can be a minor/plausible alteration of canon, choose-your own-adventure-style a la "Neville Longbottom is the Boy Who Lived instead of Harry Potter" or "Greedo shot first, and Han Solo chose to not change his mind or come back, kid"
or it can a total reimagining of the cast/plot in a different setting like the DC Elseworlds ("Gotham by Gaslight"=Victorian Batman VS Jack the Ripper AU), a la "the cast of Glee are all Jedi or Sith Lords" or "Sherlock Holmes is a racecar driver, John Watson is a pit mechanic, and there is MURDER AT THE TRACK!" Or Swanlock, as above. There's also fusiony/crossover AUs; Neil Gaiman's "A Study in Emerald" is a Holmes/Cthulhu mythos fusion AU.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:43 PM on March 16, 2012


also lots of high school AUs in which everyone goes to high school together and worries about prom
posted by nicebookrack at 4:46 PM on March 16, 2012


The (fab) author Helen/ish also wrote an infamouscritique (in SGA!) of BDSM AUs that is also hilarious.

I am fascinated that someone writing, essentially, fanfic about fanfic is controversial. How dare she use the first (fanfic) author's world but change it somewhat!

Also, I read some of the 50 shades book and I am not entirely sure what people see in it. The sex is pretty badly written and it doesn't have much plot otherwise.
posted by jeather at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2012


My favorite thing is still Harry Potter and the methods of rationality cause it starts as a parody of the series and then goes and completely fixes the series into a way more interesting direction. It's actually kinda ruined Harry Potter for me.
posted by The Whelk at 4:49 PM on March 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've heard Luminosity called the Methods of Rationality for "Twilight" fic, sadly without garnering 6 figure publishing deals.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:53 PM on March 16, 2012


Oh man, I love Methods of Rationality. I was, in fact, planning on relaxing this evening by reading it again from the start, as an antidote to my rough work day.

I worry, though, that the author has written himself into quite a few corners because he wasn't actually intending to finish it when he began writing.

Also, fanfic readers here - I have only recently started reading it. Are there any big sites that aggregate the best examples? (Fanfiction.net not having any way to sort by quality that i've found)
posted by pseudonymph at 2:28 AM on March 17, 2012


I haven't read the book yet, but I plan to. Thank you, @By The Grade of God, for your perspective.

Books like 50 Shades, and the Sleeping Beauty series, are gateway books. It's time to read something better. Check out Susie Bright's "If You Loved "50 Shades of Grey"... Smart Girl BDSM." list on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/You-Loved-quot-Shades-Grey/lm/R2LARW1SSX616R
posted by Viviane at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pseudonymph: AO3 / ArchiveOfOurOwn.org is a decent place to start; it's fairly new, specifically fan-friendly and requires an invite code to join, unlike FF.net AKA the PitOfVoles, so it tends to have a higher signal-to-noise ratio. I tend to find stuff by picking fandom/tags I want, sorting stories by descending # of hits, & trying ones with intriguing summaries sans spelling errors until I find a story I like. Then read everything else by author, check out author's bookmarks, rinse repeat etc. AO3's affiliated with the very popular annual rare fandom challenge YuletideTreasure.org, which is also high signal to noise and every year generates exhaustive rec lists from people

Beyond that, depending on fandom, check out its entry on Fanlore.org; many bigger fandoms like Harry Potter have big centralish archives. Look on Livejournal / Dreamwidth for both fic communities (sometimes locked) and fic rec communities (crack_van used to be my general go-to for this but I haven't checked it in ages). Definitely google "[fandom] fic recs]." Fandom-specific kink memes are hot these days, and while slanted toward porn put out plenty of gen stuff as well. The better kinkmemes have neatly arranged bookmarks carefully arranged by tag on Delicious.com, some now moved to Pinboard.in, so searching for "fandom +fic +misc tags" will also get you stuff.

When in doubt, find a fandom discussion comm or a "fic finder" comm, post a la "I am looking for fic recs in this fandom, preferably with these things and without these things" and people will line up to give them to you. Then you use those to find good authors' stories, follow their bookmarks, etc. as above.

Or you mention here the fandoms you'd like to try and I'm sure fannish MeFites can point you in the right directions. ;P PM me if you need an invite code to AO3 or Dreamwidth.
posted by nicebookrack at 10:43 AM on March 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


nicebookrack, I could kiss you. I'm usually pretty good at finding what i'm after, but my total lack of familiarity with all the fic-world lingo was hampering me and you've given me much better pointers.

(And a smile of wry recognition when you mentioned one of your criteria is summaries with no spelling errors. Oh god, why so little spellcheck on ff.net?!)
posted by pseudonymph at 1:46 AM on March 18, 2012


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