The Yuletide Fanfic Exchange
December 31, 2010 8:11 AM   Subscribe

I’m crammed into a burrow so small that my knees are up around my ears and the boom mike keeps slamming into my head, inhaling the potent scent of toffee-apple brandy and trying to drink a talking mouse under the table. But is it really the boom mike that’s making my head pound? I know for sure that my camera man doesn’t usually have two heads. I have to face facts. The mouse is winning.
No Reservations: Narnia.

On December 25th, the curtain went up on over 2000 pieces of fanfiction, each written for the annual Yuletide Obscure Fandoms Fiction Exchange. In a fan-driven take on secret santa, writers fill requests for fanfiction that are as obvious as Star Trek and as obscure as anthropomorphized representations of ivy league colleges. Tomorrow, on January 1st, the still-anonymous authors will be revealed.

The Yuletide exchange brings relatively motivated and experienced writers to small or obscure fandoms that don't have much fanfiction written for them, so the archives are worth browsing—hidden gems abound. In case you don't have time, here are a few highlights; some serious, some less so:

Settlers of Catan: Five Trades Worth Making. Five short pieces about women who live in Catan.

Avatar: The Spiral of Lives. A 20,000 word rewrite of James Cameron's film, without the blueface.

Sharktopus: In His Own Words. Turns out he got screwed by those Hollywood big-shots.

Of course, if you think fanfiction is stupid, you're not alone! Lots of people think fanfiction is stupid. Over at Topless Robot, Fanfiction Friday is a regular feature dedicated to pretending to be shocked and appalled that girls write stories about boys kissing.

Meanwhile, fanfic [previously, previously, previously] is all over the place, even in the beloved-of-geeks TVTropes. [Warning: TVTropes.] Some classic fanfic tropes include: Fanfic in its modern form has been around since the early days of fanzines, and nowadays the term Media Fandom refers to the amorphous group of people (mostly women) who produce fanfiction. The Organization for Transformative Works runs the most forward-thinking fiction archive in fandom, Archive of Our Own (better known as "AO3"), which now hosts the Yuletide exchange. The OTW is dedicated to "a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity."

Patrick Neilsen Hayden (a big-time SF editor) thinks fanfiction is important to the future of SF:
…There’s no ceiling on how great [fanfic] can be because it's unlicensed and can't get published. It's often written far better than the stuff it's based on. I wish [fanfic could go legit]. For most of human history, remixing narratives in circulation has been how culture worked. I believe in compensating artists, but yesterday [on a panel at WorldCon] the "moral rights" thing came up, and I think that's horseshit. I think artists should be treated well and so should waitresses and plumbers. Artists shouldn't have "treat them extra nice" rules. People experience art socially. People say "Watch this! Read this!" We experience art and we want to talk about it. I know that there are writers horrified by fanfic. Jo Walton hates fanfic. But in general I think with TV and the mass media world, somebody is going to figure out a way to encourage [fanfic] in a way that makes them a pile of money.
There is even MetaFilter fanfiction.
posted by pts (39 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- Brandon Blatcher

No Reservations: Narnia.

Dear god. I enjoyed Narnia fan fic.
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not a participant in Yuletide, or a fanfic writer generally, but a good friend of mine does Yuletide every year and I'm generally pleasantly surprised by the quality of the stories she gets, and posts, but she's a technical writer with a liberal arts degree, so I expect her to be able to write. This reminds me that I need to go find what she was given this year and ask her what she wrote.

Fanfic isn't my thing--my nerdity expresses primarily in roleplay, which is different in even written form--but I appreciate it as an active engagement with media instead of just passive consumption. I also have a thing for folk process, particularly in music, and I find the parallels between the accretion of fanon in fic and folk motifs in music very interesting.
posted by immlass at 8:45 AM on December 31, 2010

That Narnia fan-fic wasnpretty awesome!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:50 AM on December 31, 2010

Agreed. The No Reservations story was almost too much fun. Well written, and well observed.
posted by jsturgill at 9:09 AM on December 31, 2010

posted by kimdog at 9:11 AM on December 31, 2010

Wow, I didn't know there was much crossover between people who love Anthony Bourdain and people who love Narnia. That was hilarious.
posted by chatongriffes at 9:13 AM on December 31, 2010

[Warning: TvTropes.]

posted by gauche at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2010

The No Reservations piece was brilliant. I hope somebody sent the link along to Bourdain...
posted by nonliteral at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2010

oh god, worlds colliding! PANIC.
posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is a great post! Thank you!
posted by rtha at 9:30 AM on December 31, 2010

Sussex Pond Pudding, made by encasing an entire unpeeled lemon, along with butter and sugar, in a shell of suet pastry. The rind softens and caramelizes, becoming a sort of marmalade, and the lemon juice, butter, and sugar melt together to create the sauce.

Is this a real thing? and if so, why isnt in front of me RIGHT NOW? Sounds so good.
posted by ShawnString at 9:41 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

holy shit it is. I know what I am making tomorrow
posted by ShawnString at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2010 [14 favorites]

Yay! I do yuletide, and this year I got an awesome gift: Spy vs Spy Who Came In From The Cold which in such a tiny fandom is so awesome to see such epic work happen for an exchange. Thank you, my anon!

I have a fic in this race, but in the spirit of the exchange, I can't say which one is mine. I will say it is in a tiny fandom, and is over 10K words long.
posted by strixus at 9:46 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

If I don't have suet can I use coconut oil?
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2010

Oh, that No Reservations Narnia story was fantastic! But all of these are really fun. I know what I'll be reading for a while.
posted by gemmy at 9:56 AM on December 31, 2010

I'm hoping to find a pushing daisies / six feet under crossover.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

BrotherCaine, I was going to americanize it and try it with some premade pie crust and maybe in the oven (sorry brits..i know you are cringing)
posted by ShawnString at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2010

I really liked the Narnia one. It fit well with the Lewis books. My favourite children's books usually have some memorable foody passages. Certainly what I've read of the Inklings. And Badger's larder in "Willows."

This guy is a good writer.
posted by Trochanter at 10:27 AM on December 31, 2010

The Geeks are Sexy blog linked to a few awesome yuletide stories as well -- "The Roommate of +10 Confusion” continues to make me smile when I think of it. (Features Calvin & Hobbes and Jason Foxtrot as college roommates; is not slash.)
posted by wenat at 10:39 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

the narnia story is wonderful :)
posted by supermedusa at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2010

Seconding the "Jason from Foxtrot winds up rooming with Calvin from Calvin&Hobbes at college" one. AWESOMENESS REIGNS.

Yuletide, for one reason or another, has an extremely high gold-to-dross ratio.

Trochanter: This guy is a good writer.

At least 90% of the participants in Yuletide are women (and that's low-balling), so I'm gonna go with "This woman is a good writer."

One of my favorite stories from Yuletide past: The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down, a story of how the denizens of Toon Town from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? deals with the industry's move from hand-drawn animation to CGI. Complete insanity, with more in-jokes than you can drop an anvil on.

(Disclaimer: I have participated in the Yuletide exchange in past years--I wrote a piece for the movie 1776, among other things. GOD I love what people ask for in Yuletide.)
posted by tzikeh at 11:28 AM on December 31, 2010

The one I'm still in awe of is this Monty Python masterpiece.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 11:32 AM on December 31, 2010

Yuletide, for one reason or another, has an extremely high gold-to-dross ratio.

Yeah, not making with the brain so much this morning.


There is a disproportionate number of great stories in Yuletide as compared to in other fanfiction exchanges/collections.

I will go get a cup of coffee now.
posted by tzikeh at 11:35 AM on December 31, 2010

Now I'm all hungry.
posted by valkyryn at 11:38 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

One more rec:

Wait Wait Don't Eat Me, from Yuletide 2009, imagines what a broadcast of NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me would sound like in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. I think someone posted about it here on MeFi, but I can't find the post. The folks at WWDTM found out about it and linked to it via twitter, and it wound up getting nearly 30k individual hits.

Now I'm really going to get coffee.
posted by tzikeh at 11:41 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

That quote from Patrick Neilsen Hayden really surprised me. I guess he doesn't keep up with happenings over at Baen Books. They've been publishing (and paying for) 1632 series fanfic for the past 6 years. The Grantville Gazette started as an experiment and is now up to volume 33 with paid subscribers, long-running serials, nonfiction articles, and writers who have seen their rates go up in the past few years. Some writers who started out writing for the gazette have even started writing canon novels which Baen is publishing. It may not be making anyone rich but as a model, it works.
posted by irisclara at 12:47 PM on December 31, 2010

Oh hell, the Calvin & Hobbes one makes a glaring canon error (the name of his favourite cereal) and it has sent me into a nerdrage/anguish/drama spiral.
posted by elizardbits at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2010

Up next: Hunter S. Thompson goes to Middle Earth, gets beaten up by Elves.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:38 PM on December 31, 2010

MetaFilter: Please, no anus. Anything but anus.
posted by sonika at 2:18 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really liked the other Calvin & Hobbes entry from this year: This Kid I Once Knew. Susie's point of view: one day someone links her to a webcomic called 'The Adventures of Spaceman Spiff'.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:22 PM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

FanFiction Friday has my... love? ... for introducing me to Winnie the Pooh vampire porn.

I have to quote because this made me laugh so hard it set off a coughing asthma attack that made me throw up a bit, which is I think the appropriate overall reaction.

"Winnie the Pooh was standing in the 100yard woods waiting for his friend Christopher Robin. The lights above him blinked and the moon was shining. Full as usual. It had been ever since the invasion of sex vampires."
"Let me introduce myself." the vampire spoke in a calm, yet distant voice. He was glistening with innuendo and syphillis."

Metafilter: glistening with innuendo and syphillis.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2010

There are some seriously awesome stories for Yuletide this year. I downloaded a whole bunch onto the ereader I got for Christmas (&hart; you Ao3 architects) and will be reading them later, but these two stood out immediately:

Listen to Bands That Don't Even Exist Yet - the untold story of Stephen Stills and Joseph (Scott Pilgrim)

Lyonnesse - the continuing story of The Curfew (William Gibson's Bigend trilogy)
posted by subdee at 3:58 PM on December 31, 2010

It's been about 14 years, but I've finally made peace with the fact that in middle school, I was the webmaster of "The Kingdom of Guardia," a Chrono Trigger/Final Fantasy oriented fanfiction website that saw a few thousand visitors a week. This is as incontrovertibly true about me as the fact that I have black hair and perfect vision and I will not be embarassed by it any longer!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:29 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could someone explain this part of Patrick Nielsen Hayden's quote to me:

There’s no ceiling on how great [fanfic] can be because it's unlicensed and can't get published. It's often written far better than the stuff it's based on.

How does the fact it is unlicensed and can't be published mean the sky's the limit on how great it can be? Certainly those are two reasons there is no ceiling to how derivative it might be. But I'm not sure how it can speak to quality.

As for the rest of the paragraph, it sounds like he's trying to find a way to make money out of fanfiction and justifying it to himself. It's a pity he's quoted here as some kind of authority on why fanfic should be legitimised since when he uses the "artists shouldn't be treated extra nice" argument, he becomes a giant dick.

Not because I think artists deserve to be treated better than waitresses and plumbers (where does that comparison even come from?) but because while I think fanfic encourages creativity in fandom (and probably draws fic readers toward shows/books/movies they might not otherwise have sampled), making money from fanfic is the point at which the original creators are likely to become disadvantaged.

But I shouldn't be surprised that an editor and manager of a major publishing house only cares about making money, while openly dissing one of their own writer's views of fanfic.
posted by crossoverman at 2:55 AM on January 1, 2011

Crossoverman: I parse that as "The fact that fanfic is unlicensed and can't get published doesn't put a ceiling on how great it can be."
posted by Jeanne at 10:43 AM on January 1, 2011

It is in fact very, very, very often not great.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on January 1, 2011

I would guess that the part of the PNH quote that crossoverman is referring to is trying to say that fanfiction can explore creative angles that a mainstream author of screenwriter would be stigmatized for trying. Well-loved characters can become albatrosses around the necks of their creators (see Sherlock Holmes) and trying to change things about them too much can incur vicious backlash and even death threats. JK Rowling could never write about an evil Harry Potter but fanfiction writers can, and maybe exploring that possibility will make for a really great story in the right hands.
posted by irisclara at 5:02 PM on January 1, 2011

How does the fact it is unlicensed and can't be published mean the sky's the limit on how great it can be? Certainly those are two reasons there is no ceiling to how derivative it might be. But I'm not sure how it can speak to quality.

It's no guarantee, by a long shot, but the opportunity to do things that corporations would shirk from gives you a lot of freedom.

A great example is David Gerrold's TNG script "Blood and Fire" which was commissioned and written, but never filmed because of teh gays. Years later, the New Voyages crew (a fanfilm outfit) produced it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:54 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh my god. "Wait Wait Don't Eat Me" is golden. That title alone deserves some kind of award.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:23 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Wormworld   |   No Pardon for Billy Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments