harry potter

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Jonah Hex

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Jan 9, 2002, 1:44:44 PM1/9/02
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i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

thanks

Matthew Russotto

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Jan 9, 2002, 3:24:49 PM1/9/02
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In article <u3p3o7l...@corp.supernews.com>,

Jonah Hex <jona...@whc.net> wrote:
>i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
>has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

Not bloody likely. Can you say "Harry Potter meets Lord Voldemort's
Copyright Lawyers"?

--
Matthew T. Russotto mrus...@speakeasy.net
=====
Dmitry is free, but the DMCA survives. DMCA delenda est!
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Zimri

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Jan 9, 2002, 6:53:54 PM1/9/02
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"Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net> wrote in message
news:u3p3o7l...@corp.supernews.com...

> i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
> has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

No, but I hear Stephen Ambrose is working on a similar work called "Henry
Clayshaper and the Philosopher's Rock".

-- Z


Aris Katsaris

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Jan 10, 2002, 12:50:28 PM1/10/02
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"Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net> wrote in message
news:u3p3o7l...@corp.supernews.com...
> i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
> has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

It wouldn't be able to enter the yearly IF contest, that's for
sure...

But I admit I would love to see such a game. Morally and
probably legally as well, it's the same as writing fanfic about
it --provided it's freeware, of course... (which means that
Rawling's lawyers could probably hurt you for doing it but
I doubt they'd care enough to do so)

Aris Katsaris

Knight37

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Jan 10, 2002, 11:36:33 AM1/10/02
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"Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net> had the moxy to write:

> i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made
> or has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

None so far. Either no one's got the moxy to release an obvious copyright
infringement or maybe it's just not good IF material. I remember when IFers
didn't worry so much about derivative works. Bored of the Rings, Star Trek
games, etc. Not that all of those were good, and some were parody, which has
much better legal status.

--

Knight37

"You have entered the Twilight Zone
Beyond this world strange things are known
Use the key, unlock the door
See what your fate might have in store
Come explore your dreams' creation
Enter this world of imagination" -- Rush "The Twilight Zone"

David A. Cornelson

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Jan 10, 2002, 12:34:38 PM1/10/02
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"Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> wrote in message
news:a1jt06$1eo$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr...

> It wouldn't be able to enter the yearly IF contest, that's for
> sure...

I suspect the ifarchivers wouldn't allow it on their servers either. I fear
the HP lawyers _would_ come after anyone involved. Or possibly EA, which
owns "all interactive fiction rights" to Harry Potter.

I think HP would make excellent IF content. It just ain't ever gonna happen.

Jarb


Matthew Russotto

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Jan 10, 2002, 1:09:27 PM1/10/02
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In article <Xns91926B72B...@209.155.56.100>,

Knight37 <knig...@email.com> wrote:
>"Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net> had the moxy to write:
>
>> i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made
>> or has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe
>
>None so far. Either no one's got the moxy to release an obvious copyright
>infringement or maybe it's just not good IF material. I remember when IFers
>didn't worry so much about derivative works. Bored of the Rings, Star Trek
>games, etc. Not that all of those were good, and some were parody, which has
>much better legal status.

Those were the days when the Huge Evil Intellecutal Property Companies
didn't have eyes and tentacles everywhere, and you could do what you
will by operating under the radar. Nowadays, with strongly enforced
trademark, copyright, patent, "tresspass of chattel", and libel laws, not to
mention the DMCA, you can't really do much of anything safely anymore.

Mikko P Vuorinen

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Jan 10, 2002, 2:33:23 PM1/10/02
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In <a1jt06$1eo$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr> "Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> writes:

>But I admit I would love to see such a game. Morally and

Someone should write one anonymously. If nobody knows who wrote it, no one
can be sued.


--
)))) (((( + Mikko Vuorinen + mvuo...@cc.helsinki.fi
)) OO `oo'((( + Dilbon@IRC&ifMUD + http://www.helsinki.fi/~mvuorine/
6 (_) ( ((( + GSM 050-5859733 +
`____c 8__/((( + + En näe euromerkkiä nyysseissä.

Matthew Russotto

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Jan 10, 2002, 2:37:55 PM1/10/02
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In article <a1kqa3$h3q$1...@oravannahka.helsinki.fi>,

Mikko P Vuorinen <mvuo...@cc.helsinki.fi> wrote:
>In <a1jt06$1eo$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr> "Aris Katsaris" <kats...@otenet.gr> writes:
>
>>But I admit I would love to see such a game. Morally and
>
>Someone should write one anonymously. If nobody knows who wrote it, no one
>can be sued.

Wrong. Everyone who hosts the game on a site can be sued. Along with
whoever posted it. And their providers too. (and no, being in Europe
doesn't help much)

Jonathan Penton

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Jan 10, 2002, 3:12:27 PM1/10/02
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"Matthew Russotto" <russ...@wanda.pond.com> wrote in message
news:u3rrcj2...@corp.supernews.com...

> In article <a1kqa3$h3q$1...@oravannahka.helsinki.fi>,
> Mikko P Vuorinen <mvuo...@cc.helsinki.fi> wrote:
> >In <a1jt06$1eo$1...@ulysses.noc.ntua.gr> "Aris Katsaris"
<kats...@otenet.gr> writes:
> >
> >>But I admit I would love to see such a game. Morally and
> >
> >Someone should write one anonymously. If nobody knows who wrote it, no
one
> >can be sued.
>
> Wrong. Everyone who hosts the game on a site can be sued. Along with
> whoever posted it. And their providers too. (and no, being in Europe
> doesn't help much)

Gimme a B! Gimme an E! Gimme an R! Gimme an N! Gimme an E! What's that
spell? Berne Convention!

Being in China would help, though.

--
Jonathan Penton
http://www.unlikelystories.org

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 11, 2002, 4:12:43 AM1/11/02
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In article <u3rm6n9...@corp.supernews.com>,

Matthew Russotto <russ...@wanda.pond.com> wrote:
>In article <Xns91926B72B...@209.155.56.100>,
>Knight37 <knig...@email.com> wrote:
>>"Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net> had the moxy to write:
>>
>>> i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made
>>> or has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe
>>
>>None so far. Either no one's got the moxy to release an obvious copyright
>>infringement or maybe it's just not good IF material. I remember when IFers
>>didn't worry so much about derivative works. Bored of the Rings, Star Trek
>>games, etc. Not that all of those were good, and some were parody, which has
>>much better legal status.
>
>Those were the days when the Huge Evil Intellecutal Property Companies
>didn't have eyes and tentacles everywhere, and you could do what you
>will by operating under the radar. Nowadays, with strongly enforced
>trademark, copyright, patent, "tresspass of chattel", and libel laws, not to
>mention the DMCA, you can't really do much of anything safely anymore.

You never could, really. And despite all Paramount's efforts, Star Trek
fan fiction still flourishes.

Is there any Harry Potter fanfic out there? Harry Potter slashfic
(<shudder>)?

But IFF (interactive fan fiction) has never been very popular, it seems
- except for the XTrek subgenre. There are a few examples, but nothing
like the huge amounts of static fanfic on the Net. Fear of copyright
lawyers can't be the only reason.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

Jonathan Penton

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Jan 11, 2002, 4:29:29 AM1/11/02
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1maab$54j$1...@news.lth.se...

Yes and yes. Search Google Groups for "harry potter sex." It's very
enlightening.

> But IFF (interactive fan fiction) has never been very popular, it seems
> - except for the XTrek subgenre. There are a few examples, but nothing
> like the huge amounts of static fanfic on the Net. Fear of copyright
> lawyers can't be the only reason.

The limited acclaim offered to fan fic writers in the IF community may play
a part, but I suspect fear of Copyright lawyers causes the lion's share. The
average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
creating an IF game. There are certainly some very dedicated fan fic writers
out there, but they have a very easy time distributing their work and
winning acclaim in their field. If an author were to switch to IF, they
would have almost no distribution options, because of that whole Copyright
thing. It wouldn't be worth the huge effort.

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jan 11, 2002, 5:00:53 AM1/11/02
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On Fri, 11 Jan 2002 09:29:29 GMT, Jonathan Penton <unli...@flash.net> wrote:
>The limited acclaim offered to fan fic writers in the IF community may play
>a part, but I suspect fear of Copyright lawyers causes the lion's share. The
>average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
>not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
>creating an IF game. There are certainly some very dedicated fan fic writers
>out there, but they have a very easy time distributing their work and
>winning acclaim in their field. If an author were to switch to IF, they
>would have almost no distribution options, because of that whole Copyright
>thing. It wouldn't be worth the huge effort.

Ah yes. That. I suspect the lion's share of the reason is, though I
hate to say it, that we're something of a high-and-mighty lot. I
suspect that the proportion of fanfic writers who can be bothered to
use a spellchecker is a lot higher than we often suppose. If someone
were to write a truly serious fan fiction IF game, though, he'd not
only have a hard time distributing it, he'd almost certainly be met
with snide derision (Not entirely unfairly; we've played our share of
really bad IF, I know), and with all manner of shouts of "That's
copyright violation".


[1] Yeah. I write some fan fiction. No. I'm not crazy enough to do it
as IF.

Magnus Olsson

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Jan 11, 2002, 5:19:32 AM1/11/02
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In article <Zfy%7.2152$F95.41...@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>,

Jonathan Penton <unli...@flash.net> wrote:
>The
>average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
>not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
>creating an IF game.

OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
but illegal.

>There are certainly some very dedicated fan fic writers
>out there, but they have a very easy time distributing their work and
>winning acclaim in their field. If an author were to switch to IF, they
>would have almost no distribution options, because of that whole Copyright
>thing. It wouldn't be worth the huge effort.

Fanfic IF could be distributed in exactly the same way as static
fanfic: via fly-by-nite websites (that exist until the lawyers detect
them and send a cease-and-desist letter) and via Usenet (there are
lots of binary groups that carry far worse, from a legal standpoint,
material than fanfic.

Jonathan Penton

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Jan 11, 2002, 5:44:32 AM1/11/02
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1me7k$5ss$1...@news.lth.se...

> In article <Zfy%7.2152$F95.41...@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>,
> Jonathan Penton <unli...@flash.net> wrote:
> >The
> >average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
> >not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
> >creating an IF game.
>
> OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
> why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
> but illegal.

It's true, although I rarely encounter high-quality fan fic by casually
surfing the web.

OTOH, most of the mainstream writing I encounter by casually surfing the web
is also very bad.

> >There are certainly some very dedicated fan fic writers
> >out there, but they have a very easy time distributing their work and
> >winning acclaim in their field. If an author were to switch to IF, they
> >would have almost no distribution options, because of that whole
Copyright
> >thing. It wouldn't be worth the huge effort.
>
> Fanfic IF could be distributed in exactly the same way as static
> fanfic: via fly-by-nite websites (that exist until the lawyers detect
> them and send a cease-and-desist letter) and via Usenet (there are
> lots of binary groups that carry far worse, from a legal standpoint,
> material than fanfic.

How many IF groups does Usenet currently support? Three? I don't know how
sophisticated Google Groups is -- would it carry a .z5 file?

Jonathan Penton

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Jan 11, 2002, 7:28:30 AM1/11/02
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"M Burnham" <sirk...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:3c3ed618....@news.hotkey.net.au...
> But isn't it not just ethical, but legal to make free IF about
> anything? It's free, after all, not a commercial enterprise - nobody
> is out to commit a wrong against the writer.
>
> But, then again, maybe i'm just an idealist. The real world can put
> things much differently.
>
> Matt.

I don't know if you're an idealist, but you've received some misinformation
about the nature of Copyright. If you do creative work at all, I suggest
http://www.benedict.com for some basic info.

M Burnham

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Jan 11, 2002, 7:12:41 AM1/11/02
to
On Fri, 11 Jan 2002 10:44:32 GMT, "Jonathan Penton"
<unli...@flash.net> wrote:

But isn't it not just ethical, but legal to make free IF about

Adam Thornton

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Jan 11, 2002, 10:43:13 AM1/11/02
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In article <a1maab$54j$1...@news.lth.se>, Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>Is there any Harry Potter fanfic out there? Harry Potter slashfic
>(<shudder>)?

As a matter of fact, there is. Mostly Harry-Draco. I'm sure a little
Googling will turn it up for you. No, I don't remember the URL.

Adam

Adam Thornton

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Jan 11, 2002, 10:45:04 AM1/11/02
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In article <a1md4l$u05$1...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>If someone
>were to write a truly serious fan fiction IF game, though, he'd not
>only have a hard time distributing it, he'd almost certainly be met
>with snide derision (Not entirely unfairly; we've played our share of
>really bad IF, I know), and with all manner of shouts of "That's
>copyright violation".

Hey!

_SMTUC_ was a truly serious work of fan fiction.

It's just that the fiction it was fanning was _Space Moose_, not _Star
Trek_.

Adam

Knight37

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Jan 11, 2002, 12:46:35 PM1/11/02
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sirk...@hotmail.com (M Burnham) had the moxy to write:

> But isn't it not just ethical, but legal to make free IF about
> anything? It's free, after all, not a commercial enterprise - nobody
> is out to commit a wrong against the writer.
>
> But, then again, maybe i'm just an idealist. The real world can put
> things much differently.

The short answer is no. It is not legal to make free IF about anything. If
you use someone else's characters, settings, etc, you have to get permission
from the copyright holder, legally.

--

Knight37

Everywhere I travel, tiny life. Single-serving sugar, single-serving cream,
single pat of butter. The microwave Cordon bleu hobby-kit. Shampoo-
conditioner combos. Sample-packaged mouthwash. The people I meet on flights?
They're single-serving friends.
-- Narrator played by Edward Norton, "Fight Club"

Aris Katsaris

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Jan 11, 2002, 1:50:36 AM1/11/02
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"Magnus Olsson" <m...@df.lth.se> wrote in message
news:a1maab$54j$1...@news.lth.se...

>
> You never could, really. And despite all Paramount's efforts, Star Trek
> fan fiction still flourishes.
>
> Is there any Harry Potter fanfic out there?

Last few weeks it has, for better or worse, become a small obsession
of mine...

Right now, I'd recommend Cassandra Claire
http://www.schnoogle.com/authorLinks/Cassandra_Claire/
(some extremely hilarious lines in here),

Barb,
http://www.schnoogle.com/authorLinks/Barb/
(starts rather slow and weak - but later turns to great fun),

and R.J. Anderson,
http://www.schnoogle.com/authorLinks/R_J_Anderson/
(some Mary Sueism, alas, but again it quickly improves)

Aris Katsaris

John W. Kennedy

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Jan 11, 2002, 2:55:58 PM1/11/02
to
Magnus Olsson wrote:
> OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
> why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
> but illegal.

Sometimes just for fun, or as a technical exercise, or because you get
an idea in your head and writing the dam' thing is the quickest and
easiest way to exorcise it. I think my "A Hobbit in Oz" (which _did_,
in the end, win the fiction prize at the Munchkin Convention a few years
ago) came out of all of those. Marrying the two styles, coming up with
a plausible plot, and exploring Oz-5000-years-ago -- I'm glad to have
made the experiment.

For others, of course, it's the Ensign-Mary-Sue-Ellen factor, or just a
desperate wish to be a writer, combined with a thorough lack of
imagination.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Compact is becoming contract; man only earns and pays"
-- Charles Williams

Georgina Bensley

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Jan 11, 2002, 3:50:24 PM1/11/02
to

> In article <Zfy%7.2152$F95.41...@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>,
> Jonathan Penton <unli...@flash.net> wrote:
> >The
> >average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
> >not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
> >creating an IF game.
>
> OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
> why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
> but illegal.

Well, the Xena fanfic writers *do* publish and are assumably paid,
although I don't know if any official figures have ever been released on
the subject... nor do I know how much the fanfic writer who was hired to
write for the show was paid...

__________________________________________________________________

Duke University Role-playing And Gaming Organization
http://www.duke.edu/web/DRAGO/

David Glasser

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Jan 11, 2002, 4:13:14 PM1/11/02
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Adam Thornton <ad...@fsf.net> wrote:

No, no, it's all about Snape!

Please note that I know this not because I've read it, just because I've
seen it in the news quite a bit.

--
David Glasser
ne...@davidglasser.net http://www.davidglasser.net/

Jonathan Penton

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Jan 11, 2002, 4:28:45 PM1/11/02
to
"Adam Thornton" <ad...@fsf.net> wrote in message
news:a1n1a0$j2t$3...@news.fsf.net...

That's legally true, and it wasn't the only owner-condoned work of fan
fiction in the 2001 Comp; "Timeout" was much more literally fan fiction,
endorsed by West End Games. I can't believe I forgot that.

I didn't read all the reviews, but I didn't see anyone slamming either piece
for being fan fiction (once legality was established). This tends to support
my belief that legal issues are a big factor in the lack of IFF.

Marnie Parker

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Jan 11, 2002, 4:39:16 PM1/11/02
to
>Subject: Re: harry potter
>From: Georgina Bensley ge...@duke.edu
>Date: 1/11/2002 12:50 PM Pacific Standard Time
>Message-id:

>Well, the Xena fanfic writers *do* publish and are assumably paid,
>although I don't know if any official figures have ever been released on
>the subject... nor do I know how much the fanfic writer who was hired to
>write for the show was paid...

There is a lot of inconsistency in how fan fic is recieved (whether, tv,
movies, or book fan fic). I hate to say anything specific here, because I
haven't checked my facts, but, for instance some sci-fi writers welcome it and
some do not.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, for instance, now deceased, published books of fan fic
about Darkover. So, she actually sort of encouraged it. Some other sci-fi
authors scream about fan fic.

Welcoming or screaming doesn't seem to stop it though. But IF is really a
different genre than static fan fic, raising different issues. A game is more
permanent in many senses, more a "thing", than some story that may be published
on the Internet in a newsgroup, but be hard to find later. (Those are some of
the facts I have not double-checked, but I suspect that to be true.)

Doe :-)


doea...@aol.com
IF http://members.aol.com/doepage/intfict.htm
(An Iffy Theory | Glulx/Glk for Duncies | unglklib | Inform Primer)
IF Art Gallery http://members.aol.com/iffyart/
IF Review Conspiracy http://www.plover.net/~textfire/conspiracy/

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jan 11, 2002, 5:04:59 PM1/11/02
to
On 11 Jan 2002 10:19:32 GMT, Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>In article <Zfy%7.2152$F95.41...@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com>,
>Jonathan Penton <unli...@flash.net> wrote:
>>The
>>average fan fic writer can't be bothered to use a spellchecker; these are
>>not the sorts of people who will sit down to the laborous process of
>>creating an IF game.
>
>OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
>why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
>but illegal.
>

Um.... because they have a story that intimately involves characters
and situations from an existing source?

Star Trek fanfic is probably the easiest example I can think of. If
you have an idea that clearly draws from the *universe* established in
the Star Trek series, you have two choices; write fanfic, or mogrify
your story to make sense in a novel universe. If you do the first,
you're one of those damned fanfic authors. If you do the second, then
(a) you are liable to need to craft a *whole lot of universe*, which
probably wasn't your intention (universe crafting is great, but it's
not something everyone wants to do. When I want to write a short
little love story between a man and his phaser, I don't eant to have
to invent the universe first. An "existing" universe has a lot of
weight behind it. If I want to talk about space exploration, I can
either write a thirty page story in the star trek universe, or write a
thirty page story with two hundred pages of explanation about the
universe if I want the same effect of having a work set in a
thorroughly backgrounded universe.) and (b) If the story really does
fit the star trek universe, your created universe will either be a bad
fit, or will *look like a star-trek ripoff*. For some, writing a star
trek rip-off is less desirable than writing a star trek fanfic.

John W. Kennedy

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Jan 11, 2002, 5:54:13 PM1/11/02
to
Marnie Parker wrote:
> Marion Zimmer Bradley, for instance, now deceased, published books of fan fic
> about Darkover. So, she actually sort of encouraged it.

Until a fan produced a story close enough to a novel she was writing
that she had to throw away two years of work.

--
John W. Kennedy
"Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers"
Coming to the Sci-Fi Channel in the USA, January 19, 2002

Sean T Barrett

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Jan 11, 2002, 7:09:39 PM1/11/02
to
L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On 11 Jan 2002 10:19:32 GMT, Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>>OTOH, some fan fic writers are extermely competent; sometimes I wonder
>>why they bother writing for a "market" that not only is non-paying,
>>but illegal.
>>
>
>Um.... because they have a story that intimately involves characters
>and situations from an existing source?
>
>Star Trek fanfic is probably the easiest example I can think of. If
>you have an idea that clearly draws from the *universe* established in
>the Star Trek series, you have two choices; write fanfic, or mogrify
>your story to make sense in a novel universe.

Or three, pick a different idea.

Ideas are generally cheap; execution is what matters. Rather than
throw all of that hard work executing an idea "for a 'market' that
not only is non-paying, but illegal," why not develop a different
idea?

There's also a possible motivation of "pay homage to an existing
property", but there are other ways to do that, a la Zeta Space.

SeanB

Marnie Parker

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Jan 11, 2002, 8:48:31 PM1/11/02
to
>Subject: Re: harry potter
>From: "John W. Kennedy" jwk...@attglobal.net
>Date: 1/11/2002 2:54 PM Pacific Standard Time
>Message-id:

>Until a fan produced a story close enough to a novel she was writing


>that she had to throw away two years of work.

Really? Interesting.

Doe That is a big downside of fan fic.

TheCycoONE

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Jan 11, 2002, 10:15:49 PM1/11/02
to

"Jonathan Penton" <unli...@flash.net> wrote in message
news:LAm%7.1769$3z3.34...@newssvr17.news.prodigy.com...
... Maybe. China is now a part of the WTO, and as such will very quickly
become just like the United States, Britain, and all them other right wing
countries.

There are very few laws in Antartica (Providing it doesn't desturb the
landscape.)
, also in much of the former soviet union software piracy is ignored...
though I think they'd get after you if other countries did. Glademier's
(sp?) pretty anxious to be accepted as a economic competitor, and to do that
they're going to have to do some major sucking up for awhile.

It would be best to come up with your own ideas, but short of that, it would
probably be safer to change names etc. and rip them off so that if they want
to come after you, you could lock it up in court for quite awhile. I'm
guessing they wouldn't waste their time on that.

Alan DeNiro

unread,
Jan 11, 2002, 11:34:04 PM1/11/02
to
lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote in message news:<a1nnib$e95$1...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>...

On (a), people write SF short stories set in their own universes all
the time. Space opera was written before Star Trek, you know. It
usually takes smoke, mirrors, and significant details; in other words,
craft. I think fanfic has a lot more to do with identification with
the characters. Good point on (b).

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 3:47:07 AM1/12/02
to
On 11 Jan 2002 20:34:04 -0800, Alan DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:
>lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote in message
news:<a1nnib$e95$1...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>...
>
>On (a), people write SF short stories set in their own universes all
>the time. Space opera was written before Star Trek, you know. It
>usually takes smoke, mirrors, and significant details; in other words,
>craft. I think fanfic has a lot more to do with identification with
>the characters. Good point on (b).

I didn';t mean to imply that they didn't, or that universe-building
isn't a wortwhile endeavour. But. It isn't always what you want to
do. If I want to write a space opera, and I really think the story
would benefit from having a well-established, thorroughly fleshed-out
world behind it, I have two choices: invent a thorroughly fleshed-out
world, or borrow someone else's. Now, there are all sorts of
wonderful things about inventing a fictional world. But that's not
always what you want to do; you can't invent a thorroughly fleshed-out
well-established fictional world in a standalone short story; you
either need to write a series of stories, or a whole novel. But if the
story you want to tell is really only a short story, inventing the
world is going to involve a lot of excessive exposition -- and even if
you handle it well, it's going to be a very different work than the
one you wanted to write; it's going to be an exposition on a fictional
world with some story thrown in.

As I think, another motiviation for fanfic occurs to me -- wanting
prople to read it. I know it sounds funny; we've just said "it's
illegal and the audience is limited", but, frankly, if you know from
the outset that you have no intention of publishing the story outside
of sticking it on the web, then the fact that it can't legally be
published isn't a big issue. If you wrote a story using new
characters, set in an original fictional universe, and set ti adrift
on the web, well, frankly, your reception would be limited. But you
*know* that if it's fanfic, then there are seekers of fanfic who will
read your story. I'd imagine that it's much more rare for someone to
go scouring the web for "original unpublished sci-fi short stories"
than for someone to go looking for "star trek fanfic".

And in some communities, since the major subject of fanfic is TV
series, fanfic contains a lot of pieces which were originally written
with the initial intention of becoming submissions to the series.

Aris Katsaris

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 5:57:29 AM1/12/02
to

"Marnie Parker" <doea...@aol.com> wrote in message
news:20020111204831...@mb-fa.aol.com...

> >Subject: Re: harry potter
> >From: "John W. Kennedy" jwk...@attglobal.net
> >Date: 1/11/2002 2:54 PM Pacific Standard Time
> >Message-id:
>
> >Until a fan produced a story close enough to a novel she was writing
> >that she had to throw away two years of work.
>
> Really? Interesting.

Hmph. It seems to me that she shouldn't be reading her fans' work exactly
because of that reason. Greg Weisman for example (the creator of the
Gargoyles series) says that he does feel flattered by all the Gargoyles
fanfiction out there, but at the same time strongly refuses to read *any*
Gargoyles fanfiction, just so that problem never appears...

Aris Katsaris


John W. Kennedy

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 11:08:11 AM1/12/02
to
Aris Katsaris wrote:
> Hmph. It seems to me that she shouldn't be reading her fans' work exactly
> because of that reason. Greg Weisman for example (the creator of the
> Gargoyles series) says that he does feel flattered by all the Gargoyles
> fanfiction out there, but at the same time strongly refuses to read *any*
> Gargoyles fanfiction, just so that problem never appears...

And people are warned every few days on
news:rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated that Story Ideas are a BIG no-no,
because Joe Straczynski hangs out there. It took a year for "Passing
Through Gethsemane" to be made because someone thoughtlessly said, "Gee,
wouldn't it be great if someone who [deleted] discovered [deleted]?"; it
would never have been made at all if the culprit hadn't Done The Right
Thing, hired a lawyer, traveled to L.A., and made out official paperwork
renouncing all claim to the idea.

Matthew Russotto

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 12:17:34 PM1/12/02
to
In article <u3vacrl...@corp.supernews.com>,

TheCycoONE <cyc...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>
>It would be best to come up with your own ideas, but short of that, it would
>probably be safer to change names etc. and rip them off so that if they want
>to come after you, you could lock it up in court for quite awhile. I'm
>guessing they wouldn't waste their time on that.

They are busy trying to get someone who was 15 years old at the time
tossed in jail in Norway. They have essentially unlimited resources to
throw at alleged copyright violaters.
--
Matthew T. Russotto mrus...@speakeasy.net
=====
Dmitry is free, but the DMCA survives. DMCA delenda est!
"Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in pursuit
of justice is no virtue."

Matthew Russotto

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 12:19:44 PM1/12/02
to
In article <3C405F0D...@attglobal.net>,

John W. Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:

>And people are warned every few days on
>news:rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated that Story Ideas are a BIG no-no,
>because Joe Straczynski hangs out there. It took a year for "Passing
>Through Gethsemane" to be made because someone thoughtlessly said, "Gee,
>wouldn't it be great if someone who [deleted] discovered [deleted]?"; it
>would never have been made at all if the culprit hadn't Done The Right
>Thing, hired a lawyer, traveled to L.A., and made out official paperwork
>renouncing all claim to the idea.

Which just goes to show how badly copyright law has been overextended.

Ideas are explicitly not supposed to be covered by copyright law.

Alan DeNiro

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 2:13:23 PM1/12/02
to
lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote:

<<<But that's not
always what you want to do; you can't invent a thorroughly fleshed-out
well-established fictional world in a standalone short story; you
either need to write a series of stories, or a whole novel. But if the
story you want to tell is really only a short story, inventing the
world is going to involve a lot of excessive exposition -- and even if
you handle it well, it's going to be a very different work than the
one you wanted to write; it's going to be an exposition on a fictional
world with some story thrown in.>>>

It depends what you mean by "thoroughly fleshed-out." Doubtless, in an
SF short story you're not going to have the ability to cram the
complete history of a world within a 10 or 20 page span, unless you
already have that "shared history" or context of a previous series, a
TV show, or whatever. But a short story can feel "thoroughly
fleshed-out" without having this shared context. Sometimes, moreso.
The nature of a beast with a short story is connotative to begin with.
It's not the purpose of a short story, to begin with, to include the
equivalent of an RPG sourcebook, but to provide RELEVANT expositions,
which at times may be very dense, allusive, and, well, believable. (A
good recent example of what I'm describing is Ted Chiang's "Seventy
Two Letters.") In a novel you have more room to play with, of course.

I realize I might not be disagreeing at all with anything you're
saying, that people might be choosing to write fan-fic for the reasons
you describe. My point is that--that might be one of the reasons for
the level of quality between fanfic vs. original fiction. With a few
exceptions, the people who are writing fanfic aren't necessarily going
to have the storytelling skills--cognition, grasp of vivid language,
or specifically with SF, the ability to process/tweak scientific
principles--to pull off not only credible, but interesting original
stories.

Might this be a product of age difference, too, between the
communities? (In the same way that it struck me--though I could be
wrong--that the people making games with ADRIFT seem to be a younger
crowd). Btw, this is coming from someone who as a teen read plenty of
Dragonlance and Star Trek novels, and who wrote a lot--a lot--of
derivative crap.

Alan


----------
Alan DeNiro
http://www.taverners-koans.com/alan

Werner Purrer

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 2:36:33 PM1/12/02
to
On Wed, 09 Jan 2002 20:24:49 -0000, russ...@wanda.pond.com (Matthew
Russotto) wrote:

>
>>i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
>>has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe
>
>Not bloody likely. Can you say "Harry Potter meets Lord Voldemort's
>Copyright Lawyers"?
Mmmh I wonder if Steve Meretzky ever read one of the Potter books. The
basic idea of the books were obviously stolen from the Spellcasting
series!

Werner Purrer

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 2:37:09 PM1/12/02
to
On Wed, 9 Jan 2002 11:44:44 -0700, "Jonah Hex" <jona...@whc.net>
wrote:

>i m new here and am just wondering if a text adventure is being or made or
>has been, concerning the harry potter stories/universe

Spellcasting 101,201,301


Werner Purrer

unread,
Jan 12, 2002, 2:42:55 PM1/12/02
to
On Sat, 12 Jan 2002 17:17:34 -0000, russ...@grace.speakeasy.net
(Matthew Russotto) wrote:

>
>>It would be best to come up with your own ideas, but short of that, it would
>>probably be safer to change names etc. and rip them off so that if they want
>>to come after you, you could lock it up in court for quite awhile. I'm
>>guessing they wouldn't waste their time on that.
>
>They are busy trying to get someone who was 15 years old at the time
>tossed in jail in Norway. They have essentially unlimited resources to
>throw at alleged copyright violaters.

Actually the funny thing is that the guy even didn´t write DeCSS he
only wrote the gui. AFAIR, anyway this guy in the US basically would
be *fucked* the media giants want to make this case a showcase for all
the people so that nobody dares in the future to break copy protection
schemes.

You can bet that they will throw a huge amount of money into that
case. This guys only hope is that the legal system in Europe generally
works better than in the US and the judge sees the whole farce behind
the case. Just my 2cents to the whole tragedy.


John W. Kennedy

unread,
Jan 13, 2002, 6:10:59 PM1/13/02
to
Matthew Russotto wrote:
>
> In article <3C405F0D...@attglobal.net>,
> John W. Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:
>
> >And people are warned every few days on
> >news:rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated that Story Ideas are a BIG no-no,
> >because Joe Straczynski hangs out there. It took a year for "Passing
> >Through Gethsemane" to be made because someone thoughtlessly said, "Gee,
> >wouldn't it be great if someone who [deleted] discovered [deleted]?"; it
> >would never have been made at all if the culprit hadn't Done The Right
> >Thing, hired a lawyer, traveled to L.A., and made out official paperwork
> >renouncing all claim to the idea.
>
> Which just goes to show how badly copyright law has been overextended.
>
> Ideas are explicitly not supposed to be covered by copyright law.

No, in this case, the problem isn't copyright law, but unscrupulous
lawyers who will (and may they all burn in Hell for it) bring lawsuits
they _know_ are unfounded and unwinnable in court, in the knowledge that
their victims will pay blackmail to avoid the costs and delays of a
trial. (A television series is especially vulnerable because an
injunction might shut down the production process, normally resulting in
total death of the show.) Therefore, Hollywood studios must, for their
own safety, maintain a zero-risk policy.

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 3:46:14 AM1/14/02
to
In article <3C4213A1...@attglobal.net>,

John W. Kennedy <jwk...@attglobal.net> wrote:
>Matthew Russotto wrote:
>> Which just goes to show how badly copyright law has been overextended.
>>
>> Ideas are explicitly not supposed to be covered by copyright law.
>
>No, in this case, the problem isn't copyright law, but unscrupulous
>lawyers who will (and may they all burn in Hell for it) bring lawsuits
>they _know_ are unfounded and unwinnable in court,

And it's not just the lawyers - *anyone* can - and does - raise a lot
of trouble claiming "famous author X ripped off my idea - I want
royalties". No matter how unfounded the claim is, the person making
the claim gets their fifteen minutes in the limelight, and can maybe
make enough money from interviews, or from selling their previously
rejected material which is now hot because of all the publicity, to
pay off the lawyers.

And, for the author, the allegations that they're plagiarists tend
to stick, even if any lawsuit is thrown out of court.

--
Magnus Olsson (m...@df.lth.se, m...@pobox.com)
------ http://www.pobox.com/~mol ------

David Thornley

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 1:49:35 PM1/14/02
to
In article <a1ot6b$rva$2...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On 11 Jan 2002 20:34:04 -0800, Alan DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:
>>lrasz...@loyola.edu (L. Ross Raszewski) wrote in message
>news:<a1nnib$e95$1...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>...
>>
>>On (a), people write SF short stories set in their own universes all
>>the time. Space opera was written before Star Trek, you know. It
>>usually takes smoke, mirrors, and significant details; in other words,
>>craft. I think fanfic has a lot more to do with identification with
>>the characters. Good point on (b).
>
(I have heard that the first Barrayar story was actually written
as Star Trek fanfic, and then Bujold rewrote it.)

>I didn';t mean to imply that they didn't, or that universe-building
>isn't a wortwhile endeavour. But. It isn't always what you want to
>do. If I want to write a space opera, and I really think the story
>would benefit from having a well-established, thorroughly fleshed-out
>world behind it,

Why? I've seen no end of good stories in all subgenres that used
their own world. While the author needs to have a good picture of
what the world it, and the author has to stick to it, it isn't
necessary to present it as reference material. I'm open to
counterexample, but I really doubt there are good short stories
that cannot be told except in the context of a fleshed-out universe,
and therefore that using somebody else's universe to tell a story
in is probably a sign of bad writing.

Moreover, I don't see Star Trek as a thoroughly fleshed-out universe.
It consists of a lot of rather generic and inconsistent background
material, and some characters that have been written for by lots
of different people operating from guidelines. Most of the series
was one-hour segments that in the end changed nothing, and could
be shown in almost any order without losing consistency (although
after Babylon 5 became popular Star Trek started having longer-running
plots).

You can drop a character into a Star Trek setting, but the settings
are rather bland, and you still have to explain how the character
fits into, and is affected by, the setting. If you can do a good
job of this, you really don't need to use Star Trek. If not, your
story probably isn't all that good.

This applies less to more consistent universes such as Hogwarts
or Middle Earth or Babylon 5, but even then I'd say that any story
idea that can't stand apart from that universe is probably not
all that good. Feel free to supply counterexamples.

Nor do I see any big advantage in having the characters more or
less defined for you. A work of fiction should either say something
about its characters, in which case you can establish your own, or
it wouldn't need to, in which case you can use more or less
stereotypical characters to good effect. There are things you can
do with standard characters, but it seems to me that you need to
have some sort of ownership of the character for that to work.
For example, if you were to write a story centering about Spock
running a gambling casino somewhere in Engineering, and work it into
Spock's personality somehow, that could be very interesting, and
could benefit from the contrast with how we usually think of Spock.

Now, the average work of IF takes a good deal more work than the
average work of fanfic, and so I would think that it would be
just as easy to settle the IF into its own universe.

I'm not saying that there is no reason to write a story, conventional
or IF, about some students in a magical boarding school in a land
with a looming evil threat, I'm saying that you can write it and
file the serial numbers off without in general sacrificing quality.

>As I think, another motiviation for fanfic occurs to me -- wanting
>prople to read it.

Makes sense. The IF community is in an odd situation in that
respect, in that few people outside the community will play it,
and most of the community is going to at least try it if it
appeals to them at all. I don't think this motivation applies here.

>And in some communities, since the major subject of fanfic is TV
>series, fanfic contains a lot of pieces which were originally written
>with the initial intention of becoming submissions to the series.

I would expect the intention to be wildly optimistic in most cases,
but it does make sense. This also does not apply to IF, of course.
Not to mention that I don't find most TV shows to be high literature,
and so I wouldn't expect much quality from an unused episode.

--
David H. Thornley | If you want my opinion, ask.
da...@thornley.net | If you don't, flee.
http://www.thornley.net/~thornley/david/ | O-

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 4:58:45 PM1/14/02
to
On Mon, 14 Jan 2002 18:49:35 GMT, David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>Why? I've seen no end of good stories in all subgenres that used
>their own world. While the author needs to have a good picture of
>what the world it, and the author has to stick to it, it isn't
>necessary to present it as reference material. I'm open to
>counterexample, but I really doubt there are good short stories
>that cannot be told except in the context of a fleshed-out universe,
>and therefore that using somebody else's universe to tell a story
>in is probably a sign of bad writing.

See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
like
fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
better!
ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
story about a blue house.

>
>Moreover, I don't see Star Trek as a thoroughly fleshed-out universe.
>It consists of a lot of rather generic and inconsistent background
>material, and some characters that have been written for by lots
>of different people operating from guidelines. Most of the series
>was one-hour segments that in the end changed nothing, and could
>be shown in almost any order without losing consistency (although
>after Babylon 5 became popular Star Trek started having longer-running
>plots).
>

Well, leaving aside the fact that I don't have as much awe for plot
arcs as everyone else seems to (In practice, they seem to either
degenerate into Pointless Continuity references, or end up with a
soap-opera feel), there are certain dvantages in very techinical
areas. For one thing, they've staked a claim on a lot of the good
terminology; if you want to have a "warp drive", you're going to have
to call it something else or be accused of ripping them off. Your
"phasers" are eighter going to be "laser guns" or "blasters" or
something equally silly.

You also have a history, and a certain vision of the future. Frankly,
if you're not writing star trek, and you try to talk abotu a future
where mankind doesn't degenerate into cyberpunk dreariness, you'll be
called silly.


>You can drop a character into a Star Trek setting, but the settings
>are rather bland, and you still have to explain how the character
>fits into, and is affected by, the setting. If you can do a good
>job of this, you really don't need to use Star Trek. If not, your
>story probably isn't all that good.

If you can do a good job of integrating your character into the Star
Trek Universe it somehow goes without saying that you could integrate
him equally well into some novel universe? I don't buy that\, not
unless you're talking of novel universes which are highly similar to
Star Trek. And if you're goign to invent a novel universe which is
extremely similar to the ST universe, except in a few details for the
sake of originality, then why bother? If I'm going to expend the effort
to invent a new universe, it's going to be an *different* universe. If
the universe my story and characters work best in is the ST one, I'm
not goign to expend the effort to create a new universe which is just
like trek in all the important respects. That's a waste of effort I
should be putting into the storytelling.

>
>This applies less to more consistent universes such as Hogwarts
>or Middle Earth or Babylon 5, but even then I'd say that any story
>idea that can't stand apart from that universe is probably not
>all that good. Feel free to supply counterexamples.

There are several hundred Star Trek novels, which are, one could
argue, just authorized fanfic. Quite a few of them would not make
sense in a non-trek universe.

>
>Nor do I see any big advantage in having the characters more or
>less defined for you. A work of fiction should either say something
>about its characters, in which case you can establish your own, or
>it wouldn't need to, in which case you can use more or less
>stereotypical characters to good effect. There are things you can
>do with standard characters, but it seems to me that you need to
>have some sort of ownership of the character for that to work.
>For example, if you were to write a story centering about Spock
>running a gambling casino somewhere in Engineering, and work it into
>Spock's personality somehow, that could be very interesting, and
>could benefit from the contrast with how we usually think of Spock.

Consider Sherlock Holmes. In any given Sherlock Holmes story, very
little is said about the character. But over the course of reading the
canon, you gain a *very* detailed insite into the man. If one was
writing a one-off story about a detective with intense powers of
deduction, writing it about Sherlock Holmes would cause the astory to
have a profoundly different feel than making it about Mike, the
really impressive detective.

Also, so far, I find it strange that so many of the comments made
against fanfic could apply equally well to writers of the original
source material (less in the case of single-author projects, of
course) -- and I don't think many people want to argue that the
writers for a TV series are, of necessity, lazy and uncreative (the
writers of any particular series, admittedly).

>
>Now, the average work of IF takes a good deal more work than the
>average work of fanfic, and so I would think that it would be
>just as easy to settle the IF into its own universe.
>

I am unconvinced. I think some of this has to do with the idea of
the Idea as king; that the most important thing about a work is that
uit is based around a novel and interesting Idea. Personally, I'm much
more interested in the quality of storytelling.

>I'm not saying that there is no reason to write a story, conventional
>or IF, about some students in a magical boarding school in a land
>with a looming evil threat, I'm saying that you can write it and
>file the serial numbers off without in general sacrificing quality.

*this* is what I'm getting at. If you're going to write about
students at a magical boarding school in a land with a looming evil
threat, and you just file off the "harry potter" logo, then you're not
somehow being more creative or a better writer than the fanfic author,
and, frankly, if you make the universe your own bny only changing
trivialities, odds are you're goign to come off as
deriviative. (imho), It's far better to write fanfic than to write
fanfic that pretends it's not. (The Brickbuster syndrome)


>
>>As I think, another motiviation for fanfic occurs to me -- wanting
>>prople to read it.
>
>Makes sense. The IF community is in an odd situation in that
>respect, in that few people outside the community will play it,
>and most of the community is going to at least try it if it
>appeals to them at all. I don't think this motivation applies here.
>

Oh no, not here. Though if I write a star trek IF, there's a better
chance that people outside the community will play it.

I was really defending fanfic ingeneral when I wrote this.

>>And in some communities, since the major subject of fanfic is TV
>>series, fanfic contains a lot of pieces which were originally written
>>with the initial intention of becoming submissions to the series.
>
>I would expect the intention to be wildly optimistic in most cases,
>but it does make sense. This also does not apply to IF, of course.
>Not to mention that I don't find most TV shows to be high literature,
>and so I wouldn't expect much quality from an unused episode.

There are, of course, some realms where the fanfic has become
considerably higher in quality than the source material.
(and, as usual, I suspect that maybe a touch of the feeling toward
fanfic here has to do with arrogance; I wouldn't consider your opinion
toward the writing on TV to be uncommon here. Graham's 'Tempest'
adaptation isn't considered "the evil anathema which is fanfic",
because Shakespeare Is Sacred. But there was, IIRC, an IF adaptation
of a Doctor Who episode, which I doubt was met with the same respect.)

David Thornley

unread,
Jan 14, 2002, 11:57:07 PM1/14/02
to
In article <a1vkal$fj5$3...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On Mon, 14 Jan 2002 18:49:35 GMT, David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>
>See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
>like
> fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
> anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
> better!
> ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
> af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
> story about a blue house.
>
Which is not what I'm trying to say.

If you *want* to write a story set in the Star Trek universe, I
have nothing against that, but I'm not likely to read it without
first seeing a good review from somebody whose taste I trust.

If you want to write a good story, I don't see that using the Star
Trek universe is going to help you, it may lead you into bad
practices, and it isn't even legal. If you want to write a good
story in a universe similar to Star Trek, then go ahead and do
it.

>>Moreover, I don't see Star Trek as a thoroughly fleshed-out universe.
>

>Well, leaving aside the fact that I don't have as much awe for plot
>arcs as everyone else seems to (In practice, they seem to either
>degenerate into Pointless Continuity references, or end up with a
>soap-opera feel),

Hmmm. I didn't think Babylon 5 felt like a soap opera, and the continuity
certainly wasn't pointless. What I think made Babylon 5 different in
this regard was primarily the tight individual creative control.

there are certain dvantages in very techinical
>areas. For one thing, they've staked a claim on a lot of the good
>terminology; if you want to have a "warp drive", you're going to have
>to call it something else or be accused of ripping them off. Your
>"phasers" are eighter going to be "laser guns" or "blasters" or
>something equally silly.
>

Science fiction writers have been making up terms for devices that
propel ships at impossible speeds for a long time, and also terms
for futuristic sidearms. This wasn't limited to good writers, either;
even the bad ones coined terms that worked perfectly well.

>You also have a history, and a certain vision of the future. Frankly,
>if you're not writing star trek, and you try to talk abotu a future
>where mankind doesn't degenerate into cyberpunk dreariness, you'll be
>called silly.
>

By whom? While cyberpunk is enjoying a certain popularity, it certainly
isn't the whole field. (BTW, read some of Vernor Vinge for some
distinctly non-dreary cyberpunk if you will.) To name two series I
have been enjoying, neither Bujold's Barrayar books nor Weber's
Honor Harrington stories are cyberpunk or in dismal settings.

>If you can do a good job of integrating your character into the Star
>Trek Universe it somehow goes without saying that you could integrate
>him equally well into some novel universe? I don't buy that\, not
>unless you're talking of novel universes which are highly similar to
>Star Trek.

Obviously, a character can be conceived so it couldn't be integrated
well into the Instrumentality of Mankind, the Galactic Patrol, Gibson's
cyberpunk underground, or various other universes. So?



And if you're goign to invent a novel universe which is
>extremely similar to the ST universe, except in a few details for the
>sake of originality, then why bother?

I'd have several reasons. I wouldn't want to limit the marketability
of the story, for one thing. I wouldn't want to tempt myself to fall
into lazy habits. I always find other people's settings uncomfortable
to write in.

If I'm going to expend the effort
>to invent a new universe, it's going to be an *different* universe.

You do, of course, have to invent something much more complicated:
one or more characters. You have to invent that part of the universe
that the character(s) do things in for the duration of the story.
You really don't have to do much more than that to write a good
story.

If
>the universe my story and characters work best in is the ST one, I'm
>not goign to expend the effort to create a new universe which is just
>like trek in all the important respects. That's a waste of effort I
>should be putting into the storytelling.
>

Except for the waste of effort involved in specializing the ST universe
to what you need, which is similar to the effort involved in envisioning
a small piece of a universe that isn't ST but is similar. Alternately,
you can skip this process and just dump the character into somebody
else's universe without taking the trouble to understand how the character
fits in, in which case you're probably writing a bad story.

>>This applies less to more consistent universes such as Hogwarts
>>or Middle Earth or Babylon 5, but even then I'd say that any story
>>idea that can't stand apart from that universe is probably not
>>all that good. Feel free to supply counterexamples.
>
>There are several hundred Star Trek novels, which are, one could
>argue, just authorized fanfic. Quite a few of them would not make
>sense in a non-trek universe.
>

Could be. I stopped reading them very early on, because even the
best of them were inferior to what the writers were able to do
outside that universe. It could well be that some of them are
quite good, but my personal experience is that that isn't the way
to bet on a randomly selected ST novel. Would you care to
recommend some of the best by author and title?

>Consider Sherlock Holmes. In any given Sherlock Holmes story, very
>little is said about the character. But over the course of reading the
>canon, you gain a *very* detailed insite into the man.

Right. This is because Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes living
inside his head, and so he was able to write about him naturally,
having known him. All the non-Arthur Conan Doyle Holmes stories
I've read have been missing this sense of the "real" Holmes, and
that includes the Adrian Conan Doyle/John Dickson Carr collaborations.

If one was
>writing a one-off story about a detective with intense powers of
>deduction, writing it about Sherlock Holmes would cause the astory to
>have a profoundly different feel than making it about Mike, the
>really impressive detective.
>

To a certain extent, yes. However, if you wanted to write more
than one story, you'd find yourself limited. You'd have to
internalize Holmes, and then you'd find Holmes changing in
ways he wouldn't have in a Doyle story, since the inside of your
head is not the same as the inside of Doyle's. You'd wind up
either continuing to write about a stranger, or writing about
an imposter, somebody else wearing Holmes' cap and smoking his
pipe.

>Also, so far, I find it strange that so many of the comments made
>against fanfic could apply equally well to writers of the original
>source material (less in the case of single-author projects, of
>course) -- and I don't think many people want to argue that the
>writers for a TV series are, of necessity, lazy and uncreative (the
>writers of any particular series, admittedly).
>

That's what I meant about ownership. If you're just renting a
character, you've got to return him or her (or it or whatever)
intact, and this means you can't tear into that character and
find new things. If you're using your own character, you can
do that. You can realize things about that character and expose
them.

Suppose you wrote a ST:TNG story concerning what Dr. Crusher does
in sick bay. Would you be willing to go ahead and go into her
childhood fear of spiders, that continues today, and what that
had to do with her previous love life? The important experiment
she cheated on in med school, and how she almost got caught?
If so, you could write a pretty good story, but the fanfic I've
seen seems reluctant to work over the character to make you
see the character differently, as a more complete human being
(or whatever).

Again, feel free to correct my misconceptions.

>>Now, the average work of IF takes a good deal more work than the
>>average work of fanfic, and so I would think that it would be
>>just as easy to settle the IF into its own universe.
>
>I am unconvinced. I think some of this has to do with the idea of
>the Idea as king; that the most important thing about a work is that
>uit is based around a novel and interesting Idea. Personally, I'm much
>more interested in the quality of storytelling.
>

No, the idea is nice, but you'll get farther with a mediocre idea and
good characters than a great idea with mediocre characters. Ideas
are cheap and readily available. (Ideas that grab you may well be
rarer.) There hasn't been a really original plot that worked in
centuries, at least.

What you need to do to write a good story is have some compelling
reason to tell it. It may be the characters, or the situation, or
how they react, or an emerging plot. What's important had better
be unique in its own way, and what's not important is, well, not
important.

>>I'm not saying that there is no reason to write a story, conventional
>>or IF, about some students in a magical boarding school in a land
>>with a looming evil threat, I'm saying that you can write it and
>>file the serial numbers off without in general sacrificing quality.
>
>*this* is what I'm getting at. If you're going to write about
>students at a magical boarding school in a land with a looming evil
>threat, and you just file off the "harry potter" logo, then you're not
>somehow being more creative or a better writer than the fanfic author,

No, not "somehow". However, it gives you a license to change anything
to fit the story, or the school, or whatever. You can write a bad
story in any fashion. If you write a good story, it's because you
put something of yourself into it. If you're doing that, you are
limiting yourself by sticking to Hogwarts. What if you need a
character much like Snape, but not quite as nasty, and who teaches
outside? You can distort the story to fit Rowling's imagination,
and that's going to hurt the story. You can distort Snape and
jar the reader. You can, off-camera, send Professor Sprout on a
sabbatical, or injure her with a mandrake, and provide a substitute
Herbology professor. This is good, but now you're not dealing with
the established Hogwarts faculty, and if this is the important part
of the setting you're not using Hogwarts any more except for names.

>and, frankly, if you make the universe your own bny only changing
>trivialities, odds are you're goign to come off as
>deriviative. (imho), It's far better to write fanfic than to write
>fanfic that pretends it's not. (The Brickbuster syndrome)
>>

If what you're writing isn't going to amount to more than mucking
around in a world you don't know with characters that don't fit
into your head, then, yes, you may as well write fanfic. If you
do that, it will never be the best you are capable of writing
(assuming you can write a good story) because you will not have
the characters living the story in your head.

I've heard a rumor that Bujold started the Barrayar series as
Star Trek fanfic, and there's enough resemblance there to make
that seem very plausible to me. Suppose she did. By filing off
the serial numbers, she was able to make the universe her own,
to change as she needed to. She was able to bring up problems in
Betan society that she would never have gotten away with introducing
in the Federation, and was able to develop her Empire in ways that
are not particularly Klingon.

What she's got is a fascinating world, with fascinating characters,
confronted with different sorts of problems. It's hers, and she can
have it develop as it should. Nobody's going to come along and
say, "No, that's not how it really works on Barrayar". There are
probably people who know more than her about Klingons, and the
"reality" of Klingons is always subject to change in the next movie
or next TV episode, but nobody knows more than her about Barrayans,
and nobody can change them except her.

>Oh no, not here. Though if I write a star trek IF, there's a better
>chance that people outside the community will play it.
>

Assuming people outside the community will play IF at all.

>I was really defending fanfic ingeneral when I wrote this.
>

My experience differs from yours, although it is much smaller.

>There are, of course, some realms where the fanfic has become
>considerably higher in quality than the source material.
>(and, as usual, I suspect that maybe a touch of the feeling toward
>fanfic here has to do with arrogance; I wouldn't consider your opinion
>toward the writing on TV to be uncommon here. Graham's 'Tempest'
>adaptation isn't considered "the evil anathema which is fanfic",
>because Shakespeare Is Sacred. But there was, IIRC, an IF adaptation
>of a Doctor Who episode, which I doubt was met with the same respect.)

Shakespeare wrote very good stuff (as well as some not so good),
better than anything I've seen made for TV. While Shakespearean
interactive fanfic was not treated in the same way that, say,
Baywatch interactive fanfic would be, ISTM that it was more or less
agreed that "Tempest" (by Graham Nelson) didn't work as well as
"Tempest" by Shakespeare did, or for that matter as well as
"Curses" or even "Balances" did.

The only Doctor Who IF I remember hearing of was commercial, for
a system I never owned.

On the other hand, there have been games that could be described
almost as Lovecraft fanfic: Anchorhead and Awakening in particular.
By filing off the serial numbers, these games, Anchorhead in
particular, became free to develop as they should. Anchorhead is
generally considered to be excellent.

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 3:07:00 AM1/15/02
to
On Tue, 15 Jan 2002 04:57:07 GMT, David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>>
>Science fiction writers have been making up terms for devices that
>propel ships at impossible speeds for a long time, and also terms
>for futuristic sidearms. This wasn't limited to good writers, either;
>even the bad ones coined terms that worked perfectly well.

Do they? THe major alternatives I've seen for "warp drive" - 'star
drive' 'hyperdrive' 'jump drive' mostly sound cliched or overly
specific about the underlying technology. For "phaser" insert
"blaster" "laser" "stunner" "death ray", all of which sound pretty
dumb. And if you want matter transmission, "transporter" is
head-and-shoulders above most of the alternatives I've heard.

>Except for the waste of effort involved in specializing the ST universe
>to what you need, which is similar to the effort involved in envisioning
>a small piece of a universe that isn't ST but is similar. Alternately,
>you can skip this process and just dump the character into somebody
>else's universe without taking the trouble to understand how the character
>fits in, in which case you're probably writing a bad story.

I can't help wondering if it's just a matter of your having read a lot
of bad fanfic, or missing the good fanfic, or what, but I can't accept
"if this story wouldn't work as a non-fanfic, it's probably a bad
story"

>>There are several hundred Star Trek novels, which are, one could
>>argue, just authorized fanfic. Quite a few of them would not make
>>sense in a non-trek universe.
>>
>Could be. I stopped reading them very early on, because even the
>best of them were inferior to what the writers were able to do
>outside that universe. It could well be that some of them are
>quite good, but my personal experience is that that isn't the way
>to bet on a randomly selected ST novel. Would you care to
>recommend some of the best by author and title?

My personal favorite is 'Strangers from the Sky' by Margaret Wander
Bonano. The series of books "authored" by Shatner is also interesing,
for reasons I'll get to.

>>Also, so far, I find it strange that so many of the comments made
>>against fanfic could apply equally well to writers of the original
>>source material (less in the case of single-author projects, of
>>course) -- and I don't think many people want to argue that the
>>writers for a TV series are, of necessity, lazy and uncreative (the
>>writers of any particular series, admittedly).
>>
>That's what I meant about ownership. If you're just renting a
>character, you've got to return him or her (or it or whatever)
>intact, and this means you can't tear into that character and
>find new things. If you're using your own character, you can
>do that. You can realize things about that character and expose
>them.
>
>Suppose you wrote a ST:TNG story concerning what Dr. Crusher does
>in sick bay. Would you be willing to go ahead and go into her
>childhood fear of spiders, that continues today, and what that
>had to do with her previous love life? The important experiment
>she cheated on in med school, and how she almost got caught?
>If so, you could write a pretty good story, but the fanfic I've
>seen seems reluctant to work over the character to make you
>see the character differently, as a more complete human being
>(or whatever).
>
>Again, feel free to correct my misconceptions.
>

And I will. The novels (and this is a big point of contention)
frequently do this sort of thing; 'Best Destiny' by Diane Carey and
the SHatner novels discuss Kirk's younger years. In the unlicensed
universe, there's loads of "What did they do as young people" fic. The
Doctor who novels and fanfic even *regenerate* the Doctor and change
his entire nature.

The best works of Knight Rider fanfic also are willing to take great
liberties with the universe, killing or fundamentally Changing major
characters.

>If what you're writing isn't going to amount to more than mucking
>around in a world you don't know with characters that don't fit
>into your head, then, yes, you may as well write fanfic. If you
>do that, it will never be the best you are capable of writing
>(assuming you can write a good story) because you will not have
>the characters living the story in your head.

Leaving aside the matter of authors who actually can't write a good
story in an orginal universe (and whether or not I personally can write a good
story in either case), I think I'm finally starting to see what you're
getting at. And I will probably conceed that the best fanfics are
those willing to take liberties with the universe. Though I don't
entirely agree that being *unwilling* to take liberties with the
universe leads to a worse story. I'm inclined to recall a class I took
on philosophy and theatre. There's a very modern western tradition of
writing these wacky plays lacking plot, or relying on adlibbing, etc
to capture the (There isn't a good word to put here. Dionesian aspect
is the word I'd have used in the class). Now, interestingly, there's
a trend in eastern theatre which aspires to do the same thing, but it
does it by strict regimentation, such that the actor's every movement,
posture, and mannerism is rehearsed to the finest detail. (Yes. I'm
way off on a tangent). There is something interestign and worthwhile
about crafting a story that fits into the parameters set out by
someone else.

>
>>There are, of course, some realms where the fanfic has become
>>considerably higher in quality than the source material.
>>(and, as usual, I suspect that maybe a touch of the feeling toward
>>fanfic here has to do with arrogance; I wouldn't consider your opinion
>>toward the writing on TV to be uncommon here. Graham's 'Tempest'
>>adaptation isn't considered "the evil anathema which is fanfic",
>>because Shakespeare Is Sacred. But there was, IIRC, an IF adaptation
>>of a Doctor Who episode, which I doubt was met with the same respect.)
>
>Shakespeare wrote very good stuff (as well as some not so good),
>better than anything I've seen made for TV. While Shakespearean
>interactive fanfic was not treated in the same way that, say,
>Baywatch interactive fanfic would be, ISTM that it was more or less
>agreed that "Tempest" (by Graham Nelson) didn't work as well as
>"Tempest" by Shakespeare did, or for that matter as well as
>"Curses" or even "Balances" did.
>

Well no.

>The only Doctor Who IF I remember hearing of was commercial, for
>a system I never owned.

An old AGT game, and a more recent inform one. I think both were, at
some point, on the archive (since I can't imagine how else I'd have
got them)

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 3:47:07 AM1/15/02
to
In article <a1vkal$fj5$3...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
>like
> fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
> anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
> better!
> ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
> af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
> story about a blue house.

You may not be misunderstanding, but I think you're using a false
analogy. It's more like

ff: I want to write a story about a white house.
aff: Sure, why not?
ff: About the white house in Zork I, to be precise.
aff: Then you must have a poor imagination - a good writer could invent
a house of his own.

That's still not saying that aff is right in this argument, and I'm
not arguing against fan-fiction - I can understand the attraction.

And my earlier post was a bit beside the point - it's not fanficcing
itself that puzzles me, it's the fact that there are some very talented
writers who apparently have no desire to write anything but fanfic -
but it's their decision, of course.

L. Ross Raszewski

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 5:12:59 AM1/15/02
to

There are some very talented writers who choose to write nothing but
IF. I can't understand why anyone would choose to write for such a
limited audience with no realistic chance of his work being
commerically published :-)

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 6:56:55 AM1/15/02
to
In article <a20vbb$no$3...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On 15 Jan 2002 08:47:07 GMT, Magnus Olsson <m...@df.lth.se> wrote:
>>And my earlier post was a bit beside the point - it's not fanficcing
>>itself that puzzles me, it's the fact that there are some very talented
>>writers who apparently have no desire to write anything but fanfic -
>>but it's their decision, of course.
>
>There are some very talented writers who choose to write nothing but
>IF. I can't understand why anyone would choose to write for such a
>limited audience with no realistic chance of his work being
>commerically published :-)

At times, I, too, find that hard to understand :-).

Seriously: most of the time I don't find it that hard to understand,
because writing IF is quite different from writing static fiction.

The difference between static fanfic and static original fiction
is much smaller. But obviously it's large enough for some people.

I'm very much aware that my problem with fanfic-only writers is *my*
problem, not theirs; the fact that *I* have difficulty understanding
doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with them or what they're
doing.

Another aspect of it is that the choice between IF and static fiction
is a choice of medium - like a choice between sculpture and painting
in oils. The choice between original fiction and fanfic is a matter
of originality. But then originality is overrated today.

michael chung

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Jan 15, 2002, 8:36:30 AM1/15/02
to
who is harry potter

Alan DeNiro

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 11:56:09 AM1/15/02
to
> See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
> like
> fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
> anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
> better!
> ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
> af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
> story about a blue house.
>

The color of house analogy just doesn't work for me, because it's not
as much an issue about content, but of poor vs. good writing to begin
with. Qualitatively. Thinking up your own characters, setting, and
developing a personal style builds and strenghtens "writing muscles"
that just aren't exercised when you have a prefab universe--not only
that, but a universe that relies heavily on a cliche-ridden visual
iconography.

>If I'm going to expend the effort
> to invent a new universe, it's going to be an *different* universe. If
> the universe my story and characters work best in is the ST one, I'm
> not goign to expend the effort to create a new universe which is just
> like trek in all the important respects.

I'm not buying this whole argument. The whole point of writing is
"expending effort."

> Well, leaving aside the fact that I don't have as much awe for plot
> arcs as everyone else seems to (In practice, they seem to either
> degenerate into Pointless Continuity references, or end up with a
> soap-opera feel), there are certain dvantages in very techinical
> areas. For one thing, they've staked a claim on a lot of the good
> terminology; if you want to have a "warp drive", you're going to have
> to call it something else or be accused of ripping them off. Your
> "phasers" are eighter going to be "laser guns" or "blasters" or
> something equally silly.
>
> You also have a history, and a certain vision of the future. Frankly,
> if you're not writing star trek, and you try to talk abotu a future
> where mankind doesn't degenerate into cyberpunk dreariness, you'll be
> called silly.

They might have laid claim to bad cliches. The way to avoid "ripping
them off" is to avoid bad cliches, which to no surprise is a good rule
for writing in general. How is the pseudoscience of a warp drive "good
terminology"?

The second paragraph about cyberpunk dreariness is very simplistic, if
not patently false. Silly? What? It doesn't boil down to Star Trek =
positivist future vs. Everything Else = dreary and dark. So if you
don't want to write anything dreary and dark, well, you'd better latch
onto a known franchise like Star Trek because it's just too hard to
think creatively about the future for yourself. Please.

> There are several hundred Star Trek novels, which are, one could
> argue, just authorized fanfic. Quite a few of them would not make
> sense in a non-trek universe.


It's not authorized fanfic. It's a publisher approaching a writer who
has some publishing history saying, "Here's $20,000. Go write a star
trek book." The writer might be a fan with a lowercase f, but not with
an uppercase F. It's a purely business proposition; the books are
basically literature turned into soulless commodity in the first
place. And yeah, I feel very strongly about this, that media tie-ins
have a parasitic relationship to science fiction--they take up shelf
space (more and more, actually), but give nothing back to the genre.
We could probably go on and on about this, but I'm not sure it'll
change either of our minds.

Alan

Magnus Olsson

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 12:15:40 PM1/15/02
to
In article <254e3122.02011...@posting.google.com>,

Alan DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:
>> See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
>> like
>> fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
>> anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
>> better!
>> ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
>> af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
>> story about a blue house.
>>
>
>The color of house analogy just doesn't work for me, because it's not
>as much an issue about content, but of poor vs. good writing to begin
>with.

I think you really must separate the quality of the writing from,
well, what shall I call it, worldbuilding issues. Fan-fiction (as well
as other kinds of writing in a shared universe) can be very good
writing indeed.

>>If I'm going to expend the effort
>> to invent a new universe, it's going to be an *different* universe. If
>> the universe my story and characters work best in is the ST one, I'm
>> not goign to expend the effort to create a new universe which is just
>> like trek in all the important respects.
>
>I'm not buying this whole argument. The whole point of writing is
>"expending effort."

Surely, the whole point of writing is communication? Unless you're
writing just as an exercise, intending to stuff the result at the back
of your desk drawer for the rest of eternity.

I'd like to see it this way: if I really wanted to write a Trek story,
I'd do it - as I've said, I can see the attraction. However, I think
it would be more likely that I'd be just as happy with a Trek-like
setting. Filing off the serial numbers in such a case would not just
avoid legal trouble but would also give me greater freedom. I might
still be criticized by people who found the entire setup derivative,
so it's more likely that I'd deviate from Trek in all aspects but the
ones crucial to my story, but that would depend on the situation.

>> For one thing, they've staked a claim on a lot of the good
>> terminology; if you want to have a "warp drive", you're going to have
>> to call it something else or be accused of ripping them off. Your
>> "phasers" are eighter going to be "laser guns" or "blasters" or
>> something equally silly.

Well, Star Trek is so well-known, and so much held up as an example of
bad SF (in some circles) that anything even remotely resemblign Star
Trek runs the risk of being labeled a rip-off. Renaming a phaser will
still cause people to say "isn't that just a renamed Star Trek phaser?"

BTW, the phrases "laser guns" and "blasters" have different connotations
for me.

>> You also have a history, and a certain vision of the future. Frankly,
>> if you're not writing star trek, and you try to talk abotu a future
>> where mankind doesn't degenerate into cyberpunk dreariness, you'll be
>> called silly.

As a general claim, I think this is flat out wrong. In special cases:
well, some people will call optimistic futures silly, but the same people
are likely to sneer even more at Trek fanfic. And there are people who
absolutely hate cyberpunk and who think dystopic futures are silly.

David Thornley

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Jan 15, 2002, 2:40:35 PM1/15/02
to
In article <a20nv4$u3h$1...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,

L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
>On Tue, 15 Jan 2002 04:57:07 GMT, David Thornley <thor...@visi.com> wrote:
>>>
>>Science fiction writers have been making up terms for devices that
>>propel ships at impossible speeds for a long time, and also terms
>>for futuristic sidearms. This wasn't limited to good writers, either;
>>even the bad ones coined terms that worked perfectly well.
>
>Do they? THe major alternatives I've seen for "warp drive" - 'star
>drive' 'hyperdrive' 'jump drive' mostly sound cliched or overly
>specific about the underlying technology.

And "warp drive" is neither?

For "phaser" insert
>"blaster" "laser" "stunner" "death ray", all of which sound pretty
>dumb.

"DeLameter"?

I think the issue here is that "warp drive" and "phaser" sound good
to you, through familiarization, and that you're just more comfortable
with these terms. I suppose that's a slight advantage to fanfic:
you're working in a familiar environment.

And if you want matter transmission, "transporter" is
>head-and-shoulders above most of the alternatives I've heard.
>

I don't think it's original to Star Trek either, although I'm
not quite coming up with a memory of a story calling it a
"transporter". "Transmat" and "Transplat" I can remember.

>I can't help wondering if it's just a matter of your having read a lot
>of bad fanfic, or missing the good fanfic, or what, but I can't accept
>"if this story wouldn't work as a non-fanfic, it's probably a bad
>story"
>

My experiences with fanfic are almost uniformly bad, and the good ones
aren't as good as I know the author could do elsewhere. Mind you,
I don't have a great deal of experience with fanfic, since there
are better things to do in life than seek out literature I have
reason to believe is generally bad.

>My personal favorite is 'Strangers from the Sky' by Margaret Wander
>Bonano. The series of books "authored" by Shatner is also interesing,
>for reasons I'll get to.
>

OK; I'll see if I can get hold of that one.

>The best works of Knight Rider fanfic also are willing to take great
>liberties with the universe, killing or fundamentally Changing major
>characters.
>

Which is what I'd expect.

Of course, if a story about Jean-Luc growing up is an interesting
story, it's likely to be interesting when written about Charles
Pierre, and if it's a dull story about Charles Pierre, it's likely
to not be a good story about Jean Luc. Unless, of course, the
story ties in with the Jean-Luc Picard seen on TV and in movies.
A story about Kathryn Janeway's (sp?) life as a teenage girl
may attract interest by being about Janeway, but that isn't the
same as literary quality.

>Leaving aside the matter of authors who actually can't write a good
>story in an orginal universe (and whether or not I personally can write a good
>story in either case), I think I'm finally starting to see what you're
>getting at. And I will probably conceed that the best fanfics are
>those willing to take liberties with the universe.

Right.

Though I don't
>entirely agree that being *unwilling* to take liberties with the
>universe leads to a worse story.

I'm not claiming a causal connection here, but it seems to me that
a story that is free to develop as it needs to is more likely to
be a good story, and that limiting it to the context of Star
Trek or something else is likely to stunt its potential.

(Of course, this didn't stop "Rosencratz and Guildenstern are Dead",
probably my favorite fanfic of all time, from being very good.
It's a matter of tendencies.)

I'm inclined to recall a class I took
>on philosophy and theatre. There's a very modern western tradition of
>writing these wacky plays lacking plot, or relying on adlibbing, etc
>to capture the (There isn't a good word to put here. Dionesian aspect
>is the word I'd have used in the class). Now, interestingly, there's
>a trend in eastern theatre which aspires to do the same thing, but it
>does it by strict regimentation, such that the actor's every movement,
>posture, and mannerism is rehearsed to the finest detail. (Yes. I'm
>way off on a tangent). There is something interestign and worthwhile
>about crafting a story that fits into the parameters set out by
>someone else.
>

Sorry, I don't quite see the connection here. These are about
forming works of theater with more or less initiative being
allowed the actors. It seems to me that the proper analogy
would have fanfic being an intended part of the universe, with
the author positively counting on certain features being filled
out by others. (Darkover could have been something like this;
more professional equivalents might be "Thieve's World" and
"Heroes in Hell".)

L. Ross Raszewski

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Jan 15, 2002, 4:20:11 PM1/15/02
to
On 15 Jan 2002 08:56:09 -0800, Alan DeNiro <aland...@aol.com> wrote:
>> See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
>> like
>> fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
>> anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
>> better!
>> ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
>> af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
>> story about a blue house.
>>
>
>The color of house analogy just doesn't work for me, because it's not
>as much an issue about content, but of poor vs. good writing to begin


This is true only because you've already assumed that fanfic is
qualitiatively worse.

>with. Qualitatively. Thinking up your own characters, setting, and
>developing a personal style builds and strenghtens "writing muscles"
>that just aren't exercised when you have a prefab universe--not only
>that, but a universe that relies heavily on a cliche-ridden visual
>iconography.

Well, leaving aside that there might be more than one way to work out
the "writing muscles", I've read fanfic which indtroduces novel
characters (Indeed, almost all but the worst fanfic does), the vast
majority of it exercizes a novel personal style, and some of it even
introduces new settings.

>
>>If I'm going to expend the effort
>> to invent a new universe, it's going to be an *different* universe. If
>> the universe my story and characters work best in is the ST one, I'm
>> not goign to expend the effort to create a new universe which is just
>> like trek in all the important respects.
>
>I'm not buying this whole argument. The whole point of writing is
>"expending effort."

But expending effort where it gets you something. If "expending
effort" was the *whole* point, any book which is difficult to write
is inherently "better". I'd have a great difficulty writing a novel
in spanish, but I doubt it would be one of my better works.

THe trick to writring well is expending effort where effort can be put
to use. I don't always want to reinvent the wheel just because
"inventing the wheel is a lot of effort and will strengthen my
wheel-inventign muscles"

>
>They might have laid claim to bad cliches. The way to avoid "ripping
>them off" is to avoid bad cliches, which to no surprise is a good rule
>for writing in general. How is the pseudoscience of a warp drive "good
>terminology"?

You've essentially promoted novelty above all else here. I won;t be
inclined to agree that novelty is nearly as important as some would suggest.

>
>The second paragraph about cyberpunk dreariness is very simplistic, if
>not patently false. Silly? What? It doesn't boil down to Star Trek =
>positivist future vs. Everything Else = dreary and dark. So if you
>don't want to write anything dreary and dark, well, you'd better latch
>onto a known franchise like Star Trek because it's just too hard to
>think creatively about the future for yourself. Please.
>

Well, no, but I've been told in several circles that "positive future
stories are juvenile and silly". But Star Trek circles don't think
that way.

>> There are several hundred Star Trek novels, which are, one could
>> argue, just authorized fanfic. Quite a few of them would not make
>> sense in a non-trek universe.
>
>
>It's not authorized fanfic. It's a publisher approaching a writer who
>has some publishing history saying, "Here's $20,000. Go write a star
>trek book." The writer might be a fan with a lowercase f, but not with
>an uppercase F. It's a purely business proposition; the books are

This isn't true. (Well, it probably is in the Star Trek universe, but
in other fandoms with media tie-ins, quite a few of the authors are
capital-F fans who are doing it as much out of love for the series as
for a living.)

>basically literature turned into soulless commodity in the first
>place. And yeah, I feel very strongly about this, that media tie-ins
>have a parasitic relationship to science fiction--they take up shelf
>space (more and more, actually), but give nothing back to the genre.
>We could probably go on and on about this, but I'm not sure it'll
>change either of our minds.

Well, you won't get me to conceed "give nothing back".


I suspect that the fundamental reason that fanfic is percieved as
havign a lower overall quality is that there's a lot more unpublished
fanfic out there for public scrutiny than unpublished original fiction
out there for public scrutiny. So the comparison between fanfic and
original fiction (and I no longer really like the term "original
fiction". Perhaps "novel" would be better.) tends to be weighted in
its consideration of novel fiction toward published material, which
has quality control that unpublished fiction doesn't.

Alan DeNiro

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Jan 15, 2002, 5:24:08 PM1/15/02
to
m...@df.lth.se (Magnus Olsson) wrote in message news:<a20qab$ogm$1...@news.lth.se>...

> In article <a1vkal$fj5$3...@foobar.cs.jhu.edu>,
> L. Ross Raszewski <lrasz...@loyola.edu> wrote:
> >See, maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I keep hearign this as something
> >like
> > fanficcer: I want to write a story about white houses.
> > anti-fanficcer: But stories about blue houses are just as good or
> > better!
> > ff: But I don't want to write a story about blue houses
> > af: Then you must be a poor writer; a good writer could write a good
> > story about a blue house.
>
> You may not be misunderstanding, but I think you're using a false
> analogy. It's more like
>
> ff: I want to write a story about a white house.
> aff: Sure, why not?
> ff: About the white house in Zork I, to be precise.
> aff: Then you must have a poor imagination - a good writer could invent
> a house of his own.
>
> That's still not saying that aff is right in this argument, and I'm
> not arguing against fan-fiction - I can understand the attraction.

But doesn't Shrapnel fall into this category then? I don't think
anyone would argue that the game displayed poor imagination simply
because it used the Zork house. Similarly, I don't see _Grendel_ as
Beowulf fanfic, or Jack Womack's _Elvissey_ as Elvis fanfic.

I WOULD, however, call _Prodly the Puffin_ (both the comic and the IF
game) as something close--or at least closer--to fanfic.

Using pastiche, or incorporating images from other work isn't the
issue. People have been doing that for ages. It's something deeper.
What it is, i'm not exactly sure, but I think it has to do something
with the fact that fanfic only feeds back into itself. It's the
difference between, say, the Replacements covering the KISS song
"Black Diamond"...and a KISS tribute band. The latter is mindless,
harmless fun--you get the costumes, the technically proficient covers,
but at root, it's a heartless, mechanical enterprise. There's nothing
new to it, there's nothing coming from the artist. The former is a
song on arguably one of the greatest rock albums of all time (the
album's title _Let it Be_ is a kind of pastiche itself). Both are
drawing from the same source material. But which makes a more
meaningful impact?

Alan

Adam Thornton

unread,
Jan 15, 2002, 8:14:01 PM1/15/02