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Martha Wells

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Dr. Orpheus

On Fanfic and the Sherlock Q&A Incident

I have a couple of questions people posted to answer, but I wanted to put this in its own post. These are some links about the q&a session after the preview of the new Sherlock episode hosted by Caitlin Moran, and how she took the opportunity to slam the fans of the show, and embarrassed the two main actors by making them read aloud slash fanfic she took off the internet, and tried to humiliate the author of the fanfic. I say "tried" because I think Moran mostly humiliated herself.

* This is a description of what happened at the Q&A by a reviewer who was there. Sherlock Season 3 preview @ BFI – The Empty Hearse

No spoilers, but site does have a video ad that plays automatically, at least for me.

I had wanted to write a little about the Q&A, but quite frankly it was awful. I’m not the biggest Caitlin Moran fan, but she did the last Sherlock Q&A really well and I know she really likes Benedict and Sherlock, so I was happy that it would be someone who knew what they were talking about. Boy was I wrong. Nothing she asked had anything to do with the episode, showing how crap she is at interviewing on the fly. And what made that worse was that she clearly hadn’t prepared properly either because her jokes and what she thought was funny really were not and clearly not well thought through.

and later:

You could say that Caitlin misjudged the humour in her questions. She went into the Q&A to take the piss out of the fans, the show and the whole phenomenon in general. Not, mind you, maliciously. Just in a mocking way. But that was bad judgement. The people in the room were the cast and crew, journos and fans that are well known for taking the show seriously. We had waited for 2 years for the episode.

* Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch and fanfic: don't mess with these women (and men)
It’s entirely possible that thanks to Sherlock fanfic, someone who never before considered writing professionally might decide to give it a try. It’s also possible that some who considered doing so may now be scared to, fearing the long memory of the internet and the ridicule they might receive. And to those authors I say: forget the haters, sally forth and conquer all worlds. There is nothing shameful about stretching your wings.

* I can’t stop thinking about what Caitlin Moran did to humiliate a fanfic writer. by savvyliterate
This is what Caitlin Moran caused. It’s not just humiliating an author, making the actors and creators of “Sherlock” uncomfortable or going against her own words about feminism. It’s because what she did could influence someone to stop writing. What if we have lost out on some amazing work because a budding, insecure writer was scared off by Moran’s actions?

They're both right, there are a lot of pro writers (and other publishing professionals) who started out writing fanfic, either from writing fanfic on the internet or from way back in print fanzine days. There are pro writers who wrote for the first Star Trek fanzines in the 60s and 70s. I started out writing Star Wars fanfic for fanzines back in the 80s. It gave me feedback, it gave me confidence in my writing, and it gave me a way to connect with people who loved the same things I did and kept me from feeling alone.

* My Thoughts on Fanfic by Mary Robinette Kowal
This is my position too. I don’t link to fanfic the way I do to fan art, because I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable or inhibit them in any way. Seriously, the more fanfic the better, as far as I’m concerned.
(Though usually I can only see it if it’s on a public platform, I try to check with the artist before I link to fan art — I just feel more comfortable that way. Sometimes I get so enthusiastic though, I forget, so if I link or reblog your art and you want me to delete it, just let me know.)

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Well stated. As I said on Twitter, this was done as an ill-advised attempt at humor and humor at others' expense, in this case both the actors and the author, is always cheap.

Then there is this post: http://dorgris.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/sherlock-caitlin-moran-bfi-qa-spoiler-free/

Curious that blog posts written by female fans in attendance found it cringingly uncomfortable but the male attendee thought it was all good and even makes a point of noting how excited the "fangirls" must be at being recognized by their idols.

The difference isn't just (condescending) male/female but also someone in fan culture and someone just observing fan culture.

(Deleted comment)
One of my favorite Star Trek books from the '80s is Ishmael by Barbara Hambly.. She quite unashamedly notes that the book started as fanfic back in the days before time, and she expanded it when she was asked to write for the series. Of course, it isn't slash, but still, I'd like to see that cow take on Barbara Hambly and try to shame her for writing fanfic.

Edited at 2013-12-17 04:47 pm (UTC)

this is a great example!

And the great thing about that book is not only is it Star Trek fanfic, but also Here Comes the Brides because Mark Lenard was in both series. LOL

Yeah, I love it. I need to read it again. :-)

do you know that while i caught the "here come the brides" aspect, i never until this minute realized that that was mark lenard? but i knew right away who he played, as soon as you said that!

and coincidentally, i reread this about a month ago--it holds up very well!

I have it in my personal library, and now I very much want to reread it. It's such a fun book, especially for someone who was a fan of both shows. :-)

*nod* Wen Spencer started out in Pern fanfic. In the Dragonwriter tribute book her contribution is practically all about the way that fan society was organised those days, the initial contact she later on had with Anne McCaffrey and that McCaffrey changed her stance on fanfic writing when Spencer kept sending her the actual books she had written and gotten published (the Ukiah Oregon series started before the Elfhome series).

Meljean Brook as far as I remember her writing about it years ago, was discovered by one of the professional editors at her publisher, with her Batman/Wonder Woman fanfics on an online site.

I would really have missed out on their works if they had been scared off.

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