Alexis Fegan Black is Dead

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Title: Alexis Fegan Black is Dead
Creator: Della Van Hise
Date(s): February 25, 2017
Medium: blog post
Fandom: Star Trek, others
Topic:
External Links: Alexis Fegan Black is Dead; WebCite
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Alexis Fegan Black is Dead is a 2017 blog post by Della Van Hise.

The blog post includes an icon which portrays a tombstone with the words: "RIP Alexis Fegan Black. MURDERED BY AO3."

Although it covered other topics, the post was prompted by AO3 admins removing her fics from the site for TOS violations, specifically, the rule about no commercial promotion.[1] Other fans had also recently run afoul of this rule; see PSA: DON'T MENTION COMMISSIONS/PATREON ON AO3. (Incidentally, Della Van Hise had previously written a blog post about the writer life that mentioned using AO3 to promote her original fiction.[2])

Some Topics Discussed

  • fandom and profit
  • violations of terms of service on AO3
  • perceived harassment
  • social justice warriors and "the Entitlement Generation"
  • Anne Rice and her views on fanworks
  • the backstabbing ways of fans
  • liars and hypocrites
  • changing one's mind about the legality and ethics regarding fanworks, with comments on violating the fourth wall
  • the perceived failing quality of Star Trek fandom, specifically Kirk/Spock: "[Star Trek] lost its true meaning and de-evolved into a shark tank of fangirls who were far more interested in "Shatner's package" than in anything remotely meaningful. Over the years, I watched even the genre of K/S de-evolve from stories about love into nothing more than sexual escapades between two characters who bore absolutely no resemblance to the Kirk and Spock anyone might have recognized."
  • the "rumors of every description as to what Big Bad Della "did" to fandom"
  • wanting to give something back to fandom and being thwarted
  • creating print zines long before the "first social justice warrior crawled out of the belly of a jackal"
  • the removal of her fics from AO3, where they had "kudos numbering in the thousands"
  • the uselessness of internal links to Amazon and personal websites as a money-making proposition
  • the actions of "self-righteous twats"

Excerpts

All of this started when I received a rather snottily worded letter from AO3 (Archive of our Own, for the mercifully uninformed) telling me that my works on the archive were in violation of some obscure (and petty) little "rule" which prohibits "advertising" on the site. (As of this writing, I've just received an email from the same twerp who deleted my works, saying "there can be no mention of any commercial works at all." Nothing like making it up as they go along. Any site that expects authors to contribute FREE material, and then makes it impossible for that author to promote herself, is not a site I would promote, and not a site I would encourage any sane writer to contribute to.)
When I looked at the specific work that had allegedly been reported as offensive, all I could find were the typical mentions any self-respecting author would make in the end notes, as a means to guide readers to her more recent works - such as what might appear on the author's website, blog or her author page on Amazon. I should also point out that the author page on Amazon doesn't sell anything. There are no links to put anything in a cart or buy it now. The author page is nothing more than a listing of the author's works - and a link to that page from the archive seems a tiny price to pay in exchange for the stories and novels I had uploaded for their readers to enjoy, absolutely free of charge. In order to actually buy anything from Amazon, a potential reader would have to click on the title, and only then would they see anything offered for sale. So for the "powers-that-be" (term applied very loosely) at AO3 to make an arbitrary decision that I was attempting to "sell" something on their precious little site is not only ludicrous, but downright stupid in the extreme. Yes, stupid - a word I generally reserve for Irish Setters and anyone with an IQ below 70. Sorry, but if the shoe fits...

So here's the thing... when I was asked (no, when I was commanded) to remove all mentions of my website, my Amazon page, my blog, etc., I found the demand so completely unreasonable that I could only laugh at the self-importance of whatever social justice warrior had "complained" in the first place. First of all, I have some serious doubts that there was ever an actual complaint. Reason being - the author is not allowed to confront her accuser, so any half-baked "admin" on the site could simply decide for herself (based on rumors or based on nothing whatsoever) that she was going to make a stink and threaten me with taking down all of my works, even though the complaint was based on only one of my works (Private Possessions).

So I gave it some thought, and made the suggested changes to the novel in question. I removed all potentially-offending links & mentions, tidied up the front and end notes like a good little girl bowing to the whims of some over-zealous spawn of The Entitlement Generation... and then this morning I received notice that all of my works had been removed from the archive. Actually, this comes as no surprise - not even the fact that Private Possessions was also axed, even though it had NO violations of the petty little rules of the petty little dictatorship that apparently runs the petty little archive.
I had originally chosen to upload my stories (including two long novels!) to the archive as a gift to fandom, to express my love for Star Trek and my appreciation to the fans who read my works for years when I was still producing fanzines back in the dinosaur days before the first social justice warrior crawled out of the belly of a jackal. The real sad thing here is that removing my works from the archive really doesn't hurt me in the least. The ones who are hurt are the fans who clicked on those stories, read them with obvious joy, and left kudos numbering in the thousands. The archive isn't hurting me by removing my works. It's hurting its own readers - and for absolutely No Thing whatsoever.
Yes, I am outraged, because this just dredges up all the reasons I left fandom in the first place. Sure, there are rumors of every description as to what Big Bad Della "did" to fandom. There are just as many stories from people she helped - with their writing, their art, their zine publishing, and so forth. Believe what you will. But the bottom line is that there came a day when I could no longer abide the back-biting, underhanded, duplicitous and outright lying that had become the norm in fandom, rather than the exception.
There is certainly a split opinion of fan fiction in general. Some authors actively encourage it, while others have placed a "Do Not Touch" sign on their characters. Anne Rice, for example, expressly forbids fan fiction about Louis and Lestat, and personally I not only agree with her decision, I openly applaud it! Why? Because as a writer, I know how important my original characters are to me, and while I would be flattered that anyone else might want to write about them, I would always feel that someone else's take on my characters would never be my take - and, let's face it, many writers are territorial, and with good reason. No one else can know what's in Anne Rice's head - Lestat is hers to do with as she pleases, and despite the cries of certain members of The Entitlement Generation, he doesn't belong to the world. He belongs to Anne until she says otherwise. Write whatever you want for your own entertainment, but when you start posting it to the internet because you believe you're entitled... maybe better re-think that and read up on copyright laws and what they actually mean.

During that same time period (very late 80s, early 90s) I was also seeing various articles in high profile magazines or newspapers talking about K/S, and occasionally some reporter would even ask the actors about their feelings on the matter. Both Shatner and Nimoy were always very gracious and never came out and said, "Don't do it," but the message was obvious for anyone who bothered to read between the lines. It made them uncomfortable - and who can blame them? It wasn't the fiction, one of them once said, but the artwork - which, let's face it, knew no restrictions. But be that as it may... I began to wonder if perhaps I was trespassing into someone else's life, and I certainly knew I had been trespassing into someone else's characters from the moment I wrote my first Star Trek fan fiction story at the age of eleven. No, it wasn't K/S, just a standard Mary Sue story, but those characters didn't belong to me, and they don't belong to "fandom", despite what many will try to tell you.

But in the big picture, I started having second thoughts about the "moral" implications of all of this. And when I combined that with the changing attitudes I had witnessed in the shark tank of fanzine publishing, I began to truly realize that I no longer wanted to be a part of it in any capacity. I'm certainly no prude. I've written some of the most explicit stuff out there in the world of K/S, and I have no regrets about that. I loved writing K/S, and still have dozens of stories and novels in my head... but I have no desire to write them because 1) I am a dinosaur and the ideals I hold about Star Trek would appear to be every bit as obsolete as the writer; and 2) The universe is ripe with so many possibilities that I don't need to trespass on the characters someone else has striven to bring to life.

As for the archive... I can no longer support its "efforts," for I have come to view it as just another petty organization in a petty world. Hypocritical and self-serving at best. The publishers of tens of thousands of illegal works, yet they prohibit legitimate authors from posting a link to their quite legal books and remove an author's entire list of works on what appears to be a personal whim and personal vendetta.

I'm done. Simply. Finally. Absolutely... Done.

So it is without regret that I must announce...

Alexis Fegan Black is Dead.

Fan Reactions

The blog post has no comments, and it is not clear whether AO3 users found it, but as she also had an abbreviated version of the post on her AO3 profile page, some fans circulated that link a few months later and boggled at it.[3] Some people described it as a Fandom Flounce.

References

  1. See the "Spam and Commercial Promotion" section: TOS FAQ Home, Archived version (Accessed 4 July 2017.)
  2. Back in the days when I was a fan fiction writer, I had a rather large following. I've posted a lot of my old Star Trek fan fic to AO3, and with each story I include a mention of my works on Amazon, much of which is in the exact same vein (male/male romance), and near as I can tell, there is incredible interest in the old fan fic, but virtually no cross-over interest into my professional works." Della Van Hise - A Dark and Stormy Night: Sorry I Sat On Your Rose-Colored Glasses, Archived version
  3. "twitter example".