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Name: Darkover, MZB's Darkover
Creator: Marion Zimmer Bradley, et al.
Date(s): 1958-1996
Medium: novels, short stories
Country of Origin:
External Links:
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cover of the Darkover fanzine Starstone 4: "The Forbidden Tower" by Terri Windling
from Spectrum #28, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Devra Langsam in costume at MidAmeriCon in 1976

The Darkover books are a series of novels and short stories set primarily on the fictional lost colony planet Cottman IV, also known as Darkover. Because they take place on another planet, and canon includes space ships and interstellar travel, these novels are sometimes called science fiction; but because they also involve societies whose main transport is the horse and who rule by telepathic aristocracy, it is also fair to call the series fantasy.

The works in this series were written out of time-order and span several hundred years, and so have many protagonists. Bradley explored several topics that were quasi-taboo at the time, including homosexuality (male and female) and polyamory, and was influential on the role of feminism in science fiction fandom.


an ad from Darkover Newsletter #23 for the famous bumper sticker

Darkover is a planet with a reddish sun and a fairly cold climate, on which humans were stranded early in the history of interstellar travel. The Darkovans quickly discovered that many of their number had laran, a multivariate power, channeled through personalized blue crystals, that manifests as telepathy, telecontrol, empathy, and several other supernormal ways of relating to the world.

The novels cover periods in Darkover history when society has become basically medieval, with warring kingdoms restricted by powerful custom against major (or laran-based) weaponry. Women are historically subjugated, and several of the novels describe how individual female protagonists find their ways in the world: through an all-female guild called the Renunciates, through polyamory, through study and development of laran, and once contact is re-established with other worlds, through space travel.

Some 1989 fanart, portrays a Darkover harvest, complete with what the artist envisioned a "cralmac," a lion-like, sentient and fierce creature: Art was originally in black and white: "There's a whole genre of paintings, spanning the ages, depicting idealized rural and farm scenes where happy peasants toil in clean, productive fields. They were especially popular in 19th century Europe where the Industrial Revolution's smoky furnaces and grinding mills made people long for the imaginary way it was before the smokestacks took over. I borrowed this Darkover scene from one of those paintings. A male and female peasant harvest native wheat grass, while in the background a cralmac, or perhaps a catman, one of the indigenous sentient species of the planet, helps the humans. The scene is tinted with the rays of the great Red Sun. Marion Zimmer Bradley didn't write a lot about peasants. She preferred to write about magic users, aristocrats, and fighters. You don't get as much audience writing about fieldworkers, unless they revolt. Acrylic on heavy illustration board, 10" x 8", September 1989." -- Darkovan Harvesters by Pyracantha (May 28, 2018)

Copyright Issues and Fanfiction Controversy

Darkover fandom and Marion Zimmer Bradley's intense involvement in it has been a long-running cautionary tale of the complications and boundaries that creators straddle regarding their fans.

The Darkover Newsletter is one example of how closely entwined she was with her fans. The newsletter documents Bradley's interest and encouragement in fans' Darkover fiction and describes fan gatherings at her home. It was difficult, at times, to draw a line between her professional life and her private life and how it all related to fans and the creative lines that divided them.

A fan in 2008 speculated on that fine line between the creator and fans, and canon and fanon:

When I was a kid, and lived entirely on books that Zimmer Bradley had either written or edited, I never thought about how extraordinary it was that she published anthologies of fanfiction for her own canon. By today's fandom standards (which seems to be "Eek! The creator! Run and hide!") that's a crazy close relationship with one's own fandom, and feels very classic SF. What I think is especially weird and kind of cool / kind of claustrophobic is how she takes it upon herself to be the gatekeeper of an official fanon. For instance, she says in the introduction to Leroni of Darkover that there are things that she couldn't write about Darkover without losing her intellectual integrity - and then announces that this fan anthology specifically excludes feminist rants. I guess she covered that ground pretty thoroughly in Renunciates of Darkover, but man, I can't imagine that contemporary fandom wouldn't chafe at having what they can and can't circulate determined by the creator of the canon. I can only imagine that there must have been some underground fanzines circulating everything that Zimmer Bradley didn't allow space for in her fanon - or did the fact that there was an official fanon mean that people competed to get into it and abandoned fan-only publication? [1]

In the end, Bradley's declining health, her professional obligations, and complicated relationships came to a head with the publication of the fan novel Masks. The legal fallout and ensuing events led to a controversy that is commonly cited by anti-fanfiction authors to this day.

A statement regarding Darkover fanworks, updated in 2017:

Writing Darkover® Fiction

Darkover® is the property of Marion Zimmer Bradley and her heirs, and the right to prepare a derivative work belongs to the copyright holder. This means that even if you don't publish it or make money from it; it's still illegal. Nobody is allowed to write a Darkover® story or novel without a contract with the Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust. You may not write a Darkover® story in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or any other language. Any legitimate editor you sent it to would not publish it because that would be a violation of copyright laws and the Berne Convention. If you have an idea for a Darkover® story, create a new background -- a new universe -- rename your characters, and write it so that the story is clearly NOT Darkovan.

We are publishing anual [sic] Darkover® anthologies again, but they are currently by invitation only.[2]

For more on the various accounts of what happened, see: Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy. For more recent controversy, see Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust and Unauthorized Fanworks.

Darkover Fandom

"Four Winds Tower" is cut and glued paper on illustration board, 11" x 14", winter 1987: "[We] participated in Marion Zimmer Bradley's "Darkover" fandom, which flourished during the 80s. Local Darkover fan groups were organized into "Towers," a reference to the towers in Darkover where the psi-magic users gathered to do group workings. The Tower I and my friends belonged to was called the "Tower of the Four Winds."... This was more than 20 years ago. Darkover fandom has faded away, and our Tower has vanished... I have not seen my old friends in many, many years. The past evaporates like aromatic smoke." [3]

The Darkover fandom was most active in the late 1970s, 1980s, though fading in the early 1990s,[4] and was a touchstone of sorts regarding social politics, feminism, gender equality, and the liberation that many women were discussing and trying to incorporate into their own lives. It is no coincidence that one of the most popular and widely discussed Darkover topics was the Free Amazons, women who had taken an oath not to be under the protection of any man and to live outside mainstream Darkovan society.

The long-running Darkover Newsletter was a meeting place for many fans, some of whom used it to start Guildhouses, households that mirrored those in Bradley's books.[5] The newsletter was also a place for fans to connect with each other in order to start local Darkover clubs called "Tower|Towers]]."

A fan in 2007 wrote:

Darkover! I loved those books when they came out -- still do, and those books are definitely surviving the move. They were my first exposure to fanfic, too, though I didn't know that at the time: I read those anthologies of MZB approved fan stories and loved them. They had a certain quality I couldn't define at the time, but which I now think of as ficcish. Was entranced, but then they seemed to disappear overnight (yes, I now know the whole sad story) and so that fannish lurve faded a bit before it could blossom into fannish commitment.[6]

Some 1985 Comments by Bradley Regarding Darkover Fandom

The comments below are from Fandom: Its Value to the Professional, a chapter in a for-profit book.

... the Darkover books I have written by what I choose to call popular demand are worse books than any of the ones I wrote, and keep writing, to please myself. The demand of my personal public and my personal fandom, which can, become very demanding indeed, has required me to go into new areas which have been previously unexplored. It is true that I occasionally wonder whether, if I had not been bound to Darkover by sentimental ties and a very real desire to please my fans, what else I might have been writing which might have been better.


Just recently I have discovered that the level of fan publishing I have been doing in Darkover fandom has been draining energy I need for my professional work and commitments, and so I have, dissolved my personal involvement with Darkover fanzine publishing.

Fandom gives me the opportunity to hear the opinions of women younger than my own daughters; if I keep in touch with their needs and wants and tastes, I will not slip into the past, writing complacently of what I have always written, but will respond to what they are saying to me and of me. Some people think that in Darkover fandom I am simply surrounding myself with "adoring fans" and getting soothing strokes add endless egoboo (a fannish term for, pridefully soliciting compliments, coming from the words "ego" and "boost"). That's far from true; my fans are my most challenging and demanding audience and never hesitate to let me know where I fall short of pleasing them. Some of them have attempted to prove and, have actually proved, that they can write as well as I do myself in my own field. And certainly they give me plenty of blunt and challenging criticism.

The writer who listens can learn, like any performer, as much from the boos and whistles as from the thunder of applause. These are, the straws in the wind that warn, of changes in the needs of the readership, that demand a writer grow with changing times and changes in the readership, that help the perceptive writer learn and grow. The writer, like any artist, who loses touch with the audience is already dead.

I want to live a long time.

Darkover Councils and Towers

Many Darkover fans organized themselves by joining Darkover Councils, also known as "Towers," which were a type of fan club.

From Ambrov Zeor #6 (January 1978):

The fans are now organized into Councils which are clubs open to all Darkover fans. The Councils are nonpolitical, nonreligious, and EMPHATICALLY nonprofit groups of volunteers sharing a common interest in the Darkover novels. There are no dues and no membership requirements apart from the wish to participate in discussions of Darkover and similar fantasy worlds. Many Councils overlap Dragonfen, Amber fen, SCA, and Sime-Kraith-ST groups. The well-known by-laws of the Baker Street Irregulars (a group dedicated to exploring their own fantasy world, that of Sherlock Holmes) contain two clauses which fit the Councils.
"All other business shall be deferred to the monthly meetings."
"There are no monthly meetings."

Well, not quite. Reunions of the Friends occur at Council meeting across the country and at various Science Fiction and STAR TREK conventions where groups of Darkover fans congregate. Many Councils take nonlocal members and communicate basically by penpal round robins, or by publishing their own Darkover newsletters or fanzines.

To subscribe to the newsletter or get information on any of the many Darkover publications, send a Self-Addressed stamped envelope (SASE) to Thendara House Council c/o Friends of Darkover.

There is much about the formation, rules, and some Council activities in Darkover Newsletter.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Marion Zimmer Bradley: A Mutual Admiration Society

Jacqueline Lichtenberg, the the creator of the fandoms for Kraith and Sime~Gen, did much product placement and relentlessly promoted her fandoms and how the two were connected to two other fandoms: "Darkover" and Star Trek.

Bradley writes about Lichtenberg:

Marion Zimmer Bradley (creator of the Darkover Universe novels, and author of MISTS OF AVALON which was made into a TV Miniseries) wrote about Jacqueline Lichtenberg in the preface to "The Answer" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah. Marion Zimmer Bradley writes:

"One thing an editor learns quickly is that cliches have a reason for existence. In putting this introduction together, I tried for a long time to avoid the statment, "No anthology of Darkover fiction would be complete without a story from Jacqueline Lichtenberg" and finally gave up because it's true, exactly the way the cliche has it; no such anthology would be complete without, et cetera. Second only to my editor, Don Wollheim, Jacqueline was the one single person instrumental in making me realize that Darkover had its own independent existence and that I should continue writing. Jacqueline and I differ on almost everything one can imagine, from the aesthetic value of mathematics (I'm con, she's pro) to the quality of the TV show Star Trek (and we won't go into that, thank you.) But, while with all these differences, one would imagine she would absolutely loathe the Darkover books, she likes them; in fact, she once paid me the compliment of saying that a copy of Star of Danger had "saved her sanity" when she was marooned overseas without access to American Science Fiction.

I also think of Jacqueline, with pardonable pride, as a protegee; I read reams of her earlier amateur fiction (and ripped the hide off of her in long bleeding strips for the usual amateurish mistakes, having made them all myself, and worse.) Therefore I was delighted when her work began to assume professional and publishable quality; she has now [1980-jl] sold four novels in her own series, and has begun another, and I couldn't be prouder if I'd written them myself." [7]

Lichtenberg writes about Bradley:

As you all know by now, I have a terrible case of hero-worship for Marion Zimmer Bradley. At times, it is so bad that she gets mad at me because it embarrasses her how I gush on and on with my effusive statements of pure wonderment." [8]

Darkover and Star Wars

From a statement in 1977 in Darkover Newsletter #6: "After all, "Alderaan" is a name lifted from Darkover, accidentally or otherwise, the rebel base was on the Red Moon, Tatooine resembles the Drylands almost as much as it does Arrakis, the Force is not very far removed from certain manifestations of laran, and a local Council member who calls himself "Chang," our martial-arts expert, is a Mark Hamill look-alike."

From the 1977 essay by Ted Bryan in Darkover Newsletter #8: "...yes, it HAS been pointed out that laran is a manifestation of the Force, and that evidently Lucas was familiar with some of the Darkover books."

Darkover and Star Trek

In the 1980 author's foreword to The Keeper's Price, MZB wrote:

Not until women saw Star Trek did they start identifying themselves, just as young children did, with the heroes and heroines of that universe. They were too old to put on Vulcan ears and Enterprise T-shirts and play at being Spock, Kirk, Uhura, and their friends, so they wrote stories about them instead. And, in a wave of amateur fiction, completely unlike any phenomenon in science fiction history, these stories somehow got published in amateur magazines. There were hundreds of them; or let me amend that; there were thousands , though I have only read a few hundred. And when they were sated with Star Trek, many of them turned to Darkover. I don’t agree with Jacqueline Lichtenberg that ‘Darkover is just an advanced version of Star Trek for grownups.’ I was never that much of a Star Trek fan, and not till after I knew Jacqueline did I ever learn much about the phenomenon of Star Trek fandom. Jacqueline, driven like myself, one of those who created her own fantasy world in her teens and transmuted it into a professional series as an adult, used Star Trek fandom, calculatedly (as I used the fanzines built around the old pulp fiction) as a way of learning her craft and getting her early writings in print; she wrote a whole series of Star Trek novels. Then, having found her feet and perfected her craft, she began to speak her own voice and build her own characters, and has now published two novels, and sold three others, in her own world.[9]

Kraith as "Star Trek plus Darkover"

Lichtenberg credits Marion Zimmer Bradley with many of the ideas behind Kraith. An anonymous article on the simegen.com website describes Kraith as having been conceived specifically because Lichtenberg had noticed Bradley had done no writing for the show. (Apparently Gene Roddenberry asked Bradley to write a Star Trek script and she turned him down.) The article claims that the Kraith Premise is "Star Trek plus Darkover" in that it includes Bradley's "laws of ESP" (presumably this refers to the definitions and limitations of the laran gifts).

The resemblance to Darkover is particularly noticeable in Kraith Vulcans' use of psionic devices and the hints of what the ancient, pre-Surak Vulcan "Top Of World" culture was like. The idea of a telepathic aristocracy, of leaders being those who could coordinate and channel other telepaths, and of pon farr originally being related to the blooming of a particular flower, are all similar to ideas found in Darkover.

Lichtenberg was also said in this article to have conceived Sime-Gen by combining Darkover elements with Star Trek's various Effects as noted in the book Star Trek Lives!.[10]

In the foreword to The Keeper's Price (1980), Marion Zimmer-Bradley played down the supposed relationship between Star Trek, Kraith and Darkover, claiming that Kraith originated as an independent paracosm of Lichtenberg's which she mapped onto Star Trek as a method of practice writing:

Not until women saw Star Trek did they start identifying themselves, just as young children did, with the heroes and heroines of that universe. They were too old to put on Vulcan ears and Enterprise T-shirts and play at being Spock, Kirk, Uhura, and their friends, so they wrote stories about them instead. And, in a wave of amateur fiction, completely unlike any phenomenon in science fiction history, these stories somehow got published in amateur magazines. There were hundreds of them; or let me amend that; there were thousands, though I have only read a few hundred. And when they were sated with Star Trek, many of them turned to Darkover. I don’t agree with Jacqueline Lichtenberg that ‘Darkover is just an advanced version of Star Trek for grownups.’ I was never that much of a Star Trek fan,[11] and not till after I knew Jacqueline did I ever learn much about the phenomenon of Star Trek fandom. Jacqueline, driven like myself, one of those who created her own fantasy world in her teens and transmuted it into a professional series as an adult, used Star Trek fandom, calculatedly (as I used the fanzines built around the old pulp fiction) as a way of learning her craft and getting her early writings in print...[12]

In Darkover Newsletter #11, talking about encouraging beginning writers to develop their own unique styles, Zimmer-Bradley says "one of the first things I ever wrote to Jacqueline was that she would never do anything worth doing, professionally, until she got out of Roddenberry's Star Trek universe and started creating her own."

Darkover and Sime~Gen

The "Darkover" series of books and fandom is heavily entwined, not just by Jacqueline Lichtenberg (Kraith and Sime~Gen's creator), but also by fans of all three book sereis.

See Sime~Gen and Ambrov Zeor!.

Adopting a Darkovan Name

Some female fans of Darkover adopted (formally or informally) the name-structure of the Renunciates/Free Amazons, signifying their independence from the influence and protection of men. This elocution is generally written as Firstname n'ha (daughter of) Mothersfirstname, following the part of the Oath that a Renunciate woman is not known by any man's name, but only as the daughter of her mother.

Marion Zimmer Bradley often commented that one of the most-asked questions about Darkover was "what's my name in Darkovan?" She wrote about a variation of this custom in the editorial for Tales of the Free Amazons:

Some women have actually taken Amazon names, and live by them in the 'real world,' not only at meetings of the Friends of Darkover. I am very ambivalent toward people who change their names and reject their own roots or ethnic background... but Jaida n'ha Sandra or Sharrie n'ha Verana [two authors in this zine] is certainly no more annoying than Josie Anderdaughter or Helen Marychild or Rainbow Winddaughter or Treelight Blossom. What's in a name anyway? Acute Nomenclature is hardly a fatal disease, and it's not limited to feminisim; the hippie movement produced some ghastlies...

Bradley herself fanned some of this interest herself; "What's My Name in Darkovan" is the very title of an article in Darkovan Language Review, a work that explained in great detail how one's name could be translated to a version that would fit in with her world.

Mapping Darkover

Walter Breen wrote in 1976: "No maps of Darkover have been authorized by Marion Zimmer Bradley. While she does not wish to dispute the validity of maps produced by scholars and friends of Darkover, she feels that no true map of the planet can be made until the Darkover series is completed. Therefore any maps which appear must by their nature be conjectural and partial." [13]

"Darkover is the world made up by Marion Zimmer Bradley, in which fantasy and science fiction co-exist under a red sun. There is magic and psychic powers, but also an interstellar empire and space ships and colonists from Earth. There are alien races, some of them sentient, and there is medieval-style warfare fought with ancient weapons and psychic magic. There's something for everyone on Darkover. This is a scene of a peaceful place on Darkover, where the old castle has not been used for warfare in many years. It's my first "authentic official" matte painting. Photoshop CS4, 3000 x 2100 pixels, about 8 hours work." [14]
flyer printed in Darkover Newsletter #15/16 (December 1978), discusses paperback books vs hardcovers, and Bradley also appears to give her approval to some Darkover maps

MZB never drew a map of Darkover, nor did she want to, citing in Darkover Newsletter many times her reluctance to put its geography down on paper. While she did not condemn the practice of fans mapping Darkover entirely, she also was not supportive. She also disapproved and did not accept the maps drawn for her professional novels; in 1978 she dismissed the one published three years earlier in "The Heritage of Hastur," saying "The map in HH was fortunately inaccurate enough to be ignored.[15]

BUT, while Bradley constantly scorned maps of Darkover, she apparently didn't have a problem with the maps that appeared in the 1978 "Gregg Press" editions of her books: " ...there comes a time when we want to see books in hard covers, and now the company that brought Andre Norton's WITCH WORLD books into special hardcover editions has done the same for DARKOVER. HERITAGE OF HASTUR, THE SWORD OF ALDONES and DARKOVER LANDFALL are already out in Gregg Press editions, with new introductions by Susan Wood, Dick Luroff and Theodore Sturgeon. In February, 1979, THE SPELL SWORD, FORBIDDEN TOWER, THE SHATTERED CHAIN and WINDS OF DARKOVER will be issued in a new uniform edition, with cover-jackets and illustrations by Hannah Shapiro and a new approved and authentic map of Darkover by Diana Paxson. Each volume has a new introduction specially written for the Gregg Edition by Marion Zimmer Bradley; and they will be followed, in May, by THE WORLD WRECKERS, THE PLANET SAVERS, THE BLOODY SUN and STAR OF DANGER.[16]

In 1978, a fan attempted a project, and was told Bradley would not give her approval for it: "Having now spent at least several dozen hours trying to come up with such a beast, I've just about concluded that it can't be done (at least without ignoring some of the statements about relative locations scattered through the books). For instance... [much snipped] . But enough! If I ever come up with a map I like I will send it in. [The editor adds: "Don't hold your breath waiting for MZB to approve it. She has said that an "approved" map of Darkover would be too constricting to her imagination for future novels."] [17]

In 1986, Bradley responded to a fan who tells her of his Darkover club that meets every Friday evening to talk about the books and draw maps about the books: "I've always refused to accept any maps, first because I dislike filling in 'blank spaces' -- perhaps some day I'll need to put up a city or a forest or a tower or even a lake there. I much dislike fake maps anyhow; maps of non-existent places are just an attempt to map out and colonize a non-existent place in the brain. Leave something to the imagination -- it's what the whole game is about.[18]

Bradley seemed to be a bit more tolerant of maps in 1989: "As of this writing, Darkover has many unmapped area, which MZB prefers to continue to explore, preferable in the company of enthusiastic fans. There is now an "official" map of Darkover.[19]

In 1990, there is some conflicting info about Darkover maps. When a fan asks about Darkover maps, Bradley responded: "If you want a map, you're on your own. The one in Heritage was done from some rough notes I scribbled at eighteen or so." Elisabeth Waters, who must have crossed wires with Bradley, wrote a contradicting reply directly under Bradley's: "The map that appeared in some of the Darkover books is not authorized by Mrs. Bradley—she refuses to accept a map of Darkover because she says she never knows where she'll need to put a new city in." [20]

Bradley's statement in 1992: "You can't get an official map because I hate maps of Darkover. Suppose I want to put something in a future book just where the map calls for a desert?" [21]

In 1993, both Elisabeth Waters and Ann Sharp mix up the message when they answered another fan's questions about maps. Waters said that "Mrs. Bradley is not a particullary graphically-orineted person...so she has never made or authorized a map of Darkover." Bradley piped up: "That's not quite true -- "Heritage of Hastur" had a map." Ann Sharp said: "She CONFESSED! A map! A map! Or at least some artist's unauthorized conception of what a map of residential Darkover might have looked like at the time." [22] Waters and Sharp appear to not remember Bradley's own previous statement in 1990 that the map in "Heritage to Hastur" was drawn by herself, and therefore somewhat "authorized."

In 1995, Waters repeats: "Mrs. Bradley has repeatedly refused to authorize any map of Darkover—she says she never knows where she'll need to put a city; so writing about Darkovan geography is a pretty clear violation of her expressed wishes as well as her copyright." [23]

Despite Bradley's virulent non-encouragement, fans of Darkover, like fans everywhere, however, did their best to create as they pleased.

Darkover Gaming

While MZB was supportive of fan fiction and the fan art that went with it and cold to fans drawing maps, she was openly hostile to those who were interested in creating or playing Darkover games.

In 1986, MZB had this response to a fan regarding one of her characters in respect to a game he was making with friends:

I do not like or approve of fantasy role-playing games, but if people must play them, they should make up their own characters and not muddle with mine...I finally managed to persuade myself that the idiots who used my character in the fantasy role-playing game were only playing with their idea of the character, not mine, and wrote a couple of other stories about her; but I still think if people don't have enough imagination to invent their own characters, they should play tiddlywinks or chess instead of borrowing someone else's work. I don't mind others writing about my characters -- people who can write, and people who read, are my kind of people and can have anything I have. About people who play fantasy role-playing games, I'm not so sure. Why aren't they home reading a good book? Or writing one? [24]

And when a fan in 1986 wrote: "Since I.F.G.S. deals with fantasy games, a number of Darkover fans in the organization have decided to develop a group of characters using the Darkover theme. Any help that the council can provide wold be greatly appreciated. We are interesting in costuming, language, mannerisms, religion, etc," the editor responded:

We're sorry, but you can not use Darkover in your fantasy game. Both computer and non-computer game rights are already under contract. Probably nobody will pay much attention to what you do in the privacy of your own home, but if you attempt to sell, distribute, or publicly play a Darkover role-playing game, you will be in violation of the copyright laws -- and since Marion personally very much dislikes role-playing games, she is not likely to be sympathetic to your plight. Any questions on this matter should be addressed to her agent [25]

A 1995 example of some Darkover gaming is Darkover Manual.[26]

Darkover Language

Optioned for Film

In 1986, a fan asked Bradley if there were "any plans for a 'direct-from-the-most-popular-novel MOVIE." Bradley replied: "Some Darkover stories [27] have optioned for movies. None has materialized. We'd like it too." [28]

There is some discussion in June 1988 about filming Darkover and The Mists of Avalon. A fan asked: "A while back there was a mention of the possibility of a Darkover film. Anything further on that? Seeing such films as "Excalibur" and "Merlin and the Sword" which had such potential with directors and cast and fell flat on their faces with screenplay, I kept saying, "Why couldn't they have used Mists of Avalon?" Any hope of a film there?" Ann Sharp replied:

Morgaine's story, the basis of Mists, takes place over a long period of time, which would be tricky to cut and difficult to screen as is. The inadvertent incest of Morgaine and Arthur would have to be dealt with -- this is still a movie taboo, I believe. Also, Mists has LOTS of background, which is deftly explained in the book but might be difficult to convey on film. Can't you picture the Hollywood version of Avalon, with ninety-six bosomy blonds in white Greek gowns playing the priestesses? Intoning the mysterious theme music for any scene of worship? The opening, every dramatic scene, and the close would probably end with the chargers engulfed in fog -- pardon me -- mist. Would it even be possible to do an Arthurian movie with Arther as a minor character? We'd like to see it happen, but many a good book has been made into a trivial movie. [Bradley adds: "There is an option on Mists to make it into a four-to-six episode televisions series. I haven't seen the screenplay for the first episode (written by Rita Mae Brown), but friends tell me it's good."] [29]

On February 13, 2012, two television producers, Ilene Kahn Power and Elizabeth Stanley, announced they had optioned the rights to turn the Darkover series into a television series. Significant funding still remains to be secured and as of 2012 the project is still in the early planning stages.

Fannish Reaction to the 2012 Proposed Series

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series possibly being made for TV – wow. I managed to miss the Darkover series, which is one of those things like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern that makes me sad. I have heard there’s a lot of hefty 70′s style feminist type stuff in there, though, and would be fascinated to see how they adapt it, and how much the material has dated. Far more than the George RR Martin series, this intrigues me enough to read the source material and compare to the TV if it gets that far.[30]

Producers are pitching a TV series based on Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series. I’m not so sure this is a great idea – the books have their charms, but they are incredibly dated.[31]

Darkover Fandom Today

"I have many of the Darkover Novels (old ones), they were my Grandmothers. But I have not gotten into them."[32]

The Darkover fandom was pretty much killed off in the early 1990s due to the Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy. With the zines no longer being published and the newsletter gone, fans didn't have a meeting place anymore. The threat of legal action against fans was, and is, almost a complete damper on Darkover fandom.[33] A search on fanfiction.net and Archive of Our Own turns up only a small number of fics based on Bradley's work.[34]

In 2012, a fan writes:

Marion Zimmer Bradley's estate is another entity that hammers anybody who tries to publish Darkover fanfic these days. It wasn't always so; she used to actively encourage people to write in her universe(s). But all it took was one fan who wrote a story that MZB read - that was too similar to something MZB was already writing. The fan demanded co-author credit (and $$$$$)... and things got very nasty. The book was never written, which is a damn shame; it's one that would have filled in a part of the series that a lot of people would have loved to read. But after this incident, MZB demanded that no more Darkover fanfic would be tolerated, and if anybody had any stories sitting in a desk drawer at home, we were to either destroy them or rewrite them so they bore no resemblance at all to Darkover. Naturally I mentally told her where she could stuff her (and her estate's) demands on what I have in my desk drawers... but I also keep my Darkover fan stuff to myself, not wishing to incur The Wrath Of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Lawyers. Oddly enough they don't seem to mind the proliferation of Avalon fanfics all over the 'Net, and that series is still in progress! [35]

For a more recent threat, see Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust and Unauthorized Fanworks.


See Category:Darkover Zines.


Bradley herself did not generally approve of, or like Darkover filks and filking, which is one reason why there is not a lot of it. From her newsletter in 1986:

She'll react to what you do to her universe the same way that asthmatic would react to the cigarette smoke. And a minor "allergy" is filking--now mind you, I am an impassioned filker, but I won't inflict it on Marion. Don't corner her and sing at her—don't send her tapes. Send 'em to Lisa Waters and Ann Sharp, they'll listen without breaking out in hives! [36]

See more at Bradley's Attitudes Regarding Filks.

Some examples of Darkover filks:

Darkover Gregg Press Editions

In 1978 and 1979, there were some very limited edition hardcover releases by "Gregg Press" of some Darkover books. They were fan-illustrated.

See Gregg Press.

Fan Sites

There's a bunch here, but most need to be Waybacked: Darkover Webring

See also

External Sources

Meta/Further Reading


  1. ^ In which I get rather meta? by sapote, posted October 2nd, 2008, accessed February 21, 2012
  2. ^ Darkover
  3. ^ Art By-Products by Pyracantha, posted July 24, 2010, accessed February 21, 2012
  4. ^ This may have been due to the problems and publicity regarding Walter Breen and/or MZB's health decline.
  5. ^ one example is the Renunciates Guildhouse of Darkover
  6. ^ Ghosts of fandom past
  7. ^ About Jacqueline Lichtenberg, excerpt
  8. ^ from A Companion in Zeor #2, November 1978, from Lichtenberg's con report for Balticon, called "one weekend, with orchid.
  9. ^ from the foreward to The Keeper's Price, DAW books, 1980
  10. ^ The Kraith Premise, author unknown (possibly Jean Lorrah).
  11. ^ According to Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Zimmer-Bradley was one of the professional science fiction authors who was asked by Gene Roddenberry to write an episode, and she turned him down.
  12. ^ from the foreword of The Keeper's Price (Daw, 1980)
  13. ^ from The Darkover Concordance in 1979
  14. ^ volcannah at deviantart, and Pyracantha
  15. ^ Bradley's comment in Darkover Newsletter #15/16
  16. ^ from a flyer in Darkover Newsletter #15/16, see that page for more
  17. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #15/16
  18. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #31
  19. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #45
  20. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #48
  21. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #58
  22. ^ all comments from Darkover Newsletter #62
  23. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #70 (September 1995)
  24. ^ from Darkover Newsletter
  25. ^ from Darkover Newsletter
  26. ^ January 4, 1995 post to alt.shared-reality.sf-and-fantasy
  27. ^ Bradley writes in 1988 that the two stories were "Star of Danger" and "Forbidden Tower." -- Darkover Newsletter #41 (June 1988)
  28. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32 (March 1986)
  29. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #41 (June 1988)
  30. ^ Stitching words, one thread at a time: Friday Links Is Hopping on the Train to Earth 2, posted February 17th, 2012, accessed February 22, 2012
  31. ^ Other worlds: Ladies rule the Nebulas, again by Dunc, February 22nd, 2012, accessed February 22, 2012
  32. ^ Young fan commenting on Darkover art being posted on Deviantart, dated November 6, 2010.
  33. ^ Fan Fiction and Copyright: Outsider Works and Intellectual Property Protection By Aaron Schwabach (2011). "The fanfic ban had killed Darkover fandom. Although there are several Darkover reference sites on the web, the fanfic ban has prevented the active online life that many other fandoms enjoy ... Darkover has faded from the prominence it enjoyed in genre fiction in the 1970s and 1980s." page 117.
  34. ^ As of February 20, 2012, for example, FanFiction.net only lists 109 stories based on all of Marion Zimmer Bradley's works. Considering the volume of her work, the length of her career and the original popularity of her books, the number is low. A comparable author who began with similar anti-fanfiction policies is Mercedes Lackey who has around 1000 fanworks in her Valdemar universe currently on FanFiction.net. Mercedes recently softened her stance on fan fiction in her universes. Harry Potter has over a half a million stories on FanFiction.net.
  35. ^ The Trek BBS, by Timewalker, posted August 4, 2012, accessed September 11, 2012
  36. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #32 (March 1986)
  37. ^ It was recorded at Boskone 1984, and is listed as "author unknown" in SWIL Filkbook #1. The fan who wrote the filk said: "That's because Erwin S. "Filthy Pierre" Strauss published it wiithout bothering to ask who the author was - he did that a lot. It's the same author as Arilinn Tower (i.e. me) and the correct title is "The Terranan's Lament". Judy Gerjuoy, aka Jaelle of Armida, asked me to write a song about some poor shlub who goes to Darkover, does all the usual things, but never develops laran. The SWIL misinformation has gone uncorrected for far too long." -- Darkover Wiki