Elizabeth Bear

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Name: Elizabeth Bear
Also Known As: matociquala
Official Website(s):
Fan Website(s): Throw Another Bear in the Canoe (LiveJournal]
On Fanlore: Related pages

Elizabeth Bear is a pro science fiction and fantasy writer.

Bear's and many others' comments, were a focus of RaceFail '09.

Comments by Bear on Fanworks

How is it that the Man from UNCLE vidders haven't found this song yet? Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World.

I know it's not trendy for writers to be so cheered and pleased by fanfiction and its offshoots, but it appeals to the part of me that likes to see other people love and cherish the things I love and cherish. My father is a bluesman (which is not quite as cool as being a blueman, which is what I typed the first time) and I have a real awareness of how traditional music changes and develops and is shaped as it moves from hand to hand.

I think there are good adaptations and elaborations and pedestrian ones, mind you (in the realm of pro fiction, especially. I have been reading a lot of Shakespearean fantasy lately, and most of it is naughty in my sight) but I think there's a lot of richness and development that comes from having a wide array of source material available.


It's the old folk tradition at work again. So much of literature is a conversation--now and then--that to me it seems almost impossible to separate the source material from the creation.

This is not to say that I am not a great respecter of copyright: I very much believe in copyright.

But I also know how strongly my work is influenced by the neat ideas in the things I read, from the Prose Eddas to more modern work. It's the old question of 'where do you get your ideas?' Well, everywhere, really.


Teresa N-H has a great post on fanfiction/Mary Sues up on her blog right now. I know that it's sort of trendy for professional writers to pooh pooh fanfiction, but... I dunno. That's like pro baseball players pooh poohing the kids on the sandlot because the kids on the sandlot are having a better time.

Even if they're not hitting it out of the park sixty times a year, or getting paid to do it. They're having *fun.* I guess I just don't see the need to take myself that seriously.

I'm not saying that I'd welcome something that infringed on my copyright, but I somehow don't think that the people out there writing Dragaera slash are not going to buy Steve Brust's next novel because they're writing their own. *g* If you know what I mean. Rather, they're going to be the first ones in line to hand Steve their sixty cents. *g* [1]

I'm personally fascinated by fanfiction. I see it as an extension of the genre conversation or the folk process -- I've also collected more versions of "House of the Rising Sun" than I can comfortably recall. [2]

I write pastiche. I write historical fantasy. I write homage. I write professional stories about Dick Feynman and Tycho Brahe and Elvis Presley and Irene Adler and characters who, if you squint at them not too closely, are obvious parodies of pop culture figures with the serial numbers filed about halfway off. I have a book that's a Tam Lin retelling and one that's a Thomas the Rhymer retelling and one that's heavily plotted around Shakespeare's sonnets.

Textual poaching is textual poaching, and it's a powerful tool in the right hands, (Shakespeare's? Marlowe's? Kelly Link's? Ben Rosenbaum's? Gregory Maguire's? Peg Kerr's? Pamela Dean's? I could go on and on and on.) and the difference between me writing a multi-volume fantasy series based on the Eddas and Cassie Clare's VSD is (1) I can sell mine for money (2) I have an ambition to sell mine for money (3) [Cassie's] is a hell of a lot funnier.


We don't like the way it is, so we tinker with it and claim it. It's called the folk process, and it exists in SF as the quote-unquote genre conversation.


It's all textual poaching.

It's just we pros poach stuff that's in public domain, or we file the serial numbers off in such a way that what we do is legal.


As for people writing fanfiction based on any of my work? Well, I won't read it, so don't ask me to. I can't, because of the risk of problems like the ones MZB ran into (rumor has it that she died with a novel unpublished, because a fan whose fanfiction she read had treated the same period of Darkover history, and sued her, more or less.) But if anybody loves my work so much they want to play in that sandbox, so be it. I'm flattered that I've affected them on that level, and the best I can promise is an amused pretense at complete ignorance that any such thing even goes on around here.

If they're making any money on it, I want them to either file off the serial numbers enough so that I don't actually have to sue them, though. Or I want my cut. One of the two.

I think that's only fair.[3]

Relationships to Fans: Comments by Fans

Authors don't have to create web communities for their fans. Successful authors (and whatever you think of Lackey, you can't say she's not successful) don't have to create websites to sell their books, their publishing companies will gladly market for them. You're not entitled to a direct line into your favorite author's life or mind. People who spend their time writing books don't always care to spend their time writing other things. For every Elizabeth Bear (matociquala) or Cory Doctorow who blogs like mad, there's someone like Mercedes Lackey who couldn't care less. [4]

Fanworks by Bear

Fanworks Inspired by Bear's Writing

Some Meta