Fanfic? Art or Fantasy Fulfillment

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Title: Fanfic? Art or Fantasy Fulfillment
Creator: bliss
Date(s): July 1998
Medium: online
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: THE ACID DESK - Vol. 1, No. 3, Archived version
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Fanfic? Art or Fantasy Fulfillment is a 1998 essay by bliss.

bliss was a guest commentator for CiCi Lean's Acid Desk newsletter.

The topic was fanfic, quality of fanworks, amateur writing, and The X-Files.

The Essay

Fanfic by its very nature is fantasy fulfillment, right? I mean, after all, we're extending the parameters of a program we enjoy, with characters we find compelling, we're creating situations that go beyond what we see on the screen. Whether it's romance, X files, crime thriller, or anything else, we're reproducing something that came out of the back of our minds.

But is it art?


Does it have to be?


Is it fun when it is?

Depends on who you ask.

Right? Am I right? I've seen dozens of really stunning fanfics where the characterization is so right on it smacks me in the face. And they're ignored in favor of the fantasy fulfillment stories.

Does that make me cross?

Damned straight. There are dozens of new folks out on the creative group that have no clue who Livengoo is, who dismiss Cici Lean's fiction as 'just humour', who don't remember that Joann Humby wrote wonderful angstfic before I knew fanfic existed, and who think Amperage's Mistress belongs on I saw someone requesting LoneGunGuy's Blood of Angels out there the other day, and no one seemed to have a clue. Jill Selby's stories uniformly have the *best* Scully characterizations I have ever seen. Summer and Vickie Moseley's Open Book series are so marvelous and detailed and thoughtful that they suck you in, even the ones drawn from the eps.

Even Cici's humour pieces are touched with poignant moments, angst, all the human foibles and emotions. (And I'm not saying that to suck up--she may have become a good friend, but I wouldn't comment if I believed that her writing was flawed.)

Of course, just a reminder, these authors are on the X-Clusive site, boycotted by one list owner for personal reasons and categorized as the We Hate X-Files writers in one recent memorable post.

Patti Murphy wrote a story called "Dark Night of the Soul" and called it a Mulder/Scully romance. I wouldn't care if she called it an Irish Jig, it was a compelling story that did more than have Mulder mooning to a song, and I'm about half-convinced that the episode 'All Souls' was directly inspired by it. She wrote "Only Way Out" which was dynamite.

Kipler's 'Genius' was one of the first fanfics I ever read, and it still stays on my list of top favorites. Subtle and intelligent and just plain lovely.

Does there seem to be a common thread here? I hope so, because I can't possibly go through Gossamer now and list the stories I found the best-written, best-characterized, and most compelling. Jessica Taylor has written some lovely pieces, and if I were younger and more compulsive, I'd be able to list the ones that were marvelous. What I'm talking about isn't just typos or grammar or punctuation--although, God help us, it's a subject that bears discussion--I'm talking about excellence.

And I'm just not talking about writers who have been around for awhile. Dreamerlea wrote a couple of sensational stories and was largely ignored. Brinson, who is a child, literally, wrote the most knockout, incredible, stylistically brilliant story called, "Summer in the Snow". Syn, who wrote Locusts and the incredibly poignant Empathy. We're talking MSR in a couple of cases, folks; so much for my alleged prejudices, eh?

These are writers in fanfic who pursue excellence. Far too many do not. We're daily inundated with proof of Sturgeon's statement that 90 percent of everything is crap. But what gets the attention? Third rate stories in which the characterization is massacred, Mulder throws up into his bowel, and the action and behavior is about 7th grade level. And that's an insult to most of the seventh graders with whom I'm acquainted.

What am I saying here? I'm saying that yes, fanfic is fantasy. And yes, it need not be art. And dammit, it can still be excellent. If you doubt me, go and read the authors I've listed. Write and ask me for more; early on, I went through Gossamer alphabetically, I'm sure I could wade through the recent swamp and find the authors I liked. Some of whom actually write romances.

But for God's sake, stop excusing crap because it's all fantasy and not art. Sure it is. I accept that. But I refuse to pretend that all of it is good.