Metafic

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Trope · Genre
Synonyms: Metafiction
Related:
See Also: Self-insertion, Fourth Wall, Meta, Fandom AU, Authorfic
Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom
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Metafic is a genre label often used to describe fanfic in which characters interact with the story's author or are otherwise aware that they are fictional characters. It is a fanfic-specific variation on metafiction[1], a term in literary criticism for fiction that refers to the conventions of fictional writing.[2]

Metafic is often written to poke fun at fanfic clichés [3] or comment on developments in canon or fandom.[4]

Another way for stories to be meta commentary on fandom is to be fic about fandom, i.e. taking place in the "real world" of fandom. Either characters can be transported into our world and meet with fans and see fandom, such as in the Blake's 7 Cheeeseboard series in which Avon ends up in the middle of a Blake's 7 convention, or the story can be just set in fandom, like Fandom is a Way of Death by Bill W. and Alan R.

Since RPF already takes place in some version of the real world, encounters with RPF characters and their fans might be metafic, or it might just be a self-insert. Or all RPF might be some form of metafic.

Variations and Subgenres

Authorfic is a type of metafic where the story's author appears in the story and interacts with the canon characters. These often involves breaking the fourth wall. The author who appears in an authorfic can be a fic author or the canon creator of the source material.

Fandom AU are stories where canon characters are reimagined as fans, involved in fandom. This can involve characters as fanwork creators or fans attending conventions. The Fandom AU is different to fourth wall breaking stories where canon characters become aware of fandom.

Actor Character Universe Crossovers

One subgenre of metafics involves actors finding themselves in the canon universe, or characters finding themselves in the "real world". This type of story often involves characters interacting with the actors, and may also be considered a subgenre of Actor RPF. One canon example of this trope is the Supernatural episode The French Mistake, which aired in 2011.

However this trope was been written into fanfiction long before the appearance of this episode. And Be One Traveler (2006) is an SGA story where the one of the actors finds himself temporarily stranded on Atlantis; interacting with other characters and explaining to them that they are fictional characters in his reality.

Some stories may also overlap with body swaps, wherein a character or multiple characters swap bodies and realities with the actors who portray them. Parallels a Buffyverse slash fic by Jenny from the early 2000s, saw Spike and Angel swap bodies and universes with the actors who played them on TV.

Characters Reading Fanfiction

Stories where a character reads fanfiction often involves that character reading fanfiction about themselves. This is often a meta commentary on fanfiction tropes, characterization and writing styles employed by that fandom. A character reading fanfic story may be considered a type of response fic. This is also a fairly common trope in RPF stories, with Real-Person characters having access to RPF stories via fanfiction websites.

However there are also stories where characters read fanfiction written by other characters. This type of story may overlap with Fandom AUs or they can be canonverse stories where a fandom has grown around well known people in that universe.

In Harry Potter fandom, Characters Reading the Books was a common fourth wall breaking trope. These stories had a lot of similarities with stories where HP characters read fanfic. This specific type of metafic has since spread to other literacy fandoms.

Metafiction in Canon

  • Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (1997) is a fantasy novel set in part at a fantasy convention and drawing on the behaviour of fans.
  • Galaxy Quest, a 1999 film that affectionately parodies Star Trek and its fanac and fan culture.
  • Thursday Next, the heroine of several of Jasper Fforde's novels, is a Jurisfiction agent assigned to protecting fictional worlds from reality and from each other. In the first novel, The Eyre Affair (2001) she is responsible for (amongst other things) giving Jane Eyre its current ending, as opposed to a formerly dull and unsatisfactory ending.
  • Doctor Who episode Love & Monsters, in which a fan who has been tracking the mysterious man and his strange blue box (who is part of a group of such fans who engage in more-or-less typical fannish activities, including one new fan quickly becoming rather toxic) gets to actually encounter The Doctor and the TARDIS.[6]
  • Community episodes involving Inspector Spacetime are almost always metafiction about media fandom. Especially the episodes set at Inspector Spacetime conventions...
  • In the novel MM9 by Hiroshi Yamamoto (2007, English translation 2012) characters become aware that their universe is in the process of transitioning from being driven by "mythical" forces (which allow giant monsters to exist) to one ruled purely by scientific principles. As part of this transition, the characters will become fictional.
  • Lost in Austen, a British 2008 miniseries in which the heroine, a fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, inadvertently swaps places with Elizabeth Bennett.[7] It is a fanwork that includes metacommentary for both the novel and the [1995 miniseries] adaptation; the heroine asks Darcy to wade out of the ornamental lake for her, and at one point berates him for not being as good as in the book.
  • Several episodes of Supernatural use metafictional concepts. Most notably:
    • Episodes from Season 5 (2009) onwards feature the character Becky Rosen who is aware that the Winchester Brothers are the heroes of a novel series, writes Wincest slash, and is surprised to learn that they are real.[8]
    • In episode 5.08 Changing Channels (2009) a Trickster throws the Winchester brothers into several TV shows.[9]
    • In episode 6.15 The French Mistake (2011) Sam and Dean Winchester are sent into an alternate reality in which they are presumed to be the lead actors working on a television show called Supernatural.[10]
  • The CSI episodes A Space Oddity (2009) and Blood Moon (2010) involve murders at SF and fantasy conventions and commentary on fan behaviour.
  • The novel Redshirts by John Scalzi (2012) is set in a Star Trek-like universe whose characters realise that they are the characters in a TV show, and come up with a daring plan to save themselves (and their universe) by confronting their creators.
  • Stargate SG-1 episode 200, which parodies many media properties and pop-culture phenomena, including SG-1 and its fandom. Among many other things, the episode alludes to the main fandom slash pairing, lampoons the show two of its characters used to be leads on, and mentions interest in a younger and edgier version of the show -- all wrapped up in the meta aspect of being about pitches for Wormhole X-treme, a previously featured in SG-1's canon (but rapidly cancelled) TV show based on SG-1 itself.[11]
  • Con Man is a forthcoming crowd-funded web series in which Alan Tudyk (Hoban "Wash" Washburne in Firefly) plays an actor from a former cult TV SF show now reduced to working the convention circuit.
  • Stephen King makes an appearance in the 7th book of his The Dark Tower book cycle where he interacts with the main protagonists

Fanfic Examples

References

  1. ^ Wayback Machine version of the essay, An Unorthodox History of Metafiction, by Kit Mason, accessed May 8, 2010
  2. ^ Merriam-Webster, accessed May 8, 2010
  3. ^ Kielle. Blood and Warm Blankets, at the Henneth Annun Story Archive, posted 13 September 02. Accessed 10 October 08.
  4. ^ Beth H. When the Muse Strikes, posted 21 November 2004. Accessed 10 October 08.
  5. ^ Kipling, “Jane’s Marriage,” and “The Janeites” by James Heldman (accessed 4th July 2015)
  6. ^ Love & Monsters episode entry at Wikipedia (Accessed 26 April 2011), and Love & Monsters episode entry at the TARDIS index file Doctor Who wiki (Accessed 26 April 2011).
  7. ^ "[...] Lost in Austen, which we could rename as Mary Sue Steps Through the Mirror." in Fannish Films by yourlibrarian, 9 July 2009. (Accessed 26 April 2011)
  8. ^ Becky Rosen on Super-Wiki (accessed 11th July 2015)
  9. ^ Changing Channels on Super-Wiki (accessed 11th July 2015)
  10. ^ The French Mistake on Super-Wiki (accessed 11th July 2015)
  11. ^ SG-1 200 episode entry at Wikipedia (Accessed 26 April 2011), and SG-1 200 episode entry at Stargate Wiki (Accessed 26 April 2011).
  12. ^ As Lucid As Hell Sandy Keene (Older), accessed January, 2009.
  13. ^ Gus Goes For the Gold Star (on Yuletide), accessed 28 December 2009.
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