That River in Egypt: When is fix it fan fiction just not enough?

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Title: That River in Egypt: When is fix it fan fiction just not enough?
Creator: LJC
Date(s): December 1999
Medium: online
Fandom: many
External Links: That River in Egypt: When is fix it fan fiction just not enough?, Archived version
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Other Essays by ljc

That River in Egypt: When is fix it fan fiction just not enough? is an essay by LJC.

The subject: fanfic fix-its, with a focus on Angel, a mention of due South and other fandoms.


Once upon a time, on a series I never ever missed, my favourite character was killed.

I was 14 years old, and the series in question was Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. In the season finale (which became, incidentally, the series finale) Corporal Jennifer "Pilot" Chase sacrificed her life in order to save her friends. I was devastated. I had had fictional characters die on me before—Roy Fokker on Robotech and Supergirl in the DC Comics maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths were the two I remember best from those halcyon days of my t'ween years—but the impact of Pilot's death for some reason hit me very hard. It's possible that I identified with her very strongly, or simply gravitated toward the token female member of an all-male group, who also was the youngest member. There is also the fact that Chase was the most interesting character of the group, story-wise, as she had escaped the HJ-like Dredd Youth programme and was an innocent in many ways trying to fathom the human emotions she had been taught to suppress in the pursuit of machine perfection.

Whatever the reasons, whatever the cause, all I knew was that my heart ached as if a real flesh and blood friend had died and left me alone. And I wanted to "fix" this horrible "mistake."
But at what point do you find it acceptable (emotionally as well as logically) to create an alternate universe that alters or out-and-out ignores the series canon? And how far can you go, and still have the stories fill the void left by canon? When Due South ended, I made a conscious decision to re-write the finale episode. I wanted to create a finale that didn't rape the characters and the premise the way Paul Gross' script had. But the reality is that no matter how good my story is, it's still a pale shadow that can't eclipse canon. No matter what joy I get from it, there is the voice in the back of my head ready to burst that bubble by whispering but that's not what happened for real.

Red pill, or blue pill?

Do you abandon the series and choose to write in a fantasy world, or denial, where the bits you didn't like are simply erased? Or do you shoulder on in the universe created by the production, and grieve along with your characters, and accept the loss with a sigh, and a grumble, many a tear, and frustrated letter to the producers informing them of your displeasure at the status quo?
But the problem is, those kinds of fixes aren't enough for me any more. I can't submerge myself in writing or reading a story that brings Doyle back because what I want is to actually have him back. Wish-fulfilment only hurts more, because those two seconds when I can pretend that all is right with the world are followed by a keen kind of agony because I know that it's just a fantasy. What I'm looking for is for Joss Whedon and Co. to fix it— because sometimes, as with dark chocolate, only canon will satisfy.