Reading the End Bookcast, Ep. 92: Fanfiction Forever

Happy Wednesday! Submit to our Holiday Gift Guide so that we’ll be able to pick books for you! Just tell us a few things about the person you want to buy a book for (by December 6th), and Whiskey Jenny and I will each pick out a book for you to give your person.

This week, we’re welcoming Kay of the Not Now I’m Reading podcast to answer all our questions about fanfiction and how we got into it. We encountered MANY PROBLEMS while recording in terms of like, Skype being monstrous? So if there’s any bits that sound slightly awkward, that’ll be why. But it’s just an almost-full hour of us nattering on about fanfiction, if that’s something you’d be into. You can listen using the embedded player below or download the file directly here to take with you on the go.

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Here are the time signatures if you want to skip around!

1:33 – What We’re Reading
6:22 – SEA OR SPACE
7:49 – How we all got into fanfiction!
15:53 – All our fanfiction questioned, answered
35:59 – Limited Release, by rageprufrock
50:06 – What We’re Reading for Next Time!

Books (and fics) mentioned:

Take the Lead and Dance with Me, Alexis Daria
Invisible No More,
Andrea Ritchie
Wrong to Need You,
Alisha Rai (the first one is Hate to Want You)
How a Moth Becomes a Boat, Josephine Rowe
the Mortal Instrument series, Cassandra Clare
the Vulture article that got me started reading fanfic in the first place
The Shoebox Project
Fic, Anne Jamison
1796 Broadway, rainproof and teaberryblue
Duende, astolat
Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell
Attachments, Rainbow Rowell
Limited Release, rageprufrock
Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil, Melina Marchetta

Again, please get at us in the holiday gift guide submission form and help us help you buy gifts for your loved ones. We love choosing books. We love it.

You can find our wonderful guest star Kay on Twitter or at her wonderful podcast, Not Now I’m Reading. The other fics she offered us as possible podcast reads are:

If You Liked the Book, You’ll Hate the Movie, by paperclipbitch
Tomorrow Belongs to Me, by valtyr
His Fate Will Be Unlearned, by scifigrl47
Maggie Fitzgerald and the Saltwater Drip, by antistar_e (kaikamahine)

Get at me on Twitter, email the podcast, and friend me (Gin Jenny) and Whiskey Jenny on Goodreads. Or if you wish, you can find us on iTunes (and if you enjoy the podcast, give us a good rating! We appreciate it very very much).

Credits
Producer: Captain Hammer
Photo credit: The Illustrious Annalee
Theme song by: Jessie Barbour

Fic, Anne Jamison

By a stroke of good fortune, I happened to read Joanna Russ’s feminist classic How to Suppress Women’s Writing just prior to reading Anne Jamison’s Fic (Smart Pop Books), which made for an interesting pairing. On one hand, Russ’s book feels depressingly current: You need only spend a few minutes on Twitter to witness all of the tactics for suppressing women’s writing that Russ details. But on the other hand, even with all of these tactics being leveled at the (mostly female) writers of fanfiction (especially the “poor author too pathetic and forlorn to get a man” trope), here we are talking about it in a sustained and serious way. Progress!

(Progress?)

Fic is not — as I was imagining when I picked it up — an academic text. As Jamison explains in this excellent interview at Critical Margins, she wanted to reflect the complicated relationship to authordom that you find in the world of fanfic, rather than producing a more traditional monograph. Accordingly, she includes interviews and short essays from writers of fanfiction, offering their views on fanfic communities, diversity (lack of), the ethics of monetizing, etc.

This is all very good, and I appreciate the inclusion of these voices on a theoretical level (some of them had really interesting things to say, and some not so much, sorry Amber Benson), and I wouldn’t have minded if Anne Jamison’s chapters had been twice as long in each case and if there had been twice as many as them. An academic who teaches classes in fanfiction and a writer of fic herself, Jamison’s writing style is friendly and approachable and also nicely authoritative. Like where it is extremely readable, and you also feel you are in good hands.

Because Jamison’s particular area of study is Twilight fanfiction, this book leans heavily on the Twilight end of things. Her most in-depth case studies of modern fanfic area centered in the Twilight fandom, and she has a whole section about E. L. James and the fandom’s conflicted relationship to fanfic-for-profit. If that sounds like a complaint it’s only a complaint in the sense that this book was fascinating, and I wanted it to go on being fascinating for maybe infinity chapters while offering a basis for comparative studies of different fandoms and norms and community standards.

My main criticism of the book, in brief, is that there isn’t more of it. If there were infinite books dealing with the workings of all the different online communities, I would curl up in my reading nook with all of them stacked around me and never come out again. And I certainly look forward to any scholarship Anne Jamison plans to produce on this topic in the future.

Assist me please: In the comments, if you have favorite works of fanfiction, kindly recommend them to me. I never know where to start with fanfic — there’s so much of it — so would appreciate some guidance.