Fav Five Pieces of Fan Fiction

 

The internet has afforded many an amateur author (myself included) to publish their works online when traditional routes have proved inaccessible..  A number of these folks have opted to write Fan Fiction, and so there has been a proliferation of Fan Fiction on the interweb over the last 10 years.  Most of it is complete rubbish, of course, and so the genre has taken a hit int he eyes of critics, but the genre is one of the longest standing forms in literature, so with that in mind, I think it is important to take a look at Fan Fiction done right!  And so, here is my list of what I think are the five greatest pieces of Fan Fiction ever written!

 

5:  The Faerie Queen, by Edmund Spencer

 

Edmund Spencer: Fan-Fictioneer!

Edmund Spencer: Fan-Fictioneer!

It was the Elizabethan era, and if a poet wanted to make a good living, he (or she) had to find a patron, and there was no patron better than Queen Elizabeth.  So with that in mind, Edmund Spencer puckered up the proverbial lips of his quill, and proceeded to metaphorically place them squarely on the ass of the Virgin Queen by writing an epic poem in her honour.  Spencer needed a format though, so he decided to borrow from Arthurian legend to construct his epic poem, The Faerie Queene, and even opted to employ antiquated spelling to be consistent with the era; either that or the guy just didn’t know how to spell, but in his defence word processors didn’t have spell check back then and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t even a dictionary yet!.  Arthurian tales were kind of retro back then, so the work was like an Elizabethan version of Happy Day, and instead of the Fonz, Spencer had King Arthur.  Spencer loses marks for inconsistencies though.  For instance, having jewels is considered a vice when the Catholics have them, but his Protestant hero had a shield that was a giant diamond, and they don’t even say if he got that diamond shield from a conflict zone or not, which I imagine he did because how else could he afford that?  Also, Spencer took his ole sweet-ass time getting around to finishing this thing and eventually died without even completing half of it, which wasn’t even that original since Chaucer had already done that with The Canterbury Tales, so I can’t even give him points for originality on that.  The work is ultimately a piece or ass-kissing propaganda, but it has its moments.

 

 

4: The Aeneid, by Virgil

 

Virgil, the Fan-Fictioneer (left), and Virgil, the pro-wrestler (right).

Virgil, the Fan-Fictioneer (left), and Virgil, the pro-wrestler (right).

When it came to poets in the classical era, there was perhaps not poet more epic than Homer.  This guy was on the same plane that Prince, Madonna, Cher and Byoncé are now in that all you needed was his first name and you KNEW who the fuck people were talking about.  So it was only natural that somebody would try to steal his thunder.  Homer had hit the ball out of the part with The Iliad, and his follow up, which was a sequel titled The Odyssey was an even bigger hit, but Homer passed on before he could finish the trilogy.  Enter Virgil (not to be confused with the pro-wrestler of the same name)  He had made a pretty good name from himself with his pastoral poetry, but Rome was looking for an epic poem that would validate their place in history, and what better way than by creating a backstory linking the founding of Rome with the poetry of Homer?  So Virgil got to work, and in true Homeric fashion penned a bunch of books in heroic verse with swords and shields and rape and gods: The Aeneid.  It was like something out of a George R.R. Martin book.  This was some Game of Thrones shit!  There were parts where he was pretty much ripping off Homer, like when Aeneas visited the underworld, and the funeral games; there is even a scene where he Aeneas ends up on the islands where the Cyclops lives.  It was alright, but I liked it better the first time I read it when it was called Book IV of the Odyssey!  But Virgil made up for it by including some wickedly awesome femme fatales like Camilla.  Virgil’s Fan Fiction was so well received that he elevated him to the same status as Homer and was eventually able to drop his last name.  Now people know who you are talking about just by referring to his first name, like Hammer, Twiggy, Adele, Banksy, and Sisqo, unless you are talking to an old-school wrestling fan, then you might have to specify.

 

3: The New Testament, by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul… and Peter

 

 

The narrative about Jesus creating a giant park filled with dinosaurs was excluded The  New Testament, but was used as the basis for the film Jurassic Park.

The narrative about Jesus creating a giant park filled with dinosaurs was excluded from The New Testament, but was used as the basis for the film Jurassic Park.

The New Testament is unique as far as Fan Fiction during the Roman Empire went because it was an anthology of sorts that was co-authored by a number of people or ‘disciples’.  Based on the Torah, the work falls into many of the trappings of Fan Fictions.  For one, it often bears stark inconsistencies with the source material.  For instance, the God in the source text says ‘eye for an eye’, and the God in the Fan Fiction says ‘forgive thy neighbour’ and ‘turn the other cheek’.  I mean this isn’t even the same guy!  Also, there seems to be an utter lack of great sex stories in the Fan Fiction, which was really the focal point of the source text.  Granted, the source text got into some really long-winded rules about sex: don’t dishonour your father by having sex with your mother, don’t have sex with your sister, don’t have sex with your father’s brother’s wife, don’t have sex with your wife’s mother don’t have sex with your mother’s sister.  I mean, come on, they could have made that far more succinct: don’t have sex with anybody who you are related to, whether by blood or through marriage.  That said, the folks writing The New Testament had a much different audience.  These were people who didn’t actually have to be told NOT to have sex with animals.  I mean, the rules your society has to make up says a lot about the society is self, and if one of the laws they make is: ‘Thou shalt not have sexual relations with animals’, then chances are that there are some serious issues in that society.  The work is also unique in that is actually has four different authors tell their version of the same narrative, which is interesting but at the same time a little repetitive.  That said, this work bore the mark of truly great Fan Fiction because it became so popular that the source text was renamed to fit in with The New Testament, changing from the Torah, to The Old Testament, kind of like how the title for Star Wars was changed to A New Hope after the success of The Empire Strikes Back.   Some people might have called this sacrilege when it first came out, and indeed, some people still do, but it seems to have gone over pretty well.  If you like these, check out the Gnostic texts, a collection of works that didn’t make it into The New Testament, as well as the Quran.  And if you want to tell me my work is sacrilege, or remind me that I’m a heathen who will burn in hell, feel free to say so in the comments’ section below.

 

2:  Paradise Lost, by John Milton

 

John Milton, who specialized in Biblical Fan Fiction.

John Milton, who specialized in Biblical Fan Fiction.

It takes a true master of Fan Fiction to be able to take a narrative that took up less than a page in the Bible and mould it into an epic poem with twelve books, but a master of Fan Fiction is exactly what John Milton was!  It’s true that the source material was pretty good, but it has a massive cast of characters and really failed to do any kind of thorough character development.  What was Lucifer’s motivation?  What was Eve’s? What was Adam’s?  I mean, if the guy who wrote the Bible brought that into a creative writing workshop, all he would be hearing for three straight hours is ‘show; don’t tell’.  Milton, though picks some interesting characters, and spends a lot of time exploring their internal dialogue, developing characters and even daring to engaged in some of the questions that everybody was asking after the read the Bible but had no way to answer.  For instance, what is hell like?  What is war in heaven like?  Do angels copulate?  And the thing is filled with brilliant epigrams that would put Oscar Wilde to shame.  Sadly, whenever somebody finds success with one project, they often try to replicate it, and so Milton went forward and created some more Fan Fiction based of the Bible with a sequel to Paradise Lost titled Paradise Regained, and a one-off based on the story of Samson called Samson Agonistes, though Milton didn’t even include the part with the lion and the slaughter of all those guys in it.  They were pretty good mind you, but they simply didn’t stack up to Paradise Lost as far as Fan Fiction goes.

 

1:  The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare, rumoured to be by William Shakespeare

 

The King of Fan Fiction: Will I Am Spear Shaker!

The King of Fan Fiction: Will I Am Spear Shaker!

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that any given play by Shakespeare is superior to Milton’s Paradise Lost, but there is something to be said about the sheer volume of work Shakespeare did in comparison to Milton, especially in the Fan Fiction genre.  Milton had Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, all of which were appropriated from the Bible.  Shakespeare’s volume or work easily exceeds Milton’s, as does the variety of his source material.  Whether it be Arthur Brooke’s poem, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet being reshaped into an emo-love tale, or Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum informing Hamlet, or Scotorum Historiae, which proved the basis for Macebth the Scottish play, Shakespeare proved a master at appropriating narratives from a variety of authors and finding a way to retell the stories in a manner that was relatable to his Elizabethan and later Jacobean audiences.  With the success of his Fan Fiction, Shakespeare eventually branched out to create an original work titled A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but half the characters were pulled from other narratives, so even that was still a work of Fan Fiction.  It is clear looking at his oeuvre, that nobody has ever mastered Fan Fiction the way that Shakespeare did.

 

 

Honourable Mention

 

The King’s Attrition, composed by Jason John Horn and William Shakespeare.

 

An illustration by Andrew Verhoeckx, featured in The King's Attrition.

An illustration by Andrew Verhoeckx, featured in The King’s Attrition.

The King’s Attrition is easily the greatest piece of Fan Fiction ever, but since I wrote it (sort of), I thought I would exclude it from my list in order to avoid any claims that I was ‘biased’ and wasn’t being ‘objective’.  The play is a sequel to Macbeth, but don’t worry, I don’t bring Macbeth back as a zombie or some shit like that.  Instead the work focuses around the internal struggles of Malcolm, who succeeded Macbeth and whose sexual desires are such that even all the women of Scotland can’t satiate his lust.  I formulated the plot myself, but I patched together excerpts from each of Shakespeare’s plays to create the dialogue (though there is some original material in there mixed with other playwrights and poets).  It is a post-modern masterpiece with feminist and existentialist reading!  Check it out!  If you love Shakespeare, you might enjoy this as well.

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

 

pride-and-prejudice-and-zombiesThis one is a brilliant re-imagining of the classic Jane Austen tale.  The original book presented women in a very progressive manner at the time, but by contemporary standards, the narrative seems rather conservative. Whilst educating your daughters and allowing them to walk alone at night without a chaperone was unheard of during the Georgian era, things like this are pretty common place today, at least in the West.  Insert Seth Grahame-Smith and his zombies.  Rather than simply being educated by their father, the three sisters of the novel are trained in martial arts, and rather than simply walking alone at night, they walk alone and then handle a swarm of the undead without the aid of men.  This re-contextualization works to re-frame the feminist elements of the source text in a manner that makes the narrative progressive from a contemporary stand point.  And it’s awesome because zombies.

 

 

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Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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