I mean, I guess?
The press release (with scads more detail) is right here.
I am of two minds on this. Maybe three minds. MAYBE A ZILLION MINDS.
I’m generally pro-fanfic. Like, I know some authors get their browneyes puckered over other people splashing around in their kiddie pools, and I understand that gut-level reaction — but me, I think if you have an audience willing to write fan-fiction about your work, you’re pretty fucking lucky. And it’s always half understood that fan-fiction is fan-fiction. Non-canonical. Utterly apocryphal. Yeah, whatever, sure, Spike and Angel can fly the Serenity through the Stargate and they can fight Darkseid and 69 each other on a bed of glittery vampire dust.
Woo! No problem. High-five.
And this appears to be a way to sanction fan-fiction — it’s not like, Amazon deciding to just allow people to sell it wantonly. It appears to have author (or at least publisher) approval behind it. And authors get paid! I like when authors get paid. Because mouths! To feed!
So, my concern here isn’t actually financial — like, this isn’t theoretically that different from someone licensing your work and your world to, say, the comic book space. Or to an RPG or video game. Or even to film or TV. (Though the percentage here seems likely far less.)
The weird thing is what happens to that comfortable space that separated canonical from non-canonical. Like, one assumes that the fan-fic remains officially non-canonical — and yet, people are paying for it. And getting paid in return. Which lends a kind of intellectual and emotional legitimacy to it. And allows for a very weird thing to happen: it lets the licensed fan-fiction to become, in theory, bigger than the material that spawned it.
And even if it doesn’t become bigger it still grants it a kind of territory in the canonical space. Someone might read Book 3 of the Miriam Black series, The Cormorant, and say, “But this doesn’t refer to that time when she time-traveled back to the Old West in that novella, Booby Nuthatch.” And you’re like, “That wasn’t real, though, someone else wrote that.” But then they say: “I PAID FOR IT SO IT FELT REAL TO ME” and then they sob into your shoulder and you wonder suddenly how they got that close and should you call the police? Probably.
That’s a pretty serious shift in authorship and authenticity.
Which is breaking my brain right now.
How much say does an author get?
How much veto power does Amazon or the publisher get?
Does this place too much power in Amazon’s hands (HAHA TOO LATE)?
Or does this put more power back in the original author’s hands?
Does this further remove legitimacy from unpaid fan-fic?
Do these pantaloons make my thighs look fat?
WUZZA WOOZA FUZZY BUZZY.
Like, if I had to make a judgment, I’m 51% this being a good thing, 49% this being a THING I CANNOT WRAP MY HEAD AROUND FUCK IT I DON’T KNOW
*detonates the Internet with the push of a comical red button*
Anyway. Interesting. Say what you want about Amazon, but they’re some crafty-ass trilobites.
What are your thoughts, Oh Goggle-Eyed Readership?