There are several reasons that I blog anonymously. I like the freedom, I like knowing that the Diva and I built our readership without relying on the “click-throughs” of FB friends, but the biggest reason is one I haven’t written about on here. I come from a conservative Christian culture, and it’s the kind of conservative culture which would sooner judge me for my interests in popular culture than make an attempt to understand the importance of why I write what I write, or even why fandom itself is a significant part of our society and history.

Before I continue, it’s necessary for me to say that, while I no longer actively participate in organized religion, I have faith, I have beliefs, and I judge no one for theirs. This blog post is merely the venting of the frustration I feel when I try to build a bridge between my conservative past and my pop culture savvy present.

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This past weekend, I overheard a conversation between two family members that unnerved me. Out of respect to my family, I shall not repeat verbatim what was said, but the gist of it was that these two persons were of the opinion that the writers of Hollywood could not possibly be good religious people, because they have made a living from writing. 

We here at the Collective love our fanfiction. I first delved into the fanfiction world almost ten years ago, when I was a quiet and introverted freshman at uni. As college progressed, I didn’t have the time to read like I once did, but once I finished grad school, I jumped right back in only to realize the fanfic ‘verse is MUCH bigger than it was 8 years ago. It’s a bit overwhelming if you’re new to it, especially if you don’t know the lingo, so here is my quick and dirty guide to fanfiction for the newbie.

Choosing the ‘verse

As I’ve said before, the beauty of fanfiction is that it showcases how incredibly creative and talented we fans can be. But, fanfiction is like a drug, and you’ve got to pick the right one that does it for you. Now, before we go any further, if you’ve been to the three biggest fanfiction websites–fanfiction.net (FFN) or archiveofourown.org (AO3) or Wattpad–you’ve probably noticed the excessive use of the exclamation point (!) in the tags. The exclamation point denotes an emphasized characteristic of a character or of the universe in which the fanfiction is set, i.e. Possessive!Draco or Omega!verse. So when it comes to choosing the ‘verse you want to read, be aware that tags with the exclamation point are pretty much the road signs–they’ll take you where you want to go or warn you away from things you don’t want to read.

Some common terms about fanfiction ‘verses:

AU–Alternative Universe. This could be as simple as the story taking place in a coffee shop (a popular setting) or it could be one of the author’s own imagining. Either way, AU means it is not set in the canon.

This is what we call an AU.

The Canon–This term encompasses everything that defines the particular work(s) on which a fandom is based. In other words, everything created by the original author/creators. If it’s in the show/book/movie, it’s canon. Fics are usually labelled as canon or non-canon compliant. (If it’s AU, it’s pretty certain to be non-canon. Most of the time.)

HBO released “Vengeance”, a new trailer for the hit series, Game of Thrones, this week, and it is INTENSE.

If you’ve read the books, you know that book 4, A Feast for Crows, because of it’s sheer size, was split into two parts by the man himself, George R.R. Martin. This split resulted in two novels taking place at the same time, focusing on two different POVs. In book 4, we read the stories of the 7 Kingdoms, focusing on the Lannisters, Starks, Greyjoys and the kingdom of Dorne.

For those of our readers who follow my weekly fanfiction recs, you may have noticed that I’m been a bit remiss in my recs for the past month or so. I can explain in two words: Terminal Decay. Five weeks ago, I made it my mission to finish reading this fic by the airing of “The Day of the Doctor.” I’m still not finished.

Terminal Decay” by unslinky is a monstrous fic. I don’t mean that it’s horrid and large and ugly like a kraken, but rather, it’s HUGE. Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this…

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Yes, it really does say 1002 chapters and 3,065,944 words.

Or to put it another way, since I’ve been reading for 5 weeks that’s:

  • 28 chapters per day (if I had finished…which I haven’t quite)
  • over 80,000 words read per day (about 160 pages)
  • If you account that the typical single-spaced page is about 500 words, that’s 6,132 pages.

To put that into even more perspective:

  • the Harry Potter series is 1,084, 170 words, so reading “Terminal Decay” is like reading the HP series 3 times.
  • the Guinness world record holder for longest novel is A le recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust. The novel is 1,267,069 words. “Terminal Decay” is almost 2.5 times that length.

Can you blame me for not quite finishing in time for this rec? I’m on chapter 800, with almost a million words to go before I reach the conclusion.

So why put myself through this? Why read almost an entire novel every day just to rec one fic?

Well, if you’ve read any of my previous DW fic recs, you would probably remember my bitching about the lack of quality Whovian fanfiction.  Even though I’m fairly good at sussing out good fics, I had to turn to my fairy fanfic godmother for help with the DW fandom. “Terminal Decay” was her #1 rec, and boy, I had no idea what I was getting into. So, my Whovian friends, if you want a fic that’s more like an odyssey, then this one’s for you.

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 It is a story we have heard before: a mad scientist dallies with the supernatural and creates something he cannot control. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) is the prototypical example of this story. It is the story of a man obsessed with creating “life;” Victor Frankenstein literally creates life from the dead.

As he creates his progeny, Victor Frankenstein isolates himself. This isolated environment—or as I like to call it, “the artificial womb”—produces a being without the aid of a woman and reflect the lack of empathy in Victor Frankenstein as he attempts to have absolute control over this new life. It is this lack of empathy, mirrored by the isolation that the creative environment exhibits, that ultimately dooms Frankenstein’s experiment. Because of the unnatural procreation process, the lack of maternal (or paternal) bond, Victor Frankenstein cannot empathize with his creations, resulting in the rejection of his “child” and the subsequent attempts to kill his creation.

Johnny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein and Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster in Danny Boyle's stage adaptation of Frankenstein.
Johnny Lee Miller as Victor Frankenstein and Benedict Cumberbatch as the monster in Danny Boyle’s stage adaptation of Frankenstein.

With the act of creation, Victor Frankenstein takes both the male and female roles in the reproductive cycle, and by doing so, places himself as both god and parent. The procreation is unnatural, however. Frankenstein stitches together his child of intellect and abnormal science out of pieces of corpses. In Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein challenges nature, seizes deific roles, and ultimately dooms himself by his egocentric thoughts and actions. The male creator raises questions of gender, questions of spirituality, and ultimately the question of whether man can be more powerful than nature. As an audience intrigued by god complexes and experiments-gone-wrong, we are drawn to the possibilities of such creations, but horrified by the realities.