Tag Archives: fiction

If Gandalf Had Taken The Ring

A commenter on Reddit plays out the scenario if Gandalf kept the ring:

“Gandalf would be more like Mao, I think. He comes onto the scene as a conquering hero, overthrowing the Shadow in the East and promising a return to peace and prosperity. For a time, it works. He sets about showing the world how to order itself without the threat of a Dark Lord to rule it. A cult of personality springs up, and Gandalf is worshiped as the great savior of Middle-earth. His wisdom spreads throughout the land in the form of a Red Book, composed by his closest friends, the Halflings. He continues to go by names others have created for him, a sign of his humility, and so he is known still as Mithrandir, or Gandalf, or Incanus, or Tharkun.

“He finds the task difficult. Early on, he sticks to the restrictions of the Istari, trying to lead by example and persuasion, rather than by force or command. But over time, the ordering of his great realm, stretching from the Tower Hills to Harad, proves too much. Shadowfax grows lean and rebellious as Gandalf rides him too hard, for too long, responding to small crises all over the continent. Wherever Gandalf turns his attention, though, things prosper. Projects are streamlined, the poor are fed, fields are planted and harvested to unheard-of bounty.

“But he cannot be everywhere at once. After a time, Gandalf convinces several of the Fellowship to go to different parts of the continent, to rule there in his name. After all, they knew him best, and can carry the wisdom he has to the furthest reaches. He sends with each of them a palantir. It grieves him to separate old friends like Frodo and Sam, and they feel totally under-prepared for the tasks before them, but with Gandalf a mere palantir-communion away, they go. And after all, how can they deny Gandalf? Just being in his presence, they feel compelled to follow his requests. They are, after all, perfectly reasonable ideas, and only the Fellowship can be trusted to implement them.”

Read the rest http://np.reddit.com/r/tolkienfans/comments/2qgw03/was_gandalf_able_to_be_corrupted_by_the_ring_if/cn657zi

How EL James Exploited the Fanfic Community for Fifty Shades of Grey

Great background on the origins of Fifty Shades of Grey and how its author built it’s success on the backs of the fanfic community – and then kicked the ladder away. Starts with the transition of the fanfic from ‘with-vampires’ to ‘just-humans’ – I never really got this part and couldn’t figure out how BDSM fiction connected back to vampire romance:

“I mean, porn for Twilight was pretty decent up until the last book, where Meyer jossed her own canon and got Bella pregnant. … until we all realized that Meyer was a moron who knew nothing about even human anatomy. By that point, everyone was just frustrated. we just wanted to create and consume some fucking porn, give us a break.

We could have totally moved to another fandom or begin writing original stories, but everyone was already there, you know? We’d already made friends and established trends in the community. Moving was not an attractive option for anyone, especially given that Twilight is a mono-fandom, meaning it was a first-and-only fandom for most of us (whereas in other fanfic communities you’d see a lot of overlap with other canons).

So Twilight All-Human AUs [alternative universes] were ultimately invented. There were stories where vampires didn’t exist (like FSOG). They got CRAZY popular within the community because they were essentially just generic romance novels with characters we already knew (made it easy to write and consume, as we already liked and cared about the characters). Though there were always nods to the original Twilight series within them, you didn’t even have to know Twilight to enjoy an AH-AU. I’ve gotten tons of reviews on my fanfic where readers say they’ve never even picked up the book.

By 2010, probably a good 75% of Twilight fanfic being produced was All-Human. It was literally a chore to find a fanfic that had anything to do with vampires.

Fifty Shades was part of this. A lot of people here are saying it’s ripping off Secretary, but it’s not. It’s ripping off another really popular Twilight AH-AU called “The Submissive“, written by TaraSueMe. It was the first very popular BDSM Twilight fic (and frankly, so much better). Whenever a fic reached mega-popularity, there always began a brief spike of fics using those tropes. For instance, there was once a really popular fic about Edward being a tattoo artist (Clipped Wings & Inked Armor), which spawned all kinds of fics about Edward and Bella having tattoos. There were even contests with prizes to see who wrote the best tattoo fic.

So basically, The Submissive spawned off tons of BDSM fic. Fifty Shades was one of them. This is really important because it indicates a very strong practice of collective collaboration in the community at the time that would later be at the root of a lot anger when Erika published. Just about everything in her books is derivative… and not derivative of other media, and not even just derivitave of Twilight, but directly derivative of other Twilight fanfics. Sure, you could say it was ripping off Secretary, but considering intent, Fifty Shades is actually a ripoff The Submissive and dozens of other insanely popular Twilight fanfics.

In reddit-speak, think of these kinds of stories as reposts. It’s generally frowned upon to repost without giving credit here, but reposts can still get a shitload of karma, because some people hadn’t seen the original, or other people liked the content more than they disliked reposts. We’re all sitting here going, “Oh that’s kind of lame they’re getting karma from someone else’s idea,” but no one really cares too much. This is what Twilight fanfic was like.
FSOG got a shitload of karma. Ask me how!

Well, the short of it: Erika is a marketing professional.

The long of it:

  • Erika made reposts of already-proven-popular content
  • Erika posted short updates to the story very frequently, keeping it at the top of the story search list
  • Since people could give ‘karma’ (reviews) for every single chapter/update, the more chapters a story had, the more karma it had

FSOG had 80 [edit: was actually 110] chapters. That means that a lot of people actually reviewed that fucking thing EIGHTY times. So even if she had only 100 super loyal readers, that’s 8,000 11,000 reviews (think upvotes). People see a story with 8,000 reviews and want to click it to see what all the fuss is about. I think it had something like 20,000 reviews when it was pulled down for publishing.

Hence, FSOG went viral.

To put into perspective the social power of the Twilight fanfic community, consider this:

There was a fandom-run charity auction to benefit pediatric cancer research. These auctions, held annually, lasted 1 week. That’s it. Just 7 days. Mostly authors would auction off stories. So if you donated in my name, I’d write you 10,000 words of porn in my Tattward universe, or something new, etc. That’s how it worked.

The 2009 auction raised $80,000.
The 2010 auction raised $140,000.
The 2011 auction raised $20,00.

This charity has raised more than $230,000 in 3 weeks. http://www.alexslemonade.org/mypage/19842

Erika participated in the 2010 auction. A story from her fanfic (FSOG) raised $30,000 of that, all by itself. In some chats made public by another author (that’s some quality drama: http://gentleblaze.livejournal.com/[2] ), Erika freely admits to not wanting to participate in the charity at all, but felt pressured to do so by her readers.

But now, with the ability to connect the social power of the community with a monetary sum of her story’s worth, Erika shortly thereafter decided to publish.

She then leveraged the community’s sense of nostalgia and loyalty, urging everyone to buy the book and give it good ratings, so as to see ‘one of their own succeed in the publishing world’. There were multiple campaigns from her friends (tens of thousands of what she only saw herself as ‘fans’) to blast her Amazon page and send the book up the ranks. It of course worked.

Once a (genre fiction) book gets to #1 on Amazon’s bestseller list, you’re done. Mission accomplished. Book and movie deals to follow. Enjoy your money.

Erika never looked back. She actually has blocked every single person I still know from fandom on her twitter account. She used the community to get her book (most ideas created by the community itself) to #1 then essentially shut the door on them all.

Pretty brilliant, really.

But then, that’s why she’s not putting out any new content, and why she probably never will. She is likely incapable of producing fiction without the use of existing characters and a collaborative community. Erika Leonard is not a creator, she is a marketer.

There’s also a great reason why the 2011 charity auction made so much less money. Because after everyone saw Erika publish FSOG and make bank, they all wanted to do the same. Not really many popular stories left to leverage social currency–it’s all going into their pockets. Most of those really popular fics (including the two mentioned here [The Submissive and Clipped Wings]) have since been published and done quite well.”

Full URL http://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/2byz2l/many_women_do_not_agree_with_me_on_this_subject/cjaqvmi?context=5

Great Cthulu’s Rise from the Pacific Ocean (A Year-Long Timeline)

Amazingly detailed walk-thru of the carnage when he rises from the ocean:

Second-to-minutes: major insanity within minutes at the emergence of Great Cthulhu all along the pacific region. Massive earth quakes in some regions. Madpeople world wide scream, some die, others attack their staff muttering strange languages. A region in the pacific starts boiling without heat. Planes drop from the sky, the crews mad and delerious. A politician in Tokyo speaking on TV recites an ancient series of syllables and starts using a plastic object to skin the flesh of his face, but stays alive as he dismantles the bone from his head with his bare hands. Some of the people watching this unfold do the same, all across Asia. In North Korea a small village erupts in to blue green flame.

Less than 15 minutes A anxious and panicked crowd in San Francisco park comes to a halt as a.. tentacled mass.. erupts from the soil and begins convulsive transformations in all fleshy organisms it touches – a wave of transformations of things proceeds from golden gate park at an exponential rate. In Africa bull elephants all swell and bloat in to red blistered flesh and die, producing voracious green insects that insect humans. In the Pacific a massive blue black cloud is forming like an oceanic nimbus. All who see this cloud develop acute symptoms of stage seven psychotic schizophrenia, massive hallucinations with utterly deranged caleidoscopic images. All across the pacific rim people commit suicide, kill other people. In Indonesia massive crowds living along the eastern coasts turn in to ravenous cannibal hordes that appear to be infectious, and within minutes their bodies seem to be … twisted caricatures of the human shape… Death toll after fifteen minutes is about ten million human beings world wide.

Within the hour there are visible changes to all natural laws occuring. Machines fail to operate. World wide thingscrawl from graves that were never human, and who chant in alien languages. Half a million people n Siberia see a new primary color between yellow and red. In many places along the pacific rim, half the people – well over a billion have gone insane. Everyone on Earth at the very least feels a mixture of paranoia, acute pains, nausea, has subtle dreamlike hallucinations, sees things move in the corner of their eyes, smells unnatural smells or is otherwise impaired. In some places massive stones float up from the soil in grotesque swirling patterns. The nimbus of clouds in the Pacific roils out an an exponential rate. In space the international space station is slowly filled with a protoplasmic froth of tentacles. A US commander who tries to launch nuclear missiles finds all containment for fossionable materials slowly melting from the insides (as much happens in nuclear power stations or storage spaces for radioactive waste) and turning in to a brightly bluegreen slime that bubbles and spreads. Millions of humans suddenly develop, for a brief time, telepathic and other supernatural abilities, often with extreme pain, emotions, psychotic episodes. Beasts transform world wide in to blasphemies beyond words. CERN, and several other particle physics laboratories, were just conducting experiments and perceive a radical change in how subatomic particles operate. In one instance a small accelerator in upstate New York produces a elongated area stretching out a mile from the particle emission lab where natural laws and matter and human bodies – even light – seem to be completely of a different nature. None who walks in that region comes out recognizable. Death toll about 150 million humans world wide.

In several hours In many places along the pacific things unhallowed emerge from the ocean in a nightmare landscape, amid absurd and completely bewildering weather phenomenon. Our sun experiences a most peculiar active phase, with geometric patterns appearing on its surface. On Jupiter’s moon io, half the crust cracks and massive volcanoes emerge in a twisted pentacle configuration. On Mars mons Olympus erupts black ooze. In the Himalaya’s a mountainous region slowly collapses upwards in to majestic floating mountains amid an unbroken rythmic trembling series of earthquakes that seem more like chants. 95% of all humans are infected, sick, deranged, in a severely confused state. 25% of all humans world wide have sudden physical abnormalities. About half a billion humans are now effectively deceased, most of them by suicide, although in many cases these suicides don’t appear to be fully effective an they keep trying over and over and over.

One Day – the world is half covered in a dark storm interspersed with lightning. In many places slime and twisted shapes rain from the sky. Existing buildings have deformed, many landscapes have become completely unnatural. Woods mutate, change shape. In some places dimensions are distorted, villages and landscape elements changing shape. Worldwide people are transported between places, or rifts to other realities open up. Most humans have been affected physically, mentally. About half of humans have turned in to something else, mostly dangerous, especially along coastal regions. Everyone is pretty much clinically insane. Strange disease spread and it is hard to say where one disease, mutation, hallucination or contamination begins and the other ends. The moon changes color to deep red, star patterns in the sky change in to new shapes. Several billion humans are now effectively lost, although in many places the dead are coming back to life, even dead gibbering things centuries dead – some of these form bloated monstrosities that shamble across the landscape…

One week The entire planet is a blighted sickness of roiling clouds streaked with primal and unnatural colors, all life is twisted, most minds have melted in to a roiling blasphemy incanting His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name ….

366 hours after emergence the last human in northern Europe, while hiding in a mine, succumbs, twists in to insanity, stalks grow from his eyes and he starts devouring his six family members in the next underground chamber, who have already died a day earlier – and where fornicating in to an assembled tentacled mass of putrid black ooze.

In the pacific a monolithic black …”structure” miles high spreads like a cancer on the planet, well visible from space. Peaks jut from a boiling ocean strewn with tentacles and filth, and in the middle.. ahh.. nnn .. no. I.. can n.. not ahh..”

From http://www.reddit.com/r/Lovecraft/comments/20ols3/what_would_happen_to_the_world_if_cthulhu_showed/cg5l2be

A Desolate Tale (Fiction)

From /r/writingprompts:

“So the Earth had dried up. What limited resources left would not sustain much longer.

It was no surprise, people have seen it coming a hundred years ago. The world government had put together a last-ditch effort, and funded the conception of a spaceship named the Ark. The team consisted of nearly half of the remaining population. They trained long and hard for many months, studying late into the night for survival and colonization, driven by the responsibility on their shoulders to find humans, their brethern another home. They were pioneers, they were heroes. They brought loved ones aboard, so that they may reproduce on the journey that will outlast them.

Captain looked out the window of the Ark. What a fine machine. He watched the hardened faces of his people load up the craft, commending each their bravery and their volunteer for the survival of the human race. Today was the big day.

Of course, the Ark never made it out.

Science never got that far, what a bunch of idiots to have believed that a ship could travel for light-years.

The remaining populace all knew, some were sad, others rejoiced. They bought a little bit more time.”

Full story and reaction http://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/219yo9/wp_nsfw_destroy_my_soul_a_challenge_to_write_the/cgb500r

Image from http://americanvision.org/

Superman Inspires Good, Batman Inspires Terror

“Superman wants to be seen as an example of all that’s good about humanity. A beacon of justice and morality. He inspires people to be good, and part of that is not using his power to crumple some two-bit criminal into a little ball. He’s restraint personified. Take some hostage situation: Supes busts in, melts a few guns with his heat rays, zips around the room and grabs the scumbags and drops them off at Metropolis PD. It’s scary in the same way that a roller coaster is scary – you know that you’ll be safe in the end cause he ain’t gonna hurt you TOO bad and the worst you have to look forward to is some jail time. Now Batman ain’t like that. If there’s anything Batman wants to inspire, it’s terror.  Ever watch him work? I tell ya – even I get a little scared.  See, he picks them off, one by one. He sits in the shadows, waits until you turn around, and next thing you know, your buddy is dangling out of a window and it all happened in the blink of an eye. While you’re trying to get him down, suddenly another guy is lying on the ground with a bashed in head. Then another, and another, and then soon you’re all alone.  And the room is so dark. … See, that’s what Batman is after.  He ain’t interested so much in throwing you in jail. Jail actually keeps you safe from him. No, he wants to break you. He wants to trigger that primal terror you got buried deep inside, that animal terror. He wants you to remember that terror, that horror, so that when you get out of the joint and you think about getting that pathetic little up you get when you hold your dinky .22 to some woman’s head and have your way with her, you see some curtain in a window fluttering and the shadow over there looks like it’s getting a little bigger, then that terror takes over and you turn into that terrified little prey animal again, knowing he’s in the shadows. Watching. You ain’t a criminal anymore, kid. You’re a scared little girl jumping at shadows. You’re broken. And that’s just how he wants you. Superman wants people to be inspired by him. Batman wants people to be terrified of him. I’ve seen the hardest goddamn crooks in Blackgate start whimpering like puppies when the Commish turns on the Bat Signal.