More Amazing Coolness! Statement on Fanfic and Other Forms of Fan Art.

Milena Aijala, known on Tumblr as qwertyprophecy, recently finished creating an animated credits sequence for an imaginary Gentlemen Bastards television series. If you haven’t seen it, do follow that link. It’s lively, gorgeous, and superbly executed.

(Credit for the animated gif, I believe, goes to Tumblr user veecissitudes.)

Milena also has a series of captioned photographs detailing some of the laborious process (Weeks of work! Light tables! An actual tank of water! Her mom!) of creating this thing of beauty.

I’m so deeply pleased and flattered by this, and more or less as dumbstruck as I was by Kathryn Sutcliffe’s insanely beautiful costume sequence based on The Lies of Locke Lamora. It really breaks an author’s heart (well, this author’s heart) in the best possible way to see people with visual skills I can’t dream of possessing hanging such lovely cloth on the bare frames of my words.

It also has me thinking about fan activity, repurposing, re-imagining, and so forth. Cecilia Tan has a superb statement on fanfic that I happen to agree with almost entirely. Steve Brust has adopted that exact statement with Cecilia’s permission. It’s been an energetic couple of months for that portion of the Gentleman Bastard readership I’ve been able to track online, and I hope it’s going to stay energetic, so I think it’s time I also made a few things clear forever.

I like non-commercial fan art, fanfic, cosplay, and everything related. I am flattered by these activities and totally copacetic with them. If it brings you pleasure to create anything based on my work, I want you to know that you have my total support and encouragement. Please just keep the following points in mind:

1. All such activities have to be non-commercial.

2. All such activities have to be clearly labelled as non-commercial. They also have to be clearly labelled as not originating from me or being directly endorsed by me. Don’t pretend to be me, and I won’t pretend to be you. Fair?

3. I am not responsible for any laws you bend or break in the commission of your activities. It is possible to post something that is so egregious, in some fashion, or so blatant a misrepresentation of me or my work that I will be compelled to take action if it’s ever brought to my attention.

4. I’m never going to be able to keep track of all fan works posted online. I’m never even going to try. Never mistake my silence for any form of direct endorsement. In fact, never try to read anything into my silence. Don’t try to telepathically divine my intentions and I won’t telepathically make your head explode like in a David Cronenberg movie. Fair?

4a. Did I just imply that I have telepathic powers? Of course I did not. You say you read it with your own eyes? REMEMBER NOTHING. Now keep reading.

5. Understand that you create works based on my work and show them to other people at your own peril; that others may take inspiration from you, and you may find derived works being crafted from your work in turn. If you’re going to play with stuff originated by other people, don’t turn into an asshole when other people want to play with your stuff. Be generous. Give credit. Expect and demand credit be given in exchange.

I didn’t create The Lies of Locke Lamora in a vacuum; I drew from a vast number of public domain sources, including but not limited to the work of Dickens, Dumas, and Shakespeare. I didn’t lift anything directly, of course, but my work is also influenced by the thousands of novels and hundreds of films and TV programs and video games I’ve enjoyed over the years. We all live and create in the midst of a vast cloud of potential influences. The art and culture of the ages is ours to explore at the flip of a page or the touch of a keyboard.

Some day, my work is going into the public domain even if I have to directly will it so and bypass the increasingly ridiculous term extensions of default copyright protection (even if all I get is the traditional threescore and ten, some great-niece or great-nephew of mine could well be curating Weird Uncle Scott’s literary portfolio well into the 22nd century). In the meantime, I absolutely refuse to be the sort of tight-minded asshole who clenches up at the thought of someone re-imagining something I’ve done.

Nobody can take the Gentlemen Bastards away from me. Nobody will ever have to fear that I will refuse to share them (or anything else I ever write), to the limit of my abilities, with those that love ’em.



2 thoughts on “More Amazing Coolness! Statement on Fanfic and Other Forms of Fan Art.

  1. You just mentioned that you were inspired by Dumas. You are now one of my favorite people ever (in addition to being one of my favorite authors ever). Though admittedly I did get into the books because there was something Dumasian about them, but it’s nice to hear confirmation. (incidentally, I believe you have a quote somewhere about Jean always dragging a book of Lucarno somewhere which I laughed aloud at because it pretty much expressed my relationship with Dumas).

    Also, it’s absolutely wonderful to hear that you do, in fact, have a positive attitude towards fan fiction! I’ve found fan works to be a pleasure to create and a beautiful source of creativity, and I think it’s an endeavor that’s so thriving and creative precisely because it’s not commercialized – so I, at least, am glad to have the chance to interact with these works in new ways, and would never dream of trying to make money or claims on what isn’t mine. I’m embarking on a reread of The Lies of Locke Lamora and looking forward to seeing what inspiration strikes me to perhaps write a few drabbles about Locke and Jean.

  2. My God, that credits sequence is incredible. When the Gentlemen Bastards get turned into a fabulously expensive HBO series fifteen years from now, you need to get them to hire Milena.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>