I’m way behind on ASC, as usual, so I just read a set of three-week-old posts about writing fanfic series. Among them was a link to Phoenix Virtual Television. I’ve noticed how virtual series tend to attract non-fanfic readership, and the FAQ for PVT brought that point home when they said that virtual series allow character development, while other fanfic has to return the characters in their original state at the end of the story.
Now there’s a sure sign of someone who hasn’t actually read any fanfic. Voyager has been off the air for a while, but I’m pretty sure that Janeway was never a prostitute, Chakotay a deadbeat dad, Paris a starship captain, Torres a housewife, Tuvok a double agent, Neelix a naked Lothario, Seven a brain-sucking not-so-ex-Borg, Kim lucky in love, or the EMH off-screen. That’s the stuff of fanfiction, along with weddings and babies and angst and character death.
The trouble with writing a fanfic series, I hear, is keeping track of your own canon. I haven’t written any myself (unless the unpublished fragments of the Seven Saga count) and I don’t read any except Lori’s Captain and Counselor. Not that I have anything against series; the show itself is already a series, and that’s enough continuity for me.
By ’series’ I mean a series of freestanding works. A show like Babylon 5 where you find yourself asking, “Who’s that?” and “What the heck is going on?” in every other scene, and the answer, if anyone can provide one, is longer than the commercial break, is not a series but a serial. Soap operas are the classic example of serials, though most serials are closed-ended - serialized novels in magazines, or one-season soap operas in South America. The only thing worse than an endless serial is a pseudo-serial like the X-Files that pretends to have an arc but really just tosses out disconnected bits of rubbish about pox, bees, clones and black oil. But I digress.
Is a series fundamentally more enjoyable than a single “original” work? That’s the question I asked myself when I reached Memory in my rereading of LMB. I doubt I would have sympathized so much with Miles if I hadn’t expected better of him. Does that mean I’m going to go forth and write a million words about Seven of Nine? Probably not.
But I am tempted.