Every couple of months, there’s a new article online asking authors how they feel about fans of their work writing fiction based on the worlds they’ve created. And every time, some will say they hate it when amateurs appropriate their characters and some will say they don’t mind.
Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker fame, even started a web page for it:
Hitchhiker’s Fan-Site Started By Douglas Adams Shows Why Authors Shouldn’t Panic Over Derivative Works
from the bring-a-towel dept
We’ve talked a great deal about how content creators handle derivative works in the past, be itmusicians, TV/film makers, or authors. The responses are predictably varied, with some creators embracing derivatives, some abhorring them, some that draw the line on commercial use, and others that use derivatives to build even further works. The least controversial of the lot is work done by fans, of course. Few creators want to go to war with fans that love their work so much they make fan films, or write fan fiction. But what would happen if a creator not only allowed derivatives of their work, but actually made the conscious decision to build an entire platform for it themselves to encourage the practice?
Well, you’d end up with something like h2g2, otherwise known as the fan-created build of the Earth-version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. They recently posted on April 28th to celebrate their 14th “birthday”, congratulating the community on making the site a wonderful place for Hitchhiker fans to contribute with their own submissions. They also rightly said thanks to the book series’ author, Douglas Adams, as it was Adams who started the site from the beginning.
Although h2g2.com might not yet quite be a complete guide to Life, The Universe and Everything it is a thriving online community, where Hitchhiker’s fans and many other creative folks can work on The Guide and help fulfill Douglas’ vision of a real-life, mostly useful, Earth Edition of his fictional Guide (not, incidentally, a real-life version of the Encyclopedia Galactica).
Today we welcome everyone, active and returning researchers, new researchers, visitors and viewers, to celebrate. Thanks to Douglas Adams, who saw a way to bring his idea of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy into an actual Guide, the Earth Edition, we have been around for 14 internet years!
Resulting in, or from, the immense popularity of the Hitchiker series, h2g2.com is hugely popular with fans. Whether the books caused the site’s popularity more than the site has caused sales from the book is an unknown, but that each has an effect on the other is undeniable. The site’s history is interesting and somewhat convoluted, but what is unquestioned is Adams’ wish to embrace fans of the books and set them off on building their own guide of Earth. And, while ownership of the site has transitioned several times, from Adams to the BBC and so on, it is back in the hands of die-hard fans that have an allegiance to its community. Hell, the site puts out its own broadsheet newspaper.
All of this thanks to an author who wasn’t misguided in seeing derivatives as a threat, but rather as a wonderful way to connect with fans, all the while pointing them back to the original works off which they were based.
What are your feelings about fans writing fanfic using your worlds? I’d be more than flattered! And as the paragraph above states, it would serve to point back to the original work, thereby increasing sales and name recognition.
So if any of you would like to write fanfic about Gray and Cooper, be my guest. I’ll be first in line to read it.