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Loki riding

Diana Gabaldon and fanfic

What a weird coincidence. Not four hours ago, a friend enthusiastically recced Diana Gabaldon’s novels to me. Friends have recced these books to me before, and this time I decided it was time I started reading her work.

Until I read this:


I make it a policy *not* to read the work of authors who disapprove of fanfic. I rarely read bookfic, I’ve never written it, but “too many books too little time”. I’d rather read works by fan-friendly pro authors.

So – if anyone reading this likes Diana’s work, would you re-read it knowing her opinion of fanfic writers?


You aren't missing anything, believe me. I read the first book on loan from the library and laughed at how absurd it was. Think your typical Harlequin Scottish highlands romance book. Then add a time-traveling heroine. Then add an author who doesn't know how absurd that premise is so doesn't play if for camp (as, say romance author Katie MacAllister would). That's her first book. I honestly don't know what happens after that because I couldn't be bothered to read further. Probably lots of dastardly deeds, threats of rape, heaving bosoms, etc .
:-) Well, I like time travel & fish out of water stories, I dislike Harlequin heroines (with a passion!) Is she going back in time from the present day? Is she Mary Sue?
I think she's from the 40's (it's been a while). And yes, she's pretty Mary Sue in that way of romance books--kind of a cut out that the reader can put on.

I'm not fond of time travel stories unless there's an explanation for them and there wasn't. I also can't stand all that Scottish "laird" stuff because it's a bastardization of my heritage. The novels do use real historical events later on but I remember the first book (which is the only one I read) having a really stupid plot involving a dude that hates the main character and coming up with some convoluted and dastardly plan to kill his woman, as just about all romance villains do. I don't remember details; just that it was stupid and that it had no sense of humor about being stupid (like Twilight).
I think I know what you mean about "all that Scottish "laird" stuff". I don't have any ancestral connection with Scotland and I don’t have much knowledge of its history. But I have read a couple of those "all that Scottish "laird" stuff" and they always seemed to me to be romanticized ethnic stereotyping. Cliches, in another word.

I do like a good historical novel; I’ve read a couple recently about 19th century Chinese history which I thoroughly enjoyed. Good characters, good plot, and an authentic sense of “time and place” will hook me every time.

Here's a time travel/body swap book I remember liking a lot. I haven't read it recently, but I remember particularly liking how well the author did the "fish out of water" trope. A woman in 1978 switches bodies with her grandmother in 1900, and we get to see how each woman struggles to adjust to her new circumstances.


Gad, "Twilight". Don't get me going. I made it about a third of the way through the book and then decided life was too short to continue.
I enjoyed them. I was a little dismayed when the whole fanfic thing blew up because she always seemed like such a reasonable person on her website.

I really am torn - I do get that some author may not like their universe taken over by hordes of amateur writers like myself, but I also am fully on the side of more is better.

Count me on the side of "more is better". I can understand how authors would be taken aback by people playing in their universe - at least back in the day - but IMO the more passionate fan involvement anything has (TV show, movie, book), the more likely people would be to buy subsequent books/DVDs etc.
I've never tried her books, but I wouldn't let her view of fanfic put me off.

I figure she's as entitled to her view as the rest of us, and she was polite in the way she expressed her views.

I know actors who hate fanfic - doesn't stop me watching them on screen.
If I'm already into something, I don't let the opinions of any among TPTB put me off fanfic.

I've never read her work, but this is definitely a case of "too many books, too little time". I have a big stack of unread books, and other people have recced other authors. I do have to choose who I have the time to try out, and who I have to put at the bottom of the list. So I'm going to backburner Diana Gabaldon at this time. Right now, her name pops up in my head as "Diana 'hates fanfic' Gabaldon". If anything occurs to change my mind, I'll see about giving her work a try later on down the line.
Well, that's too bad. While I didn't really care for her Outlander stuff (I read the first one), I really like her Lord John series. Thought it was VERY good. Lord John Grey is a wonderful character, imo.

Thanks for the tip - I hadn't realized there were two different series. The Outlander books are the only ones which have been recced to me.

I really don't "get" the idea that fanfic causes harm. Instead I see an enthusiastic group of people, many of whom are ready and willing to buy an author's book - in hardcover - as soon as it appears in stores.
I don't know what exactly you read about what she said. She made several posts on the issue (that I have only read rection posts to) and some of her comments were difinitely not nice and some of her views made her look like she's in severe need of councelling.
I read the (Outlander, The Lord Grey books kind of bored me, though that might just be me) as a teen and they hit some narrative kinks of mine (also there was SEX, this is a big plus for a 14/15 year old without the internet), but after the recent discussions, some of the more disturbing stuff that comes up really popped out at me. I'll probably reread the books sometime (well, my favorite parts) because I'm nostalgic or something and they are well, written, but they definitely have some skeevy stuff going on too. (Rape, sadism (of the non-con variety), reliving trauma to facilitate healing, some more rape and some underlying stuff.) If you can deal with the id of the author showing, then it's a fun read, not that her posts haven't given me reservations about that.
I have read one Outlander book. It was okay. It was very much romance "Mary Sue" oriented and the only relationship that had any power was a power thing between two guys, the one guy being very sadistic and capturing the other and finally raping him. It did not cause me to want to read the rest of the series.

Other authors I've read and enjoyed who do not like or approve (apparently) of fanfic are:

Anne Rice
George Lucas

Pretty much I figure if an author is good and I like the book, that's that. If I don't like the author as a person, that's a different world. I'm in the world of the book. I can separate them in my mind. But that's just me.

No one is ever going to be able to stop fanfic. Fanfic is natural, like re-telling old tales in your own new way around the campfire. Authors need to get a little less "precious" about their work and just realize they are giving it to the world. I don't mean they should give it for free, but it's out there now. Tulpas are being formed. It can't be helped.
Hi Natasha, sorry to take so long to respond; lots of work this month; not much spare time.

Gabaldon sounds a bit too Mary Sue for me, all things considered. For my listening pleasure while driving to/from work I decided to skip Gabaldon and listen to the Harry Potter books - am almost finished with the first one.

I think George Lucas either got over his dislike of fanfic, or rather his disapproval, a long time ago. He definitely wanted to control the *type* of fanfic early on - i.e., no adult fic - which is why gen SW zine editors were requested, for awhile, to send his office copies of their fanzines. (Those zines became the basis of the fanzine library Ming Wathne ran out of Santa Barbara for many years.) And he'd clearly given up on stopping slash by the time Phantom Menace came out - 300 stories were up on the "Master and Apprentice" archive 3 weeks after that movie came out, and he never made a peep.

And, LOL, when he prohibited slash all those years ago, a circuit story involving a BDSM encounter between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker was photocopied and mailed all over the planet as a protest.

I definitely have no problems separating book from author - *if* I've read and enjoyed their work first. In the case of Gabaldon, I've never read her work, and am now not motivated to do so. So many authors, so little time...! :-)

And yes, no one will ever stop fanfic. We're hardwired to fantasize and tell and retell stories about archetypal characters. Authors can't really stop it, and the more they complain the worse they look.
Ah, Ms. Gabaldon! A pompous twit who likened fanfic writers to rapists and pedophiles. She also has quite a heavy hand with rape scenes in her books, stabbing a dagger through one victim's hand to pin said victim to the table and then the rapist getting down to business.

Fanfic has been around since people started telling stories around the campfire. Literary types have a very high opinion of themselves sometimes. If you're not getting cheated out of money through this phenomenon, quit alienating your fans (and possible future fans!). *shakes head*

Edited at 2010-06-11 10:52 pm (UTC)
Hi bradygirl - sorry it took so long for me to reply; too much work this month, not enough free time.

From everything I've heard, I'm not running out to read or listen to Gabaldon's work. I don't understand why authors don't see fanfic as free publicity and one more way of keeping interest high in their next work. (She sure succeeded in alienating *this* possible future fans.)

I'm listening to the Harry Potter books in my car instead.

On another subject, I hear Wonder Woman has had a costume change - what do you think?

Glad you're deep-sixing Ms. Pompous Twit! :)

As for Wonder Woman, not a big fan of the 'new direction' or new costume! They've taken what makes her unique in her backstory (Queen Hippolyta and Paradise Island) and cutting that out, making her too much like Clark as she's smuggled out as a baby while her people are murdered and raised in America. And not a happy childhood, either (unlike Clark).

I'm one of those who liked her old costume. It symbolized Amazon respect for American ideals and also the showing of skin was not exploitative from Diana's perspective: Amazons don't wear many clothes! :) A lot of people like the new backstory and costume, but I read the first installment of the new direction and it was dark, violent, and depressing, IMO. Her new costume is meh.

Sorry you asked now? I tend to wax eloquenty (or at least profusely!) on this subject. ;)

Edited at 2010-07-03 11:47 pm (UTC)
It sounds like the back story sucks. I *liked* the idea that she was from an entirely different culture and only came to the US as an adult. This new backstory is just too similar to lots of other characters.

Storyline aside, I've been a bit bemused by all this focus on her costume change, because I had been reading WW for only a year or so when this happened:



So I have any number of images in my head of Diana in regular (for the late 60s/early 70s) clothing. I think her powers had been taken away and she was some kind of kung fu heroine during this particular reboot?

Has there been any fic where Diana meets Xena? It's such a natural!
The new backstory doesn't make her unique, that's for sure.

I'd only been reading Wonder Woman a few years, too, when they changed her. I never liked the Diana Rigg look or the fact that Queen Hippolyta and the rest of the Amazons were relocated to another dimension (can't remember why, but I think the whole island went!). They killed off Steve Trevor, and got rid of the rest of her supporting cast. She ended up some kung fu artist, as you say, under the tutelage of a blind kung fu expert. I wonder what Hippolyta thought of a man being her mentor!

I never read that phase unless it was a giant issue and had plenty of Golden and Silver Age reprint stories in it. The late '60s/early '70s was a great time for reading the classics, most of which hadn't been seen in years. :)

I haven't read any WW/Xena but I'm sure it's out there! :)

Edited at 2010-07-05 01:42 am (UTC)
I rememeber reading the entire "Diana Rigg" phase, and I remember liking it, though I didn't have much to compare it to at the time. I don't have any memory on how it all ended. It didn't go on for very long, did it? I don't expect it was all that popular. In retrospect, it changed so much, jettisoned so much,and I'm not sure what it accomplished for WW herself.

What I already don't like about the new storyline is that Diana was always very much part of her own culture; she always had that true separate/outside/alien viewpoint. I don't see how giving her a very standard superhero background is going to keep her unique.

I think that white pantsuit phase lasted from 1958 to 1972, because in '72, Gloria Steinem put Diana on the first cover of MS. magazine in her former star-spangled glory. :) It was definitely an impetus to get the old look back!

And you're right: one of Diana's unique qualities was her role as observer/outsider. Even Clark, an actual alien, had grown up in America and understood 'Man's World' far better than Diana!

We'll see how it goes. Sales will probably surge at first, then drop. That's usually the pattern with these major changes.

And cutting out your entire supporting cast? Didn't work in '68, and I'll bet it won't this time, either.

Poor Diana! As one blogger said, DC really doesn't know what to do with her. :(
I've had all sorts of people rec Gabaldon's books to me, but the sheer idiocy of their basic premise turned me off completely. And she's nowhere near the expert on Scotland and Scottish customs/history, as she likes to think. Her novels are weighty and ponderous, but if they're anything like the first book, of which I could only manage about 10% without needing to barf, then I'ma be lots happier just tossing her in the Recycle bin. As for her books, well, it's winter time, the woodstove can always use more flammables. And the back corner of the couch needs something to stand on...
>>>And she's nowhere near the expert on Scotland and Scottish customs/history, as she likes to think.

That's the impression I got - that she was setting herself up as an expert, but didn't have what it takes to back up her assertion.