Once a quasi-underground activity carried on in a handful of 'zines, fan fiction exploded when it hit the Internet. Suddenly, fans wanting to continue the adventures of their favorite fictional creations could reach a potentially limitless audience with the push of a button. Eventually, one site, fanfiction.net, became the largest archive for online fan fiction, and—even though it places more limitations on the type of material users may post than other sites—it's also become an excellent barometer of just how widespread the phenomenon has become. It showcases plenty of fanfic for Buffy The Vampire Slayer (upward of 27,000 entries), Star Trek, The Matrix, and other franchises that practically invite their fans to imagine further adventures. But there are also hundreds of entries for unexpected titles like Schindler's List, The Breakfast Club, and Reba. The A.V. Club recently spent some time poking around the dustier corners of fanfiction.net, reading fiction dedicated to some unexpected franchises and studying the responses of the authors' fanfic peers. Here's a tiny sampling of what's there.
Number of entries: 17
Survey: For the most part, even the fan-fiction writers who take the time to write Smurfs fan fiction don't take the task too seriously. Most, like the authors of "Smurfs That Live Inside My Brain!" and "The Communist Smurf," shoehorn grown-up aren't-the-cartoons-we-grew-up-on-weird? observations into rudimentary plotlines.
Sample: Not so "Raven Child2," whose sprawling trilogy ("The Smurfette Village!", "Return to the Smurfette Village," and the still-in-progress "How Things Smurf") follows Hefty Smurf on an epic journey that spans several centuries. Separated from the other Smurfs after a devastating flood, Hefty happens on a village that reverses the male-to-female ratio of the patriarchal Smurf Village. Can he find true love with his female analog, Toughette? Will he ever be reunited with his Smurf friends? Can they adjust to modern times when they're whisked into the 21st century?
Representative quote: "Many of the smurfs didn't even try to block away their tears when Papa Smurf reminded them of the horrors they witnessed."
Sexual tension: Moderate. Smurfs can only be so sexy, but there is a distinct sensuality to Raven Child2's descriptions of Toughette.
Critical response: Mixed. While most reviewers offer vague words of encouragement ("Keep smurfin'!"), "Jinglette," author of "Harry Potter And The Search For Michael Jackson," isn't so kind: "You have no life… Writing about Smurfs… GO EAT A MUFFIN OR SOMETHING!" Ouch. And is it constructive criticism or passive aggression when fellow Smurfs fanfic writer "Rowhena Zahnrei" points out, "Proper tense use is vital if you want readers to be able to follow your story easily"?
Number of entries: 6
Survey: Two of the entries here offer variations on scenes in the movie, and one sets up a story that transplants the action to high school. The three remaining try to keep the happy ending's good feeling going.
Sample: "After The Credits" recounts a chance sighting of the new couple from the perspective of one of the shocked former employees of Meg Ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly. Author "TraScully" apologizes for the brevity, but notes she has "a whole long idea that could take years to complete—it involves Joe re-opening Kathleen's store and surprising her with it… someone should write that."
Representative quote: "Two business rivals—one of whom I respected, the other I despised—the two most different, opposite, amazingly antonymical humans ever were walking together through Central Park!"
Sexual tension: Low. The fans take the cutesy-wutesy sex-lite Nora Ephron tone and run with it. "She's A Fox, Alright" concerns the birth of Joe and Kathleen's daughter, which would at least imply that some fucking has occurred.
Critical response: The word "cute" comes up a lot.
Number of entries: 5
Survey: Apart from obviously jokey entries like "ALF Meets William Hung" and the ALF/Family Matters/Mork & Mindy crossover "ALF And Urkel Visit Planet Ork 1111," the only name anyone needs to know when it comes to ALF fan fiction is "Anistan Summers." Summers, who has also dabbled in Designing Women fanfic, writes dialogue-heavy short stories that do a pretty good job of mimicking the tone of an ALF episode.
Sample: "ALF's Christmas Carol" opens with ALF pondering what he would do with an ice-cream machine, suggesting one already-existing flavor after another. But it's not all fun and games for the old Alfster, as he recalls the death of his terminally ill friend Tiffany (as seen in the two-part season-two episode "ALF's Special Christmas"). At the suggestion of his foster dad Willy, ALF takes some time out to send her some Christmas wishes, wherever she might be.
Representative quote: "'Uh, Tiffany, it's me, Alf. Uh, I hope you remember me… uh, I found your picture the other day… anyway, I know you didn't really have the Christmas of your dreams the last time you were here…'"
Sexual tension: Nonexistent.
Critical response: "I laughed out loud, this was so funny, and so like Alf. I want some of his ice cream."
Number of entries: 2
Survey: Not much to survey here, since there are only two entries expanding on the Conan The Barbarian-inspired 1983 fantasy film: "Prequel to Krull" and "Sequel to Krull," both by "Glaivester."
Sample: The five-part "Prequel To Krull" imagines, in terse detail, the events leading up to Krull. The single chapter of "Sequel To Krull" imagines what happens next. Both are light on characterization and heavy on proper names and references to weapons.
Representative quote: "It was able to travel through space at speeds 10,000 times that of light. With it, the Beast could travel 27.4 light years in a day [A/N I am translating into Earth days and years here]. He now had all he needed to establish his space empire."
Sexual tension: Not too much.
Critical response: From "Krullster": "Dude, PLEASE continue your work on the Sequal to Krull. I love this movie, and you're doing a great job so far."
Number of entries: 1
Survey: Filed in fanfiction.net's "Misc. movies" category, this appears to be the only piece of fanfic inspired by the meth-themed 2002 Val Kilmer thriller The Salton Sea.
Sample: In the one chapter of "Is He Dead Or Isn't He" posted to date, the Kilmer character—though apparently dead at the film's conclusion—has relocated to New York, taken a job in a restaurant, and befriended someone named Johnny No Name ("the name stuck with him and it's on his drivers license.") As the chapter winds down, he meets a woman from his past.
Representative quote: "I am a completely different person living in a completely different world. A world of terror. Yes. A world of famine. Yes. But it doesn't matter to me because it hasn't yet ceased to exist and until the day the world blows itself up, I will continue to be as happy as I can, which may not be joyous, but hell. My roommate is a four-inch cockroach."
Sexual tension: Present but muddy, as in this description of the mystery woman: "Her hair is darker and almost stick straight, her makeup is applied correctly, and her clothes are nice, designer maybe. A silk blouse and tight faded jeans with stilettos. Fashion is useless these days, but designers are brainwashing anyway."
Critical response: "Wow, this must be the first Salton Sea fic ever!"