Fan Fiction has been around for decades from the Tijuana bibles of the early 20th century to the Wold Newton genre of fiction pioneered by Philip José Farmer which combined different fictional characters in a common time-line. Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series of graphic novels has renewed interest in the Wold Newton idea.
The internet radically reduced the cost of publishing and fan fiction flourished, firstly in the written form and then later in video. From parodies like TROOPs
…to major productions like the Lord of The Rings prequel The Search for Gollum.
I became conscious of a next iteration after watching the first episode of the new series of Spooks. I started to notice fictional accounts for some of the present and former characters from the show. At first I thought that it was a badly executed social media campaign on behalf of the programme production firm or the BBC publicity department. Some of the tweets were so tongue in cheek they were more Frankie Howerd than Jason Bourne. But it wasn’t a BBC or Kudos sponsored campaign; instead it was a real-time fiction created by fans, 140 characters at a time.
The Twitter fiction existed in an eco-system as it depended on interaction with what I presume where other unrelated but fellow fans of the series. The closest thing I can think of to this is people who re-enact famous battles or a World of Warcraft guild, however these ‘missions’ are often well-planned and prepared for in advance. There is usually a leader or a minority cabal who provides leadership. When that leadership goes awry you get situation like Leeroy Jenkins.
I find the way Twitter is being co-opted for fan fiction very interesting; there is no cabal, no definitive adherence to rules as each of the Twitter characters gets ‘into’ their character to varying degrees and its a complete adhocracy. There doesn’t seem to be hate from ‘true believers’ who know the entire Spooks canon inside out, in the same way I would expect it from Star Wars, Star Trek, The X Files or Lost. Its improvisional like jazz and I think that its the birth of a new chapter in fan fiction which is why I called the post fan fiction 2.0.
Keep up with it by following some of these Twitter accounts:
UPDATE: Thanks to Stella Wong for pointing out NBC’s pioneering use of Twitter to create a ‘Twittersode‘ of their comedy programme featuring Chevy Chase. It looks like the entertainment industry has had similar ideas about extending stories and characters on to Twitters that fans have.