Moderating a busy list (OT)/Q. about Fanfiction

Sally Odgers sodgers at
Mon Apr 16 12:37:26 EDT 2001

why Neil
>Gaiman can win a World Fantasy Award for a story derived from
>Shakespeare's world, and Laurie King can write much-acclaimed novels
>set in a reconsidered world of Arthur Conan Doyle's,

I'm not familiar with either of these works, but I'd hazard a guess that
Shakespeare's World is actually Elizabethan England - or a version of it,
while ACD's world is Victorian London. To draw a parallel; Georgette Heyer's
main world is Regency England. Now it's probable that these "worlds" are
creations as much as recreations, but the main places do exist. Because they
are, or were, real places, they were simply borrowed by Doyle, Shakespeare
and Heyer. Borrowed and modified, perhaps, as someone might rent and
redecorate a flat. However, when the lease runs out, the flat devolves to
the original owner, to be used again by the next tenant.

Sci-fi and fantasy worlds usually don't exist at all. They are created by
the authors. Just as a further example, I write a lot of books set in
Tasmania, the island state. Of course I do. I live here. Other authors, who
don't live here and have perhaps never been here, also (occasionally) use
Tasmania as a setting. I wouldn't dream of objecting to that! Tasmania is
here. It exists. In the same way, I sometimes use Sydney or Darwin for a
setting. They're there and if I want a croc or a koala in my story I can't
set it in Tasmania.

However, I wrote one book, Trinity Street, set partly in 27th Century
Tasmania. In it, my island state has become a giant national park, where
only a few designated scientists are allowed to live. It is the home of an
institute called Hub Hi-Q, dedicated to reviving the intelligence that has
been draining steadily from the human race.

If I ever read a book by someone else that introduced a state-sized national
park in the 27th Century, with Hub HI-Q committing nefarious acts in it, I
would object very strenuously. *That* Tasmania doesn't exist. It is a
projection, and by golly, it's *mine*.  Ditto with Celadon, Rargon, McAnerin
and Ankoor and Elydia, all worlds or countries that I created.

Actually, very few books can use modern day places as complete settings,
because if I put a made-up family in Number 6, Gilbert Street, Latrobe,
Tasmania (for example) the illusion of truth will be destroyed because some
peope will know the real people who live at that address. It can also be
tiresome to try to find out how long it takes to walk/drive/swim from Point
a to Point b in the real world. Therefore, many writers use real countries
and real states or counties, but invent towns to go in them. I own huge
tracts of real estate in Tasmania; whole towns called Shepherd Town, Copper
Creek, Bandinangi, Mersey, Rosella, Cockatoo, Anchor Bay, Rafton,
Springford, Greer etc etc are mine. I don't expect other writers to hijack
my towns either, whereas they are perfectly at liberty to use Sheffield,
Devonport, Launceston, Hobart or make up their own.

So, that's my take on worlds. Recognisable places and/or periods are up for
grabs, invented or projected periods and/or places are not. But I must
stress, again, that this is *my* opinion, and everyone else is welcome to


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