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new stories featuring characters and settings from a particular series of books or TV programmes, written by fans of the series and not by the original author
'… the books have become a vehicle for a worldwide outburst of collective storytelling. … author J.K. Rowling has opened the door for fans to imagine for themselves how it will develop, and they've seized the opportunity … Entire websites are devoted to passionate Potter plot discussions and "fanfic."'Dallas Morning News 15th July 2005
'… fans of the boy wizard may be getting desperate for some fresh adventures from the gang at Hogwarts … Help is at hand in the form of fan fiction. In this curious literary genre that is flourishing on the net, fans of a particular book, TV series or film write their own stories …'The Guardian 5th December 2002
July 16th 2005 was a momentous day for Harry Potter fans across the globe, when Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in the series, finally appeared in bookshops all over the world. In the United States, the book sold 6.9 million copies in 24 hours, making it the fastest selling book in history.
the Internet has been a major catalyst in the growth of fanfic, providing the medium for budding authors … to develop ideas and communicate them to a worldwide audience
This unprecedented level of excitement and interest in a series of books has prompted serious aficionados of Hogwarts to bridge the gap between the release of each novel by writing their own stories, developing new adventures featuring Harry and his chums. The creativity of Potter fans has been a leading influence in a new literary genre, coined fan fiction, often shortened to fanfic. Fanfic simply involves fans of a particular book, TV series or film writing their own stories using established characters and settings. The Internet has been a major catalyst in the growth of fanfic, providing the medium for budding authors (sometimes lightheartedly referred to as fanficers/fanficcers/fanfickers) to develop ideas and communicate them to a worldwide audience. Websites such as fanfiction.net provide more than 200,000 new pieces of fiction based on the Harry Potter theme alone.
Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling is said to be a fan of fanfic. However in a bizarre twist, a disgruntled fan recently released a 'corrected' version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, prompting a storm of curiosity and support from many fans who disliked the direction of the story in the book. This is the first time a piece of fanfic has captured a sizeable portion of the original author's audience, with more than 80,000 copies of the modified book being downloaded from the Internet and an ensuing lawsuit from Ms Rowling's publishers.
Though both the Internet and the unprecedented popularity of the Harry Potter series have been a major influence in the development of fanfic, the concept in fact predates both. The earliest pieces of fanfic relate to the popular science fiction TV series Star Trek. Fans frustrated at the cancellation of the show began to write their own adventures, leading to privately published magazines known as fanzines. The first of these, entitled Spockanalia, was first published by Star Trek fans as far back as 1967.
This article was first published on 22nd August 2005.