If you’re like me, there are a lot of television programs you’ve loved, but that – in your opinion – were taken off the air too quickly. For whatever reason, your taste in entertainment just didn’t mesh with what was otherwise popular. For me, a perfect example of that is “Dark Angel,” which aired on Fox, for two seasons. In my memory, the show was fairly popular, but the television executives thought it was too expensive, so it was taken off the air. Too bad, of course, but what was worse (in my opinion), was that the creators of the show were not informed it would be taken off the air until after the second season’s finale, which led to numerous unanswered questions and very little in the way of closure for the characters.
What to do?
Well, a group of “Dark Angel” fans got together and created what they called VS3, or Virtual Season 3. They plotted out a story arc, then created settings and scripts for individual “episides,” which they released (in text form only), on the Internet. There was talk of a Virtual Season 4, but as far as I can tell it never happened.
So what if I want more?
Well, thanks to a fabulous website called FanFiction.net, anyone who wants to write a story about a TV show, movie, book, comic book, cartoon, anime, video game (or anything, for that matter), can submit the story, and it will be published. This type of fiction is called fan fiction, since fans are writing in someone else’s universe. You’ll never see this type of fiction in bookstores, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t high quality. Sure, some of it is junk, but in a lot of cases, when dedicated fans decide they really want to know more about a certain character, the results can be great.
To give you an idea of how much there is out there, and how LONG some of these stories are (really, a lot of them are novels), I did a quick check for stories related to the Harry Potter franchise. At the moment (June 19, 2007), there are currently 299,612 stories available to read! And even more amazing is that when I decide to filter out any stories shorter than 100,000 words (considered novel-length by most people), there are still 1848 stories available! I have read a few of these stories, and while many of them do not follow the story as told by J.K. Rowling in her books, or in the movies, they are mainly true to the feel of the books/movies, and as such are very good reads.
One thing that I find great about fan fiction is that it allows for a little more leeway than the “official” version as told in the original book or show. For instance, while people have often speculated about romantic interest between characters in the Harry Potter books (such as between Harry and Hermione, Harry and Ginny, or Hermione and Ron), those ideas can be fully explored in a piece of fan fiction. Sure, it will vary greatly from what is considered “cannon,” but at the same time, it allows people who WISH for something to happen, to read about it.
In addition, registered users (an unregistered user can read everything for free, by the way), can review published stories. These reviews are often short, but they do give you a good idea of how well people like the story. There is no rating system, unfortunately, although that might be a good thing, as online voting forms are easy prey for being abused.
About my only gripe about FanFiction.net is that it has no easy mechanism for downloading complete stories. Each story is broken down by chapter, and the only way to download a chapter is to save a particular webpage as an html archive. It would be great if FanFiction.net allowed users to download a complete zip file of a story, especially when a story is finished. FanFiction.net doesn’t seem to be supported by ad revenue, so in my mind this idea has great merit, and it’s unfortunate that the site maintainers feel differently.
Still, although that is a bit inconvenient, the idea behind FanFiction.net is great, and I’ve recommended it to a ton of friends. If you’re one of those people who loves a particular show, book, author, movie or comic, and you want to read more “adventures” of your favorite characters, you’ll definitely want to give FanFiction.net a try!