I first discovered the phenomenon of fan fiction as a pre-teen through a 1984 issue of the Star Trek magazine Enterprise Incidents. Christopher Randolph, in his article "The Many Faces of Fan Fiction," served as my tour guide as he compared and contrasted the virtues of General, "Get-'Em," Mary Sue, Alternate Universe, K/S, and Adult fan fiction [his categories]. Tracey Alexander's "A Brief Moment of Light...," the Kirk death story that followed Randolph's article, was the first fan fiction story I ever read.
I was instantly and permanently intrigued, and I have been an active and enthusiastic consumer of fan fiction ever since. My exploration and, later, study of, writing on, and teaching about fan fiction has led me to read in a number of different universes, including not only all five Star Treks, but also Star Wars, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Firefly, to name but a few. In some cases (Blake's 7, The Professionals), I first read works of fan fiction before I ever saw the television series on which they were based. And over the years, I have watched as the fan fiction phenomenon adapted to new technologies and tastes, manifesting itself in hard-copy fanzines, online archives, newsgroups, LiveJournals, etc.
So, back to the experience of creating my recommendations list. As I tried to narrow my choices for my website, a truly challenging and still ongoing task, it occurred to me that over these twenty years, there are specific stories that still resonate powerfully with me, stories that have taught me key lessons about the nature of fan fiction, audience participation, literature, and storytelling, stories I simply cannot forget or file away. These are rereadable stories, often haunting tales, and they exemplify many of the reasons why I find fan fiction to be a relevant and important form of art and expression. They run the gamut of ratings and classifications and are scattered over half a dozen universes. Some exist only in print, others only online.
Now, to the point: as I think of them, I believe I will note them here and mention if and where they are available for reading. I'll use this LJ as a brainstorming area and just possibly, after I've leisurely revisited a series of works in no particular order, I will be able to compile my own list of significant pieces that reflect the personal milestones and memories of two decades as a fan fiction consumer.
So there. Just so you know what I'm doing if you happen to stop by and see this endeavor underway. Perhaps you may have read some of these stories, as well, or you may have additional recommendations for me. However this process evolves, I look forward to considering some of these noteworthy tales again.
Note: For posts about fan fiction, see here.