I know I'm not the only one a bit annoyed with the the typical sloppiness of terminology in the recent main page post new crappy fiction being "sloppy fanfic", considering the comments. ("Fanfic" , of course, is a descriptor of a work's relation to another work, not a marker of quality. Yes, the quality of E. L. James's writing is poor. So is the quality of Dan Brown's writing. This says way more about the quality of massive bestsellers and what constitutes mass appeal than it does about transformative art.) So, since we've got a good few appreciators of fan works here, help me create two lists. I'll start them out.
"Pro" Fanfic . . . Published "transformative" works based on other stories and characters (I'm not using Pro-Fic here because my brain parses that as Franchise tie-in novels):
- Grendel (John Gardner — Yup, that's the monster of Beowulf.)
- Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys — a response to Jane Eyre, from the perspective of the "madwoman in the attic".)
- March (Geraldine Brooks) — the story of the father in Little Women
- Paradise Lost (Because John Milton's Satan was totally the original Draco in Leather Pants.)
- Just about anything by Jasper Fforde, considering it's all basically Crossover Fic comedy (which makes his statements on fanfic even more idiotic than most).
- "A Study in Emerald" (Neil Gaiman — Sherlock Holmes fic)
- The Outlander series (Diana Gabaldon — despite Gabaldon's antagonistic stance to people who write fic of her texts, it's been pretty clearly pointed out that her protagonist got its start as a Doctor Who character.)
- "The Political Officer (C. C. Finlay — started out as a Vorkosigan fanfic called "Negri's Boys".)
- Fuzzy Nation (John Scalzi — a "reboot" of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy.)
- The Temeraire series (Naomi Novik — started out as an Aubrey-Maturin AU)
Good fanfic that has remained "amateur", whether written by pros or not:
- On the amateur fic written by pros side, My Own Kind of Freedom a Firefly fic by Steven Brust (Brust has also written "erotica" fic of one of his own series, which is itself a pastiche of Dumas and old three-volume novels.)
- There's some great Harry Potter fic out there, some I found much better-written than the original material.
- An author I've very much enjoyed over the years, Copperbadge a.k.a. Sam Storyteller. (Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Torchwood, Discworld, The Avengers, White Collar)
- FernWithy (Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Hunger Games) Particularly "Shifts" and "Shades", I think.
- Icarus Chained's JARVIS series (The Avengers) — meditations on trust, freedom, Artificial Intelligence, and personhood.
- "I Shall Wear Grey Today" by Kristin Housnecht (Vorkosigan fic . . . a character piece in verse.)
Because it's my list, I'm not including Cassandra Claire on here ever. Even if someone did like what her plagiarized Draco-in-Leather-Pants debacle got turned into.
Also because we have to draw lines somewhere, I'm not going to go too far into pre-Romantic concepts of originality or the fact that tons of earlier texts are based on or in conversation with already existing narratives. I'm making Paradise Lost a limit here.