Maddd Science

Fanfic — however you spell it — is a great example of the anarchic, copyright-exploding power of the open internet. It's how fans spell out in detail exactly what their creators are missing about a story, while mixing in their own expressions and opinion indiscriminately. It's a massive but under-acknowledged community. At least, that's my take... I wish I knew more about it, which is why I like this first article as an intro.

The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction
Stephen Burt, The New Yorker

One “Star Trek” story imagines an alien species with “taboos about food and eating” comparable to our own taboos about sex: “You—you masticator!” a cadet from that species screams at Lieutenant Uhura, while “backing away in revulsion.” That story, “Lunch and Other Obscenities,” by the author known as Rheanna, could easily have been converted into a non-“Star Trek” piece for a science-fiction magazine. But then it would lose all the in-jokes, and half the fun.

Really, that^ should just be in an episode of Star Trek.

Riverdale reveals the promise and pitfalls of reverse-engineering a fandom
Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Verge

Riverdale fan blogger Avrealyn points out, “Everything about Riverdale, from its noir elements to its intriguing multi-dimensional characters, the beautiful cast, the fantastic quips and references and writings and storylines and perfect soundtrack choices, as well as the overall gorgeous aesthetics of the scenes… to the colors and the outfits, makes such great fodder for fan fiction and fan art.” That sounds like fan hyperbole, but it’s true that nearly every scene of Riverdale is shot to look like a neon-hued poster. Every frame makes a beautiful GIF, or suggests iterative illustrations.

Here's something I wrote for Forbes this week, on serialization (I was researching it last week, hence last newsletter's topic).

Why Writing Network Startups Are Banking On Serialized Storytelling
Me, Forbes

"Reading a book used to be a solitary experience, but we see that people are looking for those social elements," says Sabine van der Plas, co-founder and marketing manager at the Netherlands-based Sweek, a mobile writing platform. She cites as an example the communities of bookbloggers and booktubers — I'd add Book Twitter as well — who share not just book reviews but "also other personal experiences and pictures about reading."

Earlier in the month, I saw the myth that Percy wrote Frankenstein in action. Here's a look at how and why Mary Shelley gets disrespected through the centuries.

Frankenstein at 200 – why hasn't Mary Shelley been given the respect she deserves?
Fiona Sampson, The Guardian

So how on earth did Mary create her precocious masterpiece? One answer given by readers and critics down the years is that she didn’t. On its first, anonymous appearance reviewers surmised that this novel of ideas was written by someone close to Godwin, but not that the author might be his daughter. Percy, as son-in-law, was credited instead. Even in recent years Percy’s corrections, visible in the Frankenstein notebooks held at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, have been seized on as evidence that he must have at least co-authored the novel. In fact, when I examined the notebooks myself, I realised that Percy did rather less than any line editor working in publishing today.

When Pop Culture Sells Dangerous Myths About Romance
Julie Beck, The Atlantic

Edward Cullen. Chuck Bass. Lloyd Dobler. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That guy from Love Actually with the sign. The lead singers of emo bands with their brooding lyrics. Many of the romantic heroes that made me swoon in my youth followed a pattern and, like a Magic Eye picture, only with a little distance did the shape of it pop out to me. All of these characters in some way crossed, or at least blurred, the lines of consent, aggressively pursuing women with little or no regard for their desires. But these characters’ actions, and those of countless other leading men across the pop-culture landscape, were more likely to be portrayed as charming than scary.

Ever consider how the 1988 Bangles song "Bell Jar" is a bittersweet coda to their three-album-long battle against institutional sexist commercialization? Me neither, until I found this 1998 academic take on the topic. I love Google Scholar.

Autonomy and Resistance in the Music of The Bangles
Peter Mercer-Taylor, Popular Music

One of the principal aims of this article is to show how — as Peterson's remarks imply — The Bangles' musical, poetic, even iconic discourse is approached, from the beginning, as a forum for articulating issues relating to their creative experience as women. [...] Though the inconsistency and occasional artistic anemia of [their third album, Everything] hardly make for an unqualified success, the very nature of its failings render it a crucial testimony in the history of female rock music.

Next Week on Maddd Science: 80s movies

Header image: "untitled," by Daniel Williams.

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