Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Fanfiction is the name for writing done in another author's world. Usually fans of the author write because the author isn't producing fast enough, or to put in scenes that were missing, or to think about the characters having sex in probable or improbable ways (I blame the internet for the prevalence of the last). But often fanfiction thinks it is being true to the work, but the new author inserts a fresh character, possibly based on that new author, who fits right into the world except for being just a little bit more special than anyone else. One of the first popular fanfictions was Star Trek, and in one now infamous piece a new officer joined the crew, taught Kirk how to command (and to truly love), showed Spock how logic should really work, demonstrated a few improvements to the warp engines to Scotty, and I don't know, maybe performed a heart transplant between herself and Dr McCoy. This character's name was Mary Sue, and that is now a term for any character (in fanfiction or original fiction) who is just so gosh darned special. Everyone loves her (or him), she is good at everything, and often has very pretty eyes, possibly of an interesting shade.
Laurie R. King runs with this trope in her series about Sherlock Holmes, with the retired Holmes meeting a young girl named Mary Russell (I affectionately call her Mary Rue), who is his equal in logic and detection and just about everything, and better than him at common sense and determination and who knows what else. By the third book they get married and start traveling the world. In the ninth book, The Language of Bees, Holmes meets his long-lost son.
Mary is the viewpoint character for the series, and she is very aware that she is the smartest thing ever, which does get a little tedious. In fact, for most of this book I had a mean-spirited and unfulfilled hope that she would be wrong sometime. Yet the story is full of nice plot and adventure, and I mostly enjoyed the read. I won't seek out the next book (there is always a next book) but if I stumble across it in the library I'll probably pick it up. This one does end on a bit of a cliff hanger, but not enough to trouble my sleep.