Stuff We Love: Larry Niven’s essay ‘Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex’ is a hilarious look at Superman’s love life
Have you ever thought about Superman’s romantic life? Like, really, really thought about it? Hard science fiction author Larry Niven did back in 1969, with his essay “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex.” He takes physical intimacy with the superhero to h…
Famously, E.L. James’ 50 Shades of Grey was born as fan fiction of the Twilight series, which turned into a best-selling series of books and a money-making series of films. And if fan fiction site Wattpad has its way, even more fanfic will be turned …
Reading and writing fan fiction is a pastime I’ve enjoyed for years, and I’m not the only one: Fanfiction.net, a clearinghouse of fan fiction from across dozens of television shows, movies, and books, has millions of stories in its ever-growing repository. Once considered the domain of science fiction fans (although much older than that) now spread over non-genre television shows such as House and Gilmore Girls, fanfic has long been considered a copyright violation lawsuit in the making. Now Amazon is giving fan fiction the legitimacy it needs and deserves. With caveats.
“Being a fan is like being in love,” says Lynn Karlsson, a fanfic writer. “You just want to eat, sleep, breathe, and love these characters, and spending time with them is the most engaging thing that you think of.”
I was fifteen years old when I invented the genre of fan fiction, a form of writing where the author takes characters or universes created by someone else and writes stories about them. That was the year I wrote my first short story involving me, Kirk, and Spock, which is also the year that I invented the genre’s worst cliché: the Mary Sue story, where the character exists as a thinly veiled avatar of the writer.
Fifteen was also the year I attended my first convention, where I learned that fan fiction had thrived for years before me.