Like a dying star or an exhausted Biggest Loser contestant, the universe is officially collapsing in on itself. As you probably know, the “mommy porn” phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey began life as kinky
He-Man Twilight fan fiction novel Master of the Universe. Author E L James — known as Snowqueens Icedragon on Fanfiction.net — rewrote her Stephenie Meyer-inspired story, swapped names like Edward and Bella for names like Christian and Anastasia, then published the vampire-free version as an original novel.
The kicker: Months after Fifty Shades took the publishing world by storm (and shortly after Vintage published its paperback edition), fearless fan-fiction pioneers have begun to invent their own tales based on James’ characters. Fanfiction.net is hosting a handful of these stories, the oldest of which dates back to this past March. And as Fifty Shades continues to dominate bestseller lists, the number of Grey fics can only rise.
The concept of fan fiction itself, of course, is hardly new: “There was fan fiction before you called it fan fiction, and before there was copyright it was called writing,” University of Utah professor Anne Jamison told the AP when asked about this new trend. But would-be novelists who are writing fan fiction based on someone else’s fan fiction? That’s some seriously kooky hall of mirrors stuff.
What happens if one of these stories eventually morphs into another “original” novel? Will all fiction one day be traceable back to Twilight? Is the publishing landscape destined to be clogged with imitations of imitations, each more poorly written than the last?
It’s too soon to tell. But as I wait for the coming literary apocalypse, I’ll take comfort in “Fifty Shades of Flannel,” a goofy parody that recasts dominant heartthrob Christian Grey as a “former crack baby Adonis” and swaps Anastasia Steele’s mom for James’s lip-biting heroine. Hey, maybe this reflective fic stuff isn’t all bad.