Fan-fiction has made a place for itself on the Internet, and few people would be willing to argue otherwise. Websites like FanFiction.net offer a space where fans of any TV show, movie, or book can write and upload their own stories based on their favorite characters. With some stories gaining hundreds of thousands of views, we have to ask: What do the authors think about this?

Some of them are definitely aware of fan-fiction. Authors like Cassandra Clare have a strong presence on Twitter and Tumblr, and there’s no doubt that she’s come across a few fics. This idea is strengthened by the fact that she was once a fan-fiction writer herself.

Other writers specifically endorse fan-fiction, like MTV’s Teen Wolf creator Jeff Davis, who was involved with a contest a few months ago that MTV held in which the author of the winning story got to fly out to California to meet him and visit the show’s writing room.

Not everyone is so approving. Anne Rice and George R.R. Martin are just two of the many examples. These authors consider fan-fiction infringement, and they don’t approve of fans taking their characters, settings, or ideas and using them to create their own stories. While this is completely understandable, we can’t help but raise an eyebrow at the often blatant disregard for and disapproval of fan-fiction.


 
Authors should be grateful for both the fan-fictions and the writers. After all, this is their fan base – and not just any fan base, but often the most invested and most passionate. These are the people that buy the merchandise, reread the book dozens of times, and dress up like their favorite characters at conventions. These are the people that many authors write for – the ones who understand their works and will be forever faithful for their contributions. They’re so invested in the story that they simply never want it to end. The easy solution is, of course, to create new stories out of the existing canon.

Fan-fiction also creates a sense of community

Fans share their stories with each other in hopes of gaining feedback and an appreciation for what they’re doing. As fans connect across the world through the Internet, their passion for the fandom will grow. It not only encourages re-watches or re-reads, but also a passion for others who share the same interests as they do.

And what about that fateful day when an author possibly recognizes a story that a fan has written about his or her characters?

This gets fans excited when they acknowledge their works, and it connects the author with his or her fan base. One of the reasons why pop singer Lady Gaga’s fans are so dedicated is because she often goes out of her way to talk to and encourage them. An author or creator of a TV show could do the same just as easily, and the fans would soak up the attention.

But the number one reason why any author should be proud to see their characters cropping up in fan-fiction is that it means they’ve inspired others to write – and isn’t that sort of the point? Maybe being an inspiration to others was never part of the game plan, but it’s an awfully nice side-effect. It encourages others to write and practice the craft, and maybe one day they’ll become an author in their own right.

Considering all of this, we have to ask: Is fan-fiction really such a terrible thing to endorse?

Legion is FX’s mysterious new show loosely set in the X-Men universe that begs plenty of questions, one of which is who is Sydney Barrett?

Sydney Barrett is one of the more interesting characters on Legion, and that is certainly saying something. The show is nothing if not intriguing, but Syd stands out as a character who poses as many questions as our hero, David.

Sydney was first introduced at Clockworks Mental Hospital, the psychiatric institution where David was being treated for schizophrenia. The first thing we learn about her is that she doesn’t like to be touched. She’s a bit distant (physically and emotionally), speaks her mind, and immediately agrees to be David’s girlfriend. And let’s not forget she’s named after the founding member of Pink Floyd, who is rumored to have suffered from schizophrenia himself.

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Legion is FX’s mysterious new show loosely set in the X-Men universe that begs plenty of questions, one of which is who is Sydney Barrett?

Sydney Barrett is one of the more interesting characters on Legion, and that is certainly saying something. The show is nothing if not intriguing, but Syd stands out as a character who poses as many questions as our hero, David.

Sydney was first introduced at Clockworks Mental Hospital, the psychiatric institution where David was being treated for schizophrenia. The first thing we learn about her is that she doesn’t like to be touched. She’s a bit distant (physically and emotionally), speaks her mind, and immediately agrees to be David’s girlfriend. And let’s not forget she’s named after the founding member of Pink Floyd, who is rumored to have suffered from schizophrenia himself.

Right from the start, something is different about Sydney. She challenges the idea that they’re all crazy. Just because David hears voices doesn’t mean he’s insane. Since we know these two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive, this immediately sends up a red flag. What does Sydney know that David doesn’t?

For one, she knows more about her powers than he does. Despite their emotional intimacy, there can never be any physical touching. Sydney knows what will happen if there is, but David does not. On the day she is set to leave Clockworks, David rushes over to kiss her, and we find out for the first time what exactly Sydney can do.

Her ability is to switch bodies with whomever she touches with her bare skin. David ends up as Sydney, confused and more than a little concerned he now has breasts, and Sydney ends up as David, distraught, afraid, and unable to control his immense power. She destroys Clockworks and kills Lenny (Aubrey Plaza). Eventually, David ends up in Division’s hands, while Sydney joins Melanie Bird’s team of fellow mutants.

It’s at this point where I’d like to pause and emphasize how unreliable of a narrator David truly is. Yes, he really does have powers, but if you have any knowledge about the comics, you’ll know that he’s also mentally ill (he even continues to question his own sanity in episode 3 despite now knowing about his powers). David has a variety of abilities, which are traditionally associated with each one of his personalities.

At least five times an episode I question whether or not Sydney is real. As of this writing, I’m convinced that she is, but that could change next week. Since David is so powerful, we really don’t know what he’s able to do, and it’s clear that he and Sydney have a surprising and mysterious connection.

Sydney is often seen alone with David. She’ll find him in a room or down by the docks. When they’re in a room with other people, she stands off the the side. She doesn’t always participate in the activities. This last point isn’t too surprising, however, because we know that even being close to people makes her skin crawl. She avoids direct contact with most individuals because she doesn’t want to risk triggering her powers.

The lack of interaction does make you scratch your head, but it’s important to note that the other characters can see and talk with Sydney. In this episode in particular, we watch Kerry track Sydney as she leaves the room before David is to be tested. We also see her go into and come out of David’s mindscape, and then interact with other characters while he’s unconscious. If she were a figment of his imagination, she would have little to no impact on the real world, but she does.

Lenny, on the other hand, is just in David’s head. The real Lenny is definitely dead, and so every time we see her pop up on our screens, we know she’s not really there. The interesting part of this is that David’s speech center is working even when he’s not outwardly talking to her (just inwardly having a conversation with his friend). No one else can see Lenny and no one else can hear him talk to her, but she’s real enough to David that she causes his brain to function as if she were there.

People with schizophrenia or Dissociative Identity Disorder assume what they see and hear is real, and therefore they (and their bodies) interact with their hallucinations as if they are corporeal. But what happens when you have someone with these disorders who also happens to be an extremely powerful mutant? Would they be able to manifest one of their personalities into the real world?

We cannot deny that David and Sydney have a strong connection. In episode 3, David talks about still being able to feel her from the time they switched bodies. His center of gravity is sometimes off and he feels as though he has to brush her long hair out of his face. This could absolutely be a side effect of Sydney’s powers, but what if it’s something more significant?

After all, no one but David and Sydney can see the yellow-eyed demon. When the demon attacked, Melanie and Ptonomy couldn’t see him, nor could they see the way he ripped apart the world in David’s mindscape.

But guess who could see the yellow-eyed demon? Sydney saw him when she was in David’s body back at Clockworks, but she could also see him when inside David’s mind. Again, this could be some sort of residual ability left over from sharing David’s mind, but it’s still worth pointing out that out of everyone, Sydney is the one who can back up David’s claims that the creature in his mind is real.

Legion is meant to test you mentally, and so far they are doing an incredible job at just that. Sydney’s existence continues to baffle me, and I hope we don’t get an easy answer here. I would love if David were somehow able to manifest one of his personalities (though this story line would be a bit narcissistic, no?), or, on the flip-side, if he were able to absorb her mind into his thanks to Sydney’s unique abilities, providing them with a connection unlike anything David has experienced before.

If neither one of these options is the case, I’d love for Sydney to be the one person to truly begin to understand how David’s mind operates. Melanie is at a loss, and considering she seems like the most experienced mutant at their facility, that is certainly disconcerting.

Whether or not Sydney is real, I hope she’s able to help David understand what he can do.

How are you enjoying ‘Legion‘ so far?

When the news broke about X-Men: Supernova being adapted for film, the reactions were as predictable as they were extreme: “Yay!” from the fanboys and “Oy vey” from the general populace. And strange as it feels to me, I align with the casual moviegoers, despite being the guy who went to see the last two X-movies dressed as Mystique and Cyclops.

A quick word about my X-geek credentials: I’m not a comic book reader, but was obsessed with all the TV shows, and transferred that obsession to the film franchise. And I don’t hate The Last Stand as much as you want me to; I just thought it was meh.

I think rehashing the Dark Phoenix storyline is a bad idea both financially and creatively. Financially, it wouldn’t go over well with casual moviegoers. Anyone who knows enough to be excited about a Dark Phoenix movie would go see it anyway, and everyone else will wonder why they should bother seeing a story they just saw 12 years earlier. There’s a reason Amazing Spiderman made less than two-thirds the gross of the original Spiderman, despite 3D and a decade of inflation — why bother paying to see a film when you can just stream the last incarnation?

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When the news broke about X-Men: Supernova being adapted for film, the reactions were as predictable as they were extreme: “Yay!” from the fanboys and “Oy vey” from the general populace. And strange as it feels to me, I align with the casual moviegoers, despite being the guy who went to see the last two X-movies dressed as Mystique and Cyclops.

A quick word about my X-geek credentials: I’m not a comic book reader, but was obsessed with all the TV shows, and transferred that obsession to the film franchise. And I don’t hate The Last Stand as much as you want me to; I just thought it was meh.

I think rehashing the Dark Phoenix storyline is a bad idea both financially and creatively. Financially, it wouldn’t go over well with casual moviegoers. Anyone who knows enough to be excited about a Dark Phoenix movie would go see it anyway, and everyone else will wonder why they should bother seeing a story they just saw 12 years earlier. There’s a reason Amazing Spiderman made less than two-thirds the gross of the original Spiderman, despite 3D and a decade of inflation — why bother paying to see a film when you can just stream the last incarnation?

Creatively, I want to see the film franchise take on a new story, instead of trying to do an old one better. Sony finally figured that out: no one wants to pay to see Peter Parker watch Uncle Ben get killed yet again, so just move on. Even from watching the cartoons and reading Wikipedia, I know that X-Men has some fantastic storylines to explore: Genosha, Legacy Virus, or House of M. When the films have given the fans a cinematic incarnation of an exciting new story, the results have been overwhelmingly positive: consider Days of Future Past, or the excitement for Old Man Logan.

Even if they redo Dark Phoenix, what are the odds it’ll be that much better? Sophie Turner is not a markedly better actress than Famke Janssen. It would be at the same studio, produced by a lot of the same people who did The Last Stand and Apocalypse. It may be time to just write off the Dark Phoenix saga as a lost cause for the film franchise. Fans will always have the original comics to return to, and two animated incarnations of it (‘90s X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men).

It’s the same way I feel about the Harry Potter franchise: I wish we could get decent movie adaptations of the books, but I’m much more excited for new stories in Fantastic Beasts, and happy to ignore the movies in favor of rereading the books. Films are not the be-all-end-all creative expression of a story.

Of course, I’ll still go see X-Men: Supernova when it comes out, but I really hope the next X-Men film gives me something to be excited about. I am familiar with going in to see films and thinking, “God, I hope they don’t eff it up again.” That’s how I felt for the latter Harry Potter movies. I’d be happy if they did a film centered on Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey, because I thought she was one of the few highlights of X-Men Apocalypse, but I truly hope they just leave the Dark Phoenix storyline well enough alone.

Do you want to see a retread of Dark Phoenix, or are you over it?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunner Jed Whedon discusses those killer twists and writing fanfiction in the aftermath of the spring finale.

Jed Whedon wrote and directed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, the episode that brought the current LMD storyline to an ostensible close. “Self Control” also completely changed the game for the rest of the season, sending Daisy into the ‘upside down’ of the world of the Framework to rescue the rest of the team.

But the Framework is a world where resolved regrets have appalling consequences — and that world is run by the likes of Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Whedon offered up his thoughts on upcoming themes, that crazy return, and the life and death stakes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hydra.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunner Jed Whedon discusses those killer twists and writing fanfiction in the aftermath of the spring finale.

Jed Whedon wrote and directed Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, the episode that brought the current LMD storyline to an ostensible close. “Self Control” also completely changed the game for the rest of the season, sending Daisy into the ‘upside down’ of the world of the Framework to rescue the rest of the team.

But the Framework is a world where resolved regrets have appalling consequences — and that world is run by the likes of Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Whedon offered up his thoughts on upcoming themes, that crazy return, and the life and death stakes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hydra.

First, what’s it like being an evil genius, destroyer of fandoms?

Oh well, you know! I get a lot of love-hate tweets at me.

When did you first have the idea to go into this alternate timeline, and basically write fanfiction of your own story?

You know, we end every year with talking about what next year will be. So last year, we had a lot of different things on our plate that we wanted to get into the season, and I think you can see we packed a lot in. But there’s sort of three big ideas — Ghost Rider, LMDs, and some sort of alt-world where we could, as you say, write some fanfiction for our characters and explore new things.

You know, I think this is our eighty-first episode that just aired, and that’s a lot of stories. So it’s refreshing for everybody, in production, action, and writers, to flip the script for a little while and get to sort of shake it out and use a new muscle.

So that’s something we talked about doing, and then figuring out how to do it, and how to make all those stories sort of become one thing was the real puzzle. And that’s where the Darkhold came in, and the idea that, finding a way that the Darkhold could sort of get us new tech, and the tech could get us to Alt-World. And so it was sort of a year in the making, and then it’s just a question of, what do we want to do in there? What kind of fun do we want to have?

Speaking of that, can you clarify the parameters of the Framework? Is it really an ideal world, as Aida and Radcliffe seem to think?

Yeah, I think that Radcliffe and Aida set out to duplicate the world, and with some of the info that Aida got from the Darkhold, they were able to do that. Now, the one change that they made was they plugged I think five people into it and repaired one regret for each of them, and that seems to have had a little bit of a ripple effect. We’ll get to learn more about the nature of that reality, but they were setting out to make our world. And it just seems when you change something, there’s a little bit of a butterfly effect.

So putting Jemma aside, who is decidedly her own case as she is apparently dead, which character’s new life do you think will be most surprising to fans?

Well, that’s a little bit of a wait and see question. But one thing I can say is that the themes we’re exploring are sort of, are you different if you’re in a different situation? Or are you inherently the same person? Obviously, we see May standing without much fear in a Hydra building, seemingly like she’s on top of the world. And so the question is, is she still her? Or have her new experiences changed her enough to be someone else?

Those are some of the themes that we’re going to explore. And you’ll get to see how each person is different and sort of judge for yourself who is the most different. But those are some of the themes we wanted to dig into. Is there a true you, or are you made up of your regrets — and what happens if you take those away?

And in terms of Jemma, you were very careful to obscure the date of her death on the tombstone. Is there any significance to that, or a mystery we should be keeping an eye out for?

In general in the Marvel Universe, dates are avoided. Because so much is connected… and I think that if you really asked, they would say that since the first Iron Man movie, like, two months has passed, or something insane! [laughs] You know, I think that we try to avoid them in general, but also it’s just so that you don’t know what’s happening, and we don’t have to answer all those questions, or stick super strictly to the exact timeline of when things would have occurred, so that we can have a little more wiggle room in terms of what stories we tell.

But yeah, we don’t know if it happened 20 years ago, or recently. We don’t know because we put a little flower over that!

But there’s a chance that we’ll see Jemma again?

There is a chance! And I’ll just say that we love Elizabeth [Henstridge] too much to have her go out off camera.

Okay, cool! So in terms of Ward, you definitely know how to keep the fandom churning! Is there a possibility that he will show up beyond the alternate universe, or is his role strictly in imaginary land?

Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But right now, there’s only five people in the Framework who actually have bodies in our world. [Ward] is a simulation, but he’s a simulation of exactly who he was. As Yo-Yo says, how do you populate a whole world? And Daisy very conveniently answers, “With the Darkhold.” It’s sort of our catch-all/fix-all solve this year, the Darkhold. It gave them this ability to sort of duplicate our world, so he is Grant Ward as we knew him.

Now, the world is different around him, and so whether or not he reacted the same to the changes in the world, we’ll see. But Grant Ward never enters the picture and makes things run smoother!

That’s for sure. So if you were to boil down what we can expect from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Hydra, what would you say?

Nightmares and dreams coming true.

…Oh boy.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×16, “What If…” will air on Tuesday, April 4 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.