I've got a new Enthusiasm. It's writing "appreciative fiction". That's a fancy-shmancy way of describing fanfic.
It has come about because of my discovery of the Mary Russell novels of Laurie R. King, in which a 15 year old half-American, half-British Jewish girl meets the "retired" Sherlock Holmes, becomes his protegee, his partner, and ultimately his wife.
Sounds absolutely dreadful, doesn't it?
Except, it isn't. King is smart enough to create a plausible story line, and can imitate the Conan Doyle style enough to sound pretty much an authentic Holmesian delineator. So far there are 8 books, with another due in 2008.
And just as the original Holmes "Canon" has spawned interminable discussion and pastiche, so have the Russell novels done--except there is a difference, because the "Kanon" (as Russellians call the King novels) is itself a pastiche, and a particular kind of pastiche at that.
Fanfic, "a story based on a pre-existing story-concept, written by someone who is not working under the original copyright, and therefore not an officially sanctioned part of said story universe" as it has been described, has been around for a long time, but the internet has caused it to expand exponentially, as it is much easier to disseminate. "The internet has given rise to literally thousands of newsgroups devoted to particular programs, characters, and actors. Fans can go online and discuss their interests with other fans without regard to boundaries of time or geography. [...] [the internet has] brought fandom into a public place where it can be more easily accessed by both potential fans and researchers." (Sue Hazlett, quoted in the "The Hive: Exploring an Online Community"
There are sub-genres to fanfic, one of the most common being the "Mary Sue" variety, in which the author inserts him/herself into the story. I've been working on a novel based on The Sandbaggers" (a British TV spy series of the late 70s) for years and it is a "Mary Sue" novel without ever knowing it! So fanfic devoted to the Russell stories are pastiches of pastiches, but none the less fun for that.
There is even a site devoted to Russellian fanfic: The Hive. What is surprising is the quality of quite a bit of the stuff there. While some of it is mediocre, both in conception and writing, there are several very good full length novellas as well as short fiction there. Two stories, in particular, I found to be hilariously funny: The Vicissitudes of an Idiom and A Happy Birthday... For Whom?
I modestly note that I have submitted a vignette, Last Minute Doubts, and have a couple of others in the works.
I think I have found my metier at last...