I just came back from a trip to Fermilab (to give a talk at the Collaboration meeting), and I noticed, on the plane from Phoenix, that the woman next to me was reading a book.
Now, I, like most readers, have the ability to judge the genre of a book based on the cover. Sometimes it's obvious, like spaceships, and pirates, and kilt-wearing Scotsmen with their shirts unbuttoned, but sometimes, it's more subtle. It's in the way the words are written, the expressions that are allowed on the face, even the way that the author's name appears in conjunction with the title. This set off a bit of the romance warning for me, but also another sensation that I rarely experience in regular life. The cover illustration was simply drawn, there was no information on the binding, or on the cover other than the title and the author; only the bareness of the book's cover testified to its uniqueness.
Although it is always bad to judge a book by its cover, this one was screaming Vanity Press.
I don't see Vanity Press work on a day to day basis, so this aroused my curiosity. I caught a peak of the back as she was getting off the plane, and discovered that she was reading Pride and Prejudice fanfic. This
Pride and Prejudice fanfic to be precise. Once my access to the internet was restored, I quickly discovered that this author has already produced other
of P&P fanfic. And furthermore, there seems to be a whole industry devoted to the concept.
Now, I shouldn't find this very odd, considering that my choice of literature has never exactly been accused of good taste (in fact, Pride and Prejudice fanfic may be considerably closer to true literature by virtue of association), and furthermore I try not to malign other people's choices, but does anybody besides me find this vaguely disturbing? As if a piece of the internet, where I normally find fanfiction, had intruded on real life?
I don't know why this bothers me. Perhaps it's just because all those times when I was telling people to try making their pseudo-fanfic into an original work, I was apparently giving them the wrong advice.