The Killing Zone is not a particularly well-known James Bond ‘continuation novel’ – for a very simple reason; it seems that the author published it at his own expense and pretended it was officially licensed by the estate of Ian Fleming, which it wasn’t (and it seems unlikely it would have been, given that Bond dies in it – you can read the text of the book here). So really, it was little more than glorified fan fiction.
Fan fiction is something I find both understandable and mystifying; if you like to write and you like certain characters, I can see why you’d want to write stories using those characters (I mean, I have notes for an ‘Elseworlds’ Batman tale on file), but if you’re that keen to see the stories printed and they involve characters owned by someone else, I think you’d probably be better off trying to actually get them published either as stories with new characters or – if you’re hardworking and a little lucky – maybe even as part of the ‘canon’, as opposed to sticking them on the internet or similar. Sure, it’s all good writing practice to put one word after another in whatever form, and I’ve seen examples of fan fiction which have been genuinely good writing, but I can’t help thinking that some of that effort could be just as (if not more) profitably put to use in the creation of new characters.
Got an idea for a Bond story? Why not re-tool it with your own character – if the plot’s compelling enough, surely it would stand on its own merits, and you’d be free to do whatever you want without the constraints of ‘playing with someone else’s toys’ – or, as I think Warren Ellis once called it, “servicing copyrights”. Speaking of whom, Ellis did just this (aided by the terrific art of John Cassaday) to great effect in his comic series Planetary, which features a combination of out-of-copyright characters (Holmes and Dracula, for instance) and altered versions of characters, such as Doc Savage, who are still owned by other people or organisations. And of course these altered characters can have different traits from the originals as required by the plot.
One area of fan-made fiction which simply mystifies me, though, is ‘slash fiction’. When I first heard of it, I assumed it was rather grisly, like a slasher film, but in fact it comes from the punctuation involved; slash fiction is fan fiction which focuses mainly on romantic or sexual relationships between characters in an established setting, and the ‘slash’ is usually placed between the names – for example, Kirk/Spock. I gather it’s mainly written about male characters, and often by female writers (shades of Yaoi there). And a quick search of the internet for examples of it left my head a-spinning, quite frankly.
Kirk and Spock stuff was pretty prevalent, but if SF’s not your thing then you’ll be glad to know you can easily find another Shatner onscreen persona in contemporary garb in slash fiction about Boston Legal, and for those of you with longer memories for TV shows there was slash fiction detailing sex between The Equalizer and his former CIA boss. It was odd stuff to read – though I have to be honest and say that I didn’t read much of it for too long as my head was all confused by the motivations behind it: it was capably enough written (although a lot of the time the dialogue was dodgy), but my mind was pulled in two directions as it tried to reconcile the idea of these characters as having a ‘secret erotic life’ with the general themes of the ‘canonical’ stories as I understand them, and I just couldn’t align those things in my brain.
Though, thinking about it, I may simply have over-dosed on Shatnerian homoerotica whilst researching this blog post. Maybe that’s why the whole thing rather weirds me out.
As, in fact, did just typing the phrase ‘Shatnerian homoerotica’. Still, could make for some new visitors arriving here via strange searches on Google and its ilk. Hello, new and rather-niche-interested readers!