Nominated for seven razzies including - the worst pun on a family group.
Pia Gertsch, Ph.D, on a.f.p
Ill in Anorankhmar, sometimes known to its readers and creators as "The Tale," is as interesting as a very interesting thing. In one sense, it is the shaggiest of dogs; in another, it is a sociologist's wet dream. Fandom, like a sort of benign and (arguably) sentient mold, grows around all of the best science fiction and fantasy; most of it just sits there, but some of it is colorful, some rare forms are deadly, and once in a long while you find something like penicillin. Fan fiction, or fanfic, is what happens when the mold absorbs a few ideas, leaves the petri dish, and sets off to make its way in the world.
The Tale started when a couple of writers who really like Terry Pratchett's writing decided to amuse themselves, along with the other members of alt.fan.pratchett, by writing a story that featured some elements of Pratchett's signature style. Although not based on the Discworld novels, The Tale made liberal use of footnotes, and what some people might call maniacally generous employment of references to other literature. Before it ended, the annotations ranged from Ovid's love poetry to such gems of Japanese culture as "Bondage Fairies."
The thing that would make a sociology student's hands clammy is how The Tale developed. As readers discovered buried references, some of them in shallow graves indeed, they remarked on them. The writers rewarded the diligent readers with yet more annotatable references, and began to reference conversations that had taken place in alt.fan.pratchett. Readers became characters, to everyone's amusement.
The Tale is at once an article of fan tribute to a very popular fantasy series, a conversation between fans of the same series, a complex word game, and a genuine story on its own terms. As one of its authors noted, The Tale is "fan fiction cubed - by fans, about fans, and for fans." Whatever else it might be, Ill in Anorankhmar is a pretty entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, and that's as much as anyone can really ask.
Stacie Hanes, M.A.
Kent State University, USA
© 2004 Örjan Westin