7 Fanfiction Books That Became Must-Reads

Have you ever reached the end of a book or a movie and been totally bummed the ride was over and wished there was more story for you to immerse yourself in? Well, you’re not alone. For decades, fanfiction has been a thriving outlet for enthusiasts to carry stories forward when the original creator is unwilling or unable to do so. Some (or most) of these imitative works are average at best to dreadful at worst. Then again, some, like these seven works, become must-reads for fans and do their predecessors proud.

  1. The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes:

    Think Lord of the Rings or Star Wars fans have the biggest canon of fic? Die-hard Sherlockians have been creating their own cases for the world’s greatest detective to solve since the 19th century. With its inconsistencies, timeless characters, and a setting begging to be updated, the source material is ripe for reimagining. You could watch the BBC’s terrific Sherlock or Guy Ritchie’s cartoonish portrayals, but for fanfic reading the can’t-miss is 1944′s The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes. Here’s the angle: take famous writers like Agatha Christie, Mark Twain, and Stephen Leacock and let them pen short stories that show Holmes’ human fallibility. The fact that the Conan Doyle estate ordered the book removed from the market only heightens its allure (and its price) to true fans today.

  2. 50 Shades of Grey:

    If you were a woman between the ages of 30 and 60 at any point in the last 18 months, you had 13 of your friends telling you that you must read this erotic novel and its two follow-ups (which about 35 million of you did). What you may not have known is author E.L. James launched the work as a Twilight fanfic entitled Master of the Universe, having never written a book before. Interestingly, James seems to have cooled on the writing technique that helped catapult her to world fame — she has since had the original writings taken down from Fanfiction.net and made efforts to emphasize Grey‘s separateness from Stephenie Meyer’s trilogy.

  3. The Draco Trilogy:

    You’d need several bags of holding to contain all the fanfic spawned from Harry Potter’s exploits. But in the early 2000s, one name began to emerge as fans’ clear favorite J. K. Rowling borrower: Judith Rumelt, a/k/a Cassandra Claire. For Draco Dormiens, Draco Sinister, and Draco Veritas, Claire shifted the focus off “the boy who lived” and made the young villain Draco Malfoy an antihero instead. The result was fic so popular some preferred it to the original. Claire is credited with launching the “Fanon Draco” phenomenon that envisions the blonde boy as a leather pants-clad bad-boy. Claire afterwards made the leap to her own successful fantasy series and like E. L. James went back and had her fanfiction removed from the Web amid accusations of plagiarism.

  4. A Dark, Distorted Mirror:

    Though a new episode has not aired since 1998, sci-fi TV show Babylon 5 still has a legion of cult fans who love the saga for its ahead-of-its-time special effects and character development that lent the show the reputation of being a “novel for television.” But many of those fans have wanted some actual reading material since the show went off the air, and lucky for them they have one of the best fan-created spinoffs any sci-fi show can claim. Gareth Williams’ A Dark, Distorted Mirror is a five-part “AU” (alternate universe) rendering of the storyline in which a single event 10 years before the original story began forever altered the main characters. Fans call the million-word writings “amazing” and throw around Chuck Norris-isms about Williams like, “I heard he’s not allowed to submit fanfiction anymore because his work is too good.”

  5. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West:

    One of the freshest plays to hit Broadway in years is based on this book by Gregory Maguire, which, let’s face it, is just really, really successful fan fiction. It uses the framework set up by L. Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz to tell a funny, witty account of life through the eyes of Elphaba, that much-maligned hag whose interests include flying-monkey breeding and cursing little pretties. Maguire followed up 1995′s Wicked with three more entries in the Oz universe, having sold nearly a million copies of the first book.

  6. My Immortal:

    This one was a must-read, alright, but not because of high-quality wordcrafting. On the contrary, this Harry Potter spinoff has its own meme for being “the worst fanfiction ever.” Readers can’t seem to decide if Tara Gillesbie (a/k/a “XXXbloodyrists666XXX”) posted My Immortal on the Web in 2006 because she actually believed it would interest wannabe witches and wizards, or if the hilariously bad writing was intentional. The story is a “het” version starring a character named Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way, who “cries sexily” in between having sex or imagining having sex and “LOL”-ing at the end of most of her internal monologues. My Immortal is like The Room for fanfic buffs; you have to check it out and appreciate its awfulness before you can call yourself a true fan of the genre.

  7. The University of Edward Masen:

    Determining Twilight fans’ favorite fanfic is difficult, because everything with those ladies seems to be “totes amazing” and “the best EVER!” Nevertheless, the folks from both Team Edward and Team Jacob seem to agree that The University of Edward Masen by Sylvain Reynard — in which Edward becomes a college professor to grad student Bella — is a total must-read. In 2010 it rocked the Twilight All Human Fanfiction Awards. As asinine as that may sound, somebody at Penguin thinks Reynard is good enough to merit seven figures for a book deal for what will be Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture. Now that he’s hit the big time, Reynard has also yanked his fic from the Internet.