Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: A Million Shades Of Green by Sean Black

Well fright fans, fiends, freaks, perverts and sickos, I know it's been a while since I've done a review, and this first one up is somewhat far from the normal fare reviewed here, however it does fit with the theme of the next few reviews to come.  Instead of a book, short story or collection this time up it is an essay A Million Shades Of Green: The Real Story Behind Fifty Shades Of Grey by Sean Black.  I had initially expected this to be an unfair skewering of my least favorite book and author, however Black, whose own normal forte is action thrillers, composes a very well written, researched and thoughtful piece.

In this essay Black goes back and delves into the origins of the "book", fan fiction (what it is, why people write it and how several "legitimate" authors feel about the subject), and probes into some of the questions surrounding "pulled" fan-fics and what sort of trends may follow.  It's a quick and easy read, and I think written on a level that a majority of people not involved in the worlds of writing and publishing can understand.  Black does an excellent job with the subject matter within the span of 25 or so pages, and I feel he does his best to take a thoughtful look at the Fifty Shades phenomenon.  Although I did not agree with all of his ideas in regard to "pulled" fan fiction Black still delivers a very well written essay, and that alone is enough to make me wonder what his own fictional works are like.

Perhaps the main drawback to this little essay is that it is somewhat dated, initially written within the first few months of Fifty Shades Of Grey taking off.  However, even in that Black delivered a little piece of humor in an otherwise serious and thoughtful piece, when he mentions Anne Rice and her abject hatred of fan fiction.  Of course you remember her, maybe. she was big a long time ago until one of her books was made into a movie and it bombed because it didn't have Tom Cruise in it.  If you don't I'll remind you that just a few months ago that she was praising E.L. James (a huge writer of fan fiction... I'll leave whether that was a pun or not up to you), coincidentally just in time for the re-issuing of her erotic "Sleeping Beauty" series.

Yes, Anne Rice, it's safe to say I think you can pretty much go fuck yourself, and back into that little hovel you've been in down in New Orleans since 2002, churning out shit your true fans keep buying only because it has your name on the cover.

Oh, the irony!  If only Erika had picked Lestat de Lioncourt instead of Edward Cullen.  Then "Master Of The Damned" would have never seen the light of day.  Hhehehehehehehehe. 

But anyway, I'm getting away from Black's essay, which, again even if it is slightly dated, is a great little read, and that's why I'm giving it Five Stars.  The essay itself has been pretty much ignored on Barnes & Noble and has mixed reviews on Amazon, though reading most of the negative reviews on Amazon it becomes apparent that a majority of those who hated the essay did not even bother to read it, as they accused him of attacking Leonard, which he did not, as he took a fairly neutral and thoughtful look at the entire picture.

P.S. - Bunker Bitches, attacking Erika Leonard and her shitty pieces of fan fiction is my thing.

Here is where you can get your copy of A Million Shades Of Green: The Real Story Behind Fifty Shades Of Grey:

Barnes & Noble

Be sure to give this little essay a read, as it is well worth the price.

See you after vyle!

Master Vyle


  1. I wonder if Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea, Nicholas Meyer's The Seven Per-Cent Solution, Robert Markham's (aka Kingsley Amis's) Colonel Sun, etc., could be considered fan fiction. The authors were certainly fans of the books in which the characters first appeared. There is a long literary tradition of writers using characters created by other writers. I suppose the problems lie in trying to hide the fact by changing the names and/or not having the legal right to use the characters either given by the author or because the original is now in the public domain.

  2. Public domain of course murks up the issue for some. Some works are fan fiction and some are, in some cases, continuations granted by estates. The huge difference here is these are not classic stories or characters in the public domain, but characters that (at least in Leonard's case) aren't even a decade old. Again, I have no problem with fan fiction, and have written some myself, however (and again) it is where it belongs (free on fan fiction sites and in my closet and under my bed). Writing a piece of fan fiction that grows a following and then deciding to publish it, in my book, is all wrong. Had this been something she had written, that no one knew about, and then she changed the names and published it, I agree, probably it would have made no waves. However she did, and had it not been for the "Twilight" connection no one would have read her shitty assed stories in the first place, which makes it deliberate to cash in on someone else's work.

    I make references to other stories and pay homages to other novels and movies in my work all the time, but that does not make them fan fiction. A Letter To Doctor Freudstein is a prime example, an no doubt someone, someday, is going to pop up and say I'm the pot calling the kettle black because they want to define it as fan fiction, despite being written and disclaimed as an homage to the movie House By The Cemetery and its cast and production crew, as well as Italian horror films in general (in a whopping page and a half).

    Fan fiction, to me (and again), aside being something there for true fans as a form of expression, is a form of proto-writing. One way or another, almost everyone who has written in school as a child has written some form of fan fiction or other, because (being blank slates) they truly write what they know, so the first stories most of us write have characters we're familiar with (Harry Potter, Darth Vader, Elmo, Master Chief, etc.), and the same goes in a child's artwork, usually once they get past basic stick figures. I think that writing fan fiction can be an excellent tool for a budding writer to test the waters and to help polish their skills. Again, I did it. However, after finishing and looking over Godzilla: Destroyer Of The World and Mothra: The Pheonix and feeling pretty confident that I would do well with characters across a story of more than ten or twenty pages they went into the closet (and they will never EVER see the light of day names changed or no) and I began the first draft of my own novel which (you might laugh at the irony) was about vampires and not giant monsters.

  3. Damn, I was so looking forward to reading Fifty Shades of Gigantis the Fire Monster. :o)

    1. Silly, ole, marsupial - Christianpher Robin