... on the publication of Jane Austen fanfic.
Actually, let me amend that to "the publication of poor, shoddy Jane Austen fanfic."
I went to Amazon to look at this book, a collection of essays about Pride and Prejudice (one of which is written by my new favorite blogger/TV writer, Jane Espenson). Note well the suggestions Amazon makes for other books I might be interested in: two "sequels" to Pride and Prejudice; The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, which one reviewer describes as a mix of "funny," "boring" and "pure porn"; and a couple of books from various series detailing the further adventures of the P&P crowd. I knew there was a subculture of P&P tribute novels out there; I had no clue it was this widespread - that so many "sequels" had found their way to publication.
OK, so I like fanfic as much as the next girl. (This might not be totally accurate, since the "next girl" - who I found by clicking "Next Blog" until a girl showed up - is from Sweden, and I can't read Swedish, so I don't know her thoughts on fanfic.) So last year, I picked up Pride and Prescience, the first book in the "Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries." I was all, "Elizabeth and Darcy side by side, solving mysteries? Hells yeah!"
Um, hells no. As the savvier among you have probably already guessed, it's terrible. Jane Austen would have laughed this author and her wild notions right out the door. It was as though the author knew the basic characters and plot of P&P, but had no understanding of the world in which they operated.
But of course, there are tons of girls out there just like me, who've read all of Austen's works and want more. The Jane-Austen-clone industry has to be worth millions - and those millions can come from shoddy ripoffs as well as well-thought-out homages.
I would like to volunteer my services as a Jane Austen Sequel Quality Verification Associate (JASQuVA). As a JASQuVA, I will read the manuscripts of any Austen-related materials and provide the would-be publisher with an assessment of its quality. If the manuscript is not up to snuff, it can still be published - but under a special label reserved for poor interpretations of existing characters. Other titles under the "Shoddy Fanfic" label would include Star Trek novels where Kirk and Spock get it on, that Hey Arnold! fic that includes several pages describing Helga and Arnold making out, and Scarlett. This would clear up any more confusion about the quality of published works that use beloved characters.