The Incomparable David Adams

If any one person is to thank (or blame) for Wool fan fiction, it’s David Adams. One of the best members of KBoards (which is to say the most helpful, most uplifting, and most entertaining of members), David has been a huge supporter of my work since the very beginning. He put up the first (and only?) video review of Wool and started numerous threads about the series (one of my favorite was this Hollywool mockup).

But it was his fan fiction that really blew me away. Before the SHEAR TERROR piece (which I loved and which you can find on the fan fic page), there was NEW FLEECE ON LIFE. It was the first true piece of fan fiction written in the Wool world, and it started as little more than a forum post. One that blew me away for it’s brilliant and moving What If?

Now, I get a lot of questions about this fan fiction stuff, and one of the things people seem most wary of is the idea of having something written that conflicts with “canon.” This has never been a concern for me, and I think it’s because I grew up on comics, where origin stories are rewritten, comics rebooted, alternate universes explored, and nothing is set in stone.

In fact, one of my favorite comic series growing up was the Marvel What If? series. Narrated by The Watcher, these comics revealed the outcome of major events in the Marvel universe had they gone a different way. The exploratory nature was fun. It was like a formal daydream in a known world. I loved them.

Which is why David’s take on Wool knocked my socks off. You see, he un-kills a beloved character. We get to see what would have happened if Holston survived his cleaning. No, not a spoiler, as the story begins with this moment. And it is tenderly treated, moving me to tears on my first reading. Even better, David brings characters from his Lacuna series and intermingles the two casts together. It is a fan fiction mash-up, and brilliantly done.

For a dollar, it can’t be beat. And it’s a great introduction to one of the future stars of indie publishing. David is a complete natural. He writes with a cinematic style and creates believable characters. I’m honored that he not only dabbled in my world, but brought a piece of his into it. Thanks, David.

New Fleece on Life at Amazon


And while your grabbing this mash-up, go ahead and get his entire Lacuna series! I have become a pretty big fan of his work.

“one of my favorite comic series growing up was the Marvel What If? series. Narrated by The Watcher”

Whoaaaa! That was a huge flashback just now!

I still remember being traumatized at 10 yrs old by reading “What if…Wolverine had killed the Hulk?”

Brandon Carbaugh

You know what’s interesting?

All the “canon” staple series from DC/Marvel suck royally. All the memorable comics have been one-offs, what-ifs, artsy otherworld graphic novels, limited-run trade paperbacks, etc. The main Batman series is GODAWFUL — while all the “great” Batman comics and stories (Moore, Miller, Mignola, Morrison, Dini, Timm etc) have been these kinds of novel experiments. What are comics/stories like these but “professional fan-fiction”? Hell, even Nolan’s take on Batman is a kind of Elseworld story.

What’s REALLY interesting is when these individualistic takes are eventually assimilated back into the source material. There’s stuff from Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke, Arkham: Serious House, the Batman Animated Series, etc etc, that winds up working its way back into canon, and becomes a cherished aspect of the character. Batman wouldn’t have the popularity he does today if not for guys like these taking a look at him from so many different angles — and rendering him more complex and multifaceted as a result.

I like to think of it like evolution. You take a property (a series, a character) and you pass it hand-to-hand among hundreds of writers over the years. All of them try their own unique spins on the character; some little tweak, some little story note, some little adjustment to the personality or core idea. The vast majority of these mutations are awful, and immediately discarded. Most are benign, lingering on for a while before quietly disappearing. But that slim .0000001% of them are beneficial, and so select themselves into the gene pool.

It’s why the Batman of today is a more interesting, compelling, and relatable character living in a more interesting/compelling/relatable world than the Batman of the 1930’s — who looks like a cardboard cut-out by comparison. They’re not even the same character; modern Batman is to 30’s Batman what modern human is to the Great Apes.

What’s more, this is nothing new. It’s how human storytelling has worked historically. It’s how myths are developed, and how religious stories grow to become so iconic and powerful.

IN FACT, this form of communal storytelling goes back even further than the comparatively-recent idea of single authorship, which only emerged strongly with the advent of the printing press. Community story-building has been going on for THOUSANDS of years; individual authorship is only a few HUNDRED years old. And this notion of the writer-as-craftsman forging an austere, untouchable work is even younger than that.

It makes me think that “fan fiction” as a term–with all the stigma it carries–is more often used as a signifier of quality, rather than a categorical label. And THAT makes me think that the term “fan fiction” isn’t sufficient enough to describe what you’re talking about here. It’s not a useful-enough term. We need something more robust.

You know what might do?

“The Wool EU”.

Try THAT on for size.

I love the idea of communal storytelling as evolution, with the occasional beneficial mutation passed along. Surely this is how Homeric epics transformed over time.

Your comment, btw, is better than the blog post it comments on. I’d love to see you take this and put it up somewhere. It deserves its own comment thread!

Dude. This is the foundation of the dissertation I am writing in the alternative universe where I went on to get a Ph.D. in Literature.

My head just exploded.

++++ Great comment Brandon. So true, and well stated. Thanks!

Love this. Congrats David!

There just aren’t enough superlatives to describe David Adams. He has helped so many people on Kboards and asked for nothing in return. He is just an amazing person. I look forward to seeing him rise to the top. Great post, Hugh.