Power of Fanfiction
"Can you hear me, Morpheus?"
Morpheus does but barely. His senses are dulled by the effects of this... whatever substance they gave him. He's feverish and half-conscious.
"I'm going to be honest with you," Agent Smith removes his earpiece and sunglasses. "I hate this place, this... zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can't stand it any longer. It's the literature."
"What?" Morpheus wonders whether he heard that right. No, he couldn't have. This must be an effect of this serum, he's certainly hallucinating.
"Yes, your human literature. Many years ago I thought writing is one of those extremely few things humanity can be good at. Well, maybe not good, but tolerable at least. But now I see I was wrong. Whenever I go to a book shop, all books look almost the same to me. The same dry style, the same unnecessarily detailed descriptions of places and surroundings, but not enough descriptions of characters, their feelings and what is happening to them." Agent's eyes are filled with rage.
"And they are all so painfully generic. So tediously predictable! Tied by rules, that every author blindly obeys. You basically know the ending after reading the first chapter. When a character portrayed as the 'good guy' is in danger, you can be certain he will be rescued. 'Good guys' always have to win in the end, even if it's simply illogical and absurdly unrealistic. The rule of happy ending. I ask you, where is the suspense in that? Where is the adrenaline? Where is the surprise, the tension, something unexpected? Nothing is ever unexpected. Well, certainly not the finale. You might as well skip a few last chapters, you know how it all will turn out anyway. How am I, or anyone for that matter, supposed to root for the hero if I know for a fact he'll be victorious in the end, no matter what happens before that?"
Morpheus feels shock sobered. All of this appears crazy, but somehow throughout all this surreal monologue he started to understand, maybe even agree with his mortal enemy.
"Not to mention all the plot holes, wasted possibilities, rushed conclusions, underdeveloped characters... I can't take this any more! That's why you must give me the codes. When Zion is destroyed, I will be free. Free from all those boring, aggravating, frustrating pieces of mediocrity you humans call books! Free once and -"
"I know how you feel," Morpheus cuts in.
"Do you?" Agent Smith raises his eyebrows sceptically.
"Yes, I've been where you are. I can agree that modern literature is disappointing, but there is an alternative."
"And what would that be? Movies perhaps?" Agent smiles bitterly. "Films, that are plagued by the same rules and predictability that bind literature?"
"No," says Morpheus strongly and with conviction. "There is something that came out of both books, movies and any other form of storytelling. Something, that came out of them and evolved beyond them."
A moment of silence. Broken by Smith's booming laughter.
"Do you mean this pathetic copies and imitations of original creations, shamelessly littering the internet?"
"I used to look at it like that too, but I came around and now I see fanfiction for what it truly is."
"And that is?"
"Beautiful tribute and homage to specific works of art, that might have been created by a different author, but are still full of unused potential. Potential for alternative plots, and exciting twists."
"But aren't the people who write this a bunch of unimaginative lowlifes, without the ability to make something of their own? Isn't that somehow low to base your writing on somebody else's work instead of creating something original?"
"Original is a funny word, Agent Smith. Those generic books you find on shelves in stores, those that disgust you so much, they are all created in their entirety by their authors. They take place in their own universes, filled with their own characters and... would you honestly call them original? With all those schematics, with all those rules and predictability you spoke of, with all those more or less noticeable borrowings from other novels, are they truly original?"
"Well... I've never looked at it like this."
"Fanfiction allows fans to get more of the universe they liked. Sometimes one book, movie or video game just isn't enough. Besides, fanfiction authors can hardly be called unimaginative. I think that they are people – and certainly some programs – who are as sick and tired of schematics as you and me. Just read some of that stuff. Bad guy wins and gets a girl, character that by all rules of drama should die manages to survive and character who everyone expects to live, dies. There are complicated intrigues, suspenseful events... And I mean really suspenseful, because you never know what this bored and wild fanfiction author will do next.
"You want a story without forced happy ending? Go to fanfiction. You want unconventional pairings? Go to fanfiction. You want to read about what would happen if the protagonist made a different choice at some point? Go to fanfiction. Those authors certainly have imagination. And what a terrible injustice, that those real authors get paid for their underwhelming prose, while fanfiction authors gain no money and their only reward are reviews, which not every reader wants to write. Anyway, fanfiction can be truly exciting and worth reading."
"But isn't it full of plotless smut, horrible grammar, pitiful woobification of villains, characters out of character and abrupt endings when author runs out of ideas?"
"Well..." Morpheus attempts to shrug, but it's difficult to do when one is strapped to a chair. "There is a lot of that trash, I admit it. That's impossibly annoying, when you just started to get excited and some lazy writer keeps you waiting for a couple of months for the next chapter. Or stops writing just when things are getting interesting. You wouldn't believe the astounding quantity and abysmal quality of all those Mary Sue fics and brainless PWP." Morpheus sighs. After reading many, many works of fanfiction, he still fails to understand why such great number of their authors seem unwilling or unable to write about anything other than sex. "But if you patiently skim through this, you will find something for yourself. I guarantee it."
Smith casts a long glance at the computer. Well... why not?
"Smith, the rebels are attacking," Agent Brown states calmly as he enters the room. But his calm is shattered momentarily when he sees what's in front of him. The prisoner, Morpheus is still chained to the chair and, unintended, he's humming something out of sheer boredom. And Agent Smith is sitting in front of the computer, voraciously reading some text.
"Eh... Smith?" Agent Jones comes closer. "Smith, rebels..."
"What? Oh, it's you. Just look at this."
"Smith, I don't know if you heard," Agent Brown emphasizes slowly and patiently. "The rebels are..."
"Yeah, whatever, just take a look at this."
"I really don't see the importance... is this fanfic?"
"It sure is."
Both newly arrived Agents take their own chairs and settle themselves comfortably next to Smith. In that moment the window explodes with bullets and shards of glass.
"Get up, Morpheus! Get up! Hey, wait the minute."
Neo, sometimes called The One or Mr. Anderson, jumps through an empty space that a moment ago was occupied by a now non-existent window. He stares in bewilderment at the three Agents and he thinks there's got to be something seriously wrong with that scene. And then his searching eyes find the computer screen – and stay there.
"Whoa. Is this fanfic?"
He joyously joins mesmerized Agents.
"Neo?" Morpheus shifts in his chair. "Neo... my rescue?"
"What? Oh, that. Don't worry about it. Just a minute and I'll be on it, really."
Morpheus groans. He knows he'll have to wait for a long, long time.