"May the journey continue": Earth 2 fan fiction, or Filling in gaps to revive a canceled series

  • Francesca Musiani Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, MINES ParisTech, Paris, France
Keywords: Alternative, Cancellation, Cliffhanger ending, Closure, Earth 2, Fandom, Fan fiction, Gap filling, Interview, Mailing list, Participatory culture, Production, Rebirth, Sharing, TV series

Abstract

This essay explores writing practices in a fan community having to give life to a story deprived of an "official" version: the television series Earth 2. I argue that fan fiction writing for this prematurely canceled series exhibits peculiar features in comparison to fan writing for established series: for example, temporality, choice of protagonists, character pairings, and challenges to the original conception(s) of the series. Writing fan fiction for a canceled series is not about creating alternatives to an existing story, but about filling in gaps; it brings to light the ways in which fan fiction deals with closure. I take as a case study Earth 2, a series aired by NBC in the United States in 1994–95, whose first and only season ended in a cliffhanger episode hinting that a mysterious ailment had struck the main and most popular character. Shortly afterward, a significant number of Earth 2 Web sites, online conventions, and especially fan stories started developing; they explored what could have happened next and bore nostalgic but combative mottoes and titles such as "May the Journey Continue." I explore the specific features of Earth 2 fan fiction production and sharing by analyzing the main Earth 2 fan fiction archives on the Web and the responses to my email interviews of fan writers. Exemplars of the Earth 2 case are compared to those of other science fiction TV series, both prematurely canceled (Firefly, Space: Above and Beyond) and long-lived (Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space 9).