Did you ever expect that Games of Thrones slashfic you wrote at 3 a.m. when you really should have been studying for your Psych 101 final would ever get nominated for the most prestigious literary award in the universe (or alternate universe) of sci-fi and fantasy?
It actually happened. The Hugo Awards, which this year includes nominees like Doctor Who and Into the Spider-Verse, just announced that one 2019 contender in the Best Related Works category is the immense online fanfiction archive Ao3 (Archive of Our Own). This isn’t just some shady corner of the internet; it’s a virtual library of hundreds of thousands of user-created fanfics — whether a Potterhead wanted to see Snape get a second chance at Lily or a diehard anime fan thought it would be epic to merge the worlds of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia.
The category Ao3 has been nominated in encompasses sci-fi or fantasy works or collections — encyclopedias, biographies, and so on — that don’t fit into categories such as Best Short Story or Best Novel.
Ao3 was founded in 2007 by the Organization for Transformative Works, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing the accessibility of fans’ takes on existing pop culture. It is 1,864,000 users strong and covers 31,810 user-submitted fandoms (subcultures of works already out there), with 4.6 million individual pieces. This is proof that you don’t only find fanfics on some obscure fan forum or by browsing the dark virtual alleys of Tumblr.
Of the nearly 2 million Ao3 users who exist, it's impossible to know how many have actually heard about the nomination, but it's probably surprising news for those who have. Some have used fanfiction as a coping mechanism. Some play out character fantasies. Others just want to make people laugh.
Caelyn Ellis, who wrote what she calls “an intentionally-terrible, 233-word piece of Dragon Age smut” based on an inside joke among her friends, is now “going to be grinning about the nomination for weeks,” she told Motherboard.
For anyone who didn’t take fanfiction seriously before, it’s now more legit than ever.