Women watching "Star Trek" in the '60s may have loved the show but not its depiction of gender roles.
"A lot of the early fan fiction is just giving [women] more power, giving them more say, giving them relationships, and giving them some autonomy within those relationships," Larsen says.
While the original "Star Trek" series kicked off fan fiction as we know it today, the practice goes much further back: to ancient mythology, where stories of the gods and heroes were constantly reinterpreted; to Shakespeare, who liberally borrowed plots from older works; and to Arthur Conan Doyle's fans, who wrote their own Sherlock Holmes adventures when Doyle quit.
"That's what storytellers have always done," says Rebecca Tushnet, a Georgetown University law professor and copyright expert who helped start the Organization for Transformative Works, a group that supports fan-created art. "You get 'The Odyssey' because hundreds of storytellers have retold the stories."
And wouldn't "The Odyssey" be much better if, maybe around book 23, Odysseus locked eyes with Spock?