Is there a term for this literary phenomenon?

Is there a specific term for a body of work, usually by various authors rather than by any one person, that treats a fictional “world” or scenario as real and uses it as a springboard for derivative works. For instance, the whole Baker Street Irregulars phenomenon, or the endless reams of fanfic of franchises like Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Tolkien, etc., or “scholarly” discussion of these universes as if they were real?

Shared Universe?

I’ve never encountered one, as far as I know. Holmesians/Sherlockians call it ‘The Game’- postulating about details and treating the events as having happened. Baring-Gould’s biography being the cornerstone. I’ve heard that termed a ‘fictional biography’, but that’s not quite right, either, being both too narrow for your range and too broad as that genre would include novels meant to read like biographies.

Shared Universe is a bit different, imho, as it doesn’t meet the standard of treating the characters as if they existed to research, but writing new stories in a pre-established world.

Anyhow, I’d be interested to know.

I’m not sure I’m understanding the OP’s question. Virtually all fiction treats itself as it’s real within the story it exists in. The only exceptions are when the story breaks the fourth wall.

I have seen pseudo-non-fiction that treats fictional characters as if they were real. Authors might write a “biography” of a fictional character like Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. But those aren’t fanfics.

There are hundreds of pieces of fiction which are not by Arthur Conan Doyle which are about events related to the Sherlock Holmes fiction that Doyle wrote. Some of these are about additional adventures of Holmes himself. Some of them are about other characters in the Sherlock Holmes fiction that Doyle wrote. There are, for instance, whole series of books about the adventures of Inspector Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, and Irene Adler. There are whole series about people supposedly related to Holmes that weren’t mentioned in Doyle’s books, like the woman he supposedly marries after the time of the stories that Doyle and the sister of Holmes that Doyle didn’t mention. These books (and sometimes short stories) are usually called Sherlock Holmes pastiches.

You said “derivative works” - isn’t that exactly the term you’re looking for?

Hell, I’d offer ‘fandom’ as a definition for obsessive brand extension. But that’s a bit much.

As is fandom, sometimes.

Real books with the names of fictional authors in the byline, like Abdul Alhazred or Kilgore Trout, have been published. Fictional book titles published on real books, like The Necronomicon or Venus on the Half-Shell. Or even “The Sea Lion” from Ken Kesey’s Sailor Song.

Fictional books first mentioned in a work of fiction and then published for real, like the history of Quidditch or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Maybe it IS just “fandom”. “Tertiary subcreation”, maybe…I’m talking about not just the “derivative works” themselves but the entire mindset involved. As someone mentioned above, “The Game” in terms of Holmesian subjects. Not just fanfic itself, or parody itself, or “The Dune Encyclopedia” itself, but the whole phenomenon.

I’m willing to accept that there isn’t actually an inclusive term for it all, really. I was just curious if maybe I was missing a term that existed.

There may be, but if there is, it’s not a commonly-used word.

What specifically do you mean by “the whole phenomenon”? You seem to be lumping all kinds of fan-created derivative works together, but also specifically ask about derivative works that treat a fictional setting/characters as if they were real. The vast majority of fan works don’t do this, and I don’t think this is much of a thing in most fandoms.

When it comes to discussion of works of fiction I’ve sometimes seen people talk about using a “Watsonian” or “Doylist” perspective. “Watsonian” refers to an in-universe explanation (i.e. the explanation Dr. Watson might give for why something happened in a Holmes story) while “Doylist” refers to an out-of-universe explanation (i.e. the explanation Sir Arthur Conan Doyle might give for why he wrote what he did in a Holmes story). There’s a TV Tropes entry on this with examples. Of course, you don’t have to pretend that a fictional universe is real in order to use a Watsonian perspective for commentary.

The Cthulhu Mythos is the commonly used term for the shared universe based on the writings of HP Lovecraft. But I’m not aware of *mythos *being used for any other such shared universe.

I think maybe the clearest example I can think of is the way that some of us (and I include myself in this) discuss things like Star Trek or LOTR as if they actually happened, immersing ourselves in the conceit that we’re basically discussing the finer points of history or something. “Oh, no…the Fellowship couldn’t have run across the Necromancer…first of all, they never went to Dol Guldur and secondly, Sauron had given up that alias some time before…”

Okay, then that’s an in-universe or Watsonian discussion of LOTR.

The more specific case of fans trying to come up with a plausible in-universe explanation for a plot hole or other gap in the story is known as fanwanking.

There have been a whole lot of terms mentioned (and some not yet mentioned):

Derivative work
Fan fiction
Shared universe
The Game
Fictional biography
Tertiary subcreation

These have slightly different definitions. It’s hard to tell which you are asking about. Can you be more specific about what you want?

In a recent thread discussing H P Lovecraft and all the works based on his writings one person suggested that any work by any author who wasn’t H P should be called a fanfic. I guess that’s a good a name as any.

Doesn’t “fanfic” as a general rule refer to self-published works?

I note that the Wikipedia article about the Cthulhu Mythos displays a preference for the term “shared fictional universe,” directing to an article titled “shared universe,” alternately embracing the term “shared world.”

I just know that “Fanfick” sounds pretty creepy in German. (though I guess it dovetails with the later “fanwank”) :slight_smile: