The Archive of Our Own, which is shorthanded as A03, is one of the internet’s most famous fanfiction archives. Recently it won the Hugo Award for Best Related Work, which is a big honor in the sci-fi/fantasy literature world.
The Hugos is an annual award for science and fiction, handed out once each year at Worldcon. The Worldcon attendees are the once sourcing and voting, with the Nebulas. Among other awards, they’re considered the speculative literary community’s most prestigious awards.
Co-founder of Archive of Our Own Naomi Novik accepted the award on behalf of all the website’s creators and readers. On August 18, 2019, the ceremony took place at Worldcon at Dubin.
Happy, overwhelmed, and Delighted was how Novik felt. So were the audience members of the AO3 community that stood and accepted the award with her.
Fans online were also celebrating as thousands went on Tumblr and Twitter, describing themselves as ‘Hugo-award-winning writers.’ They also congratulated each other on their wins.
In the event Archive of Our Own was chosen as the year’s Best Related Work. A category that is known for its tradition of including books or essays that involve critical commentary, or other works adjacent to speculative fiction.
It’s infrequent to see an entire website win in this category while there are some experimental entries. History has never shown Hugo members nominating unpublished fanfiction before.
In doing so, the Hugo members sent the positive message that work is worthy of standing with some of the most A2sci-fi/fantasy authors across the globe.
For instance, Novik herself is a three-time Hugo nominated novelist. Still, within the fandom, She may be known as a significant fanfiction writer with an excellent output who has contributed to the molding of some subculture’s most significant fandoms and fan projects, including the AO3 itself.
Many fanfic authors have always seen the Hugo award as a massive win and validation- many of whom are being rejected and culturally maligned.
The Archive of Our Own was created from fans rebelling against corporate ill-treatment.
Not just been a fanfic archive, A03 is also a big project from an organization called the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW). OTW is an entirely fan-run non-profit making organization, with a high number of thousands and volunteers dedicated to preserving, protecting, and defending fanworks and their legal right to exist. There’s a whole backstory here. It boils down to a group of fans (mostly women) who decided to take the fates of their fanworks into their own hands.
Regarding the single 2007 LiveJournal post was where A03 following the OTW set up. Astolat, a renowned fanfic writer, is the creator of the LiveJournal.
Astolat is also the writer of queer (aka “slash”) fics with a broad readership among a community of other influential slash fans. She was responding to community uproar over the making of a company called “FanLib,” which had many companies, before it, try to break the fanfiction community by commodifying fanfiction and taking advantage of fans for their work.
It’s not new to see companies exploiting members of fanwork communities. They demand writers pay to have their work distinguished or offering to pay them very little money to produce fanwork; fans know to be careful about it.
Eventually, writers found ways to develop fast and mobilized ways to protect themselves. They did this by raising walls around their independent, productive garden. The goal is to keep it free and flourishing. Most fans manage this by insisting on their right to create noncommercial, “transformative” fanfiction.
Assuming the sites that host fanfiction was on the opposite side of content creators, things would be different for fans. Like the struggle to successfully create, post, and share fanworks online.