Although fan fiction has existed since at least the 70s, the Internet facilitated its growth beginning in the 90s. Like never before, previously unknown writers could self-publish their work, potentially reaching a global audience. While authors have written fiction expanding upon TV shows, films, and novels, others have focused on real person stories (RPS) starring actual celebrities, musicians, and actors. In the Beatles fan field, one such pioneering novel is D. Aviva Rothschild's With Strings Attached, Or The Big Pink Job, a science fiction/fantasy story originally available in installments over the Internet. Now that Rothschild has completed the book, it is now available in paperback and CD form. Even fan fiction veterans will be amazed by Rothschild's imagination and skill in testing the boundaries of the genre.
With Strings Attached, or The Big Pink Job is the culmination of a 29-year journey for Rothschild; she officially began writing the novel circa 1978, and an early version of the book served as her master's thesis. On Rothschild's website, she explains that her teenage interest in Dungeons and Dragons and role-playing games, and her subsequent enthusiasm for comics, heavily influenced her writing and the overall plot.
With Strings Attached details an experiment involving otherworldly beings transporting The Beatles onto another planet. The story takes place in 1980, although the group members appear as their 1964 selves. Angry and scared, the foursome navigate their way through this new world, encountering extraterrestrial beings along the way. While John, Paul, George and Ringo may exist in their 60s incarnations, they bring all their current issues (namely lingering resentments from their breakup) with them. Unknowingly manipulated by the beings controlling the environment, the four must work together to exist — and hopefully exit — this strange planet.
Recounting the complicated story here would be too lengthy and would give away too much of the plot. But the writing spans science fiction and fantasy genres, largely evading fan fiction cliches. Rothschild clearly has fun with language, playing with fonts and sometimes lapsing into streams of consciousness. However, the plot is fairly easy to follow, although the author does provide a helpful list of characters at the beginning of the book.
Rothschild constructs The Beatles' personalities from interviews and other media, thus writing the four in character. Refreshingly she avoids recreating Liverpudlian accents — in some fan fiction stories, the Fab Four can sound like pirates. While they are thrust into an artificial environment, she anticipates how each one would react to this predicament. In one scene, when John sprouts wings, he enthusiastically tests them out and revels in his new-found ability to fly. George tries to reconcile his spiritual beliefs with this new world; Ringo tends to adapt more easily to unfamiliar situations. Not surprisingly, Paul remains the diplomat, charming the foreign beings and attempting to keep the peace among his old friends.
The story contains numerous references for hard-core Beatles fans — at one point John's life flashes before his eyes, and some of the words relate to real incidents (such as when he heckled the Smothers Brothers at an L.A. club). In fact, the title The Big Pink Job rephrases a quote by Beatles press officer Derek Taylor.
Beatles fans, particularly those who may not be familiar with fan fiction, will find With Strings Attached a fascinating thrill ride in terms of plot, genre, and language. Fan fiction veterans who think they have read virtually every kind of Beatles story will find the novel a welcome departure from the genre's common conventions. Finally, science fiction, fantasy, and even gaming fans will find much to like in Rothschild's highly imaginative novel.
For more information on the book, Rothschild, and how to order, visit the author's website.