Ok, sorry for the bad pun in my review title. I just couldn't help myself ;)
On to the review.
I found this essay pretty interesting. I admit several things up front. 1) I know OF Fifty Shades but I haven't read it as of yet. My wife tells me that I should give it a try but based on what I do know of the plot and the content I'm not really sure I'm interested. 2) I was completely unaware that FSOG started its life as a Twilight Fan Fiction. 3) I had no idea that fan fiction was so big. Considering how much I read that may sound a little odd but frankly, fan fiction was never my thing.
A Million shades is full of information and well written. I don't normally read non fiction because I'm more of an escapist reader but this short read was rather engaging. I found myself mesmerized by the world of fan fiction, especially in regards to the types of publishers that 'file the serial numbers off' (in other words, find fanfic stories using established authors' intellectual properties and basically change the names and print the thing). I was also compelled by the fan fiction community taking Young Adult novels and highly sexualizing them with an emphasis on BDSM. It also seems that the world of fanfiction is a rabid one. I guess that's nothing new. When people invest that time and emotional energy in pretty much anything an attachment is bound to happen.
Now, all that being said, I'm honestly not sure where the author is coming from. At times it almost seems as if he's railing against these types of 'pull to publish' tactics and publishers. At other times he almost sympathizes with the author of 50 shades of Grey. " E L James has been a prolific writer....it's a shame that a book that engages readers so much started its life featuring the characters of Edward Cullen and Bella Swan"..is he against what she did? Is he for what she did? I'm also not sure what he hoped to accomplish. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. Anybody who may have been dead set against reading FSOG (for whatever reason) may actually become interested in reading it just to see the parallels to Stephanie Meyer's books/characters. As for myself? I admit that I may be interested in reading FSOG to see if there's actually a story in between the BDSM scenes.
I think Sean Black found his own gray area here. I haven't read any of his books but something like this could be perceived as a way to draw attention to his own work, using a wildly successful and highly controversial series as a spring board. I'm not saying that's how I feel MYSELF but it's a conclusion that some people could, and probably have, come to.
In the end, a short interesting read. And that's my clear as mud review. Take it for what it's worth!