canonical fiction vs. alternate reality fiction: what words to use?
  • In the realm of Western fiction, particularly sci-fi,
    there is the concept of "fan fiction", stories usually written by
    fans which go beyond (even contradict) the continuity of
    the established, canonical storylines of the franchise.
    Understandably, they are often referred to as "alternate
    storylines" or "alternate timelines", "parallel universes", etc.
    Think of Star Trek, and all of its TV series and films,
    and how they are expected to all fit together.
    Or, think of the Terminator franchise, and the offshoot
    Sarah Connor Chronicles, which is regarded as an alternate
    reality from the main Terminator franchise.

    In Japanese entertainment culture (TV, film, novels),
    what words are used to refer to the canonical, mainstream stories
    in general terms? Similarly, what is altnernate realty
    fiction referred to as?

    I can find no term such as "canonical storyline", but
    the closest I've come is 主流物語 (mainline story) and 傍流物語
    (branch story). But in the cases where I find these used
    on the Web, it isn't clear to me that they're used in
    the sense that I've mentioned above.

    Can anyone here comment? Thanks.
  • I've never seen those terms used.
    本編/ 原作 = original work.
    設定 = setting, and 公式設定 = the official setting (canon).

    In the wiki article for the Sarah Jane Chronicles, they describe it as:
    なお、本作は『ターミネーター3』とは異なる時間軸のストーリーである。

    別の時間軸 or 異なる時間軸 both would seem to work for "alternate timeline".

    外伝 = side story, not affecting the main storyline, like "here's what popular secondary character X was up to off-screen while the main characters were doing whatever"
    異聞 = variant story, sometimes used in the title of works.
    e.g. 天保異聞 妖奇士
    = a story based in the 天保 era (borrowing setting etc. from real history).

    パラレル from "parallel world" is most commonly used for "AU".

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