There is a piece of fiction that, although deservedly obscure, has attracted a mammoth amount of attention on a small part of the internet, an instance of being incredibly narrow and incredibly deep.
Said piece of fiction has a legitimately distinctive setup that attracts attention, yet is filled with darkness for darkness’ sake and a huge amount of author explanations that can make it across as more possible to a casual observer and less possible to a trained critical eye. However, it has flaws that can deter more casual readers.
Yet the story is in the right place at the right time to enter and fill the niche, attracting controversy and written fanworks in response. However, those fanfics diverge not just in terms of accuracy, but in terms of tone as well. People come to know it from those fanfics and an internet telephone game, not the original source.
That describes Worm, the Spacebattles/Sufficient Velocity darling.
Yet, with me having finally read the four novels in the infamous Draka series, the stereotypical bane of the alternate history community, it can describe them pretty decently as well.
There’s obviously differences, especially in terms of personal taste. Stirling, for all his flaws, is an overwhelmingly better prose writer than Wildbow. A web serial is different from four conventionally published books. A consistent YA-styled superhero drama is different from the zigzagging genres of the Draka series. Worm doesn’t have as explicit a “bad guys win” in spite of its darkness.
But the biggest similarity I’ve found is that a sort of “huh, that’s it” feeling I felt when actually seeing the original(s) in depth. I agree with a lets reader that Worm is ultimately just insubstantial, and my impression of the Draka series was that it was middling trashy pulp. Yes, they have a “superheroes that aren’t the big two or a knockoff” and “distinct alternate history” as their legitimately interesting setups, but the meat isn’t that substantive. Almost certainly not enough to propel them to their (limited) notoriety alone.