Tag Archives: fandom

“After all this time?” “Always”

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Last year on Wizarding Independence Day (or V-V Day) I wrote a reflection on what life would look like for my friends, several celebrities, and myself without Harry Potter. This year I bring you a report from the field, best summed up: “After all this time?” “Always.”

Did you think we would disappear with time? Think again.

While our theme park in Orlando seems to be constantly expanding and a Japanese branch is opening in June, J. K. Rowling has announced a new film trilogy. Besides that, a J. K. Rowling sanctioned play discussing Harry’s life before Hogwarts is in the works.

I’ve found myself back in the fandom with the opening of HogwartsIsHere, which has been receiving copious amounts of positive press everywhere from Buzzfeed to Time to Comedy Central (I haven’t been able to find this link yet, but a friend posted about it).

Having been on the fringes of the beginnings of this project and having been invited back in as the website looks to expand, I can say again, “Always.” Being welcomed back into the active fandom really does feel like “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome [me] home.” I’ve very much been enjoying basking the in secondhand glory of HogwartsIsHere’s success, and now that we’re starting to put together teams for further textbook development, I’m really excited to get to know new friends.

It’s amazing what this fandom has done to pull people together and the passion that its fans can muster, the creativity, what we’ve been able to create and sustain when we pull together, projects like HogwartIsHere, Mugglenet, and The Leaky Cauldron, as well as the International Quidditch Association, which has become truly international with teams in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., Italy, and France.

And while we’re talking about rallying, let’s take a moment to recognize The Harry Potter Alliance for their efforts to decrease worldsuck (to borrow a term from a fandom with a bit of overlap).

This is a fandom that is still very active after all this time, and we’re not going anywhere.  If you’ve been away for a while, well, as I’m relearning “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

Happy V-V Day, Pottherheads!

Book Review: A Feast for Crows is Rations for a Reader

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I read George R. R. Martin’s A Feast For Crows, fourth in A Song of Ice and Fire, for half a year, starting it in June and not finishing it till late December.  Granted, it is 976 pages, but that is still a relatively slow pace of some 160 pages per month on average, less than 5 pages a day—and I know that there were months where I read less and months where I read more.  This is the first of Martin’s books that I have read in absence of fans.  The other three I had read with coworkers there to rant to and whom would commiserate with me, and I was in an unspoken competition with one to see who could finish the series first (I lost that race miserably).  This is—and I was thankfully warned by these same fans—a bridge book between the stories of most of our more beloved and enjoyed heroes and heroines—which is not to say that all of them were absent, and I made some new friends—or characters with whom I expect to be friends until their likely untimely deaths.

For all that we—that is to say the Internet—prod Martin for killing all of our friends, death within A Song of Ice and Fire is becoming as uncertain an end as it is in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alias, or Doctor Who.  That had begun in A Storm of Swords—if we call the White Walkers alive and not reanimated, then even within the first prologue of A Game of Thrones—you tricky man, Martin, with your foreshadowing and early reassurance that we neglected to notice while we thought you were shredding our hearts with your character deaths.  I had been almost pleased to read a series, however, with the author killed characters with so little regard for the hearts of his readers, with the realism and senselessness of war, and I find myself almost disappointed with this new development—more so because of all of the gods to have power to resurrect, the god that seems to have power to do so is not the one I would follow, nor the one that I would most entrust with the ruling of Westeros.  All this being said, I still feel a prickle of fear for one of the heroines I had most liked in Westeros, even despite the Internet-researched assurances of friends.

This book sailed a ship for me, and with the assurances that A Dance with Dragons would return me to my favorite characters, kept me sloughing through the pages.  My ships have slowly been destroyed by canon, and I have but one left standing and that only if those Internet-researched assurances are not red herrings put onto the Internet by fans.

The book started out very well by introducing me to a new hero that I quickly liked.  [SPOILER] I should have known better because the prologue ended with his death. [END SPOILER]  What slowed me after that, I cannot rightly say, though as I have said, it likely had something to do with the absence of Dany, Jon, and Tyrion, and I know too that I was slowed because there are times that I just want to read something lighter than A Song of Ice and Fire, something that involves less death, less darkness, less explicit sex and violence.

Overall, this will never be my favorite of Martin’s books, though I did enjoy early in the book learning about the culture of the Iron Islands and the Sand Snakes have potential to skyrocket to being my favorite of Martin’s characters.

**3/4

Martin, George R. R.  A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4: A Feast for Crows.  New York: Bantam-Random, 2005.

This review is not endorsed by George R. R. Martin, Bantam Books, or Random House, Inc.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

Film Review: City of Bones Shatters Illusions It Should Not Have

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Major spoilers for the movie and for the book series.  Do NOT read if you don’t want spoilers.

I have enjoyed even loved some very loosely adapted films (How to Train Your Dragon, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, even The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian).  In fact, sometimes the looser adaptations make better movies, I’ve come to realize, but sadly, Harald Zwart’s adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is not one of these instances.

Really, I have two major problems with the adaptation’s plot:

1)   Simon, if you want to have him bitten now, cannot then be okay with sunlight before drinking the blood of a Shadowhunter.

Vampires don’t just become Daylighters, and if you plan on a second movie, I want a thorough explanation of how hanging him in a shaft of sunlight (where was that sunlight coming from since it was still dark outside?) made him into a Daylighter, this being a conscious attempt by the vampires of New York to create such a creature.

Simon’s Daylighting without having drunk Shadowhunter blood I might have been able to rant about and let go (as I do with Chris Columbus’ and Craig Titley’s decision to make Hades the villain of The Lightning Thief), however:

2)   Having Jace recognize Valentine as the man who raised him is what creates the tension in the climax.

The screenwriter, Jessica Postigo, attempted to avoid the lengthy explanation of Valentine assuming Michael Wayland’s identity and then later faking Michael’s death by placing a memory block upon Jace like the one that Magnus creates for Clary and giving Jace one solid memory of his father that he shared with both Clary and the audience prior (though it was not mentioned that this was his only memory of his father, and perhaps it should have been).  She then has Valentine be able to show him that memory through some sort of spell.  I understand wanting to avoid that lengthy dialogue and can even thank her for the attempt, however, that proof was not enough for me to believe that Valentine was Jace’s father, and I was surprised that it was enough for Jace.

If a shared memory is how you want to have Jace come to realize that Valentine is his “father,” rather than having him recognize Valentine on sight, then that memory needs to be shown from two perspectives, or at least needs to be shown from Valentine’s in this later instance, not from a third or omniscient perspective, because as it is filmed the memory seems to be neither of theirs but rather the memory of a third person, watching, and the claim that Valentine is Jace’s father and the man who gave him the falcon is nullified.  (This quibble reminds me of this lesson by rufftoon in storyboarding.)

Also having Hodge suggest that Valentine lie to both Clary and Jace, telling both that he is their father implies that neither are his children when in fact, according to the series, Clary is Valentine’s legitimate daughter and Jace was raised by Valentine, and again, to suggest otherwise destroys the conflict and tension of the story.

One more, broader quibble:  Emphasizing Jace’s ability to play the piano (though I like the Bach as a Shadowhunter idea) only serves to draw a connection between him and Edward Cullen.  The original fans of Cassandre Cla(i)re were not Twihards (fans of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga).  The original fans were Potterheads, The Mortal Instruments being an evolution of a Harry Potter fanfiction series.  Twihards and Potterheads are in something of a fandom war.1  By taking our series (I am a Potterhead without being a Twihard) and trying to pander it to the Twihards, you perhaps win the Twihards to your movie but at the expense of a large, invested, and committed group.  Those who were or are Twihards may be ready now to be introduced to The Mortal Instruments, but we, the Potterheads, loved it first.2

Also, it needs to be mentioned—particularly for parents deciding whether to take their children—that the violence in this movie is graphic and realistic.  Imitating a Killing Curse causes no physical hurt; smashing someone’s face with a frying pan or a fridge door can cause some real damage.  I was rather impressed actually by Zwart’s refusal to shy from the violence that surrounds the lives of Shadowhunters if I grew a bit tired of extended battle sequences that were mostly too busy and too fast to follow.

The farther back I step and the more I analyze the adaptation, the more forgiving I become, but I was not a pleased fan at 2:30 AM on August 21, and I really did dislike that the novel’s internal conflict seemed to be shunted aside:

Jace tightened his grip on the angel blade.  “I can–“

“No, you can’t.”  Valentine reached out, through the Portal, and seized Jace’s wrist in his hand, dragging it forward until the tip of the seraph blade touched his chest.  Where Jace’s hand and wrist passed through the Portal, they seemed to shimmer as if they had been cast in water.  “Do it, then,” said Valentine.  “Drive the blade in.  Three inches–maybe four.”  He jerked the blade forward, the dagger’s tip slicing the fabric of his shirt.  A red circle like a poppy bloomed just over his heart.  Jace, with a gasp, yanked his arm free and staggered back.

“As I thought,” said Valentine.  “Too softhearted.” (464)

That is heart-wrenching, tells us a great deal about Jace, proves that Valentine knows Jace very well, and shows us a touch of Valentine’s insanity more so than Valentine battering Jace aside as Jace attempts to get near enough to break his pentagram.

1 There are of course Potterheads who are also Twihards and vice versa.

2 Cassandra Clare is not universally beloved by Potterheads, but she is one of us.  I am unsure whether she is also a Twihard.

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The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones.  Dir. Harald Zwart.  Constantin, Don Carmody, Unique Features.  2013.

Clare, Cassandra.  The Mortal Instruments, Book 1: City of Bones.  New York: Margaret K. McElderry-Simon & Schuster, 2007.

This review is not endorsed by Constantin Film Produktion, Don Carmody Productions, Unique Features, Harald Zwart, Jessica Postigo, anyone involved in the making of the film, Cassandra Clare, Simon & Schuster, or Margaret K. McElderry Books.  It is an independent, honest review by a viewer.

Happy Wizarding Independence Day!

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This post will be done a day later than it ought to be posted, but May 2nd is Wizarding Independence Day (or I prefer V-V Day).  This reminder of the 15th anniversary of Harry Potter’s defeat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in the Battle of Hogwarts (the 5th celebrated in the Muggle world) prompted a friend to ask “How would we be different if it weren’t for Harry Potter, if Harry Potter never existed?”  This question in turn prompted a tearful listing of all the joys we would have missed out on if it were not for our introduction to the Boy Who Lived: midnight releases, Starkid Potter, “The Mysterious Ticking Noise,” being “married” to our favorite characters, Muggle Quidditch, our introduction to fanfiction, her introduction to Tumblr….

We concluded that we would not be ourselves; we would be different people.

I would have some fewer friends.  That I know.  Some of them I’ve met only through the Potter fandom.  Many of them I’ve become closer to through the Potter fandom.  Would I still be friends with those with whom Harry Potter has been either the first laid brick of our friendships or our mortar?

The main characters of my WIP, who can probably call Harry and Draco their grandfathers or godfathers or some other respectful title implying a nurturing role, might have taken longer to materialize, might be different people, might never have existed.  I might not write.

And this friend and I are not the only ones to have been affected by Harry Potter’s story.  Thousands were.

Would Cassandra Clare have ever penned Jace, Alec, Magnus, Will, or Jem?  Maybe. But would she have been provoked to put fingers to keys and discover her talent?  I hate to think of that talent being locked away from the world.

What other writers would never have been published, would never have written?

Would Darren Criss still be on Glee?  Probably not.  Would Joey Richter be playing the occasional part in a Disney Channel sitcom or in YouTube web series?  Would the Starkids have even met?

Would Emma Watson even be acting, let alone have won the awards that she has?

Harry Potter for me has been so much more than a book series and it has opened so many doors.

Harry is directly responsible for my first published article and literary conference.

If I had not discovered my love of writing and literature, would I have ever heard of Hollins University?  Would I have majored in the same subject?  Would I now hope to make at least part of my living by introducing others to a fantasy world of my own?  Would I hope to help others introduce readers to their fantasy worlds by editing their manuscripts?

Harry is again directly responsible for my first editorial position.  Without him, there would have been no Wizarding Life.

That position paired with my love of the series and literature in general led at least partially to the door being opened to my current position as a bookseller.

So yes I’m thankful, as my friend said, “that Harry Potter saved magic” “And,” as I replied, “introduced us to wonders of which we had not yet conceived.”

Happy V-V Day, Potterheads!