To counteract my sad rant of last Monday: today, let’s talk fandoms. (Meaning, potential spoilers.) Biggish post, because it’s one of those things I like talking about – what can I say, I’m a geek.
To put it simply: I. Have. Loads.
See, I love reading books and have since I was a small thing. Relatively recently, I’ve got into some movie/ t.v. ones too, though as I’ve said I’m a bit fussier about those.
I love stories that have a lot of world-building – they make me feel like I’m just another character within the story, watching thins unfold. I like imagining the visuals of things myself, hence the preference for books – also, words are just easier for me to deal with than films/ t.v. shows (the FEELS!).
I’ve mentioned previously on here about my idea that “whatever came first” is canon and everything else are adaptations. If you want to score marks with me, the adaptation ought to be as true as possible to the canon, unless clearly stated otherwise (Even following Chuck’s ideas on canon). 🙂
What I love about my fandoms is that they can be applied to real-world issues. They deepen the understanding of the books/ movies – their themes and such – and in some cases, in fandoms within the fandoms, allow the expression of certain things that the original series/ etc. could not openly name. More on that sort of thing in a different post, as it deserves its own full one.
That being said, due to the ways in which some themes are explored (not that /^\ – different fandoms), I have to remind myself sometimes – They. Are. Fiction. How seriously it’s taken is up to the person, with clues given about authorial motive with the text (whether that be on screen or through words).
Now, to the actual fandoms themselves. Hmm. Looking at them and making myself write a little bit about why I like them, I’m beginning to see a pattern. It seems that while I’ll enjoy most types of fiction, if I’m given things about space (-travel, colonisation, aliens, etc.), futuristic imaginings (good or bad – including central global government etc.), fantasy (dragons and/or elves and/or other mythical creatures), royalty of some sort, magic, mediaeval fantasy, or historical fiction, then I really enjoy them. Also, throw a murder mystery with good character-development on the T.V. and you’ll draw me in.
I could go on and on about many of these, but I’ll limit myself to a list and mini paragraph. Some of these you mightn’t recognise, though many I think you will; check them out and see if they interest you.
In no particular order…
Harry Potter: This was one of my earliest fandoms. I still have fond memories of reading the books with a friend in school lunchtimes in upper primary, on a certain bench outside the old hall…. The whole “love conquers all” – even in secret – and “choices over abilities” – the idea that the people we are as teenagers, with our stupid decisions etc., do not necessarily have to be our adult selves (I’m talking about more than Snape here) – messages are real kickers. The characters – all of them – are real, too, with flaws and good points; a good point to remember once you’ve realised it. Not to mention how vast the Potterverse is – world-building for the win! Especially since so much stuff keeps getting revealed all the time. On Pottermore and with all other tests and things, I’m a Hufflepuff (though with a liberal dash of Ravenclaw, some Gryffindor and a bit of Slytherin). My wand is hornbeam and unicorn hair, 10 & 3/4 inches (21.8cm) and surprisingly swishy. I love the idea that it’s a whole secret world that exists literally alongside our own. My favourite characters include Hermione, Ginny and Tonks.
Star Trek: I’m a relatively recent convert, though of course I’d known about it peripherally for a while. I know most about TOS and Reboot and I’m looking to learn more. I love it, for the themes etc. that it shows: world peace, futuristic medicine, space travel, aliens (telepathy!) etc.; and the exploration of other theme(s) that were, for the times (1960s), rather radical on T.V. As I understand it, this includes everything from the first-inter-racial kiss on T.V., to suggesting that humans etc. “don’t need God”, to other, more controversial interpreted subtexts (e.g. the main romantic arc of the series potentially being between two male leads – ship ahoy!).
Chronicles of Narnia: Not one of my biggest fandoms, but I still enjoy it. It is a lovely exploration about consequences and kids discovering they can be the heroes of their own destinies. In my opinion though you have to view it with the right frame of mind – parts of the overall real-world themes can be a bit puritan and preachy otherwise (at least for me). See, a big drawcard for me in the beginning was the four kids – two boys, two girls – of the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe onwards. I thought I identified with Susan the most; she was the older sister and all that after all. Then, by the seventh book, she basically turns away from God (Aslan) because of sex and materialism and things. Don’t get me wrong, I like the world that was created; the messages are good; and the elements of Biblical scenes are interesting. There are just a few minor quibbles.
The Hunger Games: I was late to the party on this one. I read it and loved it and have also watched the films. I think it was a brilliant idea to give Katniss a little sister who she wanted to protect and such – it’s one of the things that hooked me in immediately. The whole idea of her being an unwilling “girl on fire” also got me. I could really see myself as Katniss. Of course, the themes of fighting against inequality and such hooked me further. The…ruthlessness of certain deaths was shocking. So much death! But I’m particularly talking about the second-to-last one. I hated Ms. Collins for doing that, but loved her for realising it had to occur. The love triangle was okay, but not really important to the overall arc of Katniss discovering her own strength. Team Katniss all the way.
Middle Earth (or The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings (LotR), etc.): <– I know there’s more books than just those, but so far those are the ones I’ve read. I do need to read more though. Tolkien does a very good job of exploring so many themes, like loyalty, sacrifice, family, duty and so on. They’re intense stories, with bittersweet endings and so much backstory around them. I mean, talk about world-building. It’s a different world, but so like our own at least in some regards. Many things about it have relevance today. I love hobbits – elves are nice and all, but I prefer the “hungry folk”.
Star Wars: This was a reasonably early fandom of mine, too. I love the idea of the Force and such; of course the space travel/ aliens/ galactic government elements are also a hit. It’s interesting to look into the meanings of the Code and such. Also, there’s a lot of fun in there. Perhaps it’s because I grew up with all of them instead of just the Original Trilogy, but I actually like the Prequels. I was not at first particularly happy with Disney for cutting all details of Expanded Universe (that is, things beyond the films) to shreds though I’ve adjusted somewhat. Many were interesting in providing potential further exploration of things, even if some of the EU stuff for post-RotJ got a bit repetitive with a fixation of killing off characters. I – and many other fans – are warily waiting for this December. Will it work or won’t it? (*: see later posts for further expansion on this…right now, it is working!)
Doctor Who: I know most about the New ones, that is, from 2005 onwards. I haven’t caught up on much of the old stuff yet, unfortunately. The themes and such are really powerful…the whole overall story-arc of the Doctor being who he is and all. I love the detail that is invested in the characters and how each Doctor is different. The 50th Anniversary Special was Fantastic. It will be interesting to see what they do with what was discovered then, when they finally get around to searching. Allons-y!
Stargate Atlantis: Um. I discovered this relatively recently on a friend’s recommendation. I’ve watched some episodes and enjoyed them – I need to watch more. The team dynamics are interesting, they have several females in lead roles (score!!) who are pretty damn ‘badass’, the villains are creepily well-characterised…..Again, the space travel and central Earth government are hooks too.
Sherlock: When I found out about this, I was intrigued. The idea of transplanting the world of 221B Baker St into the 21st Century was a good one. I think it works. It’s a little sad how well it fits, really, in terms of backstory and such. The episodes are so long and detailed! I love the character development, too.
His Dark Materials: Trilogy of books by Philip Pullman. I enjoyed this series for its daemons and such. The idea of the different worlds was also interesting to explore. It’s actually quite a fascinating read about the motivations and such of different people, in a foreign-but-sort-of-familiar world. There are a lot of what-if type ideas which either come off as really good, or weird, depending on whether you read the clues correctly.
“Book” Trilogy (Book of Lies, Master of the Books, Book from Baden Dark): James Moloney is an Australian author who has written a bunch of books for young adults/ teenagers. What I call the “Book” Trilogy is a three-book series of his that focuses on the young protagonist Marcel, who has magical powers, with his friends and family – “Nicola”, “Fergus”, Bea and others. Together they must figure out their place in the kingdom and protect it in various ways, while figuring out themselves, too.
Tortall (the Beka Cooper Trilogy, the Song of the Lioness Quartet, the Immortals Quartet, the Protector of the Small Quartet and the Trickster Duo, plus others yet-to-be-published): A highly detailed world created by Tamora Pierce, with a series of girl/woman protagonists ranging in age from about ten years old to about eighteen. Many of the stories follow these protagonists as they grow up, with all that entails: making their own choices and learning to live in the world they inhabit in their own ways – from Beka to Alanna to Daine to Kel to Aly and their women “side” characters. Another magic and mediaeval fantasy series. It’s diversely cast, with many ethnicities. There are also examples (both overt and discreet, depending on the target age of readers) of homo- and heterosexual relationships, in both main and side characters – a side character of one series is even transgender.
Emelan (the Circle of Magic Quartet, the Circle Opens Quartet and the Circle Reforged Trilogy as well as others yet-to-be published): Tamora Pierce’s second world has similar overtones to the first, but instead of being based around a castle & kingdom, it is based around a “Temple” of Magic – though still has a royal element. Each book of both quartets focuses on a different young mage, through a large interconnected storyline where Sandry, Daja, Tris(ana) and Briar each have two turns at being the protagonist. The trilogy isn’t structured in quite the same way, but it still fits. In both series, animals are characters – whether they’re able to talk or not, yay. As above, ethnicities and sexualities are diversely cast.
Rangers Apprentice (12 books – The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, The Icebound Land, Oakleaf Bearers, Sorcerer of the North, The Siege of Mackindaw, Erak’s Ransom, The Kings of Clonmel, Halt’s Peril, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, The Lost Stories, The Royal Ranger): Another Australian author, John Flanagan, wrote this series, originally as incentive to get his son reading, I believe. The stories focus on the male protagonist, Will, and his journey from being a foundling boy of the keep to a Ranger in his own right, eventually teaching his own apprentice. Again, it’s royalty and mediaeval fiction. No magic this time though. Unless of course you count the skills needed to be a Ranger, such as good intelligence, cunning, honesty, being able to slip around unnoticed, and things that come with lots and lots of practice – like being able to draw and shoot arrows from a bow or fight with small swords. An interest in horses helps, too.
Rowan of Rin series (Rowan of Rin, Rowan and the Travellers, Rowan and the Keeper of the Crystal, Rowan and the Zebak, Rowan of the Bukshah): A set of five books about a boy, Rowan, who has grown up in the village of Rin. There, being strong and fit and confident are prize attributes – unfortunately, this makes Rowan an oddity, because he’s small for his age, shy and scared of everything. But in the spring of his eleventh year, things begin to change… I really liked these books when I first read them in primary school. I strongly empathised with Rowan, because I would not have fit into Rin of the first book either. The character development of all characters over the series – not just Rowan – is well done. The people of the books are farmers, traders and fishers. Also, there is a slight touch of fantasy – dragons and sea monsters and other such things. Emily Rodda is the author – another Australian, who uses this pen-name for children’s fiction and her real name, Jennifer Rowe, for adult fiction.
Deltora Quest (1 – seven books; 2 – trilogy and 3 – quartet, as well as a few accompaniments): Another Emily Rodda collection of series. She really does fantasy well. Again, this is a series involving dragons and other mythical-type creatures, as well as different races of beings: dread gnomes, ralad-people, humans. It is set in a kingdom – the Kingdom of Deltora. The first series had a T.V. series done in anime-style, but that was definitely adaptation more than following true canon all the way.
Rondo Trilogy (Key to Rondo, Wizard of Rondo, Battle for Rondo): Another Emily Rodda series. This one centres around a boy and girl, cousins, who accidentally discover the music box and key each respectively inherited from a great-aunt are not as simple as they appear. If you like the idea of worlds existing inside other worlds, along with a dash of fantasy and magic, family and friendship and choices, check this one out.
Divergent series: I recently read this series. It was interesting – I enjoy these sorts of books that explore themes of good/ evil and choice/ chance by choosing different desirable characteristics. I would be Divergent, but tending more towards Amity, some Abnegation, then Candor, before Erudite and finally Dauntless. I especially like how the series takes pains to establish that each characteristic has a bad value attached and that no one faction is necessarily therefore better than the other, as much as they’d like to think they are. The deaths – even the final one – feel right to me. I never thought I’d see the day in which I was (SPOILER) defending a main protagonist death, but the way things were set up throughout all books, it felt believeable. Especially since I’ve read a piece by the author herself, explaining how she “chooses” the deaths that occur. Though some of the other parts did feel a little off.
Fault in Our Stars: Sniff. I’ve read the book and loved it. It’s so terribly bittersweet; and real-seeming, with dark humour. Great characterisations. Okay? Okay.
Call the Midwife (T.V. series based on three memoirs): I watched this series right from the beginning. I like historical fiction stuff. It’s even better when it’s based off truth, like the three memoirs Jennifer Worth (nee Lee) wrote about her time in the East End, which I’ve read. The T.V. series sanitised things a bit sometimes for the sake of the happy ending and slipped in a few extra overall story-arcs, but that doesn’t matter. After all, it’s T.V.
Moorehawke Trilogy: Celine Kiernan, an Irish author, has written (among other books) this gripping trilogy of political intrigue in royal courts, duty, bonds of family (blood and otherwise), pursuit of truth, clashing cultures and ideologies, a touch of magic and other such things. Celine writes these with such a deft hand, balancing everything very well. The main protagonist of this first-person narrative is a girl on the cusp of seventeen.
Disney: Well, what can I say? It’s a guilty pleasure. I grew up on Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music, 101 Dalmations, and occasionally the various Princess stories. I know these days that people find plenty of things wrong with the princess stories. But for me, I can still know the pitfalls and such while enjoying some of them. My favourite princess is Belle. I suppose I’ll check out some of the more recent animated ones at some point. It should be interesting to see how the various live-action remakes coming up work out.
Roald Dahl books like Matilda, etc.: Classics. Roald Dahl’s sense of humour does not easily grow old.
Books by Jackie French like A Waltz for Matilda, etc.: Jackie French, yet another Australian author, who does a lot of historical fiction and other things for various ages (and some non-fiction too). A lot of her historical fiction – particularly the Australian history she specialises in – involves girl protagonists, creating their own destinies as best they can within the times. A strong story-telling voice, with good characterisation skills, helps this.
Saddle Club series: My first fandom, I think even before Harry Potter. It’s a series written by American author Bonnie Bryant (a.k.a. B. B. Hiller), about three girls – Stevie, Carol and Lisa. For a while, thanks to these girls, the books and the T.V. show that sprang from them, I was completely, utterly, hopelessly crazy about everything to do with horses.
Warriors: Series by Erin Hunter. It has four series so far – I’ve read three of them. The books follow several groups of feral cats. These cats live in clans, with territory and such, staying clear of the noisy Two-Legs and their monsters (motor vehicles), disdainful of the kittypets (pet cats) that live in their dens (houses). They have their own mythology and laws. The books’ main protagonist changes with each series (except maybe the fourth), going down three generations. It’s interesting and highly detailed.
The Doctor Blake Mysteries: A very local t.v. show, now in its third series. It’s the 1950s. Doctor Lucien Blake is the police surgeon for Ballarat police station, performing autopsies, treating any of those in the cells for injury, and such. His sense of justice and curiosity mean that he invariably ends up “helping” solve murder crimes. Even if the head officer doesn’t want his help. It’s a layered story – each series and episode more is revealed about the various characters.
The Earth’s Children (The land of Painted Caves, The Shelters of Stone, The Plains of Passage, The Mammoth Hunters, The Valley of Horses, The Clan of the Cave Bear: Series of books by Jean M. Auel, who recreates a believeable fantasy about life thousands of years ago, when neanderthals and humans still co-existed, sort of. A rich narrative that doesn’t shy away from conflict.
To Kill A Mockingbird: by Harper Lee. I first read this book in Year 10 and loved it. It’s the sort of book that gave me chills and made me just a little teary. I’m nervous about the “sequel”.
Twelve Angry Men: by Reginald Rose. I studied this in Year 12. I loved it. It’s a really good examination of why some people make the choices they do…
New Tricks: A long-running (finished 2015) T.V. show about a group of mostly retired British coppers from UCOS, the “Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad”. It’s British and they’re solving old crimes, whatever those might be. The good thing about long-running shows like this one is that they allow for so much character development. We really get to know the characters.
Vera: The show centres around Vera Stanhope, the irascible DCI (Detective Chief Inspector) of “Northumberland & City Police”. She is a driven woman, haunted by her own demons and a bit uncomfortable with emotions, but has a good heart which (despite sometimes appearing otherwise) cares about her cases and her colleagues. The character development is very good. The plots are also well-written. It’s on the Australian ABC right now – apparently we’re about four series’ behind ITV in the UK. I quite enjoy watching it, even if it’s a bit hard to get my mind to switch off afterwards and go to sleep. The premise is based on a series of books of the same name by Ann Cleeves. I’ll certainly be looking them up!
a long way to a small angry planet: by Becky Chambers. An interesting story which apparently is getting a sequel soon, score! It’s a very character-driven sci-fi/futuristic novel that ticked many of the boxes for me. Including its treatment of diversity as a normal thing, something to be noticed and accepted as is. It’s a very character-driven, emotional plot. It’s about finding family and one’s place in the world.
I’ll keep updating this as time goes on.
Hmm. I see that I have quite a few Australian authors, naturally, as well as British and American; a mix of male and female authors (not to mention protagonists). Interesting. Something to think about, I guess.