Reblog: Our Shallow Representation of Strong Women

Minor spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the link below. I agree with what’s said…there’s something that makes me smirk about the idea of a woman using her “feminine wiles” as a way of operating, guided by her brain. It’s not (as I first worried) that the feminine side is being used to hide the brainy side. It’s that both “sides” are one, working to achieve her aims.


Remembering the Mockingbird

Last week, Harper Lee died. The news of her passing made me think and remember.

It was in Year 10 that I was first introduced to her work – To Kill A Mockingbird. It was one of the year level texts at my school. I remember reading it, the summer before school started for the year, as I usually did with class texts.

I’m a fast reader, so it didn’t take me too long to read. Maybe a day? (It helped of course that it was summer, so I simply planted myself on my bed, with the fan in the bedroom and read the day away.)

I even know, thanks to my diary, what day it was (Thursday 23rd Dec) and how I felt after reading it. Here’s what I wrote about it:

I just finished reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. I can’t really describe what it’s about – there are lots of meanings and I wouldn’t be able to explain them properly here.

All I can say is it really is a classic.

A quote: ‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, but it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

I cried at the end of the book, it was so touching.

As you can see, I was still processing the book’s contents when I wrote that, unable to properly articulate my feelings about it. All I knew was that it had touched me, deeply, in that indescribable way that books can. I knew that it was a book that would stay with me.

To Kill A Mockingbird‘s message did stay with me. It stuck, well and truly, like that other quote from it: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” and “Before before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” and a hundred other gems, little darts of wisdom going straight for the heart.

The characters, too….I remember how we discussed, in class, the roles of Atticus and Calpurnia (a surrogate mother for Jem and Scout, despite or perhaps because of her role as a maid) and other characters. We also discussed Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, racism and ignorance.

It occurred to me when I was writing this that, though my diary entries don’t show it, I have a clear memory of comparing the mockingbirds of the story with present-day mockingbirds. They are asylum seekers and Indigenous Australians and African-Americans and Muslims and other groups historically and currently disadvantaged because others fear and hate them. When I read the book in Year 10, I was beginning to think critically and politically about issues. Perhaps that’s why the book’s truths about injustice and people and power stuck with me and continue to do so. The problems outlined in the book haven’t gone away and the truths haven’t turned false.

Of course, we now have Go Set A Watchman adding meaning and detail. I confess, I haven’t read it yet (though I’ve heard about its contents) – a combination of wanting to wait out the hype, uneasiness over its discovery and just plain forgetting to borrow it out. I’ll have to get on to that, I suppose.

Have a read of this bookriot article here. It puts an American spin on things. The author of that piece, Ms. Schingler makes a good point. It’s up to us to be the change. She says,

“Set the idea of Atticus aside. We are our own watchpeople. We should be, should always be trying, to work to protect and defend Tom Robinson, in all his modern incarnations, ourselves.”

Like Ms Schingler, I, too, say: Goodbye, Boo (Harper Lee) – and thank you.

Ieeee! Or: Mandatory “The Force Awakens” Spoiler-Free Debrief

I’m leaving most of this to Chuck Wendig. See below and click on the linked title for the rest of it. Warning: there are no spoilers in Chuck’s post; the comments are another matter. Second warning: in my post there should be no spoilers unless you count allusions (I squeed about any spoilerly stuff in my diary and then unexpectedly in Chuck’s comment thread) and I want the same thing for my comments. Okay? Good.
Oh yeah, third warning: for language, as by now you’d be aware that Chuck doesn’t care too much about those conventions – and the other links have a few swearwords which might annoy? Idk.

When I said I’m “leaving most of this to Chuck”, I meant that. He sums things up really well, to the point where I have a really difficult time both splitting his post below (the first four of seventeen points in Chuck’s list are listed) and saying things that won’t be repeated.

I love this movie. I think part of its charm for me, tbh, is the fact that this is the first time I’ve been in a cinema to watch it. Everything felt like a Star Wars movie – I’m not talking about plot similarities (though there are a few allusions) – but just the general feel of the film. The plot is good overall too. It rockets along at breathless pace and i wouldn’t have minded a bit more time to slow down and absorb things, but it’s very good.

Then the characters…..I really enjoy the characterisations, especially since we’ve been given bits of information while at the same time left saying, “uh, wait, what?? More, now!”
Of course, some character things feel good just because they’re expected in modern-day cinema (or should be expected, anyway) – like Rey and Finn being awesome with reasons for being so and also not being the only representations. Diverse casting ftw.

There are things – one in particular – which occur which feel brave but (while provoking feels, so many feels) also feel right, within in-universe character development and so on.

Check out these posts from others. Potential spoilers though. — talking of the first meeting between Finn and Rey. I second everything said, so much. — Herein lie the reasons why I love Rey in a nutshell – and have since I first saw her in the movie. It’s one of those “Obviously”/ “about time” moments. Read the comments for more exposition on that front (once you scroll down slightly). — generational differences in viewing Rey and Leia. – some ratings of the film by themarysue website people.

I’m excited for the next one – and nervous. I’ve been swept up into the universe and am trying to restrain myself from attempting to make too many hopeful “what-if” connections between FTA canon and Old EU Legends things.

Great job, J.J. Abrams. Glorious. Though my fandom heart does squeak, at that majorly brave-but-right decision mentioned earlier: how could you? 🙂

Remember the policy on spoilers for this, mentioned above!

One final note, for those who haven’t yet seen the film: You. Are. Not. Prepared. You think you are – but you’re not.

Come find me after you’ve seen it and we’ll talk then.

*Smiles mysteriously and walks out*

And Now We Speak About The Force Awakens

by terribleminds

This will be spoiler-free.

I cannot promise the comments will be spoiler-free.

Assume that the post will be safe.

But the area below it may be TOXIC WITH SEPTIC STORY SPOILAGE.

Let us begin simply with:







*flails around with a cardboard tube lightsaber*

*trips on scattered Star Wars LEGO bricks*

*falls down*

*pees self*

*composes self*

I’m back. I’m feeling much better now.

And now, a scattered smattering of thoughts in no particular order:

1. This is a love letter to the Star Wars universe — not just the universe, and not just the characters, but all the intangible narrative stuff that surrounds it. It is very much about how Star Wars feels. And how its stories are told. It is positively honorific of that. This is no small compliment when I say that The Force Awakens just plain feels like Star Wars from the first minute. It’s nostalgic, but not in your face about it, I don’t think?

2. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega need to be in everything together. Hepburn and Tracy, Bogey and Bacall — they had such wonderful chemistry together as these two people flung into adventure. Their characters are intensely fun to watch. You care from them from the first moment you meet each. (I would take more Poe Dameron, though — he’s awesome in TFA, but I want more!)

3. BB-8 is my master now. He is like a baby R2D2. He is like a dog and a kitten stuffed inside a roly-poly Christmas ornament. He’s super delightful and elicits pure joy from me shut up.

4. Kylo Ren is a surprisingly effective villain. Tragic and deeper than the trailers lead you to believe. He is far more than just some mustache-twirler. He is vulnerable.

5. It’s worth talking about how much fun this movie is. That is something that must be stated — fun is not as easy as you think to create. It’s certainly not the end-all be-all of the experience, nor should it be. Fun is a shallow metric. But it’s a vital metric just the same. A Star Wars movie that isn’t much fun isn’t one I want to see again. This film plays fun like a fucking symphony. It knows when to nail those moments of laughter and delight, it knows when to hit on tension and when to create those moments where you want to jump out of your seat, holding your head and screaming with fear or laughter or fear-laughter.



TICKETS! Or: Who Else Is Going to See ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in December?


So. Is anyone?

I’m trying to organise a date with a friend to see it – after my family comes back from holidays. Which means that I won’t see it until mid-January.  (I haven’t even got a chance to watch the trailers properly yet, haha.) So ssh, please. No spoilers. I mean it: SSSSHHHHHH.

I want to go in unspoiled, thanks. I’m excited – and that excitement is stomped on if someone reveals things too soon. Are we clear? Good.

(Besides, there will be plenty of other things in other fandoms to talk about until then, given the number of trailers etc dropping for things lately, and the presence of Christmas Specials……)

Here’s Chuck’s take on it. The second bit is something he wrote a while back about a metaphor for reboots and canon things (which is different to the one I’ve already shared).

On The Spoilering Of A Certain Star Wars Movie

by terribleminds

I said some stuff on Twitter today about spoilers, and I thought I’d bleat them out here, too. Because there’s a certain movie coming out next week and it lands in some international territories earlier than others and I feel like there’s been a very effective curtain pulled across the story so far, and it’d be awesome to help keep that curtain pulled tight for those folks who cannot immediately jump out and see the movie the moment it exists in the world. Like, I know most of the movie, but I’m not gonna tell you about it because I want you to experience it yourself!

Engage Storify:

Second thing:

While there at the con, I hit on a metaphor I like as to how to overcome this feeling that OLD IS BEST and NEW IS BAD and SOMETHING SOMETHING FIRE THE CANON CANNONS.

And I’m going to share this with you now in the hopes it helps you understand the silver lining, here — this is me trying to turn this feeling from a drain into a fountain.

You know Matt Groening, right? The Simpsons creator.

Well, once upon a time as some know, he did a comic called LIFE IN HELL. Amazing comic. Subversive and socially powerful, and also deeply absurdist fun. He hit on things with childhood and work and school and relationships — I still go back to read them from time to time.

In one of the comics, the one-eared rabbit boy, Bongo, is coloring with crayons.

And a bully comes along.

The bully then proceeds to break all of Bongo’s crayons in half. Snap, snap, snap.

Bongo, for many panels if I recall correctly, stares down at his crayons.

And you think, he’s upset.

He’s a kid.

A bully just broke all his crayons.

How could this not destroy him? Someone came along and destroyed the things he had in his hands. The things that he loved. He can’t create anymore. His crayons are ruined.

But then Bongo says: YAY.

And why does Bongo say yay?

Because, he explains, regarding his bounty of broken crayons: NOW I HAVE TWICE AS MANY.

You think someone broke your stories, your universe, your canon.

Instead, maybe envision it instead as YAY, NOW I HAVE TWICE AS MANY.

And then read it all greedily and happily, in glorious gulps and swallows.

Read more of that one here:

Muggle Butterbeer Order

Just for the heck of it!

YUM. I don’t think it has to be a Starbucks, either… I’ll have to try this sometime.


by authormeganemorales

So I’ve been to the few closest Starbucks in my city once I heard that they were going to start making Butterbeers (a Harry Potter nerds wet dream) and I was disappointed to find that they had no idea what I was talking about!

I then looked up on Google on why this was, and apparently you have to custom order it and tell them all of the stuff that goes into it! Yay! I did exactly that, and my mom and I headed off to find that special treat!

I told them what was in it, and lo’ and behold, I received a muggle version of a cold Butterbeer Frappuccino! Here’s the recipe if you ever want to try it!

  • A Creme Frappuccino base. (Don’t skimp on the fat by asking for skim or 2% milk as whole milk is required for the right consistency.)
  • Add 3 pumps of caramel syrup.
  • Add 3 pumps of toffee nut syrup.
  • Top with caramel drizzle

I do have a warning for you guys though! You need to build up a tolerance for very sweet things/ have one in the first place, or else you won’t be able to fully enjoy it or finish it!

Harry Potter and the Canon/Fanon Thing

(I found this on MuggleNet’s Facebook page)

I’ve had parts of this written for a while. I was going for something a bit more lighthearted, but some seriousness* crept in.

I’m a die-hard Potterfan, as the HP series was one of my first fandoms. I’ve spoken a bit about that before. Sometimes though something reminds me. Those of us who grew up on Harry, Hermione and Ron were shaped by the stories – at least potentially, according to research.

Harry Potter has been analysed by many, from a fan viewpoint (like Melissa Annelli or the myriad of fansites across the internet) to a Professorial one (like Professor John Granger). There are Fan Conventions and Academic Conference(s).

Something I was reminded of recently was the distinctions between canon and fanon. Those distinctions are murkier than you’d think. Remember what I reblogged about Chuck Wendig and Star Wars a few weeks ago?
Anyway, there’s a vast world of info out there which you can choose to partake in or not. This is true for many, ah, popular fandoms. Of the books/ series/ films/ etc. first created in “today’s” timeframe (say, the past twenty years), I’d say Harry Potter is one of if not the largest.

The “Potterverse” is huge and complex. Everyone’s got an opinion about things in it.
One of the interesting things about it is how the ideas of the Potterverse can be used. Remember what I said last week about fiction exploring ideas. Harry Potter is set in “modern” times but, by adding magic, things become less real and more flexible.

The books are fictional escapism. But they can still explore concepts meaningfully, as well as the “right” and “wrong” ways to react. You can learn things!
The characters are flawed in (mostly) realistic ways…even if we wouldn’t like to meet some of them if they were real, their very shaping is superb, in my opinion. Again, though, one person’s interpretation of a message or theme in the books may not be the same as another person’s….or even that of J.K. Rowling’s.

More below.

* = Shut up, Sirius.

Original article here at The Conversation.

Who owns Dumbledore – JK Rowling or the Harry Potter fans?

October 30, 2015 1.54pm AEDT

A recent exchange highlights the complicated nature of ownership when it comes to the Harry Potter universe. Luke MacGregor/ Reuters

What would Dumbledore do? It’s a question that’s galled many die-hard fans of JK Rowling’s phenomenally successfully Harry Potter books since the author last week signed an open letter opposing a cultural boycott of Israel, and instead advocated for cultural dialogue between the two countries.

Their responses have played out in a flurry of Twitterverse exchanges, with many fans arguing that the lesson of the Harry Potter story was, as Helen Lewis summarises in The Guardian:

That talking wasn’t enough to end conflicts. Look at the Wizarding War […] If Harry had tried to coax Lord Voldemort to a UN summit in Geneva rather than destroying his Horcruxes, everyone would have ended up dead. Not just Tonks, Remus Lupin and one of the Weasley twins.

One Potter fan in particular gained media attention with a Facebook letter to the author which presented the argument in the following way:

I am writing to you in response to your public support for Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and opposition to the BDS movement in the Guardian’s Culture for Coexistence. As a Palestinian, I have to say that I was completely disappointed when I read about this, because your books have been the very source of all the hope I have for peace and justice in my homeland someday.

Rowling, in her response to the fan, also drew on Dumbledore and the Harry Potter series to make her point, stating that:

I’ve received a lot of messages over the past few days that use my fictional characters to make points about the Israeli cultural boycott. This isn’t a complaint: those characters belong to the readers as well as to me, and each has their own life in the heads of those who have read them. Sometimes the inner lives of characters as imagined by readers are not what I imagined for them, but the joy of books is that we all make our own mental cast.

What began as a debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has since developed into a discussion about whether Rowling had the right to use Dumbledore’s characterisation to support her argument. It’s a discussion that raises interesting questions about the relationship between authors and fans of their work.

According to French theorist Roland Barthes, the author has been dead for many decades, but Barthes was writing before social media gave us unprecedented access to authors’ thoughts and feelings. The author has, in a manner of speaking, been revived. But does this change the audience’s relationship with authorial intent?

Debate on Twitter centred on the appropriateness of Rowling using Dumbledore to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fans cited his character’s sympathy with pure-blood supremacy in his youth. Others opined Dumbledore is too powerful to stand in for either side in the political debate. Others claim the conflict is too dense to be reflected in an example from Harry Potter.

While the latter point may be valid, it would be remiss not to acknowledge the way Harry Potter books explore grand themes such as racism and discrimination.


As fans have noted, the wizarding world becomes obsessed with purging “muggle-borns” during the reign of Voldemort, despite the fact that many talented witches and wizards come from non-magical backgrounds (Hermione Granger, Harry’s best friend and the brightest witch of her age, is a prime example of this).

The desire to attack people who are different is the central concern of the story, and as Rowling herself noted in her Twitter exchange:

It was true in the Potter books and it is true in life that talking will not change wilfully closed minds.

Rowling’s use of a fictional magician to articulate her political beliefs was considered by some to be “misguided” – particularly because, in some cases, fans considered her approach to be a misinterpretation of the spirit of the books. To which Rowling responded:

I can only say that a full discussion of morality within the series is impossible without examining Dumbledore’s actions, because he is the moral heart of the books. He did not consider all weapons equal and he was prepared, always, to go to the hilltop.

What we must remember when discussing the interpretive potential of Dumbledore and the Harry Potter franchise as a whole is that the books are more than just books. Hogwarts is not an object that people can examine objectively – every fan of the Harry Potters series has interpreted it in their own way, and often the way that it is interpreted can say more about the interpreter than it does about the story.

JK Rowling in 2011. EPA/Andy Rain

There are generally two ways that people tend to approach interpreting the Harry Potter universe: through the canon, which is all of Rowling’s writings and commentary, and extra-textual spaces such as; or through “fanon”, which is how fans have developed the series through their discussions, fan-produced art and stories, and their “head canons” (or their personal interpretations of characters and events).

Fans have begun to approach Rowling’s extra-textual interpretations of the texts by examining them, deciding whether they fit into their overall interpretation of the work, and either incorporating or discarding them. Readers may embrace the ridiculously-named Fleamont Potter (Harry’s grandfather) but take issue with Rowling’s assertion that Remus Lupin never fell in love before he met Nymphadora Tonks (because many fans interpret him as bisexual, with a potential love interest in Sirius Black).

It is heartening to see Rowling acknowledge the fraught relationship between reader interpretation and authorial intent. In the response Rowling posted on Twitter, titled “Why Dumbledore went to the hilltop”, she wrote:

Sometimes the inner lives of characters as imagined by readers are not what I imagined for them, but the joy of books is that we all make our own mental cast […] All books dealing with morality can be picked apart for those lines and themes that best suit the arguer’s perspective.

There is a question of ownership at work here which will not be resolved through a social media exchange, but it is clear that while the author may have been revived the fans are not taking her words as gospel. At this point, Dumbledore is under the joint custody of JK Rowling and her legion of fans.

The Journey in Doctor Who

(I meant to post this earlier in the week. Ah well. I’ll post it now so that it doesn’t become overdue, what with the next episode dropping soon.)

So who saw the latest Doctor Who episode (weekend of 7th/8th Nov)? As I mentioned earlier, I loved it.

One of the reasons I love Doctor Who is that it explores various concepts and uses the construct of a two-hearted alien in a blue box to do so. A creator of another great series, Gene Roddenberry of Star Trek fame, supposedly once said that, “Although we were in a seemingly simplistic medium (television), this simplistic medium allowed us to really ask very deep questions. And we didn’t always give deep answers, because it wasn’t possible”.

Fiction, perhaps especially science and or fantasy fiction, allows for the exploration of “current” concepts and situations, set in an “alternate” universe of some sort – past, future, another galaxy or world, etc. This perhaps gives more flexibility to explore these issues. You see that in Doctor Who, the most recent example being the past two episodes (a two-parter).

I love that sort of “referencing the real world” trick and will get exasperated or annoyed with those who dismiss ‘fantasy’ fiction as “just fiction” – the implied meaning that it’s not as important because it’s “not real”. Just don’t. It might not be “real”, but the ideas and concepts explored in it often are, whether they’re espoused by aliens or not.

As a fan of Doctor Who I’ve mainly seen New Who. This latest episode was brilliant. So, allow me to geek out a bit. I’ve tried to minimise spoilers, but still some probably are present, beware.

  • Let’s start with some of the more superficial though still important stuff:
    • While the Osgood box(es) were styled like the Moment from the 50th, I’m sure the colours were a nod to the Matrix too… I actually said, “Red pill, blue pill” when I saw them.
    • Overall acting was great this episode, not just Capaldi: Jenna was brilliant. The differences between Clara and Bonnie were clear – though of course, they were still similar enough for the Doctor to know. 😉 Bonnie’s decision was well-played, too.
    • I like how Osgood got to be the companion for this episode while Clara was busy. The bit at the end was nicely done.
  • Now for the rest. All the references (real-world and in-world) made me so happy. I love it – it shows continuity as well as giving greater impact to the show. Pointed political commentary/ illusions/ inference – mixed with snarky comedy and feels – ftw. Twelve (Capaldi) is a link back: to the classics and to the other “New Who” Doctors. The War Doctor is the bridge between Old & New chronologically, but Twelve is the one with the Knowledge. * More on that below.
  • My goodness! Asdfjkl, that speech – all you who have watched the episode, you know the one – was an amazing speech. There are a few people in this world who need that to be given to them personally!
    • Capaldi was gold. I’ve been warming to him over the past few episodes, but – as someone else said – that speech was his moment. The one when even the doubters know that he is the Doctor. This is confirmed by the amount of people (say, on the fanpage Doctor Who and the TARDIS for instance) who are geeking out over it. 😀 !! I’d known he was the Doctor already (I’ve seen the spark there earlier), but this finally cements it. This is the speech that is his, the one that will be written down and remembered. I saw it coming, a little, as it built on other similar speeches he’s given in the past, but wow. Three episodes ago, he realised why he had “this face”. Now we do, too.
    • * = Reflecting on the speech and the past few episodes, as well as what I know of other eps, I personally realised exactly how Capaldi’s Twelve is the link. Those of who’ve seen the 50th Anniversary Special, please remember for a moment the scene when the War Doctor asks the others if they know how many Galifreyans die if he pushes the button. Their answers are telling. Of the New Who (which I know best), there’s [setting aside the War Doctor for a second]: Nine; the broody PTSD one who believes he’s the Last of the Time Lords by his own hand & has seen the horrors of war etc. He’s bitter and angry and determined to help so others don’t suffer. When that happens, things are “Fantastic!” (One of his Moments among many: the heart-breaking, “Just this once, Rose, everybody lives!”). He wasn’t in the special, but you’d think he’d remember very well. Then Ten; still a bit broody and prone to philosophy, but is a bit happier. He remembers too, but continues on (“Allons-y!” his catchphrase, meaning “Let’s go” in French – the explanation behind his use of it sums him up perfectly). Finally (in this scene), Eleven; the happiest of the bunch, at least at first. He’s still rather reflective, knowing the importance of people. He has losses, but that is paired with a gung-ho attitude and stubborn, geeky pride (“Bowties are cool”, as are glasses – and he wears a fez!). He does not remember the number. When asked by the War Doctor, he says he “forgot”, to the shock of Ten and War Doctor. Of course, the events of the Special change things up – and the rest of his timeline give him his own melancholia. Then, at last, Twelve is added (and – though I missed actually seeing the ep – the way in which he regenerated from Eleven apparently has interesting implications for continuity beyond him). Twelve (Capaldi) knows the secrets revealed in the 50th. He remembers all the lessons learnt. He is determined to do better, with a touch of humour and gravitas – so he will. That is who Twelve is. Capaldi, as shown in the latest episode, fills that role beautifully.

I’m calling it: this (& its predecessor for continuity) is one of those episodes that will go down as one of the ‘favourite’, ‘marker’ episodes – a cornerstone one that’s on the ‘must-watch’ list.

Who’s with me?

REBLOGGED from terribleminds: Pointing the Cannons at Canon

Aftermath, written by Chuck Wendig, is the first book in the new canon bridging the gap between Episodes VI and VII. It’s out now and on my TBR list. Read the post below by Chuck and tell me what you think! I’m off to do uni work, blah and get caught up on Star Wars Rebels. …Oh yeah, warning for ‘coarse language’, I guess, if you’re someone who doesn’t like that.


so is this cannon canon or what

For a great many years, I was rather enamored with the idea of canon in the pop culture feast that I consumed. This continued well into my 20s, maybe into my 30s, and even now I still feel its needle-stitch tug inside my heart. (For those who don’t know, the idea of “canon” originates with the notion that in a given topic, study or series, there exists a genuine, bona fide list of books that are considered sacred and original. In pop culture fandom, “canon” takes this idea to mean that some stories or ideas are “true” in the context of the internal history of that particular narrative.)

As by now all of you — except that guy who has been living in a nuclear bunker from the 1950s — have figured out that I wrote a Star Wars novel. *clears throat* I have not exactly been quiet about it. And this novel is the first “canon” novel to appear and start to build the bridge between Episode VI (aka Return of the Jedi) and Episode VII (aka The Force Awakens). It builds immediately off the events in VI, while planting seeds for what will eventually become the garden of new material that sprouts in VII. Again, it is to be considered “canon” — it is real and it is true in the context of the narrative story-world (“the galaxy far, far away”).

Ah, but, post-RotJ books already existed, and they were canon-ish. Zahn’s original trilogy (which I adored as a kid and which were held as sacred texts) launched a major mission into the unknown void beyond the borders of the galaxy we knew. Lucas said, “No new trilogy,” and that opened up the doors to dozens upon dozens of new books told in that space. These books were canon more by default than anything else (they were not to my knowledge explicitly made so, and as I understand it, Lucas always considered the books secondary to the visual media around the storyworld), but the books were close enough for horseshoes and hand grenades, as the saying goes. The Expanded Universe was as the name suggested: the galaxy became bigger, richer, wider, weirder.

Now, though, all that has gone. Those books have been re-classified as Legends.

See, Star Wars has always been more Tolkien than Marvel or DC. What I mean is this: the continuity of Star Wars has mostly remained a single, unbroken chain. Tolkien’s narrative storyworld is unified in the same way — whereas with the two major comic book houses, you get a massively fractured narrative. You get hundreds of chains, some broken, others soldered together, others still just random links floating in the void. The storyworlds of Star Wars and Middle-earth are histories beholden to isolated timelines; the storyworlds of DC and Marvel are shattered mirrors representing a variety of alternate dimensions or single-shot universes. Middle-earth has little variance in its historical thrust — no alternate histories. And, up until recently, that was somewhat true of Star Wars, too. (I say “somewhat” because how exactly do you classify the video games? The comics? The “Droids” cartoon?

Read more here:

Happy Birthday!

Well, well, well. This is a little thought-essay on Harry Potter, fandoms and growing up, in a sense.

Harry Potter has been a fandom of mine since at least 2003-ish. It was my second fandom, though first “prominent” one.

Today, it’s July 31st – celebrated by fans as Harry’s birthday. It also happens to be J. K. Rowling’s. As I mentioned earlier this week, in a way I sort of owe J. K. Rowling – and Harry Potter – a great deal, not just for being something I could escape into when others around me were being stupid, but for showing me what a writer could be.

The series has layers upon layers. Apparently, also a bunch of Britishisms which us outsiders need a little help picking up. It’s one of those books which you can keep rereading and finding new things about situations when you do. Which brings me to my next point: how perspective changes with different understanding and experience as we age.

When I first read Harry Potter, I hadn’t finished primary school yet. At the time, I barely scratched the surface in terms of what was there – things seemed a lot more black and white, good and bad. Rereading at a later date in high school, with a deeper understanding, brought to my attention the grey in-between black and white.

One of the things I think J. K. Rowling did really well with the series (at least, with a nuanced reading) was how the characters are all complex. There’s always more to a character than meets the eye; a lot of which we have to speculate on, even as she reveals more things on Pottermore etc. In short the characters are all real.
Though of course sometimes this is shown better than other times – in some ways, Slytherin got quite a raw deal at the end. On that….

The House system is a bit odd if you look at it. I mean, sorting people based on subjective, changeable character traits will of course lead to problems unless it’s carefully handled and at Hogwarts, it wasn’t at all.
That aside, each House has its own unique qualities. Slytherin with its emphasis on cunning, worthiness, drive and ambition just has the qualities and reputation which could build Dark wizards easily. But really, all Dark wizards (eg. Death Eaters) can’t have all come from Slytherin. Other people who emulate their House qualities too well, or for the wrong reasons, could just as easily go “Dark” or be total pricks. Remember Peter Pettigrew and Barty Crouch Jr.(?).
Of course, some Light wizards are not characters to emulate either, though it took me ages to properly realise that.

I’ve come to realise one of the HP’verse-emulating-life tragically but accurately is that J. K. Rowling shows how some characters (people) do stupid things when they’re younger, and they don’t always have the chance to make it up, or change fully. The tragedy is that certain characters are killed or imprisoned before they have that chance – properly, anyway. After all, 17 is more mature than 15; 21 is more mature than 17. But 21 is still very young. Real maturity comes with age, if one chooses to grow up and accept their mistakes, then change – and if they then get the chance to do so.

I could go on – and on – about this, using specific character examples (who knows, I may do that at a later date). I’ve posted stuff on a fanfic site about this very thing. Maybe it’s just the Hufflepuff in me, that I see so many sides – but I’d like to think it’s a good viewpoint to take.

Now, onto the other fandom side of things! 🙂

One of the things that make a fandom is the ability to have that shared experience, whether in-person or online, with a community of like-minded people. It can shape our attitudes, too. There are plenty of places online to hang out and find info, from facebook pages to the leaky cauldron to mugglenet to harry potter reddit to the HP Lexicon (an old but still somewhat useful site), to even the HP Companion to whitehound (scroll to the essays in particular) and other blogs. Not to mention real organisations like the HP Alliance, working for good in the name of fandom. It’s all there.

If I was an American, I’d have gone to LeakyCon (or GeekyCon). It sounds pretty awesome (
As it is, I just listen, read and pay attention. We’re a pretty good bunch, us HP fans – there was a study a while back showing that those who read Harry Potter are more likely to be tolerant of others’ difference. That doesn’t mean we’re saints, though. The shipping wars alone demonstrate that! 😛 We’re real after all.
However, I’d advise outsiders (and insiders: don’t patronise us (<– that right there is one of my pet peeves; just don’t do it), or box us up. We’re louder and stronger than you think.

So, I say again, happy birthday to Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling, who created the story of the Boy Who Lived which we could breathe life into.

Books! And other things. But mainly books!

Hi everyone.
A while back, I mentioned how I hate emails “cluttering up” my inbox. It’s just one of my quirks.
But I do deliberately leave some as unread, in order to sort through when I have time. These usually include ones with links to other websites, as well as stuff I want to remember to write about on here, or book reviews.

I’m a very bookish person. The fandoms post of a few weeks ago showed my favourite things, but it didn’t really scratch the surface of some other stuff. I will read almost anything – though I do prefer a happy ending, or at least a bittersweet one. I read to escape, to explore opportunities of things to be better or different than reality.

Right now, there is a backlog of bookish emails in the inbox which I’ve been ignoring. In order to open even one of them, I had to sort out the document that notes down my “to read/ watch list”. I’d been using a draft email to note down stuff, because the big one was on my trusty USB. Well, I’m discovering that I waited a little long to transfer.

My list was already in the hundreds. But it’s more than doubled now. I need to actually read some of these and not get distracted by other interesting books!

Recently, I’ve borrowed a few books from the local library. I’m working my way through them.

What I’m Reading Now:

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini.
Status: Finished.
A beautiful book about different forms of love, touching on themes of family; stretching from Afghanistan to Europe and America, across generations. A bittersweet tale.

Star Trek Memories, by William Shatner.
Status: Finished.
Full of backstory and behind the scenes tidbits, including what it was like making the series, cast interactions, his favourite episode and more. Provides a great little look at things; hearing it from the actor’s perspective is interesting and he tries to include more voices than just his own.

I Am Spock, by Leonard Nimoy.
Status: Finished.
A fascinating look at everything Trek from beginning to 1995 from his point of view. He also gives a bit of background on himself pre-Trek, in-between- and after-. As I mentioned above with Shatner’s memoir, reading things from the actor’s perspective is really illuminating. Each described how it felt, being on set – they had exceptionally gruelling schedules including bloody long hours – as well as how it felt to be their characters, especially during certain scenes – both amusing and poignant. Reading this book, in particular, there were some moments that squeezed my heart; his death gives a different tone to things. Each memoir shows the author’s personality quite well in the writing style and such, too.

I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai.
Status: Reading in process.
It’s amazing to think that this young woman is only a little younger than me. The way she tells things is so direct, almost innocent in a way, but full of strength.

Oh, and that other thing I mentioned in the title (which I nearly forgot, cue eyeroll) was that I’ve shaved my head for the cure! My 30-cm ponytail was snipped off and is now on its way to the beautiful lengths place to help make a wig. The rest of my hair was shaved off, so I’m now sporting a n#3 cut. Woo! Total raised is $1312….Wow. Donations are still acceptable!: .