harry potter

Time to expand the Potterverse

Yesterday, I tweeted a link to a damn sweet collection of photo manips done by this talented Tumblrino. It reminded me once more how bad J.K. Rowling is at marketing the Potter franchise. Well, “bad” is a strong word. Let’s replace it with “extremely careful”. Though the typical merchandise and multimedia products are available, the Potterverse has never been the backdrop for something like a spin-off Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series or something else that expands on the world presented in the books. While that is a good way for Rowling to protect her intellectual property from the mad ideas of other authors and marketeers, it is also a missed chance for a setting so rich like that of the Potter books.

Let’s just take a look at, for example, Star Wars. Over the years, the so-called “Expanded Universe” has deepened and enriched the franchise through comic books, novels and an animated TV show. “Enriched” is both negative and positive in this case: for every great character added to the pantheon of space heroes, a dozen plot holes popped up due to sloppy writing or contradictions with other storylines. This, of course, is the danger of such an expanded setting: once you give the reins to other authors, you don’t know what they will do to your creation. That must be a scary feeling, but one should also not forget that new people bring in new ideas.

I’m not saying the Potter franchise will die anytime soon, but I feel like the world of Hogwarts could use some fresh ideas. I mean, there’s a lot to work with, it just needs some fleshing out! How about a somewhat darker series of stories about Snape’s youth, where we see his lonely moments in Hogwarts, his initiation into the Death-Eaters and his torn psyche? Heck, we already know a lot about Snape, so why not pick something up that has only been mentioned passingly. Murf mentioned over on Twitter how a story about dragon-wrangling in Romania would be damn sweet. What’s a job like that like? How do you hide dragon hunts from mortal eyes? Who would take up such a job? It would be like Deadliest Catch, broadcasted in a pub in Diagon Alley!

As said, I can understand Rowling’s caution with handing over control of her universe to other writers, but I really feel she’s missing chances here. If a set of photo manips by a talented git from the Internet can get fans hyped about the possibilities of an alternate timeline, imagine what would happen when Rowling announces a mini-series about such a “what if”- scenario?

Trust me, even a Silencing Charm couldn’t calm the fandom then.

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Re-reading page 394, or why character boosts in WoW are a good thing

I have a confession to make: I hate playing through the same game twice. It’s a real shame, though. While my gaming friends can enjoy a single-player epic like Mass Effect several times, my thirst is sated after seeing the end credits once and then never again. It’s no surprise, I’m also one of those persons who doesn’t get people who like reading the same book multiple times or watching the same movie over and over again (well, I have my exceptions when it comes to flicks, but that’s another story). Yeah, that even goes for awesome books and movies like Harry Potter. Come on, how often can you turn to page 394?

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The problem I have with time travel

time turner harry potter

I hope all of you have seen one of the greatest movies of our time. I’m talking about a piece of film that has forged our pop culture and that was years ahead of his time. Or decades behind it, depending which of the three we’re talking about. Which movie series am I talking about? I’m talking about Back to the Future of course!

Back to the Future must have been my first exposure to the concept of time travel as a kid. The idea of literally racing back (or forward) in time intrigued me, but back then, the idea of watching a show about five teenagers fighting Japanese sentai show stock footage also “intrigued me”. All I saw then was a cool idea involving a DeLorean, but as I grew older (and more critical), I realised that everything involving time travel just bugs me.

The first time I noticed how much of a problematic plot point time travel is was while reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. While the build-up to the reveal of the Time-Turner was done nicely (both in the book and the movie), the introduction of such an item brought with it the question of “Why don’t we use this damn thing to set everything right?” The absence of such a powerful tool in the later books annoyed me even more, considering how it would have been just the right tool for about every problematic situation.

And here lies my problem with time travel: the moment you introduce the possibility of going back in time to change things, you open up a can of worms, or rather one of plot holes and inconsistencies. The entire concept is difficult to begin with, so why would you as an author think you’re able to handle it the right way, without damaging your plot and the suspension of disbelief of your audience?

Of course, there are ways of handling time travel right. As much as I despise the new movies (though I still have to see Into Darkness. I’m a prejudiced prick), Star Trek and the MMORPG based on it solved most of the problems of time travel by deciding that the events of the movie simply created an alternate timeline, in which the new movies and the MMORPG progress. It’s not a perfect solution, but it gives me some comfort. Hopefully, Blizzard is taking notes for their upcoming time-jumping adventure.

Nevertheless, time travel is something I find hard to enjoy. The reason for that might just lie somewhere in my past, but considering I won’t be up for the destruction of our timeline, we’ll never find out.

Being a fan of fans

“Fangirl Vision” by pie1313

Fans (by which I mean the people who adore certain things, rather than the metal devices I bless these days for keeping me cold) are something I love to observe. This sounds weird (and it probably is), but studying the behavior of people who belong to one or multiple fandoms should be a science in itself. Fanology sounds catchy, so let’s go with that.

To clarify my fascination with fans, you must know that I can be a really enthusiastic man (trust me, if I love something, you’ll know), but for some reason I lack the capability of being a real fan. What do I mean when I say “real fan”? Well, let me tell you about living with a few girls who are all really awesome and stuff, but who all have the capability of “fanning hard” (gosh, that sounds wrong) when it comes to their fandoms. They are the kind of people who are up-to-date about when the next book from their favourite author is published, who discuss the last episode of their beloved show in depth on all social media and who turn into drooling and mindless teenagers when they see certain actors. They show honest and deep love for whatever they…well, love, and don’t mind if the world finds them strange for that. Watching them is a pure delight, as these highly-educated women use their vast mental capabilities to dissect shows like Supernatural or Hannibal, while getting all pumped about a tweet from some presumably hot actor.

And you know what? I love them for that. I’m a fan of them because of that. Not just of those girls I used to live with, but of fans in general. These die-hard fanboys and fangirls are both fascinating and disturbing, and this stark contrast just begs to be observed. Different fandoms are social structures on themselves, but no matter if you geek out about Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or some elf dude who had fifteen seconds of screen time in The Hobbit, certain elements can be found in each and every fandom. Though the thing they love might be different, the way they love is the same, and it’s always curious to observe.

Yeah, I might never be as big a fan as some of those people, but I will always be a big fan of all you fans out there! Though you scare me from time to time and have me question my faith in the intellect of my generation, I do understand that all you do is out of love. And what is born from love, often gives birth to love…even if that love is expressed in really gross Yaoi fanfic featuring My Little Pony and one of those guys from Merlin.

Oh fandoms, you never cease to amaze and disgust at the same time.

With (cautious) admiration,

the Chindividual