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This Week in Fandom, Volume 61

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, have you seen the Sesame Street version of Despacito, “El Patito” (Rubber Duckie)?


The New Yorker magazine published an article on fanfiction this week titled The Promise and Potential of Fan Fiction. A significant portion of the article is based on OTW staffer Francesca Coppa’s book The Fanfiction Reader, and it is also well researched in other elements of its discussion. It’s a thoughtful and positive portrayal of fanfiction in a much more popular mainstream publication than those that normally discuss fanworks.

The article has gained positive reception on Tumblr, and people on Twitter seem generally positive, too.


Joss Whedon has been in the spotlight again this week. His ex-wife, Kai Cole, published an essay in a guest blog for The Wrap in which she elaborated on his infidelity as the cause of their divorce:

“Despite understanding, on some level, that what he was doing was wrong, he never conceded the hypocrisy of being out in the world preaching feminist ideals, while at the same time, taking away my right to make choices for my life and my body based on the truth… He made me doubt my own instincts and watched me move further away from my personal values and social mores, trying to connect with him, never telling me it was impossible. By the time he finally confessed the truth, 15 years after his first affair on the set of ‘Buffy,’ I was broken. My brain could not fit my experience of our life together, through the new lens of his deceit.”

A spokesperson for Joss Whedon responded that Kai Cole’s essay contained “inaccuracies and misrepresentations,” but did not comment further “out of concern for his children and out of respect for his ex-wife.”

Fans were not impressed by Whedon.

Amidst this, the fansite Whedonesque is shutting down. While this decision could be more about the difficulties of running an outdated website, the coincidence is notable, as The AV Club points out.


In other news, there’s been a bizarre happening in the Young Adult fiction world. The book Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem, the very first book from the new publishing arm of GeekNation (which seems to currently be down) popped up out of nowhere at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Pajiba published a long investigative article about what happened, complete with a bunch of screenshots and sources. It’s a fascinating and informative read if you keep up with the details of book publishing. For those who don’t, a more accessible (and amusing) read is this Tumblr post on the subject.

The tl;dr version of the story is that the book’s ranking was artificially inflated by bulk ordering (non-existent) copies from bookstores which report their sales to the New York Times, but in specific amounts that wouldn’t raise red flags. As Pajiba explains:

“Pajiba received details from two separate anonymous sources who got in touch, each claiming that author Lani Sarem herself admitted plans in multiple meetings with potential business partners and investors to push the book onto the New York Times Bestseller list by fudging the numbers. Both sources also noted that the author and publisher’s primary concerns were to get a film deal, with the movie having been promised funding if it became a bestseller, hence a bulk buying strategy with a focus on reaching the convention circuit.”

The details that make the story extra-bizarre are more fandom-related. According to the Tumblr post, the book’s author is the cousin of *NSYNC member JC Chasez, and those who have actually read the book have compared it to My Immortal, the infamous Harry Potter fanfic, leading people to wonder whether My Immortal was in fact written by the cousin of a member of *NSYNC. Also, apparently Carrot Top has an opinion on all of this, and he doesn’t even have a Fanlore page to explain who he is.


We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.