This Week in Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 132

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. It’s Copyright Week and appropriately enough, we have several stories for you that all operate at the intersection between fanfiction and traditional publishing. Buckle up!


First off, an article by Sian Cain for the Guardian on how Fifty Shades of Grey “changed our sex lives”. Focusing on EL James’s native country, the UK, Cain explores the ongoing legacy of James’s trilogy, ‘the runaway bestselling books’ of the 2010s. Cain’s account traces ripple effects across the publishing industry, the BDSM scene, and even the law. She gives space to the criticisms leveled at James’s work by ‘BDSM practitioners and domestic abuse campaigners’ and acknowledges its problematic effects, but she also finds some positive consequences from the international obsession with Grey’s story and sexual behaviors. In any case, it’s a thoroughly-researched insight into what is still online fanfiction’s most famous mainstream success. Read More

This Week In Fandom

This Week In Fandom, Volume 131

Hello and welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things that are happening. Before we start, the Oscar nominations were released yesterday. What do you make of them? Let us know in the comments!


Our ‘OTW in the news’ radar was set off this week by Kaitlyn Tiffany’s charming piece in The Atlantic, ‘The Early Internet, Explained by One Weird Celine Dion Fan Site’. Tiffany interviews Yury Toroptsov, the creator of Celine Dreams, a website which ran from 2001 to 2011 and on which Toroptsov encouraged fellow fans to submit their dreams about Dion for his (public) interpretation. At Celine Dreams’ peak, Toroptsov was a BNF in online Celine Dion fandom; but the piece is more than a portrait of his particular experience. Instead, it takes the website as the jumping-off point for an exploration of online fandom culture’s transient quality. Tiffany mentions the Yahoo Groups closure, points out that Celine Dreams is only available via the Wayback Machine’s limited record, and gives a shoutout to the OTW’s efforts to preserve fan culture. She reminds us that Tumblr, a key fan platform through the 2000s and 2010s, ‘did not start collecting and collating data about fandom’ until 2013. This is important, Tiffany argues, despite the apparent triviality of the subject matter: ‘By itself, a website devoted to (possibly fake) dreams about Celine Dion is perhaps not our most urgent archival task. But in aggregate, fan sites like Toroptsov’s provide a valuable history of the ways web 1.0 users exercised fandom to provide their daily lives with context and color.’ The history of fandom and the history of the internet are closely entwined; we should do what we can to preserve them both. Read More

OTW Guest Post

OTW Guest Post: Una McCormack

From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.

Una McCormack is a New York Times bestselling author specialising in TV tie-in fiction, a lecturer in creative writing, and an academic who has written on subjects such as Blake’s 7 fandom and Tolkien fanfiction. In 2017, she was a judge for the Clarke Award, given each year to the best science fiction novel published in the UK. Today, Una talks with us about a life spent in fandom.

How did you first get into fandom and fanworks?

My first exposure to fandom was at a very young age: my (much) older sibling was a fan of the 1970s BBC science fiction programme Blake’s 7, and went to several conventions when it was still on air (circa 1979). I was seven or eight at the time. My sibling brought back a pile of zines, which I have to this day. I loved reading these stories: it really blew my mind that these characters that I loved could continue having adventures off-screen. I started drawing my own comics, stick-man cartoons based on Blake’s 7. This turned into fiction when I was about 16 or 17. There was some pretty heartfelt poetry at the time too.

I got online in the early 90s (I met my other half through a university Doctor Who bulletin board, but that’s another story…), and from around the mid-90s I was very involved in online discussion and fanfiction groups, particularly Blake’s 7, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and, later, Tolkien fanfiction groups. I got onto LiveJournal in the early 2000s. So I feel like fandom has always been a part of my life, in one way or another, for nearly 40 years now.

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