This Week in Fandom, Volume 109

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, a shoutout to Game of Thrones fans. We see what’s happening with you, and we’ll talk about it next week after the finale, I promise.

For members of Worldcon 2019, the Hugo Award voting packet has been released. As you may remember, the Archive of Our Own was nominated for a Hugo Award in the category of Best Related Work. If you’re not a Worldcon 2019 member, you can still view the information the OTW submitted about AO3 here on the Archive itself. Happy reading!

In other news, an interesting article was published recently by Polygon about the role of sci-fi fanzines during times of historical upheaval. The article discusses zines being showcased in As If: Alternative Histories from Then to Now at The Drawing Center, a small art museum in New York City. One zine, called FIDO, was created and distributed during World War II. Another, called Janus, was active during the height of second-wave feminism. Both zines used their stories and reach to help people deal with the events of the time.

The publishers and contributors — that is, fans — knew the power of inventing historical events, kingdoms, and aliens when the real world fell short. And they transferred that potential to what they were making, creating alternative, real-life spaces where their pasts could be preserved and the futures they desired could be freely imagined.

What do you think? Do you use fandom to deal with current events? How so? Let us know in the comments!

Ok, I lied, we’re going to talk about Game of Thrones a little bit. SyFy Wire published an article discussing the concept of a Mary Sue in relation to the show, particularly in relation to the character of Arya Stark, who recently killed the Night King. The article traces the fanfiction origin of the term Mary Sue, saying that they are a way for women “to inject themselves into the narratives of their favorite works, to assume creative control of these universes, and often, to gift themselves the representation they’re not finding in the original art.” It also specifies, however, that a Mary Sue is “perfect” and has no significant flaws, which means that Arya Stark is not a Mary Sue, despite being a badass, because she is “anything but” perfect.

When we label women like Arya Stark or Captain Marvel or Rey as “Mary Sues” we’re not invoking the history of the lexicon of the phrase. We’re not constructively criticizing storylines or character arcs. We’re not pushing for better, more accurate representation, more well-rounded heroes. We’re just whining because it’s a woman saving the day instead of a man.

Lastly, the television show Shadowhunters recently had its series finale. Metro has an interview with the cast for those who want some behind the scenes details. Warning for spoilers!

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.

This Week in Fandom
  1. Janis commented:

    “We’re just whining because it’s a woman saving the day instead of a man.”

    Glad to see this said out loud. In the world that unironically gave us James Bond, the term “Mary Sue” is a g/d gender-based slur and it needs to go away NOW.

  2. Renarde commented:

    Oh, no! How dare we criticize women the same way women criticize men?