This Week in Fandom, Volume 121

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we get started, did you see that Dragoncon goers were lucky enough to be given a preview of the upcoming Star Wars documentary series, ‘Looking for Leia’? The series should be released sometime in the next few months and Mary Sue journalist Kate Gardner, who was at the preview screening, tells us to expect ‘sweetness… earnestness’, and ‘stories… about women coming into their own fully through their own interests’. Sound good to you? Let us know in the comments!

This week, Doctor Who fandom has been commemorating Terrance Dicks, a much-beloved writer who has died aged 84. Dicks, who joined the show as a script editor in 1968 and served in that capacity until 1974, also wrote and co-wrote numerous episodes (including the second doctor’s last, and fourth doctor’s first, appearances) as well as more than 50 episode novelisations. Dicks was a regular on the Doctor Who convention circuit and, by all accounts, a generous and good-humoured ambassador for the show. Famous fans paying tribute include Mark Gatiss and Neil Gaiman, both of whom have also written for the show:

Additionally, this Tweet thread from fan Robert Shearman offers a particularly warm account of Dicks’s friendliness and generosity, as well as what he meant for the fans who are mourning him.

In China, commentators are discussing a new phenomenon that has arisen within the country’s very active fangirl culture. In the wake of recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, some of the country’s numerous fangirls have united in support of a new idol: ‘little brother’ China itself. A Quartz article by Youyou Zhou, posted on August 18, explored the beginnings of this behaviour, and interest in the phenomenon has since continued to build. This week, sociology professor Ju Chunyan published a piece which offers more context on fan culture in the country, and a trio of journalists for the Financial Times produced a longer article exploring the ways in which fan culture and pop culture are being adopted by the Chinese government. Taken together, the three pieces are a thought-provoking look at the ways in which fan culture, often positioned as subversive or countercultural, intersects with hegemonic cultural forces; questions also raised, it might be suggested, by conversations surrounding the Disney/Sony split that we discussed last week.

Next up and on a lighter note, Mel Magazine‘s Miles Klee has been asking, ‘What’s the deal with Seinfeld fanfiction?’ As Klee observes, quoting a recent Rec Center newsletter, ‘comedies… get a lot less fanfictional interest’ than other types of show. But Seinfeld is something of an exception, enjoying a lively fictional afterlife with plenty of fanworks all over the web. It’s not clear how Klee discovered the joys of Seinfeld fanfiction, but his piece is a fun romp through some of the stranger reaches of the genre and a good tribute to the extraordinary and extraordinarily various possibilities opened up by transformative works. ‘Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer live on in the wilds of these fanfic archives,’ writes Klee, ‘getting up to shenanigans you wouldn’t believe.’ Of course, the more seasoned AO3 users amongst us might be a little less surprised…!

And finally, the BTS Army has been working hard, as fans celebrated band leader RM’s 25th birthday (upcoming on 12 September) by planting a forest of 1,250 trees in Seoul’s Han River Park. 250 fans came together (and many more donated) to create the tribute to the singer, who’s known for his environmentalism. The forest has been named ‘RM Forest Number 1’: a declaration of intent by fans who plan to deliver Number 2 next year. KpopHerald has some pictures!

This Week in Fandom

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