This Week in Fandom, Volume 123

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! A few pieces of good news for you this week: but first, did you see that Good Omens star Michael Sheen and his partner had a baby this week? In an extremely fan-friendly move, they’ve called their daughter Lyra; which is only appropriate given that the new His Dark Materials series has been filming in Wales, where she was born. Do you know anybody named after a literary character? Have you called children (or pets!) after your best-beloved heroes? Let us know in the comments!

And now, on to the news. A few weeks ago we talked about the fact that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was apparently out of the MCU, as Disney had failed to come to an agreement with Sony (who own the rights to the character). Well, all is not lost! This week, both parties announced that they’d figured out a solution and that Spidey will definitely be getting another MCU movie of his own, scheduled to debut on 16 July, 2021. In an article for CNBC, Sarah Whitten argues that ‘we have the fans to thank’ for this change of heart, quoting a number of industry experts to support her claim.

Holland, who’d been keeping diplomatically tight-lipped as the story unfolded, finally made his feelings clear in a celebratory Instagram post:

In fanfiction-related happenings, Rainbow Rowell’s Wayward Son was published in the US this week (worldwide publication dates vary). Rowell’s novel continues the story of Simon Snow, the teen wizard hero of 2015’s Carry On; which was itself derived from Rowell’s 2013 novel Fangirl, whose protagonist Cath was a writer and BNF in the Simon Snow fandom. Vox has a thought-provoking (and spoiler-light) review of the new novel which takes time to reflect on the challenges of ‘this kind of fanon/canon hybrid’: as reviewer Constance Grady points out, fanfiction oftentimes has different priorities to original fiction. In this case, Grady suggests, the demands of the latter place particular restrictions on the type of novel that Rowell is able to create (particularly as she moves further away from the not-so-thinly-veiled source material of her initial work). It’s an interesting distinction and definitely something to consider in reading Rowell’s ‘ice cream sundae’ of a book.

More literary news for genre fiction fans: Susanna Clarke has announced the impending publication of a new novel, Piranesi, to be published in September 2020. The book will be her first novel since her debut, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004), which won prizes including a Hugo and a World Fantasy award, and was in 2015 adapted for television by the BBC. Clarke attributes the long gap between novels to the ill-health from which she has suffered but fans can be encouraged by the fact that publishers Bloomsbury acquired Piranesi in a two-book deal: so there is more, one hopes, to follow.

And finally, Star Wars Resistance exec producer Justin Ridge confirmed fans’ suspicions this week when he told podcast Coffee with Kenobi that Orka and Flix, a pair of alien starship parts dealers, were ‘absolutely a gay couple’. This makes the characters the first in the franchise’s history to be canonically acknowledged as such. Although many fans have welcomed the announcement, others have suggested that a pair of minor, non-human characters in an animated series is a small and insufficient step towards proper representation. Kate Gardner, for The Mary Sue, writes that ‘We still do have a ways to go… We can be happy with the steps forward while still demanding better.’ Let’s hope that this promising movement towards inclusivity continues.

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