The final candidate and just in time as people rush to get their ballots filled in!
What else does the genre of fan-writing have to offer beyond the already mentioned three-ews (news, views and reviews)? We’ve already seen quite a variety. We could add another ‘ew’ with ‘interviews’ but we’ve seen so far newsletters, panels, collaborative projects, databases, resource lists, recommendations and a fan-fund photo diary. Another of my favourites is the Big Enormous Labour of Love Project. The kind of thing were a fan thinks “I should read all of X…” or “how far was it from X to Y in…” and they they decide to do it themselves and weeks/months/years later they’ve generated a substantial thing in its own right. Time to look at Adam Whitehead…
Adam has an extensive profile of his activities on his Patreon site (I’ve skipped a few parts)
I’ve been blogging at The Wertzone about all things science fiction and fantasy for over a decade. My main areas of interest and expertise are epic fantasy, space opera and history across books, TV, film and video games. I have a keen interest in genre history and am the author of A History of Epic Fantasy, which you can read on my blog… I am also a keen fan of the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin. I have been moderating at Westeros.org for a decade, written an essay for Beyond the Wall and taken part in quite a few convention panels on the books and their TV adaptation, Game of Thrones… Earlier in 2016 I started a new blogging project, Atlas of Ice and Fire, which examines the maps, geography and military campaigns of A Song of Ice and Fire in detail.https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4370220
If any genre deserves and encourages the spawning of Big Enormous Labour of Love Projects it is epic fantasy and Adam has taken that genre’s appendix-aesthetic into his own History of Epic Fantasy (https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/search/label/history%20of%20epic%20fantasy) and then went onto a major cartographic project mapping out the continents of George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice (https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/). You don’t need to be a fan of either epic fantasy in general or Game of Thrones in particular to appreciate the time and effort put into either of those projects over several years.
They would be impressive in themselves but Adam also maintains an active blog covering genre news and coverage of books, TV and games. https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/ Did I mention that this year’s finalists do A LOT? Because they do.
Big Enormous Labour of Love Projects are iceberg-like, what you see above water is impressive but the time and effort is the huge mass of research that is hidden under the waves. It’s not just long running projects that have this quality, consider this post from Adam’s blog from 2019:
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe Timeline (updated)https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-marvel-cinematic-universe-timeline.html
Following the release of Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home, I thought it might be interesting to run down a timeline of major events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and the relevant backstory.”
The whole scope of events (now including the time-travel sections of Avengers: Endgame) put into a detailed timeline from the beginning of the universe… Brilliant, nerdy, painstaking fun. Part of what fan writing adds to fandom is these kinds of ways of re-engaging with the stories we have enjoyed. A timeline-post doesn’t look like what we might think of as literary criticism but the essence of it (as with cartography of fantasy worlds) shares with models of literary theory, a way of examining and revealing structures and ideas in works of fiction. Whether the scalpel we use for dissecting works is Foucault or Mercator, what we gain is understanding of ideas work together (or not, as the case may be).
Adam has gone with the option of a PDF of links with only one extract in the document itself. There are 21 posts linked, including several maps (not just of ASoFaI but of other books such as Dragonlance https://atlasoficeandfireblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/dragonlance-a-map-of-ansalon/ )
The style of articles linked is varied. Some, such as this one focus on key world building questions in classic stories:
“Arrakis being the size of our Moon is, however, highly problematic. First off, our Moon is generally considered to have insufficient mass – and thus gravity – to hold down a thick, life-supporting atmosphere. The Moon’s gravity is about one-sixth that on Earth, and a combination of low gravity and solar winds have stripped the Moon of whatever atmosphere if may have once possessed.”https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2019/03/sf-questions-how-large-is-arrakis.html
I absolutely love this kind of stuff but the linked articles also include more conventional reviews and pop-culture retrospectives. For example:
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t perfect, but it’s one of those shows where the imperfections make it more interesting. It’s a show that tried to wear several hats simultaneously – action, comedy, romance, horror – and actually succeeded in doing so. It could be funny, scary and thought-provoking, and occasionally (in the case of the harrowing Season 5 episode The Body, comfortably one of the best episodes of television ever made) genuinely tear-jerking. It was also a show way ahead of its time in many respects, with the series doing metacommentary, genre savviness and social commentary arguably better than most shows attempting the same today.”https://thewertzone.blogspot.com/2019/11/she-saved-worlda-lot-buffy-vampire.html
There’s a lot to enjoy here and this is a fan-writer with an eye for detail and analysis.