Wishful Thinking: Fictional Fandoms

It is the eternal plight of the fangirl that the things she loves most in the world are not real. Hogwarts is not real. Sam and Dean aren’t going to save you from a monster because monsters aren’t real. Toys can’t walk or talk or think for themselves, no matter how many times we watch Toy Story.

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But fandoms are real. Books are real, TV series are real, films and games and stories are real. It really happens that I sometimes walk down the street, see a boy carrying a TARDIS messenger bag, and wave at him. Once, I even happened upon such an individual while I was carrying my own TARDIS messenger bag.

My point is, sometimes you can love a fictional world or character so much that it hurts to consider the fact that it isn’t real. It’s fictional. But when that happens, the fandom community can offer you support.  But what about fiction within fiction? What about the fandoms that were made up for the sake of writing about fandom? What about the things fictional characters fangirl over?

In this post, I’ve listed some. Just in case your life wasn’t infected with fandom enough as it was.

Books You Wish Were Real

Simon Snow Series – Gemma T. Leslie (Fangirl)

Perhaps my favorite example of such a fictional fiction is the Simon Snow Series by the equally fictional Gemma T. Leslie. The series is about a young boy who is invited to join a school where he can develop his Magical talents. Eventually he has to fight the Insidious Humdrum, an evil mastermind who threatens to destroy the World Of Mages. Sound familiar?

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Simon Snow and his enemy/roommate/love interest Baz Pitch were first introduced in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, the first book I ever read about fandom. In it, the main character is a writer of Simon Snow fanfiction, and we get occasional snippets of her writing about Simon and Baz. Fangirl came out in 2013 and it was a huge success. Pretty quickly, Rowell decided she wasn’t done with the World Of Mages yet, and in 2015 she released a book called Carry On, which told the story of how Baz and Simon fell in love.

Long story short, Rainbow Rowell made up a fictional world inside her fictional world, which was obviously based on a fictional world she loved very dearly in real life. Then she decided that this fiction within a fiction was, essentially, worth writing her own fanfic about. And there we have Carry On.

Sidenote: IS ANYBODY WORKING ON A CARRY ON MOVIE YET? C’MON. I can even do your casting for you.

An Imperial Affliction – Peter Van Houten (The Fault In Our Stars)

Much of the plot in John Green’s Young Adult masterpiece revolves around An Imperial Affliction, written by wino Peter van Houten. The main characters, Hazel and Augustus, go to visit him in Amsterdam, and it changes their perception of fandom forever.

John Green, The Fault In Our Stars: “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

Although in this book, like in Fangirl, the fictional fandom is used to explore the dynamics of fandom in real life and, in a sense, to explain it to the uninitiated, the scene in which Hazel and Augustus meet Van Houten serves as a kind of warning: don’t make people into heroes; especially not if you’ve never met them.

imperial affliction hazel

John Green: I’m also interested in the weird relationship between the things we love and the people who make those things. Because often, of course, the thing is much better than the person. Usually the thing is better than the person or at least easier to love than the person, because people are complex and flawed and troubled. Source.

Just like John Green’s Paper Towns, The Fault In Our Stars is, amongst other things, a tale of the disillusionment that comes from growing up.

Inside – Dan Humphrey (Gossip Girl)

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And then, of course, there is Daniel Humphrey. I love him a lot, especially if you consider how much of an asshole he is. Within the fictional world of “the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite,” a.k.a Gossip Girl, Dan fictionalized the personal lives of his friends and made a ton of money doing so. He sold everybody out, basically. Because the thing is, Dan’s fictionalized accounts weren’t all that fictional. In an Almost Famous-like turn of events, it was completely obvious who was who. Dan may have been untrustworthy and selfish and petty. Still, I adore him.

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