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More Sex and Death for the Kiddies, oh joy

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  • Stolzi@aol.com
    May 5, 2002 -- The New York Times Harry Potter and the Quest for the Unfinished Volume By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK Each time Rachel Ruskin, 11, enters a bookstore
    Message 1 of 8 , May 5, 2002
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      May 5, 2002 -- The New York Times

      Harry Potter and the Quest for the Unfinished Volume

      By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

      Each time Rachel Ruskin, 11, enters a bookstore in her New York City
      neighborhood, she walks straight to the information desk to ask a question
      pressing on the minds of millions of children around the country: When will
      the next Harry Potter book appear?

      No one knows, not even J. K. Rowling, the British author who invented Harry
      Potter and the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After
      turning out four Harry Potter books at a rate of one a year through July
      2000, Ms. Rowling is already months late in completing the fifth book in
      time for its planned publication in July. She has explained to her agent
      and publishers that writing this next book is proving to be more involved
      than she initially expected. Scholastic, the United States publisher for
      Ms. Rowling's previous books, has told its watchful shareholders only that
      the company expects to publish Ms. Rowling's next Harry Potter book some
      time before June 2003.

      Although writers missing deadlines may be nothing new, with a phenomenon
      like Harry Potter even the failure to publish can be a momentous event. As
      a second summer reading season arrives without a new Harry Potter book,
      questions about the timing of the next book's appearance are deepening into
      urgent mysteries in the minds of Ms. Rowling's legion of fans. Already the
      unfinished fifth book has become the subject of heated debates about issues
      like what effect the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had on Ms. Rowling's story
      outline or which girl stands the best chance of winning Harry's adolescent
      heart.

      Bored, perhaps, with rereading the first four books, many of Ms. Rowling's
      youngest fans now congregate online. In the last year, thousands of Web
      sites have sprung up where swelling ranks of visitors eagerly swap their
      own theories and "facts" about the progress and contents of the forthcoming
      book.

      "There are, like, millions of Web sites," said Ms. Ruskin, the 11-year-old
      fan. "One person told me that J. K. Rowling got mad at people for pushing
      her so she decided to start over."

      Not so, said Judy Corman, a spokeswoman for Scholastic. Ms. Rowling is hard
      at work and her publishers are patient, she said. "Clearly we understand
      that her readers are eagerly waiting for it but you can't hurry the
      creative juices and we understand that," Ms. Corman said. "She is writing.
      She is working hard on the book. We will be happy when we get it."
      Scholastic never announced a date, she said. Once the manuscript is
      completed, releasing it will take four or five months.

      Scholastic is not the only company with much riding on Ms. Rowling's next
      opus. Ms. Rowling now sits at the center of a sprawling network of
      companies capitalizing on the fruits of her imagination. Scholastic alone
      has sold more than 67 million copies of her first four books, and the
      appearance of her last book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,"
      bolstered sales at Barnes & Noble and Borders enough to merit special
      discussion in their quarterly reports.

      For a time, Amazon.com, the online retailer, accepted preorders for the
      expected fifth book, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Amazon is
      no longer taking orders because of the delay. More than 320,000 people have
      asked for e-mail notification when the book arrives.

      In the weekend it opened last fall, a film of Ms. Rowling's first book,
      "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," took in a record $90.3 million for
      the Warner Brothers division of AOL Time Warner. A sequel, "Harry Potter
      and the Chamber of Secrets," planned to open this fall, was previously
      expected to dovetail with the publicity from the new book's release this
      summer. Toy companies, video-game makers and other companies also now sell
      a host of related merchandise, counting on new books and films to renew
      demand.

      Success has changed Ms. Rowling's life too. She devoted her attention to
      the making of the film and the licensing of her characters. Ms. Rowling was
      also dating Dr. Neil Murray, an anesthesiologist. They married on Dec. 26
      in her recently acquired 19th century Scottish mansion. But their honeymoon
      was brief so that both newlyweds could get back to work.

      Ms. Rowling herself has acknowledged feeling "an edge of external
      pressure," as she told the magazine Entertainment Weekly two years ago,
      because of her books' soaring popularity. In her last book, she ended up
      deviating for the first time from her preconceived outline for the plot and
      missed her deadline by two months, she said.

      Ms. Rowling has also pledged to take on even more delicate subjects in her
      next book. "There are deaths, more deaths coming," she said in an interview
      with the British Broadcasting Corporation in December, adding that one
      character's end will be "horrible to write."

      And she plans to introduce some of life's other complexities, too. "They
      are 15 now, hormones working overtime," she told the BBC.

      For some young fans, the delay is accomplishing what once seemed
      impossible: dulling their fascination. "Since the fifth book hasn't been
      coming out for a long time I have gotten absorbed in a lot of other books,"
      said Raphael Helfand, 7, of New York, whose father waited outside a
      bookstore at midnight two years ago to buy the fourth book the day it
      appeared. "A year ago I was more eager. Now, I can wait."

      Others expressed some annoyance. "Now that you mention it, I am getting
      sort of impatient," said Jacob Bradford, 11, of Brattleboro, Vt., "The
      books are getting dusty on my shelf. I am not sure if I am going to
      remember everything."

      Laura Aragon, 11, of Bethesda, Md., concurred: "I hope she hurries up and
      finds something to write about."

      Absent a new book to digest, many of Ms. Rowling's fans have turned their
      attention to dissecting her cryptic comments — and each other's gossip —
      for clues about Harry's future.

      "I think he will have a girlfriend but not a character" from the previous
      books, Ms. Ruskin opined. One prominent female character already seemed
      destined for another boy, and the other candidate for Harry's affection was
      "a little annoying," she said. Others hold to the "bachelor theory," that
      Harry will become the object of several girls' attentions.

      Steve Vander Ark, a school librarian in western Michigan who operates a
      popular Web site for students, www.i2k.com/~svderark/lexicon, said he had
      "a pretty good idea what is taking so long." Hasty work, he said, had led
      to some internal inconsistencies in the fourth book, including one
      involving the chronology of the deaths of Harry's parents. Fans first
      debated the hidden meaning of the discrepancies but then realized that they
      were simply mistakes. "Now she realizes how closely people will be looking
      at the details of her work," he said.

      Heidi Tandy, a lawyer in Miami who administers another Harry Potter Web
      site, said she believes the events of Sept. 11 played a role. In the fourth
      book, a set of characters called Death Eaters "resemble terrorists more
      than anything else," Ms. Tandy said. She guessed Ms. Rowling felt obliged
      to take recent events into account.

      Thousands of teenagers and adults have attempted to fill the gap left by
      the delay in the fifth book with Harry Potter stories of their own, usually
      posted on Web sites and sometimes running to hundreds of pages. It took
      decades of "Star Trek" reruns to inspire a genre of "fan fiction," but just
      two years without a Harry Potter book.

      Ms. Tandy helped start a Harry Potter "fan fiction" Web site,
      www.FictionAlley.org, and said its number of registered users had grown
      from zero to 4,000 in the last 10 months. In one popular story, Harry
      Potter and his schoolboy nemesis, Draco Malfoy, grow up to be gangsters and
      gay lovers in London. Ms. Tandy said her site tries to exclude children
      under 13 and avoids posting "X-rated" material. Other Harry Potter "fan
      fiction" sites are less strict.

      Frustration with the delay among teenage and older Harry Potter fans online
      has often spilled out in feuds. Hard-core fans debate which characters will
      end up romantically linked. They call their rival camps "ships," short for
      relationships, and some partisan Web sites denounce or ban advocates of
      rival "ships."

      Barraged with questions, bookstore clerks have done their best. "There are
      some disappointed people," said Virginia Mulholland, children's events
      coordinator at the Joseph-Beth bookstore in Cinncinnati. Her explanation to
      customers: "I found out from my sources that it is already done and they
      just pushed it back to go along with the movie."

      Ms. Mulholland was stunned to learn that the book was not finished. "`Oh!
      Oh my God!" she said, "I'll have some angry people. Are you serious? Stop
      it! No!"



      Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company |
    • WendellWag@aol.com
      In a message dated 5/5/2002 10:22:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@aol.com ... Say what? Do they think that Voldemort is going to turn out to be Osima bin
      Message 2 of 8 , May 5, 2002
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        In a message dated 5/5/2002 10:22:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Stolzi@...
        writes:


        > Already the
        > unfinished fifth book has become the subject of heated debates about issues
        >
        > like what effect the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks had on Ms. Rowling's story
        > outline or which girl stands the best chance of winning Harry's adolescent
        > heart.
        >

        Say what? Do they think that Voldemort is going to turn out to be Osima bin
        Laden?

        > Thousands of teenagers and adults have attempted to fill the gap left by
        > the delay in the fifth book with Harry Potter stories of their own, usually
        >
        > posted on Web sites and sometimes running to hundreds of pages. It took
        > decades of "Star Trek" reruns to inspire a genre of "fan fiction," but just
        >
        > two years without a Harry Potter book.
        >

        It took less than a decade of _Star Trek_ reruns. There were already Star
        Trek fanzines in the late '70's (and perhaps in the early '70's).

        > Ms. Tandy helped start a Harry Potter "fan fiction" Web site,
        > www.FictionAlley.org, and said its number of registered users had grown
        > from zero to 4,000 in the last 10 months. In one popular story, Harry
        > Potter and his schoolboy nemesis, Draco Malfoy, grow up to be gangsters and
        >
        > gay lovers in London. Ms. Tandy said her site tries to exclude children
        > under 13 and avoids posting "X-rated" material. Other Harry Potter "fan
        > fiction" sites are less strict.

        Right, Potter/Malfoy slash fiction. Should have expected it.

        Wendell Wagner


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Lisa Deutsch Harrigan
        ... Um, friends were already writing it in 1971. Zines were out by 1975. And that s just what I know of as I was just a curious on-looker. Fans love playing in
        Message 3 of 8 , May 5, 2002
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          WendellWag@... wrote:

          > It took less than a decade of _Star Trek_ reruns. There were already Star
          > Trek fanzines in the late '70's (and perhaps in the early '70's).
          >

          Um, friends were already writing it in 1971. Zines were out by 1975. And that's
          just what I know of as I was just a curious on-looker. Fans love playing in other
          people's worlds.

          Mythically yours,

          Lisa
        • SusanPal@aol.com
          In a message dated 5/5/2002 7:52:36 PM Pacific Daylight Time, ... From my very desultory knowledge of HP fanfic -- which I haven t read, but have read *about*
          Message 4 of 8 , May 5, 2002
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            In a message dated 5/5/2002 7:52:36 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
            WendellWag@... writes:


            > Right, Potter/Malfoy slash fiction. Should have expected it.
            >

            From my very desultory knowledge of HP fanfic -- which I haven't read, but
            have read *about* -- I gather it's kind of like LotR slash, Wendell: any
            pairings you can imagine (and some you don't want to) have been written.

            Speaking of fanfic, I recently skimmed an absolutely hilarious -- I think the
            humor was even intentional -- LotR Mary-Sue parody in which Boromir's
            15-year-old niece, who has a crush on Legolas, whines her way into the
            Fellowship, soon joined by a small army of her schoolchums. This one, you'll
            be relieved to know, appears to have no sex; Legolas is amused by and fond of
            the teenyboppers and tries to be kind to them without hurting their feelings.
            (I suspect this fanfic was inspired by the widespread fannish midrash of the
            movie moment when Legolas tells Aragorn that a shadow and a threat is growing
            in his mind; the media-savvy believe that Legolas is really warning his human
            comrade, not against orcs, but against legions of swooning young women.)

            Back to HP: IMO, the fourth book is actually extremely dark. If she makes
            the fifth any darker, she'll be on the verge of Pullman territory: supposed
            kids' books which may be too grim for at least some actual children.

            Susan


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • David S. Bratman
            ... Hardly decades. Trek fan fiction was already a long-standing enterprise (sorry) with a huge backlog when I first came across it in 1975, by which the show
            Message 5 of 8 , May 6, 2002
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              Well, there's one factual error in here:

              >Thousands of teenagers and adults have attempted to fill the gap left by
              >the delay in the fifth book with Harry Potter stories of their own, usually
              >posted on Web sites and sometimes running to hundreds of pages. It took
              >decades of "Star Trek" reruns to inspire a genre of "fan fiction," but just
              >two years without a Harry Potter book.

              Hardly decades. Trek fan fiction was already a long-standing enterprise
              (sorry) with a huge backlog when I first came across it in 1975, by which
              the show had been off the air 6 years. And that was years before slash
              fiction was at all evident, btw.

              DB
            • Joan Marie Verba
              ... The first Star Trek fanzine was published in September 1967. (See my book, Boldly Writing, at http://www.ftlpublications.com) Joan
              Message 6 of 8 , May 6, 2002
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                WendellWag@... wrote:

                > It took
                > > decades of "Star Trek" reruns to inspire a genre of "fan fiction," but just
                > >
                > > two years without a Harry Potter book.
                > >

                > It took less than a decade of _Star Trek_ reruns. There were already Star
                > Trek fanzines in the late '70's (and perhaps in the early '70's).

                The first Star Trek fanzine was published in September 1967. (See my
                book, Boldly Writing, at http://www.ftlpublications.com)

                Joan
                ******************************************
                Joan Marie Verba
                verba001@...
                http://www.sff.net/people/Joan.Marie.Verba
              • Stolzi@aol.com
                The thought of Harry/Draco slashfic really turned my stomach (worse than a Bernie Botts snot flavour bean, that.) I very much share Susan s apprehensions.
                Message 7 of 8 , May 6, 2002
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                  The thought of Harry/Draco slashfic really turned my stomach (worse than a
                  Bernie Botts snot flavour bean, that.)

                  I very much share Susan's apprehensions.

                  Diamond Proudbrook
                • Stolzi@aol.com
                  A websearch on Malfoy, Potter, slash turned up the following rather entertaining article http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/12/10/slash/?x Now shut up
                  Message 8 of 8 , May 6, 2002
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                    A websearch on "Malfoy, Potter, slash" turned up the following rather
                    entertaining article

                    http://www.salon.com/people/feature/2001/12/10/slash/?x

                    Now shut up and kiss me, you wascally wabbit!

                    Diamond Proudbrook
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