Issue Fifty: A Note from the Editors

Hello, Wanderers!

This issue marks our second anniversary as a webzine, our second issue, and, unfortunately, our last issue for a while. We’re going on an indefinite hiatus, but we do hope to be coming back at some point – we just can’t say when just yet. Stay subscribed to our social media platforms to make sure you don’t miss our triumphant return!

In business as usual, we have reviews of Grimm and Maleficent for you, as well as this issue’s GUST, which is High School Musical.

We’ve also taken a look at some of the conflicting elements of fandom, and we’ve got some FW Tips for you on being a responsible fan in general.

Last, but by no means least, The Ragamuffin Speaks is taking a look at fan entitlement, so do remember to have a read of that.

To make sure you don’t miss our next issue if and when it appears, check that you’re signed up to our FacebookTwitter, and/or Tumblr pages. Thanks for supporting us, Wanderers, and hopefully we won’t be gone too long.

Fandom Wanderers

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Get Your Head in the Game!

Wanderers, I have a confession to make.

I am a fan.

Okay, you probably guessed that already.

But I have a tendency to fan so hard that being in more than a few fandoms is just exhausting.

It’s all or nothing – I’m either ambivalent, or I’m neck-deep in fanfics and WIPs.

So when The Editor asks for contributions, I have difficulty finding something to review. Once I’ve turfed out all of my old favourites, I’m reluctant to get into new fandoms because I am one person, and my brain’s about to explode as it is.

This issue, there were a few things I could think of that I could review and haven’t been touched yet, but they’re kind of big things (which, I suspect, is why they haven’t been touched yet) and I wouldn’t know where to start.

So, with that in mind, this fortnight’s GUST: High School Musical.

High School Musical poster

I have a feeling, dear reader, that you have just become one of two groups – half of you will be groaning and asking why I must torture you so, you’d just got that out of your head, thank you very much; the other half will already be dancing around the living room singing.

There is a very small chance that you are sitting there thinking What in the name of Thor is High School Musical?

But these people most likely live under rocks, in which case they are unlikely to have internet connection.

Unless they happen to be near Sam Winchester; I understand he has excellent WiFi capabilities.

Is Fandom Reference Bingo a thing? We should make it a thing. But I digress.

High School Musical was one of the Disney Channel’s many Original Movies, and one of the Original Movies that actually succeeded past its premiere as more than a late night nostalgia trip.

I have noticed that Disney purists tend to cringe at these movies (and, indeed, anything that has come from the Disney Channel since 1990/2000/2010/insert-year-here), but I happen to be quite fond of HSM and its subsequent sequels.

And I wasn’t the only one. By the time HSM3 came out, Disney had wised up and released it in cinemas instead of straight to television.

It starred Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, high school students who meet by chance at a New Year party at a ski resort when they are forced (yes, forced) to sing a karaoke duet together. Rather predictably, it turns out that they both have a gift in that area, and part as sort-of friends, but meet again when Gabriella transfers to Troy’s school. Unfortunately for them, Troy is the captain of the basketball team (and the coach’s son) and Gabriella is quick to join the scholastic decathlon team, and no one is happy when they manage to audition for the school production, least of all their respective best friends Chad (Corbin Bleu) and Taylor (Monique Coleman), or, for that matter, Sharpay Evans (Ashley Tisdale) and brother, Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), who – in addition to having a relationship that seems to border on incestuous – have managed to take the leads in all the school productions since kindergarten.

In short, it is a story about breaking the mould, about being who you want to be, not who society says you should, whether you’re a basketball player who sings, a jock who bakes, a nerd who loves hip-hop, or a skater who plays the cello.

If I’m being brutally honest, it is an incredibly cheesy film, as are the sequels. It’s worth a giggle, the songs are catchy (and the quality rose dramatically between the first and third), and all in all, it’s another of my go-to films when I just want to put something on and watch, not think or interact.

It is, thus far, Disney’s most successful Disney Channel Original Movie, which I suspect may be due more to clever advertising than on merit. Certainly, I remember that the Disney Channel ran a commercial every two minutes in the months leading up to the original release in 2006, and I can think of a few DCOMs that would have had a much bigger impact if they’d been given the same treatment.

However, I don’t begrudge them their success – it does fairly well with smashing stereotypes out of the water (even if I am fairly sure that cheerleaders don’t spend all their time in costume) and I would argue that it sets a fairly good example for children. Gabriella proves fairly well that girls can be smart without succumbing to the movie!nerd trope, and Troy shows that it’s okay to admit that you’re wrong, and that apologising is the right thing to do, even if it hurts your ego a bit (something I have noticed, as the sister of one, that teenage boys sometimes need a little lesson in).

It may not be the cinematic masterpiece of the century, but it’s fun.

And sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.

Roxanne Williams (Go Wildcats!)

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Two Years of Fandom Wanderers

It seems like only yesterday that I was writing an article about our one-year anniversary as a webzine, and here we are at the two-year milestone. Time has flown, new fandoms have sprung up while old ones have simmered down a bit, and we’ve done our best to keep you up to date with tips, reviews, suggestions and other articles about all things to do with fans and fandom.

I don’t want to get overly sentimental, but these last two years have been brilliant. We’ve got to chat with some brilliant people – both fans and people with fans of their own – and we’ve had some great conversations with you lovely Wanderers. I am so, so grateful to everyone who’s helped make Fandom Wanderers such a success since its beginning on the 23rd of June, 2012. Just think of all the things that have happened since then, both in the wider world and in your own lives; we were immensely privileged to be there through all of that.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s allowed us to interview them, to read review copies of their works, and who’s generally been involved in providing us with a little star quality. Without them, we’d have been a less interesting little webzine.

Then, of course, there are our contributors, past and present. The current team are Z McAspurren, Hannah Carter, Roxanne Williams, Eleanor Musgrove, and our columnist, Ian D Sharman, and without their support and hard work the webzine really couldn’t have happened at all.

And, of course, there’s you, our readers. Whether you’ve been reading from the very beginning or you’ve just stumbled across our blog recently, whether you keep up with us on WordPress, Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, and whether you’ve got in touch with us or just lurked and read our articles, you’re a big part of our success to date. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end. After two years with us, many of the team are moving on to pastures new and have had to set Fandom Wanderers aside. Fandom Wanderers has always been a voluntary effort all around, and unfortunately paying the bills has to come first for our team members. Fandom Wanderers is therefore calling it a day, here at our fiftieth issue, at least for now. We have every hope that we will make a triumphant return at some point – so keep following those social media accounts if you want to be alerted when that happens – but for now all that remains is for me to thank you again, and wish you all the happiness in the world from your fandoms.

The Editor

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I Walked With You Once Upon a Dream: Maleficent

There’s been a thing about live action fairy tales in recent years. Not a big thing, not particularly anyway, but a small thing. It’s a presence, really, just something that you’ll occasionally notice and go ‘huh, fancy that.’ There’s a current release that fits in this ‘thing’ of live action fairy tales, and it comes from the movie master of them; Disney. Now, this one is a re-telling of a classic story, using the character names they had used for their animated version. Well, mostly. I’m talking of the recently released Maleficent, which I had the pleasure of seeing with some family members, after which followed a nice discussion. Something that’s always good fodder for a review.

Maleficent starts by telling us the back story of the self-proclaimed Mistress of All Evil, Maleficent, and how she didn’t really start off as evil. No one does, not really. There was just one … big event before the events of Sleeping Beauty that lead to her spiteful curse on the baby Princess, and believe me when I say it is a really big event, and that yeah, Maleficent had every right and reason to be as angry as she was.

No, seriously, this is a really big event that carries a very obvious real world correlation and has been confirmed to be exactly what we think it is. Anyway, the rest of the movie is focused on how Maleficent changes following creating the curse, and seeing Aurora grow up to become a rather lovely young lady.

The big name in the movie is Angelina Jolie, and she really is fantastically cast. I genuinely think that without her, they would not have been able to make this movie, because I don’t think there’s any other actress currently who could do as must justice to the many layers of Maleficent as she can with so little dialogue. She’s a delight to watch on the screen, and really makes the character her own, while paying respect to the original animated version – the scene of the party for the baby Aurora is really where you can see Jolie’s glee in being able to play this character.

Another personal highlight was Elle Fanning’s Aurora. While we don’t see much of her, the little that we are privy to shows us a very happy young lady, who is a little adorable, and has likely had a far better life growing up away from the trappings of court. Her wide-eyed wonder at the world may fit better for a girl young than Aurora’s 16 years, but when you get to see what it is she feels such wonder at… Well, trust me, anyone would feel it.

The overall plot is fairly well executed, though I am not going to lie and say it’s perfect. Having looked at the novelisation of the movie, I can see the spots here and there where things were cut for times that probably should have been kept in. Some characterisation can come off as odd if you aren’t paying close attention, and there are some scenes that could have probably done better being in a different order.

That being said, the movie is still really enjoyable; and easily the best of the live-action movies Disney has produced as of late. Making me quite hopeful for 2015′s Cinderella, actually. Into the Woods I’m still a little cautious for, but will make my mind up on seeing it.

My biggest wish for Maleficent really, despite an incredibly healthy box office opening weekend, was that it could have been released at the height of the summer movie season. While the money it’s pulling in at the moment is nothing to be sniffed at, I feel that this – being Disney’s only summer offering – probably needed to work better with holidays worldwide.

All that being said, this is a movie that I could recommend to anyone. I would obviously give a caution on taking very small ones to see it, but am aware it would differ from small one to small one. But, yeah, really, this is one that must be seen as soon as possible.

You’ll enjoy it. Honest.

Z McAspurren (Lana Del Ray’s Once Upon a Dream isn’t used till the credits, though)

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He Could See What No One Else Can: Grimm

Grimm logo

When homicide investigator Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) of the Portland Police Department learns he is descended from a line of “guardians” known as “Grimms”, he is charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world. These monsters, called Wesen, the German word for being or creature (pronounced “vessin” on the show) are threatening that balance, and the ongoing struggle for power over the Wesen world is beginning to pose a threat to humanity.

Wanderers, when a friend suggested I watch this show, I wasn’t entirely convinced. I liked the premise – that the Grimms who wrote the German fairytales during the eighteenth century had been able to see ‘the monster within’ certain members of the population, which inspired their stories, and that their offspring had continued the trait in future generations – but I wasn’t sure the show would live up to my heightened expectations (that friend had really tried to sell it to me!). However, once I finally sat down in front of my laptop and began to watch, I was hooked. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and I’d watched both within a matter of days.

The charismatic cast is led by David Giuntoli and Russell Hornsby as the central partner homicide detectives Burkhardt and Griffin, ably supported by Bitsie Tulloch (Juliette, Nick’s long-suffering veterinarian girlfriend), Sasha Roiz (Captain Sean Renard, the police chief) and Reggie Lee (Sergeant Drew Wu, the ‘grunt’ who does the majority of the leg work for Burkhardt and Griffin). I suppose the first thing I noticed about the cast is their lack of ‘Hollywood’ glamour. The women are noticeably normal women; not polished and posed within an inch of their lives, and not unnaturally thin; the men are not poster-boys for hair product and perfect genes, but normal-enough men you could imagine leading average lives anywhere. Wanderers, the reason this cast is a success is not that they get by based on their looks, but on their talent. It is fantastically easy to buy into the stories they tell, because it seems as though they truly live them – even the strange bits!

Although the plot sometimes borders on the entirely unfeasible, it never feels unreal to the viewer. Such is the power of the writing, the atmosphere, and the acting, that you never once feel silly for buying into the supernatural or fantastical elements of the show. Considering the way in which the show’s creators have married up the fantastical elements with the Portland PD homicide department, you expect a certain amount of death and destruction to be wrought, but when it becomes clear that the vast majority of the damage is psychological, the show takes on an entirely new twist, which makes it even more interesting to watch.

The casting and plot are almost overwhelmed by the perfection of the special effects. It’s hard to describe the effect of the woge (the term used for the transformation between human and Wesen form), but Wanderers, oh Wanderers, you’ll never again doubt the existence of creatures beyond our realm of existence!

I would give this show a 4.5/5 as it’s as near to perfect as an adaptation of fairytales can get!

Hannah Carter (can’t wait to see the third season…and of course the fourth season has just been commissioned…!)

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Fandom As a Conflicting Place

This is an article I’ve hesitated on writing for many an issue now. I’m not really sure as to why I’ve hesitated on writing it, but there always have been a sense of ‘be cautious’ when the topic comes up in mind for an article for whatever issue we’re working on. However, it was just recently that I came to the (obvious) realisation that people are not complete idiots. Bear with me, I have a lot of moments of despairing in humanity that lead me to think otherwise. What I mean is, I feel like I can write this article, and have you fantastic Wanderers understand the feeling in which it is written. Which is mostly confusion and irritation, if I’m honest. Now, how to best pose this question to you…

Why is it that only select female driven media is often hailed as being absolutely fantastic, while others seem to generate a ‘meh’ response? Or, to use fandoms to help describe; why is Frozen‘s story hailed as being all new and awesome, when other films in the same company have done aspects of it before, and often with greater time devoted to them?

First of all, no, I am not saying I hate Frozen, I actually really like it. In terms of animated Disney musicals, it’s certainly one of the best since the early days of the Renaissance, in the early 90s. I’m just… a little sick of it being praised to the hilt, and other films which have similar aspects and done just as well, are kind of … dropped to the wayside. But it’s not just Frozen that has this effect; it’s out there, scattered throughout all types of media. And it’s not always justified; either the praise or the censure. (I will state now; if anyone brings up Twilight and its sequels, I will feel compelled to point you in the direction of one of the many posts that give a step by step breakdown of how the main relationship portrayed in those novels is completely unhealthy. Same goes for Fifty Shades.)

Is this picky nature just a by-product of the nature of the society we live in? Many well educated people will likely tell you yes, and I would be highly inclined to agree with them, if I’m being honest. You’ll have noticed over the past year or so, a sort of taking back of fandom. Posts that try to show female characters, and all characters really, in more well-rounded lights, regardless of how little the canon may give for them. We want to celebrate the characters in our fandoms, giving them all equal light, not just have the same type paraded at us over and over again – commonly seen in White Male Lead syndrome, but other tropes can show their faces as well. (Example: lead character has a dark and mysterious past, and one person could threaten the life they’ve made now. Name everything you’ve seen or read with that premise.)

I don’t think I’m besmirching anything sacred when I say that we need more variety. We need more female driven media, and by that I do indeed mean all types of females. In fact, more diversity and representation in all kinds of media would be fantastic. It’s 2014, we should not be starved for certain types of characters on our screens or in our reading materials. You may complain that fan-fiction can completely change a character, but that’s because fan-fiction can allow for deeper introspection, and gives room to have this representation that is lacking in the canon, and that fans are getting desperate for.

So why is it some stuff is overly praised while other similar material isn’t? Personally, I think it’s something to do with the safety factor, but I do not have professional training in that area, so my opinion can never be taken as fact. That being said, I really hope that I’m not alone in having notice this, and not alone in wondering exactly why it is that seems to be the case.

Maybe it will change. We can certainly hope so. Or we can all try to take over the media and produce stuff that gives the representation and diversity that people are craving, but sad fact is that only certain stuff makes it to screen or print and companies in charge can be notoriously picky. It’s them we need to change. And our outlooks, a bit.

Z McAspurren.

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How to be a Responsible Fan

As you may know, Wanderers, we’re going to be leaving you for a while, so we wanted to make sure you’ve got a quick reference guide to the kind of things we’ve been trying to promote. So, without further ado, here’s our quick run-down on being a responsible fan.

  • Respect other people’s opinions. You don’t have to agree, but you also don’t have to be rude about it. It might be that they won’t change their minds, and that’s fine. Not everyone has to agree. If something is a real dealbreaker for you, you might have to step away from the conversation, or even the person if they make you really uncomfortable, but you don’t need to get into a nasty confrontation. It’s not worth the hassle.
  • Remember you’re not entitled to anything. No matter how much you love a show, book, or film, the creators aren’t actually obliged to take it in a direction that suits you. If there are problematic elements, by all means call them out, but remember that the creators have ultimate control over the storyline and that’s OK. If your favourite ship never sails, or your ideal plot fails to materialise, that’s just something that happens.
  • Don’t use other people’s things without permission. Sure, to an extent we’re all doing that in fandom, but don’t steal from other fans, and be prepared for the fact that you may be asked to take your fan-creations offline if you’re using somebody else’s intellectual property. The easiest way to go about things is to stay within ‘fair use’ copyright laws where dealing with your fandom’s canon, and make sure you ask permission before borrowing or building on an idea or character created by another fan.
  • Remember your manners. That applies in the ‘real world’, at cons, online, everything. You know how to behave civilly towards people, so make sure you apply those rules in fandom.
  • Above all, treat fellow fans the way you’d want to be treated. Take their wishes into account, respect your differences, and offer support when real life gets hard. You’re great people, Wanderers, and we know we can count on you to set a great example to other fans by just continuing to do that.

Eleanor Musgrove (will miss you all while we’re gone!)

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The Ragamuffin Speaks: The Foetid Boil of Fan Entitlement

When the revolution comes entitled fanboys will be first against the wall, but not before complaining that the revolution contradicts an established part of continuity and questioning why a limited series hasn’t been produced to explain the discrepancy.

Fan entitlement has become a foetid, pus-filled boil on the back of wider fandom, and it desperately needs popping. Now that I’ve filled your heads with that mental image, perhaps I should explain what I actually mean by fan entitlement. Basically, fan entitlement refers to the belief of a certain section of any given fandom that the media that they consume should be perfectly tailored for their specific needs. It’s generally coupled with the delusion that the entitled fan’s opinions are shared by all within that specific fandom. Those of you who’ve followed this column over from its previous home will be familiar with my issues with “received wisdom” within fandom, which is essentially the same thing, the concept that there are certain opinions that are universally held. For example, that Moffat’s run as showrunner on Doctor Who is awful, that Rose is the Doctor’s one true love, that the Star Wars prequels are terrible, that JK Rowling is an excellent writer, that Chuck Austen’s X-Men run was the worst thing ever, that Alan Moore is an undisputed genius, etc, etc, etc. I could probably go on forever listing opinions held by certain sections of certain fandoms that they believe to be universal.

I’ve recently become fascinated by one particular outlet for entitled fans that really showcases this kind of fan at their worst, and that’s Tom Brevoort’s tumblr. For those of you who don’t know, Tom Brevoort is an American comic book editor, known for his work for Marvel Comics, where he has overseen titles such as New Avengers, Civil War, and Fantastic Four. He became Executive Editor in 2007, and in January 2011 was promoted to Senior Vice President of Publishing. He holds both titles as of 2011. Brevoort’s tumblr consists entirely of him answering questions about Marvel comics that people have submitted. He has the anonymous option switched on. You can only imagine the kinds of things he gets asked. Wait, no, you don’t have to imagine, here’s a selection of the most recent questions he’s been anonymously asked (and I should add that I’m leaving the spelling and grammar as they were submitted):

“I’m so sick of all these girl pandering comics. No one wants to be men anymore. Dc I are last hope”

“So I’m a bit confused … does Remender not know that Cap had the super soldier serum removed way back in Captain America #378 … but it turned out a few issues later that it didn’t matter because his body was permanently affected by it? I mean, even CBR mentioned it in a recent column last week. Sounds to me like it’s no-prize time, or Remender needs to do better research.”

“That little Deathlok on the cover is a really poor design choice. Please get rid of it or fire whoever thought it should be there.”

“Doesn’t X-Men Days of Future Past Movie prove that Professor-X still has value as a character alive? He’s basically the main character. Just because modern writers wanted to focus on Cyclops and Wolverine doesn’t mean he can’t be used. Prof-X has more value alive than as an excuse for people to get angry at Cyclops and the Red Skull to steal his brain.”

“I just want to say when you answer “wait and see” to someone you must say and how long he must wait and see!one day,one week, one month,one year,sorry but most of us(fans) we don’t have patience at all!Thanks man!! ;-)”

“You will often defend series that are unpopular online but still sell by saying that people are buying the series because they like it and not because of habit or being tricked into it. What then do you say about Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men run? Not only is it reviled online, many Marvel creators openly dislike it, and Chuck Austen has been blacklisted from Marvel. Clearly people were only buying his run because it was Uncanny X-Men, habit not quality.”

“In Dark Reign The list Avengers, Bucky said that he killed Hitler. This is obviously a mistake since in Marvel Canon the Original Human Torch killed Hitler (Bucky was in a Russian medical center at the time anyway). I expect Bendis to make continuity goofs, but I expect the editor to correct them. Bucky killing Hitler was not a vital part of the narrative, and the Torch killing Hitler is a big part of Marvel canon, so why did you let such a mistake go through?”

“If Superman had lost to Thor the whole comic book medium would have collapsed on itself! With Thor Losing you just sell a far greater number of Copies to those fans who are interested in such things and Superman claims the Title of Mightiest hero, because he had already beat Hulk! You guys sold far more copies by having Thor lose, I mean a draw would of been meh and you would have sold what you expected, a big loss and it sky rockets! You only care about money not the enjoyment of fans! Pathetic”

I feel I should point out that the last question concerns a comic book that came out over ten years ago.

The main thrust of many of these questions is simply – I do not like this, therefore it should not exist and whoever is responsible for it should be fired. The underlying theme is simply – you should create comics purely for me, with no other considerations. Most of the other questions people submit to Brevoort tend to involve people wanting to know what’s going to happen in stories that have only just been initially solicited. What all of this displays is a fundamental lack of respect for the creators involved. There’s no willingness to let experienced, professional writers and artists, who’ve spent decades honing their craft, tell the stories that they wish to tell. Instead, this entitled section of fandom insists that creators service their needs and theirs alone, never able to see beyond themselves, to a diverse fandom with varied needs.

It’s time to let it go, guys. If a comic, a TV show, a movie, or whatever, isn’t for you…then it isn’t for you. Move on, find something that is. Don’t insist that it be changed to suit you. Understand that different people have different tastes and different needs. You hate a certain writer or artist? I can guarantee you that there are people out there who love them. “But I’ve been reading the adventures of the Green Sneeze-Warbler for thirty years, why should I have to stop reading it just because I hate everything about it now?” I think, maybe, the answer is in the question there.

I do get it, though, I understand being a collector and wanting to have a complete run of a particular comic. I understand slogging through a run by a creative team that you just don’t like. But the point is that you need to understand and accept that for some people that’s the high point. That’s the defining arc. That’s the greatest damn creative team that ever did create. Those people are having the moment you maybe had a decade earlier, when you fell in love with that character…and who the hell are you to take that away from them?

Anyway, just some food for thought there. I’d highly recommend keeping up with Tom Brevoort’s tumblr, and if you start to recognise yourself in the frothing lunacy of some of his anons…maybe it’s time to think long and hard about your own attitudes.

All that’s left for me to say is that I’ll be in Glasgow in two weeks time for the Glasgow Comic Con – if you’re in the Glasgow area do come along and say hello, and maybe buy some of my books too!

Ian D Sharman

Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Fandom Wanderers.

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Issue Forty-Nine: A Note from the Editors

Hello, Wanderers!

Welcome to our latest issue! What have we got for you this fortnight? Let’s take a look…

In the reviews section, we’ve got Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, SyFy’s Alice, and our GUST this issue, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

On the more editorial side of things, we take a look at fans with a sense of entitlement, we consider fandom as a sort of refuge, and we’ve got some FW Tips to do with cosplay. Also on the subject of cosplay, The Ragamuffin Speaks is here as usual to talk about a couple of things the cosplay scene could do without.

We’re taking an issue off to sort our office out (you’d be surprised how easily things get misplaced in here, we think there might even be an intern under the paperwork somewhere) and relocate, but we will be back for our 2nd anniversary issue on the 21st of June! In the meantime, no doubt we’ll be haunting our FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr pages whenever we get a chance, so you can get in contact with us that way.

Until then, Wanderers!

Fandom Wanderers

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I Like Him: Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility cover

You may have noticed, dear Wanderers, that we have a few Jane Austen fans hanging around the office (I mean the ones that work here, there aren’t just random fans loitering outside shouting ‘Why haven’t you interviewed Jane yet?’) – and I am definitely one of them. It may not be ‘cool’ to like the classics, but some of them are classics for a reason and Sense and Sensibility is one such example. So, without futher ado, let’s talk about why that is.

The story begins, as is so often the case in Austen’s novels, with the entailment of a man’s estate away from his wife and daughters. Left with significantly less income than they had been accustomed to, grieving for their father, and with their home inherited out from under their feet, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret Dashwood, along with their mother, are forced to take smaller lodgings in a new neighbourhood, where they soon establish themselves with a number of friends.

However, before this removal from their home – which now belongs to their brother, John, and his somewhat spiteful wife – can even take place, John’s brother-in-law comes to stay with them. Enter Edward Ferrars, perhaps dorkier than Pride and Prejudice’s Darcy but infinitely more pleasant despite his shyness. Marianne and her mother swiftly deduce that he has captured Elinor’s heart, and have high hopes for a closer relationship even when they’ve moved away. Elinor, however, is the ‘sense’ of the title, and is not so foolish as to jump to conclusions. Marianne, very much the ‘sensibility’ – which is here used in its old meaning, to mean something more like ‘sensitivity’ – soon literally falls for a dashing local gentleman named Willoughby, who seems to match her passion stride-for-stride and even loves her favourite sonnets! And all the while, new friendships are formed with their neighbours, including the refined Colonel Brandon and a young lady named Lucy Steele, nieces of the Dashwood sisters.

Well, the course of true love never did run smooth, and in a Jane Austen work it’s rare that even a financially-motivated marriage doesn’t have a few obstacles in its way. The Dashwood sisters are in for some surprising twists and turns, and it may be time for them to reevaluate their very different approaches to life.

This story is a delight, with immediately recognisable characters and charming romances, as well as betrayal, misunderstandings, and some very silly decisions all round. If you don’t fancy the book, it has been adapted several times for the screen (I personally love the 1995 Emma Thompson version) but honestly, Austen’s writing style has its own appeal and you stand to gain a lot of pleasure from the book. More than that I dare not say, for fear of spoilers – yes, it’s a 200 year old book, but it’s a joy to discover and I don’t want to deprive anyone of that joy – but I heartily recommend it to all those with even one romantic bone in their bodies.

I’d give this book 5 out of 5 – it’s one of my very favourites to read over and over again.

Eleanor Musgrove (truly detests that man. You’ll know the one I mean)

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