The other day, I finished reading my copy of Harry: A History by Melissa Anelli, the webmistress and one of the podcasters of the Leaky Cauldron website. It was a fun book to read, chronicling the adventures of the Harry Potter fandom and phenomenon. The book for me particularly evoked beloved memories of the book release parties, as well as experiences discussing and theorizing on fan sites. I'd never really posted much on Mugglenet or Leaky, but I did spend quite a bit of time on HPANA.
While heavily into role play, one aspect of the fandom I'd largely missed was the Wizard Rock genre; it wasn't something I have much experience at all with, except for hearing some of it on a Leaky Cauldron Pottercast or two (and the awesome Jingle Spells 2 album purchased from itunes and dowloaded onto my ipod around Christmas).
Oh, the chapter in the book on 'shipping wars reminded me of how powerfully different the whole relationship debate (or, rather, war as it eventually became) was in the Harry Potter fandom when compared to the way things were in the Roswell fandom. Fans of the Roswell TV show never even came close to arguing with each other over relationship preferences, and each and every possible one had a cool name (like Dreamers for Max and Liz, or Stargazers for Alex and Isabel, and Lamptrimmers for Kyle and Tess just to name a few). Everyone seemed to respect each other's different 'shipping choices, and it never became an issue.
How different it became in the Harry Potter fandom, when there grew to be a major debate and argument between people who 'shipped Harry/Hermione and those who 'shipped Hermione/Ron. Shipping no longer was about a simple preference, where one simply liked a certain pairing. Now, people argued and debated endlessly about whether a certain pairing actually would happen in canon, and why it should be so. To me, that seemed so beside the point. Coming from a Roswellian perspective, to me 'shipping was simply about preference and preference alone. And if the preference didn't end up happening in canon, that was what fanfiction was for! So, being a Harry/Hermione 'shipper myself (just because I liked the idea of the pairing from the interactions between them as described in the books), I remember being pretty angry at the comment (that H/Hr shippers were 'delusional'). This comment came from a certain someone of a certain major Harry Potter website during a joint interview with JK Rowling herself. Anyone else remember that one? Oh, I was pretty furious at the time, though of course I was coming at the 'shipping from a completely different viewpoint and really didn't get much into the debate, or the 'shipping wars. I just sort of found myself feeling...uninvested and slightly disappointed...in the canon pairings that came to be. That's the best way I can describe it.
Melissa Anelli's book also had a chapter on spoilers that reminded me of so many things! I hadn't been on the HPANA website (or probably anywhere other than the Harry Potter Dialogue Center) around the time of Order of the Phoenix, but I'd later heard tales of the leaks that had happened. For the sixth book, I experienced spoilers firsthand, though, on the HPANA website! I'll never forget seeing the news that some place had unknowingly set out some early copies of Half Blood Prince. Sure enough, maybe two days before the release, loads of spoilers were posted by evil people on HPANA and probably many other Harry Potter websites. Most of them had decieving titles for the posts, so that nobody would suspect that a spoiler would be inside when one clicked on the title. One post contained all the chapter titles, and I confess that the first thing I did upon receiving my copy was to peek inside the book and compare what I'd seen to what was in the book! Sure enough, the actual chapter titles were exactly what had been posted. Probably the worst spoiler for the book was that someone had posted a scan of a page from the book, the page where Harry tells Hagrid about the death that happens in the book and who the culprit was. We were all in an uproar about that! We weren't sure whether to believe it or not, but were furious that the book had potentially been spoiled awfully by that information. There were a few other tidbits posted in other threads, including the identity of the half blood prince! I'd vowed then to be much more careful for the release of the seventh book, but when the time came, I found myself seeking out whatever information was out there. Sure enough, despite all efforts to keep the final book secret for the sake of all fans to experience all the long-awaited revelations together, scans of many portions of the final book (including the epilogue) appeared online along with summaries of parts of the book. Not only that, an early review was posted several days in advance, and it included several spoilers that caused an outcry among the fandom.
I miss those days of theorizing and waiting with bated breath to find out about what the next books would bring. If reading this has reminded you of some of those magical, bittersweet, and cherished moments in the whole Harry Potter experience, feel free to share them here in the comments!