My Top Ten Fandom Experiences of 2013

Are you tired of 2013 wrap-up posts yet? Admittedly, being a pop culture podcast enthusiast, I am. But this is more of a personal list to remember my own year in fandom, which includes some common picks of the year as well as some silly things I discovered a bit late. What are your top picks for the year? And what are you looking forward to in 2014?

10. Attending my first Balticon. I was having a pretty strong case of introversion that weekend, and also feeling rather out-geeked (at least in the areas of focus for the con), but I made some new friends including my future queerfriend, and dipped my toe into the world of serious SF/F geekdom. Highlights included an intro to tabletop RPGs panel, some hillarious after dark activities including dirty sci fi Mad Libs and an erotica speed-writing contest, and the purchase of my pink pig-dragon Lucy and a pastel rainbow Doctor Who scarf. Next time I definitely want to spend more time in the game room.

9. Discovering Lord of the Rings Online. I started playing LOTRO mid-year through an online course on Tolkien, and I was pleasantly surprised by how well I connected with the game. I’ve never really been into computer games to the degree that one becomes a regular activity, but LOTRO has been a pretty awesome de-stresser during this autumn of unemployment. I’ll have a post this week on LOTRO as a first MMO, likely the first in a series on the game.

Q from the movie Skyfall looking skeptically at Bond off-screen8. A brief foray into Bond fandom. Earlier this year I went on a number of dates with a lovely woman who’s as into Sherlock fandom as I am, and she convinced me to watch Skyfall. I loved Casino Royale, but Eva Green was a big part of the appeal and I don’t remember a thing about Quantum of Solace. I very much enjoyed Skyfall, though, and the new Quartermaster (Ben Whishaw) is a character I totally relate to. Unsurprisingly, there’s already a plethora of Bond/Q fanfiction on the Internets for your reading pleasure, and even a resurgence of Alec Trevelyan as a character in fanworks.

7. Returning to fanvidding. I had a really sad moment back in 2011 or 2012 when my clipping app just stopped working (or so I thought). I scribbled down but never executed a load of NCIS vid ideas and some for Sherlock once I started watching that. This year I figured out the problem–that I was trying to clip AVIs with software that doesn’t support them, something I hadn’t noticed because previously I’d only vidded from MPG-4 source material. So I’m back with a couple of Doctor Who vids, and I have a really exciting plan for a Sherlock vid set to Regina Spektor’s “Lacrimosa” in the works that I was holding back until I had S3 source material.

Color sketch of Sherlock Holmes glaring down at John Watson, who is drinking a cup of tea and glaring back.
Art by Mister Kay on DeviantArt

6. Witnessing Sherlock fandom pretty much lose its mind. So the BBC’s Sherlock didn’t get any new material in 2013, but it turns out the lack made for some pretty hilarious contributions from fandom last year. One word: Tumblr. From parody fanart of otters and hedgehogs to Texts from 221B to the weirdest ever crossover ideas, it was pretty fun to watch the fandom unravel. And of course, you have to give fans credit for the amazing breadth and detail of Reichenbach theories.

5. Mainlining B-rate fantasy television. I’ve been slowly creeping over the last few years into becoming a marathon TV-viewer as shows become more and more accessible even without owning a television. After the high-quality experience of mainlining seven seasons of Doctor Who this spring, I eventually devolved into watching shows like The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, as well as the somewhat more respectable Lost Girl and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I find that I have a harder time keeping up once I actually make it to a show’s current season, but I’ve enjoyed all these shows and especially love the feel of Lost Girl, which reminds me a lot of a good YA fantasy series with a mostly-refreshing approach to sexuality and a kick-ass female protagonist.

4. Listening to Welcome to Nightvale. At some point this year I was scanning the New & Noteworthy section of the Podcasts store on my iPhone when I discovered a shocking thing: This American Life had been replaced as the top podcast on iTunes. I didn’t actually get around to watching Nightvale until December, but once I started I mainlined the thirty-something episodes in two days. If you haven’t gotten into the series yet, I highly recommend this dry “community radio” program from a very creepy fictional desert town, narrated by the amazing Cecil Baldwin. It’s one of the few general comedy audience shows I know that doesn’t fuck up constantly around identity issues, subtly recognizing multiple genders and not-at-all-subtly calling out cultural appropriation as racism.

Photo of Loki choking Tony Stark from the Avengers3. Finally seeing The Avengers. I watched all the Marvel prequels in 2012, but I don’t do movies-in-cinema so I didn’t get around the The Avengers until this Spring when I realized the woman mentioned above in #8 owns the DVD. I so loved that movie. It’s silly, sure, but I’m firmly on the Hiddleston bandwagon, and my eternal RDJ love gets a little validation once again. Plus, the rest of the cast. I love a good ensemble, a villain that you quietly root for, and of course all the geeky humor. Beyond that, this is another great Internet fandom, with plenty of parody projects and amusing fanart that kept me entertained for several weeks.

2. Seeing Stark Trek: Into Darkness. I was really excited about this movie, having been a big fan of the 2009 Trek. I also had the advantage of not having seen Wrath of Khan, so I didn’t have the whole plot-rehash experience. I am a little uncomfortable about the race implications of a British Khan, but I’ve heard a good argument for it being more plausible than you’d think, so I’ll leave it to the experts to hash that one out. My experience of the film on first watch, a rare in-cinema viewing, was very positive. Benedict Cumberbatch makes such a compelling villain, and I never liked Kirk anyway. I didn’t enjoy the ensemble of good guys as much as I did in the first film, and the anti-war message was not at all subtle, but the much-clipped Khan/Kirk confrontation with the “punch me over and over” line was kind of incredible, not to mention the Khan/Spock fight. By the end of the movie, I was definitely clutching my date’s hand and sporting an inappropriate “I know I’m a pacifist but this fight” boner. It happens. Bonus: some of the Captiview attempts to describe sounds in this this thing are absolutely ridiculous.

1. The Doctor Who specials aired. As a New-vian, I was lucky enough to marathon watch all the way up to “The Name of the Doctor,” which spared me from waiting for new episodes with the exception of the period between that episode and November. Though I had my critiques of the 50th Anniversary Special and the Christmas Special, for sure, the experience of getting to watch them as they were released on my roommate’s TV and feel like a real part of a fandom when I come to so many things late was pretty amazing. The Doctor is dead, long live the Doctor!

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