"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms." - Muriel Rukeyser

Hi! I'm Aja; I am a web culture reporter for Vox.com and a longtime member of fandom. If you'd like to contact me about a media or press event, please email aja dot romano at vox dot com. Thank you!

Other places you can find me:
Tumblr AO3 WebsitePortfolioPinboardTwitter (public)Twitter (locked))A convention near you!

This journal's been through lots of changes over the years, but I hope you guys will always feel welcome here! (I also have a dreamwidth but it's sadly disused.) Feel free to say hi, friend/defriend, just lurk, or drop by to hang out at any time! :)
Not in public Eames!

Leviosa and the calling of Harry Potter

You guys!

So I went to leviosa2016 over the weekend and I guess the fruits of that labor are best summed up by the fact that i just spent several hours downloading a bunch of handwavey tech magic that would allow me to install Semagic on my Mac. Semagic! I HAVE MISSED YOU SO MUCH, Semagic. (Semagic is to LJ what XKit is to Tumblr, I suppose. Long may it reign.)

Anyway, I'm hoping this will make it easier for me to feel comfortable updating LJ and subsequently interacting on LJ again. I really have missed the community here and I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep up with so many of the lovely people I met this weekend!

I'm also super-lucky because I actually got to have an INCEPTION FANDOM MEET-UP while I was there, sort of! This is all thanks to bicrim, who was so fantastic about letting me try to indoctrinate her into the world of Inception by watching the whole crazy movie with me. During the ball, we commandeered a room and I was so delighted that so many people dropped by to hang out with us and indulge in my crazy love for this dumb stupid terrible great movie. rurounihime and snottygrrl pretty much let me squee at them about Arthur/Eames all weekend. And red_rahl not only stayed for the whole movie but joined me in my inarticulate, frantic attempt to explain to Bicrim why we loved the movie so much, and then GAVE ME THIS HOLY SHIT.

Isn't it the most gorgeous? Aren't they the best *__* Isn't she just incredible :D :D :D :D

A few people I have to call out for being so amazing this weekend:

  • dicta_contrion for being so lovely and nice and so smart and articulate, and for getting me excited about new H/D fic while also preaching the gospel of Not Being Afraid of Tumblr to all the old-timers. If you haven't checked out her LJ post about how to use Tumblr, it's a really nice intro!
  • oceaxe, who I had totally lost touch with and was totally delighted to meet and get to spend lots of time with this weekend. You're awesome. :)
  • femmequixotic and noeon for convincing me to do a bunch of panels that all turned out to be a really great time
  • writcraft for being such an amazing mod and contributor in all of her many panels, and such a smart, articulate thinker with so many broad areas of interests and such a fabulous ability to listen and process the conversation. I'm so happy I got a chance to meet you!
  • furiosity because I had never gotten a chance before to meet her despite our many years hopping around HP cons, and it was really nice to have a moment just to chat! I hope your Japan tour is epic, F!
  • Stephanie and her mom!!!! Stephanie IDK if you will see this, haha, but you are both great. <3
  • of course my lovely hotel roommates Jill, Tracy, and Elizabeth, who put up with me and my social neuroses most admirably. :) And Lilah Vandenburgh, who probably won't see this post but who is supremely fantastic.

Stuff I wish I'd gotten to do more of:
- Squee about H/D, especially all the new tropes and fandom developments I have woefully been missing out on
- Rant more about how much I hate the Cursed Child spoilers
- Rack up some hot tub time (though I'm here through tomorrow morning so I still do have some time for that!
- Drink and party lol. I was so worried about losing my voice before the Hamilton singalong I mostly just hung back and was a fuddy-duddy. NEXT CON.

There were so many old H/D friends I ran into this weekend and it just made me kind of ache to be back in this community again. I'm gonna post this, finish the 18 Pokemon GO articles I have been assigned, and then finish reading "The Stately Homes of Wiltshire," which is an H/D fic recced to me both by Oceaxe and Elizabeth. It's so good. *__*

I'm still failing at replying to comments! And I'm still failing at cross-posting to Dreamwidth! (sob, Dreamwidth) But I guess while I'm here I might as well wish a happy birthday to the only Cathy, two_if_by_sea <3

So tell me about this Misti Con deal? :D

Inception fandom, how I love you.

Hi, LJ. I miss you so much. I feel displaced constantly on the Internet these days. My heart is like a grounded fledgling, staring longingly back at its far-away nest, knowing it needs to fly away but unsure where to go.

(Do you like how we can't blockquote things on LJ anymore because now they auto-format as shitty fucking italics? I KNOW I SURE DO!)

Anonymous asked you:

aja, i just watched inception for the very first time (I KNOW) and now i need all of the arthur/eames fic. what's the best you'd recommend? where should i start? #latetothepartyproblems


*Deep breath* Okay. Ahaha wow. You don't know what an overwhelming question this is for me to be asked 3 years into a fandom whose fics are as good as Inception's. I don't know if I just turn my critical filter off more, or if the fics are just objectively better (i like to think both), but you should know my rec rate is about 40% higher in Inception than in any other fandoms I read in. (I calculated this on Pinboard once, it was ridiculous, haha.)

So when I say you should READ ALL OF THE FICS I mean that with a kind of desperate urgency because they're all so good, haha. Read all of the fics on Phen's enormous 600-strong rec list, read all the fics on Mementis's rec lists, read all of the 2,000-something fics on my Inception pinboard bookmarks, read them all because Inception fandom is amazing, and Arthur and Eames are just. There's nothing quite like them.

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Things and Sundry.

  • We have surpassed the Kickstarter goal for Fight Like a Girl by a stunning $1,000!!!!!! I am in complete shock. Thank you to all of you. <3

  • I have been invited to participate in a BBC panel on Adria Richards and sexism in geek culture tomorrow! I'm going to be debating a mens' rights activist!  I am a terrible debater so I will own that even under normal circumstances I would be terrified. Under these circumstances, haha, well, I have no idea what will happen, but I will do my best to represent the idea that women wanting to participate in geek culture, and/or assert their right to a safe, comfortable atmosphere while doing so, does not make them worthy of rape/death threats/firing/doxing/endless waves of harassment.

  • When I was 13, my mom gave me a tour book for Christmas. I stared at it in confusion, because it was a tour book of New York City. When I opened it, the frontispiece read, "Start spreading the news, we're leaving in March..." and that was how I found out that after years of dreaming, I was going to New York for the first time.

  • After years of dreaming, I am moving to Brooklyn. I have wanted to live in New York since I was old enough to imagine myself as a grown up. I can't put a name to this feeling in my chest. And I can't wait to see so many of you there. ♥♥♥♥

  • How are all of you??

UPDATE: I'm apparently doing the panel today with one of the creators of the "Feminist Victims' Fund" on Reddit. Yes, really.

The broadcast should happen today at 5pm Eastern (9pm UTC/GMT). You can listen to it live here. Wish me luck!

Fight Like a Girl: a new fantasy lit Kickstarter Project!

You guys! I'm thrilled to say that I'm making my Young Adult fiction debut as part of an amazing project full of fantastic writers: a literary anthology that's being funded entirely through Kickstarter. That means if we don't make our funding goal, none of us get paid.

We came together as a group of writers interested in exploring non-traditional ways of telling stories, and I couldn't be happier about this project or the people I'm writing with.

Join me, aliwilgus, cobweb_diamond, eleveninches, fahye, gyzym, jibrailis, kessie, sistermagpie, and many more in learning what it takes to Fight Like a Girl! :)

The Project!!!

re: my opinion piece on fandom and the fourth wall

Things tend to get lost on Tumblr and left out of the discussion, so I am re-posting, here, the two statements I made from yesterday and today about my recent opinion piece on the fourth wall.

The decision of the Daily Dot to use a photoshopped image of the Berlin Wall in this article was an editorial decision, not mine. When I learned that the photo was to be used, I requested that my editor add in the following opening quote to the article, to provide greater context for our use of the photo as a metaphor:

“The fourth wall is like the Berlin wall at this point. It’s only a matter of time.” —iaddedarainbow

I have read many concerns and complaints about the image from various Tumblr users, and they are very important to me. I have brought your concerns to my editors and they are taking the matter under review.


This was the first opinion piece I wrote for the Daily Dot. I wrote the first draft in mid-November, weeks before the incident mentioned in the article and the subsequent breaking of the fourth wall by one of that fandom’s subjects. I requested that this op-ed piece be delayed out of respect for that fandom; once we had reported on that fandom’s fourth-wall break, however, there seemed to be no reason not to publish this piece.

I realize that my opinions are not held by everyone, and that’s why I want to emphasize that this is an opinion piece only, not a statement of intended behavior towards fandom or a stated wish to disrepect fandom conventions or codes of etiquette. I hope that anyone looking at my articles will see that I have always tried to conduct myself with respect towards these things, up to and including choosing not to publish articles that disrespect the community.

I hope you will read this piece, if you read it, as a letter from a fan sharing their thoughts on the fourth wall after having watched the gradual mainstreaming of fandom over the last 15 years. Nothing more, nothing less.

Thank you.

and at christmas, you tell the truth.

i've been thinking about this for a while, but if i don't say this it's just going to hang over my head for ages.

so this is an open letter to the person i met at a fan convention in october, to whom i apparently made a terrible impression and came off as an arrogant ass.

i'm sorry that i made you uncomfortable and appeared to dismiss your opinion. i saw you sitting near us and i wanted to talk to you. i enjoyed our conversation, and i remember agreeing with you several times. i liked a lot of the points you made, and i brought up some of them up at the panel i was on later.

the reason you didn't see me taking notes that entire weekend was because i was there as a fan first. i had just spent six weeks in a row visiting cons as a reporter, and i really wanted a break. i wanted to hang out with a bunch of other slashers in a small con, and just have fun. yes, i was there as a reporter, and i did sit on a panel as a reporter, and i did write an article about one of the subjects that came up while i was there; but i felt it would be rude and intrusive of me to go around such a small con with my notepad out. that doesn't mean that i wasn't paying attention.

the rest of my behavior--i don't know what else you saw me do or say that left you with such a negative impression, but i was having severe allergies and eye problems all weekend long and spent much of it afraid that i looked like a junkie in withdrawal. For that reason alone I was very uncomfortable and nervous. I didn't know very many people there, and most of them were in fandoms i wasn't in, so i was shy and awkward and afraid of accidentally pissing off someone by confessing that i wasn't actually in *any* of the three main fandoms that most of the fans there were in.

And I was afraid the whole time, as i always am at conventions, that at any moment someone might be looking at me without knowing anything about me, and judging me, keeping a tally of wrongs so that they could write up a litany of how awful i was on an anon meme a few months later. It's happened before; it will probably happen again.

if you've never been in that kind of social situation among strangers, be grateful, because it's not fun. and what's even worse is having your overtures of kindness flung back in your face as being insincere. i wanted to talk to you because you looked nice. and i'm sorry if i came across as condescending or arrogant or anything else.

i hope that the next time we meet, if we meet, we will be able to have a much different, much friendlier conversation.

For everyone i have met at that con in october, and others during the last six months, and over all the many years: thank you all for being so lovely to me, even though i may have been awkward or looked like a red-eyed heroin addict and probably always acted as out of place as i felt. i'm proud to share any corner of fandom with any and all of you. <3

Why we will not be publishing the article on hockey fandom.

So. I’ve decided not to publish the article on hockey fandom. Instead we’ll be publishing a much narrower, shorter piece on lockout-related internet memes.

I really do appreciate everyone who took the time to talk to me about this, in support or censure, whether through email or private messages or on Twitter or reblogs. I also appreciate the anon meme discussions and the other public discussions surrounding this that may not have been necessarily meant for me.

This is my decision; my editors, as always, 100% support me, and I thank them for that. I do think that the story had planned was inoffensive and broad-reaching—and as i said before, not one that focused on RPF.

But it’s not worth it to me, it is never worth it to me, to cause hurt or harm to fandom in my attempts to cover it. I can’t state strongly enough how much I don’t want to do that. But when you wake up and find that a story tag on AO3 that had 55 stories on it last night now only has 10, it’s pretty clear that despite your best intentions, the harm has already happened.

When I commented on Imp’s post last night, I was doing so as a fan asking another fan not to lock their fic—because I am always a fan first and foremost. I didn’t consider how, in my role as a journalist, I appeared to be misusing my authority, and I predictably just made things worse. I’m very sorry for that. I’m sorry if I made anyone feel like they didn’t have the right to do whatever they please with their own fics at any time. Everyone has the right to go into lockdown mode when they feel threatened as a fan, and I support that 100%, always, no matter what.

As a fan, I have said for years, will keep saying it, that if we want the media to represent us well, we have to represent ourselves first, before some asshole comes along and misrepresents us. As a fan, I know exactly how painful and devastating the breaking of the fourth wall can be: I lost my job because my editor found out about my fandom activities. I lost my job. I know what the worst-case scenario looks like. I am the worst-case scenario.

I do feel, after hearing from many of you, that I understand why you are anxious, as if I didn’t already understand in part, just based on my own personal experience. Because the breaking of the fourth wall has directly impacted me so tremendously and repeatedly, i feel extremely strongly that the whole system is a lie that just perpetuates shame and hurts fans more in the end—that the only real way to protect ourselves (for those of us who can do so without facing criminal repercussions) is to fight back and own our fan activities without shame. As a fan, that’s what I will always advocate for. Because as a fan, that strategy has proven to be my best defense against getting hurt further. That strategy led, ultimately, to my getting hired because of fandom.

But as a journalist, I can’t ask you to share that strategy with me. And I realize that as a journalist I came across as totally dismissive of your concerns. I am so sorry. But I have listened, and I do care, and while I am still committed to covering RPF fandoms, it should never happen this way.

As a fan, I’d like to ask that if you’ve locked or taken down your fics or other fanworks because of the proposed article, or because of anything I’ve said, please consider putting them back up. If anyone would like to talk to me further about this, my inbox, ask box, LJ box, DW boxes are always open.

I love you all. Once again, I’m very sorry.

(x-posted to DW and Tumblr.)