I honestly had no idea what I was going to make of this book. I didn't know anything about it at all, but I wanted to buy this book because I wanted to support my friends, and because in general I want to support fandom authors every chance I get.
Then I started reading it. As a general rule, I don't like probably 80% of the literary techniques used this book, and I normally dislike the entire genre. But it just kept selling me and selling me. On the language, the characters, the worldbuilding, check, check, check. I kept being unable to put it down, except for when I would literally stop because I needed a moment to deal with how happy the whole book was making me.
And here's the thing that I need to say. This is not in any way meant to trivialize the other 80% of this book. But it's that final piece, the thing I liked going in, that's most important to me, always is.
My new OTP is Havemercy/Fandom.
Henry Jenkins asked me once if I thought slash writing was a form of activism. And I said yes, because by its very nature as literature it has the power to open minds and change thinking.
The act of reading and writing slash does open minds and change thinking. Slash, by its very nature as a genre that accepts homosexuality and other alternative sexualities as perfectly natural, is helping to make the world a more tolerant place, one fanfic at a time. To the same degree, fandom, by its very nature as a community of subversive thinking applied to mainstream media, is helping to expand the way mainstream media and mainstream society accept and adapt to subversive and minority cultures. These things matter.
I know that many, many slashers dislike the idea of fandom as an activist movement, which is why the OTW hasn't been met with anything near universal approval among members of fandom; and many people think that the slash movement is no more empowering or connected to the gay rights movement than lesbian porn.
But here's why they're wrong. And this is such an important subject to me; it matters so much and I want to run around right now waving my copy of this book and shouting "Do you see?"
Fandom, as a community, brings people together, and all of us, each of us, take things away from this subculture. And sometimes these things trickle out into larger contexts. So writer A can talk about fandom as an inspiration for her writing in the New York Times, and writer B can discuss the ways fanfic helps you become a better writer. And a reader can email me to tell me that they read my fanfic after it was mentioned in an academic article written by writer C. And each of these things draw more people to fandom, and introduce more people to slash/yaoi/whatever, and the circle expands outward.
And then, one day, you open an original novel written by two very talented writers whom you know are actively involved in fandom, and on the first page of this novel, the first hero you meet is an undeniably gay man.
This is a book released by a major publisher, sold in major bookstores, all over the world, hitting the shelves and being marketed to mainstream readers, and it will open minds. By its very existence as a mainstream commercial release it will help to make it possible for other similar books to be published, the way the characters successfully created by Ellen Kushner (to whom the book is dedicated) helped to make it possible for these characters to be published.
And that's why fandom matters, why slash matters. Because this book so obviously could not have been written without fandom. Literally, the writers would not have met without the fandom community to bring them together; and none of the four main characters could have taken shape without a deep shared awareness on the part of the authors of yaoi tropes and slash tropes.
If only for that reason, I am just, so, so, so ecstatically happy that Havemercy exists.
If you can afford to, please buy Havemercy. Because it's important - it is important, period - to show publishers that there is a market for mainstream fiction, whose main characters just happen to be gay. Because the more we send that message, as slashers, as writers of fiction, as consumers of mainstream media, the more we help to create a world where homosexuality is accepted as normal.
What we do within fandom spills over to what we do in our real lives, more and more frequently than ever. Jaida and Dani's fantastic novel is an example of that.
So buy this book and congratulate yourself, feel as proud and joyful as you dare, because you helped to create this book, by the very nature of your participation in slash fandom.
And then please, for the love of god, write me Thom/Rook for yuletide.