Many people argue that fandom as it exists today began in the late 1960s with Star Trek conventions that brought together "mega fans" who created an entire IRL community based on their favorite fictional universe. But the truth is that Trekkies were just one evolution of fandom, which has always existed in some form of another.
Sure, the first readers of Jane Austen novels weren't exactly waiting for cover reveals on bookish websites, or receiving swag bags in exchange for pre-orders, but they were still fans. And while live-tweeing and Tumblr gif-set making wasn't a thing in 1983, 105.9 million viewers still tuned in to watch the series finale of the television show M*A*S*H, which remains the most-watched finale of all-time.
These days, fandoms are such a pervasive part of everyday life, you even find fictional ones in books, TV shows, and movies. Young adult authors like Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks and many others have used their own novels to create and reclaim the idea of fandom as safe spaces for those who so often get left out of more traditional structures: women and gender diverse individuals, the LGBTQ+ community, those with mental and physical disabilities, and more.
For authors like Poston, Anna Priemeza and Francesca Zappia — all of whom have all written about fandom in one way or another — what fictional fandoms from other writer's books have made the biggest impact on them and and why? Keep reading below to find out which fictional movies, bands, and books are most worth becoming a fan of and what makes them so special:
'The Princess and the Fangirl' author Ashley Poston recommends 'The Wicked + The Divine' by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
"WicDiv, as fans lovingly call [The Wicked + The Devine], is about a teenaged fangirl named Laura who falls in league with a group of twelve pop icons who discover they are reincarnated deities, which grants them impossible fame and supernatural powers — but only for two years, when they will die and then be reborn again. Laura, once just a fan of these beautiful pop idols, soon becomes ensconced by fame, fortune, and the supernatural. The Wicked + The Divine is a unique look at pop culture, fame, and what you have to sacrifice to become a part of it."
'Eliza and Her Monsters' author Francesca Zappia recommends 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell
"The Simon Snow fandom in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl reminded me so much of my own experience in the Harry Potter fandom. In Fangirl, the Simon Snow fandom is at a point — just before the release of the final book — where Harry Potter was when it felt like its fandom really blew up. Everyone was getting together on forums to talk about what had already happened in the story, theorizing about what was next, fanart and fanfiction running wild over favorite characters and ships and plot points. That was a time that sparked a lot of creativity and community, and Fangirl brought that back to me for a little while."
'The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love' author Sarvenaz Tash recommends 'Carry On' by Rainbow Rowell
"I really appreciated the world-within-the-world of Simon Snow that Rainbow Rowell created for Fangirl. Then I read Carry On and was absolutely blown away. In that book, Rowell turned her own canon on its head and created a lush, fascinating, and oh-so-heartfelt world that was derivative of nothing and that swept me away with its epic romance (I still turn to passages whenever I want to read that perfect mix of wit and heart that Rowell is so incredible at). I’m in total awe of Rowell’s command of her craft and her ability to pick apart the framework that served a specific purpose in Fangirl and transform it into something totally different, yet equally as compelling."
'Grace & the Fever' author Zan Romanoff recommends 'Ship It' by Britta Lundin
"The thing I love about the fandom in Britta Lundin’s Ship It is that it’s messy. Our narrator, Claire, is besotted with her favorite TV show, Demon Heart, in a way I recognize from my own forays into various fandoms: so head over heels that it defies rational thought, and even sometimes my own better judgment. Which means that while Claire is Ship It’s heroine, she isn’t always its moral center: her zealotry is treated with genuine tenderness, but never romanticized. Lundin understands that fandom is a real, powerful force in the world; Ship It is a book about figuring out how to harness that force — and your own forceful love for something — instead of being controlled by or ashamed of it."
'Kat & Meg Conquer the World' author Anna Priemaza recommends 'The Pros of Cons' by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar & Michelle Schusterman
In The Pros of Cons, three girls at three different conventions stumble into a heart-warming friendship. At the beginning of The Pros of Cons, Vanessa is excited to meet Soleil, her online girlfriend and fellow fanfic writer, for the first time. But Soleil in person is not so great. I love writing books about friendships made through fandoms, but I love the realism of this Vanessa-Soleil plot, too. Because sometimes finding others who share our passions is like, as Vanessa says, “meeting my own people.” But sometimes it’s not. And that’s okay."
'Analee In Real Life' author Janelle Milanes recommends 'Geekerella' by Ashley Poston
"As a sucker for classic story reimaginings and a faithful Comic Con goer, I devoured Geekerella by Ashley Poston. The world of cosplay and fan fiction is the perfect setting for a story about believing in the impossible. Geekerella is not only a love story between two characters but a love story to the fandom community and the sacred bond (in this case, the obsession with a retro sci-fi show named Starfield) that binds them. The book perfectly captures the feeling you get when you stumble onto something special — that you’re never really alone, that someone out there understands you, and that you have a forever home when real life seems all too bleak."
'Internet Famous' author Danika Stone recommends 'Queens of Geek' by Jen Wilde
"Not only does Wilde capture the joy of attending a convention, she does a spectacular job of creating fantastic fictional fandoms. My fave? The Queen Firestone fandom. *cue dramatic music*. Have you ever fallen madly in love with a book series? So has [Queens of Geek character] Taylor. Do those books bring out the best in you, inspiring you to do and be more? Queen Firestone does this too. I found myself connecting Queen Firestone to the many to the many books, TV series, and movies that shaped who I am as a writer. Those fandoms are my home, and — like Taylor — they’ve pushed me to be more than I ever imagined possible."