Enter the Raccoon

I would never have known about the existence of Enter the Raccoon if it wasn’t for Beatriz Hausner herself, who came in as a plenary speaker for the Vic One program. Surrealism is clearly not the most popular genre, and the science-oriented students could be seen smirking quietly. But it was undeniable that, once she began to read, a trance-like quality in Hausner’s voice took hold of the entire auditorium. In that moment, I wasn’t quite sure whether it was the way in which she read or the words themselves. I only knew that I wanted to read more of her work and see if I could experience such a feeling on my own.

The results were indeed replicable, although I did learn one significant thing: Enter the Raccoon isn’t the type of book you’d want to read on a subway ride, for the wandering eyes of nearby passengers might occasionally be shocked by what they come across. The collection traces the love affair of the narrator and a human-like raccoon, with a particular emphasis on the sexual side of the relationship.

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The prose poems interchange: a piece that furthers the reader’s understanding of the love affair may be immediately followed by a poem that has a very journal-like quality to it, discussing things such as artwork in a museum, a popular Chilean TV show, or the way in which raccoons act as carriers for diseases. It’s strange to describe and feels equally strange while reading, yet there is an allure to the poems that makes it impossible to put the book down.

Despite the raccoon’s description as not only human-like in stature but also possessing several mechanical limbs, the relationship he shares with the narrator is not far from the kinds one might encounter on a daily basis. It is possible that one might have experienced something similar in the past.

The wordplay and riddles that the two lovers exchange are perhaps tamer than the act of leaving and staying that categorizes modern relationships. There is always a sense of sitting on the very edge, wondering whether the relationship will continue or end, and on what note the latter would happen. Most significantly, there is an element of nostalgia present even when Raccoon and the speaker are together, as if there is a much greater emotional and psychological rift between them.

While this half of the collection may be less accessible to some readers, the other half makes up for it quite easily. Hausner mentions Amy Winehouse several times, and the event of her death is recent enough for the impact to still be palpable. These moments also act as an invitation for the reader to take a glimpse at the poet’s internal thought process.

The technique of automatic writing in these rather personal and at times rather informative pieces is what brings out the other side of surrealism; the much less outlandish one that counteracts the sheer bizarreness of reading about the relationship of a human woman and a human-like raccoon. These other poems still manage to transport the reader into a deeper exploration of the self-conscious by remaining rooted in present day scenarios and factual events.

Either way, Enter the Raccoon never stops exerting its weird charm. It also isn’t the type of collection that one can easily pick up and dive into. Rather, it requires a proper mood or mindset (or a ridiculous sugar high, take your pick). It successfully demonstrates that the fantastically bizarre isn’t as bizarre as one may think, successfully pairing it with real-life examples that create a transient state that is no less odd but enticing.

-Contributed by Margaryta Golovchenko

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Harry Potter and the Crisis of Sorting

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Image from bustle.com

It’s safe to say that Harry Potter blazed many paths. It brought life to a dying publishing industry, it launched the young adult and children’s genres into the mainstream, and it gave adults and children alike an outlet for their imaginations. But perhaps most importantly, it spawned one of the most important debates of our era: which Hogwarts house is best? (It’s Ravenclaw)

Being sorted into a Hogwarts house is both a serious privilege and a touchstone of identity for characters in the series and readers alike. Take the traditional Gryffindor pride shared by the Weasley clan, or Harry’s fear of ending up in Slytherin. As any Potter reader would know, this enthusiasm doesn’t just stay in the pages. If you haven’t deliberated seriously over which house you belong in, are you even a real fan?

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Image from mentalfloss.com

Later young adult books have tried to capitalize on this notion of self-identification by means of community, but none of them have been as popular or long-lasting as the Hogwarts houses. For The Hunger Games, it’s a matter of choosing one’s district, which differ in terms of main exports and class distinctions. For Divergent, you choose one of five factions, each placing priority on a different personality trait. But being part of one of the four Hogwarts houses goes beyond these other choices. Choose your Hogwarts house, and you will be part of a lifelong community that shares your values and ambitions.

The introduction of Pottermore made this choice a reality, as readers could take an official online test that would sort them into their house. But wait—there’s more! Did you think that the customization of your wizard identity starts and ends with your Hogwarts house? Pottermore also offers the chance to get your wand (which, remember, chooses you), featuring different lengths, woods, and cores that vary in accordance with your personality. Then you can take the test to find your Patronus—your magical guardian, able to be summoned at will, representing you in animal form (good luck not getting a wild boar… not that it’s supposedly my Patronus or anything). Then, finally, head on over to Ilvermorny, the USA’s own wizarding academy, to be ceremonially sorted once more.

After taking all these tests, based on your favourite book series and developed by the brilliant J.K. Rowling herself, you may feel slighted by the results. Perhaps you’ve considered yourself a Ravenclaw your entire life and have now been declared a Hufflepuff. Maybe your Patronus ended up being a wild boar (I am, ahem, not speaking out of personal experience for either of these things). Don’t throw out your prized Ravenclaw scarf just yet—you may be curious to know what your sorting reveals about you.

A recent study using 132 Pottermore test-takers has shown that what house you prefer reflects your real personality. Those who choose Slytherin, for example, are more likely to exhibit narcissism, while those who prefer Ravenclaw display a higher need for cognition. Hufflepuffs are found to be more agreeable, and Gryffindors are the most extroverted. For this study, the chosen house aligned with the candidates’ inner selves more so than what the digital Sorting Hat said.

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Image from harrypotter.wikia.com

Unhappy with the results of your sorting test? Rest easy knowing that the house you belong in is the one you want the most. As Dumbledore said, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

-Contributed by Julia Bartel

After Alice: Beyond the Rabbit Hole

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How many characters from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland can you name off the top of your head? It’s alright if you can’t name them all, but you’ll surely get the main ones, like Alice, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts—possibly even the Dormouse, if you ponder long enough. But how many of you remember Ada Boyce, Alice’s best friend in the real world, who is mentioned only briefly in the original novel, or Alice’s older sister, whose name has been the source of much speculation? Chances are you either didn’t notice them or they sit in a dusty back corner of your mind.

This is exactly what Gregory Maguire set out to change with his new novel.

After Alice is not your typical retelling of a beloved classic. It doesn’t focus on Alice—her only dialogue consists of no more than five lines near the end of the book—and it doesn’t simply transpose the ‘Wonderland formula’ onto a different time period.

Instead, the focus is primarily on Ada Boyce and her journey of self-discovery while going after her friend Alice. Ada’s journey through Wonderland is a much calmer one, with quirkier run-ins with familiar characters like the White Knight and the Cheshire Cat, whose wisdom—while as timeless as ever—is articulated with a more sarcastic tone that’ll surely make you chuckle. However, not all of the beloved stars from the original make it into this adaptation, with characters such as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum only being indirectly mentioned.

For loyal fans of Carroll these absences might be a shock—how does one fare without such vital characters? That, however, is the beauty of the novel. Maguire isn’t proposing a mere head-first dive back down the rabbit hole with all the same tricks. Instead the reader is greeted with well-crafted additions and a ‘behind the scenes’ atmosphere. What did the Wonderlanders do once Alice’s spotlight moved on? Such are the angles on which the novel shines some light.

While Ada is off on her own adventure, the often-overlooked aspects of the original story are touched upon: what was happening in the world above? Surely the adults noticed the absence of a child, or—in this case—three children!

The novel’s depictions of Lydia, Alice’s older sister as named by Maguire, and Miss Armstrong, the governess of the Boyce household, introduce the reader to the world of adult worries. Their stories are interwoven to fill in the time-frame during Ada’s journey through Wonderland, giving the writing a cinematic quality.

By far the most intriguing addition to the novel is the character of Siam. He is a dark-skinned boy who is rescued from the slave society of America and accompanies Josiah Winter, another new character, on his journey to England. Siam was the answer to the one frustration I always had as a child: who the heck in their right mind would want to leave Wonderland? He is particularly worth paying attention to; from his complex past to his unusual actions in the present. His decision at the end of the novel spoke to the child in me and appeased her, as this question will forever be the greatest issue I have with Carroll.

After Alice is a great new take on the classic, although not quite the sequel it was marketed to be. The number of characters and stories are often overwhelming, and some chapters that attempt to add a philosophical layer to the story fail to come across as such. But ultimately, that isn’t the point of this novel. Rather, it offers you another visit into a beloved literary world from a new angle, one that does not sacrifice the familiar, witty humour and confusing wisdom that defines the original.

-Contributed by Margaryta Golovchenko

Scott Lynch’s The Thorn of Emberlain Slated for Release in September

A mostly official release date has been set for the fourth book in Scott Lynch’s critically acclaimed The Gentleman Bastard Sequence. Note the ‘mostly’ in that sentence—Lynch’s publisher, Gollancz, has posted supposedly accurate release dates before.

The first was in an interview which suggested that The Thorn of Emberlain (ToE) was in an advanced stage of editing and would be out in the fall of 2014, barely a year after the publication of the third book in the series. No one really believed this (as the gap between the second and third books was an agonizing six years), and 2014 ended without a hint of a Gentleman Bastard publication. Gollancz next stated that the book would come out in July of 2015. This seemed more plausible, and there was a release of cover art to bolster fan excitement. This date, however, also turned out to be false (which I discovered to my dismay, since the posting of this article was supposed to be timed appropriately to a July release). Despite Gollancz’s habit of tugging on fans’ heartstrings, the new release date (September 17, 2015) seems to be solid (especially since it has an actual day attached to it, rather than just a month).

I was first introduced to The Gentleman Bastard Sequence by a family member, who insisted that I would like it. I had, at the time, just finished reading Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and was highly skeptical that any fantasy book could follow in the wake of that literary masterpiece without being a disappointment. Nevertheless, I cracked open the first book, entitled The Lies of Locke Lamora. My inner literary snob was immediately dismayed by names like ‘Thiefmaker’ and ‘One-eyed Priest’, which sounded like they had been dredged up from a mediocre D&D game. How, I thought, could this book possibly be good? However, I decided to give it a chance and read onwards.

I was only capable of independent thought a few hours later, sometime past midnight. I had devoured three-quarters of the book, and realized the error of my ways. Scott Lynch had already climbed his way into my shortlist of favourite fantasy authors, and his books have only gotten better since the first. Each one is beautifully crafted—the interweaving of the present and past storylines makes for powerful characterization and moments of symmetry that leave one, as a writer, sighing in despair for not being as good at their craft as Scott Lynch.

Here are a few tidbits about what we can expect in The Thorn of Emberlain (note: Beware of small spoilers if you haven’t yet read the preceding book, The Republic of Thieves).

There is no reason to suspect that Lynch will deviate from his twinned storyline pattern (no complaints here!) in this book.

When a fan asked Lynch if Locke’s on-again off-again love interest Sabetha would be making a reappearance later in the series, Lynch responded with “Hell, yes!”. It’s thus possible that we could see Sabetha in ToE. However, we will likely only see her in the flashback timeline, as she and Locke parted in The Republic of Thieves under less than ideal circumstances.

In ToE, protagonists Locke and Jean will explore the Kingdom of the Seven Marrows (new territory), specifically the canton of Emberlain, which has declared its independence from the rest of the kingdom amid a nasty civil war. Locke and Jean are apparently going to be playing a confidence game involving a fictional mercenary company. Given how fantastically wrong their plans often go, and Locke’s lack of fighting ability, this should be spectacularly entertaining.

If you’ve read this piece, I assume you’d be interested in reading the next book in the series…

Due to an agreement with Lynch’s publishing house (and, if I may be permitted a small immodesty, my own critical reputation) I have been given a number of advanced reading copies of the upcoming fourth book in the series to distribute as I please to reviewers. Given how highly The Thorn of Emberlain is anticipated, I should be able to turn quite a profit.

Since you seem to be such an avid fan, I would love to give you one. There’s only one slight problem—because of a hiccup in international copyright laws, Scott’s publisher cannot ship me the books, which are currently languishing in a Wisconsin warehouse. Being a relatively impoverished student, I don’t have the money for airfare—but, if you’re interested, I have a proposition that could be of mutual benefit to both of us. If you help me get to New Richmond to pick up the books, I’ll give you a free copy, reimburse you, and give you 25% of the proceeds from my salesmanship.

What do you say?

If, by this point and after reading these books, you’re not suspicious and ready to refuse me politely but firmly, you should also consider helping out a friend of mine. Upstanding fellow—a prince in a spot of political trouble…

-Contributed by Chris Boccia

We Need Diverse Books: LGBTQ+ Representation

When I was a teenager, I’d borrow books from the library and then hide them in my closet.

I couldn’t search the library shelves for fear of being seen in the queer literature section, so instead I’d place holds on books online. Afterwards, I’d wipe my history even though I had my own computer—I couldn’t risk leaving any tracks.

Once a month, I’d skip school to go to the library when I was sure it would be empty. I’d pick up my books and proceed through the self-checkout before rushing home.

I’d hide the books in my closet inside old shoeboxes, taking them out to read only when I was sure I was alone.

When I was finished, I’d surreptitiously send them down the library’s return chute.

I felt like a criminal.

 

The first book with queer characters I ever read was David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, which follows the budding romance between two boys who live in a gay-friendly small town.

At thirteen, I wasn’t interested in happy endings. Boy Meets Boy was preposterous, I decided. Corny. It was too optimistic, too unrealistic, and too gay.

With contempt for the book—and contempt for myself most of all—I threw it back into my closet. I didn’t read another queer novel for two years.

 

Though I wasn’t reading books with explicit queer content during those years, I was always looking for allegories, even if I didn’t acknowledge that that was what I was doing.

I often found solace in fantasy novels, which usually follow a “coming-out” storyline: a young person discovers something about themself  that makes them different from the majority of people around them; this difference is celebrated by some as a gift and reviled by others as a curse; the person meets similar people and they band together, ultimately finding love, acceptance, and happiness in the face of hostile forces.

I always loved the X-Men movies for being one of the better queer allegories. In fact, the role of Magneto was pitched to Sir Ian McKellen on the basis that, as a gay man, he could relate to the persecution the mutants faced .

Allegories are sometimes useful, but they’re ultimately a poor stand-in for actual, explicit textual representation. As more and more people come out in the real world, so too should there be more visibly and openly queer characters in fiction. Visibility—in fiction and in real life (when it does not compromise one’s safety)—is crucial for the acceptance of queer people. Thus, this failure to include visibly queer characters is a way to silence us and to impede our progress in attaining the human rights denied to us.

I dislike allegories because they are often a cop-out. Writers use them to appeal to the queer audience without ever actually committing to helping us and accepting the risk of a potential backlash from conservative communities for including queer characters. We deserve to be more than allegorical figures whose lives and identities are “up for interpretation” because we are real human beings. You can’t debate our existence, but you can—and do—ignore it.

Far too often queer characters are limited to token roles in their rare appearances. Their brief lives and tragic deaths inspire the (white) cisgender heterosexual (male) protagonist to surmount all opposition. Death conveniently allows writers to discard queer characters after taking advantage of the emotional heft of their struggles.

In most stories, if you’re queer, you’re expendable. The white cisgender heteronormative heterosexuals will save the world without you. Let’s call this trend of unrelenting systemic violence “Queers in Refrigerators,” in homage to Gail Simone’s “Women in Refrigerators ” project, which analyzed how women in comics had been disempowered, injured, or murdered in order to advance the stories of male protagonists.

In real life, queer people fall in love, go to coffee shops, and complain about their Internet service providers just like their straight and cisgender peers. And if we also do these things, then of course in an alternate world we’d also be a part of government espionages, intergalactic wars, and zombie apocalypses. A quick Google search will tell you that queer people have been a part of the real world equivalent of those things throughout all of recorded history.

 

In speculative fiction, gender is typically only explored in the context of an alien species that is definitively non-human—that is literally Other. Often, human characters view the aliens’ non-binary identities as disconcerting if not utterly repulsive. These damaging and extreme expressions of transphobia are often left unchallenged and unresolved. Pretending that intersex and trans* people can be found only in alien species is grossly offensive and is an outright denial of reality.

The rigid adherence to the gender binary is a direct result of colonization and the oppression of past and present indigenous cultures that embrace non-binary genders. Not only do we need more trans* characters, but we also need more characters who identify outside of the Western colonial gender system altogether.

Alex Dally MacFarlane has done excellent work in trying to end the default of binary gender  in speculative fiction and to bring attention to works that explore post-binary gender. 

In this post , she describes how writers and readers alike will often decry the inclusion of trans* characters in speculative fiction because they find non-binary pronouns jarring and outlandish. People will go out of their way to learn Elvish or some other made-up language, but ask that people use pronouns used by real human beings and they act as if they’ve been transported to some kind of dystopia.

Given how many cultures have non-binary genders, in a grand scale speculative work it would be disingenuous not to have multiple pronoun systems from multiple cultures. The inclusion of non-binary characters is simply another—often neglected—aspect of worldbuilding.

 

Stories reveal our deepest preoccupations to us and offer us a glimpse into the lives of others. But few stories reflect back the diversity of their readers.

I’m gay, but I’m also white, cisgender, able-bodied, and middle-class—meaning that even within the pathetic lack of representation of queer folk, I’m gorging on pies while my trans* people of colour friends are starving for crumbs.

The lack of queer characters of colour is intertwined with the lack of representation of racialized characters in general; this parallels the lack of representation of queer women in comparison to queer men. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality is vital here: where multiple dimensions of oppression intersect, further erasure is inevitable. The less a character resembles the idealized white, able, cisgender, heterosexual male hero, the less likely it is that that character will be represented in fiction (let alone given a positive portrayal or a leading role).

 

Diversity is reality. The lack of diverse characters in fiction is not a mere oversight—it is an intentional and malicious effort to distort reality through exclusion and erasure.

We create art in part to immortalize the things that we believe are precious, and the underlying reason why people read stories is to explore what it means to be human. Thus, the failure to include diverse characters is both a devaluation of their real world counterparts and a refusal to acknowledge that they are worthy of empathy, compassion, and understanding.

It is a rejection of their humanity.

 

After coming out, I gave my mother a copy of David Levithan’s newest (and best) book, Two Boys Kissing. Sometimes stories can say things that we can’t articulate; they can be a gateway to let others into our minds and hearts. There’s no official manual for life, but stories are often the closest thing we have.

Despite her reservations, for Christmas my mother gave me a copy of a new book by one of my favourite authors, Patrick Ness’s More Than This. It’s one of the few novels I’ve read where the protagonist’s sexuality does not preclude their chance to be a hero.

Reading books about characters like me was crucial to my realization that I was not alone and to my understanding that I wasn’t broken, sick, or doomed to be unhappy. We need diverse books because there is nothing criminal or disordered about queer people.

But getting diverse books written is only a small part of the battle—they also need to be accessible. I have access to the Toronto Public Library’s catalogue, and, if necessary, can order books online without financial stress. However, many do not have access to these resources—let alone a closet in which to hide their books—and for them it is near impossible to read books with characters like them.

Diverse books are being written—but they’re usually published by smaller presses and aren’t likely to crack any bestseller lists or to be found in most bookstores. So we also need to support diverse books—buy them if possible, or ask your local library to stock them. Spread the word through social media; word-of-mouth has always been the most effective campaign in publishing.

There are many amazing queer speculative fiction books already in print: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente, Octavia E. Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, Malinda Lo’s Adaptation and Inheritance, and the works of Nicola Griffith, Nalo Hopkinson, Clive Barker, and Melissa Scott.

 

We need diverse books because I know firsthand how seeing yourself in fiction can give you the courage to live openly and to own your truth.

We might be queer, but when we read we’re still dreaming of saving the world, of practising magic, of falling in love. We deserve acknowledgement that we exist—we deserve better books.

 -contributed by Alex De Pompa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gods & Men: Religion in the Speculative Genre

It’s the issue that started wars in the past, that sends a wave of groans through the classroom today. It’s the single topic academics don’t like to talk about. It’s religion. After all, how can we debate something we’re too biased for or against to consider objectively? The answer is, through speculative fiction. Fictional religions can be apt allegories for religions today, stripped of our biases and prejudgements. Furthermore, they force us to consider the ugliest parts of human nature. It’s easy to have an evil “god” as an antagonist, but recent speculative fiction reworks this trope, showing us how humans twist the once-pure idea of god to control others. In this way, speculative fiction asks us: do we believe in god to better ourselves, or to have an ultimate scapegoat for our evils? Does god really hold power over us, or do we use the idea of god to take power for ourselves?

In Ian McDonald’s short story The Little Goddess, divinity is transient and akin to imprisonment. During the time the narrator is a goddess, she’s not allowed to touch any ground but that of her palace. She must be carried everywhere and cannot go anywhere alone. Godliness is not her birthright, but chosen for her after the completion of a test. In fact, she stops being a goddess when she injures herself and bleeds. After she’s exiled, people use her as a commodity, either as a trophy bride or an AI smuggler. Whether a god or not, she is always in someone else’s power.

In this story, we see gods portrayed as nothing more than naive, controlled humans – more like servants than deities. The god is a symbol of fear and power, but holds none of this power herself. Rather, she is a tool humans use to control others. Her ascension into godliness is dictated by mortals, her fall again decided by those who supposedly serve her. The only true power she grasps is at the end of the story, when the AI she is smuggling becomes imprinted in her brain, imbuing her with the knowledge she’d been denied and more. This suggests that true power is taken, not given – and that being a god does not mean having others believe in you, but believing in your own power.

Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker shows us a world different from McDonald’s, but where divinity is twisted in the same way. Again, gods are imprisoned and short-lived. The Returned gods are humans granted new life so they might give it away to someone in need when the time is right. They exist to serve, and spend hours hearing others’ pleas and doing chores the priests impose upon them. They’re not allowed to read any books but what the priests give them, and the God King – supposedly the most powerful god of all – isn’t even allowed to speak. Lightsong, the god whose point-of-view we get throughout the narrative, does not believe in himself as a god despite the priests’ assurances of his divinity. He only embraces it when he breaks out of the priests’ power and makes his first decision alone – ironically, the very decision that fulfils the prophecy of his godliness. Again, others’ belief in him is not what makes Lightsong a god, but his belief in himself.

Unlike in Sanderson’s and McDonald’s works, Aslan in C.S Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia holds a divinity that is not transient, but that has existed since the beginning of time and will last forever. He is the sole ruler of Narnia, and has authority over the actions of other characters. However, similarly to the Returned in Sanderson’s Warbreaker, he is ultimately there to serve. All of Narnia’s inhabitants are his children, and he is responsible for them. Not only does he forgive their transgressions against him, but he gives his life for them. In fact, some animals even attempt to use his image to control others, as when they wear a lion skin to pretend to be him. Even when a god does have power, others attempt to make use of this power to achieve their own ends.

Long has speculative fiction told truths about human nature without the veil of propriety other genres hide behind. The topic of religion is no exception. If the religion in question isn’t real, it’s okay to be blunt about it, right? Works like the ones I mention above explore how people twist religion for their own ends, how in many ways, we as humans have more control over god than he has over us. The only difference is, speculative fiction can discuss such issues freely, without fear of hate-mail from readers.

-Contributed by Raluca Balasa

Make Your Own Joke About Love Potions: Why Ron and Hermione Belong Together.

Just when you thought the Harry Potter mania was dying down (it’s been nearly three years since the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2), J.K Rowling makes a statement that relapses Potter fans into their old habits of discussion, debate, and analysis. Well, I should say our old habits; I’m a huge Potter fan myself. Let’s face it, we were all looking for an excuse to get talking about these characters again, and Rowling has just given us the perfect one. In a recent interview with Emma Watson, Rowling reportedly states that “for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione ended up with Ron.” She carries on to say that Hermione would have been happier with Harry, and that the two of them make a better match than Hermione and Ron, who would have needed “counselling” if they stayed together.

It’s easy to see why many Potter fans have their knickers in a twist over this. The Hermione/Ron relationship is something Rowling has foreshadowed so meticulously throughout her series that anything else seems almost indecent. I’ll admit I’m biased toward the Hermione/Ron pairing, but not simply due to personal preference. I cling to it because it makes sense for the plot, characters, and themes of Rowling’s story. After all, she’d been working toward this ending for seven books. The stitches between these characters are too intricately woven to be snipped away with nail scissors in the final scenes of Deathly Hallows. Here are a few reasons why.

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Illustrated by Mari Zhou

For starters, many fans have pointed out the issue of family. In marrying Ron, Hermione is officially inducted into the huge Weasley family, which makes sense considering she has no family of her own. (Recall that her parents no longer remember her due to the memory-wiping spell she used to keep them safe.) Similarly, orphan Harry is made part of the family through his marriage to Ginny. See what Rowling does there? All three friends are joined by marriage. If Harry had married Hermione they would have made a family of two, completely separate from the Weasleys. Sounds a little sad to me.

Secondly, isn’t Harry Potter about the power of friendship? Hermione and Harry are the best of friends; why ruin that with a half-baked romance? Getting the hero and heroine together is a clichéd plot device we see in nearly every fantasy novel. Fans have commented (and I agree) that the Rons of this world need a break. When you think about it, it’s not even that unrealistic for Ron to get the girl in this case. Hermione needs someone funny and lighthearted to counteract her seriousness, and Ron needs Hermione’s levelheadedness in times of trouble. On the other hand, Harry can be quite morose by nature (and hell, who can blame the guy?). Again, the only word I find to describe a marriage between him and Hermione is just plain sad. They’re too similar. Think about how depressed they were in Hallows after Ron left – and now imagine them like that forever. Whether Rowling meant to or not, she made Ron the glue between those two. Nothing but intense manuscript–no, make that series–surgery could change that.

-Contributed by Raluca Balasa