The hazards of fancasting one’s friends …

One of my current favorite podcasts is Revolutions, by Mike Duncan. In addition to listening to new episodes as they are released, I went back and re-listened to all the episodes so far.

History is made by people.

Listening to the stories of the political and economic machinations of civil wars and revolutions, I am struck by how many important decisions were and have been and are made by people based on long-standing relationships. On historical grudges, on favors long-past, on things the people involved remember clearly — because they lived it — yet just never made the annals of historical record.

It makes me look at current movements and patterns in my communities in a different light.

***

In high school, my friends and I made a small hobby of fancasting ourselves and each other into our favorite books. This was always fun, right up until the moment when your dear friend looked at you and said, really? Your think of me as that person? Really?

Hm.

Fancasting one’s friends as ANYTHING — sorting into Hogwarts’ Houses, assigning to branches of the Noldor, putting on superhero teams, whatever — is fraught. I might think of Carol Danvers as strong and capable. You might think of her as hot-headed and stubborn. And we each might have different opinions of the value of those traits. If I call you a Carol Danvers, you might not agree.

Moreover, at what point in the canon am I comparing you to? WHICH Neville Longbottom do I think you are? WHICH Padme Amidala? At what point in their complicated trajectories do I think you and this character are a match?

Fraught. As I said.

***

These days, when I fancast my friends and acquaintances, I keep it to myself. Yet I found myself driving home from work yesterday, listening to episode 18, “The Stamp Act,” of Revolutions, and …

… and fancasting the American Revolution with friends, acquaintances, and public figures in fannish circles.

:hangs head:

“Who,” I mused to myself, “would be Benjamin Franklin? Beloved and diplomatic statesman, acerbic polymath, respected by people on all sides of the debate?”

… Scalzi, my mind whispered. (At least, the public online persona of John Scalzi. I do not know the man personally.)

Sam Adams? Rabble-rouser and firebrand, unable to walk away from politics, whose livelihood was continually and personally affected by the British policies in North America?

… DeConnick, the answer appeared. (Kelly Sue DeConnick and I are friends and collaborators. Coworkers. No, collaborators. I was right the first time.)

I’ll stop there.

***

The American Revolution was a slow, evolving process. It stemmed from a host of causes. The factions involved were fractious, divisive, and suspicious of each other. People talked at and past each other, while thinking the other sides were listening. Communications were too slow, and too imperfect. Most of the people involved shared a common past and history, and had common goals and purposes. Yet the implementation of those goals and purposes ended up so far askew that, ultimately, there was no way out but to separate.

Go, listen to Revolutions. Think about the relationships between people. About the interactions between groups. Think about the best of intentions. Think about alliances and misperceptions, about schisms and common cause.

And if you fancast your friends as participants in a revolution, well …

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