One of the perks of being a bookseller is getting to read things before they’ve been released, which is how I read The City of Brass
so many months before it came out. It seemed like a good idea at the time. I was fictionally adrift and looking for something to really sink into, and TCOB
delivered on all counts — I loved the world building and the characters and the intrigue. I was so engrossed that I read the final 100 pages in a mad rush, unable to look away, and then it was just over. The City of Brass
hadn’t even been published yet and I was already thirsty for a sequel that wouldn’t be released for 18 months. Eighteen months!
I immediately recommended the book to all of my friends, who were immediately disappointed that they couldn’t pick up a copy for themselves, and that’s when I realized that I’d made a huge mistake. It wasn’t just the wait: it was the loneliness of having no one to talk to about a world I had become so unexpectedly obsessed with. This is the worst thing that can happen to me as a reader, worse even than waiting seven years for a certain beloved fantasy author to release The Winds of Winter
This was a revelation when I finished The City of Bras
s. It had been years since I’d fallen so hard for a series, and I immediately reverted to teenage fan patterns. It’s probably not a surprise that I spent a significant portion of my youth pining away for the next Harry Potter
book, devouring each new installment the night it was released and becoming fully immersed in fandom in the months in between. The wait then was less of an absence than a flourishing: Potter fans had millions of words of fanfiction and heated theorizing to carry us through from one book to the next. When I wanted to talk about Harry Potter, I just had to get online.
I have missed those communities that grow in the silences between books, the way that a common wait brings people together. It is one thing — and it is something that I love! — to talk about a book that you’ve read when it’s over. That space is limited, and there is only so much conversation that you can fit into it. You already know everything that you can conceivably know about the story because it’s right there on the page; any remaining questions may very well never be answered. But when you read a series, that space cascades outwards so that when you’re in it, you can’t even see the outer limits. Because The Kingdom of Copper
, the follow-up to The City of Brass
, hasn’t been released yet, its possibilities are still infinite: anything that I can conceive of happening to Nahri and her friends could still happen. As readers we always bring something of our own to the reading, and having these little pauses between published stories gives that something time to mature.
I have missed those communities that grow in the silences between books.
Even when you work at a bookstore, reading can be a solitary activity, and it doesn’t surprise me that the strongest communities of readers I know are science fiction and fantasy fans. More than most genres, SFF has embraced a certain long-winded style of storytelling that leaves fans plenty of time to develop their own ecosystems. There are plenty of literary (and, let’s be honest, financial) justifications for this, but it’s also because allowing space for an active fandom gives a series the strength to survive. Sequels don’t get published if people aren’t willing to buy those books, and fandom keeps people excited enough to do just that.
For example, I have been bemused by Marvel’s complete takeover of pop culture over the past decade. Marvel has been publishing comics for nearly 80 years and, until very recently, it was very easy to ignore. That’s no longer true: it might be more accurate to say that now, we’re all in the Marvel fandom. You can ask anyone who’s seen Infinity War
what they think is going to happen next and they’ll tell you. I’ll tell you, and I don’t even like the Avengers all that much. Maybe then we’ll disagree, or maybe I’ll change my mind later, and maybe we’ll keep talking about it and, suddenly, we’ll be friends when we weren’t before. These movies are so huge and unavoidable that we’re all effectively waiting for the next one, whether we’ll watch it or not, and there is a special kind of camaraderie in sharing this experience with each other.
I’ve watched a fan community grow around The City of Brass
in the months since its publication, so it doesn’t sting quite as much that The Kingdom of Copper
has already been delayed. It will still come out before The Winds of Winter
, which has no release date at all. And maybe it’s okay if it never does. Westeros has outgrown its print roots and maybe even Martin himself: HBO’s Game of Thrones
isn’t even over and there is already a spin-off in the works. The fans have truly taken over.
It’s an exciting time to rejoin fandom! You can catch me here, writing about my most recent genre obsessions and all the feelings I have along the way, and don’t forget to let me know what you think: The comments section is always open.
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is a bookseller at Powell's. The Gold Room is her favorite and she has too many opinions about the Animorphs.