One of these rare first editions could be yours... for a mere $20 000 or more.
And yet, despite vast age differences and genre interests ranging from Hard SF to paranormal romance, from cosplay to Warhammer and from superheroes to Neil Gaiman, there can be no doubt that Harry Potter is the one area of our shared geekly experience on which we all have an opinion. Because the phenomenon is so all-pervasive that even those who have previously disdained such other crossover pop-culture staples as Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and True Blood have opinions on it, let alone those of us who spend goodly portions of our time dwelling in magical, mystical worlds already.
Here, we hold forth and bar no holds as we offer up a variety of views ranging from outright disinterest to full-on, dress-up-as-my-favorite-character obsession…
"I don't go looking for trouble. Trouble usually finds me." -- Harry Potter
Staff-Writer, Movie Critic
It is difficult to summarize in reflection the effect Harry Potter has had on my life. No, I am not one of those diehard fans who would go so far as to try and make Quidditch a real sport, or on the virtual other end of the spectrum, someone who would go to the ends of the Earth to condemn the books and everyone who reads them to hell because of the rather large element of wizardry and witchcraft involved within its pages. But I was someone who became quickly enamored of the series just as it was taking off, and someone who spent a good portion of their teenage years with the nickname “Harry Potter” because of my shaggy hair and round glasses (so much so that when I switched to rectangular frames, people actually yelled at me for daring to change it up).
Missing plot points notwithstanding (No Quidditch House Cup? Barely any Sirius Black (Gary Oldman)? Little to no emphasis on who the hell the Half-Blood Prince was?), the Harry Potter film series may be one of the most perfect incarnations of book-to-film adaptations. For one, they depicted J.K. Rowling’s prose almost word for word on-screen (even the more self-indulgent passages). Yes, there were some fantastical moments that could never be recreated visually the same way they were in our minds, but granted Warner Brothers does not reboot the series in twenty or thirty years, these images are as close as we are going to get to the real thing. For another, they had the sense to ensure that each actor signed to each role would continue appearing in every film. This may seem like a slight tidbit to some, but the fact that ten years went by and the only major actor switch-up occurred because the original actor passed away is nothing short of a miracle. There is no film series to my knowledge that has kept the same cast for as long a period as they did.
But while the consistent actors was something done so incredibly right, it was the casting of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson in the three lead roles that was nothing short of brilliant. I remember being a little befuddled at seeing their faces when Philosopher’s Stone was coming out, and being particularly disappointed by that first entry. But by the time Prisoner of Azkaban rolled around, they were the epitome of everything Rowling wrote. These three actors were irreplaceable, and seeing them come into their own with each passing film is quite simply, spectacular. Watching these films years from now with my own children (God-willing, of course), I think their growth as actors and more specifically, characters in this franchise, will be the most amazing and fascinating aspect of this series.
And while I still feel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows could have been one film if Yates and Co. had employed some creative editing, more montages and a whole lot less of an extended camping trip through the forest, I think the reality is that everyone did not want the party to end. They extended it to two movies so the film crew and the audience did not have to say goodbye so soon. We have seen these children grow up into young adults; we as an audience have grown in varying sizes. They did not want to let go, just as much as we do not want to let go. Sitting with a huge, sold out crowd and listening to so many individuals sobbing uncontrollably at the sight of some of these beloved characters lying dead on the ground (one specific “couple” lying side-by-side elicited some of the biggest gasps and wails I have ever heard in a theatrical setting, minus a rather insufferable incident during X-Men: The Last Stand which is better left forgotten) leads me to believe I am not the only one who feels this way.
So thank you Ms. Rowling, Mr. Yates, and yes, thank you, Harry Potter. Thanks for all the laughs, the scares, the gasps, the raw emotion, and thanks for letting some of us mirror our growing up with your own.
"A pity they let the old punishments die. Was a time detention would find you hanging by your thumbs in the dungeons. God, I miss the screaming." -- Argus Filch
Associate Editor (not-in-Chief), Staff-Writer
Ah, Harry Potter. He and I have rather a love/hate relationship (emphasis on the hate side...), and my issues with him and his books are well-documented. And yet, I have read each book more than once, and figure that they will probably be read again at some point in the future, possibly when I'm feeling particularly masochistic.
Despite the plethora of problems with the books (and the mistakes are myriad), the movies are a slightly different case. I am forced to admit that, actually, they're (almost) all pretty decent (and kinda good in a couple of cases). Even the dreaded Book 5 was slightly (very slightly) redeemed in movie form. My opinion as to why is that the movies had to cut out all (well, most) of the fluff, the crap, and the lack o' refinement inherent in the books. Not an easy task. But the movies have done a good enough job (except, perhaps, for Movie 7, Part 1) that I found myself kinda actually looking forward to them (I know! It surprised me too!).
So am I sad to see Harry Potter come to end? No, not really. I can appreciate the interest in reading (and reading genre specifically) that the book series generated. But I hold out hope that "the next Harry Potter", whatever it may be, will be of a higher quality and more deserving of the accolades heaped upon it.
And yet... I am kinda going to miss it (wow, I am just full of surprises). Heck, without it, what am I going to rail against?!
"The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter." -- Mr. Ollivander
I associate Harry Potter with socks. I once wrote a story where a character read Harry Potter to her adopted daughter, and I needed actual dialogue from the book. So I walked to the library and took down one of the books that happened to be available (I think it was the first one, but I'm not sure) and scribbled down a note about darning socks. I think it was Dumbledore talking to Harry, but I can't be sure. And that's as much as I know about the Harry Potter books, except that it seemed like a huge hassle to be a fan. My friends talked about waiting in bookstores at midnight and lining up for days to be the first to see the movies. And if they didn't take those steps, they had to avoid the entire internet until they did get their hands on it. More power to the people who went to those lengths. I know the people who did, and I know they don't give their loyalty lightly (and any fandom that holds people's steadfast interest unwaveringly over SEVEN books and EIGHT MOVIES gets my total respect).
Who knows, maybe now that it's all said and done, I may crack a book. Or maybe it'll be like Lord of the Rings, where I'll watch about two hours of the first movie before I decide my fannish interests lie elsewhere.
"You're a really good teacher, Harry. I've never been able to stun anything before." -- Cho Chang
It was the world of magic and unlimited creativity that first drew me to Harry Potter. The enchantments of a simple wave of a wand, jumping chocolate frogs and flying brooms; Rowling’s simplistic words cast a spell over many and proved to the world children are fully capable of reading lengthy novels.
Each character was embraced with much love or disdain, from the pitied Harry to the smug Draco, from brainiac Hermione to cowardly (but cute) Neville. There was a piece of each character that drew children, youth and adults to the series.
Despite the seemingly diminished level of literary output from Rowling in her latter novels, my appreciation for her work is based on the simple fact that it gave children a reason to read.
It brought to life the avid imagination of the young and the old, sparking an interest in books that I personally felt had lessened, as the crowds in the library grew sparse. From The Inheritance series to Percy Jackson, Rowling encouraged her fellow authors to not be frightened of scaring children away with lengthy plotlines. She revealed that audiences and fans would stick around for a series longer than a trilogy. (Granted, not always the wisest choice for some authors.)
Harry Potter delivered a world of magic and hope, igniting the flame that would open doors to other adventures and magical avenues. The books will always be a source of joy for me, as are the movies for rainy day pick-me-ups. Besides, what’s not to like about a spectacular cast that includes Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter… well, you get the point.
I shall forever fangirl squeal about anything Potter... except the epilogue. I could've done without it.
“You may not like him, Minister, but you can’t deny: Dumbledore’s got style.” -- Kingsley Shacklebolt
I came to the Harry Potter (or Harry Potty, as my two year-old insists on calling it) phenomenon earlier than some but later than many others. I first started reading the books some time after the fourth was released. I was twenty-one, in the latter stages of my time at university and had been afflicted with the usual type of winter cold. Faced with spending a week on the sofa in a time before bittorrent [Not that we endorse such things – Ed.] it seemed that a series of children’s books would be the perfect way to get through it. The two people living with me at the time thought I was crazy, though both have since become converts -- one almost immediately, though the other, Geek Speak’s Will Cashin, was more stubborn.
By this stage HP had already made the transition from kids’ series to wider pop culture success, but it was still in the time before the first movie was released and it became part of the collective conscious. So my delightful then-girlfriend (now-wife) went out to the local bookstore and purchased a box set of the first four novels -- unconvinced that this was an appropriate way for a grown man studying classical English literature to spend his time, but willing to indulge me in one of my less crazy whims.
On the first day I read the first novel and immediately handed it back to her with the assurance that it was worth her valuable time (she was a diligent medical student and her time actually was valuable). I clearly remember opening the first book and then how quickly I was completely sold on the series. The opening chapter, as I’m sure most of you remember, is entitled “The Boy Who Lived” and it immediately won me over. Here was a main character famous for performing the most simple of acts in some extraordinary circumstances. A hero simply for doing what everyone else managed every day and with no discernible special skills. At this point it was still many years before we learnt that Harry’s survival was occasioned by a special type of magic or that there was anything fated about it. In those early days Harry was an unremarkable child who had merely failed to die when dying was expected of him.
I think the thing that drew me into HP, as it did so many others, was the masterful creation of a world in every way like our own but in which there lived, unseen and unsuspected, a whole community of super-humans. Because what are the wizards and witches of Harry’s world but super? Their array of skills shames all but the most powerful superheroes: mastery of even a single of their skills would be sufficient to warrant inclusion on a team of superheroes; just think how many mutants become X-Men only being able to shoot fire, teleport, make themselves invisible, create force fields, heal by magic, or fly.
And simply the idea that one might, at the appropriate time in one’s life, be removed from the quotidian to learn that one has hitherto undiscovered super powers. Who hasn’t wished they were special? Who hasn’t been sure that there was more to them than those around them could see? For Harry, the moment Hagrid knocks down the door of that forsaken shack in the middle of nowhere, the dreams of every child who wished to be a hero are realized.
It is easy today to have become so accustomed to the wizarding world and the astounding feats of its inhabitants that we forget the extraordinary revelation at its heart: you, who do not fit in to the world as you know it, are special beyond comprehension.
This revelation has long stood at the heart of fantasy literature but rarely has it been delivered with such poignancy and with such an understanding of the mundane nature of the contemporary world. Frodo is special, certainly, but predominantly owing to the ring given to him by his Uncle, and his day-to-day world is completely unlike our own. Percy Jackson lives in the present but his importance derives from his parentage rather than his unwitting survival against evil. Perhaps the best example comes when Uncle Vernon is still trying to keep Harry as a Muggle and asks his nephew why Sunday might be his favorite day. “There’s no post on Sunday,” is Harry’s dejected answer, before the wizarding world encroaches so spectacularly by delivering him hundreds of invitations to attend Hogwarts.
Needless to say I spent the remainder of my convalescence reading the four books consecutively, becoming more and more completely drawn into the world that Rowling creates so adeptly, and of course I was there on release day for the three that followed.
"The thing about growing up with Fred and George is that you sort of start thinking anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." -- Ginny Weasley
Harry Potter is unquestionably one of the best stories of this generation, and one that people will never forget. Put a huge group of people who love the story together and you will have a room exploding with overwhelmingly geeky magic. What’s not to love about the characters and everything they go through? Who doesn`t love bringing up an awesome Fred and George moment? The two of them wanting to send Ginny a toilet seat from Hogwarts made me realize that they are the coolest people ever (even though they’re not real, but we can always pretend, right?). When is it not the perfect time to laugh at Ron because he`s always hungry during times when he should be a bit serious?
We all connect with the books. They make us cry, they give us butterflies with the romance, and they make us fear for our characters in situations of life or death. J. K. Rowling has a beautiful imagination and she has laid out all that awesomeness in her books, just for us. I love Harry Potter, and I always will, ever since it came out, I ate up the books, played the video games and have seen every movie. There could still be some tear stains left on my copy of Deathly Hallows from the chapter of Dobby’s death.
Reading the books and watching the movies make us ultimately jealous that we`re not in the books learning how to be a witch or wizard. Honestly, how many people out there convince themselves that their Hogwarts Acceptance Letter got lost by some lousy irresponsible owl? Well, everyday I tell myself that and it always gives me hope. To trade places with one of the characters for just a day would be ridiculously amazing. You could play Wizard’s Chess with Ron, the best sport ever created, because besides killing zombies, Muggle sports suck (sorry, Dean Thomas! We know you like soccer as well as Quidditch). You could have rock cakes and tea with Hagrid, listen to a few wise words from Albus Dumbledore; and even, if you`re lucky, get yelled at by Professor Snape. If you’re in the library you could geek out with Hermione and listen to her rant about Ron or Lavender Brown. Even having an encounter with Lord Voldemort himself would be a bit of an exciting rush for me (is that weird? Oh well, who cares?). Personally I would call him Tom, just because we all know that it makes him feel so loserish -- like addressing Darth Vader as Anakin Skywalker.
My point is, whether you love Harry Potter or hate it, or just don`t know, be thankful for this: it is so much better than The Twilight Saga.