Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with lferion

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with lferion
Interviewer: Franzeska Dickson
Interviewee: lferion
Date(s): July 12, 2014
Medium: aural
External Links: Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with lferion
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

In 2014, lferion was interviewed at Con*Strict as part of the Media Fandom Oral History Project.

Interview length: 1:07:11. A written transcript is available.

For more information about the origins of this interview, where it is housed, contact information, suggestions regarding future interviewee candidates, and how to become volunteer interviewer, see the Media Fandom Oral History Project page.

Some Topics Discussed


I'm Jennifer, of many Jennifers; my most common online handle is Lferion, that's letter L, f-e-r-i-o-n; I've also written under Gail Riordan and Jennifer Gail, and my SCA name is Wander Riordan. So. That's “Wander”, like “Wandering About.”
Well, I suppose that in some ways I have been “fannish” about all kinds of things. I have been fannish about space research since I knew the word. My dad is an astronomer, cosmologist: his research is very cutting-edge. And so I've had an awareness of that kind of, you know, weird little specks on a planet, on a huge place. And I think that's cool. But more specifically fannish is Original Trek. And I remember watching it first run, because I am that old. And I know that we watched it faithfully, because we would play it, in the back yard, on the jungle gym. And my eldest sister would be Captain Kirk. And my second oldest sister would be Bones because she wanted to be a veterinarian, and there was all of that. And I got to be Spock because I never got my family's jokes.

It meant I knew there were other people out there, and the, I would anxiously await the periodical arrival of the newsletter, The Despatch, which would come with cool things. And read a lot of science fiction. I collected, I still have all of my Star Trek novels, you know, the entire full run of the Blish books, and the Alan Dean Foster novelizations of the animated, and then, when I got to high school, and made – I mean, I'd made friends in California, and then I came back to Tucson for high school. And met up with a couple of, you know, it's like, you give off the fannish vibe, and you connect with others and group together for safety kind of thing.

FD: The wildebeests are huddling.

All the strange creatures get together, and it turned out that the speech squad was the locus of the nerdom in that particular high school. And I ended up doing competitive speaking, which was a lot of fun. But, so, but having this idea - “There are worlds out there that live in your head” - and I had read, I mean, I had been, when I was very small. In some ways you could say that I was a fan from, effectively, birth. My mother read to us from day one, and one of my first really active, conscious memories, of, “This is a story that matters, this is a story that will stick with me,” was being read The Hobbit when I was four or five. There was The Hobbit, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and in fact I got read – got, you know, Narnia was more important to me before I ever got the formal, “This is the Christian story.” So it wasn't that Aslan is a Jesus avatar; it's Jesus is an Aslan avatar. [laughter] It's just -

[FD]: Wasn't quite what the author probably meant.

It wasn't at all what the author meant! But it has had a very definite effect.

And, ok, this is sort of a side note, but it's important to me as a, hopefully, illustrative. I actually have an advanced degree – I have a Master's of Divinity. I went to seminary, and I knew I was going to go to seminary from the point, before I was in high school. So it's like, “This is what I want to do. This is, I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but this is what I'm supposed to do.”

And Narnia and Tolkien had a significant element in this. And the graduate school is Church Divinity School of the Pacific, in Berkeley. And by the time I got there, I had also connected with Diana Paxon, by way of doing a research paper on the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was not yet active in the SCA, but I'd known about it since high school, because there was a very active group in Tucson. And I hung out with those people, because, nerds. [laughter]

And I was about two-thirds of the way through the three-year program to get my M-Div, and I'm reading this tome. You know, Karl Barth, or one of these big-name Catholic theologian blah-blah-blah male white, anyway.

And I am struggling through this thing. And at the same time, I'm reading R.A. MacAvoy's third Damiano book. And I had actually met her, because the cool thing about connecting up with Diana Paxson is that suddenly, I am now in, I have an “in” to a huge amount of the science fiction/fantasy writer community thing.

But I managed to completely miss that Phantom Menace was coming out. It's like, it wasn't on my radar. Though I ended up being basically handed a ticket to the premiere. And of course this is a big line party, and it was at the Oakland Grand Lake Theater. Basically, it was a miniature convention right there in the theater, you know, and people are in costume, and so forth but I-

FD: It's a lovely old classic theater.

Oh, and it's a gorgeous theater! And they've got the guy who plays the magic Wurlitzer to come in [laughter] and do two sets, so he did John Williams Not-Star-Wars for the first set, and then he did, you know, the Lucas and Spielberg stuff for the second one. It was a party. It was wonderful. But it meant that I came in to seeing Phantom Menace, not entirely unspoiled. It's like, ok, I know that Liam Neeson's in it, and they've got somebody who's supposed to be really good to be playing the young Obi-Wan, but I hadn't been, you know, I hadn't read anything about it. So it's like, “Ok, we will just let the story speak to me.” And I, and you get that first moment, you know, and it's like, the beginning, and then the room fills up with smoke, and they think they've gotten them, and then [makes light saber noise] [laughter] Yes! Yes! These are Jedi!

FD: And then when it got to the end of the movie, and all of fandom said, “We don't like that ending.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.


Because my, my, I tend to get interested in a specific character, and then extrapolate out from there. You know, it's, it's Qui-Gon, because, Liam Neeson. I mean, and I knew about two-thirds of the way through the film, he's either, he's either going to die at the end of this movie, or at the beginning of the next. [whispers] Damn.
...I want to find stories about this. And I actually managed to find a few, including Patricia Nell Warren, and some others, the names that, I can remember the covers, but I can't remember any of the words. Just the pictures. And even at the time I'm going, “It probably doesn't really have to be like that. Fanfic does it nicer than that.” [laughter] But the payoff for me is not Tab A and Slot Whatever, or even Tab A and Tab B. It's emotional intensity, and emotional payoff, more than physical action. Physical action can be lots of fun, but that's not - porn qua porn doesn't do it for me.