A foundational blessing and curse of the internet is that it provides a space for every fan community you can possibly imagine. If you’re into One Direction, Shrek, or say, the 2005 multiplayer online game Club Penguin, your people are out there. And if you’re into Harry Potter, you’ve really hit the jackpot. Far beyond the officially sanctioned realm of Wizarding World, there’s fan sites, message boards, hashtags, vlogs, and of course, fan fiction.
One particular work of fan fiction has exploded over the last several years. It’s called All the Young Dudes, and it’s a 526,969-word fic that currently has a whopping 7.5 million hits on the fanfiction site, Archive of Our Own. All the Young Dudes is set in the era when Harry’s parents attended Hogwarts (ahem, known as the Marauders era), and features both familiar faces, and a budding romance between two of the series’ most beloved figures: Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
The 188-chapter story has now spawned a fandom of its own. For many original HP fans, the story has become canon, and the ways in which it extends far beyond the universe J.K. Rowling created are all part of the appeal. All the Young Dudes has a huge presence on social media, spawned audiobooks, has 16,000 ratings on Goodreads, has been fancasted, and is even the subject of a conspiracy theory involving Taylor Swift.
I became one of the fic’s obsessed fans myself during the pandemic, and have found the phenomenon—the fandom within a fandom within a fandom—to be just as engrossing as the story itself. It’s exactly the kind of niche online world we like to talk about on Slate’s ICYMI podcast, where we gaze deep into the internet abyss so you don’t have to. This collection of articles aims to do the same. Whether you’re already in deep, or a newbie to the form, these pieces should help illuminate (insert “Lumos” spell joke here) the big, wide world of HP fanfic. —Rachelle Hampton