The World of Harry Potter:
Regarding Canon Compliance:
The Harry Potter fanfic community took off like a rocket after the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ (July 8, 2000), although there were already quite a few fanfics written and posted before that date. A great deal of the reason for this sudden influx of fanfic was that the first three books were released in very quick succession, and the majority of the readers (not all) had been content to wait for the next official volume in the series, rather than attempting to “roll their own”. The release of Goblet of Fire, however, was followed by the “3-year summer”, which served as a veritable invitation for the writing of Harry Potter fanfic.
With the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ (June 21, 2003), many of these works were rendered instantly AU (Alternate Universe). This had no effect upon their entertainment value as stories, but it makes them ineligible as viable extrapolations of J.K. Rowling's possible intentions. (Which a rather surprising number of fanfic writers sincerely believed they were making.)
It was inevitable that the majority of fanfics written after the release of Phoenix would be similarly served by the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ (July 16, 2005). To the point that it had become advisable to add some form of notation to the entries to alert the reader as to just how canon-compliant a given fic might reasonably be expected to be. These will be included on the pages of the individual fics.
The notations are:
Any fic which has this symbol was begun back in the 20th century. This is the symbol for those fics or collections of fics which were begun or posted before the release of Goblet of Fire. The author may have gone back and attempted a retrofit later, but the patches may show.
Fics with this symbol were produced after the release of Goblet of Fire, and were either complete, or nearing completion at the time of the release of Order of the Phoenix. Typically, the author did not attempt a retrofit. These fics might not necessarily be contradicted by material in Phoenix, but, otoh, they may.
Fics with this symbol were produced after the release of Order of the Phoenix, and were either complete, or nearing completion at the time of the release of Half-Blood Prince. Again, these fics may not necessarily be contradicted by material in Prince, but they may turn out to be.
Fics with this symbol were released after the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’. This was the point that a lot of people just up and abandoned their fics in progress. Given how much the material in Half-Blood Prince contradicted everything in canon, this isn’t too surprising. For that matter, much of the material in Half-Blood Prince was immediately further contradicted by that in Deathly Hallows.
Fics with this symbol were produced after the release of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. Even so, they may not be fully canon-compliant. Many such fics choose to ignore the epilogue, or other elements.
Fics with this symbol are so thoroughly AU that it doesn't make a lot of sense trying to determine just where in the chronology they veered off from the source material.
On the organization of this Collection:
The veritable explosion of Harry Potter fanfic has spread faster than just about anything that I’ve ever seen. And considering that I remember the fanfic that sprung up around the original Star Trek, that is saying something. This explosion was all the more surprising in that it was already well underway well before The Celluloid Things That I Try Not To Mention were even a glimmer on the horizon.
Which at the time was almost unheard of, given that the lion's share of fanfic has always appeared to be generated by entertainment which has been delivered through the mediums of film or television, which is to say; properties which are set within a general framework, but are lacking a “single vision”. Not that fanfic based upon print media is precisely rare. It has been around far longer than that generated by broadcast or film. You could fill libraries with print-based fanfic. However, historically most of it would itself have been commercially published and is flying under the alias of “literary pastiche”.
But then, Harry Potter appears to have been the “first big thing” to make this kind of splash in the age of the internet. Social historians will probably be studying the phenomena for decades. And now, over a decade and counting after the closing of canon, it is still chugging steadily along, even if perhaps not with the velocity it built up during the years that everyone was collectively “wild about Harry.”
Confining our attention to the fanfic represents a (somewhat) smaller issue. But even there, the volume and range is such that it made sense to split the collection up into some broad sub-categories. Mine are loosly based on chronology related to canon, and all of them are pretty loose. Even so, there were still a couple of things that I had a hard time deciding where exactly to put. The stories within each sub-category may be representative of any genre, or genres, in any combination.
The chronological sub-categories I finally settled on are:
Hogwarts, a History:
Stories which take place prior to the late 1960s. Yes, I know, this covers a lot of territory. But I still haven’t come across so many fics (finished fics, that is) set earlier than the 20th century to be particularly worried about that.
In the Time of the Marauders:
Stories which take place from the time that James Potter, Severus Snape, and the rest of the usual suspects went up to Hogwarts until the first fall of the Dark Lord. If I run across any really enjoyable ones set between VoldWar I and about 1990, they will be here as well. This is Hogwarts before Harry.
Roads Not Taken:
Not taken by J.K. Rowling, at any rate. And not likely to be. Stories set during the 7 years of the official canon.
Where Do You Go After Hogwarts?:
Speaking of roads not taken by J.K. Rowling (who used to claim that she was NOT going to be following Harry and his friends’ adventures once they have left Hogwarts) Stories set after Harry has finished school. Or, conversely, stories set after the end of VoldWar II. Or something like that.