One of the first places I ever hung out online was obernewtyn.net
, a fansite for Isobelle Carmody's longrunning Obernewtyn
series. The first book was published in 1987 - I was a relatively late starter, and only began reading the series in 1999.
Most of the members of the site are Australian, as the series is not widely known elsewhere. Most of us are also no longer the teenagers we where when we began reading the series, but rather in our late twenties, early thirties, or even older, and many of us no longer actually hang out at Obernet, staying in touch through Facebook, Twitter, email or in real life. Most members live in Australia, although due to the nature of Australian immigration patterns, there's small outpost of us in the UK, almost all Australians who moved here — like me — for education or employment.
And after nearly thirty years, the last book in the series is finally out. I feel a bit ambivalent about the books now, for reasons I've laid out at length
on my Wordpress blog. But my feelings about the people I met through those books remain the same: they are wonderful, they are great fun, they are a symbol of the passage of time from adolescence to adulthood.
Isobelle Carmody is well aware of the site, and is on friendly terms with many of its members, and as a sort of reward for keeping the faith during those long years of waiting (a length of time that would put fans of A Song of Ice and Fire
to shame, as I never tire of pointing out), she has organised a masked ball in Melbourne for the fans. I was invited, but as I now live on the other side of the world I was resigned to missing out.
That's when some of the UK-based Obernetters popped up and started talking about hosting an alternative event in London. For about an hour I was blissfully, joyfully happy. And then the date of these events finally registered.
On the day when the Australian fans will be donning masks and hanging out with Isobelle Carmody, and when the UK-based people will be sipping cocktails in London, I will be in the air somewhere over Indonesia, en route to Sydney to visit my family. And if that doesn't sum up my immigrant existence — split between two places, belonging to neither — I don't know what does.