As Amanda Dobbins reports in Vulture this morning, “J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. are teaming up again, for a film series inspired by a fictional textbook used at Hogwarts. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be set in the wizarding world but will ‘start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s [story] gets underway.’ …The first movie will follow Newt Scamander, the textbook’s author, so expect lots of hippogriffs and stuff. Maybe a Hagrid cameo? You like wizard zoos, right?”
I’m pretty neutral on wizard zoos, but I absolutely adore the idea of building out the universe Rowling constructed to set the Harry Potter stories in, and using it to explore an entirely different set of characters and challenges. It would be even more interesting if Rowling was willing to let other authors come in and play in that world (within the limits of a supervised continuity) much in the same way the Star Wars Expanded Universe has mixed up styles and genres of stories, or authors have contributed to the Borderlands series. But Rowling appears to have more than enough ideas about the Harry Potter universe to keep going for a long time. If she’s going to keep going (rather than writing detective novels under pseudonyms), here are five parts of the world I’d love to see her explore.
1. The Ministry Of Magic And Magical Law Enforcement: The Harry Potter series gave us a great deal of Aurors in wartime conditions and trips to the Ministry of Magic when necessary. But it would be terrific to see Rowling use concepts of magical law enforcement to tell us more about what the biggest problems in the wizarding world actually are under normal circumstances. We know about mundane magical regulations, like restrictions on Apparition and practice of unsupervised magic for young wizards, and we know about illegal curses. But it would be nice to spend time in the places in between to see how the wizarding community handles intermediary problems. A good model for these sorts of stories might be Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead and the forthcoming Two Serpents Rise, which applies the rules of magic he’s established in different circumstances, from management consulting to contract negotiation.
2. The Daily Prophet Or A Resurrected Quibbler: Journalism doesn’t exactly occupy pride of place in Rowling’s stories, whether Rita Skeeter’s practicing the worst of tabloid journalism, or Xenophilius Lovegood’s conspiracy theories are getting in the way of the legitimate insights and reporting he’s doing. But just as magical lawmaking and law enforcement are a great way to explore the temptations and pathologies that come with possessing great power, magical journalism–on magical subjects–would be an interesting way to explore vested interests and major conflicts in the magical community. With Voldemort out of the picture, what do wizarding relationships with humanity look like? How has the rise of human technology affected the prestige and development of magic? The fan novel After The End does some nice work exploring what it might look like for a wizard to get her start as a cub reporter after Hogwarts. Maybe a magical fight for the integrity of the Daily Prophet could redeem the journalism drama after everything The Newsroom has done to discredit it.
3. Quidditch: The Goblet Of Fire, in which Harry and company go to the Quidditch World Cup, was one of Rowling’s best extended explorations of the wizarding world beyond Britain, and of the role sport plays in wizard popular culture. Focusing on some of the adult players, rather than on student competitors, would give us a very different setting and a new perspective on adult wizard life, which we’ve previously only seen from the perspective of children, while still preserving the competitive narratives that drove the House rivalries at Hogwarts.
4. Former Slytherins: In an age of anti-heroes, the Harry Potter novels were one of the dominant traditional morality tales on the market. But especially after the final fall of Voldemort, it would be fascinating to spend time seeing this world from a different perspective. That doesn’t mean Rowling has to embrace blood purity or anything. But I’d be curious to see what happens to Draco Malfoy and other members of the wizarding 1 percent as they try to establish adult lives separate from the ideological and social legacy left behind by their parents.
5. Wizardry Abroad: African wizards cooking rabbits over purple fires, Salem witches, cranky Bulgarians, and sophisticated French witches have all made cameo appearances in the Harry Potter novels. But given the specificity of British wizarding culture, it’s hard to imagine that witchcraft and wizardry aren’t as particular and as fascinating elsewhere. Why not do an international tour of the wizarding world, setting a series of stories in Africa, the U.S., or Asia? It would be terrific to see what magic looks like out of British economic practices and the British class system.