Rhonda V. Wilcox & David Lavery, editors,
Fighting the Forces: What's at Stake in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired from March 1997 through May 2003, running five seasons on the WB and two more on UPN. During its seven-season run, the series demonstrated that it was very much deeper than its ridiculous name indicated. Deep enough, in fact, to have not one but several books dedicated to dissecting the show's deeper meanings and hidden themes.

The 20 chapters of Fighting the Forces are divided into three sections. In Part I, "Forces of Society & Culture: Gender, Generations, Violence, Class, Race, and Religion," chapters discuss such topics as mortality in Buffy, mother-daughter conflicts, Buffy's use of speech and the character of Kendra, the second Slayer. Part II, "Forces of Art & Imagination (Past): Vampires, Magic, and Monsters," discusses, among other things, the show's use of dreams, magic and fairy tales. The final section, Part III, "Forces of Art & Imagination (Present): Fan Relationships, Metaphoric and Real," examines fan fiction based in the Buffyverse, as well as the relationship of the show's fans to the show's principals and each other.

A foreword by Camille Bacon-Smith and afterword by co-editor David Lavery are included. The book is rounded out with a detailed and lengthy bibliography as well as an episode guide for seasons one through five.

For the most part, the contributors to Fighting the Forces are part of the academic community. Their essays, therefore, tend to be more formal in tone than those found other places (and many include very collegey endnotes).

Because of the book's release date -- partway through Buffy's fifth season -- it's not entirely up-to-date, but that doesn't stop it from being fascinating reading which provides a deeper understanding of the richly detailed Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

review by
Laurie Thayer

15 December 2007

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