8Captain k'alaa's Corner for July, 2003
- Jul 2, 2003Organized Fandom?
I have been a science fiction fan since I was six. I won't tell you
how old I am, but let's say this spans some decades. : ) In all that
time, I have read over a thousand science fiction novels, seen every
Star Trek and Star Wars movie, watched V, Dune, The Doctor Who Movie,
Terminator, and many, Many others! And yet, in all that time, I have
only been to one convention. Being a Trekkie, you would think it was
a Trek convention, but no, it wasn't.
Last year, I attended the 60th annual Science Fiction and Fantasy
Writers Convention , in San Jose, California. I met, not hundreds,
but thousands of people who were dedicated science fiction and
fantasy fans and creators. It spanned the gamut from filkers late at
night, to serious symposiums about "Religion and Science Fiction"
from "What's the Future for Buffy?" (???) to the "Costumers Ball".
The event was five wonderful days long. And what was my impression of
it all? My first: It was impressive, interesting, and expensive.
Everything there was set up for the dedicated fan. Except for one,
very important thing: access to information for people who could not,
from either work or family constraints, or from monetary
considerations attend this event. Now, I, and my fellow conventioners
were lucky. We had the money and access to do and see all these
wonderful things. Sadly, most fans do not. Most people have to work,
or go to school, or save, or have commitments that do not allow them
to travel to major conventions and experience the sheer joy of being
around other fans.
My second: Many people there were under the distinct impression that
the only fans that counted were "organized" fans, people who often
attended events like this one, or were the actual organizers/leaders
who made the events happen. I can see how someone with a parochial
attitude and perhaps even limited education could make such an
assumption but for goodness sake! These are science fiction fans!
They were intelligent, literate, and eager to acquire and share
information about their favorite subject. Why would someone who had
spent their life searching for (let's face it) the truth through
fiction, make this sort of judgement about his or her fellow beings?
At first, this attitude baffled and confused me. Then I realized that
many people at this event were always able to go to conventions, and
never had to make a choice between say, buying your childrens' school
clothes for the season or going to a convention.
Times are harder now. People who were comfortable once are now
struggling to get through the month and pay their bills. I would
venture to say if anyone has this attitude, they need to rethink it.
Do you have a definition of the kind of science fiction fan you are?
Do you place monetary constraints on fandom? Are real fans the ones
who attend conventions and club meetings, or can you be a dyed-in-the-
wool fan just because you love the books and/or shows? Could you be
an avid science fiction book reader if you had to borrow rather than
buy the books? All direct responses to this article will be featured
in "Letters to the Editor for July, 2003" in the Admiral Mudd and
Friends Site Ring Newsletter.