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August 6, 2014

Toni Weisskopf gets almost everything wrong about the Futurian Exclusion, but we like her anyway
Posted by Teresa at 10:45 PM * 337 comments

I like Toni Weisskopf. I’ve got absolutely nothing against her personally. But I’ve had a tab open on her essay The Problem of Engagement since it was published, and I want to close it.

Thesis: Toni has somehow gotten hold of a very tendentious version of the Tale of the Futurian Exclusion. She needs to read some primary and near-primary sources on the period, which will mostly be Fred Pohl’s and Isaac Asimov’s memoirs, but that’s not suffering. Other suggestions will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you.

Toni begins:

The latest fooforaws in the science fiction world have served to highlight the vast cultural divide we are seeing in the greater American culture. SF, as always, very much reflects that greater culture.
Science fiction, both the literature and its community, has always reflected its time, and the contexts in which it exists. Nonskiffy political topics have always been a part of that context — and necessarily so, because science fiction is a massive assertion of real-world causality. There has never been a time when politics were not part of the general discourse of our genre.*

Personally, I’m made nervous by language like “the vast cultural divide we are seeing in the greater American culture.” When you see the very complex subject of cultural divides being reified into a single big cultural divide that’s All About America and is split along the red/blue line, odds are you’ve run up against far right’s “culture wars” agenda.** It’s a decaying old hunk of fish that no one I know of wants to to see dragged into the house.

It is also nothing new.
If such a thing as that single great cultural divide existed, which I deny, and specifically existed in SF, which I strongly deny, it would unquestionably be a new thing. Not only has politics always been part of the discourse of SF, but the politics discussed have always been all over the map. For example, the Futurians, who tend to get referred to as though they constituted a single unified political faction, included a card-carrying communist, a Trotskyite, a kindasorta fascist, and an Alf Landon supporter.

To the best of my recollection, the closest SF has ever come to a formal division of the house was that time a bunch of SFWAns took out ads to express their opinions, pro and con, on the war in Vietnam. Let me assure you that the fact that two SFWAns agreed about Vietnam was no guarantee that they agreed about anything else.

When you add culture to the politics, SF’s opinions become much more diverse. They could only be mapped along a single line of division if the mapmaker were Benoit Mandelbrot.

When fandom was first starting
Fandom had been up and running full-tilt for years. The Futurian Exclusion was not the kind of fight that happens between strangers. NYC fandom had been in a state of constant political flux, and throughout that time, the factions and individuals that would be involved in the Exclusion incident had sometimes been allies, oftener been opponents, and frequently gotten up each other’s noses.

Times were hard. People had to make their own fun.

there was the “Great Exclusion Act”
Later, quieter writers have been known to just refer to it as the Futurian Exclusion.
when a group of young, excitable, fanboys
If any single phrase has kept me from closing the tab on Toni’s essay, it’s that one.

It’s hard to explain just how wrong it is. Almost everyone involved in that convention was young, and while I don’t see the need to describe them as fanboys, all of them could be described that way.* The Futurians were no more excitable — arguably, they were a shade less excitable — than the three guys running the convention.

Those are lesser points, though. The central point is that the Futurians were one of the single most important and influential groups in the history of science fiction. The six excluded fans were Frederik Pohl, Donald A. Wollheim, Robert Lowndes, Cyril Kornbluth, Louis Gillespie, and John Michel.

You probably aren’t familiar with the last two names, but if you know science fiction, you know the other four. (Even more Futurians.) Lightly dismissing them as “a group of young, excitable, fanboys” without mentioning their names suggests you’ve either gotten hold of a very weird version of the story, or you’re trying to make a case in which major and well-known facts are inconveniences to be avoided. Since it’s Toni, I just think she needs to read some more reliable sources before she tries this again.

attempted to spread their political/fannish feud propaganda at the first Worldcon in New York,
I very much doubt that Toni has any idea what that flyer said. IIRC, there were no surviving copies, so no one really knows. [Hurrah, I was wrong! Dave Kyle saved a flyer, and published it over at Mimosa, so now we can see what all the fuss was about. IMO, it’s too breathless and pushy to be really first-rate agitprop — likelier to turn off newbies than enlist their sympathies — but isn’t over-the-top flaming by fanzine standards of the day.**] … The flyer was described at the time as “Michelist”, which if you’re being parsimonious just means it came from the Futurians. And since New York fandom was awash in nonfannish politics during that period, there’s no justification for labeling it “propaganda”, as though it were singularly political in ways that other fan publications of the time were not.*
and were not only prevented from doing so but not allowed back into the con.

What happened, roughly speaking: the “Triumvirs” (Will Sykora, James V. Taurasi, and Sam Moskowitz), who were running the convention, were a little slower and a little less political than, and chronically at odds with, the “Quadrumvirs” (Pohl, Wollheim, Lowndes, and Michel). Their tendency to get up each other’s noses was IMO more a clash of personalities than anything else.

The extent to which the Exclusion was prompted by anything the Futurians did onsite on the day is not entirely clear. Apparently the Triumvirs had been talking in advance about doing something of that sort, and they made reference to some kind of vaguely described trouble at an earlier gathering in Newark. IIRC, the flyers weren’t read and given thoughtful consideration; they were grabbed and stuffed into the garbage. Six Futurians weren’t allowed to enter and attend the convention, but at least four were (Dave Kyle, Richard Wilson, Jack Rubinson, and Leslie Perri).

It wasn’t handled well. As Fancyclopedia 3 says in its entry on the Exclusion, “The reaction of fandom as a whole, while not necessarily pro-Futurian, was very definitely anti-Exclusion.”

All fandom was aflame with war!
Sorry, I can’t bear to let that stand. The correct line is All fandom was plunged into war.
(The fact that this line is a cliché
It’s a fannish catchphrase.
is also a clue that fandom is not, and never has been, a calm peaceful sea of agreement.)
No one who has any acquaintance with fandom thinks it is. One has to wonder at the perceived need to deprecate Pohl, Wollheim, Lowndes, Kuttner, et al. for one episode of interpersonal friction during a period that was rife with them.
The reason we have a fandom to disunite now, is because calmer heads prevailed.
No. Fandom just got better at being itself.

We have fandom because fandom wanted fandom to happen, and made it happen, and liked the results, and so did it again. It rests on the innumerable shoulders of the fannish community, and is built by their hands and uttered by their mouths. Some of its very colorful history has involved feuds, standoffs, and other expressions of conflict. A good deal of fandom’s neverending oceanic braided conversation has been political, in one sense or another; and the fannish discourse would be poorer without it.*

Bob Tucker in particular, with intelligence and humor,
Lest anyone be confused about this, Bob Tucker was not at the first worldcon. He didn’t go anywhere near it. I don’t know whether she knows it, but Toni is now talking about Tucker’s long-term influence on early fandom. He wasn’t the only fan who took fannish institutions less than seriously, and encouraged others to do the same, but for a long time he was the most prominent and influential of them.

Like stromatolites making oxygen, the process of making fandom funnier was a gradual one that stretched out over many years. If you’re interested, while you’re checking out Bob Tucker’s fanwriting you should also check out Robert Bloch, Walt Willis, and Burbee and Laney.

led fandom to the idea that it ought have nothing to do with greater world politics, but should concentrate on the thing we all loved —
Oh, no no no. That is so wrong that the internet has no standard meme capable of expressing how wrong it is.

What Bob Tucker, rising first and shining best, understood before anyone else did was a great truth: fandom isn’t about anything but itself. Fandom is about fandom. Fanzines and conventions are congenial venues for a particular kind of conversation loved by our oddball population of people who at some point in their lives have probably read a great deal of science fiction and fantasy, but don’t necessarily feel the need to talk about it at every opportunity.

No one has ever taught fandom that it ought not have anything to do with the politics of the larger world. Tucker sure didn’t do it, especially in his professional fiction, which you should also check out. What he suggested in his fanwriting was that fans and fandom weren’t obliged to be political, and that some of the political beliefs being espoused by members of the SF community were very silly. Which? True.

— but should concentrate on the thing we all loved, that being science fiction.
No way. Tucker knew better than that.

Fandom at its best is notorious for talking about anything other than science fiction — though mind you, it’s great at talking about the genre when it wants to. Tucker got that. You’d have to be the Recording Angel to know the answer to this one, but my guess is that he held the lifetime record for number of times he had to listen to bewildered complaints about fanzine articles being about subjects other than SF and science. Perils of being an early adopter.

Midwestcons were Tucker-shaped occasions, and he was their resident deity. I never got to go to one, but stories about them were a staple of my fannish youth. Midwestcons were known for their eclectic mix of fans, and for having no programming whatsoever. Everyone just hung out by the pool and talked. People would travel long distances to attend them who never ran into each other at any other point in the year because they normally moved in such different fannish circles. Basically, it was a convention for fans who liked Midwestcons, whoever they might be.

(Does this inform my understanding of site moderation? Of course it does.)

(Mind you, his sympathies were with the ones who were excluded, but he was able to overcome his own political inclinations for the best of fandom.)
The idea that Bob Tucker gave up an entire range of conversations he found interesting in order to push a lifelong agenda of forcing fandom to only talk about certain subjects is deeply, deeply weird.
The fact that fandom as an open culture survived more than seventy years is a testament to the power of that simple, uniting concept.
That is not how fandom works.

However, if that were how fandom works, Toni wouldn’t have to preach it. It would simply be the way things are.

I don’t see how forbidding a range of subjects that fans naturally talk about can amount to an open culture. Even more, I don’t see how Toni thinks it’s possible to talk about science fiction without talking about politics. As I said at the beginning, SF is built on massive assertions of real-world causality: “If this goes on, these things here will happen.” Any time you do that, you’re making a vast number of assumptions about how things work, who benefits from them, and what’s really going on. The genre is political to its core.

I only know one way to argue that some SF is political and some isn’t. You do it by defining “political agendas in science fiction” as “assertions of causality that differ from my own.” As in: “this person can’t possibly believe that in a widespread major disaster, people would rather cooperate, and maintain rule of law, than take to the hills with a gun and declare that the law of the jungle is the only law that now applies. They must be saying that in furtherance of some political agenda! Whereas my own grimdark stories about survivalism in anticipation of social chaos are just the way things are — not political at all. Talking about them isn’t talking about politics; it’s talking about science fiction.”

Eh, maybe I have that wrong.

That we are once again looking to be rift by a political divide was perhaps inevitable.
The existence of this rift has been asserted several times now, but it’s never been described or defined. Frankly, I don’t see any reason to believe this one exists.

I’ve been in fandom a long time. Rifts do develop, and sometimes build up so much stress that when one it finally makes itself felt, the backlash is terrible. Often it comes in the form of a feud whose destructive vindictiveness takes participants on all sides by surprise. But the thing about rifts like that is that they never build up where you’re looking. If you could see the stress accumulating, you’d do something about it before things turned explosive. The worst rifts are always unforeseen.

But as fandom has grown, expanded and diluted itself, we may have won the überculture wars and lost our heart. We have not been able to transmit this central precept to new fans. Geeks are chic, but somehow we’ve let the fuggheads win.
I’m not sure who these fuggheads are. It’s like I can see the outline and postholes of someone’s agenda, but I can’t tell what the building was for.

The heart of my fandom is just fine. We’re still being kinda dumb about opening doors for younger fans, but we’re finally having some forty-years-overdue conversations about POCs (real and fictional) in the genre, and we’re actually making progress on the “touch: consensual or it doesn’t happen” front.

And, from my observations, this is an inevitable consequence of the creation of any kind of fandom, from tattoos to swords to us. There is a thing people like. Thing people make initial contact with each other to discuss things and thingishness. At some point a woman (and it’s usually women, no matter what the thing) organizes gatherings, and thing fandom grows bigger and better. At some point, the people who care not about things, but merely about being a big fish in a small sea, squeeze out the thing people. Sometimes thing fandom just dies, sometimes it fissures and the process is recreated. So the fuggheads always win. The only question is how long can we delay their inevitable triumph?
While this has some slight resemblance to a piece I once wrote about social misunderstandings and the perception of power, it in no way resembles fandom as I know it. Among other things, if fuggheads inevitably triumphed, fandom would have died off long ago.

What you have to understand is that when you’re at a convention, pro publishing is a bubble. It’s got a lot of nice people in it, and on a moment-by-moment basis it may not be obvious that you’re having a nonstandard convention experience; but it’s still a bubble.

One of the reasons I love doing programming at conventions is that it gives me a rock-solid excuse to spend an hour having an interesting conversation with people I might otherwise never meet. Doing a stint as a volunteer works too.

Hmmm. This is getting long. One more bit:

Now we have not only 300 hundred channels of cable (and nothing on), but the vast output of the Internet, both pro and amateur. It is possible to be a science fiction fan and have absolutely no point of connection with another fan these days.
Ask them what they like and why. Listen when they tell you. Don’t make the kids do all the bridge-building.

Humbly acknowledge in your prayers that you would never in a million years have come up with Chibi Sauron on your own.

Comments on Toni Weisskopf gets almost everything wrong about the Futurian Exclusion, but we like her anyway:
#1 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:35 PM:

Would that I could get your last two lines stapled to the heads of a lot of greyhairs...

As to the flyer:

I believe that this is it. (Bottom of the page.)

#2 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:52 PM:

That last bit confuses me. Possible to be a science fiction fan without a connection to others? Yup. But it's less likely, or at least it seems so to me.

My information comes from years of talking to Alphans. The first few Alphas, there were students who had finally met the people they grew up with-- the ones who spent time in Narnia and Middle Earth and Pern. They had shared memories with someone, finally, oh finally, and it was incredible. The latest Alpha included students compiling lists of Tumblr names and talking as much about fandom nonfiction as the fiction it discusses.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:55 PM:

Four fans, at least seven opinions. On any given subject, excluding SF, fantasy, and fandom. Throw those in, and the number of opinions increases, possibly exponentially. (I've been at LASFS meetings where one room had a discussion of filk, or maybe bobbin lace, another was talking about nuclear sniper bullets, and the business meeting was going on in the back building, for the serious people.)

I've considered something like a hall at a convention, full of doorframes for fans to stand in and talk. (Because that is for what we are doing.)

#4 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:56 PM:

Diatryma@2: My read is that Weisskopf meant "without any overlap in interest to any other individual fan," and I believe that was Teresa's read as well.

#5 ::: Brad Hicks (@jbradhicks) ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2014, 11:56 PM:

Let me put this in context: I am younger than Bob Tucker. Tucker was a grey-haired older "gentleman" (for someone who was WAY too quick to sexually proposition femfen a third his age, something that would get him in a lot of trouble in these more enlightened times) when I was a young kid right out of college and just diving back into organized science fiction fandom. I don't go back as far as the Futurian Exclusion, but I do go a ways back. I was one of those Star Trek fans ruining SF fandom. (Before the Star Wars kids, then the D&D gamers, then who all else, then Harry Potter, etc., ruined fandom. Plus ca change, etc.)

And the idea that the conservative-vs-liberal divide in science fiction fandom is new is so ahistoric as to be profoundly silly, impossible to take seriously. Fandom has always, as long as I've known it, distinguished itself by having even MORE political divides than Mundenmark does: political theories long since discredited and ones nobody else has heard of yet are right in there slugging away, complaining that their ideological enemies are dominating the programming and excluding people from all the good parties. Always have been.

Part of me wants to say that the vehemence, the anger, is worse than it's been in a long time, but I'm not sure that's true, either; frex, I have to admit that the hippies who were brought into fandom by Stranger in a Strange Land fought tooth and nail with the militarist anti-Communist faction all through my youth, both insisting that their opposite numbers couldn't possibly be "real" fans. And come to think of it, I haven't heard any complaint about feminists ruining SF lately that I didn't hear back when Joanna Russ and Ursula LeGuin were still relatively new to the field.

Mundanes seem angrier, to me, than they've been any time since the Mine Wars of the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Part of me thinks that public anger and simmering rebellion from both sides isn't the only similiarity between then and now, but set that aside. The filter bubble definitely exists. Limbaugh and other AM radio shock jocks did a lot of legitimizing of angry rhetoric on that side; the Black Bloc and anti-capitalist activists' simmering rage has gone a lot more mainstream since Occupy. But is it worse than any similar period of economic and social upheaval? Probably not, truth be told; this is what it looks like when bipartisan ruling consensus breaks down. But I'm certain that I'm not seeing more of it in fandom.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:23 AM:

Will Frank: Thank you! I didn't know it was finally available, though if I'd been told one copy existed and I had to bet on who had it, I'd have said Dave Kyle.

Silly Triumvirate. They should have offered to help distribute the thing.

Diatryma: It's a different world, but I have faith that at bottom we're still the same species. What I know about fannish connections is that they can't be automated. You can only make them person to person, one at a time.

P J Evans: If we set up sections of wall with doorframes in them, would fans cluster there to talk, the way rodents in the wild will run on exercise wheels set on the ground outside their burrows?

Also, I've been meaning to ask: How many P J Evanses are there? Are you the one who's been talking genealogy with Patrick?

Brad Hicks: How late in the 70s did you come in? I got to hear about how wonderful fandom used to be, but now the Trekkies were ruining it. On the other hand, many of them were female, which sure made my life easier. (I respected my fannish elders. Some of them I respected from a greater distance than others.)

Fannish political divides: rec.arts.sf-fandom is the only forum I've ever frequented where there was everyday utility in being able to instantly spot the political system someone was espousing as pre-Conquest West Mercian.

More on mundane anger tomorrow. Fading now.

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:26 AM:

yes, actually, to the genealogy.

As far as the doorframes - I didn't figure we actually needed walls. Just the frames and the minimum amount fo bracing to keep them upright.

#8 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:34 AM:

I read that essay, and when I tripped over the word "fuggheads" I had basically two reactions:

1) This is a classic invocation of the magic-word argument.

2) Why do I get the feeling that "fuggheads" in this context is code for "those who think that women and PoC are people worthy of respect"?

The whole thing smelt of currying favor somehow. I can't really articulate why it gave me that impression, or what kind of favor it would be currying and from whom, but it did.

#9 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:50 AM:

There's a major fannish writer who did at least as much to spread humor as Tucker in that period that you both seem to have ignored: Bob Bloch. And there's more of his fannish writings available (in THE EIGHTH STAGE OF FANDOM, specifically, to which Tucker wrote the introduction). I really don't want to see his fannish credentials questioned. And (per EIGHTH STAGE) his fan writing career goes back to 1934, which I believe is even earlier than Tucker's.

T is right: there have been a lot of terribly divisive feuds. One comes along about every 10 years. I just missed the Breendoggle, myself, and I'm just as glad I did. But I've seen others. Fandom happens in the context of the larger culture, and buying the argument that things are different now from how they have ever been is just not on. People have bigger guns and other weapons, but there are still wars. And they have much more rapid ways of communicating, like the Internet, which means these disagreements happen much more quickly (and concentrating them in time makes them look much more divisive).

History is almost always both more complex and simpler than it appears on any single level of discourse. And, as Greg Chalfin (I think) used to say: "History is just folks doing stuff." Folks haven't changed that much; stuff hasn't changed that much. It's just quicker and easier to search, these days -- and more people's viewpoints are available.

I wish Bruce Pelz were still around. There was a serious fannish historian.

#10 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:07 AM:

Regarding political divisions, we do have a wide diversity of theory, but as you say, SF is an assertion of reality, and reality does have a liberal bias. There certainly are some conservatives around, but I'd bet they are indeed a minority. And we just had a case where a lunatic-fringe author demonstrated the limits of our tolerance.

As for the alleged rift in American society: That's not a rift, it's a tectonic fault -- a long-term collision rather than a splitting. It's especially visible now because there are a lot of people trying to exploit it, but we've always had that cultural dichotomy. Some times we handle it better than others.

#11 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:22 AM:

Yes, P J Evans straightened me out about the Margaret Twynyho who was abbess of Shaftesbury from 1496. (Thanks again for that.)

#12 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:36 AM:

We have fandom because fandom wanted fandom to happen, and made it happen, and liked the results, and so did it again. It rests on the innumerable shoulders of the fannish community, and is built by their hands and uttered by their mouths.

That encapsulates it so perfectly it ought to be a t-shirt.

#13 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:55 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @6: (I respected my fannish elders. Some of them I respected from a greater distance than others.) I am so glad I didn't have a mouthful of tea when I read that!

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 04:17 AM:

I don't have the depth of fannish background that much of the community here does, but I do pattern-match text pretty well. When I read the essay, my thoughts were (in order of occurrence):

1. History doesn't work like that. Parables do, but using actual names in parables causes people to say things like, "But Bob didn't sell everything for that pearl. He liquidated maybe 10% of his assets, but he knew that the proconsul's anniversary was coming up and that the lady liked pearls. He sold it for just about double the cost three weeks later. Seriously. Go ask him."

2. We've been lamenting the fall of our beloved institutions since before the word "institution" was coined. The history of the end of the world is long and varied, but it pays to remember that every single thing we hold dear was probably someone's Final Indication that the good times were at an end. There's a +2d6 bonus on this phenomenon when it's invoked in retrospect

3. There's nothing like an essay lionizing a Felix to bring all the Yoricks out of the woodwork.

#15 ::: Geri Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:10 AM:

Will@ 1 & Teresa, too. The text of the flyer is also up on Fancyclopedia 3, though with less of an introduction than Dave's article in Mimosa. The fact that the author himself was already in the hall and not excluded from the Worldcon has informed my thoughts about how fandoms works since I first learned it. And, yes, the fact that feuding goes back to our very beginning helps me understand that it's built into the community's DNA. But I also imprinted on fandom as a place where people on different sides of intense, real-world politics and events can be and remain lifelong friends, vis a vis Walt Willis and James White through the Troubles in Norn Iron.

Teresa, thank you for posting this. While I closed the tab on my browser, Toni's essay has haunted my hindbrain ever since. Yes, I like her, too. But I think she's wrong on this. The fuggheads don't always win. In fact, they rarely do even temporarily and certainly not in the long run.

#16 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:25 AM:

Thesis: Toni has somehow gotten hold of a very tendentious version of the Tale of the Futurian Exclusion

Antithesis: Toni is just doing the standard cultural warrior wingnut rant #1: "who let those nasty liberals put politics in our common sense ideology|entertainment" and facts are not needed.

You don't need to know fannish history to know she got it wrong, because the ways in which it was told wrong are inherent to the story she's trying to tell.


1) politics and ideology is only recognised if it's leftwing
2) there's always a state of grace where everybody agrees politics have no place in fandom|sitcoms|the latest Hollywood blockbuster
3) people are praised for their common sense (rightwing ideology)
4) but sadly outside agitators want to smuggle in leftwing ideology
5) which all right thinking people should resist

She can't identify the futurians by name because that would immediately destroy her story; I don't think you can get what actually happened wrong the way she did and not have done so deliberately.

As to the wisdom of shoving politics and other controversies under the carpet, the whole Breendoggle saga and the way it enabled Walter Breen and Marion Zimmer Bradley to keep on sexually abusing children is a blatant warning not to do this.

#17 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:23 AM:

Brad Hicks again: I've been thinking for a while now that the great right-wing noise machine has been deliberately inciting a chronic sense of outrage and resentment, especially via talk radio during those long miserable suburban commutes that no one consciously signed up for but almost everyone got. Anger is a stimulant, and it automatically makes the target of your anger seem interesting.

I've lost friends and family to that creeping resentment. Sometimes they'll pull out of it themselves, but nothing I know of can stop or reverse it without their willing cooperation.

Lee @8: Sometimes, when Toni uses fanspeak, I feel like she's reading it out of a traveller's phrasebook. For instance, when a fan's to the point of using "fugghead", you can generally tell what they're mad at. It's not supposed to be a fuzzy or indistinct word.

Tom @9: Bloch, yes, of course, thank you.

There are so many reasons to want Bruce Pelz back. He was a structural load-bearing member.

Dave Harmon @10: I'll take it as a rift or fault. What I won't take is casting it as a single linear discontinuity. In my youth, I learned a valuable lesson the first time I ran into genuinely puritanical card-carrying commies. For them, hedonism and revolution did not mix.

Once you start multiplying axes, the whole thing just gets hopelessly three-dimensional.

Jo @12: When I think about fandom, I'm not standing outside looking in. Neither are you.

Geri @15: The blowup doesn't happen when the flyers enter the convention venue; it happens when the conrunner feels anxious and insecure about it.

I suspect the Triumvirs had learned to feel anxious about Pohl, Wollheim, Lowndes, etc., but hadn't yet learned to have that reaction to Dave Kyle. I'm wondering whether that maps onto my own experience of spending my early fannish years getting periodically credited with being a dupe of some other fan the writer/accuser was better acquainted with.

Now, of course, I've been around so long that I can be blamed for anything. So can Patrick. It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan, but it is no fun at all playing a character in other people's dreams.

Martin @16: Professional colleague. Good list, though. I'll save that one.

I keep wondering whether she told the story as someone else told it to her. It seems so unlikely that she or anyone else would expect to get away with summarily dismissing the excluded Futurians as nameless fanboys in a widely circulated essay. Working in science fiction and not knowing about the Futurians is like being a high government official who thinks Latin America speaks Latin.

I have to have told my favorite story about Futurians in their later years. When NolaCon won their worldcon bid, John Guidry, their bid chair, was so overcome by the grandeur of the moment that he solemnly introduced Fred Pohl to Don Wollheim. It's one for the Museum of Fannish Dioramas.

How can we possibly avoid politics if the science fiction and fantasy we're discussing is being written by Ken McLeod, Tobias Buckell, Susanna Clarke, Eric Flint, Steve Brust, N. K. Jemisen, China Miéville, Seanan McGuire, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Saladin Ahmed, Greg Van Eekhout, Mary Robinette Kowal, Gene Wolfe, David Weber, et cetera? Are we supposed to pretend that all their differences are just inexplicable little personal quirks?

#18 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:47 AM:

dcb @13, TNH's observation didn't make me laugh; it made me make a sad nod. Perhaps that's because I was also a young-'n'-impressionable fannish female in late 1970s.... <sigh>

I expect you had to have been there. Or been female. Or something.

Luckily or unluckily, I've never been beautiful so I didn't have to deal with that sort of thing as often as I might have. (People who think we don't need harassment policies at cons make me fume, however. "It's never happened!" "No, it's never happened TO YOU.")

Sorry; mini-rant not directed at you; you're just the hapless bystander who accidentally pulled the pin on the grenade.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:40 AM:

Cassy: God knows, I got it too. I think you had to look actively scary if you were an unattached female -- and of course, harassment wasn't the end of the menu. There were several occasions that would have ended badly if I hadn't already gotten past the normal human disinclination to plant one's foot in one's fellow-creature's sternum.

A friend was telling me about her local convention's struggle to formulate a workable non-harassment policy. At that point, it was being held up by a couple of very nice men we've both known for ages. I told her to tell them that the price if they continued to balk would be to sit quietly and listen while every woman they know tells them stories.

It's been interesting watching guys I know go through the trauma of finding that they now belong to a category that's sometimes spoken of deprecatingly, or credited with a greater-than-average tendency to misbehave in certain ways.

I'll bet you know how it goes. "Not all men. You have to say not all men." "Some men." "A few men." "Person or persons? That's fairer, isn't it?"

Meanwhile the women, gays, POCs, etc. who've been watching are saying, "Let me guess: this is the first time you've had to deal with this."

#20 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:59 AM:

TNH @#19, I'm reminded of a Daily Show a year or two back, where they assembled group of New Yorkers and asked them their opinions of "stop-and-frisk". The white folks thought there was no problem with the policy. The white folks, when asked further, had never been stopped and frisked. Every single minority person on the panel had either themselves been stopped (sometimes multiple times) or knew someone who had been.

Privilege is often invisible to the person who has it.

Which, going back to the subject of cons, is not to say that it's easy to formulate appropriate harassment policies. But just because it's hard doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

#21 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:02 AM:

Brava on this, TNH. I have my suspicions as to the context in which Toni first learned of the Exclusion, and how she thinks of it because of that, and why she felt it unnecessary to name the excluded. But I too like her quite a bit, and being spectacularly wrong about this is really no bar to that.

#22 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:07 AM:

What I took from the TW piece was a committment to hold to ones own values *and* to fandom, but to not lose sight of the fandom piece among the politics.

Of which there are many, and shall ever be, so long as that social beast man writes, reads, and loves SFF.

I agree that it is not a binary divide, but the rift is wide and getting wider, generally through our own actions.

Which brings me to

Dave Harmon @ 10 There certainly are some conservatives around, but I'd bet they are indeed a minority.

Truely? Can you feel them breathing when you go to the theater?

#23 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:23 AM:

keranih @22:
Truely? Can you feel them breathing when you go to the theater?

Less vinegar, please. If not honey, water: speak in plain terms as to someone you seek to engage, not snark for an enemy already decided.

#24 ::: keranih ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:33 AM:

speak in plain terms as to someone you seek to engage, not snark for an enemy already decided.

I take this admonisment as being general to the participants of the list, then, and not specific to an under-represented minority.

I also take it that in this case tone arguement is not in play?

If I am incorrect, please advise.

#25 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:43 AM:

keranih @24:

No, it was an admonishment to you, personally, because your manner of engaging in this conversation is not productive. I'm sorry that you feel that you're in the persecuted minority here, but if you are, you're not dealing with it at all effectively. (Assuming, charitably, that your goal is to communicate, not to just start fights.)

There is a world of difference between comments about a group—even one of which you are a member—and comments aimed at actual participants in the present conversation. The way of dealing with the first is to address them constructively; the way of dealing with the second is to let the mod sort things out.

That's what I'm doing now.

And the next time you're snippy with me as a moderator, or snidely insinuate hypocrisy, you're losing vowels.

#26 ::: jenphalian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:54 AM:

(in which Jen has nothing useful to comment on this excellent post but does wish to draw editorial attention to the link to The Flyer, which is not the link from @scifantasy)

#27 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:55 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 10

SF is an assertion of reality, and reality does have a liberal bias

No, liberals imagine that reality has a liberal bias; one notices, looking at the last century, that conservative predictions of the likely impact of legal/social changes were pretty much entirely accurate, while liberal/socialist predictions were reliably wrong.

It would be nice not to have to deal with this sort of othering all the time to participate in conversations here.

#28 ::: jenphalian ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:55 AM:

(in which Jen has nothing useful to comment on this excellent post but does wish to draw editorial attention to the link to The Flyer, which is not the link from @scifantasy)

#29 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:01 AM:

SamChevre @27:
one notices, looking at the last century, that conservative predictions of the likely impact of legal/social changes were pretty much entirely accurate, while liberal/socialist predictions were reliably wrong.

That's not my perception. Could you cite some examples? Or not, if you don't want to; I'm more marking that I don't agree and inviting further engagement than trying to drag you into being Ambassador Of Anything.

It would be nice not to have to deal with this sort of othering all the time to participate in conversations here.

Agreed. I have trouble pushing back against it as a mod because it's so pervasive, but I do wish we didn't make so many blanket statements about people who aren't "us", for any of those values of "us" that we assume are representative. I will try to do better at flagging these.

And I appreciate the constructive approach to the issue.

#30 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:02 AM:

I kind of suspect that ideology is always what *someone else* believes, and our own beliefs simply feel like sweet reason. This is similar to the way that any religion you aren't part of and aren't too familiar with seems like some kind of weird cult. Or the way the silly stories common in our stratum of society are perfectly sensible beliefs, not like those bizarre conspiracy theories *those other people* believe.

So when someone complains that something is too ideological, I parse that as meaning something like "too many people are actively pushing other peoples' ideologies." My impression is that most middle-class Americans can sit through a discussion of the wonders of the constitution and democracy and our special place in the world without noticing any ideology, but will feel that a few Greenwalds and Chomskys pointing out where all that stuff breaks down will make the conversation unpleasantly ideological.

#31 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:06 AM:

jen @28:

Thanks. Fixed.

#32 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:21 AM:

I was thinking about Teresa's comment about SF and politics:

Nonskiffy political topics have always been a part of that context — and necessarily so, because science fiction is a massive assertion of real-world causality.

Two things strike me, thinking about this:

a. This is necessarily true for the parts of politics that involve your model of the world, your view of the nature of humans and society, your idea of how power affects people, how markets and bureaucracies and elections and aristocracies work, etc.

b. It has little to do with the current hot issues of the day, but there are often SF (and non-SF) books written which strongly reflect some tension in the then-current world, even if they're set far in the future or in some kind of imagined swords and sorcery type world.

Anyone doing very much of (a) is almost inevitably going to depart from the mainstream of their political alignment here in the present, because a lot of that is made up of locally-relevant political compromises and alliances of convenience[1], and if you think things through on your own, you will never just happen to agree with all those current conclusions.

[1] Consider the connection between fundamentalist Christians and free-market economics--there's really not anything in the bible or traditional Christian teachings that would have led to that--it's just an alliance that makes sense given today's alignment of forces.

#33 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:33 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @19 and Cassy @18

This ties into something I've been thinking about since I helped draft a sexual harassment policy for a convention and, more importantly, identify the ways on how to enforce it.

Part of the problem is getting the information out to both the potential victims and potential offenders (and letting the enforcers know they will be observed and held accountable). This is a huge issue for a 100% volunteer run activity that is a convention. People drop in and out all the time. Continuity of data and methodology is hard to maintain.

What I'd like to do at a convention is combine LARP with D&D style character sheets and gaming rules. Using this, I'd love to run a live demonstration of what harassment consists of and how it is to be handled. Part of the fun would be to gender-swap the roles so those who have never been harassed will get a taste of what it's like to have it done to them. Another training game, cribbed from Theresa, is to make Sexual Harassment Bingo cards and play that during opening ceremonies - with prizes, to keep people in the seats.

I, too, have been harassed, just not at conventions. By the time I got around to going to them in the late 90's (when I was in my 30's) I'd managed to perfect a force field of sorts - without realizing it. A male friend recently described it to me this way. "Most women look at a guy and think 'I'd sleep with him.' You look at a guy and think 'I'd kill him.' It's kinda fun to watch." It also explains why females at conventions invariably come to me with their questions in a room full of other, more knowledgeable people. It amuses my friends to no end. They find it especially funny if I'm as new to that convention as the person asking the question.

#34 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:37 AM:

Teresa, #17: I keep wondering whether she told the story as someone else told it to her.

If so, it seems odd that she wouldn't recognize a Fannish Founding Legend even with the serial numbers filed off. But then, you'd be amazed at the story someone once told me about how Dragon*Con ended up on Labor Day weekend, and he was old enough to have been around back in the day.

SamChevre, #27: Heh. My take on that statement is that yes, conservative predictions about the effects of various legal/social changes were pretty much right, and that they see this as a bad thing and want to roll time back. To take a contemporary example, look how conservatives all insisted if Massachusetts were allowed to legalize gay marriage, it would lead to widespread acceptance of the "gay lifestyle" in American culture. Well, they did, and it has; the conservatives were absolutely right, and there is nothing wrong with that outcome. But when you trot out the premise without reference to the conclusion, it gives the appearance of palming a card, as though you are trying to say that A implies B and then claim A while rejecting B.

#35 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:47 AM:

There is a long-standing small-c conservative view that defines the "political" more narrowly than other groups (some conservative, some progressive). It's the attitude that "all I want to do is be left alone to live my life the way I / my ancestors have always done" -- that supporting (or reflecting) the status quo is not a political stance. It's been around since at least the days of the squirearchy under King Charles I. This leads to the sort of framing made by Toni -- that it's the other "side" that's "political".

#36 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:47 AM:

abi @ 29, Lee @ 34

I would agree with Lee's example.

Here's the thing I want to keep clear: conservatives were generally right what the consequences of legal/social changes would be.

Whether they were right about what would happen (I think they were, in the cases of contraception, divorce, and integration) is a different question from whether they were right about whether those changes would be good things. At the time, there was general agreement that those changes would be bad, and liberals were insisting that they wouldn't happen.

#37 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:51 AM:

So you mean, as Lee said, "gay lifestyles would be generally accepted," but not, say, "the fabric of society would collapse", "gays will seduce your children", or "heterosexual marriage will be damaged". Because I've heard a lot of the latter sorts of prediction, and those don't seem to have come about.

#38 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:52 AM:

P. J. Evans @#3: I've considered something like a hall at a convention, full of doorframes for fans to stand in and talk. (Because that is for what we are doing.)

Similarly, I have considered the desirability, for party-throwing purposes, of a house that is all kitchen, since that's where everyone always ends up.

#39 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:03 PM:

That's a pretty normal view of the world: change is something most people don't enjoy and want to avoid. That it's an impossible goal, for nearly everyone, is never brought up.

My mother, describing the west Texas attitude to change: 'My daddy burned his stubble, and my granddaddy burned his stubble. It was good enough for them, so it's good enough for me.' (This was when the ag-extension agents were teaching them that burning stubble doesn't get rid of insect pests. The ag agents eventually won, with the help of EPA's air-quality regs.)

#40 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:06 PM:

I figured you were probably a little busy and it was throwing your google-fu for a loop. (Best results were with 'shaftesbury abbess'.

#41 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:18 PM:

After the Nth invocation of talk radio, the light finally went on: Father Coughlin. And before him, pamphleteers and scurrilous cartoons. O the things we get up to when we're not spending all our time pursuing sufficient calories.

Now that I have become Old, I finally, sometimes, get listened to when I point out that unprecedented, alarming fashion or phenomenon X is actually just familiar old Y, rotated along the Z axis and painted a particularly eye-watering shade of safety green.

My in-person acquaintance with social fandom began during the Viet Nam War, so the notion that SF was a politics-free zone would never occur to me, nor was that perception changed when I read back into fannish history or noted the various flavors of worldview on display in fanzines. My second worldcon was Kansas City, with its Heinlein-centric tensions still echoing the Galaxy full-page ads of eight years earlier. And those tensions were in turn part of the non-fannish political/social environment in which I grew up--there was no discontinuity, just absorption of new events and "issues" and occasional minor realignments of personnel.

Fandom is like Soylent Green.

#42 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:25 PM:


Yeah, I think support of the status quo and expression of the commonly-held ideology seldom seems very political or ideological, even when anyone who isn't soaked in the current status quo sees things very differently.

And this interacts with the Overton window. A lot of what sounds evil or crazy is determined, not by whether it's evil or crazy, but whether it's the sort of evil, crazy idea you're accustomed to hearing. Even really nasty stuff (cf the war on terror/islamofacism punditry) stops feeling so awful and shocking after it's commonplace, and then people pointing out the brutality and nastiness of it become the radicals who are making our conversations so unpleasantly ideological. (And there are many other examples.)

One of the most damaging effects of a filter bubble (hearing from only people like yourself) is that it expands the range of stuff you're primed to label as crazy or evil without ever really *hearing* it.

#43 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:32 PM:

Victoria @33: I, too, have been harassed, just not at conventions. By the time I got around to going to them in the late 90's (when I was in my 30's) I'd managed to perfect a force field of sorts - without realizing it. A male friend recently described it to me this way. "Most women look at a guy and think 'I'd sleep with him.' You look at a guy and think 'I'd kill him.' It's kinda fun to watch." It also explains why females at conventions invariably come to me with their questions in a room full of other, more knowledgeable people. It amuses my friends to no end. They find it especially funny if I'm as new to that convention as the person asking the question.

I'm probably missing a hell of a lot of context here, but if I had a male friend who told me that the way I protect myself from harassment is "kinda fun to watch," it's very likely he'd soon become an ex-friend.

There is a tendency among certain of my acquaintances to treat my reactions to offensive or threatening bullshit as their personal form of entertainment. Whether it's Mom sending a really egregious forwarded email along "because it's fun to watch you react to them", or a so-called friend deliberately encouraging a known sexist boor to push my buttons at a party because they want to see me go into action, it always feels exploitative and disrespectful. At the end of the day, I'm exhausted and frustrated, and they're gleeful. It hurts.

I am actively resisting the assumption that what you describe is a similar instance of "dance monkey dance," because I'm not you and it's not my story and I wasn't there and I know that.

Mainly I'm just sending up a pattern-matching flag. "This is probably not what you're describing, but it resonated with me in another of those 'things I have stay constantly braced for in everyday life' ways."

#44 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:43 PM:

abi @ 37

I'm not thinking so much of the debates over gay marriage--that change is too new to do more than guess at the long-term effects. It really takes two or three generations at a minimum until you can see what a social change will do in the long term; you need everyone who remembers it being otherwise to be old. I found the piece that I was thinking of, though--it's this John Holbo post, and the piece by Elizabeth Anscombe linked in it.

On the original topic, it amazes me that a genre whose early practicioners including Ayn Rand, Tolkien, and H G Wells could be imagined as non-political.

#45 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 12:46 PM:

Messed the link up: the Holbo piece is The Twilight of the WASPS, and the Anscombe is here.

#46 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:32 PM:

I appreciate this place because libertarians aren't automatically considered wrong/evil. For some reason (I suspect I did something Very Peculiar in a past life), I mostly prefer hanging out with moderate progressives, but I've only found a few places (here, Amptoons, and possibly Unqualified Offerings that are polite to libertarians.

#47 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:40 PM:


Unfortnuately, Anscombe's essay starts off with some profoundly ahistorical assertions about ancient cultures, which don't help my suspension of disbelief. And I think she does a sufficient disservice to people who don't follow the morality that she sets out as to constitute the creation of strawmen. So her thesis wasn't really ringing true for me.

Do remember that I live in an essentially post-Christian society, where kids get clear and explicit sex education, where gays marry as easily and as uncontroversially as straights, where socialism is as acceptable as capitalism. And you know what? I'd rather be any of the things that Christ insisted that people care for here than in the overtly Christian United States, or the UK of the Established Church. We treat our poor, our unemployed, our children, our sick, and our prisoners better here. (And though we treat our migrants and our other races badly—and that's something to be ashamed of—neither the US nor the UK is exactly a beacon of success in these areas.)

Of course, there's always the assertion that Our Nebulous Doom Will Overtake Us, but I gotta say, it's certainly a very slow-moving Nebulous Doom, and in the meantime, the poor are being fed, the children cared for, the sick treated, and the prisoners rehabilitated.

#48 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 01:53 PM:

SamChevre: um, hyperinflation and exploding debt as a result of Keynesian policies? No. Greeted as liberators in (latest country we invade)? No. Acceptance of homosexuality leading to widespread acceptance of pederaty? No. Less respect for life due to legalized abortion? Nope.

What are you talking about?

The more conservatives are wrong, the more they claim they are right.

tnh: "I've been thinking for a while now that the great right-wing noise machine has been deliberately inciting a chronic sense of outrage and resentment"

And fear and victimization, the better to stampede people. I just had occasion to ask a conservative what they would you do if they couldn't paint their side as victims.

#49 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Raven on the Hill @48:

Surely this is the least sensible time to say things like The more conservatives are wrong, the more they claim they are right. and I just had occasion to ask a conservative what they would you do if they couldn't paint their side as victims.? I mean, have you read the subthread about othering? The one right here on this very page?

Let me be clear and explicit, then. No slagging off conservatives as a group here. Want to talk about the Right Wing Noise Machine? G'wan. Want to talk about policies, positions, politicians? Knock yourself out. But we're doing the precise thing that the entire OP says is a crap thing to do: creating binaries, choosing sides, digging ditches.

Can we go back to making the community as a whole smarter, wiser, and more joyful now? Please?

Don't make me ask twice.

#50 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 02:25 PM:

Cassy B @18; Teresa Nielsen Hayden @19: Apologies; my phraseology was poor. The necessity for such caution made me wince & nod. How this was written was what got the reaction I described. I certainly didn't mean to imply that the need for such caution was a laughing matter.

#51 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:03 PM:

James @35:

I assume you're thinking - perhaps slightly counter-intuitively for people who don't know the period well - of Parliamentarians like John Pym playing the role of 'unpolitical conservatives', since it's quite clear that what the king was doing was introducing radical innovations (and this one of the main complaints against him). But I don't think it's really right to say that they just wanted to be left alone, or that they wouldn't have seen what they were doing as 'political' : trying to get rid of the episcopacy for example can't really be represented as an attempt to maintain the status quo.

#53 ::: Peeking in ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:29 PM:

It's my first time posting here, but I am a fairly longtime fan (first Worldcon, 1981). And I'm not recognizing the version of events/worldview Weisskopf is putting forward, either.

I've spent a fair amount of time with the greats and near-greats over the decades, been low-level on a concom or three, led USENET groups, and all that. I am SMOF-adjacent, Hugo winner-adjacent, etc. Now I just attend the things because I'm old and tired and I want to talk to my people.

And I am hoping the ghost of Bob Tucker does a SMOOOOTH upside Toni's head (I miss Bob, a lot). Kidding, of course, Bob really liked the ladies (a bit too much), and he'd never do that.

I hope someone's able to scan Dave Kyle's brain into a computer; "The Kid" is The Man when it comes to our history. I've never had a conversation with him that wasn't delightful and enlightening.

A lot of Toni's stuff comes across as clangers to me, not for the political reasons (that, too), but more in the way of "That word. I do not think it means what you think it means." As TNH in #17 said, like she's using a phrasebook.

TW also doesn't seem to realize that she's in a bubble, and a rapidly shrinking bubble at that. These kids today, with their ebooks and their Tumblrs and their gay marriage.

I'm sympathetic to that attitude. I've been known to grumble about "what's with all this snogging on the TARDIS, it's just Not Done" and yet I giggle at animated GIFs of David Tennant as much as the next gal. I'm thrilled the Doctor's about to be my age again, though I wouldn't mind if he snogged Captain Jack.

Hallcon. A great fannish tradition. Just build some sort of maze that's nothing but halls and doorframes (canvas flats will do), put bathtubs full of beverages inside some of the doors and you're good to go. Sign me up.

(Brung here via Jim Hines' Twitter)

#54 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 03:40 PM:

Charles I or the country squires who largely backed him were trying to get rid of the episcopacy? What? (Not that there weren't country squires on the other side: Cromwell was one. But by and large the Civil War played out as rural Tories vs. urban or great landowner Whigs.)

Largely urban puritans / presbyterians were trying to get rid of the episcopacy.

As for Charles' innovations: probably not so much as one might think. There was certainly a lot of rhetoric suggesting that from people like Coke. But there's a good argument to be made in law that Charles was in fact asserting rights (and limitations on Parliament) which were in fact traditional, that on purely legal grounds e.g. the Five Knights Case was rightly decided; and that the Tudors had exerted some of the royal prerogatives which were being challenged in relatively recent memory. I can refer you to Pocock's The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law and some of the papers in Fryde & Miller, Historical Studies of the English Parliament.

(The major real "innovations" from a legal standpoint under James and then Charles were the extension of the power of the prerogative courts, which were at least grounded in some aspects of tradition.)

By contrast, the reactionary policies of James II were a genuinely radical revisions of the state, as was the policy of William of Orange: there were no real small-c conservatives in the Revolution of 1688 (both William and James stood for change, just change in different directions).

#55 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 04:49 PM:

At a guess, it matters a great deal whose past predictions you read. I'm sure it's possible to find a number of conservative (and liberal, and communist, and anarchist, and libertarian, and...) writers of the past who precisely called what the future would look like. And equally sure it's possible to find a number of each who called the future 100% wrong. But I can't quite think of how I'd decide what was a representative sample to see who had good predictions.

#56 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Sam #27:

Logically, it seems like *everyone* will perceive that reality has a bias toward their worldview. And indeed, that sure seems to fit with my observations. It is much more rare (and much, much more interesting) to hear people note places where their worldview or team doesn't do a great job of describing or understanding things.

#57 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:04 PM:

When I first read The Article In Question--which seems like a really long time ago now--I said at the time that I had no idea what she was arguing.

I still don't. I read it multiple times and it just dissolved into non-meaning for me. I literally could not figure out the ultimate point. As an essay, it was either not well constructed or it was aimed at someone who was not me and used a lot of phrasing that would primarily make sense to the target audience. (Or I am not bright. I am very willing to accept that one, too!)

A couple of other people I talked to had the same reaction--"What is she trying to say? I'm confused. This thing is all over the place."

If the original post is true, then even the bits that seemed straightforward are apparently not well-grounded in observed reality, and so I am still left going "I don't know what all this was about then."

I often feel this way in fandom, mind you...

#58 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:43 PM:

UrsulaV wrote...

Squeee!!!!! (I finally read Digger this year. So great!)

#59 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 05:54 PM:

Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ 43

Mine is definitely a different story than yours.

My male friend, Zac, was amused by what I assume is a mime-ish display of body language, mostly unconscious. When I'm in public or around strangers, I'm 1) alert to what's going on around me and 2) constantly doing what amounts to threat assessment -- but the low level kind*. So any male predator who interacts with me is the one who gets the "I'd kill you" look**. Zac is a happily married, stand-up guy who usually handles harassing behavior by running the harasser off. He's also a very demonstrative guy who hugs and kisses females when given the go-ahead***. Hence his vocal appreciation of my "I'd kill you" look. It means I'm safe.

My experience with harassment started at an age when it's merely called bullying. (I didn't get exposed to the sexual kind until I was out of college.) I only got harassed/bullied at school because my parents were supportive if not entirely understanding of my absolute geekiness. My siblings, less so. My parents were pretty equitable and accurate when it came to enforcements and punishments. I learned fairly early how to stand up for myself in successful ways.

Therefore, the only "dance, monkey, dance" bullshit I got was from my classmates, usually male. They really liked taking advantage of my strong startle reflex. I assume that's where/when I began developing my "I'd kill you" look. Standing up for oneself was encouraged in my family, but not violence. Therefore, I couldn't do what I wanted -- which was to punch my classmates in the face. I started developing my constant, low level situational awareness in middle school because of the "let's make her jump" game. Once I stoped jumping, they stopped that kind of harassment and moved onto other ways to get a rise out of me - which backfired on them.

During high school, I figured out I could do with words, and my very large vocabulary, what I wanted to do with my fists. I got away with the kind of language that would get others sent to the office. Mostly because I could cuss the boy out without once using a bad word. Barring that, the tone, delivery and intent were all aimed at tearing strips off my harasser. That usually amused the teachers. The one time I forgot to be aware and went into hyper-focus (senior year, wood shop, I was painting something) I ran after the boys who made me jump with a mallet and intent to do harm. The shop teacher let me. Since the boys didn't do anything like that again, I assume they got a talking-to. I didn't get punished or taken aside for breaking a couple of big safety rules.

* If we're ever at the same convention at the same time, remind me to tell you about my cousin's drunken birthday party. My situational awareness and proactive behavior is nothing like a soldier with PTSD who is about four sheets to the wind.

** It's a side effect of me realizing how important body language is when I was working to overcome my horrible shyness. Because opening one's body language without reservation invites all sorts of awkward interactions.

*** People who are good at reading body language, like Zac, know who to steer clear of when it comes to giving out hugs. They don't have to ask to know touching is off limits. Other than hello/goodbye hugs, Zac never ever touches females. He's too much in love with his wife and too respectful of women in general. I wish I could link to a friends-locked Facebook post where a female ex-soldier wrote an essay/blog post about how sexual harassers fly under the military's no harassment, no fraternizing radar and find like-minded guys to "go hunting" with. The ground work to being a successful creep begins with accurately reading body language.

#60 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:20 PM:

Victoria: "Watch out! She has body language, and she knows how to use it."

I would love to be able to see you in action.

#61 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:29 PM:

UrsulaV @ 57

So it's not just me.

This is where I admit that I couldn't make it all the way through Toni's post. About halfway through the second paragraph, I pegged it for a bit of axe grinding. I didn't make it past the fourth paragraph because I knew I didn't have the context to understand the message. I will say it does read like the fannish screed version of a politics-laden business letter where blame is very carefully not being placed with the use of extensive indirect language.

To quote a friend, "Not my circus. Not my monkeys."

#62 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:47 PM:

Jacque @ 60


You'll have to wait for me to get back from my mental vacation. I'm still in recovery from chairing/co-chairing a convention. (Vice-chair, co-chair, and chair in consecutive years with the same group.)

#63 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:49 PM:

Sam Chevre @45:
I don't see how you view the Anscombe piece as in any way making an "accurate prediction" about society. She was writing mostly about a change in society which had already occurred by 1972, namely the increased availability of contraception which she specifically acknowledges had already occurred, and claiming it as the cause of consequences she believed she already saw all around her, including the hippie and post-hippie "Free Love" mores. She was making a "prediction" only in hindsight, attributing the cause of one set of social changes to another.

The one specific prediction I see in that article is: "And so the widespread use of contraceptives naturally leads to more and more rather than less and less abortion." If I recall correctly, that one is measurably false, and has been confirmed false across decades and multiple countries.

I'm not devaluing the essay, by the way; from a theological and morality standpoint, I think it's a very interesting essay on the sources of values (even to such as me, coming from a different religious tradition.) I just don't see it as filling the role you think it to.

#64 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 06:56 PM:

SamChevre #36: Fair enough, and albatross #56 makes an even better point. But the things you cite as them getting "right", were exactly the points where they agreed with their opponents -- just looking at the sex/gender line, the predictions that sex/contraception/gay marriage would become widely accepted and unremarkable, is just saying "dang, the liberals are gonna win this one".

Claiming that tolerating such-and-such will be the doom of society is going further, and somehow those predictions rarely seem to come true. At least not directly -- such developments do represent chunks of influence and position, lost to both puritanical and conservative elements in our society.

My claim that "reality has a liberal bias" is not meant to be an eternal truth, but I do think it's part of the modern condition.

The central reality of our modern world is that it's changing -- rapidly, often unexpectedly, not very controllably. And that strikes at the liberal/conservative difference itself -- conservativism is explicitly about keeping things from changing, with the "key things to protect" varying from group to group and time to time. (As distinguished from the reactionaries lately presenting themselves as "neo-conservatives", who want to actually reverse recent changes in society.) Liberalism AFAIK isn't explicitly predicated on change, but it's rarely satisfied with the status quo, so it usually is focused on changing something in society that it finds problematic. (Again, specific priorities vary.) That makes it better-equipped to respond appropriately when the world changes in ways that can't simply be resisted.

But of course, not all change is good. Conservativism works best when the current system already works well, so that change is likely to be damage. One of the many things I find upsetting about current American politics is that the "neo-conservatives" have co-opted the conservative wing of American politics, and done a lot to suppress many of the voices trying to warn us about dangerous and voluntary changes: Such as scrapping (historically-justified and working) regulations on banks, brokerages, and speculators, or selling off public goods and resources to rent-seekers, blowout experts, and other exploiters.

It does not help the situation that America's flawed political system¹ actively impedes negotiation among diverse interests: Addressing Teresa's point, sure there are way more than two underlying cultural groups and positions (even in colonial times, the Quakers had a distinct role in brokering the Union), but the two-party system forces them into paired camps, both of which proved vulnerable to takeover by the so-called "globalists". ("So-called", because they're not actually building a functioning global society, they're just trying to break all barriers to their ambition, regardless of national boundaries.)

¹ The hazard of committing to a bleeding-edge system, a couple centuries or so back....

#65 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:08 PM:

My favorite part of TNH's essay:

NYC fandom was in a state of constant political flux, and throughout it, the factions and individuals that would be involved in the Exclusion incident had sometimes been allies, oftener been opponents, and frequently gotten up each other’s noses.

Times were hard. People had to make their own fun.


#66 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:17 PM:

Speaking of SF's history, it has bugged me for a long time that Wikipedia has no entry on the Hydra Club.

As of my lunch break today, this is no longer the case.

Mind you, I'm not saying it's a good article. But at least it's an article, girded about with multiple references and inbound links to ward off the spirits of deletionism. Time enough later to make it good.

#67 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 08:54 PM:

One thing that's worth thinking about is for whom is Toni writing this? It strikes me that she's not really making an argument or telling a story, she's seeking to comfort a particular audience and reassure them that they are loved and happy and that it's those other people, the, ahem, fuggheads who are the problem. If only they'd shut up and sit down the pesky problems would all go away.

#68 ::: Curt Phillips ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:21 PM:

Teresa, you *would post this just before I'm about to get on a plane for London. I've only skimmed it, but it appears that you are stretching some historical points to create your argument. Toni is fundamentally right about what she wrote, and I think you may be picking a few too many nits. For instance, the Futurians in question may have been Wollheim, Michel, Pohl, etc, but the fact is that they *were* a group of excitable fanboys. And so what if they were? They were *kids* - teenagers,most of them - at the time, and were all hopped up on their science-fictional dreams of glory and the heady excitement of attending the first Worldcon. I mean, have you read Wollheim's fanzines from the period? I have, and the young Don Wollheim was kind of obnoxious. He was loud, rude and demanding; and he evidently felt that he and he alone was the arbiter of all things fannish in the world. We today don't suffer such fools nearly as gladly as Fandom did in 1939. The "Exclusion Act" was an just act of one group of loud, noisy kids pushing around another group of loud and noisy kids. It only had importance to those immediately affected by it, and only then because they were teenagers with a teenager's immaturity. Just because most of them later grew into the roles of leaders in the field of SF is no reason to gloss over the fact that at one time they were just another bunch of young punks. *I* was a young punk when I was a teenager, and it's a wonder that nobody ever tried to throw me off a bridge because of it. But I grew up and discovered that the passions and furies of my youth were - for the most part - really very silly.

When I get back from Loncon 3 I'll try to remember to pull up this post again and respond in detail, but honestly I think Toni's view of the fannish events of 1939 is actually pretty well balanced. As for the social/political/cultural situation in fandom today, maybe we can talk about that *after* Loncon...


#69 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:32 PM:

I'd enjoy reading an essay comparing fandom among sword lovers and fandom among SF lovers.

#70 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Bill Higgins... Hail Hydra?

#71 ::: Andraia Blue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 09:55 PM:

Is "Kuttner" a typo for Kornbluth? Kuttner was on the West Coast and not much involved with fandom.

#72 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:09 PM:

I am reminded of a story told to me some eons ago, when dinosaurs walked the Earth ....

Sometime in the 50s Will Sykora calls Don Wollheim:

"Don, I figured out how we can be in charge of fandom!!"

"Why would we want to do that?"

#73 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:31 PM:

Victoria @61 -- no, not just you, and judging by my Twitter feed at least, not just us!

Honestly, when I read something so weirdly vague and which is greeted with such intense approbation as the comment section (and I am in no way blaming Ms. Weisskopf for that comment section! Not her blog, not her moderation, not her words.) I do start to think dog whistles. I am willing to admit that I am occasionally paranoid, and I might be mistaking vague writing for conspiracy, but I suspect there was a different target audience (and those who are tuned to frequencies that I am not largely confirmed that at the time.)

Which...well, it is what it is, and not that surprising. I like Pokemon far more than Heinlein, so perhaps the lack of common ground is inevitable. I still do not know that if that is such a terrible horrible thing. Perhaps we could all just get together and talk about that thing we like in doorways, and if we do not like any of the same things, I am more than willing to compliment your shoes.

Which now makes me wonder--was fandom ever really a place where people expected to be able to walk up to any stranger at the con and strike up a conversation about a specific book in absolute confidence that they had read it?

This seems weird to me, but the nostalgia I keep catching makes me wonder if that was actually really a thing. Are people longing for a time when you didn't have to ask the other person what they were into, because you already knew?

#74 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 10:49 PM:

UrsulaV @73, when I entered fandom (late ’80s), I was told by people a generation or so ahead of me that there had once been a time when Everybody Read Everything, and you pretty much could assume that any random sf fan you ran into at a con would have read most of the same books as you.

I know that the situation was the same for science fiction of TV when I was growing up (’70s–’80s) — if you were an SF fan, you watched the same small number of shows as every other SF fan, because that’s all there was before cheap special effects tech came along.

Maybe someone with real knowledge will come along and tell us how many SF books were published in a typical year back in the day.

#75 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:00 PM:

The birth of the claim thst reality has a liberal bias comes, AFAICT, from the somewhat problematic relation between the American far Right and such scientific, but abstract, topics such as global warming and evolutionary theory. I'm not sure that it was meant to apply as much to matters of direct experience. (Not to mention that some branches of the Left have their own issues with science on such issues as vaccination.)

We all want to create our own Morality Plays out of the past; it rarely works very well. My experience is that the complexity of reality is fractal and that there are very few simple Morality Plays.

#76 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:57 PM:

I've met Toni a few times, and she was perfectly charming. I liked her.

I think this piece is straight-up propaganda, made to please the co-inhabitants of her bubble, and to be something people can link to when making absurd claims about How Things Used To Be and so on. Also, it uses code language like 'politically correct' to signal to fellow conservatives (in this case, of a distinctly less thoughtful sort than we have here at ML) that she's one of them.

I'm struggling with that juxtaposition. I can't quite believe she's really that mistaken about all this, or that the smug tone of the piece is accidental.

James 75: (Not to mention that some branches of the Left have their own issues with science on such issues as vaccination.)

Really? I guess I've only encountered anti-vaccers who were on the right, and claimed that vaccination was an authoritarian socialist plot. (It is rather socialist, since it involves a lot of people doing something to benefit society as a whole, and the most vulnerable a. benefit most and b. don't do the thing.)

Or are you talking about the Dire Predictions that If This Anti-Vacc Thing Goes On we will have resurgences of formerly-rare childhood diseases? But no, those have come true, so that can't be what you mean.

Maybe you've just encountered different anti-vaccers than I have.

#77 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2014, 11:59 PM:

UrsulaV, #73: was fandom ever really a place where people expected to be able to walk up to any stranger at the con and strike up a conversation about a specific book in absolute confidence that they had read it? ... Are people longing for a time when you didn't have to ask the other person what they were into, because you already knew?

WRT your first question, if there ever was such a time, it was before I entered fandom in the 1970s. (My first con was in 1975; my first Worldcon in 1977.) I don't put it beyond the bounds of possibility, but if that ever was true, it has certainly not been so for 40 years or more. There may be a kernel of truth at the bottom of the barrel, to the effect that there was a widely-recognized SFnal canon which it was assumed that most people would have read, but that was never universal even when I was a neofan and is becoming less so with every passing year, as some of the old canonical tales simply don't bear the passage of time well.

As to your second question, I think it's more a matter of longing for that seminal-to-my-fannish-generation experience of walking into a con and realizing that, for the first time in your life, you were in the company of an entire group of people who didn't think you were a loser and a weirdo just because you liked "that crazy sci-fi stuff". In that heady rush of "OMG THIS IS MY TRIBE AND MY PEOPLE!" it was easy to overlook minor variations in fields of interest -- hard-science fan vs. fantasy fan, traditional vs. New Wave, books-only vs. Star Trek, etc. etc. etc. (But note that even back then, all 3 of those differences caused arguments, fan-feuds, and even schisms in some local groups.) Add in the rose-colored glow of nostalgia, and it's easy to forget that fandom has never been one big happy family. What we have been, over the years, is a big tent.

Only... not quite such a big tent as we prided ourselves on being. Even in the 1970s it was painfully obvious to me that fandom was very white, and heavily male; the femme-fans were considered primarily decorative by a lot of people, including (unfortunately) many of the movers and shakers.

A lot of the current controversy seems to me to be a direct result of the 15% phenomenon*. The number of women and PoC in fandom has reached a critical mass, and neither group is content to take second-class membership any longer. And so suddenly, if you're one of the Old Guard**, it seems like you can't even open your mouth without offending somebody, and the only people who are allowed to speak are the new ideologues!

We'll get over it. It's what fandom does.

* As in, studies have shown that in a mixed-gender college classroom, if the women contribute more than 15% of the class discussion, they are perceived (by men and women alike) as "dominating the conversation".

** The audience to which you perceived, IMO correctly, that the dog-whistles were being pitched. Note that membership in the Old Guard has very little to do with chronological age.

#78 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:06 AM:

Abi, sigh, I don't see it that way. "Other no-one" is a fine position for saints and angels in heaven. Me? I'm a big black bird on earth, and there are ideas and people I want to separate myself from.

America has been the epicenter of the triumph of the right wing. They have had many things their way for nearly 35 years. Sitting here in the wreckage they have created, I think I get to be angry, and to wish we'd started separating ourselves from them much sooner.

#79 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:44 AM:

There are left-wing anti-vaxxers. Marin County is one are with more than a few of them.

#80 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:46 AM:

The core discussion is not my circus, but "left wing bad science" is something I can talk about. GMO's come to mind. (It's mad science! How can you hate mad science? Wait, I didn't mean to say that out loud...) Anti-cancer diets [other than "don't eat benzene"]. Various neo-hippy claims about, for instance, "energy" or hemp.

And the less clear-cut ones. Fracking. If you ask 100 doctors about coal, you'll get 100 all talking about black lung and fine particles and carcinogens and mercury ... basically, everyone agrees what coal actually does. If you ask 100 doctors about the problems with fracking, you will not get consensus. Is it that new?

Even less-obvious: If I have one more person tell me how great solar power is because it will get us off oil. Graaah. (We make almost no electricity from oil. We use almost no oil to make electricity. Solar power, to first order, has nothing to do with oil consumption. )

#81 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Dave Hartwell is the first commentator I can recall pointing out (in, iirc, Age of Wonders, 1985) that there was a time when dedicated fans could read everything of significance pretty much as it appeared. And I recall nodding in agreement as I read it back then. (Pause for a rummage and page-riffle. Ah, there it is, in Chapter 11.) Dave and I are of nearly the same cohort (he's four years older) and we seem to have had similar reading histories.

In the early Sixties I could and did read every issue of every magazine, having spent the previous five years back-filling via the big Conklin/Bleieler & Dikty/Healey & McComas anthologies, which put me up to date with older readers. But the publishing explosion of the 1970s made keeping up increasingly difficult, and to this day there are holes in my reading history.

So early on you could safely assume that a sercon fan would have enough reading experience in common with you for a pretty sophisticated conversation about the state of the field or Big Name Writers or Rising Stars. These days I maintain a boilerplate apology paragraph for my annual Locus essay, pointing out that the sample represented by my reviews is anything but representative.

#82 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:01 AM:

I think there's a confusing and growing group of, depending on how you look at it, `crunchy conservatives' or ?libertarian hippies? who have a lot of the personal or aesthetic habits we associate with the left and the politics of the right. My least-favorite personal example was someone arguing against, oh, an increase in the minimum wage, or public transit, or something, by explaining that there's no point in alleviating poverty because poor people chose that life to make up for past karma. ('The station to which G*d has called them', only not even blaming it on God.)

And of course there's a deep looney fringe honestly attached to any representative movement.

#83 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:01 AM:

Cars can run off of electricity sourced from solar cells. Homes can be warmed by heat pumps that run off of electricity rather than oil burners.

#84 ::: Will "scifantasy" Frank ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:37 AM:

Lee@77 hit it on the head. Hell, I had that feeling when I started going to cons (I won't say when, it's too recent), and I had grown up with Internet fandom. The experience of being in the same room is not yet fully replicable online.

#85 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:41 AM:

@81 Whereas when I slithered into fandom--to sell art to furries!--around 2001 or so, it would never have occurred to me that we'd all know the same books...

And geek was already pretty mainstream at that point (Xena had been on for ages! We had hot and cold running anime!) so I didn't go "MY PEOPLE AT LAST!" because the majority of people I knew in real life were conversant with some amount of SF pop culture.

Perhaps, as @77, that's one of the changes in fannish footing. I don't doubt there are plenty of people who still have that seminal fannish experience, but for a lot of people of my generation, there's no...instant belonging moment?

I suppose that's part of what gets us to this disconnect I keep seeing, where it is proclaimed that Exclusion is the greatest ill of fandom and others (self included) go "Wait, what? Huh?"

#86 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:44 AM:

UrsulaV @73: There was probably never a time when everyone had read everything -- but there was definitely a time when I could count on finding a book in common within three titles in a conversation. It would often happen on the first one.

And there are still some books where there's a really high probability that the average person at a con will have read them, or at least know enough about them to talk about them. DUNE, GAME OF THRONES, HARRY POTTER, etc -- hell, I just got back from a memorial service for a cousin, and got into several discussions about Phil Dick and Ursula LeGuin with people there (some fairly young, who I had never met before -- the next generation, second cousins once removed).

And even if someone hadn't read the book: they were likely to be interested in my opinion of it, just as I was interested in being pointed at cool stuff I hadn't seen yet. This is still true for me. I've read more SF than most people, and remember more of it than all but a few -- and I still get pointed at stuff I haven't read by people I talk with.

I attended my first convention in 1968 (the Worldcon that year, Baycon) but I'd been going to club meetings for a couple of years before that. Blame Quinn Yarbro.

One thing not mentioned here yet: back in those days, a large number of professionals considered themselves fans first and pros second. There aren't a lot of people that think that way, these days. Silverberg and Lupoff are still around; Greg Bear comes close. Poul Anderson and Gordy Dickson were prime examples: they wanted to hang out with fans at least as much as they did with pros. That's changed significantly since the late 60s.

#87 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:48 AM:

Hee! See, there we go, two posts crossing, Will. And I don't think we're too far apart in the generational march, either.

I'm glad you got a good hit of belonging, though. I think that's cool, even if it wasn't my experience.

#88 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:52 AM:

(slipped while I was writing that last bit)

UrsulaV @85: within a tribal culture (and fandom has been that) one of the very worst things you can do to someone is ostracize them: cut them off from connection with the community. It's reserved as punishment for the most heinous crimes (in part because in real tribes, it frequently amounts to a death sentence). This is why the boycott was such an effective tool when first used. And the question often is: was the crime really heinous enough to justify that step?

By 2001, fandom didn't feel much like a tribe: more like a large sodality of tribes. Moving among them was relatively easy, so that shunning didn't seem like that big a deal. Just move on to the next subgroup. It still feels big to me: but I'm from an older generation.

#89 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:00 AM:

UrsulaV, #85: I don't doubt there are plenty of people who still have that seminal fannish experience, but for a lot of people of my generation, there's no...instant belonging moment?

Exactly. For your generation, the Internet and social media have always been there, and that's where you went to connect with other people who liked the same things you did. Or else you went to the local comics or anime convention, which is commercially sponsored, heavily advertised, and easy to find out about. In the 70s, "traditional" (fan-run, literary-oriented) cons were literally the only game in town for people like me.

This, unsurprisingly, ties back into the "how can we attract more young people to Worldcon?" issue. (I was one of the participants in that discussion on your LJ in 2012.) But as I don't want to hijack the thread, I will not go into any more detail on that at the moment.

#90 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:12 AM:

Albatross, #55: "I'm sure it's possible to find a number of conservative (and liberal, and communist, and anarchist, and libertarian, and...) writers of the past who precisely called what the future would look like."

I was addressing a somewhat different point. My post back at #48 gave five specific examples of conservative theories that have been falsified. It wasn't the case that there was some truth on either side--these were just wrong, and no getting around it.

This "both sides do it" line of argument can lead one to excuse horrors, and I wish we'd drop it.

My comment on the ideology of victimization addressed another area, one that has some applicability to fandom. I am disturbed that many members of the enormously powerful conservative movement believe that they are victimized by their much weaker opposition. This, from a powerful movement, usually means either that the members are nerving themselves to "punch down" at much weaker opponents, or that they are justifying punching down that has already taken place, and it doesn't take too much thought to see that both are at work here.

I can see two applications to current fan politics. One, of course, is the dispute that started this whole kerfluffle. Conservatives have long been influential participants in sf: consider Heinlein, Tolkien, and Wolfe. If one is going to go back to the Futurians, consider James Blish. Yet somehow this is not enough for a faction. The other…

Science fiction has taken over. We are the mainstream now. Yet science fiction readers and fans are still thinking like they--we--are a persecuted minority. At the same time, I wonder, really, how relevant fandom is to the now-vast number of readers and watchers of science fiction. It's late, and this is going to take more thinking. Tomorrow, maybe.

#91 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:23 AM:

Sandy B @80, why would you ask doctors about the dangers of fracking? I’d ask a geologist, or some kind of geological engineer (not sure what the exact specialty is called).

#92 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:39 AM:

UrsulaV @ 73
Honestly, when I read something so weirdly vague and which is greeted with such intense approbation as the comment section...I do start to think dog whistles.

Yep. You are definitely hearing dog whistles. I went back and tried two more times to read the entire thing, because I respect Toni as well. I kept getting an allergic reaction and failed each time. (It's one of those oversensitive-through-exposure things. More on this below.) My suspicion is that she's trying to deal with a schism that's gone nuclear over on the Bar boards at (I used to hang out there, but it's been years.) I'm not motivated enough to find out if my suspicions are facts.

UrsulaV -- Which now makes me wonder--was fandom ever really a place where people expected to be able to walk up to any stranger at the con and strike up a conversation about a specific book in absolute confidence that they had read it?

No. I'm pretty sure it's not, nor ever was. Mostly because fandom is made of people. People vary a lot despite mutual interests. The more I know of fandom (and hear about the good old days) the more I realize that fandom is a constantly shifting, very complex Venn diagram of tastes and obsessions.

UrsulaV -- Are people longing for a time when you didn't have to ask the other person what they were into, because you already knew?

I believe so. Fandom used to be just like living in a small town. I get this from both the anecdotal evidence in the stories and old census data. This census data is gleaned from con-running and being the Head of Registration for several years at my local convention. I got the stories from all over the web. Get the right people talking or typing about the good old days, and it's easy to see the patterns develop.

Everyone knew everything about everybody either first hand or second- and third-hand. As time went on, they helped watch each other's kids at conventions and brought in personal friends from outside the Venn diagram. I keep tripping over sprawling family groups that have blood ties replaced with "I used to babysit you" ties. So even if they don't share interests, they can talk about mutual acquaintances. Coming into fandom solo, with no previous connections, makes me very aware of how few connections I have with what is typically called "the core fandom" by the inhabitants of that self-identified core. (My constant tripping over and getting tripped up by hidden ties reduced me to a near cultural anthropological state for years.)

In addition to everything Lee @77 said, I'll add there are generational tensions. Census wise, there's a missing generation at conventions^. It's one of the things I learned working Registration. I just thought it would be a great way to meet people who otherwise wouldn't talk to me. (Because they had to talk to me if they wanted their badges.) Just like Lee @77, I'd finally found my tribe! I would become a part of it or die trying. Little did I realize that meant I'd voluntarily sign up for a three year long mediating gig when I started down that road. This why I can't read Toni's piece. I trained myself to mentally slide over the triggery phrases in politically driven e-mails*. It's pretty much one big skating rink for me.

You and I are in that missing generation. Right now, we've got grandparents on one side of us and a smattering of their grandkids on the other side. The grandkids have a huge coterie of age-mates sans antecedents invading the con and messing up things. By "messing up" I mean changing the social rules and shifting the focus of the con as a whole and discarding/disrespecting/discounting the grandparents' traditions.

In short, it's a "you kids get off my lawn" vs "it's a public park, not your lawn" politi-fest going on. The dogwhistle phrases for this battle are "the aging of fandom" and "the graying (and dying) of fandom".

Based on the information gleaned from Teresa's dog whistleless post, I suspect it the old guard in Toni's sphere of influence is in an "Adapt or Die" struggle with themselves. The dog whistles were certainly playing that tune.

^ It's hard to see unless you're 1) keeping track of the ages and origins of your volunteers at conventions 2) Chatting up people on line and in person about how they got into that particular section of the Fandom Venn Diagram. 3) enjoy listening to people ramble on about the good old days. 4) aware that generations don't occur in neat and consistent 20-30 year chunks like the government census uses.

* This is why I have absolute and abiding respect for Abi, Teresa and all the other moderators like them everywhere on the web.

#93 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:47 AM:

Raven on the Hill @78 (and others on this thread):

I have many strong feelings and passionate beliefs that do not make it into conversations on Making Light. And more than one person here has strong feelings and passionate beliefs which they could enumerate in ways that would make me feel very unwelcome indeed. We exist in this community, as in so much of our lives, by making small sacrifices of silence to preserve the greater good of comity†.

I don't think it's asking angelic patience of anyone to exert self-control when writing comments on a web form. And that's all I'm asking. I expect everyone here to be in control of their language, both tonally and topically, when posting. What people feel, what they say aloud to the screen, what they post elsewhere, what they abandon at preview—these are nothing to me as a moderator*.

Own your words, but also make them ones you can own here.

* Of course I care about the people and how they feel. But it doesn't enter into the curation of conversations.
† There are relationships where silence is a brutal, terrible trade for an unworthy peace. If Making Light is that to anyone, please, flee to someplace that feeds your soul.

#94 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:01 AM:

The mundanes are not different from fandom, in that the actual divide of political opinions in the population is an n-dimensional space. As a collegue of mine posted online "I just want gay married couples to be able to defend their pot farms with guns." Being pro-legalization or pro-gay doesn't necessarily mean being pro-gun control, or contrawise. People have opinions on specific issues, and even Rush has shown the ability to change and break from his allies.

The presentation of American (and, to a degree, global) politics as having "two sides" is a magic trick designed to keep people too afraid of "the other side" to yank back The Wizard's curtain and see that it's really the same small group running things regardless of the ostensible political party. Here, George Lucas is the SF visionary: no matter who wins -- the Empire or the Alliance -- it's the same small family in charge.

For that reason (bringing it back to the essay), whenever I see someone portraying a real-life messy situation as two sides with a wide line between them, my immediate suspicion is that a power play has begun.

#95 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 04:56 AM:

The other piece of the "this is my home, these are my people" reaction (something I felt very strongly) is that science fiction (and later, fandom) were generally despised.

I've been amazed to see how mainstream science fiction has become. Not that everyone is reading the stuff, but mainstream media talk about it without snarking. The process had been going on for a while, but I was still surprised when Gordon Dickson got a respectful and thorough eulogy on NPR. (I wouldn't have expected them to be nasty, I would have expected them to just not notice he'd died.) That was in 2001. (Dickson was a solid second-rank writer who did most of his major work in the 60s and 70s.)

Now we've reached the point-- which I don't think would have been imaginable in the 60s or earlier-- possibly not imaginable in the 80s-- where sometimes fannish quarrels get reported in mainstream media.

#96 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 06:29 AM:

clew writes: "I think there's a confusing and growing group of, depending on how you look at it, 'crunchy conservatives' or ?libertarian hippies?"

That's actually a pretty good example of the fractal political nature of a lot of communities (not just in fandom) when you get to know them.

The term "crunchy conservatives" is one I associate with Rod Dreher, who published a book _Crunchy Cons_ some years back, and who now blogs at The American Conservative (with a lively commentariat whose political center of gravity is notably different from this community's). If you read his writing for more than a bit, though, it becomes clear that "libertarian hippie" is very definitely *not* how you'd describe him, or the other TAC writers.

(TAC itself has a rather different center of gravity than the mainstream Republican establishment, one which from my perspective has both positive and negative aspects; for instance, they tend to be both more anti-war and more anti-immigrant.)

"Libertarian hippie" is rather fractal as well, if you draw the term broadly enough. If it includes the folks who say "I just want gay married couples to be able to defend their pot farms with guns," for instance, John Scalzi's said something similar to that on his blog. (Minus the "pot farms" part; I haven't seen him take a position on those.) But Scalzi's politics are very different from, say, the Randian technocrat who goes to Burning Man.

I agree with Josh Berkus that there are far more than two sides in both American and global politics, and that many of the "hot button" issues played up in the media largely serve as a distraction from the insidious policies that the ruling class tends to slip past the public while we fight over other things. I would disagree, however, with the notion that it's "the same small group running things". It's a number of relatively small groups (the Republican ruling-class group having some rather significant differences with the Democrat ruling-class group, for instance). But the groups tend to at least tacitly agree on a number of things that are at odds with the interests of most of the folks in the non-ruling classes.

#97 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:26 AM:

James #75: The birth of the claim thst reality has a liberal bias comes, AFAICT, from the somewhat problematic relation between the American far Right and such scientific, but abstract, topics such as global warming and evolutionary theory. I'm not sure that it was meant to apply as much to matters of direct experience.

I originally heard it even before global warming hit the radar, specifically as a response to Shrub honchos naming and explicitly rejecting the "reality-based community".

Note that in context there, Rove wasn't actually elevating faith over reality (though ShrubCo did plenty of that elsewhere). He was, however saying that he and his crowd didn't need to study the situation or look at the facts, because they could just decide how they wanted things to be, and make it so. That, of course, is pure hubris.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 09:12 AM:

One of the more difficult things for me to note is that while Toni has not done or said anything that's annoyed or offended me, she happens to be one of the few people who's rocketed to the top of Gail's shit list. Those here who know Gail are aware that she is by far the calmer and sweeter of the two of us, so when she uses terms like 'jerk' (sorry Xopher) about Toni, a person she's only encountered at cons, that says a lot.

#99 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:04 AM:

UrsulaV @ 73 (and Victoria @ 62): Consider this thought experiment. You are watching a silent video feed of a person in front of a room full of dogs. The dogs are visibly barking.

How much additional information do you need to determine whether the person is blowing a whistle, or whether this is just how the dogs respond?

(If you were privy to what work of fiction is sitting on my recliner chair arm right now, you might find that piece of information incredibly funny in context, or you might not, but I do.)

James @ 75: Not to mention that some branches of the Left have their own issues with science on such issues as vaccination.

You are too kind. There is no Left in America.

There is a conglomerate of counter-cultural organizations, many anti-political, others right wing. There are remnants of the Left among them and more remnants outside them.

It's a very depressing picture if you're a leftist and not a green or a liberal.

SandyB @ 80: I hear you. GMO has become many of my friends' favorite buzzword.

As a leftist, I'm more interested in how we seize Monsanto for the public good than why it's the Great MonSatan. (I have no doubt its resources could be better used than they are now.)

clew @ 82: I think there's a confusing and growing group of, depending on how you look at it, `crunchy conservatives' or ?libertarian hippies? who have a lot of the personal or aesthetic habits we associate with the left and the politics of the right. (emphasis added)

I think they're confusing to some folks and not to others. Those who grew up in (or like me, shortly after) a time of left-dominated counter-culture have that association in their worldview, so I get that confusion--cognitive dissonance, maybe--myself sometimes. With the triumph of the right, that association is breaking down. It'll be different in people going forward.

Thing is, "personal and aesthetic habits" can't make up a political movement. Politics can.

Tom Whitmore @ 86: People still look at me funny when I say I've never read Dune.

Avram @ 91: I'd go to a doctor or a public health official to understand the health effects of fracking, just like I would coal dust. I just wouldn't expect them to know about earthquakes.

#100 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:02 AM:

The fandom-as-refuge/I Have Found My People! feeling is what I was talking about earlier in the thread, with Alpha as my data points. It's interesting to watch the changes happen. In years past, we the staff have talked about cons and how good they can be; this year, we mostly talked about ICFA and the Dell Award, then went back to encouraging people to keep in touch not only with their cohort but with the decade of Alphans before them. I think that we recommmended specific cons, but never 'go to cons, it'll be fun' because most of the staff have been to enough terrible, boring, exclusive cons. We're more likely to tell the students where we'll be than to point them toward a fandom that hasn't figured them out yet.

The Alphans, and their 'generation' who didn't attend the workshop, have a community. That seems to have changed in the last fifteen years-- now it's the default rather than the exception.

#101 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:11 AM:

Dave H., #97: And it's come around to bite him on the ass. I saw an article somewhere recently which pointed out that Rove and his political machine were more-or-less bit players in the current election cycle because they failed to deliver on a lot of key positions in the last one, and that the big money is now going elsewhere. The bloom is definitely off that rose.

#102 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:33 AM:

John A Arkansawyer @99

Okay. I'll bite. The weekend is nearly here, and I have the inclination to play. I'll need breaks from the planned cleaning spree.

Does this silent video show me the person's face and hands? Or does it show the person's back? Or is the shot in profile to the human? Is the person standing still or moving? If so, how? How is the human dressed? How many dogs and what breeds? Are they collared or not? Are the dogs dressed and if so, in what? Are the dogs sitting, standing or lying down? How are they sitting/standing/lying? Are they in motion or stationary? Are their body parts moving, if so, which ones and in what ways? What position are their ears in? How well does the video show me the dogs? How much of the room is shown? Is there furniture in the frame, if so, what is it? What else can I see about the room/place/context? Where is the camera focused? What is the depth of field? How long does the video run? Is it taped or in real time? If taped, can I replay the video multiple times? Can I pause the video at will? Can I zoom in or enlarge the film? Is the video hand held or fixed? What kind of resolution does the film have? Did I know ahead of time I would be watching this video? Do I know why this video was made? Do I know who produced this video? If I found it on my own, where and how did I find it? If I was asked to watch the video, who is asking, and where did they get the aforementioned video? Why is this person asking me to view this video and make a decision? Will this video be shown to others and get asked the same question?

What book do you have on your recliner's arm?

Have you seen this video?

Have you read this article?

#103 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:49 AM:

Raven #90:

My point wasn't "everybody does it," though I suppose everybody in politics *does* make predictions about the likely bad effects of policies they oppose. (That's usually the point of opposing those policies, after all.)

SamChevre said that conservative thinkers of the past had been a lot more accurate than liberal thinkers of the past in predicting the consequences of many policies and social changes.

My point is that you can't really check that claim by cherry-picking either right or wrong predictions. There are so many predictions being made by so many people that it's inevitable that there will be some of each.

Were conservatives better at predicting the likely outcomes of social and policy changes than liberals? I don't know, and neither do you, and neither does Sam. It would be a lot of work to really try to answer that question, since you'd need to find a way to select a representative sample of conservative/liberal thinkers in the past. (Note that you need to be careful how you do this, lest you select people who are now considered prominent thinkers *because* they got their predictions right in some area.) Then you'd need to quantify their predictions, and evaluate them.

This is very much like the common exercise of finding ways SF writers predicted the future. Some did, sometimes. But not because they were prophets, just because there were a lot of them and they wrote a lot of stories and they were trying to make plausible, internally-consistent assumptions to give themselves a backdrop for an interesting story each time.

#104 ::: HelenS ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:54 AM:

UrsulaV wrote: "and I am in no way blaming Ms. Weisskopf for that comment section! Not her blog, not her moderation, not her words."

Nonetheless, Toni Weisskopf agreed to have her essay reposted there, and she presumably knew what Sarah Hoyt's blog was like.

#105 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:16 PM:

@99 I'd ask the person shooting the video what happened immediately beforehand.

#106 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:34 PM:

Victoria, UruslaV @ 102, 105: My point is that drooling dogs doesn't mean Dr. Pavlov rang a bell.

I read parts of that comment section. They have little to do with the essay. That's an audience inclined to see what it wants to see and disregard the rest.

And I guess I should ante up with the book:

I found it amusing that at the same time an essay suggests that "reading Heinlein" clearly marks me as a doubleplusungood crimethinker, I'd been thumbing through To Sail Beyond The Sunset. I realized two things on re-reading parts of it: There's a great book trying to get out of there and Heinlein wrote women pushing back against male snots as well as anyone.

And yes, my god yes, there is outrageous and possibly horrible stuff in there, too. There's a reason Delany speaks so well of Heinlein. They both poke sore spots society would rather ignore.

#107 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:35 PM:

UrsualaV @73: Which now makes me wonder--was fandom ever really a place where people expected to be able to walk up to any stranger at the con and strike up a conversation about a specific book in absolute confidence that they had read it?

My first SF convention was DisConII, 1974 in Washington D.C. And at that time MOST fen would have read everything that had been released, seen what little there was on TV, and have been to any SF movie. Plus, the film tracks at Worldcons and smaller regionals guaranteed that one got to experience the older movies as well. I got to meet most of my favorite authors.

The 1970s were the time when studios started bringing trailers to Worldcon, Star Wars actually had a good size room at the KC Worldcon where they ran the trailer over and over...

There was a time, and it was fun! I do miss it.

#108 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:39 PM:

Dave #97:

It looks to me like the broad Republican coalition has two specific problems with science:

a. Evolution

b. Global Warming

Some subset of evangelical voters will use doubt of evolution as a kind of litmus test, so some politicians will say they don't believe in evolution or they have doubts or whatever. Some probably really do, many others probably are just saying what they think the voters want to hear. Mostly, this doesn't have any big effects on policy, other than screwing up high school biology classes.

Global warming is very different. First, because it's honestly a lot less solid, thanks to being a much younger field. (Also, the theory of evolution is about as solid as you can get.) But more importantly, because politicians' expressed beliefs about it matter for policies that will have a big impact on the world, and particularly on donors and voters and volunteers from the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Being an open believer in evolution probably loses you a few evangelical voters, but being an open believer in AGW loses you donors at a level that's probably pretty important for your campaign. There's also substantial money being spent in casting doubt on AGW. (There are also real scientists who are skeptical about AGW, for real reasons. They're just the minority of scientists working in the field. And they're not really driving the opposition to AGW, since scientific arguments of this kind don't make good PR.)

And politicians' expressed beliefs about AGW matter a *lot* for policy. You're not talking about screwing up high school biology classes here, you're talking about shutting down coal-fired power plants, laying off coal miners, imposing billions of dollars of taxes on CO2-producing industries to encourage them to decrease those emissions. The impact is huge, and a lot of it falls on a smallish group of industries, who are spending a lot to combat it.

#109 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:43 PM:

Tom Whitmore @86 I wanna grab this one before it slides off my radar--ack, Making Light, too many good threads to chase!

Can you, if you want to, expand on the notion of pros not hanging out with fans these days? I've heard this said before, but it's something I'm still trying to find context for.

I'm a pro, as such things are measured, I guess, and I definitely do hang out with other writers/artists, because...well, that's who I know from on-line. It's a solitary lifestyle, so I go to cons and see what amounts to my peer group and OMG you're the one who did the comic with the dinosaur I loved that let's go to the bar. Or in my usual run of cons, artists tend to hang out as a lump--oh, you got a commission from Dude? Hey, anybody got scissors? Etc. And dealers often hang out as a lump, because wow, are sales down or is it just me? Did guy in the wolf-hat come by? Got a bad vibe off him. Etc. And my husband works security, and they all hang out together with a generous helping of staffers, going "So who called the ambulance?" and recalling the glory days when a SWAT team raided the hotel to take down a guy dressed as Jack Sparrow.

Now, that division based on...peer group? I guess? has been happening as long as I've been doing cons, though with super fluid and squashy edges, and it's the way I expect humans in groups to act. was the difference? Was it just that fandom was small enough that everybody was at the same party? I've never hard a writer say "Oh, JUST a fan!" and stalk away with their hand over their drink (though I sure won't swear it's never happened!) but it seems like the framing sometimes implies some element of not-wanting-to-mingle-with-hoi-polloi. And I wonder if that's causing a resentment somewhere along the line.

#110 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 12:57 PM:

3% of scientists, as I understand it, don't accept that global warming has anything to do with what people have done. That's a very small minority.

#111 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:01 PM:

albatross #108: The bigger problem is it's not just about science. Before ShrubCo's Middle East adventures, anyone could have told you why those invasions were a bad idea, and a goodly number of folks did. ShrubCo didn't want to hear it, and we're still paying the price. And there were other incidents, for example on the diplomatic front. All of these are situations where doing the wrong thing had predictable and disastrous consequences. ShrubCo figured that they could use their power to protect themselves from the blowback. (Mostly correctly -- Rove may be out of favor, but he's not in jail.) What happens to everybody else, they considered irrelevant.

#112 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:11 PM:

And @88 --yeah, I'm sure that's part of the disconnect. You say "Ban somebody for behaving badly!" and half of us hear "Kick him out of the party," and the other half hear "Leave him to shiver in the outer darkness until he dies of exposure!"

I come from a world where banning people from forums for crappy behavior is a sign of good moderation, and anyway, there's a thousand more forums you can go to. I've banned people from my blog for being idiots myself--it's just...price of admission. You run a space on the internet, sooner or later someone will show up who wants to scream that feral cats will eventually be the only thing left on earth, devouring each other in a cannibalistic frenzy.*

But if you still believe on some level that there is only ONE fandom and if you ban a person from one con, they have been left rootless and roofless, it's way different.

Which leads to Lee @89...and lord, I don't want to revisit that 500+ comment post, either! Haven't seen so much controversy since I asked what people call the little bugs that roll up in a ball.** BUT--I think it's related. Many members of my generation sees a con not working and says "Let's change it. Change is impossible and will take twenty years? Okay, there are eighty bazillion other cons, we'll go hang out at, where we feel we CAN change things."

In short...we feel we've got tons of options, and there isn't an imperative to beat our heads against a thing because it's the only thing like it we've got.

Which gets me to a point--on both fronts--where I sort of wobble between "If somebody feels strongly that this is their only belonging place, and I can go to all these other places and they don't want me in their place, maybe it would be kinder/more enlightened/much easier to just leave them alone where they're happy" and "Screw it, literary sci-fi is not a wildlife refuge for a certain subset of geekdom, I will NOT leave only footprints."

I can go back and forth on that point with myself at least twice an hour, too!

*Actual person banned. Used a lot of caps and did not believe in paragraph breaks, too.

**Passions ran high.

#113 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:14 PM:

I believe that young earth creationists also have problems with deep time.

People are very bad at forecasting, and most people have no idea how very bad people are at forecasting.

#114 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:15 PM:

Victoria @33: run a live demonstration of what harassment consists of

This got me to thinking back on some of the (awkward and tiresome, but effective) anti-harassment videos HR would make us watch back in the '90s, which in turn prompted me to ponder what a fan-made version would look like. This brought to mind Dumb Ways to Die.

And now I've earwormed myself. Thank you. ::mutter, mutter::


#115 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:29 PM:

Dave Harmon @97: back when I was working at the Office of Energy Information Validation in the Department of Energy, in the Reagan years, I was told by the head of the Office that one of the White House staff said to him: "Mr. Smith, we don't needhavepolicy." It well predates Bush II.

John A. Arkansawyer @99: If we can't talk about DUNE, I'll look for the next book for us to talk about. And maybe you'll be one of today's lucky 10,000 (per XKCD).

UrsulaV @109: It's a subtle distinction. You're quite right to point to the "peer group" separation (and I don't have a better word for it than that, and any reification of it is going to be partly right and partly wrong). It's more like a shift of emphasis. Pros have always hung out together: these days, it seems to be more so. And I have indeed seen pros dismiss people as "just a fan" -- even felt that dismissal myself, though I've probably made more money off selling SF (as a bookseller) than most of the neopros who are likely to do this.

Maybe it's just the explosive growth of the field since I first got involved which makes these groupings look larger and more obvious. Maybe it's the need for a sorting mechanism so people can more often find interesting and cool people to talk with -- we all do that kind of prejudice, looking for folks who actually speak our language. Most people hang out with people they know -- which brings in new people in a filtered-through-who-I-know-knows way, which is one reasonable sort of filter. In general, these days, the people who see themselves as pros sort out differently from the people who see themselves as fans -- and that was less true back when I first got involved.

It's wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff. Hard to quantify. I hope we'll get a bit of a chance to talk about it in person at Foolscap early next year (I'm involved in helping make that con happen, and I'm really proud you're our GoH!).

#116 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:30 PM:

UrsulaV @109 was the difference? Was it just that fandom was small enough that everybody was at the same party?

Short Answer: Yes.

Long Answer: The diversity of people gathering matters as much as the size. Also, when fandom self-organized, they were what we now call social outcasts and marginalized in the mainstream world. So early fandom did the birds flocking together thing because the variation in the feathers hadn't developed through crossbreeding. Or wasn't recognized until the microscopes got pulled out.

Personal Rant Summarized: in the con-running subset of fandom, there is a lot of "It's a party for me and my friends" and the "The con is a business that needs to be run like one so diversify already" factional action.

#117 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:32 PM:

Oh, cool! Looking forward to Foolscap! (You'll have to remind me--I've got a bad head for names, but tell me you're a commenter from Making Light and the lightbulb will go on...)

#118 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:34 PM:

I wonder what such a video would look like too. I think it would benefit from a contrast scene, where on one side, two people are flirting and enjoying the interaction, and on the other, two people are interacting but only one of them is flirting and the other is uncomfortable but too polite to tell the flirter to leave them alone. The point out the differences because they are SO OBVIOUS if you only look, and not everybody thinks to look.

...This comment powered by the memory of a friend who fb-posted a picture that looked like a stereotypical romance book cover, with the shirtless guy holding onto the swooning woman, oh so romantic... until I pointed out that the woman was leaning away, turning away, looking away, and didn't look happy to be held in the guy's arms. (Said picture and my comment in response disappeared shortly after. I don't think my friend had actually looked at the woman's body language until then, only the overall pose.)

#119 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:44 PM:

John A Arkansawyer @106

Spoilsport. I was really looking forward to playing an observational game this weekend.

In regards to your point... I didn't even bother reading the comments on Toni's re-post, I looked at the length of the scroll along with the amount of and the variety of levels of indenting, and I knew it wasn't my circus. It didn't involve my performing dog(s). They're still not my monkeys.

#120 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:45 PM:

John A., #106: IMO, it's not "reading Heinlein" that's problematic, or even "liking Heinlein". It's reading Heinlein uncritically and failing to acknowledge that there are things he got very wrong, and things which have not withstood the test of time well. It's believing and arguing that Heinlein is THE GREATEST SCI-FI WRITER EVER, and that the highest accolade which can be given to another writer is that he (it's always "he" in these instances) writes in the vein of Heinlein. It's worshiping Heinlein. There's a huge difference between that and simply reading or liking, and there are a lot of people who try to conflate the two.

albatross, #108: I would suggest avoiding the use of the term "believe in" as applied to either the theory of evolution or global warming. First, it's inaccurate; neither of those things is a matter of belief, they're matters of fact. (As the saying goes, "Reality is that which, when you cease to believe in it, does not go away.") Second, it plays right into the arguments of those who want to pretend that the facts don't exist, and that these things are merely matters of opinion. I don't have to "believe in" evolution any more than I have to "believe in" the chair I'm sitting in. I don't have to "believe in" global warming, I can look at agricultural hardiness charts. (The most recent set of which I've found online dates from around 2002, and I'd really like to find something that's less than a decade out of date.)

UrsulaV, #109: Re pros hanging out with fans or not, that's largely a function of the pro in question. Sometimes, especially at larger cons, it's also a function of how much professionally-related business the pro has to deal with while they and their editor are in the same physical location for once.

Introverted pros are more likely to be overwhelmed by con-style socializing than extroverted ones, and need time to get away from the press of people. Extremely popular authors may have to draw boundaries for various reasons; Mercedes Lackey has had a couple of stalkers, which has made her much more cautious about even going to cons any more. Pros who are heavily scheduled and over-stimulated may just need down time to recharge. Any of these things (among others) can result in what looks, from the outside, like the pro not wanting to mingle with the fans. And, of course, a few pros are just assholes -- I don't think I need to name names. But IME most pros are very friendly and enjoy chatting with fans.

#121 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:46 PM:

UrsulaV @117: Look for muttonchop whiskers. :-)

#122 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 01:50 PM:

UrsulaV@117, as a low-level concom member of Windycon, I'm looking forward to seeing you there, too! (I don't normally go to opening/closing ceremonies, but since you're the toastmaster....)

(Speaking of which, there's quite a conversation going on about how to appeal to the so-called Lost Generation in fandom; if you (or anyone) has any good ideas I can bring back to Programming before Programming is set in stone...?)

#123 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:06 PM:

Lee @120 I'm with you. I can fake being an extrovert for a day or two, but I have to sleep for a week afterwards. Maybe some of the Pros Of Yore remembered fondly for hanging out with fans were super extroverted!

Part of my problem is that it is really really hard for me to strike up a conversation with a stranger--I have to rehearse everything in my head about eight times and by then it's awkward. So I gravitate to people whose names I recognize. It could be that I'm self-selecting for names I recognize, which tend to be pros (because their names show up more!)

@122 I am hoping not to humiliate myself as Toastmaster. *grin* It helps that I've got the Squeecast to work with, who are broadly known to me and generally very nice.

As for appealing to the...err.. "Lost Generation" Oh, lord! That's a tough one. Um.

Do you have an strong video game track? I'm not saying I'm qualified to be on those panels, but my generation is probably the one who embraced gaming as a way of life. And my friends and I are often found talking about how Bioshock is Ayn Rand fan-fiction and how in a perfect universe, you shouldn't be able to be a light-side Jedi in Knights of the Old Republic if you're wreaking ecological havoc by killing all the apex predators.

Even a panel on the rise of home-made interaction fiction by tiny indie developers (I know one or two, and am sort of shambling that way in my copious spare time) and its callback to the halcyon days of Zork and Adventure!

This is undoubtedly one of the generational differences...I don't really CARE about Heinlein, except as a historical note, but you want to talk about how Skyrim apparently has a cabbage-based economy, I am THERE.

(Mind you, you'd need the panelists, and about the only one I'd be qualified for would be interactive fiction.)

#124 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:07 PM:

Secondary thought about pros and fans: SF is one of the few literary arenas -- maybe the only one -- where it's common for pros to start out as fans, and to know and socialize with other fans before they become pros. And it used to be even more like that Back In The Day; as Tom points out, there were a number of older pros who always considered themselves fans first and pros second. I can imagine that someone who was never involved in con-going fandom before becoming a published author might not have the same mindset. So that may have a bearing on it as well.

#125 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:16 PM:

UrsulaV @123, may I clip your programming suggestions and send them to Windycon Programming as coming from you? Or would you prefer I file off the serial numbers? Either way I'm fine with; whatever you're comfortable with is good.

#126 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:17 PM:

Lee @124: that difference is very obvious in mystery fandom, where the cons were started by SF fans but the writers didn't have the same sort of background. It's a great study in cultural difference (I bet there's a similar kind of difference in comics fandom, which has a higher overlap with SF fandom -- I don't know enough to say for sure).

UrsulaV @117: I'll definitely mention ML to you at Foolscap.

#127 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:26 PM:

UrsulaV @123 (you know, that rhymes?...) addendum; I've not met the other members of SqueeCast, but I can attest that Seanan is a lovely, friendly person, with a terrific (if slightly scary) sense of humor.

#128 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:33 PM:

@125--feel free! It's suggestions only--you guys know who's coming to WindyCon, I don't, so if nobody has expressed any interest in gaming, certainly don't reshuffle on my behalf! But pass along anything that you think might be helpful.

#129 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:44 PM:

Victoria @116:

The world of open source software (OSS) is going through some of the same changes. Back when I got involved in 1998, it was a small club and I had personally met 80% of the folks involved. Now it's the mainstream of software with literally 100,000's of people involved. This change has not been smooth; some of the sexism and racism in OSS is actually the "old guard" practicing their own Exclusion on younger programmers they don't want to be replaced by. This is one of the reasons the SFWA conflict has been intensely interesting to me; we don't have a good solution for these social issues in OSS, and I need to see how it plays out in another community.

#130 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 02:50 PM:

UrsulaV @ 112
Regarding your dilemma about literary cons and whether or not to beat your head on that wall, trying to get it to change. I feel (felt?) the same way you do.

The short version is that I had made the decision to leave and never go back. But someone stopped me by asking me to run the thing (after two years of training first as Vice chair, then as Co-chair.) I did get some changes made. I saw parts of my change get taken up into other literary conventions. The process was painful at times. But seeing the changes take hold and others run with them... It was worth it.

#131 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:29 PM:

Lee @124 I wonder if there's almost something more fundamental at work...people like me, who don't even think of themselves as "fans" in the same sense that I suspect other people are using the word.

Fan--to me, and me alone, won't presume to speak to anyone else!--is an expression of relationship, and only half of a description. If somebody says "I'm a fan" it's alike saying "I'm a sister" or "I'm an employee"--my next question is "Of what?"

Example--I'm a fan of first person shooters, wombats, and Riddick movies. Ergo, I like those things, those are things that I like, I know a little about the topcis, I would be happy to talk to anyone at length about those things.

But there's what is, to me, a whole 'nother world, where people say "I'm a fan" to mean "I am a member of Fandom." Fan is a complete description, like "I am a Lutheran" or "I am a Republican" or "I am a furry" or "I am a Girl Scout." It is a thing one IS, not a relationship one HAS.

So on the question of defining oneself as fan first, pro second, my brain goes "But fan of what? 'Cos, like, I'm a fan of Riddick movies, but that's a pretty slender hook to hang my identity on, compared to the thing I do eight hours a day..."

And then when the thought is "pros are hanging out with fans less" I start to fans? Where? Where are these fans I should be hanging out with so they don't think pros hate them? Is this a thing I am supposed to be doing? Oh god, am I doing being-a-pro wrong?* they want to talk about Riddick movies?

So now I sort of mentally shorthand myself that when someone says they are a Fan, full stop, they probably mean they are a member of the literary SF convention culture, and that it may be a proper noun. A fan of Fandom, if you will.

(Sorry, I'm blathering an awful lot today...)

*Default setting for me.

#132 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:46 PM:

UrsulaV @ 131:
That's true for me too, even though I am (I'm fairly sure) an older generation than you. (I've been reading SF since age 10 or 11, early 1970s.)

I'm an SF fan as in a "fan-of" SF, but not con-going, not a singular-of-fen. I went to one small con when I was 13 or 14, and that's been it, I never got tied into the culture. Some of that, I think, is due to spending most of my adult life in Hawaii where there really was no Fan culture. So when it starts getting phrased in exclusionary terms as "Us-versus-the-mundanes", I definitely feel I'm on the outside of that exclusion and it can get very uncomfortable, even here in ML.

#133 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:48 PM:

UrsulaV @131: Good analysis, and I think you're pointing in the right direction. Not sure what more to say right now, but I wanted to say that much.

#134 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:54 PM:

Reading this discussion has caused me to consider whether or not I am officially a science fiction fan. I have been reading science fiction for at least 55 years. 60 years ago, I had subscriptions to at least four SF magazines, and since I hadn't subscribed from issue 1, I spent a lot of time in second hand book stores picking up back issues. 55 years ago, my then-husband threw away my magazines while I was in the hospital giving birth. You may be surprised to hear that our marriage did not end immediately. No, I stuck around long enough for him to throw out many of my other possessions, including prized antiques inherited from prized deceased relatives. But I have a better one now.

In 1974, I had children old enough to be devoted readers of science fiction, and I do not believe that by 1974, "MOST fen would have read everything that had been released, seen what little there was on TV, and have been to any SF movie", because I could not have, and I read very rapidly. I don't believe I could have done it even years earlier when I was in high school. I don't believe anyone could, and still have time for other life activities, such as school or work.

But apparently I am not a "fan". It may be because I didn't go to cons. It's really not my kind of thing. But I did have a large group of friends, throughout high school and college, who were as immersed in science fiction as I was, and none of us went to cons.

So, I kind of enjoy reading about these sorts of controversies, but I do wonder how much of the *real* membership of fandom is simply invisible to people who participate in the -- what? -- fandom society, perhaps. Is it like the iceberg? Are we 90% of the total readership? It wouldn't surprise me.

#135 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:58 PM:

Jacque @ 114
No, thank you! I was trying to remember the name of that song the other day! My fellow dweller in the space ghetto (day job in-joke) and I were trading funny videos on our break. He had found a cache of horror movie-esque training videos on YouTube. I was trying to top him with funny and gross. "Dumb Ways to Die" was one of my inspirations. Along with an indie produced D&D movie where the LARP style acting was inter cut with table-top RPG play. It was funny as all get out.

John Cleese, of the Monty Python fame, owns a company that makes training videos in the UK. At least he used to. The training video I saw had some great dead-pan humor. Cleese played the Big Boss in need of educating role. (it was about how to supervise employees.)

janra @ 118
At this point, what I have going on in my head could be described as "Sexual Harassment Policy: The Training Movie"

It would be easy enough to "write" the script using D&D style character sheets and define harassing behaviors in a "Monster Manual". The character modifiers would be something along the lines of "Beer Goggles, -2d6 on perception, spot checks and smooth moves. Cape of Costume -1d10 on stealth moves. Badge of Heroics +1d10 on spot checks and so on. I'm using the D&D model because it removes deliberate intent and allows for a certain level of improv and fannish ownership.

I'd love to get authors along the lines of John Scalzi and Jim C. Hines*, fans and con-runners to volunteer their time, materials and talents at a convention for the filming. ('Cause I know this guy who shoots movie-style book trailers. For fun. He's got equipment and knows how to work movie magic.)

* mostly because I really admire their bad book cover pose-offs.

#136 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 03:59 PM:

UrsulaV @131, that's an interesting point. Those of us who think of ourselves as Fans, Full Stop, are probably (like me) products of an era where it was possible to keep track of (if not read) most of the major authors, see most of the major movies, and watch most of the major TV shows in the SF/Fantasy genre.

Now the SF/Fantasy market is vastly larger, and anime fans may never have heard of CJ Cherryh, and people who watch "Orphan Black: might not care about "Welcome to Night Vale", and Minecraft fans might not care about the Avengers, and so forth, and so on.

The pond's gotten very much larger in the last forty years. Which this small fish sometimes forgets, but it never-the-less grateful for.

We used to not have to qualify "fan" because there were orders of magnitude fewer fandoms (of an SF/Fantasy bent, anyway) to be a part of. And I guess we never got into the habit of qualifying, although that would be helpful to others.

#137 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 04:20 PM:

Older @134: Fortunately (IMO) there is no National Academy to decide who counts as a fan. Again IMO, readers like you are fans. Others may differ.

Being a fan is entirely a self-identification. If you think you are: you are. That I think you are counts as corroboration. That I don't think you are -- that would be a slight (and very slight!) indication that you might want to think a bit more before you identify yourself in that way.

#138 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 04:39 PM:

Cassy B. @ 136: "We used to not have to qualify "fan" because there were orders of magnitude fewer fandoms (of an SF/Fantasy bent, anyway) to be a part of."

That's the generational shibboleth I point at. Whether "fandom" as a word is naturally singular or plural.

So, this "lost generation" -- which generation is it? I suspect I'm in the middle of it but this may be perspective bias.

(I'm 40-something. At Boskone I feel like most folks are older than me; at Balticon I feel like most folks are younger than me.)

(And in a couple of weeks I'm going to try a Dragoncon, because... well, to see what they're like. I would have liked to get to Worldcon but this is not a year when I can spend that much money.)

#139 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 04:47 PM:

I have enjoyed SF&F since I was four and my mother sat me down and started reading The Hobbit aloud after an afternoon of watching Star Trek.

I have considered myself a fan of the genre since I found out that not everyone was as familiar with it as I was, or liked it in the same way. I was about 13 or 14, I guess. I had been to a convention, the only middle schooler in the group of high school students in the SF club to go, but it didn't set my world on fire.

But I wouldn't say I became a member of fadom—a Fan, as it were—until I joined this community.

#140 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 04:48 PM:

Victoria (135): I've seen some of those John Cleese training videos -- the only training videos I'm familiar with that are actually fun to watch.

#141 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 05:08 PM:

I don't consider myself fan-as-fen. I might have once, but then I met a couple too many people who definitely considered themselves fan-as-fen and I internalized the idea that, like a tent at Grange Fair, it's something you need to inherit. There's too much there and I care about too little of it. I'd rather enjoy the people around me now than prove my knowledge of the people I wasn't around then.

I don't generally make this distinction with 'people who speak internet'. I'm going to be thinking about that now.

#142 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 05:10 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @138, I usually see the "lost generation" of fandom (meaning sf-con-attendees) used to describe young adults and youngish adults; late teens through 30-somethings.

Other people may mean other things by it, of course. As with all such terms of art, it can be hard to pin down.

My own experience at Chicago-area conventions is that you'll see lots and lots of 50-60 year olds, a fair number of kids and young teens, and not a lot of people between those ages.


#143 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 05:17 PM:

Tom @ 137: I appreciate your viewpoint. In the discussions a few years ago about whether Scalzi was "entitled" to be nominated for the fan writing Hugo, some people seemed to hold to a very different perspective, along the lines of "How dare he!"

#144 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:17 PM:

UrsulaV, #112: Re your two competing viewpoints... I'm in a somewhat peculiar position myself WRT that. Chronologically, I've been around long enough to be considered one of the Old Phart Phen (although I think I'm of the fannish generation just after Tom's). But that's not how I feel; emotionally, my sympathies are with the "lost generation", the people we've been talking about who are losing patience with the lit-con culture. (It may make a difference that a lot of my friends are 15 to 25 years younger than I am.) So on the one hand, this is the culture I know and am comfortable with, and have built my social life around for decades; on the other, I'm not blind to its flaws, and I'm HERE dammit, and don't want to leave. And on the third hand, I have a living to make, and I can only do so much in the way of committing to pushing for change. It's awkward, and leaves me feeling frustrated a lot of the time.

and @131... Perhaps it would help if I explain the FIAWOL/FIJAGH divide. FIAWOL is an acronym for "Fandom is a Way of Life"; FIJAGH is "Fandom is Just a Goddamn Hobby". This is another one of those things which has caused ferocious arguments over the years, and the irony inherent in people fanatically arguing that the thing they do is just a hobby is the most amusing part of it. But I suspect that a lot of the people who describe themselves as Fans, full stop, are those who lean toward the FIAWOL side of the argument. (Which does include me, FTR; my social life has consisted mostly of people I met in fandom for close to 40 years, and now the money I live on comes from it as well.) In that sense, saying, "I am a Fan" means "I am a member of con-going fandom." There's a semi-ironic counter to that: "I'm not a Fan, I just read the stuff."

But the word "fandom" has been changing and expanding, and although it took me a while to get used to that, I can now code-switch depending on context. So when Person A asks, "What are your fandoms?" and Person B responds, "Buffy, Supernatural, and Charlaine Harris," I'm not as confused as I used to be. :-)

I'm a fan of a lot of stuff too, but I'm a Fan as well.

Victoria, #135: Is your friend the person who did the book trailer for Night of the Living Trekkies? Because even though I don't like zombie stuff (and I have no idea whether the book is any good or not because I don't read zombie stuff), that trailer was absolutely screamingly hilarious!

#145 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:51 PM:

I’m working on a couple different posts right now, but I wanted to weigh in on the identification-as-fan question (a post on the Lost Generation* is also in the works).

I think that the typical identity has slowly shifted from “fan” to “geek.” I was born in the 80s, and if you ask genre-loving people my age to describe their identity, most would classify themselves geeks or nerds, possibly specifying that they are “in” certain fandoms (though the use of fan/fandom is much more prevalent with female fans**). The lines between “pro” and “fan” are more blurred than ever, because when does a webcomic artist become a pro? When they’re clearing operating expenses for their comic? When they quit their day job?

I’m a full time creative professional in the game industry, working exclusively on science fiction and fantasy titles, and I have been for nearly a decade. But I’m not a famous and visible creator, so I’m still classified as a “fan” in terms of 98% of the stuff I do (which is fine with me, but an interesting datapoint). Contrast that with someone who works a day job but has a webcomic with tens of thousands of readers – they’d be put in a class that more closely resembles the old “pro” category. As a result, that old classification is eroding – instead of “fan” and “pro” there’s a spectrum that goes from “famous” to “internet famous,” to “not particularly famous.” Rather than categories, there are just geeks and geek-related celebrities who fall at different points on the fandom fame spectrum.

A good example of that is a girl I know who is a full-time animator and illustrator on properties that don't have a strong geek fandom (despite the fact that they are speculative fiction themed). She also does a small hobbyist webcomic that updates a few times a month, and she's much more recognized for that than any of her other work.

I wish I had a better way to describe it, because it isn't just pure recognizeability, and it's rather disconnected from the standard "A-D List" hollywood categorization. I'd say an individual's place on the spectrum is determined by holistic evaluation of a number of factors:

1. How recognizable are you to the average person, not just fans/geeks?
2. How recognizable are you to geeks?
3. How big is the audience for the thing you work on?
4. How much creative control/influence do you have over that thing?
5. How active/influential are you on social media?
6. How much do you interact with your fans?
7. How invested are the fans you have?

Factor all that stuff together and you have someone's place on the con-fame spectrum.

*We’re not actually lost, we just took a different route and ended up living on the internet.
**Another interesting note: “fangirl” and “fanboy” are both used, but they have very different connotations, especially when used as verbs – to “fangirl” is to giddily get very excited and babble about how much you love a thing, while to “fanboy” is to pedantically obsess over obscure facts. A linguist friend of mine pointed this out to me, remarking that it is culturally less common for the feminine aspect to have the more positive implication.

#146 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 07:56 PM:

Andrew Plotkin @ 138
I suspect I'm in the middle of it but this may be perspective bias.

Yep, you are smack-dab in the middle of it. The Lost Generation, at this point in time, run from people in their early 30's to people in their early 50's.

There is some fudge factor on the edges. What feathers those edges into the late 20's and mid or late 50's depends largely on:
geography (includes the proximity the coasts and/or high concentrations capital-F Fandom^.),
economic opportunities (was there enough money and free time to go), and
individual genealogy (age and attitudes of parents as well as default peer groups*).

If you want hard and fast edges, I'd set them "calendrically" at 1960-1985. Pop culturally, begin with "Lost in Space" and end with ST:TNG.

Cassy B. @142 I usually see the "lost generation" of fandom (meaning sf-con-attendees) used to describe young adults and youngish adults; late teens through 30-somethings.

That's what I earlier called the Grandkids. You know, the ones that are invading the con and disrespecting those who are not their personal elders. My experience is that these fall into two general categories. People leaving other fan-based conventions because of nerd rage^^. Amateur writers looking to become pro authors and wanting to network with their future fans while they make that first sale**. What is your general geographic location? I've only gathered data from conventions in the mid-west.

For what it's worth, a lot of the Grandkids come once, look around, find nothing for them and don't come back. The ones who like to read? They stay and are starting to dig in.

One of the things that clued me into the Lost Generation is the fact that I'm an exception to the rule for my own group. All of my SFF-literary-con experience falls into the 1985 and younger crowd. My first few years in Fandom were very disorienting. I was sharing the exact same experiences with people young enough to be my children. Then when I found out most of the people running the convention and hanging out there were old enough to be my parents... I started looking for clues about why and where the others of my age/generation were. It turns out, they were all on line or at media conventions where the die-hard literary con people never go. I think it's a case of the fans didn't find Fandom welcoming or tolerant and so went off looking for like minded birds to flock with.

My experience is the opposite. I learned about conventions from one of my older sisters who bucked parental approval by "wasting money and time" going to Star Trek conventions. (Dad preferred that she put that effort in finding a husband.) So when I had enough discretionary income to go to a convention solo (I had no peers willing/able to go with me) the closest and most affordable one was a literary convention. I found the on line communities by doing some on-line fan research into my favorite authors. Those new, exciting things called personal web pages and list servs meant I was at the library a lot until I could afford to get my own computer.

Yep. Pretty funny in retrospect.
^ Thanks for the clarification on that, Ursula.

* by this I mean the people in the Fan's age range that they were forced to socialize with on a regular basis due to social, cultural and economic realities. Or more tellingly, Mundane spouses who had no intention of wasting their family vacation time (or money) on that "stupid skiffy stuff." Oh, and don't forget the kids, either.

^^ Which is anime-fan-speak for "you kids get off my lawn!" It seems the late teens and 20-somthings and early 30 somethings are having issues with all the new pre-teen and teen fans who never had to expend blood sweat and tears to find bootleg copies from Japan that weren't even dubbed! "We had to guess at the dialog!"

**It's amazing the amount of stuff I can get out of people with a "Hi! Welcome! Where are you from? How'd you find us? What are your interests?"

#147 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:17 PM:

Lee @ 144 Is your friend the person who did the book trailer for Night of the Living Trekkies?

I don't know. I'll have to look that up. However, movie-quality book trailers are becoming a fan-run cottage industry, and they all network with each other.

Leah Miller @ 145 (a post on the Lost Generation* is also in the works). *We’re not actually lost, we just took a different route and ended up living on the internet.

Yay! I'm looking forward to it. (Who is "lost" usually depends on who is holding the map.)

#148 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:31 PM:

Victoria @146 My finely crafted artisanal data (aka anecdotes) bear your experiences out WRT Fandom cons.

That generation--broadly corresponds to X and a little Y, I think?--are running the furry cons, the gaming cons, the brony cons, et, though. I see a lot of them! Which means, for good or ill, I suspect Fandom cons that don't have them now won't get most of them back--they've made their own fun and now they're enmeshed in running it. (Accidents of geography and kinship know the thing where the responsible people go "Aaaaugh, no, everything's on FIRE, let me start a bucket brigade!"* will get a chunk of them, of course.)

Heck, maybe one of the reasons this generation of pros are clumping together at the cons is because we're the same age!

*There needs to be a word for this.

#149 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:43 PM:

UrsulaV @148 My finely crafted artisanal data

I love this phrase. Hey, you could be a writer!

#150 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 08:53 PM:

@149 But one who cites my sources! I think I got it from Chuck Wendig who got it...somewhere.

#151 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Leah Miller #145: At this point, I don't think the "fandom fame spectrum" is actually a spectrum anymore -- it's branched out into a small-world network. Who's "famous" depends on where you come into the picture.

Victoria #146: Interesting... I'm coming up on 45, and wound up playing games much more than reading these days. But I'd thought my reasons for leaving fandom were more particular to me....

#152 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:05 PM:

UrsulaV #148: That generation ... furry cons, the gaming cons, the brony cons, et, though.

Well, those are certainly fandoms, just not SF fandom. The only reason SF/F gets away with claiming the capital letter for Fandom, is because they got there first.

#153 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 10:10 PM:

I find this discussion of SF + fandom history fascinating :)

(ML is my primary point of contact with fandom, in case that provides some context for the stuff below. And by "contact" I mean reading about it, since I don't post often.)

#134, Older:
I do wonder how much of the *real* membership of fandom is simply invisible to people who participate in the -- what? -- fandom society, perhaps. Is it like the iceberg? Are we 90% of the total readership?

How would anybody ever find out? Book sales numbers plus library circulation numbers? I certainly read and enjoy a lot, but can't really make any claim of participating in fandom society. (I think this post may be the first time I've even participated in a discussion of the subject. I don't usually post on subjects to say "I don't fit this description, nor do I have any knowledge of the subject you're talking about even though it nominally includes me as a(n) X" with X in this case being somebody who reads and enjoys SF/F.)

#145, Leah Miller:
I think that the typical identity has slowly shifted from “fan” to “geek.”

That's one reason I stopped calling myself a geek. It doesn't describe me anymore, and I don't know that "fan" as I understand the term ever did.

#146, Victoria:
age and attitudes of parents as well as default peer groups

Ah. Yes, while growing up, the only people I interacted with who liked SF or Fantasy were one of my uncles (who lived out of town so I didn't see him often, and who my dad and his other brothers made fun of) and a couple of guys in school who were also seriously into D&D, which didn't interest me. So, I kept to myself and read. A lot.

Age-wise I'm right in the younger decade of the "lost" generation. Can't say I really have any connection to the cultural side of fandom. Never been to a con (I don't like crowds) and the whole concept of being able to assume even passing familiarity with SF/F when talking to a stranger is pretty foreign to me. I am still reluctant to say that I like SF/F unless I'm in a context where I know that it's "acceptable".

#154 ::: Victoria\ ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2014, 11:39 PM:

UrsulaV @ 148
That generation--broadly corresponds to X and a little Y, I think?

Yep. They're also the ones who took the DOD's military research/application of bare bones functionality and turned it into the internet. It's the late Gen X-ers and the early Gen Y-ers that went "Hey! Let's build dedicated social networks so we introverts can unite, alone, in our own homes!"

UrsulaV @ 148 know the thing where the responsible people go "Aaaaugh, no, everything's on FIRE, let me start a bucket brigade!"* will get a chunk of them, of course.) *There needs to be a word for this.

I agree, but the only thing that comes to mind is "Sproing into action." (Sproing is not a typo.)

And let's not forget that mix of frustration, disbelief and urgent prayer for divine(ish, if you roll that way) help when you call for buckets and get matadors with fire blankets.

UrsulaV @ 148
Heck, maybe one of the reasons this generation of pros are clumping together at the cons is because we're the same age!

I'd agree. I suspect they're also natural extroverts in a fannish group of introverts. Or they're introverts who had to learn to fake extroversion and therefore stick with the natural extroverts out of self-defense.

OtterB @ 149 andUrsulaV @150
Regardless of the origin, it's still delightful.

#151 ::: Dave Harmon

I see you're experiencing the "So it's just not me?" phenomenon*. I hear this a lot, mostly from a group of people who have one burning irritation in common but doesn't want make waves by pressing the issue and upsetting the squeaky wheel types. I've said it often enough myself.

*Which is another thing that needs its own dedicated term. "Relief" just doesn't cover all the emotions conveyed in that simple sentence.

#155 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 12:49 AM:

Dave Harmon @ 152: 90% of furry stories I've seen seem to be SF/F based besides the furry element. My Little Pony is definitely fantasy. More gaming continues to be SF/F based than otherwise, although it has and continues to branch (Also depending what kind of gaming.

Asserting these are not SF fandom because SF literary (and reluctantly, movie and tv) Fandom with its capital F has a hard time seeing it that way is... missing a point, I think.

Our local literary con is also one of our local media cons, strongly influenced in its creation and history by a large crossover with current and former members of Star Trek Winnipeg, so the idea of a lost generation who don't go to cons because of the literary aspect being the specific focus... feels alien. I don't really see a lost generation locally. Maybe if I could travel more often to more cons, as I have often longed to do, I'd begin to see it.

#156 ::: Alex Roston ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:13 AM:

@ Ursula

Yeah, wombats. I've been a wombat person for more than thirty years now... I think they are the very first animal we should Uplift. Is there a wombat god I can worship?

Fan Identification

I have been a science fiction and fantasy reader for more than forty years. I AM NOT A FAN. I can't see myself going to a convention or spending a lot of time on rec.arts.sf (does Usenet still exist?) or working hard to meet an author/get autographs. It's just not who I am for whatever reason...

Mostly I just lurk on blogs. And stuff.

#157 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:37 AM:

I can vouch that Usenet, while not what it once was, does indeed still exist.

#158 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:11 AM:

On the concept of Fame, to several people: years ago I came up with the formulation "Fame is when more people know you than you know." This is for me a very useful way of thinking about fame: it allows for contextual fame, global fame, and a lot of different kinds of fame.

Lee @144: I must also bring in Bruce Pelz again, for his formulation FIJASOI: Fandom Is Just A Source Of Income. Several of us have lived that particular acronym (though I would leave out the "just" part, myself: as would Bruce if he were being serious). Fandom is not any one thing, except fandom. It's the intersection of a whole lot of overlapping sets at various levels of resolution. And it's always a bit of a surprise.

#159 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:16 AM:

Leah Miller #145:

The Lost Generation: "We’re not actually lost, we just took a different route and ended up living on the internet."

Yes, this. So very this.

I've been to a handful of cons & while I've enjoyed the experiences, they have not been unalloyed joys. Cons are multiple tribes sharing the same space & being socially awkward, can be challenging for me. Not to mention the cost & distance.

Being able to find likeminded people to interact with online has been marvellous, with the added bonus of having the ability to step away at will.

(I self identify as a fan with Fannish tendencies.)

#160 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:20 AM:

Fragano 98: when she uses terms like 'jerk' (sorry Xopher)

Huh? Did I ever object to the word 'jerk', even in jest? Perhaps I did, but I don't remember it.

#161 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 03:16 AM:

I’d always heard people born after “Generation X” (which ends in 1979) categorized as SF&F’s Lost Generation, as far as classic SF fandom was concerned.* That may just be because people were always asking me how to appeal to people my own age.

Based on this thread, I'm starting to think that a lot of GenX never found a place in fandom, whereas 80s kids ended up in one of the new fandoms. A few SMOF friends and I were theorizing about potential points of divergence. We came up with this list.

1. Having access to the internet before having access to a car (or drugs/booze)
2. Having a video game console in your house before/instead of tabletop games
3. Finding animation that was more inviting to you than mainstream TV/books
4. Following webcomics rather than paper comics

These factors were directly responsible for me ending up at Otakon rather than Worldcon, despite the fact that I spent much more time on books than anime. There was a year when I read Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and every Discworld novel available at the time, but the idea of going to a literary sci-fi convention didn't even occur to me**.

The biggest “geek” conventions now have very visible age banding (other than comic-con, which is its own beast). Anime con attendees have sort of hovered at late teens/early 20s since the Moon Boom of the late 90s (more on that later). PAX is marketed as a video game convention but also has a lot of programming for webcomics, internet humor, and tabletop games; the average attendee age is 32, matching perfectly with that 80s sweet spot.

I was always told my generation was lost, but it seems like people born between 1960 and 197X are like... even loster. I do want to make a specific point in relation to that, though: in my experience, the vast majority of people born in the 80s identify strongly with others born in that decade, so any definition of a cultural “generation” that puts 1980-1985 in a different chunk than 1985-1989 rings false, and calling people born after 1985 the grandkids? I will admit I made a face when I read that***. The GenX/Millenial distinction with 1979/1980 as the border is much more indicative of actual identity and demographic patterns, and less likely to induce facepalming. That’s not to say there’s no drift – I know a small number of early 80s kids who were drawn more towards Gen X stuff, and a more substantial number of late 70s people who ended up solidly in the fandom communities dominated by Millenials. Now I’m wondering if that’s because the 80s kids had a strong (if non-traditional) fandom community, while Gen X was really, truly lost. In our college group we had one guy born in 1977 who was three years older than the next oldest person. At one point he said “I don’t actually like anime, but it’s the best place to find the kind of people I like, so I’ll come to your anime club.”

That was a common theme in anime club: out of the 30-40 people spanning a ten-year age range that were involved when I was active, I’d say less than half of them actually had anime as their primary geeky interest. About 1/3 of us were more book people, there were a bunch of video game and tabletop game people, etc. At one point we were all involved in a Call of Cthulu game where we were roleplaying as famous authors: I was Kipling, a friend was Dunsany, and someone else was Keats. Anime was sort of the consensus fandom, the thing that everybody at least enjoyed enough for us to build a community from which we could explore all our other interests. The anime available at the time was hugely inclusive, genre-wise. Our favorites were a mix of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance. That’s another reason why it leached seriously from mainstream SF fandom: it was speculative fiction that covered all genres and did not seem to think that friendships and romance caused girl cooties.

"But wait!" You may say "Anime existed long before the 90s! Star Blazers! Etc! How could anime have suddenly caused this?"

The elephant in the room is Sailor Moon. Broadcast in the US starting in 1995, it was the first time a shoujo (girl's) anime got big in the US, and it was often packaged with one of the most popular shonen anime of all time: Dragon Ball Z. This meant that the anime fandom that sprang up in the 90s was relatively gender balanced, and it had inadvertently trained all the fans to watch both kids of shows.

This thread made me realize something else that anime did: it hit the reset button on the pool of expected geek knowledge. This is another place where the generational divide is clear: at anime cons in the late 90s, you were expected to know Sailor Moon, DBZ, and a few other major anime from the past couple years, but only stuff that was relatively popular in the US around or after 1995. In the year 2000 I saw a panel called "anime old fogies" that consisted of people in their 30s and 40s talking about the state of anime before Sailor Moon - the fandom itself clearly recognized the generational shift.

The reason anime fandom stays young (rather than growing older with the Sailor Moon bubble, now in their 20s and 30s) is that somehow it got into the habit of pressing that reset button all the time. If you want to be active in the anime fandom, you have to know a few shows that have been popular in the past four years. Knowing older shows is purely optional. As someone who started during the Sailor Moon era, I often find this willingness to dismiss the past profoundly frustrating, but this thread makes me realize the hidden benefit: it lowers the barrier of entry for the fandom in a way that keeps the movement going strong... even if it does sometimes cause older members to slowly drift away from the cons, looking for other fandoms online.

The internet made pluralistic fandom possible. One of the first non-anime cons I ever went to was a con for the 90s animated series "Gargoyles." The con attendees were 60-70% female, and most of the attendees of any gender would have been between nine and sixteen when the series launched in 1994. When I got there, what was happening was obvious. Of course every precocious teenage girl who loved A Midsummer Night's Dream carved this show into her heart. What are the odds that she would have found another Gargoyles fan if she wandered into a fantasy convention in 1995? Very low. It wasn't in the accepted SF&F canon at the time, but it was in the canon of everybody who watched the Disney Afternoon. So instead, she goes online and finds other literate fourteen-year-olds and writes to them about Shakespeare and when they all turn 18 they decide to have a convention. The first Gathering of the Gargoyles was in 1997. It was annual until 2009. During that period of time, nobody I knew saw it featured in any real way at any mainstream science fiction convention. It was a beautiful series that had extremely literate science fiction and fantasy elements and well-constructed plot arcs. It featured many actors from Star Trek: TNG. But it was on TV and it was a kids' cartoon, so mainstream fandom just did not care. And they weren't obligated to... so the children of the wire made their own convention.

Not that we didn't have help. Gen X was running those anime cons we went to - but they knew they things were spiraling beyond their control or imagination. They watched as attendance went from 450 to 7,500 in five years, from 1995 to 2000. Watched as Millenials poured screaming through their doors, paying little heed to what had come before. Most of their generation had really truly gotten lost, but when we found them we brought our generation home to roost. By 2005, that same convention was 22,000 people strong, and the vast majority of attendees were born in the 80s. I was friends with some of the GenXers who were shaking their heads. You only had to look at the crowd to see that GenX was nowhere near as heavily represented. They knew it. We all knew it. "I don't know where you all came from," they'd say "How is this possible. This can't go on like this. Every year, there are more of you."

We came from the internet. Sure, the internet existed before, but Windows 95 made it so anybody's dad could set the internet up in the guest room. All the factors I listed in the beginning, (combined with cable and the ubiquity of VHS players) created a world where the pressure to not like the things you like was greatly reduced. When people here talk about not wanting to mention to other people that they're a fan, I feel so sad - because of course you can tell people. If you can't tell people in your town, you can tell them on the internet. And even without the internet, everyone had at least SEEN Sailor Moon, Gargoyles, Batman the Animated Series, the X-Men, or Buffy, so you don't have to worry. Figure out which one they like, and you're home free. Most GenX fans I know got to that outcast-dissatisfied-self-doubt place before they hit college and got online. 90s kids had fully-formed communities just waiting for them as soon as they were allowed to use the internet. But 80s kids often share that feeling of just starting to worry when... voila, they're handed a magic box that tells them they're not alone. I was the only kid in my group of friends who had the internet in 1996, but I spread that message of hope, and they all stayed nerdy, and we all made it.

So yeah, Generation Y is alive and well and living on Tumblr.

We've read Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Neil Gaiman, Lord of the Rings. We've read Hawkeye and the Hunger Games, and some of us are just getting started on Thomas Harris. We're Homestucks and Whovians and we make our own stuff too. We ship, squee, and meta, and we're waiting here if you want to come get us. If not, though, we're cool. We've got each other.

- - - - -

Ok, now that I've finished channeling the voice of my generation, I must admit I share as much with classic SF&F book fandom as I do with the mixed media millenials. I spent the last few months reading the first eight Aubrey Maturin novels, talking them over with a GenXer ten years my senior. Before that, another GenXer got me reading the Uplift saga, and we compared it to the Mass Effect video games. I read Stranger in a Strange Land when I was fourteen. When I lived in Japan and I was starved for English, I read every Ursula K. Leguin novel in the used bookstore. But half the time when I talk to older fans about this stuff, they reference older, more obscure stuff. I frequently follow their recs, but sometimes it's been visited by the suck fairy. Conversely, when I suggest something outside their cultural canon, they're less likely to explore it than I am to follow up on their suggestions. Maybe that's how it's always been, but I've been making an effort to NOT go that way with the nameless generation to follow. When someone 10-15 years my junior recommends something, I check it out. Now... let me tell you about Homestuck.****

- - -

*I always love to point out that the end date for Gen X has solidified into “born before 1980” and the original definition of Millenial (what ‘gen Y’ is now called) was someone who graduated high school in the year 2000 or later. This leaves 2-3 years of people who fall into the weird gap that my friends called “Error: Generation Not Found.” Normally this would just be a funny “generations are a highly artificial construct that isn’t planned in advance, so we get bookkeeping oddities!” kind of thing, but we’ve noticed that people in that 80-83 transitional period have some odd quirks that aren’t present in other Millenials, but aren’t GenX holdovers either. Still, we'll count them as Millenials to keep things neat.

**I started going to anime cons in 1999 but I didn’t even consider going to Worldcon until 2004 when Pratchett was the GoH. Missing that con is one of my greatest fandom regrets; I had my trip all planned, when my first real job in my current career blacked out vacation because of an impending deadline, and forced me to cancel my plans. Later the deadline in question ended up getting pushed anyway, so they forced me to cancel my plans for nothing. I’m still mad about it!

***If we go by the current 15-20 years = a generation rule, it's looking like kids born after 2000 are the current "nameless ones." I'm not gonna lie to you, I have no goddam idea what they're going to be like.

****Originally, this was just going to be a short intro before talking about topics you can program for to appeal to Millenial fandoms, but it got away from me. You can rest assured I WILL get to it, eventually.

#162 ::: Zora ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:45 AM:

Way up top, Teresa NH wrote: I've been thinking for a while now that the great right-wing noise machine has been deliberately inciting a chronic sense of outrage and resentment, especially via talk radio ...

This article interesting in that regard: Fear of change; fear stoked by those who profit from it.

A friend of mine who recently had to spend time with Tea Party-survivalist-gun enthusiast types, thinks the article spot on. He could keep his cool and avoid political discussions if he considered how wearing it must be to live in constant fear.

#163 ::: Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 07:27 AM:

Andrew @138: You're going to be at Dragon*Con this year? That's cool! It would be great to say "hi!" to you, which means, of course, that I will manage not to. Possibly the 60,000 other people in the vicinity will have something to do with that, of course.

#164 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 07:48 AM:

Leah Miller: At one point we were all involved in a Call of Cthulu game where we were roleplaying as famous authors: I was Kipling, a friend was Dunsany, and someone else was Keats.

Can I just say that this sounds like a blast?

Apropos of the more general subject of the thread: I'm another avid consumer of SFF who is not part of fandom. It occurred to me while reading Leah's analysis that Yuletide (one of my favorite ways of participating in being a fan with other fans) is like an anti-con. There aren't enough people in any one "rare" fandom to coalesce into a group at a con. But we can quite happily chug along reading each other's stories and commenting on them and making fan art and whatever.

Making Light, on the other hand, is like what my dream con would be. So many interesting and interested people, and no matter what you're into or want to know about, someone here is bound to be a point of contact on that matter (AKICIML). And, if you're already paying for power and an internet connection, it's free!

#165 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 08:05 AM:

Lenora Rose #155: Asserting these are not SF fandom because SF literary (and reluctantly, movie and tv) Fandom with its capital F has a hard time seeing it that way is... missing a point, I think.

Lenora, my phrasing may have been ambiguous, but I'm on your side here. Those "lost" fandoms don't identify with the larger, older group that calls itself capital Fandom, nor vice versa, and they've rallied to different flags. But its the same "sort" of people, the sort we might call "con folks", the folks who not only get geekily obsessive about their entertainment, but cluster in groups to socialize about it.

Age is not a personality type, and its a surprisingly weak "interest group". The split here wasn't "our kind of people are less common", or even "our sort of thing is/was less popular". I think the SF-Fandom "establishment" of the time just failed to recognize those "new media kids" as conspecifics (heh), and thus did not manage to make a connection with them. (The reasons may have had something to do with the oddities of the Internet, especially before the Web with its search engines.)

#166 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 08:34 AM:

And I see that I seem to have dropped a point in my previous missive: Sure gaming, MLP, and so on are largely based on SF/F ... but these days, half of our culture is based on SF/F! As has been said many times before, SF/F won -- it's invaded and taken root in the popular culture. But that also means it's not nearly as distinct from the general culture, like it was back in the Glory Days of fandom.

Which is why I was characterizing the crowd in terms of "con folks" as opposed to genre. The new fandoms are the children of the old Fandom, but unlike their parent, they're not outcasts. The con model has propagated into the general culture.

#167 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:09 AM:

I'm a SF fan but not Fan or something; square in the middle of Generation X .

It never occurred to me to go to a SF convention in my youth, and I don't know if I even KNEW about such things.

I also didn't read my SF in magazines; rather, I read it in paperbacks. Maybe that was the disconnect?

#168 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:14 AM:

(Should I move "Fracking, oil and solar power" discussion into the latest Open Thread? I have a tendency to talk a lot on the topic.)

#169 ::: Victoria\ ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 11:28 AM:

Leah Miller @161

Oh, brava! (I'm assuming you're female, if not... Bravo!) There is so much good stuff there. My absolute favorite bit..."We come from the internet."

I've never heard of Homestuck before, but I really want to hear what you have to say about it.

#170 ::: John Costello ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:05 PM:

To go back to the question of predicting the future — or, to be more generous, extrapolating to the future from the present — it's instructive to look at what sci-fi authors have had to say on the topic. Justin B. Rye took a look back at the futurology of Heinlein and Clarke and the results are amusing. In the case of Heinlein, there's an implicit rejoinder available in the miserable accuracy of his techno-scientific predictions: He got the science this badly wrong, but you expect me to believe he got the social science completely right?

The entire JBR site is a fantastic read and worth spending an afternoon puttering around on. I wish I saw more of his stuff elsewhere.

#171 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:27 PM:

Alex, #156: According to this fanfic, there is indeed a wombat god.

#172 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:44 PM:

@171 I clicked the link, saw it was fanfic of my own work, and scrambled away for legal reasons, though I'm sure it's lovely and I think it's awesome they wrote it.

And there is fanfic of my work. I...I need to go sit down now...

#173 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 01:59 PM:

For legal reasons? Does that mean there will be more Digger stories?

#174 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:09 PM:

@173 I don't know, but there's certainly stuff in that world that isn't locked up yet!

#175 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 02:33 PM:

UrsulaV, #172: I'm sorry, I should have said specifically that it was Digger fic. And there are at least three fics of your work that I've discovered so far! My personal favorite is titled "A Long Evening of Delicate Work Right There" and is about how Digger, Grim Eyes, and Murai use storytelling for a distraction while removing the porcupine quills from Grim Eyes.

And more Digger stories would be a wonderful thing!

#176 ::: El Muneco ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 03:26 PM:

albatross @103:

"My point is that you can't really check that claim by cherry-picking either right or wrong predictions. There are so many predictions being made by so many people that it's inevitable that there will be some of each."

This basic idea has gained so much traction in the sports analytic and market forecasting communities that it has a name - the "Wyatt Earp Effect". Basically, the idea is that Earp is famous for having survived every one of a large number of gunfights - but given so many lawmen and so many gunfights in a large and wild West, just by random chance it was inevitable that one of them would do so. So it's an impressive achievement, but not necessarily indicative of any particular skill on Earp's part (relative to the average gunfighter).

Another consequence was also noted downthread - you can't necessarily tell how good a certain person is at making predictions (and by extension how successful they will be going forward) by just looking at her past success. Reversion to the mean could happen at any point, no matter how long the unbroken string has lasted. In fact, this very thing has happened to some of the biggest heroes among stock traders.

So as albatross said, you can't get a handle on the issue by just looking post facto at success or failure of a subset of predictions, even those that significantly (in a statistical sense, even!) distinguish themselves from the mean. You have to find a way to dig up, identify, and analyze as many of them as you can and hope that you can distinguish some signal from all the noise.

#177 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 03:44 PM:

albatross @103 / El Muneco @ 176: Related is "coincidence space" as discussed by Jack Cohen & Iain Stewart. They point out that we see the coincidences that happen (e.g. bumping into someone at the airport and you've not seen them for 20 years - what a coincidence that you should be in the same part of the same airport at the same time) but we don't see all the near-coincidences - the ones that don't actually happen (the old friend you miss by an hour or a day or they were in a different terminal etc.). So we find the coincidences to be amazing.

#178 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 03:51 PM:

Dave Harmon: I'm actually quite glad you see it that way.

And I had to think about this for a while last night, the concept of Fandom vs. fandoms.

I still end up considering myself a part of Fandom with a capital F, but not out of any exclusionary feeling. It's because I don't have easily numerable fandoms.

Take literary works. There's no possible way I could list all the writers of whom I am a BIG fan without boring people to tears. And yet, if I try to broaden it even just to, say "fantasy novels" - well, I am not a fan of C.S. Lewis, George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, or Terry Brooks, or David Eddings, or Charlaine Harris, or a great many of the other past present and future names one would assume almost every single fantasy fan of a given era would read and want to discuss. The nearest quick summary that would be accurate would be "Women's fantasy" but that excludes Terry Pratchett and Peter S. Beagle (among others), which immediately invalidates it in my eyes.

Then do I limit myself to those for whom I have done something explicitly fannish above the level of getting books autographed or reading and commenting on blogs? Only those for whom I have gone to specialized cons, done fanfic, done fanart? I'm sorry, no. I wrote Puff the magic Dragon Fanfic**, and I've never done a thing other than love the books for Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint and The Privilege of the Sword. But saying I'm a fan of Puff and not of Kushner would be grossly misinterpreting my actual feelings.

Neither broad fandom ranges nor narrow fandoms accurately describe what I am a fan of. But saying I am a part of Fandom - a great vast gathering of people who love an infinite diversity of SFnal things in infinite combinations - that *does* fit. Because I am NOT a fan of Jordan, but one of my best friends IS, and I can still cheer on her cosplay effort or ask how Jordancon went and recognize our likeness of fandomness. Ditto for just about anyone of any fandom. The squee remains.

** No, not slashfic. I'm not crazy. Actually, I'm rather proud of the story: Imaginary Colours

#179 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 04:23 PM:

I have a skewed perception of the state of Lost Generation/Gen X fandom, because I'm from Boston. People outside of Boston may not recall what happened in the late 1980s with Boskone - when, along with the teenage fans attending, some of whom were children of the Old Guard and some of whom found their way in without parents (my best friend when I was 14 was a daughter of an Old Guard fan and said "you HAVE to come," for which I am eternally grateful) - ANYWAY, along with the teenage Fans, a lot of local college students started to crash the con, because they heard that there were open parties with free booze. As you can imagine, No Good Could Come Of This, and the upshot was that Boskone found themselves unable to secure ANY hotel in Boston.

So they moved, first to Framingham (ish? The big fake-Tudor Sheraton on the Mass Pike) and then to Springfield. And they decided to reassert their focus as a Literary Con, For Adults. I believe there were strong restrictions on parties; I know there was a policy discouraging hall costumes.

A group of Gen X fans (many associated with UMSFS) felt that this was No Fun, and organized a new Boston-area convention, Arisia, which debuted in 1990.It combined, and still combines, literary, media, anime, costuming, filk, and gaming fandoms, and also "lifestyle" programming (e.g. BDSM and polyamory panels; this has been controversial at times) - very Big Tent. My first con was Boskone XXI in 1984; I've attended nearly every Arisia since the first, and worked as staff on many of them.

So Boston's Lost Generation isn't lost, and hasn't been except for a couple of years between 1988 and 1990.We've been running our own show since we were old enough to vote - and voted with our feet.

Which is not to say there aren't people who go to both Boskone and Arisia - I would if their close temporal proximity didn't pose such a problem for my budget. Boskone's back in Boston now, and AFAICT there's very little animosity left by now between the organizing groups.

And many of us have raised our own next generation of fans - there was a bit of a baby boom in the mid-90s, and another one a couple of years ago. My own offspring has been attending Arisia since...well, brief appearances since infancy, but doing the full experience since age 11. Now they're almost 19, and currently at Boston ComicCon cosplaying Night of the Doctor's Eight. Yesterday it was as Spider-Man. Tomorrow, Janine from Ghostbusters (and borrowing my SHOES for it). I, alas, couldn't afford the ticket (*I* had to buy *groceries*) but I'm about to put on my Rule 63 Captain Jack Harkness cosplay and go to a con-adjacent dinner gathering. Because even though I'm unpacking All The Things from a recent move, I still get to have fun. Right?

Not all those who wander are lost.

#180 ::: Jane ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 04:23 PM:

UrsulaV -- my kids perpetrate fanfic of your work all the time -- Dadaesque plays where Digger and Wendell go on adventures, for example -- but we don't film it and post it on the internet :)

Actually relevant to the post -- my irritation with just how hard it was the enter the local sf fandom as a member of the Lost Generation (no, just volunteering won't actually get you there. While I am on programming/programming staff now, it is only because a friend from a non-fandom community started running things and brought me in) has been magnified with recently getting into kpop international fandom, where if you show up, you're in. People might diss your taste, and if you are an ahjumma/ahjussi fan like me (meaning over 30) you'll get side-eye if you talk about how sexy under-21 year old performers are, but there is absolutely no True Fan testing at all.

#181 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 04:56 PM:

I went to several Arisias in the early 00s and have revisited occasionally since then. (I went this year.) Having two strong regional conventions(*) with clearly different focuses is a delight of the Boston area.

But I still feel like Arisia has a demographic dip around me, although not as obvious as Boskone's. People my age and older are the minority.

(* And Then There's Readercon, which is its own community subset which is not, to my distant eye, primarily generational.)

#182 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 05:06 PM:

Rikibeth @ 179

I knew about the history of Boskone from another on-line source. You dredging that up out of my memory helps me process something I heard one of the old guard use three years ago. It was her reason why we, the con-runners couldn't have a permanent YA guest of honor slot on our line-up at my local lit-con. This was in spite of her wanting to have more people at the convention. I and others thought to reach out to teens and the 20 somethings by creating a YA track.

The old guardess said, "You know what teens will do when they come to a convention!" She was so adamant and intransigent about it that I gave up on the idea. I had other, less stoutly built walls to bang my head against. I thought she was talking about a local anime con. I had worked that convention (in registration) one year and only had one incident out of a 6,500 person convention full of teen-agers where the hotel got upset*. Those anime con-runners went (and still go) to extreme lengths to keep their attendees under control.

I didn't realize she was talking about Boskone.

Do the populations of Boskone and Arisia mix much? If so, is it a constant thing from the split going forward?

* It was a hair dying incident. The renter of the room and another con-goer who left her badge on site, got charged for the damages to the room. The hotel staff was greatly mollified by the time we got done getting them all they needed to know to collect damages from the guilty parties.

#183 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 05:42 PM:

Chattacon had a "wild teens" problem back in the 80s, when their existence became part of the lore of the local high-school culture. Since they had been on the same date and at the same hotel for a long time, it was easy to find them even if you weren't hooked into the fannish network, and the kids would get their parents to drop them off at the hotel and run wild. Even without booze (and Chattacon has always had very strict alcohol-control rules) it was a problem.

At some point in the ?late 90s? they got forced off their traditional weekend for several years by some sort of citywide event, and that seems to have broken the trail; the last time I was at Chattacon (about 10 years ago) the crowd still skewed somewhat younger than me, but there weren't hordes of teenagers.

#184 ::: Ian Osmond ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:03 PM:

Victoria @ 182

I've gotten the impression that some of the conrunners of The Boskone From Hell ended up with something analogous to PTSD from that experience. Some people had such visceral negative reactions to such apparently innocent things as using a nickname on your badge instead of your birth certificate name that they were disallowed until those people decided to retire from the concom.

#185 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:14 PM:

I don't care for Weisskopf's politics, but she has had enough good taste to publish the "Carrousel" novels by Sharon Lee so I'll forgive her quite a few things.

#186 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 06:33 PM:

#170 ::: John Costello

Heinlein predicted "operational" psychology-- would cognitive behavioral therapy qualify?

#187 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 07:18 PM:

Victoria @135: Happy to help 0.o

It would surprise me greatly if Hines and Scalzi were not on board with a project like this, modulo logistics.

It sounds like you have already identified most of the necessary resources; it's just be a matter of rounding them up.

Ping me if you need graphical assistance: illustration, document layout, and the like. It's What I Do. (Although that skillset is approximately as rare as fish.)

Tom Whitmore @137: readers like you are fans. Others may differ. Being a fan is entirely a self-identification. If you think you are: you are.

Back In The Day, the did seem to be an identifiable "type" associated with Fandom. A friend of mine refers to this as a Type-F Personality. It's what made playing "Spot the Fan" at the airport on the way to a con possible. Large overlap with the autistic spectrum, as one might expect. See also the "fannish accent."

My buddy Brian is a great example: he's clearly and obviously a Type-F personality, and he's gravitated toward fannish interests steadily in the 20-odd years I've known him (mostly TV and movie SF), but in the glancing encounters he's had with capital-F Fandom, he's never really stuck, except for one private B5-centered email list.

But nowadays, I'm finding that, certainly in the <30 age-group, those markers are entirely unreliable. I can't count the times I've struck up conversations with "obviously fannish" young people, only to find out that they 1) aren't interested in SF, 2) have never heard of Fandom, and 3) when drawn out, have interest profiles that are clearly "mainstream."

This is, on balance, probably a good thing, even if it leaves me kind of at a loss. (Yes, I'm old, and stuck in my ways. ::hangs head::)

Lee @144: "I am a Fan" means "I am a member of con-going fandom." There's a semi-ironic counter to that: "I'm not a Fan, I just read the stuff."

I think I'm in roughly your fannish generation (my first con was Iguanacon, the '78 Worldcon), and I nowadays fall into yet a third category: I don't do cons much and haven't for a long time (mostly for financial reasons, but also because of health/spoons), and it's been ages since I've read much SF (not reading much of anything these days either; reading takes up valuable eye-time, and audiobooks are expensive. I have however, pretty well sucked Netflix's SF stocks dry.)

And yet, I definitely feel like, and identify as a Fan. But a huge part of that is the still-ringing echos of my "MY PEOPLE!" reaction to walking into the hotel atrium and Iggy. For me, it's very much a sociological/cultural thing.

My feelings are almost certainly colored by the fact that it was Jon Singer who really formally introduced me to capital-F Fandom, and identified for me "core Fandom." And the fact that I stumbled into rec.arts.sf.fandom back in the '90s, when it started getting harder to go to cons. That was what supported the social continuity for me such that, when I stumbled over ML in '08, I immediately thought, "Oh, that's where everybody went!" online.

I recognize as "fans" people whose interests I in no way share: anime and gaming being the two most conspicuous examples. A lot of the "fannish culture" that shows up at events like Comic Con feels like it's evolved considerably from what I grew up with, and thus (for example) the head around "cosplay" feels very different.

But for me, it's like the difference between "Upper Potsylvania" versus "Lower Potsylvania" or "Neo-Potsylvanian" as distinct from "Classical Potsylvanian." But it's all still recognizably of one continuum.

I'm a fan of a lot of stuff too, but I'm a Fan as well.

Yes: that.

#188 ::: "Orange Mike" Lowrey ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 07:45 PM:

The "wild teens" at Chattacon in some cases were coming from as far as the Atlanta suburbs: spoiled brats with mommy and daddy's money in their pockets, wearing their soft core porn fantasy outfits ordered online that they couldn't wear near home, doing stuff they could never do where their parents might hear about it. A microscopic fraction of them turned out to actually read the stuff, but sadly few.

I've never connected the change of weekend (they were up against statewide cheerleading or wrestling finals, I forget which) with the disappearance of that crowd, but Lee may be right.

#189 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 09:18 PM:

OK, British members of the Fluorosphere, I need some AKICIML on a couple of things.

I use an alcohol-free "restoring" mouthwash that is also anti-dry mouth. (I have dry mouth since my...since becoming hemiglossic. Is anything remotely like that available in the UK, or should I bring it from home?*)

I also use fragrance-free shaving cream. Is that available? (That I'm not sure I can bring even in a checked's in a pressurized can.)

Do these things have different names in the UK? What should I ask for? And are they sold in grocery stores or at the chemist's?

*I've realized I have to check a bag. Haven't taken this long a trip in over 20 years.

#190 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Xopher @189, for what it's worth, last year my husband and I flew to a funeral. He was allowed to bring a (very small) can of shaving cream in our on-board bag. It was a pressurized can, under the (I think) 3 ounce limit, in the 1 pint clear plastic baggie along with the tiny shampoo and the tiny deodorant. We were only there for the weekend and didn't need enough luggage to check a bag.

#191 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 09:39 PM:

Argh. I posted this in the wrong thread. Please ignore the above and go look here.

Cassy, thanks. The fragrance-free isn't available in the tiny cans.

#192 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 09:48 PM:

Victoria@182: "Do the populations of Boskone and Arisia mix much? If so, is it a constant thing from the split going forward?"

A lot of people go to both, a lot of people go to only one. I couldn't guess percentages.

Note that Arisia is triple the size of Boskone. Arisia has been growing, Boskone membership has been flat for a decade. So a lot *more* people go to only Arisia than to only Boskone! That much is clear. It's the overlap which I'm fuzzy on.

#193 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:35 PM:

Jacque #187: That article on fannish speech is fascinating. While the linguist didn't mention it, there were likely some "true subcultural markers" for Fannish speech as well -- I would certainly expect such, just from having a core group of people over time. (IIRC, it turned out that such subcultural markers are most of how "gaydar" works -- it's not actually attributes of "gayness", but markers of the local gay subculture.)

#194 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:53 PM:

@180 & 175 -- that is So. Cool! It's just...I never expected that. Is there a higher form of flattery than fic? Wild! Err. Babbling incoherently now...

#195 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2014, 10:53 PM:

@180 & 175 -- that is So. Cool! It's just...I never expected that. Is there a higher form of flattery than fic? Wild! Err. Babbling incoherently now...

#196 ::: Older ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:21 AM:

Xopher (189), what is the name of your "restoring" mouthwash? I have a chronic dry-mouth problem connected with one of my chronic polysyllabic conditions. Everything I have tried does not work for longer than it takes to taste it, and they tend not to taste very good either.

If there's something I haven't tried, I'd like to try it. Oh yes; also, is it a prescription item or OTC?

#197 ::: Martin Schafer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 01:06 AM:

@179 - And a few years later we in Minneapolis partly driven by fears of "the Boskone from Hell" made a similar downsizing/focusing effort on Minicon and spawned a similar additional convention Convergence.

I'm a little surprised that one other old split hasn't come up in the discussion. Convention fan/fanzine fan. You definitely did not (and still don't) have to go to conventions to be a capital F Fan.

If you identified/participated with the tribe through your written exchanges, (on paper then mostly on the internet now) you were clearly part of it.

#198 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 01:57 AM:

Dave H., #193: One thing I've long considered a speech marker for fans is the casual use of the word "pocketses". It's not an all-inclusive marker, but it does tend to identify those who enjoy LOTR.

Martin, #197: And if I'm not mistaken, one of the original uses of "trufan" was to distinguish between fanzine fans and those people who only went to cons but did not do fanzines. There are some old bad memories surrounding that, which I will not go into unless requested.

#199 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 07:20 AM:

Alex Roston @156: Is there a wombat god I can worship?

Roscoe? Oh, wait, no. He's a beaver. (I thought sure he was a wombat....)

#200 ::: pdcawley ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 07:24 AM:

The generational stuff rings huge bells here. I don't identify as a Fan, or a Filker. I'm folkie who fell among filkers at the Glasgow WorldCon. The generational thing that you're observing in Fandom isn't confined to Fandom. As Josh @ 129 said, it's happening in the open source software world, but it's also happening in a world which didn't become mainstream in quite the way SF and OSS did.

I've been going to folk clubs for 25 years now, and for 25 years, I've been the youngest person in the audience. If there are younger people in the room than me, it's almost always because they are on stage. And it's a good bet that they got into folk because that's what their parents did. We became a monoculture. And we didn't notice it happening until far too late. Nowadays if young folk show up at a club they are either fawned over to an embarrassing extent (the body language is instructive) or are excluded, consciously or unconsciously. It's heartbreaking.

And I have no solutions, just painful observations. For all their faults there is something special about an old school, singing from the floor folk club that open mics and their ilk just don't capture. I'm going to miss them when they're gone.

But I'll be in London, singing folk songs for filkers (who are getting older too...) and glad to be sharing something magical.

#201 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:19 AM:

It occurs to me that even The Beatles are too far gone to be the folk music of today.

#202 ::: Rob Wynne (autographedcat) ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:31 PM:

Just datapointing in this long and fascinating thread.

I'm 44, which puts me smack in the middle of the GenX demographic, though I've never felt any particular affinity towards that label. I've been reading SF since I learned to read. My mother was an elementary school librarian, so I got pointed to all the good stuff. Some of my earliest memories of TV are watching Star Trek reruns with her on a B&W TV when I was 4 or 5. Around the time I was 7 or 8, both Doctor Who and Star Wars became my obsessions.

I started going to conventions when I was 12 or 13, because my mother heard about them and thought they'd be fun. The first few I went to were mostly of the little Holiday Inn Off The Interstate comic book con variety, because they were what was within easy driving distance, and then went to the first Magnum Opus Con in 1985, because Jon Pertwee was a guest. I moved to GA in 1990, and started going to all the various Atlanta-area cons that existed at the time. For the last 15 years or so, I've primarily gone to filk conventions, partly becuase that was my primary fanac, partly because of budget, and partly because all the other conventions in Atlanta had been eaten by Dragon*Con. (I went to my first gencon in a long while last year and was reminded why I should go to more of them.)

Partly because I started going to cons so early but without having been "born into" fandom, and partly becuase my social circle as a young adult was almost exclusively comprised of people 10-15 years older than me, I emulated the previous generation's culture to a large extent. I'm often find myself feeling like I want to count myself as one of those older fans, but not always certain I qualify.

Anyway, all of this is prelude to: I've in recent years become very active in a particular community that's grown out of the podcasting movement. These are, by and large, geek-oriented people of various ages, though I find myself typically on the upper end of average there rather than the younger end. And one thing I hear over and over is a sort of wonderstruck appreciation for Dragon*Con, PAX, various Comicons, etc, to the effect of "How great is that we have these things now? Yay geek culture!" and I usually react with a slightly baffled, slightly bemused retort of "But, we always have." These aren't people who are disinterested in traditional conventions. They're completely unaware of them, and frequently surprised and grateful when I point them at their local con which has been going on for years upon years.

#203 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:32 PM:

pdcawley, I noticed that about folk music too, especially when you get out of the strictly Irish stuff - which, at least in the Northeast US, draws in younger people through the festival circuit, which will feature Celtic rock and even Celtic punk bands playing alongside the trad ones - and into the British-trad and American contemporary folk sides of things. A while ago I went to a concert by an artist I'd heard on a local Celtic-music radio show, and the audience was full of crunchy-liberal Whole Foods types closer to my parents' age than mine, and I'm Gen X so not even all that young anymore.

I loved the music, but I felt very, very out of place among the audience. For all that I am Gen X, I feel far more at home at a Dropkick Murphys concert where a lot of the audience is closer to my kid's age than mine (though it's pretty mixed).

In my head I'm not 44. In my head I'm 27, and I've been 27 for a very long time.

#204 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Dave Bell, you might be surprised. My 19-year-old is hardly the only kid of their generation to have been raised on the Beatles by their parents - I slipped a copy of Yellow Submarine into the videotape stack when my kid was a toddler, because if the kid was going to play everything OVER AND OVER, I wanted there to be something I genuinely liked in the mix. (I also stuck the Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert and Cats into the stack. I should not be surprised that I have a theater major on my hands now.) And then there was the Beatles edition of Rock Band. Kid and I regularly sing Beatles harmonies in the car, without accompaniment, either as vocal practice for the kid or just for the hell of it.

Not to mention that there are any number of present-day bands who have really strong Beatles influences. Not so much with the mainstream pop or rock acts - though the mid-period Green Day album "Nimrod" has several tracks that feel like outtakes from "Revolver" - but my kid is forever playing me songs from small bands that sound GLORIOUSLY Beatles-esque. One notable one is The Fratellis. Highly recommended! I would have to go hunting through my kid's Spotify library to pull the names of the others, as they do blend together a bit - though I can also remember that Derby made me bounce and say "Husker Du!" and Bleachers (a side project of Fun, apparently?) made me play the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" for the kid.

Actually this is what happens a lot. Kid will say "You have to listen to this track," and I will, and I'll get a big smile on my face, and give the kid the name of a song from MY generation and the kid will listen and grin just as hard.

I'm so glad I raised my kid on MY music from an early age instead of subscribing to the belief that little children should only listen to "children's music" of the sort that drives me up a wall.

#205 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 01:33 PM:

In my head, I'm still about that age. (My body keeps reminding me otherwise, though.)
This may also have been helped by most of the people I worked with (for 30 years) being about 25 to 30 years old.

#206 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 01:40 PM:

UrsulaV @ 172

I clicked the link, saw it was fanfic of my own work, and scrambled away for legal reasons...

Then I guess I shouldn't tell you how the "Dungeon's and Dragon's Game Set in Rath" turned out.

Without raising legal issues, I can certainly say that everyone enjoyed both the dungeon and the mileu, and they want to return to that environment. I left a plot thread dangling that I can use to drag the characters back in, but running a dungeon is too much work right now!

#207 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 04:13 PM:

great moments in medieval English architecture

The Wells example is legendary but I hadn't see any of the others before.

#208 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 04:15 PM:

Dang nab it, wrong thread.

#209 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 04:21 PM:

Dave Harmon @193: While the linguist didn't mention it, there were likely some "true subcultural markers" for Fannish speech as well

Oh, most certainly. Hence the "spot the fan" game. Back then, techies also carried a lot of the same markers, being a heavily intersecting set. Worldcon in '08 cracked me up because, during the first day, before everyone got decked out in their fannish plumage, it was hard to tell the members of the co-located statistics convention from those of Denvention 3. After that, it was more clear: the fans tended to wear much more color.

After the statisticians rotated out and were replaced by the John Deere folks, the distinction was easier to make. Although there were a few folks who snuck into the JD dealer's room to buy hoodies.

Martin Schafer @197: If you identified/participated with the tribe through your written exchanges, (on paper then mostly on the internet now) you were clearly part of it.

I'm amused by people here saying they don't see themselves as fans, as ML is (IMnsHO) a quintessentially fannish venue. Of course you're fans: you're Fluorospherians!

Lee @193: "trufan"

And then there's "faan." Yes, we too, in our Slannish superiority, can do bigotry and classism. </snark>

Rikibeth @204: Kid and I regularly sing Beatles harmonies in the car, without accompaniment, either as vocal practice for the kid or just for the hell of it.

If Spider Robinson ever starts doing cons again (I'm not holding my breath) and happens to be at one accessible to you, his tradition is to lead Beatles singalongs starting at about 10pm and going until the wee hours. I suspect you and Kid would fit right in.

"children's music" of the sort that drives me up a wall.

FWIW, "children's music" drove me up a wall when I was a kid. That was...a while ago. The only "kids" album I had that I would listen to volutarily was a Mary Andrews album of the Mary Poppins songs.

#210 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 04:28 PM:

Jacque @209: Ah, but now there are Sandra Boynton's albums, like the widely available Philadelphia Chickens: for all ages (except 43), it says on the packaging, and it's pretty close to correct. Check them out! She's got two other musical revues which are also worth your time.

#211 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 05:06 PM:

Another data point: I was born in 1967. I stumbled into literary SF initially via animal stories (Star Dog, Mylor, The Beast Master), then my stepmother started me on Asimov, Clarke, Le Guin and Tolkien and I discovered McCaffrey, more Norton, Gordon R. Dickson, EE "Doc" Smith, Zelazny - lots of different stuff. I also grew up watching Dr who from behind the sofa, and Star Trek, and of course the Star Wars movies and ET when those came out. Meanwhile, my brother had most of the Heinleins and a huge collection of superheroes comics (which I read secretly and very very carefully until I got permission to read them, then more openly but still carefully, and started buying some myself). I knew a few other people at high school who were SF readers. Then I went to Cambridge University (UK!) and there was a science fiction society (CUSFS) so I attended that regularly, also knew someone who did gaming, so started some AD&D. Was introduced to an APA and contributed for several years.

I'm not a regular attendee of cons, but I've been to a few large ones, a few smaller ones. My now-husband introduced me to Manga. I was an avid watcher of ST:TNG, and of Buffy until work meant I couldn't get home in time for the episodes often enough - must catch up someday. I'm a die-hard Babylon 5 fan. Went to BSFS meetings in London for a while. I haven't consciously noticed a lack of "people my age" when I've gone to cons - although I'm bad at calculating people's ages.

And finding ML was just fantastic - here were the conversations we used to have at CUSFS and in corridors and people's rooms (and doorways!).

#212 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 05:14 PM:

abi, #93: "…making small sacrifices of silence to preserve the greater good of comity…"

But are we preserving a place where there can be communication among people of differing views, or just accepting what we would do better to not accept? From the 1980s until the new depression, Keynesian economists thought they were having a intellectual discussion with their neo-liberal colleagues. With the new depression, it became clear that many of the neo-liberals regard the Keynesians with utmost contempt, and the collegiality was only appearance.

I also believe in neutral ground, but I think we have in some ways crossed the line into complicity. Most younger activists and fans view us elders rather as the silent partner in an abusive relationship, and I have concluded they are at least partly right. Neutral ground is important, but we also need to get out there and make noise, and I wish we had started sooner.

#213 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 05:30 PM:

albatross, #103: "My point is that you can't really check that claim by cherry-picking either right or wrong predictions. There are so many predictions being made by so many people that it's inevitable that there will be some of each."

I used two criteria in my selections: the scope of the prediction and the centrality of the theory involved. Central social, political, and economic theories of a powerful faction shape smaller decisions and theories, so that they sweep up many of the smaller actions and positions of individual members and supporters.

#214 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 06:23 PM:

I'm both a farmer and a fan, though I am not sure I would have blended into a JD convention. (John Deere, right.) I never went for the hats and other promotional clothing. And a British agricultural show is a bit different in style. (The last time I went to one my father and I were gossiping with the Earl of Yarborough, who currently happens to be the High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.)

It feels odd, but I have more in common with an Islamic hereditary peer than with any politician I have had the chance to vote for.

If it comes to that, it's something laudable when the Queen's grandson has flown Air Sea Rescue helicopters, and is now training as an Air Ambulance pilot. You can point to all sorts of things about such people that signal privilege, but why do some who went to Eton turn out like that, while others are the poster children for the spoiled brats.

#215 ::: Victoria\ ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 08:25 PM:

Dave Bell @ 214

One of my brothers works for John Deere (he's a shop manager), and I'm pretty sure that was a professional conference. The company run conferences are usually to teach the sales force and shop managers what kinds of changes and/or improvements are being made to the next generation of equipment and farming software. The salesmen and shop managers, during their dealership's annual John Deere Day, bring all the local farmers and and teach them about the new equipment and let them climb all over it looking at what new. (And hope for a trade-in or new sale.)

As for the Queens grandson and other Eton-ites, I think it has to do with parental expectations and examples. From what I've seen, a lot of parents undermine themselves with the old "Do as I say, not as I do." If you read Bujold, there's a scene in "A Civil Campaign" where Mark realizes that integrity is doing the same thing in public that you do in private.

#216 ::: janra ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:16 PM:

#209, Jacque:

I'm amused by people here saying they don't see themselves as fans, as ML is (IMnsHO) a quintessentially fannish venue. Of course you're fans: you're Fluorospherians!

You can find amusement wherever you find it, but I started reading ML via the publishing industry posts. (I think "slushkiller" was the one that got me reading regularly. I have it bookmarked and revisit the list when I feel the need.) The fandom posts are where I learned most of what little I know about fandom. I know from context that fluorosphere refers to here and possibly other related websites which I am not familiar with, but that's about it. I have no idea what it means to consider oneself a fluorospherian.

#215, Victoria\:

integrity is doing the same thing in public that you do in private.

I usually say it's about what you do when you know nobody is going to find out, but it looks like that's different words for the same thing.

Or, another way of saying I distrust people who say things like "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas". (Or any other location or event in place of "Vegas".)

#217 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:26 PM:

Jacque: Of course you're fans: you're Fluorospherians!

Speaking only for myself: No, I'm really not. I recognize the generosity of the impulse, but I do not identify with the culture and don't want to be an "honorary" member of it. Glad you find it amusing, but no.

Re kids' music, the stuff I remember from my own childhood was pretty dire, but when my kids were little we had kids' albums by Beausoleil, Little Richard, Sandra Boynton, and Raffi, and nowadays They Might Be Giants has one too. All the above I will happily listen to. Also Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

#218 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2014, 09:31 PM:

Upon rereading my last post, I'd like to clarify that the community with which I don't identify is fandom, not the Fluorosphere, of which I'm happy to be considered a member if the community will have me.

#219 ::: John D. Berry ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:35 AM:

I hadn't read Toni's essay (and still haven't apart from the bits you've quoted), but I appreciate your close reading of the text. However, your argument runs off the tracks around this point:

“If this goes on, these things here will happen.” Well, no, most sf is about "...these things here *might* happen"; no prediction implied. (Cf. Gunn, Smithsonian Magazine, May 2014:

From that point on, I think you're arguing with something you know about Toni's political convictions that is not evident in what you've quoted so far. You have your own agenda here. I suspect that I'd agree with your agenda in most of its aspects, but that doesn't prevent me from going, "Wait! Danger! Agenda ahead!"

It's always hard to deconstruct and analyze an argument that's built on an interlocking set of seamless assumptions. But I don't think you've applied a rigorous enough analysis here.

#220 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:42 AM:

[tongue-in-cheek]Of course, he noted, few activities are more characteristic of classic SF Fandom than arguing about what Fandom is and who qualifies as a Fan.[/tongue-in-cheek]

But really, I think Lila is totally right in asserting the right to define herself, and I expect the same. If my earlier snarky comments weren't clear, their point was not that I'm woefully waiting for somebody to confirm me as a Fan, it's that I object strongly (and often sarcastically) to others thinking they can decide my identity for me.

janra: The Fluorosphere AFAIK is really just here, Making Light, and the people who hang out here whether to lurk, write, moderate, or chat. You're as much a part of it as you want to be.

#221 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 02:49 AM:

Raven on the Hill @212:
But are we preserving a place where there can be communication among people of differing views, or just accepting what we would do better to not accept?

Right here on Making Light, we are preserving a place where the members of this community, regardless of political affilliation, can have pleasant conversations.

Neutral ground is important, but we also need to get out there and make noise, and I wish we had started sooner.

Go forth and make noise, then.

But not here, not in the low-resolution way you're going about it. You want to talk individual people and policies, well, find a conversation where that's relevant and go for it. But no more of the negativity against the undifferentiated mass of "conservatives", as though they were a roll of bologna. You're excluding members of the community, and you may be fine with that, but I am not.

You do not get to determine whether this piece of neutral ground is going to be preserved. That's my job. This is the shire for which I wear the feather, and that's the ruling I'm making.

#222 ::: pdcawley ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 04:34 AM:

Clifton @ 220

Or ask a folkie to define folk music. That's always a good one.

To the extent that in some folkie spaces, the canonical response is "Horse!" referring to the infamous Lous Armstrong answer – "I've never seen a horse sing" – and begging the questioner to stop asking silly questions.

#223 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:54 AM:

Abi @ 221... I like the idea of your being in charge of the Shire.

#224 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 10:16 AM:

Or ask a folkie to define folk music. That's always a good one.

"...the air was filled with the tones of that most ancient of Japanese instruments: the synthesizer."

#225 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 11:31 AM:


I think integrity is more like *being the same person* in private as in public. There are many things most of us do in private but not in public (from bathing to sex to medical examinations) without feeling like we're sacrificing our integrity.

How far is your public persona from your private one. What's the distance between the values you claim to hold (or try to appear to hold) and the ones you really hold?

And it also strikes me that the society you live in has a big impact on the cost of integrity, and on how much you actually observe. If you live someplace where the only way to be a full member of the community is to go to the dominant church, you will see a lot of people who don't really believe going to that church, if only to make sure their kids aren't excluded from playing with the neighbors' kids and their job is secure. Let the community change so that you can be a full member without being part of that church, and I predict that you will see an increase in the level of integrity w.r.t. religion in that community--the people who go to church will mostly be people who actually believe in it. Similar things apply to tolerance for being gay or tolerance of weird political beliefs.

In the extreme case, you've got the Spanish Inquisition or the NKVD running around enforcing ideological conformity, and having too much integrity leads to the gulag or the red hot irons. Then you get damned near *no* integrity of that kind, except maybe from people who believe the party line wholeheartedly. (I suspect there's some bit of human nature, stronger in some people than in others, that really delights in learning and following the party line. It's such a common feature of very different places and times.)

#226 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 11:36 AM:

albatross @ 225... In the extreme case, you've got the Spanish Inquisition...

...which nobody expects.

#227 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 12:28 PM:

Clifton @220: I think Lila is totally right in asserting the right to define herself, and I expect the same.

Oh, absolutely. I was, perhaps, insufficiently clear that this is how I view them. I.e., "mah peeps!"—that is, people with whom I feel reasonably safe, and who have demonstrated a willingness to, and interest in, making good conversation. I make no claims, express or implied, as to how they should view themselves. (Also, whether or not I'm their peeps is entirely up to them.)

#228 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:12 PM:

Today we have naming of jokes. Yesterday,
We had silly walking. And tomorrow morning,
We shall have how to clean off whitewash. But today,
We have naming of jokes. Cardinals
Chorus unexpectedly in the neighboring gardens.
And today we have naming of jokes.

#229 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:20 PM:

I'm pleased to see that my definition of folk music (music showing the cultural influences of one planet) is functionally equivalent to Louis Armstrong's.

#225 ::: albatross

I have a notion that you can define a good society by decent behavior not being expensive.

#230 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 01:36 PM:

I generally consider myself a fan, but not a Fan. Have been reading SFF 45 years, but have never been to a convention and at this point it seems unlikely that I will. (I inadvertently shared a hotel with OryCon a few years ago when I was in Portland for work, but by the time I realized this I was too darned tired to participate, so I don't think it counts.)

#231 ::: James ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 02:15 PM:

My understanding is that the traditional definition of a fan is someone who is involved in some fanac. Cons and 'zines used to be the primary ones, but I would assume that in the brave new world of the Internet participation in fora like the rec.arts.sf.* hierarchy, or fannish mailing lists, or weblog commentariat with a fannish content and culture, or posting SF reviews to a site with an aim of reader response from a largely fannish audience would all count.

Which would basically mean that a fluorospherian who wants to consider him or herself a Fan in the strict sense can go right ahead.

#232 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 05:27 PM:

Lila @ 217 and previous Re: Kids' music: I've found I can listen to Raffi for an album or a little while if it catches my son's attention, and ditto some of They Might be Giants' kids' stuff, but by contrast, I could put much of Fred Penner on to listen to for my own pleasure, and a couple made it onto my MP3 player.

Of course, my son has also got two Heather Alexander/Alexander James Adams songs memorized (Among other songs, like Amazing Grace, Somewhere over the rainbow, and some Heather Dale and Fred Penner, but those two are the ones he's currently most likely to start impulsively singing at the drop of a hat), and insists on dancing around the kitchen with me to Vienna Teng's Level Up.

pdcawley @ 222: This is part of how the Winnipeg Folk Festival can still be showcasing 90% or more of acts one can define as folk, and *still* have me feeling like they've been steadily getting fewer of the acts I'm interested in. The person in charge currently defining Folk as pertains to which acts are worth inviting, and I, seem to miss in some key areas.

Raven on the Hill @ 212: I think what you're missing is twofold: 1) We've had plenty of strong-minded and passionate political discussions on Making Light as a whole, some of which are on the very things you seem to want to bring to this conversation. But is this really the place and time for that conversation? While the illusion of a rift in politics in fandom is a part of the theme of the conversation, fandom is the centre of it, not politics. And 2) Abi is right that assaulting* everyone who might shelter under the name conservative is never productive, especially as these days, many who bear that label are likely on your side, if instead you point to specific follies and policies of those actually in charge.

* and by legal definition, at least around here, assault does include usage of words.

#233 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 05:40 PM:

Also, 3) when the moderator has already ruled on that very topc, it's not really likely that you're going to persuade her to reverse it with the argument that you're right, damn it, so her ruling shouldn't apply to you.

#234 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:04 PM:

That trick never works.

#235 ::: Dave* Twiddy ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:09 PM:

I'm new here (short term lurker, shorter term poster), but I want to support abi's policy as stated in this thread.

To oversee an argument's boundaries while maintaining one's own opinion, yet resisting the urge to side, is ranked among the Highest Difficulty in philosophy's Code of Points.

#236 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:39 PM:

I think of Abi as the modern-day equivalent of Richard Blaine. Everybody comes to Abi's internet Café Américain, where you can all have a good time, but don't break the rather lax rules.

#237 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:42 PM:

Naah, I'm Sam. Patrick and Tersa are Richard Blaine.

#238 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 06:45 PM:

avram @ 74: in the 1970's I cataloged for the MITSFS, which bought all of the non-picture SF it could find. My recollection is that this ran to around 40 books/month -- but that includes paperback reprints of hardcovers. Given that there was a period when I went through a dozen books a week (starting in 1969, so I had a lot of Good Old Stuff to catch up on), I wouldn't be surprised if there was an assumption that another random fan had read something that ]you[ had.

Lee @ 77: Fans were a spectrum even then; you may have run into more-difficult cases. I remember the general disapproval when a mundane supporting the New Orleans in 1976 worldcon bid told the 1974 business meeting "We have a great city for your wives to go shopping in"; nobody thought the women at conventions were appendages. (I went through the entire published membership list after that convention, and estimated that a quarter of the membership was female; fandom was geeky, but not nearly as off-balance as (e.g.) MIT.)

Sandy B @ 80: yes, fracking is that new wrt medical science (which takes a long time to get anywhere -- and a good thing, because too many quick answers turn out to be wrong over time). OTOH -- given the reports I've seen about groundwater contamination, I expect there are patches of doctors coming to a consensus even if the AMA doesn't agree.

As a general comment wrt pros not hanging out, I point to my comment some years ago on a thread that included why ]some[ writers are less than ept socially. Substance was to ask whether there was any job more isolated-by-choice than sitting in the quiet forcing words onto paper; somebody answered "theoretical mathematics", which I think proves my case. (cf the joke about a math understood by only N other people, of whom K are not allowed sharp objects.)

Older @ 134: I'd offer as a crude metric that a fan is anyone who connects to other people through SF; that's horribly weak and vague, and may not even be applicable today, but gives another slant: that SF fandom is participatory rather than spectative (unlike some non-SF uses of the word). How \much/ connection it takes to be recognized as a fan is a theological issue.

rikibeth @ 179: I \thought/ the whole Gap idea didn't make sense locally, but didn't have non-anecdotal evidence on Arisia to be sure with. I don't know whether Arisia/Boskone/Readercon have more bleedover than other cases where a new convention has grown up in the neighborhood of an older one, but I suspect that the Gap is simplified. (For reference: I'm 61; going to Boskone since 1973, Readercon from the beginning (1987), Arisia since #2 (1991).) (minor crxn: Boskone moved to Springfield (~95 miles from Boston) in 1988, then to Framingham (~22 miles out) in 1993, then back downtown in 2003.)

Ian Osmond @ 184: the nickname rule was dropped not due to retirement, but because enough people changed their minds that the hard cases couldn't keep the rule in place. (The reasoning in 1987 was the belief/observation that some people appeared to put on an alias as a mask, and acted as though they thought they were immune behind the mask.) Arisia may have benefited from having peers of these people willing to tell them when to climb down, or the analogs to Orange Mike's rich-kids-from-Atlanta may have faded with other 80's undesirables; however, I note that Arisia 2014 had a full page of fine print (IIRC blown up on posters) covering behavior -- such statements weren't seen as necessary in the 1980's even though we'd had periodic indications of approaching trouble. (Granted, almost half of that page covered harassment, which most people wouldn't have considered an issue 30 years ago -- but the rest of the page was an obvious reaction to behaviors that had blown up conventions.)

Victoria @ 182: I'd say that most of the Boskone concom goes to Arisia, but I've never tried counting -- and I know at least one who refuses because "[they] wouldn't feel welcome there." (I won't get into my opinion of this.)

#239 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2014, 07:13 PM:

CHip, #238: Fans were a spectrum even then; you may have run into more-difficult cases.

That is a true statement! Certainly not all the fen I met had that attitude, or I would probably not have stuck around. But I did hear it expressed on multiple occasions... usually in fanzine letters of comment, surprise, surprise. :-) Something related to that is also why I don't contribute to TAFF and DUFF.

I'd offer as a crude metric that a fan is anyone who connects to other people through SF

A refinement: a fan is anyone who thinks of SF as a medium by or around which to connect with other people. I'm hearing a lot of sentiment to the effect of "I like SF, but SF-related things aren't a significant part of my social life" in the discussion. And that also relates to your speculation that fandom is participatory.

#240 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 01:14 AM:

@80: part of the problem is that nobody really knows more than the absolute basics about the health effects of fracking, because:

(a) it's still too new;
(b) often the contents of fracking fluids are not documented;
(c) evidence suggests they vary a lot;
(d) they can take a while to seep back to the surface;
(e) and there's no way to tell, when they do, what parts came from the fluid, what parts were brought up from underground, and what contributed to what chemical reactions along the way.

(Heavily condensed from many recent articles about fracking on ScienceDaily. It's a fairly active area of study.)

@182: context free from an old non-Bostonian, "Do the populations of Boskone and Arisia mix much?" reads ... interestingly.

#241 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 08:04 AM:

Geekosaur, in the early days, Arisia would occasionally use the slogan "Arisia: We're the good guys." And the Lens is central to their logo.

#242 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:07 AM:

Lee @ 239: yes, I'm unsurprised that you found bad attitudes coming from fanzines; some of the "giants" emitted a ridiculous level of "we're the only true fandom". See "The Man Who Corflued Mohammed" (aka "The Men Who Corflued Mohammed" and (IIRC) The Men Who Corflued the Worldcon") for a suitably sharp rejoinder.

#243 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:19 AM:

geekosaur #240: Also, (f) The companies doing it are putting a lot of effort into preventing independent study of those issues.

#244 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:27 AM:

abi @ 237... Your hair is curly?

#245 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:45 AM:

Serge @244: It straightened out as time went by.

#246 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 09:45 AM:

My hair is as curly as my voice is deep, which is to say, I perform the role in a very different way, according to my nature and talents.

#247 ::: Alex R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2014, 02:20 PM:

UC Riverside's world-class science fiction library under threat.

I apologize for the off-topic post, but it seems very important to SF people for a variety of obvious reasons. Perhaps someone with some mojo can do something about the problem?

#248 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:10 PM:

Where did I put my geezer shoes (my first con was WesterCon XXVIII in 1976... though I was but a sprat).

I saw some serious feuding in LA Fandom in the latter '70s (with restraining orders). It's so not new it's almost funny to see someone pretend there was ever some golden age of general comity.

Filk sings in the hallways... overtly political. Having Frank Gasperik singing both, "National Brotherhood Week" and "Ghost Writers on the Sly" back to back... was overtly political.

re fugghead: It's not supposed to be a fuzzy or indistinct word. I can't imagine it being less than clear. I recall when I first heard it being used (either Lee Gold, or Bruce Pelz*). I not only didn't know the word, I didn't have enough in the way of my own foul language to know what words it was realated to, and how it was blending the concepts) There was no doubt as to the depth of feeling, nor the subject of their ire. Not just the person, but the action.

*and I miss Bruce terribly. He wasn't always easy (and he could be a serious fugghead), but I never found him unreasonable. If you could tell him why you had done something which offended him, he could shrug and say, "ok", so long as it wasn't something done for the purpose of offense.

UrsulaV: Which now makes me wonder--was fandom ever really a place where people expected to be able to walk up to any stranger at the con and strike up a conversation about a specific book in absolute confidence that they had read it?

Yes. My step-father says he was able to keep up with the roster of published SF, almost completely, until the middle '70s (i.e. about the time I came into fandom; some little while before I met him).

His hobby (and how we came to own a bookstore) was attempting a complete bibliography of SF. So he scoured thrift stores and used book shops to get copies of SF, so he could cross-check titles and editions. He was forced to give up on that about 1986; because that's when the output outpaced his ability to work the data (that's also when he stopped having regular access to a mainframe, but before PCs were able to manage the amount of data he was crunching; which may have contributed, but he was already falling behind before he quit programming and went to bookselling fulltime) was the difference? Was it just that fandom was small enough that everybody was at the same party?

That's a part of it. The other part is the field was small enough that there wasn't a large enough peer group at most cons for it to be all that practical for the pros to just hang out with each other. Four faces all weekend can be pretty dull.

I've got a bad head for names, but tell me you're a commenter from Making Light and the lightbulb will go on...

Le sigh... I didn't realise (until this thread...?) That this name is also that name. So I didn't come up to you at the most recent ChiCon.

pdcawley: And I have no solutions, just painful observations. For all their faults there is something special about an old school, singing from the floor folk club that open mics and their ilk just don't capture. I'm going to miss them when they're gone.

England has a vibrant folk scene, which is not lacking for young people. Just an observation. A number of the brit-filkers are in both.

#249 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:11 PM:

Re "Fan". I'm a fan. I came to it on my own (though my parents have all been fen). I joined fandom sometime in the later '70s, as a kid. Bruce Pelz did as much as anyone to bring me in... and he was notoriously unfond of younger children... which, looking back, makes me feel both humble, and nervous. I am afraid I see more merit in myself than I deserve. I was certainly capable of being a really irritating child/young adult.

He lent me a book club edition of the first three Chronicles of Amber; at a Regency event (squee... I went to the Brighton Pavilion this week), becuase I was without book, and sort of bored.

Bruce was a fan, to his very bones, and he contended that for him, Fandom [Wa]s Just A GODAMNED Hobby. Looking back, he set a lot of my attitude to fandom. He liked fans, and was ambivalent about fandom. He was never away from it, but he wasn't always fully immersed. For him, actually (and he knew it, and would cop to it, in an oblique way) Fandom was a way of life, the way being Catholic, or Jewish, is. It may not be something one "does" all the time, but the sensibilities of it inform how one sees (and interacts) with the world.

And I suspect I am among the last cohort for whom not only is that true, but for whom it can be true.

But I was a fan in LA, in the late '70s early '80s. I was a teen in an area where I could (and sometimes did) attend more than a dozen cons a year. My socialisation was an exercise in code-switching. I was on the outside in high school (mostly) but almost an adult in fandom. I had zip for romantic success, in high school, which was not true in fandom.

For me, Fandom is a cultural referent. I am "at home" at a con; even one where I don't know anyone (which has never happened).

I was an apa-hacker; which is how I came to RASFF, and thence to here (and so, indirectly to my own blogs): and I was a convention goer, which is why I wanted to apa-hack, etc.

#250 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:36 PM:

I remember helping move his collection in about 1979. Lots and lots of boxes sized for 11x9 inch fanfold paper. (Among other things I remember, including smart, skinny red-headed kid.)

#251 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:38 PM:

Terry Karney @249: I don't recall Bruce ever being prejudiced against young fans. He was prejudiced against stupidity (and young fans often show that), and prejudiced against similar cluelessnesses: but he was instrumental in bringing me into fandom at the age of 16 (in 1969), he was a strong supporter of the Granada Hills group at around the same time (a young people's invasion), he brought in Craig Miller at the same age, Drew Sanders: he was one of the reasons LA fandom was welcoming to younger people through the 60s and 70s. He had a reputation as a curmudgeon, but he cared about bringing younger people in -- and showed it by respecting what was respectable about them. He didn't talk much with people who only wanted to hang out with their own friends -- which I think may have translated, to some people, as "not liking younger fans." But it's very far from the truth to say "he didn't like young fans" as a blanket statement.

#252 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:44 PM:

Thom: I very much got that sense; on the flip side everyone likes to think of themselves as, "not stupid".

He was most decidedly not one to suffer fools, and the large number of fools in the world means there were a lot of people he gave short shrift.

I'm glad I wasn't one of them.

#253 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 08:45 PM:

Ghaaa... Tom, not Thom.

I blame the time-zone difference. That's it.

#254 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 09:05 PM:

Terry Karney @252: I'm glad I wasn't one in his eyes as well. His friendship was a treasure. (and the name error is forgiven and forgotten)

#255 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:00 PM:

Raven on the Hill, I am struck by the gulf between what abi wrote: "Want to talk about the Right Wing Noise Machine? G'wan. Want to talk about policies, positions, politicians? Knock yourself out" and what you appear to have read: "I think I get to be angry." Your anger isn't being forbidden to you: what is off limits is being angry at a spherical right wing of uniform density. You are being asked not to make that convenient but fallacious assumption because some of those concavities accidentally included in that spherical are actual people, here, actually reading your words.

Being angry in an ethical and useful way is hard. On an appropriately fannish note, Daniel Abraham wrote an piece about it in Clarkesworld. It's worth reading:

Rosenberg—like pretty much everyone who’s been engaged with fandom in the last few years—had to talk about anger. Anger is the emotion most closely associated with violence. That’s true for me, and I’m guessing it’s true for you. And this is true to the point that the two often get confused. Expressions of anger often read like rhetorical violence, and criticisms of someone’s rhetorical style are easy to confuse with (or conflate with or use as) telling the writer that their emotions are wrong. Rosenberg is utterly against violence in how we talk to each other. But he’s strongly in favor of the complete, accurate, and uncompromising expression of anger.

#256 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2014, 10:46 PM:

I think I suffer fools because I have done foolish things myself as I was growing up. (Social skills came late to me.)

#257 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 03:53 AM:

On fandom as "My tribe! I have found you!":

We arrived at the ExCeL centre yesterday evening and went to pick up our badges. Alex, who adores geeky T-shirts, was wearing "Han Shot First".

Someone coming the other way, already wearing his badge, looked at Alex's shirt, grinned, and gave him two thumbs up. This is quite literally the first time somone not related to him by blood has connected with one of his shirts. It's hard to express how much that affirmation mattered to him.

He came home, delved into the scheduling app, and is now head-asplodingly excited about being at the con. I do hope his Night's Watch garb gets compliments. He's a little shy about wearing it, but yesterday's encounter has encouraged him to try.

#258 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 06:16 AM:

#255 ::: heresiarch

Thanks for the Daniel Abraham link.

#259 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 09:15 AM:

abi @ 257... Glad to hear about Alex.

#260 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 09:55 AM:

abi #237: Play it, abi. Play 'As Time Goes By'.

#261 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:12 AM:

Fragano... Of all the gin joints...

#262 ::: CN ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 10:28 AM:

Interesting thread. I've been reading SF since 1963 (A Princess of Mars, and I still have that copy) but ML is as close as I've ever gotten to a convention. I've been missing out! If possible, I will attend one in the future, just to discover.

#263 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 02:00 PM:

Excellent link, heresiarch. Much to think about there, and some reading suggestions I'll have to follow up on. (I still haven't read bell hooks; I really need to.)

May I offer in return an article I found via a mailing to regular Kickstarter backers:
How to Be Polite

The whole article is surprisingly profound, but this is the part that connected deeply for me:
"People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is."

Yes! Not having to have an opinion, not needing to make a judgment is exactly liberation, and I do mean that in the Buddhist sense.

#264 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 02:57 PM:

Clifton, #263: One thing I noticed in that article was how much of it was about boundaries -- both having them, and respecting them. It's most obvious when he talks about not touching other people without their permission*, but it's inherent in a lot of the other advice as well.

* The whole business about touching black people's hair just becroggles me. Not that I don't believe it happens, but in a HOW COULD ANYBODY PAST KINDERGARTEN EVER POSSIBLY THINK THAT'S OKAY? kind of way.

#265 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 03:16 PM:

Thanks to heresiarch for the link @255 and to Clifton for the one @263. Both excellent.

#266 ::: Raven on the Hill ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 08:15 PM:

abi, #221: I will honor your peace and do most of my croaking elsewhere. This is my last word on this subject here.

Heresiarch, #255: "Your anger isn't being forbidden to you: what is off limits is being angry at a spherical right wing of uniform density."

I would agree if there was no political organization on the right. In practice, movement conservatives band together and support each other. Even people whose contact with the movement is limited to news sources, family, and friends, and so on ally themselves with the movement and, when it comes time to act, support the organized movement.

Lenora Rose, #232: "many who bear that label [conservative] are likely on your side, if instead you point to specific follies and policies of those actually in charge." This has not been my experience for at least a decade. The rigidity of the far right has become the conservative mainstream, and even the most egregious abuses of power do not persuade most participants to break with the movement. Those who do break usually no longer identify themselves as conservatives, or say, with some justice, that conservatism left them.

In any event, honoring the peace here, this is my last word on this subject in this discussion, and in this forum for some time to come.

#267 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2014, 08:58 PM:

Raven... Do stick around.

#268 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 01:56 AM:

I'm glad people liked the link. Clifton, I ran across that same article, and also quite liked it. It does have a certain resonance with the Abraham piece, doesn't it?

#269 ::: pdcawley ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 03:23 AM:

Terry @ 248

No, I'm afraid we don't have a vibrant folk scene, we have an aging, moribund folk scene with the possibility that a younger generation of performers are going to be stuck with nowhere to perform.

There are a few places (Sheffield, Newcastle, London) that have a couple or three clubs run by a younger generation, but the majority of clubs are grey and balding. And many of them seem to like it that way.

This piece by Tom Bliss announcing his retirement from trying to make a living as a singer says this rather better than I could.

#270 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 06:45 AM:

pdcawley #269: Speaking as an utter outsider and naif in these matters, a fair number of Tom's complaints seem to apply to live acts in general. The one most specific to folk, seems to be the clubs (that is, the "grass-roots" end of folk) having trouble or lacking resources for nurturing and "launching" newer acts.

My inner Fix-it Monkey is chattering about how "there should be some way to do that on the Internet"¹, but the way the Internet pulls successes out of the crowd, has very different dynamics from the way that a layer of real-world venues do. Also I can't quite see how singing from the crowd would work over the Internet (who's listening to whom?).

And I'm also wondering if the generational issue you (pdcawley) describe is the same as SF's Lost Generation, with the "missing" musicians having fled to other genres and/or mediums.

¹ I'm not talking about organizing or coordinating via the net, obviously they're already doing that.

#271 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 08:51 AM:

Raven on the Hill:

My in laws are conservatives. Canadian conservatives, but nonetheless, strongly to the right of many Canadians, especially me. My father in law is friends with one of the few climatologists who has staked his career on climate change being wrong, for example, and has chosen not to listen to any other source. I don't know a lot of their other political positions because they tend to have the sense to have a live and let live approach, but from around the edges, by some articles I've seen posted on their fridge, by the fact that they read the National Post and take it at its word, I have some suspicions.

My in laws are some of the most generous and warm hearted and kindly people I know. They give of their house, they give of their faith (and the right way, not by preaching or withholding kindness pending conversion - but by actually trying to do what they believe that Jesus guy said to do), they give of their time and hearts.

Just sayin'.

#272 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2014, 04:36 PM:

abi: That's wonderful!

#273 ::: Kimiko ::: (view all by) ::: August 16, 2014, 09:26 AM:

Re: conservatives. Twenty years ago I identified as conservative, but the movement receded from me as a tide, and has never returned. Wandering in this emptiness, I heard a voice saying "if you are not for us, you are against us". So ended my identification.
I searched for pragmatism, and found that dull, reasonable, and effective policies were advocated by the blue-marked team, and hated by the red-marked team. Such was the spirit of the time, that whatever good idea the red-marked team had, if they were adopted by the blue-marked team, the red-marked team came to hate them, and desolate was their policy.

Many things that I had feared before the tide went out came to pass, and were naught to be feared. Society changes, and we are powerless to prevent it, and that is not altogether a bad thing. People have free will, and it is better to respect that, than to thwart it. We do have power to make society more just, and that is worthwhile.

#274 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 08:28 PM:

No i did not disapear off the face of the planet... just oer my head online with too many things to chase down trying to keep up with a microfraction of... sigh.

I read Toni's article a day or two or three ago earlier today (I've had a window open on the thread and reaing the comments.. it looked like one of those sphere's I don't remember the names of which appear in undergraduate math and physics and engineering classes and sit in the middle of fields with the inside of the sphere's environment very different from that outside....

I don;t remember much of the article. The omments, though... !!! There is a disconnect , a giant one, between their sentiments, nd my personal experience over the years.

On oher topics in the thread,
#68 Curt
Um, have you ever noticed just how long it took for Donald Wollheim to be a Worldcon GoH? It wasn't because he was undeserving of the honor, it was because Worldcon committees were all hoping some other committee would choose him as GoH

#80 Sandy

There are still coal-fired power plants in the Northeast, and I don't remember what the damned "Dirty Dozen" in the midwest burn--if they are still in operation. They were SUPPOSED to be shutdown before 1970, and were not....

As for fracking, their effects on water supplies (they squander it in immense quantities and reprocessing is not something the frackers want anything to do with...), fields where used fluid gets dumped illegally, AND causing earthquakes, are appalling. That drilling holes and sending fluid down causes earthquakes, has been known for a long time... somebody attempted to get rid of toxic liquid waste (maybe radioactive toxic liquid waste, I don't remember specifics) in the Denver area 30+ years ago. Earthquakes resulted, and the program stopped in short order

#275 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2014, 11:24 PM:

Paula @ 274: I thought there was a big disconnect between the comments and the article! Most of them didn't have anything to do with it, as near as I could tell.

#276 ::: Cadbury Moose ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:32 AM:

Paula @#274

The Denver problem was caused by a chemical weapons plant pumping a phosphorous-based waste product down a borehole. This apparently lubricated a fault line and they got something like 2000 minor earth tremors as a result. I don't know if it settled down after they stopped.

#277 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 06:48 AM:

Actually, the story I recall hearing was that Rocky Mountain Arsenal was disposing of nerve gas. And, yes, I believe the quakes subsided. Don't know if disposal stopped because of the quakes, or they just finished off the nerve gas.

#278 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 06:54 AM:

ISE *clonk*

#280 ::: Idumea Arbacoochee, Verber of Direct Objects ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 07:40 AM:

(I am not entirely sure that enough people who read and comment here can actually parse "ISE". It might be better to more clearly state what you're doing, lest people feel a little left out.)

#281 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 09:56 AM:

Jacque @278, is "ISE" some version of <headdesk> ?

#282 ::: Pendrift ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 09:57 AM:

Cassy B. @281: I believe it's the dreaded Internal Server Error.

#283 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 09:59 AM:

Pendrift @282, ah; thanks. The *clonk* led me astray...

#284 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:18 AM:

My wife read about someone who apparently thought that 'FYI' stands for 'F*ck You Idiot'.

#285 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:24 AM:

Serge @ 284: You mean I've been using it wrong? Damn.

#286 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:37 AM:

Serge @284: My goodness. That must have made a lot of standard customer service and business email sound unusually aggressive.

#287 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:37 AM:

The first several times I encountered 'ROTFL', I had no idea what it meant. I parsed it as 'Rave on, thou f-ing lunatic' for a while; that's an awkward phrasing, but it seemed to fit--sort of.

#288 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 10:50 AM:

It's my understanding that this person was quite perplexed.

#289 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 12:56 PM:

I've heard about people thinking that LOL meant Lots of Love, but I'm not sure whether that was a real mistake or just a basis for a humorous story.

#290 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:06 PM:

I wouldn't call LOL = Lots of Love a mistake. That kind of implies that there's a definitive usage.

There were people who used LOL to mean Lots of Love, often while writing to other people who read it that way. I knew some of them. It was a totally legitimate coinage, precisely as legitimate as using it to mean Laugh out Loud was.

One meaning ended up prevailing, so that the other group found themselves increasingly misunderstood (though there are no doubt people who still use it to other people who understand it, yea, unto this very day). But it wasn't a mistake, any more than an American using "pants" to mean "trousers" instead of "underwear" is a mistake. It was just two rapidly-formed dialects clashing.

#291 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 01:09 PM:

I've also heard (but cannot verify) that there's an urban-legend version running around Avengelical circles, which holds that LOL stands for "Lucifer Our Lord". If true, it probably originated in a Jack Chick tract.

#292 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 02:26 PM:

My friend's online dating life was complicated by thinking BBW meant Beautiful Black Woman.

#293 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 02:55 PM:

So, it appears I fucked up massively when I wrote a little article for the Pigeon Post. What I was asking for was probably kinda dumb in the first place, but what I wrote had an interpretation I didn't think of, that pissed off quite a number of people, including Our Hosts.

I meant to say "hey, experienced scooter users, show the newbies how it's done." It came across as "you disabled people, be good and show the TABs how to act." That isn't a sentiment I would ever write (or think), but we all know what intentions are worth, and so I've been apologizing in venue after venue. Not having a public venue of my own, and knowing there are mobility-challenged people who read this, I apologize to you too. My words were ill-considered to the point of stupidity, and I apologize for the hurt and annoyance they caused.

#294 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 02:58 PM:

Fucked up again by posting to the wrong thread. Going over to the OT to post it where it belongs. Sorry again.

#295 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 03:46 PM:

On topic, I referred to BBC News on a gay porn site and REALLY confused some people.

#296 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:19 PM:

Xopher @ 295... What did they think 'BBC' meant?

#297 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:27 PM:

Serge @296:

It refers to a rooster of substantial size and with very dark feathers. Or something entirely unlike it.

#298 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:37 PM:

abi @ 297... I thought that might be either that or 'Bell Bottom Culotte'.

#299 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 04:57 PM:

Cassy B. @283: I like your interpretation better. Perfectly describes my week....

#300 ::: Errolwi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 05:34 PM:

BBC is also 'British Born Chinese'.

#301 ::: Del Cotter ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 06:09 PM:

Pumping nerve gas into the ground to cause earthquakes=most confused Bond villain ever.

#302 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2014, 06:50 PM:

Del Cotter #301: LOL! That would be something for the Mad Science annals....

#303 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 05:34 AM:

Thanks for the particle on reactions to Toni Weisskopf's essay, Teresa. My first thought on reading it and your close analysis was that TW was whitewashing socialism out of science fiction history just as a certain kind of person is whitewashing it out of every other kind of history these days. That being the case, do we like her and why?

I'm having some difficulty in loading the reactions, even with google cache. But fozmeadows and ana the booksmuggler both took my breath away with their ferocious determination to misread TW's article. Ye gods. So perhaps "we" do like Toni Weisskopf after all.

#304 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 06:37 AM:

Thanks, Phil. I think you can imagine our initial reaction to her essay: "Fanboys? Propaganda? Tucker said what?" Then Patrick cracked me up by identifying it as Deglerism -- which it is, among other things.

Personally, I was startled by the idea that someone could hang around the SF community for this long and still think that fandom exists to discuss science fiction. Ditto, by the "300 channels and nothing on" line, when there's more good TV than I have time to watch. Ditto, by the propositions that fandom is "diluted" by fans who don't stick to one narrow range of interests; that there are a lot of fans with no overlapping interests, which in my experience is certainly not the case; and that limiting the definition of "real fans" to "people who've read Heinlein" would somehow make fandom a better place.

Like the internet routing around damage, fandom routes around ideas that obstruct its happy pursuit of fannishness. The Enchanted Duplicator is only nominally about repro technology.

The responses from Foz Meadows and Ana Grilo didn't surprise me. Any time you tell people in the SF community that they aren't real fans, you're going to get strongly felt reactions. Theory will take a beating.

#305 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 09:16 AM:

Hello Teresa - good to see you are up so early or are you still in London? I certainly can imagine your initial reaction - TW played fast and loose with facts that have been painstakingly checked over the years - facts which to me are valuable and which to me have always seemed to show a seldom-seen aspect of the social history of New York.

I would add that there is a certain mode of reading controversial parts of an article that I call Economist Editorial mode, recognising that as in such the particular writer may have to flatter bigots in the first and final paragraphs and can only attempt to shoehorn in uncomfortable facts in some intervening tarantelle. I thought TW's introduction of Heinlein was a good example of this, that she pirouettes off from him quite nicely. The politest thing I can say of Scalzi's reaction to it is that it is crass, of the other writers I doubt that I can manage that much. I am also taken aback by the idea - never asserted, always assumed - that reading Heinlein means that one likes him. (I threw my copy of Starship Troopers out of the window of the train I was travelling on - train windows opened back in the day, kids - as this was the Vietnam era and the resemblance to the judas goat at the slaughterhouse door was somewhat too much. Not only was it offensive but that I could count my blessings - not called privileges then - in that I wasn't directly personally menaced by this call to arms was incensing in itself. Only after reading Manchester's American Caesar could I discern the point in history that Heinlein had got wrong and whereby his writing had gone off the rails. Or onto them in this specific case.)

But as for TW's point about diluting fandom, I have to agree with her. I had it on the undisputable authority of a black person himself, that if we wanted more black people in fandom then we had to be more open to comics because there and only there was where black people did their science fictioning. (This was in Scotland in 1983, terminology of the time.) Now the more time I might have spent finding out what these comics were that I was supposed to be open to, the less time I would have had for fanning (particularly if I were reading lots of the wrong things, lacking a signpost) and therefore fandom would unquestionably be diluted. Such is not therefore a bad thing, but it's a dilution nonetheless. Ditto with lots of other subset-fandoms.

#306 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 09:40 AM:

Oops, should have checked. Obviously you are still in the low longitudes. At the Melton Mowbray it felt like absolutely everybody was leaving Friday morning.

#307 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:04 AM:

I was going to say that the argument about who is and isn't a fan is not merely endemic to fandom, but practically diagnostic of being a fan. Obviously, if you care about a community, you will be invested in the definition of that community. And then I remembered all the times on r.a.s.f.f. that atheists told Roman Catholics that they couldn't be RC if they didn't agree with each and every utterance of the pope, and the many, many times gentiles attempted to describe not only how to keep kosher, but what keeping kosher meant to practicing Jews, and I thought that I had the wrong end of the stick. And then I reflected that these arguments were, in fact, being conducted by fans, and wondered how wrong I was in the first place. Conclusions, I have none.

I really appreciated the essays by Foz Meadows and Ana Grila, in part because they made sense out of the comments in Hoyt's blog following Toni's essay. The truth is that I couldn't really figure out what Toni was on about. And while I wouldn't dream of making a statement about what Toni actually meant, there appears to be a rather solid agreement by people on opposite sides of the issue about what she was _really_ talking about. So, irrespective of what Toni may have wanted to talk about, that does appear to be the conversation we have on hand.

I remember being struck, in the 80s, when I first heard the phrase "The personal is the political." It seemed important and wise. It is important to remember the context, though. This was an era where AIDS was still considered a homosexual problem and a huge percentage of gay people were in firmly locked closets. "Silence is death." And it was. It took a while to notice all the ways that "the personal is the political" could be used to totally screw up people's attempts at building community, at preventing cooperative political action, and creating unnecessary division. An incredibly double-edged sword, which sometimes was used to drive civility out of public discourse.

Although there are certainly exceptions, I tend to believe that bad history does not usefully illuminate the present or provide for solid building materials for the future. And Toni's essay does appear to be bad history. The idea that somehow, by 1940, we trufen had all somehow agreed to ignore politics in favor of arguing about Heinlein is, um... _Starship Troopers_, anyone? What was that weird ad he took out, the Patrick Henry something or other? So, yeah, kind of not.

It is absolutely true that fandom is changing, and that not all of the changes suit me. Ok, then. It's kind of like my creaking knees, it's the penalty I pay for not having died young. And, Teresa, I pray to never see a Chiba Sauron, though I'm charmed that it's out there.

#308 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 10:27 AM:

There are some similarities between entering fandom and entering a trade - does your face fit, show us your workmanship, are you in the right place at the right time, hostility to academia, etc. So the same societal and structural evils persist, only we call them politics.

#309 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:02 PM:

About fifteen years ago, I felt that I knew what fandom was, and felt strongly enough about it that I willing participated in an attempt to redefine the large local sf con,an attempt which, as they say, plunged all (local) fandom into war. In the fifteen year since, I have discovered the many, many ways in which I was wrong. And some of the ways in which I was right. Over the course of time, I've acquired more questions than answers. Life is like that, sometimes.

One of the things I continue to think I was right about is that all communities are, to some extent, exclusionary. They are defined in part by their boundaries. There are reasons why I'm an sf fan, and not a young Republican. A community is partly defined by who doesn't belong, as well as partly defined by who does belong. When we try to deal with problems of harassment and diversity (and these two problems are inextricably tied together, not by some sort of PC rhetoric, but by actual affects on real people) we run into the problem of the exclusionary nature of community. And this is actually a hard problem. I am so very much in favor of diversity, and very much not interested in trying to get everyone in the world to be a fan. I, personally, do not find these two things to be in tension, but I do see where other people do find the tension. I think they're fuggheads, but there you go.

One of the things I completely failed to understand was the way in which communities interpenetrate and co-mingle. People rarely belong to only one community, and as fandom has become fandoms, those communities interpenetrate and co-mingle in interesting ways, some synergetic, some antagonistic. Another thing I completely failed to understand was just how much of a hot button identity is, and how important the word fan was to many people. Including, I must point out, myself. I was completely unaware of how emotionally invested I was in both the word and the definition of the word.

There is a point where a change in quantity become a change in kind. Fandom has hit that point. There are just a whole hell of a lot more of us than there used to be. And that's even if you use some weird, restrictive definition that some people like to rely upon. When you broaden it out, and let just anyone claim to be a fan (and really, why shouldn't they?) man are there a lot of us. For an interesting parallax on the issue, take a gander at some of the ways in which evangelicals bewail and extoll the rise of the megachurch. The megachurch provides many types of services and communities that the smaller, more traditional churches cannot provide, but it does so by fragmenting the congregation, so that the congregation is not one cohesive community, but many communities that exist under one roof.

Is this fragmentation, which is a necessary response to the growth in size, a bad thing? I think that what it is is actually a different thing, with its own strengths and weaknesses. And it is a thing we need to deal with creatively and kindly. It is a fact on the ground. We don't get to pretend that it's not real.

I think that one of the things that we often fail to remember is that in each fragment, there are a set of people who are clearly "us" (however we are defining "us") and a subset who aren't, and that when we make generalizations about some other subset of our community, we kind of ignore that bit. There are a bunch of anime fans who are so totally part of my community, whether they know it or not, and another bunch who so totally aren't, and there you go. And honestly, I don't think even God could sort out which was which.

#310 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:19 PM:

I thought an SF/F fan was someone who likes one or more aspect of SF/F.

#311 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:45 PM:

Philpalmer, #305: I had it on the undisputable authority of a black person himself, that if we wanted more black people in fandom then we had to be more open to comics because there and only there was where black people did their science fictioning.

This is a very good example of the well-known fallacy of "every PoC speaks for all PoC", and to a lesser extent also of "well, my black friend doesn't mind, so it must not be racism".

(This was in Scotland in 1983, terminology of the time.)

And of course, absolutely nothing has changed between 1983 and 2014.

Now the more time I might have spent finding out what these comics were that I was supposed to be open to, the less time I would have had for fanning (particularly if I were reading lots of the wrong things, lacking a signpost) and therefore fandom would unquestionably be diluted. Such is not therefore a bad thing, but it's a dilution nonetheless. Ditto with lots of other subset-fandoms.

At this point you lose me completely. Fandom is not in any way diluted or diminished by reaching out to related materials (and I defy you to say that superhero comics in particular are not SFnal in nature!) -- it is enhanced.

Furthermore, the assumption that just because you like comics, or Star Trek, or gaming, or anime, or whatever means that you don't like "REAL" science fiction -- that reminds me of my junior-high classmates, who assumed that because I was known to enjoy classical music meant I hated rock. It's a very adolescent way of looking at things. As Teresa notes, there's a lot more overlap than TW gives credit for.

Not to mention that by being open to people who are interested in related materials, we will doubtless find some who will become interested in "our kind" of SF once exposed to it. But we won't find them by telling them that what they like isn't "REAL" SF; we do it by saying, "Oh, you like X, Y, and Z? Then you might also like Q, R, and S which are similar in these particular ways."

(And in so doing, we need to be aware that the SF which spoke to us 50 years ago is not necessarily the SF which will speak to them. Shoving Heinlein juveniles at today's teenagers and saying, "Here, you'll love this -- I did when I was your age," is frequently not a winning move.)

#312 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 12:50 PM:

Lee @311, I generally agree with all of your points, but I want to call out:

(And in so doing, we need to be aware that the SF which spoke to us 50 years ago is not necessarily the SF which will speak to them. Shoving Heinlein juveniles at today's teenagers and saying, "Here, you'll love this -- I did when I was your age," is frequently not a winning move.)

This. So very much this. I found this out the hard way... <wry>

#313 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:01 PM:

@ Serge 310: Back in the mists of time, when I first encountered fandom -- 1980, Iowa City, to be precise -- we had a careful taxonomy, which of course doesn't stand up to careful scrutiny. But we talked about Readers, who read SF but weren't fans; Fans, who participated in Fanac; and Fake Fans, who participated in Fanac, but who didn't read the stuff. We also argued about what constituted Fanac. My community was a con-running community, so we considered the question of whether or not attending and running conventions was legitimate fanac to be a settled question. (I also recall being warned away from the terribly elitist fanzine fans, who would mock and reject me for not being into fanzines. Oddly, I later ran into fanzine fans, and they were wonderful and fun and welcoming.) An interest in sf/f was a plus, but even then wasn't exactly an organizing principle. And r.a.s.f.f. talked more about cats and chocolate than it did about sf/f.

#314 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 01:22 PM:

Lydy @ 313... Good points. I prefer a broad and inclusionary approach because I had been on the receiving end of its opposite for too much of my life. It always leaves me perplexed that people revisit upon others the mistreatment they had had to put up with.

#315 ::: Neil W ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 03:34 PM:

Lydy said it in more depth @313, but a fan is someone who does fan-stuff and all of us have our own idea of what fan-stuff is. The question of what fan-stuff is is flirted with in Toni's essay, but (probably deliberately) never quite answered.

(I read the essay as a plea? answer? to a group of Baen authors/fans who were condemning fandom-in-general as not being real fans because they disagree with that particular group on [various issues])

#316 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 04:25 PM:

Lee #311

This is a very good example of the well-known fallacy of "every PoC speaks for all PoC", and to a lesser extent also of "well, my black friend doesn't mind, so it must not be racism"

"Racism" now, is it? Let us meet, since irony and humour evidently don't work.

And of course, absolutely nothing has changed between 1983 and 2014.

I am arguing that the fandom of 1983 has been diluted by the extensions of fandom since. You are flatly and snarkily denying this. It must be nice to be so well informed that no argument is necessary.

At this point you lose me completely. Fandom is not in any way diluted or diminished by reaching out to related materials (and I defy you to say that superhero comics in particular are not SFnal in nature!) -- it is enhanced.

(i) If something is diluted, it generally becomes larger.

(ii) I would certainly say that comics were not (in 1983) fannish, since there was no means for fans to participate. We could comment or consume, as the comics fans did, we could invite famous comics writers to conventions, but we couldn't participate. We didn't, in general, have photocopiers. We couldn't cite for critique, so we couldn't write accessible criticism. We weren't, mostly, artists; we couldn't publish extended strips in a fannish context. We could respond to each other and we could ask questions but we couldn't respond to the producers except by applause. The direction was always one-way.

Furthermore, the assumption that just because you like comics, or Star Trek, or gaming, or anime, or whatever means that you don't like "REAL" science fiction -- that reminds me of my junior-high classmates, who assumed that because I was known to enjoy classical music meant I hated rock. It's a very adolescent way of looking at things. As Teresa notes, there's a lot more overlap than TW gives credit for.

I really hope you are not talking to me. What assumption? I haven't said anything about "REAL" Science Fiction.

Not to mention that by being open to people who are interested in related materials, we will doubtless find some who will become interested in "our kind" of SF once exposed to it.

So what if they become interested? I can't help them with their stuff, I would only waste their time.

But we won't find them by telling them that what they like isn't "REAL" SF; we do it by saying, "Oh, you like X, Y, and Z? Then you might also like Q, R, and S which are similar in these particular ways."

(i) that works so well for amazon that it's made them into the comedian's stock-in-trade everywhere.
(ii) there you go again with that "REAL" sf stuff.

(And in so doing, we need to be aware that the SF which spoke to us 50 years ago is not necessarily the SF which will speak to them. Shoving Heinlein juveniles at today's teenagers and saying, "Here, you'll love this -- I did when I was your age," is frequently not a winning move.)

Again, who are you talking to? I said in my post how much I hated reading Heinlein. Why would anyone think that I would shove his works at today's teenagers? What I will say is that he was perhaps the first, but certainly the most notable, writer to use mental arithmetic to flesh out plots, descriptions and the internal lives of his characters and put a sense of "hardness" into his sf. This is a trick, but it's also exactly how physicists think, how they spend their hours. Alastair Reynolds uses it in House of Suns, so it's far from a dead trick, though he does it rather clumsily and draws attention to what he is up to. I could probably find other examples of other authors using this trick. I'm not saying that Heinlein "owns" mental arithmetic, but it does mean that no-one else can. This makes Heinlein hardly an irrelevant author, grating though he is and misconceived though he was.

#317 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 05:56 PM:

PhilPalmer @316: Comics, by 1983, had 20 years of fannish production (at least: the earliest printed fan-produced comic I know of is FANTASY ILLUSTRATED, which became GRAPHIC STORY MAGAZINE, and its first issue is dated Winter 1963; the comics apa, CAPA-Alpha, starts in 1964). That ignores the early material in XERO and other places, or hectoed or mimeoed comics by fans: these are specifically comic-related fannish productions. By 1983, we were even seeing the rise of anthropomorphic (furry) fandom as an offshoot of comics fandom, and the beginnings of the comics conventions. We'd already diluted/expanded into the comics world pretty fully by then.

Access to cheap photoreproduction (50c per master and a few cents per side) was common in Berkeley, at least, by 1971. We didn't have copiers because it was cheaper to use them in stores. That's changed over the years, and it may not have penetrated in the UK in that period. I just don't know: I didn't try to print fanzines there the few times I've visited.

And I did notice that you had intended large parts of your previous notes to be wryly self-deprecating humor, particularly the paragraph in 305 about embracing comics.

#318 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2014, 06:22 PM:

Lee, Phil Palmer's a good guy. If you want to argue with him, just argue. There's no rifling or muzzle velocity needed.

#319 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 01:25 AM:

There may, after all, be advantages to size. Smaller size and isolation.

The local con started with print words-in-a-line fans, but it started attracting media and comics fen, and above all gamers, from the start. Even had a good name for costumers, cosplayers, furries, larpers, animaeists, reenactors and filkers (for Australia, anyway), and got itself run by all of them. Had to. Weren't enough of us for divisions, and we're the width of a continent away from anyone else.

I don't recall the idea ever being floated that those people over there weren't fans, let alone that they weren't fans because they read New Worlds weirdshit rather than proper SF. Most of them actually liked Heinlein, and those who didn't were cool, too, pretty much.

So we got along. Not because we're all saints or something, but because we had the sense that we're all in the same boat - a little one, on a wide ocean that was indifferent or actually hostile to the core of our... our, well, culture: the idea that dammit, estrangement is interesting, and why the hell not?

But anyway, we still get along.

#320 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 05:36 AM:

Thanks Tom. Yes we had photostencils and even photolitho in 1983, some heroes could cut directly onto stencils and we could have used silkscreen but no-one did. This sufficed for front pages and fillos. When I put out Chocolates of Lust 2 I tried to build up what we would now call a cost model for all this but failed miserably; everyone just wanted to help for free! And comics fandom already had an apparatus of semiprozines that suited them quite well. Given also the flamethrower approach to sff criticism in fannish circles at the time comicdom would probably have been leery of encouraging too much crossover.

#321 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 12:12 PM:

Philpalmer, #316: If that post was intended as self-deprecatory humor, I will merely point out that this is a difficult trick to pull off in a text-only medium with people who have no idea who you are.

OTOH, on re-reading my previous comment, it appears that much of the verbiage to which you objected stemmed from my annoyance with Ms. Weisskopf's original article, and backsplashed onto you. That was extremely sloppy writing (and thinking) on my part, and I apologize.

#322 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 01:59 PM:

Lee, #321: no problem.

#323 ::: dotless ı ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2014, 03:28 PM:

Dave Luckett@319: ...animaeists, reenactors...

I just parsed that as either "reanimists" or "reanimators" and was thinking that the convention sounded even more extraordinary than you described.

#324 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2014, 01:09 PM:

hersiarch @ 255, Clifton @263, thank you. Both are now bookmarked.

Lee @264

I got my hair touched, and in some cases fondled, as a child. I was very, very blond as a child. In the community I grew up in, blond was so rare as to seem freakish. As I got older, my hair got darker. I also learned that pulling back, flinch like, caused hands to pull back, and the owners thereof to rethink the hair touching thing. Not because I was expected to break out in violence but in a subliminal fashion tell these adults there is a human with feelings attached to that hair. And yes, I was supposed to tolerate it because "they didn't mean anything by it."

Serge @284
I will never again be able to see FYI without having both versions pop up. Startled the cat off my lap with that one. I'm passing on the glare my cat gave me.

#325 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 02:11 AM:

PhilPalmer @316: If something is diluted, it generally becomes larger.

That is true, but the converse (a thing that has become larger has generally been diluted) is not necessarily so. I would argue that a thing is diluted only if it becomes larger without any additional content being added. It's quite possible that we're adding more content to fandom than we are adding fans, which would mean fandom is actually becoming less diluted. I mean, there are a ton of new fans, sure, but there is a ridiculous amount of new content.

#326 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 07:47 AM:

Lin Daniel @ 324... :-)

#327 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 07:56 AM:

shadowsong @ 325: True, but it's also a matter of point of view. I went to Dragon*Con a couple of times in Atlanta. It was fun but nothing to write home about. Not much interested me.

Quite dilute if it's me it's trying to please. I'm a word person. All the media and game stuff? No.

Are we measuring all the solutes? Or just some?

#328 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 10:19 AM:

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

(t-shirt seen years ago)

#329 ::: PhilPalmer ::: (view all by) ::: August 27, 2014, 05:09 PM:

#325, shadowsong
Yes, sure. I was only addressing TW's invocation of a particular fandom and her complaint that it had been diluted. I thought her complaint, as an observation, was justified and that it wasn't helpful to deny it. After all, if you dissolve gold in aqua regia then the gold has been diluted. The aqua regia is still bloody strong (and now contains new miracle ingredient gold!) but a dilution has still occurred. There are more arguments to be made about the changing nature of fanac and that is where the contentiousness arises; it's not clear that people who havent (yet) found other people who do what they do are excluded from their fandom as evidently as are people who were doing something and who get told that it can't happen any more. (As Abi Frost lectured Channelcon in 1982, here she had a museum catalogue and it had a duplicator in it. They are museum pieces, people! We are not from the future any more!)

#330 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 10:49 AM:

PhilPalmer@329: The problem with accepting TW's complaint about dilution is that it assumes that fandom was once concentrated (at least in interest -- it was always geographically dispersed). It was never concentrated! It was always heterogeneous; claims that we once all ]adored[ Heinlein and/or accepted that what was was right are just as bogus as claims that fanzine fandom was once the only true fandom and everything else since is a corruption. (TNH has been around long enough to get a bellyful of that theory; I don't know whether she completely shrugged it off, or paid it enough attention that TW's post was a little more irritating.) For specific reference, see the header quotes in Klage's White Sands, Red Menace; Harry Warner was being contemptuous of RAH in ~1948.

#331 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 11:44 AM:

I love fanzine fandom, but it's only one way of being fannish. It used to be more central to fandom when travel was relatively expensive and the internet didn't exist.

Collecting SF and fantasy also used to be more important back-when, because less of it got published, and what did get published was hard to find.

Media fandom was much less prominent in the early days because genre-related movies and tv shows were scarce, and frequently weren't very good. Also, the difficulty and expense of owning copies meant you were unlikely to catch up on most stuff you missed, and you couldn't talk your friends into watching the stuff you did catch.

Fanfic writers and readers have benefited hugely from the fannish demographic boom (the proverbial 10% that isn't crap = a far higher number of works), and from being able to share and read each other's stories on the internet.

Fans have always made music. They haven't always called it filk, and not all fannish musicians have found each other's participation congenial. Musicians are like that.

Except for periods when conventions were effectively impossible, fans have always run conventions. Over the years, positions of responsibility have tended to be filled by fans who have an ongoing interest in good conrunning practices.

Fandom has always included artists and makers. That end of things has slowly become more prominent as a result of increasingly user-friendly technologies, and the increasing number of ways creators can show off their work.

In my experience, engaged and prominent fans are likelier to participate in multiple areas of fandom than to stick to just one.

Heinlein has never been the universal touchstone of SF. In fact, some prominent and well-respected members of the community find Heinlein unreadable. The closest we come to a universal taste is our childhood enthusiasm for dinosaurs -- and I still wouldn't swear that all real fans share it.

#332 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:04 PM:

Teresa @ 331: Heinlein has never been the universal touchstone of SF. In fact, some prominent and well-respected members of the community find Heinlein unreadable. The closest we come to a universal taste is our childhood enthusiasm for dinosaurs -- and I still wouldn't swear that all real fans share it.

I prefer sodomy. Which takes us back to Heinlein. As, come to think of it, so do dinosaurs.

#333 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:09 PM:

I certainly consider myself a real fan - Reading The Stuff since childhood, have been attending/volunteering at conventions since age 14, have written filk and fanfic, cosplayed and participated in masquerades, etc. etc. - and I was never particularly enamored of dinosaurs as a child. I blame the dinosaur paintings that my elementary school posted near the kindergarten classroom - dark, muddy tones, and fairly bloody as well - there was one of a Triceratops goring a different dinosaur that makes me shudder yet.

#334 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 12:14 PM:

Teresa... What's that about Dinah Shore? (Yes, they were making that joke even in 1949's "On the Town".)

#335 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2014, 02:14 PM:

Growing up an Air Force brat, and with the first NASA astronauts training at our base (Langley), rocket ships were my first love not dinosaurs.

#336 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 11:08 AM:

@ Teresa, 331:

Actually, I was afraid of dinosaurs as a child. Not as in, "the velociraptor will get me" but rather the entire concept of dinosaurs. My parents gave me a Golden Book Encyclopedia for children, which I read with great enthusiasm, following one reference to the next, and read about the dinosaurs...and became very upset. Because evilotion. And I wanted to believe, believe in dinosaurs, believe in science, believe in evolution (at the age of seven, I found evolution to be an utterly entrancing and enchanting idea) but I didn't dare, because eternal soul. So I backed away. Never again did I romp through the encyclopedia. I shied away from mentions of dinosaurs. What a weird, sad waste it was. But, no, as a child, I was not interested in dinosaurs. I couldn't afford to be. Although, I would have been interested in them if I could have been. So, maybe I'm not really a counter example, but a person with really, really weird parents.

#337 ::: Clifton ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2014, 03:27 PM:

Rikibeth: [gasp!] [shock!] (not really, just kidding.)

So I guess there are no true constant touchstones for fans. (I was absolutely a dinosaur enthusiast and a rocket ship enthusiast.)

(Reposting for the dread ISE)

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