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A little history of convention fandom - Input Junkie
July 3rd, 2013
02:04 pm

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A little history of convention fandom
Jacqueline Bryk pointed this out to me-- it's a strong statement about what's going on in fanfic fandom.

Of course, it referred to fanfic fandom as fandom, which led me to think about my preferred fandom, which is print sf fiction* convention fandom, or at least conventions which include print sf as a major element.

What was and is it about? It's not nearly as focused as fanfic fandom-- my view is that PSFFCF is gatherings of people who shared what was once a relatively rare and somewhat despised taste. A lot of the purpose of conventions is hanging out with like-minded people, and the community was small enough that it was easier for fans and professionals to socialize.

As time went on, gatherings for talking spread out into costuming, gaming, media sf, and filk music.

Unless I've missed something, writing by fans was mostly either original fiction with the hope of professional publication or personal essays, usually humorous and published in fanzines. There were also Amateur Press Associations, which were something like the internet, but slower-- the typical apa came out once a month, I think. APA-L was extraordinary because a new issue came out every week.

*This is sometimes referred to as literary fandom, which I think makes it sound more pretentious than I have in mind.

Related to the first link: The importance of having high self-regard.

The bit I like best from the first link is "But you have to be arrogant and egocentric to create something - you have to think that you’ve got something worth saying. And maybe that’s not nice..." My impression is that operationally, "nice" means pretending that you don't want anything very much.

This entry was posted at http://nancylebov.dreamwidth.org/1011747.html. Comments are welcome here or there. comment count unavailable comments so far on that entry.

(19 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:sartorias
Date:July 3rd, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Too bad there wasn't a plus one box for me to add my huzzah.
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From:thnidu
Date:July 4th, 2013 05:21 am (UTC)
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You're welcome to use this. I made it, so I can legitimately offer it to you.
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From:sartorias
Date:July 4th, 2013 06:00 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I \will copy it, and put credit to you.
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From:nancylebov
Date:July 4th, 2013 11:46 am (UTC)
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Not to nag, but I wouldn't have known what was meant. A "+1" icon would be a lot clearer.
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From:thnidu
Date:July 4th, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC)
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I use it when posting a "second!" or "+1", generally as a comment to whatever I'm seconding, and not without text. Sometimes, I admit, it's just "see icon", but I think the intention is still pretty clear.
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From:sartorias
Date:July 4th, 2013 10:03 pm (UTC)
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That's what I figure.

(Deleted comment)
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From:nancylebov
Date:July 3rd, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure if I was unclear, but I certainly didn't mean to say that fan writers have less self-regard. All I meant was that anyone who writes for a public has to have enough self-regard to believe that what they've written is worth reading.
(Deleted comment)
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From:chomiji
Date:July 3rd, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Well, you know, I have been a fan since I became a Tolkien and Star Trek (TOS) fan back in 1969, at the age of 11 ... maybe earlier than that if you want to count my fascination with all the Supermarionation TV shows, Astro Boy, and Ruthven Todd's juvenile fiction series about Spacecat.

Nowadays I'm into fanfiction too. I don't count it as a separate fandom. It's just another aspect of what I do, like going to conventions when I have the time and energy (like when I saw you the other weekend in Baltimore and bought some more buttons), versus reading .

Back in history, amateur artistic works, whether derivative or not, were more accepted and appreciated because most people couldn't watch a play with professional actors, listen to a musical performance with well-trained musicians, or afford a painting by a well-regarded artist. Daubs based on famous paintings, compositions that echoed well-known works, and the school kids' recitations of Shakespeare were the order of the day. Sometimes these amateurs were as talented as those they emulated.

What else is fanfiction – written for the appreciation of friends and others with no intention of seeking any remuneration – but the descendant of those amateur entertainments?

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From:nancylebov
Date:July 3rd, 2013 11:23 pm (UTC)
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Actually, there was a time-- till the 1800s?-- that fan fiction was a normal part of fiction. There was no apology for writing yet another story about King Arthur or a new Passion Play. Shakespeare got (most of?) his plots from other people.

We're so used to a culture where individual creation of unique works is considered fundamental and legally supported that it's hard to imagine any other way of thinking.

Amends, or Truth and Reconciliation is fanfiction that I'd say is more ambitious than the majority of commercial fiction.

That one's normal fiction. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality is a bit more weirdly ambitious. Neither of them is what I'd call second best compared to commercial fiction. Warning: neither of them is finished.

Lately, there's been more professionally published fanfic: Wicked, The Ayre Affair, Pride and Prejudice with Zombies

All Creative Work Is Derivative by Nina Paley.
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From:kalimac
Date:July 6th, 2013 08:00 am (UTC)
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All creative work is derivative, but that doesn't make it all fan fiction.
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From:thnidu
Date:July 4th, 2013 05:11 am (UTC)
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Ooo, Ruthven Todd's Spacecat! I haven't thought about those in years!
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From:malkingrey
Date:July 6th, 2013 04:47 am (UTC)
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Space Cat Visits Venus! Space Cat Meets Mars!

(Yeah, I loved those, too.)
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From:elenbarathi
Date:July 6th, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Word. Nice to see another fan of my own age here. Back in the days of mimeographed fanzines, it was indeed like putting on a play in the barn - there was no Internet then; everything was snail-mail, and the fen were so few that everybody more-or-less knew everybody else. The mundanes thought we were weird, so we hung out together, and we wrote the stories we wanted, regardless of what the mundane producers would be willing to produce. Not only was there no thought of renumeration; the whole activity was subtly subversive and only questionably legal.

LOL, a great deal of my early writing was the most appalling Star Trek Mary Sue schlock imaginable. I blush to admit that during the 'Save Star Trek' campaign, I actually sent NBC a song I'd written about the episode The Immunity Syndrome, to the tune of 'The Cruel War Is Raging' - and I'll bet it wasn't the silliest thing they received in that campaign, either, because all of us young geeks were constantly scribbling and filking away, exactly the same as the young geeks nowadays. Practice makes perfect; people have to start somewhere.

The Internet didn't create either fandom or fanfic; it just gave us all a bigger place to meet.
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From:harvey_rrit
Date:July 3rd, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC)
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I don't see JB's description of the woman's viewpoint as different from what I was taught, and unless my public schools were even worse than I believed (difficult to manage) I'm not a woman.

And it's true about ego. I'm an SF author. I not only tell people how they should change the world, I expect them to pay me for the privilege.

And they do.

In the words of Bob Goldthwait, "Thank you for encouraging my behavior."

WRT fanfic:

Just because you're tapping a barrel cactus for water doesn't mean you're not headed for the river. It keeps you going. It makes you better at what you're doing. Drink deep.

Many's the day on the trail I had no water but what was in Pegasus' hoofprint.
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From:nancylebov
Date:July 4th, 2013 12:45 am (UTC)
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JB's description or JM's?
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From:harvey_rrit
Date:July 4th, 2013 01:38 am (UTC)
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Dur. JM's.

This Irritable Brain Syndrome is a trial.

(But I got published in spite of it! Keep going, folks!)

EDIT: Can't agree entirely with ifeelbetterer. But, sadly, it does occur far too often among authors who have forgotten the basic truth:

We ARE fen. (Because the Maestro has made us fen.)

Edited at 2013-07-04 01:47 am (UTC)
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From:thnidu
Date:July 4th, 2013 05:12 am (UTC)
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Hola! Good to see you here.
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