Sarah, over at the Bookworm Blues review blog wrote a piece the other day entitled Hey Fans, You’re Doing It Wrong.
She very quickly followed that title with the disclaimer that the title was ‘tongue-in-cheek’ and she followed that with an egalitarian screed on equality, openness and an appeal to the least-common-denominator, something vaguely equivalent to: if you like this stuff, you are a fan, no apologies necessary.
As if someone who isn’t at least 50 years old has any authority whatsoever to talk about what it means to be a fan and how to identify, if not become, one.
Sorry ’bout that. ‘Ageism’ is not an acceptable way to judge fannishness – unless you are a fan. It’s mere coincidence that real fans are all over 50. Happenstance. A conspiracy of the calendar.
I’m here to fansplain to Sarah and everyone else in the wider so-called genre community that Sarah’s title was not tongue-in-cheek. It was finger-in-the-eye. Without realizing it, Sarah nailed it.
Fans, you ARE doing it wrong.
Wrong. WRONG. W R O N G!
W R O N G !!!
If you want to be a fan, there are just a few simple steps you must take, some check boxes you must check off, some oaths you must orate and some things you must do.
Fortunately, they’re all fun, relatively inexpensive (after the infrastructure has been acquired anyways) and will reward the seeker in the end with the appellation of TRUFan.
Precursor: find a fanspeak dictionary and learn what a Trufan is. Check out Not-a-fan, FAAN, Femmefan, Fen, Jophan too.
1. Get yourself born around 1912 or so, preferably in the US or the UK, or even Australia.
Bonus Points Awarded if you can arrange to get yourself born male and white into a scientifically or literary oriented household
Double Bonus Points Awarded for being born in NYC or LA or Chicago (or your birth family immigrates there within a few years of your denouement)
2. Become friends with people named Forrest J. Ackerman, Virginia Kidd*, Raymond Bradbury, Warren Fitzgerald*, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Raymond A. Palmer, John Michael, Donald A. Wollheim, Leslie Perri*, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Samuel A. Moskowitz, Mortimer Weisinger, James C. Taurasi, William Sykora, Milton A. Rothman, Julius Unger…**
(*Note: may not be white and/or may not be male)
(**Note: for purposes of this discussion, “jewish” (almost) equals “white”)
Bonus Points awarded for exchanging LOCs with any of the above; taking cross-country bus trips to attend the first Worldcon; paying for someone else to take the bus trip
3. Align yourself with a fannish quasi-political party such as Michalism, Scienceers, Animists…
Bonus Points awarded for: disrupting a club meeting with political recruitment and rants; having your compadres kicked out of a convention for unacceptable political activities, taking your fan activity so seriously that you enter into real politics
4. Choose your Fannish Religion: Make whatever obeisance required, perform the necessary sacrifices and declare your allegiance to Ghu, Roscoe, Ignatz or another Ghod of your choosing.
Bonus Points awarded for: choosing the right one.
5. Publicly declare your position on the Yngvi question.
Bonus Points awarded for: making a declaration on the Yngvi question in a manner that can be construed as supporting either side of the argument.
6. Learn the fannish ideals – openness, diversity, acceptance, creativity, sharing, caring, – and then make sure to embrace them as academic ideals that will rarely be put to practical use.
Bonus Points awarded: LOCs, rants, screeds and public remonstrations denouncing groups or individuals as not being real fans
7. Start a science fiction club, one with at least three members. Obtain a club number from the Science Fiction League. Hold meetings and discuss science fiction so you can determine which of your club members are not really fans. Use political maneuvering to remove the not-fans from your club.
Bonus Points awarded for: leaving the club you founded to start another one within 6 months of inauguration; merging with another club for the purpose of destroying it from within; starting another club to get back at the folks who kicked you out of the one you founded.
8. Buy a hektograph, ditto machine or mimeograph; learn how to type on and cut stencils; publish a fanzine. (Don’t know what those things are? Read that dictionary and/or pontificate on why real fans don’t need to read no stinkin dictionary!)
Bonus Points awarded: ditch your phone, tablet and computer. Buy a Remington portable typer. Include an editorial in every issue of your fanzine ranting about print’s superiority, the sterility of electrons. Make sure your fanzine is not distributed or read by more than a couple of hundred people; editorialize about your lack of influence
9. Buy a Propeller Beanie
10. With Propeller Beanie in hand, become a SMoF. (? DICTIONARY!)
Bonus Points awarded for: telling everyone that SMoFs don’t really control all of fandom. Then chuckle in an insanely malevolent way.
Double Bonus points: Copypaste long threads to one sentence comments on the listserv.
Triple Bonus points awarded for placing your one sentence comment in whatever location (top or bottom) opposite from what was last complained about on the listserv.
11. Wear your propeller beanie to a media con. Spin your propeller as you yell at and belittle the kids standing on line to pay for TV star autographs
Bonus Points awarded for being escorted off the premises of the convention by security
Double Bonus Points awarded for having the story picked up by the fan press; TRIPLE points if one of your detractors writes something akin to “who do they think they are, saying we’re not fans…?”
12. Chair a Worldcon.
Bonus Points awarded for: con themes that focus on pre-1980s subjects, guests, panels and exhibits
Double Bonus Points awarded for: disappearing from Fandom once the convention has concluded
13. Read the classics, beginning with The Castle of Otranto, progressing through Shelley, Wells, Verne, every story and column in Amazing Stories 1926, ’27, ’28, ’29 and ’30. Read every story and column in Science Wonder Stories, 1930 through ’39. Every story and column in Astounding Stories of Super Science, 1930 through 1938. Memorize. Pick a favorite character from one of the stories (Gunner Cade, Buck Rogers, Lamont Cranston). Write your PhD dissertation on that character, focusing on their importance to modern society and culture. Do not talk about anything but that character, ever again.
Bonus Points awarded for writing reviews of these works in your fanzines and/or for writing LOCs to the magazines declaiming that this or that story is not really science fiction…because….Always conclude your LOC with demands for more stories about (insert favorite antediluvian character here).
Double Bonus Points for not being sure if the Campbellian revolution was a good thing…and following it up with a screed against the New Wave
14. Attend conventions held for new fandoms, like Star Trek. Ostentatiously leave conventions for new fandoms (like Star Trek) because they are obviously not real fandoms
Bonus Points awarded for standing on line for several hours to pay for an autographed picture of Spock. (Do this before leaving the not real con)
Double Bonus Points awarded for forming a new Star Trek club, designed to appeal to the real Star Trek fans
Special Bonus (unlimited extra points): Learn The Law:
“Now begins the Saying of the Law!” The strong voice rang out.
And all the fans turned upwards to the speaker, and as one the voices filled the room, and even the hotel corridor beyond.
“Are we not fen?” they replied.
“Not to call it sci-fi, that is the Law.”
“Are we not fen?”
“Not to wear pointy ears or long scarves, that is the Law.”
“Are we not fen?”
“Not to have California Crap in our zines, that is the Law.”
“Are we not fen?”
“Not to have the Worldcon on a boat, that is the Law.”
“Are we not fen?”
“Not to go to programming, that is the Law.”
“Are we not fen?”
15. Write a science fiction novel and have it published by a traditional publisher. Start a blog to support your audience. Attend any convention of any kind that will have you as a guest. Sit behind a desk for hours signing autographs. Write blog posts about fannish ideals and the importance of implementing them in real life. Stop your club and fanzine activities because you just ‘don’t have the time’. Tell the fans (real or not) how important they are.
Bonus Points awarded for writing about the importance of getting along, being open, embracing diversity.
Triple points awarded for assuring everyone that it doesn’t matter what kind of fan they are as long as they buy your books. New.
NOW you are a fan…and you no longer need to be.
…but if you still want to be a fan – read this to help you start your journey THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR