Related Subjects: Fandom

Hello.

I’m going to be blogging at Tor.com primarily on “related subjects” rather than SF, fantasy and the universe. And within “related subjects”, I think my specialist subject is fandom. Which is a bit hard, because I’m not sure I know what it is. So how better to check whether this thing is on than to essay a little fannish taxonomy?

The seminal piece of work in this field is probably Lore Sjöberg’s Geek Hierarchy. The part of fandom I’m in tends to think of itself as in the second box from the top here; “fans of SF/fantasy literature”. But that’s not quite right, is it? Some of us read SF, certainly, but rather more of us would read more if we only had time, and we can all point to people who read scads of the stuff but aren’t very fannish. We also write fanzines and run conventions, two activities which don’t appear anywhere on Sjöberg’s chart.

One label for the bit of fandom I’m in, particularly the fanzine bit of it, is “Core Fandom”. I’m not terribly fond of that label. At school I remember being taught evolutionary biology in a way that certainly implied, and may even have stated explicitly, that mankind was a sort of culmination of millions of years of evolution. I don’t think they teach it that way any more. I mention this because the name “Core Fandom” contains the very same implication; that the massive diaspora of fandom we’ve seen somehow consists of a single truffish branch and loads of other lesser breeds.

Cheryl Morgan described Core Fandom as “a particular fannish sect who, in the manner of certain religious groups, believe that they are the true inheritors of the fannish tradition and that all other fans are fakes, heretics and apostates.” I think that is probably overstating the case a little but I can see where she’s coming from. I am not, therefore, in a rush to buy my own Core Fandom t-shirt.

I struggle with this particularly because my own fanzine, Plokta, tends to have a great deal of content that is not obviously related to SF. But it does have at least something of a thread leading back through that fannish tradition. So, despite my knowing objectively that there are millions of people out there who think they are in fandom who wouldn’t recognise what I do as fannish at all, I still point to this stuff and say that it is fandom. Perhaps if I do it loudly enough people will notice?

So when I say I’m going to blog here about fandom, I think I mean fans of SF and fantasy, and people who run cons, and people who write fanzines, and probably also people who write stories in which Captain Kirk appears dressed as an ocelot, though I’m not sure I know much about them. And probably also about, well, other things.

Do feel free to disagree. But only to be polite.

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