The Movie Rewatch of Great Nostalgia: Return to Oz

I loved this movie at the time and was disappointed it wasn't more successful. (For the record, I wasn't a kid but an adult in his early 30s.)

Much though I treasure the Garland classic, I appreciated the way this was more faithful in many respects to Baum. It drove me crazy that so much of the criticism of this movie was illogically based on its not being more like the 1939 musical. I was shocked that one of those making that error was Roger Ebert, who as someone who learned to write in our own fanzine fandom and who had a deep background in SF&F, should have known better. It was quite disillusioning. 

Thanks to previous posters who mentioned the Vinge novelization. I meant to read it at the time but never did, and I plan to make up for that now.


I Grok Bob: Five Robert A. Heinlein Novels to Start With
Gardner, thanks for your follow-up. You're absolutely right about I WILL FEAR NO EVIL being the start of his slide. I must admit I'd completely forgotten about it. Perhaps I repressed it. ;-) In fairness to Heinlein, he did recover somewhat eventually. I think JOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICE was better (and shorter) than the books we've been dissing. As long as I'm posting again, I'll mention that I have a lingering fondness for GLORY ROAD, though it's not on my list of books to start with. Also worthy of mention, his short novel about a reactionary religious American dictatorship, IF THIS GOES ON--, remains scarily relevant. It would make an interesting high school reading assignmnent paired with Margaret Atwood's THE HANDMAID'S TALE.
I Grok Bob: Five Robert A. Heinlein Novels to Start With
I agree with Gardner. I couldn't believe that TEFL was one of your picks. Back when it came out, it was the first book that made us diehard Heinlein fans wonder if the master was starting to lose it. I doubt time has improved it. Of course, it IS better than NUMBER OF THE BEAST, probably his worst. THE PUPPET MASTERS is fun, but still second tier. Like TEFL, FRIDAY is another example of his late, slacker, post-peak work. I second Gardner's vote for TMIAHM and particularly his endorsement of HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL, my favorite of the YAs. To that I'd add CITIZEN OF THE GALAXY. Of course, to really know RAH, you've got to read the Future History stories in THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW. Bonus short story suggestions: "All You Zombies," "By His Bootstraps," and "And He Built a Crooked House."
Art History Through Sci Fi-Colored Glasses
What great fun. Thanks, Irene, for tracking it all down for us. Makes me wish I could afford to buy some paintings!
Brandon Sanderson Wins David Gemmell Legend Award for The Way of Kings
It's worth mentioning again here that as Irene reported a couple of weeks ago (see, Michael Whelan's fabulous wraparound cover art for TWoK has been nominated for a Chesley Award. Brandon and I already felt that we'd won a prize when we heard that Mike would be doing the cover.
Brandon Sanderson Wins David Gemmell Legend Award for The Way of Kings
This well-deserved recognition is gratifying and I'm really delighted for Brandon. I hope it won't be taken as rudely immodest to say that I think that by selecting TWoK, the Legend Award has just raised its profile and gained in credibility. This award makes up, at least a little, for the strange absence of a Hugo nomination for this remarkable, monumental book. Considering it's great popularity, it's puzzling that epic fantasy has such a hard time getting on the ballot (let alone winning). [Obligatory disclaimer: I am of course, this book's editor, so you may adjust for possible partiality on my part accordingly!]
Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings cover by Michael Whelan
Speaking as Brandon's editor, I couldn't be more delighted with Michael's art. It's going to make a gorgeous wraparound jacket. Having a Whelan cover is literally a dream come true for author and editor alike. The combination of his innate artistic genius and the meticulous attention to detail shown above produce results that are unsurpassed in their ability to evoke a world previously only realized in the mind's eye of the author. I'm eager for you all to enjoy the story that goes with the picture. We're working hard to get it to you this summer, even as Brandon continues his work on the Wheel of Time.
Has Queen Amalasuntha Been Assassinated Yet? L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall
LDF is one of my all-time favorite books, and an obvious homage to my favorite Mark Twain book too. As I told the folks at the Alternate History panel in Denver, it caused me to take a year of Latin in college, just in case I should ever find myself in Martin Padway's situation! No one who loves the book should miss Steve Stirling's wonderful tribute to it, "The Apotheosis of Martin Padway," (in the misleadlingly titled Baen collection, The Enchanter Completed), which deals with the end of Martin's history-altering career.
Happiness, Meaning and Significance: Karl Schroeder’s Lady of Mazes
Jo, I couldn't agree more. It blew my mind when Karl sent it to David and I got to read it in manuscript. It's an absolutely brilliant and original book and deserved to win an award. Livia is a great character, and what amazing ideas! I can only hope lots of folks will catch up with it and that Karl's audience will continue to grow.
Eighties Rewind II
I love Zot! and have every issue. It's definitely one of the best independent comics ever done. I must echo ErictheTolle in saying that it cemented my revived interest in comics at the time, along with American Flagg and Concrete among others.
The Weirdest Book in the World
I reviewed An Exaltation of Larks for Asimov's at the time of its publication. I didn't so much think of it as weird as frustrating, because I thought it could easily have been a much better book. It's the kind of book that makes a reviewer wish he were an editor. (Which, of course, is exactly what happened to me.) Here's an excerpt from my review:
As long as Reed focuses on his student protagonists and their college environment, he's perfect. Having worked on a college paper in the 70s myself, I felt right at home. His handling of the Big Turtle isn't nearly as convincing, especially when explanations are being offered. He might have done better to put a less comic-bookish icon at the center of his story. It doesn't help that the Turtle's dialogue tends to the cutesy and coy. All this slows down our acceptance of the cosmic significance of what's going on. There are other points as well when the book's level of realism seems to swerve to the slightly cartoonish and back again; call it a blurring of the universe of discourse, a fluctuation in rhetorical voltage. As a result, plot events take on an arbitrary, unbelievable quality that leaks narrative power like a short circuit. Still, Jesse's participation in the Turtle's manhunt, and what we see along the way, engages us and is often surprising, with the biggest surprise rightly saved for the very end. That ending, thanks to Reed's skill in building the realistic characters, is genuinely moving. I don't need to have read any of Reed's earlier books -- which got good notices -- to see that he's a talented writer, wherever this book may fall among them. It's clear he's already firmly in control of character and setting. If he can achieve the same control of tone and level of discourse, nothing can stop him.
I've never had a chance to read any of the other ten of Reed's novels, nor the novella that won the Hugo last year, but I'd like to. He's an interesting and talented writer.
Farewell! Thou Art Too Dear For My Possessing
Having been involved in the debates at the time, I'd say that the creation of the semi-prozine Hugo seemed like an unfortunate but unavoidable necessity, given that Charlie Brown and Locus didn't have the honesty to admit they were professional and the subcommittees in charge of the awards didn't have the balls to rule them ineligible for the Best Fanzine Hugo, which, of course, they actually obviously were. (And everyone knew it.) It just wasn't fair that a magazine that had become Charlie's full-time job (and was making him a very nice living) should keep truly amateur zines, zines actually produced as a hobby, from being recognized, and the creation of a new category turned out to be the politically expedient way to deal with the problem. Of course, the nay-sayers predicted that we were creating a de facto Locus Award, and they were right. Except for 1993 and 1994, when Science Fiction Chronicle won, 1995, when Worldcon was in the UK and Interzone finally won, and 2005, when Worldcon was in the UK again, and Ansible won, Locus has won every year since 1984, a remarkable run. It's a fine magazine, and we're all grateful for its existence, but it's not that much better than all the other nominees. I kinda hate to see the category killed before The New York Review of Science Fiction finally gets it's long overdue shiny rocket of recognition, but the situation has become too absurd to ignore for many people in the SMOF community that attends the Business Meetings at the Worldcon. Even aside from the repetition, there's nothing truly semi-professional about Locus and there hasn't been in years. The category has become a joke. Whether having 'semi-pro' editors be recognized in the "Best Editor, Short Form" category is the ideal solution is another question.
Meet the Stars: Launch Pad 2008
Great 'con' report, David. Thanks for all the detail. I found what you said about the threat of neutrino flux from nearby supernovas interesting. I think that claim is still being debated, although I believe there's a secondary danger that such a flux could cause Sol to heat up. In any case, biological damage from gamma and X-rays would probably be a more immediate concern, so let's hope there isn't a nova nearby for the balance of human history. Launch Pad sounds like a marvelous experience. I am so jealous! Any idea if they take applications from editors?
In New York City tonight: Mashing up to defend your rights
This is going to be amazing. If I didn't already have tickets to see Suzanne Vega at the Masonic Hall in Brooklyn, I'd definitely be there!
Dan Dos Santos paints Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker
Wow. This was amazing. Bravo Dan! Irene, you should show this to any editor who ever takes for granted the effort that goes into a painting.
Who’s watching back?
The minute I saw that artwork in the office I said to Irene that we ought to issue it as a poster. I think it's great that someone picked up on it to make a protest costume. Pablo must be tickled. The increasing ubiquity of video is a classic two-edged sword. Yes, government surveillance of public spaces makes me nervous -- as it would anyone who grew up on Orwell -- but surveillance, in the form of citizen-video, can also be a force for good. For example, check out this item in the The New York Times's City Room blog about an egregious incident of police misbehavior. The report wouldn't exist without someone having been in the right place at the right time with a video-recording device: Police Investigate Officer in Critical Mass Video
SDCC: Watching the Watchmen
Thanks for posting this, Pablo, it sounds fantastic. I'm always interested in Watchmen news, since I've been a fan of this masterpiece since the first issue. If I can be allowed a comics-fandom "claim to fame" it's that I was therefore responsible for the SF Book Club doing a Watchmen book club edition. That gave thousands of fans a way of getting an affordable hardcover copy of this classic at a time when the only alternative was DC's very expensive limited edition hardcover version. I'm told that 'my' edition remains a strong seller for the Club to this day. It also led to the Club's profitable ongoing program for graphic fiction, for which I also acquired club rights to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, not be confused with the current movie with a similar title! And did I get a bonus for this brilliant innovation? Did upper management thank me for creating a new profit center? Nah.
SDCC: Greg Manchess Demo
Which reminds me, how did the t-shirts go over?
SDCC: Greg Manchess Demo
This must have been fascinating to see in person. Wish I could have been there! Everyone active on needs to know that it was Greg who provided the charming retro spaceship in our logo.
That’s just scenery: what do we mean by “mainstream”?
Jo summed up her excellent essay with: In the old Zork text adventures, if you tried to pick up something that was described but not an object, you'd get the message "that's just scenery". The difference between a mainstream novel and an SF one is that different things are just scenery. To which I must respond, "Hear! Hear!" That really captures the difference beautifully. Jo goes on to say: I think what people mean when they say The Yiddish Policeman's Union (an alternate history about a Jewish state in Alaska) is "mainstream" is that it has mainstream sensibilities, mainstream expectation, and, most of all, mainstream pacing. Yup, all of the above. They may also mean that it had mainstream publication and that Michael Chabon is a writer who made his name selling mimetic fiction -- which is still true even though his last three books have been genre and he's spoken well of SF and even joined SFWA. I was interested to learn from an essay in Chabon's new non-fiction collection, Maps and Legends that he may never have thought of himself as a mainstream writer. The first novel he originally intended to write was an SF mystery -- I've told him I'd love to acquire it if he ever decides to write it! -- but he was convinced by his professors that he needed to start his career with a "serious" book. Considering how many of the other pieces in Maps and Legends involve a call for wider appreciation of genre fiction or a passionate defense of it against the mainstream know-nothings, it's hard not to conclude that his self-identification comes down on our side of the genre divide, even as his work seeks to bridge the chasm. Leaving Chabon for the moment, I've always thought the "literature of ideas" tag was really only apt for SF short fiction. Your suggestion of a "literature of worldbuilding" applies perfectly to our novels. I completely agree that "In a science fiction novel, the world is a character, and often the most important character." That is exactly what mainstream writers and readers so often fail to get.
Handicapping the Hugos
Thanks for explaining about Brasyl. Now I get what you meant, and I'm even more eager to read it. I'll have a look at your blog review, too. As for JS&MN's combination of AH and fantasy elements, it is unusual, but hardly unique. Alternate History is usually the most mainstreamy subsection of SF, because typically the historical alteration is the only fantastic element. But there have always been exceptions to that, and to my way of thinking, an alternate history world that's "just like ours except magic works" is perfectly legitimate -- Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy series is a classic example -- just as Naomi's Novik's wonderful examination of how the military use of non-magical dragons might have changed history is good AH as well.
Handicapping the Hugos
First off the mark was drplokta, who bets on Charlie Stross to win and notes that "The Yiddish Policemen's Union is too slipstream." I can't disagree that it could be responded to as slipstream, but I think it is unquestionably alternate history. To me -- as you'd expect from a former Sidewise judge -- AH is definitely part of SF, hence YPU is not actually slipstream. Ed Bear says, "But there's no way in hell I'll read a book just to vote on it. I've tried both MacDonald and Sawyer and consider them third-rate at best, and Chabon's book isn't available as an eBook, so it's out of my personal running." But Ed, do you discount the possibility that a writer can grow and improve over time? And isn't it possible that a book that struck you as third rate was an unfortunate exception, perhaps just a bad match of premise and author, and that a new work might be better? I'm also surprised by your insistence that you'll only read an eBook. I think digital books have great potential, but given how early it is the evolution of that medium, restricting oneself to it seems needless self-deprivation. Even if you don't want to shell out for a copy in what you consider to be an obsolete format, I'm sure you could find Chabon's book at the library for free. Ed goes on to say, "That's how people vote, and you have to live with it." Well, I've been living with it since I started voting for the Hugos in 1971, but I don't have to like it. :-) neutronjockey quotes me [such quotes are in blue in all that follows] and then responds to what I said: "I've always said . . . that Hugo voting should not be a matter of relative quality, but of absolute excellence." "and should be chosen by people with impeccable tastes and --- no, just a $50.00 buy-in fee." I have to agree that it's unfortunate that Hugo voting participation has gotten so expensive because it's tied to worldcon membership. Proposals have occasionally been made to to extend the franchise by creating a cheaper category of voting-only membership, but so far that idea has always been defeated by those who raise the specter of easier ballot-box stuffing. The sarcasm I think I detect in the first part of neutronjockey's comment is a bit unfair. Any sensible person recognizes and agrees that all awards processes are imperfect (just as every voting method is flawed -- something that Charles Dodgson proved mathematically), and that of course there is no way to guarantee that everyone involved has "impeccable taste." But when the Hugos were created, the winners were chosen by the members of a world convention with just a few hundred members. Given the low status of SF and fantasy at that time (the first Hugos were in 1953), they were a self-selected group of passionate lovers of the genre who, almost by definition (and default!), were the world's leading experts on the field. In those days, when SF was still a magazine-based genre, and books were much scarcer, everyone at the worldcon could be expected to have read everything that had come out the previous year as a matter of course. The problem wasn't too much stuff to keep up with, as it is now, but that there was never enough to satisfy their stefnal appetites. I suppose it's idealistic and quixotic, but I think we get a better Hugo process the more we emulate those fans of the 50s. arachnejericho makes the excellent point that mere involvement in the award process can itself be educational. It forces you to think more consciously about why you like or don't like a given work, and it encourages you to read things you might otherwise have skipped or maybe would not even have known about. But, arachnejericho, I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say about Brasyl that "it's a hard read, yet highly accessible. But that's not probably not what SF hard-core fans will vote for, because it's also a mainstream contender. That pretty much dooms it." If it's a hard read, then in what sense is it accessible? And a book about "the bending of space and time" hardly seems mainstream. Did you mean mainstream in style? About YPU, you say, "also very high quality, but unusual in that it's Alternative History---and I don't know if a large enough percentage of Hugo voters will like that." In fact, commercially speaking, AH is one of the most popular sub-genres of late and there's no reason the voters would be an exception to that. Yet it's also true that you're right that alternate history hasn't won too often. In fact, just twice, I think, and very good books: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke in 2005 and, one of my all-time favorites, The Man In the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick in 1963. jasonpettus believes that YPU is going to win because ". . . it seems to be the big 'golden boy' of the entire literary world this year . . ." which raises the interesting question of whether fans will be positively influenced by such success in the wider culture, or react against it. I'm also grateful, Jason, for your high recommendation of the PKD Award contenders by Harrison and by Roberts, which I will try to get to. And that's all I have time for now. I'll be back later with more of my comments on your comments. [And, BTW, I hope my having to respond in this consolidated fashion doesn't make you feel like I'm addressing you from a platform as a Voice of Authority. It's just an artifact of the blogging set up and the constraints of time. I considered investigating whether being a Tor insider would allow me to insert my responses directly after each of your comments, but I quickly abandoned that idea when I realized not only would it be unfair, it would falsify the chronology of the discussion thread.]
Handicapping the Hugos
What a great series of responses! I wish I could have been at my Mac watching as they came in and commenting on them individually in real time, but since posting my call for Hugo touts, I've been immersed in the world of Brandon Sanderson's next novel, Warbreaker (a standalone fantasy coming out next June), as he and I have been dealing with the final tweaks before sending it off to Production. It's clear from the range of your opinions that when time permits (after Worldcon?), I should continue to try to read all the nominees. You've also convinced me that this is a strong year for Hugo-worthy SF novels. But was there really no fantasy that was as good? After I've had some breakfast, I'm going to return to offer some specific reactions to what you've had to say.
Handicapping the Hugos
OK, but when I said that, I was thinking more of people who haven't read any of the nominees, and vote for a friend's story, or because they recognize a novelist's name, and so on. If there's enough of that -- and there's always been some -- it just makes the whole process pointless. I do in fact agree that it's possible to read one work and recognize it instinctively as worthy of an award, and that it's reasonable to vote for it on that basis. I've always said (and can probably cite twiltone chapter and verse from the 70s) that Hugo voting should not be a matter of relative quality, but of absolute excellence. Choosing what to vote for should be less a matter of comparison among nominees, and more a matter of recognizing one of them as having outstanding qualities. Comparison only comes into it when you find that two or more works are equally remarkable. I know you remember my "No Award" campaign. The whole point was that if the nominees in a given category are weak, we don't want people just voting for the best of a bad lot. In that case, we want them to choose No Award, so the award can have a chance of standing for excellence rather than mediocrity. No Award doesn't win nearly enough.
Ecce Fanno
Alison says: "Obviously Terry P was active in fandom long before I was, but it's very well documented." Hey, no need to appeal to documentation! it's not like I wouldn't just take your word for it. But, in fact, Rob Hansen is kind enough to follow up and enlighten us both with the details. And those details kind of support my point, I think, since it turns out that Terry was an active fan in the mid-60s. That's over 40 years ago, and so says much more about the way things used to work in the fan-to-pro mutation than about how it is now. Alison further says: "I don't think it's entirely fair to suggest that novelists have to be wildly busy actifans" But I don't think I ever suggested that. As you go on to say, it's obvious that a novelist doesn't have the time for crifanac. I was talking about starting out as an active fan and transitioning to pro status over time. Yes, it's great that Terry Carr kept doing fanzines and Bob Silverberg does a FAPAzine once a year, but that's hardly something we have a right to expect from them or anyone. What I like about both of them is that they always acknowledged their fannish roots, and didn't run away from them. I'm proud to consider myself a friend of Harlan Ellison, but one of the things about him that does annoy or disappoint me is that he tends to minimize his fannish past. I loved the recent documentary about him, but it's striking that even as it tells us things about his childhood we never knew before, it never mentions that he was a fireball of an actifan, and published one of the best fanzines of his era. I suppose it's possible the film maker just wasn't interested in that part of his bio, but somehow I doubt that's the correct explanation. Alison continues: "it's not terribly surprising that people pick careers that pay the rent over those that let them follow their heart" Of course! I was not seriously criticizing anyone for being practical in that way. I thought that my tongue was about to come through my cheek when I ended with "No, that couldn't be it, surely?" Did I phrase that bit so badly that you actually thought I was advocating living with four roommates as superior or more virtuous than making a decent living? (Of course, in a better world, the question wouldn't arise, and publishing workers would be paid decently.) And Alison finishes off with an excellent point about the important and growing role of fan fiction. We old-farts long disdained it, but it can't be denied that it has become a training ground for real writers who are worth knowing.
July 20, 1969
Well said, Beth. As your age-mate (for those who don't know, Beth and I were born on the same day), I remember it much the same way. Like most such epochal days, it feels simultaneously an age ago, and just yesterday. The two temporal perspectives flicker like a Necker cube. We know intellectually how much time has passed, and yet the emotional charge is as fresh as ever. I was more religious then, and I remember thanking God for letting me live, out of all the span of human history, in the mid-20th century. Until First Contact occurs, no other day could be more meaningful to me.
Ecce Fanno

arachnejericho asks, "I'm wondering if "being active in fandom" can now be extended to people who religiously update their blogs, hang out on message boards and forums blabbering away, read tons of blogs in the field and comment quite a bit."

I can't speak for anyone else (and doubtless there are curmudgeons who'd disagree) but I definitely do so extend it, because you're right when you go on to say that the point is communication and connection.

Mimeography is an interesting quaint craft skill (which I enjoyed), but it has no innate connection to SF/fantasy, anymore than blogging does. The romance of Twiltone, for those who felt it, was a matter of long association, nothing more. No doubt blogging and the other forms of electronic fanac have or will acquire similar resonances over time.

Ecce Fanno

Thanks, Madeline, Lois is an excellent example of someone following the classic pattern. And her case demonstrates that by her time it worked for women as well as for men.

But let's not forget that the early 80s was a quarter century ago. That's a whole generation, at least.

And the Make Magazine forums are doubtless a great place to find people who might once have become fans. A good suggestion.

But your point about fandom not being the only game in town is the main thing, and exactly right in my opinion. That's part of what I was referring to in a comment on Alison's excellent front page article Related Subjects: Fandom, when I said:

"In the 38 years I've been around and watching, I've had the interesting experience of being present at the creation of daughter fandoms, and branch fandoms, and gotten to watch them bud off and flourish and eventually outstrip us in size and public visibility. That used to bother me a little, but I've come to realize that was just childish on my part. The proliferation was actually a healthy thing and it was inevitable, barring the disappearance of SF/fantasy itself.

"How hypocritical it would be to claim to be a fan of the Literature of Change, and then complain when the winds of change swirled through our own community!"

and later:

"The genres of the fantastic dominate the mass media and are appreciated by the broad public in a way that the fragile, scattered, tiny community of fans in the '30s would never have dared to dream. It may have been stuck with an ugly dynastic name, but Sci-Fi is the King of all Media.

"That being the case, fandom (prime, core, and otherwise) can never be the same and will never again serve the same purposes. But if we are true to ourselves, it won't matter."

Fandom as we know it, in all its variety, will not survive, yet fandom will continue -- like a body shedding cells and adding new ones, yet recognizably staying the same creature. It would be nice if it remembered where it came from, but that's sentiment, not a pragmatic concern.

Ecce Fanno

I couldn't resist following up on Alison's saying that "Charlie Stross is now a huge, famous author, and he's been going to cons forever." That made perfect sense, but it didn't quite answer the question for me. After all, to my mind, just attending cons is not quite the same as being an active fan like Alison.

So I wrote to Charlie and quoted the whole paragraph of Alison's at the end of which he's mentioned.

Here's what he said, and what I wrote to him in response. Charlie is in red and I'm in blue:

Can you confirm this or comment and expand on it?

Well, my first con was Yorkon 3 in, IIRC, 1984. That early enough for you? ;-)

Hey, I don't mean to turn this into a pissing contest, even if my first con was in 1970. (And if I'd had half a brain, I could have been reading fanzines in 1969.) I know or knew too many folks who'd predated me by even longer. I'm just filling in the details of your background that I didn't know.

So were you just a con attendee back then, or were you actively involved in some way?

My one experiment in con-running was on the committee of one of the Unicons back in the late 1980s. I steered well clear after that. I was heavily active in APAs in the 1980s and was a BSFA member from about 1983 onwards.

Pretty good fannish credentials AFAIC. You can't get much more hard-core fannish than apas. (Ever hear of the song parody I wrote about them? Susan Wood quoted it in her "Club House" column in Amazing.)

Of course, the fact that I was ignorant of your activity there also shows how their insularity is a drawback as compared to genzines. That, and the less than complete sync between US and UK fandom are enough to account for my being unaware of you back then.

It's become a cliché in fan-historical circles to note the parallels between apa writing (in style and content and even social dynamics) and the writing online today, but one key difference, among many, is that so much writing on the net (as in newsgroups) and on the web (as in blogs) is done in public rather than in private, and is also so completely unrestricted by geography and the possibility or more often,  impossibility, of meeting in the flesh.

Ecce Fanno

I'm glad to have Avi's confirmation of Alison's assertion for our North American community. I suspect he 'gets out' more than I do. It just leaves the question of why none of these alleged many fannish authors are showing up in my submissions pile.

I've been at least attempting to acquire books for Tor for eight years now, and successfully doing so for five. In all that time, I've had two fans approach me with books, and just recently reached out myself to solicit some from a third. Did someone stick a Repel-O Ray projector on my back when I wasn't looking?

And that still leaves the question of why there seem to be so few 'core' or 'prime' fans in publishing these days. Is it just that they've all become programmers instead and would rather make the big bucks and buy their books in bookstores, rather than get them for free at the office but live with four roommates? No, that couldn't be it, surely?

Ecce Fanno
Allison noted, "You have left Terry Pratchett off that list." Of course, it was never meant to be a comprehensive list, merely a representative one, but I'm interested to hear that, because I had no idea that Terry was active in fandom before going pro. What was his main fanac? Was he active in a club, did he run cons, or do zines? Of course, only the latter even had the chance of piercing my horizon on this side of the pond, so I can't be too hard on myself for not knowing this about Terry. Still, it makes perfect sense in line with what I've seen of him at cons since he became a world-famous best-selling author. I can't think of any writer more comfortable at cons and hanging out with fans, let alone such a famous one. But on your main point, I'm rather surprised by the vehemence of your rejection of my premise. I take you at your word, of course, that you know lots of fans who are now selling, but I'm just not seeing it as a major trend here. Could this be, as you suggest, a divergence between the US and UK? Yes, there are some recent North American fans who have become important authors, Tor's own Robert Charles Wilson and Robert Sawyer (both Canadians, I note) immediately come to mind. But they seem to me to be very much the exceptions. And the dearth of fans, indeed just of young people with even a deep-rooted reading background in the field's canon and history, is sorely obvious in the publishing world.
Ecce Fanno

Well, I'm tempted to claim that I was just handing you a straight line, but in fact, I'd forgotten that, and just now did a spot-on Homer Simpson "Doh!" when I read your comment.

I'm sure your zine's title was the first time I'd ever seen that change rung on "Ecce Homo" and being the trufan and fan of Jesus (the fellow nice Jewish boy, that is, no further beliefs intended or implied ) that I am, it no doubt lodged deep in the dusty crevices of my mental attic only to emerge today. In any case, the inadvertent reference to you and your zine is actually quite appropriate, as the article makes clear.

You are, of course, correct in guessing that it was the hand-fan conceit of my opening that inspired the title, but I also wanted to use the denotation of the dog Latin phrase. I want my readers to "behold the fan" I was and will always be, and the fans that so many of the writers and editors we admire will likewise ever be.

It was nice that you mentioned FAPA and explained what it was. One of my favorite fun facts about our field is that Bob Silverberg is still publishing a FAPAzine, something he started doing in 1949, at the age of 14. You've gotta love a guy who could keep faith with his boyish self in that way. In some ways, he's one of the suavest, most adult people I know, yet he hasn't lost touch with that kid.

I suppose I ought to turn the tables on you now, and ask if you remember the name of my FAPAzine!

Related Subjects: Fandom
A good beginning, Allison. I endorse everything you say, and that Patrick says as well. I'm not sure who coined the term "core fandom" (and I'd be interested to know; and the creator of that t-shirt you refer to likewise deserves credit for choosing the self-deprecating image of the well-chewed apple), but before it was promulgated widely, I was trying to convey a similar idea with a comparable coinage, "fandom prime." The word "prime" was intended to have multiple simultaneous denotations and connotations, but was, ahem, primarily meant to refer to the simple historical fact of primacy, of being here first. (Jeanne Gomoll kindly did me a design for an F' button. I really ought to get around to finally getting them made!) That needn't, indeed, shouldn't imply a claim of superiority, by the way. The part of fandom I believe myself and feel myself to belong to is the part with its roots in the 30s and a direct, un-branching line of descent from there. I arrived in time (about 1970) to meet many of the founding fans of that era, and their younger friends, and thus I have no doubt that they and everyone I consider to be in Fandom Prime were and are involved in the same shared thing, the original stefnal 'cosa nostra,' to interpret that Italian term literally. In the 38 years I've been around and watching, I've had the interesting experience of being present at the creation of daughter fandoms, and branch fandoms, and gotten to watch them bud off and flourish and eventually outstrip us in size and public visibility. That used to bother me a little, but I've come to realize that was just childish on my part. The proliferation was actually a healthy thing and it was inevitable, barring the disappearance of SF/fantasy itself. How hypocritical it would be to claim to be a fan of the Literature of Change, and then complain when the winds of change swirled through our own community! What I prefer to focus on now is that from a 1930s perspective we are living in the Messianic Age. I'm not referring to the fact that we all have computers and lasers in our houses, or that we're in the process of acquiring large flat video screens for our walls. I'm talking about the ongoing miracle of a whole world that understands and even loves the tropes of SF and fantasy, the very signs and symbols that once brought us only mockery. The genres of the fantastic dominate the mass media and are appreciated by the broad public in a way that the fragile, scattered, tiny community of fans in the '30s would never have dared to dream. It may have been stuck with an ugly dynastic name, but Sci-Fi is the King of all Media. That being the case, fandom (prime, core, and otherwise) can never be the same and will never again serve the same purposes. But if we are true to ourselves, it won't matter.
Now This is a Moon Shot
Thanks, John. This is, in the almost-forgotten, valuable original sense of the word, truly AWESOME! Or as we used to say, preferably intoned in a stentorian newsreel announcer's voice, "Science Fiction Today, Science Fact Tomorrow!" It's stuff like this that makes living in this crappy version of the 21st Century future we're stuck in almost worthwhile.

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