The Fannish Life
Opening Comments by Nicki Lynch
When we first got into fandom in the `70s,
most fans were young (in their twenties), in college or college-educated and didn't
have much money for things like conventions. They were attracted to conventions by
the beer and people and usually stayed in fandom because of the people. In due time,
many of them also discovered fanzines. They then produced a fanzine of their own,
or did art or writing for other fanzines. This was the fannish life.
In the `90s, most of the people we knew then
are still in fandom, but fandom has changed. Gone are the days when fans would sleep
in the con suite (although it's still done) and rely on room parties for food. Gone
are the days when you could attend a con on 50 bucks total. Prices for hotel rooms
have gone up and so have con registration fees. The Worldcon fees have risen as have
the number of attendees. But, no one seems to mind.
Cons have become three ring circuses, trying
to represent every "fannish" taste, from videos and masquerades to role playing and
dancing. Despite the changes, people still attend the cons, paying more for con
registration, rooms and (gasp!) food.
The fans have changed, along with the cons.
The fans from the `60s and `70s have kids now and good jobs. They no longer shoehorn
into one room or rely on parties for food. They dine out at good restaurants and
wear designer clothes.
Most fans over 35 also admit that they don't
read much, if any, science fiction any more. The hard SF is difficult to find and the
glut of fantasy just doesn't appeal to them. The kids (teens and twenties) are the
ones reading the fantasy trilogies.
Like rock and roll, younger fan seem to think
their "elders" don't know the genre. They forget that rock and roll started in the
`50s and `60s and SF and fantasy over a hundred years ago.
In one letterzine I'm in, a fellow in his
early twenties claimed "old" fans didn't know the authors of today and listed the
current authors. What he didn't understand is that many of his heros got their start
as pros in the `60s and `70s. We "elders" encouraged their writings by buying their
books or magazines with their stories and inviting them to conventions as guests. I
was surprised how many on the list were people I personally knew.
Likewise, fanzines have changed, but not as
much. We still talk about fannish experienc¬es, cons, books, TV and movies. The
major difference is how the fanzines are produced. Photocopying and off-set has
replaced, for the most part, ditto and mineo. Unfortunately mimeo seems destined to
become extinct due to the discontinuation of mimeotone and other premium paper for
that form of repro. We plan to keep mimeoing as long as we can find paper, but there
may come a day when there are no more dittoed or mimeoed fanzines.
The one thing about cons, fanzines and fans
hasn't changed is the interest in science fiction. Everyone is still welcome and can
find plenty of people to talk about the latest in the genre. That part of the fannish
life is still intact. Despite all the changes that the `90s might bring, that part I
hope never changes.