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.

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