It would seem almost obligatory, in this 'Welcome to the Future' theme issue, to
have an article about fannish time capsules. We know of one that was assembled by
Walt Willis and the rest of Irish Fandom in 1965 that may still be buried on the
grounds of Oblique House in Northern Ireland, and another that was put together at
the 1992 Worldcon, though not where it's being kept or when it is scheduled to be
opened (or if it already has been, for that matter). This leads to the thought that
we could all do, or at least put together, a list of things that deserve
preservation in a personal time capsule. Here's one fan's thoughts on that.
My fandom is dying.
It's been dying for years. It'll be decades more before the last remnants are gone, and I have every hope and expectation that it will outlive me.
But it is dying.
I can remember when every fan at a worldcon (well, 95% of them, anyway) was an avid science fiction reader, and most of them aspired to write it professionally someday. Today, those Worldcon attendees who read and write science fiction are far outnumbered by those who are content merely to watch it.
I can remember when Midwestcon, the most faanish of conventions, drew close to 400 people. These days it's a rarity for it to pull more than 140.
I can remember not only when every fan read fanzines, but when there were a lot of fanzines worth reading. Today there are maybe six or seven, surely no more than ten.
So, since I'm feeling my mortality today, I'd like to consider what I'd put in a time capsule, for fans -- or what passes for fans in 2100 A.D. -- to open and learn about us.
I am only going to select things that I myself possess. (We ran into this problem once before, when I wrote "The Literature of Fandom" for Mimosa 21. So let me state it again: these are my preferences, based solely on what I have within the four walls of my house. If yours differ, I have no problem with that...until you start writing in and telling me why your choices should have been my choices.)
They probably won't still have VCRs then, so I'll have to pack one in the capsule. And then I would include the following videotapes, some professional, some semi-pro, some totally amateur:
The 1989 Worldcon 50th Anniversary Banquet. Asimov toastmastered, and perhaps 20 pros and fans gave brief speeches about their first worldcons or their love of worldcons.
FAANS, the lovingly-made half-hour movie star ring Roger Sims, Larry Tucker, Bob Tucker, and a goodly portion of midwestern fandom.
Uncle Albert's Videozine #1. his gave complete coverage to a typical regional con, the 1984 ConFusion. If there was ever a second issue, I'm not aware of it.
Galaxy Quest. The Hugo-winning box-office smash, which brought fandom to the general public in a much less frightening manner than Trekkies, which came out the same year.
The 1988 and 1998 Hugo ceremonies. I'm sure there are others in existence (I have a couple of truncated ones), but these are the only two complete ceremonies I have on videotape.
The 1972 and 1974 worldcon masquerades (I have these as film transfers to tape), and the 1982, 1986 and 1991 masquerades complete as video originals.
Then would come the books and the one-shots:
Fancyclopedia II, compiled and edited by Dick Eney. A Sense of FAPA, the huge compendium edited by Dick Eney. The Enchanted Duplicator, by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw. The Chicon III Proceedings, edited by Earl Kemp. The Discon Proceedings, edited by Dick Eney. The Noreascon I Proceedings, edited by Leslie Turek. If I Ran the
And finally there would be two or three sample issues of each of these fanzines:
Mimosa ... Science Fiction Review ... STET (especially #9) ... Amra ... Duende ... Quandry ... Granfalloon ... Beabohema ... Lan's Lantern ... Hyphen ... Slant ... Challenger ... Double Bill ... Outworlds ... Dimensions ... Luna ... Oopsla ... File 770 ... Rhodomagnetic Digest
There would be a few other books, one-shots and fanzines, too; I'm creating this off the top of my head, and when I go through all my boxes of stored treasures and memories I'm sure I'll find more that I wish I'd included.
But this list would be sufficient to show them what my fandom was like before it died twenty or thirty years from now.
And I think, along with all the tapes and books and zines, I'd also include a little note:
- - - - - - - - - -
"Dear Citizen of 2100:
I hope you are living in the Utopia we envisioned when we were kids first discovering science fiction. I am sure you have experienced technological and medical breakthroughs that are all but inconceivable to me.
But I have experienced something that is probably inconceivable to you, at least until you spend a little time studying the contents of this capsule.
I wish I could see the wonders you daily experience. But you know something? As badly as I want to see the future, to see what we've accomplished in the next century, I wouldn't trade places with you if it meant never having experienced the fandom that this capsule will introduce you to.
I certainly did."
Title illustration by Charlie Williams
Interior illustration by Sheryl Birkhead