Who are you to tell me I am not a fan?

I had sworn I wasn’t going to go off on a tirade this morning. I had sworn I was going to go at least one week without pointing out the depths of hypocrisy coming from those who attack the Sad Puppies because, gasp, those of us supporting it aren’t supporting the “right” sort of books. But there was no way I could let this latest showcase of idiocy go unchallenged.

A little background. Yesterday at The New Otherwhere Gazette, Patrick Richardson penned a post entitled “Not a real fan”. The basic gist of the post boils down to this. Someone had posited that you can’t be a real fan unless you go to a lot of cons and belief science fiction is “all about teaching us lessons” and not about making it fun. Since I know what Pat was responding to, he framed the other side’s position quite well and his post showed just how foolish their position happens to be.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for File 770 to come back and claim that Pat was full of hot air and that, no, he wasn’t a fan. It doesn’t matter how many science fiction books he’s read. It doesn’t matter that he has seen and loved a ton of science fiction movies and television series. He can’t call himself a real fan because, well, I’ll let the denouncer’s own words say it. (Now, for those of you who don’t know File 770, it is Mike Glyer’s site where he does whatever he sees fit to advance cons, clubs and other such things.)

Glyer said that he turned to “File 770’s consultants on fannish purity” to decide if Pat’s failure to attend cons was enough to disqualify him from calling himself a fan. Now, it is possible Glyer was trying to be cute by calling using the term “consultants on fannish purity” but as I read the post, I got the feeling he really meant it. That, in and of itself, is enough to call into question anything he has to say from that point on. After all, who is he — and who are his so-called consultants — to determine who a fan is and who a fan is not? What’s next, they start putting limitations on who can attend cons because they aren’t “fan” enough to cross over the threshold into the wonderful world of local cons?

Still trying to be cute about his answer (yes, I’m giving him the shadow of a doubt but my patience with him is already wearing thin), Glyer posts that his consultants say Pat doesn’t qualify as a fan because he doesn’t belong to a club, he doesn’t read fanzines, he doesn’t collect science fiction action figures, etc., etc., etc.

Now, I get what Glyer is trying to do here. He is trying to show how foolish and ridiculous Pat’s comments were when he said that someone might not think he was a fan because he didn’t go to enough cons. The problem is, this approach has already undermined Glyer, especially considering the fact that someone has been saying just that. It seems Glyer would much rather poke fun at Pat than address the real issue and that, kind readers, is part of the problem. If you won’t even admit that such beliefs and behaviors exist, you allow them to continue and to pick up steam until fandom — the real fandom and not that artificial definition the SMOS want us to follow — rises up and revolts. Then things will get nasty and I, for one, am at the point where I will welcome the battle.

But Glyer wasn’t satisfied with just poking fun at Pat’s statement about cons. He had to go there. Yes, THERE. Instead of addressing an issue that is there for all to see, the issue that there is a camp that has publicly said it will try to ruin careers and lives of those writers who don’t fall in line with the cause du jour, that there are those who believe it is science fiction’s role to raise the social consciousness of readers whether they entertain the readers or not, he says Pat is simply afraid of not belonging.

WTF?!?

So, what does Glyer say needs to be done?

You are a fan in proportion to the effort you make to attach yourself to fandom.

Wait, what? What the hell does that mean? His example is of a friend who attended every Worldcon meeting, speaking up and basically driving everyone crazy. Oookay. Without going into how they felt about his friend until the friend died, let’s look at this from one of Pat’s initial comments. He hasn’t done a lot of cons for financial reasons. Well, attending a lot of meetings for a con you can’t afford is how you make yourself part of fandom? Nope, that not only doesn’t make sense, it is ridiculous. For one thing, that example doesn’t take into account the financial hit — or the personal one — Pat or any other fan would take to attend such meetings. People work, have family obligations and, frankly, there are folks who simply aren’t meeting people. Hell, if you made going to meetings a requirement, you would instantly disqualify most con goers because they aren’t people persons and don’t do well in small groups. In larger groups they can thrive because they can blend into the background when needed.

You don’t need someone’s permission to be here.

Funny, that seems to fly in the face of the previous comment. You need to be involved but you don’t need permission to be there, assuming “there” is fandom. Am I the only one who sees the conflict here?

Then we get to the comments which quickly devolved from who is or is not a fan to attacking Sad Puppies and any proposed change to the Hugo voting rules. After all, why go with majority vote when things can be manipulated through Australian rules voting combined with the fact that the committee can throw out votes without reporting those votes or why they were thrown out? And folks wonder why there is a growing group of folks who are not happy with how the Hugos are decided.

But here is the comment that sent me over the edge:

(From Glyer)

Hugo voters read text sf, unlike the vast majority of those “SF consumers” who are following genre movies, videos and TV. So there’s that.

I don’t think Mr. Torgersen (and you could at least learn how to spell his name) really believes that if he surveyed 50,000 random people who saw the last Star Trek movie that more than a few could name any sf writer who’s had short fiction published in the past year. So his argument about Hugo voters being an irrelevant minority of the vast consumership is ultimately disingenuous.

I’m sorry, but this is complete and total BS. I doubt you could find 50,000 readers of SF novels who could name a sf writer who had published short fiction that year. Let’s face it, short fiction is not the big seller Glyer apparently would like it to be. And then there is the fact that there are a number of Hugo voters already announcing, with glee in fact, that they are not going to read any of the titles recommended by the Sad Puppies because those books must be evil and bad because, well, Sad Puppies. Does the fact that they may be able to say that someone penned short fiction make them a better fan than the consumer who goes to the movies and who reads but who can’t say if someone wrote a fracking short story?

And I do so love how Glyer’s followers were so quick to attack Pat, not because of what he said initially about how there are those who feel non-con goers are not far but because he is critical of the current manner in which Hugo winners are determined. You could put it down to thread drift but for one thing, Glyer never tried to pull it back to the initial issue nor did they try to address it when Pat tried to get it back. Instead, they were much happier showing their superiority, in their minds at least, over their knowledge of the Hugo winners and their own place in fandom.

Here is how I look at it. You are a fan if you like science fiction. Period. There is no requirement that you read a certain number of books or short stories. There is no requirement that you be able to name a certain number of authors who have published x-type or length of science fiction related works. It doesn’t matter if you like sf movies AND love sf books. What matters is that you are reading and enjoying. Heck, it doesn’t even matter what type of science fiction you like. What matters is that it is important to you and you are passionate about it in your own way.

The time has come that we quit having this false border between fans and fandom. The science fiction fan community is made up of many more folks who love science fiction but who have never been to more than a handful of cons. With the decline in the number of science fiction magazines, both pro and semi-pro over the years, you aren’t disqualified because you haven’t ever read Asimov’s or something else. Not everyone likes short fiction. Not everyone can afford to subscribe to such things and libraries don’t stock them like they used to.

Frankly, those who are so smug and hold their noses in the air when it comes to gaming and movies need to look down a bit and ask themselves why they think we are losing fans to those aspects of the genre. Part of it is because, guess what, games and movies are entertaining for the most part. There is still that sense of adventure, of man pulling himself up by the bootstraps and overcoming the obstacles. Yes, there are the dystopian, man is the root of all evil, but those are the exceptions and not the rule. Even the zombie movies and games have man struggling to overcome and to hold onto his humanity, something we are seeing all too infrequently right now from the traditional publishers (Baen excluded).

Am I a fan? Absolutely. But I have only been to a handful of cons. I don’t subscribe to any magazines because I am not a fan of short fiction. I don’t belong to clubs because I have other things to do with my time, like write and have a life. I read, on the average, at least half a dozen books or more a month, most of them sf. I game, not only because it relaxes me but because I enjoy the storylines on many of them. Something I get less and less from most trad published books. But I have been reading and watching science fiction for more than 50 years. I have watched, captivated, my imagination soaring, as the Gemini missions left the Earth. I took my little portable TV to school so we could watch the splashdowns. I gathered around the TV with my family to watch the first Moon landing and held my breath as I waited to see that first step out of the lunar landing module. But, by those who continue to cling to the leadership of “fandom” by the tips of their fingernails, I am not a fan because I’m not at every meeting and going to every con and not supporting the right sorts of books.

To them, I thumb my nose. To the rest of you, I say yes, we are fans. Now it is time to let the others know that they are not alone and we are not going to sit back and be quiet like good little children while our “betters” tell us what we should read and watch, because they know better than we do.

135 Comments

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135 responses to “Who are you to tell me I am not a fan?

  1. Good points, Amanda. I know that sometimes I don’t feel like a true fan because I’m not a film geek. I like books, and know very little about TV or movies. But it doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t.

    • No, it shouldn’t. After all, I’m not a fan of most dystopian sf. But that doesn’t mean I am not a fan of sf. It just means I don’t like that particular subset of it. I don’t see as many movies as I used to — I tend to wait until I can catch them on TV or Prime instead of paying a small fortune to go to the theater — but that doesn’t mean I’m not a sf fan. It just means I’m more circumspect about how I spend my money. And, as you said, it doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t. It is the love for the genre, in any or all its mediums, that counts. At least that’s how I see it.

      • It seems to be an extension of the passion for labeling people and pigeonholing them into neat little boxes. I don’t fit well into any boxes!

        • overgrownhobbit

          Bah. I am a broad and catholic consumer, creator and fan of SF&F. I can check all the ticky boxes: I read & watch anime, movies TV, comics, manga, short stories, novels and related non-fic. I attend cons ( albeit infrequently) and host a small con every year. I cosplay. I filk. And I support sad puppies – just as soon as I get my pin from Sasquan, I’ll post my manic-depressive puppies slate.

          So that Glyer fellow can kiss my fen patootie.

  2. Pingback: Nocturnal Lives » Who is a fan?

  3. Yeah, I love how Mike basically ignored my question, and claimed he didn’t ask any. Excuse me, if you’re asking how many people have read short SF, you’re asking a question.

    But I think I may have coined a meme:

    “It’s a Proud and Lonely Thing to be Not-a-Real-Fan”. . .

    • But, Keith, you are using that evil logic thing again. You ought to know better. Besides, he probably only gets exercise when he moves those goal posts. 😉

  4. “With the decline in the number of science fiction magazines, both pro and semi-pro over the years, you aren’t disqualified because you haven’t ever read Asimov’s or something else. Not everyone likes short fiction. Not everyone can afford to subscribe to such things and libraries don’t stock them like they used to.”

    Not everyone knows they even exist, for that matter. You may as well give up ever hoping to find a copy of Analog or Asimov’s at your local bookstore. Magazine rack at the local supermarket? Forget it… and you’re going to have a problem finding even the old staples like Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. The internet’s rendered them pretty much obsolete.

    This whole ‘You are’t a fan if you haven’t…” garbage looks like a group who’s trying to carve out an exclusive niche that they don’t want the icky people to play in. I’m getting pretty tired of it too.

    • Uncle Lar

      Once upon a time I subscribed to Asimov, Analog, and F&SF. Hell, I read Analog back before the name change from Astounding.
      Several years ago I realized that I rarely read more than one or two of the stories, disagreed vehemently with the book reviews, and spit up in my mouth while reading the editorials. So I quit subscribing.
      I don’t read many anthologies unless one contains a work by a favorite author, or has a theme that strikes my fancy. In fact I don’t buy much of any new fiction unless I know the author or it has been recommended by a trusted source such as MGC.
      As for these ever so pompous gate keeper wannabes, meh. I will read what I want, attend cons when I can, and you can continue to piss up a rope and call it a summer shower for all I care.

      • audioconsultant

        “Hell, I read Analog back before the name change from Astounding.”

        I remember when Astounding went from small format to large … and then back. Back when the first thing I would read was the Campbell editorial.

        While I stopped reading the magazines many years ago, I still read and enjoy SF. But now this guy wants to say I am not a fan because I have not attended any cons (unless you count the Heinlein Centennial)?

      • Uncle Lar, well said. My own experience is pretty much the same. Add in an early exposure to the old If magazines, thanks to the fact my dad and his brothers kept copies at the old homestead, and I grew up with those magazines. But long ago I quit subscribing to them and trying to find them now is next to impossible.

        • overgrownhobbit

          My library has the option where you can download an app and read magazines to which the library subscribes on one’s phone. That’s about all Analog mag is worth to me these days. But I pay to get Sci Phi and the Ben Bella books on the Kindle.

      • Heck, I only knew they existed because someone mentioned how some of them had serials that were a successor to the way Sherlock was originally published. Had a nice big collection of IA’s actual short stories, didn’t much care for his story telling style, although some of the stuff was the Casa Blanca that provided bones for things I enjoyed more.

        Never been to a con.

        My mom is an original Tolkien geek. Also never been to a con.

        F’em.

      • Reality Observer

        Another former subscriber here. Although I frequently did buy Analog off the rack – for the occasional interesting “fact” article, and usually for the Cramer / Stine “Alternate View” pieces.

        I still keep them around for laughs, though, and to remind me just how long some of the garbage in SF has been around…

        Quote (emphases mine) – “The real problem is that there *won’t be any gasoline* for cars *within another generation*.” Ben Bova, “The Editor’s Page – Problem Grokking.” September *1977*. Unless his definition of “generation” is quite a bit different from mine…

    • And then they don’t understand why the younger generations don’t want to join and play with them. Why should they when they won’t be made welcome, when they are told to stand around the perimeter and keep their mouths shut because they aren’t real fans and don’t know what it takes to be a real fan?

  5. Matthew

    Apparently I’m not a fan, even with several bookcases and a worn out library card….

    Just how stupid and insular *are* these people? I swear, we’re seeing Muggeridge’s law as applied to fandom.

    • Yep. Of course, they might ask you what books you have and then rank your qualifications based on whether or not you had the right sort of books in your library.

    • My husband’s blood type is currently M* because we filled up roughly a third of a 16 foot POD with our book collection, most of which is geek related.
      The only convention he’s been to is a video game one, and he was working, there. (Air Force was recruiting gamers. Worked out great, too, and a HUGE morale boost to the geeks already in.)

      *Motrin– Navy joke, “Vitamin M” is the cure for almost everything, up to and including broken bones the guy on duty doesn’t want to write up. As I understand it, it use to be “Vitamin Asprin” but motrin is harder to hurt yourself with.

  6. I read Pat’s post. I read Glyer’s response.

    Frankly, Glyer missed the entire point of what Pat was writing about, and that was regarding accusations that Larry isn’t really a “fan”.

    A while back, I compared the Hugo Awards to high school over on my blog. I was wrong. It’s not just the Hugo’s that are high school, but fandom. Don’t these people have better things to do with their time?

    • Uncle Lar

      In a word, no. Gate keeping is their calling, their religion, their excuse to feel self important about something, anything, any aspect of their dull dreary lives they can expand upon to jin up a sense of superiority.
      Sad in a way. In truth they are the real sad puppies though deserving of precious little respect from those of us who have better things to do than praise them for the messes they make on the carpet.

    • Eamon J. Cole

      This whole ‘You are[n]’t a fan if you haven’t…” garbage looks like a group who’s trying to carve out an exclusive niche that they don’t want the icky people to play in. I’m getting pretty tired of it too. — Jerry Lawson, up there U+2BAD

      It’s not just the Hugo’s that are high school, but fandom. — T.L. Knighton

      There it is, guys. From the outside, it seems like folks who took the exclusionary cliques in HS as a roadmap to social success. They’ve establishes their little group with the right in-group phrases and requirements and are happily (for values of happy not reflective of any joy) sneering at all those out-group dweebs.

      I had the pleasure ( 😐 ) of running around in any number of those outgroups in HS, and the lesson I learned watching exclusionary cliques prance about with their smug mockery?

      Following that roadmap is a great way to be a shitty human being.

      From out here, in the wilds of SF, fandom and the mythical (hm) SMOFs are doing a fine job on the SHB front. They’re welcome to their little club, their signalling and their condescension. I’ll not notice the loss, much less mourn it.

      • Dan Lane

        It’s the kind of people that see people as things that do that. Things to be put in pigeonholes. Things to be used. Things to dismiss when they become inconvenient.

        There’s a little thrill in it, too. Putting another person down, asserting whatever authority you have or can contrive. It feels good to be important, vital even. When you have all the answers, it can get intoxicating.

        It doesn’t feel good at all, at first, when that ends. Humility comes from being humbled- and it can be a very, very hard thing to take when it happens. Human beings will try to reject it instinctively. Even when we know better, even when we *know* we were in the wrong.

        There is a community out there that rewards SHB social behaviors, just like the cliques in high school. Several of them, in fact, probably far more than can be counted easily. When it becomes all too easy to say “I know *exactly* the kind of person you are…” without a shred of evidence to back that up, it’s already happened.

        SHB’s don’t think they’re bad people at all. They probably feel virtuous. Righteous, even. All their friends say so. They like those posts where the evil misogynist/racist/cismale-gendernormative-fascist gets his. That’s a warm blanket that anyone wouldn’t want to leave for the cold outside.

        Integrity is hard. You get damn little reward when you do right (at least it seems that way at first). When you fall, *you* have to pick yourself back up, wipe the blood off, and try again. When you fail to live up to the standards you know are right, you have to admit it- and admitting failure always sucks. But the load of guilt doesn’t bear you down, either.

        If you’re lucky, someday a person you respect might say “you did good, there.” It’s a lot harder earned than mocking random strangers on the internet. It costs more to build trust through consistent, hard work- even when the work is words, and the deeds are promises kept.

        Once you have that, no coin is more precious. The accolades of former friends means little, because they’ve no worth to back it with. Those who mock and jeer are to be pitied, to a degree. Their words are dust, and their value is little, as friends go.

        Those who stand on principle and take their lumps with equanimity are greater by far than any one, thousand, or many millions of those who think themselves superior simply because they made fun of somebody once.

    • Nope. They are holding onto past glory for all they’re worth and not seeing that, by doing so, they are condemning it to death because they aren’t welcoming new blood. It is sad, really.

  7. “You are a fan in proportion to the effort you make to attach yourself to fandom.”

    Why do I read that line and think “Fandom is our Safe Space(TM) from those slackers who just read, watch, game, and even write”? The irony in that quote is jaw-dropping.

  8. Why I’m wasn’t a “real fan until the middle 2000’s. When I was growing up Army brat and then family had no car. Joined the USAF and for some reason there were no conventions near my bases. Retired and there wasn’t a SF within 100 miles of Shreveport LA. In the mid 200o’s while finally back in CA. I started to go to conventions. At which point I had 5000 SF/F novels collected over 40 years. I had met and had coffee and cookies with Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett in their home. But at that time I wasn’t really a FAN because I really wasn’t a FAN according to this persons opinion.

    • Well, Tom, most of us aren’t fans based on that particular opinion. The reality of their little world is that they don’t want the little people polluting fandom. Things need to be done as they always were and to hell with the changes in the industry and in people’s wants. It is pretty much like publishing. All those evil e-books will one day disappear and the authors will realize that they were oh-so-wrong to go indie and come crawling back, begging to once more be indentured to the NYC publishers.

    • You know… the first place where I, as a kid, was able to buy my own SFF books was the US military base when I lived in East Berlin. Bookshop and the second-hand book fair. Got my first Tolkiens and Star Trek books there, and any novel that vaguely had a fantasy cover and an interesting blurb. That was my start of nerddom and I smile at the memory.

  9. IMO, the dichotomy came in to being when “Fandom” became popular. Once the cool kids started doing it, they had to make it special somehow and kicking those of us who didn’t meet their standards to the side became paramount.

  10. piotr1600

    I’d never heard of File 770 until last year*.

    I looked it – his website that is – over and quickly decided that it wasn’t for me.
    It was way, way, waaaaay too ridiculous for me to enjoy.
    (No, not “Monty Python” entertaining ridiculous, more like “Fourth trip down to the DMV that day” ridiculous.)

    I think Mr. Glyer makes a rather vivid example of what a wannabe “mullah of fandom” looks – and acts – like.

    And if that is ‘true’ fandom, then I shall simply remain a vociferous, committed infidel – and opponent – to his visions of a SciFi caliphate, and his desired implementation of SciFi sharia.

    *Obviously because I’m not a true fan. I mean just because virtually ALL I read for entertainment is science fiction/fantasy, (and has been since for more than 4 decades) the games I play, & the movies I watch, that doesn’t make me a true fan at all.
    More a dilettante, or maybe a poser, or a total fringie, I suppose…
    But oh-no, not a *fan*!

  11. Jim McCoy

    Before I get to what I actually want to say:

    I had sworn I wasn’t going to go off on a tirade this morning.

    YMMV, but I stopped doing this a long time ago. It seems that God takes this as a new and personal challenge to find a way to make me angry. It turns out He’s pretty good at it too. Of course, I’ve never been all that gifted at NOT saying exactly what I think either…

    *AHEM*

    That much being said, the File 770 guy can shove his attitude up his hindquarters. And twist it. Until it bleeds.

    Umm… Too graphic?

    Anyway…

    I’ve been a fan of SF since long before I ever knew there was such a thing as a con. I was still a fan when the only cons I had ever heard of were Star Trek cons and I was trying to get my dad to go with me. I was a fan at my first con and at my second con and I will be at my next con when I actually manage to make it there. The thing is, it’s not ticking his boxes that makes me a fan.

    Part of what makes me a fan is the love of Hollywood SF. Star Trek (in all of its various forms), Star Wars, even Terra Nova and Jericho (both of which were cancelled long before their time) are all part of what make me a fan.

    Yes, it is true that I read SF. I have since I learned to read and I’m closer to forty than I am to thirty. I do it because I love it. That makes me a fan. I’ve only ever read one fanzine though and that was err…twen… uhhh… a long time ago. It was called Protoculture Addicts and it’s been out of business for awhile now. They’re just not my thing. And neither are shorts. Sue me. I like nice long stories and nice long series where I can get to know the “cast” in the story. Maybe that’s just me.

    I’m also a fan of comics and yep, a lot of them are SF/F too. Seriously. A little boy that flees from his exploding planet and grows up with superpowers is an SF story/series. I love Superman. A teenager that gets bitten by a radioactive spider and gains powers from it is a SF story/series. So is a man fighting crime in power armor (Iron Man) or a light-wielding do-gooder (Green Lantern). I could go on all day.

    The thing here that we HAVE to do if we want to expand SF/F is to stop locking out the people who love the same thing we do and embrace them. It’s all the same when you really get down to it. I have nothing against Mr. Glyer promoting cons if that’s his thing. The fact remains that he needs to stop pushing away the very people he should be recruiting to come to them.

    • Jim, I know. It seems like every time I say something like that, the cosmic two-by-four comes out to smack me firmly across the head. Other than that, I agree completely with what you have to say.

      • Reality Observer

        It’s something like “Expect the worst – then you can only be pleasantly surprised.”

        I have a policy of getting up a good rage every morning (all I have to do is read the news) – then the rest of the day is serene by comparison…

    • snelson134

      Green Lantern isn’t quite a straight up copy of Doc Smith’s Lensman books but it’s definitely close enough for jazz.

  12. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Ah lot of people take faux umbrage at Brad’s Venn diagram that shows fandom partially overlapping general SF audience and partially outside it. Despite it being labeled in plain English, they somehow misconstrue it to mean that Brad is excluding fandom from fans. They WANT to be offended, and they WILL be offended, reading comprehension be damned!

    No, you morons, Brad’s not excluding anyone. He’s describing the Glyers of the world who exclude the general audience from Fandom. He didn’t create the division, he’s describing it. If exclusion upsets you, talk to Glyer. He’s the one who’s doing it.

    • But Glyer-of-the-45-Hugo-Nominations can’t possibly be at fault. I mean, look at all his Hugo noms!!!!! /eye roll/

    • Martin, Martin, Martin, there you are pointing out that they aren’t thinking logically or critically again. Are you trying to make their little heads explode by causing them to actually read and think about something that might not agree with the BS they’ve been spouting for so long?

  13. “SMOF – Secret Master(s) Of Fandom
    SMOF is used jokingly to refer to a clandestine cabal of top science fiction fans who, by their unseen influence, are controlling the actions of fandom.” from Wikipedia

    Apparently, it is no longer a joke and the master are concerned that the serf are revolting. (insert appropriate joke here)

  14. You are a fan of something to the extent that you have passion for it. All else is dross.

    And since “why the decline in SF sales” is a fairly common panel topic, perhaps looking for ways to be more exclusive is not the best approach to take.

    • David, they don’t want to be more exclusive, either the SMOF or the SJWs. They want it their way and they simply can’t fathom that the “decline” is, in great part, attributable to their own actions or lack thereof.

    • Reality Observer

      Hmmm. Nobody ever called me a fan of bacon… Other words, yes.

  15. Well, I just dropped him a comment to the effect that since one doesn’t need permission to be a fan, he should take his rules of who is allowed to be a fan and bugger off.

  16. “Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.” (http://www.lewissociety.org/innerring.php)

    It’s a much simpler life, not worrying about who’s in and who’s out of some mythical line of coolness.

  17. Guess I’m not a fan anymore. I dropped my membership in [classic sci-fi series fan club] about 20 years ago. Only been to Bubonicon, and that three times. Oh well. I’ll just keep reading the good stuff and renting DVDs and having fun. because obviously you are not permitted to have fun if you are a Tru Fan.

    • And that, unfortunately, is all too true. Somewhere along the line, fun was taken out of it — as a reader, as a fan and as an author. Is it any wonder we have things now like Sad Puppies to show that there are still fun and entertaining books out there?

  18. I am both ignorant and apathetic whether or not I’m a fan. I don’t go to Cons, I don’t read short stories. I don’t subscribe to mags.

    What I do know is that I am a CUSTOMER. I spend a lot of money on SF books. You write good entertaining stories and I buy them. That’s the deal, it’s a business relationship. ….and I ain’t wasting anymore bux on Jemesin or Leckie and such. Been there done that got the “I’m bored” T-Shirt.

    Note: “Bored”. Not offended or disgusted by alternate viewpoints. I loved Steel Beach and The Man Who Folded Himself. Entertaining stuff. But not as good as say….Ringo’s Live Free or Die.

    Bored.

    • Oooh, evil! You said the “C” word which implies, gasp, you think we should be concerned with whether or not our work sells. (end sarcasm) Actually, Geoff, as far as I’m concerned, you are the best sort of fan. You vote with your money and that, to an author, is the best vote of confidence we can get.

  19. lonejanitor

    Can’t afford to go to cons, but I own several thousand SF novels and collections, pretty much memorized LOTR and the Silmarillion before I was 16, routinely hit flea markets, ARC, Goodwill, used bookstores and library sales looking for more, and am obviously not a fan. Because no fan would put that much effort into something.

    • But, but, but, you could join committees and fan clubs and and and.

      Nope, you are the best sort of fan. You read. You look for our books and you buy them, whether from a bookstore or elsewhere. When you don’t do that, you go to the library. So I thank you and wish there were more like you. Oh, wait, there are. But, like you, they aren’t fans either, at least according to some.

  20. Pat Patterson

    Are we talking about being a fan of sf/f, or about being a fan of fandom? Because those are two different things.
    Did somebody already say this? I miss things, sometimes, when I read accounts of people being petty and restrictive, because my brain starts acting like it wants to crawl out my nose and reach into the screen, travel over the internet, and poke someone painfully. It’s hard to keep my focus when my executive functions are elsewhere.
    Amanda, if you can, focus on the beautiful truth that people are reading your work, and they are doing it for pleasure. So, you are not adding to the net disharmony of the world, you are adding to the net enjoyment. For all of you MGC members and other writers who read and post on this blog, please breathe in this truth. Today, at this moment, someone’s world is a little bit easier because of what you have done. Not thought about, not planned, but what you have actually done. No way to measure it, but I assure you it’s real.

    • Pat, thank you. I do try to remember that folks are reading my work and that they actually like it. It is just that there are times when I read something before coffee which gets the berserker going. Or maybe it is just a remnant from what is going on in Nocturnal Challenge right now where I have one very angry jaguar shifter who is not pleased at all with the situation she finds herself in. 😉

      • Pat Patterson

        Oooo, keep the mad on, and go write about the jaguar! I wanna read about the jaguar! Please please please shut up and TAKE MY MONEY!!!!

        • Working on it. Only reason I’m here right now is I have to leave the house soon and if I kept writing the scene in question, I would miss my appointment.

  21. After all, who is he — and who are his so-called consultants — to determine who a fan is and who a fan is not?

    Going off of the usual patterns, it’s a hijacker’s grab for legitimacy. Get a toe hold, then insist that anybody who doesn’t fall into line are not “really” members.

    Not worth the time it takes to read.

  22. I don’t know. I like William Lehman’s post “Destroy the Myth, Destroy the Culture better. Bill just gets it. and as I said on that post…the word your looking for is Iconoclasm.

  23. Pingback: Who am I? I’m a fan and proud of it! | The New Otherwhere Gazette

  24. I’ve been to I dunno how many conventions, including Worldcons, I’ve counted the Hugo ballots, and I’ve been in the Hugo green room to accept for someone (who sadly didn’t win).

    I’ve also watched SMOFing and attempts to decide who the Trufen are — and what to do about, eg, the icky Star Trek/Star Wars/gaming fans who were corrupting the purity of our fannish bodily fluids for more than 40 years.

    From this I’ve learned:

    1. It never works.
    2. The supply of idiots is pretty much unbounded.

    • You’re right and it is something I’ve seen for years. It is also something that isn’t going away anytime soon. I just get perturbed when someone tells me I’m not a fan because I don’t fit their neat little definition. Okay, I’m a little contrary. What can I say?

    • Tully

      What Charlie said.

    • Jared Anders

      And see, this is why you need to be careful what you say around sci-fi writers and fans.

      The moment you say the supply of idiots is unbounded my mind starts working, trying to figure out if there is a cool way to do a story where something is powered by idiots.

      (Not can it be done, mind you, because the answer is always yes, but can it be done for awesome)

  25. Pat Patterson

    I have a question about conventions.
    In the opening scene of N&P’s “Inferno”, a writer (Allen Carpentier) is sitting in a window, attempting to chug an entire bottle of rum in order to please the fans. Then Asimov walks into the room, and the fans’ reaction to Asimov disturbs Capentier/Carpenter so much he loses focus on his drinking, gags, and falls out of the window to his death.
    Query: except for the death part, it makes conventions sound like fun places to be (if you like drunken bawdy excess); are modern conventions fun places to be, in that sense?

    • Pat, it depends on the con. A lot of local cons are so insular that if you aren’t part of the local fan scene, you feel left out, both as a “fan” and as an author. I’m heading to LibertyCon this year because certain folks — coff: Sarah, Cedar, Kate:coff– have assured me it is fun and not like a lot of others. Of course, the fact that there is a huge Baen presence there is a plus as far as I’m concerned.

  26. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I’ve heard some of these types talk about “SF being the fiction of Ideas” and ignore the idea that the stories should be fun.

    Of course, only those ideas that they like should be in SF.

    Oh, slightly related are those who have embraced the “Singularity” idea and the “aliens must always be superior (ie godlike) and never understandable to humans” idea.

    Any writer who doesn’t use those ideas aren’t *real* SF writers.

    • Paul, well said. When they forgot that science fiction — or anything else for that matter — has to entertain, they started losing the war for the audience. I don’t care whether the story makes me laugh or cry as long as it keeps my attention and keeps me interested. But if you go about beating me over the head with a message that is taking precedence over story, well, I won’t finish the book and I probably won’t ever get anything by that author again.

  27. So much for all the worries about “the graying of fandom.” Now we’re throwing people out before they can even join up?!

  28. Synova

    Let’s talk about cons shall we? People here know I’ve been on the staff of my local con. I’ve been volunteer coordinator, so nothing about programming but deeply involved. Cons are welcomming places but you know what? They don’t Feel welcoming to the outside. Now Glyer might not care even a little bit if Pat feels welcome or not. A little bit of effort is merely the test of who really wants it. Right? Consider that these are the people who invest their very identities in how inclusive they are. What they ARE is insular and proud of it.

    Any ingroup has the problem of Being the ingroup. So let’s talk about ethnic minorities encountering the usual ingroup of a con. Minorities bathe. They dress sharp to meet new people. A con isn’t just an unfamiliar environment, it’s a foreign country. It’s a foreign country full of people who speak a different language. Who have code words and in jokes that have roots in single instances in a single con 40 years ago.

    The people who go to cons are fabulous an fun and welcoming and terrifying beyond all reason. We scare the living bejesus out of the mundanes. The LAST thing we need is to give credence to anything even smelling of true fen anything.

  29. Arwen

    Fandom gatekeepers of any kind can go jump naked into a cholla patch.

  30. fontofworlds

    You know… you are behind the times. They were talking about having entry tests for fen at certain cons back in the 1990’s. Though, I admit, those would have been more fair– since they were mostly asking about your classic SF/F knowledge base. Who knows what they’d base it on today.

    • Nathan

      Given the rather incestuous circles of authors hawking each other’s works as entry points into the genre and the near total attempt to airbrush anything from the 1990s and earlier, my guess is that it would be more of a political purity test these days.

  31. So, Not A Fan unless you buy the schlock, live out fantasies in costume, and generally show the enthusiasm of a grammar school kid wearing a Halloween costume.

    I guess the thousands of books I’ve bought, even more that I’ve read (back when libraries actually had a decent collection to enjoy) and the last 24 years of having writer friends in the genre that I’ve enjoyed talking with even before there was “The Internet” Just Don’t Count.

    Silly Me!

  32. Draven

    In my case, I’ve largely stopped going to cons because 1: i have other things to spend money on and 2: I’m in a weird gulf between ‘fan’ and ‘industry pro’.

  33. Pat Patterson

    I wonder whether all those who claim to be ‘true fans because cons; blah blah blah have ever sent Leslie Fish any money. She’s freaken icon, and she scrabbling around without a truck out in the Arizona desert trying to raise endangered plants. She even has to pay the storage fees on all of the stuff Frank Gasperik left to her when he died.
    If I hadn’t already promised myself I wasn’t going to any more idiots’ blogs, I’d go to the ‘I’m a super fan’ website and post her gofundme page, which is http://www.gofundme.com/4pqo8g
    But if one of y’all want to spit that at them, feel free.

    • snelson134

      Leslie is not necessarily thought well of by SJWs, because she likes guns, and freedom.

    • ThomasP

      I wonder how they would classify a regular attendie at the bigger gaming conventions like GenCon that have serious writers/literature tracks that probably get better numbers than entire regional SF Cons? Plus film tracks, anime tracks, artist tracks, costuming tracks, etc in addition to the main gaming events.

      For example Gencon passed 20k unique attendies in the mid 90s and had over 56k in 2014. Even if only 1% are at the literature track that’s a good sized SF con within the larger gaming con and I bet more than 1% would consider themselves fans of reading SF/Fantasy.

      • They would probably look at it like they do ComicCon, as not a “real” con. After all, it would have all those icky gamers and all they do is take away from reading. Shrug.

  34. basara549

    I’ve staffed or been a panelist at over 20 SF, anime & gaming cons (not counting cons where I was a gamemaster or regular attendee, which would put me well over 50 cons total as a participant).
    I’ve contributed to fanzines, and bought many more magazines.
    I’m currently a member of one fan group, and have been part of several others, one of which morphed into a con committee when we lost our venue for meetings, and held anime cons of up to 2000 attendees for over a decade, until the market collapsed.
    I know several authors of short-form material simply because they’ve been recommended to me by other authors that I like, or mentioned that they had short-form stuff to look out for.

    That said, I’m no less or more a fan than any other person that LIKES SF. None of the other things matter.

    Luke Ski has a very apt bit from one of his parody routines, where he was riffing on Jeff Foxworthy….
    “What is the difference between a TREKKER and a TREKKIE?
    Near as I can tell, a Trekker is a Star Trek fan;
    A TREKKIE is someone who INSISTS you call them a ‘Trekker’..”

    It’s the ones that think they are somehow “more pure” than the “common folk” that are the true blight on any hobby.

    Glyer thinks he’s a knight in shining armor, defending the purity of the genre.
    In truth, to quote King Arthur to a very similar knight, my response to him is…
    “YOU’RE A LOONY.”

  35. For an old fart like me, my introduction to SF was during the golden years of Asimov and Heinlein (and the pedophile in Sri Lanka). Around the turn of the millennium, I decided based on the drek that was being published, apparently all the good authors were dead.

    Then I ran across a couple of Baen novels, discovered Sarah Hoyt, and through her site, the wonders of indie publishing. Now, in the last 6 months, I’ve purchased a mere 4 dead-tree novels, but over 70 kindle novels. And, yes, except for the one I’m currently on, I have read them all.

    And guess how many are Hugo Award winners? None. Nebula winners? None. Is it something wrong with me? Or is it something wrong with people like Dave Freer’s librarian friend? (The Tasmanian one, not the one that says ‘Ook’.) So I discover Sad Puppies 3 and find out why only drek is being given awards. It isn’t enough that it is good fiction, it has to be politically correct fiction showing all the horrors of the evil white male.

    So the true SF Fandom plans to empower committee’s to exclude votes, change rules, define a ‘true fan’. I guess those in power feel obligated to abuse it. But guess what? If the Sad Puppies are still ignored, and the SJWs continue to give awards to drek then I’ll keep reading kindle novels and laugh as the established publishers go the way of the dinosaur.

    • And we’re very pleased to have you! We like readers!

      My Calmer Half notes that even though he didn’t set out to do so, his last novels have nothing the award-winning clique states a book “must” have. He just writes good stories to entertain people, and he’s doing fine.

      • Dorothy, I’m trying to do what Peter does — write good stories to entertain people. After reading some of the comments to a post over at Otherwhere Gazette yesterday, I got to thinking about my work and the work of other authors I like, including Peter. Not one of them make a point out of saying a character is black, white or pink purple polka dot unless it advances the plot somehow. Not one of them describes in detail the character’s sexual preference — unless it advances the plot somehow. I think you see where I’m going with this.

        Then I came across an article listing 9 or 10 things the author hopes is corrected with the new Star Wars movie. Among those things was having more POC in major roles. Okay, I can sort of see that. Another was having more women in “real” roles, leading roles. Hmm, how quickly they forgot Leia and Amadala. Oh, wait, they didn’t. They just thought both those gals should have been out kicking butt the whole time. They also wanted more non-binary gender preference whatever characters and that is when I just shook my head.

        When causes become more important than plot, we lose readers. Fortunately, we have writers like Peter who remember that most of us read for enjoyment. So, I guess I’d better wander over to Amazon and see if I can’t throw some more money at Peter now. 😉

    • Well said, Donald, and welcome. We are glad you’re here.

  36. In 1912, the circulation for the pulp science fiction magazine Argosy was .52 percent of the entire US population.

    In 2012, a well-attended Worldcon had “more than 5,000” attendees.
    That’s .0016 percent of the 2012 US population.

    In 2014, the print sales alone of Divergent by Veronica Roth were .447 percent of the US population.

    Even DragonCon, as epic as it truly is (52,000 people), is not a good indicator of the state of fandom.

  37. I’m struck by the obvious similarities between this “fake fan” debate in fandom and the “fake geek girl” debate in geek culture. Curiously, it appears the same people take completely different sides on the issue for what I can only assume are political/ideological reasons.

    In short, some Comicon attendees (usually young men) accuse young women attendees (usually cosplayers) of being “fake geeks” because they don’t read enough comics, or the right comics, etc. This sounds remarkably like the argument the anti-Sad Puppies are making.

    In the fake geek girl debate, pro-feminist fans argue back that no one has the authority (or the right) to determine who is or isn’t a geek based on an arbitrary checklist of the type or volume of books/comics/games/movies consumed, and that anyone who enjoys SFF and considers themselves a geek IS a geek, period, full stop.

    Now, are these the same people arguing that Pat Richardson and his kinds are “not real fans”? I don’t know – Comicon and Worldcon appeal to different demographics – but I’d be surprised if there wasn’t SOME overlap, and I’m sure many others have at least heard about the fake geek girl debate and have an opinion.

    So the next time you get into a debate over the fandom legitimacy of Sad Puppy supports like Pat, ask your opponent for their opinion on the fake geek girl controversy. I imagine their response would be fascinating.

  38. Reblogged this on The Worlds of Tarien Cole and commented:
    You have to be a special kind of snob to say whether someone is or is not a fan. And I truly love it how people purposely EXCLUDE others and then say, “If you were more attached to US, you’d be a fan.”

    Nice double standard there, Special Snowflake. I’m a fan of Speculative Fiction because I’m passionate about the genre. And I’m NOT a fan of what the SJWs and their minions are doing to it, because the objective data says they are killing it, just like they destroy everything else they touch that isn’t attached by umbilical cord to the Federal Treasury. But I don’t say THEY are not fans. I simply question their judgment AS fans. Just the same as I would question the judgment of a fellow Manchester United fan if they suggested David Moyes should still be managing Manchester United.

    I grew up on Tolkien, Saberhagen, Fritz Leiber, Howard, and Dragon Magazine. From the time I was 12 until I was over 30, it was an annual rite for me to read The Lord of the Rings. I’ve worn through 3 separate copies of the trilogy.

    And as far as ‘writing to teach’ goes. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again: If you want to write propaganda, stay in non-fiction and write a political blog. If your name isn’t Neil Stephenson, the chances of you doing an author’s aside I want to read are slim and none.

  39. Patrick Chester

    Is Glyer running some sort of Fannish Inquisition? How… unexpected.

  40. I know I’m coming out of left field on this, but I think it might be useful.

    Some years ago, Suzette Haden Elgin wrote a series of books about the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense. Part of what she included in these books is the idea of verbal attack patterns. These are one of the ways that people who want to attack someone use the tools of English. I think, although I’m not sure, that this business of being a real fan at least wanders into this arena.

    See, what I’m reading keeps coming back to something like “If YOU were a REAL fan, you would …” The attacks here are the hidden presuppositions in that first part that (a) you want to be a REAL fan (b) you aren’t one. Oddly enough, by the rules of English, if you fall into the trap of arguing about whatever the “you would” part of this pattern asserts, you have given away the prize — you have accepted that you are not a real fan, and that you want to be one. See, that “you would” part is just bait, which is what the attacker wants you to respond to. The hidden part of this is the “you aren’t a real fan” assertion, which is a presupposition underneath that first part. So, instead of arguing about the bait, go back to the real attack, and ask something like,

    “That’s a very interesting question. What are the characteristics of a real fan?”

    Incidentally, in responding to almost any VAP attack, drop the “you” and other personalizations out of the loop. They are only tinder for the fire, intended to irritate.

    So, in summary, when you get hit with a Verbal Attack Pattern (VAP!):

    1. Ignore the bait. No matter how irritating the claim, don’t let them drag you into that trap.
    2. Respond directly to a presupposition. What is the hidden message lurking there?
    3. Make sure they understand that you are NOT going to play their game. They want emotional responses, your attention, and havoc. Don’t give it to them.

    Sorry, I’m doing grades, so I don’t have a lot of time to make this clearer. Hope it makes some sense.

    • Question the premise, basically, no?

      Incidentally, in responding to almost any VAP attack, drop the “you” and other personalizations out of the loop. They are only tinder for the fire, intended to irritate.

      About 75% of the time, they just double-down on trying to make it all about whoever they’re attacking– you’re right, it’s not about the topic, it’s about attack– but at least you save the time you’d spend trying to treat them like a honest person who phrased it poorly.

      • Basically, yes. The point of her books really is that there is a whole toolset used for verbal violence, and that people need to know how to recognize it and combat it. They’re an interesting analysis, I think. Thanks!

  41. I hate to say it, but I think the reaction is off the mark this time. I read it and picked up on the satire. For example, each of the “Consultants” basically said “You’re not a true fan if you don’t participate in my specific subsection of fandom.” He was basically calling bullshit on that type of argument.

    On the other hand, he does seem to think that being a Fan means that one becomes a part of organized Fandom.

    I thought “Faan” was the little used term for that… (I believe it is pronounced something like a sheep bleating.) I could be wrong though.

    • Tully

      Yep. A “faan” is someone who is more interested in fandom itself than in the subject of that fandom. It’s a fair description of many. I don’t consider it a pejorative, it’s the gate-keeping that’s the problem. That and a tendency to devalue the subject of the fandom to forward the faandom. (Related: See the Iron Law of Bureaucracy.)

      A while back a professor went to an abbey to give a presentation, and was surprised to discover that the youngest monk was nearly 70. No new blood was coming into the abbey. If nothing changed, in a generation it would be empty. He made a pertinent observation that applies here.

      The future belongs to those who show up.

      Ideally, Sad Puppies and related efforts are about getting people to show up for written-word fandom.

  42. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Of course you aren’t a fan – you aren’t rotating ducks quickly.

    Tribalism. Happens all the time. The Star Wars fans think the Star Trek fans aren’t real fans. I know a guy who thinks that Fantasy is dreck, and that Fantasy fans aren’t real fans. He generally doesn’t say this in public though, he isn’t stupid.

    We are evolved to form groups as a social creature. Often those groups make little if any sense to an outsider – who is themselves part of a nonsensical group.

    It is great fun to watch. Pass the popcorn.

    Wayne