This morning, I wrote a post for Mad Genius Club that expanded some on Pat’s “Not a Fan” post. I’ll admit that it was done in the early stages of getting enough coffee in me – a necessity to function anywhere close to normal – and while in high dander after reading File 770’s response to Pat. You see, there is little that gets my dander up quicker than someone trying to tell me I can’t do something simply because I don’t fit into their neat little pigeon holes.
Now that I’ve been up for a bit, and have had the chance to look at the comments to my post, something else has dawned on me. The very thing the gatekeepers of fandom—those folks who want to tell us we aren’t real fans because we don’t go to enough cons or read the right magazines, etc.—are the reason for the so-called decline in interest in science fiction that they have complained about. Bear with me for a moment and I think you’ll agree.
Here we have a group of folks who want to tell others what it takes to join the club of sf/f fandom. Now, right there my mind sort of stumbles because there has always been one absolute about fans of science fiction (it is a little less so with fantasy). We are outliers. We don’t always play well in groups and we are, on the whole, not necessarily joiners. We weren’t usually the cool kids at school. We were the geeks and the nerds. But that was all right because we had the cool books and movies.
Now we have this group of people who want to tell us that we are once again not the cool kids. That would be all right except they are telling us that, because we aren’t one of the cool kids, we can’t be real science fiction fans. It seems there is some secret handshake they have invented and they won’t share it with us.
Well, screw ‘em.
They can continue to wonder and whine about how the science fiction fan community is aging and disappearing. It is something they have brought on themselves. Too many of them refuse to admit that science fiction can now be found in more than just books and short stories. Hollywood, even though it usually botches it, puts out more than its fair share of science fiction movies. Some are good but more are bad because they also insist on making these sf films into message films. Graphic novels have increased in popularity over the years. TV continues to try to find a successful science fiction franchise (yes, Fox continues to screw it up and we won’t even start on the abomination that is SyFy). Game developers have put out some truly wonderful science fiction based video games.
But, as far as many in the “fandom” ranks are concerned, none of that is real science fiction. Nor can you be a real fan if you can’t name authors who have published books in the current year. They have become the gentry looking down on the working class. If it isn’t the right sort of science fiction, it isn’t really sci-fi. If you aren’t the right sort of fan, well, you get the drift.
Fortunately, they are not nearly as representative of the fans of science fiction as they think they are. Yes, they represent “fandom”, insofar as fandom equates to those who run conventions and put out fanzines. But with regard to the average person who loves science fiction and will give up a movie in order to buy a new book, well, they are not in the majority. That, too, is something we need to remember and something we need to drive home.
And that, my friends, is part of the reason why Pat has resurrected The Otherwhere Gazette. OG is dedicated to bringing honest opinions about what is going on in science fiction and fantasy – and other things as well – by people who are fans, not necessarily part of fandom. It is why so many of us have hopped on board to do what we can to help make OG a success. We love science fiction. We read it, watch it, play games in the genre because we remember those days as a kid when we let our imaginations soar. We celebrate the flights of fancy reading Sir Terry Pratchett can send us on. We love the adrenaline rush we get reading the latest Honor Harrington book or John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series.
In short, what makes us different from those in fandom who would limit the definition of fan, whether they realize it or not is that we don’t want to put up walls. And, yes, that is why the SJW set are scared of us as well. They will wail and gnash their teeth, calling us names and claiming we want to keep all but the old, white guys out when, in fact, most of us could care less what an author’s race, creed or anything else happens to be as long as their work entertains.
Entertains. That is the key for most of us. It is a premise in science fiction too many have forgotten. I say it is time those of us who are the real fans of science fiction and fantasy not only remember it but we shout from the rooftops that we demand those sorts of books and films and games. Messages are all well and good, as long as we aren’t being hit over the head with them and, most of all, as long as the story is entertaining. If it doesn’t keep our interest, why should we keep reading?
Anyway, all this is a long way of saying that my name is Amanda S. Green and I AM a science fiction fan. I am an outlier, an odd who still enjoys those flights of fantasy that help me write my novels. If science fiction can’t take us to far away worlds and introduce us to characters and creatures never before seen, then it isn’t science fiction. At least it isn’t the science fiction I grew up with and that I want to see more of now.