Recently there has been a fight raging in SF. (Sarah stands back and lets the understatement sink in.) Okay, what I mean is that one of the facets of the permanent, rolling SF/F fandom/writers/whatever fight has revolved around Star Trek.
Like all family fights that got ugly fast.
Some say we love Star Trek for the engineering, and then Gerrold said it was for the progressive social morals. And then…
You don’t want the details, do you? All family fights are weird and confusing, and it all devolves to “I know what you did at your first communion/bar mitzvah” flung at the face of someone past fifty. And it’s all irrelevant when death strikes, when disaster threatens or when outsiders attack.
First, let me say I started by not paying much attention to Star Trek. By the time it played in Portugal, I was already a science fiction fan, baptized in Heinlein, confirmed in Simak, schooled in Anderson, versed in Phil Dick. I could make references, refute extrapolations, argue future tech. I was a fan.
This was made weirder by the fact that there is no organized fandom in Portugal (or at least there wasn’t). We weirdos knew each other from meeting outside bookstores, before opening hours, on days when the twice-monthly volume of the single SF line (Argonauta. Hurray for Argonauta) came out. You see, if the author was one of the popular ones, the book would disappear before noon. And there were no reprints. If it wasn’t one of the popular/well known ones, we’d find the volumes, later, moldering in turn racks on tourist shops. I bought them too, mind, just not as hurriedly.
I didn’t consciously seek out an sf fan to marry. But I wonder if I’d have managed to have a marriage this long, otherwise.
However ours was a mixed marriage. He was star wars, star trek, media all the way. I was books and sneered that movies and series were just rethreads of the really powerful ideas.
I gave him a reading list that first year. And we sat up late and watched the Original series.
Later came the serious writing and seriously trying to break in, and we only really discovered conventions and organized fandom after I’d sold a book, so I was never so much a fan but a pro.
But of course I heard the stories of the various fandoms, and the epic fights, and the literary snobs (which I never was, quite, always having preferred Farmer to Dick and Heinlein to both) trying to make the field something to brag about at academic parties, and the gonzo media people dressing in costumes and wearing Spock ears at cons.
I understand there was a near fatal split over the Vietnam war. I catch echoes of it in older writers who don’t mention other writers without sneering. And the present mess is going to leave another mark.
There have always been groups who come into SF and try to change it, like the new inlaws who want to tell you how to fold the napkins the way their people did. If the split is minor, we absorb them, we learn from them, they learn from us. If they can’t be absorbed, they eventually leave, like those inlaws who divorce because “I can’t stand your people.”
But there was a revelation I had many years ago when watching people at the airport after a con. You can tell our people. There’s the way we move, like those who have the first sight and the second thoughts. There’s the way we look. Like we’re calculating what to do if an interdimensional portal opens. There’s the way we live, the way we joke. The reason I think I wouldn’t have ever have been married long to a non-SFer, one of those our tribe calls “mundanes.”
My husband never could talk me into Star Wars. Star Trek sure, but I have to draw the line somewhere. However, ultimately, I make the jokes, “Come to the darkside, we have cookies.”
And I understand such things as that the most important thing about landing on a comet is not the shirt the scientist wears to announce it.
It’s a way of thinking.
And here we come to how my husband convinced me to watch Star Trek. He went about it the sneaky way by giving me Leonard Nimoy’s book “I Am Not Spock” which charmed me into watching the series.
Right now what I’m thinking of is when Nimoy had to go through someone’s desk at Paramont and spilled green ink, and immediately left a note complaining of the sharp implements in the drawer, and saying he’d cut himself dangerously.
That – THAT – is the joke one of us would make. Never a mundane.
Leonard Nimoy, whatever else he was, was of our tribe.
And today, beyond divisions, beyond arguments of our ever fractious people, the messages on facebook are filled with the recognition we lost a family member.
It doesn’t matter how we fight, we are kin.
Tomorrow we’ll return to the fight and throw dinner rolls at each other across banquet halls, and write spectacular death scenes for each other in our novels, and not in a good way.
But today we mourn one of our own.
Farewell, Leonard. May the great convention in the sky receive you kindly. Keep the attendees amused until we arrive, and try not to cringe too much at the Spock ears.
In the end, you were Spock after all. And one of us.