A lot of flak gets thrown about concerning whether this person or that person from “x” side is really a fan of SF/F. Before anyone asks me, I’m not. SF/F is probably my favorite genre, but fandom isn’t my life. I have a life and an identity outside the narrow confines of fandom. If SF/F disappeared tomorrow I would continue to read Mysteries, Westerns and a host of other categories. I draw the line at Romance though. Simply because Romance has ceased to be books about adventure and love and is about a formula of events where the only important thing is whether the girl ropes and brands her chosen man.
You see, I like many fannish things; I’m even marrying my favorite SF/F author. I love talking about Stasheff’s Warlock series, or Drake’s Leary Series. I can be found eagerly awaiting the next Dresden novel. I hang out with, and chat with many authors and fans. I even, reluctantly, attend cons. Ok, Libertycon isn’t reluctantly but that is because many of my friends consider it our family reunion. I love thinking about the results of an FTL drive or some sociological phenomenon which if unchanged will drive mankind into a very different culture.
I’m actually very happy to sit and argue whether this or that thing is good for SF/Fantasy as a whole. Note, even while arguing passionately for one side or the other I know that I am likely to be wrong and what I think is horrible is possibly the greatest thing to ever happen to literature. One of the wonders of SF/F is that it is the literature of Possibility and Possibility is boundless. I think there is room for everything under that umbrella.
So, why am I not a fan? Well we will start with what the word means. Fan is an abbreviation of fanatical and that doesn’t describe me. I like SF/F but i am not fanatical about it. I am a technician with good skills in several fields, a reader of many things, a family man and a host of other things. Being a fan is not only not my defining characteristic it isn’t even high on the list.
Now someone is going to come up with a comment on “If you aren’t a fan, why are you writing for a Fanzine?” That is easily answered. I can write, though I have no need to. Some friends were restarting this Fanzine and needed some regular columnists. I’m giving them a hand while they shake out staffing and get their feet under them. If people like what I do I will continue indefinitely. If they need space to add someone who is good, reliable, and loves this, I will happily let someone have this slot.
Thing is, so many fans have very little else of any worth in their lives. They rain terror on the blogosphere and pontificate on what is the “True Science Fiction” because they are absolutely unimportant outside of the tiny world of fandom. This is true more in their own eyes than that of those who know them in the mundane world.
Mundane world, a place inhabited by ‘danes, muggles, and often referred to as Mundania. You know, the place we refer to as life? We all make reference to “Our people” when seeing the geeky T-shirts as we near a fan event. We have our in jokes and our views on who is a good author and who is simply coasting on their ability to schmooze with editors. We look at traditionally published authors, indies, and small press types and argue the merits of each type. We have Brown Coats, Whovians, Trekkies, and a host of others that we know whether we are involved in their world or not. Then those of us who are not fans go home, read a bit of our latest book and go to bed because Oh Dark Thirty comes too damned early and we have to go to work. Fandom goes back into the box until the next time we go to an event.
True Fen on the other hand go home and put themselves back into a box until the next time they can do something related to SF/F. They only seem to come to life to scream that the other side is too literary, or too cismale heteronormative or too whatever. You have read them, there are some working for this E-Zine. There are many in SFWA who are technically qualified but really want to just pull others down to their level. They rant and rave and say horrible things. No, Thank you, but no.
Since I just insulted both sides of the Fanatic divide you will probable find my tarred and feathered body, hanging from a lamp post buried deep in the swamps. Or maybe not, a hallmark of rabid fandom is the inability to actually accomplish much.