I am not a fan

Noir Man bullseyeA 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.

11 comments on “I am not a fan

  1. I’m just getting disgusted. I like what I like, and I support it, and if someone else doesn’t like my choices, I will direct them to a large pile of sand and hand them a sledgehammer. . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, note I am not siding with either side of the “Who is a true fan?” question. What happened to “We all like this thing, lets celebrate it together”?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hrm.

        I know many folks who are better geeks than me. Engineers, professionals of many calibres. Guys that know the entire works of Heinlein and Python (Monty) by heart. Gals who can quote Pratchett all the day long, who sew medieval clothing to period perfect accuracy. Some folks who can hold an entire D&D campaign in their heads, and tell you what any minor NPC had for breakfast that morning and what their mother thinks of the new girlfriend. Folks that can describe in layman’s terms how we keep failing at nuclear fusion, or what the latest dark matter theory means beneath all the maths.

        I’d say of them, those I know personally and well, they’re fans. That’s what I’d say if you asked me to describe them, on their particular subject of interest. Sci-fi fans. Techie fans. Fantasy fans. Or maybe just geeks. Heck, I like to get my geeky fun on, too. Last weekend, in the midst of a long running discussion of where to go/what to do in a zombie apocalypse, “we are *such* geeks,” popped out. Followed by a smile, because geekiness is how we have fun. Also, crowbars for the win.

        One thing I’d not think to say is that someone is “not a geek” or “not a fan.” Not without blatantly obvious reasons (i.e. they already despise x,y for z reasons). People like what they like. Sometimes it’s head scratchingly weird, like not reading any authors that have blue eyes or something. But taste is hard to argue with. I might try to sneak in a blue eyed author, if the subject matter and storytelling were just awesome and I knew they’d be missing out, but perhaps I’m just bent wrong that way. I’ve been known to keep library books too long, too (but I always bring ’em back!).

        The thing I like about the Sad Puppies campaigns is that, despite all the hooplah all around, it’s a positive thing. Promoting good works. Getting some eyes on them and spreading the word about good fiction. That’s how I discovered Brad Torgerson, and several other authors I now follow, like Peter Grant (who I buy everything he publishes so far).

        That’s something I think we all do. We talk about stuff we like, and hey have you read…? It’s good stuff, you really should! I’ve lent out copies of MHI until they were battered to pieces (or just didn’t come back). That’s what a slate is to me. And what the nomination list for an award like the Hugos should be- good stuff, hey take a look! That means broad appeal. I think Dave Freer did a post on this some time ago…

        Sure there’s a market and a readership for niche stuff. Sometimes the niche is big enough to make a pretty good living off of. But broad appeal, to me at least (and I may be barking up the wrong leg here), is not *less* of this or that but *more.* Specifically, more of things that we all love. Like big skies and deep horizons, aliens from the bizarre to the wonderful to the terrible, spaceships and hopping between the stars… It’s touching on that sense of wonder we all want to escape to when we read science fiction.

        So I’m not in the “lets kick over their sandcastle!” crowd on either side (I may be on the same side as Sanford, or we’ve got some sort of many sided polyhedron that looks more like a circle from way up). Even though there’s one “side” that thinks I’m all sorts of “-ist” with “-isms” from what I can tell, those things aren’t a reason to say they don’t like what they like. Other folks enjoying, buying, praising, and writing things I don’t like are not a threat to me and mine. Not really. Not if that’s the limit of it.

        There are things I’ve seen on both sides that I don’t particularly like. I don’t take offense easily (mostly because I’m rather lazy), so the times I’ve been called names and ridiculed don’t often raise my blood pressure. I shake my head when I see hot rhetoric being flung the other way, too. I get the feeling there’s quite a bit of internet bravery going around though. Perhaps I am naive, but I think most people behave better away from the keyboard. Most- not all. That’s still a positive thing. While I still think the thing with the vowels was just silly and childish, I’m not above being snappish and foolish on my own rights.

        Hrm. On that note, two wrongs don’t make a right- and neither excuses the other. I’ll try and be on my best behavior. Can’t make any promises that there won’t be any missteps.

        I believe there’s folks out there who don’t much care for my politics, but could agree with me on what’s good stories. Perhaps that’s a starting point for what crosses boundaries and becomes the type of tale everyone can enjoy. When I started reading, I hadn’t the first clue about authors other than names. I couldn’t have told you much other than maybe the sex of the author, and that was a guess as much as anything (could have been a pseudonym). With the internet these days, it’s a lot easier to find out more. That has helped marketing, but sometimes it can change a person’s opinion from “good writer” to “that guy/gal who says things I don’t like, so I don’t buy their books now.” *shrug* That’s going to happen even if all you say is “I like peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches.”

        In sci-fi, there’s everything from pb&j to fine wines and even the most exotic vittles. Some even like *shudder* -puns. I much prefer talking about, and hearing about, how awesome this or that is than how horrible these or those choices are. I may not agree, but there’s the whole fly-catching method with honey to consider. And I’d sure like to see more folks enjoying and reading, watching, and playing with sci-fi. If for no other selfish reason than it might get my favorite authors writing faster. *grin*


  2. Well this certainly is a different take than mine. That’s ok with me though, especially since you’re applying this to yourself first and not telling other people how to define themselves.


  3. That last line’s going to leave a mark.


    • It is intended to, It is accurate and might wake a few of them up. I doubt it though, most of that type have little contact with reality anyway


  4. Sanford,

    I think I’m your kind of not-a-fan fan. I pretty much only read SF/F books but despite being killed off by various authors etc. I’ve never been to an SF Con (I probably will at some point but bluntly I have many other thigs to do at weekends) and I’ve let a number of my subscriptions to SFnal mailing lists and forums drop.

    Sad Puppies & friends are acting as somewhat of a wakeup call to me because I don’t want to see the genre I love perverted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just so long as you remember that some of the Sad Puppies supporters are the obverse side of the coin. I don’t want to see one type of fanatic supplanted by another. Unfortunately the ones who will go to the extremes are the ones who have no life to distract them from their agendas. I support Sad Puppies. I don’t want their message perverted by the fringe on their side either

      Liked by 1 person

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