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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Media fandom and Conventions

Today I had a chat with my friend Geoff. I've known Geoff since my first days in science fiction fandom. We met in Star Trek fandom, actually. Since then, though my media fannish heart belongs to that 1960s TV series (not as much to its spin-offs, though I like them), I have expanded, as has Geoff.

My main reason for identifying with media fandom was not only the shows and films involved, but because media fandom allowed you to be creative long after many mainstream fans concentrated their efforts on their fanzines, which were mainly of the "what I had for breakfast last Tuesday" variety. I wrote stories and letters of comment, made costumes, wrote reviews and as a consequence of what I learned in media fandom, I eventually managed to sell stories professionally, write articles and non-fiction books for which I was paid and write book reviews, which gave me thousands of dollars in free books over the years, and enabled me to be a better librarian. And my costuming, while not professional stuff like that of some other fans, taught me to make ordinary clothes of the kind I wanted to wear rather than what was in the shops. These days, organising art for Andromeda Spaceways, I can call on fannish friends whose art I know and love, when I need it.

The conventions, in Australia at least, were fun. Because we couldn't afford to pay huge numbers of actors to come and tell us that they loved "Orsteylia", we had to make our panels fannish. We didn't sit in an auditorium and wait to be entertained by Second Romulan From The Left. We had maybe one actor, or the likes of Bjo Trimble, who had been in fandom for many years and knew all about handcraft and writing markets and yes, what was going on with our favourite show.

Alas, that's no longer the case, which is why I don't generally go to so-called "conventions" where young fans who don't know any better pay hundreds of dollars to listen to an actor and then pay more to get an autograph.

Now we're having next year's World SF Convention in Melbourne and to my surprise, Geoff said he was not sure he was going, because there were no media guests of honour. I pointed out that there were not usually any such people at Worldcons.

We had one last time, he protested. Yes. We had the wonderful writer who created Babylon 5, and all the sneering lit fans who have a go at media fandom came to hear him speak. But that was not the same. He had written to the committee and said he was coming anyway and asked if he could be of help. I know. I was there. Naturally, they put his name on the posters - who wouldn't?

I suggested to Geoff that he might like to contact the programmer and arrange some media-based panels. Maybe he could even suggest inviting some folk who lived right here in Australia and have done SFX or stunts for the movies - some of them have appeared at previous media cons and were quite wonderful. One SFX specialist who lives in Sydney is almost certainly coming anyway, as a fan. Why do we need actors, even if they could be worked into the budget or the committee was willing to get them?

I hope Geoff will come - I know he'd enjoy it. I'm certainly looking forward to it, and the Andromeda Spaceways bunch will be there selling magazines, so I'll be spending some time in the dealers' room.

How often do we get a Worldcon in Melbourne?


Adelaide Dupont said...

Not very often :-(.

The fannish activity is great.

Thank you for your insight into conventions.

Sue Bursztynski said...

You're in Melbourne, then? If you do come to Aussiecon 4, please drop by the Andromeda Spaceways table in the dealers' room and say hi.