File 770 Issue 158 Available Online

File 770 #158 (PDF file) is now online, courtesy of Bill Burns at eFanzines.

Taral Wayne provides the cover art, and in “The Fanwriter’s Fanwriter” critiques the fanac of a universe that strongly resembles but doesn’t entirely overlap our own.

The prolific James Bacon has three pieces in this issue. He supplies a whole list of reasons for liking Renovation’s YA Worldcon membership policy. The lively tone of James’ WexWorlds conreport is matched by Filip Naum’s brilliant photos. And James also has written about visiting steam railways on the Isle of Man.  

There’s an appreciation of the late Mark Owings by Martin Morse Wooster, plus remembrances of the late Takumi Shibano, Roy Test, Jim Harmon and others.

John Hertz has a Loscon report. And the editors of the Chinese fanzine New Realms of Fantasy and Science Fiction (Xin Huan Jie) catch us up on their progress.

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5 thoughts on “File 770 Issue 158 Available Online

  1. “The Fanwriter’s Fanwriter” is a top calibre piece of fanwriting, one of the most impressive I’ve seen in half a century of hanging around. F770 #158 will no doubt sail through 2010 as one of the top fanzines produced this year, and Taral’s article sets the bar for the kind of fanwriting that can be considered the very best of the year. I doubt anyone will surpass it, but seeing this kind of thing in April puts fanwriting off to a brilliant start.

  2. Mike, thank you for putting our progress on File770. Note: the link in this entry is not right.

    sanfeng from New Realms of Fantasy and Science Fiction in China

  3. @Feng: Thanks for pointing out my mistake — the link now is corrected to point to #158 (not #157).

  4. Well I find myself having to comment on James Bacon’s thoughts on discounting youth memberships. I’ll start by saying that Reno’s idea of discounting youth memberships seems like a good approach to the issue of welcoming younger members, enough of a good idea that our local convention has adopted the practice. SFContario is offering a $10 discount for teen/young adult memberships.

    Though I consider this somewhat symbolic, and I think James has made a logical error in his argument. The major factors in cost for attending a Worldcon, for most people, are airfare and hotel, which are essentially outside the control of the committee. People know this, so most people don’t buy a convention membership until after they are sure they can actually attend, which means they usually arrange airfare and hotel before buying a membership.

    Worldcons have a mandate to host the Hugo Awards, and more generally I think Worldcon committees should try to offer the best possible fannish experience, which is not the same thing as cheapest or for the largest possible audience. Obsessing about the registration has had a destructive effect on many Worldcons, when a real analysis of the dollar amounts suggests that if you want more people to come, the best way is to offer a better Worldcon, even if it means charging a little more. People don’t blink about an extra hundred dollars (say $20 per day) for hotel or a few hundred more on airfare if that’s what the travel website comes up with.

    Because Worldcon is the pinnacle of the fan community, the way to make Worldcon bigger is simply to make the fan community bigger. That involves building local conventions, using programming, publicity, and in some cases price to bring in a bigger crowd. Not that size should be the primary goal of local conventions either, but hopefully a well-run convention will have people bring their friends. The basic thing to keep in mind is that conventions aren’t free, someone has to pay the bills, and any discount offered to some involves a higher price for others; any discussion of discounts that doesn’t address the raised price for others is not logical or honest. Fandom has found that a time-based discount works for most conventions, because it’s available to everyone and it encourages people to bring their friends. But I’ve seen a lot of conventions run into problems because they fail to consider the revenue side of their budgets. The truth is that price is only one of many factors, and usually not one of the most important items, in determining whether someone will come to a convention. People have more discretionary income than most non-economists realize; the trick is to make what one is selling more important to people who might buy than other things they might be interested in; a once-a-year expense is something people can plan around. Traditionally, people save money on conventions by finding cheap ways to travel, sleeping several to a room, volunteering for the convention to save on membership or getting friends or family to buy one a membership, so the dollar amounts themselves are less critical.

    I note Patrick’s comment, but today’s young people face more distractions (and more expensive distractions) than we did when we were younger. I’ve worked registration at an anime convention, so I know kids have money. But the young adult discount functions as a symbolic acknowledgement that that population doesn’t have the same income level as other convention members, and it’s a generally more fair and certainly easier to judge criterion than other boundary rules that have been tried. Also our youth rate is the same as our earliest regular registration rate, so it’s really acknowledging that young people have a less predictable income, not saying that their contribution is less valuable.

    I totally agree with James’s observation about the ethics of spending other people’s money, with the caveat that it’s only that simple if the convention is making a surplus. A convention that wants to keep happening has to pay its bills, and that money has to come mostly from the membership. So for me there is no verbal argument that will persuade me that any discount plan is viable; I will always want to see a spreadsheet with numbers to prove the argument.

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