“There’s no such thing as science fiction fandom,” Eoghann Irving declared on Solar Flare yesterday. Fans immediately rushed to the site for an explanation of their nonexistence from the new anti-Descartes. Instead, they found that
It would be more accurate to claim that there’s no such thing as a single unifying science fiction fandom.
There’s not one monolithic fandom? Shock! Horror! What earth-shattering news will he reveal next? (“Today on Solar Flare, Eoghann Irving announced the breakup of the
I think there’s a strong case to be made that historically there used to be one.
Nothing controversial there, even Arnie Katz would agree. The question is: When did things change? My answer is, in a nutshell:
By the 1950s, science fiction fans had developed the activities that comprise fandom, such as clubs, conventions and fan publishing. Once the concepts had been proven workable, to use them to organize people around other interests was “just engineering.” It started in earnest when comics fandom spun off in the 1960s, and the real “big bang” happened when Star Trek was syndicated in the early 1970s.
(Richard Lynch has collected some data about this in his outline of 1960s fan history, see chapter 6.)
But the scale of the genre now is such that you really can’t assume that another science fiction fan will like or even be interested in what you are interested in.
While there’s some truth in that warning, it’s not due to “scale” (numbers of participants) or technology, but individual personalities. Just consider the bitter political schism between a couple of small groups in the microscopic fandom of 1939 that led to the exclusion of one faction from the very first World Science Fiction Convention.
In the end,
And in most cases online groups haven’t become so specialized that they only discuss one topic and no other science fiction. So I’m overstating my case a little.
After that nothing more needs to be said than, “Welcome to Big Tent fandom on the internet!”
[Via SF Signal.]