wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Replenishing the blood supply

I think it's a cliche that people join fandom looking for community. Traditionally, this has certainly been the case, and to some extent continues to be the case for some people, but now that SF and fantasy have become part of the mainstream I don't think it's quite as common as it used to be. The result of this is that fandom is less of a ghetto than it used to be, and some of the social aspects have weakened as a result.

The irony of me bitching about this is not lost on me. Thirty years ago when I first got involved in fandom here in Washington, I was annoyed to discover that WSFA was more of a social club than a place where people went to talk about science fiction; this was reinforced a few years later when I went to MNSTF meetings and learned that "sercon" behavior like mine was discouraged. MNSTF and its regulars preferred to be "silly" instead, and left actual talk about SF to the fringe. To this day I'm not sure whether this was "Minnesota Nice" in fannish clothes or just a common feature of fandom in general.

Bringing this back to contemporary times, I find myself thinking about how fandom can adapt itself and get new blood from anime fandom. How do we socialize anime fans and get them interested in the seminal works of SF and fantasy, so that instead of just being fans of anime and media they also become fans of the old canon and its descendants? How do we get gamers to recognize that behind the awesomeness of HALO, there's half a century of combat SF, to say nothing of the direct influences of the Culture novels and Niven's Ringworld? While I haven't been very active in East Coast fandom yet, I get the feeling that conventions like Balticon are getting distracted by side issues like webcomics and podcasts, and neglecting the kind of outreach that needs to be done.

At one level, it may already be too late. The relationship between Anime Detour and Convergence is anomalous; I don't know of any connection or interaction between Otakorp and BSFS, but then since I'm not an active member of the latter and have no involvement with the former, there might well be something going on that I'm not aware of. The same applies to WSFA/PRSFS locally with respect to Katsucon and Anime USA. So perhaps working from the top down, so to speak, is not the answer here, unless a new SF convention starts in the DC/NoVa area that deliberately reaches out to the otaku and gamer communities. I have been thinking about this; it's one of the many items on the "After I'm working steadily again" list. At another level, there's something to be said for individual evangelizing. Volunteering to do panels at local conventions and reaching out to individual fans through room parties may be the way to go; it's certainly the way to build support for a new multimedia convention of the sort I've been thinking about.

So, some food for thought. Feedback would be nice.
Tags: anime detour, balticon, convergence, the bush of fandom
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