Science Fiction Fandom: The Pond Is Big Enough For All Of Us
I have been thinking about science fiction a lot this last week. The Hugos going boom started it (my earlier blog post goes into that ball of fun). After the Hugos went all Big Bang. Its fandom started chasing each other around with pitchforks and torches. I have been reading it all. Posting on many people’s blogs and Facebook pages. Having long conversations with people I respect and people I barely know. It has left me very sad for the field I love so much.
What I found interesting was people’s inability to stop letting the trolls dictate the conversation. There are people running around spraying gas on fires everywhere. Cackling as they scream, “burn, baby, burn.” Often they are ignored but rarely are they told to cut that shit out. We are trying to have conversation here. People’s feelings are hurt. This is important.
Our community needs to get past this and I think we will. We just have to take a step back. Take a breath and start talking to each other about why we love science fiction so damn much. I could give up a lot of things in life but I could never give up reading science fiction. It is that important to me.
I started reading it at an early age and I have been reading it ever since, well over 35 years. I read everything. I know I have certain types of books I like more. I also know that is likely to change from year to year. As a kid I liked John Carter of Mars. I recently tried to read them again. It did not end well. Then there is a book like Dune which I have lost track of how many times I have read.
I do not feel that my taste in books is superior to anyone. I like what I like. I thought Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie was fantastic. The Buntline Special by Mike Resnick was great. The Girl With All The Gifts by Mike Carey was maybe the best zombie story I have ever read. These books had nothing in common with each other. If you look over my Goodreads list you will see nothing in common is my theme.
My first adult job was at a bookstore. I would eventually become the manager of that store as I worked my way through college. They were great years. My favorite part of that job was selling books. All kinds of different books. It forced me out of my comfort zone to be able to be a great bookseller. I had one customer who loved Conan. I can honestly say Robert Howard was not my thing. I had tried. So instead I read Robert Jordan’s Conan. I liked it more than the Howard books and it gave me a jumping off point. It then became a game for me and this customer to get him to spend all of the money he brought with him to the store. I fought dirty and enlisted any customer who was in the science fiction/fantasy section to help me take every last penny. It led to some great debates and fantastic conversations. I found myself reading books I never would have imagined reading before I took the job. I truly believe my ability to put students in books they like is directly related to those early bookstore days.
It was during that job I started going to conventions and finding a room full of people who loved what I loved. People who read books. People who were passionate and would literally stop eating to tell me about what they were reading. We were fans. This was our community. This is our community. The Hugo blow up hurts all of us but I know we are better than this. Our community will survive and I can only hope get stronger.
I will vote for the Hugos this year. I will pick the choices I think are best in their categories. I will not take the nuclear option and vote no award, unless I think there is absolutely nothing I can vote for. I encourage everyone to do the same. I encourage you to get involved. To communicate. To remember what it is we love about science fiction. To share our passion. Shout down the trolls and do what we do best. Love reading.