So, this knucklehead as actually managed to learn something.
the Hubs and I have been able to attend quite a few of these Sci-Fi conventions and have even returned to some for three (four?) years running already.
I am truly “just a fan”. I don’t write books or …whatever. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen is that all these artist/writer/musician types are all fans of one another. That’s a really powerful sense of community.
As a fan, whether or not you attend the conventions, you are an agent of change in this sci-fi community. Because you like it, you help determine its future. It’s that simple.
From participating in and voting on the Hugos to helping test out new gaming systems, all of this concept of what we know as Science Fiction and Fantasy (SF&F) really is defined by its fans. That’s you and me, Darkcargo Readers.
“yes, ok, what’s your point?”
I’ve been (we all have) so inundated my whole life with marketed information from some other person of authority feeding me information about something I don’t really want in order to convince me to hand over my money. I’m a pretty cynical beast: what are you trying to sell me, here? It took me a long time to even be able to see Fandom for what it truly is.
People do this because they love it. Most of the small-press publishers are supported via some other regular salary, and it’s an extremely rare and fortunate author who doesn’t have to balance a day job. Ditto Artists, Podcasters, Costumers and Musicians. These Filking people don’t get paid for this. They’re not here at 12:30 am trading new songs and ideas because they’re paid by their company to attend this lame Corporate Sponsored event. They’re here because they love singing and playing guitar in the middle of the damn night.
The Podcasters are the Radio nowadays. I mean, come on, you can’t even *get* radio anymore, and it’s all Clear Channel Canned Garbage anyways. These people work *hard*. Writing blog posts on a somewhat regular basis is hard enough for me. I can’t imagine staying on top of news and interests, selecting and featuring fiction and interviews and wrapping it up into a professional-quality audio piece on a daily or weekly basis. good night! Hats off to those guys.
Webcomics– another daily or weekly effort of love.
Game designers rarely turn a profit. They are here soley to design engaging games.
These conventions are organized and put together by non-paid fans who are professionals in some other field. It’s at these panel discussions that SF&F is discussed and defined as a culture, as a literature, as a …thing. For example, in 2009/2010, I sat in on many panels in which the discussion was whether or not Steampunk was going be accepted into the SF&F community. It was. This conversation on DRM? Yeah, that’s happening right now, and it’s not limited to conventions.
And the crazy thing? These conventions are the only place I’ve ever been in which diplomatic conversations can be had concerning politics, civil rights, and religion. Bad-mouthing and bullying get a pretty hard smack-down ’round these parts. For the most part, that sense of respect translates over to the on-line world. You can hear “gay rights” and “gun rights” in the same elevator, and these people aren’t killing eachother.
“But I don’t attend many SFCons. How can I possibly be a participant in this ongoing conversation?” It’s all happening, right now. By reading this blog post, you are participating in Fandom. Really.
All across the web there are conversations about the future of this SF/F thing. Women in the writing industry, what people want to read about, DRM, how people access their reading materials, what in the hell are we going to do with Twilight, the shift from “Wiz-rock” to “Lit-Rock”, how do we financially support our authors so that they can continue to write?
Writing cogent book reviews, leaving commentary and writing guest posts on blogs, emailing authors those Squee-ful fan letters, spreading the word about your faves, seeking out Kickstarter projects that you like… and voting on fan-based awards.
I am all about fan-based awards. We explored the Hugo award last year, and are participating again this year. There’s a fan-decided award for podcasting, the PARSEC award.
The Pegasus Awards have recently been brought to my attention. This just totally makes me die with the magnitude of awesome: our buddy Jonah is up for this award, and I can vote for him. Rlly? Somebody gives a shit what I think? There’s an award for this? Other people also think that Jonah’s the coolest thing since ST:TNG? Nice. Sign me up.
But wait! there’s more! Three things I like about fan-based awards, and the Pegasus in particular:
1. this is not a corporate-financed event. the folks putting this award together (it’s a lot of work) are not being paid to do this. 2. I don’t have to pay to play. It costs me nothing but my time. 3. I’m an authority on this award, by its very definition: fan-based award.
Famous peeps with their names on the cover of eleventy-billion books? Yes, they smell bad, have dandruff, and are very figity about whether or not *I* like their book. “Why in the hell would you care about my opinion, Ms. Famousosity?” Because I’m part of this Fandom thing, and I help determine the future of SF/F.