Archive for category not conventions
I’ve been quietly lately because I’ve been extremely busy. School is taking its toll on me, and I haven’t had much time to write anything that isn’t for class. I know, I still (STILL) need to do those last Kickstarter essays, but they will happen, I just need a little more free time to research them properly.
I’m getting super burned out, actually. It’s frustrating. I’m trying to find some way to keep this all fresh and immediate, but the truth is there’s only so many fanzines and memoirs I can slog through before I want to put my head through a wall. That, and it’s hard to figure out which fanzines I need to read, and even harder to get access to them (I can’t exactly fly out to California to see that collection at… I forget which school, even. I know it’s there.) And MIT’s collection is in a closet, badly organized, and only goes back through the 70s.
I really need to think about reorganizing the book. I don’t think a straight chronological treatment is working. I still need to research this way, I think, in order to build my foundation and get a sense of the full scope, but it doesn’t read well. Not sure what my structure should ultimately comprise, though. I’m debating if I should focus on cons by type, do chapters by anatomy (ie, a chapter on logistics, on hotel stuff, etc), or to focus on the really big cons and trace back the history of how they came into being. The latter means I’d end up talking less about the really cool local cons, but it’d be easier to research and I think more marketable.
I don’t know. It’s tough, man, writing a nonfiction book.
In a few weeks, I’ll be attending Philcon. I hope to see some of you regular readers there; I know it’ll be a good time. If you want to meet up and talk, just drop me a line. If there’s also anything you think I should report on in particular, let me know and I’ll do my best to see it. I will sadly not be able to be at the con for long, as my bus arrives at 1:30 PM on Friday and I leave at 4:30 PM on Sunday. Still, I think it’ll be enough.
For some time on the Help Out page, I’ve talked about adding a PayPal button so you can donate.
Well, now it exists! If you have ever for any reason wanted to send me money to help out with the project, now you can. Observe:
You may click yon button! And then send me money! This will motivate me to keep working, as I will feel I owe you!
I can’t give you anything in return right now save sparse updates and the promise that yes, hell or high water, there will be some sort of book about conventions, eventually. Seriously. But I appreciate any and all help.
I could especially use the money right now. Last month, my phone died, and I’ve had to buy tickets for SDCC and PAXEast, both of which are quite expensive. As it’s November and my day job is at a college, I’m losing out on a lot of work hours due to Thanksgiving, not to mention losing more due to Philcon. Even a little bit helps.
Thanks, everyone. Expect more meaty updates after Philcon. Alternately, if you like, ask me a question in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer it in a future post.
So first, I’d like to say welcome to all the new visitors to the blog! I’ve read all of your comments, but I’ve been a bit too busy to reply to them all. Either way, welcome, and thank you for your thoughts, every last one of you. I admit I was a bit startled when my hits counter started to go up, but it’s nice to see people interested.
Second, an explanation. As you all know, I am a graduate student, and it is now school time. This means I am often in class for up to six hours at a time (No, seriously. I have one day a week when I have six consecutive hours of class, and another that is four. This is me, quietly screaming inside.) As such, updates will be, ah, limited, as will my responses to your emails and comments. For truly vital emails I will try to respond as soon as I can, but it may be a while, so be patient.
Third, and unrelatedly, I have found an excellent article on another site about the Penny Arcade Expo, my personal favorite convention (I consider myself first and foremost a gamer, primarily of the tabletop variety and secondarily of the PC variety and then occasionally of the console variety; as such I am more than a little biased in my tastes). It’s a really wonderful example of not just why PAX is such a great con, but I think of the general atmosphere of nerd cons in general and why they’re so wonderful. PAX though I find unique as always because despite it being in the same heavyweight category as DragonCon and Otakon, it still feels intimate and friendly. Anyway, the article speaks for itself, so take a look:
Again, thank you all. I will now continue to attempt to detangle myself from the giant pile of homework assignments I seem to have found myself beneath! Hopefully in a few days I will be able to post a small clarification in regards to my Worldcon post (But today is not that day.)
Nevermind. There are technical difficulties apparently (I am bad at PayPal). AT SOME POINT IN THE NEAR FUTURE THERE WILL BE A DONATE BUTTON for realz.
*e2* Does anyone know if perhaps you aren’t allowed to post PayPal donation buttons when your blog is hosted through WordPress.com? If so I may need to look into new hosting…
Have you ever looked at this blog and gone “Wow, what quality writing! What effervescent personality! I would like to support this author, but alas! There is nowhere to send my money!!!”
WELL YOUR PROBLEMS ARE SOLVED. I have (finally) created a PayPal account, so now you may send me money, if for some reason you like to do that kind of thing.
Posts are slow because I have started a new semester so I have all the homework. I did (seriously) have a WorldCon reflection post and a post with all my sweet loot, but it’ll have to wait until I have some actual time again. Which will be long after Renovation is relevant. Sorry folks.
Yes, I know, this is getting outright silly with these delays, but I have good reasons for them. I was going to try to get a new post up today, but with the start of the semester looming and the fact that I am both a full time student AND a part-time employee of my college, I’m going to be busy busy busy. On top of that I have a new roommate moving in (yay!), the monthly avalanche of bills (boo!), some minor health issues (double boo!), a few problems getting my grant money from my school (KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN), and somewhere around fifteen of my old friends coming to visit this weekend.
You will get my Worldcon reflection and my swag list eventually, it just might not be until Sunday or Monday. I know you are all waiting with bated breath, but so it goes.
OI. KICKSTARTER REWARDS PEOPLE. Those of you who got photos still haven’t told me what you wanted. I cannot make you prints unless you tell me which prints you want. That is how these things work. I am going to start harassing you by email soon about this. BE WARNED.
I fully intended to have a new post up today, but instead I’m kind of doing hurricane prep. Updates will hopefully resume once the storm has passed, but for the moment don’t expect much as I shuffle about and try to batten down the hatches.
Thanks for watching!
Welp, I bit the bullet. UnConventional now has a facebook page:
Like it, signalboost it, bear with me as I mess with it.
Hello everyone! I am currently in the black deathgrip of a little thing I like to call the End Of Term Deathmatch. It’s me vs final projects, winner take all.
As such, updates will be nonexistant for a few days. No worries – I’m working on a few great things, the biggest of which is trying to get that Kickstarter thing up and running (getting a shiny attention grabbing graphic is my current problem – hopefully a surmountable one. I’m thinking of maybe trying to evoke Metropolis since they showed it at Nycon1). Other bits and pieces include starting to do a little freelance magazine writing on the side (exciting and scary, both.)
No worries though – I’ll be back with more stories and musings than you’ll have time to read come May. For now, I’ll leave you with the curious fact that Arthur C Clarke actually wrote a bit of self-insert fanfiction back in the day. The title is “A Short History of Fantocracy” and it was serialized in Fantast in 1942. The plot involves Clarke, Forrest J Ackerman, and their friends taking over the world with an itching ray. True story. So if you’ve ever been embarrassed about your secret fanfiction habit, well, Clarke turned out alright in the end.
Another quick note: you’ll notice I changed the theme. The neon rainbows were starting to drive me slightly bonkers, and I felt they looked unprofessional. While I’m not too fond of the dark gray color scheme, it’s nothing I can’t fix later with a little CSS tweaking, and the layout is much closer to my ultimate design. Eventually I’m going to cook up a delightful custom theme and class up the joint, but for now, well, at least you can find everything.
The more I research fandom in the 1930s, the more fascinated I am by how politically charged it was. This is hardly surprising considering the political climate of the time. To say that the years leading up to World War II were politically charged is like saying “Apple’s products are kind of popular” — that is, a massive understatement. On the fandom side, according to Sam Moskowitz’ book The Immortal Storm, there was a great deal of debate about the purpose of science fiction. Some believed that science fiction should exist only for the promotion of science itself, that the whole point was to encourage young people to go into careers in the sciences and thus to further the technological might of the United States. Others were less enthused with that idea and just wanted to read some good stories. Later there were the Michelists, part of the Futurians — leftist fans who put out a call for science fiction fans to take a direct stance against the forces of facism, saying that if fandom did not evolve into a true political engine it would surely die (see John B Michel’s speech Mutation or Death). This got to the point that the infamous Exclusion Act at the 1939 WorldCon was the direct result of political infighting about the Michelism; and there are even old fans to this day who still have a bit of an attitude about it.
Curiously, the fans themselves were, for the most part, socially conservative. While there were a few outliers, if you look at photographs from that time period, they all seem to be young men with a habit of dressing in white button down shirts and slacks. David Kyle’s 1998 report about his role in the Exclusion Act says as much about them – Ray Bradbury and Forrest Ackerman were the only fashion outliers, with Ray in a colorful striped shirt and Forrest arriving in costume. I’m still trying to get an angle on their inner thoughts and motivations by reading their memoirs, so I’ll report more on that later; but thus far what I’ve read fits what I’ve deduced from photographs and con reports.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that this hasn’t really changed at all. Every post in Fandom Secrets (my personal thermometer for How Fandom Is Feeling Right Now) inevitably has some sort of massive fight about some political issue or other. These days it’s often over gay rights and transgender issues, mostly from slash fans and anti-fans. Some slash fans are vocal proponents of gay rights; others, interestingly enough, violently oppose gay rights despite enjoying the genre. And again, as a friend pointed out to me, slash fans – particularly fans of ‘yaoi’, which is a particularly Japanese form of male/male slash – tend to be socially conservative, with the vast majority of their stories conforming to oddly heteronormative conceptions of relationships: one partner, the “top” or “seme” conforming to the idea of the breadwinner, the “bottom” or “uke” being the stay-at-home shrinking violet to be swept off his feet (not always true of course! There are MANY fans who outright dislike this sort of thing too).
Then there’s racewank and genderwank, aka the ongoing arguments in fandom over race in the media we consume and how that affects fandom and fan writings (such as fanfiction). There is a largely white bias in media and in fandom, and this becomes an issue of heated debate that touches upon many larger issues, such as the current immigration debates.
This in turn makes me wonder about how the political scene in, say, the 1960s and 70s played out in fandom. What kinds of fights did fandom have around Vietnam, and where was the dividing line? Were certain fans of certain media more inclined to be pro or against the whole thing? And then what about today? In the fan sites I frequent, the fans usually have a more liberal bent: they are largely pro gay rights, largely anti-fox news, largely democrats. But that’s not always the case, and the fracturing comes when the other side comes in. It’s something I’m sadly ignorant of – who are the conservative fans? Where are they? What kinds of things do they like, and what fandoms are more conservative? Which ones are more liberal?
There’ve probably been essays on this elsewhere, more intelligent than I’m capable of writing, particularly on the whole “slash and the LGBTQ community” issue (My god there’s a LOT of writing out there on slash, but not a lot on the rest of fandom – kind of a shame, because while slash is all well and good it’s hardly the be-all and end-all of what fans turn out).
So readers – your thoughts? What political fractioning have you seen in your fandoms? How do your fandoms lean? Is fandom inherently political, and are political fights inescapable? Other thoughts…?