So File 770 is a really good resource for all things fannish. But there are time when it feels like the obituary pages in the paper, reporting the death of another old time fan. And when I read these obituaries, mostly of people I’ve never heard of but who played in a role in bringing to life fannish culture in their part of the world, I wonder whether there’s anyone out there to replace them.
Look, I don’t know fuck all about the state of fandom beyond Australia, and even my local knowledge is a few years out of date. But it always seems to me that the people who still run the major literary conventions like Wordcon, World Fantasy, Readercon and the like are all well over the age of 40. And that’s the younger ones. The so called next generation of fans would rather stick a fork in their genitals than go anywhere near the organisation committee of a convention. This includes me. Continuum 4 – the one con I ran with Mitch – was a reasonable success, but fuck if I’d ever do that again.
And then there’s the local fannish get togethers that aren’t convention related. Up until last year I was a regular attendee of the Nova Mob – a monthly SF group in Melbourne that discusses books. Without insulting everyone who attends, the average age of the Mob would have to be late 40s early 50s. Yeah, at times people younger than me (I’m 37) would attend, but the majority were people who’d be classified as ‘old farts’. And there will be a point, maybe less than a decade from now, where the Nova Mob will cease to exist because either the membership has started to die off, or people simply don’t have the strength to attend. I mean, shit I stopped getting into the habit of going after my son was born.
I’m not the first – nor the last person – to raise the issue of an ageing fandom. And to be frank, it may not actually matter anymore. Fannish issues are still vibrant and alive, except rather than meet each month and discuss them face to face or have long winded arguments through the letter column in fanzines, we – the fans – have decided to use twitter and blogs and podcasts to do our fandom for us. And there’s nothing at all wrong with that.
But each time I read in File 770 about another of the ‘old fart’ fans whose kicked the bucket somewhere in Florida or Chicago or even in Melbourne I do get that slight pang of an age passing us by. And I think it’s something we should take notice of rather than let it fade away like something that was never really that important in the first place.