The Ones Who Walk Away from Fandom

by Brian Z on File 770

Justice! How is one to tell about justice? How describe the citizens of Fandom?

Some do not write vintage pulp, you see, though there is message. But we do not hear the words story first much any more. Prose has become obtuse. Given a description such as this some might make certain assumptions. Given a description such as this some might look next for a King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded by his noble knights, or a snowy tavern with no spaceships. But there was no king. They did not use gendered pronouns, or foreshadow. They were not Stephen Donaldson. I do not know the rules and laws of their writing, but I suspect that they were singularly few. As they had strange plot and character, so they also got on without immersion, pacing, rhythm, and emotional payoff. Yet I repeat that these were not pulpy folk, not Charles Gannons, John Ringos, Eric Flints. They were no less fen than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and instapundits, of considering message as something rather boring.

Do you believe? Do you accept the linkfests, the ceremony, the awards? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

In a basement under one of the public forums, or perhaps in the cellar of a blog, there is a bar. It has one door. A few sympathetic reviews seep in dustily between cracks in the boards. In one corner is a pile of schlock paperbacks with banal, cloying, smutty covers, sold through a rusty e-bookstore. A mere broom closet. In the bar a Sad is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. The door is unlocked, but nobody will come.

They all know it is there, the citizens of Fandom. Some have read, others merely tweet about it. They all understand that the reputation of their genre, the wisdom of their bloggers, the trajectory of their authors, the complacence of their nominators, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend on the pup’s opuscular misery.

There might not even be a kind word spoken to the pup.

At times one of the younger fen who go to see the pup does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also an older fan falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. Each one goes alone. They walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the place with the Hugos. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Fandom.

It’s more than a little amusing. And those who walk away are the wise ones, because, as it has been sung:

Never kick a dog
Because it’s just a pup
You’d better run for cover when the pup grows up!