From the Circle of Lassitude to Fandom @Contact2016 #Contact2016

 

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What is a fan? According to Fancyclopedia 3, a fan is much more than a follower, devotee, admirer of something. It is not just to sit at home and enjoy a book or a movie. Instead, being a fan is to actively participate in the community whose members share the same love and passion with you. It is to “maintain regular interaction with other fans via face-to-face meetings, correspondence and online activity”, and to “take an interest in one another and in the foundations and well-being of fandom”.

Based on this definition, in terms of speculative fiction, I can only claim to be a fan in the genre of horror, and only of Stephen King’s books. As for the other equally important genres – from science fiction and fantasy to utopia/dystopia, alternate history, post/apocalyptic and superhero – so far I am simply a member of the Circle of Lassitude, which, according to The Enchanted Duplicator (1954), is “a brilliantly lit, circular cave full of people talking, laughing and playing games”:

“Well, [this is] not exactly [Fandom], but it is good enough for us… We’ve heard of Fandom, of course, but it’s such a lot of trouble getting over those mountains that we don’t know much about it. We have all we want here, you see, so we’re quite happy.”

I have always considered reading as a personal, almost bordering secretive, pleasure. As a result, I have never attempted to “climb the Mountains of Inertia and moving purposefully past the Circle of Lassitude” and “plunge into the MICROCOSM” that is FANDOM (as in contrast to the mundane world). In other words, I have read, loved and translated some works of speculative fiction, written about them, discussed and even debated over various issues relating to them; but I have never actively made CONTACT with the spec-fic COMMUNITY.

Until now.

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By the time this article is published, I will be on my way to Brisbane, where Contact 2016 – the 55th Australian National Speculative Fiction Convention – is to take place on March 25-28. Again quoting Fancyclopedia 3, I as a newcomer will be expected to learn the “languages, traditions, customs and mores” of spec-fic fandom. It will be a community where one’s “desire to belong, efforts to participate and the ability to express once’s self” is appreciated.

While verbally communicating with other fans is essential but daunting, I will be writing as much as possible about Contact 2016 in the coming days. There is so much to learn, and I am grateful for this opportunity provided by the Carl Brandon Society and the Con or Bust project, for me to be a student again.

 

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