Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Cycle and thoughts on Fandom.

There are things you notice about yourself as you get older. Patterns of behavior that you come to expect, that you notice occuring consciously where once they simply took place on a level you couldn't recognize at the time. Over the years I've noticed something about my various passions for science fiction, fantasy, and horror and I found it interesting enough to try to set down and hash out a bit. There's also something new I'd like to touch on, but that'll be a topic for a later post.

I don't know about anyone else, but my fandom tends to move in a cycle. Sometimes I'll be way into Star Trek, and wax philosophical and at length about the various facets of Gene Roddenberry's space franchise to any in range who'll give me the time of day. Others I'll be really into Star Wars, and want nothing more than to discuss the intricacies of Jedi versus Sith philosophies and the zenlike inaccuracy of stormtrooper marksmanship. On still others I'll be into J. Michael Stracynski's epic saga of Babylon 5 and want to regale others with just how utterly awesome G'Kar was, and how Andreas Katsulas may have been the greatest actor on television period, leathery makeup or no. The latter case is especially apt these days as I'm on a huge B5 kick right now, watching the show from beginning to end and just drinking it in. Each time I watch it I think I come away with something different.

In reading I'm much the same. Sometimes I'll really want to delve into a good science fiction novel, maybe something epic like Herbert's Dune or Heinlein's Glory Road but I'm just as content opening the latest mass market Trek paperback if I think it's going to provide an escape. Sometimes I don't want the bells and whistles of SF, but read a (gasp!) contemporary novel. Taste is subjective and cyclical. And let's not even get started on my shifting taste in comics. We'd be here all day and into the night.

Am I alone in this pattern? I'm not too sure, but I hope not. I think you need to have a bit of variety in your passions and hobbies, if for no other reason than no one thing can sustain you over a long period of time. The people I've met through science fiction and fandom have all had other passions, other hobbies and pursuits that I think they move through much as I do through my own. I find it interesting that we often have these parallel tracks for our own pleasures, though we may define ourselves as one thing or another. It's interesting how that need for categorization seems to follow us from the world of the mundane, as if we need some kind of classification, some kind of label. Is that for our benefit, I wonder, or that of the world outside? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just some ingrained need in us for some form of heirarchy. Personally to me a fan is a fan is a fan, be you into superheroes, hard science fiction, or anthropormorphic art. As long as fun is being had, as long as you find others who share that passion and are peacable and friendly about it, there's no worries on this end.

I find the whole notion of fandom to just be fascinating in it's ability to create an almost instantaneous rapport between people. I was working the Red&White Club here in Calgary on Sunday with my brother, running a table and helping sell his wares when a couple of teenagers came to the booth. One was commenting quietly on the Spider-Man/Red Sonja trade we had for sale, so I opened up to the kid and dropped a few thoughts on Spider-Man. It was like throwing a switch. He instantly brightened and we had a good ten minute conversation about all things Spider-Man, X-Men, and Marvel in general. The kid went from shy and somewhat laconic to lit up and stoked, talking passionately and at length about his ideas for a fan script and the characters he'd created for it. He visited the booth a couple times after his purchase just to chat. It was amazingly cool, and a phenomenon that I never get enough of. We spend so much time concealing our fantasy lives from the real world that when we meet someone who gets it. . .oh, it's the sweetest feeling of all isn't it? Someone who understands, who shares our drive and our passion for the genre. At the end of the day I think that feeling of connection and community does a lot for us all personally.

I live for those kind of moments.


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