The Artful Collector: On Holding Dual Citizenship (Inside and Outside the SF Community)

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The world is changing, but some things stay the same.   And are perfect just the way they are. The sky, my two little puppy dogs, and many symphonic works are like that.  Whether SF/F conventions or the SF community fit that category is debatable, but one thing is certain: those who feel they are INSIDERS have always cared a lot about the answers to that question – while those who feel OUTSIDE the community don’t really give a hoot one way or another.  It is what it is.

The former partake, as they will, of whatever benefits insider status confers, and yet feel obliged to carp about it.  In fact, as a member of the “community” such complaining by insiders is practically obligatory.  The latter partake, as they will, and take from cons and community what they will (as they are so inclined). . . but by virtue of their silence (what, no grousing in chat rooms, no snide comments on forums, no snarky comments about Con Chairs while being feted at a Hugo Losers party?) have virtually concretized their status as “outsiders”.

As a result, the question of whether we are “perfect as we are” at any current point in time never really occurs to either group. To the former group, Perfection is a moving target, an “aspiration” not necessarily attainable, but definable (with definitions as varied as the definer, and usually defined by reference to the past) . . .  while to the latter the question is irrelevant.  : )

Jane kissing a resident Dragon, named "Sean" (creator....)
Jane kissing our Dragon Trophy, named “Sean” stuffed and mounted after capture in the woods behind our house (not really: it’s a leather creation by Mary Marquis purchased at DragonCon, 1998)Are you following me, here?

In that light, among the things “that stay the same” despite our rapidly whirling and chaotic SF universe, would be Steve Davidson’s grousing about “OUR” abandonment of ideals (Editor’s Post: “Oh the Hugos, Ahh the Hugos, Ewww The Hugos” April 15, 2013 at  amazingstoriesmag.com).  His comments perfectly capture the frustration, the despair, and – yes – the pity, felt by INSIDERS who are living through (only) one of the obvious manifestations of cultural change, “close up and personal”.    Greeks complaining about youth running amok in the streets…..comes to mind.  Has there ever been a time when things were “just right,” that wasn’t in the past?

Speaking as someone who missed the notice when the SF Community boat was boarding in NY harbors, but yet considers that being a HUGO NOMINEE (coming in second for my book The Art of Richard Powers) was a major lifetime achievement – I have to confess to mixed feelings here.   This is why I hold Dual Citizenship.  Not to mention the thrill of being asked to be one of the GOH at Chicon 7.  Who, ME?

I love HPL and ERB and REH.   But I judge people one at a time, not through their memberships (or not) in affinity groups.  For that reason, I’ve never been FULLY an insider or outsider member of either party, and while I hate to say it (but I can’t help it: it’s so apt) like Groucho  “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member”.

And, by that, I mean . . . you will never find me sporting a dragon on my shoulder, at any Worldcon.  Although I WILL sit in for missing Chesley Award Winners, if they ask me.  🙂 janechesley

Sure I wish I was one of those teen disciples who wrote fan letters to the Editor of Astounding and Amazing and Weird Tales  “back in the day”.  But just like I was a tad late for the Beatles, and a tad early for Elvis (not that I cared a rat’s ass for either) I was busy with Jack London and Jules Verne at a time when I (perhaps) should have been reading A. Merritt and Van Vogt.  Mea Culpa.  And so, by the time I learned there even WAS such a thing as FANDOM, I was already too far gone into my own version of obeisance to join it.

It is with those mixed feelings in mind that I continue to go to Worldcons. Knowing that I will always “fit in” and yet “never fit in”.  And isn’t that a kind of Perfection?

Howard and Jane Frank conferring with Jerry Weist, San Antonio Worldcon 1998  Photo credit: Andrew Porter
Howard and Jane Frank conferring with Jerry Weist, San Antonio Worldcon 1998
Photo credit: Andrew Porter

Steve is right about Worldcons: they may no longer be “the largest, greatest, most important annual gathering of fandom”  They may no longer uphold the ideals of TruFandom.  And they may not be as perfect a delivery system as procreation.   But when it comes to giving me access to a world far, far away (at least figuratively) – nothing beats’ em.   Or, put another way (which dates me, I know it!): Have Passport, Will Travel

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