From Hartwell, Age of Wonders

Fandom is the loosely organized realm of the science fiction fans. “Fan” has a special meaning when applied to the science fiction field, where it is not to be taken in the loose sense of the aficianado, although that is an original synonym. A science fiction fan is not merely one who observes, who watches, no matter how worshipfully and attentively, as may be the case with a sports fan or a fan of popular music or a devotee of the works of Agatha Christie. SF fandom is made up of people engaging in one or more of the following activities: participating in local science fiction clubs or discussion groups; writing letters to magazines that publish SF; writing letters to other SF fans; attending regional or national SF conventions; collecting SF or related materials; publishing or participating in amateur publications about SF; publishing or participating in publications about SF fandom (not necessarily about science fiction directly).

A person who reads only SF, even if he or she reads a great deal of it, but does not engage in any of these activities is not part of the world of fandom and for the sake of clarity will be referred to as an SF reader rather than a fan. The great majority of SF readers—including most omnivores and chronics—in this strict sense are not fans.

Fans make up only a small part, perhaps 5 percent, or the SF audience. However, they play a central and crucial role in making the SF field what it is. Without fandom, SF might never have established itself as a genre, might well have perished long ago. The activities of fans have kept it alive and vigorous. (147–48)

What motivates the fan, the point of fan activity, is the construction, finishing, and exhibiting of a fan persona through collecting, convention appearances, and writings and other active contributions to the publishing of fanzines. What makes the development of this persona possible is the fact that fandom is a microcosm, a private, limited world with its own rules and mores, small enough so that some sense of belonging is within the reach of every fan who wants to be a part of it. (167)

—David Hartwell, Age of Wonders: Exploring the World of Science Fiction (New York: Walker, 1984)


From Moskowitz, Immortal Storm

The first president of the [Scienceers sf fan] club was a colored fan whose hobby was rocketry, and the Scienceers met at his Harlem home. The willingness of the other members to accede to his leadership, regardless of racial difference, has never had an opportunity for duplication, for James Fitzgerald was the first and last colored man ever actively to engage in the activities of science fiction fandom. It is an established fact that colored science fiction readers number in the thousands, but with the exception of Fitzgerald, the lone Negro who attended the first national science fiction convention in 1938 and the single Negro members [sic] of the later groups, the Eastern Science Fiction Association and the Philadelphia Science Fantasy Society, they play no part in this history.

—Sam Moskowitz, “The Beginning of Organized Fandom,” The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom (Westport, CT: Hyperion, 1974), 10

Worldcon talk 2014-08-18

Thanks to all who attended my Worldcon keynote, “Affirmational and Transformational Doctor Who Fan Videos.” I promised to link to the videos I showed, so here goes.

Censor clip

From “Fury From the Deep” (1968), with Oak and Quill launching a toxic gas attack against Maggie Harris. It may be found on the DW BBC DVD Lost in Time: Collection of Rare Episodes (2004).

Fan-created reconstructed videos of missing eps (recons)

  • Clip from 2000 Loose Cannon colorized recon of “Marco Polo” (1964) on YouTube (my clip was the start of “The Wall of Lies”).
  • Clip from 2008 WhoSprites recon of “The Smugglers” (1966) on YouTube.
  • Clip from drwhoanimator recon of “The Smugglers” (1966) (same bit as above) on YouTube.
  • “The Omnirumour: I Want to Believe” by Leon Hughes (2014) at YouTube (fan vid regarding rumors swirling around the 2013 finding of missing eps).

Titles and trailers

  • “Doctor Who Original Concept Peter Capaldi Intro” by Billy Hanshaw (2013) on YouTube (credited by BBC as inspiring Twelve’s opening titles).
  • “50th Anniversary BBC One Trailer” by VG934 (Dom) on YouTube.
  • “Rain” trailer by John Smith (2014) on YouTube.
  • “Rain” trailer VFX breakdown by John Smith (2014) on YouTube.

Fan music vids

  • “Take On Me” by Greensilver (2010) (no link provided; google it to find it).
  • “Handlebars” by Flummery (2008) (no link provided; google it to find it). Part of the Test Suite of Fair Use Vids.
  • “Papa Don’t Preach” by Greensilver and Eunice (2008) (no link provided; google it to find it).
  • BONUS VID! “Wholock” by John Smith (2013) on YouTube (and VFX breakdown here).

On style

Life has taken a backseat to editing work, which has kept me either gainfully employed or insanely busy–whichever. Same thing. Within the past 3 months, I’ve switched to doing mostly book work, because it pays better than journal work, although this has occasioned its own bumps. Notably, authors, hi, don’t know if you know this, but if you don’t return the work, I DON’T GET PAID. So, um, if you could return those corrections, that would be great!

Because I’ve been doing lots of books, I’ve been writing lots of style sheets. One benefit of journal work is, there’s one style sheet, you edit to it, and you’re done. It’s prescriptive because the papers are supposed to all match. With books, not so much. I have to construct a style sheet for each book. Sometimes this involves a crash course in, say, the technical aspects of filmmaking, with attendant jargon and terms.

I used to construct style sheets for a living, back when I worked in house, and I can knock them out like a champ. For book work, the resources I use are, in order, the house style book; Chicago Manual of Style (CMS); and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (MW). (Although I edit in the humanities, none of my clients uses MLA style. I’m thus not actually sure why MLA style exists. I’m sure some people use MLA style–like, probably the MLA. I just don’t know any press personally that uses it. I think of it as a style used by students, not publishing professionals.*)

The style guides provided by the presses are usually quite minimal, but they contain valuable info. For example, one of the presses I work for asks that all ranges be full. Good to know! Similarly, house style sheets state the style the documentation ought to be in. Usually they follow CMS with their own tweaks. For example, not a one of my university press clients has moved to the use of postal codes for states in bibliographic contexts; they all want standard state abbreviations. House style will also specify how to do dates (is it 00 Month 2000 or Month 00, 2000, or do they not care–just pick one?), time, ordinals, and the like. One of my clients provides me with a very useful list of names of theorists and philosophers in literary studies, so I know, for example, to add haceks to Zizek’s name, or how to spell “Georges Bataille.”

Although CMS is currently in its 16th edition, all my clients are still using the 15th, and some are still on the 14th, if their documentation is anything to go by. Luckily, CMS hasn’t changed all that much in the Greater Scheme–overlooking Documentation II’s ill-advised changes in the 16th edition, of course. I impose CMS style most importantly for documentation, but also for number style, styling of percentages, singular possessives ending in s–in fact, anything not mentioned in the house style guide.

That leaves my best friend, MW. I spend a lot of time looking up words, and actually the TERMS list comprises comprises much of the style sheet. When editing, I have MW† and a browser with up at all times, so I can look up words and people’s names. MW is so endemic in the industry that the production notes that go with a book manuscript will specify the terms that the press has decided will violate MW. A book I’m editing right now wants “website” and not “Web site,” for example.

If I look back at all the books I’ve edited in the last few months, my impression is stolid old-fashioned-ness. With periods in abbreviations like U.S. and standard state abbreviations instead of postal codes in documentation, the overall impression is not of sleek modernity but of stolid, reassuring authority. This makes perfect sense for university presses.

Here are the sections of the style sheets I write: listing of sources consulted; general style; number style; technical/statistical style; notes style, with examples; references style, with examples; style for figure captions; style for tables; and TERMS list.


* Part of my reasoning for MLA style being for students prepping papers, and not for actual print publication, is that their style guide doesn’t address the finer points of styling and typography. A perfectly reasonable question, like “Does MLA style use en dashes to hyphenate open compounds?” cannot be answered by perusing the MLA stylebook.

† Although I could use MW online, I usually don’t, because it’s graphics heavy, slow to load. and annoying. I purchased MW in hardcover when it came out, and it came with a CD to load it onto my computer. That’s the version I use.

OTW March 2011 drive

23-29 March 2011 OTW Membership Drive

What I do for OTW: I coedit the OTW’s academic journal, Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC).

Why this is important: TWC’s focus on the fan part of the equation makes it unique. Other academic journals will take articles about fan studies, but OTW does so within a framework that respects fan privacy and autonomy—for example, we request that contributors contact the fans that are being written about, so that fans can be informed and can help control how they and their fan works are presented.

What I do as a fan: I write fan fiction, maintain a fan fic archive, and maintain a couple mailing lists. All this has regrettably slowed down since I started working on TWC, but I also perceive working on TWC as a kind of fannish activity—service, rather than creation. However, lately I’ve been getting lots of feedback on old stories I’ve written and archived over at the Archive Of Our Own (did I get rec’d? what what?), and it’s making me feel all happy and shiny, so if I could just clear this backlog of TWC manuscripts I need to comment on….

TWC No. 6 released

TWC No. 6, a special guest-edited issue on History, has been released right on time. In addition to the peer-reviewed papers and symposium articles, this issue features some great oral histories, some video, some words.

We are having trouble making the DOI links work, but never fear, we are on it and they will be working soon. Please bear with us. Meanwhile, enjoy!