by Michael D. Pederson
Recent events have turned me introspective. What function do I serve in fandom? Have I been successful?
After years of being told that I should make it to a CorFlu (the annual convention for science fiction fanzines), I was finally able to attend one. Not only was it in my home town, but it was in the same hotel that I host RavenCon at every year! How could I not attend?
The first night of the convention Warren Buff suggested that I join him and Curt Phillips as a panelist on the “Southern Fandom Classic” panel. Even though we were in Virginia, there were very few southern fans in attendance. I was happy to oblige and it turned out to be a fun and informative panel—we covered the history of southern fandom, it’s current state, and speculated about its future.
I spoke (rather eloquently, if I do say so myself) about how RavenCon has (simply because of it’s geographical location) served as a bridge between northern and southern fandoms—drawing fans equally from both the northeast and the southeast, something that would have been almost unheard of as recently as fifteen years ago. Later in the panel I mentioned that I feel obligated to act as a similar type of bridge between the generations of fandom.
We’re currently in the middle of the biggest growth spurt that fandom has ever experienced and most of that growth is coming from teens and young adults. Some old-school fans have lamented that as nice as it is to see this kind of growth, they’re afraid that it’s no longer “their fandom”. When we first started RavenCon, one of our main goals was to attract a younger crowd while still running a traditional SF convention. Our attendance passed 1100 this year so I think we’ve been successful at that.
The RavenCon staff puts on a convention that draws younger and younger crowds every year and hasn’t lost any of the appeal to the 40-and-up crowd. I’m proud to say that we’re one of the few conventions that Filthy Pierre attends every year; Filthy’s Con Calendar at the back of each issue of Asimov’s is what first drew fandom to my attention over thirty years ago.
Have I been as successful with Nth Degree? The jury’s still out on that but I expect that we’ll never be more than a footnote in the history of fanzines and SF literature. I just hope that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy putting it together. So, here it is…