by Michael D. Pederson
Sometimes I feel that I (and the rest of fandom) spend too much time looking back and not enough time looking forward. It’s easy to forget that science fiction should have us looking forward; instead we get lured into the warm embrace of the past. We speak longingly of conventions and fanzines past and sometimes forget that we’re carrying the torch forward for the next generation.
I’m often critical of fandom doing this but I know that I’m equally as guilty—we hate first in others that which we hate most in ourselves. Twelve years ago, I was in the foreground trying to persuade MarsCon to expand beyond its small, cozy relaxacon status and grow so that it didn’t shrink and go under the way many other conventions had in the late nineties and early oughts. Now that it’s grown, I find myself nostalgically missing the comfortable camaraderie of the early days. My own RavenCon has tripled in size in the last ten years and I find myself missing the days when I knew almost every attendee by name.
It’s comforting to look back, but as a community let’s all vow to save the fond recollections and minor regrets for the days when we’re no longer active participants and have passed the torch to another generation. We are currently experiencing an enormous growth spurt in fandom and, true, it might not be the fandom that we grew up with but darn it, let’s embrace it and make it the best new fandom that we can. Superhero movies, cosplay, anime, and video games have brought a whole new type of geek into fandom. I choose to believe that this is a good thing. It’s hard not to believe it when you see the energy and creativity that is bursting from this new generation.
And it swings both ways. I’m excited to see numerical gender equality and racial diversity at conventions now but in no way should we be ashamed of the “old white guys” that started fandom. I’m happy that so many of them are still active. Hell, I’m quickly becoming one of them myself. We’re fandom—we shouldn’t be breaking into competing camps of old versus young. We may look competitive in the online news feeds, but in the real world, I’m happy to say, that fandom is still a very welcoming entity. I can’t wait to see what we look like in another ten years!