Fandom or Fakery (or What the hell does a B.N.F. do anyway?)

by Adam Charlesworth

I remember being a young fan, contemptuous of those who didn’t attend every meeting, who only showed up to vote once a year at election time. People mentioned briefly at tables of other young fans who gathered regularly to say, “Did Adam actually go to a meeting this year? What the hell happened to Adam anyway”? Well at least I am still occasionally mentioned at BCSFA meetings and occasionally receive e-mail from other members convention committees I am supposedly on but have actually done no work for as yet. Yes I am talking about me. My younger self which is appalled at my insensitive approach to the new fans and the fact that I spend more time at conventions and meetings talking to people I know rather than trying to get to know new people.
I still do my monthly spot on The Ether Patrol reviewing the latest books, magazines and neat stuff but I seldom listen to the show all the rest of the month. I still read five to ten new books each month and have begun to communicate with several authors of these novels directly about how they make me feel but I don’t seem to actually be sending any of these reviews to magazines or newspapers in order to collect rejection slips.
Since 1990, I have either been on the short list for some sf award of I have actually won one every single year till perhaps now. If I didn’t win the award I certainly knew the person who did. In fact with the exception of Joel Champetier I have had dinner or wanted to sleep with every winner of the 1995, 1994 aurora winners. I don’t remember actively cultivating these people as friends but somehow all my friends win auroras or other awards despite my constant and somewhat irritating distraction techniques. The only work I ever do gets printed in UTOH or I broadcast it with The Ether Patrol. Both award winning vehicles in fandom. But I never go to meetings as fans have begun to irritate and generally piss me off. To top it off I have a life outside of fandom which I find generally more interesting and more enjoyable.
Help, I’ve gaffiated and I want to come back.
I will stop whining now and tell you about a recent party I went to in Vancouver. It was at Mike Jackson’s new house in on 70th in Marpole. Mike has moved out of his other slightly tarnished house on El Alamein because he was sick of that crazy roommate stuff and was glad to finally break out and get a better place to live... with four different roommates. Anyway I was at one of his parties, if you have ever been to one of Mike Jackson’s parties you know exactly what I mean when I say they are all identical. Mike and his roommates all invite as many people as possible to come over on a certain day after a certain time and then sit back and watch or even actively hide. It is an interesting technique to party giving but the unfortunate drawback to the no host nothing barred party is that some loud crazy person is always running around the house chasing some one else with a rubber (insert chicken, dart gun, dildo or just leave it all by itself) and you never know anybody’s name. You never know who anybody is because it is against some sort of Jacksonian ethic to ever introduce anyone to anyone else ever. So as usual Mike has invited all of his most interesting friends and acquaintances over. I see them at every party of his I have ever gone to, I still don’t know any of their names or who they are, we just smile and nod at each other while drinking bottles of Evil Penis Beer. Anyway I decided that this time come hell or high water I was going to meet some people who I didn’t know and talk to them about sf. I get to the party early. Only Mike and new roommate number one is there. Mike is cueing up a tape of a video project he is working on which in some aspect involves Don Debrandt. Mike introduces me to roommate number one and I am so totally dumbfounded I immediately forget his name. Oh well. Don arrives and we watch this introduction to a video game which don has called Dead space. Several characters are introduced, generally by them chain sawing there way through the previous character onto the screen. The story is about a sentient computer who works as some kind of private investigator. The computer had an office and a desk and bottle of bourbon , which is constantly lying half drunk and propped against his CPU. It is cute and not at all badly done. After we watch it Mike turns to me and says “How was it?”
“Not bad” said I in response, Mike looked defeated and I realized that I had just been an asshole. “I mean, not to damn with faint praise Mike, that was fucking terrific!” “I mean the whole Idea “ I said scrambling” of a sentient shamus is great, a great game starter and several plots immediately leap to mind. The machine has to work or his sentient license will be revoked as no one like the A.I’s taking work away from the breeders and butchers he has to be self employed because no one will give it a job. Only people who are desperate will ever stoop to coming to it for work so there is always a desperate rush on everything. The A.I.P.I “ I finish off “ just brilliant I mean inspired, plot lines just leap out of this one baby”
I spend the next three minutes spouting off other plot ideas as fast as I can think of them until Mikes stunned face stops me. “The A.I.P.I. ... I never thought about any of that stuff.” Mike mouths the letters AIPI to himself and then the door opens and a hundred people walk in and I don’t speak to Mike Jackson or Don Debrandt again for seven months.
Anyway at this party I started as many conversations as I could by asking people what was the last book they read, you could tell that Mike and roommates had not just invited SF fans to the party as most of them could actually read and had actually finished a book in the last month. However they were also mostly too hip and cool to spend too much time talking about something that didn’t involve them in a more direct fashion. Finally I started up a neat dialogue with this guy named Michael. I found that he was very well read and interested in the things about sf that I was and we talked about writing and then he mentioned that he too was writing and then he mentions that he won the L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future award a few years back but was having trouble with some writers block on the motivational level. Wait a minute, you're MICHAEL CONEY! I say at a loud and excited volume with huge brain to hand gestures that get me into trouble in hot tubs bus lines and cafeterias. I had no idea, I thought he was another wannabe hack like myself and now I find myself wishing I had my tape recorder to do an interview for the show... he looks up at me and says in the exact same tone of voice I used when I discovered his last name, Wait a minute your... ADAM CHARLESWORTH!!!! I thought you would be older. Someone of your stature and connections with fandom I for sure thought you would be much older.... We had made a connection here at Mike Jackson’s party, we both knew each others last names without having to say them to each other. We were both a little bit famous, in that weird insider way that the tight little cliques that fandom has, somehow we both connected. We continued to talk until it was much later and then I schmoozed a ride home with David Langtry who is always worth mentioning as he is a terrific guy (cute and single too) and I didn’t think anything more about this at all until John Herbert gave me free reign over his Diet Coke and said go ahead, type all night.
Older, connected, stature even ...mature. These were all words used by Michael, someone who had won an international award, someone who had all the correct and proper insights into writing and publishing (i.e. mine) someone who had actually written something. Somebody who was a somebody had mistaken me for something other that what I was. I mean could I have become a West Coast BNF and not even know it?. Someone should come up with some sort of chart or something so people would be able to know when it was okay to start putting those initials after their name without an air of pretension. Okay, so I have met and dined with or slept over at the house of or interviewed repeatedly all the aurora novel winners since 90. I mean I can call Robert Runté up at any time day or night and he still sounds pleased to here from me. I think about all the names involved in fandom from Toronto to Vancouver and I seem to know them all. Connected. Not me. It isn’t possible, I am simply not old enough to be connected. I simply do not do enough work so here is a chart to let everyone know how they are doing so they don’t get surprised and you can figure out for yourselves where you stand.
So okay here is an idea we have been kicking around for some time now:

The BNF Chart
This is so that when we have accumulated enough points we can show them to an adjudicator and then be issued a pass so that some member of the preferred sex knows that they are supposed to sleep with you at the next convention.
Point system: There are several prizes to be “won” and you can use your points at several levels but only once. You cannot change in your guest of honour bonus points for a free meal more than once if you get my drift. Penalty points are never used up but must be earned away.

Publishing any SF fan or clubsine. Minus 10 points per Zine started.
Every issue published Plus 1 point.
Every zine delivered to your house Plus 1, if you are not a subscriber or publish your own
Every zine delivered to a pseudonym Minus 1/2 a point.
Every time your on the cover of a zine Plus 2 points
If your subscriber list is over 100 Plus 1/10th a point per person.
Every time your listed in Factsheet 5 Plus 1 point.
Every semi prozine started Minus 20 points,(what arrogance!)
Every semi-pro zine issue published Plus 7 points

Clarification...if you have published ten different zines but have only done the first issue of each that is - 100 points and positive ten points for each issue. Leaving - 90 points. Note it is possible and very very common to say that you are going to be publishing a zine and not do it. If you are just thinking about it minus 1 point only, if you have actually picked a name and maybe written an article for it then you receive the whole minus 10 but no bonus 1 for actually getting around to it. Semi pro points go to the editor(s).
If it is a club zine that doesn’t get published then the negative points apply to every member in the room at the first meeting it is mentioned. Note that club zines also reap bonus points for club members every issue that you have actually contributed something to, not just mentioned in.

Every SF convention you go to Plus 1/5th of a point
Every con your asked to attend Plus 1 point
Every time your Fan Guest of Honour Plus 5 points
Every con you ghost at Minus 3 points
Every world con you go to Plus 1/2 a point
Attending under a pseudonym Plus 1/10th of a point (unless pseudo is used at convention in subsequent years then a full 1/5th)
Every non attendance as guest Plus 1/2 a point.
Every no show after buying membership Minus 1/2 a point
Every panel your on Plus 1/2 a point.
Every panel you go to Minus 1/5th a point.
Every painting you sell at auction Plus 1 point
Every dead dog you go to Plus 1/5th a point
Every con Com you chair Plus 2 points if con succeeds

Minus 5 points if con does not take place
Every con committee your on Plus 1 point
Minus three if con does not take place
Con badges worn Minus 1.5 for every badge over three worn on site.
Plus 1/5th for any badge drawn by any pro artist.

If you are a gamer Minus three points

Every Story you publish Plus 1 for every story printed if no money changes hands. (Remember, if you get paid your a pro.)

Every time your solicited for work Plus 1.
Every time you don’t follow through Minus two.
Every book dedicated to you Plus 10 points

Every sf award your nominated for Plus three (only if your on the short list)
Every time you win Plus five
Every time you don’t Minus two
Every sf award winner who knows you Plus 1/2 a point (must be first name basis)
Every time you appear in Locus Plus 2 points (name or photograph)
(Science Fiction Chronicle may be substituted in years it wins an award and Locus does not)

Every sf club your a member of Plus 1/20th a point per actual meeting attended
Every club your blackballed from Minus 1
Every club functionary position held Plus 1/10th a point
Every time position used as a come on Minus 1 point
Every flamewar you're in within club Minus 1/2 a point
Every flamewar you win Plus 1/2 a point

Every sf film or book you own Plus 1 point if nobody else you know has a copy

Every time your name published Plus 1 if in a professional venue you do not produce

Every time you're asked to judge
and issue an official bestowing of
BNF point privileges Plus 10 points

Redeeming Points: or what is it all worth anyway

Every Minus 100 points:
You're a big name black hole. A do nothing weight around fandom's neck and must be publicly talked about as someone who just isn’t very nice.

Every Minus fifty points:
Mandatory that any partner who is a fan must consider breaking up with you and may see other people while making their minds

Every Minus twenty points:
Full rights to say “that jerk” once, when someone talks about you and your not there.

Every Minus ten points:
Must always bring an extra six-pack to a party and leave it in fridge with a note saying take one

Every Minus five points:
Must buy positive 5 point person two drinks if asked
Must ask to talk with them for ten minutes
(twenty if it is Garth Spencer)

Each negative full point:
(unless you’re Robert Runté then you may say “Oh Robert” in a concerned chastising sort of way)

Each negative 1/2 point:

Each negative 1/5th point:
(Pointing out someone is at - 1/2 point earns a negative 1 point)

Each 1/5th point:
(trying to redeem a 1/5th point costs a point)

Each 1/2 point:

Every full point:
(unless you know, then you Garth Spencer then you must mention his name in a slightly hushed tone)

Every five points:
Mandatory purchase of a drink and 5 minutes of chatting to but only in a place where other fans are gathered.

Every ten points:
Must ask where person is at next con or fan function
you attend in a happy curious interested sort of voice

Every 15 points:
Must print persons LOC’s every time (no more "we also heard froms") for one year

Every twenty points:
Must ask them to attend a panel at a convention (but not necessarily a free membership)
A free subscription to a zine

Every fifty points:
May ask a member of the preferred sex on a date and they must not answer no right away
Someone has to treat you to dinner while at a con

Every hundred points:
May call themselves a BNF for five years and place letters after name but must still feel foolish when doing so.
Must be asked to be Fan Guest at a convention

There a list and chart so that we may all know where we stand. In order to redeem positive points or point out a negative point sum of a person one must provide proof and then send proof along with a five dollar administration fee and a S.A.S.E. to:

B.N.F. ?
c/o Adam Charlesworth
Oilers Jersey and ball cap
Under the CN Tower, Near the Hot Dog Vendor
Toronto, ON
M5W 1E6

Certificates of awards of merit are then sent out with a business card which must be torn up by the redeemer of the award after award is served. Negative point winners are published in local area papers and con bulletin boards so as to let everyone know who they are.

Originally published by Under the Ozone Hole Number Eleven – June, 1995

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