The Robert Runté Guide to Fandom: Part 1

by Robert Runté

As a long time fan I have contributed my share of articles to the extensive body of "how to" literature on organizing fan clubs, attending and running SF conventions, and fanzine publishing. Most of these articles are for the edification of new fans; indeed, the recruitment of neos is often the real point behind writing a guide to fandom. I have long believed that the continued vitality of our subculture is dependent upon a steady supply of new members and the new ideas they bring with them.
What I have been slow to realize, however, is that the logical corollary of the need for a constant influx of new blood may be the corresponding need for the eventual departure of the older generation. While there are a great many articles instructing neos on the finer points of joining fandom, there is relatively little available on when and how one should call it quits. In my experience, inertia often carries long time fans to continue their habit of con and club attendance long after they have lost any real interest. Others remain interested and active, but are fixated on the events of the golden age (i.e., whenever they were neos) and have failed to keep up with recent trends and events. Others have in fact long since gafiated, but have failed to make the necessary adjustments to their self-image. I therefore offer senior fans the following list of tell tale signs that they may have reached the point at which retirement from fandom is now imminent.

YOU KNOW IT'S TIME TO GAFIATE WHEN... mail out the latest issue of your fanzine, and all but three copies come back labeled, "not known at this address" try explaining to the club executive why something won't work on the grounds that "You remember the last time we tried that!", only they don't show up at the convention you helped to found and the registrar tries to recruit you to fandom work a lot of great in-jokes into your ToastMaster speech, only none of the people they're about show up at the con find the current issue of your fanzine in the huckster room marked, "Rare Fanzines from the Yesteryear of Fandom"

...the office manager announces a new "open access" policy for the office photocopiers, and all you can think of is, "Now I'll be able to get my office reports done faster!"

...The TAFF ballot arrives and you stack it with your junk mail notice that the fanzine produced by that promising neo is issue #148

...your boss asks you if you have plans for the Labour Day weekend next year, and you can't remember off hand

...the editor of the local clubzine phones you up and asks if he can interview you about the old days win a fan award, but it's for "Lifetime Achievements" visit your co-editors to pick up this issue's submissions and they tell you how nostalgic that makes them feel, but what did you want really? notice that the Chair of this year's convention has the same name as that kid who won the Costume Contest in the "under five" category a while ago get really angry at an article by some jerk, and then realize it's a reprint of something you wrote ten years ago have to ask "Which rap group was that again?" when the neo you're talking to keeps referring to "APA and the BNFs". decide to drop into the weekly meeting of the local club and the janitor tells you they haven't met in this building for over three years

...the only names you recognize in fanzines these days are in the "in memorium" column send an article to a fanzine edited by a couple of neos to encourage them, and they send it back threaten to quit SF and nobody tries to talk you out of it

Click here for Part 2
Click here for Part 3

Originally published by Under the Ozone Hole Number Four - May, 1993

An earlier version of this article appeared in Novoid.

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