STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT now and read this article by Patton Oswalt about how instant access to everything has brought about the Death of the Fannish Underground. Oswalt speaks to and for those whose fannish identity was built up layer by carefully wrought layer, recalling when one person could consume an entire year’s output of fantastic and science fictional media (and still have room for more). It’s all, he says, in the effort:
The Lord of the Rings used to be ours and only ours simply because of the sheer goddamn thickness of the books. Twenty years later, the entire cast and crew would be trooping onstage at the Oscars to collect their statuettes, and replicas of the One Ring would be sold as bling.
The topsoil has been scraped away, forever, in 2010. In fact, it’s been dug up, thrown into the air, and allowed to rain down and coat everyone in a thin gray-brown mist called the Internet.
More tragic historian than off-my-lawn ranter, Oswalt perfectly captures the sweaty essence of 80s fandom — and makes me wish I’d written it first. I’m not sure I agree with his conclusions, but I do feel a bit sad for kids who’ll never have the fun that we had(1). Something thrilling there is in being part of something secret that yields unexpected connections in unlooked-for places…
(1) (On the other hand, they’re probably having some sort of fun that I can’t, so it all works out.)