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Long Ago in a Fandom Far, Far Away

laurie_robey and I just spent the morning combing through and putting aside for disposal years worth of Starlog and similar magazines, dating as far back as the late 1970s. It was a surreal trip through time, watching everything become slicker, more sophisticated-- and more popular.

I realize it makes me sound like a crotchety old grandpa to say "Kids these days just don't understand!" but in this case at least, it is literally true-- if all of your fandom experiences have come since the advent of the internet as a force of popular culture, you literally can't know what it was like to be a fan in those days, because you've always been able to find a website, or a chat room, or a message board about your particular passions. Even the ones that aren't necessarily busy, at least exist.

In 1981, something like Starlog was a lifeline, a message in a bottle from somewhere in the vast unknown that out there, even if you never saw them in person, there was somebody out there who liked the stuff you liked, somebody who might, in theory, get you, in a way that people around you just plain didn't.

In that world of scarcity, is it any wonder that fandom was, well, so damn fannish? Whenever we got the tiniest morsel, that rare gem, something that didn't suck, it was like unto manna from heaven!

Now, for fandom purposes anyway, we live in a post-scarcity world. SFX shows have exactly the same budget as a regular cop drama, because all of the sets and locations are CGI anyhow. Costumes and development aside, it doesn't cost any more to put a Law and Order actor in "a New York alley" than it does to put Matt Smith on Gallifrey-- so fantasy/supernatural and/or SF shows are proliferating to the point of oversaturation. Hollywood keeps throwing badly-written fantasy spectacle after badly-written fantasy spectacle at us, scratching their heads as to why they don't all go Star Wars-level frenzy, and so on.

Having been on both sides of that particular dividing line, I constantly find myself boggling at the strange new world we live in. And, I gotta admit, I'm excited to see what comes up next-- but I don't want to forget that emotional desert island I once lived on, because I don't want to take the current embarrassment of riches for granted.

-The Gneech


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 5th, 2014 07:12 pm (UTC)
Did you ever get a copy of Starlog's Space 1999 Technical Notebook?
It was a red 3 ring binder with tech drawings.

Or maybe the Robbie the Robot Blueprint poster?
Check the drafting credits if you do *grin*

I have a friend who was on staff at Starlog for a while. I used to hang out at their offices in NY City.
Jan. 5th, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC)
Man, that's a name I haven't heard in years. I have about 4 or 5 years worth of issues from the mid 80's. I *think* I have issue 100, but that could be Legion of Superheroes I'm thinking of.

Ah for the days when I had the time, and discretionary income, to collect comics and fan magazines.

And you're right. Today's, young, fan has no idea what it was like to wait an entire month for a magazine to come in just to see what was happening and read the "latest" news. I almost feel sorry for them.
Jan. 6th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
You should have seen how much Starlog cost to buy over the counter at the newsagents in Australia.
Jan. 6th, 2014 01:55 am (UTC)
I feel this way about video gaming mags, particularly Nintendo Power. I was sad when it ceased publication a year ago; in the 80s-90s pre-intarwebz days, it was *the* source for information, reviews, cheats and hints for those who, like myself at the time, had sold their souls to Shigeru Miyamoto.

Nowadays one can just hop on Google and find walkthroughs and hints for just about anything; if you're in a game through Steam, you can do it without even leaving the game.

For someone who was gay and fortunate enough to learn of and be able to receive certain publications, it was even more of a lifeline; it was a sure and certain sign that you weren't the only one, and not *everybody* on the planet wanted to kill you.
Jan. 6th, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC)
I remember the day I found newsgroups for "Animaniacs" and "Tiny Toons" back in the day. I was suddenly not the only teenager who REALLY liked those shows and wanted to talk about them and nitpick! It was that which led me to the furry fandom and all of its riches. :)
Jan. 6th, 2014 06:20 pm (UTC)
I should add... I wonder if the folks at archive.org or similar would be interested in your old issues. Stuff like this should be archived and preserved. If people just throw it out, it will eventually be lost to time.

Maybe drop @textfiles on twitter a note? They might even be willing to pay for you to ship it to them if it's something they don't have yet and want.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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