I have always been a science fiction fan.
Many, many moons ago this was something that was accompanied by a shuffling of feet and those understanding glances to my parents that it would just be a phase I was going through.
I blame 2000AD. I am so old I actually read 2000AD from prog 1. At some point it must have occurred to me that these were things to look after so they were always kept neatly and never left my bedroom. The newsagent was under strict instructions to put each copy in a paper bag so that our address would be on the bag rather than the comic (I said this was a long time ago, back in the days of paper boys).
There were few outlets for my interests at the time so I ended up mostly with hard science fiction. Somehow fantasy just seemed to pass me by. I think I was 12 when I tried the Lord of the Rings. Can I share something? I never got beyond the first few chapters. I read the Hobbit some years ago under pressure from a work colleague who couldn’t believe that I wasn’t that keen on Tolkien (that’s ok, he later confessed he’d never seen Blade Runner – but that’s young people for you). As long as I imagined reading it to my niece I could cope with it; main problems were with the singing, and the excessive number of interchangeable dwarves, oh and the bucolic jollity of the shire. I get the war references. I could read it as if it was a set book for English Lit but I didn’t really enjoy it.
As an early teen there was Dr Who on BBC and Tomorrow People on Granada (Google it). I remember Blake’s 7 and all but refusing to go on a school trip to France when I realised that I would miss the very last episode. Mollified only by the thought that my parents would record it for me (audio tape, this was long before VHS in the home) I finally went off on holiday in what might have been my very first ‘mood’.
At fifteen I discovered a shop. I can’t even remember how I found it … maybe at an event at UMIST (so shabby now in recollection but the world hadn’t invented hi definition back then), maybe from an advert in Starburst. Anyway, two busses and nearly an hour and a half from home and there was finally a shop. Odyssey 7 … Oddities Heaven as I sometimes heard it referred to.
Sixteen and I worked Saturdays in Oddities Heaven. I absolutely loved it. After a first stab at Uni I dropped out and completed the year in the store before restarting my degree course. Genuinely there are times when just do not realise how happy you can be.
I studied, graduated and got a job and kept at it even through all the times I hated it. Being a fan didn’t seem to be an option any more, it just wasn’t ‘grown up’. Dr Who had been canned however many years before (and long after I’d found it embarrassing and wouldn’t admit to still watching it). I completely lost track of comics and trends. Pre Internet we got by on Red Dwarf and Star Trek TNG and the X Files, and I began painting Warhammer figures to while away the long hours of nothing between work and bed.
Please insert whatever mental montage works for you to imply passage of time and second husband later …
I started my current job in the summer of 2008. It had never actually occurred to me that the Internet could be a fun place to hang out. I thought it was a work thing, useful for research but not somewhere where you would really want to be. I was introduced to YouTube (Darth Vader working on insurance company claim line I believe) and, I guess, things just went downhill from there. I became a fangirl. Not a fun fangirl. I didn’t hang out and chat – I searched and copied and compiled in a rather organised and efficient manner, I didn’t play I obsessed. At the time I began to live on IMDB, Photobucket, some American gossip sites (ahem, Just Jarred – sorry all) and then actual fan sites. Always too scared to expose myself on line I lurked in the shadows and felt vaguely guilty about the essential emptiness of what I was doing.
Four years ago I got my first Blackberry. I got Twitter, I got Facebook in my pocket. Things got more connected, more distracting and – dare I say it? – more fun. WordPress arrived Jan 2012 (but I haven’t been here that often). I have recently fallen heavily into the recursive hole that is Pinterest. I know these are all just distractions. I know that I ‘should’ be writing instead of falling prey to the time vampire of fandoms. But fandom is nice. It is warm and welcoming and includes all kinds of people who I will never meet, never have to impress and never let down. It’s almost like being back in Oddities Heaven but without the drawbacks of meeting the public and with all the added benefits of Photoshop.
Modern life makes things permanently present, always there to watch, listen to, reread … to obsess about. Technology has replaced the stress of trying to work out what was going on in the background of a hissy C90 tape with the ability to replay – again and again – whatever that scene was that made you feel that strange tingle.
It’s always there. As we learned in Silence of the Lambs we covet that which we see every day. Fandom is a cup cake of tingles. It draws you in, it can feed the addictions you thought you had hidden deep down. It can give you validation when you need it, it can give you new things to covet. So much, so immediate.
Yes, that’s me in the queue for the Desolation of Smaug. I still might not be keen on hobbits or dwarves but a dragon with a voice like that …
Got to go, must be time for me to ship some Johnlock.