Yearly Archives: 2013

Diversity in Speculative Fiction

Eleven days to go until the deadline closes for the academic conference “Diversity in Speculative Fiction.”

The CfP, FAQs and details of the guest speaker are over at the Loncon site. But, just as a quickie intro to entice you, here is some of the blurb:

The academic programme at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention, is offering the opportunity for academics from across the globe to share their ideas with their peers and convention attendees. To reflect the history and population of London, the host city, the theme of the academic programme is ‘Diversity’. We will be exploring science fiction, fantasy, horror, and all forms of speculative fiction, whether in novels, comics, television, and movies or in fanworks, art, radio plays, games, advertising, and music.

Proposals are particularly welcome on the works of the Guests of Honour, the city of London as a location and/or fantastic space, and underrepresented areas of research in speculative fiction.

Academics at all levels are warmly encouraged, including students and independent scholars. We welcome proposals for presentations, roundtable discussions, lectures, and workshops/masterclasses.

Participants will be considered for a special issue of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, to be published in 2015.

To propose a paper, please get in touch with me at or via the twitter account.

European Fandoms Storify

Thanks to the lovely Simone Driessen, we have a storify of the European Fandoms and Fan Studies conference I co-organised last weekend.

The tweets make for an interesting read and give a good flavour of the day. If you’re wondering where my tweets are – well, this conference livetweeting isn’t for me. I tried it and it didn’t work. I like to make notes during talks and I just can’t find the time to tweet, think, chair, and write all at once.

As an aside, if this is the kind of research you are interested in but you just couldn’t make the conference, please do note the CfP for the accompanying special issue of the Transformative Works and Cultures Journal is open to everyone.

Finally, this is one of the images we saw on Saturday. It is by an unknown artist and compares the Mayor of Istanbul to Saruman from the Lord of the Rings, and Gezi Park with Isengard. It was part of the presentation “Taksim Gezi Park Protests in Fannish Context” by Eylul Dogruel, Marmara University, Turkey.

The Bible Is Literature

A new portrait of me exists, isn’t it wonderful?

Ok, it isn’t actually of me, but it accompanies “Ten Reasons the Bible Is Literature,” my guest post on Oliver Tearle’s excellent blog Interesting Literature: A Library of Literary Interestingness.

The post begins:

“Eye rolls, sighs, outraged anger, and accusations of blasphemy are common reactions to the refrain “the Bible is Literature”. Such responses are based on a heady combination of perceptions of the Bible as a sacred text and literature as an art form. It does seems a little churlish though, to claim the Bible is not literature, assuming one accepts the premise that literature tells a good story, has beautiful phrasing of language, depth of meaning, invokes an emotional response, and offers insight into the human condition.”

If you want more, pop over to the site where you can also read “Interesting Literary Facts for Halloween,” “The Best Anecdotes Featuring Oscar Wilde,” and “Seven Things to Remember When Translating A Foreign Classic Into English.”

See! Interesting!

Speed Geeking and Fan Histories

I’m taking part in a strange and wonderfully experimental programme item at the University of East Anglia’s Fan Studies Network Symposium on Saturday 30th November. Now, I must admit it is all a bit of a curiosity. I will have three minutes to pitch an idea I’m working on to four to five people who then have five minutes to respond with any thoughts they may have before moving onto the next table and “speed geeker.” By the time the process is over each audience participant will have watched nine spiels and each “speed geeker” will have presented to nine different audiences.

It will be a fascinating and peculiar experience, but one I hope to enjoy immensely. My topic is a very long term project I am periodically working on, so I suppose it is ideal for such a setting. I will be looking at “The Separation of Fan Histories,” more specifically how fan histories are built as separate constructs with very little acknowledgement of other fan histories despite similar and overlapping paths. My theory is that by exploring shared fan histories we could go some way to understanding fans and fan cultures differently as well as, perhaps, enabling fans to build closer bonds between seemingly disparate groups.

I hope to ask for ideas about research avenues I may not have thought of, useful archives, and fans who have played a significant role in developing fandoms. I also would like to discuss whether a book and/or series of articles would work best for such an exercise. Perhaps the question about dividing lines between scholarship and activism (of a sort) may also be relevant, particularly in light of my very specific vested interest.

The joy of experiments is that anything goes (within reason), and we can play a little and push some boundaries.

If you want to come along, the programme is great and registration is open until Monday 18th November. I hope to see some of you there!


European Fandoms and Fan Studies Conference


Here is the DRAFT programme for the 2nd European Fandom and Fan Studies Conference I co-organized with Anne Kustritz at the University of Amsterdam. This is the draft schedule and is liable to change. If you are interested in coming please do let me know!

Saturday 9 November, 2013

Bushuis F0.22,  Kloveniersburgwal 48, University of Amsterdam

10:00 – 10:20 Registration and welcome drinks

10:20 – 10:30 Welcome introduction, Anne Kustritz and Emma England, University of Amsterdam

10:30 – 12:00 Media Convergence and Fan Creativity

  • “Defining Fandom,” Annalisa Castronovo, University of Palermo, Italy
  • “Transmedia Play: An Ethnography of Dutch Firefly Role-Players,” Nicolle Lamerichs, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
  • “Fan-entrepreneurial activity in German fantasy fandoms,” Sophie G. Einwächter, Frankfurt University, Germany
  • “After the Match and Beyond: Football Fanfiction and the Mediatization of Football”, Abby Waysdorf, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

30 minute Discussion, Chair: Sanna Lehtonen

12:00 – 12:15 Break

12:15 – 13:45 Crossing Borders: Linguistic, Cultural, and Economic Relationships

  • “Fans Trespassing Time-Zones and Borders,” Maria Dicieanu, Independent Researcher, Romania
  • “The relationship between Italian fans and American producers of TV shows,” Eleonora Benecchi, University of Lugano, Switzerland
  • “Fandom terminology in Anglophone and German speaking media fandom,” Nadja Rehberger, University of Heidelberg, Germany
  • “Britpicking: Cultural Policing in Fanfiction: The UK writing America, America writing the UK,” Erin Horáková, Queen Mary, University of London

30 minute Discussion, Chair: Emma England

13:45 – 14:45 Lunch

14:45 – 16:15 Popular Music, Memory, and Identity

  • “‘Born in the E.U., I Was Born in the E.U.!’: Bruce Springsteen, European Fan Tweets, and the Importance of Locality,” Bill Wolff, Rowan University, USA
  • “Tunes of Identity: Audience memories of local music,” Simone Driessen, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  • “Moving discourses and renewing stereotypes ‒ Feminization of pop music fandom in the Finnish media in the late 1950s and the early 1960s,” Janne Poikolainen, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • “Remembering the sixties: Popular music and memory in Europe,” Arno van der Hoeven, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

30 minute Discussion, Chair: Anne Kustritz

16:15 – 16:30 Break

16:30 – 17:45 Constructing Fandom, Activism, and Identity

  • “(R)Evolution of Turkish Audience: Fandom Experience and New Audience,” Çiğdem Erdal, Marmara University, Turkey
  • “Taksim Gezi Park Protests in Fannish Context,” Eylul Dogruel, Marmara University, Turkey
  • “‘Not My Wales’: Anti-Fan Activism as a Response to MTV’s The Valleys,” Bethan Jones, Aberystwyth University, Wales

30 minute Discussion, Chair: Emma England

17:45-18:00 Closing Statements

19:00 Conference Dinner

Special thanks to JoAnna Thomsen who donated her time and talent to design the conference logo, and the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis as well as the University of Amsterdam Department of Media Studies who sponsored and funded The European Fandom and Fan Studies Conference.

The Bible is Dead: Transmediality and the Explosion in Bible Stories

I am presenting at a seminar this December as part of a larger research project I am working on. These are my first thoughts for the presentation. If you fancy coming it will be on the 6 December, details will be posted here soon.


The Bible is Dead: Transmediality and the Explosion in Bible Stories

Audiences have been described as “hunters and gatherers,” chasing down bits of stories across media channels. While Henry Jenkins used this idea to explore transmedia storytelling as it is exists in modern media, it is something which has been in existence for thousands of years. Marie-Laure Ryan briefly gives the example of medieval representations of the Bible in her article “Transmedial Storytelling and Transfictionality.” Due, in part at least, to the brevity of the mention of the Bible, Ryan does not reflect the complexity of biblical transmediality, especially in two areas. First, the history of the dissemination of the Bible has been controlled by religious, political and other institutional laws, authorities, and practices. Second, there is no “Bible” as is it commonly understood. In today’s world most people know of the Bible as a single book, giving little thought to the fact that the Bible consists of many different books and also varying numbers of books depending upon factors including intended audience, religion, country, and language. This variety exists because the Bible was never created as a single book; rather, hundreds of stories, poems, histories, and legal texts, including many more than what we currently have in the Bible. These went through a string of processes (collectively known as canonization) which led to the variety of similar but not identical canonical texts we now have. Before the canon existed audiences would encounter narratives in different forms (orally and/or in written text and in art), and in alternative versions, depending upon the physical and temporal location, class (and perhaps age and gender), language, and narrative being told. Therefore “original” audiences rarely will have heard the same texts as each other having had access to different materials. This has been the case throughout the entire history of the Bible, sometimes because of practical matters and other times because access was denied for political and/or religious reasons or because the biblical languages (Hebrew, Greek, and in a few passages, Aramaic) were inaccessible. Over the millennia the increasing ways in which biblical narratives have been translated and transmitted has added to the complexity and richness of the transmission.

In this presentation I utilize the concept of transmedia storytelling to reassess how the Bible and biblical narratives are explored. In today’s media-saturated English-speaking world, the Bible maintains a strong presence. This is not only with the myriad versions of the Bible published in ever-increasing numbers, but also with retellings of biblical narratives, and that is without allusions and intertextual references. Some retellings involve transmedia storytelling. The History Channel’s Emmy nominated 2013 10-hour miniseries The Bible retells supposedly core moments of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation told as a grand narrative. The series is accompanied by a free official Bible App, which was downloaded millions of times while the show aired, and as of August 2013 has been downloaded over 100 million times and reviewed over 600,000 times. Also accompanying the series, and now the DVD, there are church guides, study guides and various faith resources available in printed, online, and video formats. There is even a novelization of the miniseries (A Story of God and All of Us). As a result of this transmediality, viewers will have had different engagements with The Bible exacerbating differences in understanding based on personal backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. While the producers of The Bible may be trying to control meaning through transmediality, such as by creating reading plans for different topics (dating, food etc.) on its Bible App, the fact that viewers have a choice as to how to engage with the narrative, changes the meanings of The Bible for individuals. It is possible, for example, that viewers only watch the first episode, which covers Genesis, because that is a grand mythic narrative, irrespective of one’s belief system. Likewise, many may only watch the episodes covering Jesus’ life because that is the focus of their own Christianity, or simply because they tuned in to see what the fuss was about.

Another lens through which The Bible can be viewed is Anne Kustritz’s “flexible seriality.” This term describes how texts are engaged with not according to sequential order but as collections according to tropes, genres, cycles and community. Kustritz applies the concept to fanworks, however, it also applies to how most people experience the Bible throughout their lives. The Bible as we have it today is published as a single narrative form, a book that can be read cover to cover beginning with creation. Nobody knows how many people have read a cover-to-cover translation of the Bible, although in English-speaking countries the numbers will be relatively low, even among Christians. It is likely that most people will have primarily accessed biblical narratives through other means than through reading the Bible itself. Multiple access points include many thousands of retellings of biblical narratives whether at Sunday Schools, in sermons, art, stained glass, children’s toys, children’s Bibles, (children’s) novelizations, (children’s) animation, (children’s) movies, (children’s) librettos. However narratives are accessed they may be accompanied by our readings of the biblical stories. When we do read the Bible our own interpretation and understanding of the biblical narratives will depend upon the encounters we have already had, upon the tropes and themes and communities we have experienced. If we read the Genesis flood narrative after reading Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted On The Voyage, will we wonder about the choices the women on the ark had more than we might have? If we are part of a science fiction and fantasy community and only read Revelation because it is fantastic horror, will we even notice the spiritual and political elements of the narrative? If we are Christian and went to Sunday School and were taught that Jonah was like Jesus, will we then read the book of Jonah through this community lens, rather than see the humor in the book and the possibility that Jonah is an anti-hero, a parody of a hero, and a potentially strange choice as a Christ-figure? By accessing the book of Jonah from the perspective of the Christian mythic narrative, it becomes part of the Christian story.

The multiple access points, resulting from the ever-shifting modes of transmission and transformations, and diverse communities readers inhabit challenges the linear seriality of the Bible, resulting in a flexible seriality. This, together with transmediality, leads to a range of separate but discrete questions, including:

  • Does interactivity and seriality invalidate the notion of the “canon”?
  • How can biblical scholars utilize these concepts and contemporary modes of expression and interaction to reflect on the transmission and meaning-creation of the Bible?
  • Is the Bible a “verse” á la “Whedonverse” with a range of individual and variant separate and interconnected texts? If so, how should or could this influence academic study of it?

By exploring these and other questions in the presentation and the project(s) I’m working on, I will explore whether it is possible to claim that the Bible is not only dead as we understand it, but that it never even existed. Instead, what we have is an explosion of Bible stories, connected through threads of our own – and society’s – making.

Sleepy Hollow, aka the Apocalypse Show

WOW! My love for this show is not solely based on the incredibly attractive lead man, nor the fact that the majority of the characters are PoC, including the lead female who has a nuanced and interesting personality (after only one episode!). No, it is because the show is steeped to the core in spurious Bible interpretation. But first, what is Sleepy Hollow?

It is a TV show retelling Washington Irving’s short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, better known for many through the 1999 movie Sleepy Hollow starring Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane. In the TV show Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) “dies” in 1781 and “wakes up” in the town of Sleepy Hollow (New York) in 2013. At the same time the headless horseman returns, complete with a broadaxe, and all hell breaks loose including some rather entertaining decapitations.

So, where does the Bible come in? It is always easier with SF and fantasy to refer to those movies, shows, and comics that do not involve religion and/or the Bible in some form because so much of it in current times involves the American Monomyth. However, few of them (especially TV shows) have ever been as blatant about it as Sleepy Hollow. From the very beginning this show jumps up and down in front of the Bible nerd and screams *I am here, play with me*.

The creators, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci , discuss their use of the Bible in a TV Guide interview and they include phrases familiar to Bible scholars (for good and for ill) including “It’s in the Bible!” and “Everyone has different interpretations of the Bible and what it means.” Music to my ears is this quote though: “There are a lot of details from the Bible, but we’re not trying to do the Bible literally. But the Bible in a more general sense as a marker for American history; we’re being inspired by American history and the legends of our cultures.”

Here be spoilers! Continue forth at your peril.
The episode opens with the Rolling Stones’s Sympathy for the Devil playing in the background and very quickly shows the town sign with a population of 144,000. In popular and some literalist interpretations of the Bible this refers to the number of people saved at the end of times (Revelation 14:1-5). This is important!

Very quickly we see the Headless Horseman. He has a scar on his hand which I thought was a cross, but no, apparently it’s a bow. This is important!

Ichabod was buried with a Bible, in which a passage was marked, can you, dear reader, guess what this is? I bet you can. Why, yes, it’s the four horsemen (Revelation 6). Ichabod even reads some of it out (I can’t remember exactly what he reads, I should have taken notes darnit! I need to watch it again). This Bible holds the clues to much of the strange and random events that have been happening in the town and which will no doubt form the core of the show. I sense this Bible will be a combination of a macguffin and a deux ex machina!

But, lest we forget! It seems that the headless horseman is one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse, somewhat dubiously he is Death because he rides a white horse *sigh* (after a couple of episode I may rant about this, but for now I.Just.Cant). He must reclaim his head (currently being looked after by Ichabod), in order to be able to reunite the four horsemen and launch the apocalypse. Fun times to be had by all!

The lead characters are also named the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1-4) and there is even a reference to the seven years of tribulations, which is either a cockeyed interpretation of the Bible or, more likely, a reference to the Bible as it is interpreted in popular culture and by some interesting religious groups. Either way it is also meta pointing to the fact that network shows tend to sign actors up for seven year stints. It would seem there is a story arc to this show and that story arc is based on Revelation!

The episode ends with what sounded to me like Johnny Cash’s reading of Revelation 6:1-2 from The Man Comes Around, but directly after the speaking part it cuts to Sympathy for the Devil again (I’m not a music person so I need to check all of this). This alone would make for a great discussion and I hope the show plays with the ideas of Jesus and the white horse, but I somehow have my suspicions that would be too nuanced (although, who knows, Death is a hero in Supernatural, and Methos in Highlander was pretty darned awesome). Either way, I can’t wait for the ride!

If you need more, here is the trailer (read: totally spoilerific summary of episode 1) for your delight and edification:

Bring on the Apocalypse!

Changing Worldcon, with a little memory jog

There is a discussion doing the rounds about Worldcon (the World Science Fiction Convention) not being diverse enough, being conservative, and alienating newer/younger fans. In response to this I have written my own post because it was burning a hole in my mind.

First, I need to say a few things about me:
1) I have never been to a Worldcon. I never had the money or the inclination to risk it.
2) I am a volunteer staff member for the next Worldcon (Loncon 3 in London) because I believe in being the change you want to see.
3) I read fantasy novels (not much SF), but my real love is television.
4) I have no interest in the Hugos (the science fiction awards), I have never voted for them, I never will vote for them and they can fall into the ocean for all I care. (A part of me hopes the voting fees will reduce to $10 and a fandom like Teen Wolf or Supernatural, both of which I love, “fixes” the results for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form.)

Why do I say all this? Because I care about Worldcon. I care about fandoms. I care about fan history. I want a hard science fiction literary fan who has been going to Worldcon for 50+ years to still keep on attending. I want to go to a convention where I, a thirty-something tv and fanfiction addict can enjoy his company. I want to go to a convention where we can chat with an 18 year old at zir first convention wearing zir first cosplay outfit. We are all fans and I want there to be a convention where we can all interact. I think there has to be a space free from the pzazz and size of Comic-Con or Dragon*Con yet still large enough to be diverse and small enough to feel cozy (7-15,000?). Worldcon should be a safe space for cosplayers (not that anywhere is a fully safe space) while still having author signings and academic discussions alongside role playing games and parties.

There is a ridiculous idea that Worldcon is a fixed thing, that it is only literary. It isn’t. It embraced cosplay before cosplay was a thing (they called it costuming). It had Gene Roddenberry give a talk and screening. It had pre-screenings of movies. It was the Comic-Con of its day! What has happened over the years is that fans have gone off to have their own events, be it attend a convention just for one tv show or author, or one sort of fan activity (like vidding) – next year there is even going to be a convention for fans who use Tumblr. Competition has increased, but so too has the sheer number of fans. Somehow Worldcon has failed to keep up with the times. This could be because of the lack of marketing, the costs of travelling to a different city every year, the simple fact that every single year Worldcon changes its name (really not clever branding) and a host of other reasons. Whatever the reasons, most people agree Worldcon has to change or die. Looking back to the beginning and seeing that Worldcon was the hip young place to be is a vital thing to remember and embrace and use to look to the future.

Worldcon could be a space where all fans are welcome, whoever they are, whatever they enjoy, and in whatever way they enjoy it. If this were to happen, and I really hope it does, Worldcon could be a convention for fans to be fannish and do fannish things together as one community, even if it is just for one weekend of the year after which they return to their own corner of the universe. I hope there are enough Worldcon fans and would-be Worldcon fans who are idealistic enough to want that and to try to make that happen.

Shameless plug alert
I gave you fair warning …

I believe and hope Loncon 3 will be a diverse and welcoming convention. We not only have a Young Adult programme but the organiser of the programme is a YA author: Peadar Ó Guilín. The gaming programme is being run by one of Britain’s top 100 women in games Esther MacCallum-Stewart. The comics programme is being run by Maura McHugh, a comics writer, playwright and critic. At the bottom of the prestige pile (but high on the enthusiasm pile!), I’m running the academic programme and part of the fandom programme. Other programme area heads include (again, all are far more prestigious than I) Karen Burnham, Nic Clarke, and Niall Harrison. This is just for starters!

For the event to be what we want, we need volunteers to participate in programming and we need attendees from all parts of fandom. Come join us.

Worldcon Site Selection

The location of Worldcon changes every year and is decided upon by members of the Worldcon at the convention two years prior. So Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon, was voted for at Chicon 7 (Worldcon 2012, Chicago). At the 2014 event, to be held in London, the site selection for 2016 will take place. The process for site selection involves:

1) People from a city decide they want to form a team and put on a bid, at which point they have to set up company, find a venue, hotels etc.

2) Each bid answers Smofcon’s Fannish Inquisition questions (Smofcon is an annual convention for science fiction convention organizers. Each con includes inquisitions for major conventions)

3) Bids organize election campaigns, including developing websites, running social media campaigns and sending volunteers to different conventions

4) Voting at the Worldcon. To vote a person must be a paid up member of the Worldcon where the voting will take place. Membership can be attending or supporting. If the person has supporting membership and cannot vote in person they can send in a voting form. The voting is undertaken by Preferential Voting. This means that each person votes in order of preference. If, when the votes are added up, there is not a clear winner, the candidate with the least votes is knocked out and the votes allocated to them are transferred to each voter’s second choice. This process is repeated until there is a winner. They then become the official Worldcon and can start the real work of organizing the convention. The site selection page for 2015 is here:

Some years only one team is in (serious) contention. Other years there is more than one serious bid with a chance of winning. This is the case with the 2015 site selection, to be voted on at Lonestar 3 (the 2013 Worldcon, Texas, USA). There are three possibilities and with two months campaigning to go there is no clear frontrunner. This is all the more significant because the bids represent different kinds of approaches to Worldcon and SF/F fandom: traditional, radical, and mediatory.

Spokane (USA) If Spokane win, the Worldcon is likely to be fairly traditional given the extensive Worldcon history of the committee. The Bid Chair, Alex van Thorn, is a member of the establishment (with the positive and negative associations that brings). The location is safe and likely to have a warm but not blistering temperature, but it is not a major tourist destination, which may count against it during voting. The convention center, hotels, and transport to Spokane are all suitable and so far seem reasonably priced. Furthermore, there are authors already in place who are working on advertising the Bid, including C. J. Cherryh who does not fly and is therefore rarely accessible for fans. In order to win Spokane has to persuade people that experience and tradition is more important (or, at least, safer) than change and taking risks. They also have to persuade people that Spokane is worth visiting more than Orlando or Helsinki.

Orlando (USA) If Orlando win, there is the potential for a considerable shift in the nature of Worldcons. It is calling for a Revolution by explicitly aiming itself at media fandoms and other non-traditional SF/F (especially young and/or female) fandoms. Even the logo is radically different, focusing not on the location of the city, but on popular fandoms. For some this is a positive step at uniting fandoms and trying to extend the reach of a valuable and historic but stagnating fan enterprise, while for others it is an unwelcome challenge to the traditions of Worldcon. The event will be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs resort which keeps the costs down dramatically, both for membership and accommodation (i.e., a room with two queen sized beds is $139 per night). However, the size of the site is so vast that people will be relying on the free busses, which could mean standing around in very hot weather trying not to wilt. In order to win, can Orlando persuade enough non-traditional fans to pay to vote and/or can they persuade enough attending members that their convention will be well run and support existing fans. This is especially the case because the committee are, while experienced conrunners, not known to Worldcon members.

Helsinki (Finland) If Helsinki wins this will be the first time that Worldcon will have been held outside of North America for two years in a row. This will make the convention a truly world event, as well as it being the most northerly Worldcon ever. This has the potential to build a solid fan base for Worldcon among Europeans who go to Loncon and Helsinki, perhaps even tempting them to go to America for future cons. It is, however, controversial among many American fans who do not want to have to miss the con two years in a row or to have to decide between them if they can only afford one. US fans are, even at European Worldcons, the largest single nationality represented. On a more detailed level, the convention center seems very well equipped and the city is providing free transport for all Worldcon members, but the hotels are widely dispersed around the city. As far as content goes, the committee are diverse with experience of running a range of SF/F cons for different media and types of fans. This suggests that the Helsinki Worldcon would be able to attract a wide range of people not necessarily accustomed to going to more traditional Worldcons. To win, however, it needs to persuade enough non-attendees to pay to vote or to persuade attending members that travelling to Europe two years in a row is manageable.

It is perfectly possible that the 2015 election will be chosen in the second or third round and that people’s second choices will win it. If people do vote and they don’t have a second or third favorite, they may do better to leave some blanks.

As the election draws ever closer it will be interesting to see how the voting campaigns progress and who eventually wins.

For further commentary see:

File 770. Commentary and news about the Worldcon sites, each with their own tag and tagged under “Worldcon”

Lawrence M. Schoen. “Spokane vs Helsinki: Cognitive Dissonance and the 2015 Worldcon” 17 September 2012

CD Covington, “On Worldcon Bids” 10 September 2012

Cheryl Morgan, “Forthcoming Worldcons” 5 September 2012

Site Selection Presentations, 3 September 2012

A version of this post was originally added to Fanhackers.

Worldcon, Not Just Literature

Fan history is a disparate venture, with fans and scholars often limiting their explorations to that which interests them, as everyone does. A result of this is that many (but by no means all) people believe that media fans have never been welcome at Worldcon (clicky for my description of the world’s longest running science fiction convention Worldcon) and that media was never a part of it as a traditional con. There may be a predominance of literature Guests of Honor, but the historical records prove that film and TV are part of Worldcon history (with comics getting their first dedicated panel in 1966). Worldcon is part of media fandom history. Some significant examples demonstrate this:

• There was a screening of The Lost World followed by a Masquerade Party (costuming, early cosplay) at Denvention I, the 3rd Worldcon, in Denver, 1941.
The Day The Earth Stood Still had an advanced screening for attendees of Nolacon I, the 9th Worldcon in New Orleans, 1951.
Star Trek screenings were included on the Tricon program at the 24th Worldcon in Cleveland, 1966.
• Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, gave a talk entitled “To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before” at Baycon, the 26th Worldcon in Oakland, 1968. In the program book there is a full-page ad “from Roddenberry” thanking Worldcon attendees for their support of Star Trek. Amusingly, there is also a quarter-page ad claiming “SPOCK is a bad lay.” With the words: “This ad was sponsored by the committee to nominate Patrick McGoohan and ‘The Prisoner’ for a HUGO.”
• Ray Harryhausen, the groundbreaking Visual Effects Designer, was a Guest of Honor at Conspiracy ’87, the 45th Worldcon at Brighton, England, 1987.
• Roger Corman, the famous horror movie director, was a Guest of Honor at L.A. Con III, Anaheim, 1996.
• J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of Babylon 5, was Special Guest at Bucconeer, the 56th Worldcon in Baltimore, 1998 and the following Worldcon, Aussiecon Three in 1999 in Melbourne, Australia.
• Frankie Thomas, the actor in the early science fiction series Space Cadet, was Special Guest at L.A. Con IV, Anaheim 2006.

Additionally, the Hugo Awards have given awards for Best Dramatic Presentation, in various formats, every year since 1958 (except 1964 and 1966). Winners have included episodes of The Twilight Zone, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica (reimagining) and movies such as A Clockwork Orange, Star Wars, and Inception.
It is also worth noting that Worldcon has, in most programs throughout its history, included plays, ballets, bands, and numerous other art forms based around science fiction and fantasy.

If Worldcon has historically included media, why is there an apparent separation in contemporary fandoms and fan analysis? Why did Star Trek fans start their own conventions, with many claiming that they no longer felt welcome at Worldcon and other traditional cons and club meetings? A common answer is “gender and snobbery,” but there are alternative answers, although these are not mutually exclusive. Reasons for the separation may include the idea that types of fannish activities are valued differently; a critical mass of fans for one specific show/author/medium leads to a separation (as well as Star Trek conventions, Tolkien, comics etc had their own meetings and events) to maintain pre-existing diversity of the original event while enabling more focused activities around the new fandom; and some fans are more interested in going to conventions only of their specific subject.

Whatever the reasons are for the seeming separation of fandoms, it is true today that it is possible to be in a fandom for one specific TV show, book series, comics franchise, and so on without having much, if anything, to do with other fandoms. In reality, however, it is rare that fans only enjoy one text, or even type of work. Few fans are only interested in reading books or watching movies.

A challenge for Worldcon today is what direction to take the convention in: should organizers expand and overtly reach out to fans who would not normally attend a traditional con and who may bring their own “non-traditional” fan practices and (fan-)demographics; should Worldcon stick with the current attendees and format, thereby maintaining traditions; or is there a middle way that encourages media fan attendance by acknowledging the traditions of Worldcon and, perhaps, media’s place within it?

Currently, site-selection is in progress for Worldcon 2015 and the three options could be seen as representing different approaches to the challenge of identity and the marketing of Worldcon. This challenge will be discussed in the next post in this series.

This post was first published at Fanhackers