Fannish Memory Syndrome
by Steve Green
To the National Film Theatre, in the company of Black Lodge colleague Ray Holloway, for a rare British appearance by Italian director Dario Argento to promote his latest giallo, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME. As anticipated, the alcohol-enhanced train journey down to London and our pre-screening walkabout of local sf bookshops (every one crammed with INDEPENDENCE DAY spin-offs, a full thirteen days ahead of its UK release) prove rather more entertaining than the film itself, though the surprise appearance by Argento's sylphlike daughter Asia (who portrays the policewoman with a predisposition towards the eponymous psychosis) sends more than a few male hearts fluttering.
No PROFUNDO ROSSO then, or even an OPERA, but any Argento release is guaranteed to drag British gorefans away from their VCRs, which makes the fact that we recognize barely a handful of the audience an intriguing indicator of the difference between this country's sf community and its horror parallel. The phrase community itself is a hint: with the exception of the annual Fantastic Film Festival in Manchester (returning next month in spite of the IRA's attempt at urban redevelopment) and occasional one-off screenings, horror fandom lacks the focal events which form the framework of "our" global village. For five years now, I've used my monthly column in THE DARK SIDE (Europe's leading news-stand horror magazine) to cross-pollinate aspects of sf fandom into horrorzines -- lettercols, conreps, fanzine reviews -- and backed it with an annual open forum at Manchester; much as I hold most religions in contempt, this is one for which I'm happy to proselytize.
There are optimistic signs. Groups such as the Black Lodge are beginning to evolve a social calendar, whilst British horror fans are about to get their first amateur press association (courtesy of sf's own Eunice Pearson, after I gently twisted her arm through the pages of another apa we belong to). More significantly, there's far more good-humoured interaction between the leading fanzines than I encountered back in the spring of 1991. It's life, Jim, and maybe soon as we know it.
Thence to Birmingham, for an intriguing collaboration between this year's TAFF candidates, with B'ham SF Group chair (and victor) Martin J Tudor welcoming SFX staff writer (and loser) Michael J "Simo" Simpson as guest speaker. It makes for an entertaining evening, once Simo overcomes the wave of loathing automatically rolled towards anyone who actually get paid to attend convention (then again, we'll forgive almost any faux pas when the perpetrator has been forced to interview Tad Williams).
By the time most of you read this, Marty and his ever-understanding minder Helena will be wandering around the Anaheim Centre in search of a safe corner to ignite a cigarette or imbibe something resembling Real Beer. Stay true to your fannish heart: buy them a drink, roll them a joint, thrust a fanzine into their eager grasp, commune with the wider community. C'mon, we're setting an example here.
[Special thanks to Bernie Evans and Kevin Clarke for their assistance in beaming this column to Andy and Victor during the past year. Are there any charities going yet for the electronically impaired?]
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