Founding Member: ffwa
by Randy Byers
"Enjoyed Randy's 'Worldcon Snapshots' and thanks for the note later that he was also one of the original fwa founders." So wrote Robert Lichtman in APAK 68.
It's true that I was at the party where fwa was founded at the '84 Worldcon. It's less accurate to call me one of the founders. After all, I have a reputation to maintain -- if only with myself.
A year or so ago, Lesley wrote a piece for APAK about reading The Enchanted Duplicator and feeling intimidated by how much fannish history there was to learn. I considered writing a response in which I would extol the role of the fringe fan. (Or is that fake fan? I'm too much of one or the other to know which is which.)
I would've told her that I've never read The Enchanted Duplicator and don't plan to -- not because I have anything against it, but because it has never seemed important to me. I would've explained that I've been hanging out in or around fandom for nigh on twenty years and that the majority of my friends are people I've met through fandom, but that it's mostly a social thing for me. I don't read many fanzines, and I've only pubbed one ish of my own. I go to maybe one convention a year, and I've never worked on one. I've laughed at Degler references for nigh on twenty years, but it was only recently that I asked Hooper just who the hell Degler was. (I don't remember his answer very well.)
Sometime in the very late 80s, Jerry Kaufman categorized m-m-my g-generation of fans. He called us the New Fen: folks who went directly from neo to gafia. It wasn't really a whole generation. He was referring to a group of West Coasters who were recruited by Fabulous Seattle Fandom in the late-70's and early-80s. The names that spring to mind are Ole and Neil Kvern, John Carl, paul lemman, Chuck Spear, Tami Vining, carl, me (nice name!), Tom Weber, and Victor. Although she was actually recruited by Controversial Edmonton Fandom, I'll throw in Sharee Carton, because she belonged and I longed for her. By the end of the 80s, we had all dropped out of fandom or ceased serious fanac before anything of lasting fannish importance had been produced. So, Jerry joked about a lost generation, and for a moment I dreamed that I could've been a contender.
As Luke "Maguffin" McGuff would say, Hah!
carl introduced me to Fabulous Seattle Fandom at the Norwescon in '79. Over the next few years, I went to a bunch of regional cons and got to know some of the Vanguard crowd pretty well. That was one of the reasons I moved to Seattle in '84. I moved in with two fans: Denys Howard and paul lemman. Later that year, Denys, Jane Hawkins, and I drove my Ford Fiesta to the Worldcon in LA.
I was just getting to know Victor at the time. In fact, the Worldcon was probably the breakthrough event in our friendship. What I really wanted to do at the con was to, um, hang out with Sharee, but she was having none of me. Ted White was cultivating Victor, and thus he had an in to the good parties. I glommed onto Victor. I got into the good parties.
What I did at the good parties was get heavily sercon and listen. I listened to a lot of BNFs (some of whom I knew) talk about Topic A. I didn't understand it. There were sheaves of paper purported to explain it all. Victor read assiduously and took part in the discussion. I was put off by the earnest hostility in the air. It intimidated me. I had nothing to say. I listened.
Likewise, at the fwa founding party, I sat on the side of the bed nearest the windows, got sercon, and listened. I found this discussion much more entertaining. Wit flowed like wine, and wine flowed very much like bheer. I laughed a lot. I took part in the voting for the first Past President. (I want to say that I voted for Teresa Nielsen Hayden, but, you know, I'm not sure she was even on the ballot. I don't believe she won. Who was it? Avedon Carol? I don't remember.) I didn't say anything. I was meek.
Mind you, I wanted to be a part of the fun. I was a part of it, in the sense that I was there and following what was going on and enjoying it. But I was on the sidelines, as it were. On the fringe.
Not long after the convention, Allyn Cadogan, Sharee, and Lucy Huntzinger published the first issue of Convention Girls' Digest, which was about that Worldcon. My copy has a note from Allyn written at the top: "Well, all right, if you must have your own copy . . . . Were you at that party? Why can't we remember you?"
At the time, it hurt that they didn't remember my presence. At this distance, it all makes a lot more sense.
On a psychosocial level, the reason I cannot be considered a founder of fwa is that I was not actively participating in the discussion -- or, for that matter, in the flow of wit. That's what made me more or less invisible, too. However, the more important reason is that I was not a fan writer. I hadn't even pubbed my one and only ish yet, so I barely even qualified as a neo. I was a fringe fan.
It's interesting that of the New Fen I named, three of us are involved with Apparatchik. Victor is beavering his way toward BNFdom. carl is neither fan nor fowl. I -- oblivious to The Enchanted Duplicator and fresh from another Worldcon where I sometimes sat, got sercon, and listened silently to BNFs -- am still a fringe fan.
However, I am now writing semi-regularly for a fanzine. In honor of my presence on that hallowed night twelve years ago, I propose another organization: ffwa.
Past presidents, anyone?
carl adds: Randy has kindly allowed me an opportunity to append the following from our correspondence. Consider it a non-fan non-fowl response:
"It strikes me that deep communion with TED as a requirement of non-fake-non-fringe fandom is pretty stiff. I haven't read it myself, and despite my fringeness I've been reading old fmz (Pongs, Izzard/Teloses, Space Junk, Spanish Inquisition, Science Fiction Review) for years and indeed in this year's FAAN awards I was that lone vote for Elmer Perdue for Best Fan Writer. I consider myself something like a fringefan, in almost direct proportion to the degree to which I consider sf important work.
"Otherhandedly, in fandom as everywhere else there will always be people who do things and people who write about them, and an overlap between those two groups that makes those things public/published via print or on the Web. (You yourself completely elide the apazines we were doing, or perhaps that's a comment hook.) I'm not sure being part of the former group makes one any less a fanzine fan than being primarily a member of an alternative sf fandom like furry animals or anime.* You're there, you're there repeatedly (celebrating 12-16 year anniversaries), people in the local fandom recognize you, you know the current customs. Well, you might be an anthropologist I suppose."
* Take a look here, for example: http://www.access.digex.net/~electro/electro.html
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