The Unstoppable Might Of Fandom

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I'm home from a very brief, but delightful, Dragon*Con. In years past, I classified my Dragon*Con adventures as Fun Business Trips: "fun" because I was there to have some, and "business" because I was there to share expertise and shamelessly shill my fiction projects. This time, I attended with my awesome sister and rolled blessedly shill-free. It brought a fresh, positive perspective to the experience. It permitted me to enjoy the convention as a fan. It also reminded me of the unstoppable might of fandom -- the incredible love people have for the things that resonate with them, and the great lengths they go to display that love and share it with others.

As I stood in line for Dragon*Con tickets, I spoke at length with a woman who wore a Firefly browncoat. She spent $450 on that coat a few years back. She attends about a dozen sci-fi conventions a year, and is such a fan of one sci-fi show actor (whose name escapes me), she's traveling to England in a few months to see him perform in a play. She did this a few years ago, and watched him perform in the same play three times. Her personal love and passion for Firefly -- a TV show that didn't last a full season -- knew no bounds.

While in that very line, I reconnected with Clair High, a friend and former podcaster whom I'd met at the convention a few years back. We chatted about his life, his wife, and a wonderful West Coast charity bike ride he discovered a few years ago. He described memories of his introduction to AIDS/LifeCycle -- which raises money and awareness for AIDS treatment and a cure -- that were so vivid, I felt as if I were right there with him, feeling the awe and admiration he had for these cyclists when he first saw them. Clair wanted to become a part of that cause, and did. He has personally raised more than $10,000 for the cure, and is now an avid cyclist. That serendipitous encounter changed his life.

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I attended a panel featuring Larry Hagman, Barbara Eden and Bill Daily, regular cast members of the classic show I Dream Of Jeannie. They were absolutely brilliant -- funny, handsome and beautiful, and humbled by the love they felt in that packed ballroom. Hundreds of fans attended. Hundreds of fans attended a panel about a show that hadn't been in first-run release in 40 years. One attendee, several years younger than me, shared memories of she and her mother (who later died of cancer) watching Jeannie reruns on Nick At Nite. "It's my favorite show," she told the cast. "I love you."

Bestselling novelist and podcaster Scott Sigler hosted a solo panel for his fans, which I also attended. This room was also packed. I was very proud of my friend. I was equally proud of the loyalty and love he and his work has inspired.

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I like Star Trek, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to see a panel-meets-performance of "Gowron & Martok," in which actors Robert O'Reilly (who played the recurring Klingon character Gowron) and J. G. Hertzler (who played his rival Martok) donned the costume and heavy makeup of their Star Trek: The Next Generation alien characters to take questions from the audience ... in character. This was genius. Part well-oiled performance, part improv, the actors were supremely funny, knew their crowd and displayed an absolutely genuine appreciation for their fans. Several folks in the audience wore their own homemade Klingon costumes. I was amazed: the still-thriving subculture of Trek fandom permits these two actors to travel the country and make a living from it.

I also attended the Parsec Awards, for which Scott Sigler and I co-presented awards for two categories. During the event, my podcast-exclusive novella Personal Effects: Sword of Blood won the award for Best Novella. My four-year Parsec losing streak -- which I fully expected to remain intact by the ceremony's end -- was over. I'm extremely grateful to the Parsec organizers and judges for believing Sword of Blood was worthy of the honor, but am even more grateful to the Parsec audience, whose applause reminded me again of the epic, amazing power of fandom.

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Finally, the might of fandom was best represented for me personally by several meaningful one-on-one conversations with fans of my fiction, and especially by my sister Melissa. About a month ago, she told me she was getting a 7th Son-themed tattoo. I'm envious of my sis' willingness to ink her skin -- I'm not sure I could ever get a tat, though I desperately want one (of what, I have no clue) -- but tried to talk her out of this 7th Son tattoo business. She wouldn't listen.

I saw the tattoo in person this weekend. It's the mantra of my "mad hacker" character Kilroy2.0's faithful followers: I COMPLY.

I nearly cried, because there it was, again. The unstoppable might of love, and fandom.

--J.C.