February last year, I posted for the first time about the Three Types of SF Fans. Reactions were mixed. I have thought about it a lot, and I have realized that their are not really three types of SF fans, these are actually parts of a spectrum.
Fans of the Spectacle
Fans who are interested in action and special effects, typically of Space Opera, Disaster/Monster/Action Movies, usually watches movies, some series, rarely reads the books.
These fans are on the coldest end of the spectrum. They are only interested in being entertained, and simply do not think too much about what they are watching. Think about your friends who thought the Matrix was just a great action movie with cool special effects. You know the ones who didn't see all the questions about the nature of reality and how we perceive it. They are fans of spectacle.
The studios have geared their films more towards this type of fan because there are more of them and they are easier to please.
Admit it though, we all started here. We may have been young, but each and every one of us first got into Speculative Fiction be we enjoyed the spectacle. For me, it was dragons and vampires.
This is the first stage of development of every fan. Our job is to move more people into the second and third phase.
Fans of the Specifics
Fans who are interested in the nitty-gritty details and their accuracy or consistency.Typically of Hard Scifi, Military Scifi, and High Fantasy, usually reads the books, watches the series, and nit-picks the movies
For many Scifi fans, this shift happened with Star Trek or Star Wars. For Fantasy Fans, it is usually Lord of the Rings, and for Horror Fans it was either The Vampire Chronicles or Mayfair Witches by Anne Rice or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Many fan bases stagnate here and die off. The Studios have started blaming continuity and consistency for their financial short comings, thus the spate of remakes, reboots, and the dread re-imaginings that crop up every year.
Yes, it is easier to write a story when you don't have to worry about consistency or continuity, but they are not better stories. They are just different.
To move a fan from Spectacle to Specifics, find something in a setting or character they like, and talk to them about it. Encourage them to grow in their fascination, and soon they will delve into the setting more fully, and the spectral shift will happen.
Fans of the Story
Fans who are interested in the story, the characters, and Typically Soft Scifi and Sociological Fantasy, usually reads or watches the series, and watches the movies.
For Fans of the Specifics, the changes George Lucas made to the original Star Wars Trilogy and the prequels went too far. Fans of the Story were able to see how these changes improved and tightened the narrative.
Fans of the Story are few in numbers, but they are the heart blood of fandom. They write/perform the filk, the fan fiction, and fanfilms. They make the fan art, run the conventions, and strive to keep SF on the straight and narrow.
It isn't easy to move from being a fan of Specifics to a fan of Story. For this shift to happen, the fan has to see the complete series as a seamless whole. They have to learn how to see past the trees to the forest. There is no easy way to happen or to bring this about.
When it does happen, it is like magic. Most of us have had this shift happen for at least one franchise. Think about the one series that is closest to your heart. The one you seek out every little tidbit of information about. For that story, you are a fan of the Story.
It is not easy to ask people to make these shifts, or to help other move through the spectrum, but it is vital if fan culture has any chance of surviving. So for the next thirty days:
- Introduce your friends to filk.
- Have a movie night at your house and show a fanfilm.
- Start a role playing group and uses your favorite setting.
- Start having friends over to watch your favorite shows.
- Help just one person find a new series, book, or movie that they will fall head or heels in love with.
If we all do our part, fandom has a long and beautifyl future.